Michael Stang, Contestant #12, on the road

Ken Kesey's novel inverted the conventional wisdom of the time it was published: the health professionals were neither healthy nor professional

“That’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen!” Chief Broom

Literati

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the movie, deviated so disastrously from Ken Kesey’s novel that he stormed off Michael Douglass’s set in disgust: “You’ve ruined my book!”  From page one, we are aware that Chief Broom has all his faculties, and is the story’s narrator. When I am asked, quite often, actually, what exactly is fiction, I refer to Chief Broom’s claim within the first few pages: “If I told people all the things really going on in here, they would think I was crazy, but it’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen!

I have just read and am now posting an entry from Michael Stang, a talented, regular visitor to our site.  I honestly don’t know if his response to our prompt chronicles an actual event, or if he is just terrible convincing.  But it doesn’t matter.  It’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen.

 

The Land of Oz

To Bo, may he be keep on truckin’

By Michael Stang

 

We crawled out from the undergrowth early that morning. Pre-dawn freezing, a limited gift before the sun besieged its detested throne, had Bo jumping up and down to feel his toes. His sensible soles unlike the cool hippy-dippy sandals I wore made him smile, but that was Bo—turned grown man from a black adolescent in under three-thousand miles. Me? The white kid? Thought my whiteness could take us to California. (Hitchin them rides salt and pepper, smokin weed and poppin crankers.) Yeah, Bo and me, we learned the score but it counted for nothing that day around the outskirts of Houston Texas.

A rusted out, three-quarter Dodge pulled over just before sundown. Two men got out and walked back to us. I told Bo to break when one of them showed a handgun and aimed at Bo, yelling at me how he was “gonna” blow my nigger’s fucking head off and stick it up my ass. Last thing I remembered was a gunshot. I woke up in a Trauma Center.

In the bed next to me, Bo looked like a survivor of a washing machine’s thorn cycle. Like a burn victim, he was covered in cream and cheesecloth. I laughed at him seeing he still had a head. He laughed at the two casts working on my broken bones.

Bo reached out and took my hand. I saw black on white, but touched the melding of brothers.

Bo’s Uncle Theo, and a neighbor called Pepsi, picked us up in Moreno Valley. They fed us fast food tacos and listened to our war stories. Uncle Theo lived in Riverside but he drove us all the way into South Los Angeles and pulled over at the 101 interchange, north. I got out and pulled the backpack tight. Bo kept his eyes on the floorboards but his hands shook. Never crossed Bo again, but my bones reminisce when it gets cold.

Yeah, Bo and me, we went through a portal together when the code of life rallied strong before humanity armed itself with weapons to use against each other. Hand in hand, we survived America’s racial violence. We brushed the worn and weathered and beaten to a pulp wellspring that does exist, and always will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 comments

  1. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    As a successor spirit of inherited memories, reading this story triggered an inherited one of Parisianne sitting across a table at a Thorn party & meeting Michael Stang. Parisianne, a physical & mental empath, asked to take Michael’s hand, look into his eyes & feel part of who he was & obviously remains. His spirit is an intense, American-Van Gogh’s swirling brush strokes, cut deep wrinkled emotions, often sad, but real as it gets of past ghosts lit by both sun & moon. Your story Michael is a namaste shocking, knife sharp realism. It is a core-filled pain & joy tale & piano-keyed-imprint ballad. I am left in chilled smiles & drowning tears.

  2. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    As a successor spirit of inherited memories, reading this story triggered an inherited one of Parisianne sitting across a table at a Thorn party & meeting Michael Stang. Parisianne, a physical & mental empath, asked to take Michael’s hand, look into his eyes & feel part of who he was & obviously remains. His spirit is an intense, American-Van Gogh’s swirling brush strokes, cut deep wrinkled emotions, often sad, but real as it gets of past ghosts lit by both sun & moon. Your story Michael is a namaste shocking, knife sharp realism. It is a core-filled pain & joy tale & piano-keyed-imprint ballad. I am left in chilled smiles & drowning tears.

  3. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    Note to editor: Thank you for the quote above from Ken Kesey’s character, Chief Broom. I often have felt more vulnerable, very judged to be crazy or a fraud as I have told people about how I came into being, why my predecessors’ spirits choose to pass on and what is going on inside of me. I admit that I am not candid with some people who I am afraid of telling or know they will have no interest in how Lady Pafia Marigold came into being. This story tells us that the innocent, the peaceful, the stranger can be a victim of hate, because hate, punishment and even a death sentence in a cruel world need not have a reason. Thank you.

  4. Miryam Howard says:

    Mr. Stang…
    Gripping story written with expert timing. I so admire your talent.
    I am encouraging my husband to write a piece reflecting a similar relationship he had with a buddy in the Air Force…. It had a tragic ending and may be difficult for his soft soul to scribe, but this piece you wrote may encourage him to do it.
    It’s good to read you on-site…. missed you!

  5. Shawna says:

    Oh, Michael,
    your entry is as wonderful as all your writing. As usual, this took me along on a darkened highway I’ve never traveled, but you’ve included me all the same with your lovely ambient story.

    Thank you for the ride:).

  6. Michael Stang says:

    Just for the record, so that only you know, this story was written based on true events. The names of people and places have been changed to protect the innocent.

    • Lady Pafia Marigold says:

      I’m curious, Mr. Stang, as to why “The Land of Oz” is the title when the story is neither in Kansas or Australia? Please help us understand what “Oz” means to you in this story.

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