Ravens and Pinecones

They climbed the high school stage and Dominic went directly to the microphone sitting alone on a naked stage.  He blew in it.  It caused instant feedback that hurt everyone’s ears.  “Is this thing—“ He was too close.  He backed up.  “—Is this thing on?”

“We’re hearing you loud and clear Dominic,” said Larry Lemay.  Dominic pumped his head Larry’s way.

“Ravens and Pinecones,” Dominic said leaning into the microphone.  He used a placid tone for the greeting to his piece.  He cleared his throat.  He stepped back from the microphone.  He rolled his shoulders back with his hands held out.  He stepped up to the microphone with a vacant expression.  His hands hovered over the microphone in an action that mimicked the effect the backside of a magnet has on the backside of another magnet.  He then gripped the microphone in a fashion so intense the veins in his arms bristled to attention.  “I scream at pinecones.  Just to get a reaction.  Just to feel something.”  He released the microphone and backed away, as if the intensity of the moment overpowered him.  He measured the crowd.  He soaked in each set of eyes.  He stepped forward:

“Death!  Ravens sipping from a puddle of what remains of the worst storm between God and man,” these words were issued in Dominic’s best seething whisper.  “Run Abner!  Run!  He would know.  He would run.  He ran through the snow of Armageddon’s winter as it stuck to his face like buttered corn for the roaches and squirrels to eventually lick it off his frozen and embittered corpse.”  Dominic stepped back.  His face contorted to that of a guitarist finishing a funky groove.  There was no reaction.  Eyes were wide in the audience, expressions were tightened with confusion, and others had expressions that could only be described as concern.  Dominic held the funky nasal flare for another beat:

“Infants roll through the fire end over end like tumbleweed through a desert.”  He dropped the whisper.  In its place, was a voice that sprang from his diaphragm.  “The proselytization of provocative plumbers. Junipers sucking on angel dust.”  Again, he gripped the microphone with intensity.  The microphone remained in its housing for another moment, and then he ripped it free: “FLOODS!  Canoes; Paddles; Houses half under water.  Naked Episcopalians bobbing in the water, like short, bespectled Jewish men inching sideways through a theater aisle for a seat.  A gestating embryo eats their twin and dances a victory dance on the acidic remnants of their chemical romance.  Birth!”  He then threw the microphone to the floor and sat next to Michalas.

“That’s the weird crap I’m talking about,” Jarvis Sweeney said standing.  “I’m not going to have anything to do with Dominic’s weird, artsy crap.”  Jarvis turned on a heel and exited the theater.  Seeing Jarvis leave like that created a silent tension.  Two others stood and worked their way past the legs in the aisle to follow Jarvis.

“The hell did you do that for?” Michalas whispered to Dominic.

“Some of the times,” Dominic replied, “you have to disembowel yourself, or you’ll never free up the space necessary for spiritual growth.”

“No one knows what you’re talking about though,” Michalas whispered.  “You’re scaring them.  We’re not going to have anybody left who wants to be in our play”

Dominic would’ve loved to provide Michalas with an immunity card.  He would’ve loved to explain it all to him, but when the zone hit Dominic he lived by the ‘No one gets out of here alive’ philosophy.

“They already think you’re one of the weirdest people in this town,” Michalas said.  “This will get around Dominic, and no one will want to watch our play.  Is that what you want?”

Then it happened, two people stood and began a slow clap.  They stood almost simultaneously and began clapping.  Some others followed.  One of them had tears of appreciation in his eye.

It was the complicated nihilism that people wanted to declare they appreciated with their applause, even if that nihilism was meaningless.  They loved the strident nature, the rhythm, the passion, and most importantly they wanted to convey the idea to all in attendance that they understood.  Even if they didn’t understand, they wanted their neighbor to think they did.  They also wanted to think they did.  Nihilism, of this sort, was usually delivered by some half-wit who had done just enough research to make it seem like they knew what they were talking about.

Most listeners lose focus about halfway through any oration, and the substance is usually replaced by either passion or a strident nature.  Nihilism, of this sort, usually involves symbolism over substance, and if someone can deliver good symbolism in a rhythmic cadence, he can usually win over a crowd regardless what he says.  It’s usually gobbeldy gook that some teen wrote between watching reality shows, but people cheer him, because they want to be the only ones that get it.

The true humor arrives when those people stand and cheer and cry a little, and they develop this little psychological ploy against the others that don’t get it.  It’s similar to the reactions reference comedians get.  Very few of the audience members understand every reference comedians make, but they laugh.  If the reference is delivered in an intelligent rhythm, and with a suitable cadence, people will laugh, and applaud, to just about anything.  “What do you mean you don’t get it?” one audience member asks another.  “What are you stupid?”  The other will then want to prove their intelligence in the next joke, until the entire audience is laughing, and standing and applauding, and even crying a little.

Dominic decided that if he did a reading of this sort again, he would include a mocking reference about Nicholas II with a reference that had nothing to do with the Russian Czar to see if people will laugh.  He kicked himself for not thinking of it sooner.

“You’re going to get yours on the back end,” Michalas said when the clappers sat.  Dominic rolled his eyes.  Michalas was speaking about the karmic payment Dominic would receive for messing with peoples’ minds.  It had been Dominic’s experience that no such karma exists.



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