I’ve been asked on occasion who Billy and Jim are. It’s clear to most that there are elements of myself in both characters, but in my own mind, I am Billy. I’ve always been Billy. Who Jim is remains a mystery to me. I’ve written for years about the both of them, using their beings as a conduit of expression, tools to put to work to ferret out the junk in my mind, but by junk I really mean the essence of what we’re doing here, and by “we,” I really mean you and I, you being the errant reader who’s stumbled upon this. And by “doing here” I really mean why does it matter? What’s the point and purpose? Why does blood bother to course through our veins?
Tonight I’m writing about the two of them – the both of us, you and I – sitting together on a deck overlooking a treed mountain valley. It’s late winter, and by all counts based on summers past when the forest fires come in mere weeks, they will come with a vengeance. It’s hard to imagine in the winter, but we are – they are – on the cusp of it. I learned today that of the 15 locations in the world last year with the worst air quality, Quesnel, British Columbia (Where’s Quesnel, right?) was number 7. There were three other cities in the province on the list. Ah, that clean, mountain air. As I, well Billy, breath it in tonight, my stomach aches with worry. I – Billy – have been breathing smoke all winter; lighting wood stoves, stoking fires, waking at 2:00 a.m. to open a damper and feed more wood. This, all winter. But when the stove has long been cold and dormant through the summer months, Billy – I – and Jim – you – will be struggling for clean air.
So without further preamble, I bring you tonight’s writing. It’s postmodern, if that still exists, and if it means anything to you, or me. It’s literary lingo that is without question, something far nicer to think about than going up in flames in two month’s time.
Billy and Jim were on the deck when the snow began to fall, not heavily, but with large flakes of it that they watched through their descent in the light. A fire they lit behind the house burned and crackled, and had they been looking, they would have seen the magic of orange embers floating through the forest canopy against the softly falling snow.