Feeding the fish? said Pablo. Yes, said Blurtso, from the edge of the river, there must have been a dozen people doing it. You mean “fishing,” said Pablo. Fishing? said Blurtso. Yes, said Pablo, they have a hook on the end of their line which they bait with something tasty, and they try to get the fish to bite it. The hook? said Blurtso. Yes, said Pablo, so it will push through the lip of the fish and they can pull it to shore. That’s not very nice, said Blurtso. What if you did it without a hook? Without a hook? said Pablo. Yes, said Blurtso, just put some food on the line and throw it in the stream so the fish can eat. Well, said Pablo, you wouldn’t catch anything, but you’d probably make a lot of friends.
I’m depressed, said Blurtso. Depressed? said Pablo. Yes, said Blurtso, I went all the way to California and I didn’t find Mister Ed. Mister Ed? said Pablo. The talking horse, said Blurtso. Oh, said Pablo, the great white whale. What? said Blurtso. The great white whale, said Pablo. The agonizing obsession, Moby Dick, the one thing you cannot have… the thing that takes over your life until all your pastimes and pleasures lose their appeal. Yes, said Blurtso, that’s it… even the last pumpkin pie I ate… well… it tasted like a head of lettuce. Yes, said Pablo, the agonizing obsession. What can I do? said Blurtso. The thing to do, said Pablo, is not to focus on the object of the obsession, but on the process. The process? said Blurtso. Yes, said Pablo. You went to California. You must have discovered some things along the way. Oh yes, said Blurtso, I saw many marvelous sights, and I met many animals and people. Well then, said Pablo, those are the fruits of your obsession. Yes, said Blurtso, it was a great trip… you know… I feel better already. So do I, said Pablo. I’m hungry, said Blurtso, let’s have a pumpkin pie!
Well then, said the psychiatrist, what seems to be the problem? I can’t find Mister Ed, said Blurtso. Mister Ed? said the psychiatrist. The talking horse, said Blurtso. I see, said the psychiatrist, and how long have you been looking for him? I went all the way to California and back, said Blurtso, and he was nowhere to be found, though I did meet Rocinazo. Rocinazo? said the psychiatrist. Yes, said Blurtso, a distant relative of Don Quijote’s horse, Rocinante. I see, said the psychiatrist, and did you meet any other horses? Well, said Blurtso, I looked for Little Joe’s horse, Cochise, on the Ponderosa, but I couldn’t find him. And I would have liked to meet Zorro’s horse, Tornado, and of course the Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver, but most of all I wanted to meet Mister Ed. I see, said the psychiatrist. I think I can make a diagnosis. Really? said Blurtso. Yes, said the psychiatrist, I’m afraid you have a serious case of “horse envy.”
Hmm, thought Blurtso, look how much the grass has grown. The place almost looks abandoned. I’ve never seen it look more beautiful.
Hmmm, thought Blurtso, look at all these things. I lived without them for months and I didn’t miss them. Let’s see who I used to be and what I used to like… yes, there’s my juicer, and my coffee mug, and my recliner, and my infrared sauna… and… my collection of “Mister Ed” DVDs… I went all the way to Hollywood and didn’t find him. A complete failure… oh well… and there’s no pie in the fridge.
As Blurtso made his way across the land, he paused to consider the travelers who had made the journey before him… the young ones in search of adventure, with optimism and innocence in their eyes; the middle-aged ones, discouraged but not defeated, far from family and in search of a job; the old ones, irretrievably detached, free from the weight of hopefulness, and blown from town to town like leaves on the wind. At night, drawn by the glow of a flame, they would gather in silence, reflecting on the trials behind and considering the trials ahead, until one, reaching into his pocket, would pull out a harmonica, wipe it on his sleeve, and softly begin to play…