to voice over artist Tim George
the part of Hank Peabody
Tim George's website to learn more
about his work
The Heart is Returned
from The Reeducation of a Turd Peddler
by John Henry Peabody
SERRA'S HEART IN ITS JAR
IS RETURNED TO THE FRONT STEPS OF THE
HISTORICAL SOCIETYWITH SOME CAVEATS,
AT THE historical society, Dolores greeted us at the door. We found
a full house gathered around the heart. Even Peter Librado, Janets
older brother and head of the tribe, was there along with Darby Hipper
and Sean Heany.
Wow, look what Serras cat dragged in.
Peter looked at me oddly.
Not you, Pete, I shook his hand. Youre
the chief. These two, I mean, nodding towards Darb and Sean.
Hey, Dolores offered. Serras cat
dragged me here, too.
And Lo, too, I considered.
We gathered and stared at the jar. I could see that each
of us was working up our own calculation.
What do you think? Janet asked.
I bent over, pencil in hand, touching the glass.
Its not it, I said, standing back.
Its not, is it? Peter replied.
No. Its not the heart and its not the
jar. Although I must admit the jar is nicely done. A good fake. Plus
the heart I knew didnt have surgically precise incisions at the
ends. And this ones too pink.
All of a sudden youre an expert on the heart?
Janet looked me over.
Well, maybe I spend more time at the mahogany cases
than I should, but, yeah, I do have a pretty complete notion about how
the heart and the jar look. I turned to Dolores.
Hank is right. Its not the heart. Weve
even looked it over together. Well, once, right?
Yeah, I said.
Janet didnt look like she was having it but, still,
she couldnt say no.
Peter added. You know, Ive thought about the
heart more than Ive actually seen it.
Everybody looks at it once, Sean piped in. So
that is their expertise. It might be a long stare, but its a One
Time Look Over kinda deal. Like your turd collection, Hankie,
nodding towards the cases. It gets a glance. Then they stare.
They they realize what theyre staring at. Then they freak out.
Anyone else? Janet turned. Darb, youre
Yep, he stepped forward.
How do you mean? I could see Peter becoming
You can buy this kind of thing, Darb said.
Darby collects stuff preserved in jars, Pete.
Hes got snakes in jars, baby dolphins, fish,
hearts, I offered,
One heart, Darby corrected. From a guy
who went on a rampage in the 1950s. My lunatic heart.
Would you happen to have Peter asked him
Hes been vetted, Janet interjected
Darby put his hands up. I didnt take the heart.
I have no need for it.
Darby is a fetishist, I said. Any fetish
the thief of the heart has is not about rubbery things in formaldehyde
Yeah, some kind of history fetish is what were
after, Sean stared into the glass.
Here, Darby sat down at the computer. Let
me show you. He jiggled the mouse to wake up the screen. Youve
got internet access, right, Hankers.
Cable and WiFi, Dolores let him know.
There you go, the screen lit up. Oh, thats
cuteyou have El Fornio dot com as your main page.
Say it loud and say it proud.
Darby typed in the URL for West Coast Bio Supply. These
guys have all kinds of stuff, he went through the roll-overs.
Eyeballs, snakes, lizards, bags of frogs for classrooms, joints,
brains. Look, they got brains!
Darby poked around the site, clicking down until he found
the hearts for sale.
There you go, he looked back at us, showing
off the screen. Human heart, $99.99. He grabbed a pencil
and wrote down the 1-800 number.
Theyve got a website for everything these days,
Janet spoke to him in dialect. No, Peter replied.
I dont have a Facebook account. Should I?
Sean had wandered away and was standing on a chair, looking
into the mahogany cases. Not everything needs to have a website,
he said, jumping down and walking back. You have actually labeled
each fucking piece of shit in the wooden cases, Hankie. You know youre
You should be there when I rehydrate them.
Aaah! he clutched his hair. Too much information.
Its not what you think, Dolores defended.
Its more `sciency.
`Sciency? Sean said. Whats so sciency
about a piece of shit?
Its fossilized, pelican man. More mineral than
manure, Lo shot back.
Thats good, Peabody, he laughed. You
should put that on one of your pamphlets: `More Mineral Than Manure.
Give the gal a raise.
Its a volunteer position, Sean.
Volunteer? Sean asked. I know way too
much about that kind of work. Take the girl out to lunch once in awhile
Dolores looked at me.
Well . . . I thought. This heart in a jar business
was getting out of hand.
