A Taenia Solium has invaded my appendix. It is an inch long tapeworm with a hooked scolex and its name is Sol. Sol is an asexual parasites with a segmented body. Each mature segment is capable of independent movement and independent reproduction, should they be separated from his scolex. If passed in the stool individual segments appear as grains of rice and may still produce eggs to be accidentally consumed by an unsuspecting host. Undercooked meat is also a prime breeding ground. I'm hoping that I contracted Sol from the latter, and not the former. After some research I discover that tapeworm infection of the appendix is a rare medical occurrence with only perhaps 8 reported incidents in the past 30 years.
My friend the Cattle Rancher recently abandoned his lucrative career and became a doctor. The fact that the appendix is completely useless has emboldened my inexperienced physician. He has planned to go in with some surgical device closely akin to a spoon and, as he put it: “Dig the bastard out.” After garnering a second opinion, for I found in the Cattle Rancher's disposition a bit too much gusto, I discover that the tapeworm could be treated rapidly with certain medications. The second doctor hands me a prescription and tells me where I might find a pharmacy in Malinalco.
As I walk towards the pharmacy I feel an emptiness in my stomach, and then a sharp pang. My stomach growls, but behind the growl is a high pitched squeak. I think to rush back to the doctor's office to pick his brain, but it is siesta, and no one interrupts a Mexican doctor's nap. I forget about the pharmacy. I hear now in the squeaking a semblance of words.
I return to the ranch situated a few miles out of the village, where my physician and friend the Cattle Rancher has invited me to stay for the summer. He too is napping the afternoon away, and since becoming a doctor is very serious about his naps. I avoid waking him and go out to the stable to grab a stethoscope. For years it had been used on horses; now it is part of the Cattle Ranchers arsenal of medical weaponry. I put the headset on and place the diaphragm against my bare abdomen. The voice stops. I hear the far distant pounding of my heart and the intermittent rumblings of gastrointestinal juices. The stomach pain returns and I'm forced to drop the diaphragm in exchange for a hold on my stomach, I double over and again the squeaking starts. I snatch the dangling chest piece and place it back on my stomach. I catch him in mid-sentence.
"... want to live a simple life. I don't want anything from you other than a simple place to feed and lay my head. Please, my family is dead or gone through the brown hole. I am the only one left," he sobs in a falsetto dog whistle.
I again let the stethoscope dangle from my head, but this time in disbelief and not in pain.
An overwhelming sense of compassion, or a hunger pain, grabs me and I find myself unable to fill the prescription which would alleviate me of my house guest. I feel under the circumstances that we must come to some kind of mutually beneficial arrangement. Sol recommends an arbitrator, who deals specifically with parasitic arbitration.
"Telepathic tradition for us you see, my progenitor told me of a time when we may one day communicate with the host. That time has come and now the arbitrator can bring us to terms."
A week later the knock comes at the door. The Arbitrator is a slick looking parasite. His burnt orange body stands six feet tall. It's not segmented like Sol's, but rather smooth. He wears a gray suit custom tailored to his worm like body. His tie is a fine red silk with an arabesque print. He wears black wrap around sun glasses where his eyes would be. He walks through the door already in mid-conversation. It takes a minute before I realize he is talking on a cellphone through a blue tooth headset. The conversation comes to an end. He has no ears, no mouth, no eyes, so I wonder how he communicates at all. He explains that because our's is a unique situation, and may set future precedents he is willing to do the work pro bono publico.
"Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I have been working as an Arbitrator of parasitic disputes for ten years now. I've established myself as the expert in these matter. Though, since this field is rather slow at times, my primary work is done in corporate law. Why don't we sit down and see what we can work out," the Arbitrator claps his hands together and reaches into his briefcase for a pen and paper.
He listens to my explanation of the situation. His cell phone vibrates; he looks down at the screen and chuckles. He presses the tiny keyboard buttons with long feelers protruding from the top of his head. He sets the phone down again and apologizes for the interruption. This process is repeated several times. He nods during the interview indicating that he is listening intently.
"Now this may seem a bit strange, but in order to make contact with Sol I'm going to need to place my head on your bare stomach. It wont be unpleasant, but I want to make sure you're comfortable with it," the Arbitrator speaks in a calming manner.
"Can't you speak to him through the stethoscope?" I ask.
"Those means of communication are best suited for doctors. Think of it as if you were settling a dispute between you and a Mexican gentlemen. To ask him to argue in English would be unfair, wouldn't it?"
I hesitantly raise my shirt and the Arbitrator places his head against my stomach attaching two of his feelers at my belly button. I feel a slight shock, and then a low vibration. This process takes only a minute, but my stomach turns in revulsion.
"All right, well I've heard both sides of the story, and I think we will have no problem coming to some kind of arrangement," the Arbitrator speaks as if the lines were prerecorded.
