Cult of Subtextuality

cult

I have a friend —

What? Yes, I’m antisocial to a fault, but there are an intrepid few who won’t take “No, we’re not friends” for an answer and so I allow them a temporary parking pass in designated areas within the friend zone. Now, may I continue with my post, please? Thank you.

Anyhoo, I have a friend — quiet, you! — who’s in a cult. She doesn’t see it as a cult, doesn’t acknowledge it as a cult, and hates when I bring the group’s cultish ways to her attention.

She was recruited into it by a coworker via a book club. While I’m deeply concerned for her, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do to help. Any concerns I express about the club and her involvement with it are dismissed as naïve and misinformed, and are taken as evidence of my pessimistic outlook on life, which is a flaw my friend thinks her cult can help me fix.

Nothing I say will change her mind. She has been properly programmed to resist and/or deflect any criticism of the book cabal. Her conversation has become unbearable, as most of what she now speaks about centers around how brilliant and compassionate the book group and the coworker who runs it are, and how much I could benefit from joining.

What follows is my first conversation with Linda after she joined the not-a-cult-book-club. These aren’t actual spoken words, mind, but the words behind the words. Or at least my interpretation of them, bearing in mind that I’m pretty much shit at deciphering subtext.

You should further note that the interaction may be laced with doses of sarcasm not present in the original conversation. I am forever the unreliable narrator.

Me: Hey, Lin.

Linda: Hi, Rhy. You know what? You’re amazing.

Me: Okay, that’s a bit random but I have to admit I felt validated when you called me amazing.

Linda: I feel your validation and I’m warmed in the soothing heat of your positive karma.

Me: Uh, karmic warmth makes me feel a little uneasy.

Linda: I feel your apprehension and I’m suddenly angry.

Me: Your anger is just a reaction towards my judgmental standpoint on your new age mumbo-jumbo.

Linda: Congratulations, now I’m angrier by your ignorant labeling of my new doctrine and guiding philosophy. I bought a cool new prism for only $150 because it blinds the souls of unbelievers so that they will walk into doors and we can laugh at their misfortune. We, my group that I refuse to acknowledge as a cult and I, believe the night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time…

Me: Curious about this cult. Is it exclusionary? If so, do I fit into the negative stereotyping of the masses or would I be permitted to join such a worthy cause for a small fee to the great one?

Linda: Your first-born. And, I almost forgot, they’re entitled to 51% of your soul. It’s a pretty good deal when they throw in the Apple shares as well.

Me: Hmm… sounds good enough. But I still have a nagging question. Will joining this cult fill me with a false sense of superiority to the non-believers or will I be conditioned to happily go about my business which will soon become proselytizing to others?

Linda: Look. Stop with the questions, just go and kill your family. It’s for the best, okay?

Me: Unanswered questions and hostile commands to boot! Wow, you guys really are legit. Alright, before I sign up, let’s say I slaughtered my family, whose only crime was being related to a man with a lunatic for a friend, what then? How do I advance to the next level of cultiness?

Linda: Give us your first born, and tattoo your whole body. And if you do a good job on the family killing front, my superiors would be impressed. They like feeble-minded allegiance to any pretension of authority.

Me: Tattoo? Tattoo? Hold on a second. No one ever said anything about tattoos. That’s it, I want out. I’ve had enough of your “tattoo your body to show your inferiority to the high sacred master overlord” gobbledygook.

Linda: That’s it. You’re cut. No everlasting peace and tranquility and blissful happiness, bounding through the fields of heaven. You can just sit outside St. Peters gates forever, disbeliever.

Me: Cool beans. I’m done with your pseudo-utopic hallucinogenic-induced dream. I don’t need your deranged, fragmented view of paradise. I have television to fill that gaping whole in my immortal soul. Just wait until I blog about this on the Huffington Post!

Linda: Huff Post? What an excellently composed news authority. It’s insight and credibility never fail to expand my perspective on the intricate workings of our world. Truly a fine journalistic institution. My mind just turns to a viscous jelly-like substance when I look at their headlines and a conspicuous pool of frothy drool begins to accumulate at the sides of my mouth when I have the long-anticipated opportunity to peruse their pages.

