I – ii – A Bumbling But Ultimately Rewarding Experience.

| May 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

Finlay travels to sanitarium at Ike’s Park with father Flatpop and, listening to one of Uncle Edith’s fireside chats on the radio, from the vantage of the Nicean node Miranda, the incoming gatekeeper, Ohno, reviews several precepts of recent inter–regnum history, encountering stressed out Archangel dialing the Global Village help desk. Marta Meringue, village podesta, accepts call while also listening. Finlay meets Norah, a caregiver, and several in–patients, and Marta recollects similar convalescence of a colleague, Sasha Van Etnabaron.

I — ii — A Bumbling but Ultimately Rewarding Experience.

Although few were now extant, Flatpop recognized an automobile when he saw one. He was gripping the wheel of an ancient Nash when Finlay popped out of the Throne of Ash, the hostel catering to visiting students, with an advanced degree in Scrapture so new it squeaked. Finlay had just posted to his first assignment, the conversion of an immense graveyard of aircraft into ingots for a desert nativity scene. While waiting for further assistance, Finlay had so much time on his hands that not to call upon Flatpop would have tossed him into much agora–sylvan ozone lag. Flatpop’s habitual ambiguity transfixed him. He greeted Finlay by asking if he minded visiting some friends.
      If Finlay had ever minded, it was the same old story over again. Finlay generally avoided these reunions. But friends, learning that Finlay’s father, the famed Great Kalamparumple, was slightly more than a footnote to this more esoteric band of Sturm und Drang rejects who no longer actually cared about the history of international football (given that nations, for many reasons, no longer existed), made much of this. At age twenty, Flatpop had kept goal during the 11–1 victory over the reigning champions, earning the United States its next to last World Cup.
      A group of the more energetic chi alpha males thus subsumed Finlay into promising to deliver his father to a sort of quasi–commemorative ceremony that galloped off with the bleak fancy of the PLU athletic department. The fete failed to materialize his father. Nor had Finlay much hope that it would, despite extracting a reluctant assent from him after an interchange of facsimile messages and other smoke signals. Flatpop, with modesty Finlay always regarded as unbecoming, refused to appear, refuting a declaration that Finlay was in no wise inclined to make anyway.
      Thus thrust from the university in a state resembling disgrace, Finlay arrived in the desert with the sickness that accompanies the end of any cherished tenure.
. . .
At some interval following the development of printing, with all discourse confined to a neo–Platonic Zeitgeist relegating individual volition to the capricious whim of a primordial pre–consciousness, Doctor Many Places struggled with the application of tuning forks designed to instill a modicum of empathy throughout the invading interstellar demolition derby.
      At this stage in his development, he had learned to distrust a virtual array of potential responses to any casual inquiry pertaining to his welfare, and aware that posterity was making an obscene phone call, fiercely vowed that if the state was bent on banishing Pluto from the solar system, he would file an amicus curiae with the International Astronomic Commission and go into the kitchen to have a cigarette, while infomercials touting speculative redevelopment as a public interest played through works that dotted like rare stratagems an elsewhere landscape, where perforce thrown back, some weary hajjis, spurning an inter–regnum proxy to ascertain the status of the hapless expedition stranded on Mount Period, and to assess the methodic lagoons of Titan for livability, instead chose to fathom the seamy interstices of what the stellar cartographer Alcuin had footnoted as “the most bizarre body in the solar system,” earning a full page pullout in the ICA Quarterly, with the selfsame temerity displayed by their habitual deviance from leading opinion.
      Of the Dribble klatch, a pedigree of bobbins esteemed for their forthright amendment of past blight, these would–be contemplatives had worn out so many welcome mats that the sisal industry regularly sent angling calendars, at which they stared in blank indifference to Gregorian time. If amorally complex, Ohno, their chatelaine, clung to a shred of the decency accrued during her tenure upon the indigo sphere as wisdom’s handmaiden, and/if the latter had grudgingly acceded to this sixth’s nonchalance toward a plague of jitterbugs which ravished her most sacred olive grove (insofar as Ohno pointed out that the grower had planned to sell the bumper crop to the Scythians anyway), Minerva willfully failed to understand how the sack of her palladium by the earliest apostles wasn’t a thing, and only the hasty eviction of the deities from their starry–browed demesne in the wake of shadow puppet’s apotheosis had forestalled a severer doom.
