Loose Ends, Broken Strings

At the jam last Wednesday while we were deciding which song to play next, I asked for suggestions for column ideas 'cause I was fresh out. "Whyn't you write about Barb and Jan being in Cortez a few weeks ago? They saw shot-up cop cars by the side of the road and got stopped at two different road blocks. One cop asked Barb if she was being held against her will."

"My whole life passed before my eyes," said Jan.

I shook my head. "I don't like to write about violence. Repeating something bad makes the world seem meaner than it really is."

"You ought to answer that lady from the truck route project who wrote," said Seymour Sharpe. "Explain that a public meeting doesn't have enough information density and they could put all their issues in a paper someone could read in 15 minutes."

"I think you should apologize to her," said the lawyer, Sue Forebucks. "She sounded sincere and you made some nasty implications about Machiavellian processes."

I shook my head. "Sincerity can drive a task force or project to a wrong or too quick conclusion. Everyone concerned feels they must produce something or their time has been wasted. But that's been covered. I want something new."

"Write about Money mag's bogus count," said Sloan Down. "They listed Boulder as first in the west among medium cities with populations over a quarter million and Fort Collins as first among small cities of 100,000 or more. But we're both about the same size."

"Don't write about that," said Seymour. "It'll just bring more people to town and we don't need them, especially the kind that read Money magazine."

"Money's a good magazine," hollered Sue. She swung her gold slide ukulele at Seymour. Barb and Jan had to drag the two away.

"Why don't you write about how physicists discovered the neutrino has a mass which means the universe will collapse into another Big Bang," said a science geekette.

I shook my head. "Too technical. I try to avoid subjects people really don't care about --"

"Entropy will always increase," yelled Ferd the nerd. He twisted one of the dials on his laser light tuner and started aiming it. The woman picked up her electronic jaw harp. Paul and Diane dragged the two out the door.

"Maybe you should write about how stupid Shockley's stand is on concealed weapons," said a guitarist.

"What!" yelled a banjo picker. "He's increasing public safety." "Is not!" They lit into each other.

"You're both stupid," yelled Tanya Hide as she fired up her chainsaw. "The Sheriff's election should be decided on important issues." Her two-cycle whined and pieces of wood and metal flew everywhere.

Someone said, "Speaking of elections, I'd vote for Lorena Bobbit for White House intern," and everyone joined the melee. A paintball shot past my head as bartenders and police rushed in to break things up. I ducked in a corner with Zeke who was using his hammered dulcimer as a shield. Finally, it grew quiet. We peeked out into an empty room.

He laid his dulcimer down. Broken strings splayed from his damaged instrument. A dozen loose ends wavered in my face like cobras. "It's too bad you don't like to write about violence," said Zeke. "This would make a good parable about emotions overriding sensible discussion."

He walked out the door leaving me stranded in the vacant restaurant. No one to pick with and nothing to write about in my column, either. I left, hoping next week would be better.