Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Tov.
Kol Nidre is coming tonight. It is a powerful and wonderful experience. I was reading the fine print this morning about Kol Nidre. If you make a promise with a clear understanding of what that promise entails, then you are not released. But if you make a promise in a moment of panic, then you are released. For instance, you're on a ship in a violent storm and you fear for your life. You make a vow that, if you survive the storm, you will give all your money to charity. That promise was made under duress and your are released..... So my girl friend said, what if you are making love and you make a promise in the heat of passion? Such a good question I told her. The scholars love question like this, they would argue about it for days and days.

The New Media Tyrants.
You guys are all too old-fashioned, you hate Wal-Mart, Monsanto and Mitt Romney. That is like yesterday's bad news. Your foes are dinosaurs. They don't actually run things anymore.....My enemies are Mark Zuckerberg and Ariana Huffington and whoever runs Apple and Google and Amazon. How can you trust people with that much power? I don't trust them. I fear them and I resist them. And they all love to see you tilting against the Old Guard. Your smart phone owns you -- wake up!

Facebook. Facebook is about relationships and emotional well being or the lack thereof. That is the dominant note. You can easily find strong political statements on Facebook, but it is rare to find any back and forth, any debate, or any argument.

If your friend posts a certain political comment, would you feel free to comment underneath taking an opposite view? No, at least I don't ever do that.

In my experiment, which was going against the grain on Facebook, I made statements and welcomed disagreement, but after a couple of months of trying this, I still felt that I was drowning in a pool of cute kittens and cotton candy.

Even worse, I have been putting effort into posts that were interesting and entertaining to other people, that in doing so I was making money for Mark Zuckerberg and making no money for myself --- this is the horror of the Internet age.

Facebook is the descendent of the lifestyle section, what had been once called the women's section of the newspaper -- weddings, recipes, advice columns, entertainment -- what they call "soft news" -- nothing wrong with that.

I was good at soft news when I worked as a journalist, and I got paid for it. In the print model, the publisher made ninety percent of the money and the reporters got the other ten percent -- but we had all the fun, so it was OK.

In the Internet model, Mark Zuckerberg and Ariana Huffington make 100% of the money and we get nothing.

That's not good.

I would love to post cute photos of kittens on Facebook -- if I got paid for it.

I don't have a solution.

Except my Frog Hospital newsletter does generate income, $400 so far this year from subscriptions at $25 each. The income is sufficient to keep me from getting too cranky. I send it out on Google's gmail. Google makes money and so do I -- I can live with that. But I am unable to monetize Facebook.

Tattoos. Young people get tattoos because they give a sense of permanence and security. You can't lose it, it can't be stolen. If you lose faith in the strength of all social institutions -- church, family, govt., business and so forth, then you get a tattoo. You can lose your job, your house, your girl friend, and all your money, but you can keep your ink --- I believe this is the subconscious motive.

Jimmy & Hitch. No story this week. As we left off last issue, Jimmy & Hitch were sleeping under a tree in the Fishtown Woods. Joy Helen was climbing the small hill above Fishtown when she spotted Atclew motoring up to Fishtown in his barge. Big trouble coming. Stay tuned.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chapter 17, Lost in the Fishtown Woods

Jimmy Kuipers walked alongside his pal Hitch from the Swinomish village. Joy Helen trailed behind in a dawn dream. “I wish to be known as a Float Shack Floozie. No, that’s trashy, not good enough . Queen of the Sand Spit….No, I am not a queen, not a princess, not the fairy godmother, nor handmaiden of the Lord. I may become a mermaid some day – that would suit me, tending the barnacles, wearing diaphanous gowns. My fair skin would become light green. My breasts would suckle sea otter pups. I would weave the kelp gardens. And my moon would raise the tide. Yes, the moon!”