Negotiations get underway with the Taenia Solium.
IN THE CASE OF HUMAN HOST AND TAENIA SOLIUM
Human Host will from here on be referred to as the party of the first and Taenia Solium will be referred to as the party of the second.
- The party of the second's claim is to be laid to the appendix of the party of the first only, a proper title along with necessary title work with be the responsibility of the party of the first.
- In order to ensure proper housing and nutrition of the party of the second, the party of the first hereby swears to maintain the health of the appendix as much as in his power to do so. If a physician deem that said appendix must be surgically removed it will be the responsibility of the party of the first to find a suitable replacement host for the party of the second.
- In order to ensure that the appendix is a suitable residence for the party of the second strict population control guidelines must be enforced.
a. Breeding of the party of the second is strictly prohibited.
b. In order to ensure breeding is not taking place all sexual organs must be removed from the party of the second and his associates residing in the appendix.
c. Should a physician find that breeding is taking place the party of the second would be found in breach of arbitration and would be subject to immediate eviction.
4. The party of the first will bear responsibility for any damage to the appendix by said
party and bear the full cost of repairs if deemed necessary by a physician.
5. Any conflict arising as to the health of the property herein must be given over firstly to a
qualified physician. If a physician cannot resolve the conflict it must be the subject of further
Both the party of the first and the party of the second must swear under blood oath to uphold the agreement made in this arbitration proceeding. If the party of the second is found in breech of this legal arbitration it would be subject to immediate evicition. If the party of the first is found in breech of this legal arbitration it would be subject to forfeiture of all rights to organic property.
The negotiations are brief and both parties are pleased with the results. We celebrate with a glass of wine and a bite of organ flesh respectively. The Cattle Rancher feeling a bit dejected takes a bottle of tequila and heads off to the stables where he has set up his emergency room. The stethoscope slung around my neck for communication with Sol is the only thing missing. He sits on his rolling chair and sobs quietly.
"You know, we still need someone to perform surgery on Sol here. Eggs must be removed from every segment. I've talked with Sol and we'd like you to do the operation, just to show there are no hard feelings."
The Cattle Rancher's face lights up like a boy whose Christmas wish of some homicidal toy has come true. "An RPG Launcher!!! Gee dad thanks, how did you find it?" the boy says unwrapping the long cylindrical weapon. "Well son, that last business trip I took to Afghanistan, it wasn't just a business trip." The boy hugs his dad with a love that can only be bought.
"I wont let you down senor. I have my microscope, and my surgical tools all prepared, I will treat the worm gently and with much care."
The next morning the Cattle Rancher, still hung over in celebration, takes one final swig of the tequila to steady his hand. He puts me to sleep with a baseball bat, and when I wake up he is standing over me with a smile on his face. I hold my head which has lumped up, and look down at my stomach which has been crookedly sewn shut. He pours a bit of tequila on the wound causing it to burn.
"The operation was a success senor. The worm has been neutered, and I even gave him a way to communicate with you. A small amplifier in your appendix charged by your heart. Dr. Noah Drake would be proud," he gushes.
I hear Sol slurring from somewhere in my bowels.
"I'm aliffff... Thank Gaaawd... Lath thin a rememer is bein dunkt in tekeela."
The Arbitrator leaves town. He goes on to become the first parasitic Supreme Court Justice in history, though this is heavily debated. His first case as Justice is the case of Leishmania vs Texas and after devouring the orbital frontal cortex of the remaining eight Justice's it is determined that the Leishmania are entitled to the entire cutaneous region of the host. The entire United States now appears as a vast leper colony. Residents of the United States are divided about the decision. News reports run two snippets endlessly.
"I think parasite rights are important ya know? And sometimes we as the dominant species have to make sacrifices," says the cute liberal blond girl from Berkeley.
"This is absolutely ridiculous, look at me, I look like a freaking leper here," says the grizzled cabby from Queens.
I meet Maria after I wake up from surgery. She has been acting as the Cattle Rancher's nurse. She has tapeworms and agrees to let the Cattle Rancher perform her surgery the following week. I explain that her condition doesn't require surgery, only a brief dose of medication. I feel Sol bite down as a reminder of our arrangement. The Cattle Rancher stares at me menacingly. I ask Maria out to dinner.
I take her out to eat in a small restaurant, dinner goes well and we fuck in the Aztec ruins situated above the village. It turns out she does not have as amicable a relationship with her roommates as I do with mine. They attempt to jump ship burrowing straight from the liver down through her vaginal wall. It must be an awkward conversation when I cum inside her and the sperm battling their way in meet the tapeworms attempting to break out.
"Sorry boys, no joy that way," says one of the sperm.
"Well you're gonna be severely disappointed by this cunt," replies one of the tapeworms.
