Saturday, 17 September 2016

Relic Environments Trilogy: Book III, Part 1.viii

from Book III, Part 1, The Lord of Time, His Curiosity and Galliard

The Journeyman’s Tale

For this ye knowen also wel as I,
Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
He moot reherce as ny as evere he can
Everich a word, if it be in his charge
Al specke he never so rudeliche or large
Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyne thynge, or fynde wordes newe.
                                                    − Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
                                                    “The General Prologue”, ll. 732-738

Part the First, in which Our Hero renews an Acquaintance, observes
a Mechanical Device, and considers the Consequences of Pride

I was in Florida with Earl
Who showed up one day from back home
Lookin for a job
We was drivin along in my old Pontiac
When out of the blue he says to me
Did you shag my wife too
So first I thought whaddayameantoo
Then told him yeah, but only
Because she asked
He seemed okay with that, and we stopped
And had a beer and talked about the new Clapton
We both liked a lot

Earl always said he would die
Gettin smashed by a Diamond Rio cement mixer
It’s a funny thing
But we saw one down in West Palm
Or maybe Boca, and I mean man they are huge
I mean the guy drivin
Looked like a fuckin ant 

Earl and me was workin on the new condos
And this little fucker drivin the Rio comes up to the foreman
Says he’d only do this and that and nothin else
Or his union’d have ever’body out
Just for askin

About half hour later we was on a break
Lookin over the top storey balcony, when we see
A girl on a bench in some bushes
Goin down on this driver
And we holler scab scab and the girl looked straight up
Eighteen fuckin storeys
Put her hands together over her head and did this
Rocky thing
Big champ and all
Great, but the guy was not fuckin amused

About three some guy said to us
You guys on strike and we said what the fuck, he said
Nah the painters are out because of the electricians
Because of the Diamond Rio guy
So we walked over to the beach
And this truck fuckin monster machine
Zillion tons of cement not rollin round
Was on its side sunk in the sand
It was like a fuckin whale and ever’body runnin
Sayin what the fuck what the fuck and this driver
Who was about five foot nothin
Cry cry cry cry cry

I never saw Earl again after that

That was in ’73
I woulda stayed on, but the foreman’s stepson
Needed work, so they fucked me off

I’ve had worse jobs

Part the Second, in which Our Hero practices the Art of Courtship, and receives a Communication 
of Hazards to the Travelling Public

I was seein this big redhead called Noreen
I had a little place off Ocean Park
And she rented rooms upstairs
She had a big ass and huge tits, man
Nothin like those skinnyass girls in the magazines
She could wear the hell out of a dress but looked
Totally odd in jeans
Go fuckin figure

The first time she come down, I said
D’ya want a drink
And she said sure okay, and we had a beer
Then I go over where she was sittin, reach round
And untie the bow holdin up her top
And out come these huge milkin tits
Well let me say I was on those fuckers like yesterday
And she just laughed a little and sipped her beer
And that was kinda our first date

The next time she come down, a couple of nights later
She said how come you don’t take me out dancin
Or somewhere, and I just fuckin laughed
And said have you seen your tits
Then kept her ass-up till breakfast

This ain’t nothin to do with Noreen
Or her beautiful tits or her awesome red bush
It all just come to mind
While I was thinkin about Henry, my pal from school

I had this phone call from home, and my Ma says
In the middle of talkin about absolutely fuckin nothin
Did you hear Henry got killed

I thought I ain’t heard her right, but then I did
Anyways, the thing is he was with his girl friend 
They was drivin through Georgia
Right on the Interstate, and this truck
Drives right up the back of him blowin his horn
And Henry pulls over and this guy pulls over
Then Henry says to this girl I’m talkin to this guy
So off he goes, and the girl’s tunin music on the FM
And then looks up, and here’s Henry, walkin back
With the most amazed look on his face
Only he’s soaked in blood
Right down to the belt, and then she sees a big grin
Carved right across his throat, I mean he’s gone to have a word
And this cunt’s only gone and cut him ear to ear

The guy in the truck takes off down the road
And Henry is absolutely fuckin dead

So now the state cops are after this knife guy
And the knife guy’s old man hears it on the radio
And the description of the guy and the truck
Because it’s his fuckin truck
So he takes a big ass iron bar and drags the sonfabitch
Outside the house
And proceeds to beat the livin shit out of him
Then he calls the cops, and so the cops
Are draggin this cunt away, and the old man yells after him
I told you never touch my fuckin truck

I’m hangin up the phone and Noreen comes in
Who’s Henry she says, and out nowhere I hear myself say
This dead guy I know

Part the Third, wherein a Confrontation is avoided,
and Our Hero learns of a Commercial Opportunity

