Finding a ZigZag Path in West Virginia
Part 2 – Do I Want To Know The Ingredients In A Road Kill Omelet?
Thursday arrives. I get up, and the endless feeling returns. I’m caught in it as the L.B. eats his applesauce. I consider skipping the meeting – I could call ZigZag, and tell him I’m just not up for it today, hoping he wouldn’t suggest another date. The feeling pulls without stopping, and only people who’ve been there know the effect. Everyone else is well intentioned with advice from a comfortable place I do not occupy. The L.B. finishes breakfast and rolls around on the floor, working on a reason for me to change his diaper. How many is that? Dirty diapers are as plentiful as drops of water in the sea, apparently. I get dressed, the L.B. finishes, and I change him. Fifteen minutes later, we’re in the car. Fifteen more minutes later, he’s at the sitter, and I’m on my way to West Virginia. I’ve got the time. It helps to have a direction sometimes, a goal for the day that fills the time. I sink into my mind as I get onto the 180/340 exit ramp. If I smoked, this would be the moment to light that first smoke of the drive.
Smokers mark time and distance differently. A trip may be 2 cigarettes, or 3 hours without a cigarette, which means 2 just before departure, and probably 2 after arrival to keep the average number of cigarettes per hour at a precise level. Without consciously thinking about smoking, smokers adapt smoothly to the restrictions placed on them, all with the goal of keeping steady levels of nicotine in their blood, and that smoker’s taste in their mouth. They smoke before eating, then smoke after eating. Almost out of cigarettes – time to go to the grocery store. The landscape of a smoking life is laid out in accord with with a smoker’s needs. Smokers are amazing for their persistence; too bad that effort is devoted to bringing on an early death. If they were this persistent with anything else, the world would be vastly different. Why, I wonder, does a smoker do this?
I know, yet I play coy with myself. I try on the different reasons – they are individualistic; fiercely independent, they won’t let anyone tell them what to do. They are committed to making their own decision. It is part of their identity – it gives them an identity, and a group that is ever stronger due to the social assaults. Nothing brings a country together faster than attack from outside. Smokers think it is cool, or a way to rebel. I go through reason after reason until they are all used up, like spent matches, and I admit the real reason. Smokers smoke for the feeling.
West Virginia is the only state in the Union to have acquired its sovereignty by proclamation of the President of the United States.
That’s a subject to explore, I say to myself, noting the deer carcass on the side of the road. Bambi grew up, survived the death of his mother, passed through battles with his father, experienced love with that cute doe, and then took it in the shorts from a Ram, or a Bronco, or whatever brand of car checked his ticket and dropped him into the endless night. The end: and maybe, if you are really lucky, Thumper wonders from time to time how you are doing before he is interrupted by one of his two thousand children wanting some attention. Who was the hunter that knocked the plans for tomorrow out of Bambi’s mom? A recreational hunter getting in touch with nature while having a weekend away from the wife and kids? A father in one of the closed steel towns of this area, thankful for a hundred pounds of fresh meat to feed his children? Maybe some woman toting a 30.06 with a scope to be an outdoors woman, or perhaps she, too, was glad of a few meals taken from the land. Bambi makes it past all of this to be turned into a ghastly wicker basket of gaunt ribs by the road side, a final buffet for whatever eats dead animals by the road.
My Buddhist friend, Rinpoche, would say that this was the start of the Buddha’s path; the rich kid who turned his back on it all to make the world a better place for everyone else. Sort of a polar opposite to Paris Hilton. The Buddhists would say that now Bambi is free to seek a good human birth, and that’s a tremendous gift in that black wrapped package sent to each and every one of us from death. Bambi’s soul is free to seek a baby about to be born, to slip into that form and spend a life seeking enlightenment and freedom from the cycle of rebirth. All in all, it is a pretty optimistic view on death. Is there a way to work that into a mini-routine for when a balloon pops? From Bambi to balloons – this is my art form, like it or not. At least balloons are a lot lighter to transport than, say, the marble I would need for a different kind of sculpture.
Rt. 15 says goodbye to 340, my path to West Virginia. I change the music and increase my speed to the allowed 65 m.p.h. Funny, no matter how fast or how slow I move, I am still me with the same feelings. Relativity ? I would have liked to talk to Albert Einstein; a pipe smoker. If he was alive today, I could find out where he worked, and hang around outside until 10 a.m. and then have an audience with the great man. Speaking of audiences, today was my day for lunch with ZigZag.
