by Jeffrey Murrell


Hello there again.
Man, wouldn't you know it?
As soon as I got my add-on certification,
they sent me right out to do "field" work
--and it's in some real damned fields!

My orders brought me way out here to the edge of the world, to the capital city of the great Western Plains;
I've always wanted to visit
out here,
so alone.
Man, nothing can be seen as far as every horizon
except their clean, green prairie.
The sight coming in from the air is spectacular!
Territorial zoning statutes confine the city within a giant circle amidst these thousands of square acres of fields,
so green, so neatly trimmed and tended,
yet so undisturbed.
(The statutes have do with the underground water table.)
So, to expand, the city has to build upwards.
They're not the tallest buildings I've ever seen,
but out here, they seem much, much taller.
And they're all snow white
(in order to reflect the hot mid-day sunlight
and to save power while running cooling systems then).
They look like gigantic, icy stalagmites!

And it's strange how only six byways
cut out from the city through the greens,
like the great spokes of a mighty wheel that never end,
like rays of light from a bursting star,
shimmering pavement beams
from a gargantuan, raging bonfire of metal and mirrors.
And no other roads can be seen crossing these out in the fields,
but there are--for limited use by farm vehicles.

And we have authorization to use those other roads,
though I would rather have done all our work in town.
But they sent this guy out to supervise,
and he insists on doing it tactically.
Wouldn't you know?

Let me tell you about this asshole.
His name is Hopman--"Field Director" Hopman.
(He makes me call him by his title--makes him feel big.)
He made me chauffeur him all over the place.
And he always just calls me by my last name,
like I'm some sort of personal valet.
He's not very much older than me,
but he addresses me like an adolescent.
Man, I can't wait to lose this creep!

Get this:
While we were prowling around out there in our truck,
he gets this call from operations about his kid,
some emergency deal, he wouldn't say,
but I think the kid was really sick.
His pretty little wife was all freaked out about it,
and wanted him to take emergency leave.
But the asshole said it would have to wait
'cause he had an important job to do!
He acted like this is the most important shit in the world!
(If I were his wife, the divorce would have been filed!)
Shit! He has a "job" to do.
He needs to go into therapy, is what he needs to do.

You know, he made me stay out there with him overnight.
He never let us come back into town while we were out there.
I had to set up a field tent and cots!
And one night, the asshole almost killed us both;
It gets a little chilly at night, so he said set up an oil heater
(you know, the kind with lines you run outside to fuel cans).
You're not supposed to leave them on as you sleep,
but Field Director ASSHOLE wanted to
('thinks he knows everything).
"Don't worry about it . . ."
I wouldn't have, except he reached over in the middle of the night
(such a CREEP)!
I knew I shouldn't have set it up so close to him.
Of course, had I not, he would have thrown a shit fit and
ORDERED me to.

Well, anyway, the jerk turned it up all the way.
I could see flames through the metal, it got so hot!
And the smoke was so thick--that's what woke me up.
I don't know how that asshole stayed knocked out.

And I was so confused when it got me up!
I couldn't see anything but a flaming pin dot of light;
that was the flames torching up the stove by his cot
through the smoke,
making me choke
and struggling to see all right.
Then I realized what that dumb-ass had done!
So I flung open the tent flap to clear some of the smoke out
so I could see where my boots and shirt had been tucked.
I thought about leaving him to lay there.
I thought about letting him die.
I got him up.
And, oh! He just acted too cool!
He was so, so leisurely in getting up and putting on his stuff,
acting as if he had done NOTHING wrong.
Shit! They even sent fire equipment out from town
because they saw the flames from the chimney spout!
Pretty unbelievable, huh?

Well, I went to operations and bitched about it.
I've since learned that they're revoking his commission.
So now he's getting kicked out of the regulars,
and he'll only be able to work in the reserves.
But he hates the reserves, so he's as good as out!
Poor asshole--he got what he deserves.

It's gotten much better after he pulled that stunt.
He had no choice but to go back to town to continue the work.

Man, I almost got into a fist fight with him
one night before the tent got burned down!
He made me drive until way early in the morning
(we were looking for shit he still had on his list),
then he ordered me to set up the damned tent!
I threw the big smelly thing on the ground at him
as he watched,
and I told him to put it up his damned self!
He didn't like that, and threatened to radio for help
if I didn't follow his "lawful directives."
I felt like driving a tent stake through his heart,
but I held back and set the damned thing up.

But I REFUSED to sleep in there with him that night.
He couldn't have ordered me to do that.
And looking back, I'm surprised
I didn't go to jail for that.
(He'd be the FIRST one to bring up charges against a man.)

What a life, huh? (You're not missing anything!)
At least after I finish this tour,
I'm supposed to get my promotion.
Then it'll be me who's the asshole
in charge of peons and causing such commotion!
Yeah, me in charge of peons;
yeah, me in charge (dream on)!
I'll be happy.

But why should I be happy?
Although I walk the straight and narrow,
I never get what I should.
Life's not supposed to be this crappy
when you do what they say you should,
when you're told that you're doing good,
when you watch closely where you put your foot,
when you're supposed to be happy.

So, where has it gotten me now?
Bitched at night and day by some fool
who doesn't give a shit if his baby's around
'cause he "has a JOB to do!"
Yeah--he's got a mighty big job to do.
But he won't now before too soon!
No, he won't before too soon.
Because I went and bitched.
I bitched about him good!
I bitched about him 'till I was green,
and now he's going away, dude.
Now he's going away

And so now I've been able to enjoy this pretty city,
and get to know its weird people;
all of them seem so far removed
from the rest of the world.
But they're not--they get the news,
they've got their uptown culture.
They've got their doctors, priests and lawyers.
They've got their share of panhandlers.
They've got this city of iceberg towers
out on their manicured veld.
They've got a zoo,
local political powers
and lots of personal guilt, too.

I met a girl--a student/artist type,
living hand to mouth.
She was pretty,
had a nice butt
and a set of headlights that knocked me out!
But she was somehow kind of plain,
I can't say why.
She was all into brushes and paint,
but she had no talent to find.
She painted herself,
painted her moods,
painted things so dark
and dreary
and so unlike one would expect.
But, like I said, she was pretty,
so I hanged out with her a bit.
Until she introduced me one night
to her "best friend,"
an old guy of about fifty years,
with long, greasy black hair,
who wore a necklace of bear claws
and who chugged a lot of beer.
He was at an art show
that she and I went out to scope
(he had some shit on display).
And, man! This guy got soaked!
And the more he drank, the more came out
about his true relationship with her;
him and his stringy black hair,
his razor stubble and beer;
his confusion,
his jealousy,
his desperate rage
got barfed up in my face,
as he took a drunken swing at me
(missing me).
So I took the girl home,
and I told her goodnight,
and I haven't spoken to her since!

It's enough to drive you crazy!
It's enough to make you quit.
So, when's it supposed to get easy?
When am I supposed to start enjoying?
What am I supposed to enjoy?
Life? Money? TITS?
Death? Poverty? Dicks?
But I know you won't tell me.
You wouldn't, even if you could.
But I know there are things you'd show me
(things like when you're up to no good)!

Yeah, well, no problem.
Look, I've got to go.
I'll stay in touch.
Don't worry. I'll stay in touch,
you know.