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Authors: Alessandro Manzetti

The Shaman: And other shadows

BOOK: The Shaman: And other shadows
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THE SHAMAN and other shadows

by Alessandro Manzetti

 

Copyright (works and edition)
The Mont Meru
© 2014 Alessandro Manzetti
, Regnum Congo
© 2014 Alessandro Manzetti
, The Shaman
© 2014 Alessandro Manzetti,
The Wolf Gate
© 2014 Alessandro Manzetti,
Nature’s Oddities
© 2014 Alessandro Manzetti,
The Ring
© 2014 Alessandro Manzetti,
Interiora
© 2014 Alessandro Manzetti

 

Cover by George Cotronis

Editing by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

Translation from Italian: by the author and Sanda Jelcic (*except
Nature’s Oddities
)

* Nature’s Oddities:
translated from Italian by Sergio Altieri

 

Works originally published in Italian in the short stories collections:
Malanima - Storie di lame e presenze
(Kipple Editions, 2014)
Parigi Sud 5 - Il quartiere dell’Apocalisse
(Kipple Editions 2014, published under the pseudonym Caleb Battiago),
Red Kollection
(Amazon 2014, published under the pseudonym Caleb Battiago), except for the unpublished poem
Interiora
.

 

All right reserved

 

Website (English section):
http://www.alessandromanzetti.net/english

The Mount Mer
u

 

Chicka and Ga-Gorib bring offerings to the slopes of the Mount Meru. A basket full of fruits, spices and vegetables. The green and yellow atoms of mchicha, pilao, ndizi.

Chicka is wearing a traditional dress, a purple cotton kanga. Between the folds of the fabric, windswept, some segments of a Kiswahili sentence are animated.

Wala na sitasahau sitalipiza
. I don't take revenge, but I don't forget.

In Tanzania, all the dresses can speak.

Ga-Gorib is eleven, Chicka no longer bears her son on her back, wrapped in kanga. Memories now seem lighter. The child follows his mother hurting his feet. The volcanic rocks tear the flesh without being noticed. Ga-Gorib immediately forgets this pain. He has other things on his mind, and is wearing the silver armor of youth. He has new sparkling pistons, a new engine that just wants to run. The blue fringes of a supernova that reverberate between his jumps, his discoveries.

Everything is magical and bright, the tricks of the planet Earth enchant the senses. Eyes without memory and buckets filled to the brim that never return, Chicka is thinking.

The brown back of Mount Meru clutters the horizon. The journey is almost finished. The crater of the volcano shakes the boilers, signals its position even from far away. The fire rooms are working tirelessly, cones and chimneys are frying. The legend tells that the magnificent Meru, from the sides of the pyramid, marks the center of the universe. The soft paradise of Indra is up there, along with the North Star, which, every night, is shot away into the space.

The sun is about to go down, Chicka and Ga-Gorib must hurry to arrive on time at the foot of the volcano. Leopards will begin their hunt in an hour. The clouds with legs, as Ga-Gorib calls those animals. Chicka has stars on the ceiling of her skull. She closes her eyes to find the road. She has a compass of lights and cartilage, attached to the fibers of the senses. On the right side of that imaginary curved space, Chicka sees the vertical shine that descends from the Mount Meru, and then all the way around. Ga-Gorib follows the impulses of the sonar of his mother, he doesn't move too far away from her.

Behind her back, about thirty miles away, the woman feels the presence of Kilimanjaro, the three volcanic cones sprouting on her visions. Large white shadows, the belly of the glacier scorched by magma. Kilimanjaro's skin is frozen but it has the boiling blood, just like Chicka. A woman without a husband, with snow on her shoulders and the melancholy words on her kanga.

The sound of teeth, roads, chopped rickety words. A clutch that screams.

A one eye van approaches the woman and the kid. The car light dangles outside its seat. A four wheeled pile of iron that can't see very well. Four men on board, Tanzanians.

Chicka observes the faces, light and shade behind the windows. White unsheathed teeth, sunglasses with silver lenses. Weapons hidden under the seats, between bare feet. Two AK74 machine guns with their loader always having an erection. They are predators, they hunt for tourists. They have fun killing people, even without a reason. Chicka increases the pace, dragging Ga-Gorib by the arm. The van follows the two for a few minutes, side by side, then moves diagonally to stop in an open space, a little more forward. Symphony of doors, the four men are descending from the car. One of them throws a beer bottle against Chicka, grazing her head. The woman continues to walk towards the Mount Meru without even looking back.

