Eskimo Blue Day ~ Part 2.5

Our Jungle House Shapes Up / Blair's Bun in the Oven / My Vampire Artist Friends / A Dog Named Meat Hook / Arguing With Blair / A Plague of Flies / A Plague of Rats / My War With Blair / Big Dick Billy / Stopping Diablo Canyon / A Cake Named Frac-nis / More Warring With Blair / A Mishap With Fireworks / The Last Battle (with Blair) / The Louisville Slugger Reality Test / Sad Conclusion...

by Roger Di Prima
 ###.23 = EPIC CAKE
I figure it's about eight. Ike is still snoring, so I decide to take a quick run to the Capo Beach Plaza. As I start off down the trail I'm trying to remember what is it that Ike wants me to call him now? Koyawakasquinky? Something like that...
He does this name-changing thing about every four months. And it's never a name like Jim or Pedro that he wants to change his to, but always something very bizarre; usually taken from some doomed hero in the book he's just read. A Chinese guy in occupied Nanking, or one of the Jewish martyrs at Masada. Or this one he came up with last night- a real tongue twister from the Sioux language. And he really meant it too. So hopefully he will have forgotten all about it, or else we're in for about three days of him being a Lakota brave. But when everyone continues to just call him Ike he eventually gives up...
But if he does run with this, maybe just to tease him I'll rename myself after that Russian Sputnik dog I read an article about yesterday. I mean talk about a martyr- what an awful thing to do! Poor little pooch; totally rusting all her new human friends, and happy for all the attention- right up until they said "Puppy wanna go for a ride?!" I've forgotten what the dog's name was (Troika? Cheka?), and that OMNI magazine was converted into energy after we both finished it last night. I'll have to go look it up on my next trip to the library.
Out in front of Von's I rattle the doors of the newspaper racks. What sounds like two quarters clatters into the return tray of one of them, but they turn out to be steel slugs. I was hoping I had a start here. I'm feeling far too introverted to start spare-changing people right now. That all-important eye contact. Maybe I'll just go without today...
But as I pass the payphone out in front of the tavern at the end of the complex, I see a nickle shining just inside the coin slot. This could be fortuitous. In the nearest trashcan to me is a fastfood drink cup with a straw sticking out of it. I work the straw into the slot alongside the coin and start jabbing with it, working it around. Coins clunk down into the return slot two and three at a time, until the whole jammed-up load drops- HOBO SLOT MACHINE!
"Whatcha doin' there, Roggie Boy?"
I wheel around. It's John Henry, nodding and mugging like a chimpanzee.
"Well I lost a quarter in here, so I-"
"Oh you a-a-are? Well that's kinda like stealing, idn't it?"
"I guess it is."
"You guess. Say, who was that witch that was shadow floating around behind my place the night before last?"
"Probably Billy, sneaking away from Blair. Boy, she sure was carrying on, wasn't she?"
"Oh. Were they going to Pomona?"
"No, I mean yelling. Fighting."
"Is that what they were doing? I thought they was calling down the Infernaton!"
"I don't think they would want to do that."
"Must've been doin' something. The stars don't rumple up like that for no reason!"
He stands, staring up at the featureless blue sky, mesmerized by something up there, then swivels on his heels and marches off down the walk.
I'm starting to see that there are recurrent themes to his patter. Like the "shaking sky". He is so attuned to the slightest changes in the atmosphere ........ The wind picking up or a cloud passing in front of the sun will cause him to scream in torment.
Hell, for all I know whatever it is he sees is really up there. Skies like Bosch painted..... crowded with bat-winged abominations, boats full of gnarled and beaky fish-things flying the flag of the evil red sagging bagpipe!
I imagine him back in his role as a television meteorologist. Watching the monitors, scanning the telexes of the satellite pictures, consulting his almanacs. Until one day---like the cosmically doomed chump in some H.P. Lovecraft story---he starts seeing things. Cryptic patterns that have no rational explanation. He ponders them late into the night, his madness growing like a rolling snowball...
Until the station manager has to take him aside, "You're doing a great job there Johnny, but you might want to lay off the demons a little. You're kind of spooking the folks out in Bowerton Springs!"
With my payphone winnings I go into Von's and buy two six packs of their beer-beer. (It's the silliest thing: white cans with just the word BEER on them in huge black letters, as if putting anything else on there would be a needless frill that would jack the up price, and today's savvy consumers is above such shameless gimmicks as giving your product a name...), then head for home. It's funny, but simply holding these twelve beers, feeling their heft, I no longer feel introverted but perfectly okay with the world...
The roll-up door behind Von's is open and I hear people in there, so I cruise past  the dumpsters without even glancing in. Somebody calls out, "Hey, bum!"
Something in the tone of the voice, a plaintive quality, makes me turn around. A young guy in a boxboy's outfit is holding out a white bakery box. I approach, almost expecting an ambush.
But the kid seems friendly, curious, and---this always suprises me---a bit afraid. He hands me down a birthday cake, inedible looking poster-paint colored frosting under the cellophane window. He says, "You know, I see you carrying that briefcase around all the time. And I always wanted to ask you what you had in there."
