1 snigirO

Dirt, dirt, and dirt. O, but I could have gone with fire! Should have, I believe, probably. It was a choice available to me, once. To you, too.

With fire, you see, there would be no voices, nothing at all, whereas now, with the dirt, there is nothing but. Babbling, babbling, and babbling, without end. One does not think of these things, though, not when it matters, ahead of time, when the choice is made. Only later does one think of these things and later is too too late.

If only I could raise my little hands to my ears, I think, were that still possible, what a dream, I would shut out the voices forever.

Off on my right (what I take to be my right, somehow) a voice makes itself known. Speaks to someone perhaps much farther away than I am, to it, and much too loudly, for me. It is one of the voices I know, or knew, from before and from what came before. It is an East Texas voice that calls itself Pirkle [1].

Pirkle says, “I shit you not.” He says, “I mowed the hell out that grass. No one did it better than I did. For forty years. At Meyer Park. On a riding platform mower.

“On Monday morning, I’d start in with the mowing. Start at the northernmost point. At Meyer Park. On my riding platform mower. Down to the tree with the lightning marks. No stripes and not a blade of grass left unmowed. On Tuesday, I’d start at the tree with the lightning marks. I’d mow, moving south and east. I’d stop at the pavilion so that, by Friday, in the afternoon, I’d reached the southernmost point of the park. Down by the creek.”

“On the next Monday morning,” Pirkle says, “I’d start in with the mowing. From the southernmost point, down by the creek, and head northwest. No stripes and not a blade of grass left unmowed. To the entrance of the nature trail. On Tuesday, I’d start at the nature trail. I’d mow to the soccer field, by the street, so that, by Friday, in the afternoon, I’d reached the northernmost point. Where I’d started the previous Monday.”

Pirkle says, “Then it would be time to mow again. At the northernmost point. At Meyer Park. Round and around. Week after week, year after year. For forty years. It’s just what I did. You can’t think too much about it, these things.”

“There’s more to life than mowing!” a second voice, somewhat further afield, says. I’ve been hoping for some silence, after Pirkle, but no. The second voice, which calls itself Nura [2], I believe, is coughing up dust and taking its turn.

Nura says, “There was a time when I lived for my daughter.” She says, “I was a mother. But there had to be more to life, so I got into realty. There was a time when I lived for realty. But realty wasn’t right so I lived for politics. Then religion. There was a time when I lived one hundred percent for farming. But farming wasn’t right, and by then, it was too late. I never found it. O, I could have found it! I don’t know who to blame.”

With Nura done, I am possessed of high hopes at last that perhaps, for a moment, at least, I might finally –

“You were doing the wrong politics!” a third voice, uninvited and unwelcome, from somewhere off to my left (what I take to be my left), says. And what a voice! Charismatic and inspiring. It must be the voice of one freshly interred.

“I was David Cobb [3],” the third voice says. “I was going to start the revolution. I was never bored. There was never time to be bored. Each year, I’d set off upon a new campaign. I’d work day and night on the year’s campaign.”

Cobb says, “I lost every one. I failed without fail. But sometimes, after I’d failed, I’d look at a calendar, and the calendar I’d look at would read November. November! And no matter how I tried, my brain could not come up with a thing since March, I’d been so busy. In this way, all my life went by, almost painlessly, while I was busy with other things. While I was –”

The monologue, which up until now has been gaining steam, ends with a kind of gargle. If I knew of such things, which I do not, I would guess the gargle to be the sound of the speaker’s jaw dropping off. I’ll never know.

Perhaps he was not so freshly interred as I had imagined.

Despite my better judgment – despite my yearning for silence – they’ve got me thinking, Pirkle and Nura and Cobb. How long has it been since I blogged? Impossible now, but I really would like some comments. I say, “I [4] did not mow and I did not marry. I did not watch football on the television. I did not go to celebratory parades.”

I say, “I sat in my room and I thought about the time I was wasting. I read books in which people wrote about the pointlessness of it all. I listened to music where singers sang about the pointlessness of it all. I wrote blog posts discussing the pointlessness of it all. I was bored but unafraid. I was —”

“Busybodies!” a voice that sounds like metacarpals across a pine box because it is the sound of metacarpals across a pine box says. It says, “Busybodies and wimps, all of ya!”

If ever a voice were raspy, it is this voice, which seems to carry into my box from all about, and from which worms and other slithering things try to make their escape. This voice is the voice of my grandfather, I know it, Charlie Hamid [5], and time has not changed its tenor in the least. Even the cough is the same.

