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Ulysses Johnson, Serial 1: Forerunner

Updated on January 9, 2016

Coyote CanyonView Trailer Park


lay tubesocked feet upon the chair sat errantly sideways so he might see TV on nightly news.

On, a local mildly pretty woman with brass hair and nacreous teeth beamed with whatever she said solemn and inaudible since he set the set to mute.

He wasnt absorbing it all at all. Little could captivate Ulysses on his couch. He was as any human with horseblinders to The Tube.

Long tokes he took from a freshly clipped joint rolled in creamy translucent King James Bible paper from publisher pages preceding Genesis. They burned burned burned but eventually extinguished. Smokestreams into disjunct clouds. No soundstreams. Sometimes he went inside somewhere ancient and nameless. Elsewhere. When he was high.

He removed his sockfeet from chair to floor and simoultaneously swung his hand holding a light-blue hue of smoke in a twirly trail over to the lampstand where he stuck the crumpled roach into a NO SMOKING ashtray crushing the contents twixt thumb and forefinger feeling cinderflame singe his flesh a second yet. He swirled ash around slowly.

Stared fully dumbfouded at the news.


He turned the TV volume up. The image on the screen was grizzly enough even nebulous. Sounds of ambulance wahs and police sirens. Red & Blue strobes on CAUTION tape.

Almost sacrosanct.

Inside the church the bodycamera shook and took viewers to a show of someone strung upsidedown upon a pearl cross aloft the altar. Face burnt black by gasolinefire. Naked. Torched. Hands bound by nails to breast. A female latterly. Upon the matchstick podium bible pages flickered.

The hell...

...Several suspects current whereabouts unkown at this time. Police apprehended one potential assailant tonight whose name is being withheld. What we can tell you is that he is a thirtytwoyearold male and was a member at Golden Fellowship Church. He was apprehended due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in connection with an unrelated charge in the city of Truth or Consequences...

Ulysses pressed mute again and got off the couch. He got a gallon of Ozarka water from the fridge and went out of his trailer. There there was reassuring silence on the edge of the town called Truth or Consequences. Upon his hillview he saw downtown’s gleaming globules of light as always displayed in darkness, like little fulvous hexagons on the horizon. Closer yet he considered trailerlight halos aloft plywood porches paralleling the only road. Trailers glinting ceramic husks under sickle streetlamps.

The only true street ending at the only true house.

The managers house was lightless save for a mothswarmed electriclamp in the backyard. Flies, horseticklers and moths flocked to the electric flame en masse. Their bodies blended into one chaotic black orb.

The managers dog barked. A coyote called in answer from the distant desert. For what was of no consequence.

Swarmed Lamplight

Ulysses swung the mesh flydoor behind him. He swigged the gallonjug then screwed the cap on and tossed it to the tattered green couch of cottony tufts and went to his bumpy mattress twisting the lamp knob off as he slipped into cold sheets and slept with the radio set at an alarm for tomorrow, almost today.

He wondered what might tommorow be. What was yesterday. Wondered where Penny was now. Somehow she wasn’t where she was supposed to be in his dreamcycle. She wasn’t with Machus. In deepdreams he calls her. But she doesn’t answer. Machus does. Dad? And Ulysses halts. Then hangs up.


At midnight he sweated through bedsheets wrapped around him like a caccoon. His feet thrashed the linens off to the faux wood flooring where they crumpled into a mound by the mattress half a foot off the floor. The ceiling fan missing a blade froze his sweat as he sprung awake. He sensed his alarm awoke him. He heard it bleep at a crescendo. But it wasnt buzzing so he sprawled four ways and slept again.

Even asleep he couldn’t get comfortable. He didnt dream in the following four hours he alloted himself. And if he did he didnt remember. He feared what he would see if he did. Them dreams.


The last dreamseries he walked. Where he walked wasn’t important. His perspective perched upon a treebranch as a hawk or vulture. No silhouette painted upon the parched Earth to see what sort of wingéd watcher he had become. He hungers for his bald head. He hungers for shadeless flesh.

And dread lurks behind him in the stead of his shadow.

The broad land about him becomes black as an eightball. A faceless figure tall and thin as a tired old tree slinks in the stead of his shadow. Ulysses turns to the –what must be— man. Hands of interwoven vine pass something indistinct in the engulfing dark to his palm. Ulysses takes it. Turns it. It gleams a golden sheen like a little locket.

Ulysses awakes. Free of them dreams.


It wasnt the alarm which woke Ulysses. He didnt know what did. He felt held. Automatically he pawed for Penny’s arm but contacted a cold, crisp pillow. He felt foolish for that. Very foolish.

A weight upon him. Like a little dwarven devil made of metal. His heart squeezed. Held tight in an internal clutch. As a heart attack might. He hoped it wasn’t until it subsided. He blinked long lashes relishing the absconding dark.

