Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cronos Quartet (and something about flashing so you know what this is without having to waste time reading you're welcome)



















Under penalty of torture, our fearless leader has ordered that we compose in a literary genre exciting & new. I can't promise that Gavin MacLeod will make a cameo, but there's always hope & change.

She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again. The world could never comprehend how titanic a task it was shoving all the evils of the cosmos into a thirty-two cubic foot closet, how relentlessly numbing was the epoch-spanning sift through the asphyxiating detritus of a temple built with the woe-lashed clues of a thousand thousand years, tracking each malignancy regardless of dimension through long-crumbled bricks of an Alexandrian murder, Godfrey's bone-strewn prize, Ottoman bloodthirst, Mengele's blade, a script of ancient massacres & fresh-faced sequels, the Amazon stripped & replaced with a river of poison, every realpolitik assassination, every capitalist black ops & rote, mote interpersonal, interoffice dismissal to dig beneath the world's rib, dredge from the dissembling muck of a trillion pulsing organs their hiding places, bring their rot into the light & back into the magic Mason jar.

Only to let them out again, for time was running out, fast.

Long bubbled the ground & the fizz in the next table's glasses, the cthonic blood of slain gatekeepers & celebratory champagne, for every day was worth celebrating now, to the point of absurdity. She chuckled at the overt contrast found only in the pages of poorly written fiction.

Looking out the window, the surface of her drink lay as silent as her drab mask, the space above conquered now & again by the ghost of a cigarette no doubt celebrating the gift of a another new minute.

One by one she gathered her plan & her doubts, not with an Olympian rage but a Wertherian resignation, sounds & furies signifying time making corpses of us all. A shot in the dark can still kill, right? An imagined laugh washed down with a last swig, for tomorrow, she thought, we'll all probably die.

A thin film of creamy louche remained, a pale green become old copper in the diminishing light, quietly gurgling to an unseen turbulence marching beneath the nurturing topsoil, to the frenetic buzz of a nest of bowels. The jangling fifteen percent refused to settle, a quarter rolling off the table towards the door. She got up & followed, knowing there was a good chance, an excellent chance, that the coin would soon be spent not on vice, but on passage to the land of the dead.

Exiting out into the black, she strode past a choking, naive joy & over the angry earth to open another door, open the hope of man in stopping Time himself.

21 comments:

MRMacrum said...

No matter what, it does spring eternal doesn't it.

Your wordplay always impresses me.

Candace said...

Ahhhh, Litrachure!

David Barber said...

Randal, that was great. As Mike said, your use of words in quite incredible.

Nice one, mate. :-)

Cormac Brown said...

Ah, I've discovered the Rosetta Stone to your prose: you write the Escher drew.

Very good, sir, very good.

Flannery Alden said...

I really like the tone and mood of this.

Susan Tiner said...

"She chuckled at the overt contrast found only in the pages of poorly written fiction."

I chuckled too. Wonderful mood.

Randal Graves said...

mrmacrum, I figure a batch of evils is the lesser when the other is a rampaging, pissed-off Cronos.

candace, only in the strictest sense.

david, thanks, just be glad I ended where I did. The finale, with said pissed-off Cronos, read too much like Michael Bay dosing on Ed Wood.

cormac, are you saying that this needed a fleet of lizards?

flannery, I, er, hope it didn't turn out hopeful. Either way, humanity's fucked.

susan, I figured I better meta-self-deprecate before the tomatoes fly.

Demeur said...

A fool's errand you say. To think that man can be spared the reaper by the dross of cheap wine. Stumbling into the dark future, tripping over the cobblestones of moral anguish, the reaper stops for no man or woman for that matter. And the mirror never lies in the light of day. Nope, no escape clause comes with this mortal coil.

So just give it up and pay the gas bill before the price of wood goes up or worse they clear cut your only source of heat. Eat drink and be merry for the outcome will be just the same even if you don't.

Tom Harper said...

What a heartwarming picture at the top of your post. Brings back those halcyon memories of Sunday church services.

Liberality said...

