After the smoke had cleared following the Battle of Big Sur, and the beautiful birds had reclaimed the redwoods and the oaks and the cypress and the madrones, along with the larkspur, the lavender, the columbine, and the manzanita, and the sultry sky was once again reignited by a familiar purple haze, and the celebrations of high flying birds at the top of Mt. Umunum and Mt. Loma Prieta lifted the stakes higher, one after the other for weeks, cresting in the nether space between the twin galaxies, Galaxy NGC3314a and Galaxy NGC3314b, where exploding novae spiralled into glimmers of elemental dust, the shitty Beverly Hills Rat had no recourse but to lick the wounds on his scabrous ass and return to the hole that had been professionally inserted for him inside of a former knoll on Mulholland Drive.
I said to the tawny owl, “I believe I may be getting closer to what I need to learn in order to laugh my ass off like you.”
I was thrilled to be on the winning side for a change. I was feeling no pain. I had suffered no injuries that required resonant or homeopathic remedies. No time lost in emergency rooms or holding cells. No holes to be patched. No therapy required. No hourly fees. No crimes to be expunged. No public humiliation. The tween twins would never need to know the shame. I was free to drink my brown beer without interference from any deputy sheriff who possessed the authority to cart me away and lock me up in the Santa Cruz County Jail.
Superfluously, I added, “You might not know how good it feels to be on the winning side for a change.”
How was I supposed to know that the tawny owl was considering issues in simultaneity that had developed during his most recent episode of astral traveling while communing with two of his oldest buddies, a pair of brilliant beavers from Big Basin? I know that beavers are one of the four animals sufficiently evolved on earth to be capable of astral traveling, along with owls, whales, and scorpions, but still. He turned his head approximately two hundred eighty seven degrees and seventeen seconds in a subtly amorphous direction, not a positive sign for me I have come to learn, and he said, “Where you see two sides, I’m looking at not less than nine hundred sides without trying very hard. That is simple matter of simultaneous aesthetics.”
Backpedaling furiously, I ventured, “I guess that means I have more conceptual work to do.”
Perfunctorily, he snapped, “Spatial, too.”
Lightweight aesthetics, I knew, often turn into harsh internecine warfare, the kind I had always associated with religious fanatics, high volume hucksters, slippery politicians, and least common denominators of every jaundiced stripe. You won’t find any simultaneity in that bunch.
I said, “That gives me a lot to think about.”
“As if,” he snorted.
As much as I would have preferred to remain stationary beneath a redwood tree, and consider my shortcomings in their natural setting, I knew I had to leave. It was time for me to become wrenched once again by the schedule of my Chinese overlord and deal with the periodic relationship I maintained to the means of production. I had to go back to work.
I said, “I gotta go.”
He replied,”As if.”
It was never a good day for me when I stepped inside of an aluminum tube at the edge of western civilization in order to become thrust into the air above the Arctic Ocean. A sunny day in San Francisco only rubbed it in. I’m pretty sure it started out as a stormy Monday. Unless it was a Tuesday that was just as bad. And it became no more comfortable once I was strapped down and sedated. I continued to feel acutely expendable, like jellied flotsam in a jar, for reasons that escape not only me. The fractious problem of survival in the midst of scarce abundance never seemed to go away. Who would not do what amount of stupid shit for a bunch of money? It’s not only a problem for bozos, douche bags, and gluttons aplenty. Count me in.
The day after the day after, which was still only the next day to me, I was in Shanghai, Wuxing, and Hangzhou. Sleep had no place on the agenda. There was no less than the usual catching up to do, weed to inhale, pills to pop, Chinese beer to drink. The Chinese beer was not so bad even if it was not brown. I remember the heat from steamy dumplings in Changsha, lengthy noodles in Guilin. A long massage I received from a blind man in Liuzhou made me forget most of everything else. I apparently swam in a dirty river at the urging of my Chinese overlord, observed worms turn into silk, collected tokens of appreciation. I know there were wheels that had to be spinning overtime. I may have passed out when the time was right. I’m pretty sure it had to be inside of a hotel or I would have heard. To the best of my recollection, I did not save, lose, or displace any face. That was as important as it gets. My Chinese overlord purchased the short pants for me in which I swam. They were unmistakably plaid, with built-in elastic. The shorts he wore were diagonally striped. A manager from one of his factories joined us wearing a solid brownish outfit that matched the color of the water. He was splashing buoyantly with what appeared to be jubilation while I stayed scared to get wet.
When I returned to San Francisco an uncertain number of days later, the sun was still there. Practice, practice, practice continues to produce results. When I crossed the Santa Cruz Mountains the redwoods seemed taller too, but I know that was just my altered perception, perception, perception. Ultimately, I concluded the number of days had to be five. Unless it was four or six. I understood there could be consequences for mistakes made in wanton disregard but there was not a lot I could do about it at such a late date. I concentrated hard to keep my eyes focused on the usual curves below the summit. Going down is dangerous for a good reason. Those curves are known to be sneaky. The sun was there, too. My ears popped unmistakably at the top. A resounding whoosh followed from behind. Ahead, the coast seemed clear. It appeared as if the silver had been hauled out and polished in the middle of Monterey Bay. Until I saw that I was all wrong all over again. You might wonder why I was surprised. But, still.
The rotating red lights on the squad cars of the Santa Cruz County deputy sheriffs gave me my first clue. They were blocking the entrance to my driveway. An outline of a body had been chalked on the asphalt. Inside the outline rested not a body, but a part. It seemed to be the small regurgitated head of a formerly big rat.
Before I jumped to any rash conclusions, though, I paused, and thought, whoa, fucking whoa.
“Would you please step outside of the car, sir.”
“You know I’ve asked not to be called, sir. I can’t guess how many times.”
I thought I knew the deputy. He thought he knew me. He had arrested me once before. He was also present when a different deputy sheriff arrested me, though in both of those cases charges were reduced. The only case I still have hanging over my head is the one charging incitement to riot, which is a tricky one according to my criminal lawyer. But I wasn’t worried about that. The deputy sheriff said, “We’ve had an incident. We will need to file an incident report.”
Eying the dead head, I asked, “What kind of incident?”
He said, “That’s what we intend to find out.”
I said, “Isn’t it obvious I know nothing.”
Then, and I don’t know why, he asked, “Where were you on Saturday night and Sunday morning?”
I said, “I need time to think.”
He said, “I want you to get out of the car , sir. Keep you hands where I can see them. Make no sudden moves.”
I said, “There you go calling me sir again. What does it take to make myself understood around here?”
He said, “Don’t make me warn you again about any sudden moves.”
I said, “I have proof if you need it.”
“We don’t need it.”