Sunrise 5:30 a.m., July 21, 1982 The stars are gone, Joy observed. The sun is coming up. The New Moon is hidden up there somewhere. It keeps going around. It floats pale blue in the sky, and the Old Man in the Moon is taking a snooze now. Will the moon ever come down? Will it stop going around? That’s what Jimmy is wondering about. One of his dumb questions. Does he ever think about me? Yes, because I am the moon and the river, and he always thinks about me. The morning becomes electric…..I have funny feet. I look down at my toes and I see they point in different ways, curling up and down, growing longer on Thursdays, growing smaller on Fridays. I will stab the cattails with my pointiest toe. I’m trying to remember which foot is left and which foot is right. It doesn’t seem to matter. We are still here in the field. This is Dodge Valley. I see Jimmy and Hitch walking ahead. We are walking beside the ditch in Staffanson’s field. All the water in the ditch comes from clouds way up in the mountains. The water comes down like rain and goes into streams of icy cold water, flowing to the ocean. The waters pass through Dodge Valley, and then old man Staffanson straightened things out with a tractor and made this straight-long ditch full of frogs, and then he plowed right to the edge of the field, and we’re walking across the bare ground, soft with clods of moist soil, and our toes stab the earth each step, on our way to the Fishtown Woods. But we should be going the other way, this is not good. The Fishtown Woods -- something is a-foot. I have this intuition -- Jimmy and Hitch are clods -- they barge ahead blindly, they do not feel the earth, it is a bad day going through the woods.

“We should be going around,” Joy cried out to them, like she had a vote. “We don’t need to go through the woods.”

They gave no response -- Jimmy was stalwart in purpose and Hitch was indifferent.

Men have big dicks and no brains, Joy thought. I will bury them and weep over their graves someday…. But if we had children, Jimmy and I, if we could have babies, then we could live on a boat. People do that in Asia. They cook rice over charcoal fires, squatting on tightly woven grass mats on sampans floating in tropical seas and the children run around naked. Jimmy and I could go to Asia with our babies. Then he wouldn’t die. I think he’s going to die -- we need to stay out of the woods. The owls roost in there, wise wonderful owls, but some days, when you hear them fluttering across the field just at sunrise, when they come home to a perch after the night’s hunt – some days they can hurt you or even kill a man, though I don’t know why they would do that, but I still feel this danger – we should go the other way. Ghosts of old trees in these woods, cedar stumps six-feet across, trees two-thousand-years-old chopped down and murdered! They logged off these forest gods and a hundred-year curse came down on us children of pioneers. But the ferns make it lovely. Tall maples hold branches with moss and dripping dew falls on mushrooms. Mice scamper in the leaf mold on the ground. I like these woods, but not today. The rain doesn’t fall in the Fishtown Woods – it floats in diamonds. Squishy slugs are barefoot blessings, and spiders spin veils for my lovely sisters. But we are not safe.

“I think we’re not safe here,” Joy said, but Jimmy and Hitch did not turn aside.

It got warmer and the troop tired from a long night’s journey. They might rest under a cedar tree where the ground was dry and the needles were soft. “Oh poppies, poppies,” Joy sang. Jimmy and Hitch didn’t get the joke. “Well, men, looks like we can circle the wagons here,” Joy said. They didn’t get that joke either.

“I’m tired,” Jimmy said. “Let’s rest for a while.” Hitch lay down on his back and tipped his hat over his eyes. Jimmy had longer legs and a sinuous spine. You couldn’t exactly tell if he was standing, sitting or sleeping -- it all flowed together. “We might sleep a little,” he said and he laid down.

Joy flounced her skirt and looked over her shoulder, down to the skirt’s hem at mid-calf. This skirt is too long and it’s too short, she thought. And it’s blue and I don’t look good in blue and I shouldn’t be concerned about how I look because of some fucking man who might pay attention to me. I could have been …. I don’t know what I could have been, instead of lying under a cedar tree next to two drunken useless men. They’re sleeping now and they smell bad.

