15 November 2008

Letter 4.21

As for the prequel to Worthy Bones, although you have mentioned that Our Hero was born one stormy night in Chattanooga, neither of us have charted the ins and outs of his early days.

Mohel had a very confused childhood. Although his father chewed tobacco, drank beer in his undershirt, cussed, and avoided attending the Baptist church, he was a very sloppy housepainter, who frequently came home with a red shirt collar and a blue neck to the family's embarrassment. His mother (whom his father married for the sake of a small inheritance which was soon dissipated like his father) was of Jewish stock, but she had radical ideas which turned out worse than her cooking. The matzoh balls and black-eyed peas which made their way, via his bloodstream, from Mohel's stomach to his brain, left him so uncertain of his identity that he could never quite recall whether he had any brothers or sisters.

In high school he developed an interest in the theatre and began by doing stand-ins for fallen stand-up comics. Then the civil rights movement came along, and he turned to doing sit-ins, until one day in Moscow, Georgia, he had a run-in with the local KGB, was beaten unconscious, and for the next several weeks did a lie-in.

Having thus completed his education, he enrolled in University where he neither fell in nor stood out. On the day that the last of his savings ran out he read the lines of Kenneth Patchen you mentioned ('a cowboy went to college/somebody spilled ink of his horse'), and decided to drop out.

Necessarily, the next several years were all downhill, during which time he became skilled in mankind's oldest crime, that of writing poetry. Only when his conscience (which lay in his guts) most sharply pricked him did he atone by shoplifting at the local Spend-Thrift or by impersonating the local agent for the Society for Hearing-Bar Parrots for deaf people.

He lived alone in a ramshackle old cabin in the Ozarks, built by himself upon architectural principles learned from Nature ('nothing level, nothing square') until one day in midwinter it caught fire and burned to the ground while three feet away a barrel of water stood frozen solid.

Leaving his one-man ghetto in ashes, he emigrated to Europe, where he starved, and recalled the warnings his mother had given him in the distant past ('Eat your food, Mohel: don't you know there are poets starving in Europe?'), and read Peregrine paperbacks, and peregrinated until one day in Spain when he was trying to peddle some recently-minted ancient Hebrew shekels at a synagogue in Madrid, when in quick succession he met HMV, who was seeking a suitable agent to shul-lift an unimportant pre-Inquisition mezuzah, and then Carmen... And there our story begins...

I continue my homeless existence. How can I found anything if I can't find it? A calling? Or a being-called? I think I may have an uncalling. I don't hear a thing (like Reagan). I hear the Russians (a.k.a. the Americans) are finally getting rid of some of their missiles, by moving them somewhere else. If that's not hearing nothing, then I don't know what ain't.


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