Rufous Knicks, rampant in blue serge suit and hairs-cut, stepped down the wobbly back shell of Forever Corner like a king descending to court. That or another like sentence would mark well to begin this history in old days whereof I have understood some, having lived for petty times in that epoch. I do not possess any old days books, but have had opportunity to peruse precisely two at cabinet of Mme. Pi and on one occasion had extinct pleasure to listen Super My Love read the first chapter of a leafy tome encased in papery sleeving, color pale green, entitled Lol. In which I comprehend was a lacrosstick of some nature in which I cannot decipher. A lacrosstick occurs when letters stand around for longer words in which the writer does not wish to unveil for private reasons.
The reading of the old days book Lol was a magic. It is different to hear words in the head of you than bespoke by another. O man I have found. I retain no or less memories in which I was young, in which without doubt my mother or some person would have read at high voice from old days books, once I have been told in which were plenty abundant.
I return to Rufous Knicks putting the feet forward and again forward in back of Forever Corner until he had reached the door to the fence at the limit of the garden. I find tiresome to describe every action of Rufous Knicks when I already know where he is going and when and many details concerning his destination. Nor would it be just as interesting to arrive properly without malingering on the travel? Then. I will omit from here to there.
Rufous Knicks entered the building through blown-apart front. Had arrived by straightforward route. Rufous was not the kind to take laborious mappy when the straight line could be put in place end over end in which you can finish by arrival. Inside the building birds bunched on attic rubble at the far end waiting for something. These birds did have bad blood in them, or appeared. But Rufous unslung his rifle and made as if to shoot at them, but the birds did not wow or flutter, but continued to wait only for the something. Black eyes followed Rufous as he forwarded through the main hall and up the stony staircase, mightily damaged but not fallen, into the upstairs room where Madame Salamander Pi held her cabinet on most mornings and some of the afternoons.
Madame Salamander Pi was a gross person. In this way she demonstrated her superior skill-set in the department of living, and was awed by others who had no comparables towards acquiring sustenance and in which consequence were meager in size. Certain, Rufous was twangy in which comparison to Mme. Pi. But he had a compensating vigor but an excellent aim with respect to his rifling but a speed and range of motion but was difficult to tackle. Had he the knowledge of keeping things for long times no one doubts whereby he would on the other hand challenge Mme. Pi for the charge in which she held.
He had no complaint or intent to challenge in mind today’s morning, but Madame Salamander Pi could never know this advanced of the moment, and so her aides dispatched themselves to greet Rufous Knicks before he could attain the threshold of her cabinet. These were two name of Sham and Polish but, in no which gross, still you could say largely in frames.
“What is your business with Madame Salamander Pi?” asked Sham.
“I wish to ask her advice on a project of mutual beneficence,” said Rufous Knicks.
He struggled in the grasp of meaty claws but not too much.
“I do not understand these words,” said Polish, or Sham.
“I have a desire to confer with Mme. Pi. It is a matter she will understand but I do not think that you will, judging from the lack in which you have lately demonstrated ensuing from my prior words.”
“We will have to ask Mme. Pi, or the patron, as we call her, if she wants to conference with you,” said Sham, or Polish.
Rufous Knicks indicated that he understood this act as a necessary, and would wait in the grip of only Sham or Polish while Polish or Sham performed a liaison with Mme. Pi.
While Polish or Sham was gone Sham or Polish said to Rufous “I hope you do not understand our actions to be a counter-temps. It is a duty that we must convey as part of our boss.”
“I confess a petty perturbation, in which is not your fault, and do not blame you,” said Rufous. “My argument is with the order of things. As much with the crows and this exploded wreck as with any person.”
“What you say to me is not meant for me, in which it is okay for me to hear, but your talk is one-sided and does not require a response,” said Polish. Or Sham. “Here is Sham or Polish, come from Mme. Pi, the patron, with informations.”
Sham or Polish rejoined his colleague and said to Rufous Knicks, “Mme. Pi has interest in listening to you, Rufous Knicks, if it is not a trouble to come with us to her cabinet.”
“It is not a trouble,” said Rufous Knicks. “Let’s go.”
I need not add that I have only imaginaried the talk between Rufous, Sham, and Polish, as I was not present and did not have afterwards a chance in which to unpack the exact wording of the exchange from Rufous, as he lay dying.
I will now indicate the camber of time by use of an eclipse.
