Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bridge Keeper

The sun is setting in Paradise. As night comes, he might spend an hour out there, standing on the old cement bridge, without seeing a single pair of headlights cut through the darkness on the distant road.
The Bohemian, with a red tie, he has a tattoo on his right hand, three dark-blue dots in a line near the wrist.
His countenance is reserved and thoughtful, dark hair, dark eyes, a face so finely proportioned that it could almost be feminine.

The equinox has brought with it Northern storms that leave the spangled skies hard, cold, and bright after their passing. Broad leafed and lush, dark ferns grow up the face of the arroyo like a living carpet at his feet.
Behind him, a decaying fortress, packed with dark-clad figures, clings to the edge of a precipice. In the darkness and silence of the night there are hidden forces at work.

Weather-stains scar the old bridge with shadows that seem to spill away from him as I approach. He rolls his lovely full eyes, flashing them at me for a moment.
A certain haggardness is perched upon him. It looks like he might have been up for five days straight.
I try to see the world as he does, participate in his innermost thoughts, ascend a doorless staircase, cross the entrance to his spirit. His mind is free of fearfulness; an aberration grown from mere eccentricity into an immutable attribute.

"I don't see why they should have sent you down,” he says at length, breaking the spell.
"Modestia is a beautiful virtue.” I reply.
His respondent laughter is soft, cool as a shaded pool. I notice the good rich smell of his breath.
"What did you see today?" I ask.
"All I can see, I see at once, and every moment I see," he responds.
There is an edge to his tone. Restrained as he is, to an extraordinary and painful degree, the belief of his heart is in force and in pain.
He calls himself a puppet who can see the strings, but he is much more than that, The Lord and Knight of the Dark Void.
Men gave him this name in view of his claim to honor; for shining in darkness and in the shadow of death, for fighting, slashing, and dealing swift ruin in red combat.

To comfort his heart, I pass him a bottle of rum. Wafting across the improbable reddish purple night sky is an old song from the ancient garden of dreams.
We look to the fortress. The sight of the revelers appears to interest him.
Their faces stand out strangely in the lights and shadows of the tower, black-clad automatons basking in the cigarette glow of their own impossible glamour, conspirators convinced that their plot will succeed.

Frolicking in little notes, the music now quickens into rich tones and swells before bursting and toppling into silence, diminishing as if it never were.
His livid lips do not move, his eyes gaze unblinking, the bottle resting untouched in his hand. Distant stars gleam quietly over the lush oak forest undergrowth, frozen in stillness.
The most important music lessons feature no music at all.
Without a word, he returns the bottle uncorked and resumes his study of the distant road, absent of light.

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