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My folly was a poisonous tree


A large assemblage of the people, a mob, one might say – it is not too much to use that word here – and angry, too, so an angry mob, then, has gathered just outside the jailhouse tonight. One imagines torches. Pitchforks. Insulting signs, too, it is as likely.

I cannot see them, however, and I did not expect them. I did not expect there to be no windows but there are none. I did not expect actual bars but there are many.

And if these are to be my final moments, among the living, as they say, then I shall take but a few of them to explain myself and what has gone wrong. I have it in me to say, to admit, to hypothesize, at last, that it is all my own fault. I had the best of intentions.

The town in which I reside was, in former days, bitterly divided upon itself. Any old excuse would serve for a fight. Citizen against citizen. We fought over which bathroom to use. Over statues in parks. The utility of bicycle lanes. O, you wouldn’t believe the blows we came to. And brother, how can a town such as this long survive?

I had the best of intentions. The town was divided, I will not say it again, and one day, on the Houston facebook page, I observed, to my horror, photographs of yet more fighting. More blows. This time, it was regarding parking spaces.

In my naiveté and I see in hindsight, without sufficient forethought, I commented. Using my false facebook identity, I said, “All you Houstonians suck. I pray you beat the hell out of each other. We don’t do this sort of madness in Temixoch because we don’t suck like you do.”

You should know, between you and me, there is no Temixoch, Texas, but that did not stop the replies. Of the many thousands of replies, I do not recall much in the way of specifics beyond that they were angry. In defending our fair town, all parties turned their ire against he who would besmirch it, which was me.

Bathroom segregators and bathroom unisexers, statue builders and statue bombers, even rabid pro- and anti-leash law partisans, they all came together to praise Houston and insult Temixoch, the latter of which, I was assured, was indeed the most horrible of all possible places.

Against Temixoch, Houston united.

I united Houston further by daily continuing in my Temixochian attacks on the town. I spoke poorly of Houston’s mothers, its babies, its grandmothers’ apple pie recipes. On bridges over freeways, clandestinely I placed signs reading, “Temixoch rulz” and “Temixoch hates everything you love.”  

And then, upon my word, I struck upon another idea, my Eureka moment again or for the first time, and announced an upcoming gathering of Temixochians at a local Houston park for the purpose of making fun of Houston. The Houstonians arrived by the busload to face down their detractors. Numbering one hundred fifty thousand in total, they held hands – black and white, gay and straight, bridge dwellers and townhouse owners alike – and sang songs of the myriad virtues of Houston.

It was my finest hour.

Not one soul seemed to notice there was not a single Temixochian to be had, and how could there have been?

Some months later, I attended a party. In my life, I have only rarely attended parties and now I see why. Among those gathered was a candidate for higher office, I forget which. When he came to be asked of his political platform, he said, “Oh, well, I am the anti-Temixoch candidate.”

And in the throes of my inebriation, ill-considered in retrospect, obviously, I chuckled. Rather, I guffawed, if that is a word. I went farther. I said, “Oh yeah, Temixoch! Now there’s a threat! That’ll fix what ails us!”  

Of what followed, I have but the foggiest of recollections. You can read the papers, same as I can. I will say merely, in this brief account, that the riot police arrived in the midst of my lynching, and not a moment too soon though I saw they were loath to intervene.  

I was arrested on the spot as a Temixoch sympathizer, an offense which, much to my surprise, brought with it and still brings with it the death penalty.

When I die and it will be soon, Temixoch dies with me. Then, maybe, with no more enemy in common, Houstonian will turn again upon Houstonian.

But then again, maybe not.

Is this too much for me to hope for?

Comments

  1. OUTSTANDING - One of your better blog posts - will be linking this Friday

    The Temixoch Hero

    Heroes Come in Many Different Flavors

    Real heroes are everywhere. However, they are generally not in the limelight

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    1. Thanks, GOODSTUFF! I wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull it off, especially on a Monday night. One of these days, I'm going to go viral, I swear.

