Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The New Absurdist

The two men cowered at the corner of the tavern, fearing almost everything in sight. The glasses were dirty, which meant germs, and the patrons mostly had dark skin, which meant danger. Neither germs nor danger were friends to the two men, nor did these men have any friends apart from each other. “I’m very glad you came with me,” said one to the other. “I’m very glad I came with you,” said the other to the one. They both wore scarves, though it was not very cold. They both wore helmets, though they were seated inside. These two men proceeded to observe what they knew was about to transpire in that ramshackle tavern.

The door was forced open and a gust of wind filled the room, though not very cold wind. A little old Irishman, whom the men knew was formerly a priest, entered with that gust, as if blown inside. He was a frail man, and though not truly frail enough to ride a breeze, one might get the impression he would try. In spectacles and cap, he shuffled inside, said a quick howdeedoo to the barkeep, and then trudged to a small table at the back where was already seated a heavy Black woman in Afro-centric kaftan. She gave the old Irishman what seemed to be the evil eye as he took off his cap and sat down.

Just then, the accordion player started up again, momentarily distracting the two men’s attentions. He played a lively, but repetitive shanty that both men had heard as boys down by the docks. Their eyes glazed wistfully as they thought of their lives in those days, as they thought of all games they didn’t play for fear of injury, and they thought of all the cats they’d killed so they wouldn’t be bitten or scratched unexpectedly.

“Oh, oh, oh, Jesus!” They turned their heads wildly in the direction of the heavy Black woman, who was nearly shouting. “We pray humbly to you, O Jesus….” She and the old Irishman with eyes closed, heads bowed, holding hands, prayed intently. “Tell us, Jesus, who is on that train, Jee-Zus!”

“Yes, Dear Lord,” the Irishman intoned, “tell us who it might be that’s on that train. We want to know so heartily that we are imploring you now, Lord, tell us who is on that train, sweet Jesus.”

A waitress, late thirties though not unattractive, strolled by and reminded the two men, “Marinara is on television at eight o’clock. You can’t watch TV if you go all the way in the back of a cave, can you?” She smiled, eyes bugging in a false show of enthusiasm. But the prayer was not yet over and so their attentions returned very quickly to the odd couple.

The Black woman smacked her hand on the table, spilling a bit of the ex-priest’s lager. “Jesus, Jesus, Jee-Zus! Who—I said, who is on that train?”

“Jesus Lord, Jesus Lord!” rumbled the Irishman.
“Lord Jesus—Lord Jee-Zus!” thundered the Black woman.

The two men fished in their pockets, nervously eying the other patrons. They each pulled out their tickets, stood slowly and deliberately, and began to march toward the unlikely pair of supplicants. One spoke firmly and at moderate volume: “We are on that train, brother and sister.” “Yes,” said the other, “it is we who are on that train.” The one handed his ticket to the Black woman, who squinted at it skeptically. The other handed his to the Irishman, who adjusted his spectacles skeptically.

Seeming convinced of the authenticity of the documents, the man and woman both nodded to each other and punched them, handing them back to the pair of friends.

“Just one question though, Father — Oh, I can still call you father can’t I?” asked the one.

“Sure, my child,” the old man nodded.

“Where does this train go?” asked the other. Then the two men drew their pistols, leveled them, took painstaking aim, and killed the Black woman and the Irishman without further ceremony.

“We are on our way,” said the one to the other. “On our way we are,” said the other to the one.

For more like this - The New Absurdist

No comments: