Floozman in Space
by Bertrand Cayzac
In a space station in Earth orbit, Janatone Waldenpond, a refugee from Europa, is trying to return to Earth. She meets a long-lost cousin, Fred Looseman. Meanwhile, Jenny Appleseed, the president of the Cosmitix Corporation, holds a conference to plan interstellar expeditions.
Chapter 22: Navarre
Navarre extends eternally beyond its beaches. When coming from Time by the Jai Alai, hike inland among the blue thistles of the dune and then in ferns, in the shade of pine trees and cork oaks. Follow the paths of cindery sand and only those pleasing to the eye. Traverse the great forest towards the east, and you won't get lost.
That is the path that Janatone takes, with her atomic motors. She goes alone, still alive and corporeal, so it seems to her, incapable of embracing everything with her gaze. The sand both tires and soothes her. Well-walked trails open on the dense, white flesh of the soil.
She walks for a long time, and the air is filled with the odor of resins. Sometimes she follows a procession of caterpillars, and the soul of the great animals guides her. Sometimes she sleeps on the moss of glades made lifelike by the moon. She neither eats nor drinks. There is no web.
She safely reaches the old mother’s farm, at the foot of a rampart in ruins. To the living, the past she has slid into is like the brambles covering the black wall of the village. It is more closed than the forest circling Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The trees have grown tall, and all the thorns weaving the serried weft of the underbrush have become intertwined. But, in truth, duration is not a dead thing; it lets a few heroes enter, ones who are driven by a dream. Janatone can get through. She enters old time without disturbing it, like a ghost. Isn’t she one of them?
The little house is flanked by a chicken coop and a field of corn cultivated haphazardly. There are turkeys and an old dog, and a dead tree that has been lying where it fell. Small red curtains with white squares adorn the windows. The door is ajar.
Janatone knows it doesn’t matter much whether she goes in or not. She soon finds herself between bare, ash-colored walls. The Cyborg’s old mother is there, shelling beans with her back to the fire. She is wearing a grey scarf finely speckled with white like the feathers of a guinea hen. Her kindly face with its aquiline nose smiles mischievously at the newcomer. She offers her a glass of wine and, with a gesture of her gnarled hand, offers her some cookies in a tin box.
“You should have seen the forest two weeks ago. And the light! Winter is here now. Yes I am the boy’s mother or his grandmother, I’m not sure. I live on, I am in duration. But drink, my child. You won’t mess up history, it has seen worse!”
Janatone drinks. She tells her the story of the Cyborg.
“Well, well, well!” says the crone, “Ah yes, there were all those boats, and all those handsome young people!” She smiles: “Ah, they had style!”
Janatone says she wants to die. The old woman cites Ecclesiastes in a friendly tone. “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man.” The fire hisses and crackles. They fall silent and doze a little.
At last, with her eyes half-closed, the crone talks about the cave. She tells an ancient secret, a small prehistoric secret that she has promised to pass on: three moons, three pebbles, a snail...
They talk about a garden. “Wait for spring,” says the ancestress. “The weather is bad outside, not very cold, but it rains on the ferns all day long.”
They eat. and Janatone doesn’t suffer from indigestion anymore. They eat pigeon salmis with thick blood sauce, goose grease grattons, boudin with apples, foie gras poêlé.
They grill mushrooms sautéed with parsley and corn, too, at tea time. They eat figs and chestnuts with fleshy new red wine. With Armagnac, they take the handful of chanterelle mushrooms that a neighbor has gleaned from their sand. Then they spit and drink a new gulp of golden liqueur.
“We’re really having a good time,” says the old woman.
“What about the garden?” asks Janatone.
Christmas passes joylessly, for the children were all gone centuries ago. Janatone and the old woman sleep, and then eat pancakes and angel wings rolled in sugar.
Finally, on a fair May morning, Janatone goes to town, where bells are ringing brightly. The center of the fortified town is square. Purple martins fly high and straight into the sky, which is decorted with a few small, chubby clouds.
The black arcades, the rounded stones and the old ivory-colored stairs leading to the church all keep the coolness as a font retains the memory of water and incense, the idea of heaven. On the side streets, the creeping vines eat limestone walls, which crumble like biscuits.
Janatone passes by a Roman arch blackened and partly fallen. Then they push open a rickety wooden portal. A thick fig tree has spread its branches above the stone pillar where the hinges still hold fast. She enters this neglected garden, which is too big for a house but too small to attract attention. Might it have belonged to an ancient cloister? Might it be the remains of a dismembered feudal domain?
After a few steps into the mossy alley she discovers:
The bench has peeling, blue-grey paint and round-headed nails. It stands under a cedar tree, not far from a round garden pond barely stirred by a weary shudder. Janatone sees an exiled palm tree in a corner. She sees a rotten skipping rope by serried bamboos growing beside a collapsed wall. She sees roses and creeping vines covering the walls of the adjacent house.
Janatone is alone. She sits down and can even lie down. As she does, she contemplates the high wall of green leaves and red roses peopled with golden bees. She knows this wall: it’s not just any wall.
She knows how its friendly, crumbling stone melts open when one wants to get through, and she knows the other side as well. In her mind’s eye, she sees this beautiful she-cyborg getting through right now,inside out and upside down. Why would she rush to catch up with her, since she already knows she’s none other than herself? Why would she care since this scene starts again forever? She had better rest now that the time is right.
And yet everything depends on her, sleeping or waking, whoever she is. She is a she-cyborg if she wants to be, and she is her lovers at the same time: Jenny-Astralix and Joe, who will eventually emerge from the wall to keep the story going.
And she is her foes at the same time, and all the generations of the earth according to their species, all at the same time. She is here and there at the same time, weak and strong, dead and alive at the same time. This will endure as long as she or some other mother wants to stand before the WALL OF PARADISE where all opposites meet and where all mixed opposites spring out into the worlds.
Then she re-enters the long, long meditation she has never really abandoned.
Little rabbits, unicorns and all under the sun who will leave this world with only half of what you have desired, the dream shall sooner or later guide you into this garden. If you don’t find the Mother in there, take care of everything on her behalf and pardon her for taking her leave from the world. Take her place, for there is none other for you.
At best can you forget again someday, some eon, when your own sorcery enables you to run wild in the realm of necessity, the only stage where you can become the most beautiful and the most joyous of all just for one day. And once you’re there, remember Wyatt Earp’s advice: “It’s not the first shot that counts, it’s the first shot that hits.” And what else can you experience with a little help, not to mention LOVE? Yeah, who can truly know or dare tell what is in store in the land of liberty that the Goddess has created for herself?
The bees are singing, but no one can hear them.
Bench Song in the Small Garden
It’s a gnosis counter-gnosis
Lovely at last as a daughter of Zeus,
She hears the gentle buzzing of bees
Oblivion means naught to a goddess.
Copyright © 2015 by Bertrand Cayzac
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