Rufous though mortal of wounds made strong effort to retrieve his corpse to backyard of Forever Corner, at which one saw each other as I marched my circle of deliverance the daily pain. I found him slouched against the wall at step bottom.
“What has passed?” I asked Rufous, who though smeary with blood and shallow respired, had no look of great trouble on his visage.
“Your head,” joked Rufous.
“I mean in really,” I said.
“There was disaccord between me and Salamander Pi,” he said after a while and with some difficulty.
“Of what nature?”
“Of a nature in which she had a mistake of my intent, in which I finished on the wrong side.”
“Well obvious,” I said.
“I have a secret I would like to tell you, now that I am dying,” said Rufous Knicks.
“Tell me your secret, Rufous,” I said.
He made a clan of eye and motioned by which I should come closer.
“A knowing hole of great significance has been opened. I think that Salamander Pi has recognition of this hole, and will take steps to control the results. You must fill your lack, in which you have no fault, to the best delay. Salamander Pi cannot take consequence of the fruits of the secret.”
“I wonder myself that I have in no sense understood your import,” I said.
“I will ask a small favor of you.”
“It does not matter what.”
Rufous Knicks smiled in which his teeth were not seen. He spit on the ground and there followed either a laugh or a cough or a laugh in which became a cough.
“You have ever been a good friend,” he said. “Truth, I crawled back here and waited in hope of your arrival. I had a luck.”
It was a trouble to put my attention in the direction of Rufous Knicks’ purpose, because I was rapt by the seeing of cracked skin around his sharp knuckles. The skin itself looked a separate organ to the underlying bone and filament, undulant independent of hand movement, as if possessed of intelligence its own.
Having essayed some further paroles, Rufous Knicks ceased to inspire. In agreement with his ask, I did not attend to dispose of his corpse but passed to the voluntary in which he had given to me instructions very specific.
I will now indicate the camber of time by use of an eclipse.
What was I born for? thought Thomas, sitting at his desk, copying the last few lines of his work. What was anybody born for?
The sun had long since floated past the lid of his window, over the gray slate roof, and begun to set. He could see its rubescent face reflected in the windows from the building across the street, where for all he knew there was an exact duplicate of himself, doing the same thing, but with perhaps a better understanding of the basic questions.
Thomas absent-mindedly scratched his cheek with the tip of his pen. When he realized what he was doing, he took the index finger of his right hand and rubbed the spot where he had scratched, hoping to erase the inky blotch he was sure must be there. He did not bother to check.
Put the pen down, shuffled the papers on the desk before him. More than twenty, covered with tiny, neat handwriting on both sides. Examined the last lines he had written:
That you cannot know the terror in a word. That it will not be the worst you fear. That you bring to the last the first sign. That you choose what to disappear.
“That you choose what to disappear.” The last four lines: these were the most important, the ones Caeli had insisted he take down word-for-word, with exactly that punctuation, exactly those rhythms. Apparently the words were a magic. It was not clear what sort of a magic, nor for what purpose, when everything had become so useless. But Caeli had insisted that he not leave Paris without finishing the manuscript, which he now stacked and straightened and slipped inside a clear plastic folder with an elastic fastener. He took the folder, stacked it with other folders, similarly transparent but tinted different colors—gold, green, blue—and slipped the stack in his briefcase.
Rising from the desk he walked over the Persian carpet towards the coat rack and removed his tan raincoat.
There was a knock at the door. Soft but insistent.
Thomas looked through the peep-hole. Furrowed his brow, unfastened the lock and opened the door.
“What are you doing here?” he asked the small, stout, balding, round-faced man who stood before him.
“Sorry to bother you,” said the man, in heavily-accented French. “But we can’t let you leave.”
“What? Don’t be ridiculous. ”
“I’m serious.” To demonstrate his intent, the man produced a snub-nosed revolver from under his coat.
“All right, all right. Put that thing away, Charles, you look ridiculous. Do you even know how to use it?”
Thomas stood aside and gestured Charles into the room.
The Ecuadorean poet Charles Panic walked in and sat down in the chair by the window where Caeli usually sat. He looked at the gun in his hand as if suddenly seeing it for the first time. Slipped it into the pocket of his raincoat.
“No. I don’t know how to use it. But they insisted.”
“I thought you weren’t with them anymore.”
“I’m not. I mean, I wasn’t. They knew that we’re friends, and they thought I could persuade you to stay. So they forced me, in the way that I’m supposed to force you now.”
