I met this old man once out in the North and he had a big beard and the whole bit. Fuck this cat was strong. I thought he was fifty but the goldpanner who lived a few miles away by the big river that went through there said he was 72. The old man was i guess 6'2" and had hard muscle you could see where his plaid shirt was rolled up. I caught a faded tattoo of a snake crawling through the eye of a skull on his arm.
Yeah I got that in '42, he said. 32 years before I was born.
I came upon him dressing something in the woods with treebranches a few yards away from the lake. We said our halloos and I mosied over in the casual, disinterested way that is polite when meeting in the woods. He grinned through his beard caught with twigs and leaves and nodded. His eyes were clear and bright and hard ones not to stare into.
I asked what he was doing and he told me he was hiding a boat. He raised a branch to reveal a porthole. He said since I asked I was bound to go on the boat. I wasnt afraid but really wanted to go. He said help me take the camouflage off and we pulled all the branches off and it was a huge sailboat with living quarters and everything buried half deep in the earth. How do we get it to the water I asked and he said nothing but looked towards the water into the setting sun and pushed down on the earth until it began to sag and drop and the water of the lake started to trickle from the edge along the depression. I copied him and pushed down on the ground and it gave under my hand like it wanted to and the water began to flood around our ankles and hands and when the ground sunk so we were up to our knees Quick! he shouted and leapt and grabbed onto the gunwhale and hauled himself over and I jumped and he grabbed my arm and hauled me up.
The trees around us were trunk deep in water and the boat began to rock and bob. He unfurled the sails and directed me with the ropes and then we were floating upon the great lake when the last violet of the sky died and the stars glowed above us. We followed the lake where it went and sailed in the night wind for many hours. After a long time I said there is no sign of the dawn and he said notice how the stars are heavier and brighter. I said yes and they look almost as though I could reach up and grab one. Yeah he said well look below and below were stars too and no water. Where are we I asked and he shrugged which was weird. And there was no sign of earth or sun or moon but just a sea of stars.
And I leaned over and said hi stars and they glowed bright and said something so mysterious and important that to this day i would not dare of explaining it. I said hi stars and they said yes.
Then ahead we came upon a castle on an island that had high paraphets and flags of red and blue and violet. This is where the drunk angel lives th old man said. lets go inside and say hello and have a drink. And we approached the shore and long-limbed foxes came up from the dark and caught our ropes and said nothing but grinned foxy grins.
The drunken angel sat in a broken down throne room that must not really have been intended for him. He leaned on the steps leading to the throne playing with a wine bottle. He had wings and no irises. I wish I had irises he said to me youre goddamn lucky. Look how beautiful those things are, you gots scuse me got to little purty jewels in your head, the doors to your soul is wrapped in jewels, how bout that?
I smiled and long-limbed foxes brought us wine and drank with us. Everyone told jokes and the old man told good stories about frontiersmen and lumberjacks and grizzly bears.
The drunk angel whose skin was pale but thin drank and let the wine run down his chin. like breath he said sadly. so do you work for god i asked and he snorted and lit a smoke. well no but from time to time i am expected to show up and light a star. im like you my friend i dont know what to do but i know how pretty the whole thing is. fuck man, the other angels think i'm a freak.
we got along and i got pretty drunk