His e-mail was brief. It gave me the name of the restaurant, and the street address. There was also the sentence ‘it’s in MapQuest’. That was it. No greeting, no signature, no other message. No wonder the guy had a hard time writing about himself. He couldn’t even write a sociable e-mail. I wonder what he’ll look like. I wonder what he’ll say. I wonder if he’ll spit when he talks and if his breath will be bad. I know nothing about this guy, yet here I am driving a couple of hours for lunch. I’ve got the laptop with me, and a pad because nothing beats the user interface of pen and paper.
The miles pass, anonymous as strangers in an elevator. This is almost the longest drive I made so far to meet an entertainer. Driving to meet Sandy Johnson was 3 hours. 180 minutes didn’t seem long on paper, yet the trek across Maryland felt endless. I also got lost on that trip, which extended the drive. Sandy was wonderful, arguably one of the best ever, with an influence denied by her pleasant, self-effacing manner. The lady was connected, possessed of a tempered steel spirit that always sprang back. Gracious and lovely, the 6 ½ hours total drive time was worth it for an afternoon with Sandy Johnson. She was one who showed how far a person can go if they unleash themselves. ZigZag, on the other hand, was entirely a wild card. I wondered if he smoked, and if he did, would that affect his career in West Virginia.
I decided that it would. Family entertainers ought not smoke, even in West Virginia. They ought not swear, either. Deer hunting, though, would be acceptable. Ted Nugent could be a family entertainer in West Virginia. Thoughts of Ted, now. The Motor City Madman; Sweaty Ted, the guitar rock legend who looked down on Jimi Hendrix because Hendrix was a smoker and drug taker. Ted was a good entertainer, and a good talker, too. He has the gift of catchy gab; well turned phrases that trip off the tongue glibly, that kind of high speed patter Peter Wolf displayed on the live J.Geils Band album. Ted has the brash confidence an entertainer needs to grab a stage and carve their name on it with a chainsaw. Nothing timid about Ted; he lives larger than life, at least publicly. I wonder what private tragedies he conceals behind his leather jacket, made from animals he killed and skinned himself; quite possibly with his bare hands. I get out an index card and make a note “ted nugent twisting; patter and topic, general approach – larger than life”. I try to write it clearly enough that I can translate it into English later. Nugent looks like mugget. I add the note ‘sweaty ted’. That will help later.
The world’s largest sycamore tree is located on the Back Fork of the Elk River in Webster Springs.
As a state, West Virginia is pretty new. The mountains have the sharp features of fresh geological stressing, and they are covered in thick pine forest. I thought I read that 75% of West Virginia is covered in forest. That helps them to hide the stills. The mountains are steep, creating the impression of a state left in the tub too long and taken out all wrinkley. People look more prosperous than I expected; lots of new cars, and plenty of large, expensive houses. What do these people do, I wonder. At that moment my underwear, which has been shifting on the trip, becomes distinctly uncomfortable. I put the car on cruise control to make some adjustments. Two minutes of wrestling with my hidden opponent brings relief. I finish the rest of the coffee, and look at my directions again. Yes, I am on the right road, and closer than I realized to my destination. In case the meeting is a bust, it was a nice drive in a state I do not visit very often.
Getting closer now. Thinking about routines, about books I am reading, about psychology, and the illogic of the world. It is the start of an existential mood, fueled by that feeling as familiar to me as my own glasses. We try, we reach out, we do our best to make a difference, and fall short. As fleeting as the sculptures we create in a dense crowd of open hands, we try to help the lost find themselves, to envision themselves at their finest rather than their worst. We give love, and get rejected in return. How screwed up is the world and the people in it that a compliment is cause for suspicion, but a critical word is accepted as valid? How warped is this creation which might contain perfection except for the steadfast focus on blemishes? Rather than nourish perfection, hoping that struggling bush might blossom, imperfection is cultivated, as if that dandelion needs help spreading. It seems the world was created by a lunatic and filled with dolls designed to act out perverse roles in an endless tragicomedy that they will never realize is a script inked in madness. Into this chaotic bedlam are those few souls infused with light, staffing the exits which the panicked guests fear are traps. It is endless, and most likely, winless unless sanity is shelved to let the light go out. That is not a win – it is joining the surging crowd, and at least that is less lonely.