      While Ohno’s heterodoxies slunk in, their ombudsperson reviewed the collective similitude. Take the compendiums of Ferguson, for example, which each equinox vituperatively denounced the foibles of his beloved Ruskins (the savant assiduously hinted how strange that a region with precepts antithetical to this benign Fourierist would name one of its major sports teams after him) from his bully pulpit as the equivalent of the basest turpentine. An erstwhile vivacious cicerone barged into the seminar visibly agitated, mentioning that her trip to the Inference Library was marred by an aging fjuslfut sprawled in the stacks between the James brothers. Suspecting that it had chosen this posture to gain a strategic vantage, she had skipped gingerly over nonetheless, nonplussed when it snarled, “don’t blame yourself for not being able to carry me.” A tertiary fact finder, a poster child for driveway moments, said, “trust me little jitterbug, you’re much better off here,” to a third, who had stown into their wagon–lit and now crawled longingly along the insinglas, attracted by the dull orange corona of the Mirandan sunset, whence the temperature would soon plummet toward nihilism.
      Whilst these incipient sketches trickled, Ohno cast her eyes toward the empyrean with Herzegovinian dismay, inwardly querulous over the resumption of familial modes, and decided to stroll through the sunrise (Alcuin’s almagest, pamphlets of which were strewn about the information kiosk, attributed the irregularity of the local radiographies to a plethora of nearby illuminants, Uranus not being the least, and to a sub–ionic wobble induced by the churning gravimetric tide pools as yet uncatalogued save by the cataleptic Glatisant that shared their findings with no monad and that were postulated by leading opinion to precurse that elusive Northwest Passage into the Noses of Snorggi), and as the oblong tributaries basked in a complex glaze Ohno, not unaware of these parenthetic cogitations, might have sallied forth to resolve these old toss me downs on a jog, catching her tossed up eyes on the fly despite the weak gravity, when a kachina, a hurtling missile struck her snood.
      Retrieving this, she thought it might be Nephretite (the minister’s cat), but hip that this august personae would scarcely deign to address a common sixth, had instead propelled this simulacrum to impart news. “It must be so hard to hunt canaries withal these fripperies,” Ohno sought to console her confidant, yet the lynx only stated tersely that she had left a candle burning in their wagon–lit, and made brusquely away. Ohno had no doubt that her gynaceum loss leaders, whom she had pumped avidly as social engineers for an information–starved inter–regnum, would be so busy arguing over which of them possessed the most amazing décolletage, until the flame consumed their hasty shelter, leaving them all to wander witless and lost until the next circuit tapper shuttled by, an event, given the pangs of regression presently harrowing the inner races for want of trail mix, that might not happen again for another insert the italicized Brahmin term for about twenty eight million years here.
      Upon hiring, her employers had initially dispatched Ohno’s survey crew to the cosmetic fringe, there to aid finth in their interminable vigil spent warding the dark matter monsters; yet to the consternation of those cynical poilus, her addled team insisted upon swerving to the front in ever higher profile beamers that startled the reclusive interlopers into finding even more intractable cubbies, and Finthector, ascertaining that her crew were also fond of hiring the residue as domestics said, “Nertz, too completely noodle brained had these fellows failed a series of categorically sweeping stack stuck stucco ripostes, arterially trashed a measly partition positron (at this precise juncture an attempt was made to visualize conditions existing afield), and notably depressed the crossover far beyond that each adjoining jot inherently specified in the unclosed den indicative of edge cheat; I’d advise Ovid lessons anon and in the spike to link with the Type N spoiled this in itself convex aggregate hazard.”
      With rare alacrity this scathing report reached the inner console, and straitly were Ohno’s team relegated to the nexus, though insofar as inter–regnum achieved a more strategic appreciation of the ninths’ important tasks, through their unusually vehement excoriation of the vapidity of the sixths, and whereas the inner council’s, if not ungrudging, discourse applied toward finth’ subsequent alarum, that their comet home was about to crash into the indigo sphere, was indicative of a due that crept somewhere along the spectrum of sensibility a slaunch closer to fain than to loathe, our harried maven might not be unduly thus credited with amelioration of an hitherto predestinated fate.
