The History of the O’Hare’s
This history was written by Cadmus O'Hare Faun II, or Cadmus Jr., for his final graduation to official crew member of the Due Return. Although no other evidence exists of such histories being a necessity for crew membership, this effort remains as an example to future generations.
“The History of man” as Mr. Tweed puts it, out of my class notes, “is the history of vanity.” Vanity is our history. “For vanity men will pollute waterways and destroy their atmospheres, depopulate species, and this for the finish of a manicure, a shade of paint or a hair shirt. What is it to kill another man for his race or his religion or his land? What motivates an individual or a populace. So called Evil? Wealth? No, it is the strictures to be found running deeply through a society, so deeply in fact that they are held in reverence and safeguarded with words like “norm”, “mores” and “taboo”. These are the shadows of a society, the sleight of hand that judges a person couth or uncouth. In early 20th century American history, for example, one discovers that it is uncouth to be black or Chinese or Irish or a woman with a quick mind and a ready tongue; in 21st century America it was uncouth to express the very views that were a mainstay one hundred years afore. In other words, ideals, which are vanities, are gossamer and finite and deadly and fashionable or they are not…”
The O’Hares, Cadmus says, were Irish always. Ireland is an island connected to other places like Albion and Yorkshire and Dover and Piccadilly and the Highlands. Ireland is green and renowned for whiskey and barely and snake pipers. Ireland is also where Calhoun fought the sea with a sword because it took the life of someone he loved. My mother, Dracher, drown. This was before I had memory.
My grandfather, Rory O’Hare (Rory means brawler my father says, which is some kind of graceless fighter) was a steward for an airline. An airline has ships that only fly and he worked on these refreshing passengers and making them less anxious. In my grandfather’s time a great deal of distress could easily be caused in those that we merely traveling a few thousand miles. My father says it was a noble job and that grandfather had died young but happy with great big round blue eyes the color of pilot lights and with his dying breath he had simply said, “there’ll be, I think, a lot of grapes. Fresh grapes” He had married a stewardess, Helen who was bitter but faithful and, at all times, professional.
Cadmus was named after a king who was equally blessed and cursed by bickering gods and led a miserable life speckled with triumphs that, themselves, breed misfortunes. He was raised in a sort of orphanage for airline people’s kids who otherwise didn’t have a steady parent. Later, rebellious of the sky, my father joined the navy as a nurse studying medicine and with them served twelve years. It was at this time he met Eddie Blanche, Ken Rochelle, and Dexter Tweed; three sailors he spent the rest of his prepolychronal life with. The four of them moved to Madripoor after the service and started a crew for hire business. While there my father met a woman with half an index finger and loved her. Her name was Barbara and she was eaten along with Ken and Eddie by genetic experiments that Tweed wrote, “were all dolphin teeth and garden trowels”. Cadmus says that they were gray men and real monsters.
(The impression I get of my father from Tweed is that he’s had a hard time. Tweed says my father is heroic as a stone is heroic. He says Cadmus is like Cadmus the king or Calhoun.)
It was in the wake of this last disaster that my father and his surviving crew mates, Tweed and Rysdale and Edith, became involved with Captain Banks and so, the Duereturn. My father says that at this time in his life he didn’t talk much and that Rysdale spoke only Danish and Tweed pretty much ran the show but that, really, no one was to blame. The ship could sail and sailing was Tweed’s only interest so they entered into contract and left Madripoor.
This is when my father met my mother, Drascher. Drascher had all her fingers whole and was, my father says, unlike Barbara in almost every way. My mother shared her last name, Faun, with a lithe thick bodied and frail legged mammal that is also known as a hart or stag or doe. Dracher was quick of tongue and sometimes venomous. Cadmus says she was many sided and you never knew the corner you’d turn but that she was sultry and often ostentatious in a pleasant way. My dad says he loved Drascher but not like he loved Barbara of how he loves Edith. Tweed says my dad justifies himself with after thought and that when people do this it makes them sad.
