(01-26) God in the Maiz

When Dexter bought, “Midget With a Dwarf Tattoo,” it was because of the picture on the jack jacket. It was a dramatic black and white photo of Paris sitting at a sidewalk cafe, wearing dark glasses and a beret. Dexter had at first been sure she was somebody he already knew, but he couldn’t remember how he knew her. He in fact remembered her from a dream in which she had a nosebleed and he gave her his handkerchief. When she gave it back there were only three drops of blood on it.

Dexter belonged to a study group which promoted the idea that if you want something all you have to do is pray for it. There were the usual group of naysayers who would retort, “Pray, depart,” or, “I’m praying for sex with you.” But in the main people were looking for friends and for community, and this was the kind of thing they could all gather around, like a totem pole or a two headed snake.

It was the attraction of easily gained power. If prayer is magic, then he who prays is the magician, and Dexter wanted more than anything to be a powerful magician. This had fueled his interest in hallucinogenic drugs, and in a variety of religious rituals, including one in which his mind became a hunter which, like a falcon, could hunt for prey, just one vowel movement away. He liked words because they were the components of prayer, and so the components of magical powers.

Magic words made up magical prayers. “Verklempt," for example, was one of his special words. He’d just acquired it and had tried it out at the Sunday afternoon meeting of his group: “Here am I, verklempt and fusible, praying for a sweet little woman to knock on my door.” And like clockwork, what he asked for showed up at his door. As usual, it wasn’t what he expected, but on reflection it really was what he’d asked for. The midget with a dwarf tattoo was knocking at his door, offering him money to abduct her and ride north to Mendocino.

He was all verklempt over the proposition.

Dexter had gotten involved in theater because he felt like there was somebody in him who'd gone to the land of the dead, and that if he could find his character, he might bring him back to life. So he began to move intuitively toward the roles which attracted him, and they were usually the villain roles. He was getting a reputation as a good character actor, and the character was tough, mean, and unforgiving. His makeup usually included knife scars, eye patches or some evidence of close quarter fighting. The stage persona was actually the opposite of his everyday personality, which tended toward the passivity of those who wait for magic to do instantly what would take a lot of hard work otherwise.

Everything seemed to be going perfectly, right on script, until Paris had tapped him three times, the signal that she needed to stop. "I have to pee," she said. He slowed, looking for a place they could get out of sight on any passing cars. He spotted the culvert a quarter of a mile down the highway, and leaned the bike against a berm while she went into the opening of the culvert.

At first he couldn't believe it when he saw a big Indian guy come out of the trees, and he was even more dumbfounded when he realized he was a friend of Paris. He stood politely by while the Indian told her about her cousin's death, and that somebody he called the Patriarch had been waiting there for her. "He said you're his bride."

"You didn't say you were getting married." Dexter couldn't hide a touch of disappointment. He had prayed that she would fall in love with him"

"I'm in the flow of the Tao," Paris said.

"Is that like riding down a river?"

"Yes. The same thing. This is A-Bomb, my protector. This is Dexter. I guess he's another protector."

Dexter gave Indian Shadow’s hand a squeeze to test his strength and almost got his bones crushed in reply. His method acting was no match for an elemental force of nature.

“Where is he?” Paris asked.

Indian Shadow held up the baggie of creamed corn. “He’s in this baggie. He got mixed up with the cream corn during the firefight.”

“Who?” Dexter asked.

Paris said, “The Patriarch.”

“Who’s that? The Jolly Green Giant?”

The Patriarch spoke inside his background of silence. “It's starting to get warmer so let's get on with it.”

When they got back to where Indian Shadow had made his nest in the tall grass, the first thing Dexter spotted there was the assault rifle. “You planning on shooting somebody?” he asked.

“I already did,” Indian Shadow said. "But I'm most likely not done yet."

“Leave me here with my bride,” the Patriarch said.

Indian Shadow took his weapon and motioned with his head for Dexter to come with him. They walked up the hill toward a stand of scrub oak. “She’s going to mate with the creamed corn?” Dexter asked again. How is she gonna do that? Why is she gonna do that?”

“It’s not our business how it’s done,” Indian Shadow replied.

“But you can’t help but wonder …”

“Yes, you can. He knows your mind, so don't be disrespectful about his appearance."

"His appearance? A baggie of creamed corn is vain about how he looks?"

They circled around and back down to the highway, trying to not think about what was going on in the tall grass. There was the sound of a truck, and they dropped down until it passed. It was a private security firm transport, loaded with hired guns. “Wait,” Indian Shadow instructed. In less than a minute another vehicle with a smaller engine was audible. It was a windowless white van. Then four more vans passed in procession. “They’re going to pick up the remains and wash away the blood.”

Dexter was looking toward the tall grass where Paris had remained.

“Whatever you think it is, it’s not that,” Indian Shadow said. “It’s something too big to wrap your mind around.”

“Guess I can’t compete with that,” Dexter said. “I thought maybe she and I …”

“Every man thinks that when he sees Paris.”

Dexter had a picture on his wall of a saint with a halo around his head. He had assumed this was added in by the artist. Now, as Paris emerged from the golden field, he was seeing a real one. Her head was ringed by white light. “She looks like she just got laid by a god, all right.”

“Everything go all right?” Indian Shadow asked.

“Of course it did. I mated with a god, like Mary, or like Psyche."

“And the god was in that baggie of corn?” Dexter asked.

“Excuse us,” Indian Shadow said, "we've got to see how much fuel is in the bikes." He led Dexter down to where Dexter's big touring bike and Indian Shadow's dirt bike were leaned against the berm. He spoke with measured confidence: “I told you it isn’t our business how it’s done, so maybe you could get your mind off the mechanical aspects of it and try to see the big picture. Her whole life has been leading her up to this moment, so go ruining it for her by making snide comments about the corn, okay?"

“Sure, boss. Where do you find god? In brussels sprouts?"

“Nope. For me he was in the bear spirit the last time he showed up. You never know where the god is hiding so you have to pay attention all the time.”

Posted: Mon - September 22, 2008 at 04:49 PM