December 3, 2017

Calling the Moon



So anyway, the Supermoon spiral danced around the earth, getting closer and creating a general sense of anticipation. Not the sort of anticipation you might feel like waiting for the peach cobbler, or the sort of anxiety about test results, but a generalized tension in expectation of something about to happen lasting all day and all night for days on end, some tension expecting an appearance of some kind.

he was getting on in years

A dark figure wearing a trenchcoat and a fedora walked meditatively along the Strand wall. It was the Angry Elf, not someone normally given to venturing far from solid protection of high walls, vantage points and clear sightlines of potential fire. Truth had it, he was getting on in years. Here he was, as old as the Godfather -- well maybe not that old but getting there -- and unlike the Godfather, he had no empire, no Family. Yeah sure, he had the Business, which consisted of some extortion, under the table cash laundries, numbers, fenced ID info, and your basic smash and grab. Certainly nothing big enough to raise concern with the Feds -- and he had kept it intentionally that way, staying out of the murder for hire thing in favor of setting a few fires and causing a few "accidents". He promised everybody he would not commit murder if he could possibly help it.

But still. Was it enough?

Yeah he had a loose rabble of twenty some flunkies, like the Jap and Brian Gump, along with a few handy fronts, like the Tile business and the Glassworks that presented itself as an artsy fartsy thing. But an Empire? Here he was living up on the third floor with a good lookout in both directions, and a brownstone back in the old 'hood to act as tax shelter along with occasional income. But still. Was it enough? At his age he should be retired, letting his lieutenants handle all the action, even though they were all as dumb as bricks in an outhouse wall. He shook his head. What was a humble thug from Brooklyn to do? At least he was not from Jersey -- now that would be a hard one to live down. That would be terrible. He oughta count his blessings.

Still he felt he oughta accomplish at least one big job before he stepped out. He wanted to be remembered for something, like Bugsy Malone and Dillinger. Or his idol, the marvelous Meyer Lansky. Despite all the things he had done, despite ordering the killing of those mobsters on Valentines Day in Chicago, Lansky had never served time, not for one single day. Now Lansky, that was a Jew who made a name for himself.

What an example.

The Angry Elf heard tires screeching in the distance and so made quickly for his truck. He hopped in and sped back to his castle where he jumped out and, just like clockwork, left the engine running as he quickly undid the garage lock, heaved open the door, drove in, and closed the door behind him so that he could scamper out the back and around the house and out the side gate to relock the garage before dashing up the stairs and into the building.

He had been doing this same routine for some 25 years and had gotten it down to where he could be up in his castle looking out within 45 seconds, pistol in hand, waiting. Waiting for the day his old "friends" would appear to deal with the guy who had gotten talky. . . .

the nights have gotten nippy

The days have passed that momentary time when a body could warm itself up in a patch of sun after a long, cool evening. Now the nights have gotten nippy and the days provide no respite. So it is that the entire Household of Marlene and Andre has gathered for the benefit of combined body heat, which is necessary since the chimney was stopped up years ago, rendering the fireplace useless, and the central heating unit worked only fitfully for about ten years until it gave up entirely any semblance of appliance utility, although the thermostat did register faithfully the interior temperature each morning of around 55 degrees before people got stirring from their sleeping bags and cots and sofa.

The rental economy in California went south a while ago, and normal people do not pay the obscene rents demanded -- consortiums, collectives, and unions do that. In the one bedroom cottage set to lease by Mr. Howitzer for a princely sum, some fifteen souls plus non-homo sapiens inhabited that bad abode in bunks, in closets, in the hallway, under the coffeetable and in the fireplace.

Some of them actually held jobs. Others pushed brooms, did itinerant occasional work, and generally got by with seasonal jobs. UPS was hiring and Jose and Pahrump and Javier were there, Jack, standing in line with about a couple thousand other Californios looking to sling boxes and work the trucks as their second or third job, all while trying to make the rent.

At the Household an old hot tub had stood rotting on its side until Martini flopped it over and filled it with dirt to raise tomato plants -- the new hot tub culture. Martini used a rusty tin bucket he filled at the hose tapped into the well someone had drilled quite a while ago to get somewhat free water. They had no more chemicals to make it potable, but for gardening it was good enough. All over NorCal similar things were happening in response to the Rental Crisis.

And every day, the bucket went to the well.

In the actual bedroom, Marlene sat hunched over the account books and the computer keyboard with Andre, both trying to make two ends of a cut slippery noodle of expenses meet the wriggling income part.

Snuffles appeared in the doorway.

"What is it, Snuffles?" Andre said.

"I gots ta show som-ink."

"Not now," Andre said. "We're kinda busy."

"Dis impo-tnt. Werry impo-tnt." Snuffles beckoned urgently, and so the two of them looked at one another and followed the shambling figure outside.

Out on the porch they saw it hovering amid torn clouds above the Bay -- the only Supermoon of 2017.

