After the End
In the end, after all the arguments had been shouted back and forth and forth and back again and all the blood had been spilt and tears shed, it was not one side winning out over the other, or some voice from above with some absolutist moral injunction decreeing peace at last that ended it. It simply became too absurd to continue. It became so apparently stupid, no one wanted to do it any more.
This is, of course not what happened. In fact, this almost never seems to happen. It’s just a tantalizing tease, but oh how we wish it were so…. It seems logically possible, it ‘s what maybe “should” happen, but sorry, that’s just not reality. That’s Disneyland. Heck, if it was that simple, quitting smoking or giving up meth or heroin or chocolate would be easy.
That’s not to say that it couldn’t happen. Hope is a strange thing. It requires a belief in forces we know nothing about. I suspect they exist. Maybe not as I imagine them, but somehow. How else can you explain this place.
So here we are at the very beginning of a story and we’re already in a quandry. We haven’t heard a single detail and haven’t a clue what the story is even about and we’ve already got a conclusion. Sad isn’t it.
But, of course, this isn’t the end of the story, it’s only the beginning. We don’t know what will happen, do we. Maybe things will turn out better than we expect, maybe they won’t. Sometimes the most unlikely things happen. That’s how life is. Who could have guessed things would be as they are today say fifty or a hundred years ago. It doesn’t look like anything I Imagined. Dang!
I’d just spent two hours on the internet trying to figure out how to download a free e-book. I know it’s possible because I’ve got friends who do it. I’m an old guy though, and this new age stuff baffles me sometimes. It seems like you’ld have to be an idiot savant to figure this stuff out and I’m just a regular, ordinary, every day sort of idiot. Have you noticed how, in some ways, people have gotten smarter and smarter and in other ways dumber and dumber? I’m pretty sure I know which direction I’m headed.
This afternoon, while waiting in the rain on the highway near my home, I saw a young woman go by on a moter scooter with a two or three year old hanging on the back. She had one hand on the handle bars and in the other she held her telephone. She was texting someone. There were places to pull over, but she didn’t. I watched her disappear in the distance as my bus approached. I hope she got where she was headed.
A minute later, I grabbed onto the mechanical metal arm that opens the door and pulled myself up into the bus. I paid the driver eight pesos, found an empty seat three rows down, and rode off into the future. Time travel is easy once you know how.
I leaned back in my seat and listened to the whine of the engines change pitch as the driver chaned gears. We were pulling away from the side of the road and then he changed into an even higher gear and we were lifting off. I could feel the ship rocking gently from side to side as we hummed along. I looked out the window and saw the banana trees waving goodby.
Many of the other passengers had thier phones out and were touching the faces of them affectionately. I wondered if they were in contact with the woman on the motor scooter. Then I noticed the one sitting next to me in the seat next to mine. She turned to me and said, “Usted debe prestar atención a donde usted va…. pero no demasiado..”
“Do you speak english?” I asked.
“Of course,” she answered, “I speak all languages. I’m the one. I said, “You should pay attention to where your going, but not too much.”
“Oh,” I said, “Do you know where we are going?”
“Don’t you? This is your trip.”
“But I’m not the driver, Where are we anyways?”
“We just left somewhere and eventually we will get to nowhere.”
“Ah” I said not wanting to sound foolish.
She raised her left eyebrow and said in admonishment, “I caught that.”
“I hope there isn’t too much turbulence on this trip,” I said wanting to change the subject,
“Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
“Actually, I don’t want to go nowhere. I just want to go somewhere else.”
“You’d better talk to the driver then,” she told me.
I got up and walked towrds the front of the space ship. The pilot was looking intently out the water smeared windshield as the universe sped by. It seemed as if we were standing still and everything was moving towards us and then disappearing behind us. It was hard to tell what anything was with all the rain.
“Excuse me. Do you mind if I drive for a while?” I asked.
She turned and looked at me. It was the one again. “I don’t see why not,” she replied, “but only under my strict supervision.”
“What if I make a wrong turn?” I asked.
“Then that’s where we’ll go.” she answered.
I settled in behind the control panel not knowing what any thing was or how to work them. “Wow,” I said, “This looks more complicated than my Galaxy Tablet.”
“It’s the latest technology,” she told me.
“How do I make this thing go where I want it to?” I asked.
“It’s your dream,” she answered, “You tell me.”
“What if I crash?”
“It won’t be your fault.”
“Do they serve drinks and snacks on this flight?” I asked nervously.
“Only in first class, but I’ll see what I can do. You’ll have to pay for it though.”
“I’d like a coke you can get it.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” she said and left me there, sitting alone in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit. I wonder why they call it a cockpit? I thought.
The control panel was a little like a Microsoft Windows touch screen. Frankly, I was afraid of it. I just knew that even allowing my finger to hover over one of the mysterious icons too long could send us careening into another dimention. I didn’t know how any of this stuff worked. I felt like an infant. I wanted to cry. I wanted my mommy.
I turned around and saw her coming up the aisle with a coke in her hand.
“Here you go.” she said.
“How do you make this thing go back to where we came from?” I asked.
“There’s no going back,” she said, “It won’t go in that direction.. There’s no reverse gear. You have to go all the way around.”
“Your route. You have to stick to your route,” she answered, “This is public transportation system you know.”
I decided that maybe it was best to let her pilot the craft after all. It was way too complicated a machine for an ordinary idiot like me. She was much smarter than me by far. I thanked her and found my way back to my seat. I was just getting comfortable again when the woman across the aisle from me who was staring absent mindedly at her phone touched her finger to her tongue as if in deep contemplation. Her child in the seat next to her stared at me with the same intense concentration.
The vehicle started making a lot of farting noises and you could tell the pilot was gearing down for a stop. I looked out the window through the rain and could see we were at an intersection between Barra de Navidad and Melaque.. We veered left and stopped. We always stop here, I remembered.
Four or five people were gathering up children and plastic bags full of recently purchased latest new available mercandise and trying to juggle all that with umbrellas in hand. The bus stopped and they all trundeled forward. Some said “gracias” as they went down the steps, some didn’t. Then, a few more people got on carrying freshly folded umbrellas that dripped trails of water along the aisle.
Once we were moving again, the pilot sat down next to me again. “I want to thank you,” I said, for making this trip so interesting. You’re a good person.”
“Don’t ever call me that!” she snarled, “I’m the worst, most horrible racist, hate mongering, concieted, neurotic meanest mother of a bitch you’ve ever met in your life, and besides, I’m not a person.” and then she burst out in the most delightful laughter I’ve ever heard and I wondered who she really was.
I didn’t notice much of what we passed outside going down the road. The rain made it hard to see anything clearly and I was distracted by a couple who were one row up on the other side of the aisle who were making out and trying to take pictures of themselves doing it with a phone camera.
Before I knew it, we were going around the block so the vehicle would be pointing out of town again when it left.. The smooching couple with the camera phone got off at the entrance to the beach. I couldn’t imagine why they wanted to go there in all that rain. They didn’t even have an umbrella.
Soon, we were in front of the old bus station and it was my turn to clammor down the metal steps. I stood for a moment under the awning there and looked around me. The woman with the kid on the motor scooter had just arrived unhurt. I was glad they were still alive. “I’ve been here a thousand times before,” I thought, “but this is not the same place.” The world is still a mess though, dangerous as hell, and probably always will be.
And then I unfurled my umbrella and headed off down the street in the rain to buy a bunch of grapes for the fruit salad I wanted to make for the pot-luck tomorrow on Sunday up at Chynna’s bar which was why I’d come to town in the first place.