I still don’t know how I missed that pesky mosquito I was so certain I had dead to rights when I awoke at first light that murky Monday morning. And if I missed, which I did, where did that smear of blood come from? And how did I come to hit the wall so hard in apparent slow motion and slide down so far into that craggy gulch like Wile E. Coyote? Those would be, of course, my rights, not his, preceding my fall, not his. Unless that mosquito was only a pesky gnat and I was overreacting once more to a murky Monday. And that murk foreshadowed the first inscrutable sign of a storm. Or a squadron of clandestine bed bugs.
I could hear discordant pinging for quite some time after that in my newly reddish left ear that had been smacked and disturbed so hard. That was well before the serious knocking on the door began and would not stop. Overreactions often accompany abrupt disturbances in my experience. It may have been just that kind of common occurrence on a common day. Even as the knocking morphed into the sort of banging that tends to arrive with implicit threats attached. Or perhaps it was a spider that deserved to be blamed. Without proper blame, how would the widespread lust for cruel and unusual punishment ever be satisfied? Don’t ever believe small spiders don’t bite big. Although no spider ever knocked like that.
I don’t usually call my shots because I am no Babe Ruth and this was an equal example of why as well as why not. Blood remains so easy to come by. It flows downhill and never fails to reach bottom.
I did not look out the window before I said, “Who is it?”
It seemed like it was just the day before, because it was, that I was saying to the tawny owl, “It’s so hard for me to let ebb simply happen as I know it must when I have such strong feelings for flow.”
The tawny owl said, “Not for me.”
“Well, yeah. I know not for you. I said me. I did not say you. I don’t speak for you. Like, duh. I know that much.”
“So what’s there to talk about?”
I was having a hard time eyeballing the classic educational chart that was swinging on a pendulum above me at the Thee Tawny Owl Institute of High Flying and Rising Consciousness under a redwood tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It hung from a sturdy limb at the end of a loose braid of hemp that never seemed to slow down. There were pies sliced into behavioral bits and graphic eviscerations lined up in size order according to stylistic traits. Could that have been the origin of the mysterious blood? You’d better believe it’s no easier to read a moving chart than to strike a moving target. Unless that glimmer was nothing but the reflection of a moebius strip undermining the shifting operations known as business as usual.
I said, “Now, all you’re trying to do is create another disturbance in my mind.”
“Are you going to whine again that you can’t see what’s right in front of your eyes?”
“I can see fields of many pretty colors.”
“Your kind can’t see 89.6% of what there is, and none of what’s far out there. And over 97.8% of the layering. You can’t even tell the difference between a thin line breaking into pieces and the shimmer of a vibrant figure-eight. Without an awareness of the layering, what else do you expect’s gonna happen but trouble? That started with your first misstep out of the cool azure sea.”
“It wasn’t me.”
“It is now.”
“Can’t we move on?”
He said, “See ya.”
But, first things first. That was then. This is now. Or what comes next. My ear was not only ringing but stinging. I should have known it would come to this. A knock on the door from this particular deputy sheriff had become too common an occurrence since the marauding scorpion from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains in Colombia began his mighty anger fueled rampage in the nearby environs. The deputy sheriff had a theory borrowed from a convenient local source that nagged him and would not let go. Stories had been circulating about my activities. He sucked in his gut, and waited. He was going exactly nowhere. He felt deeply as if this was his calling. I asked myself for the second time that day, why me? First, I swabbed my red ear with alcohol. Don’t ask why.
I asked, “Why?”
He said, “A wise man learns to ask why ask why.”
I repeated, “Why?”
Intuitively, the deputy sheriff was the suspicious type. Often, he was the sniveling type. He was not above sniveling while relaying his suspicions. He had previously relayed to me several of the borrowed suspicions he cultivated concerning the rampage of the marauding scorpion. I knew how to handle him.
I said, “You can’t come in.”
He said, “Is that alcohol I smell so early in the morning?”
I said, “Yes.”
The techno-yuppie dweeb who lives next door to me and commutes daily over the Santa Cruz Mountains into Silicon Valley had been stung by the marauding scorpion on no less than four distinctly different occasions at dusk. Each dusky occasion had occurred while obsessive-compulsively riding tall in the padded saddle of his John Deere mower, the luxe high-end version, which deftly exfoliated unsightly soils while decisively thrashing his artificial lawn. There was bound to be a pattern uncovered there, somewhere. Likely, it was deep. Numerous highly esteemed colleagues in Silicon Valley had recommended the luxe high-end version to release vascular tension independently, but it did not seem to be working out for him. In addition, his two smaller children had been stung while rolling in the ensuing artificial mulch, as well as several of his medium sized children, and his larger sized children to boot, all on suspiciously different body parts at variably confusing times during the day. The sum total number of verifiably risen and rising welts was alarming.
The techno-yuppie dweeb earned a handsome living as a high tech security expert in Silicon Valley known for knock-down, drag-out, dead-on-the-money skills at pattern recognition. He had yet to uncover a pattern he did not recognize before it was too late. All of his perplexing instincts alarmed him no less than the risen and rising welts that something was up. His systems were all go. His techniques in electronic surveillance were seamlessly matched to the task. It could be argued that his very handsomeness was at stake. Diligently, he doubled down.
His chippy wife with the porcelain veneer who enabled her venal white cat to murder beautiful birds did not appear out of doors during daylight hours due to hereditary porcelain inhibitors, which absolved her of all suspicion. I, on the other hand, who had yet to be attacked by the marauding scorpion, appeared out of doors during daylight on a regular basis. Very suspicious. In addition, according to scads of evidence, I often engaged in an unrequited relationship with dirt. I sifted and I winnowed. But where were the welts that could prove my innocence? Nowhere, that’s where. It became clear to me and not only me that there could be a pattern of suspicion in the borrowed theory of the deputy sheriff that pointed sharply in my direction.
The deputy said, “What have you got to say in your own defense?”
I said, “So now the question is what? What happened to why?”
He said, “Apart from that.”
I said, “How can you separate only two parts from the many parts in an indivisible state or states with any exactitude?”
He said, “Is that one question?”
“It’s a two-in-one package deal for this one time only. You have your wheat and you have your chaff neatly combined. A bargain not to be missed. Remember, one time only.”
“Don’t get carried too far away.”
“I’m standing right here on my own shaky ground.”
“That’s not all you’re doing.”
“You’re right, I confess. All I’m really trying to do is attain oneness with the gases swirling in the galaxies.”
“Everybody’s got to do something.”
After the deputy sheriff was gone, and before he came back, my skin began to tingle. Then came the monumental itch. It crawled like a reptile. It genuflected like a mother. It embarked on a crusade. It spread out and it stretched. It jumped and it shouted. It shimmied and it shook. It shook me. I consulted with the tawny owl.
The night time was the right time for the big wide open eyes of the tawny owl.
He said, “Bed bugs.”
I said, “No way.”
He said, “In a new alliance with ants.”
All I could say as I’ve said before was, “Whoa, fucking whoa.”