In their garret with the child blessedly asleep, Mr. Sanchez put his arms around Ms. Morales at the window. The light shifted, then it appeared, streaming down upon the two teachers standing there and they were silvered all over.

Every college has a green sward populated by students with books in Spring and criss-crossed by same in Winter. The Island Community College has just one, bordered by thick hedgerows tenanted by all sorts of Lifeforms.

Just outside the opening to his burrow, Don Senor Guadalupe Castillo de Erizo sat gazing upward as was his wont during celestial events. There he would ponder all sorts of things, or if the sky was clear enough, look at the constellations and remember the old stories.

Madame Herisson poked her head out and queried, "Mssr., tu a faim?"

"No," said the Don simply.

"Tu es froid?" asked Madame.

"No," said the Don with his breath coming out in clouds.

"Tu voudrez quelque chose?" asked Madame.

The Don pondered this a moment. "La paz mundial," he said, proving that although he might understand all human discourse, he seldom spoke to humans for fear of mis-comprehension and that men and women constantly talk to one another in different languages, but somehow get by with occasional understanding.

Madame disappeared inside and returned with a serape which she draped over the shoulders of the Don.

Out on the fishing lanes, his boat pounding toward the place that appeared as a green blobby gift on sonar, Pedro came out of the wheelhouse to let the salt spray wash away the flood of tears - he was sobbing. He gripped the stanchion and the full, furious sobs erupted out of the hardened seaman, wracking his frame as the radio stolidly announced its messages.

"Thank you for your support of The Lutheran Hour over the years. We want to inform you that this is the final newsletter edition of The Lutheran Hour, as the program is no longer distributed by American Public Media.

American Public Media has posted a statement in regard to its decision to end its contracts with Pastor Rotschue.

While we appreciate the contributions the Pastor has made to The Lutheran Hour, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn your trust and that of our employees and other supporters so vital to our public service.

Thank you again for your support."

He knew what it was all about. The recent "retirement" from the main variety program had been enforced by political necessity and health. People plotting and scheming the way they always do. But still there were these side projects whereby he could keep in touch, in some abstract way, with this man who had guided his boat through many stormy seas. Quite literally. The man's sonorous voice and his wisdom had helped him through the time of the Great White, the Time of the Shark. And there had been the tremendous gale at sea when he had nearly lost the boat and all back in the '90s.

And now here he was all alone on the ocean, a vast wheatfield waiting to be plowed down for winter, seeded with mackerel, shad, albacore, harvested in Spring, but now all alone. So the man had some faults, even if true. Was Hemingway a saint? Was Faulkner? Do we genuflect before icons of Picasso as a beacon of morality?

Of course not. What remains out of any man's life is the totality of his work, what he has made. Children, novels and/or magnum opuses like the Ninth Symphony. You do not even need to specify the key or the author's name to know and recognize what is meant.

There was a lull and the clouds parted to reveal what was above. All was bathed in that silver light out on the fishing lanes and even Ferryboat looked up in wonder. Something had appeared.

Mad at work, each at his desk, the Catholic priest Father Danyluk scribbled longhand in the rectory past midnight to compose the sermon for Advent, which in Christian circles is a time of expectation towards the arrival of a deity. The same went for Pastor Nyquist across the way, for surprisingly, his flock also belonged to the Children of Abraham. Each looking for the next Appearance of Christ.

In his cube, the Editor looked at the calendar, considered the days, and looked through his seeing-glass at the countless lives on which he had reported. It is falsely reported that of the Seeing Stones, the Palantir crafted by the elves, of the survivors of the wars one lay at Orthanc, one lay at Weathertop, one lay in the chambers of the Steward of Gondor, one lay in Barad Dur under control of the Dark One. There were in fact others. One at Amon Sul, lost in shipwreck. One at Osgiliath - lost in the river. One at Annúminas on the shores of Lake Evendim, and supposedly lost in shipwreck.

In fact, the Palantir supposedly lost at Osgiliath came into the Editor's possession and it is with this seeing stone that the Editor tracks the going's on of all that dwell on the Island, for the Editor dared not wrest the scope of the stone from its limited course.

An Editor is something of a Wizard, one would have to agree. At least the good ones are like wizards, so it is not surprising that one would find something wizardly in our Editor.

The Editor gazed upon the simple lives of the Islanders on this early December night. He saw their struggles and their despair and their hopes. He saw the movements of the Angry Elf gang and knew that there would be a war and all must fall. His people were a gentle folk and not given to warlike endeavors. All must fall soon.

The Golden State is one country given to disaster and compulsory remaking. What sort of Island would appear from this impending disaster? Of the ruins, what could be made?

He went out onto the deck in back where the old boxelder hung huge and hoary over the yard. Through the branches the full moon announced itself with glory.

The moon shone down with beneficence. All was quiet on the Island. No sirens rent the night and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

The night train far across the water wailed from under the gantries of the Port of Oaktown and keened across the estuary, over the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, over the grassy Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, through the construction zone of what used to be the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the former Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.