Web Site: Vicky Bowker Jeter
Books by Vicky Bowker Jeter
This poem is the foundation of the story:
He was more than my enchanted rocking horse.
Spirit imbued his plaster, paint and springs
to guide and guard the uncharted course
of this little girl's wild imaginings.
He woke my dormant potentials to rainbow and hew,
though far reaches my dreams might be hidden in;
I learned to define them with a crystal clear view, and claim any dream within reach
In a word dawned "reality;"
too soon time to grow.
Facing this shock I could scarcely react--
my beautiful Gideon I had to let go,
when my father said, "his chest is cracked!"
Now, in my fondest visions he often is seen
with his cousin Pinochio, and brother
I was infuriated! I had worked my entire eight-hour shift with that sense
of a marvelous creative surge bubbling just beneath the surface of my conscious attention. I spent every spare second dancing with the words that I could not wait to write as they mingled in my mind. When I got home I ran straight to my word processor and . . . nothing! Writer's block is an experience that simply cannot be described. It is as if a great white wall envelopes the conscious attention to conceal a magnificent gap, reminiscent of Royal Gorge, that separates the desired artistic effect from the words that are thrown aimlessly onto a page. I had made up my mind; either my work,
or my writing had to go!
As I listed my financial obligations I found even the black figures, disheartening as they were in sum, to be of solace to my frustrations in staring down that insidiously blank, white paper. Considering the as yet unused bottom portion, I imagined a wry little smirk coming across a transparent face in the page.
"You just wait, you overconfident twit!" I declared, "Someday not too long in coming old Zeus and one of his lovely daughters will get ahold of you, and then your backside is mine!" I imagined Mickey Mouse size ears on the edges of the paper twitching with fear and trembling. Finding this interplay refreshingly dramatic, I rose to pace the floor and point an accusing finger for the effect. I was just about to brilliantly delineate the "alleged crimes against frustrated creators," when a lightening bolt flashed before my eyes with such blinding directness and ferocity that I was literally blown back into my chair.
Regaining my senses, every nerve was a-tingle as the remnants of the thunderclap rolled through my body.
There I sat, in my own abode, attempting in earnest to discern whether I had died, or gone mad, when my efforts were rendered completely sencless by the sight of a tiny, scruffy looking man, about five inches high, sitting casually on the edge of my computer. Rest assured, my intentions were, in no uncertain terms, to spring to my feet and run screaming out of the room, had he not, at that very instant, tipped his hat and said, "I bid you a gregarious post meridiem, m'dear Vicky."
Tapping his shillelagh on the backspace of my keyboard in testy reprove, he said, "I said, I bid y-- Oh, for the sake of Melpomene! never mind all that now, girl; you're getting me off the point already."
"Well, believe you me, mister, you're welcome to take your point and go . . ."
"Edgewards." he interjected frankly, adjusting his hat, just so. "Pushem Edgewards."
"Push who edgewards?"
"Push you edgewards. If you care to think of it like that. Personally, I prefer to think of it as my name, since it is, for this go 'round, anyway.
But that's not even the most important point; the Point is: Do you believe Me? --Do you believe I am Real?"
This was certainly a pertinent question. Weighing the present circumstances and my sensations of them against my similar impericle experiences, I determined this was definitely more than just a dream. "Can I touch you?"
"Hold out your hand," he suggested, tapping the area just beside him. I was suddenly sqemish. "Fear not, girl. Musettes are not in the business of biting their benefactors." I laid my hand next to him, palm up, and shivered with curious delight as his little bare feet stepped into the center.
"What's a musette?"
"A musette, my dear, is an unfortunate, misguided soul who aspires to further the endeavors of creative inspiration in this grand old universe of ours." Somehow, he didn't strike me as the inspiring type. I made the mistake of saying so. "Do ya see there!" he exclaimed, pointing his shillelagh at me as if it might go off. "Everybody thinks that you have to be female, devine and eternally young to be inspiring--Blast it all! With the myriads of artistic candidates out and about, what makes you think a muse should drop everything she's doing to spend time on you? There are only nine of them. A muse must have polished material to work with from the start. You can't even get past Mickey Mouse at present. It's like a marriage, you know--creativity; strictly a hundred/hundred proposition between the inspired and the inspiring, or you may as well hang it up from the git-go. Are you ready for that??"
"Why, my dear Pushem, I declare! That must surely be the most inspiring speech I've ever heard." I retorted. "Am I ready? Don't you try to tell me you didn't know just exactly what I was doing when you fire-flashed your way in here. If I really made the commitment to writing that I'm READY for, my creditors would have my hide, and I am not ready for that!"
He jumped down and pranced all over my keyboard. "Oh, yes! and if only the forgotten voices of kindred understanding could see you now. 'If the road of creativity leads to destruction, one must take it as a sporting proposition.' So much for the practical application of one's principles, huh, Vic."
"Just you leave Sherwood Anderson out of this! Where do you get off, anyway?"
"I guess I was really wrong about you. Boy are my comrades ever going to laugh at me when I get back." he said, shaking his head in pitiable distane. He removed his hat with dramatic synicism and recited: 'He woke my dormant potentials to rainbow and hew; though far reaches my dreams might be hidden in; I learned to define them with a crystal clear view; and claim any dream within reach riding Gideon.' To discover such an excellent tribute is merely a cruel joke--tragic, indeed! I get off right here, lady." He turned his back to me and glanced heavenward.
"What do you know about Gideon?" I suspiciously demanded.