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  2. I've heard of taking one for the team, but this seems a little extreme...
    Were there contingents of little endians and big endians? I've heard they are the worst, but I can't remember where.
    "Oh no, not me, I'm a man of repute."
    But the Devil caught hold of my soul and a voice called out "Shoot!"

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I was watching a documentary on genesis a while back, and the band said they'd written the music for "The Battle of Epping Forest" without Gabriel, who then went and wrote lyrics for it. When they heard how complicated the lyrics were that he was putting over their overly-complicated music, they worried that it was going to turn into a mess.

      Maybe it is. I've been listening to it since I was 15, so to me, it's pretty much prefect that way.

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    2. Are you gonna evacuate out of the way of the hurricane?

      -Doug in Oakland

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    3. I probably should. I am woefully unprepared. And alone. But I have some wine, some beans, and a few bottles of water.

      And I've been through these things before.

      I sure hope the electricity stays on for a while this time.

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    4. You OK? The news reports are looking ugly.

      -Doug in Oakland

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    5. So far so good, Doug, thanks. Just now, went out to the grocery store to make sure I have enough food for when the real rain gets to Houston tomorrow and Monday.

      I am cautiously optimistic. Things do have a tendency to flood in this town.

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    6. So I just read that Temixoch is the dream-state that Carlos Castaneda referred to in his writings, though I don't think he used that name for it. Too bad he was writing fiction, really.

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    7. That makes sense. I originally saw the word in a book by Paul Devereaux ("The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia") about ancient cultures using psychedelics. I've used it a lot as a place name in various writings over the years.

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  3. Now, see, the problem is that you don't have a death penalty in Temixoch, or you could've had all Houstonians there taken hostage and threatened with execution unless you were released. What if Temixoch doesn't exist? Houston doesn't exist either, does it? I mean, I've never seen it and I only have people's unverified word that it does.

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    1. Yes, well, if I had another chance to start this whole thing over, I'd probably find a co-conspirator to help with that sort of thing.

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  4. Your first mistake was venturing into the comments section. Also, if this took place in the Summer, I don't believe anyone in Houston was brave or stupid enough to venture outside. Houston weather hates you and wants you dead, always, but most of all in the Summer. Are you sure Temixoch isn't some Aztec god?

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    1. Temixoch was the underground Houston lair of Ms. Katy Anders. I'm going to take her word for it, but she said it means "flowery dream" in Aztec. I don't know whether I really trust her, though. She turned out to be a bit deceptive.

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  5. I want this to be real *so bad*. But in a way, I suppose it already is.
    Imagine though, there's probably many more Temixoch supporters out there. They're just too afraid to open their mouths, too afraid to challenge the status quo. Because they already know: nothing more deadly than opinions.

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    1. I suppose it's more or less what governments are doing when they focus everyone on some weird overseas menace.

      I have hope that Temixoch will rise again!

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  6. You may have discovered the recipe for universal peace. Set the planet at odds against a non existent planet. Have us all fighting for survival against a non existent threat. It may unite us at last. It might even be worth dying as a martyr for. Any volunteers? No? To busy trying to come up with the newest politically correct name for something?

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    1. They're not aliens from outer space. They're terrestrially challenged life forms.

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  7. So no one from Houston wanted to migrate to Temixoch? It's amazing how attached humans can become to their own patch of the jungle.

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    1. Impossible traffic, 100% humidity, and summers that last for 9 months of the year? What's not to love? Why would anyone ever want to leave?

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  8. This is hilarious, Harry -- I laughed all the way through it! The cadence of your narrative and the understated language you used reminded me of Mark Twain's best satirical pieces.

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    1. Thank you! I was afraid I was posting it too soon after my last political satire (last week). But Twain? Yes, I'll take that.

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  9. Superb post.usually People r just flock of sheeps.Yours is fiction but in my state u could see hilarious jokes happening in reality.Idont subscribe to this national pride,state pride,family pride bullshit as I turned into a staunch anarcho communist in my thoughts

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    1. I remember the old days. When you were always first commenting and you'd be sad if Fang beat you to it.

