Log — 3 (Family of Origin)
Some beauties float in very ugly places, while other things rot and fall from the clouds of Paradise itself.
Pigeon Frost was a woman who had worked hard to put her family swamp deep in the rear-view mirror. Her moving found her a Professor of Linguistics at a decent college, a mother of one mostly mature grown daughter, and a recent student of other people’s lineages. Pigeon had not formally spoken with her brother since learning the job she’d recommended him for had gone sour like the long list of stints before them.
Everyone in the Frost family was hard to get along with. They were also large, pale of complexion, smart-yet-unsavvy, and deeply wounded at the frigid hands of an undeniably horrible father.
Two of the boys had gone on to be ruthless business men, one in city politics, the other in the death industry, selling grave plots. Werble, well he had become a chemical engineer of sorts. But he lost so many jobs, not because he wasn’t a hard worker or brilliant, but rather from things like talking too much, and complained perpetually. Nobody had ever trained him to be in another man’s shoe — not that his feet would have fit.
None of them really stayed in touch, at least not since their mother had taken her own life, climbing a gondola rim and jumping from a hot-air balloon floating peacefully above a Tucson sea of cactus. She’d apparently carried a bipolar disorder for many years prior to the diagnosis even being invented. But what Pigeon always wondered was who the hell didn’t? At least nobody she knew seemed inoculated.
She wasn’t a great pessimist, however, as evidenced by her nagging need lately to study family trees. She kept hoping to learn what made one person happy and successful, instead of destined for gloom and perfect indifference. Mostly she hoped to find a clan who had ever really turned around the cards it was dealt, this all being related to a hope that her own daughter might end up differently happy some day.
The second man who married Pigeon was a strange brew himself. He worked in the oil field, and called himself “Jay Kwez” instead of “Zhock” as a person titled “Jacques” would normally do. Shortly after their engagement, Kwez had requested (demanded) Pigeon cut ties with her uncouth family, especially with Werble, whom he particularly detested. Her parting gift to that chemist had been to put him in touch with the men at Acewall Weapons Lab, and then to ask that he give her new family the requested amount of space.
Werble hated his sister uniquely from life’s other actors. He found her to be beautiful, strong, and something like caring. In truth, she was more regal and tall than meaty and oafish like Werble and his brothers. He should have adored her. If it weren’t for the caring part, he might have not hated her. It sort of followed the rule that if you don’t give people the hope of food, they won’t berate you when their bellies grumble. But feed them once, and they’ll constantly count on you when the aching of hunger comes. And you will eventually empty your cupboards.
But there was something more to his hardnss towards Pigeon. It was likely her slight resemblance to the mother he cherished — that great foil to his perfectly cruel father. But he never had wished for another bad man like her father to come into her life. But asteroids will often crash where they can.
He’d also never properly thanked his sister for the job at ACWL, Oregon State’s Anti Chemical Weapons Laboratory. But this was for two strong reasons: Number one, Werble never recognized a gift when it came to him. He was so convinced about life cheating him, that any good seasoning to land in his meal was just a poor make-up for the foul shit plate he’d long been supping on. The second was that Acewall had been no treat; it was hard to view as a kindness.
As she fought to coil the garden hoses in the evening light of their large semi-estate, Pigeon tried to imagine what her unfortunate brother was up to. She resented his inability to think of others, but she always imagined him extra-plagued. The sadness which visited them all was no harsher to him, and yet it seemed particularly strong for him. She reckoned it related to how from childhood he had such a capacity to eagerly embrace and squeeze the life out of any happy activity whenever it arose.
She chuckled to think of the clown he’d once been. She almost would have hugged him, if he’d been there beside her. But no one in their family hugged. It was a grotesqueness according to their father. But still for a moment she imagined what it would be like to stroke her brother’s square and unhappy face. Perhaps he’d be kind to her in return. It was a happy thought. But then her sobriety returned to her as she remember the tasks her husband required be finished upon his late night return.
Meanwhile, what Werble was up to was about twelve-hundred feet above sea-level. He’d been stumbling a lot as his dinosaur legs were tiring. He’d also begun to encounter actual gnats, as it seemed the whole of nature was determined to amass and drill him into that liquid turd soil.
