One Warm, Spring Afternoon...
Can anyone remember the sheer joy of walking home from school on a long, sunny afternoon? Scaring the cows away from the fence, making eyes at the girls walking home on the other side of the two lane country road from you, throwing rocks at each other to signal your affection?
I do. I knew every dog that needed tormenting, every yard to hurry past, because the mean old man would twist your ear from between the shrubbery if you didn't scarper.
The apples are just getting ripe, here, and over here, there be berries, succulent black busters, the size of a small egg, in great clusters, where drunken bees buzz somnolently.
On one such fine day, I was reveling in my youth, having no idea it was transient, and what awaited me in my future, and I was as free as any bird that squawked and ducked my rocks.
Ahhhh, the birds, and the bees. And the bugs. The high pitched whine of living, singing insects, calling out to each other, announcing themselves as food. Looking up at a phone line, pre-cable of course, and seeing a fat bird, with a shimmering corona of bug-wings protruding from either side of it's beak, wings as which twitched a bit, as whatever it was suffocated and died. Then, the gulping began, while the bird still watches you with malevolent, shining eyes, lest you chuck a rock.
It's got your number, boyo. And it would just as happily pluck at one of your eyes as you cooled there, on your back, in a field, but those are Winter Thoughts, and today is warm, and succulent, and vibrates with life.
The cries and calls of the other kids fade as each finds a home, or heads up a lane, and eventually, I am alone, with my thoughts, and my daydreams, and I scuff at rocks, and leap across the shadows of wires, put there I am sure to give me the pleasure of feeling my youthful muscles and sinews expand and contract as I skip, and leap to the far side of the ditch and back, and then the long, tree-shadowed lane to my home hoves into view, and my heart beats with pure joy as I step into the shadowed lane, because home beckons, down that far end, beyond the sheltering woods.
(To Be Continued...maybe)
As is my wont, on these, I cry fair warning. I declare the above and the following to be true, to the best of my recollection. Continue at your own risk. I have written a few pieces here that were fiction, and I believe they were obvious as such. 'Haunted Soldier' was true. Just for you know.
This tale will be covered up, soon enough, by the nonsense I usually post. You must then seek it out apurpose.
Do so at your own risk.
Yes, I must continue. The tale writes itself...
I spent much of the night awake, yestereve, and what sleep I did get was troubled, and sweaty.
Her breath, warm on my neck again, after all these years, the memory of it still excites me, and turns my bones to wet ash.
Opening this box is almost more than I can bear, and yet is must be done.
You still here? I can do this thing alone, you know. These words are sinking lower and lower, and soon they will slide under the gently roiling surface of the shifting sandy muck of the internet…
Your presence here is not required.
It is getting harder and harder to come back here. To hear someone refer to this as 'snippets' is nearly unbearable.
I let the wife read this last night, and she quizzed me, curiously. Then she, somewhat sardonically, thanked me for her future nightmares.
I had finished telling her the story, and I had gone far away, as had my eyes, and when I came back into the here and now, her face was some consternated. She had travelled with me, you see, and had not enjoyed the trip. No, not one itty bitty bit.
Shadows take on new meaning. Clicks on the upstairs window glass at night resound with darker import. A lovers breath, on your neck, from behind, chills, rather than warms.
I would bury this. You should. Turn away, now. Otherwise, you must either think me insane, or accept the complete understanding that everything you know, everything you thought you knew, is wrong.
You think I am, but I really am not playing, here.
This story made me believe in God.
And His counterpart.
My Faith, which I curse to this day, was born here...
So, we're back. Together, but not, because you and I are seeing through the eyes of a child. A child you can never be, and I can never be, again.
The little boy who lived down the lane. I knew every leaf. I was the snoopiest of snoops, and would sneak through yards, day and night, and peer through windows, and watch. Creepy, to be sure, but not. I merely consumed, breathed in the lives of others. Observed. With no intent to interact, if discovery threatened, I would flee like a sprite.
