And now what?
And now what, damned you, what? Look at you now and what you did to me. And I told you, I ‘d always told you, you gonna ruined by your head, but you didn’t understand, you didn’t and now, the demons took us, the old man whispered and threw the dead body off his shoulders to get some rest. He tried to wipe away the sweat from his forehand and he saw the dust and the blood hanging like dried dough on his hands. He unhanged the wooden flask off his neck and felt it empty and hit it to drain its last drops.
He kept the last drop in his tongue and rolled it across his dried lips and then, he tried with his tongue to find it, and found nothing. He hit again the flask – just one drop more he thought, just one drop more, and it would be enough to dupe his mind and keep on walking over the stony mountain. But the flask didn’t leak, and he threw it on the ground, empty, bare, dead like a dried shell buried under the sun.
He had carried the dead body since noon and now the sky was getting purple and the gait heavier. He had never thought before that this lanky man for all his life, with hand hanging from his body like sticks of a burned tree , he would become that heavy as a dead body, like the death inside him weighted more than life. He put again the dead on his shoulders and continued the ascent. There was an hour walk more to reach the top. He would be there before dusk but even if the dark caught him, he thought, there would be full moon that night to light everything.
He turned his head and saw, distant, down below the field and around it the houses like grains of salt scattered upon the dust. At first, he thought burring him down there, but they would find the sunken ground, unbury him, and they would see the sign on his skull, and, soon or later, they would find him too No, he said, no, son of a whore, you ain’t of no worth to take me with you, what harm you done, you done it, and nothing more ain’t left for your sake. You »ll sleep alone, and alone meet the devil. But, ain’t this what you wanted? Like ghosts entered your damned head and ate your soul little by little, till now, till this damned noon they swallowed you completely. Otherwise you would listen, you would step back, and now we ‘ld be saved, relieved, humen.
But he didn’t.
He sees the leathers of his shoes hanging and the blood on his toes. He remembers his Lord carrying the cross, the hill of Golgotha and the shedding blood. You lord, he thought, at least you got your students, your mother, and the whore to wet your lips and give you courage. I got nothing, no one to give me a drop, no one to give me nothing, and at the end they »ll call me murderer. And they ain’t do no injustice. Because they weren’t there, they ain’t see nothing. They will scream, murderer, for a fist of soil and wild grass you dirtied your hands with blood, you killed a man, damned be thy name. And greater be the curse and the anathema, as this on his shoulders was his own blood. But they weren’t there, they ain’t hear, ain’t see nothing. I saw.
I saw my home with no bread and milk, and then my skinned sheep grazing dried grass. And you high sky above me, you didn’t rain for months, and the world get full of rocks and dust and nowhere a glimpse of grass. I had just this place, you left me just this to feed my starving sheep- tell me then, you screamers, how can you share nothing and what is left to share out of nothing?
And I put that rock as a border. I went and told him, brother, this rock, is the border, keep your sheep from the other side. But he didn’t listen, from the first day he left his sheep coming to my place as there was no rock between us. Next day, he did the same and I yelled on him, I am going to kill them all and it ain’t their wrong that you got a spoiled soul. I force him to swear that he would keep the border and for days, might be even a month, he kept his sheep behind the rock. But it didn’t rain, all got yellowed like harvested wheat, like someone cursed us as in the story with the Jews, the whole place to die of thirst.
And today, I saw his sheep grazing in my place. I chased them down, with rocks and screams, and when he came to see what happened, I told him next time, along them I would kill him. And the bastard rushed on me. He grabbed my head and threw me on the ground and beat me as they beat the leathers to get soften, as though I ain’t his brother, like we aint borne by the same mother. He caught my hair, lugging me and he would have killed me if I hadn’t tripped his legs and throw him to the ground. I started beating him, all his face got covered with blood, and then I saw the rock beside me, like the devil left it there. I grabbed it and showed it to him, I told, I screamed to him, to go away, but he just smiled, the bastard smiled, and laughed like he was mad and the death just a game. He stared at me, with eyes full of calmness and grief, like the angels’ ones in the paintings and then he spitted me. Damned you, I screamed, I took the rock and hit him with all my strength still left inside me. The rock sank on the bone, the body shivered and died.
He saw the top of the mountain and behind it the grey moon emerging from the dusk. In short time, he would be there. He got courage thinking this. Everything at last would be ended up there, and if the ending was good or bad, it ain’t mater this time. He just wanted to finish what he started, do his duty and then get some rest. Just that.
His step became faster.
And it is my duty, he thought, don’t let him rot like a straw dog and a flyers’ nest under the sun. He is my own blood, I can’t let him. But it is my duty too, and might be heavier, ain’t admit nothing- I have mouths to feed, and these, son of a whore, got no blame to carry. You did all this by yourself. Whatever they‘ll say, as much as they‘ll accuse me, I aint admit nothing. I‘ll say, saw him left alone to somewhere, and then I‘ll speak no words no more. They‘ll find no body to judge me wrong. I ‘ll say to them, look at me, I am an old man, I aint done no wrong to anyone since I born, leave me, and at the end they might pit me, let me die free, alone as a man. And if when they seem me on the road they‘ll point the finger at me and call me murderer, I don’t give a dam. It was just me there, and I was there alone.
Then, he reached the top. He looked around and saw nothing but the shadows of rocks and shrubs and the moon behind them. He left the body on a rock and started digging the ground. He did not stop, even when his fingers exuded flesh and blood. Then he carried the body and he placed it smoothly into the hole. Around him the shadows watched unwavering and soundless, unearthly witnesses. He feared them. He searched into his pocket, and among the rags he found a piece of cheese and breadcrumbs. Take it, he said, I ‘ve nothing more to give you, just this, toll for the black who ‘ll come and take you, and place them to his palm. Then he saw his eyes. There was no sadness there, no peace, white like glass and vacant of soul and God and demons, staring through him, behind the barren nothingness, beyond the world and everything. He reached his hand and closed them. He touched the wound and felt the broken bone beneath the skin. He though to say something but he got nothing to say, and he said nothing. He just wiped the dust and blood of his head, and unraveled a rag from his pants and covered his face. Then, he started loamed the hole and soon it was all covered, he couldn’t see nothing, he couldn’t remember anything staying under the moon alone with the shadows. He lied upon the ground and slept. He didn’t dream.
He slept until the sun waked him. Standing on the mountain’s top, he saw the day spreading like faint layer of rime above the field and then he looked at the sky. He saw no clouds- neither today will it rain he thought and started descending towards the field$