Both parties decide they would give it the old college try. My boys do their best and after a brutal naval battle, one lone sailor breaks through the enemy's defenses. He is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in the face of impossible odds. His epitaph reads: "He came, I swam, I conquered." The battle turns out to be in vain when, six weeks later, Maria has a back alley abortion. It is performed by a Mexican Cattle Rancher who, after subjecting himself to General Hospital in Spanish syndication for twelve consecutive hours, grabs a coat hangar and goes to work.
The tapeworms attempting entry through my meatus are not so successful. I pull out just in time and their attempt to jump through mid air ends in a belly flop. They land on an altar where pagan sacrifices were committed hundreds of years earlier. The Aztecs slaughtered anyone suspected of carrying the worm. I hear the chants of ancient tribal shamans lead by Malinalxochitl as Maria smashes her house guests under heel. The ancient heathen blood courses through her veins like a shot of coke. Her eyes flickering neon like a cheap motel vacancy sign. She screams in blood lust. The crying song from my appendix rings out like a choir of the Scottish Rite:
"Solemn strikes the funeral chime. Notes of our departing time, As we journey here below Through a pilgrimage of woe. Lord of all! below - above- Fill our hearts with truth and love; When dissolves our earthly tie, Take us to Thy Lodge on High. "
Maria was quite pleased to have her house guests gone until, six weeks later, she died during a routine back alley abortion. The Cattle Rancher's autopsy concluded that the cause of death was tetanus. The tetanus was contracted from the implement, a rusty coat hangar, used in the procedure. He was reportedly "displeased" with the results of the operation. His career as back alley physician came to an abrupt end when he was found dead after attempting to perform his own emergency appendectomy with a Spanish-American War era straight razor and a roll of duct tape.
I now face a moral dilemma my upbringing being Catholic. To allow Sol to perform such Masonic rituals in my own body would be sacrilege at best. The Pope himself should have me excommunicated and turn me over to Spanish authorities to have burning coals placed upon my belly until my rotten appendix was cleansed of such vile blasphemy.
"In nomine patri, et fili, et spiritus sancti, amen. All right boys let's hit it, I've got eighteen holes at Le Querce in half an hour."
The people of Malinalco catch wind of what's going down. The desecration of the altar, the Masonic rituals, talking tapeworms, it's all too much. Desecration of the ruins is a heinous crime. Not only is it a sacred place of their ancestors, but it's a real money maker. Cum stains detract greatly from tourist chic. They light up their torches and head for the Ranch where I'm staying. The Cattle Rancher grabs an expressionless Maria and tells me to run through the jungle.
"Don't look back senor."
The people of the village rush in demanding to know my whereabouts.
"I know nothing. Me and my wife have been watching General Hospital."
Maria stares blankly at the screen absorbing the prismatic colors: Red Green Blue... undulating voices of stereo channels. Handsome faces of digital color gradients sync in discord with words spoken in provocative Latin tongue. Closed captioning for the hearing impaired. The villagers stop to feed. It gives me time to get to the Augustinian church back in Malinalco.
An old black man and an old white man sit at the counter of a coffee shop on a corner in a dusty southern town. The sign out front is dimly lit, only the neon 'OPEN' sign in the window shines brightly. The patrons are as dull gray as the late fall weather that encompasses them. The men have coffee cups in cupped hands. One smokes a Pall Mall, the other a Kool. The white man takes a drag and speaks as he exhales.
"You 'member the time me and them boys burned a cross in your front lawn? I guess I just wanted to say I'm sorry 'bout that."
The black man looks forward and nods with remembrance, almost joyful.
"Well, as long as we's apologizing, I guess I ought to 'pologize for the times I fucked your wife while you was on the long haul."
"Neh did understan' dat boy havin' nappy hair like dat. Cattle Rancher said he wa born wit a skeen condition... Heard that old spic got his cock bit off by some hooka wit lockjaw. I shoulda known when he wouldn't get a job the boy want pure. Only in'agrated member of the Klan I'm willing to bet."
"How much time he serve for killin' that black boy down in Forsyth?"
"Oh 'bout six months... sympathetic jury an' all. Half 'em were mulattos, the other half were God fearin' Klan."
"My Cahd! You ow kwacker, you old niggah... all you do ees come in heah an' drink coffee eweeday, you need buy sumsing or ge' out. You bo' need go ge' jobs."
The moth-eaten Korean coffee shop owner stands in front of the two men sitting at the counter.
"Enough you ol' Gook or we'll burn this place down with napalm. Ain't too hard to make ya know. Some styrofoam and some gasoline, we'll take care of this place good."
The three men settle back into their torpor; friends once enemies of convenience. The death of all they once loved has brought them here. The Buddha, who sits in perpetual meditation underneath the cash register, smiles.
Christ's visage stares down at me with disdainful love. I catch him rolling his eyes at me.
