Edendale: Chapter 9
Toonerville At The End Of The Civilized World
The photo is by L.A. Times photographer Herman Schultheis taken around 1940.
Courtesy Los Angeles Times
By Phyl M. Noir
Jade Yee was exhilarated and powerful. She flew over the house roofs in Toonerville. The red Tooner Ville electric train traveled beneath her through pine forests towards the San Gabriel Mountains. It went over Fletcher Drive and onto Bliss.
She flew over the Forest Lawn wall and watched a military funeral. She heard the guns salute and understood at last how it was that people died: you shot them. She saw oleanders bright with raspberry flowers bending in sunlight.
The sun operated the world at the top of the hills. She shouldn’t look at the sun but she did for a few seconds. Both bees and birds had returned in multitudes after the end of pesticides because petroleum was no longer available. The air buzzed. She opened the door to go outside. The Santa Ana winds dried her lips.
Bruno put his hand slam against the door. “Go out there and the next thing you know there will be policemen. They will tell you to put your hands up. They will ask you where you came from. You will tell them you came from the Toonerville house. Try a little backyard air.”He said.
Two dogs came up to her, Scylla and Charybdis. Ralphie walked out. She saw his skeleton inside a lime green light as if he were inside a fluoroscope. Jade told Ralphie that she saw his skeleton and that it was like little children’s feet. He said that was a common delusion. He asked if she was all right. She told him that she was not.
She saw the wombat flying above them. It vibrated at 5,000 words per minute. Behind it trailed a sign that said Wombat Uber Alles. The wombat was not an Australian marsupial. It was a Mobius strip artfully covered with short dense fur and it was the act of lapidary writing.
She laughed out loud.
She followed the wombat in a helicopter that ran on sunlight. The helicopter’s insectile shadow moved across the broken remnants of the Golden State Freeway destroyed near the end of the civilized world after the end of the fossil fuel reserves.
Very bright light came from the surface of the Pacific Ocean. The waves looked stationary in the prospect created by height – the waves forever about to break like a line of lace against the shore. The inland hills looked like the blond haunches of sleeping lions.
Everything had a surface aspect, which is exposed to light, and an interior hidden aspect. She looked down at the miniature Los Angeles River. Her pulse accelerated and golden light appeared between her breasts. Her anahta chakra wakened. She merged with ancient geography.
The mountains surrounding the Los Angeles basin had parts across their tops like parts in human hair: the firebreaks. Rivers and creeks cut the mountains. Gravel in the dry creeks lay in bands of gray, white and gray-blue. Giant Ragweed stalks and Indian Paint Brush grew in the creek beds.
Before the Americans arrived fires were milder and the heat of fires released seeds from the padre’s staff, chemise and manzanita. At the end of the civilized world, fires burned annually again.
A magnificent forest of big cone Douglas-fir, black oak, canyon live oak, Coulter pine series, incense-cedar series, Jeffrey pine and white fir pine grew in aquarium light. For 10,000 years Tongva children had given a separate personal name to the trees andâ€”when she looked to the tops of the mountains where the trees could be seen individually — she saw why. There were spaces like alleys to the sky behind the trees. It seemed as if there were mirrors in those places and there — a tree was shaped like a nose and — over there — a tree looked like a duck’s head and — there– a flag.
Riparian forest grew along the banks of the Los Angeles River incandescent in the heavy sunlight. Artesian springs returned clear and pure in Griffith Park. In the meadow where there had been the residential tracts of Glassell Park stood massive oaks, some of them hundreds of years old. There were haloes around things. Sheep complained about their lot in voices like baritone human voices: Sheep. You treeeat meeee like sheeeeep.
She came down again in Toonerville. Behind her a small solar craft came in low. Its white headlamp looked like a liquid star in the darkness.
She inhaled slowly. The vermilion dyhana wheel of light turned with her breath.
Bruno came out of the inside of the house and gave Jade a downer and said, “Go to sleep.”
Bruno slept with his arm across Minda. He dreamed all of the friends were empty cigar wrappings circling the earth in a cold orbit in the uncaring universe but it was he who was empty.
The next day they returned to the civilized world. The women went to the Hub Mart on Hyperion across from the old Walt Disney studio. They bought almost a hundred pounds of Fat n’Sassy and Gator Belle bell peppers. The clerk charged them $277.12, which was a lot of money in those days, so they put most of the peppers back. They loaded the remaining peppers into bags and put the bags in the trunk of Malcolm’s Auto de Fe and drove in increasingly larger concentric circles until they passed Cyd’s parents’ house in Glassell Park and saw through the house’s picture window that the Gilligan’s Island Marathon played on the television. They needed to see it.
Celia stopped the car and got out and asked if the Garfields if they could watch television with them. Sam Garfield asked what the matter was with them and wouldn’t let them in even though Justine Garfield said that perhaps they were Cyd’s relatives. Mrs. G had not yet reached the full flowering of her craziness but she was getting there.
After waiting a very long time for the women Malcolm, Marnix, Ronald, Bruno and Ralphie left the Toonerville house and ran up the hill to the old electric car easement that passed near India Street. They saw old houses that smelled like straw and dirt. The men ran with their arms raised in front of them as if to ward off the old age and death ahead of them.