Mike is a creature of habit. His habit is to never leave enough money from his weekly paycheck to buy his lunch every day. Every day he takes whatever sandwich he could piece together that morning, goes to the "roach coach" catering truck, and carefully selects a package of cream cheese and onion flavored Doritos (today, two of them), and a small orange juice. Every day.
Mike usually goes to a hill above where his job stays - a big red building block with an American flag limping proudly in front of it.From the hill the building looks small. Mike likes that. So at 11:45 he escapes in his car with his lunch tucked into a little black bag.
They (CALTRANS) are building a new freeway. It is complete with other-worldly-looking crawling machines. Some of them squirt water from wide spray nozzles on their hinds. They are very regular. Others of the yellow monsters scoop up dirt, or have it scooped for them. They come from an unknown place to a place unseen. The brown ribbon of almost highway stretches into a Freudian expanse of mountains in the distance.
"Is it raining outside?", he asked. Mag and Janie, who reminded him of Munchkins from Oz, walked past and said in unison, "No. It's clear. We have a window, you know." "Oh, I forgot about that. Thanks.", he said, pulling on his coat. It had been raining earlier. In fact, he was awakened by a thunderstorm that climbed into bed with him at three o'clock that morning. At work, later that day, he was asked if he'd seen the hail last night.
Southern California weather is wonderful. It features all things most people would like in their weather, including the extra added bit of smog. People smile when it rains and say, "Oh wow, man. We're being dumped on by mother nature herself. Everything's so clean and fresh.'" All things considered, including floods and mudslides, rain is one of the more mellow of all shared experiences in the Southland.
Mike took the two women at their word and walked out into the still cloudy, day. "All right!", he said to himself, as he donned his shades. He was worried before because he didn't want to get his three-piece wet. He had worn it that day just to insure that the management appreciated the fact that he could leave there any time he wanted to as well as to assure them that they had purchased a good employee - one suitable for window dressing when field engineers came from all over the world to nest at headquarters for the week.
When he got to the hill he loosened his tie, took off his shoes and coat, and settled into the passenger seat for more room. He was more than happy to be rid of the Muzak for an hour. The cream cheese, black olive, and avocado sandwich he prepared for that day didn't look too appetizing. It had been squeezed to an odd colored mush by. the time he got it out of the bag. Somehow the Doritos and orange juice didn't compliment his gourmet dish. He ate it anyway.
A black and red bird buzzed his car. Then he noticed that there were birds everywhere around the hill. They all seemed to be either flying in pairs or trying to avoid another would-be mate."
Worms on the ground. They get hungry too. You know, it's hard to be a bird, flying around all the time.", said his Muse. Mike's Muse, the chimerical character that lives in his head, visits at lunch. He wakes up in the morning and has sleepy chats with him while he shaves, dresses, and drives to work. When Mike gets to work, the Muse goes back to sleep, leaving Mike to face the Muzak.
Most times the Muse is content, to sit on Mike's eyebrows, silently watching as he reads, or eats, or works on something at lunch. He sits quietly until there is something to notice outside the car. Then he makes a comment about it like someone would about the scenery on their first train ride. Sometimes he and Mike have heated discussions about anything unworthy of worry.
Today he paced back and forth in Mike's mind having a cigarette with him. "I know what you're thinking. You can stop it right now. It's only Tuesday.", said the Muse. "Okay. Can't help it. Seeing all of them makes me realize how we are all tied together by our needs...keep thinking about how lonely-" "Shut up, man. Look at that bird!", shouted the Muse. They watched a green and brown bird fly over to the ALCORN FENCE (the sign said so). The bird looked like it was scared for its life. It was continually fidgeting. It suddenly took off as if it would fly directly into another part of fence. It was small enough to fly through it and execute a perfect two-point grab onto the steel of the mesh. "Nice.", said the Muse. "He's showing off.", Mike said.