Joy watched them sleeping and quietly left the sheltering cedar. The path through the Fishtown Woods led in a valley between two small hills. She looked up the one hill, but there was no path, only tangled vine maples. She picked her way over and under small branches and reached the top quickly. She saw broken clam shells peaking through the damp earth. Somebody carried those clam shells up here, she thought, and somebody broke the shells and ate the clams and it was either people or crows. Either way, someone has been here before I got here -- another one of my brilliant observations about nature. Mountains rise from the earth and crumble slowly back into the sea. Fish swim up the river and die. Everybody knows that. So what do I know? I mean anything special.

She fingered her turquoise necklace, Indian joo-joo by way of the Navajos and how they said the first people came from a cave on the side of a hill that was on the back of giant turtle. It didn’t make sense, but it was better than the Bible when God breathed Adam and Eve alive from red clay in the garden of Eden. Or something like that.

I read the story of Ruth when I was a teenager. They didn’t make me read it. I just found it one day. I never believed the Bible, but I liked that story about Ruth, how she gathered her wild grains and tender roots in a basket but then she went away to be with the man she loved. Across the Jordan. Always a river to cross. Her man beckoned and Ruth followed -- she just went with him.

But I ain’t going with Jimmy and he hasn’t even asked. To hell with him. I could go with Zappa. No. They’re all losers. But Jimmy isn’t so bad. He means well. The thing I like about him best is he isn’t whining. I can’t stand a sorry dog. Jimmy doesn’t drain me, doesn’t come by crying. When it’s bad it’s bad and so fucking what. Then it gets better. And maybe you can figure it out and maybe you can’t. That’s the way Jimmy is and that’s why I like him.

She peaked out from the summit of the small hill, and there was Fishtown and the river at her feet.

She could see Keith Brown’s cabin below – Atclew was there tying up his barge.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jimmy and Hitch, Chapter 16. Fresh Figs from Samaria

“Joy, there was something I wanted to tell you,” Jimmy said.

There was no moon. The stars wheeled around Polaris. The wind was a whisper. It was the quietest hour before the first show of morning light.

“It’s funny, I’m not tired at all. I hardly had anything to drink either,” he said.

“Did you have some of the punch?” Joy asked. “It’s kind of special.”

“Yeah, I see people moving around that aren’t here.”

“No, they’re here. That’s Tom and Bathsheba over there. Some other folks came out from town. There’s Black Dog and Crazy Peter. People have been coming all night. Nobody saying a word, like ghosts, but they’re really here.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Jimmy, what are you thinking?”

“How come the river keeps going? It never runs out of water. I can get up in the middle of the night and I go outside the cabin. The river is still there full of water. It just keeps going.”

“Old Man River, that Old Man River” Joy sang.

“Well, it could dry up, or stop or go backwards.”

“And dragons will fly out of caves high in the mountains.”

“I like dragons, I would like to keep one.”

“Or a dragon might like to keep you.”

“Like Odysseus in the cave,” Hitch said, coming over and barging in. “Let me tell you the story. This happened a long time ago in ancient Greece…..Calypso was a Terrible Beauty, a nymph on an island. Odysseus went away to the Trojan War and when he came back after the war his ship got wrecked so he ended up on Calypsos' island. She clung to him in her sea-hollowed caves and wouldn't allow him to go home. She was the daughter of Atlas, the giant who holds up the sky, and she lived on the island of Ogygia. She held him captive on that island for seven years. And even though Calypso loved him, he couldn’t forget his own country, the rocky island of Ithaca and his faithful wife Penelope. After a meeting by the council of the gods, especially the goddess of wisdom Athena, Calypso finally let Odysseus go home.”

“Hitch, how do you know that story?”

“I know all kinds of things. Do I have to spell it out? This sea-faring man was held captive in a cave for seven years. The nymph Calypso held him, fed him well and she loved him, but he was not free. It’s a Met-A-Phor. We got islands here in Skagit Bay -- Hope Island, Dead Man’s Island, Ika Island – you could get captured, Jimmy, watch out.”

“I’ve been to Hope Island lots of times. It’s sweet. You can row over and camp out. There’s a small beach and you can dig clams. I like to row over the shallow places and look at the anemones waving under the water and see the star fish,” Jimmy said and paused. “I never been to Dead Man’s Island, too many ghosts.”

