OF HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY, PERHAPS
One must strive for inner naked bo-buddhiditty.
— Ricardo Cabeza
“What do you know about hydraulic conductivity?” the Goat King asked the Corpse. “Every molecule of water adjoining other water is in contact, so to speak, with all other water molecules in the pool. Water molecules in contact can pull each other along. When you step into the ocean, you are in hydraulic conductivity with all the water in all the seas.”
Corpse just shrugged. The Goat King was showing off, as usual, and eventually the conversation would segue to something they all could relate to. Beer, hopefully; or bar skanks, or maybe a pool hall with a strong possibility of fights.
Dave (the Goat King’s ‘everyday name’) was not to be ignored. Turning to the others in the room, he asked, “Does anybody know where we are?”
“The ride, man, the ride.” That was Jason. He had just finished shaping a four-foot-long ‘party’ sub sandwich into an alligator shape, even sticking bits of bread in as legs. The ride he was alluding to was a carnival ride they may or may not have gotten onto. The Lost Highway ride.
Under cover of darkness, the carnival pitched its tents, midway, and appurtenances thereto. The following morning, residents of the nearby town of Green Hill (known affectionately among many residents as “Green Hell”) seemed surprised at the appearance of the next-door neighbor.
“Looks kinda creepy,” offered Jason, fingers making a visor as he peered through the fog. Although having been erected overnight, there was a hint of moss already. As if emerging from the humus, proto-amphibian-like, spontaneous generation.
The Corpse could not resist carnivals. The lure of gambling, no matter what form, was usually irresistible. Karma was similarly inclined. Without much difficulty, they dragged the gang along.
They lost most their pocket change in the midway. Not even a medium-sized stuffed bear to show for their efforts. “We’re not schwinging successfully,” lamented Jason.
“Let’s go chill on a slow ride,” suggested Jowers.
They ambled towards the furthest end of the midway. Under flickering lights, partly veiled by overhanging tree branches, one could easily miss the entrance to The Lost Highway ride. Chaz, the sixth member of the group, involuntarily gasped in astonishment. Astral dragons, multi-faceted fingers of mist, the shimmer from beyond. Chaz blinked, and saw the entrance clearly. “Whad ya see, Chaz?” sneered Dave. Though Dave would ridicule the quiet and shadowy borderline-outcast member of the group, the Goat King realized the utility in a combination court jester/empath. Chaz only shrugged.
“Anyone got tickets left?” Dave said as he stepped past the androgynous stunted gate-attendant. Jowers fumbled beneath his coat and produced the requisite string of segmented light cardboard.
A screeching sound alerted them to the approach of the next ride car. Sparks and the smell of ozone. All but Dave tried to get in but the Goat King stopped them with an upraised finger. “Jowers, Corpse, and … uh, Jason; get in this one.”
The first trio disappeared through the hanging-down rubber strips, much as a tray of dishes is sent into the washer. Dave turned to Karma and Chaz, grinning. “You guys think that this is not as it seems?” Chaz attempted to conceal his answer, but was betrayed by involuntary shaking and beads of sweat on his brow. It was not a warm evening.
The next carnival-ride conveyance arrived as screechingly as the previous. Karma was beyond annoyed. This experience deeply penetrated and ravaged the thin façade of a mere waste of time. The tinny static-y polka music through the loudspeakers was bad enough. The flickering neon lights portraying Americana highway times gone by – Karma fought back expurgation of recent midway hot dogs and chili. Exhibits of Model T’s chugging over rocky hilly passes, the obsolete donkeys pulling wagons waiting off to the side. The Cleaver family, glowing hair, radiantly freshly-scrubbed with shining apple cheeks, off to Disneyland in their Edsel. Subcompacts full of collegians hurtling, lemming-like, to the beach at spring break.
With a crackling of ozone-punctuated acrid nostril-searing smoke, the second car crashed into the first. Angry yelling. Dave turned to assess Chaz’s reaction. Chaz seemed as swept up in the illusion as anyone else. Surprisingly, it was Karma who first stepped back from emotion, so to speak, and attempt to rationally weigh the situation.
He grinned. The others were so swept up in their mass hallucination, that Karma could actually see the emotional and energy fields surrounding them.
They were in a sort of room. Like a mobius strip, the floor eventually became the ceiling, sound became visible objects, and thoughts were actions. Everyone was comfortably seated. The sun shone in, the moon brightly illuminated, they could see the milky way at noon. Events, pictures, what might have been, what could be, flowed in. Flowed past. Swirled. “Kind of like hydraulic conductivity,” remarked the Goat King.
“What?” The Corpse was annoyed. Later even Corpse would have to admit that each sensation they experienced would fade, drawing an adjoining related vision. The core of each would largely overlap the previous, but different in some aspect.
Dave launched into a contemporaneous treatise on the inter-connectedness of all things. Only Chaz and Karma feigned any interest, the others yawned, held fingers to their ears, scratched – anything to ward off Dave’s attempt at labeling the unlabelable.
Later, Jowers would reminisce that it was like a front porch party that lasted for hours. Unemptiable coffee cups; beer mugs. Jason was custodian of a large sandwich. The others frequently hungered, but satiation was forthcoming and, briefly, absolute. Chaz started to disrobe, muttering something about his favorite philosopher. “Get dressed, idiot!” barked Karma. “That Spanglitch Carbooza writer has you brainwashed.”
The screeching crackling sound of a ride car interrupted their reverie. It stopped on tracks they hadn’t noticed until now. Dave motioned for Jowers, Corpse, and Jason to get into it. Back to Green Hell. He and Karma and Chaz stood, waiting for the next car.
this is/was a chapter in a long (for a “short”) story I was co-writing with “the Corpse.” one and/or the other of us may finish it some day. we called it (usually, sometimes we had other names) GREEN HELL: Gateway to the Lost Highway.
it was also another in the my long series of “Rejected by the Mountain Gazette.” which (witch), brings me to … London Schertzer photos. i don’t know Mr. S., but his photo (the picture which i use for this story) was in a Mtn Gaz many years ago to be inspiration for just one in the series of “1000 words” contests. The picture, and any essay related to, was never used by the MG. i KNOW Mr. S would consider THIS STORY a suitable “1k words” winner, and be attached to his pixure forevermore. and … in the remote event, Mr. S, my story achieves any acclaim (maybe even some $$$ but THAT’s getting weigh ahead of my/our/selves) i will NOT shirk my duty in shared accolades.
and i will continue to NOT steal your excellent photo in the restroom of the coffeeshop on Main Street in Frisco.