The biggest man loses his patience; he feels insulted by that bitch.

Wala na sitasahau sitalipiza
. I don't take revenge, but I don't forget. He easily translates that phrase sewn on the purple kanga: that woman is alone, her husband must have been killed. No one will come to help her. Maybe her cunt is closed as if it was brand new, and she brings stuff to eat as well. The hunt for tourists can wait. The man scratches his balls, making a sign to his companions.

The four begin to run. The stars of Chicka are weak. The covering of her imaginary interior sky turns black: it is the paint of death that is drawing slowly. The Reaper wakes up, stretches out her black cloak. She sits on a rock, enjoying the scene.

Ga-Gorib is frightened by the wind that accelerates sharply. Chicka tells him what to do, to remian calm. He has to run, right away, and she will reach him further. They’ll meet on the slopes of the Meru. If Ga-Gorib comes across a leopard, he shouldn’t run away, otherwise he will be charged. He must raise his arms, turn into a solitary acacia, motionless. The stains on the shirt will help him: they seem small yellow flowers. The leopard will be confused, will not attack.

When the four men reach Chicka, Ga-Gorib has already flown away. He doesn't have time to look back at her mother. The cries of Chicka don't slow down his little legs, he promised her to continue to run no matter what happened.
Now, the Hell is ahead or behind?
He must do as he was told. Never mind the rest. She will reach him, she has got the right stars in her head.

Chicka was struck, she falls to the ground. The kanga is torn to pieces. Purple butterflies of cotton, with too small wings, are flying towards the Mount Meru. The same direction of Ga-Gorib.

The four men begin to hit hard, and take turns fucking the woman. There is no need to hold her; she is already immobile. Chicka uses the same tactics of defense with men and leopards. She turns into an indifferent plant.

The raiders’ jaws are deformed, their chemistry messed up. The silver tinted glasses hide their eyes, while they are pushing some dense, boiling stuff inside the woman's cunt. Strong backs that flex to unhinge the Chicka's matrix. Hands holding the ankles as clamps, her toes toward the sky, the pink and orange outlines. The sunset above.

The big one, at the end of the party, tears down his pants and pees on the stony face of Chicka. The woman continues to insult him with her indifference. He's sure that she enjoyed silently, she liked it, but she doesn’t want them to win. He loses his mind and the others try to restrain him, in vain. He grabs a big black stone and crushes it on the indifferent face of Chicka. Her eyes are elsewhere now.

The bones are crushed, the blood is mixed with the soil. The black stone is now painted with red and yellow. It remains only a dark mask, beaten, with no more lines. Chicka has no longer a face, a kanga, her magic ceiling. The Mount Meru has witnessed the scene.

 

It’s night. Ga-Gorib has been walking for long. He arrives on the knees of the Mount Meru. The stones around it have been spit from the volcano. They are darker and darker. A grenade of leaves, broken roots, and someone is coming. Steps with two legs: are humans, are noisy. Ga-Gorib hides behind a bush, checks the area through a jagged rectangle of three inches. It isn't Chicka. It’s two of those bastards.
They're looking for him?
The two men sit on the ground, panting. Coarse laughs. They are sniffing a white powder. They fill their wide nostrils, leaving that stuff to get to the bottom of their brain

They’ve got a lot of watches, cameras, and Chicka's ring. It seems that they are discussing how to divide the spoils. Then they get up to continue to the South.

The trees become alive, wriggling furiously. There is no wind, something big is coming, running towards the two bastards. Ga-Gorib can't see it from his small rectangle. He should move sideways, behind the rocks.
Who, what?
The infamous raiders don't laugh anymore. A horizontal hail of stones, dense bullets. The two men try to protect themselves, but they are hit. The stones turn red, now. The Mount Meru still keeps up the sun, extending its masses. It wants to see how that story ends.

Ga-Gorib comes out of the bushes, now he can watch the open field: two broken human bodies are on the ground. More tons of noises are moving. Then,
here it is.

