The Rampant Lands Pt. 3- Juno

-From The Journal of Big Denny Walsh-

I had told them South. That’s where we’d find the town where everyone played guitar. I thought it was understood that that’s where I wanted to go. But their love affair with democracy won out and we headed West first. They said they wanted to see snow. As if we couldn’t see that back home. They obviously don’t get why we’re here in the first place.

My brother told me about the place when he got back from his trip. He really lived it up while he was gone. All his stories were great, but that town with the guitars is what stuck. It’s where we need to be. With the skies that stay blue all day until they tattoo themselves with reds and purples. They thought that the beach we were on before was something to remember, just wait until they see the beaches down south. That’s where we need to be, it’s going to be great. We’ll fuck tanned women and then sing the songs that ignite those LED vivid skies.

There’s six of us. Like the best cheating poker hands. We found each other on the first beach. We drank and smoked all night, talked about how much we love rock n’ roll, told stories about the women we’d been with, then decided we’d all go to the town down south. But as we headed out West and I listen to the songs some of them hum I’m not so sure that they have the same love of anything that I do.

I first met Patrick and Trenton. I can never get their last names right. I know one is McCann and the other is Freedom. I don’t think that they go with the obvious counterpart. I guess I didn’t really meet them at first.  When I first saw them they were following some tough guy wannabe alpha dog. His time here is going to be so much worse than terrible. I dismissed those two, I didn’t need anyone who deals in falseness.

I gave them another shot though, when i found them later attached to Chester Vale. He’s a pretty cool guy. Crazy as all hell. He doesn’t give two shits about his bulbous size, he’ll go up to any pretty girl and tell them exactly what he’ll do to them. He was quick with stories about a rough upbringing. It’s the sort of childhood that I’m sure will make him want a chance to really live like I do. Maybe Trent and Pat saw the same thing I did. That’s enough for me to give them a chance.

The other two are simply called The King and The Sultan. I doubt that they are really royalty. Something tells me they strode into those names ‘cause they’re pretty fucking imposing But I’m sure that somewhere out there they’ll find suitable kingdoms.

Even though I was skeptical about what could be found out West they made a damn good case for why we needed to head that way. Other than the snow there were rumors about a bunch of cabins where some Overnight Shift crazies lived. I want rock n’ roll but I can’t deny that just like everyone else who’s new to The Rampant Lands, I’m curious about these people. We found those cabins of course and got a good solid swig of those that stayed behind and I’m still curious.

Before we found them though we found the snow. Like a frigid pied piper made up of thousands of lice it lured us. It first showed up, real unimposing like. Just a thin layer at the foothills to foothills. Barely enough to hide the green grasses. I foolishly thought that it might’ve been enough. But if there’s something out there that can only be called necessary it’s that these five are pretty insistent.

We passed by a solitary cabin as we climbed higher into the hills. The snow had gotten deeper. I asked if that was the cabin they were tall talking about. They all were so damn certain that it wasn’t. I had a feeling I’d be back to that cabin though.

I have to give them credit. Those cabins were real. Incredibly real. It’s a place that looked pieced together by some genius artist all sorts of whacked out on drugs. The ones with the pretty names. There’s no theme to it at all. The bigger ones belong to those who figured out how to piece a place together with whatever they found or stole. The ones belonging to the people who found ways to pay for things are pretty big too. The shanties though, they’re for the ones who are bad at both.

We all split up for awhile. Chester dove headfirst into a pond of women who offered themselves up willingly. All they ever asked for was a bit of blood and a good deal of sanity. In those terms, Chester is a goddamned philanthropist.

Patrick and Trenton rolled around with conditionally enlightened preachers. They were taught new languages and words. I can’t lie, it was pretty interesting and I even I took a few of those lessons. But when they started dipping their toes into some pretty impressive sins, for educational purposes of course, I knew that I had my own cabin to find.

The King found a sweet girl. For the life of me I can’t understand why he’d want to settle down so quickly. Hell we’d only just found the snow they wanted, we still have a ton of time for those more permanent predicaments. The Sultan became fascinated with some sort of place that sounded insane to me. All I know about it is that it has something to do with trees and ribbons, but he seems to have some other knowledge about it that’s wrapping his brain real tight.

I wasn’t quite ready to be tied down or become obsessed by those cabins. The town with guitars is still out there.  I spent a while bouncing around from one place to another. I can’t remember where exactly I first heard about Juno first, but that name kept coming up and since I wasn’t ready to be satisfied by something easy to find, I decided to find her.

The stories were varied and wild. There was one thing that seemed consistent though: She wasn’t going to deal with just any guy. No, if you were going to get a chance to meet her you better come with something that could impress. I had a feeling that the birthdays and school dances that my old band played for wouldn’t be enough. So, I lied.

Maybe I’m in the wrong business. ‘Cause the things I made up could never be made into songs. They were too intricate, too crazy, too believable. Each fable unlocked a new door in the long hall that leads to Juno. To some I imagine it’d be terrified to realize how easy it is to do this. To me though, nah, it was a piece of cake. It helped to think of it like this: Even if they’re all lies, I imagined them, so whatever version of myself that eventually would be presented to this goddess, it’s still me.

I could’ve gone to see Juno earlier than I did. But I lollygagged a bit. I wanted to indulge with some other insanities first. I’m a hungry man. Craving all that fades away in my hands. I gallivanted with a group that hailed from all over the damn planet.   We would spend hours screaming at each other from far across rooms. Somehow we came to an understanding that the echoes of this ridiculous wailing was a connection that would bind us for longer than it took to lose sight of that particular cabin.

