Monday, 5 July 2010

The Midnight Preacher

Late October 1931

A chill autumn wind blows up the valley. A pair of scrawny crows caw in the deadwood. Dust bites in the eyes.

The San Antone overnighter grinds in at Dogtown.

A couple of minutes pass then the train pulls away. A red light and a blue light trail into the gloaming.

A solitary figure stands on the platform; nothing else remains.

The Reverend David Ignatius James stands stiff and sniffs the air.
He picks up his case.
It's battered and brown.
He pushes his flat-brimmed hat down.
It's battered and brown.
He pulls it down hard.
He makes to leave, then sees the stationmaster.
He's battered and brown.

The stationmaster clocks him. The stationmaster double-takes.

“Afternoon, Minister,” he says. The stationmaster tips his visor. The stationmaster walks on by.

The reverend stops. The reverend sets down his case. The reverend makes a half turn.

“God be with you, sir,” the reverend says. He says it slow. He bows his head.

The stationmaster stands, for a little while beguiled. He turns. He don’t see the man's eyes. He don't see the man's face.

“Ahh - and always with you,” the stationmaster mumbles, and gets on with his business, quite forgetting to check the man’s ticket.

The preacher picks up his case and stalks off the platform.

Crows take to the wing and wheel in the rancid sky.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Pushing that Rock

The tiger cubs grow. They reach double figures. They need space to run. They need space to be free. Jed works the back yard. The yard's on a hill. The yard runs up to the river bank. The river lies still. The river lies quiet. The river runs straight. The boys need their freedom.

The river awaits.

Back in the yard, Jed clears the scrub. Jed puts his back into it. Jed fears for the cubs. There's a rock. A boulder. The size of a truck. Jed hits that boulder. The boulder is stuck. The boulder obstructs. The boulder defies. Jed launches an assault. Jed surely tries.

The boulder defies.

The Chinaberry bows. It whips.

Jed pushes it the boulder. He pushes it up the hill. He gets near the top.

He busts a nut.
He busts a sweat.
He busts his back.
The rock rolls back.
It's a bust.

Jed puts his back to the rock.
He rolls it up.
It gets near the top.
It crests the rise.
Jed slips.
He slips his grip.
He slips his disc.
The rock rolls back.

The Chinaberry bows. It whips. It flays his grip.

Jed's skin is slick. Jed is bowed. He's cowed. He's bent. He's broken.

Jed puts his bent back to the rock.
He shoves.
The rock rolls.
It rolls up.
It crests the hill.
Jed slips.
Jed hits the deck.

(Note it: he's hurt. His body is broke. He's in the dirt. He's downhill from the rock.)

The rock rolls. It rolls back. It rolls back at Jed --
The axe blade whistles.
The axe blade bites.
It bites the dirt.
It grips.
It holds.
It chocks.
The rock stops.

The chinaberry bows. Tenrils whip. Sinews rip.

Jed looks up. He's prone. He's broken. Ray throws a shadow. Ray renders in silhouette. Ray stands over Jed.

Jed raises a weak smile. It's wan. Jed makes to speak -
- Ray says, "why must you fucking do this to yourself?"

Jed looks wounded. Jed looks broken. Jed looks bereft. Jed looks forsaken.

Jed says, "I'm doing this for you."  Ray stalks back to the house.

Up in that chinaberry tree, Jesse looks down. His face is dark but his mouth is shut.

The chinaberry bows. The tendrils whip.