Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brian Michael Barbeito

Jacob Easton Ellis
(Of Cowboys, Indians, and Columbians)

Jacob went into the interior of the metropolis. He was definitely in an abyss, and had, ‘fallen down a drain’ as it were. But what could he do? Sleep and respite would not have him, and since there was no repose for a soul such as his, he had to tumble on, and though he was floundering, the thought came to him that he could try to learn something.

He spent a lot of time with the urban cowboy, now exiled from the fields. The cowboy had one eye and they walked along always in the bright metropolitan day. Jacob noticed that the dregs of society stretched before them, and this coupled with the hot sun gave him uneasy feeling. Jacob had thrown an empty milk carton at the cowboy. ‘Don’t throw things at me,’ said the cowboy, ‘ cause I only got one eye, and I ain’t gone lose it. I been through too much to lose the last eye. The other eye is glass. I been through a lot. I had my own operation of product in the mountains until the police raided it. And even in the end I never gave into them. I beat it too. I beat it with a good lawyer. But I is in the city now, and lookin’ for a new start. I know that the construction workers is many of them bad. They go to church on Sundays, and they sleep around with lots of women durin’ the week. Me, I left all that- left everythin’ and now I am just a cowboy anarch. How do you say it? An anarchy. I am an anarchy to myself.’ And the cowboy always spoke with his finger pointing, like he was admonishing everyone and everything. Jacob grew tired and soon parted with the strange and often contradictory man. He continued on.

The Indian and Jacob were like kings from different courts. There was a group that the Indian was the leader of and a group that Jacob was leader of, though a reluctant leader. But they met on the bus once, and had reason to talk. They found that they did not quarrel, but instead became fast friends. Jacob talked to the Indian about Carlos Castaneda and the Indian, before disappearing for six weeks at a stretch, explained things such as the time the Indian said, ‘ I carry this bag, and it has matches, and a few other items in it. When you die, and you go to the next world, you will need four things. Always I carry them with me, because death can come at any time. Others are not so far on their healing journey, but I am and I want to be prepared for all things in all ways.’ One day the Indian threw his cigarette off of the balcony. Jacob laughed and asked him why, if he held tobacco in such high regard, did he just do that so flippantly and dismissively. The Indian laughed and made the sign of the cross over the balcony railing as if to bless the discarded filter. Soon when the Indian left to the fields to find his way out of the mire and much that is the cityscape, Jacob found the Columbian.

She was of medium height, and wore high platform shoes, her hair short, and the eyes looked out from under a light brown wisp of hair that was turning a golden hue from the summer sun. They walked and at a street festival she got on a stage and danced. The Columbian had lost much, but tried to stay upbeat. The Cowboy and the Indian had suffered immensely in their own ways, but it was hard for Jacob to see that suffering enormous and dark had come to the Columbian because she was a woman. The cowboy and the Indian also knew her, and Jacob and them had spoken about it often. All she really had wanted was to be happy, to be settled, but she had drawn a very lousy hand. Death and sickness were around her, and would continue to be around her all he days of her life. Yet there she danced, in the bright sun, with rhythm untold of in the Northern Hemisphere. ‘You are our leader Jacob,’ said the Columbian ‘and I would follow you anywhere.’ But the Columbian was only wishing that she could follow. Soon enough, the summer was winding and hints of things autumnal came slowly but surely in those nights.

One night, when they all found themselves so far to the edge of the metropolis that Jacob did not recognize any of the streets, he knew it was time to journey outward again. He kissed the Columbian softly on her pouty lips. To the Indian he yelled a sort of war cry- and the Indian and he laughed at this, - the Indian bestowing his Christian blessing with the sign of the cross in the air again. Jacob shook hands with the cowboy- and asked him to please try and look out for the Columbian, to take care of her and keep an eye on her. Then Jacob left.

Far and far he travelled, beyond the city limits. The vibration of the environs rose, as surely and definitely as the sky was blue or the ground was below one’s feet and not on top. When he reached his destination he took a long shower and got ready to sleep. He would sleep on and off for three days, but it was not a physical sickness he was trying to let the cosmos cure. The past was still on him, like an unhealthy psychic cord- and he could not cut it- but only had to hope it would wear and break through time. So he began the wait for the new season- the autumn, where the colder air might kill the past. The past, well meaning, but like a bacteria living however it knew could. Or like a drowning person grabbing onto another and drowning that person as well. The autumn would come. It always did. He would wake and it’s bright and rich textured hues would be waiting for him just outside- and lead him to a new life.

In the meantime he slept.

And dreamed of wild open spaces in fields covered in shadows and the moon’s light.

© Brian Michael Barbeito 2011

Brian Michael Barbeito writes short fiction. His work has appeared at Glossolalia, Exclusive Conclave of Delights Magazine, Lunatics Folly, and Mudjob. He resides in Ontario, Canada.

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