There used to be a lot of pleasantries exchanged in the neighborhood, virtually all neighborhoods if truth be told, as it must, sort of, on a controlled and responsible basis. That is, until tidbits of eerie muckraking journalism began to appear presciently in the local shopping supplements that come out on Tuesdays, accompanied by darkening headlines featuring bold fonts above the fold. Palpably, it became even worse when unimpeachable proof was provided in clubs and spades. Something dark and nefarious was going decidedly down, and under cover to boot. Cutesy polka-dots on polyester blends at Kohl’s were pushed off the front page. Suspicious investigators were baffled. Individuals became disturbed, seriously. It became impossible to know who harbored what poisons. Better be safe, it was said, than sorry. Screw the sales for a period of time on massive freightcar loads of ground reddish meat. Be smart for once and stay the fuck home.
A lovely housewife out speed walking in San Juan Batista who had just achieved a new personal best was bitten, and hard. It hurt. She was trying out her neon running shoes on a test spin. She became bitter. It led to an untenable home situation. She warned her then husband to stay away. “Don’t touch me,” she was forced to emphasize. She was also forced to hide the fact that she dribbled shit in her faux silk panties with lace trim. She was forced to throw them away. There could be no trace left inappropriately behind.
A defensive lawyer who was grossly fat declared he would refuse to be cowed. He was open about it. “I’m fat and I’m going to stay fat forever. Good for me. I love being fat.” But he went down fast, and hard. He was toppled in a gravel parking lot in Gilroy like a double wide mobile home thrashed by Santa Ana winds. The studly logo on his plus-sized polo shirt did him no good. Ironically, he had nearly made it to the curb in front of a Best Buy previously depleted of its best inventory, where sales were demonstrably suffering, and needed his help. The gravel became stuck in many uncharted crevices between isolated tiers of fat and did not come out without a struggle. The ugly red welt on the side of his stumpy thigh swelled to the size of the bulls-eye logo from Target. Not only his cash, but all of his credit cards were useless. That was cause enough to continue the baffling investigation pending fruition.
His was not the only voice uplifted to be heard, saying, “Why me?”
None of the answers were good ones. An unidentified spokesperson very close to the action suggested that to keep out riff-raff the air-conditioning needed to be turned up higher. He or she did not catch the meaning of so many blank stares simultaneously. Few did. Subtle nuances may be misinterpreted during desperate times due to classic indecisiveness. Especially out of doors. He or she was lucky to have funding for the next crucial campaign firmly in place. Fundamental gaps in the tawdry relationships constructed by the most invasive species ever to exist remained freely unresolved.
The scorpion who was on a mission and had previously seen it all, from jungle to tundra in the diverse terrain of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, home to virtually every plant and animal on the planet, as well as the sole indigenous tribe in South America never to be conquered by pasty European savages, the Kogi Indians, was the only living creature who knew how much more havoc he had left to wreak. Or perhaps not even he knew. But it was a fuck of a lot, he knew that much. These flimsy upright humans that succumbed so easily felt like nothing next to his creepy crawling.
The marauding scorpion stung a kid named Kyle from Pleasanton who started out his morning sporting a buzz cut of blonde hair for the first time. Before the incident, Kyle was simply a ball-hogging midfielder on a traveling team of mostly cool dudes from San Ramon, not even old enough to have much of that blonde hair on his balls, who had been bending over to gasp for breath on a soccer field in Morgan Hill during an important tournament semi-final. Kyle did not deserve to be humiliated like that, brought to his scabby knees while dripping wussy crybaby tears in front of his peers, even if he did need to learn when to pass the ball to a better scorer.
In many circles, mean-spirited behavior like that is severely frowned upon. But, it was not enough for the marauding scorpion. His anger surged like the high octane fuel sucked down by a funny car at the Friday night drag races. What’s more, he was just getting started. For Georgeanne, the mother of Kyle, it was too much. She tossed her cookies right there on the sidelines, next to the cooler containing the icy blue Gatorade that turned the teeth of all the tweens with braces green, and some niblets splashed on the pinkish shoes of someone else’s daughter. Those shoes cost good money. Someone had to pay, that’s for damn sure. The someone responsible for the care and feeding of the daughter who was freaking out over the smell clinging to her shoes had just about had it up to here. It was hard to describe all that came to full fruition after that.
When the marauding scorpion began to climb out of the Santa Clara Valley and into the Santa Cruz Mountains he continued to feel right at home. He was able to commune in harmony with all of the creatures who did not incite his anger before locating his next victim. He partially maintained his uncanny strength and equilibrium by loading up on a batch of fortified weed that was pretty near as potent as the coca that grew in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains.
The tawny owl picked up on the angry transmissions emanating from the marauding scorpion early on. The scorpion was still climbing on the eastern slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains and was not yet nearing the summit. The tawny owl had been listening to the aftermath of a rollicking family feud at a backyard barbecue in Los Gatos featuring Marvin Gaye asking the eternal question, “What’s Going On?” Anger tends to grow and spread in many seemingly disparate eco-systems, not only deserts. The intensity of the anger transmitted by the scorpion was a disturbance, yet understandable. Unlike his good astral traveling pals, the beavers Berton and Burton, the tawny owl had no grievances against the scorpion. Scorpions were largely intolerant of their inferiors, but then so was he. Like, duh.
It is hard for me to know, therefore, because the tawny owl will never tell me, if what happened next came about at his subtle direction, in his capacity as a supreme commander of troops in the war against clueless human enablers of venal cats who murder beautiful birds, or if it was more objectively the result of experiences shared between the tawny owl and the marauding scorpion in the nether astral traveling zones between Galaxy NGC3314a and Galaxy NGC3314b that led to the same end.
All I know is what I was able to witness. I’ve often noticed it’s pretty much all I ever know. But this time, when the Sheriff came loudly knocked on my door after the fact or facts to accuse unjustly, I had witnesses to my witnessing. Fucking dyn-o-mite witnesses.
When two of the shorter offspring from the brood of the wife of the techno-yuppie dweeb who lives next door to me, and refuses to appear in daylight while enabling her venal white cat to murder beautiful birds, succumbed to the sting of the marauding scorpion, and began to roll like a pair of yowling bowling balls with astonishing lung capacity along the contours of their artificial lawn, the tween twins were right there beside me as wide-eyed, sage observers. The alteration in child care scheduling required by their mother due to an emergency condition in hair, nails, and skin worked out well for me for a change.
The yang twin said, “Where’d the little Gingers come from?”
I said, “They live there.”
He said, “Since when?”
I said, “Since they were born.”
He said, honestly, “I never noticed.”
I said, “They’re small.”
The yin twin, “It’s personally embarrassing to me when you use a pejorative term like Ginger.”
The yang twin, “Was I talking to you?”
She said, “It hurts my heart deeply.”
I said, “What’s wrong with the word, ‘Ginger’? It’s sweet and it’s tangy.”
The yang twin said, “Good one, dad.”
I said, confused, “It was?”
The yin twin said, “You’re both clueless.”
I said, “Besides that.”
Under the circumstances, the Sheriff had nothing to say. According to quantifiable norms, and my so-called rights, he could not even issue me a standard warning. The yin twin stepped up and set him straight using a bunch of big words. I could see him sucking in his gut uncomfortably. I felt pretty good about that. The yang twin stayed in character, keeping it real, and smirked adroitly.
Later, after the immediacy had passed, though still authentically puzzled, I said to the tawny owl, “Sup.”
He said, “What it is.”
I said, “Give me a break.”
He said, “Where?”
I said, “What?”
He said, “it’s on now.”
I said, “Huh?”
He said, “You’d better get used to it.”