Extract from - Blood Will Have Its Season
Extract from - Blood Will Have Its Season
Carl Lee & Cassilda
Scissors telling Mama the Truth . . . A white court house in a small white town; hard men in dark suits with cold ugly eyes behind unsightly horn-rimmed eyeglasses, and a host of questions . . . The bells of a church—a white church with a white cross—ringing . . . Then Inside Dr. Archer’s asylum; brutes in starched whites with cold ugly blue eyes, and bitchy, skinny-ass nurses with pills, and later, after the attack on fat, bouncy Nurse Barbara, needles. A lifetime commitment; Violent Ward, Room 1.
Shut away for eleven years in Dr. Archers’ asylum . . . AND—
Fourteen days in The Room (this last time). White room, glaring light overhead; false light, blinding light. Night and day the artificial white light blazed, unless he closed his eyes. Fourteen days, lying on the white floor, back to the white door. Beyond the white door, beyond the sterile white halls and the crowded wards, and Dr. Archer’s office, and the caretaker’s bungalow, the highway, and the desert with its good-for-nothing little towns of tattered no-names. The great painted desert; hungry lizards slashing across shimmering, shamanic sands; rebel cactus under siege; roadhouses; hombres; the survival games of bugs and scorpions and birds and mice and rattlesnakes; and the line in the sand, on the other side, winter in Mexico. Fourteen days under the glare of Dr. Archers’ cold dark eyes behind unsightly horn-rimmed eyeglasses. Fourteen days in doubt’s icy shadow, pressed by endless questions about the book, its Truth, and Mama: “Where did you first—When did you—Why did you—Were you—What do you remember about——Did you—Didn’t you—Did she—Do you have—Tell me about—” Fourteen days staring at Dr. Archer’s face of steel. Beneath it, curves and layers and blood, and white glistening bone. Fourteen days. Pills, and needles and questions—Fourteen days, consciousness blurred, tired. Bound in white restraints, the straps cutting. At times afraid, fumbling with guilt, weakening. Suffocating on the doctor’s pronouncements. DYING? Wanting. Wanting scissors, or a knife. Even a fork would do. Fourteen days, face to face with exhausting judgement; just to be free from Dr. Archer’s moving teeth and tongue, rattling with their incessant inquisition . . .
He wanted night. Night with black stars shining. Endless shimmering night, standing on a balcony with Cassilda. Sweet, radiant Cassilda, smiling. Her pale yellow gown fluttering in the midnight breeze.
I’ll never give up my Dream. Never betray, Cassilda.
He looks at Dr. Archer. Sees the Truth standing behind him, takes strength from it. Hears another question coming . . .
I’ve been poisoned before. Let them come.
“Give me fourteen more days if you like. But I will never give up my Dream.”
Cassilda, I have been faithful to you . . .
* * *
I am far saner than my captor—Doctor,
Thief! He took the book from me.
I spit on him!
I would bite and claw him.
Cut out His EYES.
Cut out His TONGUE. Pull out His TEETH.
Show him the Truth. See him blister in my gaze!
I would leave his flesh for the insects, his bones for the sun!
I would cast his empty philosophies in Truth’s black flame,
if only free . . .
There—on fire, I am a star—I devour the colors of space;
my hand holds the infinite . . .
Cassilda, I know the Truth. I have seen the Place Where the Black Stars Hang in my dreams. Have no fear, Sweet Princess, I’ll find you. I’ll find a way through this maze of lies. I’ll find the road to Carcosa.
A Spider In The Distance
They sat there quietly. Their feet in the warm, still water of the pool. The wandering wind did not enter the courtyard.
“What do you wish for?” she asked.
He was slow to turn, slow to move his gaze from the peace of her unmoving feet. “At this moment, nothing. Being here with you is enough.”
There had been another love and terror and the long despair, then he arrived and calmed her. She took his hand in hers. “I do love you.”
His eyes smiled in the soft playful light.
