(01-10) Memory

Indian Shadow wasn’t prepared for memory because he’d escaped into the moment. He was a wanderer with the advantage of all animals not adapted to human emotions: he was beyond the reach of guilt and shame. An animal can’t be lied to, and having no complicity in lies, it has no need for self-conscious memories.

The memory had begun to intrude from the time he was given a name by Cowboy Jesus, and christened A-Bomb. Now he understood Louis had needed him for muscle. He was intimidating, physically. He moved like a big cat. But as Cowboy Jesus’ star declined, Paris’ star was ascendent. She seemed to be the archetype of the Barbie Doll, a living anatomically correct living doll. And there was something he feared there, but could not articulate, the way a dog smells disease.

Later on he would understand that he and Paris and the rest were in service to something too large for them to see from inside themselves, and their fears and desires. The Spirit will weave an elaborate plan to span a divide, and the players strut and fret their hour upon the stage thinking it’s personal, or cultural, but underneath it all there is the secret cause.

He could not now remember the revelation he’d had when he understood Paris’ meaning of the sentence, “Dedicated to the troll in me.” The understanding was like a fish and the words were bait cast into the water. Understanding came tantalizingly close to the surface and then disappeared back into the depths. He weighed the words and tried to imagine what was lost, separated from memory, maybe forever. “What kind of monster is in me?” he asked himself. He closed his eyes and slipped into the foggy not caring. The part that might have identified not caring as a monster was asleep and thus off work.

The clock illuminated six a.m. The iPod in the dock came to life and Troll’s voice, smooth as honey, came out of the speakers. “It’s much too early to wake up,” he said, “so go even more deeply asleep. This is the time when dreams come, and the feeling of your eyelids moving, creating images, takes you into a heavier and heavier relaxation .. My voice is a magic carpet that transports you to another world, very close beside this one. Sometimes you don’t know when you’re in which, which doesn’t concern you because you’re like a bird flying so that you can move in any direction, or every direction.”

Indian Shadow had no memory of Troll’s visiting his brain this morning because Troll suggested he not remember anything before the music, which signaled to him it was time to awaken. He did remember flying, a picture of the earth far below him, and his moving up or down by willing it to be so. The feeling of magical control remained, but not the memory of a voice coming from the speakers. At other times he had remembered being a large cat, running through the jungle, or being a fish swimming in the ocean in the span of light penetrating into the water from the sun, and then breaking the surface and hanging in the air, between the waves, before plunging into the facing one.

He told Paris about the new memories. “It’s like the smell of that sweet potato was a seed and things started growing from it,” he said.

“Maybe when you see a fish swim, or a bird fly, you wonder what it’s like, and then you have a part of your mind that can imagine it, like making a picture of it. I do that all the time.”

“You’re a writer,” he said. “It’s easy for you.”

“Remembering is a kind of imagining,” she said. “You don’t remember accurately, or people wouldn’t remember conflicting things about the same event. They make movies with themselves as the director and you get everything from bad B-movies to Cuban porn to Noir westerns to romantic comedy, and no shortage of drama I might add. And all this is thought to be imposed by the past onto the mind, when it’s more likely imposed by the mind onto the past.”

Now as he lay in bed, thinking of Paris, he reminded himself: “Memory is a kind of imagination.” After a moment he added, “but it’s the best we’ve got to go by.” From the iPod dock came a familiar voice:

“Bury me out on the prairie,
Where the buffalo used to roam,
Where the Canada geese once filled the sky
And then I won’t be far from home …”

He did not have any attitude toward the tears that were coming out of his eye sockets. He was indifferent to his own expressions of emotion. He was sure it had something to do with the bird and the fish and the cat, and with the ground under his feet when he walked these days, where, he had begun to think, the Indians are buried and mixed into the soil like roots and vegetation and eroded stone. He could feel all that shadow coming through his feet. And what wasn’t solid was always in the air, now, like somebody’s voice in his head. He kicked upward into a shoulder stand, swiveled and using his arms like springs, arced off the bed and hit in a fighting stance. He said, in imitation of James Brown, “I feel good.”

From the next room Louis said, “Shut the fuck up.”

A-Bomb quickly walked to the open door of Louis’ room and said, to the little form huddled under an army blanket, “You said today’s the day.”

“My appointment’s not until one o’clock. Make yourself disappear.”

“I forgot it wasn’t until the afternoon.”

“You’d forget your dick if it wasn’t nailed to your perineum.”

“It ain’t nailed to anything.”


“Alright, it tain’t nailed to anything.”

“Close the door and go away or I’ll kill you.”

“Do you care if I invite Paris to go to breakfast, since you’re sleeping?”

He waited almost a minute before he decided Louis had fallen asleep and didn’t hear him. He added, softly, “We don’t want her to be riding on my shoulders for the first time when we go to the appointment, so we ought to have a trial run this morning.”

Louis was silent. A-Bomb softly closed the door.”

From somewhere out on the prairie, and from the swamps and the badlands and the suburbs, something dark, like him, moved. But it was a lot bigger than him, like an imagined memory spreading like kudzu vine across the experiences of flesh and blood. “Is something wrong?” Paris asked when she opened the door and saw the expression on his face.

“I don’t know what it is,” he said.

“Well, since you’re in the western world, it’s probably guilt. Do you feel guilty about something?”

“It’s not me. It’s something that was driven away, and now it lives in secret places, like the woods, or caves, or abandoned buildings.”

“Under bridges?”

“Yea, under bridges especially.”

“It’s the troll in you,” she said.

Posted: Thu - April 10, 2008 at 01:47 PM