A creature under the faded light, which now turns to purple.
A monkey
? Ga-Gorib thinks. Then he focuses his gaze: The creature it's too big to be a monkey. It has a shiny grey skin, dotted with lighter spots, like the leopard's ones. Maybe those who live here, close to the Mount Meru, have this strange appearance. Monsters with stains.

The creature approaches the two bruised bodies, that drip blood. He walks on all fours, then gets up on its hind legs. There’s a strange wail. The creature seems to speak to the mountain, asking permission for something. Now it looks like a fat man, deformed by a strange disease. The elongated head, a disproportionate mouth. Teeth, fangs, inside its mouth there is stuff that knows how to cut, slay. Ga-Gorib he's still watching the scene, breathing on his toes.

The monster grabs the preys at the legs, dragging away the bodies. It leaves behind it a trail of blood, in place of its tail.

One of the robbers is still alive and begins to squirm. His abdomen works hard to push himself up, to grab that mighty arm dragging him. But it's useless. The creature turns its head, for a moment, then resumes walking. It ignores the man's attempts to break free from its grip. The man, the prey, has a shining red mask. His skull is smashed by stones, just as his friend’s. The monster continues its path with great detachment, ignoring the screams. Maybe it doesn't have the ears, and he can't hear them.

Ga-Gorib follows the creature keeping a safe distance. The Mount Meru stretches its neck, but now it isn't able to enjoy the scene. It decides to bring down the sun, now it doesn't know what to do with all that light. The night explodes in a few seconds, now it’s difficult to orientate in that place. The easterly direction, the thin lips of the edge of the forest. The house of the monster, his herd, must be there. The creature stops, right in the open field, just before disappearing among the green columns. It folds to the ground, moving leaves and roots, digging inside something. A circle, a pit, a dark spot that pierces the yellow soil. Then it throws the men into the pit, with a motion similar to a whip of muscles, from right to left. It looks like a deep hole. The pain is now underground, and will last for a long time. Something bites the bones. Ga-Gorib runs away before the monster finishes the flesh.

Darkness everywhere. The Mount Meru has disappeared. It took off in a few seconds like a rocket. Ga-Gorib wants to go back to the plateau, to look for his mother. Chicka has taught him the way of the stars, those perfect roads, the compasses and the geometry of light.

His skinny legs tremble from exhaustion, but Ga-Gorib doesn't stop. His father would have done the same. Maybe he is watching him, from somewhere. He imagines his father sitting on the top of the mountain, while he is enjoying a tamarind juice or some Konyagi, if he was brought among the righteous, after his death.

Ga-Gorib has been walking for a long time, riding the ground, but now the sharp stones don't cut his feet anymore. He slows the pace, sees a white body amongst the volcanic stones. A black face, fragments of purple cotton. It is her: Chicka. He has found the right way, the shortest one, cutting the entire clearing. He approaches: she has no longer a face. The moths come in and out from her empty eye sockets. Chicka has the smile of a horrid black hole, and a root pushed between her thighs. Smashed  margins, smell of urine, mixed with the honey of death.

A line, clean from the leaves, is engraved in the ground and is surrounding the body of Chicka. It's a perfect circle, the train of the Black Reaper dress.

Ga-Gorib is not crying, he doesn't despair. He sits next to Chicka, kisses her hand, right where the ring is missing. The one is now floating in the monster's stomach, along with pieces of men and the rest of the loot. Ga-Gorib throws a last look at the stars, if they have something to say. He addresses to the black sky without curves, without references. Silence. The pain is now just inside, and will remain there for a long time, biting the bones. Ga-Gorib moves the body of Chicka, then he begins to scratch the ground, digging the circle drawn by the Reaper, deeper and deeper.

The fingers bleed, he's working furiously. He chose that place, that hole, as his home. Maybe someone has chosen it for him much earlier. He has a new den, now, a wet and deep hole. He fills them with stones and some pieces of Chicka's body: he wants to preserve something of her.

Ga-Gorib will become big, just like the monster. When he will be ready, when on his skin will grow all the stains, he'll drag someone inside his grave, to be eaten.

He asks the mountain the permission to exist, to chew.

 

Sisi Sote Abiria Dereva Ni Mungu
- In this world we are all passengers, God is the driver.

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