Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wade Butler

Dr. Wade E. Butler has a PhD in organizational transformation as well as degrees in English, Journalism and Theology. He is a recipient of the award for teaching excellence from the University of Southern Indiana.  Following a successful tenure as a pastor and organizational leader, Wade spends his reflective years filling a need for substitute teachers in the public schools of Evansville, Indiana where he lives with his wife. Wade continues writing, conference speaking and conducting research.

Foxtown Jive
A novel by Wade Butler

A genre-defying romp for the eclectic reader, this is The DaVinci Code meets Percy Jackson. Imagine Garrison Keillor describing Armageddon as it happens.  Who would have thought the epicenter of global awareness would zero in on little Foxtown, Alaska?

Foxtown Jive is a 90,000-word semi-dark chocolate comedy that reads like it was ripped from today’s headlines while informed by ancient myth and the harsh reality that humanity never changes.  If the pursuit of the American Dream is a feel-good, sci-fi, psycho-social thriller, then grab your highest hopes and follow a broken man’s dream as he tumbles head first into dark, silent, cold reality matched only by the icy allure of the Alaskan landscape.

Trapped in solitude following a snow storm, the world unravels in political upheaval as governments restructure.  You’d be surprised how crowded isolation can be.  From his lonely cabin he ascertains what is going on in the world through his short wave radio companions, Scarf and a Chinese spy, Chuan.  The cabin’s original occupant, Carlisle the mouse, provides charming parabolic reflection.  The local radio station, KFOX, serves as a humorous, one-sided conversationalist worthy of credit as a supporting role.  The chaos happening in the world mirrors the same kind of crisis and reorganization happening inside him.  Or maybe, it is the other way around. The people of Foxtown discover they have unwittingly become the focus of the entire globe over matters of supreme secrecy and cloak and dagger cover-up.  The entire town is oblivious to the fact that they have become the Foxtown Project: a federal agenda to relocate the entire community in order to retrieve the lost artifact.  No matter who you are or where you live, cataclysmic change will find you. 


