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June 28, 2011

The South Indian Monkey Trap

Monday morning finds me at 30,000 feet on a plane to nowhere. Trying to forget the weekend. Trying to paint that nightmare out of my mind.

When I went to board the plane, the guy tried to scan my boarding pass but it's a complete fabrication. Just a poorly fabricated photoshop printed in the small hours of the morning. To the casual observer, it looks fairly good but Southwests' scanner is giving it a big fat 'F'.

"Hmmmm," he warns. "It says that you're not flying today. Also, your number is A8, and the girl in front of you was A8 also...that's odd...hmmmmm."

But I have an ace in the hole. I did, in fact, purchase a ticket to fly today. So what if I don't have a valid boarding pass. It's no skin off of my back. I'm getting on the plane, I figure. Come hell or high water.

Eventually, he waves me aboard, but before I walk away, I reach over and gingerly retrieve my fabricated boarding pass.

"I have to turn this in to get reimbursed," I explain. "It's a company policy."

This little trick is something I learned from brother. Not the boarding pass fabrication. The "company policy" ruse. People are always telling you what there policy is, so you turn it around on them and tell them what your policy is. Works like a charm.

But where were we?

Oh yes....I'm on a plane, painting a broad white contrail across the Great American Desert, from Denver to Orange County because, well because. And I'm trying to forget about this weekend but it's not working. Can't push this nightmare into the closet. For some reason, it keeps popping back out and I may as well lay it out because nothing can save me at this point, I'm afraid.

First of all, you should know that there's a reason I'm working on the road. It's because I don't have a lot going on in Colorado. My neighbors avoid me like the plague, planning weekly dinner parties, but somehow managing to never include me in their plans. So there is that.

And then, I broke up with the chick that I was banging like a screen door in a hurricane for the last two years. Her Christian name is 'Lurch'. She's not much too look at, and she's as dumb as a bag of hammers. Long in the tooth with hands like a lumberjack, but she was, at the end of the day, willing to put up with me for long stretches of time. And the two of us work less than any people you've ever met, so we did have some good times together driving around the mountains of Colorado, the canyons of Moab, and the forests of New Mexico. So, she was good for that. Always up for a road trip when I never really felt like getting out of bed.

But at the end, she was just using me for my body. And, you would think, maybe that's what guys want, but it's not really. It's so not. This is actually the second time in my life that I've had a woman use me for my body and it's every bit as depressing as you could imagine. When there's no love in a relationship, it's just so unhealthy I don't know where to begin.

And now she's gone and that's why I'm on the road of course. Because I just don't want to think about it and it's so easy to backslide because, well just because it is really.

The Trailerpark Mockingbird

Lurch's neighborhood is guarded by a malevolent scold named Janet, a talented and accomplished gossip monger. A short, trollish looking wench that attends church religiously every Sunday not to glorify Him, but to make certain she doesn't miss out on any malicious tongue wagging.

She patrols the neighborhood from the safety a collapsing, single-wide trailer she parked at the mouth to the neighborhood to keep an eye on other people's business, as she has no business of her own.

Or if it can be said that she has a trade, her trade is gossip and business is good.

Although not officially assigned to defend the trailer park by any homeowners association, but she gladly assumes the duties. As the quasi-official trailerpark mockingbird, she takes in every story, every snippet from every liar, every rube, every tattletale and chews these delicate bits diligently, eventually working it around to her own advantage. She fans the flames of discord between neighbors, eventually breaking apart solid marriages.

In the process, neglecting her own finances, she eventually drove her own family to the brink of financial ruin.

The final straw was when the neighbors, married for 32 years, divorced over some scandalous rumors she'd fabricated or exaggerated. By coincidence, on the same day, the bank came to repossess the family trailer.

Thinking swiftly, the scold begged them off by selling the axles out from under the trailer. They lowered the trailer onto the ground. They were so poor they couldn't afford to purchase concrete blocks beneath the frame, as the other neighbors had. (The divorced family dealt in cinder blocks, but weren't feeling overly generous for reasons mentioned previously.)

To avoid her evil wrath, I took to riding my motorcycle up the hiking trails up the side of the mountain. It was illegal, of course, but I only had to drive down the hiking trails for about a mile or so and I never got caught doing it and it drove the scold mad. When I left, I'd drive right by her trailer and tach the motorcycle's engine up so loud that it shook her windows. So she new when I left, but she could never be sure when I had arrived and this drove her nearly insane.

I would say it drove her to drink or it drove her to smoke, or to swear. But she already did all of those things, as I think I've mentioned before. She was a wretched little sooty troll of a woman. Everyone that knew her loathed her, and the truth was not in her.

And Then There Were None

My saving grace in all of this was that there was one person fairly close to my neighborhood that I could hang out with. He and I would go fly fishing in Colorado summers and he had a daughter my daughter's age, and we got along reasonably well.

When the neighbors were throwing parties that I wasn't invited to, it was a place I could go to get away from the jackasses that hold me pinned to my little property like a dusty butterfly in a museum collection.