Me: Sweet mother of all that is sacred! What have they done to you? Can’t you see that the cult has been warping your mind to the point where you’d be happy endorsing nearly anything? Well, with the exception of Francois Hollande.

Linda: Francois Hollande, don’t get me started. A fine politician. A beacon of our times. Socialism is what we need. We need strong leadership, for a strong future. Damned immigrants.  We need a common sense revolution,  oh wait… Silvio Berlusconi, don’t get me started. A fine politician, a beacon our times…

Me: Oh no! they’ve taken you. You’re too far gone. Just know as I grab this pillow and press it firmly against the sleeping face of our friendship that this is for the best.

Linda: Don’t forget to break out of the institution by throwing large objects into steel re-enforced windows. It will make the dramatic effect of your selfless act even more poignant and meaningful.

Me: Damn. I forgot to stare longingly at the flock of birds earlier on. I hope that this will still be considered effective cinematography since there’s been no foreshadowing.

Linda: Milos Forman would not be impressed by your lack of effective symbolic imagery.

Me: Ah-hah! So that’s who’s behind this cult. I knew you’d slip up sooner or later.

Linda: He’s not alone. You have no idea how far it goes. You’re trifling with powers that you can’t possibly comprehend.

Me: Not Paula and Carole!

Linda: They’re minor pawns. Their Magic Garden sinister talents are well applied to young children, teaching them to be inherently distrustful of hand puppets who live in trees, as well as chortling  flower beds in general. They were more of a test project, a prototype, a foreshadowing of things to come. much like the Terminator who came back in T2 but as a good Terminator—well, sort of at least—you know what, screw Paula and Carole, they’ll just get evil and kill us all.

Me: How could they? They were trusted by all, loved by many, stalked by a few. How can I go on with my life now that I know The Story Box was a sham? I even sent money to PBS, for goodness sake.

Linda: Public Broadcasting, don’t get me started. Fine family viewing. We’ll return to our program, but first, why not give? Become a monthly donor. For your contribution you’ll receive a worthless gift and the illusion of supporting the arts and educational programming. It’s all informative, no commercials to warp your mind…

Me: Damn cult. Glad I never joined in the first place.

Linda: Or, so you think. Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha.

Me: I never signed a contract or made a blood transaction of any sort.

Linda: You’re not supposed to remember.

Me: Ugh, this is tiresome. I’m going to bed.

Linda: Goodnight. Don’t forget: the night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time…

Me: Amazing. my ass.

I take that back. I think I nailed the underlying meaning of that conversation.

Sally forth and be patiently-awaiting-a-signal-that-the-brainwashing-is-starting-to-wear-offingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

PS. Don’t join cults. You’re intelligent, I realize this, but consider it a PSA in case you happen to stumble upon this post on a low-gamma day when the world has seemingly left you no other options than to sign up with a small group that has religious veneration and devotion regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous. Unless, of course, you wish to join The Everlasting Dream Church of Rhyan, for my words are magical and my genius must be preserved! Besides, I’m sick of eating ramen and chili, so step into the warmth of my positive karma and PayPal-tithe me a dollar towards some healthier eating.

*Cue Sarah McLachlan song*

Remember, the Rhyan you save may be your own.

Advertisements

Vacancies, Vacancies Everywhere, Yet None of Them For Me

no-vacancies

My secret selves have been wandering my memory palace of late, searching for an empty room in which to steal a bit of solitude for I sometimes need to swaddle my internal dialogue in silence when even the quietest place on earth can offer me no rest.

You might have surmised correctly that I’ve been met with very little success.

Oh, there are rooms aplenty in which I enjoy the occasional lounge about, each filled with bric-à-brac I’ve accumulated along the way. Items or concepts or vagueries that may or may not find their way into a story, plot germs that piqued my interest for one reason or another, displayed neatly on shelves beside those things kept precious, but each of these pieces of me give off unique vibrations that assault my mind’s ear like anamnestic tinnitus.

A few of my unused characters who can afford the steep rent have made the suggestions that I either choose my favorite among them to room with, or take turns bunking with each for short periods as not to overstay my welcome.

