NOCTURN FALLS AT OUR FEET
A Tale of Language in a Time of Undoing (A work in progress)
“Nocturn falls at our feet,” his voice heavy with two AM jazz.
The world had become a serial place, like an unending line of rail cars parched, peeling red paint above a golden plain that stretched forever, the horizon erased between dust and sky. History was fatuous, and culture history’s concubine. It sweats silent and sulking in the humid night air, biding its time in the hours after decent folks have gone to sleep in their homes, and the cats have settled into their place under the slowly collapsing porches and weedy culverts.
Arbory Millhouse was prone to such vicissitudes, most particularly over luke-warm coffee given to bitterness, and most especially this Tuesday; the Tuesday before the inauguration.
He believed in poppycock. Not rabblerousing but poppycock in its purest and proper form. Arbory had made a religion of it. Lately he’d had a change of heart, where suddenly everything was the color of brown; a brown so dark as to almost be black, but retaining that hint of deep velveting reddish undertone that gave the color just enough life to breathe. He was harder for it, of course, but more balanced and content with it that he’d ever lived all those poppycock days.
Mister crumpet, flung upon the park bench beside him, had never known poppycock, had hardly even known brown. His color was gray, like the gray of asphalt, with a gruff texture and a hardened surface. For looks, well, he might be described best if one assumed one of his parents had been a fish or some scuttling crustacean. They had orbited one another for almost their whole lives, but how well the moon and sun know one another is a ridiculous exercise.
Crumpet wasn’t at all convinced, but the liveliness of the conversation had changed his overall color to some degree. If anything could be said of the friendship between Arbory Millhouse and Mr. Jacob Antiquinarian Crumpet was that their colors were brightened or deepened or better defined in their weekly conversations on that bench; weather permitting, of course.
“Cynic, now are we all of the sudden?” Crumpet squelched.
“Language, dear Crumpet, is a fault line in the air between each of us.” Arbory sat back and stretched, barely containing his sugary satisfaction.
Something, however, and maybe, because one can never be entirely certain of anything, but something was missing. Arbory believed it to be a new language, as the old one was insufficient to the times. if cataclysm, absurdity and upheaval were newly and unexpectedly the order of the day then certainly a lavender language simply would not do. Time and temperature demanded, instead something more scarlet, or perhaps scarlet. With a cleansing breath, the realization enlivening his velveting red to a frosty, breath in the air sunrise vermillion
Arbory’s long, weathered fingers, yellowing slightly at the fingertips, beneath unevenly chewed nails, raked through straight red hair falling to his shoulders. That hair, thin and loose habited itself in Arboy’s eyes. he scratched his rusty beard and regarded Crumpet as if from atop a tall building to a lone derelict in a gravelly lot. he remained reclined, gazing up at Arbory, the duke of his own color.
“Reckon I won’t be around next Tuesday, or the Tuesday next or the one beyond that.”
“Heh! You’ve said that a time or two,” crumpet wiped snot away with his sleeve.. His feet were out. A whisper of cold blue air found the hole in the bottom of his boot. He set the foot flat on the ground and felt wetness grow from the sidewalk, dampening his layers stockings. “Come Tuesday, two o’clock sure as sssssssshinola, here you be.”
“Well, sell my stock. There is a world to change.”
Arbory smarted at the fading of the vermillion in his brown just for being there for longer than he wished, despite what affection…or habit…he held for Jacob Antiquinarian Crumpet.
“So long, Crumpet. You keep your half of our history and I’ll keep mine.”
Crumpet felt it was all a bluster, a pale excuse like an apology to a hurricane. He thought it something of a gust of wind whipping autumn leaves from the gutter of Arbory’s street; little more than a rukus. but as Crumpet watched him cross the park he couldn’t help but feel all that heavy purple pouring into his gray. ..
What emerged is a narrative on the changing nature of language, and how at certain times in history that change should and must become abrupt, but does history drive language or does language drive history? Stay tuned…