<![CDATA[ZENRAGE - Blog]]>Fri, 21 Sep 2018 05:38:52 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[East/West]]>Mon, 22 Jan 2018 00:29:18 GMThttp://zenrage.com/blog/eastwest

West awoke to blackness.  Not complete blackness, there were stars overhead.  Billions and billions.  West had never seen so many stars, too many stars . . . 

West awoke to blackness.  Not complete blackness, there were stars overhead.  Billions and billions.  West had never seen so many stars, too many stars . . . 
Where am I?
“Is she asleep?”

“We’re joined at the neck, not the brain,” East snapped.

West raised her left arm, the only one she could control, toward the night sky, but they were just out of reach.  Her arm drifted back down to her side as if underwater.   
I am dreaming.
“Her arm rose up,” Dr. Jonathan Taurus-Littrow insisted, confused by the woman’s sudden anger.
“She’s often restless in sleep.  I can’t tell you how many times she’s poked me in the eye, or punched my nose while we slept.”
 She sensed her sister was with her–she was always in reach but never in sight–so she was not afraid.  West saw through East’s eyes.  The landscape was dusty, dark and barren, illuminated by sporadic, soft white beacons.  She saw what looked like huge, white balloons bouncing lazily across the landscape, lit like fireflies.  They appeared to be herded by a lovely pink angel.
 It was beautiful.
 “Is it not true that dicephalic parapagus twins share thoughts, at least some forms of rudimentary consciousness?”
The doctor asked.

“That’s a myth,” East lied.
 I must be in Heaven.
West fell back asleep.
I must be in Heaven . . .” was all East received.  She paled.  “I thought you said that the Neuro-blocker would work for fifteen hours? I’m not prepared for her to wake up early.”
“Yes, yes,” he explained.  “But many things function unpredictably here.”
‘Here’ was the dark side of the moon, more specifically The Fermi Institute for The Obese, an outlaw research institute far from the prying eyes, laws and regulations of that planet below.  Located on the rim of the Fermi Crater, it could not be viewed from Earth and even the occasional satellite crossing would be unable to distinguish it from the surrounding rocks, as it was mostly sub-lunar. One had to be in the know to even know it existed, much less be invited to become a patient.

“Have you had enough site seeing?” Dr. Taurus-Littrow asked.
East spun lazily in her high-bounced arc to face him.  Even here they made a strange sight:  two space-suited figures taking loping bounds across the harsh, dark landscape; one beautiful and slender, with dual bubble helmets; the other, an obese, silvery beach ball of a man, unexpectedly graceful in this element.
“I can’t wait for West to see this.  She loves stars more than anything.  Her greatest wish has always been to see the stars from space, her vision of heaven,” East sighed.

“She’ll see it all, soon enough,” Taurus-Littrow said, glancing at his watch.  “We should get back.” He bounced off.

East waited a moment longer.  She looked to the stars for forgiveness.  She hated tricking her conjoined sister; she loved her with a love that was entangled into her soul, something impossible for separates to understand.  I am doing this for her as much as me! she insisted.

She felt West stir.

What are you dreaming about, dear sister?  Do you have any idea what is about to happen?  Are you excited to be free?  Are you afraid?  Will you still love me? East wondered.

 Neither her sister nor the stars answered.

Dr. Taurus-Littrow eased his bulky frame through the door.  East noticed an unusual amount of massively obese people, dulled and passive, being led through the halls by attendant women in smart pink jumpsuits.
“Who are those people?” she asked.
“Left-Overs,” he replied dismissively. “Your Somas are in B.D. 3.”  They made their way down a warren of passages to a closed, frosted door marked: Birthing Dock 3.  He opened the door.
East was dumbstruck by the sight before her.
A slip of dream-thought from West penetrated her mind.
We are binary stars, linked and forever circling.  We shine and shine and shine . . .
It had been difficult keeping the secret from West.  Circumstance naturally allowed for no privacy, but they had taken a solemn pledge to respect each other’s needs. West had been naturally curious when she noticed an onslaught of scrambled correspondences from one ‘DRT-L’.

“A secret lover?” She had teased. “Is he handsome?”

“If you must know, it’s a secret for your birthday.  So mind your own business.”

West had laughed her airy, sparkle of a laugh. “Now I’ll have to figure out what to get you.”

