Snatches of conversations flitted through his consciousness and insults were hurled but failed to adhere. Truth be told, Ned Beatty couldn't care less what the Others thought of him. His was a blessed pursuit, his was a mission appointed by the Big Man With the Beard in the Sky Reclining on Puffy White Cumulus and so he deigned not to reply to the Others' hurtful comments, he deigned instead to be free of the stink and filth and morassic pull of humanity.
Beethoven crashed through Ned Beatty's head. And Ned Beatty galloped. His feet, he felt, were barely touching terra firma, if at all. Up ahead, he saw--felt--his destination: a right angle off the sidewalk into the alleyway behind Hung's Chinese Takeout. He galloped on the swells of the violins and the flutes and signalled a left turn with his arm, knocking the homburg off the head of a shrunken octogenarian. The elder Other asked why Ned didn't watch where the sam-hill he was goin', and Ned replied with a subdued glash of rotting teeth, said that he didn't have to watch where he was going, that he was special, that he was Mosesed-chosen. Immediately after opening his mouth, Ned felt sullied, besmirched. To acknowledge one of the Others might have been a mistake. It left him feeling less-than and it really, truth be told, cut the wixom out of his mojo. Frowning, he turned left. Into the alleyway behind Hung's Chinese takeout. And then he smiled. His teeth cut with tepid yellow the darkness of the slash between the buildings.
Beethoven's stacatto. Beethoven's rush of Feel. His heart swelled and his feet pittered. Without regard to the slime on the pavement, Ned Beatty dropped onto his back and busted out a mack breakdance move, a move that would have made his dear old mother proud. Spinning to a stop, his legs curled above his head, Ned saw one of the smaller-eyed Others peering quizzically at him through the open screen door of the establishment.
"Rice," said Ned, and nodded sagely. The door slammed shut and, from behind the closed portal, he heard the excited gibbers of a foreign language. He pursed his lips and let his eyes droop shut. After much consideration, he dubbed the language Vietnamese-y. Maybe South African.
"Rice is nice," he muttered and stood, absently wiping some wilted bok choy from his ass. The galloping was gone; his mood had shifted as quickly as a waterbug's movements. In his head, Beethoven had mellowed, as well. The melodic rises and falls painted velvet in his mind. He waltzed slowly down the slash between the buildings. To his left was a one-eyed cat with a ragged ear. To his right was a pile of black straining garbage bags, stuffed with the slow decay of meals forgotten. Yes! Yes.
He fumbled in his cargo pants and brought out his snap-and-giggle. This was it. He jacked the shoot mode into Kids & Pets--for shutter speed, don'tcha know--and he captured five or ten pictures of the piles of stoic garbage. A nearby stoop beckoned to him so he moonwalked over and sat. He flipped the switch on his snap-and-giggle so that he could admire his handiwork. Picture after picture after picture after picture of garbage. Beautiful garbage. He noted the shine of the intrepid sunlight on the folds and creases of the ink-black plastic and he smiled softly. He wanted to reach through the viewfinder and caress the beauty.
The Other from behind the screen door appeared at his side and Ned smiled beatifically up at him. The Other from behind the screen door had another Other with him; this Other was larger than the first and he held in his right hand--knuckles white--a meat-cutting implement. He thwacked the non-business side of the utensil against his left palm. The first--with nary a twitch of mirth--looked down at smiling Ned and blasted a non-negotiable index finger toward the opening of the sunlit street where cars and large buses slid by. Ned stood, still smiling. He powered off his snap-and-giggle, deposited it in his cargo pants. "Nice doing business with you, Ghengis," he offered and walked towards the light, not looking back, not caring a whit.
From the street, he heard the click-clock click-clock of a woman's high-heeled shoes. He smiled. His face split with a grin. He couldn't wait to show Samantha his...work.
Ode to joy, indeed.