Skin’s small voice was shouted down. The runner ran. But, skin is a rather omnipresent organ whose chief function is embrace. It owns the treasure of touch and cuts through all domains and principalities, covering all alike. A notice hit its network.
As the message was sent by synapse to every molecule, the atoms changed. They did their seven-year recycle all at once. But, this renewal was a funny thing and totally undetected by the man. What happened was a sort of polarizing. some cells got leaden; some got light. Some heavy, some like helium. Strange goings-on inside, indeed.
One minute, it was there. The next, it wasn’t. The earth, I mean. He swore it was under his feet on that last step, but now, he floundered wildly in dark air, pumping legs like bicycle pedals. His arms flapped nothingness. He tried to swim in nothing. This wasn’t fair! There WAS a chasm! There should have been a sign, a fence, a warning! He was MAN! How dare they do this to him?
Far, far down below, a roaring river and pictured rapids. There would be crocodiles and snakes and dragons, too, perhaps. A bat flew at his head. Vultures wheeled hungrily, sizing up the meal. The night wind howled as storm came on with fury.
Tasting fear, his legs abandoned rivalry and stretched in hurdler stride. His arms and hands took up the cue and found a leaper’s stance. Dry bone digits stopped their endless clacking and took their places aerodynamically at the end of limbs. The ears popped their stuffing out and eyes opened wide to catch a fleeting clue of survival.
Only Skin was calm, though sweating profusely, ridding itself of toxic bile. Tears welled out of ducts, long dry, and calls went forth for something… Mother! Father! God! Anything! Some Rescuer…to save the situation.
Since just before the chasm, the skin had been extremely busy. Starting with a point above the heart, the transformation sped and spread from point to point, until at the moment when earth ceased to relate in any meaningful way to the suddenly-airborne runner, most of the body had been, at least thinly, covered with the blue-green algae of belief. With penetrating force, knowledge went deep, taking root in bone and marrow.
Now, man was half and half. Fortunately for him, it didn’t work out that his left side was old and his right side was new. No, it wasn’t that way, at all. It was that every other cell or so was different than it had been before the bastinado. The very breaths expelled by these small pockets of life was rarefied. Minutia coalesced with good intentions. Thoughts formed words and words formed prayers; and deeds made puffs of worship.
Loft was bought on puffs of prayer. His arcing fall arrested, man wobbled over the mile-deep cut; sensing black canyon walls, straight and sheer, no-nonsense, no forgiving. It wasn’t all that wide…this canyon. But he had come unprepared for leaping. Untrained, with a soft, indulgent body; unfit for mountain climbing, or mountain-falling, for that matter.
He couldn’t bully anybody. He should have listened to the Sage, especially this last time. What was it that He said? How did He say to do it? If only he had paid attention. Meanwhile, skin consulted its tattoo; marshaled troops autonomicaly; sent blood to the extremities, gave instructions, comfort, and commands.
“One righteous work, performed in THIS day, equalleth all the virtuous acts, which for myriads of centuries, men have practiced…”
(To be continued…)
By now, Humanity Mankind’s body had become full-blown. He carried it proudly and indulged it wantonly. It commanded him, but he liked what it did for him. He belched and scratched and consumed great quantities. All the while, he ran.
At last, a desert filled with scorpions and burning sand. His Oriental feet weren’t up to it. For centuries, they’d been at rivalry, but now indulged in open warfare. It started with sly kicks and trips; mild stuff after which a lot of innocence propounded. But, things devolved into elaborate traps and plots by one foot against the other; so that, often, the runner was reduced to hopping around in one place while his feet engaged in a bizarre, karate-sort of dance. This kept him longer than necessary on the burning sand, and frequently caused him to fall into nests of scorpions or beds of deadly rattlers.
In all this burning heat, The Sage beckoned from a nearby oasis, holding forth a goatskin filled with water and a lamp that far outshone the sun.
Blaming the turbaned Sage for all his troubles, the young adult rushed forth, momentarily rallying his recalcitrant feet to march in the same direction. His right hand fired the crossbow and then the cannon, and wielded high the ass’s jawbone which split Mohammad’s skull.
From then on, that hand prayed five times a day!
Humanity Mankind was a funny sight as he swaggered away from his last kill. All hell broke loose in his beleaguered body. Imagine this: The left hand got a death grip on the right, twisting it to yank it off. Both hands, though clenched in a fight to the finish, began to bash the eyes and slash the feet. The ears, which had sided with all the indigenous Sages, Aztec, Inca, Indian, and many more, shut down, sucking their lobes, and eventually the whole outer flap, inside to block out polluting theories being bandied about so loudly from every side. The eyes refused to open for the whole, but peeked through lashes only for the benefit of Jews. The feet resumed their St. Vitus dancing with a vengeance.
As if that weren’t enough, his fingers and toes broke into warring sects and set about a-rattling against each other…like some voodoo sorceror’s dry-bones shaker… like old, dry tongues spitting wicked hatred. Cacophony! He couldn’t travel quietly anymore. Hunting was next to impossible. Naturally, hunger put him often in a very bad mood.
Conversion reigned. Confusion reigned. The extremities wished to expand their territories and sent corpuscles marching up the limbs and into limbo. Great battles assured the death of many cells. The stamps of many Sages Past behaved like power-hungry monarchs, each with an eye to conquering the whole; to make this fine, proud body, with all of its concomitant parts, exactly like the fingernail, or the eye tooth.