Strode! Strode! Ah, Dan Brown used that word so much that now I hate, hate, hate it. I never strode anywhere in my life. Other than that, hey, this is really poetical and all. You have a way with the words sir, just don't ever use the word strode again :~P

susan said...

A pretty piece of prose indeed and once again you've topped yourself (no, not that, never that). The title even gave me a little twinge of delight when I recalled CQ's 'Pieces of Africa'.

Beach Bum said...

a quarter rolling off the table.....that the coin would soon be spent not on vice, but on passage to the land of the dead.

A quarter to cross the river Styx? Damn, you can't even make a call at a pay phone, if you can find one, for that. That the best deal in both this world and the next.

Great story!

Gaye Bear said...

I read your story with my dictionary by my side ... but it didn't help, so I Googled "cthonic" and "louche". I've now learnt two new words. But when I Googled "Werthian", it came up with your story. I'll find out what it means one day.
I like the idea of shoving all the evils of the cosmos into a closet. Reminds me of my own life.

Gaye Bear said...

Well I'm still at a loss as to what "Werthian" alludes to. Perhaps my education is lacking. All I can come up with is Jayson Werth, an outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Sue H said...

Ah, Randal - such lyrical literacy!!!

I don't profess to understand all the words, but just reading them was like basking in melted chocolate......!

Mind you - a 131-word sentence? That has got to be some sort of record...... ;-p

Randal Graves said...

demeur, to pay the gas bill, needeth I a shitload of dimes.

tom, mockery, do I detect? Confess!

liberality, it's a perfectly fine word, beholden to no man, brilliant lyricist or hacks like Mr. Code and myself. Blame not the word!

susan, hell, then I can close up shop and get back to surfing The Google. Whew!

BB, Charon understands that times are tough.

GB, 'tis my mistake. I meant Wertherian, as in The Sorrows of Young, but since that didn't naturally roll off the tongue as what I typed, an unconscious 'correction.'

I think I might take up baseball as a theme next time and complain about how Corey Hart has traded his bat for a banjo. My fantasy team needs homers, dammit.

sue, that's nothing, I think Proust hit 27,000 words once or twice.

Cormac Brown said...

"you write the Escher drew."

I meant, "the way that Escher drew," and yeah, you can't go wrong with a bunch of lizards.

Flannery Alden said...

I like the tone and mood because they were dark and hopeless and the main character seemed like she was having a bad day. But there was some humor too.

I was just trying not to say "I don't get it" again...Maybe I'll bring my dictionary next time I come here.

Randal...I admire the way you put words together but I don't often understand the message you are trying to deliver. Maybe you're not trying to communicate something but rather paint a picture with rich words ala Escher, as Cormac astutely observed.

Either way, I hope you know that I do enjoy your stuff and the challenge of reading it. I just don't want to miss the point (if you have one) and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Doc said...

But did you really write in a different genre? This is classic Randal at his very best but it isn't a departure from your usual is it? Are there subtlies I missed? Don't get me wrong, I like it. Hell, I've liked everything of yours I've ever read, but it has all the trappings of other stories you've done unless I totally missed something.

Doc

Randal Graves said...

cormac, as long as it's not a Gordon or a Geico.

flannery, I most assuredly err on the side of 'tone painting' as opposed to plot, but I just had an idea of time itself busting out of Tartarus, and the one-in-a-million shot of stopping him was to nuke the happy world devoid of the evils originally released from Pandora's box. So, our heroine chooses misery redux for everyone instead of death. Of course, we don't know if she succeeds.

No message other than the standard damned if you do, damned if you don't.

doc, I don't disagree at all. I think once I did a half-assed noir thing (cormac said so, and that dude lives and breathes the stuff, so I believe him) but I can't write crap outside of dreamy bullshit or moody bullshit. Thus, another batch of bullshit.

Maybe next time I'll try Danielle Steele.

Coraline J. Thompson said...

Randal,
I used to learn new words each time I read one of your posts, I miss that, for youe extended my vocabulary greatly. You did a fantastic job with your phrasing and the imagery was out of this world.

Great work, and yeah - bring back some big words, would ya?