Were you the one …
… were you the one who awoke that morning at my side and heard with me the hammer blow fall on an echoing anvil in Oaxaca, in the central square when the rope slipped off the church bell and the priest and an altar boy, an acolyte dressed in black and white with a nut brown face, climbed into the church tower and when the priest said “now” the little boy struck the hammer against the bell’s anvil and “again” said the priest, and “again” and the cracked church bell lurched into its hourly cry of grief and morning, seven blows on the anvil, and a stray dog barked at those domestic birds whose beaks dug deep for the sun at dawn on our neighbor’s rooftop …and a cockerel cried out in the early morning, “cock-a-doodle doo, wake up you sleepy heads, wake up, do,” and the roosters found daylight buried in parched earth, and brought it skyward shining on their beaks, as thin cracks sprang out from the egg-shell sun like crazy paving as the yellow yolk of sunshine crept out from the cobbles down in the street and the Russian egg cup, doll after doll, unfolded daylight as the hammer’s silver spoon descended once more on this frail, egg shell world as our dreams shattered … and where now are those dreams of moonlight raked from a village pond as the orange spilled its life-blood to fill our crystalline goblets with its thick rich morning liquid as fierce and sweet as sunshine sacrificed on a branch and rain from a far-off cloud speckled the tree outside our window with radiance and a thousand rainbows all held in tiny diamonds that balanced and swayed at the branch’s edge then trickled and fell to form freckling pools between the cobblestones and even there the arco iris was multiplied, again and again, a thousand times … and the restaurant next door, with its semi-circular rainbow scarf and below it a painted deer on a decrepit wall, and Cuauthemoc was here, his burnt feet held to the fire that burns within us all, and that mangled man was nothing more than a string quartet of flesh and bone created from a ball of dough and baked in the oven in an earthenware dish with currants for eyes, a raisin for a belly button, lemon rind for a mouth, orange peel for hair, while the white bones stared stark naked from the burnt-out flesh at the end of his perished feet … and the man in the mirrored moon held up his hand to trap the wind as a falling leaf settled in the secret web between index finger and thumb and the cat’s cradle on his fingers bound us together like birds in a spun metal cage … the sparrow’s mighty choir chirped at the roof of the circus tent and animals ran wild all goosey, goosey gander, up and down, and nowhere can I now find my lady or her chamber, for they have gone, and with them went all hope, and hope being lost I ran in circles on the sand, my one foot dragging me inwards, and drawing me closer, ever closer to the rising tide, as night overwhelmed day, and dark soldiers invaded the shadowed beach, and where, oh where, did my little dog go, the dog I lost when he chased a seagull out into the bay and into the quicksand and he never came home and here I am alone in my loneliness wandering like a lost dog in ever-decreasing circles, round and round the central square, without you now, one step, two steps, and who will now tickle me under the chin with a buttercup, and who knows if I’ll ever eat butter again, as the tide climbs higher and the sea grass on the dunes is smooth and brown and cuts like glass with its withered, distorting mirrors of stark, staring eyes standing out in welcoming doorways with dark hands and even darker voices calling me in, again and again “are you looking for love, my love?” and yes, I am, I do seek love, I have always sought it, but I have sought it out in the open street, in the open square, in the fresh air, or indoors, where incense and candles burn, and the sun of god is nailed to his lump of wood or chained to his pillar and the Roman soldiers raise their whips to their lips and their kiss is the kiss of death, and I still search for love and my long lost dog as black eyes penetrate from the blackest paint where Satanic witches spoon salt soup between wrinkled lips, dark open holes for their mouths, and their eyes gouged pits in slatted, wooden faces, and they hover over the deaf man’s table in La Quinta del Sordo or stand shoulder to shoulder with Adam and Eve next door in Hieronymus Bosch’s bourgeois hell of furnace, flame, and factory, where the hot flesh catches fire as the feet are turned to the flame and Cuauthemoc burns, the whole world burns, and my soul catches fire as factories swarm with sparks of black imps, burning, dropping from the skies like fire-flies tumbling in a satanic dance, falling away from the heavenly meadow, lighting a way to the skies and the devil, too, is lost and bewildered, a Guy Fawkes impaled on his wooden stake at the bonfire’s tip and it’s November the Fifth, and the whole world is full of spinning star-sparks burning their Van Gogh holes through the black velvet fabric of the dark night of my still-suffering soul …
This is a re-write of what I posted earlier today. It is the same piece but it is slightly shorter, more polished, and better focused. It also now has a clearer narrative line with less jumping between metaphors and a cleaner, clearer sequence.
4 thoughts on “Were you the one … Flash Fiction”
Roger, from a novel? This is very different fiction and breaks new ground. That is all that is needed to ‘catch on’ and attract attention. I look forward to it.
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Thanks, John. It is a novel written in interior monologue aka stream of consciousness, all 350 pages of it. One chapter was a finalist in the CBC short story (2010 — that’s how old it is) but it didn’t get very far in the world of Real-Politik-Publishing.
Roger. You got me. I couldn’t stop reading this as I never came across a period to cause me to stop. This was almost what you did to me with ‘bullfight’. Enjoyed it though. It reads like Dylan Thomas but without his strings of alliterations to drag us in and bind us.
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Thanks, John. Both pieces are extracts from Reason’s Dream, my third novel, written in stream of consciousness. It’s a massive 350 pages but does need some tidying up!