spahn ranch

LATE FOR A BOOK EVENT in Tallinn, the big moment set to start at 8 pm but it was already 7, and there was no way to get there on time, by train or automobile, so I just didn’t show, nor did I inform them I wasn’t coming. Instead, I paced the corridor of my home, a ramshackle shanty house in a cold northern town, a frosty, eerie, tight little space, like that middle floor in Being John Malkovich, where one could hear the crackle of wood furnaces. My neighbors were in the hall too, Freja and Josefine, ladies reminiscent of HC Andersen’s 19th century Copenhagen grimy backstreets, floating in and out, so shapely in their old-fashioned dress, gesturing emotively, and talking as if I was there and not there, an audience but not a participant to their lament. I went down the stairs, stepped outside, and was at last in the open, now a deserted ranch in the mountains, an old cowboy film set like the Spahn Ranch in Los Angeles, except I was the only person there and it was snowing. I liked it there at the Spahn Ranch. It was peaceful, truly calm, cold, crisp and quiet. Nobody could bother me there now, not the Danish girls, not the event organizers, and at last nobody knew where I was. I imagined all those disappointed people at the book event in Tallinn, and how they were messaging me and calling me in digital frenzy, and “How come he doesn’t respond! See pole normaalne! It’s just not normal!” Yet it was just so peaceful at wintry Christmassy wonderful Spahn Ranch, and Charlie Manson was nowhere to be found. Eventually I did return to civilization, sat down in some vacant highway diner, ordered an omelet and some coffee, took a deep breath, a look around. What a strange night. Morales of all people came walking in, but it was high school Morales, with the black chunky hair, you know, looking like a Tex-Mex Chris Cornell. I was afraid he was going to lecture me about missing the event, but instead he told me it was cancelled on account of Covid-19. There had been no event. Imagine that. All that stress for nothing!

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