Eventually though, I had to meet my fate and bow at the feet of Juno. It was no surprise to me that she lived in the cabin we had passed by earlier. At least it wasn’t a far trip in the grand beautiful scheme of it all. The trek only took a few hours, but my lungs burned the whole way, as if I had never really existed in those altitudes. And man, I sure didn’t.

The welcoming wasn’t what I had expected. I arrived at her dwelling, to find her not there. I was sure that she knew that I was on my way. Not that I sounded trumpets or anything like that. But a woman like that just knows when someone who will change her life is heading her way. She plans accordingly and prepares herself to take in all that will be offered to her.

I spent two days in that cabin alone. I indulged in the food and drink she had in the cabin. Tastes that I had never experienced before danced on my tongue. I felt as if I was tasting the world. Every the ocean’s salt, water from the last standing cactus of some near extinct species, grains that grew under oil in water skies, and candy pulled from cave dwelling crystals. I didn’t dare sleep on her bed. It looked like it was a mattress from the myths of the middle east. Silky, far too many pillows, the cradle of life. It wasn’t a bed for me to use by myself.

I did wander a bit in the woods around her cabin.  Much like the snow that my compadres stupidly wanted to see, I had seen all of the trees before. Yet the persona that I had created had taken over, even in solitude. Each one stretched out above me and each one was a piece of art. I was in a museum complete with an old curator telling me what I needed to see, He lived in the recesses of the mind of the version I created in the recesses of my mind. It’s what a deep person would do, it was a joke, it was biding my time waiting for Juno.

She finally came on the third day.  With all the humbleness of an eclipse she entered. She was unsurprised at my presence. Like I suspected, she knew I would be there. We quickly agreed that we wouldn’t speak about where she had been for those three days. I pretended not to have a single ounce of curiosity or suspicion. I had gone that far without the truth nagging at me, it remained silent.

It didn’t take long for her to show me exactly what she wanted from me. Thankfully, it wasn’t blood or commitment, even though at that point I’m pretty sure I’d be willing to give both. She poured me a glass of wine, then passed me a joint.

“I’ve been doing these things by myself for a while now.” Juno said.

If I had been a more honest person, I would’ve admitted that I didn’t really know what she meant by “a while”. See, while I dealt with excruciating details in order to mislead, she was a trader of vagueness, to the same effect.

I suppose I’m thinking about how much of a liar I was because I can finally say the things I wanted to.  I’m sure I’ll take on a new persona the next time I need to. I wonder if Juno would love the body of that person like she did those days in the cabin.

The best thing about being with her was that nothing was ever asked. It was simply done. She wanted sex, she took it from me. I wanted to get high and drunk, so I drank and smoked everything in sight. She knew a place up on a ridge that was worthy of a thousand pictures, so she grabbed my hand and dragged me there.  For the time I spent with her, I was selfish, not that I hadn’t been beforehand, but I didn’t have to feel ashamed about it.

She made me feel worthy. There were times when I’d feel inferior to everyone because I couldn’t push boulders or lift buildings, but I was certainly strong enough to hold her heavy breasts in my hand. I don’t speak as fast as some, but she never stopped pouring liquor down my throat, so my stutterings were masked by gracious slurriness. I was rarely the ear that secrets were given to. Yet, she told me the most amazing things about her life, her reasonings and even things I had not heard about that guitar town I seeked.

There was a mountain by that town. There the strings that were tied to rock and roll in town could explore earthy tones and primal harmonies. The music never stopped in that town, nor did it cease on the mountain but there the notes told older stories about the birth of civilization and legacies mostly glossed over by my innocent rock and roll. I had never given drums a thought when I dreamed about that town. Now though, not a single sleeping fantasy goes by without the rumbling coming down from that peak, ominous and promising.

Had I not tied myself with the others I might’ve stayed with Juno forever. Of course, if I hadn’t chosen my travelling party like I did, I probably wouldn’t have ever known what the feel of her desires were like. I’d have gone straight to that guitar town where I’d discover the drums for the first time but I wouldn’t understand why they were there.

I decided that after just five days that it was time for me to return to the place I’d find my friends again. We parted on a flight of stone carved stairs I hadn’t seen during my wanderings. Everything about my stay was perfect except for our parting, there we made our mistakes. We made promises. She’d find me again somewhere out there. She told me that I had made an impression that would eventually be filled with motivating rain. We’d go to that place where the guitars and drums swelled, together. I told her I loved her.

As I made my way back to that collection of shacks I thought about some songs from my youth; songs filled with deep and tragically romantic lyrics. I honestly believed that back then I understood them all and thought that the greatest achievement I would ever have would be to live out a life foretold by those tunes. I remembered a specific one, that told a story about a man travelling to be with a woman and afterwards realizing he’d never see her again. Yeah, my greatest achievement.

When I returned, not much had changed. If anything it was an increasing degree of whatever state the others were in when I left. I told them of my time with Juno and the new things I had learned about my original destination. To their credit, they were a bit more interested. Unfortunately that interest wasn’t enough to overcome the ones that had been festering since our arrival at the shack town.

I knew that our trip to the town where everyone played guitar, in the shade of the drumming mountain, was going to be postponed again.

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