from The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas

Chapter Thirty-Five  DEPRESSION

Tom Gravel died in childbirth at the age of 61.

Wouldn’t it be nice to relay the joke Marie Fire in Flight repeated to the crowd at her baby Tom’s funeral, Tom’s favorite joke, about the little Injun boy who asks his ma how they get their names, and she says, well, after we give birth we have to stay and recuperate in the teepee for a while, sometimes a few days, and so when we finally get to go outside first thing we see we name our child after, what makes you ask this question, Two-Dogs-Fucking?, and some would laugh, some weep, Marie Fire in Flight, her voice a whisper beseeching the mountains for breeze, they would all understand, they would all understand what this meant to mother and son, who lived as much apart from folk as they decently could while still hoping to sell them horses long after they had sold the joint in town, lived so far apart it was a rare event for Tom to meet a single woman, rarer still for the thought of her being single and he, too, and so they could, that rare was the sex act once he had reached his thirties and old were his horse breaking bones when the shy, slender, barren some would say, Ethel Rothgerte fell for him before the menopause that overtook her features at age 19 but not her body until after the birth her husband had tragically attended of her son, fell so hard she asked him to marry her, upon which shocking moment of event Tom asked, what’s your name missus, I ought to know that if I’m going to marry you, for Marie Fire in Flight was not the least concerned with extending a family line or coddling a grandson, enough of life having signaled smokey to her from what all she knew and all what beyond related, an apocalypse, a world dying fast and if another world were rising it was no concern of hers, for hers was but her life and hern such as Tom even if she did have what from the outside seemed to some a family way sort of feeling for Rance, who bought the joint, further distancing her from the worlds that were tectonically migrating different directions, or rather distancing her from the puppet show of commerce and quotidian pretense of purpose, she would rather not observe as long as she could sit on her porch like old Hector and would have like to have with her man Tom long into evenings unafeared of high mountains, mountains above the clouds, snow atop the mountains, vast vistas from cold foothill ranch country all the way to fiery morning desert, horses naysaying, the few daily scratches signifying Tom at work, limbent cries of tree in bluster of long gust, rushing of stream or brushings of windwrenched forest in distances cold as dark or frozen as lambence of magical northery skies, the hottest of day cold with lack of odor or odor of cold imagined distance natural meanings of mystifying presences unquick with life, if in movement movement unseen, time to Marie Fire in Flight untied of fear, for if ever she awoke inside a teepee, young and vibrant and exultant expecting an exalting day she had emerged to see one dog fucking, not two, one dog fucking another dog, fucking and fucking and fucking, its great dog cock locked in concupiscence of death, fucking as natural as a bear fucking a beaver fucking the coyote fucking the jackrabbit, fucking the dog to its death? But you can’t just make things up and say they happened if they didn’t. Which don’t mean you can’t joke, especially as we do about the alienating, clashing, whiskey swilling othern with their names like

