Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Real Revelation, This Time for Real

How fun to imagine there were a secret level to my descriptions. As if, by changing the names and locations, I might decieve you and put you off your guard, all the while circling your ramparts with Sancho in tow, perhaps disguised as a fishwife, mystic, or several sparrows and a damsel fly. Who, then, the cthonic monstrositiy I describe as my local nemesis (of whom I should tell you more to aid your bibliochase in the undertombs of your clan's halls)? Who then, his sniveling familiar?
This speculation enmerries the humid, sweltering midday in which Pancho and I can do little but listen to the torpid deluge assaulting the walls of our tent and absent-mindedly lay bones on the moist earth under our feet, wiling away these hallucinatory hours until the cool psuedo-respite of dusk, when we emerge to carry out our reconnaissance. It is during this half-life that we collapse our tent and crouch in the brush to await the perambulations of the object of our interest.
Often, as Sancho searches the mist and shadows, I scribe my stolen missives to you under the shelter of my cloak. I ferret these documents away in close, double-sown patches of calf-skin such as are used in making wineskins. It is there I hold them until I find a merchant or tradesman on a northward journey, and I give him a coin to keep it safe and--here's the rub--dry. I use a simple mud-coal ink, and any more water than necessary would blotch the letters and make their decipherment more difficult than it already is. I suspect these dear patch-pockets never make it you. They are a novelty and not inexpensive. I promise them to the carrier, so long as he doesn't remove it until the weather breaks where he goes. Well, that's a plausible explanation anyway. And I'd have to be clever to invent it if destiny hadn't paraded it in my field of vision.

On the subject of speculation in general. I find it takes up more and more of my time as the oscillation of our coversation between the apogees we represent speeds up exponentially. I speculate more than I live it seems, and I have passed the event horizon of your psychic world which inverted the polarities of "real" and "imagined". But then, horizons are relative, and there is always another to be crossed over.

I will come to the subject of our surveillance in a moment, but first I turn to another phantom. Have I told you about my mother? She came to me last night, as if to remind me that, while she had been present in my thoughts often, she had only rarely been present in my words. I should rectify that lack, of course: a mother's reproach is a hard thing to bear, as you know.
My own mother, though, is a far league from yours, I think. I hesitate to mention the comparison that leaps immediately to mind of our two mothers, so different. I fear, of course, that it will reawaken that reproach I have suffered these many weeks, on account of a certain inappropriate congress between your mother and myself.
Still, I must answer my ghost in its time, and perhaps answer to you in another.
So on to the subject of my mother. I remember most of all her smell--common, I know, since smell is that most historical of the senses. She never cooked, and so it is not the smell of some comforting cuisine that comes to mind. Instead of the kitchen, she spent most of her days in a languid humor in her even more languorous boudoir while my father was away on some errand or another for our lord. In this sensuous study, my mother would engage friends of both sexes with little concern for decorum. She was of a character so beyond reproach that she was able to entertain men in her private quarters, and I never nothed a word of slander from the lips of the servants--something no lesser woman could have accomplished. I would often sit outside the door of this salon and read books, waiting for those blessed moments when the door would open, and in a fragrant bloom my mother and some acquaintance would emerge, she in some shift, and he in riding gear, or perhaps it was a handmaid in a stitched bodice. The stranger would depart, and for a few minutes, I would sit with my mother in the humid air of her boudoir and breathe that strange scent that was both alive and dead--both sparkling, and somehow hollow and dusty--which I attributed to a conglomeration of the perfumes in the many half-full bottles that sat on the vanity. That smell is the one that haunts me when I think of the beautiful face of my mother, forever suspended in the peak of her youth (in my imagination). There, in that boudoir, in that mixed aroma, she remains always possessed of a flushed beauty that seemed without cause, and always just beyond description.

On to the origin, Odvallo. Sancho saw him on our latest bivouac, and we were able to come within a short distance of the path of his revolution and remain unseen. I heard him expounding, as if dictating some theory for transcription, though only the ears and lips of his assistant recorded any of it. To my own gathering devices, nothing was intelligible; it sounded dark and slippery, as if he was philosophizing in some alien submarinal tongue from the bottom of the sea where no light penetrates. His milky eye gleamed uncannily in the new moonlight.

Suddenly our information gathering was at an end. I thought I saw his apostle hold for a moment as they passed in front of us and sniff the air as if he were a hound on a trail. I caught my breath in my throat, and stifled a gasp as the cold hand of fear gripped my heart. Fortunately, after an interminable moment expired, the fiend appeared to dismiss whatever sensation had overcome him, and hurried to catch up with his lord who had continued unabated and unaware ahead of him. If this servant is as observant as his master is oblivious, it is a good service the latter garners from the former, and one he needs dearly.
Tomorrow, we should be careful to remain downwind, and to steel ourseveles in order that we should be able to continue our observations in the lunar shadow of fear cast by this trailing apparation and guardian figure. This gatekeeper may present the more significant challenge of the two. Though I still suspect that larger, more imposing creature to be mixed up in daemonic alchemy, and such arts are never stable, and so never without their danger.
Don Quixote De La Mancha


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