Thursday, 19 November 2009

Mistwreathed wraiths (day sixty seven and sixty eight)

Playing spy games - stealth and creeping back to the room on sideways tiptoe footsteps. I listen in to your conversations. I make notes of your lives. I know your movements. I have a dossier. I will use it. Over coffee I learn you are sending your daughter to UVM. She is a transfer student, this is her first time. Your booking at the Sheraton fell through, dearies, so you had to drive through the night time blank space Vermont to arrive here. I know how you each like your coffee. Papa is English, isn't he? Looks it, and the accent gives it away. How's life back at the farm? The owner of the inn comes from Cape Cod, bases his rules one experience. One choice at breakfast because of the New Jersey folks exploitation. Set down for the day. He encourages toiletry thievery - it's all branded. (I am not a creeper) (This is what happens when you eat breakfast alone).

Cosmo used to ply his trade on Johnny Carson in the 1980s. Now he's on the street in Burlington, performing his slick routine on a fold up table, hiding coins and guessing cards. Patter still has conviction, a thousand run throughs later. Passes the hat around, fills it up with bills. He's never had a $20. Liar. What happened? Why is he not in Vegas? The radon shirt speaks his loneliness, a sadness passes across his visage rapidly every time he pauses. How did he get the signed bill in the lemon? Double U. Tee. Eff. And the disappearing wand. Cosmo has got the beat down on the one man band, and the hippie lady with the guitar, sitting cross legged on the sidewalk. Burlington waterfront is quiet grassland, volleyball and couples straddling each other under a tree. The Adirondacks lie across the lake, yachts cruising in the breeze, sails tumbling round, tacking portsternaft rudder. We were there once, now we watch boats drift over there. It lies behind, everything behind on a long ribbon of crooked tarmac.

Painting everything in gaudy cartoons does make your company ethical. Even when you sell yourself to the man. Ben and Jerry do other things now, they're too rich. The company churns out pints of 'super luxury' ice cream, all day/every day. Whitewashing with cuteness. The Flavor Graveyard (where are your 'U's America?) etc etc. Commercialism has never been so much fun.

Insomnia is taking me captive. Sleep eluded me, the pillow blocking out the light suffocated me. Noises jerked me awake. Thoughts never ceased. The only thing more boring than insomnia is reading about insomnia. We spend all day half asleep, drifting over mountain ranges, a woolen blanket of cloud hanging low. All is green, or white. They are your only choices.

Montpelier covered the dome of their state capitol in gold. This is their only concession to bling culture. Only 10,000 people live in the small city, in timber framed Alpine houses. The chocolate and the cheese is letting everyone down. The state buildings are two storeys high, closed for the weekend with the shutters down. River flows idly by under rusted iron bridges. Autumn will be over in a month, crammed into a few weeks of redcrunch leaves spiralling down and blocking drains and gutters. Snow burying the sidewalks, glaciation in miniature, frost heave on the roads. Verdant shades don't last for long.

California is burning, but Vermont and New Hampshire are veiled in permanent drizzle, spattering the windows to wipe away the pale smears that mark the countless graves of the night time bugs that launched their attacks at our glass walls, impenetrable. You can't see the White Mountains any more. Fir trees extend upwards until they fade into misty white, away on a mountain peak we can't see. Mount Washington is somewhere above us, the cog railway sounds a desolate ghost horn far away down the valley, whistling to nothing, travelling a rising bed, then sinking back to the floor.

New Hampshirites see the numberplate and stare. Yes, we are a long way from home, just further than you think. Hostile glares from their pickup trucks. They hurl your sandwich at you. Live free or die. I prefer my mottoes to be passive aggressive, it helps keep me perky through the day. Low budget movies fill the night, CGI sharks limited to two second cameos in their own film. The actors who thought they would never be in a movie. Now look at me, mother. You said I'd never succeed, but I'm in Spring Break Shark Attack. My name is on IMDB - a sure sign of success. We practise our mean faced laughs from beige duvets in a cold motel in Manchester - every place name stolen from a better place. Lebanon is everywhere. This town brought the red brick factories and the mill chimneys. Tarmac takes us south, with Boston a finger's stretch out of reach, lean further and you're there, further, further, done.

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