84. It’s time to light the light

The final offloading for the ceremony brought George to the point of collapse many times. He remained courteous throughout even when he thought he was going to fold up. 

Michel and Kima were too busy finalizing the photons to assist, and they’d already done the bulk of the work setting up the awnings, screeching at other in Greek through the trees while Michel tried to entertain Kima by finding novel ways to scale and exit the trees, mostly Douglas firs and cedars, as he found attachment points. George was afraid of missing something or messing up, and the worry chewed through his normal list-making and list-completing prowess.

There had been no-one to delegate sound to, so he had that running in the background, whether or not he was conscious, and strangely, a week before the ceremony his hair took a special interest in it, poking about and being opinionated. “Whenever your morning is,” George finally thought hard at it, anger, jealousy and stupefaction being tamped down into a beggar’s plea, “Why don’t you take over the sound effects and music and leave me alone except to barf a report into my good ear once a day.

“Take over sound, report once a day.”

His hair rarely repeated back instructions/requisitions/earnest pleas/grovelling. It was impossible to tell whether it was taunting him or being helpful and compliant, the better to seize the chance to make earthquake noises. Michel, who was as close as the phone he mostly refused to answer, would have made a good speech on why not both? George, staggering under a tangled and burdensome cognitive load, was happy to delegate something. Within seconds he felt more energetic. In fact, he felt springy. It was always dangerous, that springy feeling.  It made things more tangled by the time it faded away into his normal state of bureaucratized terror.

Have fun, my good, strange hair! George thought at it.

No reply was required. The hair was variably moody and capricious, difficult and tremulous, but George had long since come to believe that everything non-compliant about his hair was as a direct consequence of George being such an ineffectual person. Yelling at his hair would be as useful as yelling into a mirror. And yet, sometimes, when people are alone, they do yell into a mirror.

The music might be disastrous. It was a chance he felt he had to take.

It was going to be at night, and the weather, in human terms, was somewhere between ‘you gotta be shitting me’ and ‘ass-freezing cold’. No precipitation was expected, but on the coast that was possibly one of the funniest things you could say without swearing.  When Jesse had learned of the date he said, “The only good thing about it is that it won’t be mosquito season. But the first week of fucking April man, at night, are you nuts?”

“I am not a man, please stop saying that even as a joke, it’s racist. We’re trying to have the ceremony when there aren’t flotillas of summer sailors in pleasure craft motoring up and down the inlet. As for your tender heinies, there will be seating and braziers and places where people can congregate and stay warm while experiencing the Sixer part of the ceremony.”

“Do humans get speaking parts? I thought you only wanted me as a mule,” Jesse said.

“I’m thinking perhaps it should be recorded,” George said, as if he hadn’t heard him.

For a second Jesse was offended, and then Paddy’s face swam into his memory. “Oh, I can think of the perfect person, a former client, she would love the opportunity,” Jesse said. A heftier punishment for bewitching him and then turning out to be a complete goddamned phoney he could not imagine.

“Really,” George said.

“Yes, she’s a documentarian. She loved the idea of Midnite Moving Co. so much she said she’d do a free mini-documentary and we could use as stealth promo.”

“You never said anything about this.”

“I guess it was a mis-communication on my part,” Jesse said.

“Jesse must not tell lies,” George third-personned him, deadpan. With more emphasis, “Did she annoy you? You know you smell different when you lie.”

This brought out the toddler smile, his eyes almost closed, his mouth compressed. “It’s like having god in your pocket, a friend you can’t fool,” Jesse said.  There were things about George that were uncanny and inconvenient, but not being obliged to lie to him always felt good.

“For me to be able to tell that you’re lying I have to both know you and share your space; God is apparently not disadvantaged that way,” George said.

George diverted himself from his reverie. It was taking a very long time to unload the passengers.  The Sixers had worked like oxen at a mill, trying to get all the shelter and firemaking apparatus offloaded and set up the day before, while Sparrow rode at anchor just offshore. Michel and Kima had bickered all the way through the work in a fashion that would have heartened him if he’d had a thought to spare.