Great cancerous clumps began to form within this youth of promise, just at the threshold of his majority. To put it briefly, he was a mess! But, he labored on, doggedly, stupidly, not knowing anything but running…
(To be continued…)
The ungainly adolescent struggles up the rocky mountain, makes the crest at sundown, only to feel rage build overwhelmingly within to see that same Old Man walking forth to meet him: “I thought I got rid of you! Told you never to bother me again! Beat you to a bloody pulp! Tore you to little bits! Can’t you take a hint? I can manage things myself! I don’t need your stupid lamp!”
And so, he takes on Moses with a vengeance. Grapples Him to the ground; beats and pummels the Prophet mercilessly with His own rod until there’s nothing left of Him.
But mankind’s eye becomes Jewish.
Horrified, the angry youth grabs his own converted eye. Plucks it from his face and dashes it to a thousand pieces, smearing the offending orb over every surface; running, running, in his pursuit of power and from unseen pursuers. Though that eye is smeared to Kingdom Come… still, it sees from empty socket. It regenerates itself, while the overgrown teenager runs on, beating at his own face in furious, blinding attack.
The newborn eye perceives that, some time ago, a foot became Hindu; thanks to a little toe that had kicked at Krishna. Within a night or two, it watches the other foot step on Buddha, after the boy had thrown Him from the path that wound around a Bo tree. This one crushing step resulted in a Buddhist foot. Little by little, each foot won over its appending leg.
By then, the very sight of that lamp, shining through the branches from afar, was enough to cause saliva to drip in furious frenzy from Mankind’s curling lips, in anticipation of the satisfying blood lust vented in strange evening contests. The teeth that tore at Zoroaster later bore His Name.
One night, the Sage waited, as usual, with His lamp held high. But on his shoulder, He supported the heavy end of a large cross. The man/boy saw his chance, grabbed a rock and shards of iron. Grasping the Sage by the throat, he hammered spikes to holy hands and feet, driving those nails deep into that convenient wood.
“Ha, Sage! You make a fine signpost! Now, maybe others will see you, hanging there by the side of the road, and take warning! LEAVE ME ALONE! I need no interference! I want no interference! I will not brook anyone’s interference! Let all look upon the penalty for interference with ME, THE MAN!!!”
Shouting this, he strode proudly down the road, little guessing that his whole hand had suddenly become Christian. That spot would spread to arm and shoulder, as well as half the trunk.
(To be continued…)
Briefly, mankind is a runner, who from childhood has run across plains, mountains and fields, always pursuing an unknown goal. Over time, his body grew and exhibited various signs and emotions. His path is littered with the debris of dreadful encounters, and regular killings of his Sages.
A century ago, he came to the rim of a canyon, over a mile deep and very narrow. Because of forces from behind, he had to leap and is now in mid-air, striving to land on the opposite rim. He is ill and wounded and the outcome of this jump is unknown. God has assured us that Humanity Mankind will survive and will, eventually reach the Land of Peace, but he could smack into the canyon wall first, or land on the rocks below. Each righteous deed that we perform provides the lift he needs. Each evil or leaden thought, or act, on our part, serves to arc this free-flying, leaping body downward.
Here is the Fable of Humanity Mankind, which I wrote in August, 1993, and even performed as a dance in the Soviet Union:
THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD
The child had been running since the dawn of time…this baby named Humanity Mankind. Pure and whole at first, he toddles into great sweet jungles, along empty beaches, over jet black lava fields. No villages, no cities, no friends, no enemies, populate his world. He progresses slowly… skipping, dawdling, babbling happily to himself.
Easily lost, he wanders into tiger pits and badly frightened by the clawing beasts, he cries. Darkness comes with howling wind and driving rain. He cannot find his little cave again, until a Sage, with lamp in hand, guides him to a safer place within a garden. A fingernail grows wise.
The boy of ten gains survival skills, becomes wary, learns to hunt, listen, fend for himself, explore. Dinosaurs share his world, providing challenge, danger, meat. Night comes. The Sage waits at dusk. The boy has learned suspicion; listens on the balls of his feet and darts away. But a small clump of hair over his left ear becomes wise.
The youth daily stares danger in the face. Each night finds The Sage, in different dress and visage, offering light in the darkness and a staff for the midnight path. But, the child/man hates any path and has come to value murky blackness for deeds done in lightless places. Each night, feeling his own strong sinew and growing bone, he knocks the Sage away. It starts with a mere shove, then becomes a push, then a kick; soon a biting attack, and finally, a murderous, killing force.
But, every contact with the Sage leaves a small part of himself – a tooth, a nail, a patch of skin, a taste bud, somehow transformed. This he never notices in the rush of life; the rush of his own young, virile blood, initiating him into all things to be had. Things he never noticed as a child.
And all the while, he runs. Over mountains, across rivers, he runs, runs…
Something propels him onward to some distant place, but he thinks it only natural to run. He sees it as his birthright, his destiny; to conquer all upon the face of the earth, put there for him alone. His frenzy to have, to acquire, to possess, is tempered by the presence of that pesky Sage, standing at the entrance of, in the bosom of each night, holding a lamp which looks more and more disturbingly like the mid-day sun.
“How foolish! How inane! Out of my way, Old Man! Why do you haunt my nightmares so? Begone!”
And the Sage is murdered once again. But, cells at the back of the escaper’s spine take on a strange glow.
(To be continued…)