Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions): A Heart Full Of Dust Part Five

The Nick Of Time

(and other Abrasions)

A Heart Full Of Dust


Al Bruno III


...White hot spotlight on the stage.

The Fool sits in the audience, disoriented.

There is music playing, rambling and ghostly.

A man in a spangly red jacket steps into the spotlight and draws deeply on his cigarette. He loosens his tie and flashes a perfect smile, “Welcome to the show!”

Applause fills the air, the Fool looks around the empty theater searching for its source.

“For our first act,” the man in the red jacket announces, “I'll need a volunteer.”

More applause.

“Anyone will do, “ he points at the Fool, “how about you handsome?”

The Fool stands, his clothes are ratty and grease- stained, “I-I don't know who I am or how I got here.”

“All the better!” the Magician exclaims, his smile widening, “A Mystery Man for a magic trick. Come on up!”

The applause booms. Cautiously the Fool approaches the stage, he feels so very conspicuous. The flesh of his scarred face reddens, he wants to run away but he can't.

He steps onto the stage, the light from the spotlight blinds him

“This your first time?” the Magician asks.


“I find that hard to believe, you're a natural.”

The Fool shields his eyes trying to see the audience.

“So are you ready?”

“I guess so.” he blinks in confusion.

“Well, you better be.” the Magician says. With a wave of his arms an upright indigo coffin is rolled centerstage, “Please climb in.”

“Is this the magic?”

“No. This is to prepare you.”

The Fool balks, “I don't want this.”

“Then you shouldn't have volunteered.”

“But I didn't volunteer! You made me come up here!”

The audience laughs, the Magician shakes his head sadly, “This is what you've always wanted.”

The Fool steps into the coffin, the door closes sealing him in darkness. “And now,” the man in the spangly red jacket proclaims, “a musical number!”

Music and singing fills the air as the Fool struggles to escape his prison. He wonders if the magic will be his escape or if the Magician will transport him to another place. The song rises to a crescendo as he feels the walls searching for some hidden lever or switch. The Magician raps lightly on the coffin, “How are you doing in there?”

The Fool doesn't even dignify the question with a reply. Tiny voices whisper in the darkness, tempting him to set aside his identity. Alone in the dark, he resists, knowing that he must face what is coming with his own face and his own soul.

“I think I hear the sound of paradigms shattering.” the Magician quips.

The music concludes. The Fool begins to shove on the lid of the coffin, gently at first but with increasing force as claustrophobia begins to set in. It gives away suddenly and he stumbles back out into the spotlight's white glare. The audience roars its approval.

“Congratulations!” the Magician applauds gently, and pulls a hand-held mirror out of his jacket, “Its not exactly a showgirl into a tiger but it'll do.”

The Hanged Man stares at his reflection with disbelief, wondering where the Fool has gone. Or was that someone else entirely?

“And now that you're in costume,” the Magician pockets the mirror, “it's time for the first act of our little production.”

The Hanged Man shields his eyes from the glare and looks out into the audience.

He sees nothing but a wasteland, a wasteland of dust. The wind stirs, shifting the sand this way and that.

“Where is the audience?” the Hanged Man asks.

“See for yourself.” the Magician points offstage. The wind reveals what lies beneath the sand, “A tough crowd eh?”

There are so many bodies, the wasteland has reduced them to withered, sexless mummies. “What happened?”

“What always happens,” the man in the spangly red jacket comments.

The spotlight begins to contract, the Hanged Man finds himself alone in the light, darkness pressing in on every side...

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