A journey to the middle of nowhere leads to the center of the universe
Part 2 of 2 Parts by Cork Morris
|CLICK, TEXAS. Yep, that's it just ahead. That's all of it.|
owever nebulous it might be, a paved road offers certain security to the weary traveler. It tells us that someone, real and concrete, (with a full-time job) has gone this way before to build the road and remove it's dangers. As one views a paved road from a hill-top, and watches it wend it's way through the hills land valleys, one can almost see a Picassoish flow to the line of it. It is a sculpted and well thought out thing. Dirt roads are different. It is Bubba and his D-9 wanting to go from point A to point B and damn the torpedoes. If there is art there, it is Dali and he is feeling particularly impish today.
A great clue to the nearness of society on a backroad, are the cattle guards, They usually represent a property line. The more cattle guards,the more different pieces of property, ergo the more different people. I think we went over only one more cattle guard on this voyage.
I resisted my body's wild call for self-preservation and remained in the truck.
"I think that last bunch of deer was smirking at us." Harry said, studying the rear view carefully.
"Yep. Sure do." No I don't. I'm on Apollo 13, and "Hello, Houston".
Harry, do you have any duct tape?"
"Duct tape? What... Hey look, an armadillo. Let's catch it."
Sure enough, an armored rat crossed in front of the pick-up seemingly oblivious to the ton and a half of plastic hurtling toward it. Of all the wondrous wildlife seething through the Hill Country, the Armadillo is the oddest. I have even heard it described as "cute". This, despite the fact that it is reputed to carry leprosy, several unidentified strains of the eboli virus, spotted fever ticks, and a concealed weapons permit.
"Do you know how to catch an armadillo?" He asked as he slowed down.
(Make a noise like a car and it'll run right underneath you.)
"Yea, I even know how to hypnotize them." God hates a braggart.
"Hypnotize it? How?"
"Well, you pick it up, turn it over on it's back and rub it's belly. It'll conk right out."
Harry stopped the truck. "This I gotta see. You come up with some weird stuff."
"Ok, but don't let any smirking deer come up behind me."
Armadilli do not have the ground speed that a normal Homo sapien does. However, they can turn on a proton particle. And they skitter. Skittering is not inherent in humans therefore we do not have an autonomic response to it. It is the flaw we have to overcome in many of life's dramas.
Lao Tzu, in his book, The Art of War, comments on skittering as a warrior's best maneuver. I digress...
I got to within a foot or so of my prey, moving silently as on rice paper. Suddenly, he skittered to the left (see?) and into the brush at the side of the road. I was so close I could feel his hot breath. I stretched into the brush, within a hair of its tail. His trap was spring. I felt mesquite thorns tearing into my flesh. The beast turned to me and smirked.
There are several schools of thought on just h ow to deal with mesquite thorn embroglios. Freudians equate them with their mother's fingernails, therefore they have to wait until they are in their thirties to deal with it.
Jungians, on the other hand, consider them to be synchronistic events; archetypal and therefore, unreal.
I am a Wal-martist. I'll buy another shirt.
Fortunately, there were no jumping cactus around or I would have had to lean toward Newtonian physics.
We continued on our trip. Another thing that seemed to be missing, were mailboxes. Rain and sleet and dark of night were one thing, I guess, but Post Office rules ruled out delivery to the Middle of Nowhere.
The conclusion had to be, that not very many people came this way. It did seem to be unusually cleared of humans. It was hunting season, but the deer stood calmly by the road as we passed. Hawks of all shapes and sizes sat calmly on fenceposts, or circled above us waiting for our passage to scare up some lunch.
At one point, Harry slammed on the brakes, again, and pointed, mouth agape, across a field.
"What the hell is that?"
My eyes followed his wavering finger to where a five foot tall chicken stood. Behind him was a flock (I guess its a flock) of similar demons.
"Oh yea," I nodded calmly. "I heard that the CIA had a genetic experiment station around here somewhere."
"You don't think they're emus or rheas or something?"
"No way. You've heard of Clixfoot haven't you?"
Harry turned slowly toward me. He may have had enough.
"I don't think there is a Click. I think you just wanted to ride around and drink my beer."
The incidence of time and space, matter and anti-matter appears random, at first. Chaos, the scientists say, is the natural state of the universe. Crapola, I say. Timing is e everything.
It appeared as we crested a rise in the road. Harry slammed on the brakes; we skidded into Click, though Click, and out the other side of Click.
Treasure lust sparkled again in Harry's eyes. He backed back into Click and turned the truck off. It was a silent moment; reverent. We got out and walked to the front of the old store. It wasn't hard to imagine a horse and wagon parked there; Malachi Click loading seed or grain or searching for a long awaited letter.
As we peered through a dusty window, Harry's heart sank. No treasure, no old stuff, no bathroom. All Click could offer was perspective. A view of the march of time, and the change of fortune that haunts us all.
In the distance we could see the gray road, paling into the familiar caliche white. Click is at an intersection. It's quite colorful, actually. The gray road, the white road, and a black loamy road that hadn't seen a tire track in eons. There was probably a graveyard on it but I would have carried the truck before I ventured that way.
"Y'know, Cork," Harry frowned thoughtfully, "I guess it's not really about where you're going. It's about the journey."
If you squint, and the light is just right, Harry does have a Buddha-like air about him.
Somebody cares about Click, though. It was not a pile of rubble and trash. The grass was trimmed, windows whole, doors closed and latched. We left it as we found it. What happens there when humans aren't witness is like the tree in the forest. Subject to muse and speculation and blissfully little fact.
Harry aimed for the familiar caliche as we left. We were tired, it was getting dark, and whatever trepidation we has was overpowered by the desire to see something familiar.
Sandy Creek was dry. He coasted over the low-water crossing without a word. We had, in fact, been silent since Click. It wasn't until we rolled into another dirt intersection that he slammed on the brakes for what would be the last time.
A sign in front of us read, "Blanco County". One on the right read, "Gillespie County." We turned in unison to look behind us; it read, "Llano County".
"This is the center of the universe, isn't it?"
I nodded, "Clicxlan."
We pulled into "Harry's" parking lot a little while later. Exhausted, slightly confused, but some the wiser. The crowd had gone home, long before, I was sure.
We shook hands, there was nothing to say. We grinned conspiratorially. It was good to know that the center of the universe was so close.