While that wind still blew, playfully ruffling his combination Moe Howard-Ken Burns coiffure, he was reminded of the time he liberated his cousin's pet canary, how he could no longer bear to see the little thing sit in a cage and sing, and impulsively opened its tiny door, then watched it spread its wings and merge with its sylvan home, the canary's yellow feathers soon undulating delicately earthward after encountering its first hungry hawk.
Howard would make sure he did not make a similar mistake. Uncaged from genetic determinism, he felt like the man whose wife sent him to Publix to get a box of cereal. "Just any kind," she had said. "Just a box of cereal. Just pick one."
Long did the man stand in the cereal aisle, mouth agape, scanning the endless rows of brightly colored boxes, till one of the late-night janitors (Howard, remember, hated the word "custodian") found him planted like Michelangelo's David, except clothed and more proportionately endowed, in front of the shredded-wheat section.
"Choosing can be difficult" was the moral of that story, according to the teller.
The canary incident reminded him he already had a bird in hand: he could choose to be an abductor, that vocation being a sort of a Blakean rose-tree as a fallback or safety net for the more exotic "flower that May never bore."
But then again, abducting was doing, and Howard had learned from Deepak Chopra he (Howard) was a human being, not a human doing.
Your talent, your vocation, your work -- that was a mere persona, the you you allowed the world to see. But it's your you deep inside that's really you.
As a young man, Howard possessed wonderful time-management skills, making it possible for him to pursue some of his more creative callings even as he doubled as an abductor and janitor, well before abducting Tally changed his life.
For example, after passing an online course in Stanislavski's method acting, he tried to break into film by auditioning for a Movantic commercial in which his range was severely tested by having to "become," first, a victim of opioid-induced constipation, then, that same person after finding relief from the ponderous malady.
Seeing himself as a modern-day Marlon Brando, Toshiro Mifune, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Andy Dick, Howard transformed his usual abducting self into someone else entirely, a man whose chronic pain has driven him to oxycodone and methadone. Becoming a "constipee," as it is called in medical circles, was rather easy, even if it caused some discomfort and made him unpleasant to be around.
But he struggled with the task of also taking on -- almost simultaneously -- the identity of someone whose natural evacuatory desires have been restored by the miracle of Movantic. With help from an abducted theater student, however, he improved daily and went into the audition with great confidence.
Howard's dreams were dampened when the audition panel found his technique "too naturalistic" and "representational" for the target audience. They claimed he oversold both his "red-faced, teeth-grinding" indication of the "before" condition, and fretted over his choice to play the "after" character as experiencing a kind of spiritual ecstasy, maybe even an apotheosis.
"We're looking for something a little more oblique, a little wry -- tongue-in-cheek, if you will," he was told.
Devastated by this rejection, Howard found himself strolling through his neighborhood, listlessly checking the air pressure of all the tires on all the cars, the intermittent hissing providing the wretched abductor a modicum of relief from his weltschmerz.
But life could not keep Howard down for long. While securing some semblance of sibilant succor from a Hummer, he thought of Kris Kristofferson, Tom Robbins and Epictetus, and their respective aphorisms on the subject of freedom: "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose," "Freedom is more important than happiness," and "Only the educated are free."
|Howard before (metaphorically)|
Yes! Better to be devoured by the hawk of freedom than to "droop his tender wing, . . . forget his youthful spring," and "sit in a cage and sing." He was the sum of his choices! He would choose an authentic life and be the Howard Desseray he was born to be!
Everything was as clear to him as it is to attractive young celebrities who explain Love, Happiness and Hope in People Magazine stories!
He tossed his air gauge into his backpack and hurried home to make his right decision, picking up three dead squirrels on the way for his new collection.