Mojo Timeshift

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Mojo Timeshift

Postby maxx england » Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:17 am

Return To Mojoland


Y’all remembers that trouble a ways back, ‘fore the Feds come an’ took Mojo off to Washington? An’ how Dubya went from bad to worse about that same time? Hell of a coincidence there, y’know.

Anyhow. I’s just bringing you up to date on some of the goings on in Blinckanmissett, an some insights into some folks’ lives you might never have seen before. Warren still is sheriff of them parts, doin’ a fine job separatin’ the chaff from society’s wheat, Mamie still sleepin’ alone most nights, ‘cep’ when she get away with her girlfriend Justine (always wondered about duplicate meanin’s of that word) hittin’ them fancy Noo Yawk stores an’ comin’ back with all them shoes.

An’ I’m sorry to leave the track a whiles, but just how many legs do women have to need that many shoes? Answer me somebody, cus I never will figure it out.

What all else? Well, Carl Feinmechanick’s married , got four kids in two years; an’ you can put that thought outa your head right now, twins both times, the Raineys are doin’ less about the store an’ young Chester pretty much runnin’ the place. Ole Man Ferguson gone an’ opened a gas station at a time when everyone else getting’ out of it, but y’know, an’ I ain’t sayin’ nothin’, he might have an advantage somewheres along the line. I know my Chevy run real clean now. Mithridates’ diner closed down, said he’d had enough of bein’ up early, closin’ late an smellin’ o’ grease, trade dyin’ cus all the while the kids was leavin’ for Schickelgruber or Petain or Havel, all them places more glamorous than Blinckanmissett. Hell, sole of my boot more glamorous than Blinckanmissett.

Sandburg ain’t been back, and cain’t really for a whiles since he upstate for a robbery, went into a bank so drunk he was holdin’ to the wrong end of a 357. I won’t get into no creation an’ Darwin arguments with no-one, but I swear the future of the human race got to be better the longer we keeps him away from reproduction. As for the man that drove him from town, well we got a “Who’da guessed it?” story here.

Buddy. Now what to tell you about Buddy? Warren did some digging after Sandburg pulled out, found some stuff about Buddy that didn’t show in public: Colonel James Elvington Wheldrake Jr, US Marines, medically retired with full military honors, Congressional Medal Of Honor, five Purple Hearts, whole segments of his career details classified. Sorta explained why this skinny little guy always seemed too big for Blinckanmissett, why you always felt there was that distance to him. Friendly enough y’understand, but always the sense that even when he was paying full attention to you, part of him was a long ways off.

Well Buddy had settled back with his folks after leavin’ the service, but you don’t get to be a full bells an’ whistles colonel an’ then go home to parents that still can’t quite get used to you bein’ adult yet, so he’d looked at buyin’ or rentin’ a place nearby so’s he could keep an eye on them. An’ he talked to Mamie one day, askin’ if she knew anywheres suitable, an’ she said Harold (remember Harold, her brother, the one that Buddy saved from bein’ roughed up by Sandburg?) had a room he might rent out if that helped for a month or two?

So Buddy goes round to Harold’s, sets up there, and to be truthful, it’s something like bein’ back in the service, what with all your meals on the table same time every day an’ mysteriously cleaned laundry an’ all that stuff. Lord knows how Harold managed it, workin’ full time in Schickelgruber in a soft furnishings department five days a week, but there you go. And weeks turn into months turn into a coupla years, you know how it is.

Now we get to the meat of the thing. Don’t read on if’n you goin’ get upset or offended, this here’s just the truth, ‘tain’t my place make no judgements, nor your’s neither ‘less you bin there.

One day Buddy drives his string an’ prayer Studebaker he got off of his Pop into town to pick Harold up from work in as Harold’s Ford’s bin run into an’ Sandburg’s Autos is fixin’ it up. Now this is Sandburg th’ ole man, real good feller, does an honest and impeccable job, Al was the black sheep of the family an’ a major league disappointment and embarrassment to him.

So Buddy is outside the store on time, Harold comes out, waves real dainty to Buddy an’ starts talkin’ to one of the women that works there an’ another one steps out the door an’ ‘fore you knew it, you got a reg’lar sewin’ circle goin’ on there. Buddy sounds the horn, Harold don’t even hear it. He done it again, Harold finally takes notice an’ trots over, lookin’ over his shoulder an’ wavin’ goodbye to the women, gets in an’ they sets off. Buddy says nothin’ till they’s got to Harold’s an’ gets out.

As they walk in the door, Buddy says to him, “Harold, would you mind not wavin’ to me like that ? I swear those women you was talkin’ to thought we was some kinda married couple”. An’ Harold, wide eyed, raises his hand to his dropped open mouth and sees Buddy is not pleased. Then he colors up pink as the flowers in the front yard, eyes start to water an’ he’s halfway through sayin’ “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” when he turns to run out into the kitchen and finds the edge of the part open door instead an’ falls straight down on his butt, thick plastic frame of his glasses broke in two an’ blood starts to well up out of a cut across the top of his nose.

An’ he’s tryin’ to put the glasses back together an’ get up but he cain’t an’ keeps on sayin’ he’s sorry an’ the blood’s tricklin’ down his nose an’ he’s weepin’ too. An’ Lord, who’d a thought it? Buddy kneels down next to him an’ pulls him up close to his chest an’ starts to hug an’ rock him an’ soothe him like a child just fell an’ skinned their knees, sayin’, “OK, just you be quiet now Harold, just you be quiet.” An’ when Harold’s quieted, Buddy takes the broke glasses from him an’ helps him to his feet, leads him by the elbow through to the kitchen table, sits him on the chair with the wobbly leg an’ goes to the medicine cabinet to fix the cut.

Cut Band Aid fixed, eyes dried and face wiped clean, Harold sits at the table, Buddy standin’ opposite. Says, “Harold, we need to talk about us; what we are going to do now.” Harold, face lowered, small voiced, “I’m sorry, I know you’ll leave, you know about me now, how I am an’ all. But I can’t help it and I’m just happy to have had you around the house and in my life. And when you saved me from that Sandburg man, I was so proud, you don’t understand, all my life I have been waiting for a knight in shining armor and you came. Now you’re leaving and I’ll find a case for any clothes you’ll need, you can pick all your stuff up when you’re settled somewhere better.”

Harold sits quiet, face still shaded, Buddy prowls slowly along the far edge of the kitchen with his hands together behind his head, fingers interlocked. Speaks, “I knew how you was before I moved in here, it didn’t bother me then, it don’t bother me now. I bin all round the world servin’ the country an’ doin’ all sortsa things, some of them was bad, some had to be done, some got me another scar an’ I learned that people’s just people, how you get your kicks don’t matter a goddam so long as you don’t hurt no one. I don’t think I’ve seen you do one bad thing this past year or speak ill of another person, and I probably never will. The problem isn’t you Harold. It’s me.”

Harold’s head lifts, puzzlement on his soft freckled face. Buddy goes on, “I always promised myself that when I got out of the Corps, I’d come back to Schickelgruber County and find me a local girl and settle down, maybe even raise some kids. I been a straight heterosexual male all my life, even now when I see a young couple on the sidewalk, it takes me three seconds to realise there’s a man in the picture.” Pauses, “I only came here just as a staging post until I could get a place of my own and then I found I was looking forward to you coming home in the evening, I was happy to read a book when you watched dumb romantic TV movies, happy to fix the washing machine when you didn’t even have it switched on. I’m struggling to face this Harold. It fits the description, Harold, we really do sound old and married, and I can’t get used to it, I feel guilty as hell feeling this happy. Simple, no ifs or buts, happy. And we’re both men. You’ll have had your times in the past when you’ve done your man things, I ain’t never done that sort of stuff, I don’t even want to think about that right now. I just need to sit in my room and think a while, this is just too damn big to take in at one time.”

Harold stands up slow, like he’s scared he’ll spook a wild animal, voice shaking a little, “Well, OK, you go in, I’ll fetch you some coffee. Do you want any cookies? I picked up some Oreos today just for you.” “Thank you, Harold, no, I’ll just sit a while and think things through.” He lowers his hands, rubs the side of his face with one and puts the other in his jeans pocket and more weary than Harold’s ever seen him, slowly walks out of the kitchen.

Later, about nine o’clock, Buddy comes out of his room an’ settles down in his armchair across from where Harold is sat in his, in front of a dead television. “Have you decided what you’re going to do Buddy? I’ll understand if you want to leave, I really will.” “Nope, I ain’t leaving. I’ve been through all sorts of hell for this country, bled for it, got burned, had good men die next to me because some horse’s ass politician screwed up. Now I’ve come out alive, I reckon I’m due some peace and good company. So I am not moving without good cause. And you can call me James when we’re at home.”

Harold’s face is impassive, head nodding gently, “I’m going to say something, I hope it doesn’t upset you, but I have to say it anyway.” He takes a deep breath. “James, you said that I’d done men things in the past. Well I haven’t. I’m a virgin, James, a 34 year old virgin, always wanted to but, stupid as it sounds, I wanted it to be Mr Right, and for me, whatever you want to do, that’s you. Are you still sure you’re still staying?”

Buddy does that thing when someone’s thinkin’ an’ brings both hands up to the face, thumbs under the chin and tips of the fingers together either side of the bridge of the nose, outer edges of the palms touching, mouth covered. Brings them down to between his legs, fingertips now pointing to the floor. Sort of like lettin’ go of a prayer. “I don’t know about the physical things. First, I want to find out what our legal position is for sure. Second, I want to know what we want to do and how we go about it. Third, we have to look at the possibility that I won’t like it anyway and where does that leave you? That’s part of my dilemma, Harold, I care about you and I won’t hurt either your body or your heart. I think we’ll keep to our separate rooms for now, we’ll just take things nice and steady, see how they go day by day. Now, did I hear you mention coffee? And I’m so hungry I could eat a horse, just take them iron shoes off first.”

To be continued………
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Re: Mojo Timeshift

Postby maxx england » Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:44 pm

Return To Mojoland II

And so it went on, they got separate rooms, Harold took to workin’ part time an’ Buddy went to college to study Political Philosophy in the daytime. Buddy thought it was all goin’ fine, the only trouble they got in Blinckanmissett was from Ferguson’s three oldest, but Warren had a quiet word with them an’ their ole man about the nature of Buddy’s previous employment an’ how it wouldn’t be the wisest thing they ever did if’n they ever hurt him an’ don’t even think about touchin’ Harold, who is Mamie’s brother too an’ by the way, what is that ‘aroma’ round here, so it all went along nice an’ peacable for a while.

Course, after a while o’ domestication, Buddy gets the itch to get his hands dirty, drags out the old Knuckle/Shovel from the shed back at his folks’, sits in the backyard evenin’s at home fixing it up. Now Harold, I think we established, ain’t what you’d call manly, chatters all day with Mamie when she comes over. You know. Anyhow, he come out one evenin’, wipin’ his hands with a dishcloth, to tell Buddy dinner’s up an’ sees him covered in old oil, smilin’ like he’s in Heaven an’ examinin’ somethin’ shiny an’ new out of a box, asks what he doin’? And Buddy tells him he’s going to put this old clunker back together an’ go see some old friends on it. Well Harold tells him, “James, I wish you wouldn’t, those things are so dangerous, can’t you fly or drive or something? Couldn’t they come see you?” So Buddy reassures him, he’s only building a slow, old fashioned motorsickle, he’s just replacing old an’ worn out an’ dangerous parts, an’ ain’t that the best way to do it? So Harold reluctantly agrees, “Yes I suppose you’re right.” And they went in an’ ate. Buddy refrained from tellin’ him about them Venolia an’ Axtell an’ Carillo an’ Airheart labels.

Comes the Saturday it all back together painted an’ ready to run, Buddy ain’t got no-one to share the excitement with except Warren, so he asks if’n he wants to come over? Bring Mamie too, keep Harold company while he get on with the Knuckvelhead. They comes across just as he wheels it out on to the road, it’s long an’ low an’ sorta primeval. Warren walks round, “Boy, I don’t see no license plates on this hyar reptile, I reckon I oughta bust ya.” Grinning like a fool, though.

