March 19, 2007

Short Story Monday

Benito had a secret room ironically called the "anti-Gnostic" room, or AG for short. "Secret" for him was a nonsense word, like supercalifraglisticespaladocias. Secrets were merely revelations, future or past, that had been forgotten.

Inside were rows of bookshelves that concealed a trapdoor to bliss, an entrance to the laboratory where he created fabulous things by combining combustible words he called "his chemicals". He was constantly mixing them, scribbling away as if for medicinal purposes. In that room he had the perfect privacy of Ed Abbey in his desert, Catullus in his scriptorium, Persius in the arboretum, Euripides at the Atheneum, Drysdale at his bank, Rapunzel in her hair, a cloistered nun in during the third Joyful, Archie in his chair, Virgil at Mantua, Norm at the bar, Sulpicia at his villa, Aeschylus in a dithyramb, a Natufian in the Fertile Crescent, O'Reilly in the no-spin zone, Carson as Carnac, or Paul Lynde in the secret square.

His cousin Juan visited him from Zihuatanejo one June day and Benito led him to the AG. They went through the trapdoor and immediately were transported back to Mexico, where generations of family were celebrating Toraidio's eighth birthday. There was a large pinata front and center and the crowd was chanting as anticipation grew.

"Cuál está adentro!" the crowd yelled, "What's inside?"..."What's he made of?"

His uncles gravely told the boy that the mule was made of coal and switches, and a form of vinegar that was so combustible it might explode and do him harm. His aunts scoffed and told him there was honey and candy and trampolines that would catapult him to the sky!

The blindfolded Toraidio swung and swung and swung, and out of the violence the mule's side split open at last. Everyone was surprised by what came out, even the aunts who'd predicted giant trampolines. (They knew good would come but later said "how could we explain what we only dimly understood ourselves?") The surprise was a sort of magic, since only magic could explain it. Out poured neither honey nor vinegar; each person was touched in the way most needed. Antidote and affliction were married and integrated in a way that left all astonished.

No comments: