Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Thoughts on the Loss of Ray Bradbury

A Farewell To 12-Years-Old Summers
-- Thoughts On The Loss Of Ray Bradbury --

by Don K. Barbecue

An old friend from the gang of guys I'm about to talk about just called me to say Ray Bradbury has left the world that loved him, and "Lake" anyone else who ever read his work must feel today, my heart feels ripped out and put in a "Jar."

As I paused from my inadequate words above, I soddenly inhaled the tracks of my tears. You see, my reaction was so instant and heart-felt, I and maybe even my eyes hadn't seen those tears coming, so stunned I am by the man's leave-taking. But when I open the window to clear my head, in rushes high childly laughter floating above smells of green grass that can't be found on Mars and that's why we mere mortals make Deimos of such down here.

But, say, terrestrial traveler and reader, do you too catch a whiff of magic inside you, warming the body, the mind and that ever-present, sometimes sadly forgotten and forsook spirit we're born with to shape and build,as we as risen apes reach farther to the very stars? Can you also close your eyes over tears and see yourself at 12 years old, free and wild, ever ripe with questions to adult answer to same? You can? Why, then take another inhale as we step outside. From 12 to our own final passings is a short walk, yes, but long with magic, and lightheadedly loaded as you might get, when you're an adult of course, on dandelion wine.

Are we, inside, all 12 yet? Yeah, it's different for boys and girls, and at 12 either species smells funny. Doesn't matter. Go to the library, your own bookshelves, find some Bradbury, put Carole King or The Byrds on, and think of being 12 and "Goin' Back."

Me? I'm twelve and elfish myself now. As happened before, I'm riding my oily 60's school bus, having just given Mage, my monsterously huge German shepherd, his last thump before we see each other this after and roam the fields, maybe the woods down by the creek. Mage enjoys when one of us guys doesn't hit the bathroom first & winds up having to wipe his butt with the biggest can be found leaf of skunk cabbage. Hey, he's a dog, prone to check out any kind of stink anywhere that reekmains.

So there I am, having just watched BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS on The Early Show yesterday afternoon on 3-channel t.v. For like the thousandth time, of course, but only lately have I found and read Bradbury's "The Fog Horn" story, inspiring visions of me and the gang being Roy Chapman Andrews and his buds or something. Why even now, 2012, I'm thinking if I ever wrote such a story my own self, would anyone Gobi it?

Ah yes, but my heart's 1960-ish again and dino soaring!

Why? Coupla days ago over in Books & Hooks over in Coletown I forked over a cool 50 cents for maybe my best ever book so far. Which even has"The Jar," and I can't even count how many times me and the gang dissected "The Jar" on Hitchcock till it bled out the glass.

And here the danged thing is, the gore-iginal "The Jar" by Bradbury, where it came from. All fright, make that where a he, she, or a goldurn IT came from. That baby, if it was one, I'd read before, but this The October Country book beats with a young boy's heart and breathes with a P. F. Flyers sole.

So, last night back in time I'd read "The Dwarf," one of my favorite all-slime shorts, straight to when I came up for air in "The Lake." I take my busly seat, sit down to where I'd left off standing waiting, middle of "The Emissary," Bradbury's story about a boy and his deadly dog. Story gets spooky and spookier. Kid's sick, his dog's sicker. Man, oh, man, I think, paging fast, this Bradbury guy can't get paid nearly enough Fido!

Boy, am I glad I left Major, my horse-huge German shepherd home a few minutes ago, waiting fur my return. Now, back to this "Emissary" story, dog gone it.

I snap out of it when I hear all the bigger, older kids on the bus laughing and carrying on, as is their rite of passage, in the back. Somebody laughs. "Man, that's one BIG dog." Yeah, I think. So's the one in this book, big, beastly and maybe even back from beyond the Grave-y Train.

More of this goes on, but I'm engrossed in getting grossed the heck out. Like, eee-howl!, what's this hound dog hoodooing? I mean, I got a Mage-orly big dog myself, but wow, from Bradbury's monster of a mutt I'd have no choice but to flea.