But that really isn’t my style. I like the idea of knowing where characters are so that I might visit them and engage in brief social interactions when I’m in the mood, and leave them to their own devices when I’ve had my fill. And although I am quite capable of being alone in a crowded room, I cannot find solitude with people around, even ones I have breathed life into.

My irritation at not being able to claim residence within a place that I have been constructing since childhood is beginning to infect other areas of my life. My current location annoys me. My inability to write annoys me. The presence of other people annoys me. The sameness of the day annoys me. Even my annoyance at everything annoys me.

And so Wednesday comes round and I am attempting to build a new foundation for the memory palace extension on the lone and level sands of ground down ideas, in a new territory where the old housing rules may not apply. Eventually, when my hoarder nature reveals itself and this section of the palace becomes filled with miscellanea most likely better left forgotten…

I’ll repeat the process. Search for my own patch of solitude. Light a candle and still curse the darkness. Build another room. And fill it with possessions that squeeze me to the point of eviction.

But until then, sally forth and be buying me a nice room-warming giftingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

I Am A Sentient Black Hole. Ask Me Anything.

Feeling a bit under the weather today, so instead of either skipping a week or tossing up some filler nonsense, I’ve decided to invite a guest blogger, who happens to be a character in one of my science fiction novellas.

Sally forth and be kind to my guest bloggeringly writeful.

— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Sentient Black Hole

My name is Ganymedorah and I’m a sentient black hole keen to debunk stereotypes. Ask me anything.

The title says it all. In my recent travels throughout the universe, I found that many people know little to nothing about what it’s like to be me. Let’s change that!

saganosity How’d you come to be?

Ganymedorah Wow, a birds and bees question straight out of the gate. Okay, let’s see how to put this. Do you know what happens when two gigantic patches of darkness get so close to one another that they fall into each other? Well, sometimes, if they love each other very much, they take a honeymoon trip together. I am a result of a wild, crazy and uninhibited weekend.

SarahMcL If you had a pet, what kind would you choose and what would you name it?

Ganymedorah If I could own a pet, I’d probably choose an inverted supernova. I’d love to watch the little guy bury the bones of a dead solar system in the yard! And I’d name him Champagne, of course.

nkwyringmeyenz What fact still blows you away even though you’ve known about it forever?

Ganymedorah The universe is filled with empty calories. Seriously. I can eat and eat an incomprehensible amount of matter at an absurd speed and never put on a pound. Well, almost never. Sometimes I manage to put on a little water weight.

syfy4lyf Star Trek or Star Wars?

Ganymedorah Star Trek, original series. Nobody beats Shatner’s Kirk. Nobody. Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga should be sent to Rura Penthe for they way they killed the character off.

winstigator Do you think you could beat Centaurus A in a knife fight?

Ganymedorah Centaurus A is so full of shit, pardon my French, puffing up his chest and boasting that he’s a “giant galaxy.” If he ever looked at me sideways, I’d whup his superluminous central supermassive black hole butt without breaking a sweat.

fullostars What are your thoughts on Brian Cox, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku?

Ganymedorah Imagine that theoretical pub debate! If only I could find a place at the edge of the universe that pulled a proper pint. Time to whip out the old Hitchhiker’s Guide, methinks!

knows.e.parkour Tell us something you’ve never told anyone.

Ganymedorah I pick up broadcast signals all the time. Reality television is my guilty pleasure and I’m absolutely addicted to 90 Day Fiancé. Kirlyam is so friggin’ cute!

K-FitzMat Do you believe is ancient aliens?

Ganymedorah Believe in them? I still see them (there’s a whole weird bendable time thing that runs around and through me). I am totes timey wimey. Oh, and before you ask, yes, dinosaurs existed and no, they didn’t ride on the ark.

othrwhtmeet Do you like bacon?

Ganymedorah Duh, who doesn’t? Next question.

icanhazeuropa Is there life elsewhere in our solar system, particularly Mars, given the variable quantities of methane in its atmosphere that could suggest bacterial activity beneath the surface?

