For #Thurds Time
[“Oh, well, this is the second time we had had a bright sunny morning, and an ominous afternoon. But this time we decided not to rush into anything. Last time, when we rashly chased after Zusoiti, Doug was nearly killed by a hand gun.” ]
… no some other time.” The elevator opened onto our opulent lobby with the red carpet, blush couch, and the fish pond. “You know, maybe you should invite someone, and make them wait down here just so someone can use the couch.”
“I suppose, but it’s really just a front.”
“Ah, it’s a sunny day.” Doug opened the door for me and we walked to the corner. The sign said ‘WALK’, so we did — across the street into the honking, dodging the cars that had trapped themselves in the intersection at the change of light, and we swirled around the line at the hot dog stand. We pushed our way to the pedestrian flow that was moving in our direction. I said, “Let’s walk to the park.”
“Look at that tourist over there coming towards us: She’s wearing your purple dress.”
“No. It has a different collar … How do you know she’s a tourist?”
“By the way she’s looking up at the skyscrapers and looking everywhere like she wants to take in every sight.”
“…yeah, stands tall, struts confidently with proud marching breasts…”
The woman smiled and passed us by, but I became worried. “Did you feel that?”
“What? I think she said something but I couldn’t make it out.”
“No, I felt an upper Utd’mbts word.”
“I could have sworn she said, ‘Yes, I’m a tourist of sorts.’ ”
“No. She didn’t speak. She pushed an Utd’mbts word into your subconscious and you allowed it to bubble up into your consciousness, though a little distorted.”
“Hmm. Now that you mention it, it did feel like upper Utd’mbts. I haven’t tried using that in years…”
“I saw ‘Old Faithful’, the geyser at Yellowstone National Park, a plane to the city, a car to her hotel room, and her walking here… and she thinks you’re cute…”
“Hmm, um. Her life story in a second?”
“Sort of …”
“Wow. Great. Cool.”
“No. I’m not so sure it’s benign. I’m worried.”
We made our way towards the corner of the park. I think we passed the building with the trees on every terrace, and the buses faced us at every stop with their unloading commotions and their boarding confused hordes looking for cards and change. But mostly I didn’t notice if there were gems in the din, or new fashions in the store windows, no, mostly, I listened to the music of Doug’s chatter because I love the sound of his voice — it comforts me and I know when the song of his voice turns tender, when I laugh, that he loves to be with me, and when my word of acknowledgment makes him smile and pause, I know he loves me like the humming bird loves the flower however fast the flutter of his wings. I think perhaps I dress to be his nectar.
Doug said, “Could this be a Phthalocyanine Blue sky?”
“I mean, it seems like a god has lent you his brushes, and you’ve painted my sky. Is it you who paints my world?”
“No, it is you who shines on my tears, penetrates the rainbow of my feelings and I show you the canvas of the world as I see it. I look in your eyes and pray they will see every color that makes you happy and if I would be on your palette, brush me.” His hand brushed my cheek and touched my lips, but we nearly collided with a passerby who said, “Idiots!”
Doug said, “Maybe we are foolish to speak poetically. I mean, if we don’t speak colloquially or idiomatically in English, and develop such bad speaking habits, then how will we blend into the up-top world?”
I was a little insulted — I thought I was flowing and in tune with a romantic moment. I said, “No we’re not foolish. A little blend, a little metaphor. All things in moderation, as they say, but I say, except in matters of love, and then, and then, um…”
“Um, uh, and then the silent blend,” said Doug as he kissed my hand, and then we crashed into a hot dog stand.
Doug said, “Um, we’ll take two with sauerkraut.”
I said, “Mustard and chili.”
“Look, there’s a hansom cab parked up ahead and someone is giving the horse a carrot, and see over there the portrait artist doing someone…”
“Dougie Wougie Wougie, yeah, why don’t we cross over to the hotel side and then cross to the park? Yeah…”
“OK. You’ve got mustard and chili dripping down your face.” The vendor gave Doug a napkin and he wiped my face clean with love, patience, and indulgence if I may speak in such terms — I don’t know if I know the words for this moment.
An Attack at a Distance
We went down the corner staircase to the fork where the rocks rest in front of The Big Pond. A guitar and a saxophone player were tuning up while people climbed the rocks behind them, and people to the right in front sat on the grass behind the benches that lined the northward path.
We took the westward path, along the pond, the water and ducks on the right, a lawn, trees, and the border stone wall on the left. Above the wall we could still see the street in chatter-walking glory, see the hotels across the way, and we drank in the day, springy stepped and steeped in joy.
The benches were flecked with picnickers carousing, singles, double-troublers, troubadours, people, some at ease, one at an easel on the grass, and a bearded man washing his face at a water fountain.
We walked along until we could choose an interesting path that led into the interior of the park. At a short distance in, I felt an inner commotion. An influence swept by us. I said, “Did you feel that?”
Doug said, “Yes, I felt something in Utd’mbts: something about ‘Runaway Horse!’”