"Foxholer. When's the last time you come to see me eh? You no come around no more. Eh, you in trouble again eh?" He drops the phony Italian accent. "And another thing, how many times can one person jack off in a day, really?"
"Venial sin Lord. I am after all a young man."
"You want to talk about your mortal sins then?"
"That's why I'm here, is the Padre in?"
Christ's eyes shift towards the confessional. A dull fluorescent lights up.
"I'd point the way, but I'm... kinda hung up at the moment. Busy, busy, busy. I'm already late for a two o'clock with a couple in Lisbon."
I genuflect and sign the cross before heading over to the confessional. I slide the panel open, and cross myself.
"Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been several years since my last confession."
A long silence...
"What... no, that paternity suit was dropped. Out of court settlement, never would have held up in court. The Arbitrator assured me I wouldn't be bothered here." The alcohol stench seeps through the perforated screen hitting me hard.
"Padre, I'm in need of confession."
"Well then, 'Hit me with your best shot, fire away.'" The padre continues singing.
After a drunken rant about the downfall of Rock'n'Roll, and how Rory Gallagher is the most underrated guitarist of all times, he settles in to hear my confession. He passes out somewhere around the time in college when I screwed my professor and her best friend. I bang on the wall.
"...and that concludes my confession."
"Ah your penance. Well my son you see, Hail Mary's and Our Fathers aren't going to cut it this time I'm afraid. You need to receive a direct inject of the Holy Spirit... for his is the kingdom, and the power... and this confessional has a glory hole, amen." You can be a good Catholic all your life, but you suck one cock and you're a cocksucker.
"You know the word attrition, a lovely word for a foxholer like you. How's about a little attrition?"
I debate the indulgence. Shouts in the street break the tension and I rush out to bar the door. The padre pulls his pants up and rushes out to see what the hell is going on.
In the bell tower of the Augustinian church, the colors of the Mexican flag above the bell, a patriotic sign for a proud heathen people. The villagers barred at the entrance are fashioning a battering ram of a statue of Saint Augustine. Their torches sizzle in the rain. Loud shouts turn into a chorus of "We Will Rock You." Augustine's head is the first casualty of the onslaught.
The priest, who is now held hostage by two camps, begins to wail and sign himself.
"Please senor, you are not long for this world. Surely you are damned. I have souls to save, children of God to feed."
"Can't be helped now Padre. They're really out for blood. One death can't satiate that kind of blood lust. Hell, I'd be surprised if after they tear us into pieces they don't turn on themselves."
"Dios mio... I need confession."
The Padre tells me about his life before the priesthood. His parents' shame turned to outright contempt. At least as a fag he could get married, have children, and then cheat on his wife with strange men. Now the best they could hope for was that he put in a good word with Saint Peter.
Smoke smoke smoke that cigarette. Puff puff puff and if you smoke yourself to death. Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate that you hate to make him wait, but you just gotta have another cigarette.
I light up. Sol gives an impolite and spurious cough. The kind of cough you get from someone at a bus stop who is sitting at the opposite end of the bench as you exhale your first drag. The passive aggresive way of saying: "Excuse me, I don't like your cigarette smoke, and I'd ask you to put that thing out if I had any balls."
The Padre shares in explicit detail his deviant acts with married men of his parish. He offers indulgences for a rim job. Last Rights are only conferred after a proper tea bagging. Confession for the men of Malinalco might leave them with a funny taste in their mouth.
The Villagers fashion a ladder out of large crosses and cheap plastic rosaries. I feel the heat from their torches. Hot like the engorged cunts of feminists withholding sex. Witholdings in exchange for positions of power in corporations that traffic in flesh. Their hips involuntarily spasming in sexual frustration and combustion.
I make an attempt to reason with the mob.
"People of Malinalco, put down your torches and pitchforks. Unburden yourselves of chicklets and hand made blankets. Follow me to the land of milk and honey."
It's the old Moses trick. When the people are ready to hang your by your short and curlies just promise the moon. It kept the Jews at bay for almost 2500 years, when in a freak turn of fate, the promised land was actually handed to them on a silver platter.
"Well fellas, again we really are sorry about the genocide. I mean it was a bit much don't you think? Yes a bit much. Please except this gift from the Moslems, they feel terrible about the whole thing... No no, they really want you there, they told us themselves didn't they boys?"
They go along. We sneak up to the nearest Holiday Inn and hijack a tour bus.
"Make sure to get their luggage boys, we need to look like Americans or we'll never pull it off."
We steal it all: their driver's licenses, passports, birth certificates and social security cards. All telephone lines are cut. The tourists are placed in "authentic" Mexican garb, and with no way out of country the entire village of Malinalco is now considered by authorities to be a tourist trap. Now whenever a new tour bus arrives it is ransacked by the Tourists in residence and a new population is placed in stewardship of the Village. People return to the Promised Land in lysogenic cycles.
