Blue Midget 1

A Bomb's lips moved carefully as he sounded out the dedication one more time, "Dedicated to the troll in me," and then one more time he turned to the back flyleaf to look at the picture of Paris standing beside a fire hydrant, painted white in the middle but with a bright red top and trim. She was fashionably dressed and wearing a pill box hat. The fire hydrant was naked except for a bowler hat and aviator sunglasses. No matter how many times A Bomb looked at the picture,he couldn't see any resemblance to a troll in her. Then he got the joke.

He turned the page and there was no introduction, no forward, no instructions on how to proceed. From the diving board of the dedication he found himself instantly inside the narrative. He was not reading the words yet. He was still feeling an intense pleasure to have understood the joke. Except that he had forgotten what it was he understood, and could not get back to it. He turned the picture around in his mind a few times and repeated the dedication, "To the troll in me." But the moment had passed and the understanding was gone.

A Bomb didn't plan to read the book. It took him too long to read. But time had passed while he was looking at the first page and he had no sense that he was reading. He was just looking at the page and thinking that this was something written by Paris, and that she was perfect, even if she was a scale model.

After a few more moments he turned back to the dedication and this time he saw it as one thing. He saw it as a sentence and the moment he did, it spoke to him. This disoriented him and made him fearful that something unusual was happening to him that might make him not able to remember himself. He couldn't not go forward, so he waited awhile longer, looking at the page, looking at the first sentence, There is a story told in Carpathia, where I was born, of a boy in each generation who is taken from his family, and given to the fathers of the church.

The voice came again, so that he could hear the words he was looking at without having to try to figure them out by looking at them, which was what he'd always tried to do. Now he was looking at them but he wasn't trying to do anything. He was just listening to them, and they began to speak more naturally.

This boy isn't allowed to go to the public school. The priests educate him themselves, and he joins none of the group activities. He is never seen by the other children, not seen laughing or crying or fighting or making love. None of them realize that they are in a trance held together by their familiarity with each other, and most of them never break the trance. But sometimes there is a danger in groups. Some members of the group will want more status, and so other members of the group will be given less, in compensation for the inflation on the other side. Things get out of balance, and there is illness and violence and hatred and retribution.

When a member of the group would become ill from losing the balance of life, he would be taken before the one who was unknown to him. He would be led into a small room where the unknown other sat in meditation, looking at him with an open face. This was the trance priest, who was the mystery of what is not known, the unlived life.

While you expect such a person as the trance priest to be celibate, preaching and practice don't often match, because the trance priest was human, and he was a man. It was when my mother was sent to him to try and cure her affliction he found out that there was also a trance priestess in town. As to the nature of her affliction, it was never spelled out to me, but I got the idea that she was unable to do what was expected of her, such as stay in school, find a boyfriend, or even participate in the community. She insisted that she was a dreamer, and knew exactly what to do, and didn't want to be bothered.

She was diagnosed as being a borderline schizophrenic, which I presume means that you've got one toe in insanity or one toe in sanity and you are wiggling it and thinking about which way you'd like to go, crazy or in sanity. Some insane people are predictable which is what makes them insane. Other insane people cannot be predicted which makes them insane.

"You said you wanted to do this!"

"That wasn't right now."

Predictability or lack of it does not make them insane. Because you can't predict them does not mean that there is not a pattern inside over which they are operating. What makes them insane is a loss of love for the center. Away from the center love is squandered or withheld, and one can easily see examples of how the ones who squander love always squander it on people who withhold it. They are matched sets. There is perhaps an underground scene known only to the true hipsters, in which sadomasochism has become passe, something practiced by fossils. The happening scene is S and W, squander and withhold. It gets down to the nitty gritty of the deal.

In the most basic explorations of love, such as a kiss, there is a field of possibilities ranging from desperately unconsciously driven to succeed, to take this tongue and shove it, to hesitant, wooden muscles with wet rims. It is the same at any level of exploration. The difference is always a matter of taste, which has to do with what you are creating, its aesthetic. The power of surrender opens into inner worlds, while the power to withhold opens into a focused attention toward action.

"Do this." What is missing in surrender is structure.

If he can provide that without falling into the trance of power, he paradoxically has power. The more he needs control the less powerful he is, because he's dealing with somebody who can give up all control, and the system with the widest parameters is the controlling system. There you see the dance. They cannot exist without each other so long as they are out of balance, and when they come into balance, there's no compulsion, and the compulsion is what makes the sex so hot, yada yada yada.

