Sunday, August 29

Chapter 10

In Which We Discuss Time Travel
Have you ever wanted to be able to travel back in time? I know I have.
Not back to the middle ages, or to any time BC, but to when I was a little kid, and I'd meet myself. I mean, hey, if you're going to time travel, you may as well mess up the whole space-time continuum, right? It's the only real way to find out if time travel actually works.
I mean, imagine you go back in time, and just observe. What good does that do you? How can you prove you had even done it? But if you do something that can be proven -- something to change the past -- there is always the proof that you did it, even if it messes up the timeline and you can not get back to the future.
I can almost picture it: you go back in time and change one thing. That one thing disrupts everything that happens in the future until time-travel is never invented, and they you are stuck in the 1980's or something.
I suppose that would be pretty strange -- living in an era you took for granted (except for the Smurfs, Alf, and G.I. Joe) -- with the knowledge of the future you now have.
But then you'd start to wonder: "did I really time-travel at all, or am I just in a paralell universe?" Then you'd start tripping out because those people are not your parents anymore, and so you can't legally mooch off them, and all the spoiling you did of the other you has just made, basically, an evil mini-you.
However, on the flip-side, everybody would believe you were a prophet when you tell them how Family Ties ends, and who wins the first Survivor, and when you played the stock market and became filthy stinking rich and bought Rhode Island. But I'm pretty sure you would be unhappy even then because... hmmm...
I suppose time-travel doesn't work anyhow... and if it did, it wouldn't be possible to build one out of a used propane tank, a VCR, a broken rolex, and a VW bug, right? I suppose my research notes wouldn't help either.
Anyone want to buy a used propane tank, and broken rolex and some research notes on time-travel?

Sunday, August 15

Chapter 9

In Which We Discuss The Certain Relativity of Time, then take a tangent.

Have you ever felt like yesterday never happened? That's today for me. I remember yesterday happening, and what I did, and all that, but it feels like yesterday never happened. Strange. Maybe I'm caught in a time warp?

"Every time I read the papers and see my wanted poster at
Safeway, I remember the good old days before I was famous."
-- Elwood

Thursday, August 5

Chapter 8:

Rebuttal to a Bumpersticker

As I was driving home from work yesterday I noticed a bumpersticker on the car ahead of me. It read:
"I pledge allegiance to our Mother Earth... one world, indivisible."
And this sat wrong with me in so many ways.
Don't take me wrong, I believe it is our duty to conserve our environment and to protect the natural habitats of endangered animals, and not burning old tires (as celebrants did at the first "Earth Day" celebration) but what sat wrong with me was that word: indivisible.

The word indivisible beans it can not be divided, and that it is not now divided.
Saying the earth is indivisible is a false statement.

Even if we neglect the human element of how people are divided (politically, socio-economically, religiously), and merely look at Earth and her other trillions of creatures, we can still say this earth is divided.
  • Geographically: Everyone knows the main contenants and islands are not connected -- America does not border Australia, Africa does not touch Japan -- but are seperated by water.
  • Geologically: there are major dividing lines running throughout this world in the form of major cracks which spew forth lava, and give us earthquakes -- faults. These are natural boarders and seperations.
  • Zoologically: The animals on this planet are seperated from other species, and many can only survive in their own climate, and can not move from that zone without serious reprucussions (i.e., a whale on land = death).
  • Climatologically: There are zones of certain climates across this world which will not blend with others (i.e., an iceburg will never be found in the Sahara).
  • Meteorologically: The weather patterns of this earth are case speciffic depending on climate, geography, etc. -- you will never see a tornado at the north pole.
  • Botanically: The plant life of this great world is localized by type. Certain kinds of forests are only found in certain locations of this world (no rain-forests in northern Canada), and not in others... ever.

So by saying our planet is "indivisible," what the maker of those bumperstickers is really saying is:"I haven't studied my world very much."And, in so saying, proves that he/she is driven by blind ignorance in their determination to "save the world."
Listen people, if you are going to fight for a cause, get the facts. If you want to save the rainforests, don't telly me that 13 billion acres of land a day are being deforested, because, frankly, logistically, it is impossible. Don't tell me that the spotted owl can only live in hundred-or-so year-old trees, and don't tell me that they can not adapt to other types of forestry, because, if you hold to evolution (which most of the environmentalists I have seen do), you believe that aniumals adapt to their environment -- therefore, if you tus believe, you are hampering evolution of a species.

As for me, I will continue to stay away from hairspray, will continue to recycle, and to not print out pamphlets about how to save the world on non-recycled paper like so many "environmentalists."

I do my share, you do yours: research.