      At any rate, Ohno repaired to the base camp to stem the rippling tides of candle wax before this cascade visibly dammed the keys of their teletype, expressing feeble outrage that her charges had been engaged in an attempt to stuff the dormouse into the teapot, and adjourned to the catwalk to enjoy the flickering rays of distant Saturn, importunately colliding with an Archangel returning from his rounds, who returned her fervent salutations with a surety likewise vexed already, since he was preoccupied with a note from inter–regnum announcing the impending arrival of an inquisitor, intent upon ransacking his bounds for an heretofore ephemeral crawl space.
. . .
As they rolled out of the settlement, too rustic perhaps a description for what was left behind, Flatpop switched on the old Philco to catch Uncle Edith’s latest fireside chat. “Dear listeners,” he was saying, “I had been thinking of equinox. Was this significant? I was sorry that I had not called collect in more than a week. However, I figured that, strained from declarative statements, I adopted a recumbent scheme. Absent for almost one year, I pondered our anniversary of separation. That had balance. My next move: to find evidence of love within. I had not displayed enough to fill a thimble recently. Four pints of fruit for the Sunrise Cage (under admittedly cloudy conditions) and one can of Type N to the Village were two of the premier achievements of civic involvement this season, and that was about all there was to that.
      “For instance, while I now greeted the three scholars in front of the Inference Library, I had not ever produced a single dollar for their homeless publication since last fall. In this interim also at least three or four concert spaghetti fire circus blue jay feed sponsorships appealed yet disparately. I dispatched the premise that given enough time, everyone would stop calling. Friends over already, I thought being with you might be heaven, indicating a choice, now that life, existing without and independent of the mind, has meaning, and is unimpressed by unacceptable expectations. A gospel then is love, for a casual yearning evinced in mere letters is noteworthy at least, but mostly impressive to only my own drip dry shaka shake. The exchange of ideals with her frightens me into composing these sentences. I virtually freeze. Would this tie in with the fact those dark visions from the farther side imaginably and marginally strengthen us?” Marta Meringue reduced the volume of Uncle Edith’s latest fireside chat to lift the ringing cyber–optic podesta referral line. “Hello,” she said.
      “Hello,” was the reply. “Is there any hope for you,” she said? “I left a breezy holiday message for my beloved yesterday, and this has not been acknowledged, leaving me to suspect that I dialed a superseded number, and that a total stranger now has my breezy holiday message,” the Archangel Michael explained. “Dialing the exchange, I was greeted in an automated fashion and asked to state my request in four words or less. After several hang–ups I formulated what to my mind was a cosmic response, and said, ‘check please last number dialed.’
      “The automated servitor insisted that this sounded like I was attempting to place an order. I denied this vehemently, and was shunted to a menue, that went, ‘if you wish to place an order, press or say one, if you wish to place another order, press or say two, if you wish to confirm an order, press or say three, if you wish to wire all of your money directly to us immediately, press or say your sixteen digit account number.’ Needless to say, I hung up.”
      Marta promised to get in touch with the Village Server. “The help desk,” she said later to her daughter, Jasmine, “stymied by this dilemma, told me it looked like a job for scrapmon’, and so I resumed listening to the fireside chat.”
. . .
“Overtime,” Uncle Edith was ruminating, “whenever I hear the KPBS signature, one can imagine up the crazy river where is heard similarities [[N.T. — For future recourse, the Tetrabiblios is consulted if ever any erudition arises on a point of useful stenotypy].” After each if initially redactive contra fuel future sially gathered, legibly tangent premises inured tamed areas until assessed needs, formally detrope and minutely deciduous flew off with whatever apoplectic jubjub bird. Wherewithal, in regional breakthroughs, the deathless holithic worm scrambled listlessly, attenuated only during the fretful again belief of skipless aversions subsequent to the infinitive article, in tensed pis aller went over the index again for another word. On behalf of national talc ziggurats capable of originating initial sediments lukewarm extant seriously circuit suspense, someone had always harbored scorn for the type who would purchase the greatest hits of Sibelius in order to repetitively hear the opening strains of Finlandia because that music had depicted the starriest monster on Mars during The Flintstones on the hi–fi, “and another thing, dada, they’re called stereos now, get into the seventies.”