      It's okay. It's okay. You anarcho-communists have notoriously short attention spans.

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  10. I love this. Definitely one of your best. We always need someone to rally against, don't we? It's us vs them, dammit. Right vs wrong. Chocolate vs vanilla. Denver Broncos vs whoever the hell we're playing this week (God, those guys are the worst. I hope they get permanent CTE brain damage).

    I'm just glad you're on our side. Or... Are you...?

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    1. If you write more controversial stuff, I promise to rally everyone against your site. It will probably be the best thing to ever happen to it.

      There's got to be something controversial about shower beers.

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  11. Haha. I've been to Temixoch, and used their unisex bathrooms. I think... ;p

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    1. You certainly won't find unisex bathrooms in Houston because some of us (apparently) completely lose our minds when it comes to ensuring bathroom segregation. At this point, I'm not sure we're far from instituting chromosome checks outside every public restroom.

      There are a lot of places in the US where worrying about which restroom transgender people might use has turned into a political issue, but it all started in Houston.

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    2. Sounds like everything starts in Houston.

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    3. Maybe not. I don't get out of town much, so my worldview might be a little biased.

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  12. Temixoch, we have a problem.


    (Really, I'm the only non American here and I'm the only one who thought of that kind? Really?!?)

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    1. You're not the only non American here. :D

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    2. Among the regulars, GOODSTUFF is in southeast Asia, Fang is in Netherlands, you're (usually) in the UK, Arun is in India, and we have a couple Canadians like Magic Love Crow/Stacy wandering through, too. It's a real international thing!

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  13. People are such strange, ridiculous, infuriating... creatures. I, too, have found myself ashamed to see how quick humanity is to band together against something they feel must be opposed, or hated... Makes no sense. None at all...

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    1. I don't quote "Men in Black" very often, but I do like Tommy Lee Jones' line: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."

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  14. I have to admit Harry, when I first started reading this, I thought, is this true?? Well done! Great write!

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    1. Thanks, Stacy! I liked writing this one. My fiction pieces are getting much better than the biographical ones, I think.

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  15. Long live Temixoch!

    No, wait. *looking over shoulder* Forget I said that.

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    1. I knew there were others out there who felt like I do!

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  16. I'm starting to wonder if you work on a fake news site on the side. Is Temixoch famous for it's UFO landings? We lack enough UFO stories in the news now. Too much that could actually be real like a North Korea attack.

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    1. I've tried to write about real politics and religion, but it always comes out as satire.

      I don't believe that in ten years of writing blog posts, I've ever done a UFO post. It's probably time.

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    2. Just had a passing thought. I'll share it here before it passes completely away. Could an old guy like me run for office on the promise of protecting the great US from extraterrestrial aliens? We could build huge domes over many areas and patrol the skies over the other areas. All UFO's would be shot down. Extraterrestrials would be denied any healthcare or sex changes. Extraterrestrials would be banned from entering our country. My plan would also protect our NORTHERN border. Why does Donny John ignore our norther border? Is he possibly Canadian? I'll stop now - that felt good.

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    3. It just my work. "My opponents are too afraid to even address this issue, but I'm not. They won't take the steps we need to protect our skies from the extraterrestrials. But I will...

      "Let's talk about little Cindy Smith in Milwaukee. An alien abductee since age 4. If my opponent wins, Cindy willl just keep on getting abducted. Cattle will keep getting mutilated. But that stops on day one if you elect me."

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  17. I am simply in awe of this post! Clean, concise, and packs a hell of a moral punch.
    How you holding up with the flooding? Hope you still have electricity.

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    1. Thank you!

      I've been very fortunate here. I still have food, electicity, and internet. Ran out of wine, but the rain is supposed to let up a little tonight.

      There are a LOT of areas of town that have not been so fortunate. I drive a Honda Civic, which is about half an inch off the ground, so I haven't ventured out at all.

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