Someplace Hopscotch Saves

Hopscotch sits on a split tree wrapped with a pink ribbon. He sips off some Old No. 7. He flicks flecks of caked dirt off of his Ariats down a mudbank into an artificial ravine, wider than a highway, for water, rushing below to yonder beyond the border of his family’s allotment. On the opposite bank, a forklift shovels its metal-spork aground, splitting rocks from their bed. It tracks as a tank cutting switchbacks to the crest of the great gully. A row of jumbled bark, treetrunk corpses, stretches there, as a wall.
The work’s gone on long enough without any retaliation.

0Likes
0Comments
281Views
AA

1. Someplace Hopscotch Saves

Hopscotch sits on a split tree wrapped with a pink ribbon. He sips off some Old No. 7. He flicks flecks of caked dirt off of his Ariats down a mudbank into an artificial ravine, wider than a highway, for water, rushing below to yonder beyond the border of his family’s allotment. On the opposite bank, a forklift shovels its metal-spork aground, splitting rocks from their bed. It tracks as a tank cutting switchbacks to the crest of the great gully. A row of jumbled bark, treetrunk corpses, stretches there, as a wall.

     The work’s gone on long enough without any retaliation.

     Nobody notices things this far back in the woods. Only coyotes, and deer, and vermin, and avifauna, and Hop notice.   

Hopscotch spits a glob of saliva inside the ravine then wipes phlegm and liquor from his lips on his checkered shirtsleeve. He repositions his hat back over his topknot, feathered. His Pops, Day-Owl, said time ran faster once the traintracks came to town. Hopscotch didn’t know how that could be, because he was born in the faster traintrack time.

Now he knows. 

When trees are torn our peace is shorn, said some poet. Now the poets flock to the innercity, and leave the countryside be to birds or the older talons that live there.

 

 

Hop sold a sliver. Only a thirty square-acre strip on the backside of the property. A paltry parcel. A Northern lane of land. The broker was untenable. Hop never thought the construction company would come so soon. They built that waterway from the road on the Southernmost side, the frontside of his house facing where the suburbs sprawled, and diverted his old creeks, streams, and rivulets to do it.

Hopscotch got thirty-grand for it at one-grand an acre.

They hemmed him in with fastfood joints, streets, highways, cars, housecats. They’ve hemmed his house-plot in. Hundreds of treeroots torn up and out, from fertile forests. So, he sits in the biggest Grandfather Oak on his property. He doesn’t shackle himself to it, but unfurls a pink ribbon.

The pink ribbon replaced daily by daylaborers who don’t know the difference between one tree or the next, besides which trees lay in their way. A pink ribbon displays where properties meet, and where they begin to end.

There are a few yellow ribbons for noxious weeds, which were cultivated long ago by Hopscoth’s ancestors here.

Mostly, there’s an assortment of orange and green paint-slashes, marking which trees will be removed. There are many of these markings, as a rash painter’s brushstroke.

There’s not enough whitewash in the world to save them. 

 

For the last few weeks Hopscotch perched upon the V-trunk. He sat with a bottle of Jack and a pack of filterless smokes. Watching workers work. The workers look like eagles, wearing red bandanas around their mouths. They arrive at dawn, guzzling gas, and they leave, the same ways.

They work hard from dawn-to-dusk. Hop can respect that.

     Today Hopscotch will wait through twilight until night.

     His face has hardened and dried like snakeskin. His black hands could break diamonds. His eyes gleam of green-and-gold, like his father, and grandfather, dead before him.

He’s gathered kindling and created a cone, set them inside a circlet of stones farther in his forestage under an umbrella of branches. He waits for night, to light it up.  

Now, it is lunchtime. A horn wails from far away: a break. The worker in the forklift cuts his engine and climbs onto the roof of the machine in the wind, sprawling out as he pulls gas-station food from a paperbag blown away.

He watches Hopscotch with furtive indifference, resting on an elbow patched with a paisley bandana. He wonders what the hell the man’s doing espying his work, though hardly allows it to concern him. The worker knows who the hell the man is. He’s the man sold some of his land.

Hopscotch waves the worker over.

The worker pretended not to notice, but eventually obliged, jumping from aloft the forklift. The worker looks at the waterway between, a ten-meter coulee, littered with dead forestage and plastic shopping bags, an assortment of junk from their construction; tires, metal husks, hardhats, nails, lunchbags and, no thing that can’t be worked without.

The worker traipsed through the slime, half-a-mile East, where a sewage pipe crosses the stream. He hugs it and crawls across, like a baby bear snatching trout from an Alaskan creek below. Scrabbling up the loose rock-bedding and steep siding, he comes to a plateau, flanked by barbedwire with H-coils and posts every three yards. Walks West along it, looking for the man who sits up in his trees.

Hopscotch goes to the barbedwire fence, and waves once.

Howdy.

Hola, says the worker unsure of his English and breath.

How’s it goin?

Is work. Behind the man’s bandana are three gold teeth.

Yeah. I ‘ear that.

There is a short silence. Hopscotch offers him a cigarette but the construction worker refuses. Hop lights one up anyway, staring over the worker’s shoulder somewhere.

That su casa? The worker points through the treelanes, along a line of gametrail through the forest, snaking from the ravine to Hopscotch’s house on the hill. Hopscotch’s hacienda is surrounded on the Southern side by haybales, and a guesthouse on a rolling sward, a pasture, segmented into two tiers; the lowest, where the gravel road parallels the highway, has a defunct barn and a metal gate that says: Owl Farm. The worker would pass by it everyday, as he drove.

