Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Laying Pipe

When my screenwriter friends are faced with problems of exposition they call it "laying pipe." You see it all the time without knowing it if it is done well. Since I can't do it all that well I will just let you know that a principal presence in the story of my time up in the hills requires some explaining.

His name is "Silas" and he is an haattaallii which is a medicine singer. He knows the three and four day ceremonial procedures that have been used by the Apache as long as there has been memory. He is also an herbalist and all around gifted healer of both bodies and souls. Nobody that I know has any idea how old he is. He has been old since I can remember.

He really lives somewhere beyond this world. I am not a believer in anything remotely supernatural. Not gods, ghosts, demons, ESP, or any of that bullshit. Here's the thing about Silas though, my whole life I have seen him do things I can't explain for reasons I don't understand. He does this thing where he just shows up.

A couple of quick Silas stories.

This last summer I was booked and ready to do a short run with a very well known singer. I am not a big fan of the road anymore, but this was not only a chance to put away some serious paydays it was a chance to make some incredible music with people I was having a ball doing it with. During the third show of our trip the singer's throat blew. Surgery bad. Instead of going home I was intending to get off my plane at Sky Harbor, pick up my car out of the long term lot, and drive into L.A. to be with the singer as he went through the process of finding out how much damage and what the recovery curve would be. I did this because this person is not only somebody I work for from time to time, but a real and true friend, which is something very rare in a competitive and often vicious business.

When I got off my plane in Phoenix I was startled to see my son waiting for me. He had a bag with him and he said "Silas showed up at the house last night and told me to give this to you. It's for your friend's throat. It's a tea." I hadn't even told anybody what my plans were, the flight thing was done by going to the airport, looking at the schedules and taking the first available flight. I have no idea how Silas knew that the singer I was working for had blown out his throat, I have no idea how he knew when to tell my son to meet me. He's done stuff like that for as long as I've known him. We had the tea checked out by the Ear, Nose & Throat guy in L.A. and he said that there wasn't anything in it that would interfere with the procedures and medications that he was intending to use. My friend (who is Irish and understands the workings of magic far better than I) drank the tea faithfully. His recovery was rapid and complete. The surgeon who sprayed his throat down with the teflon said it was one of the most rapid recoveries he had ever seen.

Another thing with Silas happened around November. I was playing the Phoenix show for La Primera Diva du Monde. My cousin and his partner were also there and because they represent some of the social service programs on the rez that were being benefited by La Primera, they were given double secret awesome access passes for after the show. Their passes were better than mine and I was in the goddamned show. No biggie though. I complained about that shit right away and got my stuff beefed up. The thing was that after the show, Silas was there with my cousin and his partner. He didn't have a ticket but he had gotten in to a sold out show. He didn't have a security pass, but there he was in the deepest, highest access area. La Primera came over to shake hands and schooze with my cousin, we introduced her to Silas and she sailed off into the night. A few weeks later we were talking on the phone and she mentioned meeting Silas. She said that the strangest thing had happened. She remembered him vividly, but, outside of her husband, nobody in her entourage had any memory of seeing him. There was no mention of him on any of the access lists.

I told her not to trip. I said "My whole life, Silas has done things I can't explain, for reasons I don't understand."

Anyway, when Silas turns up as the narrative progresses, you'll have a better idea of what is going on.




Blogger Sherry said...

you are truly blessed. you are touched by spirits even tho you do not believe.

if you see him again, smile for me, o.k?

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People like that utterly fascinate me.

Always have.

- oddjob

7:44 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

silas is an endearing, enduring presence in my life. there were times when he was the only thing that stood between me and totally snapping on the racism and injustice i grew up in. more than magic, i would describe him as someone of power. he simply does things.

10:43 AM  
Blogger BlondeSense Liz said...

Silas sounds like an amazing person. You are so fortunate to have someone like that in your life. Do give him my regards.


10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's what the real thing is, MB. I've seen too much to discount "magic". I don't for a moment accept all of it, much less the religious explanations for it usually offered, but that doesn't mean ALL the observed phenomena are bogus.

Yes, the skeptic's first thought is, "That's bullshit. You must have hallucinated that." I can't help but think that when 19th Century technology got fancy enough for the speed of light to be accurately measured, and researchers started noting that it was always the same, regardless of frame of reference (which completely flew in the face of Newton's laws of motion) that their first response also was, "I must have made a mistake."


We don't know everything. That doesn't mean what Silas is capable of doing is easily explained, or even described, but assuming we don't destroy everything first I believe a day will come when people like Silas are explained by science.

I doubt we'll be alive when that happens, but no matter. There will still be Silases.

There always have been.

- oddjob

8:02 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i agree that there might come a day when things like this are understood and explained. we know so very little when it all comes down to it. one of the things i do to point out to people the limits of our scientific knowledge is to ask
"what was the tallest mountain in the world before they discovered mt. everest?"

they will think for a while or venture a lame guess before i say "it was mt. everest. they just didn't know it yet. quantum mechanics and plate techtonics were are working fine before we began to understand them."

one of the things i don't accept is the whole concept of "para"normal. if something happens, it's normal. it might not be explainable but it isn't something that is not of this world.

and yes, there will always be silases among us. not because it's something they want to do or to be, but because it's something they just are.

silas has always said that if he had his druthers he'd have been a cowboy.

8:50 PM  
Blogger litbrit said...

agree that there might come a day when things like this are understood and explained. we know so very little when it all comes down to it.

I hate to break it to you sir, but you, like me, are no atheist. We have faith in something beyond the here-and-now, something larger and more powerful (and, I feel, benevolent, as in something that becomes manifest in such presences as Silas), but we're intelligent and reality-based enough to accept that, for whatever reason, we are just not meant--or equipped--to know and understand everything at this point in time and space.

We don't need a church-approved name, an official book and set of prayers, a hero onto whom to project whatever self-indulgent fantasies we're entertaining at the moment, or a mythological backstory to preach as fact.

But to my thinking, we are spiritual, nonetheless, MB. Mark my word. :-)

9:21 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i always mark your words my dear.

9:45 AM  
Blogger konagod said...


10:41 AM  

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