Idiot Gods, Puppet Christ and Delirious Intercourse

SHALTMIRA_DANIEL_COSMIC STAGE IN THE BLACK DESERT
As the lights dim, author Daniel Jones mounts the proscenium for a puppet show like no other. Sit back, relax and take a look at who's pulling the strings. Illustration: Shaltmira

See: An empty stage, its backdrop painted with the idiot faces of gods. Their heads incline upward, either in disdain for those below or in baffled wonder at what hands might work above them. And there—descending on silver wires, a puppet with arms thrown wide like a grotesque Christ. His wooden feet touch the stage with a soft tchk. No spotlight illuminates him; only the footlights cast awareness, flickering softly below a dance of dust particles.

He slowly advances, though obviously under the command of a less than able puppeteer. The effect is of one burdened by some crippling illness or distress. His robes—perhaps “rags” is a better term for those flapping swatches of loose red fabric—twitch as his head wobbles madly, as if the puppeteer was seized by a fit of the giggles. His painted lips part with a clumsy clunk:

In the light of your persuasion, I saw a rare creation, and I cross this consummation for another way of being.” 

Following this proclamation he steps back, away from the footlights. The rumble of sheet metal from behind the curtains rises slowly. It’s a simulated storm that brings a cold wind to blow and tease at the ends of our host’s sad tatters. Above stage center, two pale, beautiful feet emerge, glowing as they kick the air. The puppet echoes these kicks in exaggerated pantomime, legs thrusting higher into a gleeful dance. He tears his robes further to reveal an almost comic striped prison uniform. This puppet is no invalid, but inmate! What a silly impression he makes amongst the stars of gods and swirling eddies of ancient dust…until he suddenly stops dancing.

Through some trick of light his face appears streaked with wetness: sweat? Tears? He stumbles forward, mouth agape.

“In this light I thought I heard a voice that said six perfect words.”

From above, on the edge of comprehension: “A child’s echo, hear him singing.” Then a church bell begins ringing, and the voice speaks once more from curtained ceilings: “This is not the only dream.”

Two hands now appear from above. Neither hold wires or give direction to the slumped-over figure below. From between thin fingers, snowflakes begin to fall, covering the puppet in white, and as the hands pull upward the puppet rises up from the freezing pile. He is clad once more in ragged red, his hands outstretched toward those now vanished. His voice lashes out from hollow insides:

“Take my hand beneath the sky! Lend your voice, that I might fly! When you’ve looked beyond my eyes into a different way of being!”

Wooden lips not meant to spread crack as they’re forced to perform the acrobatics of intense laughter, delivered into a false sky of spinning gods who don’t get the joke. The puppet’s knees hit the stage. For a moment he looks like a penitent child discovered at some perverse game. Shaking like a flame, his small body shapes a whirling dance that steadily becomes more luminous and violent until zzzzppp! he’s yanked upward, to rest among the lights with that unseen beautiful figure.

Caught in a dance against this empty stage, two silhouettes—a shadow and a shadow’s memory—sewn together by delirium. Two conjugal shapes straining as much against as toward each other, each starving on the other’s empty essence. Neither voice nor limb nor light remain.

This is sex.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Electronic Beats Magazine. Click here to read more from past issues.

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