Ohern – chap 2.9

He zenithed the disobedient fire with horse feed, old clothes and lamp oil while redolent, dim orange leaves of unwilling flames were more pulled into the byre of the witch then went willingly.  The other boy had choked on his tongue and was dead.  Vern sat in the room where he had been given or brought back, where he had been standing, exactly where he had been standing when he had caught that glimpse of the witch Ohern had only just now been freed from thinking of.

“I can’t see.” He said, this time more to himself then the first several times that this statement was, Ohern felt, leveled at him, an accusation, a complaint, a call for help.  Ohern looked at him again, rested his arms on his waist exhausted.  He nodded at the boy.

On the floor, Gable’s face was the deep almost royal red of men his age, tired men wrought into exhaustion.  He breathed.  Ohern closed his eyes to safe them from dirt or what have you and then rose grabbing up a straw mat and taking it to the black rictus of the dead witch.

It had been to long for simple help to return.  Shimmer ignored his handiwork and exploited the bags of grain that would have been safe from fettered mounts.  He pushed the haft of the busted fork against her back every so often until it entered easy and returned steaming.  He made shimmer ready, swapping out for a fine steel bridle and new pair of saddle bags, emptying his stuffs into the new one already across shimmers back then tossing it into the fire.  With a brand he wrote the symbol of his name on it, filled with what he could carry from the shed then walked shimmer to the door of the house to come upon Vern still on the floor, his eyes bloodied from calloused dirty fingers gouging them towards life.

“I still can’t see.”

Ohern helped him to stand and walked him out the door.  He led him to shimmer and put his hand on her flank then put a run of rope in his hand and went back inside.  Gable was dead.  Ohern nodded again then left and began the slow ride home.

The woman who had waited was gone as was the other boy, the horses, he knew this.

He could not take the young man to his home, Deal would play hell with him.  With Gable gone, none now ran the Bar and Cross.  It was past dawn when they had come in.  He walked Vern to the transom of the common room and put his hand in the door way than took his rope back coiling it as he walked shimmer to water, the smell of burnt bodies more common to him than the smell of good meat.  He ignored the questions and met no eye.  What they wanted from him he would not give and when shimmer had drank he rode west ways towards home.


Ohern – chap 1

What did a half-wit make of death?  Ohern looked out the broken window of the farmstead at the young man near its porch, scuffing in the dirt with his feet, frowning.  Inside the farm house was painted from slaughter.

Ohern had seen death like this before, always too close.  Faces staring, heads gathered then left but at least left, the pieces of child next to the pieces of mother, a tangle of stilled effort.  How many children did Dane have, four, five?  It was four.  Had they all suffered?  He was a fool for wanting to think they hadn’t.  A fool for hoping their death had come quickly where no death should have come at all.

Deal would not come back into the house.  A stone in my shoe.  Ohern had said this once.  Nothing ever registered in the boy that he could tell.  Ohern looked out the window at him again, a man but for his mind with a scruff of colt’s hair on a face too young, a face never shaved and those eyes.  What had his small mind seen in there?

The things Ohern knew about killing could not help the dead.  He could feel his memories call to him and remind him as though the chair, the same curtains, the porch had waited these years for him to return but these things were shamed and chided by the other things Ohern could not remember, the things which were different.  Those things did not welcome him, a stranger, and they held their foreignness up refuting him with a cool distance, their indifference forbidding him entry though there he stood now, as others had only a day before, unbidden.  It was in those arms now that the family slept and Ohern could not remove them.  Everywhere he felt unfamiliarity and a cold strong enough to compel him to shrug off this insistent but false dream of having known the dead.

A crude clay jug that they once drank well water from urged motionless and empty on a sill.  He did not have to look to know it did not hold water any more.  It was the smallness of these differences that wounded him more than their killing, reiterating his choice.  A choice that was no choice at all only him discontinuing his visits until the home and the man and his wife and their children were a thing he avoided.  And here he was now.  Was it ok to talk, to say hello now?  Could he tell them now that he did not know why?  Would they have asked?

He moved back to the window to find Deal out side.  His steps were careful and light as though the floor were brittle and heavy steps could break it.  Deal was batting a sigweed.  The dull blue petals were thick and balled, resilient to such meddling.  He swatted it like a toy.  It bowed its flexible stem then righted again.  “Dop, dop,” he kept saying as it rose back up to his palm.  He was smart enough not to hit it hard enough to break it.  How long did it take him to learn that?

