Jones Goes to College, Part Two
Charlie Jones could be one helluva fire-breather. We'll never know for sure. When most folks looked at him straight on, all they saw was a glimpse of something vast and watery, momentarily compressed into the shape and size of clown made from his father's enchiladas and his mother's latkes.
If Jones liked you, he'd more than likely let you do most of the talking. He’d sit back listening and fiddling around with his pipe. Occasionally Charlie would check for burn holes on his shirt while you went on about any old thing. He'd end up by winking at the dogs setting next to him before smiling wanly and shaking your hand gently.
And if he didn't like you, he would interrupt constantly and make grand and obscure literary allusions designed to imply disdain for the supposed rottenness of the entire species of hairless apes of which he was a reluctant member. On such occasions, he was operating under the assumption that we were all charlatans, payasos and schmendriks rolled up into a garbage scow that was way to big to be floated down the Rio Grande without some significant damage being done to the surrounding natural environment.
That was Charlie's power with silence and with words. It was some gift.
So, it wasn't any sort of surprise when one of his associates discovered the dude had altered history by leaving some events dangling in a story he had recently posted.
The fellow who discovered the temporal anomaly just happened to be a luminescent, transdimensional plasma being. His name was unpronounceable. He reckoned that if Jones left things in his tale the way they were, the result would be a global nuclear conflagration in the year 2137.
The disaster would be caused by miscommunication about replacement refrigerator compressor trade between the Republic of Texas and the Confederation of Coastal Chicanos – which, by the way, would one day span the distance from the east bank of the Rio Grande clear on over to the Pacific Ocean.
Charlie got the news by telephone while he was listening to some chamber music by Johannes Brahms and reading the Surgeon General's warning on a pack of low tar cigarettes.
“Godammit,” he told his parallel universe-jumping pal, “I can't say what really went down because Burque is tiny, sabes? It might cause some discomfort. Even if I change the names around and all that jazz,” he gravely intoned—as the wind rattled around the wires and the connection so that there was a sort of electrical crackle coming through the headset—“people will know.”
“You don't want to cause a war,” hissed the entity on the other side of the trunk, so why don’t you just finish the story.”
Enticed and compelled in a manner that may one day be cinematically depicted by a medium shot of the planet Jupiter and its inner moons floating grandly in space, Jones transmitted the following addendum, known here, for archival purposes, as Jones Goes to College, Part Two:
One Saturday afternoon, a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving and when December had just begun to creep into New Mexico upon flat clouds, when the short days seemed to be pulled down low, Zelda showed up at Harvard House.
She was sitting in a rickety Ford pickup truck with a bent-up hood and smoky exhaust. The damned thing was being driven by a chap by the name of Leon. In between the two sat Ruth.
“Come on,” Zelda whispered to Jones, “come on up to the Jemez with us, we are going to Spence Hot Springs.” They drove north and Leon was drunk. The gals laughed a lot. Charlie wondered if there was anything better on the radio than the tape they were listening to, which was something by a band named after a faraway continent.
The four of them got to the mountains and stumbled around in the dark for about an hour. They only had one flashlight. Charlie finally located the springs by using a lensmatic compass with a radium dial and a map he had picked up at the gas station in San Ysidro.
It was cold and raining small ice crystals that night but they gingerly undressed anyway. Navigating to the edge of the pool, each entered it with great fragility and unconscious circumspection.
For thirty minutes none of the bathers spoke or looked up into the night sky or at each other—except for Leon. He was boracho. He kept taking liver-blistering hits from a bottle of Canadian Club and winking at the other three. Charlie knew it was time to go when Leon yacked all over his own pile of clothes while trying to retrieve a frajo from his jean jacket.
On the way back they heard Led Zeppelin III playing on 94 Rock. It was amazing what you could hear at four in the morning, Jones mused as the city of Albuquerque floated into view.
For a little while after that, Charlie hung out with Zelda. That mostly meant she'd come by Harvard House where they would make out frantically while Jones’ roommates painted abstract pictures or read National Lampoon in the living room.
But they never really bonded. Charlie realized that something was wrong after he took Zelda to see Dune at the Hiland Theater. Zelda refused to take her gloves off during the show and squirmed uncomfortably in her seat when the Guild Navigators were on screen.
On New Year's Eve, Zelda and Jones went to a party. She was late; he went through a sixer of Mickey's Big Mouth Malt Liquor in the meantime. Both of those humans were very far away from each other by the time they met up and so they mostly lost track of one another at the party. On the way home, Charlie yacked all over Zelda and passed out in the passenger seat of her new car.
