THE INFORMATION #999
JUNE 29, 2018
Copyright 2018 FRANCIS DIMENNO
Hell is empty and all the devils are here.–Shakespeare
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TWELVE: PART SIXTEEN: THE EASTERN GATE OF PARADISE
The High Sheriff, whose name was Pike, was surely no Sweet Betsy from Pike, and that was a natural fact. He had it in for carnies and traveling folk of all stripes, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, he took it upon himself to make their lives a misery. The nearby creek ran through a place called Hickory Holler and show-folk said, I learned years later, that it was haunted with the restless spirits of smart-mouthed drummers, talky clowns, grab-ass geeks, and hard-luck hobos what had had an unfortunate encounter with this particular Sheriff name of Pike. If I knew at the time just how dangerous that particular High Sheriff was, I would of shit my breeches for real. Only I wasn’t wearing none. Sheriff’s Deputy Hoxie had told me to strip naked, and I had done so.
Pike turned to Hoxie and said, “What kind of prayer did he say, just before I interrupted your holy ceremony? Was it a Papist Prayer?” “Naww, Opie, it was a good old Protestant hymn.” “That’s good,” said O.P. Pike, “At least he’s a prayin’ man. He’s gonna need it, where he’s goin’.”
I didn’t know how it was possible, but I began to sweat even harder. I was just about to piss myself when Pike turned to me and said, “Are you some kind of carpetbagger, boy?” “No Sir,” I said. “I’m a son of the south both born and bred.” “A very pretty speech,” said Pike. “But it aion’t gonna help you none.” “Shall I shoot him now, Sherf?” said Hoxie, and there was something of a shrill urgency in the adenoidal Deputy’s voice. “Not now,” said Pike. “I ain’t through with interrogating him yet.” “Say whut?” said Hoxie. “I got a few more questions I needs to axt him.”
“So,” said Pike, “if you ain’t a carpetbagger then you must be some kind of scalawag. I thought we chased your kind out of here years ago.”
“No Sir,” I started to say, and then I felt the butt of a rifle on the back of my neck, and I got so sick to my stomach that I coughed up some sort of red bile, and at that moment I actually did piss myself. My water trickled into the warm dirt, and, thankfully, none of it splashed on the high sheriff, or I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.
“Don’t you contradict me, or I’ll castrate you, you miserable Yankee dog.”
“Go ahead and cut my nuts off, but I ain’t no Yankee,” said I. I had stuck the word “ain’t” in there so they wouldn’t think I was putting on airs, like a big-city fancy-man.
I was expecting at any moment to get shot, or to feel the stock of the rifle on the back of my neck again. But nothing happened,. I looked up. Hoxie was standing around and shifting his weight uneasily and looking a mite sickly himself. “You must be some kind of scalawag for sure.” said the High Sheriff.
I didn’t open my mouth.
“Have you made your peace with your maker?”
“Look,” I said, with courage I never knew i had. “If you’re going to shoot me, Sheriff, then why don’t you get down to it? Fish or cut bait. I didn’t do anything wrong except to take in some of the sights around here, in the little town where I happened to be born.”
“You was born here, was you?” said the High Sheriff, with a grin. “I suppose you think that you’re some punkins. I guess you thought you were going to have a gay old time here, pokin’ fun at the yokels you left behind here to rot, and molestin’ our womenfolk. I know everything there is to know about you carnival types, boy. I’ve seen every type of a gyp show and a huckster wagon pass through these parts, and yourn is the worst by far. Do you think those honest farm folks and their hard-workin’ and long-sufferin’ wives need to be exposed to the type of degrading carnival filth you Yankees have got infestin’ your midway? Those short-change artists and those rigged gambling games and those inhuman polluted spectacles you got in that freak show? Boy, I’ve been around, and I ain’t no shrinkin’ violet, but some of those exhibits you got there just beat all. And that moss-haired girl–nearly named as a jaybird, and a common prostitute to boot.”
My blood rose hot in my throat. I stood up. I looked the High Sheriff dead in the eye and God damn me if i wasn’t mad enough to spit in his face. “Don’t you slander HER! Miss Wax is gentle and kind, and as sweet and innocent as the new-mown hay!”
The High Sheriff laughed, and held up both of his hands. “I guess you’re sort of sweet on that twitchet, hey? Well, it’s really too bad, because–”
Pike made a gesture then, and Hoxie raised his pistol.
At that moment the other Sheriff’s Deputy rode up on his horse; the silent one, whose name I never did get, even though I owe him my life. He didn’t bother to dismount, and he wasn’t aiming his rifle at me. He had a hurried confab with the High Sheriff. All the while Hoxie had his pistol pointed at me, and I knew he wouldn’t miss, so I didn’t even try to run. Pike turned from the Deputy on horseback and gave me what looked to be a fatherly grin. He even called me “Son.” “Put your clo’s back on, Son,” said he. I did so, with some alacrity, lest he change his mind.