“Yes,” I said. Just then, a figure in a purple dress, far up ahead, ran across the path and up a rocky hill so fast that it seemed just a flash of color that froze at the top. Two others in purple followed right behind.
Doug said, “Another word: it feels dire, but I can’t understand it… ”
I pulled Doug over behind a tree. I said, “Duck down and stop thinking — meditate on nothingness.” One of the figures pulled out what looked like a weapon of some kind. A beam of light struck the figure who stood still and then vanished in place; there was no fall, change of position, or obstruction, but the figure was just gone instantly. Doug was not focused and reacted. I said, “Doug! You spoke to them in Utd’mbts.”
“Yes, we’d better run.” We turned and ran back the way we came, and then across and up an outcrop of rock. We could see the two figures go under a pedestrian bridge, open a door and disappear. “Watch what you say!”
“I don’t know what I said.”
“What? Um, is it safe now?”
“I think so. I don’t feel anything.”
Oh, well, this is the second time we had had a bright sunny morning, and an ominous afternoon. But this time we decided not to rush into anything. Last time, when we rashly chased after Zusoiti, Doug was nearly killed by a hand gun. But this seems to be an escalation: I had thought weapons from the sacred tiboesri were never to be used up-top. Whoever this was, evidently, is willing to use the legendary acacizg weapon. With the exception of it possibly being used in ancient times, as described in the Ofuye, I don’t think it has ever been used before. It was to be stored for the Gods return. But I’m not sure if the brew of this storm is mixed with lightning or with swirling updrafts.
I suppose jogging and dodging through traffic and crowds back to Doug’s apartment had been good exercise, and I had gotten to practice seeing upper Utd’mbts, but in my fancy flights I think I have felt more like a pigeon than a hawk, not much like a dove, because my anger waits for its eagle nature to emerge while I rest in the fatigue of ruffled feathers, a sadness that reigns in the unknown. I wonder how it is that Doug remembers a little Utd’mbts in a crisis, but usually doesn’t know any; it’s not that I’m an expert or anything (and I too often only speak the verbal lower Utd’mbts) but …
Oh I forgot the point I was going to make. So anyway, we got back safely, Doug made eggplant parmesan with sardines, anchovies, and cherries, and I made mocha-cinnamon-ginger coffee with banana ice cream on top, a happy foam.
We ate in the dining room which we used to call the banquet room, but ever since Doug bought a new table at “Curiosity Tables” in the village, it doesn’t seem so elegant or royal. The guy told Doug it was made in the 1950’s but I think it’s too primitive — more like the 1890’s. Oh Kievifkwa, what do I know: I’m not a furniture expert; I should ask Chloë. Well, it is a curiosity: the table setting areas on the periphery are normal, but the center is taken up by an oblong conveyor belt. The whole thing seats thirty without a squeeze, but there’s usually just the two of us. Mostly, we sit together at one end, but sometimes we sit at opposite ends of the table so Doug can play with the mechanism. He puts the plate down at his end and it circles around the table until it reaches me. We don’t do it much anymore because he once told me to pass the pie while we were sitting at opposite ends. It annoyed me. I raised my pitching arm and threw it at him like a flying saucer. He threw it back and so no more face-offs.
I think we’ll ask Chloë to find us an elegant table, or we’ll just put the old one back. This time, Doug served me graciously, and we sat together staring into each other’s eyes.
It had been a delicious meal and we were more relaxed, but the thought of some sort of Wipzib roaming around in the up-top world was disquieting. I took a sip of coffee foam and used a spoon to eat a lump of ice cream still floating on the top. Doug jabbed at a piece of eggplant.
Doug said, “Y’know, I think you were right a while back when you said you thought you saw Zusoiti’s followers wandering the streets, organizing rallies. I thought at the time you were just imagining it.”
“I think it’s Wipzib.”
“Um, a secret police.”
“Well, um, we’re in big trouble. How minor is this catastrophe do you think?”
“Oh, just the end of the world… Just kidding… um, I think…”
“Hmm. The dance of doom. Is it? Well, so, what would Utcoozhoo say?”
“Yes? And what does that mean?”
“OK. Here we go again. Um, Tiglekso means, um, uh, um … “
“It means: there is no sense in brooding on possibilities in a fog that may yet bring water to a catch-net in the desert, no sense in not letting the music of fog horns teach caution when only the dawn will lift yearning spirits ready to grow in sun and in shade, these spirits who have looked for dream stars in the dark of nightly prayers, and no sense to brood when all is lifted by the clearing.”
“In short: don’t worry.”
“Oh? Fog condenses into water on netting hung on a tree?”
“Yes. This is just an approximation — you have to feel the word as a whole to see it all at once and the metaphors can change, although the underlying concept is static. At least that’s how Utcoozhoo last said it, I think. Maybe I’ll ask my Mieta, um, my tutor.”
“You have a tutor to teach you Utd’mbts?”
