Thursday, August 27, 2009

Scenes 62 & 63

Mad Anthony Wayne has got his sword out. He’s listening closely from an awkward crouch. Wayne half expects somebody’s dog to come tearing around the recycled plastic outdoor play set and crash into the dogwoods, among which he’s stopped to get his bearings. But the beast never comes. After a minute he steps out of the trees and slips around an air conditioning unit into a sideyard. The turf slopes down to the street, giving a view of Heathermoss Glen Trail on its looping route through the new Mansard Woods subdivision. Wayne adjusts his hat, then drinks in the view of the street spread out before him. The quickest glance tells him: bad period for domestic architecture. Fortresses costumed like cottages line the street. Ponderous loads of brick bear down on cheap squat entryways with fake multi-pane windows. The proportions have been worked out by a badger. Wayne looks beyond the allotment to the commercial strip on Muskingum Avenue, and on to the purple curtain of leafless trees arrayed as a backdrop half a mile off.

He knows this terrain.

In 1793 Wayne leads a contingent of troops through these very hills, toward Fort Recovery further west. The Shawnee chief Blue Jacket knows he’s coming. By this time, Little Turtle has seen the writing on the wall, and forecast the end of the Confederacy. But Blue Jacket disagrees. He figures that killing off Wayne will put the scare back in the United States, and buy the Indians more time. So Blue Jacket and his warriors are hiding in among the folds of present-day Muskingum Plaza and Mansard Woods. They trick the scouts that Wayne sends on ahead, and are there waiting when the first detachments come through.

Wayne looks across at the minivans and the car wash place and the Higgins Family Restaurant, squinting at the invisible gravesite. Underneath all that concrete and asphalt the ground remembers the blood that dampened it. But the people here are oblivious. Because a veneer of settlement has been troweled over what Wayne knows to be there—corpses, both Yankee and Indian. Under the salad bar, over by the tow truck, along the fronts of these massive, ugly houses, you can find the dessicated fruit of Blue Jacket’s ambush and Mad Anthony’s counter-assault. Wayne knows their names—at least the American ones—but the people in the happy sedans with stickers about honor students do not. They are clueless to the war. But they stay busy anyway. They’re improving their positions. Managing contacts. Transferring funds. That sort of thing. They navigate their various hollows, heathers, dales and glens, where the Sucke Brothers—so far, yet a rumor here—are coiled like snakes.

History’s a mute pile of stacked shit pressed together. And every layer smells.

Wayne disinters a bugler named Connolly from under the car wash. Wayne cleans him up, then sets him to work summoning the rest of the group. “There’s work to do, Connolly! Rouse the troops, for God’s sake!”



Blinky and Myron are scrubbing themselves in the men’s restroom at a rest area south of Newark. After melting the Octo-heads, they get back in the truck and drive as fast as they possibly can away, anywhere away, to scrape their skin clean of tentacle-woo. If they’d had wire brushes they’d be by every layer of skin by now, tearing at naked flesh. Intermittently they shout and swear to cleanse their minds, too. Finally they calm themselves enough to actually converse. Blinky smiles a little and compliments his friend. “I think we are definitely adjusting your spirit animal.”

Myron just makes a weary, appreciative sound.

“No question,” continues Blinky, who’s a little embarrassed about his panicky response to being accosted by 48 tentacles, back at the diorama location. “You have totally gone all the way over to buck now. The beaver is a thing of the past.

“Buck all the way, baby.”

Myron pats Blinky’s shoulder. They’re both red from all the rubbing and scrubbing.
“Thank you,” says Blinky.

“That was so freaky.” He shudders a deep one.

Privately Blinky worries he’s been implanted with an Alien device. In the first frightening moments of his embrace by tentacled tourists from another world, Blinky may in fact have suffered a microscopic skin violation. Just before Myron planted a rake in his head, Octo #2 strained to insert the dread cephalopod confabulator, an item unimagined even by the prescient Darryl of suburban California.

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