He could not find Dane’s head or body. The place had been sacked but the killing took place first, the dismemberment after the sacking.  Blood spoke words, told stories, and he knew blood.  Where you would or would not expect to find it, when it moved itself and when others moved it, things obvious now that were just blood to him before, years before all of this.  There was blood on the wrong side of a table leg, dripping up, Urine over dry blood spots near his feet.  What happened in here, but he knew what happened.  He thought of the screaming that the silence now betrayed.  The sweat of fear and the anger, the fatigue of helplessness, Help, but no one answered.  The mess a woman dying makes, the mess of a child fighting a firmly held knife, this is what he saw, not the mess of a man trying to take a life and a man trying to keep it.

The blood had left them and rested like an unwatched child in a place where it would stay, unbecome the child it had been, dry, a different thing now and no longer the laughter, the hope, not the face now furrowed, a heavy flame of torn flesh, but brown as the sweetness leaving and soon it would not be there at all.

Find them and kill them.  Peace in the Northern Province was this easy.  Find and kill the ones responsible.  No Scribe needed.  I am the Laws, he thought.  Knowing who was enough, but who?

He had worked their yard.  It was years ago and there was distance between he

and Dane but it was not a dark distance.  It was there still and something else, he was a stranger now.  He turned to ask permission to be there, to explain himself, they were returning and would find him an intruder.  They would be correct.  He was not invited as those who had done this were not invited before him.  He waited but words come slow from dead lips.

He took his hand off the pommel of his sword though the sword kept it from shaking.  He rubbed the crease of the filigree from his palm then returned it.  Attention is drawn to what is hid.  This is a law of the world even without Her.  The hidden cannot abide its state.  That was the training of real warriors, in the south, in Kias where he was from.  When you hear blood, you lose a part of yourself, the teachers told him.  A warrior cannot remain only warrior.  Where was his training now?  Was this his helped looked for, a string of words soon undecipherable though once known.  He knew fear was not a weakness, it was a choice, but this was not fear, there were memories here.  He chilled.  He repeated it to himself.  A man’s strength is all he has.

But there are different kinds of strength Ohern, and only so many words find their use with warriors.  Old as he was he was still this.  He looked to see her in a window, a reflection of a dream of his mind but she was not there.

There was nothing but death in the house.  There was nothing there at all.

Whoever had done this was gone.  He pushed aside a sack with his foot and righted the bench that had not been broken on them.  He pulled out the knives, the ones dulled then sheathed in their skin with indifference.  He remembered Cay, Danes wife, her lunches when they put up that fence.  You’ve got a three tree fence, he had said.  How Cay had laughed.  She was beautiful the way comely women are found beautiful my lonely men.  He did not look away from comely women the way he looked away from beautiful ones.  There was acceptance there that cannot be found elsewhere.  Dane loved her good.  Even when angry, and he could fly into a rage.  Even when angry, he loved her.  But that was years ago.  He thought of putting her together again but couldn’t touch them with his hands, as though they screamed against it.  So much of dying was the body without life, the trust of the dead, a warning to a place in him deeper than the Light gone out.

There was no way Dane could have done it but his body was not there.  Was it strewn about some hundred feet towards the wood maybe, lost to whatever hoard accomplished this scene, or was it Dane after all?

He hated how his thoughts filled with evil probabilities, how his faith in an old friend, how his sense of knowing who someone was could disappear in their absence.  Who had killed his family?

He tried to clear his head but needed to walk outside to do it.  The herbs on the

porch were strong and mixed with the afternoon heat and the murder.  Dane was no

murderer and that was it.  There was nothing else here.

“Burn it” Ohern said as he stepped out of the house.  Deal looked for the noise not the words but didn’t move.

“There’s nothing to clean or keep in there, burn it.”  He moved out towards the stable where Dane’s horse was standing, Shimmer.  He walked slow and breathed, getting himself back.  He needed no tracker to tell him no one came through the yard, or the garden.  Shimmer watched him cross the carrot patch.  Watched him stop and pick several.  They were small.  Ten made a handful.  She had not been fed by the little ones this morning, nor had she eaten all that day or been let out into the field by Dane.  She remembered Ohern, they could see it in each others eyes.  She watched him come over and breathed out her greeting.