Much as he sought to dismiss it, the pesky thought of whether or not to return Pigeon’s texts was a thorn in his side. He heard the howl of mongrels again, but was relieved to sense they were further away. The slope of the climb was proving his theory that only a journey on foot could have made it. He couldn’t help second-guessing his entire mission. His single-mindedness under duress, his one greatest skill, seemed to be escaping him. Another skill he leaned on was the low amount of sleep that his rigid brain required. But he never knew when he was pushing it too far.
The question returned: “Text her back? Let her know your alive?” But what did he owe it? Her supposed concern was so cloaked in neurosis. Why must he respond to that? Perhaps he’d just do it though to get the persistent problem out of his focus-starved mind.
Suddenly he slipped a foot, and began to slide at dangerous speeds. He quickly calibrated his situation, at the same time seeking to contain what he carried, and to somehow snag and catch himself. He finally ground through about 80 flying roots until something grabbed and slowed his decline. His feet were much to his aid.
“Dammit, I’m not paying attention”, he thought, and checked to see that his accoutrements were still with him. Finally he grabbed the distracting annoying device of this era, wiped the debris from its over-small buttons, sat up and pounded some keystrokes: “yes, submarine, Pigeon — call you tomorrow.”
After hitting “send” he tried to regain a composure he’d learned in childhood. It was his sniper’s breathing. Though he carried no gun now, one of the only positive memories he had with his father were those days in adolescence where the two of them had eyeballed targets with regulated hands and sought to still their very heart-beats. It took a moment, but finally Frost decided equilibrium had been achieved.
He closed an eye, and thought again about his current enemy. It seemed like decades, but it had only been 21 months since he’d been a critical part of the six-scientist team that worked to find solutions should a chemical attack hit the coastal regions. For many months he’d been the light turner onner in those underground college buildings and the one to shut things down in the middle of the following night.
Unlike his inability to coalesce with other human beings for long, Frost quickly bonded with the AceWall instruments, charts and tools; it was a kinship of sorts. The off-white floors, the tile and linoleum, the silver metal tables, the smoke-colored glassware. It was more home to him, than any place aside from the star canopy and his scopes. His last actual sleeping pad was nothing more than a locker-room-flavored apartment in Corvalis. But it had been weeks since he’d seen that place; he’d most recently been sleeping in the Pontiac or with a military bag out under the watchful/neglectful eye of God.
His quadriceps tortured him, in complaint of the many hills. He thought about the relief a spicy mustard dog might bring. Another pastime at the hands of his strange father. They would eat brats and dogs together before they’d go out to shoot the feral cats who so abundant in the surrounding fields. It was a hobby his dad invented, and Werble had not carried it on beyond that partnership. But the memory of the frankfurts and beer afterwards brought him some joy.
His happy food dream was interrupted by the nagging pain which had drove him to this spot. Unemployement and isolation. How did his great sacrifice and mathematical prowess all unravel in just 5 weeks time? Acewall was supposed to be to retire, or at least the place where he went out in a ball of noxious fumes, all to save his city. But now it was just a ball of flames.
Of course it was politics. Everything boiled down to that. Personalities and politics. There was Bohosian and there was Rench, the two top personalities he’d like to run a musket through. These were the prime culprits who’d convinced the other members that somehow Frost was merely about the money.
It was a comical claim. Werble didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Frost only cared about three things: A quiet view to the Celestials, a belly well-fed, and a space to chase your hobbies without a busy-body telling the world you’re an outcast and a nuisance.
Werble wasn’t aware of the things he did to help people ouster him. But all he knew was that there wasn’t a good heart among them. He never asked himself how am I a catalyst to any of the treatment I get. He just relished the knowledge that he didn’t do to people the things they did to him, and to each other for that matter. And it should be said that Werble’s idiosyncrasies did not account for much of the treatment he received. The world can be a very treacherous place. For much of his maltreatment came simply because he was a very large man. How can one count how that alone provides fodder for ridicule and animosity in the cities of man. How many times did a very large boy sit in the quiet corners of school byways crying more saline than might cure the sinus problems of the world? And all because he landed a larger package than 5 storks could carry. But he had been dry-eyed now for many many cycles of the moon.
“You’re a treasure!” That’s what his mom had always told him. “Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise,” she’d say and stroke his pudgy cheek.
A tear slid down his over-sized dirty face, a miracle all its own. And in the magnification of its buoyant sphericalness he caught again the legendary she-bear of light out in Heaven, leading her 3 cubs out into the coldness and the wonders of space. God, he loved the stars! What would it feel like to leap the bounds of these calloused shores?
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