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…
I want to help, said Blurtso, but I’ve got to be honest about my abilities. Let me see, he said, I know that I’m not very good at carrying heavy objects, I tire easily and I recuperate slowly. I don’t read and I don’t write, and my hoofs are good for little more than standing on, which I prefer to avoid, if there is a patch of grass nearby. Hmmmm…. my nose is quite good for sniffing, and my ears are quite good for hearing, so I can usually hear when someone is asking someone to give them a hand with something, but of course I don’t have hands and my hoofs are good for little more than standing on, which usually isn’t much help. I’m pretty good company, I guess, if you’re someone who doesn’t move around a lot, or you just need someone to nap with. I’m quite good at that, I believe, taking naps that is. I can take a nap at almost any time and almost any place. And I must be good at other things too, but I can’t remember what they are, because I don’t have a very good memory. But I know I am happy to be of help. I’m quite sure of that. I’m very happy to be of help.
The chickadees are in full throat today, said Blurtso. No, said Pablo, those are blackbirds you hear. Really? said Blurtso. Well… how about that one… now that was a chickadee! No, said Pablo, that was a kingfisher. Really, said Blurtso, a kingfisher? Wow… it sure sounded like a chickadee… hold it… hold it…how about that one… now that was a chickadee! No, said Pablo, that was a red-tailed hawk. A red-tailed hawk? said Blurtso. Hmm, he must have been imitating a chickadee… hold it… hold it… how about that one! That was the most unmistakable chickadee I’ve ever heard! No, said Pablo, that was a duck. Remarkable, said Blurtso. What about that, was that a kingfisher? No, said Pablo. A blackbird? No, said Pablo. A red-tailed hawk? No, said Pablo. A duck? No, said Pablo. A chickadee? No, said Pablo. I give up, said Blurtso, what was it? That, said Pablo, was my stomach growling.
The birds are nice, said Blurtso, they sound very happy. Yes, said Bonny, Pablo can identify all of them by their songs. Really, said Blurtso, what was that one? That was a chickadee, said Pablo. And that one? said Blurtso. That was another chickadee. How about that one? said Blurtso. That was the same chickadee you heard the first time, said Pablo. Wow, said Blurtso, that’s amazing.
Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. Do you think anyone else stays awake like we do, talking in the dark? Yes, said Harlan, I’m sure they do. What do you think they say? said Blurtso. They tell tales, said Harlan, of what they did during the day, or say silly things like children who can’t sleep, or say sad things about the sorrows they hope to change, and then they sing lullabies to each other, until they forget their sorrows, and sleep like children who can sleep.
Isn’t it amazing, said Blurtso, how people can spend so much time building something, then never look at it when they’re done? What do you mean? said Harlan. This treehouse, said Blurtso. Alex and I built it almost two years ago, and when we were building it we selected the boards with the greatest care, then measured and cut them, nailed and braced them, then raised the pole with the house on top, and then we climbed up and never really looked at it again. What’s this nick in the rail? said Harlan. That? said Blurtso, that’s where I dropped the skill saw when my ice cream fell out of its cone. There’s a nail missing here, said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, it kept poking out, so I removed it. What are these scratches? That’s from my screwdriver, said Blurtso, when I was screwing down the floor boards. And this stain? That’s the grape juice I spilled when I was using the nail gun. And this burned spot? That’s where I set down the circular sander with the power on. You do beautiful work, said Harlan. Thank you, said Blurtso.
Hey, a dating site! Maybe I should fill out a profile.
Age: I don’t know, I’ve never cut myself in half to count the rings
Height: I’m not as tall as I think I am
Weight: That’s not polite
Self summary: I’m a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere
I’m good at: Filling out profile questionnaires
The first thing that others notice about me: That I accidentally stepped on their foot
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, food:
books: Remembrance of Pies Past (Marcel Proust), A clean, well-lighted bakery (Hemingway), Where is Ralph Waldo? (Emerson), What’s that in the Attic? (Emily Dickenson), Donkey Hotey (Cervantes), The Idiot’s Guide to Animal Husbandry
music: You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd (Roger Miller), L’apres midi d’une Trombone (Debussy), Bach’s concerto for trombone and cymbal in C flat minor seventh, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for Seventy-Six Trombones
movies and shows: Babbling Brook (ambient dvd), Ocean Waves (ambient dvd), Mountain Majesty (ambient dvd), The Jerry Remy Postgame Show
food: organic, sustainably grown, local, free-range, alfalfa-fed pumpkins (from Pablo’s garden)
I spend a lot of time thinking about:
Thermonuclear physics, string theory, the event
horizon, if Pluto is a planet, how many angels can fit on the head of a donkey, what that smell is
On a typical Friday night I am:
Wondering what night of the week it is
You should message me if: You need an empty pie tin, you found my wristwatch, you lost your Wi-Fi connection, you have an extra pumpkin pie
Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. Do you think we’ll ever see our snakes again? I don’t know, said Harlan. I wonder, said Blurtso, what else we’ll never see again? It’s impossible to tell, said Harlan, what will be gone in the morning. Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. I’ll do what I can to be here in the morning.