The Magic Man

The magic man surveyed the wares in front of him.  The sheer volume of the amount of work he had already finished and had yet to accomplish was a testament to something…  He wanted to believe it was a direct result of the general decency and goodness at the core of every mortal, but he knew it was more likely because of hormones and the ever expanding population.  There were a lot more people out there than when he had started his yearly rides.  The length of his second scroll, the one he didn’t like to acknowledge until he absolutely had to, spoke to the veracity of that assumption.

Rising from his ornately carved chair, his underlings called it The Throne but he always felt funny when he heard that, he strode forward with measured and deliberate steps to prepare for work.  A man of his size had to be careful how they moved about on the ground.  He was more suited to the air, where he could be as light as a feather and as fast as thought, without fear of knocking anything, or anyone, over.

It was nearly time.  The last of the secret hopes and longed-for wishes piled to the top of their towering collections.  Creaks and groans of motion echoed inside the cavernous hall as the items settled into place.  The magic man lifted his arms to catch anything that should fall and was pleased when nothing did.  A giant smile filled his round and jovial face, rosy red cheeks under starry-eyed pupils, and the familiar tingling of ancient sorcery crept from his heart to his fingertips.

Three words were all it took, so familiar, so powerful, and his true self would be unlocked and unleashed for another magical twenty-four hours.  The room hushed in expectation and the underlings closest to him backed away.  They were equally transfixed in awe of his legend as they were in awe of the power flowing from him.

It started as a rumbling laughter, low and deep within his stomach, and it rose in intensity and beauty.  There was no greater magic left in the world.  There was no greater love.  And, by the time the three words to the spell rang clearly, the underlings wept with joy.

“Ho. Ho. Ho.”

The magic man disappeared along with all the necessities of his day-long night’s work and the underlings cheered and wished him safe travels.  His continued existence and purpose meant there was still belief, and as long as there was belief that meant there was also hope.  And, as long as there was hope, that meant there was also magic.  And magic is love.

The magic man knows this truth, and he spends the one day a year that he is allowed to spread that truth around the world.  It’s there waiting for you to see it, if only you will truly open your eyes and heart and believe again, like you used to, like you are supposed to, like you want to.

Jesterly Challenge Month – November 24th

My Cousin Cathy sent me a second picture prompt challenge.  What do you see when you look at this picture?  Let me know and tell me what you thought of my story in the comments.

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Ireland 2015 Cathy 282

I sat on my haunches, using my right hand to steady my balance, and my left to push aside some of the thick leaves of the busy in front of me so I could see the castle beyond.  Nothing stirred.  At least, nothing seemed to stir.  At first I caught myself thinking that nature had reclaimed the castle and so it must have been abandoned long ago.  However, I instantly knew that was wrong.  Nature hadn’t reclaimed the castle.  The castle had reclaimed nature.

Whoever, or whatever, resided within its stone walls had lovingly invited the surrounding forest back inside to thrive.  While it would to most, I presumed, as I gazed upon the beautiful structure it did not seem odd to me.  Animals with supposed intelligence had spent too many eons fighting nature.  It seemed right that finally one had learned to live in harmony with it instead.

I was intrigued by the whole situation.  The castle.  Its inhabitants.  The manner in which it had come to be and then continued to exist when so much of the world had crumbled around it.  These were all curiosities I could find answers to if I truly desired.  I had only to stand up and announce my presence and I had no doubt that all my questions would be resolved.

Alas, my better judgment overruled the more childlike, innocent, naïve, parts of my conscience and I stayed hidden from sight.  I was intrigued, yes, perhaps even captivated by the castle rising from the forest floor in an intimate dance with the wilds of this part of the world.  More so, however, I had a will to live.  And to interact with strangers in strange dwellings in the current age was to likely forfeit ones life.  Dark times had come to Earth, and only those who had accepted that and adapted early on had survived.  Only those who stayed skeptical and wary continued to live.

I stayed, though, hidden as I was for longer than was smart.  It was comforting and nostalgic to see something so beautiful in an otherwise ugly world.  It gave me a burning sense of fire in my heart, one I recognized from my youth as hope, that I was hard pressed to ignore.

When night fell and I silently slunk away from the castle, I pondered if that was the trap of the place.  It lured you in with its beauty while its caretakers were anything but?  I would never know.  And, I was okay with that.  I took the mental image of the place with me, though.  I carried it at all times, and I let the flame in my heart, the burning torch of hope, rage on.  I could be careful and carry that flame at the same time.

waves

There is a light off the coast that burns the dull orange of spoiling fruit left too long in the sun.  Pilgrims journey to the shore to admire and ponder the discordant ebbs and flows against the soothing waves.  If its origin was ever known, that knowledge has been so long forgotten the elders no longer attempt to sing their guesses to the next generation.  There is no lore.  There is no reason.  There is only the pulsing light.  And the waves come in and go out.

The gathered squinting eyes cast hopeful glances to the horizon, while the water laps against bare ankles and soaks tattered clothes.   Hope for meaning.  Hope for continuance.  They cling to one another as the light crawls on their skin and their feet go numb in the cold ocean water.  And the waves come in and go out.

A haphazard hierarchy arranges the pilgrims based on age and bravery.  The youngest are lifted above the foamy spray of the breakers in the arms of their parents.  The elders stand so only half their feet taste the blue brine.  The middle generations let the waves wash away the sweat of their tiring lives.  And those between youth and adults dare each other to travel further and further towards the light.

