A Field Trip for Feldspar
On the day of the full moon following Christmas Eve, Feldspar Dickens decided to end what was left of his life. Long live, live and let live, live free or die—switch up the phrases as you wish, they ring exceedingly hollow after a couple of trials. He hid in boxes in attics, under bottle tops in pantries, in the folds of towels near Jacuzzis, and never found an ounce of sympathy between their television time, arguments and obligatory visits to the city symphony.
Once gone, nobody cried for an extended amount of time; forgetting him was easy even if you did not try. He tried his best to be envious of their nihilism, their faux pride. But, he never expected much from that bunch of self-celebrating lepers; his eccentricities distanced him and they consulted upscale therapists.
Truly, it wasn’t a tough decision considering the appellation he assumed was never, in the hard-luck-hewn humility of his oh-so-holy opinion, quite right or fitting. Well-informed orphans seldom outgrow the anger that comes from the mystery of missing origins.
So, after scrutinizing many cases of kidnappings and faked deaths in a wealth of reputable detective magazines, he decided to disappear. He discarded his usual red robe and ash grey sweat pants, donned a loincloth of buffalo hide and put on a fez. With this disguise he left for Belize on the back of a cabbage truck with a paper sack full of cash, his pet parakeet “Ribbit” and a receipt for his pressed articles at the Laundromat. The clothes, of course, he would never receive. But he was a sentimental sort, so he cherished the pretense like parents cherish a night away from the noxious presence of their teens. With this thought boiling his brain near to seething, he bit into an onion he picked up alongside an intersection (since he was self-sufficient, so the legend goes) and began to lovingly eat it layer by layer like a careful paleontologist peeking through sediments for a glimpse at an ancient alligator.
Thudding along the chip sealed stretch of an out-of-the-way highway, he daily dreamt of the graceful plantations full of fruit, the mercenary pursuits, the heavy lidded Rastafarians in their threadbare suits, the mad Gauguin drawn women offering him endless tumblers of sweet rum with perfectly perverse British accents. He imagined uniform cuneiform currency and streets full of corrupt soldiers forced to act as petty drug dealers. Each of these fellows vaguely resembled Marlon Brando with a pinch of James Dean and James Earl Jones. They were hungry, mean and croaked out anguished poetry in deep but feeble voices. He would defeat these tragic but willful villains; he would outshine them all, become a classic hero of the people. He would manage his own myth and crush those who opposed. He would be a leader, alone at the top, a man the women whisper of whenever they gathered together to gossip of impossible love.
Shortly, his hamstrings stung and his head rung with a lack of oxygen. He had been kneeling near the edge of the truck bed for too long. Stretching out the lachrymose length of his legs he telepathically addressed a head of lettuce that had rolled near his knee. He felt ashamed. His ability to communicate was never great, chiefly with those members of his so-called family that he was expected to appreciate.
He felt most comfortable with Nature; animate or inanimate, it was all the same. Most of all he craved the sort of adventure that novels mandate. His self-conscious grimace bent into a thin grin as he turned towards the resting place of his friend, the parakeet.
Ribbit, although far from livid, seemed annoyed with the disturbance. He bit at Feldspar with a vengeance. Nip by nip he went for the boy’s lips like a drunken stripper out for a tip. Feldspar tried to calm the bird with assuring then stern words. It would not quit darting at him; so he ripped off a single leaf of cabbage in an attempt to manage the situation without reverting to the severest self-defense. Upon ripping this mere shred of the lettuce, the truck driver of produce and fugitives, one Mr. Otis, slowed down a gear and took angry notice. He whipped the truck onto a scenic overlook a mile or so north of the offense and asked Feldspar to hit the bricks. He did this without the least pang of guilt. There is no honor among thieves, nor any onus among between an adult’s motives and a boy’s needs. Feldspar, dejected and concerned about his mission, looked down into the Pacific and then leapt like a lemming.
With this abrupt change in the otherwise elegant arrangement of things, Feldspar awoke to find his sweat pants soaking wet. He, with wet sweats and all, was at the entrance of the Museum of Natural Science, sitting next to Niles Jennings, his horrid, sworn enemy and assigned buddy for the tour of famously pasted together dinosaurs. He was sweating. He felt dizzy. About face, face first, face the music—these sayings hurt his sense of worth. He cooled himself, quit worrying. Surely Ms. Furman would understand his need to wander the exhibit alone. Surely she would trust his judgment and mark him as one proven capable of going solo. But, no—no, she insisted that mortal enemies get to know one another upon terms they found most agreeable, preferably in a place filled with historical awe and bits of bones. No: he would not commit himself under such conditions to grace the presence of such a soul.
Admittedly “Nil”, as he called Niles, had been his half brother for a while. Without a doubt, he had harbored secret feelings of brotherly love for the otherwise inhuman boy. But still, and still again, this did not excuse Ms. Furman’s interference. He had plans, fantastic narratives to attend. He had subjects, objects to consider. He had had it up to here with his her and his father, that happy-go-lucky something or other who had made all of humanity his next of kin or at least his distant cousin by being the hardest working man in that particular kind of show business. Tucking his tussled government textbook into his book bag, he dealt a daring glance at the face of the fellow next to him. He imagined it was his own form for a minute and cast into a bog to preserve its innocence. Maybe tomorrow he would strike out for South America. For now he would hide the boy’s lunch somewhere near the radiator and ask him to sing some dumb song and dance like a ninny along the sidewalk in order to find out where it was hidden. Christmas may have been over, but he was still in the spirit of giving. As the stationary bus grumbled, jerking diesel fumes into his lungs, his fingers crept for an eternity towards the victim he presumed his own.
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