Bus cabins are not designed for sleeping, not with seats the size of pizzas, but they work wonders in a rain storm. Bigger crowds than church pews. All the onions, cheap perfume and cigarette stenches neutralize each other. Messes up the slide show in my eyelids, no more flashbacks.
I stand beside a tree instead, outside the bus cabin and pretend there’s a man inside, the tree that is, with a cane in one hand and a Blatz in the other. I imagine that eight years have passed since we first met and even now I hesitate to say the word “by accident” because I remember when his eyes transformed from barely slits to big bulges. His straight jaw opened so wide I spotted the uvula in the back of his mouth, but there was no pendulum swinging la dee da. It was quivering and spastic and all because I said “by accident.”
I’ve read bits and pieces of Carlos Castaneda, never an entire book, but enough to get the shape shifting drift and maybe I’m wrong, but this imaginary old man appeared on the brink of becoming a bear or vulture.
“Amalekites,” he said and then repeated the word four times, each softer than the previous with the last one a whisper.
I heard him say “a-mall-of-kites,” so that’s exactly what I parakeeted back to him, but I added a lilt to the word kites so he knew I was sincerely confused and not mocking him. My sensitivity worked like a golden key into his city. His eyes became slits again. He sat down and like an old preacher, shared some warnings with me.
“Amalekites are vampires,” he said. “But not suckers of blood. They lower your temperature instead, like fire extinguishers.”
He spoke so clearly and looked so calm now-the polar opposite of minutes earlier. Made him all the more amazing like maybe his spastic side was a just a ruse to reel me in. He didn’t give me much chance to talk. Maybe that’s why I liked him. He went on and on about caves and tree houses and how there was nothing sadder than a docked ferry-boat no longer in use, gathering weeds and what not.
“This summer, he continued, “I’m gonna build a tree house. I’m gonna build it with my bare hands. It’s my Eleusinian responsibility.”
I coulda swore he said Elysian as in the after life or that make-believe field in New Jersey. Was it in Hoboken as in hobo kin? This was an exciting tangent. All the research grants and super smart people who wasted their breath debunking the Elysian Fields as if a believer really cared what a cynic or critic thought.
It was the end of May 2015 and I was no different than anyone else in that a part of my mind was often held up in a desperate panic.
I handed the made up old man an imaginary briefcase and filled it with objects that glowed in the dark. I asked him to bury them like a treasure between the Milwaukee Zoo and Ryan Braun’s restaurant-Braun’s 8-Twelve Bar &Grill which is now permanently closed. He never hesitated, said it was “part of his Eleusinian responsibility.” The shovel and heave-ho ceremony went off without much fanfare. He staked toothpicks in a pyramid shape on the spot, the kind you find in a club sandwich, the ones with the colorful lace wrapped tightly around the top.
I didn’t bother telling him what we buried or why. The Brewers were 16-31 and he didn’t need to know that either. We never talked about baseball, but I bet he would have liked my why the hell not-nothing to lose intention.
It’s not like the Brewers are really threatening history. Four more wins and they tie the Cleveland Spiders who were 20-134 in 189 and down the road there’s the Detroit Tigers from 2003 to celebrate at 43-119.
The Giants are in Milwaukee and they won the first two games of the series and former Brewer Norichika Aoki is 7 for 9 including a home run on Monday. He has his average up to .320 and OB% at .396. The Giants hit three home runs last night and why am I talking about this like it’s a good thing? Flowers have a wide range of uses for life and death and apparently there are 42 common edible ones.