Sunday, August 1

Chapter 7:

Spanky's Revenge
A One Act Play

[Chuck and Harold sitting at a bar – Harold is obviously drunk]
Chuck: Never again I say… “never again.”
Harold: Never… what?
Chuck: Did I tell you what happened Ed? Did I tell you?
Harold: Huh? What.
Chuck: He tried to kill me.
Harold: Who?!?
Chuck: The one with the red eyes.
Harold: I must be drunk, I didn’t catch a word of that.
Chuck: It was my wife’s idea. She said that rabbits were a “good investment” and that we should “stock up now while the market was low.” Why didn’t I just shoot myself instead.
Harold: Well…
Chuck: She bought us this one rabbit – called him Spanky. Oh yeah, he was the ring-leader of the group I could tell: close-set eyes. And red. I isn’t never seen eyes that red. When he’d stare at me… You ever tasted fear Harold?
Harold: I had zucchini bread once…
Chuck: Fear wells up in your throat. Back here! [motions to his throat] It tastes like acid, but its worse. It says, ‘are you ready to die?’ and keeps coming. My wife had me buy the cages too. Big enough for them to procreate in, but not enough for them to run. They were cold hard metal. Nothing in the world shows a man how much he has lost in this world as when he’s looking at the world through bars.
Harold: You know, we’re at a bar right now?
Chuck: Then she had me put them in the cages: one by one until they were all in and secure. Then they looked at me… that look of tormented rage and persecution that haunts you in your sleep. [grabs Harold’s arm] She had me kill the babies!
Harold: [lifting his head from the bar] I’m awake!
Chuck: She said they’d taste like chicken. They tasted of… of death. I couldn’t eat them, so we sold them. My wife had me feed them – every day. And every day I’d see him – Spanky – sitting there staring at me. Staring at me with his red eyes. [shudders] And every day he grew to hate me more. It was the end of February – I had just sold the last of the babies to the meat market and went home: my wife told me to clean out the cages.
Harold: She don’t like cleaning?
Chuck: “They’re just rabbits” she said.
Harold: Who, me?
Chuck: It began to rain: the cold gray sky turning ominous as I walked out through the mud and sleet in my rain slicker towards the barn. You could smell the electricity in the air – that was fear: it was fear warning me of things to come.
Harold: Like a good bird-dog?
Chuck: Like a bird-dog pointing out the grouse: “it’s there” the storm said to fear, “you are the grouse, and Spanky is the hunter.” I heard it. I heard it as clear as day. “You are the grouse.” I grabbed the barn door and slid it open – all the way. It ground across the metal runners until it stood open. I stepped gingerly on the hay strewn across the floor, but it crushed beneath my feet like a thousand roaches, sending the crackle echoing through the barn to where Spanky waited at the end of the line. The smell of rabbit droppings mixed with the fear I felt: it made me sick. But I cleaned out the cages. My breath and the occasional thunder cracking were the only sounds. The rain began again and the sound of the water pounding on the roof drove me mad with terror.
Harold: Is this the same story you were just telling?
Chuck: Finally, I had cleaned out the cages – all but Spanky’s. Lightning flashed as I unlocked his cage. I should have seen it as a sign, but I was too scared to think. The cage door creaked as I opened it, and it settled with a clang against the cage wall. There he was. I tried not to look in his eyes. I tried not to touch him. I reached my hand in to grab the newspaper and straw…
Harold: Where am I?
Chuck: My hand accidentally brushed against him.
Harold: [puts his head on table again]
Chuck: I lifted my eyes. There he was. Staring at me with those horrible red eyes. Hatred poured from his white fur like the rainwater off the roof above. Lightning struck and so did Spanky. He lunged at my throat! [loud noise startled Harold] I grabbed him and threw him across the barn, then turned… he was gone. I knew he would be waiting for me to exit through the barn doors, so I waited. Lightning flashed and I saw him… silhouetted against the sky – staring at me.
Harold: I had a rabbit once. Called him “Petey the Great.”
Chuck: [stops and stares at Harold]
Harold: We ate him.
[Harold passes out again]
[Chuck shakes his head and walks away]
This play is a reprint of a Creative Writing assignment from July, 2003.

Chapter 6:

Me and My Other Self

Does it seem odd to you that I am an evil twin?
It’s true…
Either that, or he is the evil one...
I’m not entirely sure because
I haven’t met him yet.
I only heard about him from my mother
Who heard it from the girl at the postage place
Who knew me…
Or my evil twin
(Unless I’m the evil one).
She recognized the last name, and
Putting two and two together,
Came up with me: Josh…
Who had never met her.
My evil twin:
I wonder how evil he is?
Or is it he who is good?
Until I meet my twin,
I may never know.
Maybe he doesn’t exist?
Or is it I?
Maybe neither of us exist
Except in your imagination…
Or not.
Does it seem odd to me,
Having an evil twin –
Or being one?
It’s too soon to say, having only heard myself –
Third hand information –
That I even have an evil twin…Or am one.