“You’re all I need,” East had replied, choking on the enormity of what she was attempting.
Later that night East had injected a neuro-blocker into West as she slept.

Fortunately their vehicle had been specially equipped for either to drive independently­–the perk of being an elite fashion model sensation–allowing her to make her clandestine rendezvous. The industrial complex had displayed no signage only discreet unit numbers.  East had located 1147, was scanned, verified then allowed in.  She had been met by Dr. Laura Taurus-Littrow, Jonathan’s sister, slim, handsome and warm (all that he was not).  Funds were exchanged, legal waivers signed (most likely unenforceable) and a private rocket secured.

“You are doing the right thing,” Laura had assured her with a hug.  “Your sister will be forever thankful.”

Next she had known, East was slipping from Earth’s gravity.  She slept as the blue planet dwindled below and then awoken on the Moon.

“I want her to see the big picture first,” East said.

“You do know she can’t back out,” Taurus-Littrow added apprehensively.  “We have invested considerable funds in you two.”

“Don’t worry.  I’ve never had any trouble leading her along.”

They were in Hangar C going over the checklist and instructions for the Rover.  It was largely foolproof:  program in the coordinates and then set the autopilot.  East/West climbed in.

“May I ask why you have not chosen a thinner body that would allow you to live on Earth with your sister?” East asked.

Taurus-Littrow sucked his lips as if seeking to taste the correct response.  This was a question most patients eventually asked, and in turn would have to ask themselves.  He had an answer prepared, but it was a lie.

“It was essential that one of us remain permanently here to oversee the operation.  We cannot operate legally on Earth for religious and ethical reasons, and though I cannot be extradited, I cannot ever return to Earth without facing severe consequences.  It was decided that Laura, also obese, would take a Soma replacement, and I would stay here.  Given the lesser gravity, I am quite comfortable here, so I saw no reason to exchange.”

East nodded and as she rolled the Rover out the exit ramp, she realized that she suddenly knew the answer to a puzzle that had plagued a handful of conspiracy theorists, namely:  To where had all the obese suddenly disappeared?

In 2061 the Extreme Consumption Act had been introduced in the World Court making excess consumption illegal, outlawing the amount one could consume in one sitting.  It had become fashionable for the elite to gorge in secret restaurants that trended fast and large, in direct proportion to their clientele.  If one had been found to weigh more than one-and-a-half times their ideal body weight, they would be incarcerated and sentenced to diet and exercise until their ideal weight was achieved. The elite obese had gone underground, seemingly en-masse.  The World Court had been satisfied.  Earth had continued to spin.  Only a few wondered or had even cared what had become of the obese.

It should have been obvious, East realized, bumping along the uneven surface.  What better place for the obese than on a satellite where no matter how heavy you were, you were only 1/6th of your Earth weight?  Much more than a fat farm, this had become a haven for outlaw genetic experimentation, advanced cloning, Neuro-programming and transference, which was why she and West were here.

Dr. Taurus-Littrow went into a private inner office.  Left-Over Laura, obese, slack-jawed and dimmed, ate ice cream and looked up at him happily.

“Wan’ sum?” she asked through a mouth full of chocolate and whipped cream.

“No, thank you.  You enjoy.”

“Okie-dokie!” She happily went about her business.

‘Left-Overs’ were an occasional, unfortunate side effect of a soma transference.  It was listed in the small print, but few saw it or understood the ramification.  Generally a transfer was complete, but on the rare occasion that some residue of the former self lingered, a Left-Over remained.  It varied from individual, but anywhere from a mere flicker to 60% full retention could exist.  What to do with the Left-Over was an ethical, moral and very personal decision.  On Luna there were no laws to dictate policy, so Dr. Taurus-Littrow left the decision solely up to the individual.  His sister, however, had told him to destroy her Left-Over as it had made her feel creepy.  But Jonathan couldn’t bear to do it.  Knowing Laura would never come back here, and he could never go home, he had lied.

East approached the horizon.  She held the hypo-plunge to West’s neck and slowed the Rover down to a crawl as the light side of the Moon came into view.

West beheld the amazing sight:  a curved line of grey-white surface, scissor-cut by a stark, black horizon.

“Where are we?” she whispered.

