Friday, September 23, 2005

the thing about every mystery

The thing about every mystery is that with time it becomes a fact. So with my dad we made one when we both said at once that was the second time we heard that sound.
For him the first was in the evening, a damp evening when the birds were weary across the fields just moaning those birds. That was ’27.

For me it was in the desert night crisp, dirty wind and really ball grabbing cold before a call came saying just ignore that sergeant. That was this year. March I think. A month before I came home.

Next day when we got settled a couple of guys from down the street were on the news filling in time from a remote spot with a news reporter from Memphis before the weather came on when one said he thought it was a barge hitting the wall and the other said yaw, it sounded like an explosion.

Dad said yaw, that’s certainly nearly right. He is eighty something now but he can still talk like a school teacher. He said he heard it better than them cause our house was nearer the levee than theirs. He said it fucking was an explosion just like the one in ‘27 when they blew the dyke and flooded us all out. Except it was just us kids and old folks on poor farms then. Were mainly in shacks not like now. Was because they wanted to lower the river before it got to Garden City or into the French Quarter.

I said that I thought it was like an explosion too. I said that to dad when I was checking the fridge the last time. It sounded just like that one that blew up the pipeline and I remember I thought wow that’s the shit hitting the fan and then I saw it was the contractors truck nearby and they done it, then the call came saying forget it. The line was empty anyway. Then the next day the news went on that the prices had gone up at home again because of the terrorists. It was that same sound.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Monday, September 12, 2005

Red Nile excerpt 4: flying planes can be dangerous

The plane seemed to rise up with a jerk. A silence churned behind his suddenly plugged ears. The plane seemed to be floating, even frozen.

Hank wanted to think something, anything, of his family, his father, his wife and his son. He wanted to think anything of how he felt. But he couldn’t. Instead he thought of another law.

The individual is made up of collections of false memory of false morality built on failed love.

As the plane tipped and descended, Mr. Gunn-Phitre settled back in his seat to enjoy the rarefied sensation that comes to certain experienced travellers, such as he was himself, in potential disasters. Hank had gone asleep or flown to the moon. Where was Hank? Gunn-Phitre answered: the moon.

While flying in general, and in airplanes in particular, especially those which were crashing, Mr. Gunn-Phitre always felt with satisfaction the perfect concentration of all his skills and
knowledge into one powerful frozen force coiled like a tornado.

At last his mind wasn’t being underutilised. His thinking became absolutely, yes, infinitely lucid and his imagination magically concrete. He would get out of course, wait and see, but not just yet. He would savour this moment. Why not. It was exquisite. It was like driving past someone else’s accident. Someone who drove the same model car as your lover. But it wasn’t them inside.

It was you.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Red Nile excerpt 3: Ardfert

This was for those monks the boundary of the world. It was the edge of creation. It was as far as they could get. The stormy sea was like the blazing desert, it was the place where there was nothing between them and God. Or between them and Satan. The headquarters in Ardfert sent people out in small boats after the stormy season to check which of the saints were alive and which were dead and to collect their visions and their dreams.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Red Nile excerpt 2: desert encounter

'Just smell that desert, Mohammed! It’s wonderful, clear and clean, like the aroma of stars. Ah, this cold wind, blowing invisible dust into the night. It is so empty here. Road and sky. It is getting cooler, isn’t it? I should roll up the window. The moon is brighter too.’ Hank stuck his head from the window. ‘What is that ahead?’ He stiffened and slowed.

Beside the road sat a black animal. A dog. It was larger than the car. Twice as large. Bluish teeth shone at its muzzle and green eyes followed them unblinking as they went by. It seemed to have many toes. Its arms were hairless. A smell of honey and burnt pork quickly filled the car and lingered.

Mohammed said nothing. Hank turned and focussed on the road ahead. Neither looked back. After several minutes, Hank wiped his nose. The smell was gone. He rolled up the window.

‘We believe that there are only men, saints and djinns in the world,’ said Mohammed. ‘Nothing else. Not ghosts, not spirits, not monsters.’ His voice was steady but dry, raspy.

‘It is a big desert,’ said Hank. ‘It goes through Libya and beyond. It goes south to the mid-Sudan. There must be many things in it.’

‘There are only natural illusions,’ said Mohammed. ‘We are taught that. We believe in nothing else.’

‘I heard there are meadows of yellow molten glass in the dunes,’ said Hank.

‘I saw it too,’ came a hoarse voice from the back seat. Mohammed gasped and sat upright.