Posts Tagged ‘Erasmus of Otter Dam’

A resident of Bayou Saint Basil

A resident of Bayou Saint Basil

If the interstate connecting Daytona with Tampa was raised to an elevation of 1,000 feet, the typical motorist (“typical” being sedated on anti-depressants, caffeinated on UlcerSlam! energy elixir and driving with a road rage-readied trigger-foot and a rear bumper struck with generic sticker declarations of individuality) would likely be too busy texting to notice the land far beneath was less terra firma than a pattern of small land-bridges dividing a realm of infinite lakes. Science FACT: the topsoil of Central Florida is little more than crumbling limestone held delicately above the Florida Aquifer. Any minute, a new man-eating sinkhole could devour the earth between your soles and the dank underworld waiting hungrily beneath.

Somewhere in the middle of this uncertain ground churns a series of connected sinkholes which have become known as the waterway, Bayou Saint Basil. Along its morning shores you can hear the Jurassic call of the sandhill crane as it shits out another of your prized $13 golf balls. At the witching hour, the thunder roll of the night train in the unseen near distance is pierced by the hysterical chatter of maniacal raccoons fighting over your neighbor’s doomed shih tzu. Sorry Barnie. Trapped between the railroad, the interstate, and sixteen strip-malls is this piece of corrupted Eden. More parasitic than paradisiac, this is Bayou St Bas.

In one corner of Bayou Saint Basil rests a trailer park beneath ample oaken shade. Where the bayou ends and the trailer park begins is as clear as the black muck slowly creeping further up the soggy hill to where the crescent circle caravan of trailer homes is entrenched. These semi-occupied homes are listed as “mobile” on their 2nd and 3rd mortgages, though they are anything but. An attempt to move any of the duct tape bound shacks would disintegrate the home into a pile of un-biodegradable wall paneling and release a black gold torrent of cockroach infestation upon the world. An insect menace, sure, but it is the exoskeletons of these bugs, drunk on your well-intentioned poison snacks, acting as an interior brace holding the unsteady structures together. The cockroaches are the very glue that binds these plastic shacks, which is why any of these homes have lasted through the hurricanes that traveled along I-4 or the Ronald Reagan Turnpike to Central Florida.

Full Moon over the Bayou, the ruins of Roanoke Apartments in the background

Full Moon over the Bayou, the ruins of Roanoke Apartments in the background

The inhabitants of St Bas Trailer Park are a microcosm of the desperate: the undereducated and underemployed, the immigrant and the refugee, the taxidermist, the professor and a stray paranoid blogger or two. Holding court from her back porch is the de facto monarch of SBTP, Queen Georgia. A leather-skinned and fiery hair-dyed grandmother, Queen Georgia’s cackle and conversational tone are amplified from hearing loss and a smoker’s throat. Her voiced opinions drown out the song birds of the bayou like the afterburners of an F-16 jet with a chest cold. She peacocks across the cigarette butted paths of the park with a sense of entitlement as if it were her Confederate fugitive ancestor who built the mobile home she resides in. When she calls out to a neighbor from her back porch, “Now where I come from, we call shit like that ‘white trash’”, you damn well believe her.

Queen Georgia also fancies herself quite the cougar. She preys on younger men in their early forties: unskilled laborers looking for a dishwashing gigs where they can roll up their tattoo sleeves and earn a buck or two to be spent on cheap wine. She romances them through the night on her porch, their drunken hyenas laughter carrying across the bayou to the abandoned ruins of the Roanoke Apartments across the way, their individual cigarette coupling with the other’s smoke in an entwined dance of vaporous death, their bodies in any various state of undress which sickens the mosquito whose ill fate brought it to this sun-ravaged flesh.

Sparky never had a chance against the coon onslaught.

Sparky and Barnie never had a chance against the onslaught of the ‘Coons.

