Watercolor by Oona.
This is Bebop Loco, baby, on the radio of dreams. I am Bebop Lobo, babysweet, your nightime messenger of the bad news of the winds of war, of the winds of the deserts of the Other Side of the Tortured Earth. And my baby who is the mother of my baby girl who is the daughter of my baby girl dreams of peace, that her little brother will not die either far from home or at all, that no cars will crash even close to any of her enormous family from Sonora, that no accident will fall upon her child or me. Or me. In the little shrine by the Indian Highway across the turquoise desert of the Designer Border between two Ideas, there is the Virgin herself, the woman of clothing, the woman who can probably remember chapter and verse about pieces of cloth she hasn’t seen in twenty years, like the Hootchiecutie herself, asleep as I write.
And in the Fresnos of my little youth, under the moons of the Sierra, over the black earth of the San Joaquin, war was something your Dad was either in or not in, either Army or Air Force or Navy or Marines; any of whom could lick whomever of whom asked. We bought the houses in rows and we lived the lives of the Spanish of the North, we voted for Ikes and we voted for Jacks and we hoped not to be taken for braceros or wetbacks or whatever our faraway old country relatives were called as they picked the grapes or the almonds or the cottons of the big flat valley.
And war was as far away as a human comedy ever is, near and far, torturing and receding, seething and forgetting. On the radio in the hot nights of summer, the Original Wolf, the man of the border, the Jack you couldn’t vote for, rumbled the air and shook the speaker in your old car as you left the Cherry Avenue Speedway and headed for the Air Burger, you told the babe you were with that those old buildings out there by the Airfield, that’s where the German prisoners were held, that’s the big irrigation ditch that used to have ducks in it when you were a kid, that’s Lauck’s bakery, where the apple turnovers are as big as whole pies. And war was prisoners and Chinese and Rocs, gone as swift as older brothers, gone as bomb drills and commies and the waiting draft. War was all around us, wrapped us up and led our lives, shaped art and shaped words and was the ditch of courage wherein we were still part of our fathers’ silent and secret lives. Our war turned out to be the same as Dad’s war and this war, Medieval as it may be, is just our same old war.
Speaking Spanish, as we do here above the Designer Border, we will find the poetry of this horrible war. We will find words to surround poison, we will find sleep, we will find the Wolf of Air, pumping life and the news, perhaps, that Annie has had a Baby, that Staggerlee has shot Billy, that there still is something called the still of the night.
(If you’d like to get caught up on my story, “Ed Woodpecker, Private Eye” now being serialized, click here: Fireblog