Shabazz Palaces (Butterfly from Digable Planets):
An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum
Swerve… The reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)
A Treatease dedicated to The Avian Airess of North East Nubic (1000 questions, 1 answer)
Youth Without Youth
Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?
La Cathédrale Engloutie
The Road (backstory: apocalypse burned the world, everything ash, the man and the boy travel the road southward, mother years dead, his wallet falls apart and he leaves its contents on the road, he looks at the picture of his wife and places it there among the other items, they see a burned man walking down the road, they follow from a distance and later in the day he collapses, his eye is burnt out and his hair is a wig of ash wisping on a blackened skull, he has been struck by lightning, he sees them as they walk past and he looks down as if in shame, the boy wants to help him, there is no help for him.)
He thought about the picture in the road and he thought that he should have tried to keep her in their lives in some way but he didn’t know how. He woke coughing and walked out so as not to wake the child. Following a stone wall in the dark, wrapped in his blanket, kneeling in the ashes like a penitent. He coughed till he could taste the blood and he said her name aloud. He thought perhaps he’d said it in his sleep. When he got back the boy was awake. I’m sorry, he said.
Go to sleep.
I wish I was with my mom.
He didnt answer. He sat beside the small figure wrapped in the quilts and blankets. After a while he said: You mean you wish that you were dead.
You musnt say that.
But I do.
Dont say it. It’s a bad thing to say.
I cant help it.
I know. But you have to.
How do I do it?
I dont know.
We’re survivors he told her across the flame of the lamp.
Survivors? she said.
What in God’s name are you talking about? We’re not survivors. We’re the walking dead in a horror film.
I’m begging you.
I don’t care. I don’t care if you cry. It doesn’t mean anything to me.
I am begging you. I’ll do anything.
Such as what? I should have done it a long time ago. When there were three bullets in the gun instead of two. I was stupid. We’ve been over all of this. I didn’t bring myself to this. I was brought. And now I’m done. I thought about not even telling you. That would probably have been best. You have two bullets and then what? You cant protect us. You say you would die for us but what good is that? I’d take him with me if it werent for you. You know I would. It’s the right thing to do.
You’re talking crazy.
No, I’m speaking the truth. Sooner or later they will catch us and they will kill us. They will rape me. They’ll rape him. They are going to rape us and kill us and eat us and you wont face it. You’d rather wait for it to happen. But I cant. I cant. She sat there smoking a slender length of dried grapevine as if it were some rare cheroot. Holding it with a certain elegance, her other hand across her knees where she’d drawn them up. She watched him across the small flame. We used to talk about death, she said. We don’t any more. Why is that?
I don’t know.
It’s because it’s here. There’s nothing left to talk about.
I wouldn’t leave you.
I don’t care. It’s meaningless. You can think of me as a faithless slut if you like. I’ve taken a new lover. He can give me what you cannot.
Death is not a lover.
Oh yes he is.
Please don’t do this.
I cant do it alone.
Then dont. I cant help you. They say that women dream of danger to those in their care and men of danger to themselves. But I dont dream at all. You say you cant? Then dont do it. That’s all. Because I am done with my own whorish heart and I have been done for a long time. You talk about taking a stand but there is no stand to take. My heart was ripped out of me the night he was born so dont ask for sorrow now. There is none. Maybe you’ll be good at this. I doubt it, but who knows. The one thing I can tell you is that you wont survive for yourself. I know because I would never have come this far. A person who had no would be well advised to cobble together some passable ghost. Breathe it into being and coax it along with words of love. Offer it each phantom crumb and shield it from harm with your body. As for me my only hope is for eternal nothingness and I hope it with all my heart.
He didnt answer.
You have no argument because there is none.
Will you tell him goodbye?
No. I will not.
Just wait till morning. Please.
I have to go.
She had already stood up.
For the love of God, woman. What am I to tell him?
I cant help you.
Where are you going to go? You cant even see.
I dont have to.
He stood up. I’m begging you, he said.
No. I will not. I cannot.
She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift. She would do it with a flake of obsidian. He’d taught her himself. Sharper than steel. The edge an atom thick. And she was right. there was no argument. The hundred nights they’d sat up debating the pros and cons of self destruction with the earnestness of philosophers chained to a madhouse wall. In the morning the boy said nothing at all and when they were packed up and ready to set out upon the road he turned and looked back at their campsite and he said: She’s gone isn’t he? And he said: Yes, she is.
Always so deliberate, hardly surprised by the most outlandish events. A creation perfectly evolved to meet its own end. They sat at the window and ate in their robes by candlelight a midnight supper and watched distant cities burn. A few nights later she gave birth in their bed by the light of a drycell lamp. Gloves meant for dishwashing. The improbably appearance of the small crown of the head. Streaked with blood and lank black hair. The rank meconium. Her cries meant nothing to him. Beyond the window just the gathering cold, the fires on the horizon. He held aloft the scrawny red body so raw and naked and cut the cord with kitchen shears and wrapped his son in a towel.
Did you have any friends?
Yes. I did.
Lots of them?
Do you remember them?
Yes. I remember them.
What happened to them?
All of them?
Yes. All of them.
Do you miss them?
Yes. I do.
Where are we going?
We’re going south.