The houses had nearly all been built in the post-war housing boom of the fifties, as places for worn warriors of both battle, and industry, to retire. Some homes pre-dated that by a decade or so, but all were perfectly wonderful abodes, some full of families with children, some with an old couple, or a widow, or a widower.
The forest, and the thick underbrush, kept things quiet, and each home was an oasis in the middle of a fairy-tale forest.
My house was the last house on the right, and beyond was the forest, untamed, and the Feather River Canyon, and the Feather River, where once some prospector pulled out a gold nugget the size of a console color television. I roamed those woods at will, always armed, and lived like a wild indian. Or pirate. Or space explorer, depending on my whim.
I knew every leaf.
As I turned into the lane, a single path of gravel and dirt, where all the men cooperated by filling any chuckhole in front of their own place, I passed by the second house on the right, just as asphalt turned to scutter, and I saw that something had disturbed my forest.
A large branch, in the driveway that led up to the adobe looking home that had been empty for some time, had been ripped away, torn from the upper trunk, about ten feet or so from the ground, and the pale meat of the tree shown out starkly, and the branch itself lay tossed aside, under some shrubbery.
I conjectured that someone's moving van had taken a bit of damage, whilst backing in, and fresh tire marks on the cement driveway made the picture clear.
I was already being pulled up towards the house, you see, hoisted by my own curiousity, and we all know how well that goes, if you are a cat.
I had snooped on this house a time or two, and found it boring. I am still put off by that Spanish style adobe architecture, and this one was especially pretentious, with large windows in every wall, and skylights, and they had the temerity, did the owners, to put heavy drapes over each window, so that it was a real bitch to peep in. But, peep I had, and all I had been rewarded with was a view of dark, oily looking hardwood floors, and indistinct furniture items, covered with sheets, like some poor, retarded child at Halloween.
Today was different, though, I noted with some surprise as I approached. The curtains had all been thrown wide open, and the afternoon sunlight, striking golden and strong through multiple glassed entrances, lit up the inside of the house like a magic lantern.
I walked up to the main, front window, just off of the driveway, and stood agog at what I saw there in the living room...
I'd grown up in libraries, and had learned to read almost as soon as my eyes could focus.
In the olden times, libraries were places where they stored actual books, great old things, where the knowledge of Man was reposited, not sanctuaries for cheap novels and CD's and Gay Studies to hide in, before the inevitable library fund raising sale, to make room for more new pantheons of pap.
I had pored over tome after tome, since earliest childhood, to the approving gaze of true scholars, who were there to devour knowledge as well, so, as I gazed into the living room window, that blazing afternoon, I damn well knew a ziggurat when I saw one.
Well, that was my first impression, anyway. It wasn't tiered at all, in fact, it was a perfect cube, as near as I could tell, made of stone. Or ivory. Or bone. Or pressed wood. Or...
The bas relief carvings on it moved, there under the afternoon sun, ever so slightly, and told stories, and danced, and wove spells, and worked magics, and I heard singing, great choirs, as if coming from different parts of the compass, and blending...
My brain numbed, I listened, as I had no choice. I was riveted, there, as I gazed upon this pale cube, some six foot at every dimension, covered in ancient scripts and carvings of people, and animals, and monstrous things, and I heard an undercurrent of voices, as if a crowd, talking, murmuring, muttering, sometimes laughing, and the occasional scream.
And I heard singing. Great choirs, individual arias, dirges, praise, and then I became aware that I was being watched. From inside the cube. The ziggurat...
A man slept, yet was aware, but the bright, curious mind of a woman touched mine, and held me still, and moved through me, and knew me...
Have you ever been licked, by a lover, on your most private places? Someone you trusted enough that, yes, you can go ahead and put your fingers in there, if you wish it, because it must be right, if you wish it...
And then I woke, because my body could no longer stand, frozen as it was, and the sun I had gone somewhere else with, up high, was now nearly down, mere bright fingers thrusting through the lower foliage, and I, roused from my stupor in an agony of settled blood and pins and needles, turned and ran for my home as if on wings.
As if pursued by Hell...