Alright, Darb picked up the phone and called
the number. I know a gal that I work with when I buy stuff there.
Peter turned to me. You know that if we get a hold
of the heart before you do, its likely that its not coming
back. Not here, at least.
I am aware of that, I told him.
We may be able to work something out, but . . .
Well, we should. After all, I nodded towards
the `I Saw Junipero Serras Heart in a Jar t-shirts. Im
able to fund a large part of our budget with things like that. When
those shirts leave the building, so does the idea you guys want to get
across. Those coffee mugs, kitchen mitts, post cards and baseball caps
are more than just revenue, Pete.
Im not doubting that, he agreed.
Its like rebuilding the mission without rebuilding
Darby connected with the 1-800 number as the other line
rang at the historical society.
Dolores went to get it.
Hi, Darby began, Is this Patty? No. Is
Patty there? Id like to talk to Patty. He looked at us.
Patty? Hi, Patty, this is Darby Hipper . . . Thats right.
`Hipper than thou but not hipper than thee. How are you? Good.
Look, I need some help on something . . . No, Im not buying anything
today. What I want to know is did someone from my city, or somewhere
close to it, buy the $99.99 heart special, like, in the last week or
so? Darby gave a thumbs-up.
Have her search on the city field, I tapped
I understand, Patty, Darby continued. You
dont want to break any rulesme, too. Maybe what you can
do is if you find a name, you can come up with a rhyme or joke instead
of telling me the name, then we canhows that?
Peter smiled. Its not even how I think.
Its his element, I replied.
Really? Darby continued on the phone. Okay.
Tell me what it is.
At the other
end of the room, Dolores hung up the phone and came back to join us.
I just got the strangest call. She picked up the remote
control. Channel 17.
Local community access, Sean let. Whats
A lady friend of mine who works down there just ran
across something we might want to know about.
Dolores turned on the tube in the corner of the office and
began punching in the numbers. The TV popped on and she went through
the channels. There it is.
Oh, god, Janet moaned.
Peter sighed. Not this guy.
White Elk Speaks came on the screen, fitted
in Zapf Chancery. A middle-aged man with long white hair in ponytails,
wearing a loin cloth, could be seen crossing a meadow in the montage
sequence that served as the opener for the show. From there he burned
sage in a cave, lifting his arms in exaltation. And in the fade to the
following scene, he shoots a bow and arrow at what looks to be a lame
legged fawn. In the last image, White Elk is eating meat off the bone
in front of a campfire.
Did he just kill Bambi? Sean asked.
Its like Doctor Phil meets Ishi, I laughed
and turned up the volume. Theramin-like penny whistle music accompanied
White Elks action. The music ended and the studio camera found
him in real time sitting on a couch in a Santa Fe suit, with silver-turquoise
belt and beaded headband.
Bloody Lawrence of El Fornio, Sean howled.
Welcome, he said mellowly. My name is
White Elk. Blessings from the Great Spirit. This week we have a special
guest whose work many of you are familiar with . . .
Janet kept turning between the television and Darby with
his 1-800 information.
What do you got, Darb?
Darby, smiling, turned to her, with a nod. Alright,
Patti. Thats great. I think I can figure it out.
Darb wrote on a piece of paper which he folded in two. Okay,
Patti. Ill talk to you next week . . . Okay. Bye! He hung
What? Janet went after the paper.
Why are you watching TV? Darby asked.
Ask them. They turned it on. Whats on the paper?
Janet tried to grab it from Darbys hand. Darby stopped and watched
the TV show.
This guy is a freak. Ive seen him.
White Elk continued. His books and photos have filled
many of you with the imagination you are entitled to
`Imagination you are entitled to?
Seans face curled.
Although some of his opinions have met with
criticism, our guest this week is a good friend of the programwith
a special announcement. So, Id like to welcome to `White Elk Speaks,
the world renowned photographer and author
Oh, my god, Darby said, holding up the paper.
What? What? Janet said.
Darby put the paper in front of Janets face. Rhymes
with? he asked, then turned to the TV, mouthing the words.
White Elk finished. Gerry Danskin.
The camera panned back to show White Elk and Danskin sitting
on the couch together.
Janet shook her head. That fucker.
Thank you, White Elk.
Does he have the heart? Janet walked up to the
screen, leaning her face against it, the static causing her hair to
rise. Can you see it?
Janet, Peter touched her, then spoke in dialect.
No, Janet said back in English. No, Im
not going to relax.
She hates this guy, really, Peter in apology
I dont see the heart anywhere, Heany said.
