The Subject of Desire Chapter 13
Human beings continuously strive for effective communication. We want to be understood and received on the level we express ourselves emotionally. Charlie McRoy, desires to express his ideas clear enough to get back home. Can he do it?
Chapter 13: Sabotaged Communication: We do it!
Charlie couldn't believe the words he was hearing; somebody, (even though the little guy was a wee bit out of the ordinary; certainly not the sort of guy Charlie would normally ask for advice) was going to listen to him. Maybe, just maybe, help show him his way back home; could that be possible?
"As a matter of fact there is. It's a real long story. I won't bore you with the sordid details but I kinda-like need directions home."
"OKAY, SONNY. THAT'S EASY ENOUGH; JUST TELL ME WHERE YOU CALL HOME." The short chubby-faced three foot attentive cowboy had gotten up by this time, moved closer to Charlie.
"I live at 154 Windsor Avenue in Battlefield, Kentucky." Charlie waited anxiously for the dumpy man's reply.
Grabbing hold of his frayed silvery-blue rooster studded vest, the little fellow sneezed twice before answering.
"Well," Charlie pushed his face out of the direct aim, "can you help me?"
"DON'T RIGHTLY KNOW, SON."
Charlie's enthusiasm dwindled down to a molasses drip, as he carefully studied the stranger's unsure look.
"What's the problem; don't you know how to get there from here?"
"IT AIN'T THAT I DON'T KNOW HOW TO GET THERE FROM HERE. I JUST DON'T KNOW WHERE 'THERE' IS. I AIN'T NEVER HEARD TELL OF A BATTLEFIELD, KENTUCKY. MUCH LESS WHAT 154 WINDSOR AVENUE. WE DON'T LABEL UP THINGS LIKE THAT AROUND HERE."
Charlie figured as much. He knew perfectly well no one would pop up out of thin air to show him his way home.
"It was just too good to be true." He mumbled. "I should have learned not to get my hopes up."
Even so,he would at least, salvage as much information from the stranger as possible; why else would he be staring him in the face?
"I didn't think you would know where I came from but can you tell me where this place is exactly so I might be able to figure it out for myself?"
"YOU SURE ARE AN ODD LADD," the spirited small cowboy injected. "DON'T EVER REMEMBER MEETING SOMEONE LIKE YOU. MOST PEOPLE AT LEAST HAVE AN INKLING OF WHERE THEY ARE. SOME EVEN KNOW WHERE THEY'RE GOING BUT I HAVEN'T EVER MET ONE SOLITARY PERSON WHO DIDN'T KNOW WHERE HE CAME FROM IN ONE SENTENCE AND IN THE NEXT NOT KNOW HOW TO GET BACK THERE IF HE WANTED TO GO. ARE YOU SURE YOU REALLY WANT TO GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM?"
"Of course, I do!"
"OKAY. OKAY. THERE, SON. YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO AND GET YOUR DANDER UP; JUST ASKING. THIS PLACE YOU CALL, BATTLEFIELD, KENTUCKY DOES IT DO YOU UP RIGHT?"
Charlie felt the pip-squeak of a cowboy stalling; he didn't like that one bit.
"Yeah, I do alright. It's a nice enough place. But, what's that got to do with what I asked you? Where is this place that we are now?"
The unnamed guy still refused to answer. He changed the subject, instead.
"AND, HOW LONG DID YOU SAY YOU LIVED AT BATTLEFIELD, KENTUCKY?"
"Almost fourteen years." Perturbed."You still haven't answered my question. Where are we at, exactly?"
"BETWIXT AND BETWEEN."
"Betwixt and between what?" Charlie recoiled.
"BETWIXT AND BETWEEN NOTHING. JUST BETWIXT AND BETWEEN."
Charlie hated the curt remark.
"You think you're real funny, don't you? Who ever heard of a place called
Betwixt and Between? How big is Betwixt and Between?"
"ABOUT THAT BIG."
Charlie grew more furious by the second. He was not the least bit amused.
"And, where do you stay in Betwixt and Between?"
"OH, HERE AND THERE."
Charlie never knew he had so much rage in him. In fact, if anyone had asked him on any other day, he would have told him, things hardly ever bothered him at all. But, not today. Today, everything bothered him a whole lot! Flabbergasted by the short stuff's remarks, he scowled sarcastically,
"Well, how often do you travel this particular road where we happen to be right this minute?"
