Bombardment, Episode 20: A Cloud from Above

Splattworks continues its presentation of Bombardment, a two-act drama by Steve Patterson. The author will attempt to post an installment each day, but, if events intercede, installments could arrive a day or so apart. So please be patient.


PLACID: Yes! Yes, you do! Remember? Remember his smile? His hair? Think how he felt. Filling up a room. How he kept you warm. How you were never cold.
CARMELITA: This is what we fought against. What we fought to stop.
ARETHA: My wrath.
PLACID: His smell. His taste. How he infected your senses. Remember how he playfully tugged your hair? Whispered your name into your neck? All the times you wondered if he loved you, if he loved you or was just pretending. Those lips told the answer.
CARMELITA: You don’t know what you’re doing. Stay away! We don’t want you!
CORNO: My lips on her neck.
PLACID: And the others. The ones who let you down. Who seduced you and used you. For your body. For your kindness. For your good will. Was he one of those?
CARMELITA: You weren’t there!
PLACID: Did he abandon you? Lead you into disaster? Knock you up and take your money? Take your pride? Leave you strung out in the tenement hotel room? Trust me, baby. Trust me. I love you. Look into your eyes and lie, lie, lie.
CARMELITA: We’re free of them, Placid! Don’t throw it away!
PLACID: Lying eyes. Lying lips. Lying tongues. Licking your hands. Licking your face. Probing your inner crevices. Your private secrets.
PLACID: What everybody wanted. What all the world wanted.
ARETHA: All the world.
PLACID: His touch saved. His touch relieved. Turned to fire. Turned to light. Steam. Wind. Feel it! Feel it, Carmelita!
CARMELITA: Don’t touch me!
PLACID: The swelling of your breasts. The trembling of your leg. The clenching of your calf.
ARETHA: The clenching of the calf.
PLACID: It’s there. It’s still there. You want him. You want him still.
ARETHA: You want him. I can feel it.
PLACID: His lips on your neck. His hands on your breasts.
CARMELITA: No, Corno–Placid! No, Placid!
CORNO: My hands on your breasts. My smile in your eyes.
PLACID: His weight and his scent, a cloud from above, and your body making way, moving on its own. Guided by his will. Beyond your control. Your legs spreading wide. At a touch. You can’t stop it. At a touch. He’s inside you! He’s inside you now!
CARMELITA: (Screaming) No!

Lights out.

[Next…the conclusion]

An Old Country

“Let’s meet tomorrow if you choose beneath the bridge that they are building on some endless river.” –Leonard Cohen–I grew up in the Northwest. Mostly. I spent part of my childhood in California, a perfect time to be a sun-bleached child during the Sixties in a world of surfboards and motorcycles. But, really, I’m a product of tall evergreens and deep forests. We moved back to the Northwest–Southern Oregon–when I was eleven, and I came of age amid great rains and summers of stunning beauty. Oregon in the summer may well be the most perfect place on earth. In winter, it tests your soul with darkness, a constant dampness, and a war with nature that nature always wins.

The old saying goes: if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? It does. Forget your human conceits: the question is entirely metaphoric. I have heard a 200-year old cedar fall, split by storms, and it cares little whether humans are present to hear its freight-train death. The trees predate the whites, predate the Native Americans. They were here long before naked apes clambered among their branches and saw the rock-strewn coast, and they’ll be here when we’re dust and our cities are tangles of huckleberry and Doug Fir.

A friend of mine grew up in the desert. He has a sharp and clearly defined personality. But it seems that living here, one takes on a sense that everything is imbued with a deep sense of mystery and continuous change. That the world can’t be entirely understood, and that we’re but guests. I once went for a solo hike in the woods and realized I’d lost my way, the trail somehow obscured by madrone and bracken ferns. For a moment, I felt the most perfect panic, knowing that the gorgeous scenery held no solace and was entirely indifferent to my plight, and that if I didn’t find my way to the trail before nightfall, I would be but another animal swallowed by immense darkness. I sat and cried when I rediscovered the trailhead and never forgot how vulnerable I’d been.

In the Northwest, one realizes that nature is completely immune to your suffering. You are just one facet of its splendor and, ultimately, fodder for its ongoing survival.


Note: The photography above is mine. It shows the Illinois River in Southern Oregon, on the gateway to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area.