When I refrain from giving him some off-the-wall answer, tell him it's a novel I'm writing, he is astonished. "You're kidding! I mean I'm writing one too. Mine's just science fiction, but I'm really having fun with it."
"Don't apologize for it being science fiction. Some science fiction will stand up to any of the writers people hold up as 'literature'. For style, ideas, characters, emotional depth..."
"Well mine's hardly as good as all that! It's called Aftermath, about some teenagers who survive the nuclear war. They live up on Lagrange City Orbital Colony where all the adults---scientists and engineers mostly---retaliate on each other for what happened down here, and kill each other off. The 'June 7th War'."
"All of them?"
"Yeah. Each side is so sure that the other started it. And one crazy Russian decompresses half the station. It happens as they're coming back from the moon. They're on a field trip, they had gone along on a freight run where there was some extra room, and all got some pilot training. By the time they get home to the colony they're the only ones left. Them and the pilot, who walks right into a booby trap..."
"Then they start to run out of things that they can't fabricate up there. Earth is all irradiated, but they can tell that they're on the verge of making the place self sustaining- the agriculture pods weren't damaged too badly. So four of them take the colony's shuttle down to Florida to get what they need and then put together another rocket to go back in. It's 2030, but we still mostly use solid fuel boosters to put stuff into orbit. And they just have a pair of screwed-up giant assembly robots to help them, while they fight off- No wait! My professor said the mutants were a cliche that wrecked a really good story."
"Your teacher's right. And it does sound like a good story up until then. Where you going, Irvine?"
"Naw, just here at Saddleback. The book is going slow because I have so much stuff
to write for my other classes, plus working here..." He has lost most of his nervousness, but seems to be having a hard time reconciling how I look with my ability to engage in halfway intelligent conversation. He says, "You know, in my 20th Century Literature class we're reading  Who the Gods Would Destroy-"
"I just finished that! Spent two days in the library, reading until they closed. His prose just floors me!"
"Really? And do you think it's, um, accurate?" he asks, embarrassed by the implications.
"I can't imagine what that was like, during the Depression, in upstate New York with those winters! But the characters sure hit home. They sound about the way real bums think and talk. It's hard to believe that a retired naval captain could have pulled off a book like that! It's a shame he didn't start writing 'til he was sixty-"
The big bag stuffed with bloody plastic wrap and fat trimmings that he's tossing out gives me a brainstorm. "Hey, how about meat?!"
"You want this?" he gasps. Suddenly I'm back to being an incomprehensible street crazy.
I laugh, "No! I mean for your story. Say down by the launch center there was this factory farm, where they grew cloned bologna or something in these vats, and with nobody around to tend to it the stuff took over a huge area. Reverted to a feral state, like some freaky carnivorous plant, grabbing anything that comes near it with big knockwurst fingers! Instead of those mutants they can be fighting that."
He laughs, "I don't know man. That's pretty goofy!"
"No, really. Being a little absurd can make it all the more horrifying- to be killed by something so pointless and stupid! It could have this computer brain---or the brain of an executed criminal, a biocomputer---that's taking extreme measures to carry out its directive of keeping the product alive."
We hear whistling from somewhere inside the stockroom, the clang of a hand truck being dropped. He winces, "I gotta go!"
"Sure, but one thing. The term 'bum'. Not all homeless are bums, and some of them would find it sort of demeaning."
"Oh shit, I didn't mean it like that!"
"But I don't, so no problem. And thanks a lot for the cake," I say, then slip across the alley and around the corner of the tire warehouse before he can get into trouble for being human.
Heading for the tracks, I am debating taking my typewriter on the bus to some nice park far away, where I will be able to write in peace. I know that on principal I shouldn't let that mad woman drive me out of my own house, but I really want to finish this chapter today. And speak of the devil...
Billy and Blair are coming up the trail along the fence, hand in hand, their joined arms swinging. Blair trills coquettishly, "What's that you have there, Roggie? Look Billy. A birthday cake! You are going to save some for us, aren't you?"
I storm past them without saying anything, then change my mind. I stop and turn, "Damn it Blair, be consistent! You can at least do that. If you're going to spend all your time reviling me, then don't abandon your righteous fury for some crummy cake. And if you do seriously want a reconciliation, then try offering me something for once. Which you haven't done since you poured us that tea with all the dirt in it when we first arrived!"
"You know what? Fuck you!"
"Wow that's clever. Did you come up with that all by yourself?"
"C'mon, Babe," mutters Billy, and jerks her up the trail by her arm. It is agonizing to him that I won't be civil. That she and I aren't getting along... 
Ike is up, more or less. Buck naked, blearily rolling up snipes on a pie pan. He takes the beer I hand him, "You see them?"
"We had words."
"They're off to their plaster-dust sweeping gig."
"Good, they'll be gone for a while. Check it out!" I set the cake down and open it.
Ike lights his rancid amalgam of other people's cigarette butts and goes to fetch his samurai sword. He stops and strikes a series of fierce poses with it, glowering toking up a thick cloud, his cock dangling. This unself-conscious display is totally unlike him.
