A Country Rag Rivers Side
Note: The author attended East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, for the first two years of college, moved back to the area in 1997, and again in 2007.
Graphic above: City of Light
"Make A Good Move"
by Jeannette Harris
a mobile peace
Ms. Yonsh stepped hesitantly from jail steps onto patched, uneven tar of a parking lot and looked vaguely for transportation. The media had lost interest in her silence. Confiscated by Internal Revenue, the comfortable house no longer beckoned within her mind. Bank accounts impounded, credit cards cancelled, she reflected on the 53 dollars and some change in her purse. Years ago she'd hitchhiked from Athens to Atlanta. Now she decided, despite violently changing times, she'd make it to Burlington that way. Or maybe just to Vointon, the nearest city with interstate bus service. In either case, Janus was a safe haven. No one knew his name or would suspect her going there. She stooped for the laptop and its useless trove of unanswered letters stored to lawyers and influential acquaintances. Switching from her right hand, she reached to the suitcase of rumpled clothes adequate for two weeks in a solitary woman's cell of the local "pokey". Lanie laughed aloud at the thought and sound of the word, then looked around to make sure no one listened. The sidewalks after 9 a.m. were deserted of all but the destitute, deaf in their miseries, blind to misfortune not their own. Spotting a woman driver, Lanie rushed forward and stuck out her thumb. That car passed but the next, a pickup, stopped for her. Elva was on her way to the assembly plant in Lisk, Vointon was a pass-through.
The code of the edge is silence, psychic flight,
corners, curtains, visions, dreams,
secret plays that dress the queen
in travel through black mystic lands,
angel bands filtering light for color
on a crystal night*, soft circling hands
mending, blending broken glass
from accidental fright
to shine in the eyes of a friend.
"Where are you now?" Lanie's sister asked plaintively. "I don't know where to send anything."
"What have you got?"
"Bills, a few credit letters, something from that attorney."
"Send them back," Lanie instructed. "Write 'not at this address'."
"Even the bills?"
"What can I pay them with?"
"I'll loan you the money."
"No. Just send them back. I'll pick it all up later."
"When things are straightened out."
"When things are straightened out." Donna frowned. "What are you doing?"
"I'm alive. I've got a new lawyer."
"I've gotta go."
"Give me a phone number."
"I can't. It's not good for you. What you don't know, you don't know."
"I love you."
"I love you too. Don't worry. It won't last forever. There's light where there's fire."
"It's an expression."
"Donna, take care."
"I'll call you soon. Bye."
Donna began to cry. Lanie hung up. "Rotters," she mumbled. "They're after her too."
It was simple welfare fraud. The man had a kid, he didn't pay for it. The woman got food stamps, ADC and medicaid. Friends bought some of the stamps to give her cash for non-grocery expenses. "Daddy" visited now and then, brought gifts once in awhile. Scars from childhood diabetes didn't show in the newspaper photo and Kedry looked splendid on the front page. "Welfare Moms Abandoned By Police" the banner complained. Kedry had threatened to turn him in to Social Services if he didn't help financially; she wanted out from the treadmill. He'd threatened to kill her, knocked the front door off its hinges with an angry foot, shot a few holes in the livingroom couch. She'd called the police. Several times. They looked at the damage, wrote a report. She could get a restraining order. "Yeah, that would help a lot," Kedry had chuckled, grimly. "And when he broke it, they'd write another report." She never mentioned, and Lanie hadn't asked, the name of "Daddy". "Bubby," Kedry had called him. Nine years later, Kedry worked part-time as a clerk and cared for her whispy, stuttering daughter. A picture on the free-standing gas heater showed Bubby in camouflage suit and cap craddling baby in one arm, arrow and bow in the other. Kedry gave her the names and addresses of friends now with similar problems, unresolved assaults. Lanie did the homework, wrote from her notes, burnt the scribbled interviews and identifications in an outdoor barbecue pit one clear evening. Later, Lanie realized the stereotype had sunk her. Welfare mom, deadbeat dad. Construction worker. Factory. "Bubby". Something like that. Not a Supervisor. Not Pane "Bubba" Roljk, teased for his ever-pressed three-piece suits, crisp bowties, near-dainty manners. "Bubby," an accountant and lawyer, controlled the board's purse through its budget as committee chairperson for the county.
Angel eyes don't care about you,
what you say or what you do.
They've seen too much sorrow, too much pain,
just waiting now for a final train.
Their game's a trap,
win or lose.
They'll set you free
if you want them to.
Eternity's a heart away.
Give up the beat, get your ticket today.
A sky-rail's reserved for the ultimate ride,
light-show travels side by side.
Climb on up. Let go.
You can fly.
Take off your shades and reflect
those angel eyes.
When questioned, Kedra first named him, then recanted. The police could find no reports of her calling. Lanie went home for the last time to pack, sell, ship off boxes. She moved in with Donna and family until the trials were over. No other welfare moms came forward, no other deadbeat dads were named. Six months in a low-security institution for the mentally-challenged restored Kedry's well-being, including a three-bedroom house out of state and near her mother.
"Where did you get this information?"
Ms. Yonsh stared back.
"WHEERRRRE did you GGEEETT this information, Ms. Yonsh."
"I don't remember," Lanie replied and it was true she didn't remember. Blanks pervaded her mind. It looked from the inside like brain damage. Where was the yellow chair? Where did she meet ---? Was that the stenographer from before below the Judge's bench? What was his name?
"How did you meet Kedra Nish?"
The notes crackled in squares of charcoal, snippets red-edged, black, rose against brick.
"DID you meet Kedra Nish?"
Her fingers tapped quickly on keyboards nailed to a free-standing gas stove. Lanie squinted.
"Do you KNOOOWW Kedra Nish?"
The printer spewed out copies and copies of hunters chasing infants into woods.
The Court considered, then rejected an option of charging her with perjury and obstruction of justice. It was obvious Ms. Yonsh was cracked in ways and places few wished to attend, a journalist driven by ambition to fabrication and insanity. "One month," the gavel said. Two weeks on quiet and courtesy, her lawyer intoned.
Jan lay back on a scratched leather recliner.
baeddel kolon dreidl
strange kolon talk
assemble in the language
fusion cannot be modified
a sacramental program
kolon embed universal code,
in the end numerology's binary
we are kolon we are not
live forever kolon stop
that's a wrap
"Who got your old job?"
"Friend of Bubby's?"
"It's a boy's club. No."
"Friend of yours?"
"I knew him."
"What did he think of the trials?"
Lanie squirmed in an easy chair with broken springs.
"Did he help?"
"No. He wasn't around."
"How's the Burlington Sun?"
"Bigger, better. I love it."
"What do they say?"
"It's a crock."
Lanie giggled. "'Be careful out there.'"
Janus groaned. "Jeez."
"Well," Lanie offered. "We're journalists, not creative writers."
Jan picked up a beer. "'Here's lookin' at you kid.'"
She groaned. "And you're a creative writer, not a journalist."
"It's a fine line."
Lanie laughed, as Janus reached for a pillow to throw.
"It's a fine line?"
"Shah mat," she muttered as the missive turned her head.
"What does it mean?"
"The king is dead."
Graphic above: Lilies
*Kristallnacht: On November 9, 1938, in Berlin and other cities throughout Germany and Austria, Jewish businesses were destroyed and Jewish families were dragged from their homes, the night ringing with the sound of breaking glass; 30,000 were sent to Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps.
Janus: Roman god "... of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings.... of change and transitions such as the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, the growing up of young people, and of one universe to another...."
Midi: Southern Cross, Crosby, Stills and Nash
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© Jeannette Harris, July, 1999. All rights reserved.