SepSceneWriMo #20

Bayou water lapped seductively at the sides of the low-slung, deceptively fast, motorboat that Higgins had towed to the HighWater Bait & Tackle dock well after sunset. His customer, Jemain Lucerne, had been low-balling him for the last twenty minutes.

“Ahndrew, leese let me hear dat engine purr. You gotta give me sumtin’, you tryin’ to steal from me, right unda my nose.” Jemain sat in the pilot’s seat, tucked under the hardtop, working the wheel back and forth.

Andrew Higgins, the designer and manufacturer of what he claimed to be the fastest light-launch in the Gulf, wouldn’t budge. He pulled another squat, brown Jamaican beer from a bucket sitting on the dock and handed it to Jemain. He, himself, had been judiciously sipping a bottle of orange Nehi. “Mr. Lucerne, I most certainly intend to give you more than just a listen, I intend to strip the tears from your eyes and drive the white of your knuckles up to your elbows.” The last of the neon liquid slid down his throat. “But not until you agree to my terms. Three-fourths cash, here and now, the remainder as investment in your enterprise.”

Negotiations proceeded until Higgins held up his hands. “Alright, I understand. Listen to this.” He cranked up the motor. The deep rumbling, like that of a bull alligator seducing his favorite lady-gator, vibrated Jemain’s very bones. “There. Satisfied? We’ll work out the final price after I give you a tour.”

“Ooh, mon. Dat be the song I be hopin’ fo’.” He motioned for Andrew to cast off. “Ah, right, Ahndrew. I take your offer, we work de price, you let me drive.”

“And have your run us into a cypress tree? I know this bayou well enough to give you a taste without the risk.”

“Ah right, ah right. You drive, le’ me get anudder beer, first.”

Higgins shifted the boat’s transmission forward and guided them out under a fertile moon. A number of houseboats, their lights glimmering to show the banks, led the way out to the the big water. The launch nosed from side to side, yearning, it seemed, for the reins.

“Here we go, Mr. Lucerne. I suggest your grab the gunnel.” Higgins shoved the throttle forward.

“Woowee, she be like a hound on scent.” The two-hundred and forty horse diesel-six—geared to drive the prop to extreme rpms—leapt out of the water and sat high on plane as it dashed across the bay. The buzz of the engine, quieter than most rum runners of the similar design, put a shrill note to Jemain’s voice, “Sheeit, I tink I peed myself back der.”

The boat skipped across the moonlit water, its hull barely touching the water.

Higgins pushed the throttle higher. “She’s got more than this, but I’d rather not risk it. What do you think, Mr. Lucerne?”

Jemain yelled his creole right next to Higgin’s ear. “Dat true what dey say ’bout you sellin’ this boat to dem Coast Guard?”

Higgins throttled back letting the sleek boat settle its belly back in the arms of the bayou. “This boat? I sold the Coast Guard boats, that is true.” He turned the wheel to set them on a return course. “But I did not sell them this boat, Mr. Lucerne.”

Jemain nodded deeply. “Dat good, dat good.” He rubbed his hand across the lacquered dash. “I take three, den.”


[Author’s note: Andrew Higgins was a New Orleans lumber magnate who designed boats. He sold a design to the US Armed Forces for the famous launch that landed thousands of US troops on the beaches of Normandy. His company built and delivered those boats. He “may” have designed and built other boats that plied the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.]

SepSceneWriMo #19

“Mr. Stuart, sir, them Nez Perce said…”

“And how would you know what they said, Will Barton?”

I didn’t mind Mr. Stuart’s sharp voice. Better his words than the glare I got from Jack Willets, Mr. Stuart’s second in command. Besides, I’d been listening careful-like to them natives and how our interpreter, ol’ Dupre’, worked his hands while he spoke.

“Sorry, sir. I know I presume beyond my station, but I been learnin’ their tongue, a piece here and there, with Arnie Dupre’s encouragement.”

Robert Stuart, Jacob Astor’s head man on the journey back to St. Louis, tilted back his fine beaver-felt hat, wide-brimmed and sturdy, and gauged me with one eye squeezed shut due to a drop of sweat having slid right into it.

“Well, then, Mr. Barton, pray-tell, what did those Nezzies tell you that you are so anxious to share?”

I grinned like a mule but then remembered that Mr. Stuart most definitively did not like seeing the dark shade of my teeth and so I hid them behind the brim of my hat. “They say that the compass point we been following will lead us straight to the highest set o’ mountains in this People’s land.”

Mr. Stuart removed a leather bill which contained the maps he and the Astorians were making and consulted the one that opened on top. I peeked to see the fine lines and writing. I looked so hard, maps had forever been a fondling thing for me, that he caught me staring.

“The highest of the mountains? Well, that won’t do.”

Robert Stuart adjusted his breeches, in the heat their weave gave us discomfort the likes to drive us crazy as a blowflied ferret.

He continued, “You prove to see the way of things, Mr. Barton, maybe you could assist in the navigation, were your information regarding our current heading to be ruled valid.”

He unfolded the set of map skins to their greatest extent and I could see, far to his left and a month of travel to the west, the heavy line that marked the sea. From there the crooked trace of the wide Fish-River and then onto the Mad-Snake we had left, just three days prior.

I picked up a twig and used it to identify a point south of our current route. “This here be, if my understanding of them Nez Perce tongue be true, the most passable route over the People’s mountains.”

Mr. Stuart studied the map and glanced up to look east as if he could see the peaks from where we stood. I could see his his mind go a-teeter on taking the risk I posed.

