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.

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