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CHRISTIANS

December 13, 2013

I take pen in hand this year of their Lord nineteen hundred and ten to relate the fearful and grievous tale of the renegade savage who spread terror and blood across the high desert of Oregon state.

Being said savage:

My name
not my name really but the white
name I was issued at the Hendricks
Academy along with a hair cut and
long pants
is Lionel Christian.

Yes I do appreciate the irony of
this name though I’m certain the
flour-faced fools who gave it did
not.

I do not know my father or mother or the people I came from:

They are all dead.

I do not know my home or,
as the CHRISTIANS would put it
having drawn lines on paper and
split the world into packets,
the state of my birth.

The masters of the academy would not tell me anything.  My memories would not serve them.  I came too young to carry my own and what they could have given me they denied.  They did not want me to have a past that might impede my development as an educated CHRISTIAN gentleman.

And, of course, they might not have
known.  The history of a savage is
irrelevant.

I know not my people’s name or their tongue, but I heard rumors, stories that I was of the Diggers, basin Indians who ate insects and worms.  That my people had eaten a CHRISTIAN’s cow and had been killed for this crime.
Sometimes the story was that I, a babe at the time, was the only one allowed to live.  Others said that more children had been spared, perhaps brothers and sisters.
At the academy we were Indians and our job was to become not Indians.  We were to become CHRISTIANs except we could never be real CHRISTIANs because we were Indians.  It is, I believe, somewhat akin to original sin.
We were expected to spend our lives attempting the salvation of civilization while living with and constantly reminded of the fact that we were condemned to barbarity.
Our masters at the at the academy knew that their task was impossible, but it was their service to their god to struggle in vain.  Each day they strove to make us in their image and waited for us to fail.

Miss Holzberg, my employer: five feet tall and skinny, wizened to the bone.  About forty I guess and pale.  She stayed indoors for fear of the sun.  She covered herself everyday in earth-toned clothes from chin to toes, layers of wool and cotton and never bathed or washed her teeth.  She considered the one practice immodest and the other a fad.  She chewed cloves both to temper her breath and against the pain of her rotten teeth.  And she laved herself in perfume so that years before her death she smelled of sweet decay.
I was her clerk.  I sold from behind the counter and handled anything that needed writing or calculations as Little Fisher, the other employee, and Holzberg herself were illiterate.  Little Fisher, who wouldn’t or couldn’t speak and was simple, did the fetching and stocking wares on the shelves and the loading and unloading of wagons.  When I needed something from the stockroom and was too busy to get it myself, I had to have Miss Holzberg tell Little Fisher to go as even a dumb moron would bridle at being ordered about by an Indian.  I was given a bunk in a little storage room off of the kitchen and next to the outhouse. I often wondered about the proximity of the well to the dung pit tried not to think about it when I drank my morning coffee.  On hot nights sleep was impossible in the stench and I would go sleep in the stable.  Curious how the smell of horse shit is rich and of the earth while man’s is simply foul.

Hiring me, having an Indian about, was Holzberg’s penance, her substitution for beating her back with chains and she also profited from it, at least for the first few months I was there.  Her customers, the simpletons who worked the surrounding ranches, men too dull for any work but the care of dumb animals, would ride long miles to buy a plug of tobacco and see the tame, educated Indian.  And drink whiskey, which I sold them myself though it was against the law for me to take a drink.
The population of Spencer would swell then from its normal total of three.  These cowboys, stupid as the animals they lived with and often, truth be told, coupled with, would drain one bottle and then another until they collapsed.  Miss Holzberg had built a livery and dormitory with wooden shelves for bunks.  She would have Little Fisher put the drunkards in one, their mounts in another and charged for both.

The other day I took a ride along the river, at least it a river when it rains, to let the wind blow away the dreams of murder in my brain and some miles east of town came upon death.
Nothing unusual around here,
something is always rotting in the grass
but this was unusual in its number.  There must have been thirty or so assorted animals:
buzzards and juncos and crows,
black-faced weasels and coyotes and
big-eared foxes, all in a circle radiating from the bloated carcass of a steer.  The steer, sick from this or that, must have come this way to die by the water and then someone stuck poison in him. Long standard practice to kill wolves,
but whoever baited this beef
was dreaming.
If there are any wolves
left in the world they surely aren’t
around here.  The last wolf was
trapped or shot or blasted out this
state a decade past.

I spend much time along the riverbank trying to learn the language of the planet.

The tales are written by beasts: their tracks and piss stains and turds are the headlines, the agony columns, the scriptures of the earth.

For me it might as well be Sanskrit.

I can read Latin and Greek.  I’m familiar with the bloated self-importance of those old pirates, their shoulders perched with gods instead of parrots.  I know the names of dead kings and moldering popes.

I know how Cromwell died and what Cotton Mather thought.  I’m as stuffed with CHRISTIAN history as a Christmas goose with chestnuts, but I cannot read the signs beneath my nose, have no idea of what passed here.

I do not know my father’s name or the song my mother sang me and if I want to curse my enemies without using their hated tongue
I can find no words
but only howl.

I have read that in the far north and to
the south in Amazonas there are Indians
still beyond the reach of drummers and
priests:  Indians living in he old way,
who still hunt and tend their fires and
know their fathers,

Who have escaped the slavery of the children of that sad-
eyed Jew,
but if I have read of them, then they are known and their
destruction is assured.

CHRISTIANS are always surprising.  I had expected Miss Holzberg to die spitting, but, with the entry of the knife she fell straight down dead, almost gently, her only protest the grimace on her face.