I laugh, "Put some clothes on, Iko-san. If some cop was to wander in here and see you naked, waving that thing around, he'd think you were out of your head on angel dust and splatter you all over those reeds before you could surrender!"
"When do the cops ever come out here?" he asks, then he looks down at the cake. He seems puzzled, then cries out: "FRACNIS!"
"What did you say?"
He swivels it toward me and pronounces carefully: "FRAC-NIS. Look at it."
Across its frosted top, in lime green script, somebody had carefully written:
We find this totally hilarious! Have some Fracnis. Mmmmm this is good Fracnis. Fracnis and honesty. Committing Fracni-cide. We each grab a big one-sixth slice and start to chow down...
Ike slips into his jeans, steps into the pantry. Yanks a jug of milk from the steamer trunk, sniffs it, takes a gulp. "It's still fresh, but barely. This ice chest doesn't work so good without ice. Hey, we got company."
He points at the rat scuttling into our stack of firewood. He eyes his sword, but doesn't want to get rat innards on what we've been cutting the cake with. I grab a 2 x 4 off the woodpile and start smacking the pile with it.
"Are you telling me all that ice melted already? I think block ice would last us a lot longer- OOP!"  
The rat flees the shelter of the lumber and I dispatch it with the board. Its limbs jiggle incoherently, I finish it off. Slow rat, they are usually gone in a blur!
I say around a mouthful of cake, "And maybe we can insulate it. There's always some busted up styrofoam at the beach, we could layer it in with aluminum foil ...........What's so funny? You still laughing about Fracnis?"
Ike is cackling evilly, "Whoaah! Hard fucking core! Did you see what you just did?"
"What did I do? I killed the rat."
"But it was how you did it. You're a total monster!"
"I don't understand."
"No, just ............ Here. Stand over here and I'll show you."
He takes the chunk of board and---slice of cake in his other hand---replays my recent act. "Now look. You were standing about here, eating your cake, talking. Banging on the wood, when he goes zooooooooom ....... and you bean him, here. You're talking, you see he's twitching still. So you put the board on his head, like this. And while you take another bite you crush his skull and just go on talking and eating while you watch his eyes pop out of his head! Just LOOK at it!"
I look again. Sure enough, that's exactly what I had done. The thing is a disgusting bloody mess! One distended eyeball stares up at Ike, the other---accusingly---at me.
Ike jeers, "I'll admit I'm kind of sadistic, I enjoy wasting the little fuckers. But you ........ you didn't even stop eating! And to think you're the same tender-hearted twerp who burned his hand trying to rescue some stupid bug who fell in the fire pit at Doheny last year!"
"He was wounded. I wanted to put him out of his misery."
"Bullshit! You didn't think for a second about whether he was miserable or not."
And I guess I hadn't. It's unsettling to think that after a lifetime of pious revulsion toward things like hunting I've come to this. But damn it, I am protecting my home! 
I like rats. Domesticated ones. They're curious, affectionate, entertaining to watch. It's a bit weird when they crawl up your shirt sleeve and go exploring, but it doesn't alarm me.
But years ago when I was in Scout camp, I had wandered off by myself for some reason, and came across an old abandoned cabin in the woods. Out of curiousity I wandered up onto the porch and in through the sagging doorframe. Suddenly a hundred or a thousand or a million rats were swarming toward me! Not frightened or confused, but focused and extremely hostile, coming straight at me in a crazed, screeching wave! I don't know if they considered me dinner, or an intruder to be dispatched- I didn't stick around long enough to find out. I never ran so fast in my life! And so to keep their numbers down around here, to make sure this remains our camp instead of theirs, I have no qualms about thinning their ranks whenever possible. It's not like we can take them to the vet and get them spayed...
Ike points. "So are you gonna clean it up or what?"
I wash my last bite of cake down with the last of my milk, "No Ike, I think we should just leave him there for a conversation piece. Of course I'll clean it up. But I need this box-"
I lift the cake out of the box, scribble a salutation on it with a felt pen, and using a plastic baggie for a glove drop Mr. Mousy inside, then go make a delivery.
An hour later. Ike is down at the beach, body surfing or maybe hunting for cans.
The moment I hear them coming up the trail, chatting and laughing, I am grimly certain that I have gone too far- have crossed the line between inspired gonzo prankishness and doing something unforgiveably rotten. But unfortunately, this is also the moment at which it's too late to take back my little surprise.
I hear Blair squeak delightedly, "Look! Roggie did leave us a bunch of his cake. Oh that sweetie- JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!"
She runs cursing all the way over here and stops beside my desk, panting heavily. Sputters, "You bastard! That is the sickest, most disgusting thing I've ever seen!"
I look up from my typing, nudge my glasses into place with my finger and ask mildly, "This is the thanks I get? I give you a nice fresh rat and you come over here with these insults?"
"That's not funny! You're not funny!"
"Maybe not," I uncap my bottle of correction fluid and start to brush out a large block of words, "But I am awful tired of you coming roaring over here like a rabid loony, screaming at me when I'm trying to write."
