After binding my wrists with some hemp they took me to an enormous and grotesque white building, all sharp angles and mottled with pebbles and granite chunks. They called it “City Hall.” There was a ring of deep water around it full of piranha and the leftover bones of all their previous meals. The lawmen marched me down a never-ending and windowless corridor, lit only by flickering red torch flames. Just when I’d taken to thinking they really were leading me to the edge of the world, we reached a pair of massive, cherry wood doors, and Lamech and his partner each pushed one open then shoved me inside.
The coppers’ friendly nudge sent me spilling to my knees. Palms pressed against the stone floor, I looked up and around. In an inset nook on the far wall there roared a large fire. In front of that, the skin of a grizzly bear was spread across the ground. Adorning the black onyx walls were the severed heads of a variety of creatures – a lynx, a dire wolf, an eagle.
Just beneath the snarling visage of a decapitated lion was a big granite block covered in clay goblets full of steaming brown liquid, inked-up reeds and blank cuneiform tablets. Behind it was a wooden chair, and standing beyond that was a man with his back to us, dressed in a fancy maroon silk robe. He had his hands linked just above his rear-end, staring out the wide opening that looked onto the city.
If I’d been a sap, I’d have found all this inspiring. Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Six”
I had to wash the taste of Sephura out of my mouth, so I found the nearest saturnalia and bummed as much wine as I could from the men and women there. About a hundred depraved and randy partygoers danced around this big bonfire and pulled each other into the shadows to commit carnal acts I wouldn’t care to describe. They were a friendly bunch, and I was wasted in record time.
The air reeked of alcohol and sweat and smoke. Some naked guys were banging on bongos, a few others blowing into flutes and strumming on little harps. I wondered if they’d bought all that gear off of old Jubal, wondered where he and his brother and my ass and my toe were, and found myself getting angry. I grabbed an ewer of mead out of somebody’s hands and drank harder; I didn’t want to be angry. I didn’t want to be anything. Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Five”
“You horse’s arse!”
For the first time in two years this pretty little thing and I were standing face-to-face, and she wasted no time making with the insults. There wasn’t much delay, either, in the way her cupped hand drew back, like a reflex, and slapped holy hell out of my gob. Got me right in the tender spot, too, where my tooth had fallen out.
“Damn,” I said. “You been practicing that or what?”
“Yeah, smart-aleck,” she said, her sleek black hair drooping over one eye. “Every night before bed I’ve been smacking the snot out of a dumb, fat pig looks just like you. I can hardly tell the difference.” She reached back for another good wallop and I snatched her wrist just in time to stop it.
“Now, sweetheart,” I said, “I don’t think you really wanna do that.” Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Four”
Nod was and always will be a cesspool. Dingy, humid, smelly. And that’s just the citizens. A few bad apples, kids and grandkids and so forth of Mom and Dad’s, got it in their heads they’d relocate to Nod a long, long time ago. All these years later and the apples only got more rotten and more numerous. Blink in Nod and they’ll rob you blind. Fall asleep there and you might wake up one kidney, tongue, or ball short.
And these monsters are family, mind you.
But all that was secondary to number one on the Reasons to Steer Clear of Nod list: Sephura moved out there about a year ago. Sephura’s my sister.
We had a thing for a while. It ended badly. Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Two”
The Good-Bye Garden (Part One)
Ryan Everett Felton
Five weeks after I swore an oath I’d never go back, I jumped a wild ass and kicked it in the haunches until it pointed its dripping snout toward home. I cursed and spat and told the beast it was a stupid, stubborn thing, but that from here on out – between the pair of us – I’d be the stupider, stubborner one. It brayed and kept moving, which I took to mean that the beast agreed to do the walking from here on out. That suited me fine. I might’ve grown up in the desert, but I never really took to it, nor it to me.
Slung across my back were my only possessions: a pair of sandals; a cloth to wrap around my head in the day and curl up under at night; and three waterskins – one full of water, the other two brimming with wine. One of the wine ones I grabbed now and took a pull. Fine, just fine. My cousin’s wife smashed the grapes with her own two feet and I never took a sip of the stuff without imagining those perfect little toes of hers, fleshy flawless grapes themselves. What a pretty thing she is.
“Damn it, Dashel,” I said to myself. “Don’t think, just drink.” Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part One”