Gerry, White Elk continued. Before we
get started, you know that I begin every show with an incantation.
Yes, I do, Gerry obliged.
So, let us raise our hands.
The camera panned back as the two of them raised their hands
high. White Elk began chanting in dialect. Off camera, a slow drum was
Peter laughed. That makes no sense.
Janet shook her head. This is the kind of thing that
makes us look bad.
Peter pointed There. Right there. He just said, literally, `Wheres
mother? Shes in the kitchen. Is she with her friends? Like
hes reciting a childrens language exercise.
And thats about as long a real sentence in Fornay
that he can complete. Janet added. Some of it is Spanish.
Ive heard that some of it is Sioux, some Navaho. Some just plain
mumbo-jumbo. And if he was a real speaker, he would use a few tones
for certain words and ideas.
Peter backed, On a basic level, there arent
any elk around here. So where the hell he came up with being an elk
I have no idea. Its not even encountered in dreams.
His fathers father was part Canadian Indian,
Janet said. And somewhere along the line he got the idea that
hes Native American and now hes going play it out on whomever
wants to listen to him. His real name is something like Robert Hasseldorf.
Gerrys the perfect guest, I said.
Where is this? Peter asked. Wheres
Theyre down in Three Hills, Dolores answered.
Let me get my friend back on the phone. I dont even think
its live. She ran into it on the program schedule.
Lo walked back into the main gallery as White Elk finished his incantation.
That was wonderful, White Elk, Gerry told him.
Thank you, Gerry.
Mumbo jumbo! Sean pointed at the screen.
Was it more mumbo? Darby asked. Or do
you think it was more jumbo?
Its actually kind of `Ho wo wo wo. Ho wo wo
wo, Sean cupped a hand over his mouth and danced on one foot.
Tell us what youve been up to, Gerry.
A lot. Very busy, White Elk. First of all, Im
completely excited about my new book. Its the second part of the
Modern Missions series. The first was Recipe for Romance.
This one will be called Bell Towers and Red Tiles. I just had
lunch with the extraordinary Noel Jung of Goat Horn Press and hes
very excited to get a pub date firmed up for this new one.
That is such bullshit, Janet spoke to the screen.
It is, I said to Peter. We were there
at the Rusty and met the guy when he had lunch with Danskin.
Noel completely rejects Danskin and all of his work,
Janet explained. How can he . . .
I think the dudes unraveling, Darby said.
So that would make it more jumbo than mumbo.
Well, congratulations, Gerry. Ive seen your
photos, and theyre beautiful.
Thank you, White Elk. I expect National Geographic
to publish some of my work next fall.
And I understand you have some other announcements.
Oh, do I, Gerry reached to the side of the couch
and pulled up a dark bag.
Hey, Janet, I said, pointing. Is that
a Gap bag? The pleathor one.
Dont tell me . . .
As you know, I am a member of SCOFS, the Society for
the Canonized of Father Serra.
The news about his heart being taken from the historical
society was disturbing, White Elk said.
Well, worry no more. Through certain channels and
the influence I have in the community, I was able to locate the heart
and I am happy to announce on your show today that the heart has been
found and will be returned to Father Serra in a matter of days for reinternment.
Where is the heart now? White Elk asked.
It is right here, Danksin pulled the jar of
out of the Gap bag.
Oh, my, White Elk sat up.
I told you, Janet said.
Hes the one, Peter, quietly.
Lets go there right now, Janet turned.
Dolores came back into the room. No use, Janet. I
just got off the phone down there. The show is pre-recorded. Taped it
Janet stopped and turned to watch the TV. Danskin held the
jar up for the camera to fix on as the studio lights played through
The journey is finished, Blessed Father, Gerry
murmured. You will be home soon. There will be no more wandering.
The long road to sainthood is nearly complete.
Janet stepped to the TV and made a fist.
None of us had ever seen her so lit up.
Gentlemen, she faced Lo and the boys.
The phone rang again. Dolores went back. Historical
society? She listened, then turned to Peter and Janet. Its
for you guys.
At that moment, every cel phone in the room began to ring.
Not only was the heart in a jar business out of hand, it was becoming
personal. I was, against previous notion, beginning to see things from
Janets perspective. There was no way that the heart was going
back to Carmel and Serras graveI wasnt going to let
it happen. I was, in no uncertain terms, going to be part of making
sure it didnt happen. For the first time in my tenure at the historical
society, the heart was more important to me than my turd collection.
Hank Comes to Grips with Serra