Ganymedorah Aw, man… y’all are really making me regret spilling the beans on the whole ancient aliens thing. Why would you want me to ruin that surprise for you? Wouldn’t it be better to discover it on your own?

xs10shal What never fails to blow your mind about humans?

Ganymedorah 1) That people always choose to pursue things that are the absolute worst for their emotional and physical well being.

2) That even the most vile among you are sometimes capable of acts of kindness so incredible as to make my gaseous heart feel as if it’s about to burst.

3) The Captain & Tennille divorce. I mean, who saw that coming?

tinfoilhat Conspiracy theorist here. Is there a secret society of black holes?

Ganymedorah If I told you, I’d have to drop you into a gravity well.

trebek2dafutr If you appeared on the game show Jeopardy, how do you think you would do?

Ganymedorah Depends on the categories. I’ve got Space, Science and Potent Potables on lock. Do the kids still say that? But I’d suck — sorry, black hole humor — at Pop-Music, Sports and Math. I would definitely make the first few rounds, especially if I hit a Daily Double but ultimately would lose the Final Jeopardy question. Wheel of Fortune? That’s an entirely different matter.

statnislndmedim What are your feelings on the afterlife, and are you scared to die?

Ganymedorah Without any hint of braggadocio, I, by my very nature, am too much of a good thing,to worry about my decomposition and demise. Too much mass, and too much gravity pushed together and collapsed into a single point with infinite density. In-fi-nite. I love the sound of that. Now, if I’m meant to die, I will not go gently into that good night, trust me. As for what awaits me on the other side, who knows? But I love a good mystery, me.

dollylamas Will our minds ever be able to truly comprehend our worth in the vastness of the universe?

Ganymedorah As long as you continue to ponder it. If I could impress one thing on people, it would it be to stare into the unknown and unknowable without fear and full of questions.

constellationkate Last night, a 900-foot asteroid was due to streak extremely close to Earth, but it just disappeared, leaving astronomers baffled. Do you know anything about that?

Ganymedorah Yup, and you’re welcome.

Burp.

Oops, pardon me.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

First Saturdays

Hi, my name is Rhyan and I’m a movie addict.

And an insomniac.

Native New Yorker, born in Manhattan, raised in The Bronx, and because I inherited my mother’s transient nature, I’ve managed to live in each of the five boroughs. Poor as a skunk’s misery, a church mouse, Job, Lazarus, and dirt. Hell, I’m still poor, and most likely always will be.

The best thing about growing up without anything is that you learn to make the most of what you’ve got, and distract yourself from what you haven’t got. My major distraction was television.

child-watching-television-silhouette

It was my babysitter, my tutor, and my secret friend that entertained me as the rest of the world slept. Its siren call would lure me into the living room, where I’d toss my blanket over the both of us so the light didn’t spill out of the room and give away my position. Then I’d plug my mono transistor radio earphone into the headphone jack and marvel at all the noir, horror and science fiction movies that played on CBS’ The Late Show, The Late Late Show, and The Late Late Late Show.

wcbs-1970-lateshow1

I was always a wreck in school the following day, but man, was it worth it.

The only thing that trumped this near nightly process was the first Saturday of the month. Like most poor folk, we were on welfare and this was before the Food Stamp bill was passed in 1970 which meant everything, rent, bills, and food monies arrived in the mailbox in one convenient check. The Saturday that followed check day was always considered my day. Wherever I wanted to go, wherever I wanted to play.

Tads

My playground of choice? 42nd Street. The first stop was Tad’s Steak House. Sure, the broiled steak was thin and more gristle than meat, the garlic bread was oilier than Brylcreem, the chocolate pudding coated with that yucky skin and a fountain Coke served in a large red plastic tumbler that smelled like the previous beverage it held… but to me it was pure heaven.

42nd

Then my mother gestured at the movie theaters that lined both sides of the street and said the most perfect thing anyone could have said to me at the time, “You can see all the movies you can stay awake for.”

These were once majestic movie houses that slowly transformed during the decline of New York City starting in the late 50’s into grindhouse theaters before grindhouse was even a word. Each one ran three films, usually one current and the others whatever was on hand.

