lost time incident 29
Yesterday, at a used book store in Berkeley, CA, I got my hands on something amazing. I picked up a copy of a paranormal romance novel that features a Viking… who is also a vampire… who is also an angel WHO IS ALSO A DOCTOR!
The vampire/angel hybrid is called a “vangel,” so I’ve spent a full day trying to decide if that sounds like vawn-gel or vain-gel.
Anyway, this magic immortal being falls in love or cures cancer or both. Who cares, I’m not going to read it. The book is in my home as a talisman. Proof that all varieties of creative works can find their audience. No matter how many hyphens it takes to carve out a subgenre.
In that sense, it joins “My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist” and “HELP! A Bear Is Eating Me” in my library’s collection of inspirational works. By existing, they say: You can do it!
This is me, doing it.
married to the sea
“I love you, Jenny, I do, but you see, it would never work out. I’m married to the sea.” The bewhiskered man stared out at the rolling waves, his index finger resting on the lips of a young lady in a shushing gesture.
Honestly, between the sea-marriage and the shushing, the index finger thing was the bigger of the two warning signs. Don’t worry. Jenny wised up. She got out of there. She’s fine.
Henri, though, he wasn’t kidding about the sea.
The courtship was brutal. Henri was rolled over coral reefs in an undertow, enraptured. In part by affection, in part because of oxygen deprivation.
On the day of Henri’s wedding, the church pews were hauled down to the oceanside. Elderly relatives watched their dress shoes disappear under the waves, soaking their stockings, unable to keep their feet elevated the whole time.
A mermaid presided over the ceremony. That’s what Henri claimed, sheltering his eyes from the sun’s glare on the water, pointing out beyond the breakers where the waves tumbled onto themselves. He had a necktie made of kelp with an oyster tie pin. The ceremony was declared complete soon after a seagull swooped down and made off with the groom’s tie.
As a couple, Henri and the sea were hard on the neighborhood social circuit. Bridge games were flooded out, crabs made off with playing cards, and pots of tea were transformed into salty, tea-colored messes. It didn’t take long before Henri and his bride were no longer welcome in the homes of their fellow young couples.
As the years passed, we saw less and less of Henri and more and more of the sea. Children wear flippers to school. Every building is rimed with salt at its foundation. All the young kids draw gills on their necks and no one knows where any of this is going.
the coffee trail
In 2012, Amanda and I were at the top of a mountain in India, visiting a coffee plantation. The folks we were staying with had told us that if we hiked up a dirt path, then veered left, we’d come to an amazing vista where we could look over the entire valley. To accompany us, we had three guide dogs pacing alongside us. They lived on the mountain and worked for the family. They were not pets… they had jobs.
As we hiked the trail, two of them would trot ahead, scouting things out, then stop and wait for us to catch up. The third walked alongside us.
Before reaching the vista, though, the trail seemed to end at a short wooden fence.
To the right and left of the trail, the grass was tall, so we were pretty sure we hadn’t yet reached the left turn. The three dogs didn’t seem much interested in pointing us in the right direction, as they took our pause as license to chase each other a bit, content to wait for us to figure things out.
I turned to Amanda, shrugged, and said “Everything but rabies!” as I climbed over the fence.
One month earlier, Amanda and I visited a travel clinic in San Francisco, CA. Having never visited India, we were determined to load up on vaccinations. The nurse at the clinic showed us a world map that showed what communicable diseases were found in what region, and India was colored in a risk on every map.
The costs racked up pretty quickly. Tallying numbers on a clipboard, we were asked if we were willing to pay a grand and a half for both of us to be protected from Hepatitis, Japanese encephalitis, and all manner of awfulness. Poisoned blood. Swelling brains. Fever, death.
Amanda suggested that maybe I should take the trip on my own, since it was technically a work trip, but I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And it’s not like we were taking every shot. Since we had no plans to leave the city of Bangalore, we figured we weren’t really at risk for rabies, so we left that one off.
That was it. We took every other shot they had.
I don’t know why that came to mind, there at the top of a mountain in Coorg. I knew that fences were usually put in place for a reason, and that I was probably making a mistake. I suppose that brought to mind how cautious I had been up until that point, so that lead to: “Everything but rabies!”
And then stepping over the fence.
I took about three or four steps past the fence when, from somewhere in the deep green off the path to the right, behind dangling branches and high grass, I heard a deep, rumbling growl.
The sound of an enormous creature that wasn’t happy with where I was.
I stood stock still and my skin felt cold. My mind was scrambling as I tried to think of what I was supposed to do when the creature in those woods came bolting out to bite me. I didn’t have a plan.
“Get bit. Try to survive. Regret not getting rabies shots.” That was my immediate to-do list.
And then, in a blur of white fur, one of the dogs that had come up the trail with us flew past me and into the woods. Even though the struggle must have been a mere 3 feet from me, I couldn’t see anything. I just heard growling, and barking, and struggling.
I trusted in my canine savior’s abilities and took the opportunity to quickly jog back and vault the short fence, telling Amanda it was time to head back down the hill to the coffee plantation. I had no idea if the source of that growl would respect the fence, but I didn’t want to stick around to find out.
We weren’t that far down the hill when the white dog rejoined us, panting, but completely unharmed, giving no indication it had just completed a rescue mission and won a struggle for off-track dominance.
I don’t yet know what this story means.
Everything but rabies.
I may never figure it out.
ending theme song
We took this week off from Candlewick. I have no idea if you folks are going to be happy about that, or disappointed, but if you spend time on Facebook and want to let me know you’re a member of either emotional-response tribe, you could let me know on the Lost Time Community page.
Thanks are due to my talented wife Amanda, who provided the seagull illustration for this week’s newsletter.
And thanks are due to you as well, for not daring to find out what happens if you hit the unsubscribe link. Very wise, you guys.