Tunnel Ahead

Pluto. Underground. Lineage. Plans.

Pluto lived in the Seattle underground, the old stores abandoned below the raised street level project completed after the substantial fire of 1889. One night, after a poetry reading in Pioneer Square, Sylvie and I slipped down to visit Pluto. He was busy mapping out the Seattle Shanghai Tunnels, where the gods could get lost on vacation. Cities built upon cities give rise to strange rumors, seeping stories trying to explain what can’t be seen: the buried, the covered, the closed, the past. And the stories, like the people they depict, pile up, one sitting upon another, and their lineages when described set the characters and their plots upside down. Put no stock in the dead weight of your coat of arms. Neither be impressed nor depressed by what occupied your forebears. Your great great great grandfather may have been a prince or a pirate, a saint or an executioner, a sage or a fool; what does any of it have to do with you? A distant aunt may have been Catherine the Great or Catherine of Alexandria; so what? What system of serfdom is necessary to break the wheels that broke the backs of the ancestors eaten by cultural vultures and laughing hyenas and that continue to roll over so many? Where we come from is a matter of chance, unless there exists some Grand Plan, but there is no such plan, unless Hands Off is a plan. If where we come from is a matter of chance, so too is where we are headed. That does not mean we should forgo working to make good choices, but that we can’t fully control or even see or hear all the variables of influence, and that what looks like reward may be useless decoration. A purse is something that must be carried.

“Tunnel Ahead”
is episode 26 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)