Sunday, December 6, 2009

bob and june: the fourth vision

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous episode, click here

and when the quahog opened the fourth cage, and he heard the sound of the tsunami, the fourth creature swam out to the abandoned oil tanker.

and there joe beheld a green horse, with seven jockeys riding him, and pulling four chariots behind him, and he was the most fearsome beast of all and his name was dependence.

and the seven jockeys were alexander, barbarossa, constantine, diocletian, enobarbus, frank and jesse.

and the four chariots were driven by snow white, rose red, cinderella and rapunzel.

"what war?" joe repeated.

"well , take your pick." the little man answered. "there's wars everywhere."

joe thought about this for a while. the rain was falling more heavily, and the windshield wipers of the little truck were being overwhelmed. the little man seemed unconcerned and kept a steady speed.

"if there's wars everywhere," joe finally said, "how can you come back from them?"

"ha, ha! that's a good question, young man. it shows you're thinking. but there's a simple answer."

"and what might that be?"

"you come back from one war and home to another."

"sounds like just words to me," said joe.

"well then what isn't just words?" the little man asked.

joe looked at the windshield. "this rain isn't just words. and those windshield wipers aren't just words."

"true enough. but they are fighting a war, ain't they?"

"who will win?"

"hard to say. guess we'll find out."

i don't mean to be rude," said joe, "and i appreciate your stopping and giving me a ride, bit mightn't it be a good idea to stop and pull over?"


"why not?"

"got to get where i'm going."


"don't worry, i got a pretty good idea where i am."

"are we almost there?"

"hard to say."

joe thought carefully about his next question before asking it. "if you've got a good idea where you are, why is it hard to say if we are almost there?"

the little man laughed. "you ask a lot of questions, don't you? that's good."

"thank you. i have another question."

"go ahead."

"has anyone ever told you you look like rasputin or appolonius of tyana?"

"no and no. and that was two questions."


" nothing to be sorry about. questions are good."

"then i have two more questions. are you rasputin or appolonius of tyana?"

"not so far as i know. maybe in some other life."

"you mean you believe in reincarnation?"

the little man took his eyes off the streaming windshield. "what! of course! what kind of durn fool doesn't believe in reincarnation?"

"do you believe in the transmigration of souls?"

"we can discuss that at some other time. because here we are."

the truck turned on to a dirt road. the trees were so close and overarching on both of the road that the effect of the rain was diminished. suddenly the rain stopped beating on the roof and the truck stopped. the little man got out. joe got out too. they were in a barn. there was no light but joe could just make out a horse in a stall staring at him.

the little man took a lantern off the wall and lit it. joe could see that the horse was very old.

"that's an old horse," joe said.

"yes, he is. follow me."

joe followed the little man back out into the wind and rain. he could see a house about a hundred yards away with a single light in a lower window.

"my name is bob," said the little man. "bob smith."

'i'm pleased to meet you, bob."

"you should be."

bob smith and joe went inside to the one room with a light. it was a kitchen. a woman was sitting at a table drinking coffee. she had sharp eyes and gray hair in a bun with a big pin through it like a weathervane. an old purple sweater was thrown across her broad shoulders.

"this is june," said bob smith. "she's in charge of the new arrivals. she rules this place with an iron hand. isn't that right, june?"

june didn't answer but looked at joe over the top of her coffee cup. "we've got three rules in this place," she told him. "no filth. no arguments, and no bad things. got it?"

"yes, ma'am."

"he needs everything, i think," bob told june.

"one thing at at a time," june answered. "first thing he needs is a face. then we can get him a new name and a reason to live."

"sounds good," bob agreed. "we'll do all that first thing in the morning. right now maybe you can make him a pallet on the floor."

"he can make himself a pallet on the floor, if he can find anything to make it with." she looked at joe. "isn't that right?"

"yes, ma'am."

"you're dismissed." june picked her cup up again. bob jerked his head at joe and they moved back into the dark corridor.

"just find a place to sleep anywhere," bob told joe. "you'll be taken care of in the morning."

"will you be here?"

"maybe. don't worry about it. you're safe now. the war is over."

"what war?" thought joe. but he just nodded.

next: down by the river