“I’ll consult with Dupre’, Mr. Barton, but your keen awareness of your surrounding and interest in the Nezzie language may have saved us weeks of lost time.”

I grinned again, this time with my hat ready. “I been like this most my days, Mr. Stuart, or so my Aunt Messy tol’ me before I left to join this here expedition.”

“Well, keep it up, Will. You could become an excellent cartographer, with a little practice. But, we’ll have to do something about those teeth.”

SepSceneWriMo #18

He stank and he knew it.

His first words, when I pulled to the side of the two-lane that ran from Lyons east through Greeley, were an apology. “I can ride in the back. I ain’t had a good wash for some time.”

I waved him in and he gently lowered his pack-like-a-tinker’s-trade into the bed of my pickup. The saddle-tone satchel had been festooned, yeah, that’s the best word for it, festooned with bangles and dangles and every type of touristy kitsch you could imagine.

And, yeah, he did stink. But, not like rotten meat or a Benghazi bath, body oder as a badge of honor. This was more like camp-smoke and musk, wholesome, yet pungent.

“Where ya headed?” I asked, as he closed and hugged the door, trying, I imagined, to keep from fouling the vehicle.

“That way, as far as you’ll take me.”

“So, east with no particular destination. Cool.”

We both rode in silence for a time. I opened the air vents a tad and he watched my hands manipulate the controls.

“Sorry about the smell.” He cracked the window an inch which introduced an annoying whistle.

“It’s either up all the way or down all the way with pickup windows.” The whistle pinched shut when he rolled it back up. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “I never did hitchhike much, but I admire your independent streak.”

“Yeah. I’m independent alright.”

I let that hang in the air, thinking he might finish the thought. But that was not the invitation he was looking for.

I asked him, “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to have any weed on you?” I pulled open the sliding ashtray to reveal a small wooden pipe and a Bic lighter. I lifted the pipe and wiggled it, empty.

“It’s May now, right?”

I nodded. What did the month of the year have to do with anything?

“I won’t be in that phase until at least July.”

Okay… “So, what phase are you in now?”

“Retro Venus Shockwave, I think.” He held up both hands, nails too long and dirty, and began to bend them—counting. “Gonna be some heavy pressure on the magnetosphere until then.” He dug into his cargo pants pocket and retrieved a compass, which he flipped open and held level. “It’s already started. Yup. I recon we’re gonna see some sights tonight.”

I scratched my head and leaned an elbow on the door, shifted my ass, grown numb with the ride, and asked, “What kinda sights?”

He told me.

Speaking as if he’d practiced, he spoke of experiences I found hard to believe. Of electric and emotional connections to things and people both earthly and cosmically distant. He became impassioned with the telling, so much so, that I felt compelled to grant him a smidgen of maniacal credibility. Soon, I found I’d ceased shaking my head.

He talked until I mentioned my need to head north to Sheridan at the next intersection. Leaving the truck, he thanked me a dozen times for the ride, fetched and shouldered his bedazzled pack, and gave me a salute as I eased forward, stopped at the flashing red light and turned left.

Behind me, I watched him cross the road and park himself, thumb raised, headed east.

My truck still stank of him, and I opened the windows and vents wide. After a while the smell of the prairie flushed out the smokey, earthy smell and I closed all the windows—the sun had set and the air had taken a chill.

“Will you look at that,” I said to no one, thinking I still had company. In the moonless sky I marveled at the sight of bands of pink and green lights that wavered above me. Vast, thousand-mile-long ribbons of aurora twisted and writhed their lustrous tails. I imagined I could hear them groaning as they moved.

Enraptured, I was unprepared when my truck quit, just like that. I coasted to the shoulder and nothing I could do would let me start it up again. I noticed that I seemed to be alone out in the desolation of southern Wyoming. Not a light anywhere, except for those above.

“Well, shit. I guess we’re all in Retro Venus Shockwave now.”

Dear Mole: How’re Ya Now?

wayne

How’re ya now?

Good’n’you?

Not so bad.

While you’ve been productively prolific in the dispensation of the written word, I’ve been watching TV.

Since Suzanne alerted me to the existence of a show called Letterkenny the other dayee, staring at the tube has once again become my veritable raison d’etre.

I predict that watching these 2 clips is all it will take for it to become your new favorite thing, too:

Even though I have nothing of substance to say anymore, you still let me spew it here on your site, Mole, and that’s what I appreciates abouts you.

That’s all I’ve got this month. See you in October.

Pitter Patter,

‘Mudge

Writer’s Log: 2311

Coming up for air was a mistake. I should have stayed submerged, chipping away at my rock of fiction, my own way, my own tools. But the shimmering mirror above drew me to break the surface and gaze about. Toxic reasoning, broken ideologies, plain wrong thinking found me struggling in the froth at the top. Best to sink back down and return to rooting among the muck and sludge that is my domain.

But isn’t it the affectation of all creators to seek affirmation of their work?

Are there truly artists in the world who work solely for the work? The painters and sculptors and potters who toil away in their hidy-holes, furiously producing piece after piece? Producing with nary a thought as to their creation’s effectiveness, impact, or value?

Perhaps those types of art differ from lexical art like writing & songs. Why communicate through words (the foundation of a society) if those words might never be read or heard by another human? Music? I think music might be somewhere in between.

All artists no doubt suffer the burden of mediocrity in concert with self-doubt. Word artists seem unique, however, in their suffering. Failing to communicate through a communication medium must be the ultimate of failure.

Thoughts?

If y’all are about sick of this daily barrage of content from me, worry not, September will come to an end soon and so too this flurry of activity.