Chapter 1
My Aching Tooth

We finished the restoration of my cabin as the first heavy snow began to fall. The Howler had not damaged the cabin structurally but with the door blown off, there was havoc inside. Water and ice had washed away any organization I had so diligently done. The storeroom of food was untouched like a bank vault. Not one bag of rice, beans or anything else got wet. As I searched the food and organized inside as Scarf, Brian and a few other men from town refitted doors and windows and checked my generator, I did find a mouse among the bags on the shelves. My first instinct to kill the mouse swept away by his helpless, pitiful begging whiskers and pleading eyes.
“Hey little buddy,” I whispered trying not to scare him away. “You made it through the Howler! So did I!”
The mouse didn’t move. He stared me in the eye searching for some leak of kindness in the harsh reality of winter in Alaska.
“Don’t worry pal,” I whispered again. “I don’t think you’ll eat that much. You can stay.” I turned to see how my cheese had fared and found one block with an entire corner missing.
“Huh,” I smiled to myself. I meant to pinch some off and feed the brown mouse. As I turned to the mouse with a smile, I said, “You beat me too it!” He had gone scampering noiselessly behind some cans of beets.
That mouse, who I later named Carlisle, became my constant arms-length companion over the next four months. Looking out the window, I saw the huge flakes tumbling from the grey, snow-laden sky.
“Well,” Scarf said stepping into the pantry. “We’re done here buddy. You should be OK. We checked on your fuel barrels for the generator. You should be OK. “Scarf looked out the window and sighed. “Won’t see the sun for a while I’m guessing. No matter what the governments are doing, we all have to deal with Mother Nature and you and I have four months of it.”
Scruffy Scarf had saved my life once because I hadn’t listened to his advice. When he told me to not try to leave the cabin during any snow and to never try to drive through the drifts I decided to obey him. “Yes, yes,” I nodded.
“Most likely I won’t see you until the thaw,” Scarf laughed. “Your first winter will be rough. I noticed you don’t have any books. Bad. Real bad and I don’t have time to go to the bus to get you any.”
“I know,” I admitted. “I could kick myself. “Radios work well though. I can get KFOX and I have the shortwave.”
Scarf smiled while rubbing his hands together briskly. “Yes, well, about the Shortwave,” Scarf said as he looked like a bearer of bad news. “I don’t like to chat on the radio. Please don’t hail me unless there is an emergency.”
“You mean we won’t talk for four months?” I asked incredulously.
“Probably not,” Scarf confirmed looking over his shoulder at Brian who was waving him into the truck. “If you get cabin fever, and you will, remember, it’s only four months.” Turning on his heels, he headed for the truck shouting “Alright, Alright”. He shut the newly hung and insulated door on his way out and I stood alone in my cabin with the silent snow singing into drifts.
Darkness reigns in winter Alaska. We fight it off with oil lamps and candles, but the darkness is nearly edible. It snowed for six days the first snow of the season leaving my truck under snow, my door blocked by drifts. I climbed out the window in the large room with the moose head and cleared the snow away from the generator in case I needed it to recharge the batteries for my radios. The snow was heavy. Thirty below zero sounds romantic until fingers and toes freeze.
“Why didn’t I bring any books?” I kept asking myself. “What was I thinking?”
Walden is a lovely place when you can walk home after a day in the woods. It all seemed so adventurous, so escapist and so marvelous to huddle I a cabin in the darkness of a near arctic winter. No matter how pleasurable or delightful anything is or appears to be, too much of it and you will curse it.
My first days in the dark, silent cabin were utterly frightening. So far Alaska had embraced me with a slap and now it ignored me in the dark.
I tried to design a pattern of behavior. Up, light the lamps, stoke the stove, back to bed, up, light the lamps, stoke the stove, get some wood, carry it through the door I unblocked and stoke the stove. I burned the bloody wood first and watched the last of Duff go into the endless hole of the wood stove. I felt like I was feeding something and cleaning up its box. After about five loads of wood, I had to dig out the ashes while the house cooled down. I shivered until I got the fire re-kindled and flaming. The ordeal of the ashes became my most hated, dreadful absolutely necessary ritual.
I finally wised up and stoked the cook stove until it was roaring before I cleaned out the main heating stove. “I am glad I have two stoves,” I thought to myself ladling out some rice and bean soup into a waiting ceramic dish.
My ritual went like this: Up, light the lamps, stoke the stove, cook breakfast, say “hello” to Carlisle who never got too friendly, lie down and listen to KFOX radio and listen to the silence. Eat lunch, bring in wood, clean up what I messed up and sit in the chair until dinner. Fix dinner, wash up, get in wood for the night and go to bed when KFOX quit broadcasting at 10.
I thought getting close to nature meant that nature would get close to me and we would establish some kind of interesting relationship. The snow never melted in the darkness. Four months brought about 9 snows and plenty of ice. I dug the truck out four times but could never breach the dunes of snow. Three times I scraped the snow off the roof and nearly rolled off several times. If I had, I would have landed in snow. Nature doesn’t say much. The silence shocked me.
Carlisle, sensing I was sitting in my chair, would come out of the pantry and sit up on two legs about six feet from me and make little squeaking sounds. I tried to learn his language and squeak back. I must have said something threatening unintentionally because Carlisle usually ran off when I chattered back to him.
Wolves, hungry in the winter, howl almost continuously all night. Their deep-throated cries colored the air amber and hung there, floating across the lake and echoing back. Once in a while, I would see fires blazing across the lake, but decided not to chance crossing over.
Boredom gnaws.
“What is the difference between this and prison?” I murmured to myself. “Ah, yes! In prison someone cooks food and heats the place to keep your cage warm!”
I gave up on bathing. I tried to heat water and put it in the washtub, but by the time I filled the whole tub the water turned icy. I quit shaving. I did brush my teeth although Carlisle had gnawed a hole in the center of the tube.
In the second month of cold, ritualized isolation I began talk to myself using my index fingers as puppets.
My only consolation was KFOX radio and the shortwave connection to China. Chaun hailed me once a day and we chatted for about an hour. The Global Alliance had formed swiftly and effectively. The Chinese overran the Middle East, including Israel and Egypt. They met almost no resistance. The Chinese have no patience for terrorism or revolt. Soon oil flowed at regulated prices and Chinese relocated by the millions turning, it seems, the desert into a bountiful garden. Chaun rejoiced so many of his country folk could immigrate to the New Territories in the Middle East. He said only about a million people died in the whole takeover.
“This is what can be done when the strong take their place in the world. An Empire is now forming from the ridiculous nationalism of the past. And,” he added, “Someday the Empire will tolerate only one leader.”
KFOX radio glowed with the news of the Global Alliance. Already the US partner in the alliance had annexed Mexico. The Global Alliance included the US, China, Russia and Germany. All the other nations became “cooperative partners” in contrast to the major “policy partners” of the Global Alliance. Pakistan and India were ordered to unite and both surrendered all their nuclear weapons under the watchful eye of the Chinese who had the most to lose if a nation state decided to resist to the point of nuclear exchange.
While I hibernated in my cabin the world changed without my permission just as Carlisle ate holes in toothpaste tubes with none.
I tried to learn to write with a feather pen and realized why the world rejoiced with fountain pens in hand. Feather pens flutter romantically as the true way to write. The actual experience is one of blots and blobs, skipping black dots across the paper and smears out of nowhere. I gave up. I tried to keep a diary, but there was nothing to say. Only looking back now can I speak about the lonely hours.
Chuan keeps a shop in rural China selling herbs and performing acupuncture.
“I’m glad we’re on the same side,” he said in his heavy Chinese accent. He apologized for his accent once. I replied, “Your English will always be better than my Chinese.”
One night my tooth began to ache. Aspirin didn’t help. The throbbing became unbearable. I radioed Scarf who pitilessly summed it up: “You are never getting out to get help. No one can come and get you. No one will over a tooth. Either suffer with it or pull it.”
“Pull it?” I cried wincing at the thought.
“Yes! Do you think you’re the only man in the woods pulling a bad tooth in the middle of winter? Out.”
Placing the microphone down, I thought of the pliers in the pantry.
“Shit!” I coughed. “I didn’t bring any books AND I didn’t stockpile any whiskey.”
Carlisle sat on the third shelf looking at me lean over the sink. He didn’t hide the yellow crumbs on his whiskers and I didn’t care.

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