“Just watch,” East croaked.  She hadn’t expected the sight to be so profoundly beautiful.  West was the poetic one–the spiritualist–while she was the pragmatic–the ‘get it done girl’–who fearlessly pushed them through all obstacles.

When Earth finally slid into view, their heart stopped.

“Happy Birthday, Sis,” East managed to whisper, but she wasn’t sure West heard as she was too busy ‘aweing’ and ‘ooohing’.

“My God,” West exclaimed, taking her sister’s hand.  She turned her head as much as she could to touch cheeks, their version of a kiss.

They watched Earth spin in silence.
“There’s more,” East announced, feeling like Judas.

“How can there possibly be more?” West sighed, so trusting.


“I don’t understand,” West said upon entering Birthing Dock 3.  “What is this?”

Soma East and Soma West stood side-by-side, identical twins (save one had blue, the other brown eyes) in the soft, glowing light, hands held, no longer joined at the neck.  They were nude, their skin flawless and their hair luxurious; twin shells waiting for their spark of life.

“Imagine two legs of your own to walk or run in any direction.  Or having the freedom to make singular, unshared love . . . To be truly free, truly you and you alone at last?”

“I don’t understand,” West repeated, “Is this what you want?  To be apart from me.  Forever?”

Their blood ran cold, East couldn’t control the feeling.

“No.  No.  We would still be together.  Our bodies would be separate but our heart’s will always be together.”

“Our minds will be transferred to those bodies?”

“Yes.  Aren’t they beautiful?  You can choose, blue eyes or green!”

“What about our souls?” West wondered.

Dr. Taurus-Littrow stepped in, attempting to assuage her fears. “A soma placement is not like a clone.  We ‘map’ your consciousness onto this new version of you, and activate it.  You come alive in this new body with all memories intact.  All you felt, thought, imagined, dreamt will carry along with you.  Your new life will start up just where this one left off, except as two separate beings.”

“And our old body?” West asked.

“It is disposed.  Without a functioning brain the autotomic support systems shut down.” Taurus-Littrow cleared his throat.  “On rare occasions some retention of the host body remains-”

“In English!” West insisted.

“What remains, a Left-Over we call them, may have some slight cognitive abilities.”

“Lovely name,” West replied sarcastic. “What do you do with the Left-Overs?”

“If the Source insists on keeping it alive, it can continue on living a peaceful life here.”

“I don’t understand . . . I would be in two places at once?”

Dr. Taurus-Littrow cleared his throat.  “Well, yes, in a manner of speaking–”
East stepped in. “What’s important is that we could return to Earth and begin living a normal life.  Dr. Taurus-Littrow has created an extensive cover story detailing our fictional operation and plastic surgery.”

“So,” West tried to reason it all out. “I could choose to remain here.  In this body, while you transfer, to that…” she pointed to the Soma East.

“Why would you want that?” East asked, shocked.  “Haven’t you always wished to be apart?  To be normal?  To be whole?”

“I think God made us the way we are for a reason,” West said simply.  “I, we, have had no experience living any other way.  This is normal, this is whole.”

East felt a helpless wave of emotion wash over her. “How can you assume that this is not all part of a divine plan?  What if our destinies are inside those bodies?”

“That may be true,” West conceded.  “But this is all so overwhelming.  Please allow me to meditate on it.” She closed her eyes and went deep inside.

The two Somas stared at her blankly.

“I love you, East,” West said after several minutes, “but I don’t want to risk losing my soul.  I have no other Birthday gift for you, I’ll give you this.  You go ahead.  I’ll stay here as I am.”
East was stunned.
“You want to stay in this body?  Here?  Without me?”
“No!  I don’t ever want to leave you, but I also don’t want to imprison you.  You deserve to be normal.”
“I don’t know that I can do that,” East cried.  “I thought of this as a great adventure we’d experience together.  I never considered . . . ”

West pulled East’s head close to her. “You gave me Heaven, the least I can do is give you Earth.”
East turned toward the doctor, incredulous, tears flowing down her cheek.  “Is that even possible?”
The doctor rubbed his chin, deep in thought.  “I had anticipated this . . .  ”



West watched the Earthrise over the horizon.  She came here every day at the same time, just as California was spinning into view below.

“East.  I love you,” she whispered to the detached part of her skimming freely on the planet below.

The part of East that was with her, had eyes perpetually closed in a deep sleep, (for that is how West had to imagine her, always asleep, always dreaming).