"EVERY NOW AND THEN."
Although, the little non-smoking man took liberty in tripping Charlie's mad buttons, he was determined not let him get the best of him. He decided to take another approach.
"Do you have a name?"
"Maybe so, what did he mean? Did he mean he minded telling Charlie or did he not have a name? Charlie concluded the little guy enjoyed playing games.
"SO, WHAT'S YOUR NAME? SINCE, I TOLD YOU MINE."
"Excuse me, but you didn't tell me your name."
"YES, I DID."
"Well, I missed it. Could you tell me again?"
"MAYBE SO. LIKE, I SAID, YOU SURE ARE A STRANGE ONE!"
"Maybe So. Maybe So. Maybe So." Charlie stammered. You may think I'm the one confused but, at least, I know my name. It's Charlie, Charlie Braxton McRoy."
"PLEASED TO MEET YOU, CHARLIE BRAXTON MCROY." He grinned real big, showing the three teeth he possessed, when he spit out Charlie's name.
Charlie felt a little bit embarrassed not knowing the other man's name. He did not want to have to ask him again. He simply clammed up and would not speak.
"WELL, CHARLIE BRAXTON MCROY, IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AND YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING; DO YOU AT LEAST HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW YOU'RE GOING TO GET THERE?"
"Yes, I'm riding a bicycle. Can't you see it parked over cross the road?"
"AS A MATTER OF FACT, I DO SEE SOMETHING STRANGE A STANDING. I AIN'T NEVER SEEN ONE OF THOSE SHINY ANIMALS BEFORE. DOES IT EAT MUCH?"
Charlie rolled out a huge belly laugh.
"Does it eat much? Does it eat much? No, it don't eat much; it ain't alive. It's cold steel."
The short cowboy staggered across the road where Charlie's bike stood. He examined it in amazement.
"YOU SAY THIS HERE BICYCLE AIN'T ALIVE. THEN, HOW DOES IT GO?"
Charlie darted quickly to the spot where the nameless man stood gazing, "I make it go."
"YOU? HOW DO YOU MAKE IT GO IF IT AIN'T ALIVE? I AIN'T NEVER IN ALL MY DAYS SEEN A DEAD MAN OR ANIMAL MOVE."
"My bicycle ain't a man or an animal, it's a machine. Bicycles' ain't dead or alive they're just...well, it's kinda like waiting for me to make it move." Charlie was having a real difficult time explaining the workings of a bicycle.
"YOU MUST BE MIGHTY POWERFUL TO CAUSE SOMETHING ELSE TO GO. YOU, MAGIC, BOY?"
"No, I ain't magic. Bicycles don't require magic, just plain know how."
"IT SEEMS TO ME THAT IT TAKES MORE THAN 'KNOW-HOW' TO MAKE A DEAD MACHINE MOVE."
"I told you, the bicycle is not dead."
"THEN IT'S ALIVE. IT'S GOTTA BE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. IT CAN'T BE BOTH. WHAT IS IT?"
Charlie did not know what to say.
The little unnamed cowboy cautiously reached out his stubby fingers to touch the handle bars.
"MIGHTY LONG PAIR OF HORNS ON THIS HERE MACHINE. DO THEY GET IN THE WAY WHEN YOU SADDLE UP TO RIDE?"
"No, 'cause they are not horns. They are handle bars. They help guide the bike?"
"WELL, WHAT DO YA KNOW 'BOUT THAT? HORNS THAT GUIDE THE MACHINE. SMART HORNS. THAT'S A NEW ONE ON ME. DON'T SEE NO TAIL THOUGH, AIN'T IT GOT ONE?"
Charlie couldn't help bursting out laughing again.
"A bicycle with a tail, what a funny sight that would be." He thought quickly.
"WHAT'S YOU LAUGHING 'BOUT, BOY?"
"I was just thinking how funny this bicycle would be with a tail?"
"NOT HALF AS FUNNY AS YOU WITHOUT ONE." The anonymous cowboy irritably coughed.
"No, it's just that a bicycle doesn't need a tail." Charlie elaborated.
