Irony Feeds Divinity – Chapter 1
The Book of The Black-Eyed Sarabaite 1
December 16th, 1972 – Somewhere in Central Oregon.
Only nine days before Christmas in the Cascade Mountains, a baby-shit green Plymouth Fury station wagon blasts through a never ending assault of snowflakes just like the hard man driving would imagine it looks like if some sort of ship flew blind through outer space. That’s how far away from the world he feels, and he hasn’t even glanced at a map since they left the Bay Area. He hasn’t said more than a couple words to the little teenager sitting next to him either, and after twelve hours of driving. Cosett was well passed worrying about their situation. She sits with wide eyes, staring out the window at the snow covered pines, both hands on her pregnant belly feeling me kick against her organs. She chews on her bottom lip to stop herself from asking where they’re at or where they’re going. All day, Ishmael has only answered with an angry grunt or an apathetic shrug.
Ishmael still wears the jungle boots the army issued him in basic, the same ones he wore in Vietnam, but that’s the only sign that he served in the military. He stopped shaving or cutting his hair the day they signed his release papers. All he owned was one green duffel bag worth of clothes, his boots, and a plane ticket back to his home of record. He met Cosette at a bowling alley. He’s a 21 year-old in arrested development brought on by trauma, alcoholism, and drug abuse. She’s a very mature 16 year old who believes the more you suffer, the stronger your love.
Cosette’s parents are strict Catholics, and when she became with child, they tried to bring Ishmael into the church. They said that all the mental problems he was experiencing could be prayed away. After a few months, he broke and one day in the very public beaches of Half Moon Bay, he bscreamed at them that if their God did exist he’s a evil bastard that doesn’t mind watching children murdered by flamethrowers.
Ishmaels tendency to self medicate with alcohol and drugs, and my mother’s pregnancy at the age of 16, Cosette’s parents told the two of them they weren’t welcome in their home until they rid themselves of the devils that obviously possessed them. Cosette told them that she hadn’t even had sex with Ishmael. She said she couldn’t explain what happened. She even volunteered the very embarrassing fact that due to a war injury Ishmael couldn’t get an erection, but the old Catholic couple wouldn’t budge. What kind of devout followers of Christ would people think they were if they allowed their pregnant, teenage daughter to continue to see this crazy war veteran?
The whole mess had become a scandal that spread all through the city of Pacifica, California. It came to a head very early this morning. They’ve been driving north ever since, avoiding cities, and they ended up in the Cascade Mountains of Central Oregon. The pitch black lava rock field, the growing blanket of snow covering everything around them, and the huge black silhouettes of the mountains surround them. Even through the invincibility of a cocaine high, Ishmael knew it was time to head toward some form of civilization. Everyone knows the cold, remote roads of the Oregon mountains will kill you if given a chance.
A puff of her own breath reminds Cosette how cold she feels, and she cranks the heater. Ishmael gets too warm, so he pulls his shirt over his head sending the car floating into the wrong lane. He jerks it back. The car slides on black ice, but he’s able to get control of it again.
Cosette grabs the door handle and the dashboard. “Jesus. Where are we going, Ish?”
Uncle Ishmael doesn’t respond. Instead he just cracks the window. The cold and crisp air pours in, filling the inside of the car with the smell of cedar and pine. A large wooden sign appears in the headlights that reads, Welcome to Sisters.
Ishmael says, “We’re close. We have to be.”
“Close to what, Ish? I think this was a great trip, but maybe, maybe we can go back home?”
Ishmael’s wild eyes see a vacancy sign and abruptly pulls into a parking spot in front of a small highway motel. The car slides to a stop in the slushy snow. He slams the three on the tree gear shifter into first and kicks the parking brake on without looking at her. “Home? There ain’t no home anymore, kiddo. They kicked you out for being knocked up and unwed, and they hate me cause I saw the truth about mankind. Our only home is us.”
Cosette looks down at her belly, at me. Her long straight brown hair spills over her face, covering the tears welling up in her eyes. Despite herself, a small whine escapes the bottom of her throat.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay.” Ishmael takes a deep breath and runs his left hand through his tousled hair, and places his right on Cosette’s shoulder. “Everything’s gonna be okay. As sure as the sun’s coming up tomorrow. Me and you. Right? What am I?”
Cosette moves her head back and forth like she might want to say something but it won’t come out.
“Come on, kiddo. What am I?”
“You’re of sound mind and pure body and as strong as an ox.”
“And what else?”
Cosette glances up and smiles at Ishmael. “You’re miracle ingredient Z-247, a bona fide superman.”
“Supraman, but close enough. And what are we?”
“That’s right. I won’t let nothing happen to you. Now, I’m gonna go in and get us a room.”
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