the snake house

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 01, 2017

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Submitted: May 01, 2017






Human beings are engines, clockworks going backwards, their silly minds only dreamcatchers in the path of nightmares. If they're not held in the light they rot, if they're not oiled at the touch of another they rust. Their ethics and the ambition of autonomy makes human beings reject the help of those samaritans on the verge of extinction.

The waitress at Desiderio and the local itself sustained my taste for such enumerations sometimes stated out loud without the slightest remorse. I nicknamed the woman Jeanne D'Arc for the reason that one day I saw her casting forth some drunk Englishmen who refused to pay for their beers. The young Jeanne with her silver dress shining like an armor pushing outside those rude men looked indeed napoleonian from the corner I used to hide and observe.

I indulged here not only in drinking huge amounts of the finest Sencha tea, but in sharpening my sense of perception regarding the somnolent citizens. The result was a growing awareness which was neither detachment nor objectivity, but sincere understanding. At first I was not able to lift my head from the cup of tea, my timidity like a heavy corpse on the back of my neck made it impossible to observe anything else than the worn out shoes of anyone who was coming in. It happened in time and as always the only resort was patience. One day I found myself looking at people as through a transparent glass, couldn't read their thoughts because they were not thinking, couldn't hear their words or estimate their age. They were drosophiles absorbed in the web of a spider with a thousand heads, from which soul eating are but two: unconciousness and suggestibility. The first sign those around us are caught in the web is that they stop questioning. Simple questions such as what's happening to the sky today? Who's the man approaching? Will I ever get to know anything? The simple change of tone intimidates them, the question mark frightens them, any mental operation leading to a trivial answer seems dreadful. The serene John Does of this world must be told that not even insanity takes everything as it is. If I seem too harsh it's because for a long time I was one of the drosophiles, I never asked anything. I was giving to the shop seller any sum she would've asked for, I was roaming around the city for hours instead of asking for guidance, I accepted phony theories and let doubtful characters mould me. Coming here meant taking hold of myself just before the spider opened its sticky claws to give me one last embrace. Don't think I've escaped, the web is so vast that you are never completely out of it. All you can do is avoid becoming a target by pushing forward the other human drosophiles around you. It was my acute sense of defiance the one that made me pack everything and leave the town for this motel near the city of Ramira where children just in bloom are sold for bags of sugar and bottles of oil. I've replaced the restless sound of the city with a silence interrupted only by the noise of Jeanne D'Arc's prosthetic leg. One morning she was carrying a tray from one corner of the restaurant to the opposite one where a young girl was waiting impatiently for her tea. Under the table the hands of the girl were rubbing against a semi-transparent dress. She must’ve been around thirteen and she didn’t seem bothered by the inherent slowness of the waitress. The locals were probably used to it since they had nowhere to go and nothing to do. All day long they waited for Jeanne D’Arc to take their orders while their hairy faces beamed with the hope of naive animals. This kind of people I wanted to observe, who were never doing anything but waiting and waiting for hours in complete forgetfulness of the world outside.