Buddy fusses round, checks ignition set to run, the gas tank got some in an’ the tap is on (tell me none of you never spent a half hour jumpin’ up an’ down with a dry kicker or a kill switch in the off position), flips the lever out an’ leaps in th’ air, comes down, right foot slips off the rubber cus there’s oil on it, lands on the alleged seat, falls off sideways clutchin’ hisself personally. Warren an’ Mamie laughin’ at the same thing for the first time in five years, Harold, knock kneed, runs over an’ pulls Buddy up into a sittin’ position, “Oh James! I do wish you’d be more careful!” Warren an’ Mamie look at each other an’ each collapses in tears an’ a shortage of breath, every time they try to stand up straight, one of ‘em says “Oh James!” to the other, an’ they falls down again. Harold’s leanin’ over Buddy, “Stay where you are James, I’ll get the first aid box.” He tries to run an’ get it, Buddy hangs on to his wrist, “Stand still you damn fool, what you going to do, bandage me?” An’ just as Warren an’ Mamie is getting’ their breath back, they starts all over again.

Eventually Buddy gets to his feet an’ the Rottweillers dry their eyes, he spends a few minutes walkin’ up an’ down, stoppin’ every now an’ then to turn away an’ adjust himself, take a deep breath, Harold one step behind, hoverin’ an’ cluckin’. Warren an’ Mamie look at each other, old friends these days, sharin’ a private amusement at a couple more married than they are.

After ten minutes, Buddy pulls his shirt out of his jeans, wipes the oil with the edge of it, Harold’s goin’ “James! Don’t dare do that, you put it on clean this morning. I’ll never get the marks out! Let me get you a rag!” An’ Warren an’ Mamie starts to giggle, turns away from each other cus they daren’t look each other in the eye. Buddy gets back on top of this here stone age beast he’s brung together, hands on the bars, positions his foot careful like, leaps up again, comes down, the lever moves a half turn, decides it don’t like where it goin’ an’ comes straight back up. This time, Buddy goes over the bars like some circus acrobat, head down to the floor, rotates so he lands on his shoulders, rolls forward an’ up to a standin’ position which rapidly becomes a hoppin’ position an’ he sets off away from the house, one an’ a half legged, sayin’ some military things in a low an’ continuous stream. At which Harold shouts at Warren, “Warren, you’re a man, tell him to stop fooling around with that thing before he kills himself!” This puts the lid on it for Warren an’ Mamie, they both laid on the floor helpless, weepin’, pattin’ the ground, took them more’n five minutes to calm down.

Once Buddy had stopped limpin’ too bad (at least it took his mind off his other injury), he sat down by the bike with Warren, set the sparks to where they shoulda been, Harold an’ Mamie went in to get some coffee on an’ sit there cluckin’ like old hens in disapproval. Mamie spilled hers when a noise like a battery of navy guns went off, Harold took off out of his chair like the most scared rabbit in the world, runs outside, sees Buddy on the bike shoutin’ somethin’ to him, but can’t hear it for the racket, puts his hands over his ears. No point doin’ that of course, that much noise will get in up your nose, it so loud. Warren stands there lookin’ impressed, leans over to Buddy an’ shouts somethin’ real close to his ear. Buddy nods, smiles, pulls the clutch lever an’ engages first with a crunch like one of Ferguson’s hogs with a bone, takes off, goes through to top an’ you can hear the thing up close even as you watch it get smaller in the distance.

The invisible thunderstorm slows, starts to get bigger as it comes back, Harold wringing his hands an’ bitin’ his bottom lip, small tears at the edge of his eyes. Right about then, Chester Burnett comes drivin’ past them from the direction of the Bracebridge pool an’ towards Buddy, who is travellin’ at an impressive speed on that ole thing. Chester sees him, brakes, Buddy brakes, but the closin’ rate was too much, so Buddy points it at the barb wire fence by the road, sees what it is, an’ jumps out of the seat vertical. Did you ever read your kids them stories about magic boots that covered seven leagues in a step, whatever a league was? Well, that’s Buddy as he tries to get down to a speed folks was designed to run at. Near did it too, then he started to rotate an’ bounce, finally he comes to a stop. Didn’t get up, all four others come runnin’ over, none laughin’ now, Harold just goin’ “James! James! James!” over an’ over, Warren savin’ his breath for the job of runnin’ an’ gettin’ his mind ready for what he might have to take charge of.

Warren was there first, Buddy’s on his back with his eyes open, shirt ripped away to show fresh cuts an’ grazes that weren’t at all bad considerin’ an’ big old scars that shocked Warren who knew what gun an’ knife fights did. He covered them up best he could an’ looks at Buddy’s eyes, Buddy grins, whispers something, Warren leans down, Buddy whispers again, “D’you reckon that thing’s undergeared?” Warren sits up just as Harold arrives, calls Buddy a goddam fool, tells him to make sense for once an’ say what hurts an’ how much? An’ don’t even think about movin’ before he bin checked. Turns out he just bruised and battered, got to his feet sorta careful, got his bearin’s an’ walked painful over to the bike.

That was in better shape than he was, the fence acted like one of them wires on a aircraft carrier, slowed it instead of broke it. One tank was leakin’, an’ the paint was goin’ back to the shop, but that really was about it. Buddy leans down an’ pulls it upright, kicks the stand out sideways, walks round lookin’ at it. Gets astride an’ starts gettin’ set to fire it up again, Harold shouted at him real angry, surprised everyone, nobody ever knew him get mad before, “James! You get off of that evil thing now! I’m going to call Ferguson right away and have it taken away for scrap! I don’t want you ever going near it again! D’you hear me!? D’you hear me!? Never!!”

An’ Buddy turns slow towards him. Steps off the bike, lets it fall to the ground, takes the few stiff, battered steps to Harold, cold as ice says, “Hold up your left hand Harold. Take a look at that finger, Harold. Do you see a ring there? Do you see my ring there Harold? No. See my hand? Any ring? Your ring? I ain’t married to you, I don’t own you, I don’t order you to do anything, you ain’t married to me, you don’t own me, you do not, I repeat, do not, order me to do anything!” And Harold shouts at him, “Go ahead, kill yourself with that stupid machine then! End up in hospital all busted up! Tell you what, I’m going to order you the cheapest pine box right now, plastic handles, you’re just not worth worrying this much over!” An’ he turns an’ stomps an’ waddles off, Mamie next to him trying to hug him, him pushing her away, she’s looking fit to kill over her shoulder at Buddy.

Chester steps forwards, “Gee, I’m sorry Mr Wheldrake, I couldn’t tell how fast yo was goin’, I just couldn’t get stopped in time.” “That’s OK, Chester, my fault, I just got overexcited, you OK yourself? You look more shook up than I feel.” “I’ll be fine, but what you going to do about that?”, looking at the bike. “Can you do me a favor, Chester, put it in the back of this pickup, drop it round at the back of the store? I reckon I’ll likely be there in a while.” “Sure thing, sir, sure thing”. So they drained the right side tank half, loaded it up, hot an’ heavy as it was, two men and a wounded skinny guy, and sent Chester on his way. He wouldn’t take no money for gas cause he was goin’ that way anyhow, an’ Warren took him aside while Buddy was tyin’ it down an’ asked him not to talk about the little spat he just seen. Chester said OK, t’weren’t none of his business, an’ his folks owed Mr Wheldrake more’n they could ever repay for seein’ off Sandburg, so he wouldn’t say nothin’. Besides, whole neighborhood knew they is sorta married, most folks just laughed at the way Buddy an’ Harold went around pretendin’ they wasn’t.

Warren an’ Buddy went slow back to the house, Warren watchin’ to see if Buddy was goin’ to go into shock or anything. Buddy notices, says “I’ll be fine, I bin hit harder than this before and still got up.” Warren asks “I seen the scars. I know some about you, I checked up after Sandburg, wasn’t sure what I’d got walkin’ around my county. What in hell all you bin doin’ to get that cut up?” Buddy looks at the ground as they walk. “Covert operations some of them, the bullet scar’s off a pistol, the burns was a fire when our Hummer caught an incendiary, the scatter pattern is shrapnel from the accident during an exercise in Germany. Mortar went off prematurely, took the right arm and eye off Lopez, Bramlett just got shredded, and I was far enough away just to catch some rainfall off of it. The big one on my back and side is from where they went in to try and fix the kidney, too much damage, so they took it out instead. So they looked at the pins and plates for the broken bones I got over the years and the scar tissue and internal injuries from the blast an’ they set me free. Dumb thing is I shouldn’t have been there, they’d gotten me behind a desk and I got claustrophobic so I pulled rank and went out to see what my boys were doing.” Stopped, looked up at the sky, back at his feet, shook his head, “Free, ain’t that a word? Mr Straight, Mr Normal, Mr Super American, free to live my life in the Land Of The Free, now I’m tied up here and I don’t know what I’m going to do next.”

Next they was outside the house, Buddy standin’ an’ lookin’. Harold comes out with his eyes all red an’ puffed up, stops a moment, says “I suppose we got to clean you up now, come on Mr Clever”, impatient like. An’ Buddy goes to step up, can’t manage it clean, reaches to the post but Harold steps down to him, right arm round his shoulder, left hand on his left elbow, helps him up gentle an’ careful like he was assistin’ Granma. Mamie’s stood in the door, lips pursed, “You gonna regret this Harold, he’ll never change, he’ll have you upset all your life.” “S’OK sis, wouldn’t want to change him. Slap him round his silly head some days, but never change him.” An’ they shares a little smile, Buddy an’ Harold. Mamie moves aside, “Warren, we goin’ back now the show’s over? Me an’ Justine goin’ into town, I wanna be back at our place by three.” An’ they sets off.

Harold had a fine ole time patching Buddy up, said nothin’ about the old scars, just looked an’ raised an eyebrow, so Buddy told him what he told Warren. After a half hour, Buddy says “Let’s go for a walk, I’m starting to get stiff, I need to keep loose.” So they walk the quarter mile down to where the crash was, Buddy grins, “Goddam, only one fence post broke, and you can’t even see where I hit the ground!!” Harold looks at him with those tears at the edge of his eyes again, “James, I won’t stop you, I won’t try to change you, but can you sometimes realise I get so scared of losing you? I never had somebody to love before, nobody to welcome home or see out the front door, nobody to ask should we have beef or chicken tonight? I love you and I’m frightened of losing you.” Buddy says nothin’, looks around careful an’ slow, turns back to Harold, “I suppose I have to own up too, I couldn’t face the future without you, so we’re stuck with each other. Come on, let’s get back to the house, I’ll race you!”

An’ sets off like an ole man runnin’, short little totterin’ steps, Harold trots past him, face alight with happiness, Buddy suddenly unwinds an’ takes off like a rocket, Harold’s runnin’ after him, “James Wheldrake! I declare I’m going to slap you! You terrible, terrible man!” Buddy turns, don’t lose none of his speed, “Got to catch me first, Harold, got to catch me!” “Don’t you worry none,” walkin’ now, finger waggin’ , “I can wait, I got time on my side, you can’t stay awake forever.” He follows Buddy into the house, where for the first time, after near two years together, they shuts the door behind them an’ stands close, face to face.


To be continued…….
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Re: Mojo Timeshift

Postby maxx england » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:41 am

Return to Mojoland III

Harold, taller than Buddy, tentative, just that fraction of a move that asks if it OK to move in close, Buddy bows his head an’ holds Harold’s wrists. “I can’t Harold. I can’t and it’s not fair on you, but I just can’t.” He raises his face, and the first time Harold’s ever seen him cry, tears runnin’ like a river down his face. “It ain’t that I can’t do the thing, Harold, not my body, nothing wrong with it. It’s just a wall, Harold, and I don’t know how to jump it. You know, I never thought I’d say this to a man, but you’re the best thing that ever happened to me and I’ll spend my days doing everything else in the world I can to make you happy, but I can’t do that and I’m so, so sorry. Mrs Buchenwald taught little Jimmy hard and good to obey the Bible, and I don’t know how to jump that wall.”
An’ he drops his head an’ lets go Harold’s wrists, his own arms down by his side. Harold, gentle, gentle, gentle, puts his arms around Buddy’s neck an’ shoulders, pulls him to him, Buddy’s head against his chest an’ shoulder, “Poor James, poor James, poor James”, kisses Buddy on the temple, lets him go, “Poor Harold too. Come on, give me your hand.” He leads him across to the couch, and they sit there, lookin’ out of the window across the flatlands leadin’ down to the Mudindanoze, Buddy still slow an’ gentle weepin’, Harold with his left arm through Buddy’s right arm, holdin’ Buddy’s right hand with his own right.

