Friday, March 30, 2007

Chapter Three: Jillson's "History"

Thud. Thud. Thud - three quick jabs, then the sweet-sounding feedback.

"Is this thing on? Oh, yeah, alright. Well, welcome everyone to the second week of readings here at The Lit Snob. Glad to see so many of you here again this week, especially you, Mrs. Darson - can we get you another triple-twist latte? Alright, well you just let someone know...."

The sweater-man emcee, whose name is Todd, is wearing an odd combination of gold and purple argyle over a white button-down. He looks around the room nervously (it's only his second week!) and clears his throat.

"In any case, this week's reading comes from Gavin Jillson, the author of the recently-published A First Draft of History. He has been writing since his late-undergraduate years, when his professors encouraged him to send his work for publication - and now is here as a three-time New York Times bestseller. So without further ado, Gavin Jillson!"

The Snob crowd applauds quietly - some even chime in with their finger-snaps - as Jillson hops on onto the stage and takes his seat on the stool in front of the mic.

"How's everyone doing tonight?" he asks with vigor - the crowd mumbles a few bits of unimportance. He doesn't quite know quite what to make of their ... snobbery.

"Alright then, let's get to it. Here's a selection from the First Draft:"


The water seems to stand still - even as each tree, each branch, each leaf, lives and dies in a microsecond - the water seems unmovable, immutable. There's a shrill whistling of the forest passing by, and the ground pounds play a steady bass to the overwhelming, verdant melody. Underneath him, the beast's moist, coarse skin quivers with the tension and release of each muscle. Everything around him is full of life and movement - everything except for the water. He follows the river for what seems like a hour, until suddenly the forest bows away to reveal its prestige - the warm desert plain. Adam looks out onto the plane of his existence, feels his body processing the change in temperature and humidity, feels the hard breathing of his companion as the great lizard comes to a slowing halt. Adam runs his hands over the beast's back, thanking it in his own way - the only way he can. Leaning down, he speaks to his friend.

"Good run today, Ceres. I can't believe how helpful you've been - we caught so much food this morning. This should tide us over for weeks. Come on, let's get back home."

Ceres twists his enormous head - the two large horns point out towards the plain , the smaller one pointing straight up at the midday sun. Without understanding, he lets out a grunting howl and nods his head slowly once. The rider accepts this acknowledgment with another friendly pat on the back. Taking this signal, Ceres bounds off from the edge of the forest and out into the deserted land, always following the impassable flow of the great river. As the pair make their way out and into the afternoon world, Adam sees all of the life surrounding the twin banks of the river. Beasts of all sizes - the great, towering lizards dipping their long necks into the sweet watery deep; the much smaller bipeds licking at the shore's bounty; Ceres' family as well - gather at the water to drink and eat and live. It is this simple, Adam thinks to himself as he points out of the other three-horns to his friend.

This is how he wants us to live out our punishment

After they have passed the large crowd enjoying their noon meal at the riverbank, Adam and Ceres continue on through the oppressive heat for two hours. The river continues to act as a guide, showing them the way home - leading them to the break. As they near the tributary point, Adam begins to make out the familiar smoke-coil of his home. He breathes in deeply, closing his eyes and imagining his wife - his mate, his other half - smiling and singing in the mid-afternoon shade that their bower permits them. A few more moments brings the lizard to a second stop - he knows that he is home as well. Adam climbs down off of Ceres' back and feels the hard earth under his bare feet. It is both a relieving sensation of returning home and a painful reminder of the desert oasis long gone now. Adam shakes his head hard - pushing thoughts of loss out - and walks towards the small habitation. He calls to his wife gently, full of the most intense love he can muster in his fatigue.

"Eve! Eve, are you there? I'm back, my love."

Hearing no response, Adam begins to worry - he's sure that she just didn't hear him, but he can't shake some of his newer feelings. He advances at a quicker pace, and pushes aside the makeshift door. Then he sees her. She is standing with her back to him, looking out of the natural window between two of the lone trees. She is wearing her white dress, her long auburn hair flowing to her waist. Adam approaches her slowly and guides his arms around her waist. He kisses the back of her neck. Then her cheek - she turns her head slowly and their lips meet. It is Paradise. She withdraws from him slowly.

"What is it, Eve? Ceres and I have returned from the hunt. We've collected enough food and water for a week."

"That's wonderful, Adam! No, it's nothing really. I was just looking at the sky outside. There's something strange near the eastern horizon."

"What is it?" Adam leans over and stares outside.

A large, dark object, hovers in the eastern sky. When he sees it, Adam realizes that he noticed it earlier in the day, before he and Ceres had entered the forest. Except then, it had been much smaller. He wasn't sure what to make of it - but he knew what they had to do to find out.

"Come on Eve, let's go to the altar and pray. Maybe he will tell us what this thing is."

Eve wraps her arms around Adam's shoulders. She pulls him as close as she can - she feels his chest against her head and the steadiness of his breathing. It has comforted her for many years, and it comforts her now.

"Adam, I have a bad feeling about that thing."

"I do too, Eve. But I'm sure that he will take care of us. We have not disobeyed him for many, many of our years. He must know that. He must care. He must still love us. So let's not worry - let's go outside to the altar."

Hand in hand, the pair leave their bower for the crude altar. The shadow of something far-less mysterious - something far-more real - hangs over their heads unmovable. Immutable.


Jillson closes his book slowly, listening to the sounds around him. He hears more quiet clapping, more finger-snapping, and he nods in thanks. Todd climbs up onto the stage and approaches the mic yet again.

"Well, thank you Mr. Jillson for reading this evening - that was wonderful. And thank you all again for coming to The Lit Snob. Next week, we're not completely decided on our author. What I can tell you is that either Marion Douglass or Richard Palmenack will be here to read their amazing poetry. So don't miss it!"

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