Monday, August 11, 2014

Chicagospell (part 2)

Jesse S. Mitchell

part 1 here at Sparks of Consciousness

Charlie reached over the side of the boat and let his fingers slide through the water.  He opened and closed his hand, making a tight clenched fist, a wrecking ball, dragging violently through the waves.  He pulled it up and looked hard at it, studied it as little strands and drops of water fell off, splashing back into the sea.
“But, um, also…”
“Well, it’s just that, it is confusing.  Time gets away from you, the days and weeks just slide away.  All this life, all of it, extravagant and scary, the boring little moments, the clashing metal, the car crashing minutes, the blinking of an eye, all gone.  I’ve lived so many years on this planet, not many left, no matter how you try to do the math, try to rationalize all your actions, all your mortality away.  No matter how you slice it.”
The black haired woman still rowing the boat, looking more and more annoyed at Charlie’s unwillingness to assist her.
“Start paddling.”
“I mean, life, is like a glass of water, and your mouth is completely parched, so much thirst, you can just stare at it, bleeding beads of cool sweat down the sides, tempting…or threatening.  You have to drink it, put it to your lips and swallow and then it is gone.  Forever.  And you can’t ever put it back in the glass.”
The sun shines bright on the surface of the sea.  The light reflects up, feels hot, makes Charlie squint, he can see circlets and spirals of light glare, multicolored halos of glimmer.
He look back at the woman, reaches down inside the boat and grabs an oar, puts it in the water, lazily begins rowing.
“You know all of this used to big time gangster territory, all around us.”
The woman’s hair a feral ruckus, like arms or tentacles reaching out,  her clothes moving independently, her face stoic, looking back at Charlie as he speaks, unimpressed.
“Yeah, back in prohibition days, Al Capone, all of that…they used to make the liquor downstate and in Kentucky and run it back up here and sell it out of speakeasies, bedrooms, nightclubs.  A lot of violence.  Always been a lot of violence. Now it is just the land of the great wretched of the Earth.”
Charlie shakes his head.
“Made your peace with Fanon, then?”  the woman asks.
“Hmm?  Yeah, well…peace I can make with Fanon but not with this Francis Ferdinand world, a tinderbox, an aerosol can left out too long in the sun, god knows what will happen next…”
“It will explode.”
Charlie lifted a finger to the side of his nose.
“Yep, too much pressure.”
“what else can it do?”
“Well, it could vent…but that is war…”
“Or genocide or worse, always it is blood.”
“Or it could come in from out of the heat.  Stop languishing dead under the blazing sun.”
“Find some shade.”
“Turn off the friction, turn down the mind.”
“But nature, nature happens.”
“Everything occurs. It is the burning laws of nature, here,” Charlie points to the side of his head, “right here, flaring in my mind, I mean to temper, assuage the roaring furnace of everyday life, douse them, let smolder out, smothered damp.  That is entirely my point, retreat like a refugee from the awful consequences of being a living life form.  Go live far away, a celestial giant slumbering, folded into the skies, stratospherically gone, nothing but a collection of visual and auditory illusions, forever blinking away up in the stars.”
“Pfft.”  the woman shakes her head dismissively.
The boat comes to a stop, slides up on the sandy, rocky bank.  Charlie looks around and sees a island, a deep green island, covered with fruit trees, some very well tended orchard.  White birds, doves probably, perched on every single branch.  The sunlight so warm and golden, feels medicinal as it falls softly on his skin.  He walks slow up the slight incline to find himself surrounded by the orchard proper.  He looks behind himself.  The boat is gone.  The woman is gone.  The ocean is gone.
He turns back around and is greeted by a nearly naked man in front of him.  Charlie is startled.  But the man is smiling and appears affable, a large fig leaf over his personal areas.  He holds out his hand to lead Charlie through the copse of flowering fruit trees.  