“Why,” said Pike, “didn’t you say you were the son of Colonel Floyd of the third regiment? I fought beside that man at the battle of Antietam. A braver soldier I never knowed. Why, he even saved my life, onct. I was skylarkin’ at the front ramparts and showed my head and the Colonel shoved me to the ground and said “Get down, you goddamned fool,”. Just then, a bunch of minie balls went over our heads like a swarm of angry bees. I’d of had my head blown clean off if it wudn’t for yore Paw. Let’s us have a drink,” said Pike, and he took out a flask. I wasn’t much of a drinkin’ man, then nor now, but I took a long pull and felt the warmth of the moonshine circulating though every inch of my sweat-soaked body. “That’s the way,” said Pike. (I noticed he didn’t offer any to Hoxie, who just stood back, hopping from one leg to the other, like he had an itch he dast not scratch.) “In memory of your paw. How is he, anyway?” “I haven’t seen him lately. Not for about twenty years, Sheriff.” “Well, last as I saw him, right after the war, him and me rode with the night riders. We did a lot of good around here, before the Federals came in. No uppity Nigras in these parts–no SIR! Now, what became of your Paw after that, I couldn’t say.” Once again Hoxie started balancing his weight on one foot, and then the other. “You’ve got to allow for Hoxie,” said High Sheriff Pike. “He may be a tad over-zealous, but he does a good job and he’s a brave man and he didn’t know what to make of you. Now, don’t you let our little misunderstanding put you off our town. You’re a Floyd; you can come back here anytime you like and settle down. We lost a lot of good men in the war. Only don’t be bringin’ that carnival with you. What you doin’ with that carnival nonsense anyway, Boy? You remind me of the Prodigal Son, muckin’ around with the hogs. Ain’t you got no natural sense? Ah, well, the apple never falls far from the tree. You’re your father’s son, all right. The Colonel was also a bit of a scamp when he was a young ‘un.”
“By the way,” said Pike, “what was you doin’ over t’ the water tower anyway?”
“Well, Sheriff, I suppose I was fixin’ to climb to the top and carve my initials there.”
“Son, you are one lucky bastid,” The High Sheriff laughed. He was really yukking it up. “All I can say is that it’s a good thing ole Hoxie caught up with you when he did. Because, ” said the Sheriff with a wide grin. “Before you got half-way back down that ladder,” and he put his wide hand in front of his narrow mouth and whispered, “why–he would of shot you in the back–and you’d be dead as a doornail!”
THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN
SWINBURNE’S REJOINDER TO EMERSON
A foul mouth is so ill matched with a white beard that I would gladly believe the newspaper scribes alone responsible for the bestial utterances which they declare to have dropped from a teacher whom such disciples as these exhibit, to our disgust and compassion, as performing on their obscene platform the last tricks of tongue now possible to a gap-toothed and hoary-headed ape, carried first into notice on the shoulder of Carlyle, and who now, in his dotage, spits and chatters from a dirtier perch of his own finding and fouling; Coryphaeus or choragus of his Bulgarian tribe of autocoprophagous baboons who make the filth they feed on.
STUPID INTERNET QUESTIONS
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
JIMMY OLSEN ROCK & ROLL
TV TROPES: THE NEW ROCK AND ROLL
GUY COLWELL: RADICAL ROCK
6* DAILY UTILITY
Schwartz explained that people afflicted with OCD engage in a wide variety of problematic behaviors — compulsive hand washing, door opening, repetitive checking of ovens and doors, even repeating the same word, phrase or sentence. The cause, at a neurological level, is hyperconnectivity between two brain regions, the orbitofrontal cortex and the caudate nucleus, creating a tidal wave of unfounded mortal fear and triggering habitual response as the only way to attain calm. But the worst part is that, despite recognition that all these thoughts and behaviors are irrational, the OCD sufferer feels driven to obey them, nonetheless.
THE BOBBY FULLER FOUR
The Bobby Fuller Four was in the tradition of Buddy Holly. It’s a shame what happened. Rock might have gone in a slightly different direction had Bobby Fuller lived. But at least we have this; a hint of what might have been:
LET HER DANCE
CONTRA STAR WARS TROLLS
9* RUMOR PATROL
TOO SMART FOR STRANGERS
WITH WINNIE THE POOH
SADDEST SONGS EVER
A lot of these came out in the early 1970s. Maybe the strain of melancholy was on account of the end of the counterculture dream, what with Manson and Altamont. And because everybody was crashing after taking bad speed. And because there was a marijuana drought and the music biz was being flooded with heroin in the early 70s.
I THINK IT’S GOING TO RAIN TODAY
I LAY DOWN AND CRY
11*DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
The Bee Gees of the late 60s and early 70s remind me of a sluggish, strangulated, inbred, Australian Bizarro World version of the Beatles.
This track in particular:
12* CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE
This sure is a bitchin’ tune. I thought so, when it first came out. But what is it even about? All I can make out is some nonsense about a “sergeant major”.