Jim Meirose

In Memory of Ron Scamp, Journeyman Carpenter

                Years back ago Ron Scamp, journeyman carpenter, lay flat on his back putting up the underside downfacing linerwoods ‘neath the very counter what’s now every day when the regularly “Horse”-friending waitress on permanent afternoons—who by herself ,and only herselves, the fifteenth in a long line of afternoon waitresses—leans studying hard from one after the other fat heavy studybook, in an effort to better herself, as must be many others. Still air lay about her layering her down reading line after line of words, that “Horse” typically. When left alone as she went for his coffee, or to do this or that other of her many jobs. In this pre-titular day it ever timed smack into this very point of her latest seam-mister, when Doctor Kane opened his class book in the terminal down her bedside, she thought through the whole day once again, as me ‘memberancing for whenswise they took my priests away for crazy while trying to home on Kane’s dinsternation about what have you. Like last morning, before her dinershift, the topic in the on-line attentioneering session was this; from the bough all Golden beasts a’shivering, Kane said, here’s what you know, or most precisely will ‘member not knowing about a week of three out front from tomorrow; we need to, yes will just ‘causr me myself and I tell you to to, analysize this very short peach o’ Lister-a-ture from the backpanel of an old century. Author by the way—Simply Duane. The exact date and time don’t matter no wise. Poor lonely long-lost ignored in her lifetime—simply Duane. Put your hands behind your back, sit straight, shut up, all; listen—but you may think yes you’re encouraged to think, for, after all that is the aim of all higher education, that is why we’re sanctioned to charge money, so that must be mentioned at least two times daily; first at the first headlight glimmer of the front-end prime mover and, second at the last tail end blinkout of the back-end prime mover—especially funtime, in mid-snowy winter, post-Christmas—Midnight in Moscow-time, oops—and sho’ yahya sho’ in the fade of their nearly passed roar, you must sit. Sit ‘n listen. Sit shady John Glennon. Sit, listen, focus. On this and to this tale, class, which namely’s being, The Priest at the Podium Preaching to his Pupils. Here, here, here, here, so; here be with the Priest at the Podium Preaching to his Pupils.
                Now this was the kind of thing “Horse” knew nothing of when the waitress left her studybook open on the counter before him, as she went for his coffee or beans or bacon or whatever. Just sum it all into dinerstuff. He’d look over all wondering of what could she be learning from this book and all others. In wonderment. In wonderment without even knowing of his wonderment because as idle time-filling thoughts tend to do, he had long ago approximately when three or four years old stopped hearing the thoughts which thus. Sank down into the roiling empty bed of his fresh clean consciousness at the very start of the building of his layers of options filling ranks and rows of shelves back his face, which when idle pulled at random one of these shelves open and flowed out into him something to think to while away the time. Has to be had to be because an empty mind can only be dead, and—the risk the creator ran in wiring his creations so—is that, if. If and only if, and all only. Little did “Horse” know that in his face happening was that very phenomena that Doctor Kane’s lesson-planned presentation of venerable Simply Duane’s scribings into through and out her at home by her bed-terminal screen, had been trying to say—the fine priest sprach thus at the e’en more fine pupils, as; fine to be mindless, empty headed, nulled out, and far gone, unless—heaven forbid—and God please prevent in his mercy—unless only if for a blink of an instant the mind in question—“Horse”’s for example, on this side of the daytime, or the fictional example-subject written in the book by the most holy Simply Duane notices it is essentially empty. This, then, he also sprach, but this time Doctor, a little bit differently; Then the panicked mind will, 1. Assume that the real and fictional example-subject is dead, and, 2. Because the mind has been wired by the creator to be in Garden of Eden mode, it must do what is right, which, 3. Is to catch up with itself and be dead and, 4. Take the fictional example-subject down dead, top to toes, and, that. That does explain. Does sure and sure explain many of the cases of sudden death. The sins of Adam and Eve—who were sure and sure wired to behave in the blissed-out perfection of the Garden of Eden—threw them sure and sure sure and sure out of the garden, into an imperfect world, for which they were sure and sure ‘nuff non-wired. And that. Dear Grandson. Is sure and sure sure and sure the cause of. Spontaneous death. Also, put differently. All incurable illnesses. Mental illness of every kind. And the need for—and this deserves to be put even more differently—trucking companies sure and sure. Truck drivers. The clothing industry sure sure, and sure—the entire transportation industry. The need to char food to make it edible, for sure. Piano moving free-lancers. The need to work at any job at all, for pay. The notion of pay. Of war. Coffee. Hashish. Sure, and sure. Sure and sure, and—as she and the trillion but probably far less yes people setting down faces set into wide open fat studybooks, the generation of which is likewise, yah yah, necessitated by the sin-n-n-n of the first couple in that Garden they’d been handed, but the why is itself—buried deep in the pages of—yet more fat studybooks, offering explanations of why. Why, oh why? When they had been handed everything, the first couple had screwed up and got fired from the ultimate do-nothing high-pay set-for-life jobs, eckeckduhduh-h-h-h-h-h—b-b-b-b-ut had they only stayed in the Garden wring your hands for them class wring and wring your hands for them those and all the other heavy fat studybooks would never have been written—as a matter of fact, the book itself would never have been invented because why have books in the Garden of Eden, and—yes tear your hair beat your breasts bite your lips bloody for them and for them and for—so—the screaming priest—part time theology teacher—that day got dragged off the podium, tightly straightjacketed by two bearded big burlies, and whisked away for re-education and possibly something better which the proper medication, salved over him the proper number of years, would bring him fat-back out ‘o his world of delusion, and. There he’d be picking up in his Garden of Eden again—his very own personal one. To boot.
