It’s March for pity’s sake
Ash Wednesday this week, and the beginning of Lent. A woman once observed that this is the worst time of year for me, rather in the way that Jacob Marley’s ghost suffers most at Christmas, and presumably the length and depth of this winter has only made my condition more difficult. In theory there are only two weeks left until spring, but that proposition must surely be considered a jest by now, “a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.”
Nevertheless, the week has not been without its little lumps of sugar. At the dump last weekend I picked up a copy of a book called “The Fourth Gospel” and a VHS cassette of Lon Chaney’s 1925 movie “The Phantom of the Opera.” My shameless liberal friends have been making fun of our beloved former vice president Dick Cheney this week, but I don’t want you to confuse him with the Phantom. On the other hand, why not? Go ahead, knock yourself out.
Lent traditionally represents the time that Jesus is said to have spent in the wilderness after his baptism, 40 days and nights in which he confronted his demons. I have decided to face up to my own demons too, and plan to go to the bank this month and see if they will front me the money to drag my house out of the mud on Linden Street. (It has been two years since an unexpected March heat wave produced such a flood of mud that my poor house descended into it within the space of a single steaming afternoon. Imagine! Two years ago almost to the day it was 80 degrees in the South End.) Anyway, normally when I go to the bank to inquire about money they just ask me to leave.
Not that I object too much to my new life up here on the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street where I was forced to move when my house sank, (see previous paragraph,) but the old house has a lot of sentimental value for me. Yes, these solitary towers do feel a little chilly some nights; and yes, having to live alongside the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse has required that I develop a new set of skills and evasions. But on the whole I find that I am much less likely to get telemarketing calls (I have no phone) or junk mail (I have no mailbox). All the same, my collection of English teabags and a selection of antique gooseberry feathers went down with the house, along with a range of other items that I still find a longing for in my heart. And I miss them all.
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This business of Russia trying to take over the region in Ukraine called the Crimea by installing a bunch of stooges demanding independence has got me rattled, and I think I am beginning to confuse it with the current attempt by several local towns to declare their independence from the school board called by the secret code RSU 13.
Whatever the cause, the other night I had a strange dream which suggests the extent to which sleeping outside at the top of the north tower at the foot of Mechanic Street is starting to take its toll on me. The dream began when one of the Four Seagulls, Arthur, landed on my pillow and woke me up with the dramatic news that troops from Thomaston had seized the airport at Owls Head.
The events of that awful night unfolded as a series of messages delivered to my pillow by Matthew, Mark, Luke and Arthur Gull, as well as a number of emergency radio broadcasts that were picked up, apparently, by wiring hidden in my brass bedstead. Shortly after news of the fall of the airport, it was revealed that a group of Thomaston natives who have lived under cover in South Thomaston had taken to the streets and were demanding that Thomaston send help to defend them against harassment by the people of South Thomaston.
Citing ties of culture, blood and language, Thomaston leaders agreed around midnight to move into South Thomaston “to protect our natural brothers and sisters who are being mishandled by the local authorities.” A large company of people speaking with Thomaston accents and waving the flag of Thomaston (a green banner with the words “We Got Wal-Mart” emblazoned in gold) was soon gathered at the Keag Store, which as we all know is the cultural and economic heart of South Thomaston.
At 2 p.m. as the wind picked up, Radio Free Thomaston announced that Thomaston was annexing South Thomaston which was unjustly seized back around 1852. Because Owls Head did not exist as an independent town in 1852 but was still part of the breakaway republic of South Thomaston, it was soon announced that Thomaston was also exercising its ancient and historic claims to Owls Head. Thomaston Boy Scouts occupied the South Thomaston municipal building, declared it a People’s Restaurant, and began serving pancakes.
At this point, or so I recollect, the Sleeping Giant awoke. Rockland ordered the border with Owls Head sealed, and as all it needed was an old guy with an unloaded shotgun in rusty pickup parked outside the vocational school, and that pretty much took care of it. Rockland had reason to be nervous for it too was once part of Thomaston, and fears were expressed that night about Thomaston’s potential territorial demands on our fair city.
In the end the crisis ended when the mayor of Rockland issued the following statement: “If Thomaston does not pull its troops back within its borders by sunrise, Rockland will never, I repeat never, send its fire department to assist Thomaston ever again. And while we’re at it, we also demand that somebody in Thomaston take down the plywood Santa and his Elves from the slope overlooking Route 1 near Montpelier. It’s March for pity’s sake.”
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be safely ignored at firstname.lastname@example.org.