Thursday, September 23, 2010
“Do you remember who you are?” said the disembodied voice. It came out of a very dark and long tunnel that stretched out in front of him.
”Do you remember who you are?” said the voice again. This time it lingered inside the tunnel, like a cloud of vapor. He thought that it was surely hiding something malignant within its folds. It had to be.
The earth trembled underneath his feet just then, the tunnel vibrated like a string on a guitar. His heart started to race, faster and faster.
He feared a heart attack, he always had. This prompted him to scream in desperation. But there didn’t seem to be anyone there that could listen.
His scream ended but his lips were still wide open. His mouth had turned into a kind of vacuum, he felt as if he was swallowing the tunnel itself. The tunnel was rushing into his mouth, a big black snake making its way past his open lips.
As the tunnel disappeared underneath his eyes, another landscape was revealed behind the
emptiness that was left behind, something that looked like a room, a familiar room that was proportionate to his body.
The tail of the snake was suctioned violently into his mouth and it disappeared completely. This final step in the process made him jump a bit. Again he felt like screaming. But he managed to keep the scream inside.
He felt something heavy pulling him towards a chair. He looked down and recognized his legs, little by little he recognized his hands. He brought them to his face to examine them and he noticed they were glittering.
As he bent his head to examine his hands, he felt a pain right behind the neck and just below the cranium. He moved one of his hands and positioned it behind his neck, stretching and opening the fingers, massaging his own knotted flesh. In the meantime his head swung slowly on its base from side to side. He wasn’t purposefully doing it, but it was happening nonetheless.
He heard some voices in the background, they became louder and louder as he listened more intently. He balanced his body forward and opened his eyes wider. He managed to stop his massive bold head from swinging and he allowed it to rest on one of his hands.
A moment of stillness, a moment to come back.
The voices were coming from the television at the end of the room. This made him realize he had fallen asleep on a couch, a particular couch that he knew very well.
He discovered his daughter Ada sitting on another sofa. He remembered how before he fell asleep he had been working on something. He also remembered that at some point Ada had joined him in the room and turned the TV on.
Ada was a dark skinny girl, with a disproportionate head that made her look like a gigantic brown ant. She had her black hair rolled behind her neck in a bun. Every so often, she would let her head fall forward while opening her big mouth, allowing a silver spoon to feed her white chunks of melting vanilla ice cream.
He was scanning her with his eyes, trying to remember her completely, allowing the previous events to pass away from the antechamber of his mind as his attention settled on things he could name and track in a consistent timeline.
Then the voices on the TV interrupted him again. The colorful pixilated image of a familiar face was jumping on the screen. The dark, eerie face occupied most of the available space.
All of a sudden the camera seemed to be moving backwards, slowly showing the whole figure of a person.
“Do you remember who you are?” this person kept saying. It was a man sitting in a dark room and wearing a black robe. He looked like some kind of monk, with the black robe and a black hood that produced a shadow over his eyes. All of this made him look somewhat sinister.
The camera then revealed another figure, sitting backwards right next to the talking face. This figure had a shiny bald head, with chunks of white hair on each side.
He realized that the room on the screen was the main chamber of a medieval castle, lit by a fireplace. At the very least, it was a movie maker’s idea of what a medieval castle would look like inside. The reflections from the fire made the entire image jump around in an ocean of shadows.
“Do you remember who you are?” The voice uttered again.
This time the camera moved closer to the person sitting backwards. Like an invisible satellite, it started to orbit the bald head as if caught in its field of gravity.
It was an old, old man, with big black eyes. His eyes were fixed on the trajectory of the needle he was holding between his fingers. The needle was leaving a trail of exes on a long piece of cloth.
“Do you remember who you are?”
The voice exclaimed in the background again, this time louder, more insistently. This startled the old man. His eyes moved like loose balls on their sockets.
He turned his head around. On each side he was greeted by empty dark space.
He exhaled and shrugged his shoulders, then resumed his sewing. He did 3 more exes, and stopped to pick up the pair of scissors that were lying next to him. With them he cut the needle loose from the thread. He tied the thread with his fingers and lifted the black cloth. The cloth rolled down and hung from his fingers. He was slowly turning it into a black robe, sprinkled with silver stars stitched to the hem.
He swung the robe in the air, and placed it over his shoulders. He stretched each arm underneath the long sleeves and allowed the hands to pop out on each side. He used the hands to button the robe closed. While he was doing this, he took a few steps towards one of the brick walls.
He smiled when he finally spoke up to say:
“Oh that’s it! I have finished it! Finally!”
He said it with deep satisfaction. He picked up a pointed hat from a table next to him, and laid it on his shining bald head. He adjusted the hat and rushed to the wooden door and disappeared in the dark hall beyond the door.
The image on the screen changed again. Now it was brighter and clearer. There was a person standing on stage, dressed as a jester. He had a microphone in his hand and he was raising it to his mouth to make an announcement:
“Ladies and gentleman, please help me welcome to the show… the one and only Merlin the Magician!”
As the jester said it, a shower of claps could be heard in the background. The old man with the robe full of stars and a pointed hat slowly made his way onto the stage. He placed himself in the middle of the scene, bending forward respectfully to salute the unseen audience.
“What is it that you are watching, Ada?” he suddenly asked.
Ada had kept her eyes fixed on the television set the whole time, and she kept them in place even as she replied in a rush:
“I am not so sure, but I think it’s some kind of horror movie. Something about a man who plays a magician in a performance without knowing that he is a real magician. Then something creepy happens. I’m not sure yet about it all. But it’s something like that…”
“Ah, a horror movie!” he replied with disappointment. He shook his head and remembered to
keep doing what he was doing before he fell asleep. He had a deck of old Tarot cards laid out on the floor, and a wooden panel right underneath his feet. He had been going trough the deck, sorting them out, trying to decide which ones to stick to the wooden panel.
Ada noticed how quickly he lost interest in the movie and turned around towards him with curiosity.
“What are you doing dad? What is that?”
“Oh I am doing something for the restaurant. I want to place it on one of the walls. You know, for décor, to add more ambience to the place. So I am selecting the Tarot cards that have illustrations that relate to the middle ages, you know, castles, magicians, jesters, etc”
“Ah, cool,” said Ada, and she continued to watch the horror movie and eat her melting ice cream.
The camera zoomed out of one of the windows, and a wooden billboard appeared outside of the house.
“Excalibur Restaurant, Magic and Entertainment”
Underneath the billboard there was a paper flyer pasted on the fake stone wall:
“Tonight’s show: Merlin the Magician! –Starring the Magician himself! Don’t miss it!”
There was a rush of strong wind just then. It lifted up a flock of dead leaves and scattered them over the deserted street. The sound it made was like something you might hear in a movie. As suddenly as it had arrived, it died down and everything went back to being quiet, just the sounds of a TV in the distance and a little boy laughing a few houses away.
“Do you remember who you are?” said the voice.