"EVERYTHING NEEDS A TAIL. AIN'T NOTHING THAT EXISTS THAT DON'T HAVE A TAIL. JUST LIKE FRONT AND BACK, IN AND OUT AND UP AND DOWN, OFF AND ON. EVERYTHING HAS A MOUTH AND TAIL. OTHERWISE IT WOULD BE JUST HALF A PERSON, ANIMAL OR MACHINE. WITHOUT THE PAIR, IT COULDN'T FUNCTION. WHAT YOU TAKE IN, YOU GOT TO LET OUT, UNDERSTAND?"
Charlie had never thought about that before. The little man did seem to have a valid point. Where might the tail be?" Charlie started examining the bicycle.
The short cowboy interrupted Charlie before he could finish his thought. "YES?"
"YES, WHAT DO YOU WANT?"
"I don't want, nothing. I was just thinking about what you said. Maybe."
"I HEARD YOU, WHAT DO YOU WANT?" the little guy RETORTED.
"Nothing, I told you. Why don't you let me finish my thought before interrupting me?"
"I WOULD IF YOU WOULD QUIT CALLING MY NAME."
Charlie was beside himself. He most certainly was not calling the man by name. Why he didn't even know what his name was. So, he completely ignored the comment, as he continued to speak, "Maybe, just Maybe."
"YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT AND, IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT WE CAN DRAW A DUELING MATCH RIGHT HERE AND NOW."
What on earth was this insane little guy shouting about?
"Why would we need to have a dueling match, may I ask?"
"WELL, CHARLIE JUST CHARLIE AIN'T THAT ENOUGH FOR YOU?"
"I beg your pardon sir, but what are you talking about?"
"YOU SLURRED OFF AT MY NAME."
"I did no such thing." Charlie defended.
"OH, YES YOU DID."
"DON'T YOU PLAY DUMB WITH ME, BOY."
Charlie really didn't have the foggiest notion as to what the agitated short man was referring to.
"Maybe, we had a disagreement and I was unaware of it."
"WE SURE DO DISAGREE. IF YOU THINK THAT MY NAME AIN'T ENOUGH FOR ME, IT'S MORE THAN ENOUGH. I'M READY TO PROVE IT RIGHT HERE ON THIS SPOT WHERE YOU STAND!"
"But, how can I think your name isn't enough for you if I don't even know what it is?'
"IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS, WHY DO YOU KEEP ON CALLING ON IT LIKE THAT?"
"I don't keep on calling on it. Or, Maybe, I do but don't realize it."
"THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH ALL YOU HIGH-MINDED FOLKS, YOU DON'T REALIZE WHAT YOU SAY UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE. YOU TALK WITH YOUR MOUTH WIDE OPEN AND YOUR BRAIN SHUT."
"I don't mean to make you mad, but would you please make is simple for me, by telling me once more what your name is?"
Oh no, not again! He refused to tell Charlie. The guy looked rabidly serious about strapping up for the dueling match.
"I give up," Charlie exhaustively replied.
"Maybe I'm dumb or slow or plain deaf but I haven't heard you tell me your name the first time."
The squatty guy laughed in response when he realized what had happened.
"YOU AIN'T GOTTA BE THAT HARD ON, YOURSELF BOY, OLD MAYBE CAN TAKE A JOKE AS GOOD AS THE NEXT FELLOW."
"Old Maybe," Charlie deduced immediately. Was this guy's name, Maybe? How stupid. How could he have possibly known that? It was a mix-up in communication, that's all. Charlie so pleased to get it cleared up.
"So, Maybe, think we can be friends now?"
"DON'T KNOW OF ANY REASON WE CAN'T," he smiled. "BOUT THE TAIL TO THIS HERE HORNED CONTRAPTION, COULD BE THAT'S IT'S HIDDEN DOWN UNDERNEATH SOMEWHERE?"
Charlie agreed quickly. No way could he begin to explain the whereabouts of a tail on a bicycle.
"So, Maybe, is that your whole name?" Charlie inquired with genuine interest.
"WELL, FIRST OF ALL YOU GOT MY NAME ALL BACKWARDS UNLESS WHERE YOU COME FROM THEY CALL YOU MCROY CHARLIE."
Charlie chucked realizing he spoke once too often and too quick without thinking. He would have to watch his words more carefully from now on. 'Maybe So' was the pint-size cowboy's name. So much confusion simply because of a slight communication relay problem; judging from the spunk shown by the pint size cowboy, Charlie knew he had to show him more respect.
"Maybe So, would you like to go for a spin on my bicycle."
