Tuesday, April 7, 2015

graveyard protocol

island in Ungava Bay
road to Payne River
Lohbado stumbled across a makeshift graveyard on the Plains of Radiation. White picket fences surrounded several graves. It lay on a sloping stretch of ground between two rock hills. There weren’t any trees, just gravel and small plants.

Lohbado went there to recover from the stress of somebody having yelling at him. Lohbado made a comment Joe didn’t like.  Joe slammed his fist down on the table so hard, beer splashed out of Lohbado’s glass. Lohbado wasn’t sure what Joe meant. He didn’t really care. The man was angry, another silly quarrel not even worth repeating. Lohbado got up and left. He wandered down a dirt trail in the direction of the river, where he often went to relax. On the way he stopped at the graveyard.

He strolled among the graves then sat on a pile of rocks and gazed at the distant river. He imagined skeletons dancing on the little graves within the fences. They hopped the fences and danced up and down the rows, dance of the skeletons, some sort of psychic force. He imagined traces of consciousness clung to the bones. Each skeleton had a personality.

The imaginary spectacle made him hungry. The wind blew ribbons of dust. Small purple and white plants, cotton grass, spiked grass swayed in the wind. The high contrast and intricate pattern of small plants, stones, rocks, bogs, rocky spines, hills and hollows created a dizzying optic effect, a psychedelic scene. It was easy to imagine a kaleidoscope of supernatural creatures. He gazed in a kind of trance as his imagination went wild.

In the middle of the skeletons appeared a goat-headed demon, authoritarian, angry and anxious to assert a version of reality and to intimidate Lohbado into playing along, to not ask questions, to pretend the demon’s opinions were expressions of the absolute.

Lohbado understood the demon wanted him to listen and agree. It rocked it’s head from side to side and lowered its horns in a threatening gesture. Lohbado didn’t know why the demon was so agitated. Maybe Lohbado had violated graveyard protocol or local custom. Maybe the demon could read his mind and didn’t like what Lohbado was thinking.

Lohbado felt giddy and transparent. His stomach growled with hunger and nausea. A pressure in his head, pressure waves shop up his spine. For a moment he couldn’t breathe. He saw stars. The horizon exploded into coloured lights. Loud thunder and ringing in his ears... it was like dying. A sharp pain in the chest... maybe a heart attack. He leaned back against a slab of rock and gazed into the distance until the pain and nausea stopped and the skeletons vanished, end of hallucination, or theatre of imagination.

Lohbado laughed and inhaled deeply the funky odour of earth and rock on the Plains of Radiation. He savoured the loneliness. Desolation and solitude burned. His whole body burned. He slowly rose to his feet, extended his arms in the air and danced around like a skeleton dancing.

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