“Hey beautiful” Ohern gave her the carrots and rubbed her neck, leading her out of the stall to the garden.  She did not need permission to eat there now.  She was hungry.   Her lips pulled the lettuce heads and the soft green leaves of the vegetables into her mouth.  Ohern brushed her while she ate.  It seemed a waste to leave the tack but it felt like stealing again to take it.  When she moved on to the corn he entered the barn and began un-stacking the dry grasses and setting them next to the walls of the small stable.

Deal was standing there with one of Ohern’s riding torches lit, hiding his face from the crazed, shuddering flame in mockery of his adopted father.  Ohern took it from him and held it behind himself.

“This aint a home no more.”  He walked inside the house and when he came back out it was aglow and smoke sluiced out of the grass roof.  There was a stink in it not of death or burn but of some other filth being scoured out of the Gift by the flames.

“It’s empty now that’s all.  Take Shimmer back to the Fort.  I’ll be along after dark.”  He always spoke simply to Deal, and the boy never replied.  Ohern inherited the orphan through circumstance.  There was no sparing over the fact that the boy was a burden on his nerves, orphans always were.  It was Ohern who named him.  Deal accused him with blankness.

“I’ll be along after I look to the coals.”

Deal Stood.  His face wise for a moment, a mystery unexpressed, a caution.  Then the lips pushed and that boy’s mouth smacked at him in dumb need.

“That horse is thirsty and could stand to eat more than a poke of carrots.”  Ohern was angry.  Deal walked the horse out of the small gate but then stopped again and turned to him.  The gate was still leaning.  He remembered how long it took them to get the lean out of that gate the first time, seven years ago?  He could see Dane had worked the gate since then, several times.  The nails chewed through the wood one last time in response.

“It’s all done here boy, get on.”

As the boy walked off to the south, Ohern turned to the fire but put up his arm to shield himself from the sight of the flames.  Their raging spigot hissed and gushed twisted gouts of grey and black smoke into the sky, racing at their height off into the west and away from the sea.

Timbers were crying and falling inside the house now as he walked to the barn with the torch Deal had lit for him.  The barn went up faster then the house and in his heart he believed he would never learn what happened there, but of course, he was wrong.


“I am going to be ignoring you for a while so that you will know what it is like FOR REAL.”

Found the letter I wrote to DFW while he was still alive.