“What about Ika? You been there?”

“I been to Ika only once in my life. It’s funny -- there it is right across the river from Dunlap Bay. I see it every day when I go down to the dock. But I only went there one time. Nobody goes there. You ever been there, Joy?”


Jimmy leaned back a little. He said, “You can see Ika from all over – see it from the fields on Fir Island, see it from Dodge Valley Road, see it from Fishtown, see it when you’re leaving LaConner on a boat, but nobody ever goes there. There’s something deep there. It rises out of the water and there’s no beach, except for a small stretch on the south side. I tied up there that one time -- ten-feet of beach and then a straight-up cliff. You can’t get any place without scrambling like a goat. No trail. I pulled myself up to the top of the island and looked around. Nobody ever goes there, not white men, not Indians in the old days. It’s not like forbidden or haunted – not like that. Ika is just…..waiting. Ika is waiting.”

“I saw Atclew’s barge tied up there a while ago,” Joy said.

“Now that’s creepy,” Jimmy said.

“He was out there by the island,” Joy said. “He had his barge beached on the mudflat, it was a low tide. Maybe he went on to the island, you couldn’t tell, maybe he just got stuck, but he was there for a few hours until the tide came back in and he floated away,”

“I can explain it. This is just like in the book. Atclew has Lisa a prisoner in a cave on Ika Island, sure as I’m standing here,” Hitch said.

“But you’re sitting on this log, so you’re lying,” Jimmy said. “That’s just a story anyway. Things don’t happen like that.”

“Old stories is how you know anything that’s true. Ika is waiting,“ Hitch said. “That’s where Lisa is, Atclew probably got her drugged up and she thinks she’s in heaven. Or she’s tied to a tree.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because she trusted him. That’s why he hates her.

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“I’m just trying to give some mythological underpinnings to this dubious adventure. Atclew is a bad spirit, the twisted son of an Egyptian goddess, casting immortal visions from Samaria to Fishtown. It doesn’t have to make any sense to you,” Hitch said.

“You know, I’m starting to get kind of pissed off,” Jimmy said. “I’m getting mad. I’m tired of people talking to me like they know something. Things just don’t seem that easy to me, like you understand it and I don’t. I understand plenty of things. But I know we have to find her.”

“Why, Jimmy?” Joy asked.

“Don’t be the problem, Joy. You come to me like you want me to feel good. I don’t know how to talk with you. We have to find Lisa because that’s what people do. I think she’s out there.”

“She’s just some hippie chick lost her mind. Lisa is dead, and it will look like she drowned.”

“But we should fight evil! To the Rescue! March!”

“Fight, with what? You gotta a machine gun? Atclew is well armed.”

“How do you know he has guns?”

“Well, he might have guns and we don’t even have shoes.”

“We kill him!”

“Jimmy, why are you so angry?” Joy jumped up and looked at him really hard. “I never seen you get like this.”

“I gotta bad temper, you didn’t know? I live on the Sand Spit. It’s nice and soft out there and I don’t get mad. There’s too many things I want to do. I have these ideas, but people laugh at me. I was going to carve a dolphin and a mermaid, really big, out of cedar, like a dream but they stole my carving tools. Just some assholes come out to the cabin and the one thing I own, they stole it. God hates me.” He picked up a handful of small stones and threw them hard and away.

“Pray or get drunk, that’s what I say. My folks taught me to pray but I would rather get drunk. Either way the world is crazy and it isn’t my fault and I can’t fix it. I just get mad so I drink, and if I keep drinking I don’t remember why I was mad. You seen how Keith Brown went nuts – he was thinking too much. He was trying to fix it, get the universe re-wired, run the machines on solar power and harness the wind. It’s all energy he used to say. Everything that moves is energy – wind and current. Everything alive is fuel – trees, stones, dandelions, our own bodies, just a mix of carbon chemicals – it’s fuel, it’s energy. But they locked him up now. He tried to change the order of things -- that’s far more dangerous than being a communist."