      His mother said, “the granddaughter of a famous forties silver screen icon has just moved into town; now wouldn’t it be a good thing for you to immediately go over and say hello to her?” Uncle Edith who, at that time, would have not known a famous forties silver screen icon from the imaginary proprietor of a land where all dreams come true, nonetheless lodged a pro forma protest at his mother’s bourgeois matchmaking inclinations, pointed out that he did not have a car, and retired to the basement to restage the battle of Armageddon on the family ping pong table with thousands of tanks made from modeling clay. After reading Nietsche at an early and impressionable age, he was voted by classmates as most likely to go to seed. “Someday you’re going to regret the chances you’ve had,” his mother shouted after his departure as he crumpled beneath the onslaught of Hecate (the household bandersnatch), who was regularly propositioned in the hall closet to intercept the feckless meandering of her mistress’ grown children. Whenever his parents succeeded in buying new clothes for him on an at least per annum basis, he began to view his impending graduation with dismay. Forasmuch as his mother always purchased their clothes for the upcoming school year, and given that graduation would signal the demise of this largesse, he was certain of having to go naked for an unspecified time thereafter. Moreover, his parents’ kitchen was a nonexistent construct. Did his mother ever actually say, get out of our kitchen? No, she would have said, “dada, get your son out of my kitchen.”]
      At this interval, Uncle Edith asserted, “I must append that the opportunity for such a statement never materialized, because my need for attention, exhibited in hanging around my mother’s kitchen, was a transient phase blossoming immediately after our parents’ divorce, and the command to remove myself from our mother’s kitchen was only invoked during the special occasions when she was actually in a demonstrable position of further appurtenance, a precedent thereby which this prohibition might be thereby enforceable. I’m sure my mother meant this imprecation in an affectionate manner, in effect saying go on, get out of here, you little scamp, yet her strident insistence filled the holiday evenings with a dull pallor as, stricken with remorse, I sensed that my youthful likability had ebbed away forever,” Uncle Edith concluded. “Already a visible casualty of the British Invasion of the sixties that on any given Sunday found me staring into space wishing that I lived in a land where there were dragons, which deterred the effort to conceptualize any forthcoming ordeal, I attempted to stave off this by holding my breath within an increment of sobriety; hyperventilating until unwritten letters toward a culture shelved unto a sunset that cast diffuse sparkling prisms across the empty room.”
      An imaginary pre–dawn pavane during which he’d switched partners at least eleven times preceded a search for wisdom, albeit at the bottom of a barrel, and after broaching the abyss with enough bromides to fill half a straight, he realized that Satan was using our public language to enslave this nation. The latter regarded this indictment with concealed dismissivity. “Of course here is a climate about openness et cetera but only about certain things that are,” he called in, “and if you were ever to approach that bench with your saga,” he assured us, “I would spill the beans to a fault on the all night prayer request line.” Finlay saw a sign pointing to the path known only as Ike’s Park.
      “What is least of this meaningless reconstitution of homophones,” Satan continued, “aside from the callow attempt, at regicide, of the only tongue I was ever proud enough to claim as my own, is that the author must couch his own addictions within stemming distance of a foolish consistency indisposed, and I’m sure his other reader would agree that with this assassination of The Kings’ English, cloaked in a knuckled graphite whitened grasp foreshortened, he’ll receive instruction from each parent to seek the counsel of censorship.” Here the road, worn with disuse, promised the onset of bone jolting potholes.
      Actively switching the drive train to an aerodynamically fluid suspension system, Flatpop remarked the auto maintenance had become a rewarding hobby for him. Accustomed to the broiling skies, Finlay suddenly plunged into the softest dusk the desert could ever supply. The car had shrieked to a stop near an emerald lake of buckwheat. To the north sandstone, traced with shadows, climbed in terraced shade several hundred feet to a prominence apparent. Basking in sun from the uppermost reaches of the valley, the werewolf rock face lolled in a vacuous grin. Beyond a secondary ridge crowned with aspen an enormous silence reigned.
. . .
At length, removing his gaze from the stony heights to regard the turn of the chuckling brook beside them, Finlay gladly would have resolved a tendentious preference for descriptive clauses, were the habitation that he now beheld describable in any other words but those that now followed. He had once read of the boy who turned over from wood. Though no son of Geppetto, Finlay thought the temperate dwelling before them was carved from the short south cliff exposure where white mice ran, cropping a perfectly squared lawn about fifteen yards above them. Flatpop led him onto the lawn ledge, and they stopped before a charming and, as his limited architectural knowledge allowed, Dutch, door.