The Muse sat back on his couch and said, "You're jealous. He's hunting, man." The bird swooped down then and was lost in the brush beyond the car hood. "So, I'm supposed to be jealous of a bird hunting?", asked. Mike. "You know you are. You wish you could be free as he is." "You mean free to be afraid of someone swooping in and killing me?” “No. You want to do what he does. You want to have all this out here - not some stuffy office and stuffy life. Shit, you'd kill that bird if you had a gun. You'd try not to, of course, 'cause you wouldn't eat it. But, you'd try to get as close as you can without killing it - just for the sake of 'accuracy'. And if you shot it and it was wounded you couldn’t shoot it again. You'd just wish you had killed it so you wouldn't feel as bad as you would knowing it was suffering. You'd walk away from it feeling sick for a few minutes. Then when it's hobbled off someplace where you can't see it you'll be okay."
Mike took another drag with the Muse. He was interested in what he was saying. The Muse knew him in deep, dark ways, and unless he was in a giddy mode, Mike could listen to anything he had to say. "Shit, you're like one of those monsters down there. You just shove things from one place to another. You never pick anything -up.’ ”You' re weird today. What brought on all this anyway?", asked Mike. "I don't know. You're just a sniveling hypocrite sometimes. You ought to listen to me and keep your mouth shut.", said the Muse. "Hey, listen, the bird was beautiful.", Mike said. "No. It was just showing off.", said the Muse, getting up and pacing again. He wanted to know the time."
Look. There it is again. Can't you just imagine... shooting it now?" asked the Muse. "You're sick.", said Mike. "I'm a futurist. You better get used to it man. Imagine what life will be like in a few decades when there will be 360 billion of us running around. By that time you'll be real old and ready to die.", said the Muse. Mike countered, ”There won't be enough room to throw my ashes anywhere." "Yea, they'll have to bury you under that thing they're building down there. What's that?", said the Muse.
There were two brown masses moving far off in the wasteland by the riverbed. "What do you think that is?", asked Mike. The Muse showed him by zooming in on the scene. "How touching.", said the Muse. A Native American Indian was standing with full war paint and dress, patting a buffalo. A tear trickled down his cheek as he watched a machine tearing the earth in front of him. The men working there didn't even see the Indian. "Oh well. It was just another commercial.", said the Muse. "You're sick.", said Mike, still looking at the Indian. "Would you like to pick him off?", asked the Muse. "He's too far.", said Mike.
"What about the bird. It's in range.", teased the Muse. "Ah, screw you man.", thought Mike angrily. "Ah, huh. Now I know what's on your mind.", said the Muse laughing. "When isn't it on my mind somehow?", asked Mike. "Everything back to the old ‘common denominator’, huh? I noticed you were really interested in a couple of birds perched on the telephone poll a while ago. You kept thinking about some nonsense about how nice it would be to be innocent and free and in love and all that, as if all those things were possible at once?”, chortled the Muse. "Is nothing sacred or secret?", asked Mike. "No. Not with me.”, said the Muse, winking.
"Why don't you tell me about myself?", asked Mike. The Muse peered into his face and said, "I don't have to. You know already. It's just old now, You're confused a little bit, you know, huh? You sit around thinking about women. You think about the women you’ve known in the past when you’re really... no, I won’t say that word. It’s too ‘inaccurate’. You think about the woman you’ve been seeing, and occasionally sleeping with. What’s her name? Leila from the island in the Caribbean or someplace? But it's all one grand indulgence. You dream a lot. You're like that damn bird. You want to sit still for a while but you're afraid of getting shot...or is the word these days 'burned'?"
Mike stuck his arm out to dump some ashes. A cold, wet drop hit his arm. It had started to rain again. He kept his arm where it was. The creatures around him didn't seem to be too concerned about the discomfort caused by the liquid cold. It rained harder, but he kept his arm in the window until the cold became unbearable. He rolled up both windows and blew smoke cut of his mouth, blueing the air in the car. He looked out. The Indian was gone. The birds were gone. A sunflower bowed under the wind. A steel colored screen dropped between him and the mountains.
The cig will burn you if you don't do something with it soon.”, reminded the Muse. Mike rolled down the window and threw the cigarette out, then watched it to see that it didn't burn anything. "That's silly.”, chided the Muse.
Driving back, Mike commented to the Muse that he shouldn't have mentioned Leila. That way Mike wouldn't have to get wet. "Your Jamaican friend controls the weather now?", asked the Muse. "Not exactly. Remember, I’m happiest when I'm shoving things around. You said so yourself.", countered Mike. The Muse laughed. Mike got back to the building and looked out of the window of a door. It had stopped raining.
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!