Tuesday, July 20, 2010

307 - A Madwoman likes Doggerel

“Yes, young man?” An elderly woman apparently sitting on the bench around the trunk of the tree… where I’d poured my heart out to Chevenga about Ilian so long ago.

“I am Sereniteer-Kurias Ritaithas, Sera, Marble Palace.  Did you see a young man skate past here? We just wish to question him about some things he said near the University, possibly seditious things.”

“Oh, Honoured Sereniteer,” she said, tremulously.  “These eyes haven’t seen Muunas’s light for nearly ten years.”

“Sorry, Sera, I’m sorry.  I was just hoping you had…”  You could almost hear him blushing at having asked a blind woman what she’d seen.  He sounded only a little older than I was…

“No offense taken young man.  Not at all.  I did hear the sound of skates but you were all here so fast, with your wheeled boots, I could not make out where this fugitive from justice disappeared to.”

“Nothing from the lakeshore wall, Kurias." A sereniteer called to his senior officer. "The lake’s right to the wall.”  A cat began to growl and howl somewhere close.

“Shush, Ribbons.  My apologies, Sereniteer Ritaithas, my cat is very protective of me.”

“Not at all.  Thank you for your help, Sera.”

I lay there and listened to them scour the sides of the boardwalk, looking for scuffs where my wheels might have hit if I left the walk to hide.  They checked for broken bushes… all mock orange, with flowers and branches undisturbed.  No body in the lake.  No sign that I had left the walk anywhere.  I hadn’t.  I was still right here, torn between glee and scared shenless all at the same time.  It was the worst and the best hide and seek I’d ever played.

One even diligently checked the tree trunk, as if I could have leapt all the way over the woman’s head and climbed the tree.  Sweat dried on me, itching, as my wind came back.  I closed my mouth and swallowed, wetting my dry mouth, thirsty, and waited, hoping none of them knew about the hollow back in the statue.

Sinimas, I’m being a little crazy.  A little wild.  If I get out of this, I’ll be diligent and stay out of trouble, I’ll be honest, kind, unobtrusive, dull, boring and just scholarly. Can you pass that on to the Gods, please?  I truly will.

It really wasn’t very long.  They couldn’t waste much more time on a scruff wanted for questioning over speaking sedition and charged with minor vandalism since they’d count the damage they caused chasing me, to my charge.

“Ser!  Oh, Ser!” They hailed a man down the walk.  “Did you see the Dyer on skates… bright blue hair… that we were chasing?”

“Nope.  Sorry I cannot help you, Sers.  I was just picking up after my little Floopsy, here.”

“Ahhh.  Of course.  Thank you.”

And their voices faded.  I waited. I waited.  I waited some more.  The only sounds were the gentle lap of the lake and the swish of the leaves above… there.  A tiny sound, a single bearing clicking over as someone standing quietly on skates shifts his weight. I waited.

He sighed at last and I heard him roll off up toward the Aitzas part of town, rapparapparapparappa.  Just in case, I waited some more, even if I was itchy all over from drying sweat and the blasted drum sitting against my head.

“They’ve gone, boy.”  The old woman said, equal to equal.  “Ribbons was watching the last one for me.”

I shifted slightly, up on one elbow then, slowly, all the way up on that arm so I could see over the stone wing.  She was right.  There were only people starting to come back out on the walk, with their pets.

She was still sitting quietly, with her big tiger cat on her lap, flexing curved claws that I would not want to meet with, anywhere.  He stared at me and meowed.  He was so big I was amazed she was able to hold him on her lap, even with his behind half on the bench.  “Um.  This one thank you.  Sera… this one…”

“A radical like you, speaking one up? Equal to equal if you are going to rebel properly. You needn’t say a thing.”  She held up one hand imperiously.  “But... for keeping my tongue and letting you hide up in the statue –“ her eyes gazed at me as if she could see, but focused past me. “—I want you to –quietly— chant to me what you declaimed.  I should like to hear it.”

I gulped.  “This one… um…I… um… certainly… I might not remember all of it.”  I climbed down from the statue, absently patting its neck as I did… as I had…  I straightened my disarrayed clothing and scratched all my itches as discretely as possible, patted out a very quiet version of the drumbeat I had used and told her my little bit of doggerel.

“Thank you, young man,” she said.  “I liked that.”

“You’re welcome, Sera.” I said.

“If you are out playing your drums… and not getting into trouble by adding words to those drum beats… along the walk, here.... I--and Ribbons, of course, are here every day around this time, rain or shine.  We would be pleased to listen.”

“Um… Certainly, Sera.  I’m Sinimas Akam, fessas

“I’m Trathila Eren, sola.

“I’ll see you another time, then, Sera Eren.  Good day, and thank you, again.”

She wants to hear the drum?  Hmmm. I wonder if she’s crazy.  Equal to equal if you want to rebel?  It makes a kind of sense. It’s like Chevenga when I met him.  He was afraid of nobody and spoke equal to equal all the time. Where did Sera Eren learn to not be afraid of what people think of her? 

And my wheels beat out a slow rhythm on the boards as I went, slowly picking up speed. Arap Arap Arap Arap. 

Arappa Arappa.  



--  By Jorasas Arafen

This reporter is still asking. Banaksias is the name applied to the mysterious and elusive chalk artist whose works appear in the most odd places in the city, pointing the artistic finger at government officials and civil servants with a somewhat less than stellar reputation.  He remains at large and undiscovered and as mysterious as ever.

The Minister of Serenity declines to elucidate further on his previous statement “We are doing our best to apprehend this person, though we cannot place a high priority on someone doing something equivalent to temporary vandalism.  Other than trespass there truly is no law against what this public artist is doing, despite the outcry of people upset by this or that caricature.  We advise a judicious application of soap and water.”

The art community is outraged that such astonishing works of art are regularly and repeatedly being destroyed rather than preserved, but the officials in question are objecting to their ‘portraits’ in public view and the artist himself has been placing some works where regular traffic has in and of itself erased it.

The latest art work, on the wall near the Main Gate itself – and no one saw the artist at work --shows a fighting eagle chained down by hundreds of threads held by nasty little rats, all of whom have curly hair.  What is truly remarkable is that iridescent chalk was used as well as regular chalk, so in different light the different parts of the piece seem to brighten or darken.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with this artist’s messages, the work is still of excellent calibre and worth a look before the next rain, or over-zealous city cleaning crew erases it forever.


  1. Whoa, a new post already, so soon after the Novel Marathon? I'm impressed!

  2. To be entirely and scrupulously honest, I didn't write this today. I actually wrote it sometime last week when I was on vacation, so I cannot take credit for superhuman strength!

  3. Yes! Min is back, tearing Arko a new one.

    Of course, since that was such a great griff-hanger, you HAD to stretch it out just a BIT more...

    Oh, and thanks for Banksy. That made my day.


    I love google image search.


  4. You're welcome for an Arkan Banksy... I love that image, thank you!

    Of course I had to stretch it out! We live to serve!