I could go to his house and drink beer and let the kids play. We drove down to the zoo in Colorado Springs. We did some things together with the kids. It was a relief valve for the long summers.

So, on Friday, I was over there with my daughter and the kids were celebrating a birthday party or two, my buddy and I were out back drinking beer and I'm talking to him like I would a true friend. You know how it is. You don't hold back around your close friends. Your close friends have your back when it all goes down. When you don't know which way is up, they're the ones you turn to.

So, we're chewing the fat and then he brings up that he's now going out with my ex-girlfriend. And, let's be clear. By "ex-girlfriend", it means that I've not been over to her trailer on my dirt bike in a few weeks. It means that, when she sent me an email on Monday (5 days ago) saying "Where are you?" I figured we were in pretty good shape.

But now, my buddy is telling me that he's got her all dialed in and I'm like "Oh wow. Check please?" I chugged my beer and excused myself.

"Don't you want to stay for another beer," he cheerily offered?

I'm like "I think I'm good, thanks," and I blew out of there. Like seriously? Seriously? WTF?

I spent the rest of the weekend trying to keep the pointy end of the pistol out of my mouth.

The weekend was tough because, I don't know what to do. I want to get out, but I don't know where to go. I tell Jennifer, "Let's go somewhere. Georgetown. Boulder. Anywhere." But no. Nothing is truly contemplated. All that is seen is the cost. Time spent in the car.

So I surrender to her apathy and I don't do anything and she doesn't do anything and the only neighbors that speak to me are out of the country and even the cat doesn't seem to be inclined to hang around and this won't go down as one of my best weekends.

The South Indian Monkey Trap

As we take off, I can literally look down and see the scold out in her trailer park. She's trying to lure a donkey into her garage with a carrot. Why? I can only guess. She's got nine kids and, even from here, it's clear she's pregnant again.

As I think back on it, I see now that this was all planned. All orchestrated. He'd planned all along that he would tell me he was going out with my ex. He was waiting for the right moment in the conversation. A time to mention that which he knew would be an issue. I walked blindly into an ambush. I feel stupid and maligned.

I try to push the shattered fragments of this thing I call a life into the furthest corners of my mind.

I pull out "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and start reading it. I told all my friends in California to read it, but they all summarily dismissed the suggestion. They don't talk to me anymore either. Sister tells me not to play "connect the dots with the low points" of my life. But this is where I am.

I love the book, and I'm thumbing through it. Some of the more didactic parts, I just sort of skim. I don't agree with Robert Pirsig on his fanatical views of Quality and Gumption Traps. But there are little gems in the book that make it priceless, to wit, the South Indian Monkey Trap.

"The South Indian Monkey trap...consists of a hollowed-out coconut chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be grabbed through a small hole. The hole is big enough so that th emonkey's hand can go in, but too small for his fist with rice in it to come out. The monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped - by nothing more than his own value rigidity. He can't revalue the rice. He cannot see that freedom without rice is more valuable than capture with it."

Maybe that's me. Maybe I'm the monkey, and I need to revalue the rice. There's nothing particularly special about her. She's got a face like a cantaloupe and the brains of blinded moth. She cheated on me so often that I didn't even ask who she'd been with any more. You just sort of give up hope after a while. It's just sort of "shut up and take your clothes off. I don't want to know."

We land in Orange County, and everyone starts to deboard but there's some holdup. The guy in 1C is having issues. I'm not clear what. People are handing him luggage. He stands up slowly, unfolding a cane as he does. He's blind.

"Here. Let's make sure you've got everything. I put your suitcase right beside you," someone offers. "Do you feel it there...on your right?"

And I think...seriously? This guy can't even see and I'm all depressed out my situation? Seriously? WTF am I doing feeling sorry for myself? What do I care about these two dimwits want to shag each other rotten in an un-air-conditioned trailer? It's no skin off of my back.

We play a high-stakes game of musical chairs in Orange County. I'm sitting on the other side of the plane today because I want to see Big Sur and the Santa Rosa islands. Pismo Beach and San Luis O'bispo.

A girl sits down beside me and we take off for San Francisco.

"What's that you're reading?" she asks.

"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Mainenance," I reply.

"Is it good?"

"Oh, you just can't know," I reply.

The villagers are coming. I think it's time cut my losses.

Editor's Note: The above story is entirely fictional. All characters in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Above: Mural on Berwick Place wall near Harrison Street.

Above: Mural on Berwick Place wall near Harrison Street.

Above: Mural on Berwick Place wall near Harrison Street.

Above: Mural on Berwick Place wall near Harrison Street by Chad Hasegawa.

Above: Mural on Berwick Place wall near Harrison Street.

Above: Wheatpaste on Geary east of Leavenworth.

Above: Wheatpaste on Geary east of Leavenworth.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 28, 2011 at 12:01 AM


I remember to only believe half of what I see! Really? a lounge chair on the sidewalk...occupied.....? Well, I never....

Posted by: sl on June 28, 2011 at 9:23 PM

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