Monday, March 27, 2006

The metropolis: a smothering jumble of towering facades, sullied air and noise. There I was, trudging through it when I wondered how pleasant it would be if it were a peaceful Japanese meadow instead. In the honk of a city horn, my entire field of vision blurred and I was strolling through just such a land, but it was considerably more elaborate than I had expected. In the distance loomed a massive volcano, and across the grassy plains loitered a modern Japanese maiden, giggling mysteriously at something. At me? At the mountain? Or some secret? She stopped and fixed her gaze in my direction.

"Why are you dressed in pink?" I asked her.

"My clothes were blue a moment ago." she stated enigmatically, and giggled again.

The sky was blue, but her clothes certainly weren't. I decided not to press the matter, choosing instead to engage a new subject, "Could you tell me about that volcano in the distance?"

But she continued giggling and finally answered not the question I had asked, but the one I was actually thinking of, "I'm not really a Japanese girl, I'm that cloud over there.

I took this as slightly presumptuous. After all, this was my day dream, and not hers. I looked at the cumulus formation drifting high by the mountain's peak, and wondered if the volcano itself might have puffed it into existence. It looked to me like a sage poring over an ancient volume, a dictionary perhaps. But not a young Japanese girl! More giggles.

"April fool!" she exclaimed, causing my thoughts to trip backwards and fall flat, if thoughts are capable of such a thing. "I'm not really that cloud over there, I'm Doug, Doug! Don't you know me? You do recognize me, don't you?"

Then I did recognize him, and that we were standing on a Los Angeles street corner, waiting for the light to change. "What an odd happenstance, meeting you here," I told him," I heard you were down in Guatemala."

"Oh, no. Not anymore. I came back."

Then the light flashed green and he was off before I could ask the most important question. I called urgently into the moving masses, "Did you find Ambrose Bierce!?" but not a single person looked up.

And that's how I met Doug. But when I was home something happened to make me wonder whether I had simply imagined my imaginings. I recalled quite lucidly that I had never in my life been to Los Angeles, nor had I ever seen Doug or spoken with him in person.

Story #349

Afterword: I suppose there are some people who have never heard of Ambrose Bierce or Doug Pascover, who blogs impeccable modern-day versions of the Devil's Dictionary entries. Bierce, author of the original Devil's Dictionary disappeared in Mexico in 1913. It is my opinion that Doug doesn't need to search for Ambrose Bierce. He's already found him. Doug has recently posted a five part account of his travels in Guatemala, a wonderful excursion into the real and the imaginary, which were the inspiration for this story. It's well worth reading/listening to: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. Also, these and more of Doug's audio stories are collected at

Story contributions have been reposted at


The Mushroom said...

It was a long way to Mt Fuji, but Catherine knew she could hike there if she set aside her entire summer break and could figure a way to get across the Pacific Ocean from her parents' home in Seattle. Only having her allowance to work with, she limited herself to only buying fruit and the occasional hamburger (it was a good thing McDonald's has come to the Land of the Rising Sun) and when she got there she'd get one souvenir for being in Japan (the remarkably Engrish "This Flash Is Infallable!" shirt) and one from Mt Fuji itself. She had only another fifty kilometers to go before she reached that giftshop, and 3,776 meters to the top of the mountain before she could turn around and come home.

admin said...

Little Tomoko always carried a Wakizashi on her. She did not look like it but she had been trained into the dark arts of Ninjas since she were born. Her parents had been samurai outcasts sent on exile in the "green meadow under the white mountain". But the arrival of Tomoko was something the black-samurai society did not intend. So the prophecy had been fulfilled and the fruit of the deadliest samurais ever had become a nijna ready to spread justice among Japan.

Indeterminacy said...

Mush: I think your story fits the photo quite naturally. I was never going to use this photo even though I'd set it aside. I had no idea what to write for it, though Doug gave me the idea that I finally used.

Viruswitch: Your story looks under the surface for another plausible explanation. I'm not sure that the story I wrote is all that plausible...

admin said...

The inspiration to it was a cheap 80ies film I saw yesterday called the nijna academy! Looking forward to your story.

Mutha said...

Daisy had considered the mountain her own for so long that her new friend’s familiarity with it felt unsettling.
“Oh yeah, the mountain…what about it?” he said.
“Hmmm,” Daisy thought to herself, “Maybe I was wrong about you.”
The mountain rumbled its agreement.

A Little Bar of Soap said...

Greetings from the beyond! My, you and Doug love volcanoes!

God loves you.

Indeterminacy said...

Mutha: That's great! I knew there had to be a collusion betweent he girl and the volcano. Thanks!

Little Bar of Soap: I loved your comment over at Doug's last week:

"It figures that you and Indie would be at a volcano, about to be covered over by the lava that is the VOMIT from the DEVIL'S VILE MOUTH! Satan, get thee BACK!"

A hig and a kiss for that one!

Unknown said...

Indie, thanks for that. Great story, my hermit brother. I'm proud to be a japanese maiden in your daydream. Well, more concerned than proud, but honored. Not dishonored I presume.

Anyway, here's my shot:

"OK, guys, keep the camera on me." More businesslike now, Mizuko went on, "I am here at the meadow below Mount Fuji. They say at the top there lives a hermit. A wise man who can tell your future and change your present just by looking at the picture on your driver's license. They say he has the power to make the simple chaotic and the earnest ironic. Follow us as we go In Search of Indeterminacy.

Then, to the crew she asked "Did anyone remember to bring a folding chair?"

Indeterminacy said...

Doug: Story begats story. Where will it ever end? I wasn't sure how you would deal with being a Japanese maiden. It's just that I don't get many photos with volcanoes. Girls in bikinis, yes. Volcanoes, no.

P.S. Are you going to Little Bar of Soap's funeral tomorrow? It's tomorrow, isn't it?

Unknown said...

I want to go, Indie but who will comfort me if I weep?

Cooper said...

I'm happy to see you are all still as sharp as ever.

Indeterminacy said...

Doug: Don't be afraid to show your sensitive side. Just be sure you take a bath before you go. You can blow soap bubbles while you're there to help take your mind off the tragedy.

Alice: They really were a great set of stories. Thanks for saying so.

I'm taking Tuesday off with stories. I want to do a slow week again. Otherwise I'll reach 360 too quickly. Because I really dont want it to end.