Chapter 5:

Those Gone Before

Janet Forsem was buried there along with her husband. Together they raised their three children: Jesse, Lonnie and Buck, all of whom are buried beside them, along with their spouses. David and Anna Parson were there as well; all the gang from the old neighborhood was to their left: the Millers, the Fossens, the Goldsteins and the Davis’s. The MacGuyland’s were on the far side with their small clan: all of them immigrants from Scotland, and all of them died of the fever. Mr. Horace Winters sat alone under a simple plaque -- not very fitting for one so bold, brave and strong, always pushing the young men on to greatness: not in the war fields, but at home -- Boy Scouts troop No. 17 of Rock Grove. Only two of his boys from 17 had joined him: Charlie Wheeler and Ashley Samuel’s -- both killed in high-school by a drunk driver -- they were buried in the back, and their parents joined them many years later: after their daughter had been married for the second time and their first great-grandchild was born. They had a picture taken at the hospital of William standing with his son, grandson and great-grandchild -- Norman Min. His wife was gone first and he followed her to their double site under a marble arch. Norman followed only a few months later: his mother said it was because the world didn’t deserve him.

There stood a great statue of a dragon fighting a knight -- it stood over Martin Gordon the founder of the town erected in his honor at the town’s fifty-year mark; next to it was a small brass plate -- faded through the years -- of his only surviving child, Chester A. Gordon. They had been there and hauled the stones for the church in the front; long before the Evens were buried near the back gate that led to the park. The park was only a memory yet to be in the Gordon’s day: now, it was a memory for those who remained. Mr. Winters had taken the park into his own hands and had sculpted it into a place that generations had enjoyed. Myra Lewiston, the first stranger to the town to be buried there said that the moment she saw the flowers blooming neatly along the edges of the road lining the park, she knew she would stay in the town -- she never left again.

The single cross near the front gate was of Frederick Williams II whose father was buried in Safe Haven. Frederick had come over from Germany before the first war and had set up shop in a small corner building barely small enough to get into, but not large enough to pay the rent. He sold clocks. He made them too. The clock that stood in the center of town -- where the firehouse now sits -- was made by him, and given by him to the city when the war broke out. It was his way of sharing in America, and in the American dream. His dream never came true, and he made his biggest mark as the last man in the county to be lynched -- they didn’t like “his kind.” When the firehouse was put up, Doris Winters asked to keep the clock, and it was given her and her young son -- Horace. When he was twenty-four, Mr. Winters took the clock and made it run again. He made a housing for it, enclosed in glass, and placed it in the center of the park as a monument to those who had hated for no reason as if to say, “what you destroyed through hatred, I have redeemed through love.” It stood there -- running and untouched by vandals until the sixties when one young man threw a rock at it and broke the glass. It was Mr. Winters who repaired it. It was right after that Ashley joined Mr. Winter’s Boy Scouts -- to do his penance for his crime, but also to let Mr. Winters know how sorry he was. Mr. Winters never forgot that.

The Franklins, the Gobles, the Hague’s, the Martins -- all of them buried at random, or so it seemed, throughout the yard. All with simple plaques or headstones: none of them were rich, though they never lacked. Davis’, Leonard, Foray and Charleston lay toward the South, and the Ming’s to the North. It was Mr. Ming who purchased their plots -- well in advance of the first death in the family. It was his gift to his family: a piece of land for each of them: all he could afford. Lu Ming had a difficult time finding work after the second World War, but there was one man who saw past the last name: he helped Mr. Ming start a small shop -- laundry -- and provided him with customers as well. When Mr. Marvin Goble died, he was mourned by everyone in town, but none wept more bitterly than Mr. Ming who had not been able to repay his friend before his untimely death: stomach cancer. Mr. Ming paid for the funeral for Mr. Goble, and bought him the grandest headstone he could buy -- it was an ebony headstone that lay low to the earth. The words are still visible: Marvin Goble, 1875-1952, A giant among men, a friend to those below him.

It was Marvin who gave Peter Knight his first job as well. Peter was down and out, and had only come to town because the engineer had thrown him off the boxcar just outside of Rock Grove, forcing him to walk into town on his worn out soles. It was Mr. Winters who saw him first. At that time, he was working in the walnut groves for Mr. Goble as a summer job. He had seen Peter limping as he walked, and went over to help him over to the truck for some water and a job. Mr. Goble saw right off that Peter could use a job -- like half of America -- and so hired him. His wages were meager, but they were all Mr. Goble could afford during these hard times. When the war came, Peter joined the Army Air Corps, and was shot down on the flight to England. His body was never found, but that didn’t matter to the woman he loved. She was the one to buy his headstone.

