[ Chapter 1.1 is here. ]
The bare-footed man took a long, hard drag on the cigarette and looked at Zach.
“I lost sons, today. Can I tell you how that makes me feel?! I’m lost! I’m mad as hell! I’m broken.
Do you know what it’s like to be the bad man? The sad man… behind blue eyes?”
“It’s him,” said John.
The bare-footed man crouched down and lay his hands on the pavement. Looking up at the men by the pick-ups, he spoke again with tears in his eyes.
“I could burn down half of Bucharest. Half of what’s left. Just fuck it all. What’s the point?
Is there any fucking point to getting up tomorrow morning and doing it all over again?
“Is there any point to waking up again to all this evil fucking shit?! Can you spell it out for me?”
The bare-footed man stood up again and looked at Zach. He looked deep into Zach’s broken heart.
“I’m feeling so bad right now. It hurts. It hurts so bad. Have you ever been in that pain?”
Tears streamed down Zach’s cheek. He thought about George. He knew his son was dead.
“Maybe…” the barefooted man shouted, paused, lifted his arms high and continued, “the point is… that I found twelve new sons and daughters. Today!”
“There’s fifteen of us standing here,” texted Lumi.
“Who does he want dead?”
The sergeants at arms whistled and cheered from their bikes.
“I know you want time to think about it,” said the bare-footed man. He took a second, long, hard drag on his cigarette.
“But – if you haven’t noticed – you’re outta time. Time’s up. Time’s run out, you know.”
They took that from you. They took away that one thing that you thought was yours! Those bastards! Those motherfuckers! Those uninspired, unproductive, greedy… YES… TAKERS!
Wall Street, Brussels, and Beijing?! T-A-K-E-R-S. Takers. Zapata Coporation, Goldman-Sachs and Leman Brothers?! Takers. Big banks, unregulated speculation, and OPEC. Takers. WTO, Government Issue Global Latrium, Euros, and non-stop corruption – it was all about the taking, you know.
Shame on them. SHAME ON THEM ALL…
“They ate up time like they were at a birthday party. Stuffed their angry faces like it was cake. Like pigs do.””
He made pig sniffing-snorting sounds and laughed.
He threw the cigarette on the ground, then pulled out the whole pack of cigarettes. He lit another cigarette with a golden lighter. Then he made a few warm gestures of offering a cigarette to the men standing by the pick-ups.
One of the pikemen by the pick-ups laid down his shield and pike, walked over to the bare-footed man, and took a cigarette.
The bare-footed man lit his cigarette, put his arm around the man and whispered in his ear.
“Welcome home, son. Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?”
“Yes,” said the Pikeman.
“Quick!” the bare-footed man called to the Sergeants at Arms. “Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
The bare-footed man patted the pikeman on the back and laughed.
A 8 year old girl wearing a dress polka-dotted with sun flowers came running up. She had two bottles of wine and pan bread in her arms. The pikeman took two puffs, threw down the cigarette and accepted the gifts.
“This is my body and blood. Fill your want with vengeance and fury. Be satisfied. For you shall not want when you hold an invitation to my envied table. It is fit for kings,” whispered the bare-footed man to the pikeman.
The pikeman drank down the wine with greedy thirst. The wine was sweet, but not too sweet. It was strong but was easy in the mouth. He took a bite of the pan bread. It had chunks of greasy meat in it. It was wonderful. And he drank deeply of the wine again.
“O momma, it’s so good!” exclaimed the pikeman who made the gesture to share it with his friends at the pick-ups.
The bare-footed man turned to the men at the pick-ups and spoke warmly with them:
“You came here looking for answers. Searching for the future. Searching for the past. You came here hungry for time.”
“Keep him talking. We’re almost there. We just need a minute or two,” John said.
“What answers do you have?” Zach asked the bare-footed man.
“Aliens. Vampires. Conspiracy, Zacharia.”
Solar flares. There were lights in the skies. Falling stars. Just like it says in Revelations.
The wine of God’s fury!
Superbugs. Fukushima-level accidents. Civil Disobedience. Economics. Speculation. Greed.
Some say big cities went black. Citizen journalists were reporting massive riots in Cairo, Delhi, Hong Kong, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, and Tokyo.
When the internet crashed, the trending topic was a toss between the funeral of Sir Elton John and Southpark v. The Simpsons.
Can you fucking believe it?! The world was falling apart and people couldn’t decide whether a celebrity funeral or a cartoons were more important?
The takers pushed people’s buttons to the last second just before the power went out!
If you ask me, I say the Jesus freaks, the Muslims and the libertarians pushed it over the edge. They scared people deep with all that fear-mongering about the end times, taxes and fiat currencies. Fear, you know, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Amen, I say unto you, Zacharias. Amen and good riddance to the hand over fist taking that was going on. Amen and good riddance to the culture of envy!
Of course, some of them helped it along. A nudge here. A push there. They couldn’t wait.