"I have a right to speak my mind!"
"So do I. Think of this as my rebuttal to all your unsolicited comments."
"Saying what? That I'm a rat?! That you want to-"
"Let's not get melodramatic! All it says is 'Fuck you too!' The rat was simply opportune. Too good to pass up..." I keep my tone cool and calm, delighted that it is driving her nuts. "Listen, I'll make you a deal. You don't come over here throwing your pointless histrionics in my face, and I won't bring you any more surprises."
"And if I do you will? That's extortion, you son of a bitch!"
"No, that's desperation ....... You ignore my requests that you not do this. Pleas, demands, appeals to reason- it doesn't seem to matter what I say. You knock down the bamboo torii I'd put up there---which had spiritual significance by the way---showing a total disregard for someone else's property, and tore up the sign that I had hung on there! I have tried everything, short of physical violence. And you expect me to not get a little desperate?!"
"PROPERTY! Boy that says it all. That gate. That wonderful sign you made. NO TRESSPASSING! KEEP OUT! It's just so typical-"
My cardboard sign had said nothing like this at all. It was a humorous, good-natured poem expressing my need for a calm creative environment. But I don't correct her. It was a pretty shitty thing I had done after all...
But by God, it worked. Kept her out of my camp for four whole days!
Possibly out of alarm over our new Secretary of the Interior (James Watt) and his mad scheme to turn all the national forests over to private investors, to be converted into cheesy amusement parks and toxic waste dumps, Doheny Park has given a permit to some environmental groups to hold a concert and rally on the day-use side of the creek. It's one of several being held nationwide today, corresponding with a huge demonstration at a nuclear power plant that is being built up north.
I am not totally opposed to nuclear power in principal. Atomic energy could be a good thing, if they were serious about how they disposed of the deadly waste, and invested heavily in developing those clean fusion reactors. I think nuclear is by far preferable to these coal burning plants that are mucking up the atmosphere. But despite my somewhat heretical views on this one issue I'm in agreement with these groups on most of their other concerns, so it wouldn't stop me from enjoying this free all-day concert...
David Crosby and Graham Nash, Country Joe's New Piscatorial Review, and several other 1960's icons who are not currently huge stars are sharing the flatbed stage with speechgivers, The Hermosa Beach Bluegrass All Stars, Taiko drummers, a perky wholesome reggae band that's the darling of the local club scene; and a former glam rocker who had reinvented himself as a sort of blues singer recently, donning a neon blue and yellow zoot suit and belting out embarrassing covers of old standards under the name Blind Willie Stumble.
We didn't see it.
Five blocks away from us, but somehow in the process of getting beer for the event, drinking that up ====> then having to go bum up dough for some more ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===>===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> and then partying with the Mexican man we met by the tracks, Ike trying to teach him English by talking loud ===> ===> ===> until he ran away for some reason ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> and so we decided to switch to wine ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> and to go get some wine ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> and drink some wine ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> And some of our steps take us sideways, but as is often the case when yer this drunk the panhandling is swift, painless + lucrative ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> But THEN we decide that it is vitally important for us to stick our heads into the door of every business at Capistrano Beach Plaza and go:
"Let's all sing like the birdies sing...
Tweet, tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet!"
====> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> not the whole song, just those two lines (probably one of the more obscure environmental messages being delivered today) and be gone while they are still wondering WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? ===> ===> ===> And by the time we are halfway down the line of shops we are guffawing, holding each other up, trying not to drop this oversize winebottle we're lugging along. In other words the sort of lamebrained stunt that usually ends with you waking up on the floor of the drunk tank, clueless as to how had you got there!
===> ===> ===> Because by now we can barely blurt out the word "TWEET" in a deep 500-pound-canary voice before lapsing into shrieking laughter,  but we get thru that ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===> ===>
And then we are back at the tracks ===> ===> ===> ===> and then a little further down the tracks ===> ===> ===> ===> and a little further ===> ===> ===> until we're on the sloping concrete where they go under the freeway ramp ===> ===> waiting for the Amtrack to come by...
We can actually see the thing from here, across the crick. The tops of the trees. The tethered multicolor weather balloons bobbing this way and that.
"I don't know Roger, maybe we shouldn't go to the park. You're pretty drunk!"
"But we've got to! I need to get up on there and tell everyone about Little Miss Mrs. Poop-on-the-Ground! You know they'll let me if I explain, I mean, all about how we all gotta not clip our toenails an' stuff! I'm the John the Bashpit of th' new faith. Where else I'm ever gonna get a audience that big?!"
"Okay. But let's finish this vino first."
The train shoots by ( ==> ==> ==> ==> ) while we're slumped on the concrete incline. We had planned to moon it, but the best we can manage is to stick our tongues out at it. 
Occasionally we hear a loud burst of applause coming from the beach and I make another proclamation about our need to get over there. The sun slides across the sky  
===>===> ===>===>===>===> ===>
The next thing I know it's night (some pitch black hour that has never occured before!) and I am screaming because I can't find my glasses. I am totally blind without them, and if I can't find them I will effectively become a handicapped person, unable to even get across Coast Highway!
