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Death Takes The Lead In The Final Dance

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My two gals, Alison Alexandra and her friend, Amanda, had a sea voyage. It was a voyage via a freighter, and not a cruise ship. They stopped in the ports where the freighter stops, and they took visits of the town if they so desired.

On one of their times on shore, they decide to visit a Police Museum. One of the exhibits is a Death Mask of a hanged murderer. They take great interest in this, noting the repose of the face.

This incident is based on an event in my own life. I melded parts of my experience into my characters afternoon visit during their day ashore. This had not been on my mind when I started this particular chapter..
 
I once taught a workshop on Supernatural writing. For my workshop I took advantage to take my students on a field trip to see the death mask of a historically known poet. The death mask was conveniently on view in a display case in a near-by building. The poet was Bliss Carman, and among the tales told of him, was that his death mask was the only thing remaining of him in this city of his birth. His ashes, buried with great pomp, were actually the ashes from a railway, gathered by his lover who wished to have his real remains stay with her.

None of my students had even heard of ‘death masks’, let alone seen one. I invited them to

incorporate the idea into their writing exercises. Some did, some did not.

However, it’s possible this visit to Death elicited the following story from one of my students.

My student and her husband had purchased a new house. Cleaning and renovations eventually took them to the back loft area, which was piled high with decades of accumulated detritus from a long life.

They cleared out beds and boxes and newspaper piles and magazines and bundles of clothes and on and on. Near the end of this process, my student noticed a “clump of something” on one of the wooden beams of the loft.

Getting ladder and flashlight her husband climbed to see what it was.

It was the end of a number of knotted bed sheets.

 
And, since Death can lead its merry way in so many ways, here is a segment of a Bliss Carman poem which sums up to me, oh, so much.
Bliss Carman (from) Across The Courtyard

Somehow she had acquired the chill
Of worldliness; I missed the thrill
Of eager radiance she had
When we were comrades, free and glad.
Some volatile and subtle trace
Of soul had vanished from her face,
Leaving the brilliancy that springs
From polished and enamelled things.
The beauty of the lamp still shone
With lustre
, but the flame was gone.

Trump And Death Walk Into A Bar

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~ Donald, you’re making my work easier.
 
~ It’s good for the economy.
 
~ Oh, I do love money. It’s great fuel for my business.
 
~ What’s good for business is good for the country. Believe me!
 
~ Oh, Donald – I believe everything you say.
 
~ You do?
 
~ Yes.  Death be not proud.
 
~ Aren’t you supposed to be on a horse?
 
~ Pestilence rode on ahead, and the other two went with him.
 
~ Scary guys. Very spooky.
 
~ Pestilence is preparing the way.
 
~ Ah, it isn’t that bad.
 
~ You know better, Donald.
 
~ Yeh. But I am a bit worried.
 
~ Why?
 
~ What if you guys kill off too many of the dupes who voted for me?
 
~ You’re afraid to lose the election?
 
~ Nah – that part is a bore. A snoozer.
 
~ Then what?
 
~ Buddy can’t buy my shit if he’s dead.

Shakespeare And Me – Until Black Death Do Us Part

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I have been consoled in my writing career that Shakespeare and I have one thing in common. Oh – yes – there may be a dozen others, but there is one I can point to uncategorically. We share a winsome way with our spelling of words. He even spelled his own name in a dozen different ways.
 
Even before-publication of my novels and stories, I was an example laid before my cousins (those younger than me). I don’t testify that this statement was used, but the gist was: “If you don’t smarten up, you’ll spell as badly as Dale.”.
 
And I’m sure some smart ass responded: “Not possible.”
 
But still, it is one (of the possible dozen) comparisons to Shakespeare.
 
Now, there are two.
 
It turns out that Shakespeare and I have been spurred on by a Pandemic / Black Death, to while away our enforced isolation to write our respective tomes. The Bard had to not only flee London, but his actors company was forbidden to mount any plays. All the theatres were closed. He decamped to safer accommodations and, with time at hand, wrote King Lear and Macbeth and other plays.
 
My indefatigable main character, Alison Alexandra (about whom I have been writing over four years) has decided to have her closest friends come and stay at her house until the world turns less mad. And – yes – this even includes R/Jane-the-Ghost. ‘Twill be a merry troupe. Quite Shakespearean.I’ll be busy for months.
 
I might even include Shaksbeard himself in my dedication.

Black Death and End Times

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Their world was ending.

They knew that from the toll of the church bells. They knew that from the stink of death. They knew that from the carts of seeping corpses being pushed through the streets. It was The Terrible Pox.

The Black Death.

Heat made the stink worse. The screams themselves became more terrible in the summer heat. Screams caused by the boils, and the black blood flowing through veins. The fetid vapours rose, and the drivers of the Death Carts puked from the stench.

There was nowhere to go, and no one to help. The monarch, the nobles, the bishops, and the wealthy, all fled to the country. They locked themselves into grand castles, yet they still died. The doctors, who knew no remedy, also died from their futile efforts.

Neither the poor nor the rich, the young nor the old, women nor men, were spared. They screamed and clawed to their death, and rats fed from their bloated bodies.

Towns and villages became armed camps. Strangers were turned back at the outer limits. Those suspected of the Plague were locked in their homes, sometimes to be burned. People were clubbed, a few were shot, many were buried before they were dead. There was no sorrow, and no mercy shown to any who were a threat.

The living were frantic to prove they still had life.

They ate and drank and danced and fucked as often as their bodies would allow. They were afraid to sleep, so terrified of that fake death with the real all around. They beat on drums, rang the bells frantically, shouted and sang and swore and cried. They rode horses wildly through the streets, until the beasts fell from exhaustion. They pillaged the vacant homes of the rich, looted stores and wine shops, and paraded in the jewels and fine clothes they had stolen. Women and girls and boys were raped and sodomised by strangers and kinfolk alike.

They did anything for action, anything to prove they were different from the rotting corpses in the carts, which trundled through the streets toward mass graves. They played all the more, and when some fell slavering in their midst, they were kicked into the gutters and forgotten.

It was a time for witches and charlatans. People would believe anything, take any quackish product, if it promised to save their lives. Ghosts walked the land while crops rotted from neglect. It was the end of the world for those who knew no better.

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