“We go to the garrick now and become warbs,” he said.
The hell we do, I thought.
The hell we do, I thought. I don’t even know what a garrick is and I have no desire to become a warb. What’s a warb, I asked myself. “Count me out. It’s late and I’m going to bed. You can tell me all about it in the morning.”
Maybe someone oughta google warb and then lol.
OK, I’ll bite:
We go to the garrick now and become warbs,” he said.
His hair fanned out and stood straight up as if the lightening was lifting it off his head. Another boom of thunder caused the barn walls to shudder.
“The warbs. The warbs,” he repeat.
I took a step backwards into the barn and out of the relentless rain. “Become the warbs? No way. Not today. Not tomorrow.”
He moved towards me, arms beseeching, his beady eyes glittering in the flashes of light.
“But, I-ya see, the boats, they makey worried warbs.”
He pounded his fist into his hand , then brought both hands up to his face and wiggled his fingers at me.
“Den dey spook tha pigeons and bite the hosses.
Thank you James Thurber
Bingo, Parrot! I just stumble across my Thurber book periodically and always turn to may favorite story, “The Black Magic of Barney Haller.” Whenever I read that line I crack up. What a writer.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’ve got nothing against warbs. And if I had to become one I could do it so fast you wouldn’t see the shift. I’m a pro Undercover Compromiser, and I’ve faked my way in and out of more identities than a Tea Party candidate overdosing on exit polls.
Over the years I’ve boved in the finance sector, I’ve whorfed in advertising, I’ve glerbed my way across all fifty states, and one time when I was desperately short for alimony payments I even gubered an entire term in Congress. You name it, I can fake it – compassion, transparency, although integrity’s my personal specialty.
But warbing’s where even I hafta draw the line. It’s a one-way blind alley. Once you’re in there, there’s no return, no way back to reality. You’re trapped in a special kind of hell, pretending to be as smugly mediocre as the other warbs need you to be. It’s insidious too – seemingly trivial little cop-outs to begin with, like pretending you don’t despise your neighbours and their revolting pre-crack-addiction kids, and then one day you find yourself smiling and nodding through some barbecue discussion about how if the poor really want to get outa the gutter and afford health care they oughta buy shares and get rich like decent folk do. It’s a slippery slope, lemme tellya – you put on the warb nose, and with every word and gesture, it grows.
As for the garrick, no way. I’ve been there just the once, on a tregging assignment I should’ve turned down before I was offered it (my fault – I’m a never-learn sucker for a Gloria Grahame look-alike, especially a low-cut one), and I never wanna get dragged by wild horses within a forty-foot pole of the place again. Even if they offer me fries with whatever I order.
“So, what?” he said. “You don’t want to go to the garrick and become a warb?”
“Maybe some other time,” I lied as I turned away. “I’m pre-booked for a grerb.”
The hell we do, I thought. First of all, the process hurts and second, and most importantly, it shortens your lifespan. Sure, you’re guaranteed to have your name in the history books, but so are the hundreds of other poor fools who decided to have it done. Heightened senses, increased strength, uber stamina … great way to land a date and serve the safety of the people in this god forsaken war, but I’m no hero. “Warbs can’t be career soldier’s, Caleb, they don’t live long enough. The only way to survive this war is to be in it for the long haul. If you wanna travel three hundred miles on foot to the garrick for processing, be my guest, but this sloop is gonna make captain.”
He eyed me for me a moment and smiled. “I was only kiddin. Besides, they don’t allow sloops to process and your level of the sight gift is too rare.”
“Yea but you’re not a sloop. You could process if you really wanted to. They really like hoppers to process. Who wouldn’t want a super soldier that can teleport?” I chuckled at the thought and he joined in. Caleb was a good kid who just hadn’t been in enough battles to get that glint of glory out of his eyes.
A few minutes of silence passed and we watched the fire in our little area of the camp, then he passed me a cup of coffee. “Hey, Jay? You got a gal back home?”
I took a sip, it was too hot. “Nah. Tried it a couple of times but it wasn’t going to work out. Hard to bother with trying relationships when you can foretell the outcome. Doesn’t stop me from the occasional romp though. How bout you?”
“Hell no. how could I? I had to go through training just to date properly. Before that, every time I got close to” He made air quotes, “fulfilling my desires, I’d accidentally port away.” A half smile crossed his face, though his eyes told of irritation and regret.
I looked out across the horizon as the moon rose over the distant mountains. The shadows of the trees swayed in the wind and the howls of mycans mixed with the songs of the lunabirds to create a ballad of death to come. “Well, you’re trained now. At least you can have a decent night with a lady. Who knows, maybe after this war is over, you can even have a relationship.”
He stared hard at me for a long moment. His eyes were dark in the light of the fire, “This war has been going on for twenty years.” He turned to face the night, “It will never be over.”
The whisper of his words made me shiver. “We have to hold to hope. In the end, that’s all we got.”
“Why can’t you sloops ever see the end of it? Don’t you know who’s going to win?” He set his cup down and crossed his arms in a self embrace.
“It doesn’t work like that, Caleb. We can see fixed points in time, but some of it’s fluid. War is probably the least predictable thing out there.” I emptied the cup out onto the fire and let out a whistle. Grabbing my rifle from it’s stand, I turned back to Caleb, “The enemy will be here in a few minutes. Time to take position. Don’t be a hero, keep your head down and aim your shots.” He saluted and moved to his perch.
A switch turns on or off from one situation to another. Whether in war or in every day life, we have modes by which we deal with any circumstance that comes our way. Warbs, sloops, hoppers, chagrin … every soldier has his place, even in the battle of the heart. I guess in the end, we all just try to do our best and hope it turns out okay.
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by Ann Linquist
Available in paperback or on Kindle