You, and being with you in this garden is treasure, he thought.
She did not want to send him, but it was not a question of wishes. There was only need.
She put her arms around him and laid her head on his shoulder. There would be the rest of this day and tonight. The distance would come with the sunrise . . .
* * *
Distant now are the points of friendship. Next to the stones a spider had come down. Far from home and the warm blue hands, in search of prey he came to the midnight pages. The waves bid goodbye to his boot prints.
The wind came to whisper details.
It was only a few miles to the corpse of the poet and The Mask. A few miles of stillness, dark and cold and waiting.
Spider stood in unwelcome midnight-nothing come down from the sky. He did not stand there in the loneliness long. No help would come. Ever hungry for words, wolves and hawks and teeth would come seeking slow ships. Spider hoped she was right about him being ready.
The path was sharp, but he had been to banquets on webs before.
Under the darkening stars Spider took out his compass and his map. He looked over the open field of stones and saw the undertow of the night winds, saw the sails of other seekers turned to rust. Twisted, dry wrecks of trees, bent snakes curled by the smiles and bane of winter’s giant rage littered the stark expanse. The wreckage was filled with the bleak echoes of crows and autumn.
“There is a gate by the mound. Try to get through quickly,” she said.
“I know how to be quiet, and deadly, if need be,” he said.
He moved her ring to the anointed finger and unslipped Razor. The day he met her, came into her peaceful courtyard, he placed the sword on the mantle. For ten months it laid quiet, the dust came and slept on it. It was clean and oiled now. His hand and arm no longer felt the strangeness of parting, the balance was restored. All the meadows Razor had painted thick with red sat on his straight shoulders.
The moon was a hungry goblin, its light ready to rend. Spider moved among the stones and broken trunks, Razor attuned to any inclination of hidden snake or poison. Shadows chilled in endless hours reached for flesh and bone.
The first mile passed and the black mouth of the second now lay behind him like a frozen lawn. He could see the mound in the distance. The stones thinned, short scrub grass and barren patches of sand eased his march to the threshold.
Spider circled the mound very slowly. Stopping only once in the jet shade of a felled trunk to survey the archway.
The silence and stillness was a great weight. Nothing here twitched, nothing of the sun left its letters here. No raven or demon or echo of the games of the abyss, no grim sentinel patrolling, nonetheless the shade of evil hued this—trap. All the accounts written of this place spoke of it in frightened whispers.
In the land of his birth, magic was poison and Spider hated it and hated the violence it had brought to the now devastated city of his birth. Demons and devils and flesh-eating carrion that walked by night, he’d faced each under fading stars and blinding mid-day sunfire and now standing before this gate wondered if his practiced steel could carry him through deviltry and home again.
The hole in the soil was ribbed, as if dug in steps, a foot or two in the hard earth pocked with stones then the next excavation. The hands that had dug here were not swift and the tunnel they burrowed was not straight. But it was large enough for a man to walk upright, most of the time.
Spider was sleepy and he could eat, breakfast was almost half a day back, but the hours that led to the road home were still before him. He would consume them and eat when he reached his ship. His burning torch fed his steps.
He stopped from time to time to listen and look for footprints or other signs. Only dim echoes of his own footsteps came to his ears. He moved on. The sour flavor of the air made it hard to breathe. He came to a place where the walls gave way to wider dark. He let his torch hunt the floor and the breadth of silence. No sun hurts this ground . . . Nothing, nothing . . . Empty.
Spider followed the wall, the blood in his arm powering his sword as it fathomed the bare air until he came upon another opening.
He entered and tapped his sword upon the wall, listening to the echo. The cavern was enormous. Spider stretched out his arm, extending the feeble light, and walked forward. This chamber of the underworld was empty and malignant. He felt the different hours that formed its emptiness.
This is all too quiet, he thought.
His torch replied with bones. Whole and in pieces, armor and leather beside them. A sword an arm’s length from a ripped leather bag much like his own.