                As this went on going on way inna backwhen Ron Scamp, journeyman carpenter, still stretched flatbacked down under the counter destined to support much higher learning, but he had moved back from his face, to his dim middle distance, belaboring in his mind the reasons why he had drifted down the timescale into such backbreaking meanialities as these most basic jobs. As his skilled hands automagically did his job for him, he felt, though unknowingly, his low post was scarring him deeper down in the under just as Job the bibleman had been scarred down by lack of luck much as Ron was and up in these here times, no further, as the waitress is, was, and has been, but—she felt she could change fate by means of her fat studybooks. The Ron Scamp could but but—off the top of knowing this came a shriek of no know that instead, and. The kitcheney busydiner the wide counterplank up from his nose was destined to join in with would not activate to its fullness, until the diner cranked up alive, fully staffed and fully patronized, the staff and the patrons standing stocky as pilings in the angry surge-surf of dinersounds tableclatter and mostly trivial dinversational soundy-snatches roiling about filling the space creating and sustaining a long time healthy diner, in much the same manner as the mentalmind visionated in the venerable Simply Duane’s underappreciated fat studybook, which only can live when full of itself by. Stuff not really truly of itself, but which becomes of itself once packed tight in an fueling the life of the bearer of the mind in question, like; fossilized gasoline aka possibly the tyrannosourian in yer gastank—which would have been a much more potent earthy and true symbol-being than Antonia the Tigress, or whatever they showed to us day and night, on our boobies—so. So. Ron Scamp, journeyman carpenter, worked harsh-hard all crampy and down at the bow, less than a fetus of what he might have been if only—than less than a fetus himself just a pattern of cells along the side surface of the fetus of the Lent truck stop diner—rapidly developing, as it were, and so. And so. No one really knew ever that the ghost of Ron Scamp, journeyman carpenter, drained of life by the slow doom of his position, was now just a mark, a shadow, or possibly a stain, under the Lent truck stop diner counter two feet off the kitchen door, on the face of his which just up top on the inch thick counter every afternoon this waitress plomped down that day’s fat studybook on his face, and neither one of them know that fifty-seven years hence, when the diner’s done down by some big wreckingball, the wood will flip lay bottoms up in the rubble, and some darling will come workbooting over the pile and see what Ron Scamp, journeyman carpenter, became and remark, God, my God. A face in the woodgrain. More than a, a face actually; a form; a man; a man a plan a canal—Panama! Face of Jesus in a strawberry, half a cheese wheel, or a pip. A pip. Pip—“Horse” looked up as the waitress returned, slid to him his coffee, and said, So there, guess what.
                Don’t know. What?
                Otto took down the men’s room sign.
                “Horse” half-turned about finding that, as he had noticed on his way in, Otto sat facing out ‘way from he and the waitress, and she went on, turning ‘Horse” back to her, which he was about to do anypost, sense one man’s back and three hundred mens’ backs look pretty much the same and completely uninteresting. No words will come from the backs, no mouths will open, nor will even a single eye blink, nor will a single truth ever be known, unlike. From her face. This waitress’ face. The waitress’ studious face made so just ‘cause, it hung suspended, speaking at him from above a size large higher school book, all musty and sneeze-provoking in its very in its very wisdom its wisdom her wisdom what is wisdom but knowing more that the common herd are two enough to make a herd, and she knew the Otto-sign was gone, so. Where had it why had he was it for why did he take it down, “Horse” asked her face.
                From her podiumed low mountaintop she said, Don’t know.