my brother described you as transcendent and threw in another word and wrapped them both in a sentence that made transcendence sound like something gold colored and floaty even more so than it already does and yet still here all temporally and fleeting and what not which also made it even better.  I want to write you and like be friends for coffee or something but really just for some other weirder reasons that have to do with loneliness and personality disorders.  He is eighteen and he has read further into IJ before quitting than I have.  He also has some cheater Wiki facts about you and the books plot.  “Things like IJ do not have something stupid and slow like a plot.” I tell him and he agrees in a way that makes me wrong and it surprises us both.  Also I never refer to it as IJ I just do not want to write out Infinite Jest.  And those facts are thrown so quick I can’t forbid him to throw fucking cheater facts and then I know them and its good and it sucks cause it can’t be toggled off and the whole game is ruined now cause of some shit about fractals and junior college creative writing bullshit and anyway..  And I hope you know this is not some bullshit in the box because it is out of the box way to get you to read something of mine cause its just a letter and its how I think and stuff.  And we talked today about loneliness and why we over simplify god and give him shitty intentions and why we are somehow outside of culture or at least enjoyment of it.  And he thinks everyone is a douche bag and I tell him that is a good sign and we are sitting in Tommys eating shit food and volleying angst and you come up in most of our conversations and you’re the greatest person that has ever lived and that gives us hope cause you’re here and your out there you know with your writing and stuff and you are accessible through that and if the world could shit you out and we’re here than maybe some day my brother will meet someone that will take away the loneliness and we laugh about what it would be like to talk about writing and stuff with you and it would take a while to get past say how the Graven Image thing was just brilliant and the tripod in the bushes and the paranoid king which we both try to make posters of and he pays some online comic guy 20 to do a comic of you on a desert island and he does it and it is funny and it is sad for a bunch of reasons and I try and help you escape the caricature of your self in my mind but even this letter assumes in the way I hate being assumed about and so its stuck being crazy and who cares any way it will bleach in the mail.  And Michael does this thing that’s so funny that I never call him on where he has like 9 or twelve books planned out and their names and stuff and he is working on them but they are really just titles of books and its great and we talk about them and about ideas and things.  And I was thinking about writing what I would say to you if we met but that’s all shit.  Tennis balls can find shit wrong with one another and that’s just the way it is.  I just appreciate the hell out of you and I am one of those fucks that can’t finish IJ and yet it is my favorite book.  I did some videos on you tube about it and deleted them all cause they were stupid.  I told Michael to put himself out there and life wouldn’t suck so much and that is a lie kind of.  He used to be scared of falling into the sky when he was a kid (until like two years ago) and I think I had something to do with that.  He spells ok the right way.  I used to think he was addicted to the internet.  So certain people suck and we are all scary.  And your great with words and that is like a real positive thing in our minds.  You used up a lot of good word combinations and that kind of sucks but I would of never of thought of them so its cool!  I pretty much am a consumer.  That sucks cause I am also a brooder and have other issues so there is over eating and rage and shit that makes for good fantasy fiction.  I just was imagining having a friend and you would be cool.  My other friend smokes a bunch of pot and believes in shit like ufo’s and cover-ups and Mayan calendar stuff and it makes me sad cause he was pretty clear headed in his teens.  In my Lotto dream my family all has to live together in a house and I have my own house next door or am always away in some other location just for me, like Dolores, CO or on  a greyhound headed to Alaska but I don’t have those places anymore.  There all changed and every one grew old and shit and now they just suck and feel lonely.  I keep thinking I can find some new hiding place like school or work but it doesn’t gel and I keep pushing this fucking thing forward like a wall or something but it takes all my attention to move it and when I am not paying attention and even when I am it starts goin backwards and shit but not like its gonna crush me like danger, it just goes back to zero and at zero I am homeless again.  I used to be able to write at work but I have to work more now and so I don’t get to write or I squeeze in words between phone calls.  It would be great if I had to show up to work to write and had to sit there and shit while everyone was working but I had to write and not answer phones and write down credit cards all day.  This is too long.  Your cool.  So is my brother.  I understand why you don’t have a web presence.  Peace.

my life with david

I don’t know what year it was that I met you.  It seems I have always measured time by emotional failures, great ones, as the ones I have measured usually are, the ones that can be at least.  I had accused my mother of this once during a stream of consciousness episode I was forcing myself to experience under the witness of the then love of my life.  She said that I did that.  Matter of factly.  Was I speaking about myself the entire time, can we ever not.

I urge myself to write humbly.  No references.  I keep the flesh-kincaid at about 4th grade; that’s what I call it now, Flesh Kincaid; the mockery is appealing like hot cocoa in the winter I find myself in.  I hate everything I write to you.

What would you have thought of them.  I will think of them for you.  No ones words should be sold by the pound; they sold them by the foot, on a shelf, managed the empty spaces with used hardcover and trash; there is so much trash David.  He says “Here’s one.  You’ll like this, look.” And now the words succumb to his exaggerated display of the title, and he says that it is.  He opens it like the Word to read a sentence to show me how much he knows me, you, can prove it in this random almost chrasmological exerpt, I have never remembered the sentence he tore from you like a hair saying here, this is David, and by the consequence of this self admittedly puerile solicitation, this is you.

He is the tall kind of skinny and he is tall.  His wife, not so much; they define us , like our dogs, we them.  He’s nice in a regrettable way.  I will never see him kill, take, ruin, is it wrong for that to weaken him to me?  Is it wrong to say his benign heart, the one he had his chance to make known, is a lay psalm, a deacon by a spring, a preposition.

I will never finish that book, it’s all I have left of you though they give me a Pale King it will never be mine.  You were.

I praise you like an Idiot.  The women I fuck, I make them read sentences, my enthusiasm compels them.  I feel your loneliness on every page.  The vacancy of his father, the desire, the G.O.A.T. in the bathroom alone and possibly no longer (P)retty, the people on the other side of the door David, at the party, all of them, they read your book, some of them are forced to write papers and they do, to the people who would force someone to write a paper.  I hate them for it.  I wonder if they claim something now, when they talk about it, when the intellectualize it.  Did you want to teach?

I feel that petty hedge of understanding surround you, students, women.  A mind is not it’s own.  When you get my letter I am damned.  I am where and who and full of shit.  A job of that minute, I listen, you say it again your voice uncanny.  I believe it.  It takes time and profanity, it is something you put up with, I think you know or knew it would have been something like that, hard for me to believe but I do and I leave California.