Ike and Billy and some long-haired college boy I've never seen are helping me look for them, but the more they run around the more certainI become that someone is going to accidentally trample them underfoot and the more I yell!
The kid has a flashlight. He is very feminine, and there is something unearthly fair and pretty about him. Beautiful silky hair, that Scandanavian blonde that's almost white.
Ike must be shitting bricks about this little queerbait even being in our camp. Well fuck Ike in his stupid butt. Gay people got a right to go where they want to! To be here or here or wherever and not just all down in Queer Town where they won't upset Ike. Why my always accomodate his bullshit, worrying about HIS comfort?!? Fuck shit.
The kid finds my glasses, next to where I'd apparently been puking. He hands them to me.
But oh, he's not a him. Her. With no makeup on, in a baggy tie-dye sweatshirt and mauve beret covered in protest buttons. And---according to three of these buttons---still a queer, but lesbian.
And she really is cute. I wish I was a girl like her. But that's just weird, you never say that. My name is Bleeaaauuugghhh...
"Thanks. Where'd you come from?" I ask.
She draws back from the alchohol smell of me, her nose wrinkling. "From Escondido. Me and Penny. We're trying to get up to the Diablo Canyon blockade before it's over. Blair said we could stay out here for the night. It is okay, isn't it?"
"Anything for the cause, baby!"
"Far out!" she beams, with an earnestness that makes me regret this sarcasm, and be glad she didn't pick up on it. I'm suddenly feeling jaded, mean-spirited, old and corrupt. Wishing that I still had her passion, that belief that any one group of humans has the answers and won't turn into monsters in implementing them.
But then she says, "Blair is amazing! She really saved our asses. Penny was freaking out about where we were going to stay, with her bug dying on us and all. I hope they don't tow it!"
"Blair has a lot of bugs!"
"I said Blair does a lot of drugs."
"Oh I thought you said ........... Well that's cool, I guess. Although I've been free from drugs and alchohol since I was nineteen. And then Blair came by offering to put us up for the night. But then it doesn't surprise me that she would be right where she needed to be to be of service."
There is a tender cold clutching sensation in my gut. I will have to throw up again soon. "You see this in her?"
"I know! I just met her, but she's so down to Earth! She has that deep female wisdom, like from before the patriarchal Judeo-Christian power structure took over and began plundering our Mother's resources..."
Lord knows the kid means well. I have no problem with the scores of liberal causes that adorn her beret, her radical mystico-feminist views on history (sounds about right...) or even her "clean and sober" bit ...... If I kicked the booze I might have been at the blockade myself today (I say MIGHT; nuclear power is potentially deadly but these coal plants mess up the environment day in & day out...) instead of stumbling around Capistrano Beach yelling "Tweet" at the shopkeepers.
But as she continues on about Blair and all her laudable attributes, it's like I have plunged through a trap door into some insane counterfeit reality: SOMEONE IS ACTUALLY TAKING THIS IDIOT SERIOUSLY!
I inspect my glasses, glad that they're intact, making sure there's no vomit on them. I ask cheerlessly, "You mean Blair, right? My neighbor? Being the embodiment of some primordial feminine wisdom, an example of how we all should live?"
"Absolutely! In fact Billy too, all of you out here. The way you're living right out on the land, without electricity or fossil fuel powered vehicles, or any of the games and diversions that have blinded our so-called civilization to the inescapable dictates of nature. I mean look at this place! These houses," she smiles, and turns to my latest and most ambitious project, "Is that a solar shower you're building there? I'll bet Blair had a big hand in that! She's so-"
Leroy bounced wildly behind his seatbelt as the Studebaker hit the water
and arrowed down through the darkness in an explosion of bubbles! It sank,
the pressure mounting outside until thin sheets of water jetted in through the
door frames, but there was still enough air inside the submerged vehicle to
slow and then slowly raise it. Uncle Leroy could see the glowing outline of
Rotunda up above him on the wobbling green surface.
The car breached just in time for him to glimpse the deadly column of fire
thundering  toward  him, making  the sea dance and boil! Leroy shattered
the window with a karate chop and scrambled out into the hot foam. He swam
away from the wreck as the corner of the blinding pillar grazed it and
churned it down under the waves! 
The car bobbed back up, looking more like a charred potato now than an
automobile. Burning gasoline spread across the water. The glass city of
Rotunda seemed to hover, to watch the sedan burning in its nest of flames!
Then he remembered he had a large inner tube stashed in the trunk for
trips to the beach. He dove under the ring of fire to a tiny clear spot right
behind the bumper and popped the trunk. There was the inner tube, and the
wicker picnic basket that had been intended for their ill-fated outing
 (Hard to believe it had only been seven hours ago!).
Suddenly a big dirty, sweaty, stinky chemical-hating sea monster
popped up next to him and said
"I didn't come over to yell at you. I just want some of our stuff back."
I stop, look around. "Your stuff?"
"Those milk crates, our plywood, that umbrella stand."