The only man I’ve ever talked to at Desiderio was a hunched skinny director named Hermi who happened to be also a painter, a misanthrope and a samaritan. The way Hermi approached me was unusual, it seems now that he was observing me as I observed the others. Maybe he even smiled maliciously seeing my eyes flickering with pride. He took a seat at my table, offered me a glass of the purest Jaggermeister and said: See the sky? It will rain tomorrow so we’d better go today and take a walk. At first I had my throat burnt by the alchohol after weeks of drinking tea, I was embarrased but Hermi pretended not to observe while gazing at Jeanne. He smoked about thirty cigarettes per hour and because of the heavy curtain of smoke he looked like Aladdin surrounded by a fume cloud coming out of his lamp. I felt he was carrying a message he couldn’t deliver by himself so he was looking for someone to whom he could’ve tranfered it without the danger of losing its meaning. I don’t know why he chose me, maybe it was the timing or my face seemed trustful. I was a stranger who in medieval times would’ve been suspected of sorcery and a couple of centuries later of bringing the pest. Alas, in any tribe on this earth I am the carrier of danger, meaning civilization. But Hermi took me under his wing and I made a promise to go out in the world and let everybody know that among pale men with faint dreams there are black feathered creatures seen only by those who deserve to see them. This doesn’t mean I was privileged or choosen, I still think I was rather lucky. Hermi talked me into transforming Desiderio into a small theatre using as actors the locals since we agreed laughingly upon their carnavalesque like figures. We could use even Jeanne D’Arc and the girl, he told me in one of his rare boosts of excitement. The first play worthy of Broadway but even more precious in that unknown village was titled „The snake house.” Hermi gave some thought to the title since he didn’t consider it very original, but I’ve refused any other name for this one was the most suitable. Since I came here Desiderio left me with the impression of a snake-shaped building which I tell you was not one of my vague observations. You can still see the remainings of the wooden palisade circling the local and making it look like a conquered fortification. The entrance was tight and the corridor to the wedding hall, as Hermi named the space where the locals gathered, was always slippery and full of insects. The local itself was a feeble structure with plants growing on the walls and bird nests in almost all the chimneys in the rooms upstairs. At Desiderio the locals were drinking the finest Sencha tea in a climate of such tranquility that nobody ever imagined the place was eating itself just as the mythological ouroboros was swallowing its own tail. After some investigations around the motel, me and Hermi decided it was the perfect set for one more Adam and Eve story. With a twist! Our fake Jeanne D’Arc was going to play Eve, role which she didn’t think a second about refusing. Hermi convinced her that when you’re banned from Heaven, a little body handicap is more a sign of repentence and suits perfectly the christian way. As for Adam we chose an absent minded chap very clean and well-dressed reminding us of Jean-Pierre Barrault. The so-called repetitions were nerve consumming due to the locals who were never leaving the place. They were acting like cohorts from hell shouting at the poor Jeanne-Eve to bring their orders. The decor was merely an improvised scene in front of the bar where every Saturday and Sunday evening Jeanne-Eve was offered a sour apple from the dirty hands of one of the locals playing Satan. The young Adam would bite mindlessly from the apple when his turn would come and then an omnipotent God in the person of Hermi itself would banish the two sinners into the world. Those were moments that made us stare in awe at the look of young Jeanne-Eve dragging her prosthetic leg from one corner of the restaurant, The Eden, to the opposite one which represented the world. The sullen faces of the locals were brightening when Jeanne-Eve was crossing the restaurant dragging not only the heaviness of her body which was not very easy considering she had only one leg, but she was carrying the legacy of a decaying and irresponsible humanity. Their expressions changed from passivity to keen interest, they wanted to know what happened with Adam and Eve once thrown into the world. They were to find out directly from the Mouth of Fate. One evening Hermi made some modifications, he wanted a more dramatic background so he brought in some of his paintings, a most unusual „dreamcatcher” and a pair of steel horns. He hung the horns above the entrance door which made the facade resemblent to the Fortress of Satan as described by Dante in his Inferno. For the dreamcatcher which instead of feathers and fabric strips had rusty knives, a sickle and a hammer, he found a spot just above the Eden. Under this threatening object Jeanne-Eve was going to lose one more time her divine nature. But the bad weather was announcing a poor audience that evening when Desiderio was whirling like a windmill. Only a few locals showed, even so we didn’t think about gaving up the play. When the storm grew in intensity we could hear the horns falling and a part of the corridor too. Not only the decor was in danger, but the entire Desiderio. And the life of Jeanne D’Arc-Eve as we found out soon. The dreamcatcher must’ve weight around fifty kilos and the wooden bar was too grinded to resist. Hermi tied it from many angles with wire rope but the wood itself was so old we just prayed nothing would happen. Alas! The thing fell on the young body of Jeanne-Eve leaving her dead on the floor before she even had time to take a bite from the apple. Hermi fainted, strangely enough only I and the locals remained vigilent and managed to take him out from the falling Desiderio. We found Jeanne D’Arc next day in the same place where we left her, in Eden. The snake-shaped local swallowed its tail at last and with it Jeanne-Eve also. Hermi never talked to me again, but he wished me good luck.





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