So when my mother walked into that little monk's room -- he wasn't a midget, really, but not more than five feet tall -- he expected it would be as always, that the person coming in to see him would have nothing by which to put him into any category. The easiest thing for the conscious mind to do when confronted with something outside its time integration talent is to just shut down. It's a matter of giving up control because you don't have any rails for the train to run on. He didn't expect that he would encounter what had been hidden from him.

Because, you see, my mother was the same, about five feet tall, of the same slender body type, and with familial features. She was his cousin. But he didn't remember anything about the family he was born into, because he'd been taken away from all that, and now here he is suddenly back, in the blink of an eye. "Are you alright?" My mother asked him. That's how she told the story to me anyway. She said he was making funny faces at her, and when she asked him what he thought he was doing, he said, "This is forbidden to me now."

She pointed out that, forbidden or not, he was making faces like a child, and the sillier they were the more he seemed to relish her surprise and consternation. "I was sure he was totally insane," she said, and finally I'd just had enough and I said, 'Stop that this instant.'"

"And what did he do?" I asked her. He never lived with us and I didn't see him after we left Carptathia. There was the revolution and we got out just in time. The borders were closed less than a month after we got through into Greece, and then to America.

"He stopped instantly. That was the beginning of the love affair." She smiled that wan smile she took on when she talked about my father. It's always a sad thing to her that she fell in love with a priest, and that while she could go to his cell, he couldn't come out of it. I suppose he could have but maybe not. There are tribal people who cannot escape if you succeed in drawing a circle around them. There is a barrier invisible to you and me, perhaps, but for the person trapped inside it, there's no way out.

Electrify the perimeter of a rat's cage for a day or two, so that it knows where it can range without being shocked, then shut off the power. The rat won't try to cross the invisible barrier again. The memory of the shock is enough to stop his exploring any further than he's already explored.

So my father was always confined, contained inside some tradition that I have never understood, that is, I understand he was like Jesus, the one that just didn't fit in, and so got to be the sacrifice. But I didn't understand why they put the goatskin on a little child. He didn't know how to resist it, did he? I'd say he didn't. And if it hadn't been for my mother showing up, he wouldn't have ever known he'd been framed.

He woke up that day to the realization that there was a whole world of possibilities that had been closed off to him. He had never gone to the dances, never played in the games, never played in the band, never been the best man, never the groom, never the business partner or the water boy. He had never belonged, and that was precisely his purpose. He was the window into the darkness. People looked into it, and they didn't want to go there. They went back out of the door and back to what they had been doing before dissatisfaction turned their head.

"I can tell you that this is good enough for me," they would tell each other in the tavern at night, as they raised a glass to life in Carpathia, and the values that held them together with the tenacity of flexcuffs. And back in his cell, my father no longer existed as the center of his meditations. He was restless once he met my mother, and made her pregnant. She would go to see him about one time every month, when by her count she couldn't conceive. During my fourth year he asked her to bring me to him. It was the first time he admitted to my existence, and on that same day, he made her pregnant with my brother.

I don't remember their having sex, but then I was a child and my interest was probably on something else, like sweets, perhaps, though I'm certain that there was a part of me that was paying close attention.

A Bomb closed the book and the voice faded away. He didn't know how long it had talked to him but he felt like he knew Paris a lot better now that he knew about her daddy being in jail, and her having to move in the middle of the night and all. He put the book under his pillow where nobody would take it away if they came in looking for it. In the other room he heard Lou coughing and spitting, the way people will when they smoke a lot of cigarettes.

"You up?" Louis asked, looking into the room. He was combing his hair.

"I been up for hours. Were you up all night?" There was an accusation buried under the innocence with which he asked.

"Part of the night, A Bomb, part of the night," he said from outside the room.

"Is it too personal a thing for me to ask you if Paris has a little brother?"

Louis came in with his shoes in his hand and sat on the edge of the bed to put them on. "Troll? She tell you about him?"

"He's a troll?"

"Well, he's a dwarf, I guess, but he calls himself Troll. Had his name legally changed from Henry."

"So, he had the same mom and dad as Paris?"

"Yep. Go figure. You ready for lunch or late breakfast?"

"That's what she meant by the troll in her? She was talking about her brother, that they have the same mom and dad, but she turned out so different from him?"

Louis followed his usual policy of not blocking the flow of things when he didn't have anything to contribute. "Sure," he said. "If that's what she told you."

"No. She didn't tell me. It's in the book, the first thing in the book. It says, "Dedicated to the troll in me."

"Really? I never read books by women. So? Lunch? Breakfast? Beer and a shot?"

"Breakfast sounds the best."

Posted: Tue - September 4, 2007 at 09:01 AM