Sunday, September 13, 2015

mysterious objects that jump

Another Joe Beans Mystery

By Elliott Crackersby

Part One
First thing in the morning I was out on the gravel patio and suddenly one of the pieces of gravel jumped. Whoa. Stop me. In my tracks. I'd been studying the relationship between rocks, stones, and pebbles – all things that do not jump, skip sometimes, maybe, but not jump – and now this rock, stone, pebble, piece of gravel, whatever you want to call it, jumped. In my face. It jumped again. I hopped. It jumped again. I hopped. It jumped, and there we were, this gravel and I, jumping and hopping, jumping and hopping. Then hands on my back and my investigative assistant, Rita Pie, picked me up, said, "Leave the toad alone."

Part Two
The heat is over, for now, and oh how I hope the heat is over for good, for this year. Bring on autumn, bring on fall, bring on red and gold leaves tumbling in the wind. Bring on cool evenings and cozy fires and bring on cold nights that bring on deep sleep. And bring on that October baseball!

During the heat, for a few nights, sleep was off, erratic, too warm. I read in the breeze of a fan, one night reading pages and pages of Oliver Sacks' "On the Move: A Life," realizing, oh boy, I'm not getting this, this part where there are words that don't roll easily off the tongue let alone roll easily around in the head, my mind, which does indeed struggle with certain topics even when there is great interest in those topics.

"Neural Darwinism."

That's what I remember, and there's this book somebody wrote with that title and that's what Sacks is writing about, and it's like the words are on one level, and my level is almost there, almost there, well, maybe a few floors below, like I'm in the basement and they (the ones who can converse and write and truly think about this thing neural Darwinism) are on the rooftop, in a rooftop garden, I imagine, at tables with umbrellas, in comfortable chairs that rock and sway, sipping cocktails of amber with blocks of ice, cocktails that make you smart and brilliant. Then there is something about a cow in a field and I think, laying in the heat so tired but can't sleep in the breeze of an oscillating fan, that I do get it. After all. Our brains evolve with each perception received, processed, cataloged, and perceptions come by happenstance, by accident or by intent, by thought or by thoughtlessness. Still, in a way, by happenstance.

This might come in handy in an investigation, so I'd like to discuss it with Chief Investigator Joe Beans, but I see that his eyes are closed, his legs twitching.

Perhaps I've got it all wrong, anyway.

I'm not saying I understood any of this.

I'm just saying, this is what I got from it.

 ... neural Darwinism implies that we are destined, whether we like it or not, to a life of particularity and self-development, to make our own individual paths through life.
- Oliver Sacks

Part Three
I followed them to the river, and now I watch from the top of the bank. Beans is all over the place, of course, following his nose and that jumbled thing he calls a brain. Interesting how he doesn't mind the water; I would expect him to mind the water. He seems to want to get to the other side of it, but those pokey legs of his hold him up, or don't hold him up, as the case may be. How I'd like to see him bobbing on the current. That would be interesting. I don't know why he wants to get to the other side. Over there, those wolves, they'd eat him up.

Pie is sitting on a log lodged in the river, and she's tilting her head first one way then another. As if she sees something and is trying to see all sides. I turn my head, first one way, then another, following Pie's movements. It is nice to sit and stare, I think, turn one's head slightly, ever so slightly, one way then another, perhaps squint one eye, then another, then both, see things differently. The glint on the water.

"Hello, Elliott."

An interruption.

"Oh. Hello, Buster Brown."

Buster Brown is a ghost, used to be a dog, a floppy-eared terrier, blond and white, kind of small, but taller and leaner than Beans. I knew him when he was alive, old and demented, and I could sit one place or another and he would stumble over me. I'd get a grin out of that. Dogs amuse me. But now B. Brown sees just fine, and he could walk right through me, if he wanted, anyway, not so much fun. But interesting. I tend to sit on his grave so we visit.

"How're things?" Brown asks.


"Pie doing OK?"

"Yes. She and Beans, you know."

"I know." For a moment, silence. "He's quite squat, isn't he. And red."

"Yes. Yes he is. Squat. And red."

Part Four
Several evenings now with this pop, pop, pop from across the river and I don't like it. Something is going on and I cannot get over there. Pie goes out with me and I holler but still, pop, pop, pop. One night then, late, almost asleep, a lone howl. Again. Again. One voice, three times. Low, rising, low again. I think about those pebbles that jumped, and my legs twitch.


  1. OMG! are one. of. a. kind. YES! And coming to the top of my list of favorite writers! Big deal that you made me smile today...thank-you!

    1. Well, thank you! And I guess a thanks to Elliott Crackersby, too.