Friday, December 18, 2015

Algo's Barbarians

Some people have been mocking a certain branch of Algo’s never-ending story. Luckily I’ve been allowed to transplant the story here, with the author’s permission. A few thoughts: despite what critics may say, the story ends up working very well. That it’s a solid story and the excessive rant voice only makes perfect sense in this case. 

As the sandstorm rolled in, the barbarians did ride forth, with their warpaint all cracking, like Picasso painting on absinthe and with a creeping syphilitic problem, though who amongst us has not flirted with at least the possibility of the latter? And even amongst the settlers—all of whom were now trembling at the sight of iron horses requisitioned, bearing down on their village, a sandstorm just behind—there was none who could cast a first stone on the matter and the barbarians rolled closer, the sound of the dust storm muffling their war cries—of which there were definitely some since they all had their mouths open and what else would they open their mouths for?—and in their other hands were the death flowers these barbarians had been known for: shrunken heads with ears of others vanquished attached to the ends—and to think that some thought of these as art—to form grotesque petals on the aria-head.

And some of the townspeople were certainly thinking this, as they prepped their claymores and tapped, for the infinite time, their magazines, as bits of dust  hit them. The limited visibility or sight reduction helping only the barbarians for they had nothing but dust and their hateful hearts to work with, those hearts with such memories of such slights; then the memories were cooked in that disgusting sandland of theirs, and here it was, whatever infection of their heart then spread, like a worm, like a love for a hooker, like a gas in a vacuum room, like a virus, like a man’s blood as he’s suddenly  cut on the next the pool unnoticeable, but growing in bits, in slight increases of circumference, the eye never noticing but really knowing and suddenly it’s everywhere—and as their hatred spread amongst themselves, then amongst their people, their land too was cursed by God who had never seen any of his children fall so far—and thus that hatred now had dust to hide in, and so they attacked all towns nearby and now this one was the next and the last one.

And the townspeople were certainly thinking all this; though on the matter of art only one, Tom, was thinking the hardest because he had only just missed being killed by he other townspeople for at one point he had lived amongst the barbarians and when it came to art his house was the only one people would consider the local library and museum, for books he had collected plenty and the same with the art, but the townspeople didn’t like the art he kept, and in good times settled with muttering under their breath.

And in bad times—like upon knowledge of an impending attack by the barbarians (the information passed on by a scout who had seen the death flowers and learned from the wreckage of another village what their plans were)—they wanted him dead: sure that both the art he kept was the reason the barbarians (and by some odd alliance, God as well) were angry with the town and wanted it destroyed and thinking that the art was a Trojan horse for the barbarians—that it was barbaric art—and has somehow a cause for the barbarians (again, they were sure that it was simultaneously calling the barbarians and something the barbarians wanted to own again and creations that pissed off the Lord and something the barbarians wanted to destroy for being better than their own art) to come destroy them, and only because the sound of impending destruction did the townspeople leave him be to look over his possessions, the only thin k he truly cared about, and he knew that the townspeople’s anger—a blind raging thing—would be nothing compared to the barbarians’ anger—worse on all counts—for he had lived with some of them and knew fro whence it stemmed, but mainly he thought on his art, the paintings of landscape like any other but with grotesque beings or deformed humans or spaceships or splashes of paints and the sculptures of bulls mating or emaciated animals and standing there he knew or was sure that not only were the barbarians not coming to their town for their art—their anger being too blind to care now—but that though they didn’t care, they would be disgusted by this museum and would destroy it with even more gusto than the rest of the town, now sure that their actions were justified and on they would go and if he, Tom, were still alive, they would hunt him down and cut off his ears and other parts that flopped in the air, all for this gallery and worse than the townspeople wanted to do to him for this gallery.

And as he thought this he fondled his favorite sculpture, a woman with a head for a torso and a man’s body waist down (and well endowed was it) and thought on his lover who had lived there amongst the barbarians, though he wasn’t sure if she was still alive; he missed her, and he half wanted to talk to these barbarians to see what had become of her, but he knew what was about to happen wouldn’t require anymore words and he ran to the wall.

And just as the sandstorm’s penumbra touched the town’s outer walls, did the barbarians disappear. The townspeople all huddled, Tom with his rifle and his fixed bayonet and he waited, hating everything about the town but hating the barbarians more.

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