"YOU MEAN THAT THERE CONTRAPTION CAN DO THAT, TOO? DON'T RIGHTLY THINK I OUGHT TO BE DOING ANYTHING TO SHAKE UP MY BRAIN ANYMORE IT ALREADY IS."
Charlie laughed while responding.
"No, Maybe, I didn't mean that kind of spinning like a top, I meant would you like to go for a ride on my bike?"
"WELL, I DON'T REALLY KNOW WHETHER I WOULD OR NOT SINCE YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN MAKE IT GO. HOW WILL IT TAKE TO SOME OTHER FELLOW PRETENDING HE'S YOU? I DON'T GOT NO MAGIC IN ME TO CHANGE MY SIZE AND FACE."
Charlie just didn't know what to say since he was not accustomed to someone thinking a bicycle was alive.
"It'll be all right. I'll do the driving while you just sit on the handle bars."
"OH! NO! I WON'T BE SITTIN' ON NO HORNS, CHARLIE BRAXTON MCROY. I MAY LOOK LIKE I WAS BORN YESTERDAY BUT I AIN'T THAT CRAZY. NO SOONER THAN I'D TRY TO SIT DOWN UPON THIS HERE TWO-WHEELED CONTRAPTION, THEN HE'S JOIST ME OVER YONDER IN THAT BED OF ROCKS. I WOULDN'T LIKE IT IF SOMEONE PLOPPED ON TOP OF MY HEAD. NO, I DON'T RIGHTLY THINK THIS HERE HORNED CONTRAPTION WOULD TAKE TO IT TOO KINDLY EITHER."
The little cowboy backed up as he said those words too close and for fear of making Charlie's bicycle mad.
"IN FACT, I'D BEST BE GETTING ON BACK HOME. IT'LL BE DARK SOON. DON'T WANT TO KEEP MY FOLKS WAITING ON ME."
Charlie found it somewhat curious that the little guy still lived with his parents. He really didn't want him to leave. He asked if he could please tag along.
The pint-size cowboy flatly refused.” NO, I CAN'T BE DOIN' NOTHING LIKE THAT, SON. MY FOLKS DON'T TAKE KINDLY TO STRANGERS."
"What's your parents' names?"
"DON'T KNOW AND DON'T CARE."
Charlie started to reply rather hastily but checked himself, "Don't Know and Don't Care, huh? That's s nice enough names."
"THANKS. I GOT ME TWO BROTHERS AND A BABY SISTER, TOO."
"And, what would their names be?" Charlie asked.
"NEVER MIND, SHUT UP, AND COURSE THE BABY, IS NONE YA BUSINESS."
Charlie broke out in a cold sweat; he laughed so hard.
"What lively confusing conversations must take place in his household," he thought. Never again would he be able to respond in those words without thinking of 'Maybe So'.
"YOU GOT ANY SISTERS OR BROTHERS, CHARLIE MCROY?"
"As a matter of fact, I do. Their names are Sara and Louise. My daddy's name is Big Charlie and my mother's name is Sophelia."
"DON'T MEAN TO OFFEND YOU, BOY, BUT THEY SURE ARE SOME STRANGE NAMES WHERE YOU COME FROM."
Charlie quickly agreed without comment.
"WELL, I'D BEST BE ON MY WAY CHARLIE BRAXTON MCROY. IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE JAWIN' WITH YOU."
"But, what am I suppose to do?"
"HOW THE BLAZING GUNS DO I KNOW? YOU AIN'T MY PROBLEM OR MY BLESSING. DO WHATEVER YOU WERE DOING BEFORE I GOT HERE."
Charlie thought he heard an unidentified noise fly overhead. He turned his windblown blond head in the direction of the left portion of the sky to check out what it might be.
When he looked back, 'Maybe So' had vanished. Charlie did not make a move to look for 'Maybe So'. He knew that he had disappeared exactly like he appeared: into thin air. Everything in Charlie's life for the past 24 or 48 or 96 or ever how many hours had passed since he picked up the BRACELET.
Charlie sat down on the same rock that 'Maybe So' had stood upon. What would he do now? Get on his bike, or rather that jet propelled self-driven machine, to head it off into the glorious amber hued sunset to who knows where? Or was his fate already determined for him by the same unknown force which had called the shots ever since he picked up that dumb old BRACELET.
Charlie looked down at his right foot.
"Hey, wait a minute, what's that glistening in the sun?"