Some performers put their heart into their work. They spend their time finding ways to touch the minds, the hearts, and the souls of the audience; to elevate flagging spirits to new levels. Like narrow focus Tony Robbins clones, these people generate feelings beyond laughter. For what? A temporary change of state. Raise someone up, and they become a target for others to tear down again. Even worse is when they cut themselves tp pieces, surrendering to the negative scripts we know so well. They generally begin with ‘too’, and end on a note of disapproval. In case there is no one to do the job, please autodestruct within 24 hours of the boost in esteem and confidence. Where is this well pumping so much killing emotion into people’s hearts? Against these forces are the small band of performers arrayed on the side of light and life, changing lives temporarily until they give in and give up. You can’t save the world one person at a time because every time you pull someone from the water, they jump back in to continue drowning. I admire these soul saving performers. In spite of the challenge, performers like that keep at their work, an inspiration to me, and others. They serve some inner standard which keeps them at the task. Entertainers who elevate the audience in their work are rare; yet like the scent of a flower or the color of sunrise, these people are essential, adding that ingredient which transforms existence into rich life. Why doesn’t this beneficial impact last? The tight packed trees hem in against the edges of the road, oppressing my thoughts on the drive.
People want to feel something. Feeling, not logic and reason, is our highest quest. Whether it is gambling or intimacy, finishing an onerous task or free hand rock climbing, it is the quest for a feeling which drives us. Our language is packed with feeling words – feel good, feel bad, good feeling, feel proud – the list of what we can feel is nearly endless. We are driven by feeling more than anything else, and recently, I am wondering how well our brains can distinguish between the types of feeling. A good feeling or a bad feeling is at least a feeling, and if the brain does not seek one over the other, then any feeling – any sensation – is welcome. Hmmmmm – maybe that is why we so often revert to negative thoughts and destructive mental habits. We can self induce that feeling, and quite honestly, great pain is stronger than most pleasures. Pleasure requires focus; the small bit of chocolate on the tongue that slowly melts, warming in the mouth, gradually becoming a paste gently coated around the mouth, setting off taste buds on the tongue. A good feeling, indeed, yet easy to miss. On the other hand, getting hit in the head with a toy bus – that cuts right into consciousness. Living with the L.B., I know what it is to be hit by the bus, and it is stronger than the chocolate feeling. Maybe that is why we so easily adopt the habit of firing off those self defeating maxims. We can feel the sensation of being terrible and unworthy of love more easily – and stronger – than a person who brings love and happiness to people around them. I can sense there is something to this mental map; a direction to be explored. And if we could learn to feel as intensely the forgotten knowledge that we are as bright as the stars, what would happen then?
At this moment, a small car comes up on the right hand side, covered in question marks. The Riddler? It is out of place on this road crowded by the tight knit forest standing shoulder to shoulder like grim convicts concealing prison justice. It is bright yellow, and there are words written across the back. “Free Money To Change Your Life ” Okay, this has my full attention. I pull up a little closer – www.mathewlesko.com. I can see someone in the driver’s seat scratching his nose. I recognize the hair cut – good grief! This is Mathew Lesko! Actually driving his own car! Incredible! I remember when I first saw Mathew years ago; he was a guest on the David Letterman show, and even then he drank way too much coffee. The guy was nearly a blur of energy talking about his book, something about the Total Information Resource. Later he got onto government grants, and developed a distinct character; the guy with the horn rim glasses and the bright yellow suit, and quivering with excitement. He pitches his book in infomercials and on radio ads, always with a distinctive sound and look. If he was a balloon entertainer, he’d be formidable in any market. I want to honk and wave, to roll the window down and say “Hi!”. Instead, I accelerate to pass his car. Wow, I think, Mathew Lesko, on this road, of all places! The day promises to be memorable.