“Yes, his name is Apacevj. I’m supposed to make an appointment with him, but…”
“Yeah. Not just Utd’mbts: I have to learn rules and law and protocol and a bunch of other stuff. I’m in a fog… Hey let’s make a sunrise now!”
“What d’ya mean?”
“You get a tarpaulin or plastic sheet or something to cover the hallway carpet from your workroom, and meet me in the hallway. I’ll get some paints from my room. Race you to the hallway — loser cleans the dishes.” I knocked over my chair and ran toward the door.
Doug said, “Wait, not fair. You got a head start.”
I turned and shouted over my shoulder as I left, “And bring some brushes.” I got to my room, grabbed a bag, ran out through the living room into the hallway with my duffel bag packed with tubes of acrylic paints. I shouted, “I win, I win!” Doug came lumbering out onto the gold carpet with a giant rolled up tarp. He dropped it with a thud. I kissed him. We unrolled it all the way down the hallway and covered all the carpet.
“Wait,” he said. “I’ll get a bucket of white paint as primer and a bucket of blue for a basic sky background.”
“As long as you’re going, could you also look in my room and get some charcoal sticks or some soft 4B pencils…”
“OK,” he said and turned back. He has a nice behind and a bold brisk walk. I had some good ideas for a mural and for him.
Painting in the Hallway
It had been a long day and it was hard to get into my artist mode. I walked up and down the hallway, staring at the blank wall, trying to envision what I wanted to paint. I was thinking I didn’t really feel like brushing on a wide broad background first. Doug returned with the bucket of blue, the bucket of white, the charcoal, and the pencils. I said, “I know it’s harder, but I think I want to do a sketch first, do some fine shimmering detail around the edges and then the background last. Yeah, it’s backward, but it’s possible to do, and the wall is already in good shape — it doesn’t need any priming.”
Doug dragged the unneeded buckets across to the opposite wall, and brought me the pencils. He said, “Well, what I’ve done when my foreground has gotten out of control and destroyed the background beyond recognition is to sketch in some guide lines to keep the perspective correct for the beginning and end pieces of hidden objects in the background and … ”
“Yeah. I get it. I do my drawing first. Then, I could sketch guide lines for the background. I could start a horizon line and lift my pencil as I pull it through my sketch and push it down again as I reach the other border of my drawing. Yeah, I’ve got it. I can do it backwards… ”
“OK. Are we ready now?”
“Uh… You’re not going to be mad, are you if …”
“No. Did you forget something?”
I did the coy look. “You could do me a little favor …”
“What does the cute little Zawmbee Warmbee want to inspire and to equip the preparation of her pièce de résistance ?”
“Dougie Wougie-Wougie, Sir, if you would be so kind as to get a big bucket of plain water for rinsing and some little empty buckets for the little brushes… ”
“And could you get my purse and some skin lotion.”
“Alright. Is that everything?”
“Uh, and a partridge, and a pear tree. No, just kidding. And bring your gorgeous self back.”
“As you wish, Miss artist extraordinaire,” he said with equanimity though he did not exactly perform an entrechat — more of a trudge then a leap. But he can thrust his legs out in a wide strided power walk away in animalistic grace. I had my own purr waiting…
I walked to the end of the hallway and started a sketch of a deer. Not exactly right. I walked up and down the hallway, stopped in the middle, and sketched a tree.
Doug came back with all my stuff. He was sweating. I said, “Take off your shirt, and look at my deer sketch.”
Doug walked down the hallway. “It’s a good start… Y’know, I haven’t heard much about the deer this year…”
“Yeah. I noticed that. Every year they do stories about how the deer are eating people’s gardens and one group wants to hire hunters and another has some birth control scheme. With all the protest marches, nothing gets done, the population explodes and they starve.”
Doug said, “We’ve always just ate them. It doesn’t seem like such a problem.”
“Yeah. I don’t know — city people only eat cattle, I guess. But anyway, this year there are no stories.”
“What do you mean?”
“The deer have disappeared,” I said.
“Oh? Well, we have plenty in storage. Next time we’re in the cave I’ll try out a new recipe for some 20,000-year-old venison.”
“Yeah. I like your venison… And walk along and look at my tree sketch…” While Doug stood in front of the drawing, I gazed at his back. He has a thick ribbon of twisted hair down the center of his back that looks like a double-helix. The hair on the sides of his back has a horizontal growing pattern from the side towards the center. It was disrupted, so I took a comb out of my purse, combed his back hair from each side towards the center, and then softly brushed it in the same way with my hands. Doug turned and I combed his chest hair downward. His hair is soft: some blond, some brown, and some gray, although the ribbon down his stomach is all dark brown. I petted his chest with my hands and when I rested my hand over his heart, it was beating so hard I thought my hand would be bruised. When I asked how my sketch was, Doug couldn’t speak, and when I reached into his pants I knew why. I pushed him against the wall. I said, “I have an idea for a drawing. Stay here.” I unbuckled his belt…