He wore tubesocks and underwear. Shirtless he had a headache and chestache and beheld fine black-and-white hairs stuck to his sweatbeaded skin. Sparky’s fur. The spot at the end of the mattress where his feet still felt warmed by the bulldog’s depression. He held one strand aloft a slit of streetlamplight leaking through a bent windowvine to his right. He studied it in a twirl twixt thumb and forefinger. He missed that damned dog.

Then laid it to rest. Then got up.

T or C

Day hadnt brought light.

Inside he had a hard time to find his boots. Outside there on the front porch. Ready for work. Like he’d left them there but didnt remember. It didnt matter. Not yet.

The moon made the trailer park grass outside gold mist. Starless band of grey above as if the skyblanket was not yet shorn. Smells of dew and rotted out rubber and gas. Pollution of many things. Including light.

Night or Day.

Through his closed vision veneer a slit of scorchlight centered as through the parting of a doubledoor. He opened his eyes and it dissapeared. Yet the pain of it lingered. Like a migraine. Between his brows. So he rubbed them. Some residual signal from his dreams perhap.

Day or Night.

Them dreams. He never made heads or tails of them dreams. Some were elegant. Others evil. Many certainly both.

Ulysses didnt suppose he was either to a total.

He went back inside to dress and gathered a duffelbag and packed it out and locked the trailer behind and looked out over dark morning with deep mountains pink to the Northwest. Light hung like fresh linens over the line of hardfroze, distant rockfaces, jagged as funeral crowns.

Nuevo Mejico

When he walked out to his car he saw a squirrel on its bellyside at the end of his driveway. He chucked the duffelbag in the trunk, shut it, then turned to the roadkill.

No tire tracks. No coming. No going. No arrow of way.

He kicked the tawny fur. The eye opened slow as a camera aperture. No scene obscene or serene held within. The squirrel could look nowhere but elsewhere than him.

Sorry. He heard his words that sounded so empty whence they strained for sympathy or empathy. Pity felt pitiful. He knelt down and the button eye blinked halfway.

He felt the fur. Still warm. Heart heated. Stomach rising and falling fast in bulges that parted the thin hairs and revealed the smooth, tan belly beneath.

Now how the hell.

He looked yonder the only true road.

Who done drove you over. He lingered. Damn.

Nobody but him. He looked at the little form of flesh and fur. Poor fella he whispered. The eyes depth he fathomed. What to call a thing living already dead. A fresh red pool of blood from the corner of its lip. Another trace of purple blood plastered to the pavement. Older. Oxygenated. Not much older. No bodymarks. Injuries internal. No cuts. No gashes. No bites. No trace of a tragedy.

Ulysses wondered why mercy seems so hollow. So unheroic. So shallow. There was no replacement between them.

He snapped the sleek and sharp and silver SOG blade. Aimed at the carotid artery. Slid the blade between brain and body. Cut the cervix. The eye fluttered full. The deep black of the eye seemed wholesome and unstrained. A silence. He stared at it. Some more blood leaked from the lips swirling amdist the former pool and pushed it into a red rivulet along the grooves of the pebblegravel. Like two little arms of blood flowing around a mere of gravel there.

The eye twitched then went tense. It startled him. The smallest and largest power of it.

What kinda damned mercy.

He brushed it off the road into a ditch with his boot-toe near a neighbor’s mailbox and bent over it but didnt say anything. No final words of passing for it. Time doesnt pass. Time present and past floats thin as tissuepaper across all perspectival memory. He’d never read that. Nor said it. But wondered at it all the same.

Some people say a man...

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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 years ago from San Diego California

      We drove by Shiprock when I was very young Eldon, but we didnt stop. Sadly enough, alcoholism is a real problem there. I think they call that the Devil's Highway because of alcohol related deaths on it. Sad because the scenery is stupendous.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile imageAUTHOR

      Eldon Arsenaux 

      2 years ago from Cooley, Texas

      I wonder whether you have ever been to Shiprock? It is a place of magic, Mel, with crumbling infrastructure, and with 95% of the Native Navajo population under the poverty line. Yet, New Mexico is still a stupendous state.

      Glad you enjoyed that line Mr. Carriere.


    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 years ago from San Diego California

      As a son of the grande estado of Nuevo Mejico I can proudly proclaim I have been through Truth or Consequences, or T or C as we natives call it, several times. I can see how the place can drive one to despair, or as you so eloquently state, to a place where "Time present and past floats thin as tissuepaper across all perspectival memory." Great line, wish I'd thunked it up. Loved this.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile imageAUTHOR

      Eldon Arsenaux 

      2 years ago from Cooley, Texas

      Thank you both for the kind words.


    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Beautifully written.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Your descriptions are exquisite. Every sense is alive, recording it all through your words, saving it for some future day when intelligent writing is outlawed in this country...then I'll pull this out and savor it like a twenty-year old cabernet.

      Happy Holidays my friend.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile imageAUTHOR

      Eldon Arsenaux 

      2 years ago from Cooley, Texas

      Thankya kindly Shyron. Hope all is well with you!


    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Eldon, this is awesome, very well done will share.


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