I’m still thinking about Mathew Lesko when I come up to my exit. I check the time, and then my directions. Both suggest I will arrive on time. The exit leads to a much smaller road which features a brief town, arranged more or less evenly on both sides of the road. Turn left or right, drive two blocks, and you are out of the town. At some point it probably had a connection with one of the closed steel mills, or possibly one of the closed coal mines. On this day, the town is trying to find some new relevance, and if I was to bet, I would bet against a successful conclusion to that search. On the right is the sign for the diner. I park, get out, and lock the car. Next, I unlock the car and get my bag out, and lock the car. I unlock the car again, and reach for the laptop. No, I’ll leave it behind. I lock the car and take a step towards the sidewalk. I turn, go back to the car, unlock it, and take out the laptop. This time I lock the car and actually get away a few steps on the sidewalk. Back I go, unlock the car, and take out my balloon bag. I consider leaving the car unlocked, as I now have everything of value, except for the car itself. This is worth protecting, especially if I have to drive all the distance I just drove, so I lock it, and walk to the restaurant.
Mother’s Day was first observed at Andrews Church in Grafton on May 10, 1908. Perhaps this paved the way for the next milestone concerning women in West Virginia. The first federal prison exclusively for women in the United States was opened in 1926 in West Virginia.
When I walk in, I wonder if I’m in the right place. There is no smell of hot grills or over heated coffee. In fact, this looks more like an art gallery. There is a lot of art on the walls. I look at the counter, and read the business card. It is an art gallery. I check my watch; it neither confirms nor denies that this is an art gallery, and it reminds me that I have just two minutes to get to the restaurant. I leave the gallery, loaded like a photographer with a variety of black bags, and look at the restaurant sign. This is when I notice the stairs going up the outside of the building.
Up the steps, and through the doors. This smells like a diner. I look at the counter, and there is a cash register and a framed set of Elvis commemorative stamps. Smells and looks like a diner. I check my watch; it is silent as to location, though it tells me that I have arrived at precisely 11:05 a.m. At that moment, I see a waitress walking towards the cash register, and a voice calls out across the diner.
“Mike, over here!” I smile at the waitress, who smiles back at me in a sweet, tired way. I look in the direction of the voice, and see a man who must be ZigZag. He is perhaps five and half feet tall, with a bleached zigzag stripe running along the center of his head. He waves. I nod, as my arms are loaded with bags and waving is hard for me. He smiles, a wide, warm, flashy smile, a smile Wayne Newton would be glad to flash in Vegas, and he waves me over to his table.
“Mike, how the f— are you? Good to see you, dog!”
“ZigZag, I presume?” The line would have been better if we met in an uncharted region of Africa; still, I liked it. ZigZag paused, then smiled and held out a hand.
“The Z man, at your service. Hey, is that a computer?” He points to my usual bag.
“No, the computer is in this bag.”
“Ch—-, you have a lot of stuff. Are you moving?”
“No. this is my regular bag; this is Pearl; and this is my balloon bag.”
“Pearl?” He shakes his head faintly.
“The name of the laptop.”
“You named your computer. Wow – that’s awesome! Do you need to plug it in?”
“Well, it has a battery, but if we’re going to be here a while –“
He cuts me off.
“We’re moving over here, okay?”
“No problem, Ziggy.”
ZigZag picks up his plate and his coffee cup, and takes a seat at a booth along the wall.
“You can plug – what was her name?”
“Ah, yes. You can plug Pearl in right there.” He points to a space under the table. I nod, and try to do this gracefully. I fail. The space is awkward, and I look like I might be strangling a ferret under the table. At last the plug goes in, and I can sit like a regular guy sitting across from someone with a giant thunder bolt bleached into the center of his black hair.
“You like it?”
“On you I do.” I study it; the definition between the white and the black is amazing.
“Is that tattooed on your head?”
He smiles and twitches his eyebrows.
“Good eyes, guy. Yeah, ZigZag went all the way and had the black tattooed a few years ago. It helps with the illusion, don’t you think?”
“I know we just met and everything, but, you mean you actually tattooed your head?”
“Da– right! This is me, guy! I’m committed! Did you notice how sharp that edge is?”
He reaches right to the boundary between white and black, and parts the hair. It is a really clean line. Even fresh tattoos rarely have that crispness.
“It’s amazing for a tattoo.”
“Nope, not a tattoo. That is a fu—-‘ Sharpie!” He laughs, and leans across the table. This makes me a little uncomfortable, yet I can’t help but be drawn to his head. When I look closely, really closely, the scalp is faintly different.
“Good Lord, ZigZag! You really do Sharpie your head!”