You get me in your class, I find a job, you find me a better one.  I stay in the guest room, never see you there, move out into a studio, I brought nothing, every night, every god damn night we write: The End

When they tell you, when god tells you  I never sent the letter he is lying.  And though you don’t remember the rest of what I am saying its true, it happened every day, it’s happening right now.

So much beauty in dirt

It’s ok that I am going out like a candle.  Clean metaphors like pressed clothes, all of them fine makes addressed, a permanently raised glass, love, on a ship perhaps, the world waving, or the best of them.  It is not ok that it is the world that’s leaving me.

I hand my teeth down, no one takes them, there are no college kids left to believe in strangers anymore, take up their flags, ensorcelled by seeming context & strange nocturnal tuitions paid in dissent, rapture and yes, amelioration.

This place has stayed neat with me in it.  I have protected things… things of which you can have no idea, things whose ideas will not come again, their valkyries fled, a diaspora of gods, kings and vassals, the whole parade of these my insignificant things.  They were my wine, my rope to hang myself with.

I will not imagine you.  I was imagined.  I will not simper, the shakiest hand in the riot, I will not ease meekly, subdued to wait a time for meaning, for museum glass, nitrogen filled air, greater value indeed, greater than needed.  You will pass me like so much meaning in dirt.

You should go inside and get that off your shirt RW

“Ok, so it’s a small person, what are you going to do?” I tell her.  She is looking at it now in what I guess would be new light.  The tiny new mechanisms of a cognition now her own, lurching and firing, I imagine the sound of ladyfingers popping, just that, no engine humming or roaring just a cacophony of false starts.  It is clear to all that someone else has dressed her.

“Get away from him.” She is now standing between me and the small person.  The small person is about the size of a mini candy bar, no really.  I have heard of shit like this before, in the rainforest, it’s always in the rainforest right, well anyway, it probably walked here.  That’s kind of like saying your 50 in dog years, or maybe that’s not what I mean to say, I guess I just mean it would take a hell of a lot longer for that little candy bar sized nude-kin to get here from Ecuador than it would me, or even Cindy Lou here for that matter.  I would tease her but like so much else that is lost on a twelve year old, it’s just lost on a twelve year old.

“That’s right, now pick him up and hold him to your chest and coo and get your face right down in his.  Yeah, show him the teeth when you smile, thats it.  Listen, if that little fucker had a gun that could kill everything this big, he would kill everything this big, you have no idea.  And if he was this big, as big as you and I, he would just walk away from you thinking you were a stupid little girl like all these assholes who have passed us in the last 15.”  I know I am ranting but I can’t stop, I didn’t, thats important.  She is begging to cry or has been and I have just noticed.  It’s like a phobia, the crying, for me it is, and she is doing it.  At least its genuine.

“That’s not true.” She asks me and looks at the small person being held, no pressed in some suborned refute of my accusation and I mean spleen rupturingly tight against her training bra trapped, rubbery, pre-pubescent boob-ola.  That’s where they always put ‘em.  I can’t see that small face from here.  I assume there is a fluid on her shirt and a smell.  If I was being viced into pre-tits like that I would have fluid coming out of my mouth too.  Maybe his guts came out his mouth, I don’t know.  I imagine my guts coming out of my mouth.  She drops him, or swats him off of her, like when you are holding a bug you don’t think will bite you, letting it perch and what not, then it bites you or makes one of those hideouse terrifying hostile bug noise s, and maybe it did only it sounded like hello or i can’t breath, and too low to hear or even too high like adog whistle, and then maybe panick too, on her part, I know I would and then getting it away from me as fast as f-ing possible would be the only answer now, not playing with the afore mentioned and previously harmless well-seeming “bug”.  It happens as I say it will, as I say it in my mind.  I say wow out loud so that someone, someday…  “Wow.”.  Anyway, it moves a little on the pavement then doesn’t.

“It’s too big to step on.” I say.  She nods looking at its little naked but.  And by too big I mean it has eyes, arms it could raise to try to stop you, however ineffectually, a face that will show fear if you are close enough made more convincing/sympathetic by stain of guts on same face showing fear etc.  In that way its too big, fuck, anyone can step on a candy bar.