REPORT A PROBLEM
“When during our actions you have to lie..... and
have to lie,” said Henry, solemnly glancing down at the low table covered in charts. “It is best to lie while looking into the sun,” finished the old man, staring into the eyes of young Stanley, his apprentice standing across the dimly lit room.
Stanley, much younger in years than his elder mentor, nodded, agreeing with the man. “You tell me what I need to say, and that’s just what I’ll give ‘em,” he said, his cheeks burning under some imaginary sun.
, thought Stanley, facing the light.
It was early that day, around noon, when I finally figured it all out. I had been prodding along through some menial project of sorts and struggling with something I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around.
While sitting there at the restaurant, it occurred to me that I could have gone anywhere that afternoon. With a full tank of gas and no lack of open road, the ocean was my only immediate limit. So upon pondering the value of freedom, I decided to return to work.
My obligations all freely accepted and merely the means to my highly desired end.
“Really, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” stated James, as he stood there staring at the pavement.
“That’s fine, I’ll just have a few more things to figure out, then. So if you’ll be so kind as to tell me your name again,” said the other, pen and paper in hand.
Glancing deliberately from left to right across the parking lot, James noticed a small opening in the bushes just beyond the end of the pavement.
Barron, that’s it... Barron.
“Are you ready?”
“Sure, what’s it again?”
“Barron.......” said James, darting towards the small opening in the bushes.
Buckets upon buckets of rain falling on the windshield made driving nearly impossible at that dark hour. The low chirping and squelching of my radio in the car merely faded into the background as I drove forward on that ponderous journey.
I can’t quite remember how long it took me to reach the station that night, only that I did. Quickly donning my bunker gear, I grabbed a jump-seat on the back of the engine before it left the lonely station.
Pulling up to the residence, we quickly found the swelling stream inching towards the house......
Who’s that, though?
“Stop and smell the roses,” some say.
“There’s been roses?” others ask.
Really though, in the grand scheme of things, what is a rose? Is it a single moment, which can stand alone and unsupported by other memories? Is it a collection of interrelated events each represented by individual petals, which together create a whole block of remembered time? Or is it simply a domesticated flower?
In the end there may be no real answer to this highly subjective question. What can be said is that a rose is to one person something completely different than it is to another.
It roared out in the distance somewhere. The perfect still of that desolate highway was disturbed only by that far off storm.
With the land being flat and devoid of any contour it was difficult to judge distance. That storm could have been as close as five miles or as far as thirty miles for all I could tell that night, but regardless I felt almost completely disconnected from the reality of the thing.
Where we were was so calm and tranquil that any thought of a turbulent storm felt distant and abstract.
I wonder where the grass was greener?
I know and can say with little fear of being incorrect that I am, more free in some great number of technical manners, than those who came before me. Alas, I also know and can say with little fear of being incorrect, that those who came before me were in some many number of technical manners, more free than I.
That being said, I know thoroughly well, my definition of freedom. When I have the opportunity to decide wether to accept or decline my obligations regardless of the consequences, I am free.
So long as I can choose I’m free.
For me a reality with no (not a single one) obligations doesn’t exist. That is unless you are talking about a life with only limited opportunities, you know what prison is, yes?
I know I’ve felt trapped by the myriad responsibilities laid before me at times. I also know I’ve put some off, that is towards one consequence or another. What I have realized though, through all my trials and tribulations, is that most of the freedoms I enjoy most in life have been afforded to me through successfully completing some obligation or another. Freedom is you willingness to find it.
Loosening his grip on the wheel, Mark looked around the car full of stunned faces.
“You’re not serious, are you?” asked Aaron, who was sitting in the front passenger seat.
“The door’s unlocked, jump out if you’re not game my friend,” responded an agitated mark.
“I’m fine, really don’t worry about it,” said Aaron shrinking into his seat.
A sharp jolt in the seat and a hard pull on the shoulders left Aaron helplessly pinned. Moving swiftly across the center console the serious rider behind Mark pushed Aaron's feet out the, now open, passenger door.
“Good luck chap.”
Efficiency being the operative word, where exactly can we draw the line.
So they say that some car is fuel efficient, that some industrial process is cost efficient or that some bureaucratic procedure is time efficient. Really though when you narrow your sights on such a specific notion of efficiency you can easily loose sight of the whole effects of any one particular item or process.
Rather than focusing on one particular strong point to anything, the effective use of the undesired, yet unavoidable, side results should be addressed. The refuse of any product generally out weighs the actual usefulness.
Standing out on that precipice she could see that it stretched for miles. The vast jungle of tangled concrete and glass weaved its way through the land and off to some undeterminable horizon.
