Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dali's Egg ~ 10. Pivot

S.A.D. ~ Jacek Yerka

Sunrise filled the clearing with dappled light, reapplying the heat to the corrugated iron of the water tank, causing it to creak and click in protest.
Kali watched from his perch on the water tank, feeling the magpie’s core jittering scorn on the people below. Kali hated the magpie. Kali had a lot of hate issues, not least the fact that he was a magpie, or rather, the fact that he inhabited this magpie’s body.
Kali watched and wondered what was brewing in the minds of the villagers. Things had been quiet for a long time now; previous to the judiciary’s recent actions, nothing had happened to stir the status quo since Jackson and that woman had walked the chain with the two dummies in their wake.
Something was brewing now for sure; two dead and a lost eye – Kali’s magpie core could feel the change like an itch.
He watched intently with black eyes, and anticipated a hopeful release from the confines of the magpie’s body, or failing that, from the tedium of the daily routine.
Below, Dr Morose emerged from his shack looking, as usual, fresh and clean. He spotted John propped against one of the wooden legs of the water tank and headed towards him. John watched the magpie flap sketchily away from the tank and scribble away toward the mountain, he felt rather than saw Morose approach on his new blind side, wishing he could just be left alone – all this feigned civility was starting to wear a little thin.
“You should take it easy for a few days – you’ve been out for a week. I don’t know what you did but you sure pissed the Judiciary off,” said Morose crouching beside John. “They’ve been checking up on us every day, making sure everyone’s doing their duties.” He placed a hand on his patient’s forehead and examined his raw and empty eye socket, “I left a patch for you back in your hut, it’ll keep stuff from getting in there and relieve the rest of us from having to look at the hole in your stupid head.”
“Leave me alone.” Said John flatly, scratching his grey beard.
“Leave you alone?” said Morose, his voice rising in agitation, “I’ll leave you alone, but just you reflect on this: we haven’t seen Adam in a week, probably hanging from a tree somewhere, all because of you. You guys are all the same, can’t leave the stones unturned, always gotta fuck with the status quo.” Morose spat at John’s feet and stormed off in the direction of the babbling river, muttering. John rose unsteadily and made his way toward his shack.
Inside he picked up the black eye-patch that hung from the corner of his bed and slipped it over his head, positioning it gingerly over his empty eye socket. Saki met him at the entrance as he was leaving.
“Don’t take his words to heart John; underneath he’s a good man.” John could see the sadness in her eyes and was untouched, “Besides,” she continued, “Adam is fine, he sneaks in every night to sleep in the empty hut on the end. I leave some food there for him.”
“A good man” John’s tone was bitter, “If he was a good man he would not be working for Grissom and her fucking animals.”
The reflection of the sun-drenched clearing flashed red in her eyes as sadness was replaced by anger.
“Your blindness extends beyond your sight, Eric Morose is a good man; he stands between us and Grissom, he negotiates for us, he speaks for us – if it wasn’t for him she’d give us nothing. Don’t you dare speak against him, you who has been nothing but trouble since you got here.” She turned on her heel and left the shack, raising a cloud of red dust at her ankles.
John sat down on the bed, which was still rank from his days recovering, he ran his fingers through his matted hair and once again scratched at the growth on his face – it crackled like static. He sat for long minutes, his mind grinding over the events of his existence; Martha’s face floated up from somewhere deep within his spine, the grief in her face caused tears to sting his surviving eye. Shoulders hunched, his sorrow rose to shake his body and expel staccato grunts from his throat.
Eventually regaining control of his mind he wiped his face with his tee shirt, blinking and sniffing, he stood and faced the brightness of the clearing – his head hurt.
He stamped his foot in petulant frustration causing the bells to tinkle.
Fucking bells, he thought, I’ve got to find Adam. He stepped out and made his way down the shade cast by the row of shacks, navigating with only one eye was disorientating and he had to fight off the dizziness.

