The Corpse Flower clutched its hidden treasure tightly, leaves interlocking in a steely grip. The flower would bloom in its own time. It would not be rushed or stopped in this biological imperative, any and all obstacles would be overcome. The evolution of hundreds of thousands of years had brought it this far, there would be no turning back.
It is horrendous out here! like God’s troubling the waters. I’m by my lonesome in my eight-foot Jon boat with my ancient, three-horsepower motor. I don’t have time to worry before the storm’s crushing me. I have handled rough water on this lake before with the same setup. At worst I would just pull ashore anywhere I could and seek shelter until the storm passed. But not this time. The storm erupts so suddenly, the clouds overwhelm the sky so quickly and pervasively that my visibility drops from twenty miles to about three hundred feet – like God switched off the lights.
This Story is Dedicated to the Memory of Buster Dunlap
It was the summer of 1974, after I got out of high school. We were getting the machinery ready for harvest, and my dad was always in a hurry when it came to the process. Get the grain cut as soon as it was ripe, get it in the bin or hauled to town, out of the field, out of harm’s way before the wind or hail, wiped out an entire year’s work.
“Is it fair?”
Those were the last words Eddie said to the man he had thought I was before he drifted back into the only honest sleep of his final days. A smiling sleep caused by my youngest daughter, who did one of the finest things I have ever seen a human being do.
Eddie died yesterday, and his parents have asked me to speak at his “Celebration of Life” this Sunday. I have plenty of harmless Eddie anecdotes to warm hearts and kill ten minutes with. It may be cynical of me to say it, but even though the most timid human being tends to live an R-rated life, few celebrations of such are anything less than family friendly.
What can loosen a bond of thirty years?
What can strengthen what can no longer be made strong?
David felt as if he were living inside his recurring fear begun decades earlier inside a chanked and abandoned farm building off a path hidden by overhanging branches surrounded by unproductive land more than fifty yards from a gravel county road when he sat on the wooded floor with the tip of a rifle barrel stuffed in his mouth.
Verse 1 – days of innocence.
Those days are still fresh, they’re all that remain of that time, like bombshells after an explosion, or the remains of a decomposed dead animal. Those days when we chased grasshoppers in the small bush in our backyard. There were basically three types: one had intricate patterns on its body: yellow and black stripes, dotted with white; another had the skin of lush grasses, and it was why we found it on rare occasions. The last appeared only during the dry seasons. It had the body of scorched grasses, dusty brown. We would watch them jump from blade grass to blade grass, leaning the thin grasses. And we would crouch whenever we came close enough to any – I would put my finger across my lips to tell you to be quiet, like they could hear our voices and flee – and cup our palms closed on them. We didn’t want them to die. We would tie ropes around their legs and watch them jump, making creepy sounds, as far as the rope could get them.
He had awakened with the itch on his face, from a lone and long hair floating across one eye and one lip, or was it a cob web, a remnant, a silver runner of aerial flight? It definitely was cob-web thin, a filament, a gossamer streamer, light as thought, but not the thought of a spider like the one he had seen eye to eye above his camp bed as a kid. That one hung on such a silken, thin, lone strand that almost wasn’t there. He had always believed he had smashed that black-eyed spider into space with the magazine he had been reading earlier.