The Padre sets up a confessional in the bathroom. The stink is tremendous. Sol eats nervously.
Hydroquinone is procured en masse from a photography contact I have made while in country (its use as a skin whitening agent predates its use in photographic development by about 2000 years).
He has abandoned photography in pursuit of more artistic endeavors and tells me to help myself.
"I paint deteriorated photographs now," He says. "Keep in mind that none of the photographs actually ever existed outside of my mind, but they appear on the canvas just the same. What's more interesting than what's painted, is what's been removed by incidental damage. For instance this one here," he points to a painting on the wall and begins walking towards it. "This one is of a little girl smiling in some random suburban playground--who gives a shit? What's missing is the mother in the corner. She sneaks into the photo as an afterthought, her hands on the back and shoulder of the little girl. But the corner is missing. The little girl's shoulder is missing, her family is missing. Of course all that's been washed away by apparent water damage, so that no one really knows what's in that corner... but I know, and now you know too."
Wigs and beards are made of horse hair by old women who's hands move as nimbly as amphetamine addicts' vacuum cleaners. The horses are ground into dog food and glue. I begin the lesson plan.
COMMON ENGLISH VERNACULAR FOR THE SPANISH SPEAKER
Supplanted People of Malinalco, to speak as you would be taught in a College level English class would surely give us away. Border patrol agents would immediately coral us and have us executed by sadistic militants. You are no longer Mexicans, you are now Americans, Speak English... or Die!
The first lesson, is that at least fifty percent of your speech should in some way reflect a complaint against God or Man. For instance, if it has been raining you might say: "I'm about tired of all this God damn rain, fuck we might as well build an ark." If it has been cold: "I've been freezing my balls off out in this shit." If you are driving and someone speeds around you: "That cocksucker cut me off." Use of expletives is very important.
Sarcasm is almost universally appreciated in the U.S. Phrases like: "You're a bright one aren't you," "No, I don't mind doing that at all, here's my balls while you're at it," and "Can I wipe your ass for you too," are all acceptable modes of communication. If your subject seems to be confounded as to your meaning you may throw in an expletive afterthought such as cunt, cocksucker, cum dumpster, or douche nozzle.
Luminescent white faces shine as the Border Patrol agent steps on board the bus. I appear as the tour leader; a model American Citizen. "Yes sir, no sir, can I shine ya shoes for ya sir."
"This is a tour for the First Baptist Church in Forsyth, is that correct?"
"Damn skippy, on our way back from missionary work in Malinalco. Feeding starving children. They've been eating chiclets for months. Sad really. When they fart their pants explode in a sticky mess."
From the back an old woman walks slowly up to the Border Patrol agent. Her hardtack face reveals a mestizo character. Conservative militias gather around the bus as German Sheperd's pick up the scent of refried beans and fly infested pollo. She smiles warmly.
"Can I wipe your ass for you... sperm receptacle."
The militias back off at the familiar intoning of their Mother language.
"I apologize sir, she's a bit touched."
"No need. Ma'am thank you very much. You folks have a safe trip back to Forsyth."
The Agent steps off the bus and immediately recognizes the family behind us as Mexican infiltrators. Eight people in a station wagon and everyone of them polite. Children behave themselves in the back seat. "Family vacation," the father says. The Agent plants six pounds of weed in their luggage. They're sent off to a Mexican jail, the children put up for black market adoption. A job well done.
We drive slowly through a wasteland of milk, honey, barbed wired and militia base camps. Camouflaged netting covers impromptu mess halls. Assault rifles are setup in military style tripod rest. Large towers erected of painter's scaffolding survey the border with spotlights and machine gun turrets. Dune buggies full of amped up rednecks patrol the border endlessly. German Sheperds scratch at roguish sand flies, the whole camp infected with Leishmaniasis.
"The court has unanimously rectified this decision."
I scratch at my abdomen.
"You have somebody cut your balls off and see how you like it. Could be worse. There's this host at this party told me bout this guy he knew. He went down to the Amazon had a Catfish jump straight up his pecker. Stuck there. Guy's bladder exploded. Would have been fine, cuz piss is sterile ya know, but he had a bladder infection and it killed him." Sol draws out the word killed to emphasize his point.
The Candiru is a parasitic catfish whose mythical abilities are extremely exaggerated. There has only been one documented case of the Candiru swimming up a persons urethra, and it did not jump through mid air. If you ever head down the Amazon remember: a case of Chlamydia caught from a Rio hooker is a more likely culprit than the Canduru for that burning sensation when you pee. Still, everyone knows someone...
