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From Here to There

Byron Livingston

A camel was waiting for me beyond the perimeter, so I made my way towards the gate in the fence. It would be my final day here and my first day making my way to there. The starfish in the pond-fountains glared at me with eyes that would wheeze if they physically could. But, alas, they couldn't and stared stare-less with vacant non-eyes and a dash of pensive static-ness. The lilly pads at the top of the ponds sang to me with purpose and understanding. The cement beneath my feet was fresh and melted around me in the hot sun of the desert castle. Cats and dogs chased playfully rodents expressing their fear for unknowing with impetus. The bridge over the river, that flowed throughout the land, was shorter than I would have liked it to be. When I came out on the other side it was as if I had never been anywhere. Space monkeys could have transported me somewhere without my knowing, for all I cared. As a matter of fact, there were three camels, which I ceremoniously found out when I slammed the gate behind me.

           One was for life, one was for death, and the other was for nothing. They were marked as such in English by way of dried animal blood caked to their coats of snarled camel hair. I rode the one marked, nothing, and the other two fought for position behind me. Death won a fierce battle and life took its place at the rear. We embarked without fanfare, life and death carrying supplies and rations in neatly stacked boxes, making them heavy. I sneezed on a caterpillar which curled up immediately. I tried to apologize but nothing continued on before I had a chance. It didn't much matter, for the brilliant visions in front of me rendered the caterpillar small and irrelevant. The caterpillar didn't think so. He didn't think at all.

           A ball of blue flame was what it might have looked like, if sight were a way to experience this mess of white space enveloping what was directly behind and above me. Life circled endlessly, erasing its memory occasionally and experiencing the mess inside of its circles anew with the same zeal and wonder. Death remarked without voice that it really was a beautiful thing for just that fleeting moment. I could feel we were getting closer to the oblivion of not being where we used to be. The familiar stood disappearing behind us and I thought it prudent to continue and nothing, with a thud, obliged.

           I evoked the names of heroes and embassy-men when the gangrene and insanity set in a few weeks down the path. My camels were becoming donkeys and their humps of water sagged like liposuction meatloaf. Foggy hallucinations crammed themselves into the path and howled maniacally with flesh-eating contusions. They gargled oil and carpet tacks and made their way around us in a circle of craving and bereaving. Loud hiccups traipsed forward towards me and my camels and death bellowed out to scare off the apparitions. Moody and unsatisfied, everybody involved sighed and rescinded all past contact, chalking things up to isolation. I could smell the small cabin I was wrangling on to.

           On a hill it sat with a bird feeder and a plastic lawn gnome. They made the cabin very inviting and life remarked that the roof was done up very nicely. A portion of the hill was missing beneath it and much of the cabin floated impossibly in midair. The only way up was through the empty space, for the hillside was littered with barbed wire and murderous terrain, stapled to renegade porcupines howling with madness into infinity. Nothing figured it was a job for nothing once again and walloped toward the empty space. Life and death waiting cautiously at a very safe distance. Since I was on top of nothing, I was elevated as nothing made its way up to the cabin. The lawn gnome greeted us with a snarl and I must have been mistaken, for the bird feeder was in fact a cauldron of spines. Life and death waited below, no way for nothing to carry them on its back and nothing waited patient, ambiguously, as I opened the door to find a naked old man knitting a sweater and three socks.

           He offered me a seat at the rock beneath my butt and I accepted its harshness as I fell to its level and rested my back against the wood of the makeshift wall. We sat content for days and weeks never looking across the room. Then one day he left, his knitting done, and ready to climb down the hill-non-side. I looked outside and he passed nothing and disappeared down the horizon. I looked over the edge and did not see life and death at the bottom. They must have wandered off, tired of waiting for me to call them. So I sat beside nothing reclining into the air and bellowed out a tune to celebrate my arrival there.

© 2001 Byron Livingston, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

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