Thursday, October 04, 2012

Ch 18. Fishtown Must Be Destroyed

Jimmy & Hitch, Chapter 18,

Fishtown Must Be Destroyed

Leila followed at a distance. I know where Jimmy and Hitch are going, she thought. They are fools hoping for miracles and they may even succeed. I come from an ancient country, so I have no trust in the future. I am not white. I am not Christian. My Turkish ancestors rode wild horses on the steppes of Asia. They came sweeping down on Baghdad and burned it to the ground. They left behind a mountain of bleeding human skulls, and they rode on and laid siege to Constantinople, pounding the massive walls of the ancient city with fantastic huge cannons while the last Byzantine Emperor cowered in his palace. My ancestors were the Turks and we destroyed that city, but for the Hagia Sophia. With all the power given to us by our God Allah and our prophet Mohammed, we still bowed to the Mother Wisdom at this holiest church. So we did not destroy it.

And Natalie Wood – she is my most serious inspiration – the most beautiful and intelligent of all American women acting in movies. I live for every word and movie she makes. She was in the Wild Bunch with William Holden and Ernest Borgnine, she was a senorita -- I think so. Because I am coming to America for ten years now and you see it all in the movies. The Wild Bunch – wild and free. It is the best movie, they ride across the Rio Grande River, then they all get shot, and Natalie Wood comes to their graves in a lace mantilla. I myself look beautiful in a black lace mantilla.

Now I am following after Jimmy and Hitch. They are facing more danger than they can handle. They have the courage of fools. But I am different, I don’t trust anyone. I don’t even trust myself.

Jimmy and Hitch were still sleeping under the cedar tree in the Fishtown Woods. It was about 8 a.m. on a warm and sunny day in July.

Speak of the devil, she thought. I’m getting a big red light message – either deal with this creep right now, fair and square, or run home and hide under the bed.

Joy Helen scrambled down the small hill and walked up to the float. She hailed him, “Good morning, Atclew, fine day, how‘s it going?”

She said it too fast. Atclew gave her a small smile. He finished tying up the barge.

“Keith Brown isn’t here anymore,” Joy said. “He got arrested yesterday. He tried to set fire to the Lighthouse Inn and I think he will be going to prison for that.”

Atclew stood up and made a small step to the side, not going toward Joy, but not going away either – just a slight movement.

“Keith was going crazy talking about Lisa, saying Lisa’s a prisoner and they’re trying to kill Lisa and all that. Did you ever hear him talk like that?”

Atclew smiled lightly and said, “Fishtown must be destroyed.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Joy said.

“Fishtown must be destroyed.”

“You’re really crazy.”

“Fishtown must be destroyed. I said it three times, that’s enough.”

“Like you have some power.”

“I have no power.”

“But you want to destroy Fishtown.”

“I don’t want anything.”

“Then why did you say that.”

“I won’t ever say it again. I don’t need to. It doesn’t matter what I think or what I want. Someday soon Fishtown will be gone, the cabins will be pushed into the river and all the trees will be cut down. It’s coming. You can’t stop it. What will happen is what must happen.”

“You claim to know the future.”

“I know nothing.”

“Where’s Lisa?”

“There is no Lisa.”

“Did you come up here to get something from Keith Brown’s cabin?”

“Yes. I gave him something, but he won’t need it anymore. I came up here to take it back. You know, almost anybody could walk right into Keith’s cabin.”

“But he has nothing worth stealing.”

“True, what I gave him is worthless. It is only a piece of a deer’s antler. I hoped it would bring him better luck, but now he’s going to prison.”

“You made it worse for him. Take it back, what you gave him.”

“I’ll go in to get it.”

Atclew went into Keith Brown’s cabin. There was a small windmill on the roof where Keith’s little wind engine developed tiny amounts of electricity for his low-watt diodes and scientific gimcracks. On the float, Keith had left various glass jars, 15 & 20 gallons full of manure, stoppered and sealed, producing methane. “You can light it with a match,” Keith would say and cackle. “Here, I’ll show you. It’s fart power.”

Atclew rummaged in the cabin looking for his deer’s bone, found it near an empty can of Spam on the counter, brought it out, showed it to Joy, the base of the antler sown in green velvet, above that leather laces woven in a pattern, above that fine copper wire shining and wrapped tightly going up the bone to the first branch.

“So you make some kind of magic with that?” Joy said.

“This antler? It’s nothing. I make these decorations to pass the time. Keith is my friend. There is no magic. My life is dull these days. I watch the tide come in, it goes out, why am I alive? I was in Monroe prison for five years for manslaughter. I was in a gang fight. I turned state’s evidence against the guys who killed him. I served the whole five years in protective custody with all the homos and rats. That’s when I learned about real freedom. During those five years I learned that nothing matters. My life is nothing. I don’t care if I die. I can do whatever I want. A criminal is the only free man. “

“Where is Lisa?”

“It doesn’t matter where she is.”

“If you hurt her we’ll call the police, you’ll go back to prison.”

“I don’t care.”

“We’re going to find her.”

“Come with me. I’ll show you where she is.”

“No, I’m staying right here.”

Atclew boarded the barge, untied the line, pushed into the current, started the outboard motor, opened it up to full throttle and rushed downstream.

Joy was disturbed about many things that Atclew said, and she wondered if it was worth any effort to argue with him, but she had to say one thing, even though he wouldn’t hear it as his vessel sped downstream. She called out to him, “Atclew, you’re wrong about the end of Fishtown. – Fishtown is forever.”

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