Black Cloud,

Still Deer

Sitting Bull

Buffalo Limp

Shacopay

Louise

Pinus Strobus

Young Beaver

Flapping Ear Of A Coyote

Bird

Condor of the Sun

He Interrupts

Mink

Witch

Lean Bear

Snake Maiden

Dawn

Not Yet Dawn

Spider Woman At Middle Age

Mud Mound

Porcupine

Bear

Crazy Horse

Horse

Lone Horn

Young Man Afraid Of His Horses

Owl

I love You

There Goes The Coyote

Low Dog

Black Knife

Running Dog

Eskimo John Walkara

Blackhawk

Black Hawk

Blue Jay

Brown Bear

Blue Eye

Green Eagle

Yellow Snake

White Buffalo

White Hawk

Blue Balls

Bull Balls

Bear Balls

Blue Horse

White Bull

Black Moon

Maroon Molly

Old Chief Smoke

Flumulf

Fast Salmon Swimming Up A Rippling Stream

Osceola

Tumult

Alpacapla

Green Turd

Feather Weeping

Tree

Savage Son Of A Bitch

Heart

Moose Horn

Killed Many

Roman Nose

Wovoka

Little Raven

Great Sparrow

Fart Dragger

Gray Owl

Luckless Neophyte

Antonio Garra

Pouncing Wolf

Black Kettle

Screaming Scorpion

Cornstock

Snarling Wolf

Sly Snake

Heavy Feather

Light Feather

Rainbow Warrior

Otter Eyes

Many Treaties

Little Wound

Mirthless

Ambush Snake

Night Snake

Snake In Tree

Bury My Heart

Dagger In My Heart

Little Crow

Teal Eye

Amber Snake

Gator Snout

Crazy Horse

Wild Horse

Horse With High Ass

Little Turtle Deer In The Woods

Flying Deer

Eagle

Spread Eagle

Eye Of Hawk

Soaring Eagle

Soaring Hawk

Song Of Owl

Talon Of Owl

Dog Eyes

Cat Eyes

Night Jaguar

Puma

Bear Belly

Conquering Bear

Salmon Leaping

Condor Of The Moon

Star Blanket

Charging Thunder

Lightning Bolt

Burning Teepee

Jump Like Frog

Climb Like Squirrel

Tommy Graywolf

One Woman For Every Moon

Man Lover

Eel Fingers

Beaver Tooth

Crazy Son Crazy Sun

Neck In a Noose

Nose In Soup

Forgegrof

Tenet

Rowor

Rumbling Innards

Cochise

Chases Butterfly

He Who Talks Too Much

Peace

Black Fox

Grey Fox

Black Wolf

Gray Wolf

Mountain Lion

Gray Puma

Magpie

She Brings Happiness

Black Mountain Lion

Sparrow Chaser

Swift Arrow

Wind

Soft Wind

Moon Shining

Moon

Half

Moon Moon On Water

Moon On Leaping Water

Leaping Water

Strong Hunter

Strong Like Bear

Strong Like Woman

Strong Like Man

Present For Chief

Someone

No One

Black Foot

Child

Oglala Girl

Digger

Sky Runner

White Man

Invisible Hands

Forest Water

Peace

War

Hair Cut

Crow

Mother Spirit Hawk

Mother Spirit

Laughing Maiden

Coughing Fish

Green Raven

Raven

Brown Dog

Poke-Her-Highness

Billy Two Moons

Jim Thorpe Professional

Nathaniel Canak Henderson

Abelewasi

Eareye

Sawelba

Bear Feet

Twicsttwn

Beaver Fart

Tender Wolverine

Gray Squirrel

Runner

Dinty Havesuminjuninum

Hippocrates

Darwin

Tell No Lies

Burn Forest

Strong As Tree

Dancing Bear

Dancing Otter

Dancing Wolf

Dancing Dirt Devil

Dancing Arrowhead

Dancing Madam

Dancing Wolfpup

Dancing Magpie

Dancing Trout

Dancing Vision

Dancing Dog

Dancing Cat

Dancing Puma

Dancing Tracker

Dancing Left Behind

Dancing Jack McPhee

Dancing Moon

Pas de Deus

Folie A Un Grapple

Senator Wind

Dancer

Zipping Zendel

Red Cloud

White Cloud

Keokuk

Red Grizzly Bear

Black Ass

Grizzly Paw

Bear Cub

Wife Of Grizzly

Grizzly Wife

White Bear

Many Names

Atwin

Whiskey Joe

Irish Whiskey

Joe Kentucky

Whisky Joe Canadienne

Whiskey Jacques

Firewater Joe

Hoppone

Hop Like Rabbit

Hasay-Bay-Nay-Ntayl

Apache Kid

Jack Ass

Whiskey Jack

Wequash

Sassafrass

Sassacuss

Sass Mouth

Jefferson

Measly Pikkins

Skunk Ass

No Longer Deer, even Young Tom Gravel, why not, and the infinite rest in their sacred volcanic mausoleum dreaming in the fumaroles of massacre, risen smoke signals the Battle of Bad Axe, Marie Fire in Flight looking down at the river splitting the coulees, the cuts of the driftless zone, and on that river a giant ship gassing the sky like a lofty predilection, and on that ship white folk with guns, and along the eastern bank white soldiers with guns pursuing a peaceable assembly of mostly Sauk and Fox, whole chunks of Winnebago having wandered back to villages in ingenuous warpminds of peace they had declared to lively ignorant ears, a moist, heated summer day begins early in the morning as the white soldiers rise early to fall upon the injuns, whose scout leads them astray, but the riverside is a trap, the bluffs steep, the tribes cohere too well, so well that as the men are bayoneted, the women and children flee into the Mississippi to drown, hundreds of injuns are killed, and look now down and see women