That would have been that, but Charlie wanted the last word, just like the narrator told you at the beginning of all of this.
It was January and snowing like hell. Jones borrowed a car to drive up to the Heights where Zelda was staying. On the way he picked up a day-old bouquet of flowers at Allsups. As he was turning into her driveway, Charlie wrecked the car, a green Ford station wagon that had previously been used to haul around golf course equipment somewhere in Maryland. She came down to look at the wreck but acted like she didn't know Jones at all. She wondered aloud who he was and why he had chosen her house.
Charlie was sober. The auto had insurance. The cops let him go. Jones retreated silently, gracefully back to the student ghetto and waited for the spring semester to begin.
The next summer, Charlie heard that Leon had been crippled in a motorcycle accident, that Zelda was living two streets away with a serial womanizer and drunk, that Ruth had gone off to Sarah Lawrence to study anthropology. And all he'd done since was write and study, taking occasional breaks to stare at the sunlight coming through the front window in between times.
Some 152 years later, near the spot where Jones pondered the significance of meta-fiction in American literature, a great war was narrowly averted.
Jemez in the Heart
Sunday, Apr 17: Jemez Pueblo Artisan Fair
The Daily Word in the tragic end of a bartending career, the dawn of a white minority and a reprieve for some Texas abortion clinics
An appeals court has resuscitated the Jemez Pueblo's claim on the Valle Caldera in the Jemez Mountains.
Because of Monday's Supreme Court decision, 10 Texas abortion clinics slated to close will remain open. For now.
"Legs really don't work": the Action Man series of battlefield casualties action figures.
One of the United States' last all-wood baseball stadiums burned to the ground in a dramatic 30 minute blaze yesterday.
Justin Bieber is changing his life thanks to a Pentecostal church in Australia.
The Daily Word in hot schools in the Midwest, California's Rim Fire and lava lamps
Congress and the White House are still trying to decide whether or not to launch a limited military strike against Syria for using chemical weapons on civilians last month.
One-year-old Antiq Hennis was shot in the head and killed Sunday night in Brooklyn, NY. According to sources, the bullet was meant for this father, Anthony Hennis.
For those who are taking a break this Labor Day and reading Fifty Shades of Grey, the two main stars of the movie adaptation were announced.
California's Rim Fire is still raging, and many fear for the lives of the cattle that graze those lands.
It's getting hot in here, so can I please go home?
The search still continues for missing firefighter, Token Adams, who went missing on Friday afternoon when he failed to report to his crew at a “pre-planned meeting point” when responding to a fire in the Jemez.
Five people (including two children and a pregnant woman) died this Labor Day weekend in car crashes around the state.
Hey Londoners, go get you some lava lamps. They turn 50 tomorrow!
7 Wet Wonders
Where the water is
Wet weather is good for mushroom hunters.
All this wet weather has brought a nice showing of mushrooms in New Mexico. This enthusiast had the good fortune to attend a dinner party where the featured item was an eight pound Cauliflower mushroom from the south east area of the Valle Grande in Jemez mountains. A beautiful tangy and earthy scent emanated from this specimen, which was regarded by many to have the segmented appearance of a brain. It sliced like a Stilton, loose and hearty. It was cooked to perfection in a broth by the host who then proceeded to feature the fungus in a lovely Beef stroganoff on egg noodles. A chardonnay complemented the delicate, buttery flesh of this outstanding find.
Disclaimer: do not eat anything without the guidance of an experienced mushroom hunter.
The Daily Word 06.11.10: Oil spill, World Cup, digital billboards, living beyond your means
Obama's old NYC apartment is for rent.
New Orleans oyster company, America's oldest at 134 years old, closes.
Brides are canceling their beach weddings along the gulf coast.
Teenage solo sailer Abby Sunderland was located in the Indian Ocean.
The World Cup is here, and people are jazzed about soccer, ahem, futbol.
It's Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday—here are some zings under zee zea.
Were pre-historic sea monsters warm-blooded?
Floods kill 12 in Arkansas.
City councilor Issac Benton wants to ban digital billboards because they're ugly and a traffic distraction.
In New Mexico it's now OK to pass out drunk in your car if you don't intend to drive.
A 24-year-old talks about her first trip to an AA meeting.
The narcotic effects of video games.
Financial crisis: How the U.S. was allowed and encouraged to live beyond its means.
New Mexico may want the poor to pay for their own health insurance.
Seems like it would be hard to do tricks in a Celtics cheerleader uniform.
Weather: Highs in the mid-'80s over the weekend.