Little Fisher found his tongue with my ax in his skull.  Cursing and yelling he reached for me, his spirit finally rising as I split his brainpan and the sun shone in on his thoughts.  I had to open his head and beat his spirit to death while he snatched at my ankles and tried to bite me.  When it was finished the top of his head was destroyed, his face swollen, congested, sunburn red as if scorched by the passion of strength.

The cowboy, a passerby, used to bunking in rough housing with drunks and idiots, had slept through Fisher’s screams.  I merely poked my rifle through the window and shot him in his bed.  He settled lower among his sougans and that was that.

This was the massacre at Spencer and when it was over I replaced the bullet fired into the cowboy, wiped Fisher off of my ax and cleaned my knife.  Then I sat on the steps outside Holzberg’s and smoked my pipe.  It was a hot, summer day stilled by the sun, even the dust too worn out to stir and there was a peace to the place with only Little Fisher’s body outside the stable to show that murder had been done.

I had often wondered what was in a
CHRISTIAN’s head, what compulsion to
shackle themselves to their little
squares of dirt, to worship their
condemning god, to wall themselves
in their breathless houses with the
knowledge of Hell and think themselves
king.  I walked over to Little Fisher
and took a long look into his, but found
no secrets  there.  His brain looked no
different than a pig’s.

The state militia came, a patrol of heroes in the brand new, stiff khakis with old, long tom Springfield rifles that, slung in short boots from their cantles, dragged their muzzles along the ground.

But only half a dozen.  The rest must still be milking or egg hunting or lying abed, pizzle in hand, wondering if they’ll ever find out what lies up a woman’s dress since the few white women won’t and there aren’t any Indian women left to rope and we lie too far north for senoritas.

I tied my horse in the open knowing that, when sighted, the fools would ride directly to it, and crouched nearby behind a rock.

I’m certain the CHRISTIAN newspapers have called this a battle and so I will describe this savage duel between the militia and the crazed aborigine.

They neared as if on parade and, at about 25 yards I opened fire.  Four of them stopped their animals and attempted to pull their bean-pole rifles and I shot them dead more quickly than I can write it down.

I’m not bragging about my shooting.  At that distance with a modern rifle it’s no great feat to put a bullet in the middle of a man’s chest and with my little .303 Savage and soft pointed bullets, a strike in the chest is death.  Sitting there, trying to bring their rifles to bear, they gave me all the time in the world.

At rifle crack two of the brigade remembered their obligations and spurred their horses for home.  I ignored one, someone must spread the news, but I mounted and pursued the other.

His rifle rattled and dug into the ground.  He lashed to both sides with a quirt sometimes whipping the horse, sometimes himself, and kicked his feet so high in spurring that he looked like an acrobat.  As I drew nigh he looked back and I could see his lips moving.

I could smell him (sweat and emptied bowels) and I could smell his horse (just sweat) and all the equipment hung from the harnessing clattered and groaned like a graveyard full of ghouls.

I struck him from the saddle with my ax.

“John, oh John” he said to me.

He didn’t try to rise or run or fight.  He lay, his back bleeding from my blow and said, “John, oh John.”

I fed him my ax.

I disjointed him not from malice, but to make it simpler for the coyotes to fetch away a mean.  I was about to remove his head when whimsy caught me and instead I looped my lariat around his neck and set out trailing the trooper, less his limbs, along behind.

That evening, about an hour before the local was due, I set him up between the rails of the trunk line between Burton and Cassell facing in the direction from which the train would come and left him to plead with the steam engine.

I am befuddled.
So many years I lived swollen with the desire, the need to kill CHRISTIANS only to find my own deeds sicken me.  There is no joy.

These great murderers must only, I thought, understand protests written in blood, but I underestimated their stupendous madness.  It’s the most amazing thing about them, makes them blind and deaf to the world, overwhelms all understanding.  Even I, their lunacy’s child, cannot fully comprehend it.

The world will die of it.

At the Stoller ranch I tried to drink blood caught in a bucket when I cut the fat girl’s throat, but it outraged my stomach.

I had my little joke of building a fire and leaving a partially cooked arm on the spit so that the CHRISTIANS could have their nightmare, but what the godless cannibal ate was in truth thrown to the coyotes and I didn’t laugh.

The beast of the high desert relents, oh my.  Closer indeed
to the beasts than the CHRISTIANs I find myself as a beast
soon has his belly full and goes away.  The CHRISTIANs
never say enough.

There is some pleasure in this discovery.

The question is what next?  I’m not a very good Indian.  I can’t hunt for beans.  Without the CHRISTIANs to kill and steal from, I’ll starve.  Though I hate them, they must feed me so am I not, even with their blood between my teeth, just another of their niggers?

I can’t live in the way of my fathers (Who were they?  What was their name?) and I can’t be a CHRISTIAN so I find myself in the world with no ledge on which I can perch.
They have taken what we were and won’t let us be what they
are, so we are without and no one knows what to do.
Who wants to be a CHRISTIAN?  To climb aboard that wild horse and ride it to the end of time?  Not I nor anyone with sense, so the problem is to think of something else to do.

I had thought, one time, to catch myself a tame Indian woman and breed her, fire my rage into her womb and bring forth another CHRISTIAN killer, but gave that up for the foolishness it was.  Such a child would probably grow up normal, which is to say he would spend his days slaving for the CHRISTIANs hoping to make enough money to dress and live like the CHRISTIANs do.

One more nigger.

Instead I’m going to take my poke of rations from the Stoller ranch (bacon, flour, a can of tomatoes) and walk into the desert to wait for visions and look for God’s face.  I want a word with Him.  I’ll take with me the pleasure of knowing that for months to come random night noises will squeeze the CHRISTIAN’s innards with fear and they’ll think of me.

Perhaps that’s all I can hope for.

From my book Dancing The Maze by Pretend Genius Press

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