I AM A VOYAGER
I am a voyager, like the little red airplane cavorting about in this blue-tinted, brownish sky. Mouth agape, I am sensitive to the possibilities of gravity; blue eyes staring wide into the mouth of the universe – is it really only a bowl? Am I a spaceship out of control, in headlong flight, a crash inevitable? With palms pressed together, I pray, and press my face into the damp pungent earth. It feels like home.
In a world of my own beliefs, I’m a newcomer – a Mexican, perhaps. And, I have been hurled around in this city for far too long. The possibilities of escape intrigue me.
I have been hurled around inside the universe for much longer, and I am like a leaf pressed flat against this spinning plate, until I am no longer conscious of my previous state, eternally removed from my earth bindings – I am an Inuit. My igloo has melted and I have no map to tell me where to go.
I am a voyager, in a world I don't understand. A world of big league television, video life, the shopping mall, a brown baked world under a sun of 365 days, where belief is an excuse to murder. And for those who put fire in their mouths and mush in their minds – I am a Christian, a Catholic, a protestant, a Jew. I am every man, every woman.
I have been sitting in my place on the road. It is the same corner where the blind man sits. There is a tree here on this narrow two-lane highway. The shopping centers are nearby, and there is a television every 200 feet. I am reading a book. It cost fifty cents, slightly used. A book heralded in 1929 as an adjunct to the English novel, a book in which a young girl says, “My lover, never fails to leave me with too much optimism, and therefore I am never disappointed.” Did she really say that? I don’t know.
It would seem that the whole of Christianity were based on this novel, appropriately. Too much optimism being the case in point. Does one really wish to acquire too much of anything? Not according to this source, albeit tongue in cheek.
I am watching a cloud formation build. I see reflected in the sky lost dogs, people with questions, scientific explanations, and the Spanish lady who saw Jesus with outstretched arms in the rainbow about four o’clock this afternoon.
Farmers harvesting sugar beets nearby don’t even look up. Pickers shouldering black garbage bags in the baby’s breath field are only waiting for the truck. “Jesus says, Jesus says, Jesus says,” is whispered down the track, where the pickup will bounce and jar through the ruts at dusk, and the long river of gold winding up the hill tonight will be the headlights of the trucks, in which the pickers are riding home on the 101 freeway, out of Ventura.
And, the Indian Chief cleaning out his vending wagon at the gas pump water hose curses his fat son, who worries about finding a safe place to keep the picture of the piggyback space shuttle he has recently acquired.
The cab of the wagon is so filled with garbage that it falls out on the ground when the door is opened. In a practical sense he is correct to worry, as the shuttle, an eight by ten glossy is sure to be lost in that mayhem. The Indian Chief turns his cursing to the onions, which have wilted, and as he goes to the station attendant to get water for washing them, he only momentarily glances at the sky, which has turned fierce and threatening. The onions fall out of their cardboard box as he hurries – they mix with the oil and dirt of cars and diesel trucks. The rain is now imminent, if there is any justice left in the world that’s not been used up by the spiritual forces, a woman, he thinks.
There used to be a girl living on this road who was stagnant. Her ovaries were useless. Her mother, who had long been accustomed to braiding her daughter’s hair in ribbons, took issue with the trucks, believing that the stench that had lingered about their house for years was the overpowering smell of diesel, and that the fumes were responsible for her daughter’s condition.
This was not found out until the girl had gotten a husband, however. The young couple had been subjected to years of detailed questioning about their sex lives. This caused them both unbelievable embarrassment. And, the ritualistic foods that the girl's mother made them eat was the most awful stuff anyone could imagine. This devil of a mother–in-law suspected the husband as the source of their infertility, and she was determined to bring order to the chaos of this childless marriage.
Finally, she consulted a witch or seeress, as some may call this creature, who to this day lives behind the gas station. Ashamed of her failure in setting things right with her daughter’s ovaries, she sat with her head bowed, prepared for censure, but to her horror was treated to a comedy. No sooner had she sat down in the most confining and stuffiest of shacks, when the witch turned to this distraught and maddened mother-in-law and hooted so loudly that several trucks nearing the intersection slammed on their brakes, one screeching sideways into the private area of the gas station, nearly demolishing the shack itself.
Both women stared through the tiny window of the shack at the grillwork on the truck just a few inches from their noses. The witch woman, a self-confessed observer of such events was the most stunned, for it was the first prophesy that had come through for her in months.
There are fewer diesel trucks on this road now, for it is fairly common knowledge that someone is taking pot shots at their tires. The police were summoned in the beginning, but as there was no serious crime as yet, their attention soon waned, and their report time became so sporadic that they sometimes arrived to investigate the first shooting after the third had occurred. No one has called them in weeks. And, nobody has been killed.
[to be continued]