On these magic Saturdays, I tore through Roger Corman flicks, Hammer Films, the Toho tokusatsu imports and so much more. All uninterrupted viewing aside from the occasional mom hand that would clamp over my eyes during nude or sex scenes. Only when I started to nod off was it time to head home, despite my protestations.

automat.net-1

On the way home, we’d stop off at the Horn & Hardart automat and my mother would dump tokens into my hand and send me off to fetch dinner from the individual glass door compartments. Even though it was only plain food — sandwiches, beef stew, and the like — there was something about slotting coins and retrieving a prize that appealed to me.

Optimo

The final detour before reaching home was the Optimo Cigars shop that had a spinning wire rack of comic books where I’d select my month’s reading material.

I realize this may not seem like any great shakes to you, but it remains the only positive memory I have of my mother — too long and too personal a story to go into here — and I can’t think of a better way to honor the anniversary of her passing.

Sally forth and be playground exploringly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

A Rose by Any Other Voice

???????????????????????????????

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” ― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

There are different types of stories. Some you share, some that transform themselves into other creative endeavors, some that are stillborn with no hope of resuscitation, and some that you hide from everyone, sometimes even yourself.

When I wore a younger man’s clothes, I wrote a story. One that I’ve never shared, one that will never transform itself into another work of art, one I have not read since its inception. But every so often when my mind settles into a rare resting mode and all my thoughts become inconsequential white noise, the story whispers to me so that I don’t forget it. It does what it needs to do in order to survive.

No, it’s not a true confession, nor is it based or inspired by true events. There’s no deep-seated ideological conviction behind it. It’s also not the most powerful or hard-hitting thing I’ve ever written. Hell, the thing isn’t even written in my voice. Chiefly because it’s not my story.

The story belongs to someone else, told to me in part before she died.

Rose loved to tell stories to take her mind off her illness, so we’d meet occasionally when her health allowed or sometimes talk over the phone and she would spin her vignettes. She wasn’t a professional writer so the stories were uneven and structurally unsound, but they were enjoyable nonetheless. She was witty and articulate and sometimes, but not too often, a good telling trumps structure.

And she continued telling stories until the pain became too much to bear, but before Rose died she said to me, “complete it,” and slow on the uptake as I can often be, I didn’t catch her meaning until months later.

It wasn’t an easy process. When I finally wrote the story down as close to verbatim as my past-its-sell-by-date memory could manage, I looked at the work and was confounded by what I could actually do with it. At first I wanted to restructure and outline everything so that I could plot a logical ending, but that wouldn’t have been true to Rose’s storytelling style. A style I had become very protective of.

In the end I decided this wasn’t a story that could be written, only transcribed, so I sat in front of a mirror with a digital recorder and recited the fragments Rose left me as a parting gift and traveled down a nonstructural road to see where it led me.

And I didn’t go it alone. I could feel Rose’s hand in mine, leading me down the path to the story’s final destination.

Sally forth and be damn-the-structure-and-just-tell-your-damned-storyingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

The Island of Misfit Posts #3: Saturday Storytime Cellar

I’m a horrible planner, always have been, so it’ll come as no surprise that I don’t outline these posts beforehand. It’s all stream of consciousness writing, which is akin to jamming your grubby mitts into Forest Gump’s chocolate box and never knowing whatcha gonna wind up with.

The idea for this abandoned post sorta-kinda stemmed from my admiration of the original versions of popular fairy tales, but as I was writing it, Carole and Paula from The Magic Garden (a live action kid’s TV show in the 70’s) flashed in my brain and I couldn’t shake the image of them hunkered down in a dank and musty cellar, embittered because the glory days had passed them by and they were relegated to the thankless task of repurposing stories in order to snare the short attention spans of modern day jelly-droppers.

hqdefault

Needless to say, that’s not quite how the finished product turned out:

Saturday Storytime Cellar: Redahlia

Gather ’round in a semi-circle on the story mat, boys and girls. Don’t forget to bring your milk and graham crackers, and please sit criss-cross applesauce to make room for your neighbors. Yes, Jimmy? Question?

Your dad’s right, it used to be called Indian style but that’s before we discovered the name was offensive to Native Americans. Yes, Jimmy?

