Wed, 29 February 2012
We visit some good old stuff. At least, that's what they told me.
Wed, 22 February 2012
Spoiler alert: everything is spoiled.
Wed, 22 February 2012
“This is way beyond the scope of the work, Mr. Smoke.”
“You can stop the charade, Mr. Tracker. I know who you are. Or should I say, what you are?”
“For a man who can’t seem to handle talking and breathing at the same time, you seem to be wasting a lot of words in dependent clauses.”
“Not just dependent clauses, but dependents in general. Do. You. Have. It?”
“What do you think I have, Mr. Smoke? Is it what I think it is? That’s what everyone calls you, isn’t it?”
“Please. Mr. Tracker. Don’t make me repeat it. For obvious reasons.”
“Can I please get my clothes back on?”
“When I get what I want. Then you’ll get what’s coming to you.”
“When I get what I want, then you’ll get what’s coming to you,” I countered.
He made his move. I made mine. Mine was towards the pile of garments a few feet to my right. His move was towards me. I had the crucial decision whether to put on my briefs or grab the essentials before I was grabbed. He moved fast for a man who seemed to relax on life support and got hold of my arm. Was I about to enter a sparring match with this old coot? And if so, is it billable time.
“I know you’re a man who always gets what he wants, Mr. Smoke, but this time it may not happen.”
“I think it may.”
I did a spin move out of his grasp, grasped my pants and that shirt. Lenny Friday’s Hawaiian shirt. Smoke might have been able to move remarkably well for a man in his stage of life, but only in direction. My move left him standing like a rookie cornerback trying to cover Jerry Rice. In this prime.
“You should take it easy, Mr. Smoke. I’m sure we can work something out here.”
“What do you want for it, Tracker?”
“How about paying my bill and letting me get the hell out of this place?”
“Where is it?”
“Don’t fool with me.”
He showed me why. A small hand gun was suddenly found his small hand.
“I think you should put that down, don’t you?”
“I think you need to make me. Believe what you say. Now where is it?”
It was right where I left it. In Lenny Friday’s Hawaiian shirt. When I plucked the tiny tree from inside the 27” Zenith and changed the water in its bag I gave it to Howie’s sister. It fit snugly inside the gusset she made with room for the ant-size leaves to breath fresh air hidden among the floral pattern.
“You’re looking right at it. Safe and sound.”
So, I gave him his damned tree. He took it like a greedy piglet on a crowded sow. Yes, in his mouth.”
“It’s the only way to know if it’s genuine, Mr. Tracker.”
“Tastes one to know one, I guess.”
“Oh, nothing. Didn’t realize you were listening. My statement?”
“You can bring it round tomorrow.”
I left him alone with his little tree and I wondered how it might taste with chocolate milk.
I also wondered why I told him I’d give him a statement. I didn’t have any statement. I needed one. And I didn’t want to wait for tomorrow. I’ve waited for too many tomorrows and wound up with a pile of yesterdays.
Sometimes fortune laughs at you. Once in a while, with you. But more than often, it just smiles. This time it whistled. The tune came from the pursed lips of a postman making his daily rounds. Oblivious to his chattel he seems only interested in blowing out a morning song as he jammed envelopes into their supposed respective destinations. I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. Hawley D. Borlini wouldn’t miss another solicitation from the Friends of Nountown Harvest Jubilee Association. It had the look and feel of a real good statement. One way or the other I was going to make a statement.
Wed, 15 February 2012
Things are both coming to a head and an end, putting Tracker smack in the middle of the mess. The more he learns the more he realizes the lesson is lost. Nountown is not hospitable for any kind of growth, certainly not intellectual and probably not agricultural. It was time for Tracker to stop sowing and start to reap a little. After he changed his beaten-up clothes and put on some practical shoes. Of course, he didn't expect to get back in that Buick. But once he did, he began to figure out where to go and who to see. And where to stand so the light hits his upper torso just so. Just so Delicacy and her Mom can get a good look at him.
Wed, 15 February 2012
The evening air pumped through my lungs and up my cortex and I remembered how running used to clear my head. It made me forget how much it hurt from my injury and assorted wrestling matches, but I found myself at the intersection of what happens next and what do I do about it? I guess my head wasn't that clear.
Here’s what I knew, Winston Smoke, was your typical spoiled rich boy turned bitter old man obsessed with controlling the world one little tree at a time, but unable to control his own personal branch of the family, his daughter Delicacy. Did her name mean she was frail and dainty or something that made your mouth water?
Did I meet Smoke’s rival in Flo’s Shop, a well-dressed gorilla named Hugo or was Hugo part of Smoke’s cadre of Nountown intimidators? Was Hugo the Mr. Wiper that Buttercup and Corncob talked about? The one who seemed to be in charge of cost containment? Was Hugo Mimi’s Uncle?
