Wednesday
Oct102012

from UNLUCKY LUCKY TALES

Daniel Grandbois


 

Exodus

The animals had gathered under the tower and stood facing the wall. Scattered about on the clay were a great number of bones.

"Don't worry about that," said the leader. "It doesn't matter."

A snakebit horse lay dead with its shapeless head stretched in the mud.

"Charlie!" cried an ass who'd known him.

Water stood in pools just out of reach. Heat came off it, as well as an unnatural sound that gave them the fidgets.

Looking at them, he fired both barrels of a shotgun and woke with a start. He was unable to move or, indeed, to do anything but gape at the weird faces of these animals he'd dreamt of.

"Pay no attention to anything this lunatic says," said the leader.

Straining every bone in his body, he was able to reach his nose and scratch it, thinking, "Damn you, you idiot!"

The road that day meandered around low hills. They took turns carrying him on their backs. At dusk, they stopped and lay in the grass. Eventually, he was able to sit up and so appeared to be riding them. They went through sunlight and high grass and, late one afternoon, brought him out on the escarpment that rimmed the known world.

 

Four

We know only four. It should be simple. We have put up tall wire fences but they spring over them like gazelles. Walking out in the morning we find the ground pitted with hollows.

Do it again. Spoil it again. Erase whatever doesn't seem right to you. Things went on pretty much like that.

Was chance responsible for our becoming so intimately involved with each other?

We were interrupted. The buzzer rang. A series of incidents followed that kept us from resuming.

Another country, other cities, other roads, the same country, the same cities, the same roads. What an astonishing thought! We know only four. We have a certain loyalty to each other. How awful this felt.

We were sitting inside now. On the table stood a lamp made from an old gun. It is not a fiction. This description would conjure up the same room inhabited by someone else. The characteristic of the room is its emptiness. Poor room. The voices ring out in the emptiness.

It is always the ancient word that wants to be here again, an utterance that must be repeated before it is heard, a traceless murmur, flat as a piece of cardboard.

"Oh, shut up!"

A phone call comes. We quiet down.

Notes are taken: "…the liver and heart, the breast, the skin…"

Erase whatever doesn't seem right to you.

In the case of the four, it is certainly true that the larger and older the living thing is, the harder it is to know how to care for it. Or to keep it at a distance.

 

Three

Now we have moved into the upper rooms of the house and stand at the window watching. They would group together in a corner of the graveyard and moan in the high wind, and then scatter in all directions, running low, their bellies hanging. There were feces everywhere.

We waited in vain for visitors, hunger gnawing at our stomachs, our maimed dogs shying away from us. Three of us left, and we can't sleep but lightly, can't think but with confusion. You see how circumstances are to blame.

I don't want things to be prolonged. So long as there exists a relationship between us that allows me to address you, I would like you to come. Merge with this black we call the sky, which keeps growing thinner.

The second of us is she. She had to sit night after night in the damp cellar. She did little else but read the Bible and glue the bones of chimpanzees together, forgetting even the names of old friends.

The third plans to get a large boat. He is preparing for his journey. He sees great numbers of pelicans, he says. Whole islands white with them. He sees prodigious quantities of eagles, too. Then there are swarms of mosquitoes, and he can't even talk without having a mouthful of them.

What can I do for you? How can I make the moment easier for you?

There is a rumor that the slow fire consuming the world burns only to bring to light the living plan. Surely, our little thoughts are less so for you.

At last, sparrows could not fly, but swerved and dropped to mark your arrival. The heat ebbed out of pink stones. Cats flipped over and over in the hallways, and we drank in the sound, like men coming out of the desert.

 

Sky

The atmosphere—hazy, dry, home to minute particles suspended by currents. Ash masses splinter and fall after hardening, while far below larynxes open to receive them and pronounce, "Nor may he ever take what is outside and bring it inside." It lasts for a period of moments only; nature tears up her manuscripts. What was initially seen as a generous sky with churches built to honor it and to precipitate the arrival of persons, now leads neither away from things nor to the spirit. It is like a fish flopping on the sand.

The whole body adjusts to its new surroundings, bears forth fibrous tissue that would seem to be a way out of ambiguity. Days are short, night falls fast, there is no time for comedy. Elaborate sleep performances are conducted, sacrifices made to cleanse the sky. The result: wind blows skin from birds, which are then collected off the ground and held to the mouth during prayer.

In burlap bags, the skinless birds along with women's manure form the walls of the heaven container. If it won't come to us, we will go to it. Riding the escaping gasses, our thoughts are one long, lurching, giraffe neck, reaching the sky, but it must first leave one place before occupying another.