I was finding it difficult to remain oblivious once momentum began to shift in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and garbage piled up in the crowded gulleys below. A shadowy darkness clamped down like the choke hold of a chunky white cop in blue. Recriminations started to spread out in clumps like flaming petroleum jelly and smolder in piles with a distinctive copyrighted stink. Red tailed hawks became fed up with all of the harassment they suffered from shameless gangs of crows looking constantly to capitalize and they moved to a higher elevation where the pickings were purer. Sure, it was easy for them to pull off graceful stunts like that. They hardly had to flap. Then the crows found a theoretically sweeter spot to tap, the unprincipled opportunists. Domineering blue jays, who should have known better, panicked when the warblers and swallows took off, too. Who would be left to bully? Many adorable seed peckers were knocked silly as a result and thrown for a loop-de-loop. That left a lot of butterflies able to live longer than a day without confronting mortal enemies. But how long could that last? Expectations, as always, were killers.
From where I maintained my posture, with my spine straight, sort of, the demographic trend in the neighborhood left me feeling bereft. I was caught behind, stuck. The smell of clumped dirt clung tenaciously to my bones.
Retrospectively, I said, “What the fuck.” It was not a question.
It was only later that it all began to make a little bit more sense to me, sort of, as I clung to my vantage point at the edge of so-called western civilization, -121.909 degrees longitude, overlooking Monterey Bay. How was I supposed to go with the flow? I was calf deep in mud. I was making sincere noises that could be mistaken for farts. Scant progress came at a hefty price. The flow was blowing right back at me, slapping me upside the face and head, knocking me doubly for a loop-de-loop, too.
What was a poor boy supposed to do at the edge? Stop? Look backward? March lockstep in reverse? Start a revolution? Dig deeper? Then what?
Isn’t our own singular sweet spot the most desirable? Isn’t that worth searching for, wherever it leads? So what if it’s no longer on settled, arid land. Fuck the flow, go.
So, if I still needed to travel west, which as a result of all my previous choices I presumably did, to soak at some source where the east crossed the line and spilled over, due to a natural if unwieldy bend at the waist and knees that made the local edge seem sheerer, and the home grown mud deeper, I had to hop on a boat without tipping. I had to chart a true course in virtual darkness. I had to lube my plugs, crank my shaft, start my engine all over again after previous unforeseen failures. I had to stay upright on a deck that was prone to a wobble though no perceptible fault of my own. I had to puke my guts out, often. Who said it was going to be easy? Does sticking a thumb in pudding always produce perfect results in a crusty pie? I had to steer clear and maneuver through the riff-raff and garbage that was already ossifying in the gulleys, keep at it through storms of nasty weather that slashed like Cossacks.
But, when you gotta, you gotta. Right? What could be wrong with that? What else you gotta? Stay shitting on the stinky pot too long when you can jump up and lam out of there? I’ll take the overall pall of a smelly fart any lucky day over stuffing a regurgitated wiener into a wrinkled squishy white bun or hauling a load that stays stuck in a travesty of two legged pants too tight to maneuver.
The hot spot where the ocean was heating up like a starchy prison meal nuked on a steamy thin tin tray did not appear in any of the typical supermarket charts available next to the wrinkly hot dogs at 7-11. But, I was prepared for improvisation. I learned how to do it myself on the infallible Internet. There was a smoldering out there all right, ready to blow, at -146.074 degrees longitude. I read all there was to know about it. A mere 2061 nautical miles from me.
If I didn’t, and don’t, and won’t repeat, ad nauseam, “What the fuck,” though I did, it was not because I did not, do not, and will not mean it. That was not the meaningful question I felt compelled to ask. Though what the fuck in my mind has never been a question.
As a traitor to my species in the epic war against human enablers of venal cats who murder beautiful birds, I know right from wrong. Beautiful is right, like duh. Venal is wrong, you better fucking believe it. Wrong is a position reserved for uncountable unwashed others who are always on the other side of a crooked line, liberal, conservative, moderate, and fanatical jack-offs beating bushes for lean militant meat to char in religious sacrifices while wearing silky shoes that remain shiny no matter how deep the mud. What’s so hard to figure, even where less is touted by other jack-offs to be more? Wrong is not right, not now or then. Am I right or am I right? Fucking A.
So, in light then of the sad fact that knowing is not the same as doing, and preparation only wastes a finite quantity of time and resources before redundancy creeps in like a multiple jointed parasite oozing gunk that sticks to the ribs and entrails, which leads to more puking of guts, I took off for spiritual realignment while remaining down to earth. Carefully, I stowed the essentials on board in diminishing daylight: a floppy straw hat, pure sunscreen with aloe, an official boy scout flashlight, spectroscopic sunglasses and binoculars, a lucky charm, granola bars, lots of ice, twenty four quart bottles of freshly brewed brown beer, a rod, a reel, a gaff, a pile of rags, the last drops of mercurochrome in California, and a box of colorful band-aids. I had my direction. I had my motivation. Due west was out there. Who says my bit part could not morph into a key role?
At first, I followed a phalanx of brown pelicans who were heading indirectly my way. My lucky charm appeared to be working sort of swell. I have learned in my innumerable futile searches on Monterey Bay for the humpback whale who appears to be light taupe, unless he more accurately represents dark ecru on the eternal color wheel, that pelicans are highly reliable guides. They don’t do no messing around. But, when the leading vee of the phalanx veered to the North, I faced my first dilemma. Do I keep on keeping on? What were these expectations going to do to my ass? My ass was already previously sore. Plus, I felt like puking for the first time.
I opted to stay the course. Had I not previously assumed the position on the edge without falling off? How could I miss and go wrong by doing more of the same? It made good sense to me. My hands on the wheel remained in the clamped position. Even when the western horizon disappeared in fog I wasn’t budging. It was dark all over but not dark in any of those well known threatening kinds of human ways.
With no one close at hand to hear the true depth of my voice, I began to sing uninhibitedly, “Get it while you can.”
Until suddenly there were lights shining on me. Human, all right. I could not see according to some nefarious plan. Then the threats came in loud and clear.
“Keep you hands up where we can see them. Don’t try any of your cute monkey business. We know who you are.”
I said, “Who’s we,” thinking, do you?
I mulled the possibilities. Potential suspects out to get me included bandits, lawyers, secret agents of a government, secret aliens, secret agents of a different government, wild cards, jokers, asylum seekers, riff-raff, secret escapees like me.
With my hands held so awkwardly high, my feet became unsteady. A curved Earth provided little help. Approximately how many governments could there be out to get me? Did I know my rights? Did I have rights? Denial had always been my trusty go-to defense right from the get-go. What else did I have to lose? Sure, I was guilty of duplicity, defamation, disarray, disrespect, wanton disregard. By default, my suspicious whereabouts were chronically unexplained, even though I was only trying to get somewhere out there. But still.
In the end, though, I was fortunate to remember my lines. All of those rehearsals for the real deal had not been wasted. Practice, practice,practice paid off. I puked one last time for posterity. And with as much booming bass as a wee singular voice could muster, I exclaimed, “Don’t shoot.”