Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Riders on the Storm
Plunder the rubble of fresh calamity and you won't find any answers. Just ask anyone who's watched a widow pick through her broken home or seen a senior citizen call a soggy cot home for more than a fortnight. No doubt about it, that Mother Nature's a real bitch. Why else would she push a trailer up a tree, toss a car across the yard and make everyone think of freight trains? Don't ask me. I've slept-walked through more debris fields than I can list and the only thing I ever came away with was an appreciation for the absurd. It happened again just last week, as I followed the wake of another tornado and found that I can still be struck by sticks and stones. But I was not alone in my journey of selfish discovery. I had my friends, right there beside me...
You might know them as jackals, carnivorous and loping. In fact, they are a weathered set of action figures who aren't nearly as ditzy or villainous as filmmakers would have you believe. Well, most of us anyway. The fact that we gather in packs probably doesn't help, but when a fickle tempest lays waste to a wide spot in the road, we're gonna crowd the parking lot like stoners jonesing at a Dead show. That's us, stringing lights across still wet wreckage, grilling would-be victim and trying to decide which handful of shattered dream would make for the very best set prop. No one ever said it was noble, especially those of us with splinters in our minds' eye. That's how I've come to think of the shards of memory that surface whenever familiar vistas pass through my glass.
Call it deja vu, reflected echo or lenslinger's dementia. Fact of the matter is I can free associate other people's darkest days like some soul-eroding parlor trick. There's the stunned youngster from a decade back, searching his parent's property for what he knew to be an immovable object. There's the grizzled war vet picking dishes out of thickets and repeating his poodle's name. There's the grown-up tom boy balling up her fist and turning away, lest her tears end up on the evening news. I can't say I'm haunted by these people, but they pop up in m subconscious at the oddest moments and I find myself hoping I did not do them wrong. It's so hard to know sometimes when you show up like some dreaded specter, scour the vicinity for bits of narrative and vanish before the victims even realize what you've done.
Now go do no harm.