and children Sauk and Fox too clever to flee spilling their blood with the men, that countless years of negotiations might cease, the many aggravations the injun brought to the tables of budding statehoodery might cease, and Marie looks there, up a bluff, three soldiers piling nine dead injuns when a shriek rends the ploppery, a timber rattler has appeared, and see there: a brave soldier bludgeons it with his gun butt and it goes the way of all combatants; risen smoke signals a stone wall Marie Fire in Flight flies fearlessly above to witness a camp of Chehaws or Muscogees, the neon signs are cursive, confusing, the taverns are closed, the neon blinking intermittently, but there: there is someone, an adolescent Chehaw, hopping with adamantine purpose that unnerves the heartiest of anthros, entering a village of Chehaws or Muscogees before he stops, animated now only from the bent waste up, his slopy shoulders flapping out arms, fear shuddering of flaying arms in restrained flight, birds laugh, cruel crows cackle, and old men laugh for they are not at war, they have just sent two canoes to Cuba on a tribal trade mission, a skinned eastern diamond back a good ten feet before choppage cooks in the fire they tend like the crops they tend to tend to, they have bullets for eyes holes and frantic women, entirely out of control as if blood were not of the quotidian, as the man who neither dismounts nor draws a firearm wonders at this display of foreign custom, this grating cacophony, this mock shock, the wide eyeholes, that one hopping as if a cricket with its ass on fire; risen smoke signals reveal to flying Marie Fire in Flight a dry sky burned blue, desert terrain below of mountains, ravines, aretes, arroyos, rattlesnakes in crannies of sharp stone or husks of saguaros, men scattered, striving, alert, familiarly execrating the horrific terrain in this year when all the cacti and the mesquite died of winter heat, yet the men do not melt despite temperatures above 110 in Spring, temperatures that put humans on edge, discombobulate their minds, Marie flies to witness this phenomenon, which is much worse where people are gathered close as they were near a dry creek bed, Apache refugees on one side, on the other the white Americans and those who did their bidding, in strokes of heat, the Apaches invited the white Americans and those who did their bidding to cross the crackling creek bed and end their sorrow, cool them into the celestial drifts, or at least in some cloud somewhere for none were here about, even the children begged—29 were not so lucky for they were forced to live, sold into slavery—for mercy, for death, vivid death, violent and sure, and further for the scalping which should always follow directly upon death that the skull might cool should there be any delay in postmort take off, which can certainly be the case when women and children stricken by heat and already prone to feckless thought having been raised dependent upon savage men number nearly one hundred and fifty, lamented one sergeant that day: it is so much easier to organize the kill than the aftermath; risen smoke signals strolls up and down the Siskiyou, Tom Gravel shaggy on shaggy plug, Tom Gravel held up, Tom Gravel and Rance Hardupp partnered passing through Old Shasta, Tom Gravel pissing into the, Tom Gravel passing into mist, for such is the rigamarole of the fumarole, wherein Pakistan elders convene, drone blown, a casserole of flesh and bone ashed–a mist mistake–for no, now Wintu elders are convened, for there’s troubles fuming from furnicularos, white men in the morning are black men at night, seeking something sacred within ancestral earth, a substance one Wintu, Walleye, claimed to have held in its pure form, which he found too soft as to doubt it would retain its form piercing a fawn hide, no magical qualities would confine themselves in such inutile fragments, so council it be, these white to black men were lunatics, certainly, but lunatics en masse, so it would take more than the rope around the waist like with that half-Flathead juvenile, Woeboy, or Woe Be-Guile, let him wander the woods and take turns winding towards him at dusk, yes, these white to blacks were a ferverous febrile fulmination, a fixed idee demon, a demon of fire, fire everywhere in the council house, Wintu elders fleeing to the crepuscular guns of miners, who had already slaughtered even the Rattlerman and as well his pulsing blue Pacific rattlesnake