30 April 2011

Sirenum Scopuli Gulch

There was a thumb-twiddling wine-label artist who used to live out of his car, “somewhere up on the highway” as old Brenda Dent used to call it. The lecherous thumb-twiddler would draw all night by the lights of passing cars and the occasional satellite flying miles overhead. The satellites would course through the edge of outer space and emit their lonesome beeps and chirps while the lecherous thumb-twiddler would draw the dreary facades of French chateaus that never were. Oh how lonely is the edge of outer space.

As that often-overlooked place “somwhere up on the highway” was beyond the veritable edge of the universe as far as the inhabitants of the nearby town were concerned, there was little reason for anyone to go there, aside from the thumb-twiddler himself. Afternoons would find him chasing bison across the praire – running them into arroyos and listening to the thunderous cracks as their necks broke when they hit the bottom. With a whooping war cry the thumb-twiddler would remove his Italian silk necktie and wear it as a headband, sometimes using it to hold in place an array of pigeon feathers. In the evenings he would play Lithuanian carols on hambone. On and on he would play, until his thighs and chest were red and swollen.

It was on such an evening of hambone and freshly harvested okra that the thumb-twiddling wine-label artist met the love of his life. Across the arroyo he heard a voice singing in the cool dusk, “It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go...”

He raced away from his car toward the arroyo, yearning to lay eyes on this veritable siren. When he reached the edge of the gulley, he saw her. She was clothed in a floor-length evening gown made out of raw, sliced onions, and she wore a live but heavily sedated badger upon her head. The strains of that venerable music hall standard poured out over the prairie as the sun sank beneath the horizon. The sky turned a deep, deep violet. The thumb-twiddler swooned and instantly rushed out toward the edge of the arroyo.

With the sound of satellites chirping and beeping and blinking their pensive lights at the uncaring ether somewhere high over the edge of the atmosphere, and with thoughts of French chateaus that never were coursing through his imagination, the thumb-twiddler felt himself suspended in what he thought to be a cloud of blackstrap molasses – a cloud that held him fast and gave him ample time to imagine himself in one of those chateaus that never were. He would bow to the lord of the manor, and the woman in the sliced onion evening gown would curtsey. The lord of the manor would clap his hands to summon the string quartet and clap them again to start the music. The thumb-twiddler and the woman in the sliced onion evening gown would dance minuets and quadrilles until the wee hours of the morning. Afterwards he would carry her out to the waiting carriage that would spirit them away to a secluded place that was far, far away from the satellites and the passing cars.

The bottom of the arroyo was hard and unforgiving. The thunderous crack of his neck brought an abrupt end to the woman's song and to a delicious dream that died “somewhere up on the highway.”

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