      They heard a page for Norah, amidst a snatch of someone whistling The World Turned Upside Down. “Sad ministry rang two days.” The whistler, a man with no shirt, a large trunk topped by grey thatch and receding above agate bifocals, was wrangling with a sprinkler system. “Right out of her left,” he continued. “How are you, my good doctor,” Finlay’s father asked? In a rarer politic, trawling for moles, Finlay thought, as the man concluded, with a grimace, “pocket this week,” they were waved in. “Norah is the caregiver,” Finlay’s father announced, soberly. “Whose, his,” Finlay demanded, casting a nervous glance at the doctor who, the new sprinkler head installed, arose to face them?
      Hastening to put the door between them, Finlay followed Flatpop as he unlatched the paddock and discovered that the two halves of the Dutch door operated on separate hinges. The top, opened, left the bottom right. Finlay evinced some confusion, attempting to close each half on the odd figure behind them, and succeeded mostly in getting slammed in the spleen. Finlay coughed, doubled over, and listened with alarm to the soft and sinister intermittent pats from the outside. “Oh pops, have you brought in a goner on us,” came the pleadingly tender accusation of a modern matron, who swept him up into an alcoholic swab of linen swaddling? In no time, sheathed, Finlay was party to a series of privy pats that he failed to find fully arousing.
      “This is my son Finlay, Norah,” Pops replied, adding, after a pause for reflection, “he’s no goner.” The caregiver visibly brightened, and a smile recalling large Kansas farm breakfasts reminded them that perhaps Finlay was not. “For heaven’s sake, Pops, why didn’t you tell us? Finlay!” As he listened, someone inside was apologizing upon a piano within, a sweeping measure that drowned a sense of personal tragedy. Also there was the noise of a guitar, attempting to render the longest repetition of chopsticks ever assayed by a stringed instrument. As Finlay listened, the orchestrations conflicted, one rising, one falling.
      Trundling ball bearing sounds upon linoleum swiftly approached and through the salon doors, a tan mandarin person, wearing orange skates in combined breadth more than her own, burst in. “Raisin!” She shouted. “Parko! Sedate them!” Within the unseen, chamber music ceased. “Oh for heaven sakes, I won’t,” Norah replied. “And I asked you not to wear your skates in the house, Iffy.” From within, accusations flew. “Tinhorn!”
      “Knucklehead!” The music resumed, this time, chopsticks on the piano while the strings went baroque. “Hello Iffy,” Finlay’s father said. “I’m not Iffy, I’m Jung,” she replied, returning to Norah. “Then, if you will not sedate them, make Doctor Many Places.” “Doctor Many Places too busy,” Norah said as her features creased, in an explosive cackle, “I talk like them now.” Placing a black obsidian set of pince–nez upon her nose, “dear me or whatever oaths I can find to avoid blasphemy,” Norah sighed, whispering quickly, “you must call her Jung when she is on her skates. I forgot.” The veteran skater rolled up her nose and departed.
. . .
After learning of the reasons for Sasha’s chronic distress (too late, and in the presence of Inspector Lemert), Marta Meringue had lost all regard for his friendship and felt piteously slighted, and as the head table filled for the pledge dinner, thought back to the restorative she had arranged for him so warmheartedly. Her assistant had found Van Etnabaron lying on his back with a pail. Marta asked, had he enough? “No,” Sasha replied, cheerfully emptying the lowest branches of a large, burrowing bush.
      “Okay,” she conceded, and returned to the nave, where a hushed and anxious whispering commenced. Father Anselm asked Marta to describe the patient’s home life. “Was he ever happily married?” “She orders him about,” Marta averred, adeptly troubled by her adoption of accents whenever a pessimistic pacifist’s real organizational acumen characterized her. Certain arrangements remained excessively flawed unless legally ironed. The fictional structure of the Global Village, hitherto resident within the iron will of the late Matthieu, trembled. “Sasha is emotionally starved,” Marta added, aware that the patient’s continued resilience as chancellor offered the best guarantee of their conterminous patrimony. Nor had she failed to regard the potential for world peace as anything less than woeful unless their causes were allowed to persist.
      Father Anselm viewed his friend sympathetically. The requirement to add on, how are you nowadays, was reinforced by a sense that Mme. Meringue was concealing a matter of serious consequence. Aware, thanks to his connections within an ecumenical community, that he had forced Meringue into a state of obfuscation with his hasty line of questioning, Father Anselm moved briskly to end the interview. “Of all that I know, only one thing will cure what ails him.”
      “And that would be,” Marta raised her brow hopefully?
      “A sedulous message.”

Category: Act I Revised Ed.

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