alnilam 3

Shortly after Dickey trots out his Experiment in Formatting (I haven’t made much progress; I hit The Man With the Getaway Face after the news of Donald Westlake’s death) he goes and does something interesting with it: Cahill’s about to catch a ride from the man who runs his motel, to the Air Force base where his estranged son is missing, presumed dead. The other fellow asks Cahill to take a quick detour.

“Let’s go on around back,” McLendon said. “Won’t take a minute. I want to sh… I’ll introduce you to something you may not know about.”

Columns happen. As it turns out the thing McLendon wants Cahill to feel is not his penis.

His hand aided by a light touch, Cahill groped downward: the back of the head of something. Cautiously he explored, losing the head for a descending maze of curving forms, graceful but sharply pointed at the ends. Following them now with both hands, Cahill traced a stiff, branching web in the air, and then stood up. “That’s a right big buck,” he said. “Eight points? Ten?”

The “Light” columns consist entirely of McLendon’s dialogue. There is no objective description of whatever Cahill is feeling, just the information he gets from his hand.

“You ain’t through yet. Feel this here other’n’s mouth, now.”

His touch guided, Cahill ran the tips of his fingers along the ridge of hard bristle, then, directed more closely, reduced his hand to the forefinger and traced out a vicious, hooking semicircle of what must surely have been bone. Cahill stood in a testing crouch, forming the animal in his mind. “Lord,” he said, “What is it?”

“Now right here,” McLendon said. “Feel this other jaw. How’d you like to get your balls caught betwixt them things?” Holding Cahill’s finger on the tooth, he put the blind man’s back on the antlers.

Escape from the columns. At least genitalia came up somehow.

“You ever heard of a jackalope? Combination of jackrabbit and a antelope?”
“No,” Cahill said, grinning a little. “This is a mighty big rabbit.”
“It ain’t a jackalope. This is a wild doar.”
“Combination of a deer and a boar. Some call it the original North Carolina Buddy’to. You and me are the only ones ever seen one.” He broke off.

Commence story about shooting the deer in a cornfield, the boar almost in passing, when some other men were pursuing it. He never explicitly says “I took a pair of antlers and stuck them on a boar’s head,” in fact the first time I read the dialogue I glossed over the fact that he described shooting two animals at all, only checking back when Zack, Cahill’s dog, is described putting his head “inside the gutted body cavity of the boar”. So McLendon takes the blind guy out back, tells him a tall tale, immediately undercuts himself, but the reader is left a little off-center by being stuck in Cahill’s head for the description of the hoax. An objective description of the “doar” would probably result in something that screamed hoax from the word one; leaving the reader with Cahill allows them to share an uncertainty.

I imagine Cahill will be listening to a lot of stories on the base.

On their way to said base McLendon apologizes for his joke, and Cahill insists that It Ain’t No Thing:

“There’s nothing to worry about,” Cahill said. “Tell you the truth, it worked out fine; it was friendly, and that’s how I took it. A little out of the way, maybe, but when you’re blind, you get used to things like that. At first, everything that you thought you knew, and could use with no trouble, has got another side to it that you got to learn. But that goes out with colors, and all that, comes back in your ears and your hands, mainly. You start to put things together in another way and, just a little at a time, but more and more, you come to the notion that you can have the world be anything you want it to be, because it’s all in your head anyway. You’re all right, as soon as you tell yourself that you’ll keep on drawing the line between what you can use and what’s liable to hurt you and this other place in your head that could be anything and can be anything; then you got yourself a pretty good situation.” He sat forward and turned to the other man. “You just gave me a new animal. I can still feel his horns and his tushes, and, far as I’m concerned, they go together and make up the same critter. If you hadn’t told me, I would have throwed out my old seeing-eye judgement and wouldn’ta had no trouble believin’ that the thing was what you said it weas, some critter with big horns and long teeth. I can make a whole world for that thing, and put him in there with the others I’ve got. I like this.. this doar partic’ly because, even when I could see, I believed that there were animals like that. Down home in Georgia there’s somethin’ people claim leaves a crazy track in the mud alongside of rivers; they call it a hog-bear. He’s with me, too, but I’ve never felt him, so he’s not as much with me as that thing you’ve got hangin’ up i your shed. The doar has just been made up, and made; he’s true, now.”
“Well,” McLendon said uncertainly, “that’s one way to look at it, I guess.”
“Yeah,” Cahill said, nodding. “It’s the way I’ve got. I’ll be ramblin’ around in it and buildin’ it up for the rest of my life.”


I’ve ran into a few people who ask me if I think the assorted Trozz stories are true. I tell them I don’t care. If I have a choice between a world where Trozz wrestled a bear in the circus and one where no such wrasslin’ took place, I’ll choose the former thanks.

This has been your Selections From The Dickey for the day. Thank you for attending.


~ by ironcupshrug on 11/23/2009.

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