Your father is certainly entitled to his opinions, but you can tell him that there’s nothing creepy about meeting in this cellar. It’s only until the West Nile virus scare at the garden has been taken care of. And a hippie is a person associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and not that it’s any of his business but I do shave my underarms. Also, I’m sure the word he used was thespian, which is another word for an actor and I was at one time, in college, during an experimental phase.

Anyone have any other questions before we get started? Jimmy, put your hand down, please. Today’s story is about a little girl, long before she wore a riding hood, and if you think you know the story, you’re as wrong as Jimmy’s dad. Dead wrong. This is the tale of Redalhia

hqdefault

“Alas for those girls who’ve refused the truth: The sweetest tongue has the sharpest tooth.” ― Jack Zipes, Little Red Riding Hood and Other Classic French Fairy Tales

The various herbs and tinctures had been gathered, carefully measured and mixed into the recipe and when the baking was done, Mother asked her only daughter, Redalhia, to take the specially prepared galette and pot of cream to Grandmother’s forest cottage.

Redalhia didn’t quite feel up for the journey. Her body was undergoing a significant change and she found herself trapped betwixt and between being the girl she once was and the woman she would one day become. But she loved Grandmother so very dearly that she put her own cares aside and happily gathered the food into a basket before setting off for the forest.

How could she do any less? Her grandmother had fallen ill and the severity of her malady forced her to live apart from the family in a cottage deep within the forest, for fear of passing the sickness onto anyone else.

At the tree line of the forest, the road she walked split in two and at the fork stood the changeling-wolf known in the village as Bzou. The shapeshifter sensed her approach and quickly took the form of a man. When she grew close enough to benefit from the power of his bright smile, Bzou flashed his teeth and asked, “Excuse me, dear, where are you going?”

“To Grandmother’s house, sir.” Redalhia answered.

Bzou sniffed the air, “And what, fair creature, do you carry?” but it wasn’t the scent of the food in the basket that tempted his nostrils.

“Why, Mother’s cooking, of course. Bread and cream for Grandmother’s supper. She lives in the forest cottage.”

“And which path will you take?” Bzou asked, gesturing at both paths, one after the other. “The Path of Needles or the Path of Pins?”

Redalhia pondered this a moment. “The Path of Pins, I think, since it is the quickest.”

“Are you certain?”

“Yes, very. I have traveled both paths and Pins is the quickest.”

“Let us put your expertise to the test, shall we? I will take the Path of Needles, and we will see who gets there first.”

Redalhia shrugged for she knew she was right, but if the silly man wanted to waste his time, who was she to stop him? She set off down the Path of Pins and thought it strange that he simply stood there, grinning, and watched her walk.

Bzou knew the girl was right. Of course the Path of Pins was quicker and she definitely would have reached the cottage first had the shapeshifter walked on two legs. But using all four? There was no way she would be faster than he. When the girl disappeared within the dense patch of trees, the wolfen shook off his human guise, trotted down the Path of Needles, and as he knew he would, reached Grandmother’s cottage first.

The cunning  wolf altered his appearance to resemble Redalhia and rapped gently on the door. When Grandmother answered, her thrill at seeing her favorite grandchild was short lived as Bzou slaughtered her, quickly and efficiently as not to leave a mess. He gnawed her flesh, lapped up her blood and ate her bones to the marrow, leaving only a small portion of flesh that he placed on a little dish in the pantry, and a bit of blood that he drained into a little bottle. Then Bzou cleaned himself, took the form of Grandmother and dressed in her cap and shawl before climbing into bed.

When Redalhia finally knocked on the door, Bzou carefully disguised his guttural voice before calling out, “Come in, my child.”

“Grandmother,” the girl beamed, “Mother sent me here with a galette and a cream.”

“Put them in the pantry, child. Are you hungry and thirsty?”

“Yes, I am.”

“There is meat in the pantry for you to cook and wine beside it to drink.”

Redalhia cooked the meat and as she began to eat it, a little cat mewled, “You are eating the flesh of your grandmother!”

“Throw your shoe at that noisy cat,” said Bzou, and so the girl did.

As Redalhia washed the meat down with wine, a small bird cried, “You are drinking the blood of your grandmother!”