One set of remains became two and there were brothers for the scraps fallen from the basket of life.
And She Walks Into The Room . . .
Freight train or bullet they’ll kill ya. A woman too. That body might look like paradise, legs right up to the penthouse and chest that could shut E. F. Hutton up, but in there somewhere is a dagger. And she’ll use it on you. Mask on or mask off, when the need hits that pretty little heart with the spring action brain you’re smoke—Ptooff! Don’t be fooled ‘cause she’s not wearing any clothes.
Perhaps she breezed outta a mentholated cloud in a gin-joint, walked to the bar and leaned right into your heart. She was decked out in red—right down to her toes, the same shade as her hair, or you first saw her under a corner streetlamp glowing with voodoo-moonlight in Hell’s Kitchen, raven tresses and black coat, either way your dignity took a powder and you jumped into the flame without blinking. Wrong move, Foolish. That playmate softness coming across the room right now is a cat woman, part villain, part black lizard, all angel face and full-on red death. And that smile under her sparkling Cabo-blue eyes is about to vanish. And you with it.
Maybe we should step back a bit? Take a long, second look at the room. Let’s slip back . . . Nice hotel. Long-stemmed Aprils in the peacock vase and fragrant candles and a bed you’re hoping to spent hours in. High balcony with a great view of the park. Remember walking arm in arm with her there last weekend? Her feet didn’t touch the ground and you were dizzy. Her eyes addictive and full of anytime, her lips were parted. And you? What about you? You were incapacitated. And two minutes from now if you don’t get yer ass out that door yer about to be permanently incapacitated. Shut in a brute black box and dropped in the zero for a night without end. My buddy, Otto, calls it The Big Dirt Nap. And he should know, he works a shovel over at Rest Haven. And he’s got a souvenir, some call it a scar, from his first hard glance at the pagan scenery in Aphrodisia.
Starting to get the picture? I hope so, ‘cause the clock is ticking. Relax. That’s a good sign. When it stops, that’s bad. Very bad. Got that? Good. Now to the really important stuff.
How you get out is the easy part—RUN!
How you got here is something you might want to examine before you commit suicide. I’m not pushing here, but Mr. Tick-Tock on the desk there lifespan is drawing to a close. So get to it. And get out.
* * *
“Word is your financials are stretched thinner than a forgotten wish.”
“So thin there’s nothing but dirty business between the two nickels I got.”
Erle, the sometimes pawnbroker, sometimes thief and pickpocket, sometimes loan shark, smiled. “I kinda bumped into a case of beauty and brains just out of the rain and she was in need of a match. Seems she knows someone who knows me and it winds up she has this job and wants to know if I know someone who might slide in an open door and grab a little something she left at a sick friend’s.”
“I’m guessin’ about half a beer went down and my name came up.”
“And you mentioned I drive a Ford and like Caddies?”
“Might have come up.”
“And the Looker with the brains said she knew a place where a man with the right hands could pick up a Caddie on the cheap.”
“B. I. N. G. O. I gave her your card.”
“And for this I owe you how much?”
“Not a dime. You’ve kept me in lamp-oil for a long time now and I’d hate to see you out of touch.”
“And the twist is?”
“Straight as Abbott’s delivery. The job will put you right, and you’ll keep my flame burnin’.”
“Sounds like a plan. Provided she purrs right.”
“I think you’ll be the one purrin’.”
And he was right. Right from the first look.
Some women got the looks and legs and rear carriage and that luminous twinkling in their eyes yer willing to steal to be able to afford, but they’re missing something. Maybe the walk. Maybe it’s the smile.
Most of the time it’s The IT!
Rene had IT in spades! And then some.
Twenty paces away and your knees are in an opium trance and you wouldn’t find room for This Week’s Harlow if she walked in with cash and roses.
No, one look—the first one, and you’ve been kissed by an angel. That stone wall you call a heart takes a flying leap, surrenders to yes and yer vacationing in a very pleasant county. Yer eyes are engaged to that long-stemmed kiss packed with curves and charm that just flashed in your mind.
