out of the ashes

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vieni Sul Mar

I don't know what that means, but I'm listening to it on iTunes at Classic FM. It's so lovely:)

But...I'm finally back to Terence and Teresa in Purgatory. Another couple thousand words and it's ready to go...after final revisions.

Teresa has met a young girl who has enchanted her. After several delightful days of meeting, Teresa becomes pre-occupied; stand-offish to Terence. She announces one morning that she must go back into the city, and that he must promise not to follow. He makes that promise, but follows anyway. Teresa meets one final time with the little girl, and then enters through a doorway into a deeper region of the kingdom; an unpleasant place, which entrance is guarded by a cowled man. Terence is shattered.
An excerpt.

March 21

Dear Diary,

I spent much of the day searching for a way to get past the gatekeeper. A hidden door or a boarded-over window; a coal chute, a chink in the masonry someplace, but I found no other entrance. Why would I not be allowed to enter the doorway at the front of the building? Why did that creature block some and not others? Well, me at least?

I put the problem of entrance aside after several hours of searching in vain and made my way past the bookstore, down along the avenue in search of the street called Limbo. Mile after mile I walked, hoping to stumble upon it or at the very least see children. Again my efforts proved fruitless. It is as though everything important to me has vanished—the little girl more so because I am certain she must know what Teresa did in another lifetime that made her walk through that cursed opening.

Thus, I made my way back toward my starting point in great despair and confusion. I passed the bookstore, and after a short distance retraced my steps and entered for some reason. A dog on its way home will stop often enough for no apparent reason other than something catching its eye or nose. And so I confess, Diary, at that moment I felt little better than a common cur.

Inside a dozen or more lovers of the written word milled about browsing the titles in the racks, chatting as though there was no sanctity in a house of books. I approached the proprietor and asked him if the woman garbed in the robes of a nun had been in today. He replied that there were no nuns in Purgatory. Only priests—and many of them.

“The popes get to congregate in Hell.”

“Thank you,” I replied. “I know that firsthand. And Bishops. But didn’t you see her a day or two ago sitting over there reading a book the size of the Pentagon?”

“The what?”

“Never mind,” I said. “A very large book is all.”

“I saw no nuns…nor priests for that matter, lately. But if you’re referring to a big book, perhaps it’s “The Very Best Recipes For War From Alexander the Great to George W. Bush. Lots of stuff in that one.”

“No, I don’t think that would have been it. She mentioned the title, but I’ve forgotten it,” I think is what I replied, Diary.

“There was no nun. Hasn’t been one…”

“Yes, yes, I know. Well, thank you anyway.” I turned to leave, having no desire to read the account of the rape of the Sabine women or any other “recipe”.

“Wait!” His voice halted all the chatter momentarily. “There is another, although it hasn’t left the shelf in ages. Written by some unknown author from nowhere around these parts. Good, or Glob…something like that. You’re welcome to pull it down and take a gander. If you like it I’ll let it go for half…no, three-quarters of the cover price.”

I told him he was too kind in offering me such a steal, but that I’d like to see it first. I think I know why he was sent here. He was probably a thief. Definitely not corporate…they’re all in Hell. He removed himself from behind the counter and rushed to the rear of the store, returning in a moment with the book. Yes, its cover looked the same. Maybe inside it lay the clue concerning the children and the way into Teresa’s chamber of horrors. The non-existent nun seemed to have indicated as much when we spoke.

“Sorry. Written by some guy named God,” he said with an out-of-breath huff.

“You’re serious,” I had to respond.

“Yes. Right here,” he said plopping it onto the corner of an un-occupied table and then pointing at the byline. “G-O-D.”

“You don’t know who God is?”

“Not precisely. Just some long-winded writer, judging from the length of this thing.”

Hell is an insane asylum, but Purgatory isn’t far behind, Diary. I asked him how much he wanted for the book that I’d need a truck to lug back to the camp outside the city. He eyed me, and seeing as I was naked, he frowned.

“Thirty pieces of silver. Not a coin less.”

Curious price.

I don’t know why I wound up here in Purgatory…well, yes I do. That was my choice. I think. Our choice. At any rate, at least I’d heard of God. Is this place and the people inhabiting it located in another part of the universe? Another universe altogether? Somewhere that God hasn’t visited and screwed up yet? The shop owner knew of popes, but where did they come from in his un-God world?

Who cares? I dickered with him and got the price reduced to fifteen silver pieces.

“Fair enough. Now, put the money on the table and then you can drag this thing out of here and read it until Hell freezes over.”

“I doubt that will happen anytime soon, and as you can see I’ve obviously forgotten my wallet.”

“Then you can forget the book and get your naked ass out of my store…whoever you are.”

As I had no Teresa, no little girl, no nun, and no clothes, I decided on another tactic to get my hands on the book.

I left.

I hung around a few doors down the street, noting for the first time that I was the only soul without clothes on. It’s no wonder the people here cast sidelong glances at me whenever they pass by.

I returned to the bookstore some length of time later and glanced in the front window. More customers had gathered. I could hear their chattering even through the glass. Fortune smiled at me. The book lay resting exactly where the owner had placed it hours ago. I opened the door, stuck my head in, and screamed “FIRE!”

Odd though they might be, the citizens here are no different than they were back on planet Earth. Hysteria erupted in the face of one highly-charged word. There was an instant of shock followed by a mass stampede…the owner leading the way. I stepped in, and when the bulk of bodies had passed by, leapt onto the book and followed them out. I gallivanted down the street, surprised that God’s book seemed so light in my hands.

When I’d gotten safely away—now a thief myself who might qualify for entry into the darkened door behind which my Teresa lay—I scanned the title. “The Secret”. At first I turned up my nose. I’d read a book by that title when I was alive and had ten times thirty pieces of silver in my wallet, inside my trouser pocket stitched onto the pants I always wore in public. That book didn’t impress me, although its author had another name.

I went home, sat down after starting a fire, and began to read.

Now, only past the acknowledgments, table of contents, copyright page, and introduction, I weary. It might be that I’m beginning a James Michener version of the Book of Numbers. I don’t know, Diary. I’ll dig in again tomorrow to see.

Goodnight my friend

Ps. Will any who might happen upon you in the future see my words as…wearisome? I hope not.

(c) 2012 Patrick Sean Lee

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