“Throw your other shoe at that noisy bird,” Bzou commanded, and the girl did so.

When Redalhia finished her meal, Bzou said, “You must be exhausted from your journey, child. Take off your clothes, come to bed, and I shall warm you up.”

It was true, after the meat and drink, her head did spin slightly. There was something in the flavor of the meal, a familiarity basted in sorrow. “Where shall I put my clothing, Grandmother?”

“Throw them on the fire, child, for you won’t need them anymore.”

Normally, Redalhia would have questioned this but a sudden weariness fogged her mind. She tossed her bodice, skirt, petticoat, and stockings on the fire, and climbed into bed.

The nearness of her, the smell of her budding womanhood, caused Bzou’s concentration to wander and his guise slipped a bit.

Even through the sleepy haze, Redalhia noticed the change. Her once frail grandmother was hairier, her arms stronger, ears larger, and her teeth — those teeth were familiar but they didn’t belong to the old woman’s face. Where had she seen them before?

Bzou spoke in gentle tones to allay the girl’s suspicions, “My hair is to keep you warm on cold nights, my arms to hold you close, my ears to better hear your sweet voice, and my teeth…”

Sharp teeth. Sharper than any human has ever had. “The better to eat me with?” Redalhia leapt from the bed. “Bizou!”

The wolf smiled and let the disguise fall away. “Yes, ’tis I.”

“But where is Grandmo–” the truth slowly dawning, “You ate her!”

“We share that sin, my dear. Now come and lie beside me.” Bzou patted the empty side of the bed.

The realization made Redalhia retch. “I — I feel ill…”

“Do it in the bed, my child, I do not mind.”

The girl staggered out the cottage door and vomited the undigested bits of her late grandmother against a plum tree.

Bzou followed her outside, shaking his canine head, “What a waste of good meat. Are you finished yet, deary, so that we may attend to our affairs?”

“My only affair is to see you dead!” the girl spat.

“You are welcomed to try, after I take from you what is mine.”

Redalhia sprinted from the tree and took off down the Path of Pins.

“Nectar sweetened by the chase!” Bzou grinned as he darted down the Path of Needles, powerful legs carrying him to the fork in the road with a swiftness unmatched by any human. He braced himself for the girl to appear from the tree line. He would take her straightaway, no more games. He waited. And waited. Until waiting turned to impatience and impatience turned to realization, “Clever girl. She…”

Doubled back once she heard Bzou on the Path of Needles. Her first instinct was to run to the safety of her home, but she quickly realized how foolish a thought that was. She couldn’t risk leading the wolf to her house, couldn’t afford to lose Mother as well.

Branches and thistles and thorns and bramble torn at Redalhia’s naked flesh as she ran past the cottage and through the woods which had no path.And when she thought she couldn’t run any further, she reached a river, swift and deep, where laundresses on both banks were hard at work.

“Help me cross,” she pleaded with them. The washer women took pity on the girl and spread a sheet over the water and held tightly to its ends. No sooner than when Redalhia had begun to cross the bridge of cloth, Bzou reached the river and jumped upon the sheet as well.

She too was on all fours now, scrambling to reach the other side of the river, and when the wolf was almost upon her, Redalhia dove off the sheet onto the river bank and yanked the linen from the laundresses’ hands and let it go.

Bizou’s paws clawed at the muddy river bank. looking for purchase but Redalhia kicked them away. He bobbed the surface a few times, shifting forms from wolf to the man in the road to Redalhia herself to Grandmother and finally back to his true wolf self, desperately trying to swim against the tide but was too badly tangled in the sheet. He let out one last pitiful howl before he drowned.

I try to turn off the editor as I write, and I’m mostly successful, but this time I wasn’t. I realized there was a problem with shifting tones in the post. The cellar bit contained a humor that was lacking in Redalhia, which meant when I returned to the cellar and attempted to be clever in my wrap up, the fairy tale itself would seem out of place. One of these things just doesn’t belong here.

Sure, I could have opted for another less serious fairy tale and posted Redalhia separately, but that would have required planning, and as we well know, I and planning do not see eye to eye.

