Dispatch 068

Free write for book idea

There are always cars pulling in and out of Juniper's place. I guess taxidermy is a booming business these days. There are a lot of trucks, big mud covered ones with deer or elk hooves sticking out just over the edge of the truck bed like a haphazardly placed tree limb. There are a lot of Cadillacs too, and fancy sports cars, and I've often wondered what business those people could ever have in visiting Juniper. Maybe they've come to buy a stuffed chipmunk for their elderly grandma. That's her specialty: chipmunks. Not a lot of taxidermists have the patience for such a small creature, but Juniper's got abnormally tiny elvish hands that help her glue the black beads into the eye sockets with a delicate ease. There is a colony of chipmunks living in the north corner of her ranch and she harvests them at just about the same rate they are born so the population never grows or diminishes either. She sets up live rodent traps under the hollow of a dead tree to catch them and then puts them to sleep to kill them. She's never had any problem with the putting to sleep, except when she caught Olive. Olive is Juniper's only pet, an albino chipmunk she caught when it was a baby. She could've sold the thing for damn near enough money to quit working altogether, but there was something about Olive that wouldn't let her. They're sort of family now, Juniper and Olive. The chipmunk can usually be found on Juniper's shoulder, watching her work or cleaning her own paws.

I came to live out here about 8 months ago when I moved in with my dad and step mom. I'd pretended to do college for a couple years in the city before realizing that my morals were disintegrating each day I spent listening to another vapid conversation about a list of girls some guy had tried to get with over the previous weekend. I hadn't made a single real friend during my 4 semesters of studying business. I had pseudo-friends - people who I could relate to just enough that we would get dinner together or play frisbee in the quad, but whom I never questioned about life or tried to build any sense of depth with. I was really good at pretending to be all these people I hung out with. Sometimes I even convinced myself and for a moment, I forgot that it was all just an act of self-preservation. I was relieved to get out. The city sort of disgusted me anyway, in the way it seemed to coerce everyone within its boundaries into becoming completely self indulgent and absorbed, leaving the whole mass of people both eager for affection and lonelier then they'd ever been. I came to yearn for a very particular living situation that I knew my dad could offer. I wanted to live in the country, but without the isolation. I wanted to live on a large piece of land that happened to be just a 15 minute drive from a medium-sized city so that I could have full control over my solitude. When I wanted to turn down the volume knobs, I'd go into the garage (my bedroom) of my dad's house on his 120 acres of land and sit at my desk, which looked out across a quarter mile of grazing land at which point Juniper's house and yard interrupted the view. If I wanted some stimulation, I'd drive my little truck along the country road to where it intersected with 87 S and I'd take it the few miles into Crescent City, NV where I was sure to find a slew of interesting people and things. I suppose what I loved most about this set-up was that I had control. My dad was happy to take me. I'd lived with my mom in Big Sur and the surrounding tiny towns since they split and he hadn't gotten much of a chance to get to know me. He also needed help with his metal smithing business and I figured it would be good for me to take a year to learn something completely unnecessary for the rest of my life just to get my head out of it's normal, over-thinking, pretentious state.