They sat like that for over an hour, Harold silent, waitin’ for the tears to stop, waitin’ for Buddy to speak his mind. Buddy turns to Harold, still holds his hand, an’ quietly talks, “I know about mental conditioning, it’s a thing we got in training when I was first selected for the job I did, and they reckon the deepest conditioning you can ever have is what you get as a kid.” A shake of the head and a wry smile, a bitter voice, “They sure as hell got that one right. Mom and Pop would go out to work, they’d leave me with Mrs Irene Buchenwald, four years old and being indoctrinated every day by a woman who could have gotten honest work in a Nazi camp. Four years old and I can still remember my arm being twisted up my back for not repeating what she said word perfect.” A crabbed, scratchy, cruel old lady voice now, “No use complaining to your Mom and Pop about this, they sent you here, if you tell them, they’ll send you away and you’ll never be seen again.” Silence, then on again, “Ask me to, Harold, and I will recite Leviticus word for word, I can do it backwards, blindfold and in my sleep. I want to be your man, but all I can hear is that crow and her endless repetition of instructions I didn’t understand. How could I? I was a frightened, innocent little kid. I asked what things meant and she said there would be time enough until the Lord revealed them to me. And now I know, I know about Middle Eastern holy men and their head up the ass fears about anyone different, and they haven’t changed in the thousands of years since Leviticus. Because of some long dead flea bitten bigot and the Hattiesburg Harpy, I’m conditioned to hold you at arm’s length and punish myself for wanting to be close to you. You know, don’t you, if you were a woman, I’d have dragged you down the aisle a month after I moved in and you wouldn’t know what the house outside the bedroom looked like yet? But we’re sat here on the couch with a love I never imagined, I’m living like a priest or a monk and now I’m dragging you into it too. God help me Harold, I love you and it’s all turning out all wrong, and I don’t know what I’m, we’re, going to do now.”

“We sit here like this a while longer is what we’re going to do now. You never even held my hand before, so I’ll be happy with that. Mrs Buchenwald never said you couldn’t hold hands, did she?” Buddy grins, “No, nothing against holding hands.” He grows serious, thoughtful, “ We can’t do it outside the house, mind, folks might leave us alone if we keep our heads down, but that’s only going to be so long as we don’t wave it in their faces.” Harold smiles, laughing at some private joke. Buddy leans back a little, “What are you laughing at?” “Nothing.” An’ it’s plainly not nothin’ cus his face is strugglin’ to keep under control. “Come on now Harold, this is no time to be keeping secrets, tell James or James is going to take you across his knee.” “No, no, it’s nothing, really.” An’ Buddy starts to tickle him, “Come on, out with it, resistance is futile, this here’s James Elvington Wheldrake jr, and he will not be denied.” “OK, OK, stop, I’ll tell you. But you have to promise not to get mad at me.” “Well go on, tell James.” “No, you didn’t promise.” “Well, all right, I promise.” “Scouts honor?” “Absolutely.” “You just said we’ve got to keep our heads down and not wave it in folks’ faces.” A frown, “What’s so funny about that?” “James, I have been waiting for months to get my head down and have it waved in my face. And now I’m waiting to be taken across your knee too!” Buddy goes bright red and starts tickling Harold again, then the phone rings and Harold breaks free, prances (cain’t think of no better word for it) over to it.

“Oh, hi Mrs Wheldrake.” “Oh yes, but he’s not really hurt at all.” “It scared me too, Mrs Wheldrake, we all thought he was dead.” “No, no bones broken or such. He landed safely,” turns to pull a face at Buddy, “on his head.” “Oh, that was kind of Chester, but you don’t really need to come out at all.” He blushes, “Well, I haven’t really done that, but I suppose most folks round here see us together so much.” “Of course I will, I’ll bring him over so you can see he’s all right.” “Well that’s for him to decide. I know he’s spent his own money on it, I know he’s spent months making it, but I’d rather see it melted down before I see him get on it again.” “Me too, I never know what some men see in them.” “I suppose I should be glad he doesn’t drink or gamble or beat me up or anything like that.” “That might make his life simpler, that’s true.” “I will, you take care too, we’ll be over after you’ve been to church tomorrow.” “We have not sinned, ma’am, but I still don’t want to face Reverend Janus, you know how he goes on about things, I don’t want to provoke him and cause a scene. And I don’t want anyone taking it further outside of the church either, so I” (smiles and does that little girlie finger wave at Buddy) “am keeping my head down.” “Bye now, see you tomorrow.”

“What was all that about?” “That was your Mom.” “Lordy, you do surprise me.” “Chester told her about your accident, so she rang to see how you were. I told her she didn’t need to come out and she said that was true, I’d already done that. She wants to know what you want doing with that” (distastefully) “thing in Chester’s pickup. She says she thinks it’s horrible too, but you men love them and you need a hobby. I said you didn’t do bad things and she said ‘like chase other women?’ And she says it’s about time we went to church again. And she says I’ve got to take care of you, you’re a good boy at heart.”

“Harold, do people talk about us like that, you know, like that? And my Mom knows too?” Harold looks at him, he can’t believe what he’s just heard. “James Elvington Wheldrake, for a clever man you sure are dumb sometimes. Your mother has known how things were between us before you did. I suppose when we go into Blinckanmissett for stuff we sound like a couple too. People don’t give us any trouble because they know you can give it back, and they respect you anyway for seeing off Sandburg and the way you organised the repairs for the McLennans and the Gowers after that big storm wrecked their places. That’s a pretty neat trick, James, getting your local black activist and the local Klansman on board.” “I didn’t do it for any sort of politics, and you know it, there were people in trouble and I stepped in the same as the Newtons and the Ridleys, they didn’t look at a badge of color either, they helped because help was needed.” “Yes, but they didn’t get two families nigh on at war with each other helping nail each other’s roof back on, nor do all the quick fixes that you did or organise the labor or materials. Folks will forgive heroes stuff ordinary guys would be hanged for. All that goodwill you built up is keeping us safe, James, just so long as we stay quiet here.” “But I ain’t a hero, Harold, I just do things that have to be done. Heroism is going into work every day to support a family, burying your soul to bring in a wage so you can pay doctor bills, put food in the freezer, kids through college. All I did was arrange a little stuff.” Harold just looks playful at him, “So I’m not living with a hero, am I? I suppose I’ll have to go out, find one then.”

“Do folks think we’re, er, well?” says a pink Buddy. “I’m sure they do, James.” “Can’t we do something to put them right?”, horrified. “You know, this is so unusual, I’m seeing you so confused and unsure. No, I don’t think any amount of denial is going to change the way people think, even if some of them believe you, there will always be the ones that go ‘oh, yeah, sure’.” “Oh Lord. Oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord, this is terrible. Oh Lord. And if Mom knows, that means Pop does too. Oh, I’ve got to tell him at least, put him right. I’ve got to put Pop right at least. Oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord.” “You’re Pop’s all right James, leastways for the moment, your mother says he’s still in some sort of denial, thinks we’re just two bachelors going to invite young women round for parties that go on until as late as nine p.m. and then we drive them home and after that we go to our cots with a cup of hot milk each.”

The phone rang again. Harold walks, more sedate than last time,
“Schickelgruber 65000” “Oh hello Chester” “He’s as good as he’s ever going to be” His face darkens “James, what’s Chester to do with that thing in the back of the truck? Only he needs to go into Schickelgruber on Monday to collect the new windows for their house.” “Hold on, I’ll talk to him myself.” Takes the phone off Harold who leans in to listen to the conversation. “Hi Chester, yep, takes more than a little bouncing around to worry me.” “If it’s all right with you, I’ll pay your gas if you can bring it back over here.” “Thank you Chester, I’ll see you in 20 minutes.”

Harold puts the coffee back on, Buddy goes out to the back yard an’ starts tidyin’ up all the wrenches an’ oil cans, puts them back in the shed. The gas can goes over in the corner of the yard, a ways off from the house an’ shed an’ separate from the oil tank. Harold leans out of the window, “James, why can’t you put the gas in the shed or under the tank? It looks so untidy there.” “Gasoline’s volatile, Harold, you never seen what it can do? I met a guy once, he was working in his garage in Iowa one winter and forgot to move a can away from the heater. It exploded. You know that Elm Street movie you keep watching from behind a pillow? Freddie Krueger’s what he looked like. No fingernails, ears, no need ever again to visit a barbershop. The can stays where it is. I’ll build a proper store for all the flammables there, that be right enough for you?” “Oh, OK,” pauses, “Did he really look that bad?” “Yes Harold.” “Oh.”

The crunch of tires on the side of the road outside announces Chester ‘fore he evens sounds the horn. Buddy walks round, he still limps some if you look close but hides it when Chester comes into view, waves him over, an’ they goes back through to the back yard. “Howdy Chester, want some coffee before we pull that thing down?” “Thank you Mr Wheldrake, that’d be mighty kind of you, I haven’t had a lot to drink today.” “Well, come on in then, drag up a chair.” Chester hesitates, looks embarassed. “Chester?” “I’ll be fine out here, thank you.” “Chester, you have a problem. I know it ain’t because we’re white, you and the Cherry boys go fishing together and you’ve been in their house often enough. And don’t try convincing me that you and their Elaine haven’t shared a sideways glance, neither, Harold’s noticed when he’s been in the store. It’s me and Harold, ain’t it?” Chester looks like he wants to go hide somewhere, “I’m sorry, Mr Wheldrake. You’s good folks an’ all, but I just feels uncomfortable about it close to.” “Well you stay where you’re comfortable Chester, Harold will fetch the coffee out. Sugar? Cream?” “Please.” Buddy sets down on the bench. “Feel safe enough to sit at the other end, Chester?” Chester sits down, self conscious in every movement. “I’m going to explain this to you, Chester, you can believe or disbelieve, but I’m going to have my say.” Chester waits nervously, Buddy speaks, “I came back to Blinckanmissett after I was discharged from the Corps, my idea was that I’d look after Mom and Pop, but I couldn’t live in a house where they still treated me like I was thirteen years old. I needed a place to stay where I could be close enough to them when I was needed, far enough away to have my independence, so I moved in to the spare bedroom here. Time went by, and I found that Harold occupied a part of my life that I didn’t know existed before. I’d spent my life learning how to do harm to the enemies of the Republic, he’d spent his learning to cook. I’ve come to enjoy the peace here, and I suppose we do look like a pair of old daisies to the world, but I want you to know this, you can keep it to yourself or spread it around, but I’m telling you true, we don’t do that stuff. We don’t touch each other, and we’ve never done that thing the Bible’s against. Now that’s the end of my speech. Lord, I am thirsty too, Harold where’s the – oh, there you are, thank you Harold.” Harold goes back in, doin’ that woman thing, sayin’, “If you want me, I’ll be inside the house.” Like that was just a photograph walkin’ through the door.

Takes the cups, hands one to a calmer looking Chester. “You feel better about things now?” “I think so. Mr Wheldrake-” “Chester, everybody else calls me Buddy, you do it too.” “You sure? It feel disrespectful after all the stuff you done in these parts.” “I’m sure.” “OK. Well, Mr, sorry, Buddy, you said Harold noticed me and Elaine lookin’ at each other?” “Yes, he did.” “You won’t tell her dad, will you? He’s a good man, but this is still Mississippi an’ it might be a step too far.” “You don’t need to tell us about that, Chester, not us here.” Chester leans forward, elbows on knees, cup cradled, lookin’ at somethin’ outa focus. “You been away from here, is it like this everywheres? Folks afraid to follow their hearts cus Jim Crow ain’t dead? Goes to different churches, can’t be wedded cus the pastors won’t give any ground? They gets disowned for bein’ untrue to their own kind? Is it like that all over?”

