A few years ago I was standing on a deck closed in on three sides by white stucco walls about eight feet high. I was standing there trying to figure out why humans, the most advanced species on earth–in all things, just could not seem to understand one another, to agree, to get along. I was after that one single thing that made the world go around, that made us what we are and that made us do what we do.
Having failed, again, I was about to go back inside, when I noticed a slug of normal slug size coming over the wall and at the same time, another slug coming out from under the deck on the same wall. They were separated by maybe ten feet on this clean, roughened screen of white stucco and they seemed to be making a beeline for one another at a slug’s pace and with all the riotous clamor that slugs are responsible for. It seemed as if nothing could slow them down.
So I sat down again to watch play out whatever it was that was about to play out. As the two got nearer and nearer and nearer and nearer to one another on this broad expansive field of play or of war, in my own mind, I began to hurry the story along. Was it really to be all-out war? A slugfest to beat all slugfests? Which one would I root for? Should I intervene and run the risk of throwing the workings of an entire ecosystem out of kilter? Granted it wasn’t a pair of great bull elk squaring off to keep, or to take, a harem or even the three yards and a cloud of dust of Buckeye lore, but still, here before me was pure, raw nature; red of tooth and claw!
When they got to within maybe an inch of one another they began to circle and then…they met and … embraced. I swear it; they embraced and all their body parts began to visually tingle. They wrapped each other in everything they had and truly, truly, physically became one. There was no separation at all, the single knot of being swelled to golf ball size but the color was not white; it was blue and gold and red and violet and it all glistened the glisten that only a fiery opal or a fresh abalone shell could ever equal.
And then, with only the tiniest bit of protoplasm attached, that single entity released from the wall and slowly lowered itself on a pale blue lanyard of its own tissue to hang motionless as if at rest.
After a minute or so a small breeze caused the ball to touch the wall again, where it stayed. Slowly the color faded to sluggish brown, the one became two and they went their separate ways. I do not know if telephone numbers or even names were exchanged.
Now… I wrote this for a couple of reasons. The first is because I wanted to. After all, how many human lifetimes have passed without ever seeing slugs make love? I’m getting old and have been around the block more times than I want to remember. I mean, I have spent time on farms and ranches; my dad, brother and I raised any number of rabbits before I even got out of primary school, my wife and I have shared the same bed for fifty years, and I have stayed in way too many thin-walled hotels. But even now I have to say that that incident there on a deck twenty-five or so years ago was the most sensuous and exciting and awe-inspiring that I have ever seen. It seemed that it was preformed especially for me; to make it abundantly clear that if I am to understand anything at all it has to be through observation and not through the arrogance of human judgment. Imagine if two people met like that. They would begin on opposite sides of an eight-foot thick tower at a distance of over one and one half verticle football fields covered with hundreds of three-foot overhangs, meet without a word and undertake the most intimate act of any and all others. It also seemed to me to be the most perfect of communication—literally of communion.
And that is the second reason I wrote the story down. I have mentioned before the trouble I have in trying to unravel all the things that Forrest Fenn taunts us with in his poetry, his photos, his stories, his clues, his metaphors, his “blazes” and his life. The language of his Memoir is not my language but somehow I will have to travel where he has traveled, and to think his thoughts. Only then will I break the code.
Slugs to ya. Amen and amen,