Pat and Jonno picked me up as usual that mornin
Drivin along havin a few drinks
On the way to the job
This place Bobby sent us was way the fuck out in the sticks
But it was a good day and we only had a few walls
To paint before the floor guys came out, so we thought
We’d make it last long enough and maybe
Hit the bars in West Palm on the way back

We drive away from the coast
And nothin but a roadhouse and a few palms
But we stopped in this roadhouse for a beer
And some cunt next to Pat fuckin spits on the floor
So Pat starts up and we drag him out because
This cunt’s one big fucker

A while later we finally see this place
Some guy from Miami decides to buy up all this land
Smack in the middle of nowhere
And gets Bobby to give him a price for fixin it up
But we ain’t seen nothin but cattle sheds
Fifty years old, but Bobby had us on
Top wage so what the fuck

A while later and some old fart wanders over
And says to me and Jonno, I guess you fellers
From Orlando, so we say nah West Palm
And he says that figures
Well Jonno looks at me and I look at him
And who knows where the hell Pat got to
But this guy says to us yeah they don’t want no companies
Orlando way to have a sniff just yet, and we think
What the fuck

Well this guy has got us real inter’sted
And knows it, so we say
We ain’t scabbin no union job and he says nah
It’s fuckin Mickey Mouse, dumb ass

Turns out this Miami guy gets the low down
Disney wants to put a place in the ass end of Florida
So he buys up land from any fool rancher
For fuckin zero, paints a few cow sheds
For improvements, and gets a zillion bucks
From Uncle Walt for cowshit and sand

On the way back we’re tellin Pat
And he says (get this) he says yeah
That Minnie has beautiful fuckin eyes

Part the Fourth, wherein Heavenly Music is heard, and
a Wise Woman reveals the Resting Place1 of Heroes

I moved out back of Peggy’s to get away from Noreen
Peggy’s place was one of these old barns
Built about 1900
When all the assholes come down from up East
And the place I had was the summer house
It was real comfy

I didn’t have no work a few months after the Arabs
Put the kibosh on the oil, so I did a few jobs for Peggy
To help out for rent
Peggy must have been over eighty
And had two little poms
And both those little bastards were blind, but still followed
Her ever’where, and her talkin to em all the time
About fuck knows what

In the 20s she and her old man
Used to do the clubs in Palm Beach
Then come back over here with Hoagy Carmichael
And a few of the boys to play some jazz and drink gin
My Ma used to like Hoagy, but I never heard
Much of his stuff
I sure liked Peggy though
She was from Tennessee, and when she found out
Where I was from we got on real good

She had a bed upstairs that never looked much
It had a rope slung mattress, fuckin bed
Must have been out of the Ark, only she sees me
Lookin it over and says, Andrew Jackson slept in that bed
No fuckin way I said
Yep, she says, big as life and ugly with it
She says it come down to her through her great granny
And was worth a little somethin
And gives me this wink
So I says d’ya think great granny would mind me
Havin a sit down
And Peggy says nah go on

The mattress was horsehair and lumpy as hell
And had this totally fucked smell comin off it
But I never mentioned nothin
Because you could tell it was a big thing with her

I met Peggy’s daughter once, thirty five, not bad lookin
But she gives me this who the fuck are you look
So I never said much to her
You could tell she was just itchin to get her hands
On Peggy’s place

That old house cost nothin to run
And was worth a mil, even back then
I reckon she thought I was makin up to Peggy
For a piece of the action

I used to get a card from Peggy now and then
After I left West Palm for a union gang up north
But then nothin

I reckon she just fuckin died

And honest to God, to this day
I’m real careful like, layin on Ol’ Hickory’s bed


1In her upstairs room, the old bed
under-slung to take the horsehair mattress:
that bed, she said, I brought from Tennessee
nineteen twenty-six. My wedding dress
was Mother’s, my married life contented.
I still miss my family.

Ragged flowers decorate the quilt…
her great grandma, not twenty, masked
a bored look, sewing: Jackson, longcoat and collar star,
his horse pulled lame, at the porch asked
for water, old wounds troubling, sword hilt
bright from duty in the Blackhawk War.

We sat playing cards, the night hot,
on the table a jug of margarita… Jackson was mean
what with the talk about his wife: he killed a man
in eighteen-six, Dickinson
his name was, a lawyer and a crack shot −
but rushed his luck, missed, Jackson so thin…

The General rode on, up country a pace,
to a cabin near Red River. A Negro
brought milk, then saw the blood that filled his shoe.
Dickinson had winged him sure, a rib shot, low.
His friends help him down, his face
was stone, Dickinson dead and never knew.

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