If West could have turned her head enough, she would have seen her sister’s lips silently echo her words:

  I love you.


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<![CDATA[F.E.A.R.]]>Sun, 21 Jan 2018 02:26:21 GMThttp://zenrage.com/blog/fearAn elusive musician invites a reporter to tread inside his secret world, praying that what he has struggled to release with art can finally be immortalized in words.


“No photographs and no real names,” the girl who called herself Brittle insisted. “And you have to agree to be blindfolded until we get there.”

We were sitting in a dark, noisy club. I had trouble hearing her over Sonic Boom, the artist on stage creating a wave of sound from an array of electronics, wave generators and feedback loops. It wasn’t music for (or even to) everyone, but thankfully Brittle’s boyfriend F.E.A.R. was a huge fan and as I had interviewed Sonic a while back, I was able to get access to this private show, which I offered to Brittle and F.E.A.R. in exchange for a trade.

“Why do I have to be blindfolded?” I yelled.

Brittle looked around nervously. She needn’t have worried; F.E.A.R. was standing at the very edge of the stage, allowing the sounds to wash over him in nearly visible waves. I’ve stood there, I’ve felt it before, and it was sublime, but right now I had other things on my mind.

Brittle leaned in close, nearly shouting into my ear. “F.E.A.R.’s a very private person, but he says your writing transcends, and so do I. . .”

Her lips brushed my ear and lingered. As a female rock journalist, I’m used to being hit on by both sexes, but I wasn’t interested in a good time, I was out for a story.

I knew little about F.E.A.R., few did, as he was an elusive underground musician of the industrial noise variety–imagine Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music as pop music by comparison–who shunned press like the plague. This would be quite a coup for me.

I turned to face Brittle. “It’s UE isn’t it? I thought their policy was ‘leave only footprints, take only photographs’? So why no pics?”

UE stood for Urban Explorer, a group of adventurers who explore the seamy, decaying, dank and generally off-limit sub-structures of abandoned city constructs all over the world. What Brittle had cryptically described as our ‘little interview adventure’ seemed to fit their scenario.

Fortunately Sonic ended his set just then, so Brittle could answer without yelling. “We’re not UE. F.E.A.R. makes this trip every year, same fucking day, same fucking place. I have no idea why. Not even sure why he’s allowing you to come.”

F.E.A.R. appeared at our table. With his streaming black hair, black shards of leather and straps and ‘F.E.A.R.’ inked across his forehead–he was not the man most mothers hoped their daughters would bring home. He had date tats on the back of each hand: ‘1945’ on his left and ‘1989’ on his right. His eyes had a tranced out look indicating he had maybe one foot still in this world. Sonic’s music could do that to you.

“Is she in?” F.E.A.R. asked Brittle, not looking at me. Brittle turned to me with questioning eyes. I nodded.

                                                                                             ***

F.E.A.R. drove a flat black VW Microbus. I was blindfolded and seat-belted in. We drove in complete silence for I’m not sure how long. When we arrived it was dead quiet except for crickets and other night sounds.

“Watch your step,” Brittle said as she took my arm and helped me over what felt liked cracked pavement. Although blind, I sensed the enormous weight and sorrow of a towering, empty structure just within arms reach. If I was where I thought I was, it was not a place I had ever wanted to visit. I shivered.

“Duck your head,” Brittle whispered, placing a hand gently on top of my head and pushing down, like a cop helping a perp into a squad car. I crawled through a low, tight hole of cold concrete.

Then I was inside.
Brittle removed my blindfold, and for a moment I had the sudden, inexplicable fear that I had gone blind, so absolute dark was the interior.

A match was struck by F.E.A.R. He lit a black candle off it and handed it to me. He lit two more.

“No flashlights?” I asked.

“No. She bled electricity,” F.E.A.R replied then head off down one of the passages.

I looked to Brittle for some explanation. She shook her head slowly: Don’t ask. She followed him.

The room was a crumbling ode to ancient masonry: hulking walls; heavy ceilings and a suffocating maze of dark passageways. My suspicions were instantly confirmed; we were inside the despicable, hideous Greystone Lunatic Asylum. Built in the early 1900’s, it remained in operation up to a mere thirty years ago, when it was finally abandoned then left to rot.

