(01-05) Trance Priest

A-Bomb’s lips moved carefully, like he was a dog taking the scent of the words, “Dedicated to the troll in me.” He turned the book over and looked at the picture of Paris. She was standing beside a fire hydrant which was the same height as her. On top of the hydrant somebody had placed a pair of sunglasses and a bowler hat, so that it appeared to have a face. Paris was dressed in a Chinese dress with a slit up the left side. A-Bomb figured the fire hydrant must be the troll, but he didn’t see what it had to do with Paris.

“It’s ironic.” A-Bomb jumped at the sound of the voice. He was sure it was Lou, but the door hadn’t opened. He was alone. And besides, the voice wasn’t normal; it had that special resonance of an audible hallucination. He waited for awhile but the voice didn’t say anything else, and after a little while he had forgotten it, being not so inclined toward reflecting on the past. He looked at the picture one more time. “It’s ironic,” he said.

He didn’t remember how he had learned to read but there was no effort in it, he just stared at the page and the story unfolded in his head. It began, “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 church fathers. The boy does not go to school with the others. He has disappeared into an unknown education, a mystery school.

A generation of children would grow up with one of their natural kin missing, and they would hear about him as if he was dead. But they knew he wasn’t dead. He was one of the Brothers who sometimes walked single file and in silence across the landscape where the church was in the foreground, and in the background, behind a wall, there was the Order of St. Magus. Inside the compound there were orchards and gardens and the mouth of a natural spring fed by the mountain the compound backed onto.

If he was dead they’d hear about it. So long as he was alive they would hear nothing. He would remain invisible until one of them was taken to see him by the more social priest. He was very much alive and the characteristics which led to his being chosen as the Trance Priest were strengthening. A Shaman, a Sorcerer, a Wizard, a Trance Priest: they all depend on a connection into the source of the intelligence of the earth, coming up from hell. My father would tell us, when I was a child and mother wold take me to him under the guise of his helping me grow taller, that all good things come from hell.

He said that hell is demonized by powerful interests who want to make people afraid to go to hell. They want them to go to heaven. I remember once that he showed us a painting of a small farm in the wilderness. He said that all the cultivated part, which was actually only an island in the golden mean, was heaven. And all around it there was nature. “Nature is the earth thinking,” he told us. “It’s down below, in your feet.”

“This is one of the mysteries,” the old Trance Priest had told him. He was actually only thirty years older. My father already knew the things the older priests told him, because they were obvious to him when he heard them. The older priest affirmed this as well: “You can’t hear what you don’t know.”

But in order for him to be my father he had to have sex with my mother. She was taken to him because she was suffering from nervous hives. She was getting broad patches of itchy red whelps on her body. The problem was becoming more severe. She had no idea what to expect from him, which was the point. Because he was raised separately, and knew that hell is simply how a patriarch thinks about his wife’s family, he was removed from the patterns in which she was contained.

“It’s a containment problem,” he told her. “There’s only one thing that can cure it. The Prince has to wake you up, but first he has to get past the dragon.” One thing led to another. The itching went away and her complexion developed a more aesthetic rosiness.

When I was a child, I remember that she would go to see him about once a month. When I was older I understood that she went to him when by her count she couldn’t conceive. He wasn’t supposed to have children, having taken a vow of celibacy. I was four when she took me to see him. That was the day he made her pregnant again, the day my brother was conceived. I don’t remember their having sex, but then, I was a child, and most likely did not see what I was not supposed to see. I’m certain, though, that a part of me was paying attention, and knows more than I remember.

A-Bomb closed the book and the images faded slowly. He put he book under his pillow, where nobody would take it away. He could hear Lou coughing on the other side of the wall: coughing and spitting; he smoked a lot of cigarettes. A couple of minutes later he opened the door and looked in. “You up?” He was combing his hair.

“Yea. I’m up. You were up late because I could hear you. Is it okay if I ask you if Paris has a brother?”

Louis had his shoes in his hand and he sat down on a small chair, designed for a child, to put them on. “Did she tell you about Troll?”

“He’s a Troll?”

“Technically he’s a dwarf, but he calls himself Troll. He had his name legally changed to Troll.”

“He’s her real brother? They had the same dad?”

“Yea, Go figure. She’s an angel and he’s … he’s not.”

“So that’s what she meant? That the book is for the Troll in her? That she could have been just like him or him just like her? It was a toss up which one was which?”

Louis followed his usual policy of not blocking the flow of conversation. “If that’s what she told you.”

“She didn’t tell me; it’s in the book. It’s the dedication. She says, ‘Dedicated to the Troll in me.’”

“Really? I don’t usually read books by women. I like mysteries. You want to get some breakfast?”

Posted: Tue - February 12, 2008 at 12:52 AM