“So we should just let Lisa be. It’s not our problem.”

“It is our problem. I’ve talked enough. Let’s go.” And Jimmy stood up without a sound, like a mountain rising out of the sea. He brushed back his stringy blond hair and hitched his pants. Joy started to laugh, “John Wayne, go team, we’re a winner!”

Jimmy said, “Hitch, it’s you and me and Joy that does this. Jellybean has Zappa trapped in a corner. Charlie Krafft is off in the bushes sniffing glue.”

“So we should get Robert Sund to come with us.”

“No poets, we’re moving too fast for that.”

“And no Indians.”

“Hitch, I didn’t say that.”

“That’s right because I have the map to the cave on Ika Island. It’s in Book Seven of the Odyssey, you follow the clues to Calypso’s cave. I know where it is.”


“Well, white man, you can take a wild ass guess yourself, or you can follow me when I’m on the trail.”

“It’s rosy-fingered dawn, the sky is light from the foothills, the farmers are rising in the dairy dell. We’re off to the Fishtown Woods,” Joy said.

Jimmy, Hitch and Joy Helen Sykafoos left the Butterfly Ball.

Leila the Turkish Terror was nursing her own wild dreams and she took a quiet glance over at the three departing desperadoes. “They don’t know trouble like I do. I might have to help them.”

She followed them at a distance.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Butterfly Ball

Chapter 15

First you accept reality, then you beat it to death with a hammer -- Charlie Krafft

Charlie Krafft and Leila the Turkish Terror were the first at the ball. Marty Chamberlain had given the use of his small cabin in the field but he skipped the party – gone to see some babe up at Birdsview, he said. Charlie parked his Karma Ghia in the last not-yet-dried up mud whole on the farm. He had the knack for finding the lowest spot in any field. “Lovely Leila, come into my arms,” he said. He tipped his plaid Tam O’Shanter at a jaunty angle and tripped over a mullein weed, falling to his knees and, turning to the mullein with good speech, said, “Who called you a weed, sweet mullein? Your leaves are soft as a baby’s butt, your green is the color of cows softly mooing in the hours before dawn. Your pale yellow flowers sweeten the home of honey bees from near and far. I kneel to you as to an altar of forgiveness. “

“And Leila, “Charlie said, turning around and rising to his feet. “How are you? Do you like my Tam O’Shanter? Does plaid work for me?”

Leila turned slowly away from him to show him her back. She said, “I am in a frenzy of preparation for the ball. I have anointed my Levantine body with finest cinnamon-scented sesame oil. You perhaps may assist me with the small area of my lower back, which I could not reach. Please sprinkle the glitter upon me.”

The Bar-B-Q was ready for grilled oysters, king salmon steaks, skewered plum tomatoes and zucchini wedges. Platters of tidbits served with crackers and edible flowers covered the top of a trestle table. A large glass punch bowl with a special beverage served as a centerpiece.

“In Turkey we focus on death, but in the New World in America we have the Sun Dance of summer heat and people hope to live forever,” Leila said.

“It is like Sketches in Spain,” Charlie answered. “At the Butterfly Ball, you come as you are, in a state of truth so blinding that time is stopped dead. There are no lies told here tonight or the poets will wish they were dentists.”

A rising tide at 2 a.m., July 21, 1982 -- so Joy Helen Sykafoos reckoned by candle light in her cabin out on the Sand Spit. She peered at her pocket tide guide. It was not a strong tide, but it would ease the effort for rowing up to Fishtown.

Yes, it will be easy to get there. I will borrow Robert Sund’s boat, she thought. I remember what he said about rowing on the river.

Out on the river you know you are in the midst of a great creation. You see the old work and the new work side by side; the ancient migration routes of all the birds, and the slow building of silt and soil in the estuary; a small grassy island, for instance, that wasn’t there last year and that, in a few seasons, will grow new willow for the blackbirds and the beavers.