Next was the bacterial ocean where I was born. A woman, Myra, died. Laffy was born. What Edith reports of this place is strange and hard for me to follow; once upon a time there was a vast and beautiful culture that faced the terrible burden of their ultimate end through unalterable sources. All their smart people got together because they were stressed about the loss of their arts and governments and bookkeeping; they were worried that not only their physical forms would vanish but that their very rails as a society would disappear forever and their souls would be lost. A group of them who were the most clever came up with an idea to put everything that stitched their society together into a code and place that code into something very simple and small that might endure their own limitations. These codes were placed inside bacteria chains which not only survived their inventors but out populated their species. The bacteria, in fact, became so numerous that by the time the crew of the Duereturn arrived the whole surface of the planet was covered by it. Dad says this was an uncomfortable time for everyone and that it was a time of great quiet. There is no record of Rysdale painting and Tweed couldn’t sail in the given conditions, the Captain was inaccessible after his mother, Myra, died.
Once they had managed to sail from that place things got better. There was a vast open sea but the Duereturn was wounded and took on water which the crew bucketed out everyday. The water caught in a ship is called a bilge and my mother drowned in this. Tweed was happiest, everyone who was around then agrees. Rysdale painted the sea and fish and birds. Dad says that Rysdale became indispensable to those birds; the Duereturn collided with a large mammal shortly after their arrival upon the sea. The large mammal contained upon its back a vast culture of intelligent birds somewhat like cranes but, unable to fly. These birds maintained a very fragile ecosystem of cultivated otters and aquatic elephants and pelicans, their population had to be closely checked so that space and resource didn’t run too thin. Rysdale, being a painter and a craftsmen, was an element of society that the birds, lacking a finer touch, never before encountered and they quickly grew to admire his little icons and paintings of the sea. It was because of this particular skill that the Duereturn was allowed to dock alongside the birds and their living island rather than be shunted off to sea or worse. The birds’ island had a natural enemy is a species of fully aquatic crocodile that ranged from the size of a car to the size of the Duereturn. The birds fought these creatures and in their culture equated them to evil and eclipse and the end of existence. My father taught the birds to sow wounds and how to use seawater to clean infections. Despite the large looming danger of this place most of the crew were sad to set sail.
After the oceanic world came the world that, Tweed says, was the most unbearable. Everything, he says, was as it should be but the people there went about with fox tails or antlers or gills. This is where Tweed dawned his wolf ears and Rysdale his bird’s claw. My father has told me that Rysdale switched his left hand out with the claw of a hawk so he could prove to himself that an intelligent bird could paint just as well if not better than someone endowed with human hands. Cadmus also says that Tweed got his surgery through “his boredom, which is a pretentious vanity”. Edith gathered a great deal of information about this society. This particular world had since the dawn of civilization practiced only one religion; poly-anthropomorphic deification. In their 21st century the newest solid institution was prosthetic cross-species enhancements. Their worldwide distribution was no different from my father’s timeline except that large metropolitan areas seemed to attracted worshippers of specific animals. They had wars and schools and trolleys and spades and rain slickers though, they had Homers and Ovids and Rousseaus. Edith says that the trends in their fashions and literatures are parallel to those of her infosphere but that the details are different. I remember this place too. I had playmates with beaks and squirrel tails and fins. I remember the festivals and the gruesome teeth of carnivore worshippers. The Captain says that this time and place would have been ideal except for its slight variation, “It ate up the crew subtly, with irritation and deep sighing. All those claws and scales and furs… it sat with one like a speck of grit in a paper cut. Home is where you are comfortable, wherever you don’t squirm much or lie sleepless and this place smacked of hotels…”
So we came to this place, I mean now. I should remember everything, I think except that small stuff that smalls through the cracks like sunlight and cloud formations and the number of scents but, I don’t; Cadmus says this is because I took a blow to the head when I was young and still forming and vulnerable but, of course, I don’t remember this. Where we are now is leafy and green and brown and crowded with trees. Edith says that everything is simple, that the particles here are uncomplicated and fragile. She says they are prehistoric in their design. In all the years we’ve been here we haven’t spotted a single mammal, insect or otherwise. It’s all plants. Tweed teaches us, the new crew, riggings and how to fashion ropes and patch ship walls and history. Edith teaches us the natural sciences and astronomy. Dad teaches us medicine and literature. Rysdale teaches painting, bookmaking and how to mix dyes and sow. The Captain teaches us about the ship’s controls. The ship is docked in the middle of a forest and we’ve built a small encampment around it. I love it here, this is a magical world of silence and proportion. It’s comfortable to feel like a grain of sand.