- Chapter 1
Ruedibopbop thought he would give it a try. Rample Don was going to be along for the ride; west, to the Crankles; to Marczies place; where the ground was firm, yet gave a little, just a little, pretty much wherever you trod.
Woowee! – He mused – This will indeed be something.
Rarna was lost. She would be coming from way over, on the other side; didn’t even know that that place was where she was also headed. All those penny-martens, she’d been weaving, had been selling like penny-hotcakes. She’d quit her lease and smashed her savings jar into too many smithereens; but it sure had been satisfying. That ole landlord, well, he wasn’t fit for sitting at a dining table with; probably never had anyhow. Oh mercy come! Things would be different at this ‘some other place’ she had all nicely pictured and framed in her head. Only had to go find where on earth it was.
The moss up there; you know, around Marczies place, had all kinds of incy-wincy stuff, growing in amongst it. If you got down, real close, you could study it in the early, shining brightly, early dew, right up ’till the sun was gone again, and you wouldn’t get bored for any moment of that. There was something there in a rust-red color, just a fascinating rust-red; some kind of plant, wasn’t it? You couldn’t stop yourself from looking at it. Nothing else had that color, and your brain would go off bouncing around itself inside your head trying in vain to find a reference, a similarity for it. Never ending; that program, that code still running when you’d taken your focus elsewhere; brightening, freshening, making you somehow, inside, lighter, cooler. Cooler.
Rarna tore down the length of a sheet of coral-colored rice paper, laid one corner of the rip on her home town, on the map, pinned it down with a fingernail of flaking color layers, then rotated the sheet, until she found a line she might just be interested to follow. The beat-up-to-beyond car was packed already; all she had in world fitting, snuggling easily in the trunk.
Oh! Oh! Oh!…Roany!…Man! You turned out to be something like a waste of time – She sang softly under her breath; through teeth pressing too tightly together, eyes flitting around. No-one heard. Hmmm. A distraction he was, she concluded, in a little tune. It’s okay, I guess.
But hers was such a sweet voice; made your heart sink, nay, tumble for a moment, like a bird in a stall, until it found its wings again, started to glide and then soar. Oh! Yes! Something we could all do with hearing, every once in a while. That could be the cure for all kinds of things. Yup!
Ruedibopbop pulled his fingertips across his stubble, releasing each whisker, one at a time. Where were all the things that seemed to matter so much? He had lost them one after another, clutching on to them, knuckles getting whiter and whiter; and now they were all gone, and he didn’t miss any of it; but he was lost and drifting in a cloud full of thinking about them; searching in the fog of his mind for stuff that might never have been there anyway. Yet, he felt free, relieved. Wowee!
He sat down, beer in hand, with his father, on the porch they had built together.
- Chapter 2
Progress was slow leaving town; an on-rolling cortège floated along the exit road, playing a dirge; a fine celebration of the emotion called sadness. Crammed into an old, long three-wheeler; like the great polymath Jankonster Bullarton used to invent on a daily basis, in his attempts to save the automobile industry; their faces squashed-up against the tobacco-glass, reflections of the diseased trees, rolling along and wrapping down around the edges; flitting away. The pace was slow, moving at a blip above standing still. The horns were gurgling and moaning, a tin cymbal ‘shishing’ and ‘ffffishing’ and ‘wissshing’; the band hanging-on, tiptoes on the running boards, playing one-handed; unpredictable changes of chord and key, sending your heart tumbling into the ground.
Ho! Ho! – Rarna thought – Oh! Yes! So nice.
- Chapter 3
Ruedibopbop had always regarded most other gravies as being like the surface of a hot, yet frozen, shallow lake; where you could go skating even in summer; all the while smothering the fine, comforting delicacies, lying just underneath. Mom’s gravy, on the other hand, could be as deep as an ocean canyon, and as complex as a family history. There was storytelling within it, subtleties of aromas and almost imperceptible specks of color, stimulating some deep-buried part of the brain, evoking everything in the whole world and, at the same time, one single place and instance of time: home; now.
Mom was making gravy. The soothing smell had seeped into every corner of the house, into the grain of the wood, binding with every molecule of air. She knew this would be his last time in the house; she had had a feeling about it.
- Chapter 4
Alain Boulgtain was excited. So excited he was, to the point of bouncing on the balls of his feet. He had seen him, and so urgently wanted to go, right now, and tell about it. It had been up in the western part of town; that ever so grotty district, in the bar where they had screwed all the furniture to the floor, that he first heard of the Whizperman. There had been all sorts of fabulous myths and tall tales. Alain had listened, and nodded in acknowledgement, and let it drift, lazily out of his consciousness. But! There! Just gone by, he had just seen him; his pristine loafers, made of woven paper, his un-patterned, turquoise, silk shirt fluttering, as light as air, and the yellowed ends of his long beard grasped by a fat gold ring, encrusted with an enormous, glowing ruby, that all swung assuredly, in rhythm with his gait.
- Chapter 5
Worms of disturbance
Uemori-san went through the door, out of her room. That would be the last time she would go out that way. Sure, she could use the window; but she had been developing strong feelings that there were other ways. Her shoulders rubbed against the smooth concrete curves of the narrow spiral staircase, as she went downwards. The greeting tune from the convenience store was calling her. Bing ban boom bam boon ban bondy bongy boo! Jagged-edged circles of wet were seeping into the dark blood-red, paving blockwork, on the ground. She skipped joyfully over them. Three feathers from a bird’s wing, held together, by a chunk of flesh and sinew, at the end, caught her attention. She stopped and stared at it, arms hanging flat by her sides.
She made a mental note to herself – Not. Quite. Right.
Oh! How pleasant to find a creature, so Shisa-like, sitting there upon that mailbox, glowing pink, picking something out from between its jagged fangs with its crystal-sharp claws. It noticed her skipping by, placed its paw delicately down onto the mailbox, smiled ever-so-slightly, and hopped-off, to follow her. She looked down at it, padding along at her heel. Its eyes were huge; giant green irises undulating, rippling, sparkling like a fluid emerald; whisps of gold swimming through their waters; glistening worms of disturbance.
Come! Come! – she sang, as she patted on her thigh – I shall call you Muburokku-chan! Will you come with me?
Muburokku-chan stopped, sat down, grinned, scratched its shell-like ear with its back paw, then nodded an almost imperceptible nod.