                You ought t’ have asked him, said “Horse”.
                Really? That’s very funny—and in “Horse”’s throat swarmed forming the next tritelike bit of light conversation for the situation, summoned up from his inner standard-phrase lend lease libber-areararie, but—her eye conjured what he ought have known, but better yet, absolutely did know she had been told long-back by Otto she was much too low for him to bother with—like a bug, actually, maybe he said that, b’ maybe he’d not, and so he sucked back low nd stealthy so she’d not feel the seam ‘tween his pre-formulated languagariatition, and his live flowing feed—and he said, Yeah, I supposed that would not have gone well.
                That is putting it lightly, but; I would like to know where the sign went. You’ll visit him next. Before you go out. You always do. Ask him then. Know the reason. Know the reason and then when it’s. The reason and then when its time come. And then when its time come and let. Come and let me know. Let me know even though. Know even though I ought not. Ought not give. Not give a. Give a shit—okay?
                And having thus thoroughly looked more than five moves beyond the lie of the chessboard, he risked saying live, aloud, and off the cuff, this; Yes, I suppose that—that just wasn’t going to happen.
                That’s true.
                One and one half hour later—but, actually, probably far less—when lay tight in “Horse”’s stomach a mix of mashed semiliquid proteins fats and carbohydrates, he turned after slipping her the mandated number of bills slash metal comprising yah cool disks comprising yah comprising yah cool cool the payment for the nutrition within him—only required, you have to remember, even even if if if you you don’t, that just because Eve allegedly ate of the apple, hey, hey, “Horse” lived with that fact as all we must should, and, shaking and shaking and shaking down his head, and his head—talking to her—he bellied over to Otto—talking to her had shaded out—both them deserving of the added—talking to her had shaded out over his need—of, in their fat fullnesses, eh-h-h-h—talking to her had shaded out over his need to know why—“Horse” came up behind, then edged left, slowing—why Otto’d removed the sign; he stalled out facing Otto at the diagonal; Otto’d removed the sign; and it came, here it comes. Otto’d removed. Where’s my butcherboy? The sign. When will I when will there be here the butcherboy, don’t want that don’t want this the butcherboy, butch—Hey, Otto. Remember the sign I asked you about last time we talked?
                Sign? No—oh, yes. That sign. Yes, I remember. What of it?
                That’s the sign you accused me of putting up—or rather—
                —uck—why why now remembro-uno we fought about it aw crap now we’ll we’ll but; all but; sometimes or things perhaps deep in made me ask—so keep it goan’—
                She told me it came down. I. Uh—did you know it came down?
                I never saw such a thing in the first place, “Horse”. I wonder—since it came from her—I wonder if she just wasn’t seeing things, or trying to blacken my name, eh, eh.
                As Otto went on “Horse” ‘membered blackening the name blackening the family name like, yes, eck. His Father had been on the phone after his Mother moved out talking to somebody “Horse” knew was Levin, and though “Horse” was too small to know what it meant at the time, still at the time it scribed tight down the recorder wire running down and around ‘hind his face, and later in life he knew that his Father had—I know she doesn’t like me “Horse”—been talking to a lawyer ‘bout suing—‘cause I told her one time she got mouthy that she—her because she is jumping in and out o’ dem all over town, and she—was lower than pond scum and stay away from me, and—is blackening the family name, she—she lied to you last time and this time now too ‘bout but—and you got to do something Mister Levin, eck eck—she told you I took it down? Oh, yah, she told that? Hey, is it—there’s got to be something legal you can do Mister Levin, eck—first she says Otto put some damned thing up, then—she got to change her name or something—she says Otto tore some damned thing down, then—perhaps she can be compelled to fall back on her maiden name, can you do that, Meester Levin—what will it be next “Horse”, what, what—so so got to stop Otto short of a yell—oh why the hell why oh why did I even come by him I ought to have nothing to do with Otto now, but but, but—sama—no no butcherboy—she is blackening my name, she is—Otto—sam samarita—no—do something Meester Levin Samaritan she is blackening my the family name Samaritan sam sama I she said it what is she trying to do “Horse”—
                Where is he?
                No—eh, Otto—done any more directions to show me?
                Where is he, I asked you, I told you, where, where?
                Okay, yes, sure—but I—samaritana samaritan let the samaritan me the samaritan see the directions samaritan the latest the latest let the samaritan see the latest directions.
                Oh, right—sure, sit down. I got them here. I got them right here, sit.