Far beyond where their treading feet can touch bottom, far beyond where the rip and pull of the tides tugs at their every stroke, and far beyond where sanity would dictate they stop, they finally stop, gasping for air, and still no closer to their prize.  The light sits beyond reach and reason.  Turning back, they don’t all always make it to the safety of shore.

Yet, time after time, the pilgrims return.  It is the draw of the unknown that calls to them in their sleep.  It is the miracle of something outside knowledge that directs them to the beach.  It is the wonder of life and existence beyond their understanding and considerable reach that pulls them into the tide.  It is proof of something greater than them and it gives them something to strive for.  And the waves come in and go out.

However, most don’t think that deeply about it or they would realize that in traveling to gaze upon the light burning off the coast they are wasting time that could be better spent focusing on the pursuits of their own lives.  And the waves come in and go out.

a tense conversation and an abrupt end

“What you are proposing is … is … genocide, but on a scale that goes beyond the grasp of that word.  You will annihilate world populations of not just our species, but all species.  You will send this world to a fiery death.”

“True, yes, that is what I propose.  But, those who survive will rise from the ashes of that cleansing fire like a phoenix to build a better world than we can imagine.”

“They will face an impossible task of just learning how to survive.”

“They will learn and adapt.”

“How?”

“Your thinking is stuck in terms of the people you see around you every day: weaklings, puppets of men and women, scum who have been allowed to thrive in an environment that was developed to cater to the least of us.  These will be wiped away, if not at first, over time as they fail to survive in the harsh landscape of our future.  The strongest, the wisest, the best of us will be the only ones to find a way to struggle on until they can thrive again.”

“And if that actually comes to pass, what then?”

“They will have a clean slate to start over and create a great society again, to create what we should have become rather than what we are now.  They will have the lessons of the past to guide their actions along with the life-of-death necessity to succeed.”

“What if you are wrong?”

“I’m standing on a precipice here.  If I fall one way, I will be the greatest villain the world has ever known.  If I fall the other?  I will be immortalized as the hero who helped forge the greatest civilization since the rise of men.”

“… you are contemplating this because you want to be a hero?”

“No, you missed the point.  By the time my name has been placed in the tomes of history as a hero, my bones will have been reclaimed by the dark soil of earth where I fall, or am buried if I survive initially.  I am meaningless.  I am nothing but a name on a page.  But, this action…  this one moment… this grand gesture of faith in our ability to survive and overcome and achieve greatness when given the chance to start over…  That is that truly matters.”

“You are going to kill trillions of lives across the globe on the hope that those lucky enough to survive will be able to do better than we did?”

“Luck will not factor here.  Steps have already been taken to ensure that key people will survive the initial strikes, at least.  What they do after that is up to them.  Faith, however, does play a part.  I have unwavering faith that they will succeed, that’s why I’m giving them this opportunity.  I’m setting the stage for them to step out of the shadows, perform, and excel.”

“I think you might be insane…”

“Perhaps, yes, perhaps I am.  Isn’t that just further evidence that this needs to be done?  The world has slipped so far from what it could have been that a crazy person could be in my position of power.  What does that say about the people who elected me?  What does that say about the people who work for me?  What does that say about our allies across the globe?  We’ve had our chances to turn things around and we have only made things worse.  We have to start over.  This is the only way.”

“This can’t be the only way.  I know you.  You wouldn’t throw away all those innocent lives so callously, riding on some fanciful hope for the future.”

“You’re right, I was joking.  I don’t give a damn about our future.  I’m just bored and want to see what happens.”

Boom…

do you dare?

The staccatoed wails and grinding moans haunt the empty street.  The sounds lilt and rend, clawing for attention, purposefully the opposite of the peaceful evening.  And, yet, it is beautiful and harmonious despite the discord.  There is magic in the notes.  There is the soul of a blues-man in the undertones of the harmonicas plaintive cry.

He sits with his back against the graffiti and shit stained bricks, the color of his hair lost in the grease and filth of his time on the street.  His knees are tucked against his chest, and his bare ankles are barely discernible from the darkness regardless of the large gap between the hem of his worn pants and the top of his tattered shoes.  The silver harmonica, however, gleams in the night, catching every stray beam of light that dared wander down the alley and passing it along in spirals of glinting rainbows.

The instrument is cradled lovingly in his tired hands, cupped against his lips, and passed back and forth in meticulous and precise movements.  His hands play the role of conductor and bring the harmonicas orchestral sound to life to such an extent the very night around him seems to pause and take notice.  His soul pours through his lips and gives the song its purpose and meaning.  The music is a story, confusing and wonderful, of struggle and loss and pain and hope.  The music is a story, transformed from misery to joy.

Hours pass, and the man sleeps where he sat, but the mournful vibrations of his blues continue to resonate in echoing calls up and down the alley.  They peek around and corners and tempt passersby to stop and listen and heed the warnings of loss and life.  They haunt the night and all who dwell within it, a constant reminder of all that came before and all that might one day still come, until the hint of day warms the horizon and then they wander into the shadows and quietly find peace.

There, in the forgotten places of brick and concrete, the music rests until night comes and the blues-man brings the harmonica out from his jacket pocket to once again purge the contents of his soul to all those daring enough to listen.

https://i0.wp.com/farm6.static.flickr.com/5576/15102555760_b24639ac7c_m.jpg
Image Credit: Steve Edwards (pootlepod)