Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jesup, part the eighteenth, army men

and here is ron johnson his momma his daddy they’re walking down the corridor to visit with saint peter himself perched up on his barstool hunched over his scrivener's desk his beard tinged on the edges with splotches of blue black ink dripped shaken splattered a bottle of bourbon cork removed sitting half empty next to the thick large ledger from which he manages the fates of all those who enter who approach who come crawling in on fraying threads of hope never mind that he is

a love supreme

he is old he may forget to forgive us this day our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

don’t you know by and by the bible beckons to ron johnson

it whispers the pages flutter softly in the breeze that seeps through the cracked window sills begs through and wraps itself around the ceiling fan that spins it round and round and round till it disperses sprinkles down to deep breaths desperate for the slight movement the slight disturbance to the stillness that suffocates

ron johnson he breathes deeply from beneath the white cotton sheet opens himself up to god

he resists at first but the bitch just overcomes overwhelms

and he simply rolls over takes her down from his bookshelf it's up there with all the other books he has he takes it down he likes the feel of the pages the way they flitter fly float paper so thin sometimes he thinks he could

as a last resort

in desperate times

jesus would understand don't you know

as a last resort he might

tear out a page from one of the lesser books maybe revelations or jeremiah roll himself a joint inhale some ink of the holy well kind green bud laced with peace love understanding and grace

and fire
and brimstone
and signs of the devil

a compass of things to come

yeah sometimes he thumbs through the bible this little bible the new king james version he goes straight for the gospels he digs the gospels he digs them most

the gospels sugar that's where it's at

the water to wine the loving of whores the raising of the dead the beatitudes

ah the beatitudes so simple so lovely

ron johnson he scratches his balls scratches his head asks himself where did we leave them behind under what burning bush did we sweep them away how did we go from blessed be the peacemakers to onward christian soldiers

ron johnson he don't understand it

he just wonders where else there is to go what else is there to do except maybe wrap barbed wire about his waist put rocks in his shoes lash himself in the darkness of his room at night oh to know the pain of jesus ron johnson he used to love him so where is she now

come to me jesus let me tell you let me tell you how i feel let me tell you about the stories i love the most

ron johnson he loves that one story that walking on the water thing it makes ron johnson a bit jealous a bit envious in that little kid wanting to have super powers that desire to wiggle his nose and make shit happen he wants that make it hap'n cap'n feeling yeah he wishes he could walk on water slip and slide and saunter and two step across the aquifer hip hop hydroponically have the water tickle his toes like the plushest green lawn on a springtime south georgia morning

blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see god

amen bless us all jesus

amen bless us all south georgia

aw lawdy lawdy way down in south georgia

water water everywhere
not a drop to drink
soil so rich beneath our feet
all we do is sink

blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom

ron johnson today this day walking before the judge he is indeed poor in spirit

ron johnson he sits on the bench outside the courtroom him momma on his left his daddy on his right he leans his head back he closes his eyes

oh sally what you do

oh sally where is your kingdom is this your kingdom

ron johnson his aunt betty his momma’s sister she who half raised him when his momma was working over at the hospital his aunt betty they were waiting for his aunt betty to come join them in the courtroom

for moral support for financial support

blessed are the poor in spirit

and she his aunt betty this is her kingdom he knows it’s her kingdom she rules her kingdom down here in this little part of south georgia where jesup is the county seat stuck right here in the middle of the county a confederate soldier a sentry standing guard in the middle of the town square protecting the citizenry from the angry hordes swarming from the north

and she ain't gonna have no blessings happen unless it come through her and this glorious morning

and there is aunt betty long ago she stands at the bottom of the stairs hands on her hips those broad hips those hips plumply plentiful soft and round motherly and matronly sporting a white apron an off-white apron exhibiting a long ago coffee stain a stain brown and splotchy and looking like a rippling rorschach test imagined by some early times sipping driver to be a dead armadillo splattered battered betwixt and about the yellow lines on the back road to the coast not far from the wayne county line run over seventy two times by thirty six cars all in a line on a tuesday morning funeral procession out to the family cemetery

she aunt betty she stands at the bottom of the stairs hands on her hips looking up at ron johnson he’s at the top of the stairs he’s holding a big old cardboard box he’s got a crossman pump action pellet gun and a bolt action twenty two rifle slung over his shoulder cousin jimmy he's standing behind him he's holding a double barrel twenty gauge shotgun and a satchel full of shells and pellets and packs of matches and a big can of lighter fluid

it's a july morning

of ron johnson’s twelfth summer jimmy he's had four more than ron

she ron’s aunt betty his cousin jimmy’s mom she stands at the bottom of the stairs hands on her hips looking up at them she's blocking their way they have no choice but to listen to what she has to say

she ron’s aunt betty she always got something to say the only time ron ain't seen his aunt betty talking she be sleeping in that big old brass bed holding court in the morning hours or in that big old fluffy chaise with the tee vee section of the newspaper folded in her lap the lip stick stained coffee cup on the table next to the lamp

