INAC called. They want an interview. They have a job studying the far, far north and its indigineous people named Inuit. I need time. Time to hone my harpoon skills so like a Captain Ahab I can chuck a long distance spear into a great Moby Dick, tearing deep into its blubbery shell and hooking it and losing it like an elusive primordial prize in a free floating novel of a ship and death and megalomania on the high seas. I can sit and dream of another place. I can watch wandering ice floes floating far, far south into tropical sea currents where dolphins get packed together with tuna in small tin cans. I can know the north, its wildlife. I can chum around with bitter polar bears drinking cheap rotgut out of chipped porcelain coated cups in an oil lamp lit shed on a dank tundra, listening to 'em bitch about evolution and how they ended up in the upper shelf freezer of the world. I'll invite 'em south. I'll tell 'em to visit me in my capital city. We can drink porter ale and eat porter house steaks and poached salmon in an electric heated, climate control bar in a tony part of town. I can promise 'em women to stroke their thick white fur and squeeze tight their hard, naily paws. But what if this ain't the truth? What if this ain't the true north? What is my bad dream: a confluence of crazy caribous, bad-assed belugas, checkered past Inuit who tie me up at the point of a double barreled poisoned tip antler, calling in kamikaze killer black flies like a squadron of ace Captain Ahabs taking deadly swatches of my skin. Maybe my crazy mind is floating in and out. Maybe I can fake the interview with charm and wit and a stable and steady-as-she-goes lets not-rock-the-boat attitude . I'll be okay, for awhile. But the first time somebody drops a noisy paper clip on my desk I'll cry crazily stress leave and hop on a slow moving R and R ice floe to a Central American country with turquoise inlets and long shiny beaches. I'll lay in the soft sand under a canopy of palm trees, sipping golden rum, the rhythm of gentle Latin music playing harmoniously in my ears. I'll invite ebony hair women, bronzed toned with brilliant figures, to stroke me back to health, to squeeze my wanting paws. I'll praise the sun god and send 'wish you were here' postcards to my polar bear buddies and hope life can go on and on and on....an eternity of the mind.
I did something strange today, something out of order from my usual way of doing of things. But before I say what that was, I'll say what I do as a routine every morning. Like most people I awake from a sleep at the sound of my alarm clock, opening my covers and lifting myself from bed. I'll stretch my spine, shake my head twice or thrice, yawn widely and then begin to put on my clothes: shirts, belts, pants, socks, etc. Of course I leave my shoes for last, carefully wedging my feet into them by using a foot long sturdy metal shoe horn with an ersatz ivory handle. This morning I did all that, all but the putting on of my black leather brogues. Instead, and here is the strange part, I just stared at them. (I would imagine I was as transfixed as any zombie). I gave a precise look at each hole in the brogue pattern. My eyes followed the leather creases that come with natural wear. I looked at the stitched welt, the crisscross of the shoelaces, and peered into the shoe where its leather last looked solid and adequately constructed. These are fine shoes, English made. I treat them well, making certain they are properly cleaned and polished, always replenishing them with good moisturizing lotions. I shine the leather with a quality horse hair brush in steady side to side swiping motions until they give a luminous reflection. And I do what most people forget: I hide them from dust where its small inhabitants live to eat away at the stitching. But this morning I just stared at them--minute after minute until my eyes strained, until my mind grew weary. Finally, with the aid of a shoehorn, I put my feet in the shoes, wiggled my toes, shifted my weight, and went out into the dawn air. Once outside I did as I do every morning: I stood on a dusty patch and with the tip of my right shoe I drew a line in the sand. Then with a confident step I crossed the line and walked through the rest of the day.
It's just after midnight on a Monday morning and I haven't been drinking. But maybe I should have been. You read the news? You seen the talking heads, the pundits, the oracles of doom? You been turnin' the stock pages or hangin' with Dow Jones at a Wall Street bar with his financial buddy CEOs holdin' court on their own greed and malfeasance, drinking a last whiskey sour before G-Men with warrants slap cuffs on 'em like they been bootlegging bathtub gin? We're goin' back, back into that Great Depression. And I don't mean the cascading emotion types with its deprived childhoods and onerous shrinks pumping your blood with serotonin boosters and talking sunshine rote about positive emotions and a gratitude for a happy attitude. No. I'm talking economic ruination. Countries falling like dominoes. Continents sucked into a sinkhole of unclimbable walls of dirty debt. Crooked politicians hiding in opulent castles with high tech lasers shooting down the rabble of hardscrabble babbling losers who with waining strength try to reclaim and resecure what's theirs with swinging bindle sticks and Woody Guthrie songs of revolt singing inside their heads. I'm talking about lonely dark streets with swarms of wavering humanity: the walkin' starvin', the waifs sleeping amidst piles of garbage, the young spawning like sockeye salmon in wet alleys, the babies born on shards of shiny glass. I'm talking about big shot financier's still in their Brooks Brothers pima cotton shirts ladling gruel at a soup kitchen cuz' that's all the job they can get when their CVs ain't worth the mega pixels they're printed on.
But I'll make it. I got a good pair of leather shoes and strong legs, and I'll walk and walk and if the opportunity is there I'll hop that train and ride that rail, because the last destination is hope. And if there ain't no hope, then I'll work in the government.