“No Chester, a lot of places don’t have our problems and attitudes. More than that, if you leave the country, there’s places in Europe or South America where color’s not even a thing that notices or matters. I can’t advise you to go or stay, but my experience was that it was worth travelling. The career I chose damn near got me killed a few dozen times, but it was worth it, I saw places and met people and came out, I don’t know, bigger is maybe the right word, I hadn’t realised how little this place is and how little it matters what goes on here. There’s a new world out there if you want it.”

“But Mr, sorry again, Buddy, what do I do about the store? Granpa an’ Granma Rainey been good kin to me, they’re getting’ old, who goin’ to run the store for them? Luella will take them in, but their keep got to come from somewhere.” Buddy turns a little, calls Harold. He comes out blinkin’ in the light, ever present dishcloth in his hands. “Harold, remember we were talking and I said about a man who will do stuff for good and not complain?” “Yes, James.” “Well we got one here. What do you think of that?” “I think it’s wonderful. What is it he’s doing?” “Chester’s got a problem, he might want to leave this town, but he’s troubled about the Raineys’ welfare. Any ideas?”

“Perhaps your mother can talk to Granma, not be obvious, let her talk about kids and what they’re going to do. You don’t know, they might be concerned still about Chester and how he’s going to live. And they might be concerned about how John Cherry will react to the way Elaine looks at him, too. You got to add in the fact that the Ferguson boys are hanging around with the Gowers lately, too. Chester, I’ll be honest with you. We haven’t done anything here that breaks any laws or rules, but if James wasn’t so worried about his own parents, I’d ask him to come to San Francisco with me and let this place sink back into the Mudindanoze. God’s honest truth.”

“You never mentioned SF.” “You never asked, and I wouldn’t put you on the spot. That would be cruel to you.” Buddy looks Chester in the eye, smilin’, “Welcome to the real world, Chester, looks like we’ve both got decisions to make.” Shakes Chester’s hand, slaps him on the shoulder, “Come on young man, we’ve got a motorsickle to get down.” Chester jumps up, young, strong, undamaged, Buddy stands up slower, older, stiff and bruised. “You sure you want to do this Mr Wheldrake? Buddy, I mean.” “We’re alright, Chester, we have the technology,” goes to the shed an’ fetches out a length of aluminum channel just the right width an’ length to roll the bike down. Once it was down, Buddy gives Chester a tour of it, Harold radiatin’ disapproval like a nuclear detractor. Buddy looks at it, looks at Harold, “OK, OK, I’ll put it away for tonight, jeez, Chester, you sure you want to get married? It’ll end up like this, they all do.” Chester laughs, “Well, gotta be honest with you, marriage ain’t the first thing that springs to our minds when me an’ Elaine talk together.”

They spent the rest of the evenin’ in the easy fellowship of men on the edge of society, Harold rustles up some fancy chicken recipe he got off of a TV program, Chester askin’ about the countries Buddy been to, answerin’ his cellphone twice, once to say, “Hi Granma, yes, I’m still over with Mr Wheldrake, he bin showin’ me round his ole Harley Davidson. No, no, I won’t go ridin’ on it, I promise. I’ll be back tonight, I will, now quit worryin’.” The next time, he said “Hold on,” asked to be excused outside a moment, came back, “That was just a friend, wanted to know about some stuff.” Course, even Buddy seed the shinin’ eyes, the bounce in the step.

A few weeks went by, an’ one day, Buddy gets a text message on his cell phone at college, Warren want him to call by at the Sheriff office when he’s done. Buddy goes round, Warren asks him to come take a walk with him to the Bismarck Memorial Park. Warren’s sorta quiet as they walk down to it, Buddy don’t push it. They gets in there, sits on the edge of the fountain, Warren says, “Sorry to take your time, but I don’t have no-one else to tell about this, you’re the only person I can trust to keep their mouth shut an’ not cause no trouble. I ain’t askin’ for no more help than you just let me get it out, y’understand, but it’s just so hard to think straight on my own, I been goin’ crazy with it. You happy with that?” “Sure.” Warren draws breath, looks serious, “It’s Debbie. She’s pregnant, an’ I want Debbie to have it, an’ she do too. I can’t be seen to be doin’ ‘immoral’ things as sheriff, can’t divorce Mamie easy cus she’s the strict Catholic of us two.”

Now, Warren’s been havin’ an affair with Debbie for ‘bout four years now, Mamie does know, but since she ain’t interested in Warren an’ her life goes by pleasant enough, she ain’t been bothered. Up to now. Harold’s told Buddy what Mamie says about it, so he knows some from that side, Warren’s told him some too so if’n questions get asked he knows what it is he’s not supposed to know about. An’ this comes along. Warren actually loves Debbie, wants to move in, marry, all the good stuff, but Debbie still don’t feel safe since that business with her Granville an’ what he was doin’ to the kids. Shakes a body to find the one you’re supposed to trust the most is the worst one in the world to leave ‘em with.

Buddy asks, “Feel better now you’ve let it out?” Warren, “Some, it’s just been that isolation, you ever been there?” “I had to tell men to do stuff that got them killed. We signed up, we did our best, but war and all that, you know, sometimes you buy a wrong ticket. Where I could, I went to see the widows and girlfriends and the parents, helped them through the funerals or memorial services best I knew. Gave up going in uniform after seeing Jimmy Suzuki’s wife, the kids came running out when they saw it, shouting ‘Daddy, daddy,’ I still get upset about seeing their little confused faces, and her white hot madder than you could believe at my insensitivity. Yeah, I been there. Moments like this, remembering, I want to start smoking again. High tar.” “I get to tell folks about car wrecks, accidents, deaths, never gets easier, you’re bringin’ bad news to ‘em, been attacked, real bad once, I had to knock a man down, his girlfriend went under a Mack in one of them itty bitty European sports cars, fire crew said she weren’t much more’n soup when they was getting’ her out. Glad I weren’t there, just wish I could have gotten that fat, lazy, no good O’Toole to tell the man, earn his keep. Never done enough wrong to fire him, never done enough right to justify his paycheck.” He stands up, “Thanks for comin’ over Buddy, I feels so much better. Say, how’d you feel about you an’ me splittin’ a bottle of Turkey by the river, Sunday? I got a spare rod if’n you ain’t got one.” Buddy thinks, or appears to, for a second, “That’s a fine idea, don’t know if Harold’s got anything planned, but I like the sound of that. Can I call you?” “Sure, Buddy, I understand,” leans down, whispers in his ear, “Hell on earth if’n you don’t keep the little woman happy.” Slaps his back, walks off, winks, thumb raised. Buddy laughs after him, “You watch your step, Warren, I’m voting for Coleman Walker next time!”

Buddy goes back to his car, a discreet metallic gray Toyota pickup, drives home, turnin’ over what Warren’s told him in his head, measurin’ it against knowin’ (through Harold) Mamie’s got to break it to him about wantin’ to move in with Granville McGhee now he’s out on parole. Gonna be some sparks there, you can put your shirt on that one. Warren an’ Mamie might not have had a real marriage for years now, but he’s still the best friend she’s got. Question is if she recognises that or just treat him like he interferin’. He figures that maybe Harold should wait to find out about Debbie an’ the kid, more folks poke their noses in, more complicated life gets, an’ he don’t want none of that. An’ he smiles as he thinks about Chester an’ Elaine, Chester’s supposed to be visitin’ LA an’ his cousins, Elaine’s on vacation in Europe. Strange, y’know, Chester needin’ a passport an’ visa to visit LA. They won’t have no guarantee of happiness, but they’s lookin’ for some.

Late on that night, about one a.m., Buddy wakes up, there’s a noise from the kitchen which ain’t that ole Whirlpool refrigerator, you know how an ole one can rattle, sound like it ready to die, but hold on like a rich relative for years an’ years. So he gets up, pulls on his jeans, goes in. The small light over the sink is on. Harold is sat at the table, CD player goin’, got headphones on, two bottles of Thunderbird in front of him, no glass, an’ one’s already empty. He’s cryin’. Buddy moves round into his field of view. Harold looks up, pulls the phones off. Boozily, “Mr Wheldrake I presume? Can I pour you some of this fine American wine? Been matured for twenty minutes.” “No thanks Harold,” sits down, “What are you doing, Harold? This is not like you, what’s the matter?”

“What’s the matter? I’ll tell you, Mr Wheldrake, what all is the freakin’ matter.” Buddy says nothing, shows nothing, but under the mask, he’s worried, Harold don’t use bad language. Now what follows starts off with Harold sat down an’ at a normal volume, an’ ends up with him stood up, leanin’ across the table, takin’ his weight on one hand while he points an’ waves with the other an’ near shoutin’. “What all the matter is, is that I look at you bent over your college books an’ I think ‘that’s my man James’, I see your butt stuck out of my car’s hood when you do things at it for me, an’ I think ‘that’s my man James’ an’ I walk down the street nex’ to ya, knowin’ all the freakin’ neighborhood respec’ my man James, my man James is the local freakin’ hero. They can kiss my ass. Kiss my ass. Every mother one of ‘em can kiss my freakin’ ass. You wanna know why, Mr freakin’ Wheldrake? Well? Well? You know every freakin’ thing there is to know about every freakin’ thing. Excep’ you don’t know squat about what it like to lie awake in that big ole bed o’ mine, big enough for two people, two lovin’ people. My man James? I don’t got no man, I got a dream that bein’ broke in two every motherfreakin’ night. I know I don’t look much, ain’t clever like your fancy college friends, ain’t brave like your soldier compadres, but I know this, Mr freakin’ Wheldrake, I don’t have to take this no more.”

“You tell me you loves me, you do this for me an’ that for me, well I can get Carl Feinmechanick to service the car, I can dig my own yard, I done ‘fore you come here, I can do it again.” He throws the second bottle at Buddy, who fields it almost without looking. “Here, have a drink on me. I’m getting’ ready for bed.” An he pushes the chair out of the way, pulls off his t shirt, holds the back of the chair an’ drops his track pants. “See anythin’ there you likes, Big Boy?” Turns round, “How’s about this view?” An’ he looks at James over his shoulder an’ sees his face lined with sorrow an’ collapses back down onto the chair, tries to pull his pants back on, fails an’ slumps an’ starts to cry again, agony in his voice, “I can’t be a father, I can’t be a mother, an’ with you I can’t even be a lover. I ain’t your brother, your sister. What am I? What am I? A housekeeper? Maid? It’s my birthday next month, I’ll be a freakin’ old maid. Oh James, James, James, I love you more than life itself,” crying harder now, “An’ I lays awake at night wantin’ you so bad. I don’t care about no Bible or law or Buchenwald woman or what the whole motherfreakin’ goddam asshole neighborhood thinks, I want you to come to me an’ I want your lips on mine an’ what you got in front of you an’ I want it so bad it’s a pain in my heart.” An’ now he just folds in on hisself, great sobs shakin’ him, grief beyond measure, an’ Buddy steps in close, kneels in front of Harold, puts his arms around him, Harold’s head is on his shoulder, an’ he’s wet with tears an’ snot, Harold’s shudderin’ an’ shakin’, an’ Buddy weeps too for the pain his love is in, an’ some for himself cus he wants Harold but the chains of the mind won’t let him.

Harold goes on like this for minutes, he slows an’ eases, finally he’s quiet, sniffin’ an’ gulpin’. “It’s OK James, you can let go now, I ain’t goin’ to make a fuss again. I’m sorry, I’ve been so lonely an’ you only twenty feet away. It won’t happen again.” Buddy gets up, gets the roll of paper towel, wets a sheet, wipes Harold’s face like he’s a seven year old been playin’ in the dirt, dries him an’ his tears, cleans own his icky shoulder.