We continue on through the night. If we can just get out of Texas we are home free. The villagers will find the promised land is not all it's cracked up to be. They will make more money than they ever have, and their soul will develop a slow leak. They will own gadgets that astound them, and will wither like flowers in winter. They will be so deflated by the time they realize that this miserable existence is not for them, that they wont be able to leave. The remnants of their souls posted on Facebook. "Yo no soy mas." With no exit strategy, the Israelites are trapped, and Moses escapes unabated.
The Padre slams the door shut on the lavatory confessional waking several of the villagers sleeping in the back row. He adjusts his pants and zips his fly as he walks up to the front of the bus. I concentrate on the road, trying to ignore him as he sits behind me.
"Some may consider what I have done here morally bankrupt. I have left my church, but my church is its people, and so I must go with them. I was one of the counter culture hippie priests back in the day, you know?" He says kicking his feet up on the board between my seat and his. "I was arrested three times in Washington DC, after the church bailed me out the third time they sent me down to Malinalco, where I have been ever since. At first I was angry: angry at the church, angry at the government, even angry at these people I now serve. It was then that I realized that God had greater plans for me than could be produced by counter-culture rallies. These are my people."
"Deep spiritual beliefs for a pederast there, Padre," I reply.
"Untrue. I love my fellow man, admittedly not always as God intended. I am imperfect, not by design, but by action. So too are you. In your own mind, you have condemned me, and made me a parody. You have heard my words and seen my actions through amplifiers and lenses distorted by mass perception. I thought when I entered the priesthood that it would be a good way for me to serve God and avoid ridicule. Now I find that ridicule is part and parcel to serving God."
For the first time I hear Sol whispering in my ear. It's the first time I've actually been aware of the words, but the sound has been there since shortly after the settlement. The barely audible rantings of a Masonic madman. He is telling me things that don't make sense, and showing me things I should rationally discount. I am the Barber: the blood letter and hair stylist; the surgeon and the beard trimmer. I too am the Padre: the curate and the eunuch; the servant of God, and of man. I am tired.
I pull over at a truck stop off of the highway. It's towering brightly lit sign displays proudly the current prices for gasoline and diesel. The kitschy gift store gives motorists something to look at on their long sojourns across these United States. CB radios and Laptop Computers are displayed in advertisements above the urinals. The 24 hour diner is staffed by an overweight woman wearing no makeup, revealing a shiny pocked face. The massive parking lot is empty except for a few semi-trucks with trailers. The drivers either screwing lot lizards or sleeping. I catch a nap and then go into the diner to eat. All of the villagers and now the Padre sleep away the remaining hours of the pre-dawn morning.
I sit at the counter in the diner. The coffee is strong and black, but stale. I notice a man in overalls and a flannel shirt walk through the door. He is old, but not decrepit. He has an earthly rotundness from too much time spent sitting on a tractor, and too many buffet lines at the Golden Corral. His face is sun worn, but gentle. I smile at him.
"Good morning," I say.
"Mornin'," he says with a Texas drawl.
We make small talk about the weather, and the harvest. His pleasant demeanor never reveals for a second a hint of backwardness. He is neither ignorant nor uneducated. He graduated with a degree in Agriculture and a minor in English from Texas A&M. His accent drops away after we speak for awhile and he is both articulate and well spoken. He asks where I'm headed.
Sol begins to speak, moving my mouth along with his words.
"I'm actually hitchhiking, looking for a place to stay for the next couple of days. Maybe you could use some help?"
"Well, I'll be headed back home in a minute before I hit the fields. Could use a hand. You're more than welcome to stay."
I sneak back to the bus to grab some personal effects. I look at all the villagers sleeping soundly, with dreams of a better life and a nice car. I scan until I meet the open eyes of the Padre. He looks at me with a slight smile.
"I will tend to the flock."
I leave without a word. I walk back in to meet the Farmer. He waits for me by the cash register. I had left without paying and he has already paid my bill. I can tell he didn't expect me back, but when I offer to pay him he refuses. We walk out past the bus as the sun begins to paint the sky with different shades of light. The light itself not yet visible behind the curvature of the flat farm land. He hoists himself into the grain truck and reaches over to unlock the passenger door. I pull myself into the cab and look around. There are no personal effects in the truck, just a few old tapes sitting on the dashboard, and one sticking out of the cassette player. He turns the key to allow the glow plugs to heat the chambers, and then starts the old diesel engine. We take off slowly past the bus. I see the Padre now in the driver seat. He flashes the headlights twice, and I hear the bus start as we head off.
We pull up to the farm house. It's white siding is a little dusty but modern. The red barn behind the house has a freshly painted metal roof. A large propane tank rests between the house and the barn. Their are two grain silos sitting to one side of the barn nearer the fields. One silo is tall and skinny, the other short and fat. I hear chickens clucking as the sun makes it's way into the sky. The sky once again becomes a uniform light blue. The Farmer tells me to wait in the truck. He walks up to the door and turns the knob. This is one of those places you hear about, where people still don't lock their doors.