Grandpa Charlie says, “It was 1937 when I walked into my backyard, a cigarette in one hand, a bottle of whisky in the other, sat down in a lawn chair, and waited for death to find me. I didn’t write about it, I didn’t cry about it, and I sure as hell never sang about it. There was no reason for singing and nothing to sing about. I just looked into the night and got drunk and waited. And when death finally did find me, still in that lawn chair, fifty years later, in December 1986, I looked up and I said, ‘Took you long enough, you bastard! Where in the blazes have you been?’”

I say, “That’s hardcore, man.”

And Cobb says, “A-a-a-ack.”

And Nura says, “But there’s got to be something…”

And Pirkle says, “I hope they routinely mow the grass that’s above us…”

And this is when, there being nothing left to be said, we are all silent, finally. For now, at least, there is silence, at least down here there is. From somewhere up over us, though, we hear the muffled sounds of whistling and laughing and the clinking of glasses.

You sure keep busy, up there, above the dirt.

---------------------------------------------------------------
[1] a former co-worker, John Gomer Pirkle, Jr.
[2] my Aunt Nura McIntosh
[3] former Harris County Green Party Chair David Cobb
[4] Harry Hamid, Jr.
[5] Charlie O. Hamid (1919-1986)

Comments

  1. So this is the origin story of a mad writer gone mad? Interesting.
    Your grandfather sounds like quite the character. May he, and everyone else, have their stories be told in peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few posts back, I had one about my dad called "Origins 1." I thought this scontrasted with that one, but didn't want to call it "Destinaitons 1" or something.

      By the way, I don't know what blogger was doing with those endnotes. I took them out completely. It works just as well (or badly) without them, though, so screw it.

      Delete
    2. Actually, I forgot to take the very first bit of context the story provides into account. This isn't an origin or rise at all. Are we already past the Fall of Harry Hamid?

      Delete
    3. And re: endnotes, it was interesting seeing them while they were there, even if they didn't actually link to anything. I am no longer as sure as I was that we're already off your wild ride. (;

      Delete
    4. I'm not Batman anymore. Other than the name, which I change to keep Mom or Grandma from finding it, it's just me.

      Well, except I'm not actually dead. Not to ruin it, but this one is real people from my life sunk down into a fictional context.

      Delete
  2. This seems quite a bit darker than your typical origin story. For starters, no one even got superpowers. Unless Pirkle has an uncanny ability to mow grass, and you have an uncanny ability to avoid parades.

    For what it's worth, things aren't all that fantastic above the dirt, either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I almost wrote about my experience escaping a parade on Friday! It probably would have been better than this, actually.

      Delete
  3. I think I'll go with air or water.

    Air: dumped in a forest for scavengers and maggots to finish.

    Water: dumped in the ocean for scavengers and lobsters to finish.

    At least I'll be tasty :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have an album by a group called Inter Arma that is titled "Sky Burial." It refers to a reputed Tibetan practice of leaving a corpse on a mountaintop, exposed to the elements. I don't live around any mountains, but I beliueve I'm willing to give it a go.

      Delete
    2. Yes....sky burial is something the Parsis do, too, leaving their corpses for vultures atop towers called Towers of Silence.

      Delete
  4. Fire for me, boys. I don't want to listen to other people bitch in the ground. It's a big enough pain in the ass listening to people bitch above the ground.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the time I go, it's likely that I'm not going to have any family around to go visit a grave. Burn me and then go throw me out over a field or body of water and be done with it.

      Delete
  5. I've been waiting, too. I was tempted to hurry it along about a year ago, but it is the one way out that we can all achieve. Guess I'll just keep waiting for now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been tempted to hurry it along since I was 17. Attemped as well as tempted, thrice. Obviously not successfully.

      Delete
    2. So long as I stay healthy, I'm waiting it out.

      Delete
  6. What do ya gotta do for a little peace and quiet? I don't really have a preference in the available options, but were naked burial in the National Forest an option, I'd choose it. Give my biomass back to the place I got it from. My friend JT, when he was 64 (and still alive) said that as your quality of life deteriorates, your fear of death subsides, and I somehow find that strangely comforting.

    -Doug in Oakland

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That seems to be largely true. I suppose you need to be scared enough to try and stay alive. Some kind of self-preservation instinct. My 93-year old grandmother, who is in perfect health, says she'd like to close her eyes one night and not wake up.