Harold reaches down to pull the track pants up properly, Buddy stays his hand. “No Harold, I have to face up to it. I have to face up to it all, and I have shirked my responsibility to you. I have rolled over and let Irene Buchenwald win. I don’t know if I can fight what she beat into me, but I have to try, I can’t let you hurt like this again.” “You don’t have to try anything, I’ve just been stupid, let me go to my bed an’ go to sleep.” “Now it’s my turn, ‘for a clever man, you sure are dumb sometimes’, I been lonely too, I don’t want to sleep alone any more either. Come on, there’s as much space in my bed as yours and it’s closer.” An’ he stands Harold up an’ pushes him to the door, pickin’ up the t shirt an’ track pants as he does.


to be continued…..
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maxx england
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Re: Mojo Timeshift

Postby maxx england » Thu Sep 18, 2008 2:43 pm

Mojoland Revisited IV


Harold lifts the sheets, slides in, looks up at Buddy, who raises the clothes in his hand to shoulder height, lets them fall like a ceremony by the bed. “You sure James?” Buddy nods, touches the top button of his jeans, an’ just like a TV remote, the volunteer fireman pager by his bedside goes off. “Goddam! Wait there, I’ll find out what this is.” He goes through to the phone, calls in, “Buddy here, what’s happening?” “Be there soon as.” Hangs up, “Mom and Pop’s house is on fire.” He dresses quickly, Harold says “Wait for me, I’ll come with you,” Buddy tells him, “We ain’t got time. Best thing if you follows careful in your car. Careful, you understand? You still got booze in you and I might need driving back,” cradles Harold’s head in both hands, brushes Harold’s lips with his, “and I don’t want you hurt neither.” Harold sees his expression, knows what’s on his mind. The house is wood, an’ it been dry a whiles now.

Buddy walks out of the door, not running, you can’t put out fires if’n you on the floor broke from runnin’ into somethin’ in the dark. Steps into the Toyota, turns the key an’ sets off. Now you might be wonderin’ why this servant of the US got a Japanese pickup, ‘stead of a Ford or a Dodge. Goes back to his Middle East service, all the boys got respect for AK47s, RPG, even the good ole well thrown stone. What scared them was a dumbass kid in a Toyota pickup packed with explosives drivin’ at ‘em. You could shoot all you liked, even kill the driver, but if that right pedal was locked down, nothin’ would stop it. Fifty caliber would put holes in ‘em, but that was all. Jus’ kep’ on comin’, like some ant, like an ant designed by the Devil. You know, there was a English TV program tried to break one? Drowned it in the ocean, hit it with a wreckin’ ball, burnt it, blew it up. Each time, they come back, turned it on, an’ it run. Now there’s a fire at his folks’ place, an’ Buddy sure glad he got a truck ain’t goin’ to quit on him.

He gets there, house is almost all gone, the fire truck’s come the short ways from the fire house, so he parks up by it. Steps out, Calvin Cherry comes over, “It’s OK, they both got out, we’ve taken them to Carl’s for the time bein’. Nothin’ much left here for you to do, it went so fast. You better go see them.” He knocks on Carl’s door, Jeannette opens it, “Hi, come on in, they’re all right, was there anything saved from the house?” “I don’t rightly know, I just got here.” They go through to the back room, Mom an’ Pop sat there in borrowed robes, huggin’ each other an’ grinnin’.

“Mornin’ son, how ya doin’?” “Fine Pop, how you?” “We got out, not a mark. We want to thank you, son, we thought you was bein’ so damn pessimistic, installin’ them smoke alarms. Turns out you was right after all, ain’t that right, Edie?” “Sure thing, Wheldrake, thank you son.” She hugs Buddy. “Glad you let me fit them, didn’t want no Mississippi roast parent. Did you manage to bring any clothes, or are we going to need to call Aunt Rosemarie and Uncle Bob?” “I think we’re goin’ to be needin’ to call them. We done just what you told us to do, we just kept the door shut an’ climbed out of the window the moment we realised what was goin’ on. Didn’t waste no time lollygaggin’ lookin’ for stuff.” Buddy’s pleased with this, not only have his parents gotten out alive, they bin’ listenin’ to him for the first time in his life, an’ they found out it was worth it. “James, I don’t like to ask, but can we stay over with you until we’s sorted ourselves out? Don’t want to impose on Carl an’ Jeannette, ain’t got much place else to turn to.” “Sure thing, Pop, won’t be long before Harold’s here with the Ford. Pretty sure we can find room for you somewhere.” At the mention of Harold, there’s a little flicker between Mom an’ Pop, y’all know them little marital shorthands that carry so much in ‘em.

Buddy asked what it was that started the fire, they didn’t know, all they knew was the alarms went off fit to raise the dead so they got out. He asked about papers, insurance companies just love folks to lose ‘em, but it was OK, Pop had the policies safe in Ruyk’s Bank in Schickelgruber, other stuff was with Cuxtole & Jakes, y’all mind the law firm, at the junction of Pyle an’ Hives?, all bases covered. There’s a knock at the front door, Jeannette invites Harold through. There’s all that air of celebration that folks is in one piece, him an’ Edie hugs, y’know. Buddy tells Harold they got house guests for a while, hope he OK with that? Harold’s so pleased, he’s like number one hen in the farmyard. Then they takes their leave of Jeannette, goes out to the Ford, Buddy follows in the Toyota.

They steps inside the house, Buddy moves through to the kitchen, dumps the empty bottle in the trash can, puts the other one in the broom closet. Harold’s tellin’ Mom an’ Pop they can have his room, just give him a minute to find fresh linen. Pop sees the two open bedroom doors, the two beds both been laid in, an’ quiet like in Mom’s ear, “See Edie, I told you they’s not like that, they’s got their own places.” Edie says, “OK Wheldrake, OK.” She looks through the door of Buddy’s room, sees the big pair of track pants by Buddy’s bed, “OK, Wheldrake, OK.” Pop asks where Harold’s goin’ to put his head down, outa the corner of his eye, Harold sees Mom, she looks away sorta quick; but not quick enough. “I’ll sleep on the couch, Mr Wheldrake, it converts down to a real nice bed.” “Well, why don’t me an’ Edie have that, you stay in your own room?” “I wouldn’t hear of it, Mr Wheldrake, and anyway, this is my house and I’ll sleep wherever I like.” There’s a sudden noise from Edie, Pop turns, Edie says, “Sorry, I sneezed.” So it all goes on, this undertone between Harold an' Edie, Pop don’t seem to know it’s goin’ on, Buddy’s half amused at it an’ half scared Pop goin’ to click, an’ then what’s he goin’ to say? Harold’s put his beddin’ on the converted couch, made a big point, “Oh dear me, where have I put my night things?” an’ got some out of a drawer in his room, carefully avoidin’ catchin’ Edie’s eye.

Eventually, about four, after somethin’ to eat an’ drink, they all say their goodnights,y’all remember the Waltons? They went at it like fools, dreamin’ up all sorta damfool names to say goodnight to, like “Goodnight Granma, goodnight, Granpa, goodnight Willie the horse, goodnight the Grand Canyon,” I suppose they was just glad to be alive. For the next few weeks Buddy an’ Harold set to helpin’ Edie an’ Wheldrake. After Rosemarie an’ Bob give them some clothes to be goin’ on with, Harold an’ Edie dragged Wheldrake round the stores in Schickelgruber. Poor man never looked that sharp dressed before in his life, never felt that henpecked neither. Still hadn’t shown any recognition about the boys, in spite of Edie bein’ merciless in her good natured double meanin’s. A couple of evenin’s, Wheldrake an’ Edie went over to Bob an’ Rosemarie’s at Edie’s instigation in the Ford. Each time, she’d usher Wheldrake outa the door, turn an’ smile at the boys. I don’t know no details, this particular fly found a different wall to land on, I don’t want to know about it. Save to say that Harold was singing when the folks got back, an’ Buddy had a real relaxed air about him.

Papers got filled in, fire investigator sifted through the ashes of the house, found where the TV went up in flames. Even got some money for the burned out Studebaker as well as the new Chrysler, an’ everybody just plain forgot to tell the insurance that Ferguson had been about to come round the next day to take the ruin to the crusher.

One Saturday mornin’ Wheldrake goes fishin’ with Buddy over by the
Cannawhackett, Warren says they can borrow his rods, seein’ as he ain’t free, go on right ahead. They settles in a nice spot, Wheldrake talks. “James, we decided, the insurance money comin’ soon an’ I got a good pension from my days at the plant.” (There’s a defence munitions plant in Samosa, paid good money, you know) “We ain’t even goin’ to think about rebuildin’ the ole house, we goin’ sell the plot for what we can get, an’ quit Blinckanmissett. We been lookin’ at the Silver Bush Retirement Village for some time now. It ain’t fair to put you in the position where you wears yourself out lookin’ after us as we gets older, so we’s goin’ where we can get cared for professional.” Buddy looks at his Pop, “I know you’ll have it figured out, the way you always taught me, I’m sure you’ll be happy, but I’ll always be concerned you two are in good or bad hands, you know that.” “Sure James, but you have to have your chance at life. You got Harold to worry about now. An’ don’t look so surprised, your ole man ain’t quite as dumb as he looks. I don’t much like the idea of my son, you know, doin’ it with another man, but I ain’t never seen you so much at peace before, an’ your happiness is so important to me.”

“You never talked much about happiness before, Pop.” “Didn’t see much chance of that sometimes. Remember we had to leave you with Irene Buchenwald when you was little?” “Can’t forget, Pop, got to tell you, it’s hard to reconcile that with loving you and Mom.” “Well, I can’t say sorry enough about that, but, you know why? And do you know how much it hurt us too?” “Far as I know, Mom went to work away an’ Granma Carroll recommended putting me with a good churchgoing woman. What did happen?” “Son, your Mom never worked, I don’t know how much you remember, but after your sister was took she had some sort of breakdown, an’ it was years before she got better. She had to go into Mercy Heart for her own safety, an’ yours. Had to find a body to look after you when I was out workin’ or visitin’. Don’t suppose you recall bein’ on the Mudindanoze bridge, do you, or Andy ‘I hates ‘em all’ Gower climbin’ over the rail to grab the two of yous, an’ drag you back? That man has an ugly mind most days, but I’ll always be beholden to him for savin’ you two.” “Pop, why didn’t you tell me this? I thought she’d gone away forever, and where does Magda Kupen fit into all of this?” “Magda, well, them was tryin’ times, Magda just lost her husband to cancer, I just lost my wife period while she was sick, for a few months I felt some sort of normal, hope she did too. I’m eternally sorry for betrayin’ your Mom, eternally grateful she forgave me. Why I didn’t mention Mom bein’ in the asylum? You can be a murderer on parole an’ folks will say you served your time, let’s give him a chance, even protect you from bein’ abused over it. Sick in the head? Ain’t your fault, somethin’ happened that took you a long way away from the real world an’ gave you a bad place to be, don’t matter how long after it happen, folks cross the road, pull their kids away from the crazy woman. We all kept our mouths shut, we took care of our own, that way nobody said or done nothin’ to hurt her when she come back.”

They sat quiet some time, then Wheldrake looks at Buddy.

“James, forgive me for askin’, an’ tell me to butt out if you want. This business with Harold. Is it just two guys with a need, or is it some sorta real thing?” “I asked myself that a few times. Got the same answer. Maureen was ‘in like’ with me, I worshipped her. The fact she didn’t feel as strong about me as I did her, well, you know it didn’t stop her producing Isobel. Am I ‘in like’ with Harold? No. The sun don’t shine as good when we’re apart, I don’t feel like even half a person unless he’s there. I do little romantic things, you still buy Mom little presents when she ain’t expecting any? I drove all the way into Jackson to look at a motorcycle, as I was driving back through Hayesboro, I stopped at the flower store, came home with a bunch of red roses. I surely can’t tell you how happy he was, I can’t tell you how happy I was to see him happy. This is crazy, you know? James Elvington Wheldrake jr, ‘I will not be denied’” (Pop joins in on “will”, they lean across, shake hands and sit back again), “tail chaser extraordinaire, notches on bedposts on four continents, pursued by husbands in nine different languages, shacked up with a guy. You know, I’m beginning to think God’s got a strange sense of humor.”

“I figured the same too.” A pause, then, “Have you told Harold about Isobel?” “No, and I don’t know, it’s somehow never the right time. He’s got to know soon, I’ve managed to go see her every few months, Lord how she grows!, fifteen soon. Same beautiful red hair as her mother, same skin like Mom’s best porcelain. Got our nose, and that’s a misfortune, but it’s not as big as ours. Yet.” Pop starts off in a fake temper, “An’ what an’ all is wrong with our noses? What, young man? These are fine noses, noses a nation can be proud of, noses fit to shelter small villages. What is wrong with our noses?” Buddy’s grinnin’ at the ole man, “Pop, you know, I don’t know if you will ever improve. Promise me you won’t.”