"Ah, reprieve. I see I have your attention." Taking his original seat, he continued. "Vicky, I have an eleven thousand, twenty-four dollar, and
ninety-two cent question to pose." Stacks of green bills materialized in front of me. "If the answer is 'No,' the money's yours. Do you remember . . ."
"Wait a minuet--what is my answer is yes?"
"I can't tell you that. It would ruin everything. Now think back a ways: You remember the luminous flourecent butterfly that enfolded you in his wings?"
"Yes! He was one of the most beautiful creatures I've ever seen."
"And remember how warm and alive the little pink unicorn felt when she let you pet her?"
"Come on, if you know about them, you know I will never forget."
"Now we're getting somewhere. The eleven thousand, twenty-four dollar and ninety-two cent question is: Were they real?"
I had never been put in such a confounding position by three little words. If I said yes, Pushem only knew what would happen next. I put my hand on the tallest stack of money. I held them up to my nose and inhaled deeply the crisp scent of financial freedom. Then I anticipated what it would be to deny those wonderus creatures and their awesome effect on me--Beyond doubt, it would clip my astral wings,never again, until my dying day, to behold the scope of Life's experiences beyond terrestrial reality. Looking at the odd little man who sat sanding his shillelagh with apparent indifference, I knew I could not deny him, either.
"What!" As if his tattered white jeans had caught fire, he jumped up and made a death-defying leap for my body. Next thing I knew I was flat on my back in what can only be described as a tropical rain forest, with potpourri asailing my senses, Edgewards clinging to the front of my shirt, and the echo of thunder ringing in my ears. I picked us up, and got an eyeful of Eden.
"You must learn to take care how you approach transforming situations, girl. Do you realize that had you gotten yourself over here without me, you might never find the way back? What's worse, I nearly lost my shillelagh."
"Well excuse me! I tend to "transform" a little more gracefully with the awareness that I'm transforming. Thank you very much."
"You couldn't tell that was a loaded question?"
"Why do I have the feeling you're off the point. Now will you please tell me what does all this have to do with my Gideon?"
Pushem perched himself on my shoulder, and for the first time since I'd laid eyes on him, regarded me with kind sincerity. "Well, I'll let her tell you." Then I heard the distressful calling of a child near by. Approaching the sound, I recognized her immediately. It was me when I was not quite seven years old. She was wearing the blue corduroy sailor suit and red tennis shoes
I had on the day I had to give Gideon away. She ran towards me, arms outstretched.
I knelt down and wrapped her up in my arms, and she said, "It seems like I've been looking for you an awfully long time. Those boys that got Gideon are just too mean. They don't know about him; you gotta come make 'em let him go!" I felt a queer rush of warmth through my chest, and I began to understand what I was doing there. She pulled me down a narrow path.
As we went, everywhere around me came visions of the incredible hours I had spent with that rocking horse. I had been petrified of him at first. He was literally bigger than I was, when I was four. Then, the more I rode him, the places and events and characters of my imagination grew magnificent; I believed they were real in a special place and time. I KNEW Gideon was real. I thought of the poem along our trek--and I realized this was his moment.
Soon the path opened out to a small meadow. "Gideon's there." she said, pointing out and looking up at me. I couldn't believe it. He seemed so small, but as perfect as I remembered, nonetheless. And there with him were those three kids I gave him to--riding him backwards, sitting on his head. The smallest boy was drawing on him with a red crayon. My little girl was squeezing my fingers 'til it hurt, and I knew she was gritting her teeth.
I marveled at how distinctly I still hurt for that day so long ago as I watched her march up to them. Her efforts to make them understand were of no avail. She took two steps backwards and began to stomp in place. "I hate you! I absolutely positively hate all three of you!" Right here, before my eyes, was the block to my creativity.
"Vicky, honey, come back over here--just for a second. We need to talk." As I called her, I glanced at Edgewards; he was obviously stifling overjoyed amusement. "You keep a cap on it." I told him. "If she sees you laughing I'll flush you down the toilet when we get out of here." I introduced my little girl to Pushem and explained to her that Gideon had a chance to become a real horse.
"What are you waitin' for mister? Do it now." She was obviously trying his patience, he got that testy look.
"Vicky," I said, "only love can give someone Life. You and I can make Gideon real, but we're going to have to forgive those kids. You know, it's really not their fault we got too big for him. Will you help me do that?
"You're really sure about this?" she said.
"I'm absolutely positively sure." I said. And after twenty two years of resenting those boys, I held my own hand and let go of all that resentment.
Moments passed, then my little girl and the three other children faded away. And there we were, in the middle of that enchanting field, just me and my precious Gideon--and Pushem, of course, but that's beside the point.
"At last!" Pushem declaird, as if he were held up from a business meeting. "Now all you have to do is Touch Him, and that'll be that! Then I can get you out of here and go see how I did with the boss."
"Where should I touch him?"
"What do you mean Where? ANYwhere. How would you like to wait over twenty years for someone to saw you out of a plaster cast?"
I wasn't listening. I walked around and around Gideon, examining every inch. I paused to reflect on the telling crack that spanned the width of his chest, and praised the Angels that Dad had had the foresight not to let me break him. I wanted this moment to be perfect. I got down on my knees to face him . "Gideon, " I said, "I don't think you can live where I live; once you run free, I might not ever see you again, but I love you forever."
Pushem was jamming his shillelagh into my shoulder blade with annoying regularity. "Oh, for the sake of . . . "
"Will you hush! THIS is the most important point." I turned back toward Gideon. I gazed into his beautiful, deep brown eyes, and kissed him on the end of his muzzle.
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