On February 14, 1824, at Harpers Ferry, John S. Gallaher published the “Ladies Garland,” one of the first papers in the nation devoted mainly to the interests of women.
Angie comes up to our table. She is wearing a yellow waitress uniform, with white sneakers and tan hose. She has wrinkles around her eyes which could be from lots of laughter, or lots of worry. Her hair is sandy blonde with a few traces of gray. Angie smiles at me; on the left side of mouth, she is missing an upper tooth. Her eyes are a rich, deep brown, and she has the aura of a woman who cares about people.
“Is he telling you how he writes on his head with a marker?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
She shakes her head.
ZigZag laughs hard at that. I laugh too. In that word, she summed up so much about male character. Angie doesn’t laugh, she just waits for the giggling boys to settle down and place an order. I blink as ZigZag gets his laughter under control.
“Ah, coffee, please. With cream and sugar.” I pick up a menu to follow my coffee order.
“And to eat?”
“He’ll have the roadkill omelet,” says Zig Zag. “And I’d like a refill, if you don’t mind.”
“Thank you, gentlemen.” Angie collects the menu I never had a chance to read, turns, and walks away. I notice that she walks with a slight limp, as though her hip hurts. In general, a waitress uniform is not especially flattering, yet Angie conveys a feminine grace that makes it look good on her.
“Mike,” says ZigZag sharply. I jump as I turn to look at him.
“I’m da–ed glad you came today.”
“Uh, what exactly did you order for me?”
“I’m paying, what does it matter?”
“I’m just curious what I may be eating.”
“Aw, sh–, Mike, you’ll love it! It’s the house speciality.”
“Does it contain opossum?”
ZigZag raises his eyebrows, purses his lips together, and shrugs his shoulders.
“That all depends upon what they find on the drive into work.” He takes out a pack of cigarettes, lights one, and pulls the ashtray out from beside the napkin dispenser.
“Do you mind if I smoke?”
“Will my answer make any difference?”
“He– no! I just wanted to be polite!” He laughs, and inhales a huge lungful of smoke. The end of the cigarette glows redder and redder as the coal grows longer. When almost one quarter of the cigarette is consumed, he stops inhaling.
“They say that Jim Morrison smoked 4 packs of Marlboro’s a day at the end of his life, and he never let any of the smoke out. Fu—-‘ Morrison, man; he knew how to build a reputation.” ZigZag does a weird thing now – his mouth opens, full of smoke, then he closes his mouth, and seems to swallow. Now he exhales, and very little smoke comes from him. “Who could smoke 4 packs of Marlboro’s?”
“John Mellencamp. Before he quit, he smoked 80 cigarettes a day.”
ZigZag takes a much shorter puff this time, and lets the smoke come out his nostrils, like some punk dragon.
“Kind of a weird thing to know about Mellonhead. Who the fu– counts cigarettes except a smoker, or an ex-smoker. We learn a lot about a person by their details. So tell me, are you an ex?” He raises his eyebrows, and takes a short puff from his cigarette, then blows a few smoke rings.
“I stopped smoking about 5 years ago.”
“Stopped smoking – you didn’t quit?”
It’s my turn to smile. He’s figured out my method.
“Much less pressure if I didn’t quit. I have the option of going back whenever I like.”
ZigZag nods through the smoke around his face as he snubs out his cigarette.
“Which makes you a tolerant ex rather than turning into C. Ever-fu—– Koop. Good for you, man. I like your method.”
I smell something in the air.
“Okay, seriously, what is in the roadkill omelet?”
“Will you eat it no matter what is in it?”
I stop and consider this. Once, I would have said yes. Then I had goat at an Indian buffet, and try as I might, I just couldn’t seem to swallow the stuff. It was cooked, and I probably had eaten it a month before. The difference was I didn’t know it was goat.
“I can’t say that I would.”
“Then be open, and don’t ask too many questions. Man, you just drove 3 fu—-g hours and you asked fewer questions than you are asking about the da-n food. It’s very tasty, okay? If you don’t like it, I’ll buy you something different. Deal?”
“Does it have opossum in it?”
“What is up with you and the go—mn ‘possum’s, guy? Did you get mugged by a gang of the fu–ers as a kid or something?”
“I don’t know; I just don’t think I want to eat one.”
