THE BIG COOL LONG HARD HAND
By Jerzy Plates
Episode three: The Good Nigger of Malibu
They found me, they said, three days later, wandering aimlessly, tongue-tied in the moonlight. I wanted to know, first of all, what three days later than when was. Then I wanted to know who "they" were and why I was getting indifference hurled at me from all directions. They said I was guilty of every sin that had a name. They said I looked like Death standing on the corner eating a plain doughnut.
I told them that cosmic-rays from Neptune had done this to me and that I was having a "not-so-fresh" feeling accompanied by queasy innards, whereas before, only boredom and mania were available to me. I was told I would have plenty of quality rest time to collect my thoughts.
The one who looked like a nurse cast me a sassy glance. "Once we have the dossier, of course." She hissed.
There was no dossier to be had, of course, never was, never would be. It was only a device, a red herring tossed as bait to whoever came across this report; this "story" if you will. And an old story to boot. For there are no new stories. If it sounds new, you can be sure you just haven't heard it before.
Then I felt the bee-sting in the crook of my arm. Hmmm. Not bad. Not bad at all. I hear a voice. Sounds a lot like me. Or Fred MacMurray in "Double Indemnity".
I am calm. I am always calm. I make a point of always being calm. Some say I was born calm. Calm, they say, is its own reward.
Shabby treatment is also its own reward, but it's never discussed at length, like calm. Never spoken of in awe. Like patience.
A Supreme Virtue like patience is only discussed at length, like calm, when calm goes down the shithole in a furious rage.
Sometimes when I'm not calm, which is never, or when I get to thinking I'm not calm, which is always, I wonder what I would do if I had been born in a Furious Rage. Instead of born calm. I wonder many times of this.
I have a car that was made in a foreign land. It is fast and powerful and some say, peppy. I do not believe that peppy and powerful are particularly Supreme Virtues. Like patience. But maybe I misunderstand virtue.
I am the voice on the radio. Many times I am also the voice of the one you don't see on the television. I discuss this at length now because being this voice allows me to drive this peppy car and live here on the shore of the westernmost part of the western coast. This place is a place where everything is discussed at length and spoken of in awe. Which is not like Gospel Hump, Idaho, where I was born calm and raised placid. There we did not run on the beach alot as we do here. Here on the sea we run on the sand. Here on the sea my neighbors make out like bandits. I do not.
I was across this sea many years ago fighting the enemy. This was a thing discussed at length, like calm, and spoken of in awe, as a place where winning was not deemed a Supreme Virtue. While I was doing this fighting, my parents left Idaho in a Furious Rage.
They took my accordion and my rosary with them and moved down to the southwesternmost desert of a southwesternmost state. This is a place, like mine, where there is also sand. But no sea. I discuss this at length now because this is also where my story is starting to be told. Where sand, and car, and calm come together.
This is not, however, the story of calm.
Nor the story of Supreme Virtue. Not even the story about those neighbors who make out like bandits, slavering all over each other like grunions fertilizing in the sand. This is another story altogether. Entirely.
My story begins in this way.
I was born calm.
I was treated shabbily.
I left Idaho.
I killed many men in the war.
I am the voice on the radio.
I am about to drive a fast and powerful car across the desert to take back my accordion and rosary from my parents.
The tires are about to blow out.
The paint on the car is about to be blown off in a sandstorm.
Unsavory elements are about to enter the picture.
A pornographic movie star will shoot bullets into her head in the same town where I'm staying, at the same moment that I am looking at her picture in a magazine while she's in a tawdry motel somewhere in the same desert town. I do not know this at the time.
My money and personal effects will be stolen that night and transported to a major city and be accidentally found under the foot of a policeman, even before I return home in a panic. I, of course, did not know this at the time. So I had no choice but to return home in a panic.
I read the Bible every day and take these events only as the Way of the Lord. Revelations is the part I like best and speak of in awe. When anyone will listen. I've seen a few horsemen in my time so I know what I'm talking about. If anyone will listen. If anyone likes my talking and considers my talking significant. But they don't. Would you?
Returning home in a panic, I met a man who told me I was innocent. In my panic I believed him. He said none of it was my fault. I sat in my peppy car stopped in a sandstorm. He knocked on the window of my peppy car to tell me it wasn't my fault. I did not roll down the window because there was a sandstorm and I knew he was lying to me. I was guilty as all get out. And then he walked down the road to tell someone else it wasn't their fault either. When he told someone else they were innocent, I believed him.
I don't believe when I'm supposed to, I believe when I can. I'll see it when I believe it. This might explain my calm. And why I believe in my calm. This might also explain weather. And explain why pornographic movie stars kill themselves in motel bathrooms. In Idaho, we never believed in explaining anything. So I'm still not good at it.
I had to turn back. Go back to where I came from. A lot of people speak at length about going back where they came from. I don't believe them. Why would I bother to go anywhere anytime anyway then? I can't explain this right now because I'm still not good at it. All I know is that I couldn't go any further and I did not want to go back. This is where calm and car and sand start fitting into a story: my story. It's a very good story but it's not my fault if you don't believe it.
(to be continued)