Sunday, September 03, 2006
Sunday Scribblings - Fortune Cookie
It was twilight when the little caravan rolled into the village, it was painted bright red and black and the sides were covered in strange golden symbols, a small wizened man sat at the front guiding the small shaggy horse down the main street. Cottage doors opened to watch this strange vehicle, it was nothing like the gypsy caravans that came through late summer, it was square shaped and not tall enough to live in. Suddenly a small door at the rear burst open and three small bodies tumbled out, throwing somersaults and cartwheels,all three wearing brightly embroidered trousers and tops of a silky material. The caravan pulled up beside the village green, the occupants of the cottages emerged and gathered around it to see what it was all about. The three tumblers brought out flares from the caravan and lit them making a circle which the villagers pushed and shoved around to be able to see what was in store.
Jack emerged from the back of the crowd and crawled between people and shuffled until he was at the front. A quiet lanky lad with a mop of straw coloured hair, through the day he looked after the cowherd but at night he would dreamily stare out of his attic window at the night sky imagining adventures he would have. The three tumblers started the show with handstands, somersaults and body contortions. They carried out a small see saw and took turns at catapulting each other into the air landing on one of the other's shoulders. Ohs and ahs came from the villagers, this was choice entertainment indeed. Then the little old man dragged out some planks of golden painted wood from under the caravan and assembled them into a large lifesized case with a door. One side of the wood was a dense black but the outside was golden embossed with glittering stones and scenes of distant lands. Once it was standing, the little old man went into the back of the caravan and returned wearing a wonderful peacock blue embroidered robe and small round black hat.
The tiny man bowed deeply and then opened the door of the cabinet to show that it was empty. He closed it and then made strange passes over the door with his hands, the three tumblers, started cartwheeling around the cabinet faster and faster, until they were just a whirl of colour. Suddenly, out of the night came the most exquisite voice singing a beautiful song, in later days, people argued over exactly what the song sounded like, it seemed that each person had heard exactly a song that would soothe them. The crowd held its breath, the man stepped forward and opened the door, inside was the most exquisite lady that Jack had ever seen, her hair was the colour of a crow, her lips were the colour of succulent cherries,her skin was as pale and as thin as porcelain. She wore a long straight dress that dazzled and shone as she moved forward and the dragons on it seem to writhe and twist. She continued singing the beautiful song as she stepped out of the case, her eyes went straight across the crowd and latched onto Jack's face. She seemed to be singing just for him, he was totally infatuated by her and could think of nothing but her. Eventually the song ended, she retreated into the case, the little man shut the door. The acrobats started their capers again and then stood stock still as the little man opened up the now empty case and showed the crowd.
Jack could not bear it, he couldn't get the voice of the woman out of his head, he couln't forget the ripe juciness of her lips and the penetrating gaze of her eyes. The little tumblers went around the crowd holding out a bag into which the villagers donated farthings and halfpennys. The little man followed them round holding a box of what looked like large sweets and offering them to the crowd. 'Take a fortune cookie, break it and read your fortune inside' The villagers eagerly grabbed for them. 'Young Sir,' said the little old man to Jack, 'take a cookie, read and note well your fortune'. Jack extended his arm and took a cookie from the box. He eagerly broke it open, inside was a piece of paper which said 'All that glitters is not gold'. He put it into his pocket and returned to his cottage, where he no longer felt hungry for his mother's meal.
The night was cloudy and dark, the clouds hurtled across the sky it was the dark day after the waning and before the waxing of the moon. Jack stared out of his window, the woman's voice still resounded in his head, her face appeared in his mind's eye. 'I must see you again' he thought, 'I am totally infatuated with you, I must feel that cool white porcelain skin, stroke that coal black waist length hair, feel those long blood red fingernails stroke my cheek and dare, I think it kiss those plump juicy lips', at the back of his mind in counterpoint to this a little voice repeated over and over 'all that glitters is not gold'. He was all of a fever, there nothing to do but go in search of the cabinet woman. He silently made his way out of the cottage, down the street and over to the village green, a small oval tent covered in skins was erected beside the caravan, a little way off stood the cabinet, not yet taken apart. Jack shivered in anticipation and crept upto the case, putting his ear to the door, complete silence. He felt around the edges and kept pressing, slowly a door opened, did he dare, yes he had to, he was enchanted by the woman, he put one foot inside then another, the door slammed shut. He was enclosed in a narrow black space. Slowly he realised a fragrance was wafting around him the smell of over ripe lily blooms, he felt all around the panel in front of him, suddenly the door vanished. This could not be, but yes, beyond was a room richly decorated, lying on a bed with scarlet draperies lay the beautiful woman, she beckoned him with her finger with the long red lacquered nail. Jack moved as if in a dream towards her, his heart beating rapidly, his nostrils filled with the lily fragrance his head filled with the siren song. He reached her, her cool white hands cupped his face and pulled him towards her. She bent her beautiful head and savagely sank her teeth into his neck, a waft of decay hit Jack as he lost consciousness.
The village green was empty in the morning sunlight, the only sign of the previous night's show were piles of ash where the flares had been. Everyone assumed that Jack had left the village to join the show, he always had wanted adventure.
The painting above is Night of the Acrobats by Miro