To be continued…..
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Re: Mojo Timeshift

Postby maxx england » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:28 pm

Return To Mojoland V


Just after this time of the fire, an’ this pretty much runs parallel to what’s been spoke about before, Mamie has dropped her bombshell on Warren, about wantin’ to take up with Granville McGhee, which is a mite complicated by Warren already seein’ Granville’s ex wife Debbie, who divorced him over what he was doin’ to their daughters. Mamie has this idea she can ‘turn Granville around’, Warren don’t want him in the same state as Debbie’s kids, never mind the same county. Plus he tells Mamie about Debbie carryin’ his kid now. So they’s each come to Buddy, separate like, asked if he knew anythin’ an’ why didn’t he say? An’ Buddy, can’t say this is unreasonable, tells ‘em he been asked to listen an’ say nothin’ by both of ‘em an’ he done that, ‘sides, this here is gettin’ complicated an’ he refuse to add to it an’ lose friends over it. An’ between you’n me, let’s face it, state of the laws hereabouts, he wants the Sheriff on his side.

Warren an’ Mamie done decided to sell the house an’ split the money. Warren gets hisself the apartment over the dry goods store on Pyle, Mamie sets up with Granville in a rented house down by the ole station. How many years now since they ran trains through there? Councilman Furneaux wants to turn it into a museum an’ art gallery, the others is neutral excep’ Williams and Hoey wants to turn it into a mall. Furneaux’s gone into battle with them, got the slogan, “Screw The Mall”. You’d reckon the money an’ the mall will win through, excep’ ole man Statler owns half the town an’ got a lot of say what goes on round here, special like as his daughter Laurel been educated out east an’ she got ideas about culture an’ all. Culture? Schickelgruber? Listen, if they can’t eat it, sell it or screw it or shoot it there, it ain’t worth a politician’s promise.

This here’s wanderin’ again. Fortunate (an’ especially given Granville’s record) they don’t have any kids an’ custody issues, even Warren’s dog Elmer been buried a year an’ a half now. Sometime soon they’s gettin’ a divorce, Warren’s itchin’ to drag Debbie to the courthouse, she’s still holdin’ him off at arms length. Must have awful short arms considerin’ she startin’ to show now. Warren’s brother Teddy an’ sisters Barbra, June an’ Lizabeth bin weighin’ in with all the “you want do this, you want do that” about Mamie an’ the house, Mamie’s mom is burnin’ the phone lines from Texas, where she moved with Albie Beck, remarried after Maxie Grosskreutz died.

That’s all goin’ on in an’ around Schickelgruber, back in Blinckanmissett, heck, you damn near heared the shock waves from what went on there all around the world. Chester Burnett an’ Elaine Cherry been gone from about the same time, supposed to be over six thousand miles apart. Late one afternoon after a few weeks, John Cherry an’ Lee-Anne, his missus, goes into the Raineys’ store for some stuff they forgot when they was in town or run out of, an’ Granma Rainey is readin’ a letter, keeps askin’ Granpa, “What’s this word? That boy’s writin’ worse’n I seed on a doctor note,” raisin’ an’ lowerin’ her glasses, movin’ the paper back an’ forth. Granpa says “That one says Milwaukee, I think that nex’ one mean Avenue. The thing that look like a bumblebee, that mean eight nineteen.” Looks up, “Oh hi, Mr Cherry, Miz Cherry, we done got a letter from Chester. By mail, you know.” Total innocent, not knowing what’s comin’ next, Lee-Anne, proud mother says, “That’s nice, we got a letter from Elaine today. She’s decided to go to Washington, she’s got a reception job with the Vacation Venue hotel chain, found a nice little shared house too.” Did you ever have one of them moments when the world kinda goes real clear around you? Like the house is empty an’ you swear you heard a tread on the stair? It spread out from Granpa an’ Granma, wrapped itself round them an’ the Cherrys like mist on the river. John Cherry’s face sorta freezes, he says, “Lee-Anne, you got that letter with you?” Oh my, but can’t you just see this comin’? “Sure John,” unsuspectin’, digs in her bag, “Got it here somewhere.” Y’know, I often think men shouldn’t go down mineshafts, send the womenfolks in, things they can find in seconds, jeez! Anyhow, she digs it out, after sayin’ “There you are, I knew I’d put my keys somewhere safe.” (An’ to herself), “An’ I must wash them. Here it is. What do you want it for, John?”

John takes it from her, “Mr Rainey. Granpa. Did Chester say anything in his letter about work? You know, a job?” Granpa looks down the crumpled page in front of him, “Why sure, sure. Oh!” An’ he looks at Granma, looks back at the letter, Granma, John Cherry, Lee-Anne, the letter, Granma. His mouth goes like a big, round O, his eyes open so wide, they’s like one of them ole time cartoons of a black man. He turns, face stuck, to John Cherry. “Vacation Venue, am I right?” Granpa nods, his mouth starts to work, he looks just like a fish on a bank, opens, shuts, opens, shuts. “What is it he’s doin’ there, if you don’t mind me askin’?” “Cercercer, cercercer, cercercer.” He stops to gather himself, takes another run at it in a quiet an’ hoarse voice. “Cash office. Money, you know, cash office.” Now Lee-Anne does the fish impression. This is getting’ to be a regular wildlife show. John asks in a too calm to be right voice, “Chester, where is he livin’ at? Wouldn’t be a shared house at 2819 Milwaukee Avenue, would it?” Granpa just nods slow. Now y’all understand, this here’s a Mississippi hamlet, folks been at peace for years, treat each other with respect most times, but it still Mississippi. You got the oil, you got the water, they don’t mix. They got their places an’ don’t move out much. But this here? Lord above, this is a big thing, an’ John Cherry all of a sudden, he goes pale. This ain’t just he’s white, he goes pale, has to hold to the counter, his legs don’t want to hold him up no more. Granpa brings a chair through to John an’ helps him to find it an’ sit down. By now, Granma has joined Lee-Anne in doin’ the fish impression. Granpa is the only one with any sort of idea what to do, goes ole man careful to the door, locks it an’ draws the blind down with “Closed, even for Funderberg’s Blue Miracle” on it. I never did find out what the hell Funderberg’s Blue Miracle was. Granpa goes back around to Granma, wonderin’ what all is goin’ to happen next. Time was, he knew, a short drive to the pines around the Bracebridge pool, now, he don’t know. How much has the world done changed? Shakes Granma by the shoulder, “OK hon?” “I’m OK Wayne. Oh, Wayne, what are we goin’ to do?” An’ you know she askin’ the same question as Granpa….

The Cherrys come to themselves, John is just sat an’ shakin’ his head, “Well, well, well,” Lee-Anne is, an’ this is a world’s first let me tell you, speechless. Granma tells ‘em, “We didn’t know, honest, we just didn’t know, Chester just the same polite an’ friendly to her as anyone else. We didn’t know, Mr Cherry, we didn’t know.” “OK Granma. Mrs Rainey. Elaine pretty damn quiet about this too. Lee-Anne, didn’t you suspect anythin’?” “No John, no,” (she’s started to sit up an’ take notice again). Then she stops. “Hold on, I’ll call Josie Kellet, she’s her best friend. She don’t know, nobody do.” There’s the usual half minute of diggin’ around in the bag, cell phone comes out, switches it on. “Mr Rainey, can I trouble you for the use of your telephone? Mine’s dead, and he,” glaring at John, “Won’t have one. He says I’ll use it as a trackin’ device on him. What it is he’s doin’ to hide from his wife is what I want to know.” “Lee-Anne, I done tole you over an’ over, I just wants a place in the world that just belongs to me, just sometime, a man want a place to breathe an’ be alone.” An’ he looks at Granpa, who looks both guilty an’ in agreement. Granma leans her head back, looks down her nose at Granpa, “Wayne, you goin’ get Miz Cherry the telephone? Miz Cherry, don’t you worry none, they gwine breathe when we tell ‘em.” Granpa, like John Cherry, is now wishin’ for a hole in the ground to open up an’ take him away, first from the Chester business, second, an’ which is a close match for worryin’, Granma, an’ he pulls the ole telephone with the twenty year old NAACP sticker on it out from under the counter. Hands it to Lee-Anne, turns to Granma, “I’m goin’ call Ellesmere after, ask him if he knew his brother’s mind.” “Mm hmmm.”

Lee-Anne presses the buttons, has to try twice on account this is an ole phone an’ they sticks sometimes. “Oh hi Mrs Kellet, This is Lee-Anne Cherry, how you doin’?” “I’m fine too, thank you.” “Oh yes, John an’ the boys are fine too. How’s your youngest? Over that virus?” “That’s good, he back at school now?” “Mrs Kellet, could I speak to your Josie? Only I was wonderin’ if she could throw some light on somethin’ our Elaine done.” “Thank you.” She covers the phone, tells John, “She’s just gone to find her. I’m goin’ to get to the bottom of this, mark my words.” John sorta shrinks in on himself a little on hearin’ this, he’s got memories of Lee-Anne gettin’ to the bottom of things before, an’ they ain’t pleasant.

“Hi there, Josie, I was just wondering, can you tell me if you talked with Elaine about her trip, you know, where she was supposed to be goin’ to Europe? An’ she done ended up in Washington?” “Young lady, that’s the worst actin’ I ever heard, an’ I been to the Strickland Theater. You come clean now, tell me what you know.” “Well fine, you come round to our house at seven, nobody goin’ to be mad at you. We just want to know how long this been goin’ on an’ all.” She hangs up, turns to John, “She’s comin’ round, don’t want her mother to find out. We goin’ find out how long all this been goin’ on. An’ then I’ll kill her.”

John stands up, puts his hands behind his back, “Well Mr an’ Mrs Rainey, I know Chester ain’t blood kin to you, but you’s raised him, an’ I know him to be a good an’ decent person-” (Lee-Anne draws a short, sharp, shocked breath on hearin’ this) “up to now, Lee-Anne, up to now, an’ all, but this is one hell of a shock, y’understand?” Granpa, “Sho’ do, Mr Cherry, sho’ ‘nuff.” “Well, I lay claim to be a Christian an’ a thinkin’ man, an’ I laid aside my Paw’s ways after I came back from Nam. I figured if a man good enough to come an’ fight nex’ to ya, good enough to lie in the same hole bein’ shot at as you, an’ good enough to die nex’ to ya, well then, he’s good enough to live an’ work an’ eat nex’ to ya. Now I believe my Lord is testin’ me. I just own up to bein’ scared for the two of ‘em, an’ with due respect, if it goes that far, I’m scared for my grandkids too. There’s folks be bad to them out there, you know that.” An’ thoughtful now, “They sure as hell ain’t never walkin’ down Main Street hand in hand here. An’ if you don’t mind, Mr Rainey, I’ll just phone my boys to come over, never mind no best friends, if her brothers don’t know somethin’ I’ll be mighty surprised.”

So he does that, then Granpa calls Ellesmere, the two women goes into a huddle off to one side. Turns out Ellesmere told Chester to get real, folks don’t do that sorta thing hereabouts, but he went an’ done it anyhow. An’ now it all hit the fan, an’ he so sorry for havin’ let down Granpa an’ Granma, but he been made to promise to keep quiet. Have they thought about takin’ a vacation yet? Just until the fuss dies down, you know. You can tell readin’ between the lines that he means get out before the Gowers an’ Ferguson’s boys show their displeasure. Especially Martin Gower, he was keen on Elaine too, an’ now she’s run off with a black store clerk.

