Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Giant of Juno Falls (part 2)

Jesse S. Mitchell

part one here

And Leah Williams stared out the window and ignored the schizophrenic static of the television.  The set emanated barely any sound and her eyes collected barely any light, the exercise was useless.  38 years old and her eyes had been dimming and dying away from the very moment of her birth.  It made her feel older, more useless than she was, it caused in her a kind of mild depression, a buoyant kind of melancholy, in which she wasn’t necessarily cheerless but definitely discontent.  She used her son, Noah, for her eyes most of the time; he performed with brightness all his visual chores.  He mostly had to read to her, spot things for her, warn her away from sudden drops and the odd tripping hazard left lying about.  
Outside the window, the mountain fog was falling down the valley sides, a sheer mist undulating over rocks and stones.  It looked like smoke, spiraling and cascading down.  Her murky eyes made a kind of fabric out of it, the spectacle continuing and swelling and at times surging close to her window, a silken unfurling, unraveling banner.
“Mom, I’m going out.  Dad just came in and I think I might go outside to keep busy, at least until he can get good and asleep.”
She turned in her chair. “Your Dad’s home?” She had missed him coming in, too half-blind and too caught up with the fog outside to hear.
“Yes, Ma’am.”
“Okay, off you go.”
“Do you need anything before I go?”
“No…no, no, I’m fine.  Have some fun.  Be safe and hurry back.”
Outside their house was the neighbor’s fields.  The fields abutted their yard nearly completely with the cattle pasture being the closest.  Noah walked gingerly along the border fence of the two properties.  Throngs of black and brown cows stopped in motion and stopped in time, perfectly still, staring at him, standing hoof-deep in the thick yellow clay mud, some splattered about them and crusted on their heads like crowns or haloes.  A whole herd of Prithvis monitoring the boy’s every move.  The cows creeped Noah out.  He made every real effort to avoid them.  Usually the only way to the woods was through their pasture, a trip he had taken hundreds of times without incident but always with crippling dread.  Fortunately, it was winter and winter meant that the small gulch, a rocky gulley between the yard and the field could be used to circumvent the horrid Vedic demons.  The other three seasons and the gulley was filled with snakes, mostly harmless snakes but definitely a copperhead or two and sometimes rattlesnakes.  The last thing Noah needed to deal with was a snake. Cows before snakes.  Rural folks never gain the ability to properly appreciate or understand reptiles the way urban dwellers do.  In the middle of woods and rocks and farms and mines, snakes are beyond the pale of natural acceptance.
Stumbling along the rocks and rumble, making his way to the trail to the woods and back further into the forest to the cliffs, he was heading to the spot where the three pine trees fell over in the big flood four years ago.  They fell just right and blocked up the creek in such a way that now, all year long, a thin gauzy stream of water rushed through.  It made a loud sound.  A marvelous noise.  It also had begun, through the magnificent process of erosion, to build an indention behind, a cave.  A tall cave and getting deeper and deeper with every season, and it was at this cave were Noah first saw the giant.  First and only time.  But he keeps coming back.  He will see him again.  Tall.  Wide.  Wearing old fashioned clothes, rough cloth, brown and rust colored.  Hair wild, like tentacles or waves, bright red, and a face as narrow as his body was wide, with a long nose and two big eyes, blue eyes.  Two big blue eyes that clearly caught sight of Noah as well as Noah catching sight of them.


In the near exact middle of a long straight wound in the surface of the earth stood a clapboard building, whitewashed and murky and worn at the corners, twice as long as it was wide.  A tall sign stood in front suspended on two wobbly untreated railroad ties; it read “The Nations Church of Christ the Redeemer”.  A parking lot at the side and scrubby red cedar trees sprouting haphazardly in the alkaline soil of the reclaimed land, lumpy gob piles of dusty coal standing sentry around the perimeter, threatening slumber and avalanche.  Up the side of the hill beside the road stood the nearly rusted through chain link fence of the abandoned number nine mine and a row of sleeping silver maples with their arms held heavenward, little fingers reaching up, grasping at the grey underbelly of whatever overcast stormy being lived up there, floating flaccidly over the valley, waiting to flood everything again…any time…any time.
Inside the building, rows and rows of cheap pews, all lined with gaudy red fabric.  Noah and his family sat in the third from the front.  The building was half full with sad looking, wrinkly people.  Their was only one other family young enough to have children, the Evans’s in row two. Henry Evans, Noah’s age, kept looking back with a glower.   Noah tried to ignore it.  It burned him up inside, just seething.
Everyone else had their eyes forward watching a tall, middle-aged, impossibly skinny man next to the pulpit.  Wild grey hair and wild long swinging arms and a wild blue and black striped western shirt with faux pearl buttons; his bones and his clothes and his hair and everything about him jangled and rattled when he moved.
He read from a bible flopped open limp in his big left hand and the whole congregation gazed at him in awe as if this was some Promethean thief, spilling divine secrets hard won to the open ears of this crowd of hopeless humans.  Noah rolled his eyes.  He yawned and struggled to not fall asleep.  The feral screeching of the thin man went on and on. “It was then that the Nephilim did walk up-on the surface of the Urth and they did co-hab-tate with the…”
Noah tugged on his mother’s sleeve on his right.
“It was durin’ this time that there was a great pro-liffr-rey-ation of ehvil on the Urth.  And the Lawd did mean to blot the man he had made from creation furever.”
“What Noah?” whispering, even quieter than whispering, barely making a sound.
“I saw him again.”
“The giant.  Yesterday afternoon.”
“Oh, hush Noah, this is not the proper time, now you pay attention.”
Noah sighed.
His father looked over at him and rubbed his hair.  Turned back to the ferocious preacher.  
“I just hate that Henry Evans, dad.”
“Just ignore him, son.”
Noah inhaled deeply.   And suffered through the rest of the madness and chaos being perpetuated on the stage in silence and disbelief.  
Walking through the big open dark brown double doors, helping his father lead his mother to the car, “It’s just too much, he thinks he is so much better than me, ’cause his dad is so big and rich.”
“His dad ain’t nothing but a shift foreman.  Now that isn’t but one step higher than what I am, an extra hundred dollars in his pocket every week and twice as likely to lose his job when somethin’ goes wrong.”
“Is he your shift foreman?”
“Is he a jerk?”
His father chuckled, “Only one of the biggest.  Listen, Noah, ignore all this stuff.  My family have always been very proud of what we was.”
“What’s that?”
“Nothing.  A bunch of nobodies, every last one right down to me.  My Daddy always said that the thing about being somebody was there was always something to it, something to hide, something to live up to, or something to live down.  Now me, I like being honest and I never did want the trouble.”
Noah nodded slowly, “Yeah.”  Helped his mother slide into the car and closed the door slowly.
“It’s just that if you don’t pay attention, you get lost tryin’ real hard to impress a lot of folks who ain’t impressed by nothin‘.  Nothin‘, not unless it happened to them.  Don’t worry yourself, don’t waste that precious time.”
The sky crackled.  A quick pale flash of extraterrestrial light chasing a crashing hum all along the borders of the cloud cover.
“Lord, I think it could rain just any minute, come a downpour.  Last thing we need. Better be getting home.”  Noah’s father pushed him a bit in a effort to speed him along.

No comments:

Post a Comment