                “Horse” glanced back there she was smiling and his eyes knocked her face back in her book—funny yah funny my tanglyfeeted funny here she sent me all fun funny—
                —shoe oh yeah I—I owe her one, I do—
                Okay. Here’s the latest. See—while buss-under the table, this table, just like at the counter where Ron Scamp, journeyman carpenter, lay flat on his back putting up dining table appropriate downfacing linerwoods up to a total of the twenty-five dining tables just this time, yes this time, working under where would sit work and worry our Otto, out front way long faster, saying, as already start-stated this and that, but specifically, Ah, here’s the first one—look it was, Use the left lane to keep left at the fork, and follow signs for Mahoning Ave/OH-18 Toll road. Okay?
                That was. Was out in Ron’s future, our thickening present, and the thinning-down past of any lives lived out past these very scenarios being written of. Heck. Heck-o. Heck-o-oh. Heck-o. Heck. Ron Scamp journeyman carpenter pressed on rolling out swath one of seven. Enter at your. Ron Scamp worked, looking flat on his back, up in the back from us, where “Horse”’d someday answer, with, Yes, okay. What’d you do?
                And at this jumbosized-juncture Ron’d seen something quite curious if and only if, 1. He had been in his futuring presenece awl simmul-teenoisly and, 2. The Otto had laid the secret in question who’s secret, his secret—face down under his old school marbled white a’ black composition workbook, and, 3. He’d been wearing comic-book backcovers style x-ray goggles but. There being no meaning in the while of any of this, Otto went right on ahead quick with, Get how slick this is, “Horse”—ignore no right open field not to discard off no unbroken path minus ignore blanknesses not for non-Mahoning non-avenue 40° 13' 31.3" S, 97° 18' 42.7" E, negative eighteen free narrow blocked route diverting to negative one, nowheres, to no other. Oh, man. It’s hard to say. But well worth it. You know?
                Yah, yeh, yoh, those x-glasses boys ordered by mail—but if and only if—knew Ron as he pressed on rolling out swath two of seven. Danger enter at his own extreme. 1. They’d been ordered using the appropriate coupon and payment slip, and, 2. If and only if they actually acted as advertised which we choose to believe, blessed be, if never proven a liar; like “Horse” said.
                I guess. What are the numbers again?
                Hey. I told you one other time, what. Were you not listening?
                I, uh—I guess maybe now.
                Hey. Do not treat as a liar just ‘cause, just ‘cause. Give everyone latitude to prove themselves equally, so—now being appropriately positioned and equipped, Ron saw the following in sequession from-under; whap! He—under the directions-talk is the sign being read by the carpenter-Ron, who’s slathering the—on rolling out swath three. Of seven. Your own. Extreme risk—Otto snapped down “Horse” saying swiftly, You, nothing. Those are the coordinates of the antipodes of—lessee—in this case, of Ohio.
                Of the what?
                The antipodes. I told you all this. Come on “Horse”. Okay. Sit tight. Get ready. I am going to club this tight into you this time—here it is; an antipode is not the point on this bottom not of this earth not where many sloppily crooked hazy smears spit down to no place at all up around no outside not of this earth won’t stay in this side right here.
                Ron Scamp lay wayback, still flatbacked down floorside, under the past of the tabletop, finding it hard to smoothly apply the necessary super-sensitive hard to use black contact adhesive. He slathered the adhesive with a roller, and felt this very table would go smooth as all the other table’neaths had, but half through the roll, he paused because. Every other swath before laid down solid black but but—this roll—this roll was not covering.
                Oh, wait—what I meant to say was, an antipode is the point on the other side of the earth where a perfectly straight line drawn from the place down through the center of the earth would come out on the other side.
                But instead, it was showing. Because of the table’s destiny as the super-important someday quite legendary—possibly even being Smithsonianed, et, eck, hippo—legendary very only actual true Otto table, and—even though it may seem nonsensical that looking back from the way-out gone timeline rolling out swath four of. Seven. Extreme risk-ramming back past Otto, to where he’d never, though he would be, quite frankly had never been, so class; let’s stop here.
                This warrants much. Much further discussion, on top of which fact lies another.
                You’re not listening.
                Or maybe, said Otto, it may be said better, that an antipode is not the point on the other side of the earth where no sloppily crooked hazy smears spit down to everyplace in the universe all up around no outside, but only, yes, only, of this earth and will forever reside in that other side.
                All right class. Let me plant you with this one; the linch of the pin here it all turns ‘bout on, is; what is the true meaning of just one word—had. Otto had never been—eh uh ut, oh—sort kinda mighta’ nevuh’ heed been wright to say, unless—and yes if only, and only if, and only if, unless Otto was destined. Uh, oh—he the Otto who, sayeth great legends, had stated to “Horse”, his sublime disciple, That maybe, said a bit differently, an antipode is not the point on this bottom not of this earth not where many sloppily crooked hazy smears drawn from the place down through the center of the earth would come out on the other side—or maybe.