He was out there somewhere, hiding in wait. He was ready for anything she could bring to the table, or so he thought. She was to him, no more than a worm to a crow.
The warm carbon laden breeze gave hint of a fire down in the metropolis below. The burn of the hot sun on her face reminded her,
He’s out there, I’ll find him.
The lights from some approaching car illuminated the fog further down the road.
“So, that’s not the point. I don’t think you understand what’s going on here at all!”
“What’s there to understand?” hissed Jordan.
The wind was picking up and visibly washing the cold fog over the roadway on the side of that steep hill.
“We’re gonna’ bury this right here, right now Jordan! There’s no getting around that,” argued a serious Nathan.
“Just give me a chance to explain,” pleaded Jordan.
“You know what,”
“Fine explain away,” allowed Nathan, as he got the shovel from the trunk.
I was, as always, semi aware.
Sure, there were my surroundings, with which I was generally well acquainted. Then there was my cohort, she was no mystery to me either. What, as they say, sometimes went beyond me was myself, however.
So there we stood looking up at the world. It may have been only sixteen stories tall, or was it eleven hundred? The technical height mattered not, it was the volumes within. That and the two of us there holding hands in some unfamiliar, yet amazing place.
How could I ever have wanted anything different, was quite beyond me.
The clock is ticking
, thought I.
Ten minutes passed, still no sign of him.
What’s going on?
Some ornate parade of cormorants flying by the window seemed of no matter to me. “This is ridiculous,” I muttered under my breath.
Where on earth is he?
Glancing at the clock, I witnessed the large hand work its way ever so close to the twelve. My feet shifting weight from left to right, I was more than anxious now.
What’s keeping him so long?
There seemed to be no reasonable explanation for this tardiness.
Where do I draw the line?
“Adam. Was it Adam?” asked the skittish figure in the corner.
“Yeah,” returned the above-mentioned.
“So listen, I’ve got this deal. It’s pretty amazing actually, now if you’d just imagine........” trailed the frantically speaking smooth talker, as he slowly approached from his dark corner.
The lights were dim, and of some harsh fluorescent nature. In that low ceilinged room, it was easy for one to feel trapped in by the piles of awkwardly stacked furniture. Adam, however, didn’t.
“So, what do you think?”
“What do you mean? What do I think? I’m selling to you?”
“That’s what you think.”
“So there was this rush of people, all of them caught up between two of the exhibits!”
“And the rest of the place?” asked the stranger.
“The rest of the place? That was all ours,” said I with a smile.
“How do you mean, all yours?”
“Really in a practical sense, we were free to roam about the great halls and apartments. There were grand depictions of royal coronations, Renaissance paintings, the crown jewels and so much more. So there we danced hand in hand through the pages of history.”
“We had crepes,” I finished with a smile.
TAP TAP TAP
...dripped the impatient drops of water into the stainless steel sink.
Slowly moving towards some wire screen near the end of the line, one drop thought,
hold the phone!
There’s something wrong here
, mused the tiny hydrogen-laden entity. Was it the soapy substance at the tip of the faucet or was it something else altogether?
TAP TAP TAP
...continued the drops.
Our little drop dripped down to the aerator and out the spout. So what exactly was wrong? What could it be?
All the while, known science seemed to bend around the little self-aware droplet.
Beads of rain traced thin translucent lines down the windows that late autumn day.
Why does he have to pick up the deck today?
she thought, as she impatiently watched from the dry interior of the apartment.
Small scattered drops of rain audibly bounced off the brim of his hat, as he fervently searched through the rubble, that was his toolbox.
It has to be in here some where!
His eyes red with the water running down his brow... he knew it was in there somewhere,
I couldn’t have tossed that, could I?
“Why don’t you come inside?”
It’s claustrophobic in here
, he thought as he walked down the narrow, rusty passageway.
At least nothing’s gonna sneak up on me.
His boots lightly thudded on the hollow metal deck as he ambled his way through this contour-less space.
So far, so good
, he mused as he looked down at the gas meter hanging from his shoulder.
Chasing the dusty beam of his flashlight, he made his way forward - or was it afterward - through the dark silent barge.
I’m really curious where this passage is going to end
, he wondered as his light caught something odd.
Standing out on the balcony, I could see the cars pull in and out, I could hear the buzz in the air. I don’t remember if it was a holiday that night. Honestly I don’t remember what day it was at all.
What I do remember is the relaxed feel, the warm air and the cool terra cotta tiles against my feet as I wandered back into my room. The door didn’t seal tightly to the floor and the windows didn’t close, which allowed the hum of activity outside permeate through the place.
I only wished you were there too.
“Do you know what really drives me?” asked the smiling character to her left.
“No, what’s that?”
