Xian is no stranger to cold truth. Most of them are plied with drugs and get addicted, another sure-fire way of securing their place in the system. So far, she's managed to avoid that twisted mission, but still, 'off-camera' turned out to be a very different world to the one she grew up in - and now she fears she won't get the chance to return.
Carla H. Krueger
And you can glance out the window for a moment, distracted by the sound of small kids playing a made-up game in a neighbor's yard, some kind of kickball maybe, and they speak in your voice, or piggyback races on the weedy lawn, and it's your voice you hear, essentially, under the glimmerglass sky, and you look at the things in the room, offscreen, unwebbed, the tissued grain of the deskwood alive in light, the thick lived tenor of things, the argument of things to be seen and eaten, the apple core going sepia in the lunch tray, and the dense measures of experience in a random glance, the monk's candle reflected in the slope of the phone, hours marked in Roman numerals, and the glaze of the wax, and the curl of the braided wick, and the chipped rim of the mug that holds your yellow pencils, skewed all crazy, and the plied lives of the simplest surface, the slabbed butter melting on the crumbled bun, and the yellow of the yellow of the pencils, and you try to imagine the word on the screen becoming a thing in the world, taking all its meanings, its sense of serenities and contentments out into the streets somehow, its whisper of reconciliation, a word extending itself ever outward, the tone of agreement or treaty, the tone of repose, the sense of mollifying silence, the tone of hail and farewell, a word that carries the sunlit ardor of an object deep in drenching noon, the argument of binding touch, but it's only a sequence of pulses on a dullish screen and all it can do is make you pensive-a word that spreads a longing through the raw sprawl of the city and out across the dreaming bournes and orchards to the solitary hills. Peace.
And there, until 1884, it was possible to gaze on the remains of a generally neglected monument, so-called Dagobert's Tower, which included a ninth-century staircase set into the masonry, of which the thirty-foot handrail was fashioned out of the trunk of a gigantic oak tree. Here, according to tradition, lived a barber and a pastry-cook, who in the year 1335 plied their trade next door to each other. The reputation of the pastry-cook, whose products were among the most delicious that could be found, grew day by day. Members of the high-ranking clergy in particular were very fond of the extraordinary meat pies that, on the grounds of keeping to himself the secret of how the meats were seasoned, our man made all on his own, with the sole assistance of an apprentice who was responsible for the pastry. His neighbor the barber had won favor with the public through his honesty, his skilled hairdressing and shaving, and the steam baths he offered. Now, thanks to a dog that insistently scratched at the ground in a certain place, the ghastly origins of the meat used by the pastry-cook became known, for the animal unearthed some human bones! It was established that every Saturday before shutting up shop the barber would offer to shave a foreign student for free. He would put the unsuspecting young man in a tip-back seat and then cut his throat. The victim was immediately rushed down to the cellar, where the pastry-cook took delivery of him, cut him up, and added the requisite seasoning. For which the pies were famed, 'especially as human flesh is more delicate because of the diet, ' old Dubreuil comments facetiously. The two wretched fellows were burned with their pies, the house was ordered to be demolished, and in its place was built a kind of expiatory pyramid, with the figure of the dog on one of its faces. The pyramid was there until 1861. But this is where the story takes another turn and joins the very best of black comedy. For the considerable number of ecclesiastics who had unwittingly consumed human flesh were not only guilty before God of the very venial sin of greed; they were automatically excommunicated! A grand council was held under the aegis of several bishops and it was decided to send to Avignon, where Pope Clement VI resided, a delegation of prelates with a view to securing the rescindment if not of the Christian interdiction against cannibalism then at least of the torments of hell that faced the inadvertent cannibals. The delegation set off, with a tidy sum of money, bare-footed, bearing candles and singing psalms. But the roads of that time were not very safe and doubtless strewn with temptation. Anyway, the fact is that Clement VI never saw any sign of the penitents, and with good reason.