Joy went out to the dock, to Robert’s red skiff. “Robert called his boat by some Swedish name, the Viking Vendetta or something like that. He leaves it here on my dock, and goes off to town to drink beer for two weeks and then he expects me to keep it bailed out. Like I should do his handy-work and he would give me a poem in return. But I will borrow his boat tonight -- that old bastard.”

Joy began to row, going up Steamboat Slough, past Brown Lily Hill, around Bald Island where the current was strongest and she had to dig in the with oars to get around it, then past Shit Creek.

“I’m not going to look,” she said, but she did look, turning quickly to her left, to see Atclew’s barge tied up deep in the cattails at Shit Creek, lit by a small Coleman battery lantern hanging from a pole. No sign of Atclew himself. “God, I hope he doesn’t come.”

It was only a little further to the inlet by Black Dog Allen’s cabin – not quite all the way to Fishtown proper – but she snuck into this inlet, and it was hard to find on a moonless night. Then she poled with the oar up to the dike, scrambling to the shore with abundant blackberry scratches, and the admiration of pale pink wild roses with blossoms visible on a dim-starred night. They scratched her too, but she scrambled up the bank of the dike, with the painter in one hand, and her day pack -- loaded with “fruit juice”—slung over her shoulder, to stand on top of the dike, astride and barefooted, one foot on the land side, one foot on the river side. “You can see it plainly -- this land is on loan from the river. It is a fine place to grow Iris and tulips in the muck. I will go ambling across the field, and I don’t care if I ever get there.”

But Zappa was in a very different place at that late hour, at Crane’s Truck Stop & CafĂ© on the south side of Mount Vernon and hard by the concrete drone of Interstate Five. “It was the Grateful Dead, who sometimes said, you can’t just live on Cocaine and Reds…….Hey that rhymes….. I will not die, if I eat some pie.”

Zappa dug in to a four-inch-high wedge of lemon meringue pie. “It’s got lemons and that’s fruit, so this is good for me.”

Deetka, Zappa’s sometime girlfriend, had kicked him out, so Zappa could either sleep in the back of his van or sit up in a booth at Crane’s Truck Stop – drink coffee, eat pie, smoke Marlboros, play the juke box – time flies when you’re having fun at the only all-night bistro in the Skagit Valley.

“Or I could go to the Butterfly Ball. Joy Helen will be there.”

In Dodge Valley, the Asparagus Moonlight Brigade reached the old hillside quarry where the road turned sharply to the left. The towers of Fishtown rose directly across the field to the south, and there the North Fork of the Skagit River flowed.

“Robert, Fishtown doesn’t have any towers,” Jimmy said. “It’s just some old boards.”

“Jimmy, Fishtown is a finely crafted bamboo temple. I say towers because that is a Met-A-Phor.”

“Jimmy knows what you mean. He ain’t stupid,” Hitch declared.

“We’re going to the party anyway,” Jimmy said, looking to Marty’s cabin in the field, with Bald Island in the background.

Then Jimmy just stood there and looked at his hands, shiny with dirt. He looked at his long bony fingers with chewed fingernails. I wonder if Joy is coming, he thought. She’s kind of pretty. I could spend time with her if she didn’t get any ideas. I don’t like people telling me what to do … My brother is married, twice now, so he bugs me to grab a hold of something, get more solid, he says, go to ground, you’re not an eagle….. But I’ve seen the eagle up in the top of the cottonwood tree when I was living over on Fir Island. The cottonwood tree was in the back yard, not too far from the house, and the eagle perched up there – didn’t care if he saw us coming or going from the house – just perched up there in the winter time, being the king of all creation….Now I’m remembering and I want to tell Joy things like this…. I’ll tell Joy about the eagle, being noble and strong, like everyone was watching him. But then I thought it a little further. It’s cold and windy at the top of the tree. On Fir Island in the winter the wind comes whipping across Skagit Bay and blows all night and all day. If I was a bird I would perch lower down in the branches, get away from the edge, move in closer to the trunk, get a little shelter from the wind, but not the eagle -- he’s just up there on top where it’s cold and lonely, and the other thing is he doesn’t care about you or me or the price of beans. All he cares about is dinner. He’s looking for food, and he’s cruel. Nothing fair about it all. He watches the flocks of snow geese, looking for a bird with a crippled wing. No sport to it, no giving someone a fighting chance. Nope, that crippled bird is as good as dead. That’s what the eagle is looking for. And if the eagle doesn’t kill the bird, there’s a coyote watching too. Survival of the fittest. Eagle up in the cottonwood tree – you can’t eat the wind…..I wish I could say that to Joy….”

