Friday, February 8, 2013

THE ROCK: Chapter 2


“Look to the rock from which you were cut and the quarry from which you were hewn.”

 Isaiah 51:1


Malcolm was all of a few months old when I met him for the first time back in 1997 and he didn’t seem like much of a rock to me.  More like a powdered cream pastry or a lump of Crabapple blossoms freshly blown from a tree. Or the thing that sat atop Albert Einstein’s head well after he was a genius.  I didn’t know what to think of him.

Malcolm, though nameless to me then, had kind, curious and unexpected eyes that drew me in.   But what I couldn’t see at the time was a stoic and ancient story behind those eyes and that the white and innocent fluffiness of the Great Pyrenees belies an intense and fierce nature.

While their exact origins are uncertain, it’s widely believed that Pyrenees date back to 1,000 BCE and is one of the oldest pure breeds still extant.  They hail from the mountain range that bears their name and were born and bred by Basque farmers to protect their livestock from wolves, a job they performed then and now expertly.  

I didn’t know any of this when I stared at him in the back of my Nissan Pathfinder, still ambivalent and wondering what in the hell I had gotten myself into.  Picturing it now, the contrast was stark; his small, wobbly body all alone in the rear of my empty and capacious SUV.  I wonder if he was as unsure as I was about the arrangement but what I did know, I had to eat and since I was in Austin that morning that meant Ruta Maya.

As I was ordering a café au lait and one of their righteous blueberry muffins I stopped mid-request and said, “No, make that two.”  After all, the lil’ feller had to eat and who wouldn’t love a muffin in the morning?  Feeling pretty damn pleased with myself and already owning up to my new role, I fed Malcolm his half and he graciously ate every last buttery, sugary crumb.

Yep, things we going just swell on my drive back to Castroville when I heard a gurgling, churning sound like something being dredged up from the bowels of hell.  And then that cute little Crabapple spewed the Ruta Maya muffin all over my SUV.  Oh, but he wasn’t done yet.

Somehow, blueberries triggered a chain reaction that went from his fore to his aft and he squirted poop like a Jackson Pollock painting.  Only the canvas was the cloth interior of my Pathfinder.  

I once read an article about senses having memory.  How long after you hear a song can you recall the singer and album?  When do you forget the name of the person you just met?  What scientists found is smell has the longest and most eternal of memories.

Case in point.  You’ll never forget the acrid, eye watering, migraine inducing smell of a skunk after your first introduction.  And til the day I die, I’ll never lose the memory of what happens when you combine blueberries and feces.  All I could think about while I was still trying not to swerve off of I-35 was the scene from Stephen King’s movie Stand By Me about blueberry pies and the state fair.

I pulled off the interstate at the nearest rest stop and, after cranking out every single paper towel from the dented, rusty, dispenser, cleaned up the mess Malcolm had made.  Surprisingly, given my upbringing, I wasn’t mad or mean to him.  I just went about it, cleaning the truck as best I could.  But I couldn’t help wondering if I made the wrong choice not only for me but for Malcolm, too.  After all, I had just fed him something that clearly was disagreeable to his digestive system and it had become apparent I had no idea what I was doing.   

We were somewhere around New Braunfels and the Canyon Lake exit, about the halfway point to Castroville, and I was wrestling with myself.  I should just take him back.

But I didn't.  I slid into the driver's seat, put the gear into drive and headed down south on the freeway.  All I could think was, “This is going to be a long trip home.”

Some fifteen years later, and we're still so far away.  


Next week, Chapter 2 continues


Anonymous said...

That's fucking hilarious! Well, for me anyway, maybe it wasn't for you.

You should really consider telling this story through an audio book and your voice should be the audio. What a cool way to bring people into your world and allow them to have you as well. Not on YouTube, that would be distracting. Make it, sell it and I'll buy it!

Besides, you have the voice.

Anonymous said...

Oh the vision of that sweet crabapple in the back of your Pathfinder. Creating "artwork" with splatter and drip. Perhaps it wasn't entirely the blueberry muffin that caused Malcolm to spew. A Pathfinder can = carsickness when driven in a certain manner...

"It's going to be a long trip home".
By definition, home is a place of residence. In reality, it's so much more. I struggle with the concept of home.. You can physically change a residence, but it still might not "feel" like a home....

"People usually are the happiest at home." W. Shakespeare

You WILL make it home. You may be closer than you think.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely love your writing. Everything from controversial topics to personal demons to fond and humorous memories.

You say you have no formal training and maybe that is true but what is better than formal training is the life and love we endure. That is what makes a writer.

Anonymous said...

I have a visual of Malcolm in the back of your SUV, but it's the size of an empty tractor trailer rig. He looks small and lonely and then the muffin! And, unfortunately for me I can actually smell the inside as well. Thanks for that my friend... Ginger

Anonymous said...

I always look forward to each new piece. You certainly have great skills at storytelling.

Anonymous said...

Why I missed this the first I read it is beyond me. I guess I was in a hurry and didn't give all your words the attention I should have.

'Surprisingly, given my upbringing, I wasn’t mad or mean to him. I just went about it, cleaning the truck as best I could.'

It really does say so much. Not a judgment, just an observation.

Anonymous said...

You captured so well that moment when everything changes, when you see that something so small and helpless is completely dependent you, and you discover that your heart does in fact exist somewhere completely outside of your own body. Thank you for your words.


Anonymous said...

Good quality writing. It was a pleasure to read.

ChibiOkamiko said...

I'm sorry. Fifteen years later, I must say I am sorry. I feel for that moment. My Yuki pup, when I brought him home, I knew about dogs, I consider myself fairly experienced even. But he had other ideas. He pooped in my father's Mercedes that first night, and proceeded to tred through it repeatedly. ~_~ Amazingly, I hid it from my father, and got it all cleaned up as well. (You have to understand, the only thing more important to my dad than his car is my mother . . . maybe . . . It is that close of a call)