“The smell of new plastic, it’s great,” he responded. “Maybe its semi-conceited, but to me it speaks of new stuff, new toys.”
“Have you always felt this way? Have you always been driven by stuff?” she asked.
“Really, I’ve only been drawn this way for a while. I can remember right when it started. I don’t know if it’s greed or not but maybe more just a form of security,” he added contemplatively.
“I can’t say stuff has ever brought me comfort.”
They may say the wind blew. It blew fast and furiously.
As the breeze of change ushered in a new social climate, what was now wasn’t, and the lines, which had never been shown before, lay visible to the world.
It was about ten years past the great wind, when a seed sown long before took root. The world was so trapped in this new and forming environment that no one ever looked back.
No, not a soul looked back upon the mistakes of past generations. Rather the mistakes of the past watched on and took root in the present.
The office, being sparsely decorated with corporate art, is sterile at best. The stagnant air seemed to hold a perpetual scent of particle board and packing material.
“Listen - I know you want to transfer over to logistics, but thats just not possible,” spoke the ever so unemphatic manager.
“I don’t understand, though. There’s an open position and I could easily train someone else, and I have been working.....”
“I’m gonna stop you right there. Now listen, I know all of this, but that’s not the issue here. None of those play into this situation at all.”
“Then what is it?”
Nevada, about noon:
The open road seemed to radiate visible heat off in the distance. The dry desolate landscape unfolded around the car. Miles upon miles, drifting away beneath the tires, seemed no challenge to the healthy engine under the hood.
California, early May:
The sharp jagged coastline could be seen crumbling into the sea. Many road cuts revealed the twisted and tortured land beneath the highway. Tight corners and uneven surfaces proved no contest to the vehicle.
It traversed the mountains, carried their stuff and took them away, all with a sense of ease. Yet the world still called.
Dull weary eyes darted frantically within his sunken sockets.
Does anybody get it?
“So when you say that, what exactly do you mean?” asked the student, almost so jauntily as to affect a sense of distrust.
“I mean exactly what I said. Which part to do you want me to explain?” he uttered, casting nervous stares around the place.
They’re just too young to understand
, he convinced himself.
“Listen Sir, we hear what you’re saying,” started another. “We just want you to tell us why that’s so.” Fumbling about more frantically than before, he felt surrounded, trapped.
This is lunacy!
Somewhere between turquoise water and the blue sky was the boat. It was humid out and the strong smell of salt permeated the air. Off in the distance, a low rock jetty jutted out across the opening to the harbor and divided the chop from the smooth. Small buildings dotted the shore, and steady ships lay in wait across the smooth waters. Within that calm tranquil place all was familiar and all was safe.
I had been there before but couldn’t recall why or when. Of the myriad ports we called, this one more than the rest called to me.
“Five J W,”
what’s that supposed to mean?
The empty street was refuge to many a dark shadow that night. As he stood there trying to figure out just what a five, J and W could signify, the deadly silent air enveloped him.
“Dispatch this is 8Lincoln27.”
“8Linconl27, go ahead.”
“Can you run a check on a Wisconsin plate Five J W.”
What on Earth’s that?
he thought, turning to his left.
Approaching from some distance, a lone figure seemed to carefully study his actions. The bright distraction, though, shielded this enigmatic character from his notice.
It’s like they’re trying to do a lot more than just replace it
, she thought, looking on as crews went well beyond dismantling the fixtures and faucets.
Over the last three weeks, teams of designers, backed by dozens of site supervisors, who were supported by companies of laborers, have descended upon the place. Initially promoted as a simple renovation, the scope of this project seems to be the complete erasure of what once was.
I don’t care if they wipe it off the face of the Earth, I’ll still remember. They cant take that away, can they?
she thought angrily.
Looking out over the desolate valley from some rocky precipice or another, the two conversed in muted tones.
“This idea of yours, is it really going to work?”
“Eric, as long as you’ve known me, this should be obvious,” spoke Mark, a deceptively small individual of scorn and deceit.
“That’s fine. That’s fine, I just - you know. It’s a pretty bold plan, you see.”
With a smile, Mark nodded and tossed the small rock he had in his hand off to the valley floor. “Listen, I know you may have your doubts. But rest assured, it’s under control, my friend.”
Looking up at the loosely connected leaves fluttering in the breeze, I could almost feel the salt spray on my cheeks. It had been months, maybe years since I felt the sands of Hawaii or the coral of Kwajalein, but those places are still etched into my mind.
The day those wafting leaves caught my eye may not have been the most enjoyable day, but it didn’t matter because I wasn’t there. I was rather by the sea or on the Champs-Élysées, walking about with you.
The memory is a powerful thing, and fortunately mine is a happy one.
The Tip Jar