"Oh, the stuff you didn't want back in February when we moved in," I smile. I feel anger welling up inside me, but remembering that an argument is what she wants most and that reasonableness infuriates her, I become sweetly accomodating...
I go to my bed, tilt the plywood up so that everything slides off into the dirt, and hurl it over by the ruins of my reed torii. Toss its foundation of milk crates after it. They bound erratically over the ground like spastic bowling balls. I enter my study and pile all my file folders and my typewriter onto my office chair and rip the top off my desk. Sail it onto the growing pile of junk. I go over to Ike's hut, "I don't know if we can get his plywood out of here without wrecking the place, but what the heck. Let's go for it!"
"No, not that. That's Ike's..."
I smile coldly, "Oh, you only need my plywood and milk crates back. What a coincidence."
"I just want what's mine."
"Well that's fair. But seeing how this is about your last excuse to come over here, is there anything you really need to say to me? Like blowing your nose causes brain tumors? Or that washing dishes is going to make the sun explode?"
"You never did have any respect for me, did you? Not even when we were friends..."
I mull it over. It's the most human thing she's said to me in weeks and deserves more than some snide zinger.
I find my beer and sit down in my moon chair, "I do. I did. I don't know ........ At first it was refreshing, to find another street person who wasn't just some failed achiever, but who raised a proud middle finger to that whole sick parade out there. I dug that anger of yours. I like it when you call uncaring people 'shit hearts'. It sort of reminds me of something out of a Ginsberg poem. But fuck, Blair, you never give it a rest! Even with your friends!"
"And what about you?!" she snorts. "All your 'friendly advice' about how we should do things over at out place. God help us if we have a mind of our own about stuff! But since you don't have any strength of character at all that I can see, you have to go around behind our backs, calling us the 'Downwind Twins' and who knows what other snotty little nicknames!"
This short speech seems to have drained her. She sits on the checkered arm of Ike's chair and---embarrassed to have any sort of physical need in my presence---says, "I'm really thirsty."
I bring her our water jug. She gulps from it for a long time. I say, "I admit I am none too tolerant at times. I don't think either one of us is."
She wipes her mouth with her sleeve and nods dully. Yeah, maybe...
"I think both of us have abstract philosophical or political reason for the most basic things we do out here. Things that Billy or Ike just take at face value, as part of survival, you and I tend to see as statements. But I think we agree on more stuff than we don't."
"Then why are we always fighting?"
I have a pretty good idea, but I say. "Who knows? But have you noticed that in politics, a lot of the bitterest fighting isn't aimed at the opposition, but is between people who are supposed to be on the same side?"
"I see what you're saying. Maybe it's time to call a truce, huh?"
"I could go for that."
She gets slowly to her feet, "Then maybe I'll be back to visit later, if it's okay with you."
Visits would definitely be preferrable to those psychotic strafing runs of hers. "Any time..."
"But I am going to take my things," she scolds, "You deserve it after the nonsense you've pulled!"
Her "stuff" would be awkward to take in one trip even if she wasn't immensely pregnant. She's got both sheets of plywood under one arm, the fingers of one hand hooked into three of the dusty blue milk crates, and one of them over her head like a helmet. I offer to help her carry it.
"I'm okay," she grins, dragging the whole load toward me, "just hand me that thing there..."
I clutch the arms of my lounger, "What? This? My chair?"
"No, silly, next to you! The umbrella stand."
"I made this umbrella."
"But that stand it's sitting in was ours!"
Of all the artifacts I had ever built out here I was for some reason proudest of this shade umbrella over my chair. This thing that I'd slapped together out of the trunk from an artificial Christmas tree, redwood slats and back-to-back wedges of contact paper didn't have the jerry-rigged appearance of most of our creations, but looked like I'd known exactly what I was doing. You could sell these! And the imitation Spanish-wrought-iron umbrella stand Blair now wanted was an integral part of the design. I'm sure I could devise something else, but I just don't see how she could possibly consider this a part of the deal...
"I don't think so. You told me it wasn't yours."
"I never said that."
"Yes you did! Don't you remember when we were moving in? We asked you about it, and you said you didn't know where it came from."
"But it was ours!" she says, frowning through the crate over her head, her one free hand pincering open and shut in a rude grabby gesture.
"You never used it. And from what you said back then you didn't even know it was here until I pulled it out of the bushes."
She shifts uncomfortably under her burden, "But still it's mine!"
"And how is that?"
"What do you mean, 'how's that'? This was our camp before it was yours!"
"Six days ago you were yelling about how wrong I was to put up a note saying I might be entitled to a little privacy and seclusion! 'You don't own these bamboos' were your exact words. And now you're telling me that you do?"
"Nobody owns the land! Don't go putting words in my mouth. Just that stand there!"
"But it was on this land. In fact in the land- half buried!"
"I know that. So what's your point?"
"It's like mineral rights. If you don't own the land, then you don't have any exclusive claim to what's in it, like oil or coal or-"
Blair explodes, "You should've been a lawyer! With all your twisty little games and debate tactics! Six days ago, Buddy, you told me 'Fuck you, I hate you, I hope you die!' by leaving a skooshed rat in a box on my bed! Now give me my umbrella holder. I want to go lay down."