“Hitch, did you bring that eagle feather?” Jimmy suddenly asked.

“The eagle feather is sacred,” Hitch said.

“No it isn’t. Eagles are birds, that’s all.”

“So why they put eagles on a dollar bill?”

They all walked across the field and got to the party. Aurora Jellybean gave Charlie Krafft a meaningful glance. Charlie began doing his imitation of Rodney Dangerfield-as-Buddha. Leila wore four-inch heels and all the glitter. Hitch and Robert went straight for the punch bowl. Jimmy looked up and saw Joy coming.

“I’m glad to see you,” Jimmy said. Joy reached out and grabbed his hand for a light squeeze. “Let’s sit somewhere,” she said.

Jimmy began, “Sometimes I wish I was dead – no, I don’t mean that. I mean sometimes I wonder what’s keeping me alive. Do you ever listen to your heartbeat, like when you’re in bed and you can hear it beating? Why does it keep going? I can wave my hands around and jump up and down, but I can’t make my heart beat, it just goes by itself – so I couldn’t be in charge.”

Joy loved hearing this. She reached out and held his hand again. “This log over here, let’s sit. I’ll get you some punch.” She wanted to lean her head on his chest, but held back. “Jimmy, you’re heart beats from the time you are born until the moment you die. It’s destiny – a soul number, the number of heart beats God gave you -- you can’t change that.”

“Yeah right, when you’re number is up….”

“Then your heart stops and your soul flies away.”

“I don’t want to fly away. I like it here.”

“But it could happen anytime. Do you ever get a feeling like that?”

“Not me. All I know is my heart keeps beating, but I’m not in charge of keeping it wound up and running. Otherwise, I ain’t going anyplace.”

“You want to stay here, sure, you could go to ground….Talk to Cow Shit Michael. He’s got that woodworking shop in Sam Cram’s barn, him and Curt and Mike Parker. You could fit in over there.”

The wrong thing to say the second she said it. Scared him, she thought, he’s going to start looking at his shoes again.

But he looked her right in the eye and said, “I might do that some day. Cow Shit Michael ain’t such a bad guy, but we’re one a mission tonight – we’re going out to Fishtown later, to check out Keith Brown’s cabin – do you think Lisa’s out there someplace? I seen that woman on Atclew’s barge, but she’s gone now. I think that’s Lisa – what Keith has been trying to tell us.“

“Atclew and Solartron are two of the weirdest people I ever met. They’re hippie predators. I’ve seen it before. You remember the STP family down in Arizona,” Joy began.

“I never went there.”

“The STP Family -- they had Chipper, Bear and Filthy Fill – violent people, should be in prison or dead by now. And Jesse. You didn’t meet Jesse? He was a dwarf with a twisted spine. He wore leather pants and a crushed cowboy hat. Jesse was always drunk or hopped up on something, and he could hardly walk without a crutch for his twisted legs, but he would get raging drunk and start ragging on guys, like he wanted to fight, only they wouldn’t fight him because he was a dwarf, but Jesse would keep ragging on them until they came over to kick him, then he would pull out his knife quick as lightning and cut the dude up. That was Jesse’s game. Cut the guy up and cops would never touch him because it looked like self-defense…..Really bad dudes, the STP Family, hanging around hippie camps down by Nogales. We don’t have them here, but Atclew has his barge out there at Shit Creek and I know he’s bad.”

Jimmy halted, “Joy, there was something I wanted to tell you.”

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