Monday, June 20, 2016

Chapter 14, Bad Novel

“Not everything,” I told her, “but nearly everything. The hill offers no comfort, and certainly no advice. It speaks, but in a language no one understands, and no one has heard before.”

“As well,” said the hill, “I speak in a language constantly changing, evolving, so that no one, at no time, will ever understand me.”

“Then how can you report what the hill just said,” she asked.

“Ah, because that was an eon ago, when the hill spoke, and I only just now learned that language…. But what the hill is saying now, I have no idea.”

“I want to embrace the hill, to take it into my arms, to have my fingers grow like roots into the hill. I want to be anchored here like an oak in a giant landscape, so that no storm, no wind can move me.”

“That would be possible,” said the hill. “But do you really want to stay? This is a dead place, a place scorched by the angry God.”

“I have known that God, and worshipped him,” she said. “And he has given me deaths—fifty deaths. One of them my own child. Yes, I will spend my time on this hill, until I too die. The birds of carrion, how I love them!”

“They are all that fly here!”

“The piranhas, the fish of carrion, how I dote upon them!”

“They are all that swim here!”

“The murderers, the men of carrion. How I reverence them!”

“Yes,” said the hill. “All these, the beautiful faces of destruction. The hill, seared of all life, bids them welcome. Here, their emptiness can grow and grow. Their hate can rise, expand, fill the sky. Their murderous rage is fanned by the flame of solitude and anger. Lovely is it to see, and the angels of the god of anger rejoice.”

“They do. They sing a song of cacophony, a song that stirs the blood in my veins, warms me, and soothes me at the same time. How pleasant to my ears, that wail of anguish! How I dote in it! I want nothing pleasant, now, now that my son is dead. No, I want the hill, since my son is dead. I go with him, here on his last journey, and I rejoice in the bird of carrion. That is all that is left. That is what we have.”

“They are beautiful….”

“They are necessary, and it is necessary that I see them; I welcome them, they who will eat the flesh of my son.”

“They are lovely…..”

“They are welcome, since what need does he have, now, of his flesh? And I love them, as I must, since is not my son in them? Now, he too is the bird of carrion. The vulture. The crow. Beautiful, beautiful birds, with their fetid breath and their night-dark wings!”

“They are comely….”

“They are wise, since who has not tasted wisdom who has tasted flesh? And beautiful, as my son was beautiful, as he danced into the night of death. Yes, he danced into death, so beautiful was he. And now, he awaits them. I await them. The birds must come, must they not?”

“They are regal….”

“Regal, yes, the vultures, the crows, as they rip the skin from the bones of my son! Regal, as they circle above, celebrating the death dance before they dive. Yes, death’s maidens, the vultures who dance! The crows, whose caws are the trumpets of death! Whose plumage is the color of death, and whose eyes are the diamonds of death!”

“They are holy…..”

“Holy, yes, they are holy. See, they begin now, their sacred and holy spiral of the dance of death. I hold him in my arms, my son—a pieta here on this hill of death, and I offer him, as a mother, to the dancers of death.”

“They are sacred….”

“Sacred, yes, they are sacred. As how could they not be, since the angry god, who has blessed the hill with his curses, has given birth to these birds of death. I am here as a mother, and as a goddess offering her son to the birds. I must see. I must see the flesh torn from him; I must hear the ripping of the skin, the beaks crashing against bones. I must look into the eyes of death, and call them beautiful.”

“They are radiant….”

“Radiant, yes, they are radiant. As he was radiant, radiant as he danced into death. Radiant, now, as we wait for them, the dancers of death. The celebrants of death. First it will be his eyes, his lovely eyes that they will pluck. Those eyes that first gazed at me, on the day of his birth. Those eyes that cried after every toddler spill. Those eyes that looked upon his lover, that first night of their love, and could imagine no other eyes, no other face, no other body. Yes, first shall be the eyes that the dancers of death will tear out!”

“Lovely will that be….”

“Lovely, yes, lovely will it be. And then, his guts. The dancers of death—those vultures, those crows—will dance into his guts. The guts that nourished him, made him strong, made him alive. I nourished him, fed him, changed him from a baby to boy to man. Into his guts they will dance, the blood spilling out, the bile splashing onto the rocks of the hill. I will hold him, my son, as the vultures devour his guts!”

“Noble will that be….”

“Noble, yes, noble will it be. And then, his liver, his blood-rich liver. They will seize on it, fight for it, wrest it from his body, and attack it with their beaks. They will grow blood mad, liver rich. I shall hold them, as they tear the liver from his body. I shall rejoice, as they jockey and claw, so drunken are they on liver. The liver of my son. The dancers of death.”

“Glorious will that be….”

“Glorious, yes, glorious will it be. And last, his heart. His heart, which I first heard deep in my own womb! Whose beat was stirred by another god. And now, the god of death has stilled the beat, has muffled the drum, and has sent the dancers of death to claim his heart. The heart of my son. He danced into death, and now death is taking him, claiming him. I rejoice, I celebrate, I who will stay always on this hill.”

“You will not, you know. No one can stay on this hill forever. The day will dawn when you will be moving, the rocks clutching and stabbing at you feet. The day will come when you can no longer see the bones of your son, whitening in the ardent sun. The day will come when the songs of the singers of the dancers of death no long ring in your ears. Then you will go.”

“Even a mother may not stay?”


She cast a single tear on the body of her son, and then the dancers descended.