Shit.

I hurried to catch up with Brittle and F.E.A.R.


We passed room after room, catching shadowy glimpses of human residue and hints of a harrowing life: A broken wheelchair on its side beside a tossed, rusty cot; a moldy rag doll missing an arm; a shredded nightgown . . .

“The nights were the worse. They cut the electricity to the wards to save money.” F.E.A.R announced suddenly, not sure to whom.

Brittle took my hand and squeezed. I was beginning to realize that she wanted me here more for support than sex.
F.E.A.R. walked with unwavering, unhurried determination.

We entered a room that had obviously been some sort of administrative office: desks tilted over, broken chairs, scads of damp moldy papers strewn across the floor. I plucked up a crumpled piece. It was from a patient’s file detailing their treatments: Electro-shock, skull drilling, ice cold baths, extended isolation . . .

THUD!

F.E.A.R. let his backpack drop to the floor. He removed a thick, club hammer. It must have weighed at least 3 or 4 pounds. He placed his candle on the floor and blew it out.

Brittle and I remained in the center of the room as F.E.A.R. closed his eyes and walked the perimeter of the room, his right hand sliding lightly across the cracked concrete walls, the hammer dangled heavy in his left. Occasionally his fingers would sink into a hole in the wall, always at about the same height. There was writing above each hole, but I couldn’t make it out.

“The screams didn’t reach this room,” he said softly, matter-of-factly, “they pretended they didn’t exist at all. In here all were safe and cozy and . . .”  He stopped. His fingers brushed a circle over a bare section of wall, reverently. “Sane.”

Without warning he shifted the hammer to his right hand and delivered three pounding blows to the wall.

BAM! BAM! BAM!

The concrete shattered and fell to the floor in a shower of dust. A gaping black hole remained. F.E.A.R. studied his handiwork, breathing heavy from the exertion. He removed a can of black spray paint and sprayed something above the hole.

“Remember,” he whispered.

He put the hammer and paint back inside his backpack, relit his candle then left the room. I led Brittle to where he had just hammered; she refused to release my hand.
Above the hole he had sprayed: F.E.A.R. 11/19/14.

Today’s date.

I glanced down the wall. Each hole had his name and a date above it: same month and day, different non-consecutive year. I counted at least nine other holes, but I couldn’t see the farthest walls.

“Fuck Everything And Run,” Brittle said.

“What?”

“F.  E.  A.  R. We better go there’s still two more rooms.”


I could see the shadows cast by F.E.A.R.’s candle rounding a corner. I’m no sissy, but this place was seriously creepy, and I was anxious to catch up. But Brittle knew where he was going, and I could tell she only felt comfortable talking out of his earshot, so I allowed her to set the pace.

“This is my fifth time. It always frightens me. I’m so glad you’re here,” Brittle whispered and kissed my cheek lightly.

“I don’t understand any of this,” I said, ignoring the kiss. “Why does he do this?”

“He won’t say.” Brittle’s eyes were huge in the candlelight. “I hate this next room most.”


A once thickly padded chair with remnants of arm, leg and head straps stood in the center of the room. Everything else had long been stripped out and removed (evident by traces of torn bits of wires and brackets).

F.E.A.R. stood in front of the chair mumbling. “Who are you? Who are you?” Who are you?” he asked in soft, feminine voice.     It didn’t matter if we were there or not, he wasn’t talking to us.

He removed some items from his backpack then sat in the chair.

“What’s he doing?” I asked, but Brittle had turned away, crying softly. I held her, watching F.E.A.R. in morbid fascination.
F.EA.R. pantomimed attaching the straps to his wrists and ankles, then, leaning his head back against the headrest, attached an imaginary strap across his forehead. He spoke to the darkness, in a patient, nurturing voice.
“This will help you to remember love. To forget what pain is, and sadness . . . and who you ever were.”

He placed what looked like a rubber dog bone in his mouth.

“It is for your own good,” he mumbled through the bone.

He pulled out a pocket taser.

“No!” I screamed. Brittle grabbed my arm and held me back.

He held the taser to his temple and pulled the trigger.

“What the fuck!” I pulled away from Brittle, but by then the shock was over. The taser dropped from his limp hand and his eyes rolled up to white. He slid onto the floor.

“Leave him!” Brittle screamed and rushed to him.

