Saturday, August 26, 2017

Project: The Village of Broad Ripple

"Motivation is the inevitable result of Purpose."

In my Broad-Rip-Will-o-wisps post, I sought encouragement from both my fellow Forgers and myself to, in the very least, consider the possibility of drafting a set of stories for publication connected entirely to my home village, Broad Ripple. I heard crickets, then posted some poetry with the theme of loneliness and being left adrift (fitting melodrama to noisy insects), and then formally went on a family vacation. So, here I am next to a big pool that is next to an even bigger pool: the Atlantic, and with fresh seafood grills and live music pubs and romantic walks on the beach literally just around the corner.

I am thinking of home.

I'd like to go for it. The Broad Ripple themed story set. I don't know why, exactly. I feel both obliged and challenged, creatively. I also feel like it's just the sort of thing a lonely writer might do, whether the work is ever recognized or forgotten (or, in my case, never read). So, I'd like to give the Broad Ripple-inspired story "set" a try. I think it is disingenuous to refer to such a set as a collection, since I *might* be the only source of the stories. This approach is odd, and my previous posts on the subject are confessionals to that. However, if I openly admit upfront this set of stories is less than an ethnographic and anthropological approach and pretty much all a creative, historical fiction work of art, then...would that give me the literary license to create it?

Whatever becomes of the project -- and yes, it is now officially a project -- I will need to rework and re-rework my own stories; many of which I have posted here on FFI. Some drafts will fail. I'll need verification of actual dialect and regional facts - but that is par the course of any historical fiction. Thus, to give it a go, I have reworked one of my favorite stories (below) with added dialect and voice. Will it be my last rework of this story? Of course not! Never!

But, it did take several liters of ice coffee and several hours of beach strolling to finish. As always, opinions and sharp criticism welcomed.

Places I Will Never Go 

We Irish? Well, we unearth them burdens of the woodlands before them burdens can bury us. Sand and mud we shovel into buckets; boulders we carry one by one or two by two, and trees and them roots that anchor to the very center of the Earth we chop and toss in piles while a channel we carve for this pitifully thin, stony river. Stumps from the grandest stock of trees I have ever seen we sweat the entire day to clear, tho them stumps are grand and we use them as tables and makeshift places of worship. From morn till the fall of night, we grub for half dollar per a day’s work. Now, most of them older men get more pay, we hear, and that is fine with me. The more is the money, the more is the trouble, Brian oft declares, and it’s an agreeable argument to me. Them richer diggers get their pay, you see, but this ditch; it drinks them their whiskey… It plays them their gaming and it loves them their women, to be sure. Brian and me have nothing to do with the ditch and we take to unearthing them boulders and bundle them limbs and haul them brush piles. We do our own work, is all, and that ditch over there; it warns us to keep to our own troubles. Unfortunate for them diggers, that sin loving canal drains them dry.

The camp near Wellington is where them sins go, and I pray to never stumble with temptation into Wellington where them devils play, to be sure. So, I carry boulders as if I might carry a bit more, Brian and me, and work the earth is what I do and all I do. Me wages I give to Brian, so me strain is safe for keeping. We have no need for drink and for women, me and Brian, an’ we shied from them paths back in Ireland. Wellington is a place we will never go.

Long before the waters of the river come to fill, this ditch and them black woods offer the wretched cough of the Fever. This is as true as me soul, for the Fever has felled many a man in these lands. We might all be dead long before we stretch this out 10 miles, I say, but Brian tells me to sew it up if you don't want to temp the Fates. Every day them blights of the lung I pray to never be cursed and the delirium in the head that goes with it. Me friend Brian, I pray he never spats such things like he did in Dublin before we boarded to Liverpool. I hope never to go down at all, but those poor souls who did were praying day by day as I do, I know. Every week we bury many a brother - brute or saint; though from the east more of us keep flowing in like them tides to take to them newly opened task on this wooded land that has never seen a shore. Here, a shovel never goes cold for long, and roots as thick as me leg never fails to go out with a fighting kick in our backs. Just past morn, I told Brian he best say goodbye to me then, for if the courage of David comes to me, then he’ll witness me forge a path all on me own and head back to ‘Delphia. With a hush and a good slap on me behind Brian laughed like a glen sprite galloping away on Ol’ McGeown’s goat.

Never in me life have I ever seen such a greatness of trees. If no Savior could I give me soul, them trees I suppose me soul goes by them trees majesty alone. A shame it is that them fine things are felled by the hands of Man. But sure as Saint Patrick caste them demons from the Isle, these woodland gods have taken many lives among men an’ we’d be hard foolish to not be keen on their wrath.

We heard Gamblin’ John Kirkpatrick pass on to glory just last night. He was in the middle of his pleas to the Lord when Brian and me heard his breath fail his sorrowful words. The praying man's soul must well have risen a good foot or two in the air while his lips were still moving, his back broken by the split of an oak pushed towards him by the hand of a wood sprite, no doubt. His misery had beckoned the Angel, as Brian thinks, and by them dirty trickery of them Fates.

Me dear sister, too; Katie was considerate to their presence, them Fates. She was keen of those wayward hollows of the dead who tempted the Angel of Death with a friendly invitation to a festival of the vulnerable. When a foundling dear Katie oft nurse in her Waterford teach had the chill, a light of a candle she’d be keen to lit inside a gourd and then down the cellar she'd lead them Fates with a promise of more comfort for their stay. She’d then shovel a hole in the corner and lay fresh straw and she’d offer them Fates their private bed. And a loaf bundled in cloth she’d lay inside and she’d offer them Fates their warm dinner. And then after a prayer or two, she’d shovel oe’r and she’d do so quick and bury them Fates with the moldy dirt. And like a banshee fleein’ the gold Cross, that candle flame she’d blow out and the stairs she’d take flight up and the lock she’d seal them Fates in the cellar and leave them lingering in their bewilderment!