Why was Flo providing a front that went beyond the 44 Double-Ds lifters she provided and why did all the women around seemed to need them, while all the men needed lifts in their shoes.
Where did my captors take me?
I heard that the roots of a tree were as long as the tree was tall, but roots of evil knew no bounds. Because evil lives in the hearts of men.
It all comes down to real estate. Wars are fought over it. Fortunes are built on it. People are chased from it. Land is king.
Miniature trees offer no shade, no sap, no place for nests, no building materials, just man-made perceived value. Perfect little symbols of Nountown had become. The smaller they were, the more valuable they became. Like the men. But top heavy, like the women.
But was it all just about trees? It was my job to know things. What I knew, was what I didn’t know. And how long would they keep paying me to do that?
Wed, 8 February 2012
Shoeless, Ray Tracker gets taken for a ride, but can’t enjoy the view, even though his tour guides -- two mugs named Buttercup and Corncob -- are full of tidbits. He winds up somewhere in the country where he has to make like Houdini and little bit like Captain America in order to make his own tracks. In bare feet, no less! Until he make friends with a little girl who has what he needs to find his way back. Kitchen appliance … check. Healthy lunch … check. Cross-country golf shoes … check. So, shut up, Buttercup! And drive! Then chip. Then putt for a par 3.
Wed, 8 February 2012
We drove for what seemed like 30 minutes. Corncob must have given Buttercup hand signals because I heard no further commands. We pulled onto a gravel road. That was no surprise. Usually, when they abduct you, it's a trip to the country, where they think no one can find you. What they didn't know was no one would be looking for me. We drove on that road for a bit and came to a stop. The back door opened and I was pulled out of the car.
"Let's go." Corncob said.
"Remember, I'm shoeless," I said.
"Say it ain't so," Corncob said. I had to give him that one.
"If I cut my feet, you'll be liable," I said.
"Let's go," he answered and then he shoved me and since I couldn't see with bag over my head, I lost my balance and hit the ground.
"Help me get him up."
They brought me inside what seemed to be a house. I heard the screen door open. It smelled like laundry. Dirty laundry. I sensed someone else in there, thanks to some heavy breathing.
"Where's his shoes?" said the new guy.
"He didn't have any."
"What is he, a hippie?"
"If this guys a hippie, then I'm Mama Cass Elliot."
"Why'd you say that for?" the new guy said, "She had a sweet voice."
"It just came out. Where's Hugo?"
"He's still in Nountown"
“I gotta go pee,” said Buttercup. Who didn't?
Wed, 1 February 2012
Things are getting uncomfortable. Tracker loses the only friend he thought he might have had, but not before he gets a lesson in why small things mean so much in Nountown. It’s tiny trees. Any tiny cops. But big beautiful women. And the people who help them stay that way. Like Flo, whose foundation shop might be a false front. Why else would a couple of unsavory sorts more commonly found in a line-up be frequenting it? Tracker is no stranger to odd numbers, but these are Full Figures.
Wed, 1 February 2012
I thought I had closed the windows in my room, but the breeze around the Breezy Inn was waiting for me inside telling me I had a visitor with business other than changing my linens.
My visitor took a tour of the dresser drawers. That's where you look for the gems a man might squirrel away on his travels. In the folds of his personals, because it figures that no one wants to venture there. I always position my rolled up socks so the top band is at 3 o'clock, but they were half past 8, so my stocking sentry system confirmed the security breach.
Except, it wasn't what they took, which was nothing, but what they left for me.
It's called a plant. Like when you get busted with some cop's hand in your pocket and the cop finds a small container he left just as he got there. But this kind of plant also grows in small places, like a lump in your neck. This kind of plant is the spitting image of the kind that grows in the forest. The kind of plant that grows tall up towards the sun and lives for years with rings to prove it. Yeah, a tree. A tiny tree. A tiny tree worth its weight in gold, when gold is worth the weight. A tiny tree that grows in small pots that sit proudly in small green houses or solariums, the room's rich people use to get their hands dirty.
Like the one I saw in Winston's Smokes house. That made sense, a guy like that ought to have his own personal forest.
I picked up the miniaturized deciduous delicacy.
It had signs of being pulled from its housing, remnants of dirt on its roots, a broken branch, so I'm thinking Smoke is down one little piece of the forest and I'm being set up as the lumber larcenist. I could have been wrong. It could have been a gift. But gifts weren’t usually delivered in this manner, amongst socks and underwear. With no card. Or care instructions. It was alive and now my responsibility. Like when someone drops off a puppy at your front door. Or a kid. The least thing I could do, was keep it moist.
So I took it down with me to the bar where I could buy it a drink.