I backed away, only because I saw his eyes pop open. Although dazed, he looked around the room with coherence, his gaze settling on me, tears in his eyes.

“Like waking up adrift on a milky sea. . .” He rubbed the red spot where the taser rested. “They say it is necessary. I say I feel fine. No more, please.” Tears rolled. “No more, please. But they shake their heads.”

Brittle hugged him, crying too.

My nerves were already jangled, my thoughts blackened, so when a rat scurried across my foot I shrieked! “Fuck this, fuck the story, and fuck this place! Fuck. Everything. And. Run!”

But I didn’t. Neither did they.

I thought I knew what this was all about, but I was wrong.

The true story was yet to unfold.

                                                                                                     Room 1151.

Unlike all the other rooms in this damned, fucked-up, sick hole, this one was clean, almost reverend. The walls had been repainted bright white and plastered, the floor swept. The brittle remains of flower corpses were arranged in a row of small vases along one wall.

I knew very little about F.E.A.R., as I had said, but I had no indication that he was a most remarkable artist. His paintings displayed sensitivity and love and devotion and I suddenly understood what Brittle saw pulsing inside him. I understood too how she tolerated his compulsive ritual to this truly god-forsaken place.

His paintings showed a finessed talent manifested throughout the years, although what I took for his earliest may have been my favorite as they were sadder, darker and surely closer to the epicenter of pain.

Brittle and I sat against a wall, holding each other, and watched him place the final brush strokes onto the wall. This one was of a beatific rather than sorrowful nature. The woman, the same tortured soul in each of the dozen or so paintings, looked heavenward, as if released at long last from her Earthly bonds.

As he inserted the new vase of fresh flowers into the center of the row, and bowed his head in silent meditation or prayer, I realized why I was allowed to be here this, his last time.

He did not want her to ever be forgotten.

A legacy of words may often time outlast a photograph, a painting, a song or even a building.

He had finally released her.

Then turned to me.

How could I tell him I was not worthy?


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<![CDATA[Dionysus Dissolving]]>Tue, 16 Jan 2018 06:07:10 GMThttp://zenrage.com/blog/dionysus-dissolving
Picture
“His lips drink water, but his heart drinks wine” – e.e. cummings

The sun glinted off the blue-green sharpshooter as it hopped up onto the dried vine, searching for a place to lay its eggs. Its bright green carapace the only spot of color amongst the rows of brown, fruitless stalks of the Silenus Vineyard.

The sharpshooter, like its locust cousin, carried its own form of plague–Pierce’s disease, a bacteria that prevented the vine from absorbing water and eventually die. Not that there was any water left to absorb after five years of drought, broken well pumps and the decimation of savings that had left Silenus Vineyards destitute of water and life.

A drop of water rolled off the proffered cup, hung suspended for a moment then fell to the floor where a small pool had collected.

Peter Silenus fixated on it.

“Interesting choice,” a woman said, suddenly at his side. “Most men would have ordered a nude woman.”

“What?” Peter turned to her, broken out of his reverie.

She wore a bemused smile. “The ice sculpture. It’s very… lifelike.”

It was very well done, life-size and anatomically correct in every detail.

“Do you know who it is?” Peter asked.

“Not for certain, but I can guess,” she said, drinking from her wine goblet. “Not Bacchus, the Greek gods were more brutish, less dainty, ergo he’s Roman. Dionysus?”

“Correct,” Peter said. “He’s said to be one of the dying gods.”

“Well, he is melting,” The woman said, as she watched another drop rolled down Dionysus’ chest, his belly, then off his erect penis onto the floor. “An obvious choice for a vineyard wedding.”

“Yes, he is.”

“Perhaps we should re-join the wedding? Your daughter is probably wondering where you are … ” She waited a moment, and then finished her wine. “I need a refill,” she announced, hoping he would join her.

Peter was back to studying the statue. More drips were forming. More drops falling.

Dionysus dissolving.

Peter sipped from a glass of water as he watched the moon climb past the mountains to the east, illuminating the vineyard in pale, blue light. A soft, warm wind blew off the hills. Dust devils danced down the neat, skeletal rows of dried vines, kicking up more dust, as if to emphasize the desiccation, placing a final layer of dirt over a bone-yard of hope.