his aunt betty ron johnson’s aunt betty she stands at the bottom of the stairs her hands on her hips she says taking a deep breath that causes her to shiver just a little bit a shiver and shake from her toes to her upper lip her fatty fabric rolling in that undulating way like the fans do at the football stadium standing up sitting down doing the wave she says taking that deep breath drawn from the depths of her pre-diabetic state

she says

standing at the bottom of the stairs her hands on her hips she says james robert where in the sam hill do you think you're going

ron johnson he’s holding a box a big ol box bigger than his twelve year old arms can manage a roman candle poking its tubular presence out into the world sniffing the air like a puppy crawling out from beneath the bed after peeing on mom's new persian rug its wet little nose sniffing for safety looking for love

hell ain’t everyone

several strings of firecrackers flowing up and out bunches of bottle rockets all rubber banded together like stalks of broccoli at the piggly wiggly the rattle rattle shake shake of plastic army men tanks cannons and assorted replicas of violent childhood dreams hundreds of grey and green soldiers posed in positions varied and vericose

each step carefully taken down toward auntie gestapo

she who imprisons and tortures her children with saccharin permissiveness with blissful ignorance with what she don't know can't harm her position within the community can't take away her seat at the bridge table can't embarrass her with idle gossip poolside at the club who tortures them with the blessed sanctity of deep down not really giving a shit because she can't because she lost the battle years ago because the south georgia seventies swept over her in a tsunami she can't get used to that offers no possibility of solace

and ron johnson he walks timidly down the steps toward aunt betty as timidly as jimmy is cocky the son who long ago learned to shine on mom and dad a cornfed eddie haskel taken to shuck and jive well before it had ever drifted out of the hood and down to a grand greasy haired wiggerdom of country fried meth addicts

slowly ron johnson he turns walking timidly down the steps step by step inch by inch sliding past aunt betty mumbling good morning aunt betty she looking down at him tsk tsk'ing saying you eat breakfast ronnie yes ma'am aunt betty she watching him slide on by looking over her shoulder tsk tsk'ing saying what'd you have cereal and milk she saying she looking at him walk on out toward the kitchen she saying you clean up yes ma'am aunt betty

she has all the mannerisms of the negro mammy who stands in front of the stupid helpless tom the cat stands in front of him her arms crossed the end of a rolling pin gripped by one hand an aunt jemima kerchief about her hair a black high heeled pump tap tapping on the formica floor whacks that stupid cat with the rolling pin right there on afternoon cartoons tom and jerry every afternoon that cat gets the shit beat out of it

ron johnson he’s waiting for her to whack jimmy on the back of the head if not with the missing rolling pin with at least the palm of her hand as he saunters on by too cocky for a swagger saunters on by she still demanding just where in the sam hill do you think you're going jimmy he turns still walking backward clutching the satchel with exasperation and a shrug he says with all the sullenness and meanness that a sixteen year old can muster for his mother

we're going to the quarry we're going to set up all these army men and tanks and things and we're going to blow the hell out of them and shoot the shit out of them and then we might light them on fire

and ron’s aunt betty she says red faced she says i'm sure your father will have something to say about this

and jimmy he's sure he will too but that's many hours from now he cannot let the future rule his present rule his presence

and ron he’s waiting outside when jimmy comes storming out onto the back porch the screen door slam slam slamming behind him its squeaky spring wheezing into silence

between the smacks
between the smacks
between the smacks

they tear out of the drive in jimmy’s sixty six impala ess ess the three ninety six the holly six fifty the hooker headers the thrush dual exhaust

and the chrome

oh baby all that chrome

ron johnson he thinks oh lord let’s testify ron johnson he wants to testify

he wants to roll around on the pulpit the preacher putting his hand to his forehead he wants to feel the spirit flow through him he wants to speak his word he wants to chant his word he wants to echo his word speak in tongue to all his creatures

ron johnson he wants his world walls to be solid he wants them to be firm and supportive lawdy lawdy ron johnson he thinks lord don’t let me down send me a message i just want to testify all i want all i need is some sort of sign

a confederate flag painted on the trunk of the impala a confederate flag dangling from his key chain a confederate flag wrapped around their hearts them white folk they got to cling to something the whole world wobbles and george wallace he done been shot

blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted

they drive up to the quarry by way of a long dirt road signs at the turnoff stating declaring that it the dirt road it's county maintained the tires spin slightly as they leave the tar and gravel land on the hard pack dirt they leave a trail of dust in their wake

they are two of the four horsemen there are four hundred more beneath the hood

twenty minutes later they pull up to the massive clay pit rolling slowly over bump and bowl the slow rumble of the three quarter crane cam rolling rolling like an idling ski boat

bada bada
bada bada
bada bada

they lug the boxes out ron johnson jimmy they spend a couple of hours setting up the army men arranging the little plastic figures along battle lines in and amongst the rocks and twigs and holes and mounds of dirt jimmy has the green guys from these here united states of america ron johnson he’s the grey the nasty nazis he is representing all that is reprehensible and wrong

