Entry 0074: Drafting a Short Story

pereubusingle

EP: The Fabulous Sequel by Pere Ubu

1979 Chrysalis CHS 2372

Favorite Track: The Fabulous Sequel

 

This is a continuation of the work started in entry 0056. To refresh your memory, please click here.

I remember laughing at Roland’s exertion that our concept of space was limited, but then Adam started to discuss in earnest the possibility of the beyond. Roland at first seemed bemused, a parent smiling at a child talking about the ghost under the bed, but then a crease formed in his brow and the corner of his dark lips arched. He led Adam and me to his studio where an unfinished sketch sat in the sunlight coming in through a tall window. Roland disappeared into a closet and came back with a bottle of Scotch and some glasses. Then he returned to the closet and came back with the Jan Hus drawing.

The Scotch was a refined bit of burning earth tones and I drank more of it than I should as Adam pegged Roland questions about Jan Hus’s movements throughout Prague, particularly in the mining town of Kutna Hora. I toured the modest room Roland used as a studio, noting the aged photographs of travels (but none of his family), the worn brushes and splattered paints, and the curious horned animal that showed up in many of his drawings, each time a frenzy of scribbles instead of his usual broad lazy strokes. It seemed to me as if he was trying to depict the creature’s movement, but that it didn’t walk on four legs like the ram it sort of looked like. But before I could ponder further on the subject, I overheard Roland say, “Did you know that Franz Kafka was also very interested in Jan Hus? And that he made an oblique reference in his story In the Penal Colony?”

Adam caught my expression and for a moment I read a passing quiet fury overcome his features. Then he broke out into a loud and obnoxious laugh and kissed me, which I must confess in this sort of confessional that I shuddered from that kiss, so cold and offensive it was to me at the time. It, of course, would be the last kiss I would receive from him.

“Whatever do you mean?” Adam asked. He looked into Jan Hus’s eyes as if Kafka might be a bug floating around inside of them.

Roland slurred his speech as he paced in circles around us, “There are few of us who believe what is probably poppycock. Yes, just a few of us who have seen what no body else has ever seen…or dreamed. Never trust your dreams, they are not the result of an overexcited mind entertaining itself while the body rests. They are…astral projections, but I digress. Few of us believe in this reading of Kafka, but, after visiting Prague itself, seeing his former home near the Castle, seeing the Ram salon, and then after traveling to the Seldac Ossuary, well, my mind cannot be changed. You see, In the Penal Colony is really just a summoning ritual…if you know how to read it properly. A particular ritual, one that can only be done in the Penal Colony itself, although that is not the name of the place. But sprinkled throughout his text are hints…deep in the earth…12 hours, the length of the ritual…the…but I should not explain what the bed, the inscriber, and the harrow really are…I can already count the hairs on the back of your neck, Parker.”

Roland stared into my eyes then continued his speech. My throat felt parched, urging me to fill it with more of the dirty liquor. Adam was enraptured by Roland’s fancy talk. The bottle of Scotch was dangling precariously between two loose knuckles.

“The Officer speaks of the Commandant. He is quite adamant about the Commandant. As he must be. The Commandant comes from beyond time and space. The Commandant is the one who can be summoned, or, at least, that is what most of us believe. There is one dissenter. Anyways, the breakdown referred to in the text reference the need for humans to assist in the summoning. A wizard must fix the sprockets, you could say but only if you understand 15th Century Renaissance humor. And the result, what happens to the Condemned, well, sacrifice has always been a part of humanity. It is our greatest trait–the most beautiful when viewed through certain lenses; the most barbaric otherwise–our ability to pursue the quest of knowledge to the very end of our own life or someone else’s…just for a glimpse of truth, which enlightens, frightens, and, finally, is forgotten.”

We left in silence. The sun was going down and that unnerved me. The pattern of leaves that spilled across the hood of the car seemed to crawl around like crazed insects. Adam made small talk now and then but I could tell his mind was working. I wanted my camera. He wanted his books.

I did not know he had already booked a ticket to Prague.

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