Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Streetcar named Purpose - Dr. Electro, episode V

 Letters from Josh

  Autumn Leaves 10/18/20                                                                           Letter 28

  Howdy, folks!  How ya doin’ over there?  It’s a pleasant Monday evening over here, with a cello concerto on the turntable, and great-grandma’s clock from 1896 ticking away on the recently-completed bookshelf.  Yesterday found me peacefully rummaging through rocks - shale fragments to be exact - on the side of a mountain just over the West Virginia line. 

After two months of Sundays working hard at finishing the Professor Plum Library room in my house, plus the cycle of life and death wearing on my heart more than a little bit, it was time to hit the open road.  The highway sang beneath my tires and an autumn sun, benevolent in his advancing season, blessed the path before me. 

The trees began to blaze as the elevation increased, mountains decked out in their Halloween costumes.  The only map I took was a photo of one on my phone.  I could have used the GPS, but with Adventure being the main goal, I only referred to it occasionally.  A “wrong turn” from Strasburg onto 81 south brought me one mile from Mt. Olive, wherever that was.  The little car motored west, then north, aiming for Route 55 and a way over the next ridge.  Quiet churches and the occasional cow watched me zip by, a blur of red in autumn fields.  There, a nursery with a million pumpkins for sale, yonder an American flag.  The road dipped and wound and gradually climbed into the golden light, trees matching the pumpkins, the air crisp and cool. 

I drank in the beauty, a salve for a sad mood.  A friend lay dying a hundred miles east.  It wasn’t unexpected, and his life was a good, and long one.  But, the End always boggles my mind, and fries my circuits.  Does a computer comprehend a swimming pool?  As a younger man, I’d lapse completely into Nihilism, thinking “what’s it all about?” with only the answer “nothing” echoing with an ache in reply.  Yet today, as I urged my little car forward towards the ridgeline, it didn’t ring true anymore (thankfully.) 

I still don’t know what does, but as far as I can tell, moving in the opposite direction -towards meaning, to faith if one is practicing, to light...well, that seems to be the choice to make.  This path that we’re walking together makes my head spin sometimes, but it seems to be spinning towards better things, and for that, I thank you.  And hey, I found some fossils in the rocks on the mountainside.  

So, folks, heavy stuff aside, are you ready for some Dr. Electro?  Previously, we found him peering intently from the shadows mid-culvert, watching a sinister gathering of The League of Inquiring Minds.  Across town, disillusioned WWI Veteran Murphy languishes at Club Vignette, adrift in a sea of money, lacking an anchor of meaning, and anything to do, really.  

Dr. Electro - Episode V - A Streetcar Named Purpose 

  Murphy put out his cigarette and exited Club Vignette. Only the closest of observers would have noted the frustration in how the paper crumpled in the gilded tray by the door.  His chauffeur wasn’t expecting him for another three hours, and Murphy rather relished the novelty of the streetcar that trundled towards him. 

“Ah, the common folk” he thought, a quick step up into the yellow-lit oasis of the Ordinary. There, an old lady with her shopping, and next to her, a...drummer?  The musician clutched his cases on his way back from a wedding gig, calling to his young daughter in a thick Lithuanian accent.  “Kathryn, Kathryn, the case!” as the vehicle started off with a pop, whine, and smell of ozone, jostling everyone violently.  Murphy smiled for the first time in weeks.  It was cold, rainy, and real. 

“Hey buddy, read all about it.”  A grimy urchin bumped and stumbled by, applejack hat besmirched with rain.  “ORPHANS FOR ORDER” screamed the headline on the pamphlet.  Puzzled, Murphy read on. 

“Children - scrambling in the streets, throwing rocks at horses, breaking bottles, practically inciting anarchy at every turn!  Schoolhouses are only serving as nests of corruption, one boy infecting ten with ideas about spitballs and disobedience!”  On and on,  thundering in ominous print, eviscerating the modern child and his devilish disregard for discipline, calling for a re-education of the young mind, and implementation of draconian measures of order.  Eyebrows raised, Murphy flipped over the greasy paper, and scrawled on the back in red crayon:  HELP US.  507 Union.  ASAP. Flip flop.  Front and back.  Back and forth.  No, no, the printed text and crayon were unrelated, and obviously to be heeded.  Murphy’s head snapped up.  The orphan stared at him, doffed his Applejack, and hopped off the streetcar.  “Next stop, transfer to the Chestnut street line, direction of Union Street” cried the conductor. 

Murphy smelled - nay, felt,  the ozone of the lines crackling overhead.

To be continued...

No comments: