The Distant Drums - Part One

By A. H. Watson

I go to the mall less and less these days. Some of this is due, surely to the lack of energy thing. Most of it, I am afraid, is for reasons I am quite tentative about sharing.

The fear that you - at least those who know me best - might misunderstand, or feel I say things, best not revealed; Things likely best left in the deep folds in the human mind. Those crevices best left not explored - no expeditions attempted.

It's foggy today on the back one-eighth acre I now own...the mountain home sold, the beach house sold, the other larger beach house gone, as of today.

Like Sandburg's "small cats' feet." the mist rolls in; it no longer covers the large bay and tidal grasses of my "real" home, but rather the small pond and the single tree allotted me by deed, here at my new abode.

Strangely, in the utter silence of this place, the mist sounds loud; clattering, bumping, seemingly wheezing in the slowly rolling mix outside. Much as individual atoms of H, O and N might sound if encased in glass.

This new acuity to things around me started last week.

On my last visit to the indoor mall some miles from my new home, I began worrying about, not only my health, but also, my very sanity.

Soon after entering the mall, my legs felt too shaky and weak to hold me. I quickly found an unobtrusive seat at the foot of a store greeter.

Mister happy face must have been in excess of eighty years of age. He performed with a fake sense of health, and well being we see so often in the old.

Yet, a veiled panic raced across the greeter's face at each opening of the automatic doors. It was almost as though he expected a visit from the grim reaper momentarily.

Friendly to most all that entered, he would however, all but turn his back to any male with beard. I reminded him that, most certainly, a turned head could not fool any reaper that had made its way to Wal-Mart in search of him.

This knowledge did nothing to improve his demeanor. Later the next week he was found crouching behind the electric pig. Seems a large contingent of Orthodox Jews had settled outside of town.

Sitting there, watching this old fellow rapidly fall apart, the first group to catch my eye consisted of four pre-teen girls, dressed not unlike women I remember from my own youth. But, those women I remembered were in their twenties, attracted to the Naval pier at Jacksonville and were the true essence of working women.

None of this crowd looked as though they ever planned on charging for it, best I could tell.

These children - for in reality that is what they were - if added to a line of ten year old boys in nothing but jockey shorts, would have blended to the point you would be unable to chose boy from girls, except by height - t that age, girls are somewhat taller than boys,

Each of the girls wore jeans or thin cotton pants. The top of which encircled the thin bodies well below the "fall line" and at the point of pubic arch.

The tops were string type halters/see-through blouse types, open down the front, of course.

As they walked, they were oblivious to all - other patrons, employees, even the cars outside. They had crossed the front lane to the store with never a look - to the screeching of rubber and a few silly giggles on their part.

They moved past me, not as individuals, but rather as one seething moving organism. They touched, they leaned upon, and they hugged each other as though being in physical contact fueled their very survival. Yet, I could not help but feel that if lined up and asked individually, "Why are you here?"

Each would look at the others and wonder what sort of space oddity they were dealing with, as they had no clue as to why they were at the mall - why would anyone ask?

When these "last best hopes" entered the store proper, the girls become lost in the tangle of other such girls. Much like the ricebirds of winter that swirl outside in amorphous groups. They break into smaller groups...then twittering and giggling, come together again in time to drive those around to the point of madness.

The new definition of rude is teens, in a large group.

Also at the mall, there are other women in one-piece shifts that, hang loosely from the shoulder, yet fit tightly across the belly and rear, each protruded almost equally - front and rear - much as some nature inspired counter-balance.

Most of these women look as though they have been released from the rear door of the jail. Their hair tangled in oily strings, or more formally arranged in rolls over orange juice cans. They spend hours spinning the hangers of the pants and shirts section of the store, marring all they touch, looking closely for the house dick.

On any given day in this seething, miasmal mass, you will find most of the areas illegal immigrants. They are either visiting family that work there, or are there on their own shoplifting venture.

How can I make this judgment?

One: they don't care if you see them stealing. This is their land of honey. They know the police will release them. They know that the government will do anything including break its own keep them here.

Further, when you walk up to ask what the do they think they are doing, they yell, "get out of my face you fucking gringo!!"Seems pretty definitive.

Warning: If they are having a really bad day this little encounter will leave you bleeding, literally.

The last of these mall zombie groups are the old.

Wheel chairs, or those with small tanks supplied by the store, plow through the aisles as if directed by some formal battle plan devised by Rommel.

Out of time, they take no wounded, they point to their oxygen bottle, look at their watch, then waving the middle finger wildly, forge ahead to the drone of the loudspeaker - "Attention shoppers: On aisle five there is a sale on..."

The only thing that can defeat them is a group of teen-agers. Much as an amoeba might, the girls surround a wheel chair and wiggle and giggle for a short time. What is left is a much calmer geezer - eyes watering - distant gaze in a faded washed out eye and a small bump in the britches.

There is one project I wish to undertake on one of my now habitual morning visits.

Ever notice, when you look at an employee, his vest is - too short - too tight - or too lose?

Instead of teenagers, as the old man surely dream, I now dream of entering a Wall-Mart having the employees line up and swap vest until they FIT!!!!

For weeks now, each day I am more strongly drawn to Wal-Mart, like some bad jones riding my shoulders. I am there by nine, and only leave to find real food sometimes around 2 PM.

The store and mall next door are alive with people. I have spent a lifetime seeking not to seem condescending when dealing with the masses, but if one is to live through a Wal-Mart experience a deep layer of callus must cover any repository for the love of mankind. No normal person can wade into the swirling mass of humanity and come out the other door unchanged in body or belief.

Acres of women, children dressed as whores, and fathers that should have spanked the wife and sent the child to bed without supper - all oblivious to the large dose of ugly they represent.

It occurs to me in a fleeting thought, that all of these people have not come to shop but - like Poe's letter - to camouflage themselves, hiding among the similar human rift-raff. A group that, even now as I look, is pawing through earlier folded and stacked items, reducing them to a tangled mess upon the tables and floor.

It had long been my belief that - even washed, dried - I could pick white trash from goobers and then goobers from the so-called ruling class, in a lineup.

Most nowadays tiptoe around this truth with the same fear engendered by the admission of other knowledge stricken from the book-of-life by the politically correct.

Things are seen in everyone's normal daily encounters. It starts with something as simple as no longer printing the ethnicity of the criminal in the morning paper's dose of articles reporting on last night's crimes.

Even here in Wall-Mart - in this cauldron of mediocrity - walks an occasional better-bred, perhaps lawyer or a doctor of some note - or a business type trying to not do business with the local Staples.

This type are defined by their special gait, their supercilious, haughty thoughts hidden in a major effort to project an all embracing, politically correct, sense of universal love.

My sojourn at Wally's World has been of sufficient length that I now feel invisible - part of my surroundings - so that I may flit from flower to flower seeing and hearing all, yet, disturbing nothing.

And thus it is largely so, most who cohabit here are used to having little privacy or space in their lives. In this new world there is no judgment - all is directed towards one's own needs.

No good, or bad, need be considered. They have been banned in the land of lowered expectations. The denizens of Wally's are supremely un-self-conscious, caring not what they say, or what you may hear them say.

The Catholic Church is hurting, not from the few stray priests, but from the loss of stewardship of its members. The confessionals are empty - as no crime remains - at least a crime demanding the heavy canon be engaged.

If presidential blowjobs - while waiting for the President of Mexico to finish lifting the WH silverware - are not sufficiently shameful to effect banning from normal society, then one must accept that everything decent people once believed must no longer hold - useless as a road map for life.

Bless me Father for I have...errr... what the hell these days. IS sinful?

2005 A.H. Watson, all rights reserved.