Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunday Scribblings VIII

A short post today: we're going out very soon.


We turned on the tele late last night, to watch the final couple of hours of Part One of Spike Lee's opus on Hurricane katrina, and the way the American government dropped the ball with disaster relief. But before I strarted the tape, I caught a commercial break, and immediately wished I hadn't. There was the usual strident shouty Harvey Norman commercial, and their big offer was this: four years' interest free terms, with no repayments 'til 2011.

Um - excuse me, but isn't that the sort of thing that dropped the world into such financial poo a little more than a year ago? How bloody stupid are we?!? When will we start to realise that making the same mistakes will not bring about a different result? The sooner we get some sane regulations into the credit business the better. yes, we need it. The monetary system, that's been the backbomne of human civilisation for the past 10,000 years, is predicated on the back and forth of credit. But let's put a few barriers in place, so the unscrupulous can be fettered.

And may Harvey Norman and all their ilk with their 36 months' interest free and 18 months of no payments go to hell, where they belong. With their easy credit, they create bad debtors. We need to encourage people to save.

LISTENING TO: Fairport Convention, "Unhalfbricking". Good cover version of "The Ballad of Easy Rider".

READING: Comic book: David Brin, "The Life Eaters".

WORD OF THE DAY: Credit. let's keep it, but make it a little more difficult.

“Go on,” he’d said. “I’ll be all right.” Never once did he think that they might not be.

Henry has never worked as hard as he does now. He draws a deep, shuddering breath, and the darkness retreats. A spear of pain lances through his head. Not now! I don’t have time! The black spots dance in his vision, and he knows he’s close to blacking out again. Oh jesus dear lord not now, he prays and another part of his mind tips a mocking hat at his hypocrisy.
And then something in his brain stem stirs: suddenly, he’s thinking in the here, in the now. The air becomes crystal clear, the hairs on the back of his neck stir, his scrotum tightens, and there’s no more time to think. There’s barely time to take action.
The sound of the rain blots everything out: it pounds, hammers, seethes and drums at the roof, a tympanic deluge, and the wind is a triumphant gibbering shriek of heaven’s glory gone mad. The small building shakes and trembles, a flimsy dot under the wrath of the storm, and Henry heaves himself onto his feet, breath and life tearing at his throat. He staggers to the door, throws an oilskin coat on, claps his hat onto his head and tightens the pigging-thong to hold it in place, grabs a rope, and runs for the truck.

He has never been more alive in his life.

He leaps in into the cab, and is momentarily confused: where’s the steering wheel? Then the thought cuts through his fear – American truck. Left hand drive. Mover over, and move it!
The big Chevy starts immediately, its V8 rumble almost inaudible over the hammering crash and rattle of the rain on the roof. Henry flicks at the lever on the steering column to start the wipers. They slap at the rain to little effect, but there’s a momentary clearness he can use. Then his eyesight sparkles with the pain that tears at his head, and he bellows “I don’t have time now, I have no time for this.”
The truck is slithering and sliding as he punches it down the track, and he curses the machine’s perversity. He is ferociously cold, and sweat is perversely standing out on his forehead. He wrestles with the wheel, slipping and sliding the vehicle across and through a small river that cuts across the track. He turns the headlights on, and yells as a horse, terrified, cuts in front of him. God - that’s Adam’s dun, saddled. The horse gallops from sight, heading back to the barn. Damn damn damn, where am I? There are no landmarks. Lightning dances across the horizon, shattering the morning’s deep gloom into a thousand shards that sparkle in Henry’s already confused eyes. Then, there: the bay mare, rearing and kicking, and tugging at the rope that ties her to a tree. Henry fights the big Chevy over, and drags it to a halt. The pain tears through his head, and he opens the door and vomits. He stands and looks, and is appalled. The dry gully is now a torrent of black water racing by and tearing at the banks. And then the sight he had driven to see, the sight he had dreaded to see: there, not twenty metres away, on the small island, were his Mary and Adam.
There’s a small scrubby tree on the tiny patch of land Mary and Adam are clinging to. It’s possible that god knows how old it is, but it looks as though it’s been here since before the Ark. Henry leaves the truck’s engine running and the headlights on. Even though it’s mid-morning, the storm has blackened the sky, and visibility is diminishing. The wind tears at Henry as he grabs the rope and ties it to the front bumper.
“Mary!” he shrieks. “Mary!”
“Sweetheart, I love you,” she calls back. He hardly hears her, but her declaration gives him strength.
“I’m going to throw the rope over to you!” he shouts, and grabs the coiled rope and walks to the bank, and the wind slaps him in the face and he leans back then hurls the rope as far as he can. The wind whips at it, and tosses it back at him, contemptuously. Christ! Henry’s on his knees now, the pain in his head a shrieking torment. The horse screams in fear, and Henry staggers to his feet, and staggers to it. It settles momentarily, its big stupid eye rolling, and he murmurs soothingly and pulls out his clasp knife and cuts the beast free. Then another slap of pain sends him reeling as the horse gallops away, and he sags to the ground again. I can’t do it, he says. I can’t do it. I don’t have the strength. But I must do it. He gropes around and finds a rock. About a kilo. He ties the rope end around and around it, straining at the knot, then stands and falls again as the wind slaps him against the truck. His breath is coming in short hasping rasping grasping pants, tearing at his throat, and blood vessels burst in his nose and he struggles back to his feet and swings the weighted rope, and send it sailing out, defeating the wind. It misses the island by five metres. He drags it in again, shocked at the strength of the water’s rushing current that snaps and drags at the rock, and swings again, and misses again. “Mary!” he shouts, a cry of fear and hope and he drags the rock back and swings and throws, and the third time’s the charm, and he snags the tree.

He collapses with the relief, then the fear surges through him again, and he fights his failing strength and struggles again to his feet and he can see that she is tying the rope around Adam’s chest, and he wants to shriek “No!” but knows he would do exactly the same thing and he can see the boy arguing, wanting to give his Mother the rope, and Mary slaps him and pulls the rope tight, and sticks two fingers in her mouth and whistle a shrieking piercing whistle how the hell does she do that and he gets in the cab and slaps the machine into R and backs slowly for an eternity, and Adam is hauled over the bank’s edge and it’s P for Pray and Henry’s running and slipping and sliding to the boy and he dead, no he’s dead, oh please don’t him be dead, but he’s breathing, turn him and the filthy water gushes from him and Henry’s laughing, and Adam’s coughing and swearing and he’s fine, by god he’s all right and a voice behind him says “You need a hand, son?” and Henry turns in shock and there’s a by-god cowboy. A gent standing seven feet tall and wearing by-god cowboys boots all stitching and heels, and a by-god duster and a giant moustache and a Stetson that’d keep him dry in a hurricane.
“Seen your headlights,” says this mirage. “Figured you could use a hand.”

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