"No. Because it isn't yours! You wanted my desk, my goddamn house, and I gave them to you! Because I guess you were using them at some point, and before us; So it's a pretty weak justification, but it's there .......... But I'm not going to just hand over anything you suddenly decide you want! I made something fine and useful out of this, and it's MINE! So just take your wood and your milk crates and get out of here!"
"I don't want your goddamn garbage," she lets the plywood topple with a thud, casts off her boxy helmet and lunges forward- "I want this!"
She yanks my umbrella out of its stand, tosses it aside and stoops down to snatch the metal stand up, but I clamp onto it with both hands. She pulls, inadvertantly helping me up out of the chair. I crouch, feet spread apart, and Blair does the same. She is big and heavy, but I'm heavier. We're eyeball to eyeball across the thing as she attempts to twist it out of my mitts-
"Oh, you didn't want all that junk after all, you just wanted to deprive me of it! That's pretty chickenshit, but it's to be expected. But you really do seem to want this. Why?!"
She's trying to pry my fingers away from the curlicued black slats, "So I can put an umbrella in it. For shade, like you did. It's hot over there! Give it!"
"And you're incapable---OW! CUT THAT OUT!!---of coming up with something like this on your own. Aren't you?"
"Gimme it!" she grunts, pulling with all her might.
I tug back, "Look, just admit that and you can have it!"
"It already is mine! LEGGO!"
"No. You have to say, 'Duhhhh, I am a stupid helpless idiot and can't do nothin'! I squat in the dirt and wait for Billy to open cans for me!' "
"I do not. Give it!"
"I was there. I saw it. Now say it!"
By now we're both gasping for breath. Drops of sweat roll down her nose. She snarls, "
I thought that stupid can opener was busted!"
"Since you've been out here ........ you haven't done one solitary thing to make your place more liveable. To acquire furniture ......... nothing! Am I wrong? Give me one example!"
"You think you're so superior!"
"Yup, sure am. Now I want you to say-"
I almost fall backward when she lets go of it. She tries to stand up straight, dignifying herself, but can't quite. She's panting, "I don't want your stupid stuff. I can see how it's corrupted you."
"On second thought, you can have it," I say with mocking sweetness, and try to hand it to her.
She backs away. "I don't WANT it!"
"No really, here! Because I understand now. You're like a pet around here! You need us people to take care of you. To change the water in your dish, and put food down. To comb the tangles out of your fur..."
"Very funny asshole," she wheezes, bent over with her palms on her knees.
"Here you go, little animal," I toss the steel thing at her feet and croon with insipid tenderness, "Pooooor liddle annie-mal. Poor helpless liddle annie-muuuuuuuuuule. Nice liddle, poor liddle, piddy-full liddle annie-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-muh-"
She lets out a terrifying shriek and hurls the metal shape against the reeds!
It rebounds violently and lands next to the umbrella. She rushes over, falls to her knees and raising the stand above her head with both hands brings it down on the paper and redwood cone over and over, reducing it to confetti! Then she picks up a huge rock and starts whaling on the umbrella stand. Grunting rhythmically, furiously...
It takes her a while but she does a fair job of flattening it. Tottering to her feet, she spits vehemenently on the ground and stomps out of my camp.
"'I might not be able to contribute anything to this world, but by God I can sure fuck shit up!' Right, Blargo? Okay, see you later-" I take a deep breathand yell like an enormous mocking foghorn, "WHHAAA-A-A-ALE SHI-I-I-I-I-ITTTTT!!!"
No, this wasn't my finest hour as a human being...
Ike comes home and finds the camp exactly as Blair and I had left it. His head pans slowly around, taking it all in. "What the hell happened here?"
"Yessir, Cap'n! The Hunnerd-n'-eighth Infantry outta Rhode Island ........... They wrecked the place, butchered and et muh daughters, had their way with muh hogs, then all took off toward Atlantee; goin' ROOOOOO-ROOOOOO-ROOOOOOOOOO and singin' bout the Jubilee!"
He shakes his head. "You're starting to scare me. You really need to get out of the house more."
Somehow I am able to return to work on the novel. Not the part I was typing before our battle, but a revision of a chapter I had assumed I'd finished months ago. Cramming handwritten additions into the margins, XXXX-ing out whole paragraphs, circling sentances and drawing fat scribbly arrows to their new locations, until what had been neatly typed pages begins to resemble diagrams for crazy self-defeating football plays.
It's the first work I've done on this in days, and it feels great. I don't even notice when Ike splits again.
About a half hour later Blair hollars, "Roger!"
Oh Christ! What does she want now? I continue working.
The book is in real need of some kind of dialogue, somewhere, but since the whole thing just barrels from one antic bit to the next I just can't figure out where to insert it.
"Roger," she shouts again. I imagine that she wants to apologize for the carnage she had caused; but if she does she should at least have the decency to come over here to do it!
"Are you over there?" calls Blair one last time, then she quiets down.
