I was lying there late last night listening to how the radiator goes click click gumph gumph gurgle gurgle as it starts up.
As far as I knew I was still awake, meditating on the click click gumph gumph gurgle gurgle, playing with it in my head, when I was suddenly, something to do with William F. Buckley’s death, maybe something about the way he talked, maybe the gumph, I don’t know, anyway, there we were, whomever and I, in the back room and we were pulling out these thin cardboard, oblong boxes, about 18 inches long, and opening the ends of them and sliding out these lightweight headdresses that unfolded like fans into elaborate headgear that was a cross between a Samurai helmet, a Darth Vader helmet and something vaguely Brian Blessed Flash Gordon, mostly very sci fi with a nod to some ancient time in Japan when, it seemed, the bulk of a helmet was the neck-protecting beadwork, translated into the now with a made in China gleam to the molded plastic parts. And though Buckley was quite dead he was standing erect and talking and they put one of these helmets on his head. My mind was rushing on wonderingly over the fact we had these marvelous boxes with this headgear and I was thinking boy will H.o.p. be excited about this, I need to dig them out rather than letting them lie around back there. At which point rational brain nudged me to let me know that I should think twice on whether or not this was in reality happening and to reconsider whether or not we had these helmets, and I brought myself back around and tried to remember just how this had started. How did my brain go from click click gumph gumph gurgle gurgle to samurai helmets and William F. Buckley, Jr.
His manner and speech fascinated me when I was a child and saw him on television, he seeming built from tip of toe to top of head for Sunday morning political shows, sneeringly erudite in an unpleasant way that made his words seem like spitballs lobbed by his bored uvula through disdaining clenched teeth, spitballs which passing his lips were so fatigued by contact with non-rarefied air that they willfully self-detonated, trusting in the wind to convey their essence, every single particle of them wafting delirious in the wonder they were the greatest thing since French mustard.
Sometimes he said things that sounded sensible and humane. Which made it all the worse rather than better. I don’t remember what those things were because I learned to ignore them in the way a dog ignores a biscuit it knows will be closely followed by a kick.
I have no clue why my mind, on its way to nod, paired him up with a samurai helmet much like one of the ones we saw on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art surrounded by other shogun ghosts.