The distant sounds of laughter, thumping of the DJ’s bass speaker, clinking glasses of wines being toasted, drunk and refilled, drunk and refilled–filtered out to him.

Peter’s cellar was thrown wide open, his stores depleting, his reserve flowing out.

Persephone was drunk, which was her right and duty as the bride. She sloppily drank Silenus Merlot from a silver chalice, spilling and staining the front of her wedding gown.

Her husband pointed this out to her.

“So what? I’ll never wear it again,” she laughed, as she poured the rest of her wine down her nearly exposed bosom, then forced her new husband’s face into it. His muffled laughter and eager tongue tickled her and she giggled happily.

A couple staggered down one of the long rows of vines. He made a sudden attempt to hug her, feel her up, seduce her … pushing her against one of the wooden stalk supports. The stalk snapped like a gunshot, the vine broke, dried up marbles of dead grapes scattered, as they fell, laughing, onto the dirt where they made dusty, stained love.

When Peter passed Dionysus, his face had melted away: a nude, dying god still offering up the grape.

Peter continued upstairs to his room. He sat at his writing table and inscribed a note. He signed it, folded it and carefully placed it into an off-white envelope.

On the outside he wrote: ‘To my darling daughter. Read this only AFTER your honeymoon. Love always, Dad.’

The orgy of festivity vibrated up through the floorboards.

The muddy pool of water around Dionysus’ remaining torso attracted a skimming mosquito. She drank a miniscule amount of water, then, being an unsatisfied female, went off in thirst for blood.

Despite the debris of broken bottles and sticky, spilled wine, Peter found the dim, quiet of the wine cellar reassuring. He laid his pounding head against the cool wall allowing the scorching heat from the day, seemingly trapped inside his body, to ebb into the bricks.

A well-endowed brunette, nearly falling out of her dress, as she nearly fell down the stairs, laughed at her own ineptitude.

“Hello,” she called out, spotting Peter. “I came for more wine,” she giggled, looking around the bottle-lined walls. “Do you think there’s any left?”

Peter raised his head. “I have just what you need.”

He led her back to where a thick, wooden door, was nearly hidden in a dark recess.

“Spooky,” the girl giggled, grabbing his hand for comfort.

He pulled out an old fashioned key and unlocked the door to a cramped stone room with a bare bulb hung from the ceiling.

Peter yanked the chain, lighting it. The bulb swung in, illuminating empty wine racks, save for two, dust-cobbed bottles before them; then swung out, catching the glint of a revolver’s barrel, unseen by the girl, atop the far rack.

“These are the last two remaining bottles from our very first cuvee,” Peter said handing her a bottle.

“Yummy!” She examined the label. “It’s older, than me. Is it still good?”

“Definitely.”

“Goodie,” she pressed the bottle against her chest. “Let’s go drink it!”

“I can’t, but will you give this to Persephone for me?” He handed her the envelope.

“Are you sure you don’t want to party?”

“Just make sure she gets the letter.”

“Okie-dokie!” she giggled, leaving him alone.

The bulb continued to sway as the last bottled was uncorked, the gun no longer on the shelf.
The giggling girl slipped in the pool of water left by Dionysus. She fell to the ground with a night shattering scream, the ancient bottle of wine smashing with a bang, spilling the blood of grapes across the thirsty soil.

The sun glinted off the blue-green sharpshooter as it hopped up onto the dried vine, searching for a place to lay its eggs. Its bright green carapace the only spot of color amongst the rows of brown, fruitless stalks of the Silenus Vineyard.

The sharpshooter, like its locust cousin, carried its own form of plague–Pierce’s disease, a bacteria that prevented the vine from absorbing water and eventually die. Not that there was any water left to absorb after five years of drought, broken well pumps and the decimation of savings that had left Silenus Vineyards destitute of water and life.

A drop of water rolled off the proffered cup, hung suspended for a moment then fell to the floor where a small pool had collected.

Peter Silenus fixated on it.

“Interesting choice,” a woman said, suddenly at his side. “Most men would have ordered a nude woman.”

“What?” Peter turned to her, broken out of his reverie.

She wore a bemused smile. “The ice sculpture. It’s very… lifelike.”

It was very well done, life-size and anatomically correct in every detail.

“Do you know who it is?” Peter asked.