99 virgins. Judgment day. Vahalla. No taxes. The People’s Revolution. 100 Billion Euro exits. It was too good to wait on. People wanted change like a junkie needs know there’s another fix coming after this fix.
But the people wanted to be takers too. No one wanted to work for it. Everyone wanted what they wanted. Now!
And they wanted it handed to them on a silver platter.
In other words, Zach, the why doesn’t matter to you or me. Because it was inevitable.
It was just a matter of time… that time would run out.”
He tapped the ash on his cigarette, took a puff, and threw the cigarette on the ground.
“Oh, time is… on my side,” the barefooted man started to sing, yes it is…”
Time is on my side, yes it is.
Now you always say that you want to be free….
The roar of the F350 startled everyone but the bare-footed man. It came in at 100 mph.
The barefooted man and the pikeman turned and started to walk back toward the sergeants at arms.
“Be quick! Come and welcome your brother home with kisses!” he shouted to the sergeants at arms.
As the sergeants at arms dismounted their bikes, they saw the F350 coming and they reached for the saddled shotguns.
“Be quicker! he yelled…
When the F350 hit the first bike, it pushed it into the next bike and all the bikes fell over. The six sergeants at arms and their bikes were pinned as they were crushed underneath the wheels of the F350. Blood, bone and flesh flew when the wheels spun in search of traction.
The F350 turned around and came back for a second pass; the crew in the back of the F350 dropped a dozen molotov cocktails on the gruesome carnage. It stopped long enough for John to jump out. Then the F350 disappeared where it came from.
Lumi raised her rifle and took a shot at the bare-footed man. But the pikeman moved into the shot unexpectedly and took the bullet in his head.
“WTF!” Lumi texted.
“Mur-der-ers! Ha-ters! Ta-kers!” the bare-footed man yelled wildly, sobbing, as he rocked the dying pikeman in his arms.
Motorcycles were starting up.
On his knees, the barefooted man looked into the blue sky above, his blue eyes wet with tears.
“WHY MUST WE WAR! OUR CHILDREN ARE DYING DOWN HERE. DYING…”
John had almost reached the barefooted man. He unsheathed a gleaming tanto as he ran and raised it to make the cut.
The barefooted man sprung up and grabbed John’s hand with both hands and the tanto fell to the ground. John tripped. Then, the barefooted man swooped down with grace and speed, taking the tanto with one hand while putting John in a head lock from behind. He rested the tip of the tanto on John’s chest – above the heart.
“We’re not thugs. We’re not killers. You and I: we don’t kill,” the barefooted man whispered in John’s ear. “We don’t kill because we’re not takers.”
“But I’ve been waiting for you, John. I’ve seen you in visions and dreams. So here you are.”
John struggled to break free.
“It’s like I’ve known you forever. Since you were a boy walking that trotting bag of fur in Cismigiu Park.”
The bare-footed man gave John a kiss on the cheek.
“In some of my visions, you’re digging and poking around in the dirt and mud for carrots. Like a pig pushing its nose through the slop!”
“What do you make of that, John-boy? Does God have a sick sense of humor or what?!”
John struggled to break free again. The bare-footed man bit john’s cheek hard – not letting go until John stopped struggling.
“I LOVE THIS BOY’S SPIRIT! WITH THREE BOYS LIKE JOHN, THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD BE OUR OYSTER!” he shouted.
Then he whispered in John’s ear.
“You can’t kill me, John…
You’ll try and try. But you always fail. I’ve seen it in visions. Three times, you try. Because without me there’s no you. And without you, there’s no me.”
Zach, Daniel, and Eree surrounded the bare-footed man and John. The bare-footed man had his back to the burning corpses and wreckage.
“I just wanted us to be a family. Look out for one another. Have good times – you know. We can rebuild this city.
We can make something out of this hell. Make a better world for us. Take it back. Make it ours.
“What’s so wrong with that?” asked the bare-footed man.
“You’re the king of hell! That’s what’s wrong with that!” Eree shouted.
Replied the bare-footed man:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.
Henceforth I never will be Romeo…
“So if you think me a son of Hell, you’re greatly mistaken. I am but a man as you can see. A simple man. A brave-hearted man.
Think of me as a man who has not lost his heart in a broken world. Think of me as man who goes bare-foot through the garden.”
“What do you think of that, John? Barefoot in the garden. “Barefoot” sounds nice, doesn’t it? It has a ring…”
The bare-footed man sighed and raised his eye brows.
“Does anyone read the classics anymore? Shakespeare?”
No one answered.
“Is everybody here from the country? Are you all unread?” he asked in exasperation.
“Shoot him!” John texted again.
Max and Grace both had the bare-footed man in their sights and squeezed the triggers.
Behind Blue Eyes, The Who
The next chapter section (1.3) is [here]. Enjoy!
Your feedback (comment) means much to me.
17 April 2011
Copyright 2011 by Stan Faryna. All Rights Reserved.