He comes back out to the truck.
"Had to feed the cats and pack our lunch," he explains.
I work with him in the fields for the rest of the day until dusk. We stop at noontime for a few sandwiches and a piece of store bought apple pie. He hands me a coke out of the glove box. He proves to me purposefully, that farm work is hard work. We take the grain to the tall silo and unload it.
That evening we drink beer and the Farmer tells me about his life. The Farmer's wife had died some years ago of uterine cancer, his two sons had grown up and started lives of their own in the city. He had no grandchildren, and seemed disappointed by that. There is something that dies in man who knows his bloodline is going to end.
"My oldest ended up queer. The second decided to become a priest," he says resolutely. It's a confession that he has never made before, and is now embarrassed by making. His cheeks are ruddy as he gets up to show me to my bedroom. The bedroom has a country feel and the stale smell of mothballs pervades the air. There is no woman here to ensure that the rooms of the house smell of lavender and roses. The bedding, which would have been changed monthly in the past, has gathered dust. He turns back the blanket and brushes it before leaving the room.
"You can sleep in tomorrow. I'll come get you when I need you," he says closing the door.
I lay in bed thinking about how it was that I had left the bus. I was anxious to get away from the villagers, especially the priest, but now I missed them and seemed unsure about my present situation.
"Sol, I've been wanting to talk to you alone. Some things are disturbing me lately. I've heard your voice in my ear, so close that I thought someone was standing next to me whispering. Now I've spoken your words. I know you're not staying in my appendix; that was the deal."
"Hold on just a second. You need to reread the document which you signed, laid out by the Arbitrator, dually notarized. It mentions nothing about me confining myself to the appendix, only that it is my sole property within the host. As far as I'm concerned, the rest is public property," Sol taps in time with certain words as if he were reading the document and outlining the specifics.
"Look, it's not in my interest to hurt you. I have a cushy arrangement here, I won't screw it up. I know we have our little arguments, but any two beings bound together day and night are bound to have problems," Sol is pleased with his usage of the word bound.
"I don't like you speaking for me. I don't like you speaking into my ear either. It confuses me. I can't think straight. You muddle everything," I say.
"All right, next time I'll talk to you before I speak for us, but think about my situation for a minute. Look at the danger you've put us in. We were almost burned as heretics a week ago. Is it any wonder then that I want to do the talking? I worry about you sometimes. You're all I have. No family, no friends, only you," Sol's sobbing dialogue is reminiscent of a scene from General Hospital. I concede the point, and let myself drift off into sleep.
In the middle of the night I wake to the slamming of a door. The diesel engine which had been roaring clicks off. Many different voices scream and recite prayers in Spanish. I hear the shepherd cry out in defense of his flock. I'm dreaming, and when I wake up it will be time for breakfast. I close my eyes and go back to sleep.
The next day I wake up and the Farmer is already gone. I walk down to the kitchen. The smell of strong coffee gives the air life. I rifle through the cabinets and find an old coffee mug that prompts: "Dont' Mess With Texas." There is a box of donuts sitting open on the kitchen table and note scribbled quickly in all capital letters that reads: WILL BE BACK IN THE AFTERNOON. WONT NEED HELP TODAY. KICK BACK AND ENJOY THE MORNING. GOT SOMETHING TO SHOW YOU WHEN I GET BACK. I go out on the front porch, and sit in an old wooden rocking chair. A strong rotting smell hits me, like dead skunk. I look around for the animal, but see nothing. Not being able to enjoy the fresh air I go back inside and look for a book to read. I grab a book titled: The History Of An Obsession: German Judeophobia And The Holocaust.
The farmer comes in through the kitchen door. He stomps his feet on the door mat and wipes the dust off of himself, clapping his hands together. He shouts from the kitchen.
"Hello," I repeat in a low sing song.
He walks through the door way into the living room where I am sitting on the vintage patterned couch. He looks at me nervously for a second, and as I look up with a smile he changes his mind.
"Whatcha reading?" he asks.
We have a brief discussion about the book, and he seems pleased by my insights on the matter. He begins talking excitedly.
"Well, you wondering what I've got to show you? It's something that not many people have seen. Really exciting stuff, going on here. I don't know if I can tell you you'll like what you see, but it's definitely gonna shock the shit out of you."
His manner of speech changes rapidly depending on the topic of discussion. He can go from a Texan farmer to a Cambridge Professor in a manner of words. This is not at all unusual. Depending on the level of education a man acquires and his regional associations, he may speak to certain people in dialect, while speaking in an educated manner to others. The fact that he speaks to me in both tongues tells me he sees in me a mildly educated plebe.
