Monday, April 2, 2007

Ray Sikorski

Ray Sikorski is a freelance writer and the author of Driftwood Dan and Other Adventures, who likes participating in Foolish Words because he has to finish what everyone else starts.

…and their toes tapping and heels clicking signified an authentic sense of rhythm.

They had not come to Bozeman to rumble. They had come to Bozeman to audition.

They intoned, from high to low, and went into their redition of “It’s a Long Way From Claire to Here.” A hush fell upon the Seedy Bean. Those Irish Fairies could harmonize. They even had matching outfits. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

“You guys are in!” yelled Lenny. Irwin and Bottled Stillwater grunted their approval.

“The male lead shall go to me,” demanded the Plumber. “For I am the most charming Irish Fairy in all of Uptown Butte. I can dance the Riverdance, and I can sing from me heart so sweetly, why, the fair Lady of the Rockies herself would come down for a listen.”

Mumblings arose from both the over- and under-upholstered seats of the Seedy Bean. “Prove it!” the crowd yelled.

“It would be me pleasure,” said the Plumber. “I shall sing this song as a tribute to me plumber’s helper, Danny.

“’Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…”

The Seedy Bean patrons put down their cups. Even the milk steamer was silent. And way, way off in the distance – 81 miles away, to be exact – one could discern the faint yet unmistakable percussion of massive stone footsteps.
Just then Jane and the rest of police burst in to the coffeeshop. “The Berkeley Pit is coming down the Insterstate,” she cried.

“It’s headed for Bozeman!” she cried.

Tables overturned, coffee went flying. The Irish Fairies urged calm. “The water in the pit isn’t bad for ye,” one said. “Me brothers and me drink it all the time. Keeps ye young.”

The police tried to settle the crowd. “He may be right!” Jane said. “What we need is a guinea pig to go out there and test it. And, if we can’t find a guinea pig, I hear a pangolin will work in a pinch.”

Sweet Banana Tail’s ears perked up at that. She put down her latte, wiping the ant residue off her upper proboscis. “I’ll be freakin’ damned if I’m going out there,” she said.

Off in the distance, the footsteps grew louder. And sploshier.

“Oh, dair, she’s a comin’ all righty,” said the Plumber. “Sounds like she’s walking along the Interstate. She’ll be a’trompin’ in the Pit water, and I fear she won’t be wearin’ her irrigation boots.”

“Sir, let me get this right,” said Jane. “Along with the floodwaters of the Berkely Pit, the giant Our Lady of the Rockies statue is headed to Bozeman?”

“Aye, and she’s hoppin’ mad! Oh, and that Pit water will make her grow, a kilometer if she’s an inch. And that’s no Blarney!”

Half the crowd went into a panic - too much caffeine. The other half, who also had too much caffeine, started brainstorming.

“I know, we’ll fight her with an enormous icon of our own!”

“What have we got?”

“Uh, how ‘bout the ‘M’?”

“But that’s just a big letter m. Can it fight?”

“Comes in handy in Scrabble.”

“I know!” said Lenny. “We’ll film it. It’ll be the greatest new reality show ever – part Cops, part Survivor, part American Idol, and part America’s Funniest House Pets.”

“I resent that,” muttered Sweet Banana Tail, swallowing an ant clump.

“And part Godzilla versus Mothra!” yelled Virginia.

So it was on. The denizens of Bozeman no longer feared being flooded with toxic water and stomped to death by the mighty Lady from Butte, because they would be made famous in the process… with help from the song and dance accompaniment of the Irish Fairies. The producers brandished their cameras – it was showtime.

The drumbeat of stone footsteps grew louder. Darkness fell along Main Street; it wasn’t a thundercloud, it was the massive shadow of Our Lady, now passing the 19th Street interchange, her feet sloshing with poison. Rather than hiding in their basements, Bozeman’s overly recreated came out in their Patagonia hazmat suits, hoping to be on TV.

The Plumber was right: She was a kilometer tall if she was an inch. She approached Main Street, towering above it. Some people screamed. The rock climbers in the crowd desperately searched for their chalk bags and harnesses – opportunities like this didn’t happen every day. It would be Bozeman’s day of darkness; Butte would finally get the respect it deserved.

But the Plumber wasn’t right about everything: Our Lady of the Rockies wasn’t hopping mad. She was concerned.

“That Berkely Pit toxic sludge made my feet itch,” she boomed. “And it’s headed for the North 7th Avenue exit!”