ZigZag draws a deep breath, and lets it out.
“There is no opossum in the roadkill omelet, okay?”
ZigZag’s eyes open wider, sparkling with secret delight.
“If you want it to be. Put your faith in the Z-man. You’ll like it.”
Nearly 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.
He takes out a small, plastic case, and removes 3 cards. On the back of each card is a quarter sized splash of color. Red, black, and yellow. The red looks more smeared. The black is very deep, while the yellow almost glows it is so bright. He lays them out side by side on the table between us, and puts the plastic case a little away from the cards.
“Mike, I want you to clear you mind for what comes next.” He holds my gaze with his eyes, his hands resting on either side of the cards between us. He slowly looks down to the cards, and I follow his eyes.
“You notice there are three cards here on the table, right?”
“You notice that each card has color on the back, right?”
“You may notice that the colors have some kind of order, or not.”
“Look at the cards, Mike. Clear your mind of any voice except mine; and as you listen to me here across from you there are the cards between us, right?”
“Good, you can start to feel yourself relaxing, now, and soon one of the cards will seem more important or catch your eye in some way; are you looking?”
“That’s excellent; keep on, letting the patterns fade as the colors grow stronger as you hear my voice at the table still, while the cards might seem to float a little; can you see that happening yet?”
They do seem a little blurry, like they could be floating just a little; or it might be the pattern on the back.
“That’s great, you’re doing a great job here, and as you notice how one color stands out, that color tells us something about you or your life; I wonder if you have noticed one color yet.”
“Uh huh, I have.”
“That’s great, Mike, that’s great. You just relax, ZigZag is right here – go ahead and blink, that’s good – I’ll help you out of trouble, keep you on the path, and let your hand, your right hand which you forgot was there, let your right hand reach out to that color that seems different, right?”
The card with the red patch has changed. The red looks liquid, as though it was freshly painted on, or splashed. As I focus on that card, the red is almost an animated Rorschach blot, shifting, the edges less defined.
“With your right hand, gently put a finger on the card that might have changed as you studied it.”
I shift my hand, which feels heavy, and poke out my index finger, and touch the card with the red patch. The minute I touch it, the semi-sleepy feeling vanishes; the red patch is still, and it looks simply red rather than an electric shade of cherry.
ZigZag speaks softly.
“I knew you would choose that one, Mike. Go ahead and turn it over.”
I do. On the back, printed in neat letters, are these words:
Red relates to significant events in your life;
You will choose the red card.
I smile, and nod gently.
“Cool.” I know this effect, and how it works, but I don’t want to spoil ZigZag’s effect. He did a good job, and I don’t need to be so insecure as to take his thunder by saying ‘I know that one’.
“Turn over the other two.”
“It’s okay – “
“Turn them over.” His tone is insistent, and a little angry.
“Look, I know how this works. There is nothing on the other two; you probably have the next color in the case there.”
ZigZag opens the vinyl case – behind the clear inner covers is nothing. He puts his fingers inside the pockets to show they are empty.
“Turn them over, Mike.”
I reach to the left side, and turn over the black card. On the back are these words.
You will not choose black;
You will choose the red card.
I reach to the right, and turn over the yellow card.
You will not choose yellow, Mike.
You will choose the red card.
“Wow!” Honestly, this time. I’m impressed, and this isn’t the effect I know. I pick up the three cards, and run my fingers along the surfaces. Nothing comes loose, nothing falls off. They feel entirely smooth and ungaffed.
“How did you know I’d choose red?”
“There’s a lot that a wizard knows, Mike, and judging by your face when you walked in, you’ve had some heavy sh–dumped in your life.”
ZigZag tilted his head forward and pointed to the white stripe.
“Thunderbolt, my son. Any good wizard has one, somewhere.” He says it with conviction, and with a casualness that comes from someone talking reality rather than theory. It’s like saying any good father has a college fund for their children, or any good dog barks at strangers. Experience bears out the statement in everyone’s life. Except that I haven’t had much experience with wizards. There are only two I can name, and I haven’t examined either of them closely enough to find out if they have the promised thunderbolt.
“Why is yours so big?”
“Just blessed at birth, I guess.” ZigZag laughs at this, and I laugh too, trying to get away from my discomfort over the 3 card effect.
