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Sorcerer?
Scene 1 of The Acts of Awes West
“Sorcerer?” pined the wind in his ringing ears.
Not wishing to defile the call of the spheres he stopped his shovel scraping and listened to his Master being gathered by The Powers as the bitter winds froze his tears…
“Sorcerer?” moaned the wind...or did it?
Was it his long-ago cracked head echoing a hundred calls to counsel from the throats of those pilgrims he had lead up the tumbled-chute of rock to this Wheel of Space and Time?
A gust of wind whipped those two streaming tears into sleet and cast them from his parchment face before they might wend their way into his bush of white beard.
“Sorcerer?” bemoaned the wind whipping down from Winter’s Well.
Was the song only in the ringing bell tower of the church his mind?
“Sorcerer?”
Was his pain, over the world’s loss and his unmoring from this sky strand and its saintly hand merely finding wing?
“He is gone, cold world—the one you called Sorcerer...my only Father.”
Leaning his cracked and parchment-skinned hands on the handle of the cottonwood shovel he had carved from one twisted plank as his Father ailed, and his great heart finally failed, he looked down longingly upon the heaped cairn of rock, mounded with love, over the slabs of stone that had called his last muscles to bend his old bones. Beneath those slate slabs was the rocky grave of Medicine Wheel Man, his Father found oh so late in life. In that shallow depression scrapped of shale, stone and slate—mostly pried from frozen sister stones—with his light wooden wedge, reposed the withered remains of the World’s Best Man.
“Father,” he croaked, “I follow soon. The snake in the chest that ate your breath has me, coiled about my old heart.”
Mused he: ‘So much older were you than this bucket of sin.’
He sniffled, coughed and wretched up a gob of yellow venom, stepped back and away and cast the agent of plague from him out over the Cliff Crown to be carried against its crenalated face.
Down below he saw the way of his ascent twenty years gone, up from the south, when he sought high ground for the low purpose of taking another of his pursuers to hell with him...only to find clear, blind—all-seeing blue eyes of elder understanding looking emptily into his soul and extending the wrinkled hand of age from this podium under Heaven.
No being could come this way now, not in December, on the shortest day of the slain year, through a league of snow-choked canyon.
A shivering chill wracked him as the worm of illhealth constricted spitefully about his heart, winding its coils within his sunken chest.
Mused he: ‘My purpose is done, Father. Climb the Starry Stair.’
His gaze came to the tower he had built over five long years on the far, lower, east side of the rocky mole to this sacred Wheel of Time and Space where Father had come to chart the stars and offer wisdom to saint, sinner, heretic, monk, warrior, knight, waif-woman and merchant too...all who could find the mountain base and be led here…
Swayed he, drunkenly with loss: ...well, there, down and over there...
...to the three-story round tower he had built for his aging Father in a five-year-fury of at-the-pace-building, of becoming a little maker after a life as a cruel taker. That simple, almost round tower, thought by some who saw it to be the work of some ancient rude race of troglodyte mind, had been but a fallen man’s altar to the gentle soul of his redeeming hand.
He had joyed that due to his crude work, Father could stand under the sky of winter, rather than borrowing under the snows between spring house and cabin as before. Now, that tall, kind, blue-skied mind would never stand leaning upon the crude stone parapet to present the open hand of greeting to why seekers and humble speakers, to Lords of men seeking Heavens Gate and swordsmen seeking a sheathe for their hate.
The trace from the tower across the mole of stone to this cairn, next to the Medicine Wheel, overlooking the Southern Canyon, was ten feet deep shoveled through snow.
Pledged he: ‘I will keep the path open and come speak over Father each day and not return to the base tower one day.’
Flame scourged in his sunken chest as he coughed; bells rang in his ears and stars showered from his dimming eyes. There was also the flame of anger, at some of those who had come from the distant cities of men, from New England its self, who gave a grudging respect for the crude engineer of the tower—thinking his work to be of a long extinct race—and cast disappointed judgment upon the constellation of stone arranged by Father for charting the stars and planets and talking with Angels and predicting the intercession of God and the pervasion of Devilkind.
Not all of those who came hither to seek Father were good, or even sought good, other than to identify its neck and step upon it in their worldly climb up to Babel’s Brazen Trumpet.
The Serpent of Rot coiled in his chest and he cast out vile spittle over the rocky edge as the wind howled, “Sorcerer?”
He wanted with weak need his mat at the foot of Father’s bed...yearned even for the soft hay of that lodge pole bed—and the Serpent’s tail rattled within his afflicted chest…
Mused he: ‘This sinner will never hear The Word of God again. The reader is gone and this mind is dumb, blind to the ink on the page [1] as The Pope is to the scent of battle among the purple sage.’
The winds howled like wolfine throats stretched moonward among the snow-ladden pines.
He rose and turned with a snarl, clutching his snow shovel, one of the handful of child-like inventions he had wrought in his quest to be useful, for which Father always patted him upon his relatively broad shoulders. He saw that a swirl of wind and snow was whirling about Father’s cairn.
Raged he: “Ahhrrr!”
He lunged at the snow devil and swung his shovel into its whirl and the snake coiled, convulsing in his chest and stammering his heart as he fell to his ragged knees on the hard stone, retching out his miasmic breath.
Mused he: ‘Tower undeserved—take me Devil, slack your snakey need…’
With a wheezing cough he eased himself faceward onto Father’s stony grave, his mop of recluse hair and bush of untended beard his funeral mask as the snow swept in, harder, stronger, colder, heralding the dawn, for Father’s grave cairn had taken from dusk, until dawn, and until dawn again. He had had no heart to prepare the grave until Father had passed from life.
Mused he: ‘I hope Jesus’s star was above the clouds, Father when you were so weak-like laid in shroud.’
Prayed he: ‘Take me, Lord, please, this sinner on weak knees.’
The wind howled, “Sorcerer?”
Mourned he: ‘Gone to better, woe to the wee.’
Notes
-1. An image of a spruce-plank codex, etched with ink of alpine current, in the language of the learned, marching with figures other than the English characters Father had tried to teach him, opened behind his mind’s eye, groaned, creaking in the baffled dungeon of his mind, barely begun and ever incomplete, alone below the sunrise window…
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