Dude Wrangler

Torn between space there lies a literature of spoken word, movement, and liquid. Here crawls figures on a sphere so wide, the light is always on, whether it be in reflection or pride. There are noble ones and fearful ones and all are pitiful for longing. He snaps a cracker in two, and out comes a seed. Surrounding him are sycamores that sing a melody he had once forgotten, but soon he will know the words so clearly that they will be all he speaks.

When he walks home from labor, he does so very slowly as to listen, and most often he can’t. He doesn’t know how to listen because long ago, noise, the incessant ringing and teeth-tingling small concurrent pounding, it has become the air of the Earth. His planet, one of populated grief, the innumerable disadvantages of too many, is now not a place for the only one but everyone, and this is more lonesome than being an individual.

He scoops dirt in his sterile hands, rubs it together, pressing worm-infested sandstone in his fingernails to feel the pain of feeling something of natural resistance.

“Tom, is that you?”

He looks up, reluctant to his inevitable surrender of noise. “Yes… And you are?”

“It’s me. Jim! You know, Jim.”

Tom looked perplexed into the sky, a shape of man outlined by the reflection of the sun. He noticed his thin-rimmed glasses. He noticed the skin behind dark, curly facial hair. He didn’t recognize this ordinary, plain man, and this conversation happened all too often. So much so that he tried to go out far less frequently.

“Oh, Jim. Hello.”

“What are you doing, Tom? I mean, why, actually, umm, I really meant why.”

Tom looked down at his hands. An earthworm called slowly between his fingers. He studied the white markings of the slight compost of time and breakdown of food from his ancestors of yesterday, as we all find time to act differently than any genius or otherwise can assume.

Tom recalled his father. He recalled his reluctant interruption of stillness and soil. There was a time when his father, alive and well, told him that there would be a goodness in progress, one that gives hope to the desolate packed-streets where the organisms live just as all the organisms that live beneath the ground. Cities and more cities and more places building new wheels and ways to speed into the future, and interrupting him, he asked, but doesn’t that break the fabric of time, and his father grinned through broken teeth, now you’re getting it.

Tom is recognized by his failure, the unbearable why. When he rode horseback through sheets of metal, he was tortured by outdated words, though he was only trying to time-travel himself through this notion of progress, figure a white-stained past by negotiation. How does he reconnect with the world when the world only wishes to move forward so quickly they end up only circling right back around to the tribal neurons of their mind? This, though, is not the tribal of community but fear, whereas when you try to breach time you only find yourself grasping hold of the broken bits of anything but Present. Tom became known instantly as The Dude Wrangler because when he traveled into the past his only introduction to reality was unnecessary bloodshed and public fame. When his time was up there, the Present sucked and spit him out in the middle of commuters heading East, and the horse went wild with confusion. It darted into a nearby forest and ran and ran and ran. He ran until Tom felt as if he was on the verge of death from exhaustion and whiplash, his face completely soaked with the moisture from his face. The horse collapsed and Tom and it and the soil around him vibrated with a fierceness of reality one can only imagine when there is nothing else to grapple. Hours and light passed, and as if time was again buffering, he saw his face everywhere. What value is in that of our pitiful, pitiful ancestors? Even his father grumbled in the dirt with a mix of shame and regret, though Carrion still sprung.

And he knew what you can only know when you experience a longing for longing at all, past numbness and into not hysteria, but an almost complete understanding of reality. From then on, he counseled the others like him; travelers, seekers, all ordinary and plain.

He put the pile of dirt in Jim’s hand—squeezed it through his fingers, but Jim didn’t fight. He stood gaping, and Tom walked away.

Published by celinamcmanus

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