"on the shore"
(photo of Ouzo Tyrnavou from wikipedia)
Cape Cod, Massachusetts - January 31, 2016
It's just past dawn on the last day of January, and cold along the Atlantic side of the lower cape, with a 20mph wind coming off the ocean and an inch of new snow on the dry-grass stubbled dunes.
The boy is all alone. He could be the last boy living in the world. Or the first. Or just the only person fool enough to be out walking on a beach, this early and in weather that's this cold. He's wearing hiking boots and thick wool socks, old jeans over cotton long-johns, a long-sleeve mock-t-shirt, heavy sweater, canvas coat that falls to mid-crack of his shallow butt, and a navy stocking cap pulled down as far as it will go above a muffler wrapped so tight and tucked around his face and neck, his neural apparatus, and the trunk that holds it to his trunk, could be a fish wrapped tight inside sheets of last week's newspaper, now walking upright on the sand.
Which is where he sees the bottle. The label's faded but still readable through the layers of candle wax that coat the bottle and its metal cap -- "1856 - OYZO." Below that is a drawing he can't make out, so he steps toward the water's edge to rinse the bottle off, then stands and holds it up.
It looks like a cartoon drawing of a crocodile that's blue and partly bent over to its left, with a stomach wound in red. No, wait, he realizes, it's a rough free-hand colored drawing of Greece, partly bent over to its left, with a stomach wound in red. He considers thought-bleeding for a moment with the plight of a place that's still slightly bent over to its left, and that has shown the world the open economic wound and emergency room of where the world is going. Then a wave comes in with water to his knees, and the thought of thought-bleeding vanishes.
"Fuck!" he yells, and jumps back up to dry sand. Then stuffs the bottle in his knapsack and jogs across the dunes to HomErLy, his ancient pickup truck. He starts the truck, turns the heat on full, the dome light on, then pulls the bottle from the knapsack and sees the note inside.
"No ... fucking ... way," he mutters, pulls a Swiss army knife from the pocket of his jeans, and begins to cut the wax off the bottle top and cap. Ten minutes later the bottle's open. Thirty minutes after that he's still rereading the note called "Underwater", about the social drowning of a girl who's still alive and breathing in a half-life world.
Then HomErLy's engine sputters and he gives the truck more gas, and realizes that the last thirty minutes spent inside this girl's rearrangement of the language, have passed without his knowing. Which, he's found, is the only reliable measurement for anything that's "good."
Which seems ironic that, to find "good" things that make us feel alive, we'd want and need to be taken from our lives, so that time is speeded up and our lives would pass more quickly. For a while the boy called this "Head-Scratch Alpha-Bingo-Niner-Tango," among other things. Then he thought: What if the problem is not in all the things in no-heaven and earth that are too large for anyone's philosophy, Horatio, but in the filter that we've made to turn the language into a nunnery of social idea rules, that we can use to go-along, get-along?
HORATIO: Uh, no idea wtf you're talking about.
HAM-FOR-LET: I'm sure you're not alone. Think of it as a struggle between two inherently incompatible things: the indie lives that are actually living, now, inside our heads, versus the retooled and unworkable, relic social worlds we have drug here from our tribal past -- the baggage we continue to carry with us from the brutal beastie night.
HORATIO: You are totally whacked, man.
HAM-FOR-LET: Or possibly partially not.
20160201 10:43 (717 words)
- Hurray for the Riff Raff performing: - a) "St. Roch Blues"; - b) "The Body Electric"; and - c) "I Know It's Wrong (But That's Alright)" - all from "Small Town Heroes" 2014