Monday, March 12, 2012

Half dead from dehydration I traipsed to the end of the field and then turned around to see where I had come from, the hills and the villages between the hills and then the field itself full of desiccated weeds and plastic wrappers blown there in some instances years before. It was impossible to make out the lettering on such wrappers and when I tried later to make this fact suggestive of the weakness of language itself, tried to make it seem as if every word uttered is temporary and of no final consequence, the push back was immediate and all-consuming. The sort of thing that might be expected to send a lesser man into hiding on one of the islands in the middle of the river, but which simply had the effect of making me even more recalcitrant than I already was. I stood up as tall as I could, on my toes, and punctuated everything I said with an emphatic stab of my right forefinger. About this time, a woman I had met maybe once before called me out of the blue, said she was sitting at the deli about a mile away and wanted to know if I had any interest in meeting her there. She would, she explained, keep her hands clear of the silverware at all times and promised not to say my name out loud in case anyone in the vicinity might recognize it. I reassured her that the likelihood of that occurring was miniscule and that I had no plans for the moment but this could change if those at the dig site stumbled onto something and needed a second or third opinion as to what that something might be. Expertise is not always a boon for those who hold it. Sometimes it coaxes them down interminable rivers, and I don’t mean the figurative sort either, but real rivers with real carnivorous fish in them and poisonous vines hanging from the trees that line the bank. By the time I reached the destination in question, the woman was gone and I was forced to weigh the benefits of pursuit against the drawbacks of finally getting your hands on whatever it is you have been desiring. Sometimes desire is just another emotion in disguise – fear, for instance, with all its unruly facial hair, its habit of walking up and down the same street day after day with the assistance of a cane. If you were to get close enough to un-mask it, the others in the room might try to stop you. They might pull at your shirtsleeves, draw a finger across their own throats and open their eyes so wide you’d think something had gone wrong with the muscles in their face. But none of this should stop you. It is imperative you identify the masquerade and spell out once and for all, perhaps with a hand-lettered sign you nail to the trunk of a nearby tree, the very real penalties one can expect for engaging in such behavior. Friends turning their enormous, pimply backs on you, for instance. Lightning finding you (unerringly this time) from its inscrutable place of origin in the sky.  

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