There’s a knock on the door, Calvin’s outside with Luther an’ John jr, picked up on the way in. John lets ‘em in, they sees the posse waitin’ to hang ‘em, an’ stands by the front window lookin’ more guilty than a kid with a cookie jar. Lee-Anne goes to sound off at ‘em, John stops her (you never thought you’d see that either), “Boys, how long has this been goin’ on? An’ how long did you know about Washington?” They looks at each other, Calvin (always been the lead one of the three) says, “They been wantin’ to see each other for a year now, sir. Can’t say they ever did nothin’, they was never alone together or out of our sight together for long enough, far as we know. So they decided it weren’t goin’ to happen here an’ set to makin’ it happen a long ways off. They found this hotel wanted staff in Washington, an’ they both got good references from college an’ pastors an’ doctors an’ all. Then they arranged separate rooms in a house that hadn’t got no color attitude. I don’t suppose they’s separate much now though.” He stands, thinkin’ a moment. “Paw, Maw, we’s sorry for keepin’ it from ya, but Elaine was real scared you an’ Maw would get mad an’ stop her, an’ she was real serious about Chester. An’ he’s our friend too, an’ he says he loves her for real, never ever gwine harm her. You always brought us up to see a man, not a color. How we ever goin’ break down the wall if we don’t pick up the first hammer?” “Son, I admire all of you for bein’ as good as you are, but I’m angry as all hell with you over the way you went behind our backs. Does that mean she never went to Paris at all?” Calvin looks even more guilty, the other two don’t actually move but they seem sorta closer to the door. “Calvin?” You shoulda heard the threat an’ suspicion in John’s voice. “She did go, Paw.” Then, quieter, “They both went.” “They both went.” “Yessir. They said they want to go back there too, nobody didn’t give ‘em a second look. They was walkin’ hand in hand everywheres an’ nobody did nothin’ or said nothin’ bad to ‘em, nothin’. Only thing wrong was they all spoke French there, it bein’ Paris, France, an’ all. An’ you couldn’t get a good burger.” “So all them phone calls, Chester been hangin’ around in back of ‘em?” “Yes, Paw, an’ we’s all spoke to him too, he sure pumped to be outa Blinckanmissett with Elaine an’ just be free for once. Beggin’ your pardons, Mr, Mrs Rainey.”

Granpa looks at Granma, she says, “You boys got good folks, they raised you an’ your sister good, so we’s happy if Chester happy. An’ free? He was never ours to keep, we just held him safe until he was ready to leave. The Lord knows, the only chains he got now are ones he chooses, not what Mississippi put on him. If it OK with you, Mr, Miz Cherry, I’d be proud to see a ring on his finger.”

Lee-Anne turns to the boys before John could start again, “I don’t know whether to bang your heads together or hug you, I really don’t.” She turns back to John, “See what you done, John Cherry, you’s educated your childer to be subversive. Well, I’ll have to call Josie Kellet an’ tell her not to bother comin’ over. An’ we’s got to figure how we goin’ to handle it when the news breaks. What about you, Granpa, Granma?”

“I think we’s goin’ to take a vacation, see Esther’s sister in Georgia. An’ put more fire insurance on the store while we gone. Might not come back neither, except to visit all our kids once in a while.” He stops, looks at Granma, “Esther, did you ever see the White House?” “No, Wayne,” smilin’ like a nineteen year old at him, “But I’d like to if we can afford it. What about you, Mr Cherry, Miz Cherry?”

“I wonder what sorta deal we can get on a flight outa Flodden? Four seats an’ connections to Washington. How you two fixed for the fare? Don’t see how you got that much to spare with a little store like this, an’ I got a good job in the hospital administration. What d’ya say?” Granpa speaks for the two of ‘em, “I thank you, Mr Cherry, but we can’t take your money after you been let down like this, an’ where would we stay anyhow?” John looks at Lee-Anne, “ I don’t think we been let down at all. We taught all our kids to think the true American Way, for themselves, not how someone else with a problem wants ‘em to. Where we goin’ to stay? Lord, that’s the easiest decision in the world. Vacation Venue of course!”

To be continued…….
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Re: Mojo Timeshift

Postby maxx england » Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:31 am

Mojoland Revisited VI


Now all y’all is thinkin’, this here Mississippi ain’t the one I knows or the one in the news when the outside world takes an interest. Well, the chickens is comin’ home to roost. Not everybody in Schickelgruber County or the little nothin’ at all burg of Blinckanmissett has the good sense to leave things be when there ain’t no actual harm involved.

Comes the time just after Buddy’s folks tole him about their Silver Bush Retirement Village plans an’ Elaine an’ Chester went away to be together, the Gowers an’ Ferguson’s boys got together around some o’ that ‘Nascar’ Ferguson is ‘rumored’ to produce an’ started talkin’ big about how the world was goin’ to ruin with the faggots an’ pinkos on the one hand, an’ white womens was runnin’ off with the (I deletes the ugly word here, but you’s old enough to figure it), an’ where was the law when it shoulda bin there? Of course, it don’t occur to them that if they gets all the laws applied round here, there’s goin’ to be some trouble headed their way too. But they sets to thinkin’ how to make their feelin’s known to the best effect. The Cherrys, Buddy an’ Harold an’ the Raineys was put in the sights, all they had to do was find the most noticeable way of removin’ these inferior types from Blinckanmissett. How the hell they thought anythin’ could be inferior to themselves beats me, but that’s people for ya.

One time Buddy comes home from college, pulls up in the Toyota an’ sees Harold’s blue Ford got ‘FAG’ in a sorta dirty brown spray paint down the side aways from the house. The house door is open, no sound comin’ out, which is a worry to Buddy, Harold always got some sloppy radio or record playin’. He don’t do nothin’ sudden, he bin around places make Mississippi look like kindergarten, so sets off down the road in the Toyota, stops a couple hundred yards on. Slides out, got a pump action in his hand, gets through the long grass an’ scrub at the side of Bensen’s field, along to their own place. Looks around the back, Harold’s in the yard with a dead weed whacker, lookin’ at it like prayer goin’ to clean a wet plug. Buddy gets up careful, Harold near jumps out of his skin, Buddy puts his finger to his lips, shushin’ him, waves him across to the fence, whispers, “Quiet now, get over here, get down and don’t come out until I call you out, understand?” Well, Harold don’t, but Buddy scares the hell outa him enough so he does what he bin told.

Buddy moves to the corner of the house where there’s the least view of him crossin’ the yard, slides up close. Checks the door, peeks in ready to pull the trigger, no one. Goes through the rest of the house, checks the rooms. Satisfied nobody or nothin’ there, goes out to the Ford, checks it over, it’s clean. Takes a good look around the ground by it, dust is scuffed up some, but there’s a boot print. Heavy workin’ man’s boot, tread pattern on the sole got some cuts in it an’ some wear on it, identifiable enough to get a match if he can find the original. Walks slow to the road, eyes down on the floor. Some indistinct footprints, one man only, well looky here, flake of rusty car body, same dirty brown color as the stuff on Harold’s Ford, but faded. Useful to know. Some fresh oil stain too, he sniffs it on the end off his finger, black an’ thin’ an’ never been changed by the tar smell.

He goes back around the side of the house, calls Harold up, tells him to pack a bag now, he’s goin’ to Texas to see his mom. “Why James, why?” Buddy shows him the side of the Ford, Harold’s like he been slapped round the face, “Who would do that? Who, James? Nobody’s said anything to us, we’re not hurting anyone.” “You don’t have to do anything except breathe to upset some people, and we have done more than that here. Now you are going to a place of safety until I can bring you back here or join you there.” “But I don’t want to go. You’ll protect me, won’t you?” “I can’t be everywhere, and I can feel something wrong in the air. Don’t argue with me on this, I learned a long time back to listen to my instincts.” So Harold didn’t argue; sometimes when Buddy told you stuff, you listened an’ did what you was told without even thinkin’. Some hours later after Harold been marched off to Flodden for the next plane out (an’ it don’t matter which ways, out was the important qualification) an Buddy got back, he cut the paint off the Ford. It weren’t deep, an’ the dust stopped most of it stickin’ anyhow.

While he’s doin’ it, he sees a glint like a sight from far across Bensen’s field, moves round like he still workin’ on the paint an’ drops outa sight. Some while later, he surfaces where the glint was, holdin’ that pump action again. There’s tire marks leadin’ away down the far track to the Schickelgruber road, sizes mismatched, real uneven wear patterns. Where the car was parked, there’s some more little flakes of rust an’ dirty brown paint, some trash been thrown out, includin’ a receipt for thirty dollars from Colsterworth’s hardware, Buddy picks it up, maybe useful later, an’ some Old Jackson cigarette packets. An’ in a familiar smellin’ damp patch, there’s a good copy of that boot print in the dirt.

Buddy goes back to the house, packs a bag an’ gets out too. Drives off to Schickelgruber to get a room at Zimmerman’s, as he gets onto Main O’Toole comes up behind him, lights and sirens. Buddy stops, opens his door, O’Toole shouts, “Warren says get over to the Sheriff office Buddy, we need all the help we can get! We done got a little girl missin’,” an’ then he sets off roundin other bodies up. When Buddy gets through the door, Warren stops talkin’ to the two men there, crosses the floor to him. Quiet says, “I know you’s done all kinda stuff. How good’s your trackin’? Christabel Gower gone missin’ from up by the Bracebridge pool an’ I need any help I can get.” “I can do some. Probably better than most around here. Got any description of the girl’s clothes?” “Sure, pink an’ white check shirt, pale blue pants, pink shoes. Always around the water but never in it.” His face clouds, “Up until now. Her friend Carrie Oakley was with her, says she went to the bathroom behind that lightnin’ struck tree, when she come out, Christabel was gone.” “OK, I’ll head there now, look around. Anybody else been up there? I suppose her folks and friends will have been. Anyone else we know of?” Warren thinks a second, “No, that’s about it. You better come with me, we goin’ to need some diplomacy the ways some of them folks will react to you, an’ this ain’t the time for damn fool arguments about damn fool laws, I don’t need nor want to be dealin’ with it right now.”

Warren tears off back to the pool, Buddy makes him pull up short of the end of the road, gets out an’ walks slow towards the water with his eyes down. Tire marks in the dust everywhere, no chance of pickin’ out any tracks. There’s cars an’ pickups all around the trees that ring the pool, men off in the untended scrub surroundin’ it, looking hopelessly an’ shoutin’ (an’ they know there’s no hope, but they do it anyhow) “Christabel!” There’s a knot of people about the center of the cars, Christabel’s mother Ingrid cryin’ an holdin’ to Herman Gower, Andy’s oldest boy, and his brother Siegfried is there. It’s common knowledge that if Andy had had more’n two sons, he’d have used up the names Heinrich an’ Adolf too. That man so right wing, he has to be propped up on one side to walk. But he’s frightened out of his mind an’ out there in the fields, tryin’ to find his lost granddaughter, just like any other poor Joe in the world. Buddy starts to walk over to the trees, there’s a shout, “Hey! Faggot! We don’t want your sort round here! Git afore we hangs you, we got plenty trees to do it, an’ nobody to stop us!” Buddy looks back, there’s Harry Ferguson walkin’ toward him from a dust cloud behind the parked cars. “Harry, Warren brought me here, we got a child to find. We’ll talk afterwards if that’s what you want.” “Hell we will. Christabel’s missin’ an’ he’s brung you to do his work! You get the hell outa here or I’ll put a rope round you myself!” Herman steps between them, “Harry, if he can find my Christabel, I tell you now, he can have my ass any day he wants, I just want my baby back.”

He turns to Buddy, “Do you think you can find her?” The prayer and misery in his voice, the hope that the old soldier can give a father his most precious gift back, it hurts to hear it. “I don’t know, but if God wills it. Warren, you just wait there with Herman, less disturbance around the more I’ll see.” Nods, turns an’ carries on walkin’, remembers a day in a shell ruined house, Diego an’ his little pack of medical supplies, a kid about nine with bandages all on him, blood seepin’ through, an’ a frightened father askin’ will he live? You didn’t need none of his language, you understood, an’ all you could say was “In’sh’Allah.” If God wills it. An’ they lost him too, the family knew they done their best, sat them all down, as a partin’ act made them some of the strong sweet coffee, shook their hands as they left. Buddy remembered, hell, he could do with a high tar right now.

He looks around, finds the tree. Walks around, lookin’ to see any threads of cloth, nothin’, any broke stems, footprints, but it’s all churned up. Nothin’, starts to widen the pattern, goin’ back to the road, an’ shaded by long grass an’ tree shadow, tire marks, deeper in the ground than at Bensen’s field, but identical. They passed close by where a branch got broke off in the last storms, there’s a fresh scrape on the wood an’ bark, an’ a shave of the same brown paint, on the ground underneath, a sprinkle of brown paint an’ rust. After that, nothin’ again, it all been lost in the millin’ around an’ panic. He goes back, looks to see any recognisable footprints, nothin’ just a mess of undirected searchin’.

