Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Michael's Chronicles: The Peacock Plant


Michael Thiele is a woodsmith who makes musical instruments and playable furniture. He spends most of his life either in the shop or out on the road buying wood and selling his work at craft shows. In recent years, his travels have begun to inspire his own writing, so he sends me his thoughts.

Feb 9
Morning, Naples Florida
The Peacock Plant

Emily encourages me to include photos, when possible, along with my posts. OK, Em. How do you like this guy? “Guy,” you say?” Not a misogynistic comment. Not sexist. I’ll explain as I go along. Meanwhile I’ll stick with my gender assignment. He’s right outside the front door of my motel room here in Naples. I’m calling him a Peacock Plant for a reason. See him posturing?

In 1984, the first year I came to Florida to exhibit I drove around in a pickup and carried a camping tent - insurance against high rates and poor availability vis a vis lodging options. I’d camped often in the early days out west, especially when doing mountain shows. No biggie. 

Well before the advent of Audiobooks real books in print were in fashion. I loved a good read. Great authors would get me by the neck and never let go until their works were done with me. Herman Wouk was one of those. Just before I left for that first trip to Florida in 1984 he hooked me with his epic novel, “The Winds of War.” The book wormed its way into my cranium like Khan’s Ceti Alpha V Eels. For weeks on end it dominated me. I was stopping, quite literally, at exits and rest areas along I - 10 to get an hour long dose. Eight hundred ninety six pages. Spell it out, okay? I am a speed reader. But not when reading a great story. Save your quickies for urgent sex.

On the day in question I had made three or four reading stops and was thus several hours and a few hundred miles behind schedule. I ended the day near Lake City, Florida at maybe 8 P.M. Spotting a commercial campground on the east side of I - 75 I decided to pitch a tent for ten dollars and settle in with my book via flashlight. The batteries died at about midnight. I lay down and went to sleep.

I was awakened a few hours later by the sounds of what seemed like blood curdling screams. They went on non-stop for at least a half hour. Wigged out, I found myself wondering two things. First, how long it takes to murder someone by torture. And second, was I next? Conveniently, this was a new moon night which insured zero visibility and even if my flashlight still worked I couldn’t imagine why I might want to turn it on and attract attention. I hunkered down and made sure not to breathe very loud. My thumping heart was all I could hear. The screams eventually ceased and I drifted away. No lunatic attacked me during the night.

The next morning I arose to find that I had pitched my tent next to a large pen populated by peacocks. I had never seen these birds in person. There were three females and one male, I was told by a woman standing inside the fence and near me. The male peacock was strutting around with his magnificent plume of feathers arrayed, posturing and apparently attempting to impress the girls. It wasn’t working. I learned from the woman that the screaming I had heard was a mating call from the male. He finally seemed to give up in defeat, folded up the feather rainbow and went off to sulk.

I think the plant outside my room is the rhetorical equivalent of that peacock. There seem to be many of these guys in the garden and nothing, by my observation, to preen about. Whose idea was that?


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