Guru is thinking back on early childhood, his early adolescence. In the springtime halls of Keep Abbryggdd, the springtime was always celebrated with rituals- blessing of the Springs. Water fairies, his mother said, lived in the Spring. The Blessing of the Springs were a family tradition, just like the Toddy Festivals in Pondicherry. The legendary Abbryggdd Springs had been a destination for pilgrims up and down the Marches and even into Scotland for centuries. But now, commercialism, the need to weaning the National Trust from everyone’s mind about these days and the need to keep at least the local minister busy every year were a reason the family kept up indulgences, and appearances.
The springs were in a sheltered dell around which some ancestral Abbryggdd or other had taken great care to constrain inside well fitted natural stonework, and then small niches were used for altars- candles, flowers, photographs, relics. These kind of things were immortalized there. For the sake of the water fairies, Guru would come there as a child and swimming in the spring-tub, the green leaves of the yew tree beside the stone well laughing down on him.
Guru was remembering a day spent with Stokely after one of his spring-spring soaks.
Stokely had driven him some ways off into the deepest gloom and wood of the Abbryggdd estate, where the forest sprites and elves lived for certain. If water elves could live on the edges of the Spring, then surely elves lived in the cast forested parklands.
Stokely stopped the car and got out. Standing with his hat in hand clasped to his chest, and his necktie blowing off to southeast, he looked at Guru with darkened lowered eyes.
Guru just sat and looked at him. Seated as he was in the passenger seat of the car, looking west, past Stokely, out toward the Atlantic.
“Here is the spot where I want you to bury me. When the time comes.”
Guru hardly had a mind about where Stokely should be buried- he hardly even knew what death was, at that time in his life. But not many more years away would come the big lesson. Stokely was meaning to break the news, in his own stiff-necked way, however.
But Stokely had also granted Guru a wisdom both far beyond his years or his doings, by virtue of his being the number one son, and only child to the lion of the clan, here coming to the end of his line, the end of his road. Certainly Genevieve knew what she meant when she had named him Guru. How long would he before Stokely saw his was just another person with feet of clay? All his life?
Stokely never even knew of his own feet of clay let alone no child of his own. It was just up here at the top of the hill, only just so far enough as to lay open to every wind. Not the most comfortable place among the holdings, thought Guru, and now, years later, remembering Stokely- who now lay in rest at just that spot, inside a tall round marble columbarium surrounded by a number of irregular, highly suspect standing stones (the effect was as though a wealthy Roman patron had been placed right down in the center of a magic Celtic henge, all the more to beguile the tourists who would begin arriving in late March.
Guru did not think much of the place then, back when Stokely had shown it to him, and now even with the grotesque monument erected around his mother and father;s bones, he barely contained a slight chuckle. It would be just his due, he thought. The columbarium had been built and dedicated to both his parents now some 25 years ago.
Now it sat on the forsaken hilltop of the winds, where the mind of Stokely Abbryggdd will ever remain, neither blown by the breezes nor solid like the stolid-state-citizen that he had been. Disgruntled, of course, There had never been the due, the turning of the family’s tide, not during Stokely’s time, at least.
Stokely and Percy Junior had been left with the larger office of keeping their lands free from “interlopers, varmints, and scalawags”- once the job of their antecedent the Thegn of Fishguard, the only dues the family owed Her Majesty were in general, the same lot as had been handed down year after year as the Barons Abbryggdd over the centuries defended their realm – for themselves first and others later.
While Guru didn’t think much of the place, and still didn’t, the place which Stokely had chosen to erect his “Temple to Bo’Canon” even yet dominated the hill, where once here had been only the sound of the wind and far away to the southwest was the ocean, blue, white, and shining in the distance.
Guru thought back to time again in his young past. The memory of his mother playing records in the living room, and the record spinning on the wooden console stereo which sat uplifted from the floor by four and a half wooden stem legs. His mother’s favorite record was the Welsh singer Mary Hopkin’s Post Card. His favorite song was “Young Love.” It might not have been a very typical thing for his mother to get into , but his mother had had some times herself, and had battened onto Mary Hopkin just at that time she came along to the public, through the Beatles, their Apple Records, and her hit song “Those Were The Days.” That was one Guru liked, but not as much as “Young Love” or his second favorite, “Love Is The Sweetest Thing.” Even “Voyage of the Moon” meant more to him than “Lord of the Reedy River.” Guru liked Mary Hopkin but loathed most of Donovan Leitch’s work. “Too fay, twee, and ponce, so far’s I care” he once said to friends, and not in jest.
At that time in her life, Genevieve Abbryggdd (nee Sante) took her own place among the Carnaby Street set. That, of course, was how she met Stokely, one night after a Kinks concert when all either of them could think about was “all day, and all of the night” running through their minds like two trains headed into a collision. When fire meets water, steam dissipates into the air. The last time she had had that time of passion with Stokely was probably about that long ago, also, once the bloom came off the rose, their marriage had turned into a business proposition.
Guru didn’t think about all that. He thought about the record only in terms of the sentimentality and old fashioned arrangements on most of the song- they seemed (to him) so evocative, lie, Britain before the Second World War, relaxing and enjoying her come sunny living, before (once again) another new generation of young men would be set before the grinder.
He got Mary Hopkin off his mind soon, however, walked over to the wall full of Roget and Desiree’s collected vinyl albums, and pulled down a record titled Steppenwolf’s Greatest Hits. He danced about their living room, luckily, neither of his hosts were home to see him making a fool of himself. But after another glass of scotch, he could get used to this.
John Kay’s buzzsaw lead guitar from “Magic Carpet Ride” drove an aural nail right across the room, as he danced, balancing the liquid in his glass carefully, so as not to spill any on the fine Persian carpet of his hosts.
“Why don’t you come with me, little girl?” was the musical question. It remained to be seen who might show up to answer it. It could not be Desiree. That much was easy to see, and he need not concern himself, for Desiree had been playing Roget (again) as she often felt a need she might, partly out of listening to all Claudine’s advice, and partly for her own amusement.
(From Bus of Fools, a work in progress.)