Warren comes to him, “Any luck?” “Don’t know what it signifies, but though there’s no sign of the girl, we got some tire marks and rust and paint I think are the same as I found on the far track in Bensen’s field earlier. Someone had been watching us, probably the same man painted Harold’s Ford.” “Painted?” “Fag, in brown paint, same shade as here and in the field. I think he dropped this too.” Hands Warren the receipt. Warren thinks a second, looks around, the Gowers and Harry Ferguson are watchin’ them from about fifty yards off. “Can you describe the tires? I won’t prompt you, I need what you got clean.” “Different sizes, patterns, uneven wear, like the car don’t steer dead ahead.” “You ain’t got a piece of the paint with you, have you?” “No, but we have some over by that dead branch there.” So they get a bag, pick it up, label it.

They walk back to the car, Warren callin’ Harry over as they go. He comes over, skin deep apologetic about earlier, “What you want, Sheriff? What can I do for ya?” “You can walk with me down to that traffic violatin’ Dodge of yours, I just want to eliminate you.” Now Harry ain’t the sharpest blade in the knife drawer, so he don’t see any double meanin’ in Warren’s words, an’ walks ‘em down to the Dodge. Sure enough, same brown paint, rust, tires, an’ Lordy! looky here! A spray can of brown paint, used already but not on the car, sittin’ on the passenger seat. “Would you mind showing me your right boot sole, Harry?” asks Buddy. Harry frowns, “Sure.” Lifts his foot, so now we got a match for one criminal act to be goin’ on with. Buddy nods confirmation to Warren behind Harry’s back, Warren soft an’ slow, like he takin’ the time of day, says, “We might as well start with you, we have to question everyone here to find where they were this mornin’, t’aint no offence to you, you understand?” “Why sure, Sheriff, anythin’ I can do to help.” “Now, have you been up here today, before Christabel was reported missin’, before the folks come up to look for her?” “No sir, I been over at the boat shed, fixin’ stuff, but I come soon as I was called for.” Warren nods his head, walks a few feet away, turns, “Son, you’re getting’ in the back of my car now. Unless you want to explain personal to Herman why your Dodge has a fresh scrape on it that matches that broke branch over there?” “You can’t prove nothin’, I coulda done that yesterday or any time!” Buddy stands by Warren, “You were in Bensen’s field this morning, there’s tire tracks, a good footprint, and you dropped some stuff. You lie about that, you can lie about Christabel. You smoke Old Jackson, don’t you?” “Plenty folk smoke Old Jackson, it don’t prove nothin’.” “Sure, but what about the receipt from Colsterworth’s?” Harry pats his pocket, realises he been caught, angrily, “OK. I was there, yeah, I painted his fag boyfriend’s car. Don’t make me no pervert like him though.”

Warren makes him sit in the car anyways, there’s interested bystanders startin’ to gather, the Gowers are startin’ to walk across. He radios in, tells O’Toole to send Hatcheck to Colsterworth’s, ask them what they sold to Harry for thirty dollars two days ago. Hatcheck. Some ways back he had a Polish German ancestor, couldn’t read nor write, so he got his name spelled that way by Immigration, that’s how it stayed. Warren walks over to the Gowers, tells ‘em to go home, they goin’ to be kept informed. Just get some rest for now, as much as they can, their girl might need them to be strong for her, OK? Rest of you all here, just keep on lookin’, you might get lucky. Thinkin’ all the while how it will at least keep them from thinkin’ too much, an’ burn some of the fire out of ‘em before what he thinks happened comes out.

Carl Feinmechanick sees Harry, raises an eyebrow, Warren tells him, “We got outstandin’ business with Harry, sorry to say, but we’ll get him processed as soon as we can an’ get back to ya. Deputy O’Toole’s comin’ over with some more bodies, he’ll take charge here for me in the meantime.” He keeps his face straight as he thinks of slob O’Toole takin’ charge the only way that will work, twelve volt leads attached somewhere that will have his undivided attention. Buddy moves to get in, but not before Herman comes across to him an’ asks if he found anythin’ at all yet? “Not that I can make sense of, so many folks were about that we’ve lost any tracks worth investigating. And I’m deeply sorry I can’t help you, deeply sorry. But, like I said, God willing, we’ll find her for you. All I can do is tell you to do what Warren told you, rest, and if you need it, pray. I’m just sorry I can’t do any more for you right now.” And then they left.

As they drove the few miles toward Schickelgruber an’ by Ferguson’s place, Harry starts to squirm an’ whine in the back of the car. “Sheriff, I owns up to the paint, why do you need to take me in? I can pay Buddy for the damage, won’t be no harm done. I won’t do it no more. What d’ya say?” Warren, knowin’ how good old fashioned paperwork can hold a man still just long enough to collect useful evidence, tells him, “No, Harry, we have to do the job right. You told me before how I wasn’t doin’ the job right, how I should be arrestin’ them as breaks the laws of God an’ man. So I’m makin’ a start.” You mean you’s goin’ to arrest me over paintin’ a fag’s car, but not the fags?” “Harry, what we have here is evidence of a criminal act by you. What we do not have is evidence of a criminal act by Mr Wheldrake here. If you can provide me or any other officer of the law with the same, we will act in full accordance with legal procedure. Do you have any evidence?” Harry is quiet, then a small, sulky, “No. But we all knows they do fag things in that house.” “Really? I’ve been there, Harry, separate bedrooms, nobody held hands while I was there, didn’t even see no Valentines on fourteenth February. Has it ever occurred to you an’ your friends that they ain’t doin’ it? That you just got nasty minds? Leave ‘em alone, Harry, I ain’t got time to waste on stupidity.” Buddy is silent, but satisfied his strict insistence on security is working so far. It still grieves him about burning the cards though.

The radio breaks the atmosphere, Hatcheck crackles out of the speaker, “Been to Colsterworth’s, Larry says Harry Ferguson came in an’ bought a can of auto paint an’ some filler, an’ a big padlock an’ chain. Talked about makin’ the ole boat shed secure.” “Thank you, Billy, call for the Coroner’s ambulance will ya? Then come on over to Ferguson’s boat shed yourself, bring the bolt cutters with you.” Turns to Harry as he drives, “Unless you got any keys on you Harry? Nice, shiny new ones?” Harry fishes about in his pocket, hands them forward, “No need for the cutters. No need.” Then he falls silent, sorta curls in on himself, looks beaten, no fight in him. Warren calls Hatcheck, “Cancel the cutters.”

They pull up, Warren handcuffs Harry, warns him not to move unless he really is ‘faster than a speeding bullet’, goes to the shed with the keys ready for the shiny new lock. Buddy stops him, “Wait a moment, let Harry do it, we’ll wait over there a ways.” Warren looks at him, the shed, Harry, tells Buddy “OK, seems like a good enough idea.” So they unlocks him, gives him the keys an’ hides safe a hundred yards off, close to the ground. Harry opens the doors wide then just stands to one side with his head bowed, waiting for his next instruction. Buddy calls him over to Warren and the cuffs, goes inside on his own, slow, lookin’ an’ checkin’.

Warren waits outside until Buddy calls him in, “It’s OK, no wires or traps. I think we’ve got Christabel though there’s nothing we can do for her. Just don’t touch anything else in here until I can make sure it’s completely safe.” Warren walks in, she’s laid out real formal on the carpenter’s bench, fully clothed with her arms folded across her chest. Face almost luminous white in the dark, no breathin’.

They both walk back out to the car, sit in it. Harry starts to talk, muffled, his face is downcast, “I didn’t mean to hurt her, I just wanted to be her friend. She was round the one side of the tree while Carrie was round the other, I called her over real quiet, it was a game of hide go seek, an’ then I covered her mouth an’ carried her down to the car. She started to struggle, then she went quiet, I got scared, I put her in an’ drove off. I tried to make her breathe again, but she wouldn’t come round, an’ I didn’t know what to do. I thought I should bury her in a proper grave somewhere. Read the Bible over her. I was just foolin’ around, didn’t mean no harm. I was just afraid I’d be punished. Well, I will be now.”

Warren and Harry are quiet. Buddy asks about the other stuff in there. Three barrels, fifty five US gallons, each got its own message painted on, one pinko, one fag an’ one for the colored folks. “We was goin’ to leave you a callin’ card, you is all destroyin’ this country between you, with your liberal ideas an’ your dirty fag blasphemy an’ your pollution of the pure race, you was all goin’ to get what was comin’ to ya. You still will, don’t matter what you do to me, we hates you an’ we’s goin’ to purify this state.” Warren looks at Buddy, “How did you know there was any explosives in there?” “Fertiliser bombs. They have a distinctive smell, you never forget it. This is out of your league, Harry, who made them? Don’t bother trying to protect them, it won’t take long to find them round here; and you don’t know, if things are moving too slow for Warren, there might be a mistake and you go into a cell with another prisoner or two.”

“He wouldn’t do that, everybody knows Warren do it all by the book” “Sure, Harry? Warren’s dealt with men and children before. How sure are you Harry? Enough to sing in the choir? Enough to go into the showers alone, Harry? You understand me, Harry? You been inside before, you know how it works.” Warren’s kept back, Good Cop/Bad Cop routine, “Harry, I know you didn’t mean the little girl no harm, but she’s dead now, and you have no place to run. Let me help the little I can with the court, or you’ll be dead too, an’ it won’t be quick like her’s. You know that, you seen stuff. You need any help you can get.” Harry lifts his face, tired beyond death, “Me, Massey, Alba. Herman, Siegfried. Andy. Pop didn’t want to know, have no Revenue snoopin’ around. We was goin’ to purify the land. An’ now I have the mark of Cain on me.”

Warren read him his rights an’ then they sat silent until first Hatcheck came, then the ambulance. Hatcheck took Harry in, called in to Warren once he was locked up safe. Warren looks at Buddy, “Well, now, this here’s where I earns my keep. I got to call my boys in, round up the dumbasses an’ dispose safely of this stuff. An’ I still got to break the news. This will be a sensitive place, do you want to take a vacation for a month? See the sights?” “I’ll take a lift into town with you, if you don’t mind, pick up the Toyota. I’ll take a nice long drive, pick Harold up, we can head out further West, he’s mentioned SF. It makes sense, but I’d miss this land, most of the folks. I’ll take it one step at a time. Wonder if Silver Bush have places in California?” “Buddy, I just thought. Ferguson’s got to be investigated too. Hell, that man could brew some shine, like angels cryin’ when he set his mind to it. Damn. Damn, damn, damn.” “Warren, we all have to make sacrifices in our lives. This one’s yours.” “I know, I know. Y’know, I might just open up the wrong cell door anyways. Damn fool Harry.” They sit, talk, while they waits for Ken Bensen an’ Les Kellett to come over an’ keep guard. An’ when they do, Warren turns on the car, the stereo kicks out the sound of a cryin’ resonator, they drives off into the afternoon dust….

So life staggered along for Schickelgruber County an’ Blinckanmissett. The trials for Harry an’ the others are still draggin’ along, Herman an’ Ingrid are separated now regardless. Carl an’ Jeannette got yet another pair of twins. The Raineys sold up to Red Fort Stores an’ settled close to Esther’s house in Georgia, the old store is run by that very nice Mr Chanderpaul now, with his incendiary breath. The Cherry family relocated to over the Mudindanoze, in Quinqui, Elaine an’ Chester married in some community in Massachusetts where they was welcomed with open arms an’ multicolored kids in the street. Buddy an’ Harold found out the Silver Bush got branches everywhere, so Harold sold the house to Ma Bensen’s in laws an’ Buddy settled the Wheldrakes in SF an’ they found a place nearby to live an’ display goofy big Valentine’s cards. Mamie split with Granville after a year, she found pictures, she told Warren, so Granville’s back under lock an’ key. An’ finally, Debbie said yes to Warren. Let’s be honest, she’d been sayin’ yes for years, just not to marriage. An’ Warren’s got one of each with her now.

I’m about done here, anyone want a lift over to Ferguson’s? I’m goin’ to pick up some o’ that fancy new bio-solvent he sellin’.
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