Crystal Lynn Gauthier
It was Amazing!
Dreams And Living Still
At night I dream the dreams of the dead. The dead walk the earth then and so do the living. All is well on the earth in my dreams. Then I wake and you and I and they and all of us are no more. And once more we go forth to this self same oh-so sane world. That's the nature of the beast.
The Hall Of Silence
And then back in '72 or '73 or thereabouts I slipped through the fence of my father's back pasture with my trusty hound dog Roxie into the backwoods where we had always been forbidden to go for one reason or another. We knew not what. The air was so still that I swear you really could have heard a pin drop if either boy or beast had had the pin to drop in the first place. But, as it was, Roxie and I had nothing but ourselves, scuffed up as we were by the days' activities at the family farm.
We had entered upon an incredible hall of silence. Neither man nor beast nor bird uttered a single chirp or growl in the wild. Even the insects, ever present elsewhere, were eternally silent among those stately rising Southern pines. And the clouds above seemed not to move at all in that bright blue sky. It was an arena surely as touched by madness as by the divine and Roxie and I knew it both that summer afternoon as time itself seemed to stand still.
Roxie, the old dog, she whimpered against my leg and I said, "There, there, old girl," for I knew that we had soon become lost. My father would later on lecture me on these parts. "Willie, don't you know, that those woods reach nearly two county seats over? You might never have found your way out of there." And the poor man that my father was he would near about have had my hide over the matter were he not too gentle a man to give me the whipping I deserved. But that was later, much later to come. For now, Roxie and I walked among those stately pines and breathed in the air and tried not to let it show how scared we were at that unearthly silence that surrounded us. The sun, for its part, was mild that summer day but it blazed in such a way as to give boy and dog a fever alike in the endless hour upon hour upon a watch that stood still.
At last, we exited, not five miles from where we had entered as the crow flies but much further from the cabin door on the roads we traveled to make our way home from our journey around that no man's land.
And all were glad to see us though they knew something was wrong, that we were somehow stricken down our long walk through that hall of silence. It was not a thing that could be easily figured save that boy and dog alike seemed stricken by some divine ball of madness that would send terrors down the sleep of the otherwise restful.
And the results were handy for those who were there to see them. In a few months, my trusty hound would be struck by a heart attack as my sister, who had not accompanied us on that journey, cried out, "Roxie! Roxiieeee!" while the dog collapsed dead at my feet. For my part, I would become the oddball in a succession of schools and madhouses for the very young. It was the end of one childhood and the beginning of something else instead. And I would seek to fill that silence with words, endless words, to the break of day, words that decades later I am writing still. Words that haunt me as I drive away that divine fire I was presented with that day. Drive it away and right home to you. Welcome. Silence and a ball of fire and one old man's neverending dream. There you have it.
Bound By A Ring Of Fire
A little John Dee would be nice too. Supposed master of black magic, I understand that he had the whole of Queen Elizabeth 1's court under his spell before it all fell apart. Centuries later, scholars of forgotten lore attempt in vain to hunt down his vast and imperious library, hoping for the clue to the secrets of the unknown. But, no, all is lost, lost, lost forevermore...
"He's no artist at all. He's not producing art but rubbish."
"But don't you see?" I said. "The man himself is a living work of art. He walks all about town in a paint spattered dress! Can you think of anything better?
A Sign For The Town
The meeting of the city council was called to order. The mayor was new to his office as were some of the aldermen and all had their list of demands. The mayor, an outspoken man known for having made his fortune with a long line of trucks to haul good here and there throughout the city, led the way.
"What disappoints me," he said, "is that there's nothing to say that this is who and what we are. Nothing to say that this is Frederick, Maryland. We need something that'll be us right on the map to be seen by everybody."
"We already have the spires," said Alderman Baker, a sure rival. And it's true. Frederick has always been known for the clustered spires.
"What do you propose?" asked another alderman.
"I say that we put 'Frederick, Maryland' right on the town's water tower to be seen by all," Mayor Grimes said.
"If that isn't the dumbest idea..." said yet another alderman.
"I like the spires," Alderman Baker repeated.
They argued the matter back and forth and it was a prolonged debate but then Mr. Mayor simply said, "If you approve the motion and have 'Frederick, Maryland' painted on our tower then after that name is painted on the water tower I personally will climb the tower to the top to put my seal of approval on it."
"I'll climb it with you," said Alderman Young who then belonged to the opposing party.
"It's a 'Win-Win' situation," said the mayor.
With that, the motion was passed. The funds were allocated, the workers were dispatched to paint the city's name on the town water tower and give the old town a touch of class. No sooner had the paint dried the old tower than the mayor and Alderman Young were at the tower ready to climb it.
"Are you ready?" Mayor Grimes asked.
"Ready," replied Alderman Young.
And rung by rung they climbed that mighty tower. And though the winds buffeted them on high, they never lost their footing. The first dozen rungs passed without trouble. And then came a hundred. Just a little bit further and they climbed onto the catwalk above.
They waved to the crowd standing far below them. And grinned for in their own way they had put the town of Frederick on the map that day. And thereby passed into legend.