About then I hear one'a my buds say "What dog?" as he looks where I can't bother to yet, whereupon he yells "Hey, that's MAGE!"

Sure enough. He'd never done such before, but today Mage got lonely steada back home with a bone. I rush backa the bus to see Mage running like Rin Tin Tin with a burning fort cross-wise. Cars, wagons, even a Charles Chips truck all manage to miss the Mage. Vehicles every direction brake, blast horns. A girl up front in pigtails yells "Oh NO, what will happen if our bus hits that dog?"

Our driver, who has already slowed considerably, looks in his rear window and laughs. "Kid," he tells her, "this bus hits that big brute of a dog, it's the bus that will break.

Natch, everyone laughs but me. I'm yelling "Mage, go home!" He won't. Each time the bus stops for kids he sniffs the boys and girls about to embark, some of whom he knows. One such gal, who always wears the fanciest, most expensive dresses gets knocked down by his friendly wag of tail, right into a big hole puddle. One front'a the bus wit yells "Hah, bet that will go over big tonight with Miss Fancy Pantsis' MUDDER."

To make a long story short and sweet as bonely, sorry, only Ray Bradbury could make them, I wasn't allowed to get off the bus, wanted to, no dice. Somehow my yelling "Get home" inspired Mage to instead keep up the chase, with various vehicles of all sorts, no matter their car or truck model, managing to give Mage the proverbial Dodge.

We made it those 2 miles of heart-stopping stops and restarts. I wound up calling home for my folks to come get Mage. "What?" went Mom. "Uh," I decided to sing it, "he followed me to school one day, school one day." Then added "Today."

Mage wound up getting picked up by my folks in the our white whale of a push-button Polara. Another Dodge in a day of dogged dodges, but the ending at least was happy with a big '60's carfin-ish.

So why have I gone on like this? Well ... at one point, for like twenty minutes I can relive anytime like a snap of fingers, I was all alone with Mage on the school steps waiting for his ride. I held onto his collar, picked my copy of The October Country outta my bookbag with my other hand. I finished "The Emissary" in like two dogbreath gulps, delirious beyond belief my dog was still alive, even here, even to catch skunks some other day so I'd wind up giving him a clothes-pin-on-my-nose bath in smooshed green maters.

Yet, joyous as I was holding Mage alive and doggy smelly, "The Emissary" lingered. I felt cold on a sunny day, like my oldest and best bud to this day always sez he felt when he read Lovecraft for the first time. No wonder, cuz unlike Mage but very like Bradbury's unburied beast, I'd been changed furever.

And today, when I heard the news of the master's passing, I felt the cold wind again, chill as the man's dark Lake or, worse, the confines of that Jar. But I'll say little of this, keep a lid on its.

Few daze back, a major news source sited a piece on the religiousity of Stephen King, and attributed the beneath it all I have the heart of a small boy, that I keep in a jar on my desk quote to Mr. King. Wrongly so, though, but maybe they had writer's Bloch.

That got me to thinking of Bradbury's "Jar," and believe it or else, I just reread the story, as me and my 12 year old buds usedta say, "Unca Festerday" for yesterday. Yeah, we been saying it since we were young and up in Addams.

According to my friend, Bradbury has been quoted today that he was changed forever at 12. I feel sorry for anyone who wasn't. 12 should always be a time of changes every which way, and no one could make ya feel and relive such a marvelous age as Bradbury, who did it simple and so swell. I can't even begin to think of any writer who has, over the years and to this day, given me so much and so often an adolesense of wonder.

May he be somewhere at play with an Ursa Major dog of his own to the sound of summer running on summer nights under the stars of S is for space, and let future generations never his chronicles Mars-shun. And may the awe and wisdom of eternal childhood as Bradbury made readers the planet over feel never, ever go a-Ray.

(August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a most entertaining read. I must read some Bradbury now.