it's a dangerous world out there beyond jesup their town cousin jimmy telling ron it don't matter all hell is going to break loose anyway

and so it is and so it will be

ron johnson he set up his artillery along a canyon wall he places a tank battalion moving in across a dusty plain he positions forward snipers embedded in the woods he employs armored carriers and troops moving in from a shadowy flank jimmy he has the high ground he's dug in sort of a guns of navaronne in reverse

there is the calm before the storm there is a silence before the battle

they start with the pellet gun each taking turns picking off a man here a man there a man there are probably five hundred men maybe more they bore of the painfully slow death the one at a time the tick the tock of the executioner's clock ain't nobody going to win this way they begin tossing firecrackers one at a time getting some satisfaction when one lands amidst a group of soldiers in front of a tank alongside a troop carrier

jimmy tosses an em eighty leaving a crater the size of a texas grapefruit ron he buries one at the bottom of jimmy’s fortress lighting the fuse watching part of his wall crumble

too bad they don't make the plastic filled with red goo they want carnage the more they kill the more they want to kill

they twist up several firecrackers and don't even bother with turns throwing them randomly about when they think about it shooting wildly with pellet gun and twenty two jimmy aims a roman candle and lays waste to ron johnson’s front line ron johnson he throws a barrage of bottle rockets at jimmy’s cliff

lo and the walls a'come a'tumblin' down

the smell of gunpowder stings the eyes a tear flows down ron’s cheek he gasps to catch his breath he pauses

between the smacks
between the smacks
between the smacks

blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

ron johnson he puts down his pellet gun he tosses aside his box of matches jimmy he looks at his little cousin ron he says hey we're not finished we're not done ron johnson he says hey i'm done ron johnson he kicks back he takes a seat on his haunches looking staring wheezing coughing jimmy he says hey we're not finished jimmy he's older he's wiser he whispers his own words of wisdom to ron in the darkness of his room at night

jimmy he ain't done

jimmy he takes the lighter fluid he sprays it all over the battle field soaks the clay soaks the plastic men soaks the tanks and cannons and accoutrements of warfare strewn about them he runs a liquid trail back to where ron johnson sits he stands in front of ron and ron johnson he didn't notice then but now walking down the courthouse hallway now walking through those big doors in ron johnson’s memories when he looks back in that looking glass

when he stares at his soul between breaths of an acid trip he sees them now the little horns those pointy curvy little horns poking up from beneath his shaggy seventies south georgia hair

jimmy he grins he grimaces he tosses a match between ron’s legs

the quick poof of a flame licks ron’s balls

and shoots back down toward the battlefield engulfs the men ron he thinks he hears them scream he knows that now today in the early mornings that time between darkness and sunrise when dreams weigh heavy so heavy he can't wake up he hears them scream

they melt slowly they melt

the gaseous fumes mixing with the hot july day it's all hazy like when clint eastwood wanders out of the desert to begin yet another spaghetti western the good the bad the ugly

they watch for a little while five seconds thirty seconds a couple of minutes some ground cover it catches fire smokes smolders hisses pops ron johnson gets up walks over to the twenty gauge leaning against the car

pump it once aims and pulls the trigger

a holy cacophony reverberates through the canyon through the quarry the number seven bird shot devastating the hillside bits and parts of plastic and mud and clay and dead flora explode and rain down upon them

he pumps it again aims and pulls the trigger

this time the explosion not as loud perhaps they’re half deaf from the first another wave of humanity disintegrates before their eyes another slice of the earth pulverized

blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied

ron johnson he hungers he thirsts he yearns for righteousness he opens his eyes he looks over at his momma he looks up at his daddy he whispers believe me lord trust me jesus just show me a sign and i will testify

where else they gonna go what else they gonna do except maybe wrap barbed wire about their waist put rocks in their shoes lash themselves in the darkness of their room at night oh to know the pain of jesus ron johnson he do love him so where is she now

ron johnson he opens his eyes he looks over at his momma he looks up at his daddy he whispers come to me jesus let me tell you let me tell you how i feel let me tell you about the stories i love the most

that one story that one part he loves that walking on the water thing it makes him a bit jealous a bit envious in that little kid wanting to have super powers that desire to wiggle his nose and make shit happen he wants that make it hap'n cap'n feeling yeah he wishes he could walk on water slip and slide and saunter and two step across the aquifer hip hop hydroponically have the water tickle his toes like the plushest green lawn on a springtime south georgia morning

blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

their job their duty done they pick up the empty shells they leave the dead on the field of battle they pack their guns and they head on home

bada bada
bada bada
bada bada

a dusty trail in their wake

ron johnson he looks back he whispers oh lord oh lawdy help me to walk on water jesus help us all

1 comment:

Victoria said...

not sure why, but this part of jessup just jessupped me a whole lot more than usual. 'favorite song for life' in my journal. yes, it played like a song for me to read it.