Christopher Mulrooney
 
 

Antelopes



 
 
 
 

"To this day his name,
which means 'The Bluish Light of Dawn',
is deeply revered by the quaint people
who claim him as one of their forefathers."

                Charles F. Lummis, Pueblo Indian Folk-Stories


 
 
 

 I was weary.  I lay down on my miniature sofa and read Lummis’ Pueblo Indian Folk-Stories, less for comfort than to see the truth of these beleaguered people, as I am beleaguered.  Here in Los Angeles.  America, I thought.  When you are young, you think you are part of the European intellectual mainstream.  Valéry, whose words are carved in gold on the Trocadéro, Beethoven, Van Velde... no, you are in Sinclair Lewis’ shoes, here.  O’Neill, Cummings.  I was a literatus, in them days.  Leave me alone I need to think, I said.  What my love was God alone knew.  Oh, I wrote.  Lord I did write.  But I was reading Lummis and I decided to read him as if Anthropology had existed in his day, ca. 1891.  Imagine a voice, let alone a mind, on the prairies hearing the ghosts of Indians freshly killed.  I was weary.

 These beeves, in the Lascaux caves.  I must tell you about my amorous affairs... the Lascaux caves are closed and reproduced in plastic, voilà.  No, really, I too have hunted.  For my heart’s desire.  But in fiction we desire objective reality.  Do we not.

 Such dreams, as would a Dante guide up Mount Jerusalem, or whatever it is called, Sylvia Plath knew what our Mount Purgatory is like.  I am struggling to overcome, editor, my literary references and invent, it is the curse of my generation, to have such references and have to invent.

 Oh well.  The cover is a pueblo and a moon with a ladder to the pueblo.  This much I can affirm.  These beeves, targets for the geniuses of a million years ago, when Raquel Welch, when beautiful women lusted after fresh meat from extinct species, oh well... but do you know how it is writing story after story and they are not your own, I sound like Beckett, and your critics say his stories are reactions, he never lays down the law.  Critics.

 Lascaux.  Boys and priests.  In the fabricatorium of all art.  Oh.  Look.  Hold that higher.  Look.  Wait until Father Perdi eyeballs this, wait until then.  Because it was only them after so long, you see.

 I am sentimental over prehistory, you note that.  We knew our targets then.

 My oar dipped in the river, as a rube.  Yee-haw!

 My wife was at the door.  It is the pee-culiarity (says Kafka) of my gifts that I say such things and presto!  My wife was at the door, I say.  Coming or going I couldn’t say which, which considering the size of her rump and the amplitude of her bosom is uncanny.  I should say.  She was coming.

 Tiuang where this story takes place, you know, had two villages in two colors, Nabatutui or the white one and Nachuritui the yellow, of course.  We were attacked my wife and I and hid out, oh, in a ruined building.  Our son was born there.  After I died going for help (silly bugger) my wife crawled out and ate garbage.  Those Apaches hunted her down till she returned home and grew stronger and when she came back to find our boy he was gone.

 It happens that a coyote passing had heard our boy sobbing and pitied him and carried him to a herd of antelopes. An antelope which had lost its fawn met the coyote’s eye.

 “Here is a wretch ignored by his own.  Can you look after him?”

 The sorrowing Dame Antelope agreed and the coyote went home.

 So our boy became an antelope, oh, not in the Ovidian sense, just ran with them for a few years.  One day a huntsman from Nabatutui saw the boy and told the Cacique.  Then the whole village set out to hunt our boy down.

 Well, to make a long story short, Dame Antelope got wind of it.  She told our boy they’d circle the antelopes and he should follow her to where his mother in a white manta would be on the side of spring morning.

 And so they met again four days later exactly as described.  He came back to Nabatutui and told us all the whole story.

 We named him Pi’le’o’aide or the bigheaded towser because his hair was so long.  He ran very fast.

 In Nachuritui even he was heard of for his swiftness, and there they are all in the bad way.  Their Pi’k’hu or deer-footed ran fast and a competition was offered.  We took a week to get ready — they would run around the world.  The witches of Nachuritui bet their lives and village, and we had to equal the wager.

 We piled up grain and clothes on the day of the race.  Their runner was handsome, and the witches laughed at our boy.

 They ran toward the morning like all hell but Pik’hu the deer changed into a hawk and shat on Pi’le’o’aide’s head saying 'So there' or some such quaint nonsense.  Our boy could not run as fast as a hawk.

 But halfway to the morning a mole told my boy to take some cigarettes and smoke one at every turn, in the morning, the spring, the evening, and the autumn and then the morning again.

 After he had smoked my boy became an antelope and it was raining.  The hawk was soaked.  Again my boy smoked, again the rain slowed the hawk, and again and again.

 But my people stipulated that before the finish line all contestants must be human beings.  My boy strove hard against Pi’k’hu and barely managed to beat him.  Then we burned the witches of Nachuritui on a pile of corn, except one witch who got away and plagues us to this day.  You can still find charred corncobs where we burned them.

 That’s the end of my story.  I wanted to tell you a story, and that is a story.  It’s all true as I told it you, and you can believe me, because I wrote it.  Now you know.  You did not know before but no one can say you do not know, now.  Aren’t you glad?  My wife and I are very happy.

 For my wife heard this story and liked it.  I made it up, of course.  Not that it’s not true, of course, as far as it goes.  I was tired, thinking of our boy running and running around the world and me dead and my wife eating garbage and all those burning witches and I thought again of Lascaux where when you desired a thing you painted its picture and taunted it or maybe its picture was enough.
 

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