“Mike, you’ve still got a few minutes before Angie gets back. Why don’t you unload a little on the Double Z? It’s good for the soul.” He sits back, his hands resting on the edge of the table, smiling warmly. I take a breath, and tell him. Sometimes it is easier talking to a complete stranger. He nods periodically, and his hands move to his cigarettes, take one out, and he lights it, all without breaking eye contact. I bring him up to date, ending with passing Mathew Lesko on the road.
“No sh–? Mathew Lesko?”
“Yes, Mathew Lesko.”
“The crazy bast–d on t.v. in the yellow suit?”
“The one and the same.”
“Fantastic! That’s awesome, dude – that’s fu–ing awesome! And his car was covered in question marks?”
“I thought he was the Riddler at first.”
“Holy divine coincidences, Batman! That was a full blown manifestation! Did you realize that?”
“I thought it was a Chevy.” My joke falls flat, and we both pretend I didn’t just say that.
“Look, the world is full of information. Most of it, you don’t give a sh-t about, because it isn’t relevant. Then sometimes, you need information, and it isn’t fu–ing there, so you manifest it. Ch—t, my son, you have tremendous gifts in that head of yours.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t follow. Mathew Lesko exists. I didn’t manifest him. He was just there.”
“No, he wasn’t.”
“Yes, he was. I saw him.”
ZigZag draws in a big puff from his cigarette, and blows out a kind of funnel cloud before answering.
“He was there, yes, but look at the timing! He could be anywhere, and instead, he showed up when you could see him. You’re driving down the road, your head full of all this bleak sh-t and dark woods, like Little Red Riding Hood wondering when the godd—ed wolf is going to show up to take a chunk out of her a–, and bam, here comes a yellow car covered in question marks. You’ve got a hundred questions about your life, but you miss them – so you manifest the things to make it really clear to you. That’s a manifestation, buddy! Take it from the Super Z – I know about manifestations.” He grinds his cigarette out in the ashtray. “In fact, I can tell you are hungry, so in the tradition of Henning Nelms, let me manifest some food – now!”
A plate with a steaming omelet appears in front of me. I jump and look; Angie is standing there. As an illusion, it was good. She is holding a coffee pot and a cup in the other hand. She puts the cup down next to the plate, and fills it. Next she refills ZigZag’s cup, puts down a few creamers, and walks off.
“Dig in!” ZigZag leans forward, his hands crossed, looking intently at my omelet. It smells good. It has a lumpy appearance. I pick up my fork, and start to unfold it.
“Uh uh!” ZigZag holds up one hand. “You don’t want to spoil the surprise.”
He looks furtively in the direction of the kitchen, then leans closer and says in a hoarse whisper.
“Sometimes they leave the feet on.”
Feet? I swallow, setting my resolve. I really don’t want to know what is in a road kill omelet. I’ll just pretend it is country sausage, or Spam. I cut a bite, spear it on the fork, and put it in my mouth. I start to chew.
I nod. “It’s good.”
“There you go! The unknown – it can be fabulous!” With that, ZigZag leans back on his bench, takes a long swallow of his coffee, and lights another cigarette.
“People fear the unknown, Mike, why? It’s all around us, and just like a good breakfast, it is tasty, and nourishing. Don’t be afraid of the unknown – tear into it, cut off big pieces, and savor it. More often than not, you’ll love it!”
I have another bite. This one has a lump, and as I chew, timidly at first, it releases a delicious, smoked salmon flavor in my mouth. Whatever they run over in West Virginia, it tastes good. And I decide that really I don’t want to know the ingredients of a roadkill omelet. Knowing how it’s done just spoils the effect. I continue to eat as ZigZag smokes, saying nothing, letting me appreciate the delicacy of the unknown.
Continued next month in Part 3 -Who Hijacked the Magic Bus?
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Thank you for giving this column some of your time.
The facts about West Virginia were drawn from these sites:
S.L. in Nagadoches – interesting use for a 6′ round. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that before – and did she approve? You know, perhaps a romantic dinner would be more effective; then again, I don’t know what passes for romance in your area. The pictures were fun; how long was the self-timer set for? Next time you want to photograph that, try a clear 6′ round and good back lighting. I wish you well, and I wish you would take my e-mail off your distribution list. Thanks!
© 2006 Mike Kenyon