Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Dead Acorns Fall Into a Dead End

A reporter from Dead Acorns came over yesterday for an interview. It's a magazine that's been in town for centuries. Started by the primary schools. The reporter who came by was seven years old. His name was James Wesley Stevens, he wore a very smart tartan cap and swung a refurbished reel-to-reel by his side.

He wanted a chair tall enough so that he could look directly into my eyes. I fetched the stairstool from my back porch and took care to slump the remaining inches when I plopped down on the big sofa. He set the recording machine on the table between us. Then, once he got comfortable atop the stool, he digested a butterscotch and asked me to click on his recorder.

"Alright, then. Bravo! And shake of a leaf, turn of a fortunate twig," he said, in a glossy, happy tone that really brightened up the whole room.

"Pardon me?" I asked.

He discreetly shielded his mouth with a tilted flat hand. "It's our service greeting. We always open with it."

"Oh, right, sorry," I said. Then, for the cassette: "Turn of a twig to you, Mr. Stevens."

"Yes, great," said Young Mr. Stevens. "I'm visiting with our friend Pal H today, a man who lives on the block of 6th and Empress, well within our school precinct. I believe there's a school bus stop right here behind the oyster bar. Tell me: does the rustle of little uniforms ever echo across the alley way and into your eardrum at 6 o'clock in the morning?"

"I've not noticed. All of 6th is crowded with trees at any rate." I contemplated bringing up a fun little tale of a school bus fire crashed into a laundromat from eight years past, but things were moving along, so.

"Good to hear! The readers of Dead Acorns Magazine are very well-behaved and respectful, almost to a fault. Though we are also known to scare up our own special blend of irreverence, even many of us have an acute sense of rebellion which befits our youth and pays tribute to the levity of children from all ethnicities throughout the ages." Without missing a beat, his voice descended into a grave tone, near murmur. "Children worldwide love the movies. Tell us about your good friend Yuri Hollops. He's making an animated feature film for children called The Deer and The Potion. Our readers sit in quivering anticipation of this film. I personally have a lot of fervor vested in its release. Have you seen the film?"

I pulled my ear. "You know, I've been very busy lately, I haven't seen anything but the part where the deer drinks the potion. I've also seen another animation where a passenger train gets up off the tracks and starts dancing. But that might not be the same film, I don't remember."

"Oh, well, you can definitely tell which clips go to The Deer and The Potion," said the child. "The entire cast of the film is made of melon balls, animated in the stop-motion fashion. Did the train appear to be made of fruit substance?"

"I really don't think so. It seemed to be more of his clay works. I remember he had the train up and dancing about on its wheels. Clay, I think. And all the passengers are waving out the windows. It's very detailed. There's a female shellfish, or a kind of crawdad, who plays partner, but I don't think the creature or the train or any of it was done in melon."

"See, that's it. It looks like clay at first, but upon deeper viewing you can see he's used some of the rinds in the landscape. And there's a gloss of citrus painting over the top to give it a pulpy effect."

I shrugged and sort of scratched at my head. "I've just been too busy, my daughter's gone missing," Aliss H, I emphasized, "and I've just finished clearing out her refrigerator today. Awful stuff going on in there. An open can of fried beans was particularly at war with the cantaloupe."

He shook his head sorrowfully. "Lots of melons in the news right now, that's for sure."

"I suppose," I said, but then I didn't know quite what else to say. I rather wanted to start into a description of Aliss H and some of my theories about her whereabouts, but I figured most people had heard it already. And those who hadn't probably didn't care enough to listen and find out in the first place. And beyond that, these were just children who were concerned about deers and potions and a natural curiousity about what happens when deers stand upright and guzzle various sorts of potions for a few hours duration. Which is all fine with me, they are in that vital stage of their lives. And I'm in this stage of my life, the one where I am left with nothing at all, except perhaps minor affects which will shortly be disappearing as well out through exits I cannot see and which are all around. It's all an exit out there.

The boy had reached down and stopped the recorder with the tip of shoe. "I don't know about you, but I'm not getting much out of this. I'd really hoped that you'd seen the film," he said. Very disappointed, very dark eyes.

"Look, let me see if I can pop by tomorrow and see if Yuri's around. When does your paper come out?" I asked.

"We go to print at the end of the month," he said, "but I need your testimony a week previous."

"Wait, I've got to intercept calls for the ballet tomorrow," I said. "Give me three days and I'll go see the film. I'll get a picture of the real deer and everything, okay? It sounds like he must have a very interesting pile of melons over there as well. How would that be? You could have diagrams and graphs, a real insider's view, the inside scoop on the melon balls, alright? We're okay, then?"

He nodded and came down off the stool and then paused and looked up at me again. "Thankyou," he said and held out his hand and I reached over and wiped a smudge from the crease right under his cheek. Who knows, maybe I could get this kid a real frothing goblet of potion!

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