Thomas slumped down in the chair at his writing table without taking off his overcoat.
“Charles, I have to go. Caeli’s waiting for me.”
“Pater noster, qui est in caelis…”
“Will you come with me?”
Thomas scoffed. “Obviously not.”
“You should know that it’s not just me. There are five more downstairs. All armed. All much bigger than me.”
“But can any of them write, Charles? Do any have talent?”
Charles was silent for a moment.
“No. The Collective no longer believes in talent as a mark of distinction. They prize strength over subtlety. They’ve become moralists, Thomas. It’s really quite sad.”
“I told you it would turn out that way.”
“You have to belong to something.”
“The idea of community is a dangerous fiction.”
Charles took out a handkerchief from the inside pocket of his jacket and mopped his brow.
“I’m sure that’s an impressively original thought, Thomas, but we don’t have time for this.”
“You’re right. We don’t. I have to be Auvers-sur-Oise in two hours, and you have to fuck off back to the catacombs to die.”
“I told you. It’s not just me.”
“And I heard you. Good-bye, Charles.”
Thomas went to the window, opened wide the white wood panes, and fluttered down the street below. I learned more than one thing from Caeli, he thought.
He looked back up at his open window, through which Charles Panic was staring, wide-eyed, down at the street. He knew that Charles could not see him, but he was unused to invisible mode, and instinctively ducked for shelter under the awning of the Halle des Chaussures. Across the street, at the entrance to his building, Thomas noticed four or five heavy-set men in long black overcoats.
He jammed his hands in his pockets and walked down the street towards his car, murmuring to himself, careful not to attract attention. “I am the boy. Who can enjoy. Invisibility.”
Charles turned away from the window.
“I wish things were different,” said Charles. He shrugged his shoulders, and his jowls quivered.
“I’m not sure that’s true,” said Thomas. He sighed and stood up. Smoothed the folds in his tan raincoat. “Anyway, let’s go.”
Under the skin. Under the sweet, sticky skin. You pull back epidermal layer to reveal a mess of wires, pulsing with blue and red light. Snip the proper one, machine stops dead, like a car on the highway at night, tangerine tusks probing the dark. What exactly are we looking for here? Some evidence of organic matter, something unrecyclable, something we can dump on the heap of bad experiments.
We’re looking for bones. The string of solid words that connects the body to the entrance of hell, which is a floating target, easier to miss than hit. You said the neoplasm would be easy to spot, easy to cut, but if you come across bones, run like the devil wants to run when confronted with evidence of war crimes. Here’s the problem, as I see it: the devil never runs. He looks on war crimes with pride, puffs himself three sizes bigger, and brags to the roof. He’s proud of what he’s done in your name, and if you’re not proud of him, then you’re not you. You are not your name.
Dead man have no tails, the captain shouts to the crew, hauling the rigging down the mizzen-mast in preparation for the storm. He thinks we’re monkeys whispers Cheaply Stint, his arms and legs stuck in the ropes. He thinks we’re beastly beasts from beastville. I’m not having none of that. Stint drops his head and hangs, staring with dull eyes at the great blue dishrag of ocean, bumping and grinding against our hull. We pitch. We yaw. And down below the operation goes ahead by candlelight. In the distance you can hear a helicopter’s chop, and the screams of drowning firemen. The wire must be cut. The neoplasm located and removed.
You point out that we can’t have it both ways: if the growth extrudes from bony places, we will, no doubt, see bones. And we dare not run. The hope, explains the doctor, is that the knives are dull from overuse, and will not slice the fragile sentence.
You don’t believe in ghosts. You hold my hand in both of yours, and tell me everything will be all right. The universal urge to comfort the dying: great weaknesses can be disguised as sentiment. Pain contradicts by sparking panic in the windows. Clattering hooves on deck, near the captain’s cabin. How many horsemen? you ask the doctor. How many horsemen do you want? he mutters, concentrating all his will on steadying the hand that holds the blunt-edged blade.
In this way do we birth a paragraph. By septic operation under worst of weather, in abysmal surgeries. A filthy thing, unfit to live. But living. Inconsolable. Without means or meaning, bawling to the starless sky, a jellied lump with no weight, empty, scared, defenseless. In this way the words start climbing to their death.
Collage: Invisible Train to Earth by R. Pollard
- It's a long climb up the rock face at the wrong time to the right place
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