The bells tinkled at his ankle. John kept tripping over exposed roots, unable to adjust to the loss of half his vision. He racked his mind for a way to silence the bells. He’d tried everything he could think of – wet beach sand, mud from the riverbank, leaves – nothing worked – the tiny bells seemed to be made of a substance so infinitely frictionless that anything used to plug them up just fell straight out.
The only thing that kept him working on the problem was the knowledge that there was a solution. If Adam had figured it out then so could he.
John wondered why people allow themselves to be dictated to; to have their lives planned for them by others – parents; teachers; employers and governments.
The enforcement of power with the use of violence is certainly a contributing factor to population control, but what defines the minimum requirement for people not to revolt? What line has to be crossed in order that the rumbling discontentment becomes full-blown uprising?
John wondered what part of him could not accept this, in many ways, idyllic life; wondered what events in his past life had formed this hard little core of discontentment that would not allow him to take the intentions of others on face value.
He wondered what inability to accept authority had driven his former life, since it was now obvious that this island existed was somewhere beyond death; some waiting room perhaps; some random arrangement of possibilities; some trinket on god’s charm bracelet; or just another place for people to exhibit their faults and prejudices?
He thought about how the others handled the situation; realising that perhaps many of the others had similar problems. Shangaan certainly seemed to have an awareness that what went before was important; even Morose was suppressing his desire to be elsewhere, placating it with the spoils of his elevated position within the hierarchy and with delusions of his own importance.
He watched as they toiled at the nets, the gulls circling frenetic. People absorbed in their duties; he almost wished that he too could be that comfortable with his lot.
He realised that it is unreasonable to expect people to live up to his personal expectations, and that if he wanted things to change he was going to have to do it himself - he was going to have to go to the top.
Somewhere in the back of his mind the facts began to form a solution. He stood and walked down the dune, a gust of wind rattled grains of sand off the leather of his eye patch. Shangaan greeted him with a nod as he approached while Fleck ignored him completely, feigning concentration as they plucked the gulls from the net.
“Need a hand?”
Neither replied but did not object when John joined in their labour, the pile of still warm bodies that constituted the village’s daily meal grew larger in the basket. They worked in silence, lost in their own thoughts, or in Fleck’s case, John suspected, no thoughts at all.
At a moment when a particularly large wave crashed against the shore causing them to turn their eyes toward the sea, John slipped a dead gull as unobtrusively as possible into his pocket.
Fleck gathered up the nets and Shangaan and John followed him up the beach and onto the path carrying the heavy basket of seagulls between them.
“I remembered something the other day,” John broke the silence when Fleck was far enough ahead not to overhear, “A woman’s name.”
“I remember names, and sometimes I remember faces, faces not from here,” Shangaan touched one of the raw cuts on his shoulder then licked the drop of blood that was transferred to his finger, “It is the pain that does it.”
“So what do you think then? Is the new woman right? Are we dead?”
“Dead is as good an explanation as any I guess.” Shangaan looked away, “I prefer to think that we are displaced – somewhere else – the other side.” He stopped talking as they entered the village.
While dropping the gulls off in the kitchen where Saki and June had prepared the grill fires for the meal, John managed to steal a knife and a small glass bottle used to hold cooking oil. He made his way across the clearing and back down the path toward the beach and leaving the path, he entered the forest on the right.
The lagoon was sheltered from the sea breeze, making it hot and still and close and John moved far enough around its shore that he could no longer smell Geoff’s decaying carcass where it hung from the fly-buzzing tree. He crouched at the water’s edge and rinsed the oil bottle in the warm green water, then placing it upright in the sand he removed the gull from his pocket and slit its throat, trying to get as much of the thick red-black blood into the bottle as possible. He tossed the remains of the gull into the undergrowth and rinsed the knife in the water causing a swirling red cloud like a negative image of cream in coffee.
John gave a satisfied grunt as the ankle bell shrivelled into a tight ball, seeming to forget its form and function as the drop of the seagull blood fell into its mouth. He proceeded to silence every bell before standing and walking up and down a few times experimentally – the bells did not make a sound; they felt soft and furry against his ankles.
“So you finally figured it out then,” John was unsurprised to hear Adam’s voice from the forest behind him, “It’s all part of what Dr Moron calls ‘Infoamnesia’. You gotta be careful though; it wears off after a few hours,” John turned to find the boy crouched in the undergrowth, his shirt ripped, his face grubby and serious, “And watch out for water; the blood hates the water.”
“Are you okay? They didn’t punish you did they?” Adam read the concern in John’s question as genuine and warmed to the old man.
“No, I’m fine, just pissed off with the way they do things.” He said, nodding his head in the direction of the village while trying not to stare at John’s eye patch.
“You coming with me then?” John asked.
“Where to?”
John pointed to the mountaintop around which clouds swirled in a blue/white echo of the blood in the water.


Yodood said...

When long passages seem too short, there's magic. More, more.

Anonymous said...

"What line has to be crossed in order that the rumbling discontentment bcomes full-blown uprising?" Indeed...

Pisces Iscariot said...

Yodood: more? more? You wishes shall be answered.

Subby: we haven't crossed that line yet...

Anonymous said...

Ah...but we are ever getting closer...

James Higham said...

we haven’t seen Adam in a week, probably hanging from a tree somewhere, all because of you

Or impaled on a stake.