You may ask how I, your humble narrator, know of this Queen Georgia. Oh, I know… just fortunately, within limits. Upon meeting the Queen, she offered me a bottle of domestic swill and insisted on giving me a ride upon her inflatable boat out on the bayou. I promptly declined both offerings, ending what was our first and would be our last efforts at neighborly courtesy. Soon thereafter, I was woken from a midday slumber to the cursing rants of Queen Georgia on her back porch, speaking on her cell phone for the entire trailer park to hear, “Fuck him, fuck him if he thinks just because he is my motherfucking boss he can tell me how many fucking times I can go the bathroom and for how long!” Note: I may exaggerate on some aspects of storytelling, but I put quotes around the true dialogue. To this one-sided cell phone conversation that permeated my walls, I drew offense. First, I do not like being woken from within the privacy of my own home by someone who does not speak quietly of their own personal lives outside the walls of my own home. Second, the trailer park is not a family-friendly environment, but Georgia’s latest dishwasher had his bastard spawn loitering around and there were always some feral children eating corncobs beneath her back porch and all those kids with their little gnarly ears are very impressionable to such language. Third, again the language! I believe a sacred word like “f**k” can only be used a finite amount of times, which is why I do not spell it out here. Queen Georgia has spent her quota and is now making f**k far less fun for the rest of us to use. She debases the word and makes f**k so much more… inane and pedestrian. Outraged, as you may have picked up on, I exited my home and used certain non-verbal clues to illustrate my displeasure. Queen Georgia gave me an unconvincing apology and continued the rest of her urinary diatribe indoors from where I thankfully could not hear it.

Dawn over St Bas

Dawn over St Bas

When paths are crossed within St Bas Trailer Park, Queen Georgia no longer looks me in the eye. Her thin-lipped drunken smirk tightens into a flat line as she meanders past. While most park occupants tolerate the rule of the queen, there is another beyond me openly opposes her reign. They call him the Professor.

I have had cigars and accompanying whiskies with said Professor and greatly prefer his company over that of the de facto monarch. The locals may call him “professor”, but he does not have a doctorate; the moniker was earned for his sheer knowledge on all things unfamiliar to the contemporary American. He is a teacher on indefinite sabbatical from Otter Dam Military Academy, somewhere in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. When I told him I wouldn’t use his actual name in my blog as a means to protect both his identity and my own, he choose to call himself, Erasmus. Erasmus of Otter Dam.

As I mentioned, Erasmus speaks of things beyond the scope of common worldly knowledge. He describes his teaching hiatus in terms of the Polish Diaspora. When we discussed local Floridian culture and the perspective of always being on the outside looking in, he brought up the Defenestration of Prague, a Reformation-era event when Catholics tossed non-believers out the window of Prague Castle to their deaths below. Quickly, I became his apt pupil.

Erasmus is a man still in his prime, yet with valuable experience from an enriched past. He claims to have saved civilization from the Y2K bug. I asked him how he might have resolved the Y2K problem in the twilight of the year 1999, to which he responded, “It is all binary, I could only explain in a sequence of ones and zeroes. The layman would never understand.” Later in life, Erasmus was employed by a friend who was a producer of certain films in South Florida. He was to rewrite a script after viewing the actors at play. The scene, as Erasmus described to me, involved two scantily clad women peeking into a third’s window to find a fourth actor hard at work (pun intended). The dialogue was one peeper saying to the other, “OMG, they are fucking fucking in there.” I am not sure if Erasmus was more perturbed by the spelling out of an acronym “O-M-G” or the redundant, though a cutely appropriate redundancy, use of the sacred word “f**k”.

“It was then that I realized I should have let Y2K doom civilization.” Erasmus expressed his regret.

And then, of course, there is the navigator of this rambling journey of a blog post: Vic Neverman. I am but another loner of the lunatic fringe here at Bayou Saint Basil. Few of the local folk know me by name; I am the guy the park residents would tell television journalists, “he was always quiet and kept mostly to himself” which is probably the most suspicious and alienating thing anyone could say about a neighbor in our modern society.

They, my fellow bog-people, think I am completely nutter. From within the shadows of the cypress swamp, I listen to their jokes as they describe how the interior of my outer walls must be lined with tinfoil wallpaper, how my inner walls likely have various colored threads connecting Jack Ruby’s girlfriend’s pimp to Paul McCartney’s death in 1966, how I must meet women by going to the Huey Lewis & the News’ online dating site IfThisIsIt.com, how I horde ancient maps and have one of those Japanese sex-robots charging in my closet. But the TRUTH is This: I do not own a sex-bot. Good thing, too, or else I would never leave home except to buy more rum, peanut butter and sex-bot batteries.

Mists of a Summer Morning

Mists of a Summer Morning

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