Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Fine Print

Once there was a man who desired eternal life beyond all else.

His name was Joe, and there came a day in his life when he realized that he was going to die.

Before, he had a sort of vague intellectual idea about his own death, but on that day it was driven home to him that there was going to be a day when he would not exist.

He was walking down the main street of his town. It was no much of a town, the streets were dirt, with ruts from the wheels of the cars, trucks, and wagons that had passed during the last rain, but it was a good town as towns went.

On this day, as Joe was walking, a truck came speeding around the corner just as one of the numerous stray dogs was crossing the street. The truck's fender struck the dog with a sound like a baseball bat being slammed into a watermelon.

The dog was thrown through the air and it landed right at Joe's feet. The dog looked up at Joe, took one bubbling breath, shuddered and died. Joe could see the light go out of the
Dog's eyes. He thought "That could have been me." then it struck him, "One day it WILL be me." and Joe's soul shuddered.

Joe had a wife and a son. His wife was a young woman with large dark eyes and black hair, she had a simple way about her.

Joe went to her and told her "I know I am going to die, I don't want to die."

She tried to comfort him, she held up their son and said, "All things die my husband, but look at your son, here is your immortality"

But that held no comfort for Joe.

After weeks of thinking over and over to himself "I am going to die, one day I will NOT BE! I can not stand the thought." Joe left his wife and son, he left the town there he had been born and had grown to manhood. He went in search of a way to escape death.

Joe went to the city, to the places where the learned men lived.

He spoke with a poet. The man showed Joe a book and said "here is my immortality, if I speak my truth clearly enough my words will endure." This gave Joe no comfort.

A doctor told him "one day we will defeat death, but not today, or tomorrow."

A Priest told him "Obey my words and God will bring you back from the dead" but Joe did not want to go to death in the first place, so he turned his back on the priest.

In his search, Joe began to hear of an old Shaman who lived high in the Mother Mountains. It was whispered by the locals in the towns that nuzzled up against the foothills of the mountains that the old Brujo had been alive in the time of their father's father's fathers, and that he knew many secrets, especially the secrets of life and death.

So Joe set out into the mountains to find this old man.

After many days of hard travel Joe came upon a camp, and sitting by the fire in front of a brush hut was an old man. Joe eased himself down by the fire, and reaching into his pack pulled out a can of tobacco and a can of coffee, which he sat in front of the old man.

The old man opened the can of tobacco, and taking a piece of corn husk from a pouch by his belt, rolled a cigarette. He lit it using a smoldering stick from the fire. After taking a few puffs, the old man passed the cigarette to Joe. He didn't want to take it, Joe had heard that "Smoking Kills", and he was afraid. But Joe realized that he was even more afraid if this old man, so he took the cigarette, and puffed it tentatively.

"Good, good" nodded the old man. "Tell me boy, why have you come here?"

So, starting hesitantly, Joe explained his feelings, his fears, how he had left his wife and child, his village and his work to find the answer to his dilemma. He looked at the old man and said "please help me, I don't want to die."

The old man sat and stared at Joe for a while. Then he said "So you have abandoned everyone and everything in the faint hope of finding immortality?" Yes Joe replied. "You have abandoned the woman who you took to wife, and your child in hopes of living forever?" "Yes" Joe said.

"You are willing to give up everything to escape death?" "Yes" Joe replied.

"Know this boy". "There are many paths to immortality, and the way we hunt it determines which path is the correct one in the end". The old man gazed into the fire for a time, then said to Joe, "Your hunt will demand much from you, but you are willing to leave everything, so this will not be a problem for you". The old man sat in silence again for a time and then abruptly said "For you there is only one way now, you must find El Lugar De Las Ranas Llorosas."

"The place where the frogs weep?" Joe asked.

"Yes" the old man replied. "Far to the south is a rain forest, and in the center of that is a swamp, and in the center of the swamp is what you seek".

"Now go." The old man said, "we will not see each other again".

So Joe traveled south, and in every place he stopped he asked after El Lugar De Las Ranas Llorosas. Sometimes he would get blank stares, other times people would turn their faces from him and cross themselves, now and again he would be driven from a village.

Finally he came to a great rain forest.

After several days travel through the forest he came to the swamp. And building a raft of reeds he began to pole to towards the center.

Joe came to an island in the center of the swamp. He could see something at the island's center, and slowly he approached it.

It was an idol sitting on a pedestal. It was the most hideous thing that Joe had ever seen. It looked like some unholy marriage of toad and octopus. When Joe looked at it too long his head swam, it was as if the tentacles of the thing did not exactly live in the spaces we know, but somehow twisted through them.

Joe moved closer to the thing, and saw that there was writing on the pedestal, at the feet of the idol. Joe read it.

Kiss Me and you will live forever.........

was carved in large crude script. "This is it" Joe thought. "Do I have the courage to do this thing?"

Joe steeled himself and pressed his lips against the twisted mouth of the statue.

It was like being struck by lightening, Joe's body twisted and writhed on the dank grass in front of the idol. Joe felt like his body were being cooked, rendered for tallow. He could feel something oozing from every pore. He realized through his agony that death was being cooked from him like so much rancid fat, and that his death was being absorbed into the ground in front of the idol. With that, Joe passed out from the pain.

Joe woke up some time later. Things were different, he could not see well. His vision was fine from the sides but he had trouble focusing directly forward.

He thought he had been transported to another place. All around him were giant fronds, and in front of him was a huge version of the idol. The one he had kissed had been about the size of a man. This one was several stories high.

Joe saw that there was writing carved into the pedestal of this one as well, smaller and near the ground, he could not quite make it out.

Joe tried to get up and walk over to see what it said, but his legs refused to work correctly.

After a time Joe crawled over to the enormous statue. He read the words carved into the stone,

...... You will be a frog, but you will live forever

And Joe wept.


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