Sally forth and be shapeshiftingly but not grandmother-eatingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Memory Is The Liar That Whispers Fantastic Pasts In Our Ears

Calvin-and-Hobbes-esque-Tiny-litle-snowman-army

“I’m not a liar. I just have a good memory for things that never happened.” ― J.T. Bock

There’s a story I’m fond of telling, about a girl I met in a park during a blizzard.  Sad fact of the matter is I don’t remember what she looked like. Not exactly. In my fading memory’s defense, I only saw the bit of her frosty red face that was nestled within the fur ring of her hooded parka. And I’ll admit that my recollection of events might be slightly dramatized and infused with more schmaltzy innocence and devil may care fun, as we built a snow fort to defend ourselves from the invading snow army, but it happened, the girl was real and not some imaginary snow playmate—I’ve had plenty of those—and a good time was had by all, or at least by me.

The memory gets more Michael Bayish with each retelling. It takes on mass and bulks up and challenges me to become a better liar in order to bear its additional weight. But am I actually a liar? If the current version records over the initial memory on the VHS tape in my mind and all I have left is the most recent telling, then I am relaying events as I recall them, no? And why shouldn’t I drape this memory with grace so that it might straighten its back and hold its head higher, as it strolls amongst my other remembrances? I am one of only two people who possesses this memory and since I cannot verify that the other party is holding up their end, it’s my sworn duty to keep it alive, embellishments and all.

It started out as one of my favorite kind of schooldays, you know, where you wake up and the world outside is completely white and Alice Cooper’s voice is on a continuous loop in your head as you do your victory dance in front of the window, “School’s out forever…

What was that? Just me, then? All right. Good to know.

Anyhoo, after lying about leaving my books at school–thereby avoiding studying to get ahead of the class (perish the thought)–and breezing through my chores, I ventured forth into snowmageddon and discovered… no one else was outside. Oh, sure, people were attempting to dig their cars out, but none of my friends, hell, no one my age was visible in the dense thundersnow.

Cowards, the lot of them!

Undaunted–I wasn’t going back inside, not on a day like this–I trekked to the local park and that was when I saw The Girl. Out on her lonesome, rolling the lower portion of a snowman-to-be with all the intensity of a winterland Victoria Frankenstein.

When she eventually caught sight of me, she stopped and glared, trying to suss me out. Was I friend or foe? We stood there for ages, still as statues, locked in a silent Mexican Stare Off. She was determined, this one, to wait me out. She had staked claim to this park and I was the trespasser. If we were ever going to come to an accord, I’d have to make the first move. So, I did the only thing I could do in that situation…

I began rolling the middle portion for her snowman. That seemed to be good enough for her.

You ask me what her name was? Well, there are only two words that come to mind when I think about her: amber and hazel. So, either her name was Amber and she had hazel eyes, or she was an amber-eyed Hazel. Perhaps even something in between like Hazamberel or Amhazelber? I can’t rule any options out at this point.

The park was ours and ours alone, we two intrepid children of The Bronx. We laughed in the face of the snowpocalypse and frolicked–as much as our starfish overlayering would allow–and built an ominous snow army that we waged snow war against, plowed through the snow soldiers and beat them down to the ground, before turning on each other in the snowball fight to end all snowball fights, tried to sled downhill on a ratty piece of cardboard, discovered how truly fast squirrels are when we tried to catch one, marveled at how far trees could bend under the weight of snow, and made a pact to be friends forever.

I learned that day that pacts are not unbreakable–I never saw Hazamberel again–and just how like a snowflake a memory is.

Not a terribly exciting story to hear, I realize, but I’m not telling it for your enjoyment. I tell it so that I don’t lose it, so that it doesn’t fade any more than it already has from the weathers of time, or become trapped and freezes to death in the hedge maze like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

That’s part of the duty we owe to our past, to not only remember it but become the architects and build up the bits of foundation that have crumbled away due to neglect.

So, please stop me if I’ve told you this one before, but once, when I was younger, I met a girl in a blizzard, at least I think it was snowing, maybe it was rain, and her name was some sort of color, Vermillion or Fuchsia, maybe…

Sally forth and be truth exaggeratingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License