Saturday, November 10, 2007

~Ivan by Dragon~

I knew Uncle Ivan's shell, a withered corn husk wired to boxes that beeped and scratched evidence of his half-life. The few words he spoke were obscene. I filed those expletives for further examination even as my mom hustled me out to the candy machine.

He hung on for a decade.

And then, knowing there is nothing a teenage boy likes better than cleaning, Mom sent me to Ivan's abandoned cabin. Angry at the loss of my summer freedom, I threw dust-covered artefacts willy-nilly onto the lawn, delighting in the sound of broken glass. Then I stopped to look.

There was a 12-inch-long hunting knife with a keen edge and a bloodstained handle. Guns, countless guns in the bathroom, the kitchen, the foyer. A wardrobe holding 6 moldy tuxedos. A box of women's underwear. Used women's underwear. Desk drawers stuffed with stock certificates, land deeds, smoldering love letters dated 50 years ago. Large diamond rings for men's hands. Pornographic German magzines. Animal bones. A full set of mechanic's wrenches. Eight identically bulky and ancient walkie-talkies. Now I excavated the past, tripping over a child's rocking horse and life-sized framed photograph of a naked woman, until I reached the motherlode, the vein of precious metal: in the bedroom, 100 notebooks, neat handwriting, a life.

Diamond mines in Africa, gold mines in Canada, opal mines in Austalia, Uranium mines in the desert. Smuggling in South America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East. Political leaders and mafia bosses, merchants and marines, professors and scientists. Women on every continent, including Antartica.

There was nothing Uncle Ivan had not seen, nothing he had not done. The sum total of all that drives a man filled the lined pages. On the filthy bare boxspring, I read until the light failed, and dreamed myself an adventurer pursued by the French Legion, the mob, a thousand woman, state secrets locked to my wrist, a fortune in gemstones sewn into my collar, until my cell phone buzzed me back into my own prosaic reality.

My mother worried on the other end. "This could take a while," I told her. The power had been cut years ago, but I found a kerosene lamp and read on.

***Such wonderful, telling, chewy details.***

2 comments:

Dragon said...

I knew Uncle Ivan's shell, a withered corn husk wired to boxes that beeped and scratched evidence of his half-life. The few words he spoke were obscene. I filed those expletives for further examination even as my mom hustled me out to the candy machine.

He hung on for a decade.

And then, knowing there is nothing a teenage boy likes better than cleaning, Mom sent me to Ivan's abandoned cabin. Angry at the loss of my summer freedom, I threw dust-covered artefacts willy-nilly onto the lawn, delighting in the sound of broken glass. Then I stopped to look.

There was a 12-inch-long hunting knife with a keen edge and a bloodstained handle. Guns, countless guns in the bathroom, the kitchen, the foyer. A wardrobe holding 6 moldy tuxedos. A box of women's underwear. Used women's underwear. Desk drawers stuffed with stock certificates, land deeds, smoldering love letters dated 50 years ago. Large diamond rings for men's hands. Pornographic German magzines. Animal bones. A full set of mechanic's wrenches. Eight identically bulky and ancient walkie-talkies.

Now I excavated the past, tripping over a child's rocking horse and life-sized framed photograph of a naked woman, until I reached the motherlode, the vein of precious metal: in the bedroom, 100 notebooks, neat handwriting, a life. Diamond mines in Africa, gold mines in Canada, opal mines in Austalia, Uranium mines in the desert. Smuggling in South America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East. Political leaders and mafia bosses, merchants and marines, professors and scientists. Women on every continent, including Antartica.

There was nothing Uncle Ivan had not seen, nothing he had not done. The sum total of all that drives a man filled the lined pages. On the filthy bare boxspring, I read until the light failed, and dreamed myself an adventurer pursued by the French Legion, the mob, a thousand woman, state secrets locked to my wrist, a fortune in gemstones sewn into my collar, until my cell phone buzzed me back into my own prosaic reality.

My mother worried on the other end. "This could take a while," I told her. The power had been cut years ago, but I found a kerosene lamp and read on.

Cynthia said...

The train window was was so dirty it was almost opaque, and the effect gave him an illusive air. He chose to travel by an old-fashioned mode, one which would slowly take him away. As she waved good-bye, holding onto the leather bound book, he chose to simply look at her.

Maria met Joseph at her library after he gave a reading. His book was about traveling through suburbia and how one could still find interesting things to do in towns where the main events were PTA meetings and parades.

Waiting in line, Maria thought about what she would say when it was her turn. "How did you come up with this idea? How long do you stay in each town? What software do you use?"

It was her turn and she had nothing. Maria looked into his eyes and blurted, "How did you know what I was thinking?"

Joseph looked at her and led her away.

Over the next few weeks, she found out he got the idea because he grew up in suburbia, but never fit in. She didn't find out what software he used. She found out he stayed just long enough.

As he was packing, and Maria was crying for him to stay, he handed her a leather book.

"Don't open it now. Wait."

The train was gone. Maria opened the book. On the first page Joseph had written, "The outside is leather and strong. The inside is paper - blank and disposable. Use both."