necklace, which anyway meant doom for a doomed tribe; risen smoke signals weird alewifes aplenty if mystic in the stakepole fortress village of Pequot remainers, lazy womenfolk and lackluster lusterless chuffy adolescents refusing to watch over angstbawling young’uns, that one there screeching tears even as clung teethy to a wide bloated breast, while finer men went off is seek of salvation as if they believed it were thereabouts within the protoconurbatory expanse of grasses and woods and short stubbed, inconstant rivers, for life were getting measly and promising meagerlier both here and wherever the proffered there might be if the land stretched beyond the Mos, hawk and hegan, well, if it even existed as other birdly ethereals, and thorny saplings backslap to scratch thighs—did the white man drive all the deer and rabbit into the Mo lands? Can we convince Sassacus that as the copperhead is not so deadly and is plentiful and we haven’t seen hooved creatures for three days that one hundred copperhead will do sometimes?—while the white coalition creeps to the stakepoles not even bothering to keep their voices down, for their spies have let it be known the men-folk are off hunting, you know, looking for white female flesh, the idiot injuns and their stickpole circumscribance with its mere two door places, and the fires started at opposite corners, meeting in the middle, all who didn’t burn shot, all who were not shot, swordsliced, all dead, five hundred?, six hundred?—they knew; risen smoke signals infundibular, so lies: upturned teepees, where the gas will go once the tin is finetinned, reflective Marie Fire in Flight casts her eyes about first taking in the birds in their millions, casts her eyes about for the moles in their millions, for irresolution prevented their apocalyptic armageddon, their redundancies, yet even maggots in their teethy billions stalk not the moles, even the most carnophagous among them are as the sarcophagous-most among them, having as they do a thing for the dead likely indescribable, impervious to research, beyond reason, as beyond reason reasons Marie Fire in Flight as what she has seen in her century more or less of human, too much of it white human, shades of failure to reason that perhaps Baby Kelly warnt no baby no more, and Jimmy Footlong of the farm down mile away long Red River was up to some funnin that got them thinkin bout Saint Louis or Natchez, the problem being to gain time, the easiest way being to bloody up a doll, break and bloody an arrow, a note I’m a gone to see Baby Kelly home for she hath gathered much a whatever needs gatherin, a Comanche arrow being most effective as they’s still feared near abouts though they be gone and the longer the gone the finer tuned the tale like the cottonmouth venom tipped arrowheads, though them Cheyenne the federals say give up their weapons cept for hunting arrows and them bow things, but there being still near three hundred should they get their asses lit afire could wipe out a family or two before they could hear about it at the fort, and look now the Baby Kelly Massacre on the banks of the river Redder than before, three hundred fourteen with precision in this case, for reasons that escape the historian, for the reason that none escaped, not one, Marie Fire in Flight knows not the relation between her will and her visions, only that the wheelbarrows are dreamlike gigantic overflowing European apocalypse painting type and the shadowy drooling hirsute Bocklin giant employed to infant toss the corpses into the volcano emanates a certain sense of placid damnation, a dumb feint towards delight, an endurance almost human, a mole badly in need of sunlight buried miles deep and magma hot on its ass digging toward the light that will be off in its brain before it comes anywhere near the surface; risen smoke signals, fumaroles and roles within fumaroles, holes and hole, dying moles, the scourge of assholes…

Tom Gravel, dead of heart attack at child birth, age 61.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments on “from The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas

  1. […] Literature by Rick Harsch « from The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas […]

    Like

  2. Scott Reber says:

    Rick, I just discovered your website. Cool, man. I’ll read some excerpts this weekend (Oktoberfest in La Crosse; it ain’t me, babe). Best. –Scott

    Like

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