Thursday, August 25, 2005

at the sports desk with william

The storm was brief but full of atomic nature in that way that only summer can expand and make sparse all things and yet amplify them and, with just a single thunderclap like the earth itself being torn in twain along a seem line that the house of Camino might rest upon, awaken our Rex from his after lunch nap there on the futon with the heavy cat against his chest and the dog lying with his dangerous half beneath the futon itself. He thought first in those waking moments of the humor in fearing the weather, as if each person in each small and bricked house along the roadway narcissistically jumped with every boom, thinking that each bolt of lightening was meant for them, and that they would find themselves in that lonely but somehow noble category of strange deaths.

Rex thought next of his car in the driveway with its windows down and sunroof opened slightly, and this thought made him combine three different curses into a single word that was unofficial to any language, yet universally understood as blasphemous. He then removed the heavy cat and swung himself upright on the futon, kicking his half read copy of The Sound and The Fury as he did so. It slid briefly on the carpet and then hit a table leg and twisted and rolled awkwardly like some beautiful NASCAR crash that would be shown a thousand times and provide some nefarious release to the hundred thousand who came to see it in the flesh without ever admitting so.

It will do me no good to roll the windows now, he thought. He looked at the cat and at Carl Weathers and told them as much.

It then occurred to him that the cat had no blog only name to go by.

“We’ll call you Bukowski”, he told him. “And I think you know why”.

But Bukowski either did not care for this or just did not listen, or it was that he was simply a cat. He walked into the hallway and sat statue-like against the hardwood with his tail encircling his feet and his lazy eyes telling our Rex that he was dissatisfied with the allotment of cat food in his bowl.

This is not a post about my cat, Rex thought.

The he turned back to the window and tried to listen beyond the now distant thunderclaps and past the woods between Casa Camino and the high school to hear the unmistakable echoes of brass and percussion—those tribal calls of the blessed band geeks that warmed his heart so, as they promised the nearing time for football and for putting away books and just sitting before the television or in the stadium as men have done for millennia to enjoy the life affirmation found in the soft core violence of sports and to also have their indirect, though seemingly more important, celebrations for the coming cold and the dying of the stifling and oppressive heat—or to hear for the digital and heartless tolling of the school bell so that he would not have to go to the next room to see the clock or be reminded that his own watch needed to be taken to the jewelers on the square for some minor repairs.

There was no echoing band or digital bell. It was early, and there was still much of the day to waste as he saw fit.

He went first to Hastings for some free coffee and to sit reading the magazines without paying for that either. The same gaunt homeless man with his beard and flannel shirt and weathered cowboy that looked as if it had been wadded and chewed and then placed back on his head sat in his same chair drinking coffee and reading magazines, and our Rex had to wonder each time he saw him there or on the square or in the library whether it was economics or just a couple of decades or both that separated the two of them. There was a dignity in him. Rex had never seen him begging or making a nuisance of himself. He simply sat there with is complimentary coffee and borrowed magazines or on a bench in the square watching the work released inmates strip and replace paint from the courthouse columns or pick up trash outside the courthouse or just take their smoke breaks along the wall and point out the bullet holes left by Bed Forrest to one another and then put their pinky fingers into them for emphasis and pull them back as if expecting to see some of the Confederate hero’s gun powder still fresh in the wound of the courthouse itself.

Rex sat there watching them for a while. He was generally afraid of being taunted by work release inmates and held his standard don’t drop the soap reply at the ready for any battle of wits that might erupt, but that was unnecessary. He turned to the homeless cowboy on the bench beside him.

“This is not about you either, I’m afraid.”

The homeless cowboy paid him no mind. He simply occupied his half of the park bench in either a Zen-like state or what could be considered the rehearsal for a starring role in a video for Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung”, and he did not seem to notice our Rex walking past him and up Main Street to the 310 pipe shop.

Inside there was a clerk behind the counter and a jacketless lawyer on the leather sofa reading the paper and chomping on a lighted cigar, exhaling its blue smoke with promises of the Vols’ dominance for the upcoming season. Rex held his tongue.

The only things greater than his hatred for the Volunteers of Tennessee was the love for his native Crimson Tide, as sick of tragedy and full of vengeance as the red rivers prophesied by John the Revelator in the Bible’s big finale. Rex was plagued by Pavlovian disgust at even the sight of that shade of orange—the obnoxious glowing color that more resembled citrus fruit grown too near a nuclear research facility than the color a decent and respectable football club would choose for itself.

He thought sometimes that he hated them too much.

All men, though they can never admit to it, eventually love that which they love to hate in some perverse, yet natural way. A sheep will come to love the wolf if it has any love whatsoever for the shepherd, much as followers of politics would eventually lose interest in public matters and would find their politicians utterly useless and ordinary men and women if all their wishes were granted and the opposing side were to be completely defeated. They would see then that the roles of shepherd and wolf matter little, and that the sheer joy of being a sheep is the thing. The stark verisimilitude that all men must…

“Here you go,” the clerk interrupted.

Rex took the tobacco and handed her the money. While he waited he took out his pipe and filled it there on the counter.

“You were kind of rambling”, she said.

Rex gave her a puzzled look as he struck a match and put it to his pipe.

“What I mean is,” she continued, “this post isn’t that funny.”

Rex smiled and nodded as he drew on his pipe. “I know”, he said. “I had a whole bit about how Bear Bryant could kick Nathan Bedford Forrest’s ass, but it really didn’t fit. I cut the whole page,” he told her, “but not that it would’ve mattered much.”

She nodded.

“Besides”, Rex told her, “This is about football and there isn’t much to say yet. I am not one for trash talking. Gloating is more my style.”

She smiled and handed him back the change.
“But thanks for reading this far”, he said.


Blogger Kat Coble said...

Rex, I get that you want to fit in with the Gals, and the whole Oprah Book Club is the coolest, but

put down the Faulkner and back away sloooowly.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

Katherine, I understand that you have only my best interest at heart, but you should know by now that I would never disobey a direct order from the big O.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I've been away for awhile...but really enjoyed this. A cat named Bukowski--I love that! Someone who despises the VOLS as much as I do? Outstanding! (For me it is a toss up b/w the Vols and Gators). I am a Georgia boy, so that's where my heart lies.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

I never much cared for the Vols, but living in Knoxville really cemented my hatred for them.

I think I'm going to have to name a pet Bukowski at some point. It really would fit most animals.

6:54 PM  

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