Hopscotch looks back, but can’t see the rooftop, or the backdoor anymore. He nods sullenly, Yeah. Thas my house.

You av horsas. I av seen yor orse.

Horses? Nah. Just the one. Hopscotch hadn’t the heart to put down his horse due to lockjaw and a lameleg. The creature was curled up in the big barn probably by noontime.

Tu livere long thyme, live aqui. His bulbous nose breathes with what late winter remains, filling his nasal cavity with amoeba-shaped mucus.

Not as long as some, Hops says.

Su papa. The worker nods appreciatively.

Si. My dad. And my Grandad. And his papa too.

Thas good. Familia es muy importante.

You live ‘ere in Cooley.

No. Providencia, he says with an accent as if the town were Spanish-of-origin. The worker attempted to point to Providence, but his directions were nowhere close to nearby.

Providence eh. I gotta sister out thataway.

Tu hermana.

Thas right. I’m Hopscotch by the way.

Hop-skatch. Okay mayne. I em Ernesto.

Pleasure to make yer acquaintance. You boys finishin things up anytime soon.

Perdon?

Is -the work- almost done he says slowly pronunciating.  

Ernesto looks East towards the worksite, where they’ve begun to pour slabs of concrete containment into the creeks.

No lo se. I don’t know.

Looks like it’s gonna connec from Cooley to Prosper eh.

I think so. Si... yes.

You work with’em long?

Dos anos.

Two year.

Hmmhmm. Ernesto sees the flask of Jack Daniels behind Hopscotch’s back. Amigo? Ay. Tu mind. Puedo beber un poco... a leetle of –it? He points to the silver flask. 

Sure man. Ain’t much left.

Ernesto takes a respectful sip, just to get a tincture of taste off his tongue, from the harsh grit of his bandana.

Muchas Gracias. Ernesto hands it back like a baby.

No problemo amigo. Be seein ya. 

Adios.

 

Ernesto returned to his bumblebee machine, the smokestack black as airborne tar. The air lent Hopscoth’s lungs an acrid dark. Perched upon the tree he continued to drink as Ernesto drove from down in the ravine, up along a makeshift road of mudslop, a grimy set of rut, dug by repeat tire-use.

     Ernesto parked upon the plateau, exited the machine, waved to Hopscotch then trudged towards the construction camp buildings by the highway to the South. Hops waved back.

The daylight was done, gone elsewhere on the Earth. Dark dusk peeked its purple pug-face over the shaggy-carpeted clouds, licking lazily at a blue-blanketed skyline. And a sun, gravitationally compressed into an opal nebula, falling as melancholically as a multicolored, motherless child from one horizon-bed to another on a highway of stars.

His mother used to sing songs about the stars. Each had a name that came from a song. Like Na-gah Mountainsheep. The star that reached the precipice of outerspace and stays.  

Hopscotch began his fire. The smoke soothed him. He finished his flask of Jack and finished his pack. Inside the wispy flickers of flame he found his resolve. He gathered green moss from the underside of a rock, like a porous sea-urchin, ripped from a precious place. He passed the moss close over embers, catching a few flinty flashes, burning the edges black, then blew air through the lump of vegetation. The moss caught cinders and smoldered gradually.

He folded the flaming outer ferns in, then let it burn.

The precious ball of mossfire he carried across that cold night, little pops of light streaking into the tree. In one leap he cleared the barbed fence by vaulting over a steel post, and slid midway into the ravine. He crossed the water, balanced as a gymnast on the sewage pipe. He struggled up the sloppy slope of the opposite bank, tiny rivulets running into the ravine, carrying leaves and refuse, until cresting the crag unto a treeless, oily plateau. Hop cursed at the sight of the dead tree barricade.

He went to the forklift, outfitted with a spork-shaped shovel attachment. The gas tank cap he twisted off with one hand, as his other hand held the ball of mossfire, softly aglow inside its sponge-like shell. Just as Day-Owl showed. He shoved it in the tank to the slightest swish of gasoline.

Quickly, he went to the barricade of dead branches and extracted a long, strong limb, jogged back to the machine and began to push the mossfire deeper. It would burn down and then drop. And by that time, it would burn, even faster.

Hops sprinted to the sewage pipe, like a cylindrical bridge across the stream, and sat on it, legs wrapped around, hands out in front of him. Eyes shone gold like an owl in the night, reflecting the blast in his irises, and the sparkling flames. Two fires. He returned to his own on the opposite shore, extinguished it with his foot and urine, then watched the machine burn. It was nasty to his nostrils.

Somewhere, from a distant dark in the forestage, two lone coyote eyes crept through the underbrush, espying Hops.

     The gametrail was worn and swampy from the new streams.

Hop took the gametrail home, heading for his barn to talk to his horse laying lamelegged on the sweetsmelling hay. Her eyes edged open. She rustled up. Hops held her in his harder-than-diamond hands. Hands Day-Owl called dablues.

We did it darlin’, he said, stroking her with palms chalky azul. He chawed a weed, and fed it to her with an apple. It smelled of rank flowers, mixed with the granapple.

The black horse neighed as he ran his hand smoothly along her short-haired, white-diamond muzzle. Then Hopscotch left for his hacienda. Walking the plateau gravel road home, he looked left towards the forest, where smoke clung above the canopy, then looked right, where the suburbs sat silent and dark under high foggy streetlighting.

We did it, Hops said.

At home he collected things he’d need, for consequence.

At home he dialed a friend in Dalliance, his sister in Providence, then disconnected the phone, and shot his horse. 

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...