(01-29) Waiting for Jules

Blue Mesa quickly became obsolete. It was a string of information beginning to lose the attraction to a center. There was only one person left alive, there, and he’d gone unnoticed, because he wasn’t there to serve the new king and he wasn't there to kill him. He had no role in the unfolding drama. He was holding his knees and rocking back and forth while chanting nonsense.

He might be part of the story if he had one, but he lost his story, and exactly in the way you might expect. He grabbed an uptown cab and when he got out at Kinko’s he left it in the seat. “You mean you didn’t make a copy?”

“Why do you think I was going to Kinko’s?”

“Well how could you forget?”

“A drunk lurched up to the window just as I was paying the cabbie. He was thin and worried; you could tell from his face. He looked like he’d just been bit by a rattlesnake, pleading with me, ‘For the love of god, mister, please help me.’”

“Was somebody after him?”

“No. He just wanted some money. The point is I must have gone unconscious or something, like I was looking in the mirror and there was Harry Dean Stanton. That kind of thing can unnerve you. I even went into Kinko’s and stood there for a moment wondering what I was doing there.”

“And then it hit you.”

“Yea. I saw the cab pulling away. The guy who looked like Harry Dean Stanton? He was in the cab. I ran out and yelled but it was too late. The last thing I remember is that face, all scraggly and gaunt, looking back at me with that blank, frightened stare.”

“How could he afford a cab if he was a beggar?”

“I gave him ten bucks. He said he’d been robbed on his way to the hospital, where he was supposed to have open heart surgery later that day.”

“Yea. You never know; he might’ve been telling the truth. Still …”

“Yea. He was bad luck for me. I even called the company, had them check the cab for the manuscript. But he must have taken it with him."

"Some bum stole your story. That's bad luck all right."

The only thing holding the mesa together was the golden child, but the child has gone into space, and we are left alone, here, on the mountaintop, waiting for the end of the story. Most of us are optimistic. We expect Jules to come back and take us with him. We imagine the vortex will open again and he'll come back as an apparition which transcends time and space. And nobody can go who doesn’t expect him because he is powerful, and we know what that would be like. When I’m the one in charge you can kiss my ass or go to hell. We make him as mean as we are, and then we kill him again and we birth him again and we kill him again, but we never do get rid of the meanness. But when he comes back it’ll all be good.

So in some ways he’s like Santa Claus, except the stakes are raised. You aren’t just flirting with a lump of coal under the Christmas tree; you’re flirting with eternal damnation, which involves a good deal of gnashing of teeth. But there are no dentists in hell. If you ruin your teeth you have to live on soup. You might think you can just relax your jaw in hell, but muscles don’t always do what they’re told.

Out here on the mountain where we wait for him to come back, there are a lot of bones of people who were out here before we got here. Sometimes we gather them up and throw them into a sink hole, and they just disappear under the ground. Sometimes we string them together into bone people and hang them from the mesquite trees. When the wind blows they clatter together and after awhile it sounds like they're talking.

We call it speaking in bones.

A few people have begun to interpret the sounds and tell us what the bone people are saying. The ones who do it without cracking a smile or raising an eyebrow are elevated to the priesthood, and given special status in our group. The ones who can't keep a straight face become undertakers. Actually, we have broken into two groups recently. There are those of us who don’t think that the bone song should be adulterated with new ideas, and then there are some people who, I suspect, have been eating peyote buttons.

They got the idea of putting jewelry on the skeletons, pieces of glass, so that when the wind blows there is a tinkling and singing sound instead of the dry rattle of bone against bone; the glass catches the sunlight and their skeletons sparkle like jewels. We find that ostentatious and probably sacrilege. Our argument is that no matter what their priest hears, it isn’t authentic. But that’s just common sense in my book.

Posted: Wed - October 8, 2008 at 11:57 AM