Peacocks bow, orchids bloom on the pyramids, Then begins . . .
PITCH nothing . . .
Night, not dark—PITCH nothing . . . THIS room?/dimension?/Enchantment? was empty, or was it? He couldn’t decide—He wanted to—He did! But in its cold hand, in the stillness, THIS stillness, he was confused. He wanted to retreat from THIS substance-invisible, he didn’t want to be a victim in THIS unaccountable place. He didn’t want to crumple under the predatory coolness. He’d had enough of THIS Experience. More than plenty—
He looked up, hoping [Need! clinging to it] to see the ghost of a chance or seraphim or stars—Shouldn’t there be stars? There had been stars above in other places. He’d seen them, heard others mention them; he owned a book with their names in it. He’d looked through the lenspiece and seen them twinkle blue, and bright yellow, and red-orange, and white, pale far-away white.
It was this cold [CONFUSION] it was EXTREME and wearisome. and IT [the BLACK] gleamed? How could IT gleam? IT wasn’t a color, wasn’t a Thing . . . NOT a Form. IT didn’t—couldn’t!—have parts or guts or feelings [OR thoughts]. IT couldn’t strike you. But it had. How?
“Damn!” It was like IT had a language. and some child—perhaps angry with the world—had translated it. and it made sense somehow . . . IT was self-sustainingandendless. THIS unfillable darkness was deliberate.
Deliberate as Fate. “Another cold bastard.”
“I want out!” . . . “You hear me?” . . . “Now.” Not even a swiftly thinning echo for reply. Only—THIS riot of bleak decanted, existing before? and after? and outside? everything.
He reached out, with no elegance and certainly not tentatively. If he could just touch a wall, or stumble into an object, he could feel his way out. He had to do it soon, before his numb hands couldn’t feel anything at all. And that, he felt, was soon.
“Hello?” . . . “Hello?” “i seem to be lost.” . . . “Can someone help me?”
He wished he smoked, had a lighter or a match. He’d get out—He’d burn his way out, if there were anything in here to burn other than his exposed hands and face.
He started walking again. Directionless. One step &another. Left-right-left. Just to move. Moving was good, it was like whistling—People whistled in the dark. He knew that. [Don’t they?] You knew you were alive. He wanted to know he was alive—Had to know. Wasn’t there a stairway or a wall [some nook, or corner that could identified as having detail?] Or a door? Just one door, that’s all he wanted—Just one door. If there was a door, there was a path to change. and change was a way out.
OK, he’d experienced it. Done. Fine. That was that—EXIT stage. NOW.
Still moving —Faster!—Walking, soon to be running. Then FASTER still—Not up [that he could tell], and not down. Around? It didn’t seem he even turned—Not hot on the heels of his own heels; just moving . . . Or maybe he was running in place and couldn’t see it? He stopped. Reached down to touch—nothing . . . He stood on [nothing? It can’t be. It just can’t!]. He stretched, shivered, twirled around, looked up[no gray, no flicker] looked down [only more identical BLACK nothing]. Rapidly blinked his eyes several times, as if to clear or refocus them. Yelled. No change occurred. He was still cold, still blind. Still surrounded by THIS scheming PITCH nothing . . . and Its intentions.
Didn’t IT understand the effect it had on him?
Couldn’t IT feel his surging swell of alarm?
“OK.” “No more mysteries.” “Silence your barren litany and fade now.”
Why had he ventured into this secret? There was no money in it.
He closed his eyes to see if the BLACKness would lighten/CHANGE. nothing—PITCH nothing . . .
THIS emptiness was more than dark. IT was transcendent blank, the directionless abyss All disappeared in. He couldn’t argue with IT —couldn’t frighten IT —couldn’t shatter IT. Maybe IT was broken-hearted [closedinonitself]?
Copyright (c) 2008 by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. All rights reserved.