The last person to be buried in the cemetery was Orin Johnson, great, great grandson of Gregory Johnson the first fire chief in town. Appointed by the town council, he kept the town fire free until his death in 1936. It was his own home that burnt down around him while he slept. Fitting. It was he who tore down the clock. The very instant he had word from the town council of the new fire station, he climbed into the tower and, with a crowbar and a hammer, broke the clock out of its moorings, and sent it down to the earth below. It was in anger over what was happening to his people, the Jews, in Poland. He spat on the clock, then shoved it out the hole in the tower -- Death to the Germans was his call. That night, as he slept, anti-Semites lit the fire around his home and he perished. Those who lit the fire were not mourned, but neither was Mr. Johnson.

Deloris Knopp, the druggist, was buried with her husband’s family near the new records house -- the old one being destroyed by the tornado of fifty-four that took Mr. Knopp’s life. The tornado only truly affected one resident of the grounds -- and that not until the early sixties. Mrs. Nora Roberts was accidentally placed into the family plot of the Allison family. The Allison’s were furious, and would have sued the funeral home if not for the fact that none of the Allison’s had yet been buried there. Martin Smith, the funeral director, immediately set about to make it right by calling Mr. Roberts and explaining the mistake and asking his permission to move the beloved body of his wife to a more... peaceful surrounding near the flower garden -- at no charge. Mr. Roberts agreed, but with some hesitancy. However, upon seeing the new spot near the garden, he immediately agreed and Mrs. Roberts was moved to her new home beside the Fostein’ family. Mr. Roberts moved away the next year. Martin Smith was buried with his wife’s family in the old corner by the Donaldson’s two years later.

Norman Listman was buried near the Grove family -- all who died before age fifty-two, except Christian Elizabeth Grove, who reached the magic age of fifty-three. She had donated the marigolds to the park that were planted, by Mr. Winters, in the very center. They survived the harsh weather for ten years before the aphids destroyed them. The park looked empty after that. Mr. Winters saw the open space as a possibility waiting to happen; he said the park needed a fountain in that spot where the children could play; as for himself, he had neither the time nor money to put into it; he was getting older, and his hands began to pain him more and more, making projects like this one harder and harder to finish -- repairing the glass on the clock had taken him two days longer than he had thought it should because of the pain: this he told the city council asking for a public fund to maintain the park and improve it as well. The council rejected the idea on the grounds that they didn’t have enough money, and a fountain was simply an accident waiting to happen. Only one man in the crowd took up the case: David Reynolds. He started a “fountain drive” at the schools and outside the grocers asking for “spare change to change the city.” The schools alone raised enough for the fountain, and the post-office and grocers donations were enough to purchase the insurance for it. Mr. Reynolds worked on the fountain, hiring people from the community -- youth -- to work, rather than hiring a contractor and crew: this was to be a community fountain, so use the community. Mr. Winters was there every day. He helped as much as he could -- sometimes holding a pipe, or a wire for the lighting, or simply encouraging the folks who participated. The day before the fountain was ready, Mr. Winters took ill and was rushed to the hospital in Safe Haven where he died the next morning. Everyone in Rock Grove mourned his passing, and the dedication of the fountain would have been postponed, but for Mr. Reynolds: he stood like a giant and told of Mr. Winters life work on the park and his support and love for his community. It was for this park Mr. Winters gave so much sweat and blood, and but for him, the community would never have been the same. He dedicated the fountain to Mr. Winters, and asked the city council to inscribe a plaque in his memory to be placed on the fountain. Mr. Reynolds died the next spring of complications to an appendectomy. He was buried as close to the fountain as he could while still remaining inside the cemetery.

It was only a few years later that the town officially ended: the mill closed down by regulations too strict to be met. People moved away to other towns, other cities, other counties, other states. With none to oversee the town, it fell into disrepair – the last family to remain died, and their bodies were buried twenty miles away where the rest of their family had chosen to reside. Everything was gone. A small company bought the land and began to re-work the ground -- the buildings were demolished: the high school giving way to a crop of corn; the fire station to wheat; the city hall to an orchard, and the forest encroached, year by year, on the cemetery until its roots entwined with the most noble men and women to ever walk her paths. Every building was laid low, and the park bore ivy and weeds where once flowers blossomed every spring, and the plaque on the fountain fell to the ground un-noticed.

The only man remaining who remembered the town park in all its glory and splendor died last May, and in his will he wished to be buried in the town of Rock Grove: but there were none who knew where it was kept. They searched into the hills and through the valleys, but none saw past the forest to where lay the noble remains of the town. Its memory vanished, and with it a time of peace, harmony and Mr. Winters.
This story is a reprint of a Creative Writing assignment from July 2003