“I’m not going to have to fight anyone, right?  No priest of the grove?  This isn’t some kind of Frazer thing?”
“You are perfectly safe.”  the naked man replies, his voice odd, thick, like several people speaking at once, harmonic.
As Charlie walks through the trees, he notices the birds are making noise, peculiar noise, like singing.  Not singing.  Too short.  Too quick.  Chanting.  Talking.  He turns his head and looks hard, scrutinizes the tree on his right, hundreds of pure white birds, all of them in unison intoning, “om mani padme hum”.
The looks to the tree on his left, listens, “krsna hare hare hare rama hare rama”.
“Hey!” yelling forward to the naked man.
“Yes?”  fig leaf asks
“Your birds, they can talk?”
“Not my birds but yes, they can vocalize.  They don’t have a vocabulary of their own, they just recite.  It isn’t truly the power of speech.”
“Hmm.”  Charlie nods and checks out the next tree on the right they pass, the birds sang, “Ash-hadu an-la ilaha illa Allah”.
The next tree to the left sounds like this, “Yehei shmeh rabba mevarakh lealam ulalmey almaya.”
“This is fascinating.”  Charlie says to himself.
“Hey, do you know what you’ve got here?  Do you realize what these birds are doing?”  He asks the naked man, who is no longer alone but is walking side by side with an equally naked woman, fig leaf and all.
“What do we have here?”
“These birds, these animals are…”
“Yes.”  they interrupt him.  They both speak at the same time.
“They…okay, well.  Doesn’t it get a bit old after a while?”
“The noise.  The chatter.  Don’t you get tired of it?”
“It goes away after time.  Barely do we notice it, it blends in, nothing but ambient breath.”
The three of them walk silently, with Charlie in the far back for a few more moments when the man and woman begin speaking again.
“Charlie Bohl.”
Charlie looks up from the ground and away from the trees, his eyes wide, a look of surprise or shock stitched on his face.
“It is no shame to survive.”
“Excuse me? Survive what?” taken aback.
“Life.  It is no shame to survive this life.”
“Yeah, well, it is no great honor either is it?”
A strong wind comes up, a whipping cyclonic forceful wind.  So suddenly, Charlie almost falls down.  The wind blows through the open spaces between the trees, blows Charlie’s hair and clothes around, the naked couple walk on unfazed.  The trees began to bow and shuffle, some nearly bend all the way to the ground.
“What the hell is going on?”
“It is looking for you.”
“It is, is it?”
“Oh!”  Charlie blurts out, “Oh! Oh, I see!  I get it.  I know what this is.”  He shakes his head, “I’ve never had any use for this place.  I didn’t even think it was real, that it even exists.”
“But because you thought of it at all, even to think of it as not existing, it does exist someplace.  It exists here.  Here you are.  Now you both exist.”
“You both?  Me and it or me and this place?”
“Both. All.”
“A place isn’t a living thing.”
“Yes what?”
“Yes, a place does.”
Charlie shakes his head again, getting annoyed.
As he moves on, he begins to notice thickets and clumps of low flowers around his feet.  Vines and brambles, all blooming and blossoming spontaneously as he sets his feet down.  He looked up from the ground and noticed he was alone again, the near-naked couple disappeared away.  The air grew foggy, misty, and the flowers grew taller and denser as he went on, bushy roses and profusions of color everywhere.  Before long he was completely surrounded by high sunflowers, gold, and yellow, and red petals and spiny stems, the leaves grabbing at him, making it hard for him to fight his way through.  The wind picked up again, blowing his hair around, the rattling the flora.
“Making another pass?”  he yelled up toward the sky.   As soon as the words left his mouth, all the light went out, the way a curtain drops on a stage, or the way blood pressure drops from shock, suddenly.  He stood still in the total darkness, clutched and trapped in a brush of flowers and wild grasses violently moving around his body.  An abrupt, an unexpected light beamed straight down on him, a heavy light, like coagulated blood-light.

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