                Howled down in the gusts coiling ‘bout him, Ron Scamp’s pressing on laying swath five of seven. Seven. Extreme danger. Enter at your own risk. Way out of the front of time past, when where and maybe Ron Scamp may—but possibly wasn’t—in the ground marked with a granite which unfortunately for him—had been made by a mason wielding power tools only.
                Okay, okay, okay. I think I get it, said “Horse”, allegedly. You are a happy card, Otto.
                Happy card.
                Nope, not a single wedge nor a feather in that Masonic captain’s hum-hummer of a cheap plastic tool box, neighhhh—and this—my children—marked marks on the stone, that farther—yah even farther into the future, some clean white wash of a scientific gang will determine the date of swath six. Or of seven. Or seven. At your own risk of, of them saying to you, in the end:
                What you’re saying can’t be.
                Why not?
                I am not of stiff pulp stock, typically cream colored, and sometimes, but not always, lined. I am not—a card! I am a human being!
                —followed by swift or even fast faster interment of the remains under the stone, merely by noting that the stone had to have been cut post-industrial-revolution—which by itself makes a great Times of Tulsa headline—but then, the fade—and the debate then began, well—you are not so fucking smart, Meester—when the hell was this—industrial-revolution? Some say now.
                Okay wiseass. Anyway. You’ve had your laugh. Want to try for another?
                And some who had journaled this great effort say, then. Some say never-when. Hi de hay de ho! Clip! But there’s more than one knife needed to skin swath seven of seven. Of seven. Your own risk; this great big cat; to, wit—class remember that every material thing animate or in on any point on the long lines tele-continuum!
                Otto pressed on with, The second one I reversed is this. Keep left, follow signs for Youngstown and merge onto I-80 E Partial toll road. There. And now that reverses very neatly into Discard right, ignore blanknesses not for 41° 6' 12.9" S, 99° 20' 52.7" E, not including split apart off of Exerstate negative eighty west total free narrow blocked route diverting to negative one nowheres to no other—there. And that’s all I got new to show you now.
                Yes, wow. Even given that o-tay may be a grizzled-down archaiacism boon-butt scuttling danger to the within of itself and the without of some other’s,needs to be needs to be to be needs to be viewed from at least one of the classically well-tempered Bach-donian triangulation points, these being, 1. The longest ago from at anyplace can get, then—
                Yah. You got anything to show me this time ‘round, “Horse”? Or nothing for me again? Nothing again of what I did ask you? Did you get him? Did you bring him?
                —okay, okay. I know what’s now but I do, feel it—I got to feel it—
                Sensing some strong ending ‘cross the approaching horizon, Ron Scamp journeyman carpenter completed table Otto of twenty-five faded downs. Your own risk. Down, and away, and away. Enter, and enter.
                —2. The furthest ahead of itself anything off o’ it can get, then—
                Bring the kid here like I told you, “Horse”? I been waiting.
                Hey, Otto, hold that thought. I all of a sudden got to piss.
                No, how come every time I bring that up, you got to piss?
                Now class. Divine the question. I need to leave the dance now. Need to go feed. Can’t wait. Nature calls!
                Got some problem?
                Some some some some some some.
                After all, that is how his God made him, and every over Ron Scamp journeyman carpenter pressing onward, forward, and moving ahead. In any halfway thing at all there’s built-in static-isity my hippo. At. A. T.
                A-t in your own ‘xtreme risk.
                Problem solved now, ‘cause:
                —3. The highest on top of itself it can climb in the single moment allotted.
                So. There’s your answer. See Ron Scamp there, crawling out from down under—as “Horse” turned walked off not to the men’s room, back past the diner’s counter-end, but, out the front door toward his well-equipped cross-country truck which did contain a topnotch chemical toilet which rendered half of his overall lie a truth, which would most likely fade out off, of the Otto’s low-brimmed mind. But he missed the snickering half-face of the waitress, trying hard to keep looking in her book, but yet not at all.

Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Calliope, Offbeat/Quirky (Journal of Exp. Fiction pub,), Permafrost, North Atlantic Review, Blueline, Witness, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. Published books include: Understanding Franklin Thompson (Exp. novel - JEF pubs), Sunday Dinner With Father Dwyer (Exp. Novel - Optional Books), Inferno (E-Chap - Underground Voices), Mount Everest and Eli the Rat (Lit. Novels - Montag). Visit www.jimmeirose.com to know more.
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