I was reaching for a bottle of brown beer that had the potential to save my life near the end of a dry day when it tipped over like the waning afternoon and dribbled into the dirt. Something had captivated my attention. I managed to save some, though.
I could not see but I could hear the resonance merging over a cluster of manzanita trees as the lovely wife of the tawny owl, Thee Mrs., started to sing Checking Up On My Baby, exactly like Taj Mahal. The forest was shaking like a pair of fuzzy dice and bongos tied to the rear view mirror of an Oldsmobile Rocket 88. Gamely, I tried my best to follow.
The best time of any day studying tendencies in the multiverse under the tawny owl was dance class. I learned that most secrets of time and space were locked away in the hips. The three humans to make the discovery simultaneously were Albert Einstein, Harpo Marx, and Charlie Parker. The rest of the classes were hard. It seemed that most of the multiverse and its dimensions existed deeper and farther out there than my brain had ever traveled. I don’t count recess as a class exactly, which came before arithmetic, though not every day, causing me high sums of stress and anxiety. In dance class, it was no easier to be wrong while right out in the open, but it felt a lot better.
It was not easy learning to become a secret agent for the birds in the war against cats and their human enablers and my brain was crammed on a daily basis like a trash can at a nude beach packed with slobs. I was tired all day but it felt like that good kind of tired. Brown beer was there beside me to help.
Each session of dance class featured a new complex hoot, along with complete instrumentation, from the lovely wife of the tawny owl, Thee Mrs., who could duplicate sounds from the entire history of rhythm and blues, since 1947. She was not too happy about becoming the teacher of a human living in the dirt, even remotely, and only reluctantly agreed out of respect for the righteous cause of high flying birds. “But that don’t mean I have to like it,” she snapped at the tawny owl. “And it also don’t mean I have to get too close. I have more respect for my lovely body and my voice than that.”
I knew the object in the dirt to which she did not want to get very close was me, but I was prepared to overlook the implications for the greater good. I had expected soldiering to be rough and it was. Basic training, too. Despite the apparently deep commitment I had made to the cause, the tawny owl treated me pretty much the same as ever, which was no better than usual, and less than I expected.
I knew the tawny owl was watching me for imperfections and infringements as I practiced my elementary figure eights, the basic building blocks of the multiverse. He’d been doing so throughout the dry day. He’d also been rotating his neck in that way he has, which is never a good sign. His eyes had become dynamos off and on, although it rarely freaks me out anymore.
I knew that I was in no condition to conduct complex espionage against the human enablers of the murderous cats yet, and I had no real problem with that, but I was striving to maintain a decent attitude and show the tawny owl some of the rare stuff of which I was made. I was looking forward to the time when I would be able to give the pinkish yuppie dweebs next door a good revealing piece of my mind. After I lost my place, though, as well as my balance, in the replication of my final figure eight rotation before the sun took a last dip into Monterey Bay, and not exactly for the first or nearly first time, the tawny owl said, “It’s impossible to think deeply while in a head lock, hip lock, lip lock.”
I said, “That sounds like Smokey Robinson and The Miracles.”
He sighed, “Or not.”
I said, “I think I may know that.”
He asked, “What does it tell you when you make the same mistake every time?”
I asked, “Have we covered the answer to that yet?”
The tawny owl used to simply fly away when my thrusts into the secrets of higher learning offended his aesthetic sensibilities, but this time, in his conscious role as an educator of a lowly dirt dweller in service to the greater cause of high flying birds, he tried just a little bit harder. How much is hard to say, but I thought I heard echoes of Janis Joplin in his hooting as he paused to reiterate, “Kick out the jams, motherfucker.”