“Not for certain, but I can guess,” she said, drinking from her wine goblet. “Not Bacchus, the Greek gods were more brutish, less dainty, ergo he’s Roman. Dionysus?”

“Correct,” Peter said. “He’s said to be one of the dying gods.”

“Well, he is melting,” The woman said, as she watched another drop rolled down Dionysus’ chest, his belly, then off his erect penis onto the floor. “An obvious choice for a vineyard wedding.”

“Yes, he is.”

“Perhaps we should re-join the wedding? Your daughter is probably wondering where you are … ” She waited a moment, and then finished her wine. “I need a refill,” she announced, hoping he would join her.

Peter was back to studying the statue. More drips were forming. More drops falling.

Dionysus dissolving.

Peter sipped from a glass of water as he watched the moon climb past the mountains to the east, illuminating the vineyard in pale, blue light. A soft, warm wind blew off the hills. Dust devils danced down the neat, skeletal rows of dried vines, kicking up more dust, as if to emphasize the desiccation, placing a final layer of dirt over a bone-yard of hope.

The distant sounds of laughter, thumping of the DJ’s bass speaker, clinking glasses of wines being toasted, drunk and refilled, drunk and refilled–filtered out to him.

Peter’s cellar was thrown wide open, his stores depleting, his reserve flowing out.

Persephone was drunk, which was her right and duty as the bride. She sloppily drank Silenus Merlot from a silver chalice, spilling and staining the front of her wedding gown.

Her husband pointed this out to her.

“So what? I’ll never wear it again,” she laughed, as she poured the rest of her wine down her nearly exposed bosom, then forced her new husband’s face into it. His muffled laughter and eager tongue tickled her and she giggled happily.

A couple staggered down one of the long rows of vines. He made a sudden attempt to hug her, feel her up, seduce her … pushing her against one of the wooden stalk supports. The stalk snapped like a gunshot, the vine broke, dried up marbles of dead grapes scattered, as they fell, laughing, onto the dirt where they made dusty, stained love.

When Peter passed Dionysus, his face had melted away: a nude, dying god still offering up the grape.

Peter continued upstairs to his room. He sat at his writing table and inscribed a note. He signed it, folded it and carefully placed it into an off-white envelope.

On the outside he wrote: ‘To my darling daughter. Read this only AFTER your honeymoon. Love always, Dad.’

The orgy of festivity vibrated up through the floorboards.

The muddy pool of water around Dionysus’ remaining torso attracted a skimming mosquito. She drank a miniscule amount of water, then, being an unsatisfied female, went off in thirst for blood.

Despite the debris of broken bottles and sticky, spilled wine, Peter found the dim, quiet of the wine cellar reassuring. He laid his pounding head against the cool wall allowing the scorching heat from the day, seemingly trapped inside his body, to ebb into the bricks.

A well-endowed brunette, nearly falling out of her dress, as she nearly fell down the stairs, laughed at her own ineptitude.

“Hello,” she called out, spotting Peter. “I came for more wine,” she giggled, looking around the bottle-lined walls. “Do you think there’s any left?”

Peter raised his head. “I have just what you need.”

He led her back to where a thick, wooden door, was nearly hidden in a dark recess.

“Spooky,” the girl giggled, grabbing his hand for comfort.

He pulled out an old fashioned key and unlocked the door to a cramped stone room with a bare bulb hung from the ceiling.

Peter yanked the chain, lighting it. The bulb swung in, illuminating empty wine racks, save for two, dust-cobbed bottles before them; then swung out, catching the glint of a revolver’s barrel, unseen by the girl, atop the far rack.

“These are the last two remaining bottles from our very first cuvee,” Peter said handing her a bottle.

“Yummy!” She examined the label. “It’s older, than me. Is it still good?”

“Definitely.”

“Goodie,” she pressed the bottle against her chest. “Let’s go drink it!”

“I can’t, but will you give this to Persephone for me?” He handed her the envelope.

“Are you sure you don’t want to party?”

“Just make sure she gets the letter.”

“Okie-dokie!” she giggled, leaving him alone.

The bulb continued to sway as the last bottled was uncorked, the gun no longer on the shelf.

The giggling girl slipped in the pool of water left by Dionysus.
She fell to the ground with a night shattering scream, the ancient bottle of wine smashing with a bang, spilling the blood of grapes across the thirsty soil.


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