of Tar-man - Episode 3/4
"Tar-man wasn't always a hideous misfit, lurking on the fringes
of society. Once he was an aspiring opera singer like you or me.
"Hey, Billy, let's hear a few
bars of 'Batti, batti'! Hah-hah!" (aside) "That darn Joey
always stumps me. What I wouldn't give for his leggiero e calmato."
One day, struggling at the piano to
find his fach, he heard that first fateful drip! "Voi, che
Turning, he saw a thin stream of
water come through the plastered ceiling to land unapologetically on
his mother's priceless solid cherry buffet.
With the sure instinct and speed of
a born roofer, he grabbed a nearby champagne bucket and a rag and
soaked up the water before it could do any damage.
The stage was set.
Suddenly realizing the full
implication of what he had done, Billy broke down and wept. Then he
ran to get his mother.
"Billy, calm down, what is
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to,
it was getting on the buffet… I had to!"
"There, there, honey, don't
worry, you did the right thing! Of course you did."
"But I wanna be an opera
singer! (sniffle) All the other kids are gonna be!"
"Of course you can be an opera
singer, Billy! Has that Joey been making fun of your ornamentation
again? I'm going to have a talk with his mother."
"No! You don't
understand!" Billy tore himself from her and ran to his room,
Later, as the twilight lengthened
the shadows on his walls, Billy lay on his bed and stared at
His mind wandered to earlier,
happier times. He thought of his family.
His mother married her high school
sweetheart, Marv Fleischmann. He was nothing but a humble margarine
salesman who she knew would never amount to a hill o' beans, but she
Billy is roused from his nostalgia
by a knock on the door. It's Marv.
"Hey, buddy, your Mom said you
were a little upset today. How about taking your mind off it by
helping me up on the roof? Got a hole that needs patching (wink).
How 'bout it, sport?"
He felt desperate to run away and
hide himself, but the grip of destiny was tightening, tightening
around his throat like an iron gauntlet, forcing the words to come:
All was lost! He felt dropped from
some dizzying height to plummet forever without landing, a fall
without consummation or redemption. Inwardly he writhed with the
agony, the horror…
"Great, I'll be out in the
The die was cast. He could see the
future stretching out before him. Shingles, asphalt, the sulphurous
black stench of the burner, coated ropes on rusted pulleys, mineral
surface, black paper, coal-black as the bottommost blackness of
Styx, entrance to the black underworld, and blacker than any of
them, the black that was shunned forever from the light on the first
day of Creation, bubbling and churning since the dawn of time…
[Last panel-present day Tar-man]
Tar-man sits on the roof, striking matches one by one and watching
as they flicker and die in the evening breeze, thinking about the
Gulf War... the ocean burning... the teeming life of the sea
blanketed by burning blackness...