by Charles Hill
This is the pause before the end of the world. Thoughts; Milo knew. Knew by scent that the audacity of Funk is never as it appears, that under the surface, (scratch any recovering Catholic), aware that nothing escapes Eden, nothing escapes Hell.
Of course the natural reaction is dismay, followed by euphoria, followed by joy, then mild happiness, then the head of reason appears and Milo knew, (thoughts, Milo knew), that doom and disappointment were in residence.
Currently, I’m knee-deep in serious shit. Characters that won’t come to life, thoughts that peter-out and lead nowhere, a narrative that is dying, and in general a malaise about the whole damn story. There has to be a vested interest, either a tale worth telling, or characters worth knowing, and sometimes if there’s enough bullshit in the air, style alone is enough. All lie flat.
Tina, expresses rage through romance. Lovers eventually became victims, heartless corpses standing in line. This, Milo did not know. What Milo knew was that there was more ozone, more blue, and more light. What Milo knew was that hope and happy are better than fear and dismay, what Milo wanted, (and thought Tina had) was promise, that somehow the change in atmosphere was the funk that pulled the world together. How little Milo knew.
I opened the tent flap and it was 1965. Somewhere in New Jersey, a campground, a Jamboree of some sort, thousands of Scouts all in khaki, row after row of pup tents, smoke from campfires, coffee for Scoutmasters and dads, eggs and oatmeal, bacon and sausage, milk, juice, noise. Reveille at seven. Sharp. Dad’s on a weekend with sons. Dad’s that haven’t been in a tent since active duty. Dad’s that love their sons, Dad’s that want to forget War and remember this. Dad’s that threw away uniforms, threw away medals, threw away years. Dad’s that take a train in and a train out, day after day, week after week, year after year. Dad’s that are unable to hug, unable to cry. Dad’s with sons.
I need something soft and tender, I need additional words. This is where the depth is almost reached and a climactic moment, event, is within reach. This is where it falls apart.
Milo can cast away and shun. Milo can count by sixes. Milo can dance when he’s drunk, and cry when he’s alone, Milo can do a lot of shit. Milo in a previous life was an escape artist. Not the traditional escapee, not chains, or shackles, not trunks, crates and duffle bags, wrapped in strait jackets and bound by rope. Milo escapes all that annoys. Milo has evolved.
It has been said that the best actor becomes a shell. That auto-direction and original thought is voided and that they have successfully transformed all possibility into a cog. This is how a machine works. What did the great scientist think when they were young? Were they ever children? I am now witnessing two luminaries, a duel between sun and moon. I wonder about gravitational pull, balance and mass, about that which I will never master and never know. None-the-less I think this.
Tina grew as children grew, in stages. Her myopia was evident the minute she smiled and her guard was down. She too can count in sixes. She too can shun, but not cast away. She too can dance, (drunk or sober). Tina can do a lot of shit. Tina has no history, her presence is her past.
On the trail, crossing State lines is a big deal. Every one-hundred miles is a big deal. Coming into New Jersey from Pennsylvania, was a bittersweet moment. Pennsylvania where best times of a life too short were lived, and New Jersey where the pains of an awkward pre-teen trying to connect with his Father are buried. Geographic changes are slight. A little more green, a little less rock, a little closer, a little further, beyond transitory but lacking resolution. Keystone to Garden. Mile after mile, this memory becomes that memory, this fear becomes that reality, and nowhere is there a station to unload.
If you weren’t engaged, I’d propose. We’re both bipolar, we’re both self-regulating and unfiltered, we’re both searching. There are times when the deficiencies of our personalities align, and it’s a love story for the ages, there are times when they’re uneven, and times that will be ablaze in romance or asunder in ashes.
There is a burden of expression to be a more fluid self. Milo’s pre-practiced indifference and bad juju, transcended the atmosphere of simpatico leaving him nowhere, but alone.
Tina, can adorn many hats, and often does. In flashbacks, paper hats with serrated edges atop heads with Poly-Slavic names and guttural clicks and down-beat questions. Gatherings in gardens and on terraces, surrounded and popular, she counts every petal as she pulls the rose apart. This is her calendar.
In 1965, there were fewer words for affection. In 1965, the sensitivities of children were slowly reaching the ears of Dad’s raised in poverty and tempered by war. In 1965, marriages were failing, careers were stalling, children were questioning and the air was disrupted by rumors, fear, and mistrust.
*A Mennonite in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, named Jedidiah Yoder, reports that on the evening of October 13th, 1961 when the moon was full, and the wind was from the West, the loose straws of the days harvest were blown across the field and wove themselves into the hat he now wears.
*On that same date, children in Brookline, Massachusetts were instructed by Sister Mary Margret Callahan, to place their hands over their heads and hid under their desk, for there was evil in the world.
*In Havana, a man with a big cigar looked east.
Milo came across change. Milo awoke with a chill, and entered a 14 month fugue that never produced light. These are the horrors selected. These shivers are the currency of Oz. Concentrated in fear. His now rocked faith, his personal religion, the fervor had been raised to the level of paranoia. Milo knew, Milo thought, that because he tried to turn this chaotic life—-into something linear, because that’s what you’re supposed to do—-right! Isn’t that the basis of religion, so thought Milo, at that moment, (when the phone rang and the night went black), to establish order, to make some ‘mark’, to create an identity, to appear relevant. That by doing ‘A’ that ‘B’, will follow and order has been established. Milo never thought, (though Milo thinks) that he was destined to be anything, let alone an agent of change. At that particular moment, that particular particle that was time, Milo realized that he was merely the conjunction and that all that surrounded him was neither catalyst nor result.
Outside the landscape of residence, in the place that produces all that is a wonder, little girls with straw hats and Easter shoes, run in circles chasing down a miracle. Eggs are the symbol of rebirth, rabbits too, here and now is the time that is revered. Tina is the fastest in the group. Gaining the acceptance of a crowd of strangers becomes paramount if one is essentially alone. In that part of Pennsylvania, during an April of youth, that Tina discovered she was more.
As I write, I realize, I’m traveling a corridor of resistance, (generally a sign I’m on the wrong path), surrounded by the chronically religious, and an underworld of vegans. My first step warns and I am deaf. The second alarms, still deaf. Screams all around. I am mute. I enter that arena where I bear witness to myself, and cannot escape or alter that which I know is wrong. Milo goes the way I send him. Tina offers challenge. The years and the history, are flexible margins. Location and movement, the narrative of redemption and the fallacy of resurrection.
Sailfish Lake, about 14 miles north of the Pennsylvania line. There are now campsites on manicured greens, public baths with tiled floors and running hot water. There is a small store where supplies can be purchased, and the smiling faces of teenage summer help reassured all that the bears are non-aggressive.