|In the midst of the word he was trying
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
he had softly and suddenly vanished away
for the snark was a Boojum, you see
- Lewis Carroll, 18. Juli, 1874 -
YES,WE SAILED OVER the storm-whipped, jade-green
sea on Chephren's barge to Mafia Island. We broke coral and drank whiskey
in the glowing heat. And the sunsail slattered in the wind like beserk
machine guns and the girls at the bar complained about the lack of clientel.
We still had some jewellery from the Cairo Museum, originally intended as a means of payment when times get hard, but in the meantime it was worthless. We gave it to the girls, golden rings, emerald crosses, necklaces of beads, amber and lapislazuli, bracelets from Tut Ench Amun and Sesostris, may the gods forgive us.
In any event, the girls were happy and strutted around like small pharao queens.
The men's mood notizeably improved, even though our situation remained unchanged: We were stuck for good. Our radio contact had broken off a few days ago. On the radio were only the shouts of crazy generals and calls for help from desparate tourists, cut off on their way home, a pitiable mishmash of signals, which were no longer worth answering. The ether swelled as the earth emptied.
The men grew hungry. We roasted fish with bananas and smoked a few pipes until l became bared. I went down to the beach, sat down in one of the rusted swings and gazed across to the mainland. Our truck stood, tiny and distant, in the wobbyly haze of the midday sun.
Nothing moved, but for the fluttering tips of the palm trees and of the scrops of rag on the flagpole of the burnt out beach hotel. Hardly anyone turned up in this place anymore. What were the girls waiting for?
Gleichfeld came down the stope to the bay and sat himself behind me.
"How long do yoy think, we've going to stay here?"
"No idea. What's the difference?"
"The radio is broken"
"There are only crap on it, anyway".
Gleichfeld had taken off his glasses and was cleaning them with a fuss.
"I wonder, why we just do not go back.
All this driving around doesn't make sense, as long as we don't know what we actually after.
"I'm not after anything. And l don't want to go back.
Why all this beating around the bush? I answered, irritated.
Gleichfeld leaned back and stared at the glasses in his lap. "I had a strange dream last night", he said, resigned. I was silent and waited for his story. Afterwards l would hopefully have my peace and quiet.
"I'm dreaming, I wake up on the deck of a large ship.
An old wooden crate, three masts, under full sail. Not a soul
on board, no land in sight, nothing. I take a look around and discover a figure back at the helm. At first i'm relieved, but then something disturbs me about this scene and, as I come closer, I realize what. The figure is, in reality, a strange archaic robot, made of wooden rog, wheels, metal, springs, wires and ropes, unbelievable primitive, but damn it, he's moving and steering the ship. And then, something else happened.
Gleichfeld paused meaningfully put on his glasses again and continued:"Suddenly I realized that l was only dreaming, that I only needed to wake up, in order to get off this ship. But as much as l tried, l couldn't wake up, it was impossible. I then ran to the stern, in the hope thal l'd discover a harbour perhaps, a point of land or a lighthouse, anything to grasp on but there was only the endless, grey sea. There was no way out".
"And what happened then?".
Gleichfeld stared out to sea without answering.
"You should sleep less", I said.
"I'm going to try and fix the radio", he replied, insulted, and stood up. "This was a waste of time".
"Let's talk again later", l called after him, as he went back
to the campside, obviously pissed off.
The guys started singing some popular songs. The sun glared unbearably bright in the breathtaking blue of the sky. Joss and Maleika, two of the girls, bathed in the sea.
Jackt who'd joined us in Arusha, was hopping like a deer along the beach and clowning around. Music rattled from a cassette deck.
I relaxed somewhat and started to doze.
A woman sang in a deep melancholic voice, soft words that were caught between the sound of the waves and the laughter of the girls. Gradually the heat pressed everything perceptible to the edge of my consciousness. Only the hum and beating of my body grew louder.
..."of happiness undescribably beautiful,"sang the woman in the distance.
The wind had grown calmer and blew now evenly and warm on my skin. Sunlight flooded through my eyelids, deep red,and drowned the nervous flickers, of a light sleep.
The rushing of the wind was all at once far, far off.
"Chephren told me, you would be here", a voice suddenly said."I don't know you", I replied, without opening my eyes.
"I've been waiting for you~, the voice said. "Why should you"?
"You promised to come back".
"That must have been long ago".
"You wanted to bring me something", the voice said. "I don't...remember". Mocking silence...
"Tell me your name", I countered the quiet, perplexed. Instead of answering, whoever it is, lurns and disappears into thin air. An ice-cold shadow falls across me.
I know, I'm now alone.
When I open my eyes, the sky will be gray and overcast. A storm will brush across the emply beach. I feel the needle pricks of the grains of sand on my ankles. The wind rushes in my ears. And all of a sudden, the greasy cover of clouds is torn open, without a single ray of sunshine able to make it's way down through. A black disc has pushed itself in front of the sun and covers the landscape with a diffuse, murky light. "Go now", I hear the voice say "go down to the water"!
I obey and stumble towards the surf. I'm without feelings. Behind the crests of waves lurks fear, but that can't stop me. The inner emptiness is worse than every human feeling.
The beach is covered in heavy iron-crad crates. I don't need to count them. There are thirty-eights of them.
"Your luggage", the voice says. "Look, how the sea receives it. And I see - yes l can see! - how the surf grasps the crates and hurts them, one after the other, into the sea.
"Why are you doing that"!', I cry to the roaring of the sea.
"Because l love you", is the calm answer.
"lf you love me, let me out of here".
"Kill me and you may go wherever you choose".
I ran and ran, past the good old days,
through the garden of my childhood, past the ice-creamvendors, the markets,
the full playback T.Y. shows, past everyone who shook my hand and paffed
me on the back, past all the broken hearts, past all the speechlessness,
the deceptive photographs. And believe me, l don't regret it, and your
whislfulness and your loneliness concoled me, and believe me, l would do
il all over again, give all the autographs, sign the contracts again and
learn nothing from mistakes, and sell this damned life, so I could travel
on Chephren's barge over the dirt in the streets. And I would look you
in the eye without apologizing. And see, I'm removing the black disc from
the sun and letting the light fall down upon both of us and then you will
understand, that nothing is sweater and more gentle than the truth, and
l don't need to rummage anymore in the mothy crates of the past, because
we've finally arrived in the present, where dream and realily say GoodNight.
I don't have much more time to end this story, life is short, so don't ask me any questions, my favourile colour is only important to me. I give what l can, the colour of my life.
And finally Joss crosses my path and smiles at me.
And the golden amulel of an Egyptian queen gleams on her deep black skin in the evening sun. "Kill me and you may go wherever you choose", she says.
AT S0ME POINT our Whiskey supply was deplenished
and we dove into the night, stars, alcohol and all the other heavy stuff
in our heads.
The darkness was warm, heavy ashes. The ocean enclosed our brows and as the wind grew still, the waves carried us gently across lge earth's abyss. As in a dream, one of the girls kissed me. "I'll never forget you".
"Remember the star I showed you", said another.
Then we were encaptured by the vast gravitation of the Milky Way and were pulled into her cool bed, and moon and world drew slowly away, far off to beaches and voices that will never come to be. On this strange shores, enclosed by the sea, tower the faded marble of a statue, on which only one word is written. And while the tides and sand are constantly cradled by the motion of the sea, they spread the word, whispering it with each new wave crashing down on the beach who the statue represents and who wrote on it, I won't reveal to you
...bul the word.
Marian Gold, 18, June,1992
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