      I probably need to change my lifestyle to achieve that. The way I'm going, it could be a long, painful, drawn-out process.

      Delete
    2. If you had asked me before my stroke, I would have been aghast at the idea of living decades in declining health with a disability. Mostly because I wouldn't have thought about it, and any restrictions on my current program would of course be unacceptable.
      I very nearly fulfilled your grandmother's ideal, as my stroke happened while I was asleep.
      I'm not big on the idea of living with pain, but luckily enough, I didn't really have any with the stroke, which is a really good thing as they handed opiates out like candy at the rehab hospital, and I had enough challenges after I got home without an addiction to manage, thank you very much.
      I'm about to turn 57, and I can see myself living ten more years, maybe fifteen, but not living until I'm 84 like my father did.
      If something else debilitating happens I might revise my estimate, but maybe not: I've had plenty of time to think about it since 2008, and most of that was before I got around as well as I do now.

      -Doug in Oakland

      Delete
    3. That makes sense. I think of bodies sort of like cars: The first time you get a scratch on a new car, I'm ready to throw the whole thing out, but eventually, you live with it, with the diminished expectations.

      With strokes, my understanding is that if you manage to get through it when it happens, they can almost guarantee you won't have another one, with blood thinners. My dad generally has bruises all over his arms, due to the blood thinners, but he is largely back to where he was before.

      My body doesn't produce many platelets, so it's very unlikely I'll ever end up with a stroke. I can almost guarantee I end up with cancer, if I don't have it already.

      Delete
  7. Golly I hope it`s not that noisy down there...I was kind of looking forward to some peace and quiet finally. At least, at the very least, I hope no one is talking about Trump. I`ve heard enough about that guy to last me a lifetime and beyond. Unfortunately most of those conversations sound exactly like the ones up top lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. It might take death to get me somewhere where I don't have to heard about Donald trump all of the time. I went a month a while back where I didn't talk about him at all, and it really improved my attitude.

      Delete
  8. A few years back I was visiting one of my old haunts, Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Typical beach community but I got talking to some tourist about the beauty of the marsh. She was trying her hand at throwing a shrimp net, mainly for fun but with the stated purpose to "catch dinner," The details escape me but I made and offhand reference that the small bridge she was throwing from was one of the places people have been known to dump the cremated remains of deceased loved ones. Think of it as the cycle of life thing spoken about in Disney's "Lion King."

    She asked me if I was serious and said extremely, in fact that's how my wife is supposed to get rid of my lazy ass after I die. The tourist promptly gave up and left.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Those shrimp you're eating were living in my remains."

      That might be the way I want to go.

      Delete
  9. This was really interesting Harry! I like Grandpa Charlie! I hope he's got some peace and quiet! I like this line, "From somewhere up over us, though, we hear the muffled sounds of whistling and laughing and the clinking of glasses."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Stacy. I was thinking of the phrase "whistling past the graveyard" - which was sort of literal in this situation, but also kind of captured what I was trying to say ("To remain ignorantly blissful in a dire situation").

      Delete
  10. I've been told the hearing is the last to go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really late, apparently, if this story is any indication.

      I read an article a few weeks ago in which some study had indicated that the brain knows when a person is dead. That might have led to this. I don't know.

      I hope I don't know. I could really use the sleep.

      Delete
  11. “Busybodies!” a voice that sounds like metacarpals across a pine box because it is the sound of metacarpals across a pine box says. It says, “Busybodies and wimps, all of ya!”

    I shall take that whole paragraph around with me today, and grin at it a lot. Because it's wonderful.

    Grandpa's a warrior.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha... Thank you! I am glad someone got something out of it. As with so many of my posts lately, it feels like it went a bit flat from what I'd intended. But there's always the next one. The next one is going to be the one I've been working towards. Or else the one after that, definitely...

      Delete
  12. Wait. What's the difference between a platform riding lawn mower and a riding lawn mower? I've always wondered.

    And just how long do you think you can keep the silence up? "Pointless" or no, it still will be done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I worked at the park for two summers, mowing the grass (among other things), and the mowers we used had these enormous dual blades which had a cover over them, and the cover (the platform) could be completely controlled.

      It would go up, down, you could tilt it, and it was held on almost like the bucket of a bulldozer is held on.

      As a city boy, I used the term here just to distinguish it from the sort of little riding mower my grandmother used. This was somwhere in between my grandmother's a big tractor mower (which we also had at the park, but which they'd never let me anywhere near).

      Delete

Post a Comment