Maybe something in her tone should have tipped me off, but she sounded calmer than you would think somebody who was suffering a miscarraige would sound, and the word 'help' had never been uttered. I had no idea she was in trouble.
Ten minutes later she stumbles into my camp, the crotch of her makeshift skirt soaking wet, carrying a moist little gray-skinned stick man. She says flatly, "I'm sorry you have to see this..."
I show her to my chair and she eases down into it, clutching the glistening form with the flaccid length of tubing trailing from its belly. Arms and legs not chubby like a baby's but these brittle looking jointed stalks. 
With some half-baked idea of running for help I ask, "Was it breathing at all? Maybe they can do something!"
"There's nothing they could do. He was dead inside of me." Nestling it as carefully as you would a live infant, she holds it up for me to see and crows, "It's a little boy."
I find myself leaning awkwardly across the chair and drawing her head to the side of my stomach. Blair clings to me tightly and breathes like she is sobbing, but her eyes are dry. Our war of two hours ago is entirely forgotten. A thing like this puts such trivial crap into perspective. The Louisville Slugger Reality Test.
At seven months grown the corpse doesn't look all that different than a full-term baby, except for the oddly proportioned limbs, his cyanotic pallor and ........ something funny about his skull. A gleaming bulge. 
I reach down as if to carress the bald head and probe it discretely with my fingers. The plates around the central soft spot are all loose wedges of bone, wobbling around in a swollen sack of fluid. Is this what they call water on the brain?
"I sure hope Billy gets home soon," rasps Blair.
With no idea of whether it is true or not assure her that he will. As she turns her attention more fully to the stillborn child I gently disengage myself and sit across from her in Ike's chair.
After a while she gets up to leave, sighing, "I'll show Billy his son, and then I guess we'll have to- Oh! Your chair!"
A mass of afterbirth puddles the center of the seat, like some awful red pie filling on the turquoise vinyl. Blair laughs weakly, "As if I didn't wreck your place enough already!"
"Don't worry about that. It's just a chair," I shrug.
I am far more concerned with how Blair herself might be faring. If she were to start bleeding copiously, or showing signs of fever, there wouldn't be a whole lot any of us could do for her or convince her to do for herself. I ask, "How are you feeling? I mean physically?"
"I'll be okay. But I think I need to lay down for a while."
"Use my bed."
"Alright, I will. If you'll keep an eye on .........You know, make sure nothing gets to him."
She brings a sheet over and we wrap him up like a parcel, tying all the corners together, the ragged knot perched on top like some great scrofulous flower. Then she curls up on top of my sleeping bag and falls into an exhausted sleep. 
I turn on the radio but everything I tune in to is so sunny and bouncy that I have to turn it off, and just sit there guarding junior. Oddly this fabric bundle across from me seems far deader, creepier and more final than the little naked staring body had been.
I hear Ike approaching, yelling about some amazing wave he had caught, a roaring bus-sized cylinder of water that I doubt could ever form along our stretch of beach since the harbor extension went in. I go head him off up the trail and tell him what happened. 
He grows instantly somber.
Billy shows up. It's only after he starts bawling---a raspy stacatto wail---that Blair herself
finally lets go and cries. They go say their prayers and goodbyes somewhere down by the pond, a private burial that Ike and I don't ask to join. Unlike Monika's pup, who was a kid of sorts to all of us, this is their grief alone.
Blair and I never argue again in any major way for the rest of our stay in The Bamboos.
A period of mourning followed, with Ike and me generally managing not to let our sillybanter get so loud that it carried into their camp. John Henry responded to the news with anan indifferent "Huhn!"---like they had lost a sock or some trinket---but at leasthe didn't cackle in their faces about God-cursed devil babies returning to the fiery depths of Hell.
I found myself wrestling down the impulse to blame Blair for what had happened. The shitty vitamin-poor diet, her lack of hygeine, and the time (though it had been quite early in her pregnancy-) that I caught her folded over the edge of the Von's dumpster, her belly squashed against the hard metal rim as she grabbed for something inside.
Harder to quell were my concerns over whether I'd had any role in this tragedy. The damning proximity of our last argument to this terrible un-birth. I had whipped up her stress levels with my mockery and name calling, then put a heavy strain on her body with that absurd tug-of-war. A fight that I should have been mature enough to avoid.
But my real problem isn't that I blame myself for an argument and then a tussle that Blair herself was so determined to have. I suspect this gnawing guilt comes less from anything I had said or done then, than from my colosally selfish feelings afterward. This secretly being quite relieved over what for them was such a devastating loss...
My sense that it had really all worked out for the best.
>>>>> END OF PART TWO <<<<<


excessive enthusiasm

Just! spent! 2! hours! removing! superfluous! exclamation! points! from! Parts! One! and! Two!
what? the? heck? is? the? matter? with? me?

Silver Age!

It's Harry Osbourne and Speedy on drugs! It's the Death of Gwen Stacey! The end of the Silver Age!

What are we going to do with two truckloads of exclamation points!??!!!

- Joyce

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