He gets up from the couch where we've been sitting and pulls me up by my hand. He puts on his work boots and starts walking out the back door. I follow him. He walks slowly across the grass to the low fat silo and walks up the spiral steel staircase to the top opening. He walks through the door and asks me to follow. The bodies are heaped in the silo the way that change heaps in a coin jar. The faces looking up have soulless metallic eyes. Charon has already carried them across the river Styx. All I can see are the faces of dead Presidents. He allows me time to take it in.
"People will disagree with my actions of course, but what you might consider is the context in which these atrocities were performed. Context is the key. There was a time in certain cultures where human sacrifices were committed. It is the context in which the pagan sacrifices were performed that make them at once acceptable. It was the societal norm of the day. Of course as norms transitioned those that made such offerings were first looked down upon, and then persecuted. The same context must be applied to the slave trade, which has been all the rage since man first sought power. The slave trade has always been looked upon with contempt by some, but never more than now. At first it was an acceptable part of life for the wealthy to own another. Then it was looked down upon, and now slave traders are hunted. We maintain a cyclical of brutality. Certain acts are condemned, other acts are brought to the forefront, some remain in the shadows awaiting judgment."
He paused for a moment to allow me to absorb the words which, unlike his confession concerning his sons, he seemed to have practiced reciting in a distinguished manner.
"In the context of the current day, where violence may be abhorrent, there are still certain caveats. In Texas that caveat is border patrol. Most of the people here consider our border sacrosanct, the violation of which should be dealt with violently if necessary. The issue was once regarded as benign. Small offenses began to creep up, soon demands were made, experiments were performed with various results, and public outrage was aroused.
Coming in from Mexico you must have seen the standing civilian armies at the border. Did you see the hatred in their eyes? You crept cautiously past, cleverly disguising your villagers as a church group. You taught them enough to get through the border, but only past the enemies front lines and into the barracks where the sleeping soldiers lay in wait. When they got off the bus they were immediately discovered. The diner owner was a well meaning Korean gentleman, who spoke Spanish. He overheard their conversations, and immediately called immigration services. The call was intercepted by our agents.
We have been tapping immigration's phone lines for years. With a few Southern Bell workers on hand you can tap just about any phone line in Texas. Time was then of the essence, and we rushed several local contacts in full INS regalia to handle the situation. They loaded your villagers back into the bus and brought them to me last night.
So in this context you must understand that what I do is not out of hatred for illegal aliens. I make my silos available simply to bring this issue to a final conclusion. There must be a villain, such were the Pagans and such was Dixie. Those boys at the border they don't really know what they're fighting for, and if they do I certainly don't agree with them. I think borders are a ridiculous assertion myself, but in order for this to be recognized something incomprehensible must be done. Picture the news reports once this plot is revealed. The heart strings are so easily played, and the chords that are struck cause change. I will go down in history as a madman, a murderer, and a sociopath, but I will affect change. I will do for immigrants what Caesar did for the Christians, and what Hitler did for the Jews. As evil as they are perceived, they affected great change in the world. People who knew me will say: 'He was always very friendly; he never bothered anyone.'"
He looks at me with butane eyes. Misty at first, they seem to ignite with passion. Then, as quickly as they took light, they are out again. A shallow smile creeps across his face. He looks at me with pride, and excitement. I am the prodigal son, and this is my feast, for which my brother should be jealous.
"You must not spare any detail of what you have seen here. The corpses piled like grain in the silo are the monument to my achievement. Since pictures and video are not likely to be released right away--you must paint the picture. I will give you any details you feel you need to retell the story."
I notice several volcano like sores on the Farmer, and so quickly agree to do as he asks, provided I may leave now. He consents, and I hear a voice inside my head saying "Run." I do run, and am half a mile down the road before I recognize the voice; it's Sol.
"What a freaking nut job. That guy's spent one too many nights alone on the farm," Sol says.
"He seemed friendly enough when I met him. Anyways, it was your idea to go with him," I reply.
"Yeah well, the faster we get out of here, the faster we can call the cops. That's what he wants, we might as well oblige him," Sol says.
I think about this for a moment. The Farmer had spoken the night before, of reading in all of his spare time. Books of atrocity enveloped him. He showed me his library that first night, and I thought it peculiar that he had so many books on The Civil War and World War II. He had early Christian books as well, so I payed the matter no mind. "Many people are interested in the history of warfare," I thought. It seems that his books had overtaken his life after the departure of his children had sickened him. The death of his wife had concluded the matter: the Manchean candidate. The venture, noble in his mind, would perhaps effect change, and that was what was disturbing.
"Did you see the sores on his face and arms?" I ask Sol.
"Yeah, I know those guys. Serves him right. Be glad you've got me here. They wont move in on me, but they're some tough customers let me tell you," he replies.
We walk off into the hot Texas sun. It's about five miles back to the truck stop. We have no food or water, so we need to haul ass.