The crowd screamed. Panicking looters broke into Schnee’s and cleared out their stock of irrigation boots.

“No!” boomed Our Lady. “You can be saved!”

“Save us, O Lady!” yelled the crowd.

“I’m not the one to save you. The one who can save you is among you. It’s… Donna Lou deChris!”

A confused murmur went through the crowd. “Who’s she?” someone asked.

“She is an actress,” said Our Lady. “And she will be the true star of this show.”

Donna Lou, who had been moping silently this whole time, suddenly brightened. At last!

“Is she any good?” asked another.

“She sucks,” said Our Lady. “I mean that literally. She has an exceedingly large capacity for air intake… and, hopefully, for toxic Berkeley Pit effluent intake. She is Bozeman’s only hope!”

They all look at her endearingly, Lenny and Virginia and Irwin and Squids and Bottled Stillwater and Sweet Banana Tail and Gary Geek and Patti and the Plumber and the Irish Fairies and the Great Falls Leprechauns and the Gilette Pennywhistle Gang (who had also come to audition) and Irwin’s mom and Bob and Adonai and Jesus and White Buffalo Woman and Shiva and Buddha and St. Patrick and Ullr and Jane and Deputy Max and Cormac McCarthy and Our Lady of the Rockies. They implored: “The show must go on, Donna Lou.”

Donna Lou pondered for a moment. She would have to swallow up the entire contents of the Berkeley Pit. She considered the pros and cons: She’d be famous, but it probably wouldn’t be very good for her complexion.

“I’ll do it!” she said.

The crowd cheered, and carried the exhuberant Donna Lou on their shoulders to the I-90 interchange, just as the toxic stew was bubbling off the exit ramp. “You suck, Donna Lou,” the crowd yelled. “You suck!”

And suck she did. At last, it was her moment in the spotlight – all the auditions, all the humilation was finally paying off… and for something she was naturally good at. She inhaled powerfully, and the toxic Pitwater was vacuumed straight into her cavernous mouth. As gallon after gallon of the gurgling brew disappeared into Donna Lou’s capacious maw, the crowd held its collective breath.

She had done it!

Donna Lou had sucked the entire Interstate dry, and she mopped the damp asphalt with her unibrow.

Bozeman was saved, Butte made it happen, and it would all be on TV. Both towns erupted in glee and merriment, praising Donna Lou, the Irish Fairies, and Our Lady of the Rockies. Even the screaming panda finally got around to doing his bit.
As drunken revelers ascended her flanks to give her big, wet kisses, Our Lady shushed the crowd, for she had one last question before returning to her perch above the Richest Hill on Earth:

“Just what the hell is that reptilian-anteater thing, anyway?’



Sam Louden said...

The last writer has the biggest job to manage. Here, the mystery nuggets must be explained or forever forgotten. Here the characters must cease their reproduction, (at this point there are at least twenty-two speaking/acting characters) and contribute to the final catharsis. Here closure must be found. Here resolution must be milked from the irresolute. The anchor writer also gets considerable leeway in executing these tasks.
Ray displays his knock for turning a nothing into a joke.The clearest instance is converting the violent menace of the Irish Fairies into the Michael Flattley menace of the Irish Fairies. In a coup, he tied the plumber's job to the plumber's heritage with a brilliant inclusion of Danny Boy.
He also nailed Bozemanic depression as over-recreated. The urge to climb the mutant statue and designer outdoor hazmat wear is quintessentially Bozeman.
The triumph, however is in the character of Donna. Here, her destiny is fulfilled. The allusions to her semblance to the pit, and her amazing (physical) vacuity seem made to fit for the then undreamed need to imbibe Lake Berkley. Even so, they coincide with sucking which she has been accused of/praised for, before, in one way or another. The violent ambivalence displayed by her school days director is mirrored in the crowd's chant, "You suck, Donna!" The fit could hardly have been tighter if it had been orchestrated.
The project culminated, resolved, tore itself apart, and while leaving Butte without her musical (though production still promised to proceed) at least also left her without her infamy. Plus, the lost revenue of loosing the tourism drawn by the red lake, would be replaced by that drawn by an even bigger Lady of the Rockies, one more to scale with her pedestal. Everyone wins!

RebeccaRose said...

Yes, great knock display. Um.

Sam Louden said...

Curse you spell check! And curse me and my inattentiveness!

Knack, knack!

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