LARP as Myth [A]
I shed the damp, sandy towel I had been comforting myself with on the evening beach only to find I am still wet, cold and under dressed. Putting the towel back on is worthless; it will only scratch and chill my sunburned skin. But I suddenly feel out of place in this circle around the unlit fire pit. How did I get here, do I even belong? Is this California? Of course, must be, where else. Is this really Big Corona?
I remember a party—too many Lowenbrau, a couple of slugs of Tequila, and those goddamned joints that keep passing around. The mulatto in a Fun Boy Three t-shirt is rolling industriously. This gathering of handsome folk looks like a Benetton ad, everyone happy and laughing, talking lightly about nothing much at all. A girl to my right is lovely, a dusting of sand on her light-brown thigh. One of those blessed Nordics for whom the sun pales the hair and bronzes the skin. My skin is grub-like—built for fog, not this implacable sky. She turns to me smiling with green-tinged smoke dancing about her lips and nostrils, holding out a joint. I reach thoughtless . . . there is an explosion on the other side of the jetty, a fair way down the beach, north of the Wedge. A black plume rising; only some of our company bother to turn.
“Won’t happen here, will it?”
A perennial hippie droping in with a guitar to make 14 begins singing Imagine.
“Oh, I love this song.” She turns. The spell is broken.
I stand up disoriented wondering how this earth ever got beneath these feet.
“Where are you going?” she implores distractedly.
“To find something.”
Stumbling over the beach; the sand loosing from my skin and tickling down my body. I don’t know what I am looking for or who. There must be someplace. Every face of every tribe of man is about me, mostly in groups of their own. Some smile ingratiatingly, others glare. The White ones smile benignly, unaware of the danger. I look back over the jetty a column of white tilting out toward the Pacific. I begin to look around frantically for someone who’s afraid, for someone to warn. I am shouting “Look. Look” but no sound comes out. Frantically I am searching for knowing eyes.
Trotting toward the caves at the South end of the cove I am arrested by the sight of an Imam sitting in an aluminum and woven plastic yard chair, he and everyone about him are dressed neck to toe. The women’s head’s covered of course. Children are lovingly paying homage at his feet. Noticing my pause he looks up at me with the clarity of hate. I smile uncertainly; he does not return. I glare back then, rage building up from the sand to my face. We stare unblinking, warring without movement.
Another bomb. Dear God! I am knocked to the sand I look over the jetty and see a second plume, closer, as wrapped masts glide evenly through the channel before it. I look to the Imam, unmoved, who grimaces relishingly and turns away to bless and instruct the children.
Where to? I run toward the Benetton coven. They are the only folk I have here.
“Imagine there’s no heaven . . .”
At the edge of the circle I shout, only silence emitting. Waving my hands and pointing toward the smoke, I am trying to get the Europeans’ attention, but am invisible; unnoticeable.
“You might say I’m a dreamer . . .”
I kneel before the girl, pleading. She does not hear. I grab her shoulders and shake but she is immovable; glazed placidity on her face, nihilism softened by pleasure. Suddenly she is old, leathery, laughing through a wheezy throat. They all are. Exhausted in a moment, they wither, slumping down into piles of sand among the empties. Looking down I have a child’s body. I am naked my suit having fallen about my feet. I pull it up quickly, tying the drawstring as tightly as I can. I grab the guitar and start stumbling across the sand, but where?
An Irish village, the one a Great-grandfather left for the States in 1710. Pragmatic beauty. Structures of stacked field stones, plastered—neatly fluid—set in emerald land. The sun comes out behind the clouds warming against the chill of spring damp. I pause; closing my eyes, I point my face toward the sun. Blood struggles with void to dominate my vision. Footsteps scratch on the fore path. Through the blur, a red-haired maid swinging a chicken by the feet approaches. Startled by my form, effortlessly she tucks the bird under her arm holding it as if it were a babe. She is plump, but not too. I yearn with lust, but feel no guilt. I am but a sinner after all, and the Good Lord came to redeem such. Cross myself, and tip my cap, she scowls—a tear running out of her green eye and down her cheek.
The gravel cuts downhill through a small collection of buildings toward the sea rising immense over the tops of them. There are folk quietly industrious about the place, but each stops to wave or shake my hand. A cooper comes out and stuffs a flask into my coat. It is wrapped with notes, and tied-up with a string;
“Just something for the trip, lad. Not much but it might come in handy.”
The woman next to him dabbing her eyes with her apron hugs me sudden and ferocious, squeezing the air out. I have no idea where I am going. I don‘t want to leave. I fell at home for the first time in 300 years. I continue through the village nodding and tipping as I make my way to a cove. Small boasts gently bobbing. A rowboat pulls up directly before me, empty. I climb in. In a puddle on the bottom of the vessel I see the face of the girl at the beach. I look up to find only the massive expanse of placid water. I begin to row energetically across the arching surface.
Another explosion, this time in the channel. Guitar in hand I run straight into the Pacific. The water is cool but cleansing, though I have never known the Gods of this place. Only Christ, but he is everywhere the same, and so no place in particular. The waves begin to come in high and slow, pushing me back toward the shore. I fight against them swimming out, losing my suit in the struggle. Large black forms move about me breaking the surface only slightly with their backs, returning deep below, churning yawning swirls on the surface.
I climb into the guitar as it becomes a small sailboat. On the shore the bombs are coming regularly now. Mayhem. I want to take to the shore, but I am only a naked child in a sail boat. I notice a chest tucked in the hull. It is locked but I have the key. Inside I find a Confederate uniform, a rifle and a cutlass. I hurriedly try these clothes on, but they droop about my insufficient form. In the breast pocket I find a photo of the chicken girl. She is mouthing something and pointing toward the shore.
“But I am just a boy.”
She implores. The sword is heavy; still I pick it up and swing it about gleefully. I point the rifle at the shore, “Bang.” She glowers. Flipping over the photo I read, “May you find the company of faithful friends.”
To my right the hull of a small sail boat slides into my view. Another boy stuffed into too large a uniform stands tall at the prow, sword held handle up with its tip in the deck, blade curving forward. His rifle is strapped over his back. We nod and smile gravely. I assume his posture, filling with fear for adventure. Then another boat to my left, and then more and more boats—thousands gathering off shore—each with an earnest though comically dressed boy-soldier. The auburn girl in the photo smiles hopefully now. I tuck her into my left breast pocket. Something wordless yet focused fills me. Finding the cooper’s flask in the opposite pocket I unstop it. Looking about, each holds a flask up toward the shore and to heaven, and tipping, drains it into his throat. I wince as it burns, but savour the earthy essence of our faraway land. My eyes water, my head flushes, but I do not flinch. Growing now; swelling till I feel my uniform tight against my chest. Looking about we are all men.
A dark menacing form below and before us begins to tempt the surface; rising diving, rising and diving, drawing great whirlpools to the depths. Our boats begin to rack in the growing tempest. My heart pounding ravenously. . .
I wake up.
[A] My brother from our Icy Mother, Gregory Hood, has inspired me to write instead of sleep tonight. Must be why this became a dream. He has a worthwhile meandering meditation at Radix right now, On LARPing. It is just this kind of thoughtful shoegazing exhortation I needed to revive me from my funk.
Image: Gustave Courbet, The Calm Sea, 1840