Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rub your fingers along the edges of the glass, wait for the tone to emerge, or if the edge is jagged, the blood. The difference is one of degree. Just the slightest nudge one way or another and the outcome changes completely. Of course, from where we are sitting -- in the bleachers, behind a load-bearing pole -- you can’t really tell the difference. I ask the people sitting immediately to the left and to the right of me and they paint a verbal picture someone else is soon supplementing with one drawn on an actual piece of paper. As near as I can tell, there are three distinct sections to this picture, but it’s the one in the center I concern myself with primarily, because it depicts the trappers making their way through terrain we no longer recognize as our own. Heavily forested and moist, with no pavement to bisect it, no electrical wires running cancerous riot above their heads. Just then, a collective shout rises from the far side of the arena and I crane my neck in an attempt to catch a glimpse of whatever is causing the commotion, but to no avail. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now. Especially after the woman showed up at my front door in a driving rain storm around four o’clock in the morning. She was babbling something about a hex but I couldn’t make out exactly what she was saying while the door was still closed, so I opened it. Big mistake! She ended up staying a year and a half and whenever we broached the subject of making the arrangement permanent and official by having certain documents drafted by someone who knew what he was doing and then submitting them at the courthouse, she always had an excuse as to why she couldn’t oblige me. I think maybe there was something to that notion of a hex after all. I mean, she never mentioned it again, never so much as spelled the word out in hushed undertones in my presence, but I always got the feeling that she was two or three different people at the same time locked up inside a single body. And she hadn’t always been that way. It was a relatively recent occurrence. One I had to find an explanation for if only because I felt, at that time anyway, that there must be an explanation for almost everything, much the same way there is an umbilicus left over somewhere on the body of everything that is born. It is just a natural byproduct of the process by which things turn from nothing into something before reverting back again to their initial state, much to the regret of nearly all of them. If she were to return to me today and promise to lead me by the hand to the domicile of whichever witch or shaman living on the outskirts of town (we had around 40, I think, at last count; take your pick) cast the hex on her in the first place, so as to let me in on their secrets, I suppose, and, by extension, her own, I’m not sure, but I think I would refuse. I mean, what would I stand to win in that situation? Material for an appendix to a book I have no intention of writing in the first place? Some questionable recipes going back a thousand years?             

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