Most of the gods are on the make. Being at least part human, as I am, may cause one to harbor some scruples. These Sylvie relies on to keep me on the straight and narrow. It’s no wonder humans have created shame in an attempt to keep the activities of the gods under some control and keep them from seducing and infesting people with their talons and talents for abuse of power. The god Sot was both cob and pen. I was waiting for Sot’s message which should tell me when to expect Wally the Whale who would carry me in its belly out to sea. It should come as no surprise given the ambiguities of our origins that gods often have more than one name. I am sometimes called Chucker’s Chance, also Prior Probability. Possibility is not the same as probability. Nothing is impossible, but not necessarily probable. Initial singularity, an oxymoron, illustrates. The problem is we like to see something happen more than once so we can begin a line of best fit. One occurrence only creates a point, but not a line. Points are multidirectional in potential, while lines are by definition linear, lineal, and must contain at least two points, one of which can always be used as a referent. All of that the actuaries to the gods taught me – but that’s not to say I was a good student. For the next seven nights I made my way down to the pier to fish, waiting, testing my new cover, hiding out during the day in an attic above a garage in North Redondo. I had let my hair quickly fall to my shoulders as part of my new disguise. The beach cities are not particularly safe havens for hiding. Because the cities are relatively small and wealthy from enormous taxes from expensive properties and prolific and diverse businesses, their police are well funded. And the locals are not friendly to outsiders, though on the pier exceptions are made for the fishers who are supposed to add color and character which satisfies the tourist expectation and taste for the exotic. Still, there are rules written and unwritten that could mean either one’s safety or danger, depending on unknown, random forces at work. One had also to watch out for the Lifeguards.
“Waiting for Sot” is episode 17 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.)
I abandoned the rental running as Wormy had instructed and made my way down to the Redondo Beach Pier. From the sidewalk near Catalina and Coral I had glanced back and the rental car had already been picked up and disappeared. The classic fin de siècle houses along the Redondo beachfront had perished, replaced with balcony ocean view condominium and apartment complexes. Hard to say which era was the more degenerate. Probably all ages are similar in that human nature has not improved over time. Nor has god nature. The universe is not expanding; it’s stuck in its own muck. But the south Santa Monica Bay night was now cool, a fine mist rising from the water, the horizon dark, no sign of Helios. It would have been a good night to cruise Highland, Manhattan, and Hermosa avenues through the beach cities on my candy apple red scooter hog. I had rolled down all the windows of the rental, but the feeling of being open and about, out in the salty air, wasn’t the same. Out on the pier, a few folks fishing, some buckets yet empty, others grimy grey water, or busy with bait. As I was walking slowly along the pier railing, one of the fishers stopped me with the Two Years Before the Mast code Wormy had given me. In a bag in a trash can was stashed a change of clothes, and I used the Oyster and Shrimp Shack backroom to change. When I came out, I was now another of the fishers, and would vanish in their midst. As Risk Manager to the gods, properly speaking, I am an oracle, but I can’t foretell everything. Likewise, our pasts remain obscure, ambiguous, seemingly unnatural. My mother was a mermaid, my father a walrus. I’ve close affinities with the fishes of the oceans, seas, rivers, and streams. Shells and the creatures that live in them. Rocks, sand, and seagrass and sea wind. Though in some tellings, my mother was a twisted weeping cypress and my father a magpie.
“A Change of Clothes” is episode 16 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.)
What was that she said about the skin
on his hands and forearms,
boiling on stove, “That looks bad.”
Blue dark wet orange oil damp oars drift awake
dawn dress coffee smoke brown falls upon brown
slow walk down curved sandy path to the water
empty nets sea grass tired boats in fresh tide wait.
Surf sound spooning shingling
smooth rocks growing on his arms
that opposite real rocks grow larger
with each receding tide.
He thinks about love water
work moon sleepy fog
legislated blather laughter
He’s not an especially proud man
unless provoked unnecessarily.
He has a few books on a shelf
in the kitchen he touches evenings.
He thinks severity and frequency
as all men do capacity purpose
of hymns folk songs and surf music
and silence at the end of the path.
He’s no interests but cars and guitars
stars in her eyes sand on her skin salt hair
gloss on her fingernails white
daisies between her wiggling toes.
Wave after wave forgotten fishes
swim past her hands sleeved
embraced recorded let go.
At the cannery he never did learn
to stand still that fisherman’s value
he no longer wanted his friend
who now fished a desk in Admin.
The smell of tar and turpentine as he cleaned her feet
shampoo that smelled like bubble gum
steel shavings and lead chips the plumber left behind
carob seeds rotting on fog wet boardwalk.
Ocean fish air and orange crabs on ice at wood wharf stalls
after shave and Brylcreem Saturday Night adjectives
bingo sock hop carnies and a new noun in town
cool morning breeze on an angel’s moonburned skin.