Photo by Yoline - / Unsplash

The Ferns

Editorials Sep 21, 2023

by Vic Neptune

First of all, a bed is horizontal. It’s a mattress, but poets say it could be a “bed of ferns.” Lying down in ferns isn’t something I’d care to do. One doesn’t know what’s underneath ferns. Slugs in Washington, the state, grow to several inches, come in a variety of colors—I saw a black one, a white one, spotted ones—and they travel under ferns at times. Do I want to lie back onto a slug? No. For one thing, I might injure the slug. They get run over in Washington, a hot dog-shaped flattened purplish guts and blood dead slug on the concrete. Roadkill no one wants, except maybe ducks. I saw a big white duck peck a slug off the ground and carry it to the water, clomping down on it even as it waddled. That duck, Dorothy I named her, had a mate, Morris. Morris and Dorothy came by every day for a few summers when we were kids and our parents were not kids, but they remembered that place from being young, where they spent their honeymoon, that lake, the mountain nearby, the tall cedars and the ferns everywhere.

Last time I was out there, ten years ago, I got to hating ferns. Such a droopy plant. 300 million years ago there were fern forests, and those things were probably huger than our current fern. Ferns overhanging one, like trees, but shaped like ferns. If light enough, someone or something could walk on top of one, get a view of the endless waving green-of-various-shades fern forest, stretching beyond the horizon. An entire planet covered with ferns. Or cacti. Or concrete. A parking lot planet.

I like my bed because it puts me to rest. It’s good to lie down and think about nothing. The mind busies itself with problems, curiosities, when I close my eyes at night I see mind movies, images unbidden come to me on a kind of mind screen two inches from my face, or seemingly so. I play a game called Substitution. It’s simple. You switch one thing with another and imagine the possibilities. For instance, since I know the novel, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, well enough that I can play it in my head, having read it nine times, I substitute it into the world of, for instance, the Fast and the Furious movies. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, his “family, the most important thing,” joins the Fellowship in their quest to destroy the Dark Lord’s Ring. He brings along several fast cars that drift well in turns. Helen Mirren (having shown up in a few Fast and Furious movies) plays an Elf. Frodo Baggins learns how to drive stick. Legolas activates his nitrous oxide at the right microsecond, beating Shaw (Jason Statham) in a street race.

Such stupid premises keep me awake sometimes. The truth is, I do most of my laughing when I’m thinking up absurd shit. Stuff. Material. Words, one after the former.

My mattress, my support platform. My floor above the floor. My comfort slab. And yet, I don’t like my bed. It’s a twin, fine for one person, but no more. Its size is right for going through doors’ frames in my apartment. There was little trouble getting my support platform, my horizontal furniture unit, into that room, where it remains, secure in the knowledge I won’t get rid of it for a while. Dust accumulates under the bed. I extend a broom underneath. I move the bed to get it all during a deep cleaning, but that’s a joke. I clean my apartment, but I’m not paying myself nothing to be a housekeeper.

Slobbery is not my thing, either.

Smaller than their ancestors, the ferns of today do the same thing those huge ones did. Wave a little in breezes, conceal from above.

Someone in my family took eight millimeter color film of Morris and Dorothy on the lawn, eating bread. They always knew they could get a handout from us. My sister and I were sitting on the dock, talking, and below our legs two ducks, a Mallard and a White one, swam out before us and quacked. We gave them pieces of bread until it was over, no more bread. I named them Morris and Dorothy for no particular reason. They came around for at least two consecutive summers, then Morris came along alone, with a broken wing. He could float around a lot, and he still commanded younger ducks with an ornery presence. His partner was gone, dead probably, and maybe he received the wing injury in a fight involving his Dorothy. But that’s just made up. Dorothy wasn’t there anymore, Morris had a broken wing, but he did seem testy most of the time, a new trait.

Last night I read some pages of The Lord of the Rings, sitting up in bed, forgetting for a little while I had to work the next morning.

Vic Neptune writes, makes movies (YouTube Channel John Berner), collages, paintings. Movies made as Rhombus. Film criticism based on thousands of movies of all eras seen. Strong interest in literature: Shakespeare, Thomas Mann, Jack London, Robert E. Howard, Joan Didion, Philip K. Dick, and many others. History and religion other interests also. Favorite filmmakers: Jean-Luc Godard, Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Federico Fellini. Life without art is art without life.