Never with me own eyes have I ever witnessed them Fates while ever a stay at Katie’s; an’ never with me own eyes have I ever witnessed them here in Indiana. I suppose it’s possible this America has unique ether that will stay them Fates away or has a guardian Saint of them own, but what knowledge I know couldn’t even fill bowl, Brian oft says with a grin when I tell him me stories. Truly hope to never see them Fates or the Angel of Death at anyplace and all like poor Gamblin’ John! Although this ditch, Brian had whispered; this ditch, he said, can well do swallow our souls if we don’t watch our step and measure our breath.  Me dear Brian was scared enough that night of Gamblin’ John’s passing to hide us under two blankets tho it was hotter than the Devil’s oven that night. When Gamblin’ John muttered him his last breath in the tent beside ours, me Brian whispered near me ear, Diabhail scornach. T’is what that trench between the root was: the Devil’s throat. And, yes, me heart it did nearly stopped at the thought of it, and then a tremble did shudder throughout me body. Diabhail scornach! The Devil’s throat is all this canal can ever be. Peace arrived to me only when Brian wrapped his arm around me waist and when his breath I could feel against the back of me neck. I’d to never got any sleep that night had it not been for Brian’s shield.

So far away from Belfast now is Gamblin’ John’s buried body. If his soul was not forgiven of his earthly misdeeds, then I will have to suppose Gamblin’ John’s hollow was free to walk all of Indiana for miserable eternity. And what of them hollows of the diggers before him? Many of them played this soil like it was the Devil’s playground before they, too, passed on. If our brothers' hollows are freely walking about the woodlands, then what of this foreign land might they ever know to wander? This place is a wealth in tree and glade, but Indiana is far from their Irish dells and the holy Irish seas. If I shared Katie's gift, then I might think to lead them hollows to the noisy rippling at this faraway river’s broadest girth: it's where this river takes on like the river Blackwater near Lismore, and in every way it does except when it floods like the Noah’s time. The river I would hope will carry them lost hollows to a sea that will one day carry them hollows back to Ireland, and safely to be sure. Although, such a journey might be a hundred years, and such a journey across this far-off woodland and unknown seas would be lonelier than a widow’s chamber. I will never go by the banks of this river and feel so alone, if could ever I have a say. Indiana is a place that makes for the lonely to feel more than a bit lonelier. Blessed am I to have mo chara, Brian, wherever we go.

When we arrived in May, Brian and me, them boulders we oft carried together like we were attached at the hip and we were the fastest of all the others. Three weeks past, me foot I did crush like a hazelnut with a hammer, and Brian says the Overseers can never see me pain, to be sure. Brian, he shelters me and always, and he carries more than his fair share of load for me until me dumb foot can wiggle its dumb toes. The Overseers, they are not bad lot of fellows, says Brian, since to our faces they rarely take a hard look and a good distance they draw from us. So, in all hours of the day I dig while our largest boulders Brian carries and our crates I dump when we fill 'em and a good day’s work we do together. Yet if ever anyone cracks a joke for me to warm their beds like I do Brian’s ; well, to Brian and me, what them diggers say or think don’t matter a cuss.

He is a good friend, Brian. He’s more than a brother, to be sure, an’ more than a shield, to be truthful. Just the same, tho; there isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do for him and always will I trample a path with him. We share the tent, and he is kind and keep us safe he does, from what this place and them drunken devils can do. We are the youngest here, but- oh- a strong man Brian is! Men who are fools enough to cast a smirk our way will just about always get their promised earthly kiss from Brian. Truth be told, every man Brian has pinned to the dirt had it coming, and any man he's wrestled or twice or thrice had knuckled deserved the wrath. Even when a match is lost, Brian and me; we never get bothered by them devils as much oft over the course of time. Such is more than luck, I say, so fear of the unknown should be a lessening inside me. Brian, now; he tells me to sew it up whenever I worry over then wrestles and them knuckles.

Where I be without Brian does settle an unpleasant thought in me head and shutters me heart.
This labor in this faraway land worries me sometimes. This canal will be dug in two years’ time. The pay is good what we receive, and that is appreciated to no end, yet as I tell me Brian there be no land promised by our contracts and no certain time for our stay, so I two years’ time there’d be no tent for us to pitch. Then, this canal will be filled with river, and many boats and heavy cargo will then be sliding along the banks and bringing the traveler and them riches to the town of Indianapolis. Yet, where might Brian and me go next, we can never say. I suppose we might stay in Indianapolis if there be a Catholic parish planted here to welcome us. Brian slaps the back of me head when I go about preaching me absolutes, but he knows hard I won't go many places if there be no place to worship.
If there be no parish here, then a farm I would tend rather than live in a town alone with cast abouts. Forty and eighty acres of farmland goes to the men up north digging the Wabash and Erie, and there’d be many a men here with grins if we had such a contract. But the Wabash river, I will never go; I tell Brian, land or no -- if what we hear is true that the Wabash is thrice the size of this river and the Fever thrice the wicked than here -- oh dear Lord; back east we should be a heading!

When I tell of the Wabash, Brian oft presents his ear. Truth is witness, me Brian fears the Fever, too, an when I tell of it, Brian takes to me words. So to Boston, I tell, we should return a visit, or return to the mill in ‘Delphia where we departed three months past. A return to Ireland, we might do just the same; back to Mrs. Hannity’s Grocer, or share the room with Katie and her husband Edwin like we had done. If there be a sign, then Brian might witness the morn where I might go it alone.

Or go I will, I suppose, them places where Brian might.

1 comment:

  1. Have a fantastic vacation! We love these stories!
    Lots of love,
    The Crickets