Cold rain falls in the river, flows down to the sea, gets into the skyline, circles endlessly. Same old rain on the wind, same old pain in my soul.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Search For The Perfect Perfume

Dear Reader, This is a very long piece and I expect no one, not even my most faithful to read it. I've been writing some longer prose lately and I just put it out here to be out here. Please feel free to move past it.~rick

Do you remember the smell of the cafeteria when you walked down that long sloping narrow white-tiled hall after mornings last class? When the lunch ladies giggled in the kitchen and recess bled through the tiny windows?
The smell that delighted rather than repulsed as the day before?
The plain round ladies in puke yellow dresses giggle because just one of them, just last night, got good and fucked and the infection spread among the brood like candy from the Christmas parade with every child scrambling for a taste.
No broccoli today and extra sugar in the Kool Aid. Do you remember?
Recess was five minutes longer.

Daddy's old spice after Tuesday night's shower.
Momma's kitchen on Thanksgiving morning while Macy's convinced you, you were really there.
Grandpa's pipe and the cloud that framed his smile.

And that cute brown haired girl who never spoke but sat in front of you in English class. How the stirred air awoke you when she returned from bathroom break, and how your jeans lifted and twitched.
The July hay field you peddled past on the way to dreams just over the rise.

And Bethany, on the shore of that autumn lake with the pretty name. Deep under the moon, deep into the night, deep into her. Your senses were filled with the flow of magic. the water, her hair, her kiss, her moisture, all coming together in a fragrance that would shame April lilacs.
All of these, and more. Making perfect sense as one.
That's how the perfume was described.

I had been walking through the forest when the white raven came from behind me and settled on the limb where she became the woman.

Like jack while on a mission of simple survival, suddenly confronted with the notion that giant beanstalks laddering to golden eggs really can exist, if only we dare, I sought a price.
She cackled from the limb supporting her perch.
"Why, child, the only price is your ability to achieve."
And with that, she tossed it to my reaching hands and flew away.
I sat down against the tree to study it.
Orb shaped it was, neither heavy nor light. It just was, as if beyond the possibility of gravity.
I held it to my nose.
No roasting turkey
No old spice
No Bethany's sweet cum.
Just a ball full of nothing.

I began to peel the layers away one by one and one by one they disappeared but the orb never grew smaller, and each layer, once free, grew wings and flitted out of sight.
I grew restless and walked but couldn't remember where or why. I just wandered the forest releasing magic butterflies into the trees.
As deeper I trod, the forest grew deeper as well and dusk settled on my efforts.
Just as dark was reaching its apex, I stepped into a small clearing of light.
In the middle of this light was an ancient sage sitting at a small primitive table mixing a potion.. His white hair curled and tangled secrets deep in its wild weave. His white beard rested his lap. His fingers stretched and knotted like oak branches steady as their roots.
Above him, hung a tiny moon watching over his shoulder, with sleepy eyes.
Without so much as a glance, he spoke.
"What is it you seek, so deep in the forest?"
I held out the magical orb.

"I seek what lies within."
"Hmmmm, yes, a noble desire no doubt."
He lifted the glass holding the potion and one-eyed it through his tiny glasses. Then, as if truly curious, he asked, "What would you do with it, should you achieve it?"
The answer required no thought.
"Just know it."
His moon had grown dimmer so he reached and stroked it gently and fresh light covered our conversation.
The sage then set the glass back on the table and took the orb from my hands. He turned it and studied it.
"The trick," he said, slow and deliberately. "Is to open it from the inside out." Then he handed it back to me and resumed mixing.
"Well, how do you do that?"
With no change of expression he replied, "You must love it before you have it."
I thought for a moment but only grew more confused. "How can you love something you've never known?"
"Ah," he raised a long gnarled finger. "That is what you must learn."
I paused in frustration.
"Um, ok -how do i learn it?"
Finally, he smiled slightly and looked up.
"Why, my boy, you already have."
Then he leaned back and reached up to stroke his moon again as he studied me. He then leaned forward and rested his chin on his closed fist before asking, "That girl, the one at the lake long ago, did you love the scent before you knew the moment?"
It didn't even strike me as odd he should know.
"I did not know the scent til then."
He threw his hands open and his eyes twinkled in the lenses. "Precisely!"
Then he continued. "And your fathers after shave, how many times did you smell it before you found it lovely?"
I shrugged and tilted my head.
"Just once, I guess."
He leaned far forward and thrust a crooked finger at me.
"Right again! Inside out."
I squatted down before him and rolled the orb in my hands.
"You speak in the way of wisdom," said I, "but still my dilemma remains."
He lifted the glass once more, eyed it carefully, then set it down and pushed it towards me.
I looked at his deep eyes, ancient lines, and then he whispered, "You need to go."
I looked around at the walls of thick black and wondered, go where?
He tapped the rim of the glass.

I dipped my finger into the clear liquid, brought it to my lips as he watched expectantly. There was no taste, no strange sensation, and his eyes closed gently as he nodded.
I lifted the glass and drank it dry.
As I felt nothing new or queer, I raised my palms wide in silent ask.
The old man's eyes narrowed kindly and he pointed over my shoulder. I turned to look and my eyes fell upon a trail of light through the darkness. I quickly turned back to ask the sage of it, but he was gone, along with his moon.
All that existed was black nothing and the trail of light, which I chose to explore.
I walked only a short time before coming upon another trail of light to the left. I entered it, and immediately found myself upon the shores of a long ago lake. I followed a familiar scent along the moonlit beach and found Bethany, in her youth, lying upon the sand naked, as she masturbated to the rhythm of the waves.
I walked to her, to ask her why she was alone.
Her eyes were closed and when I reached down to touch her, she turned to tiny white wings and fluttered away.
I smelled the damp sand, tasted it, hoping for a trace,
But there was none.

The darkness started to gather and close around me, threatening to swallow me whole so I turned and rushed to stay ahead of it, back to the original trail. When it I achieved, the only light I could find was to my left.
As I followed it, I watched behind me as the darkness followed my steps.
Not long after, I found a trail to my right and turned into it, the darkness waiting where I left it like a well trained butler.
Once in the trail, I came upon a round middle-aged woman upon a bed. She was wearing only a hairnet as her squash coloured dress hung from the bedpost. She was on all fours and a fat ugly man was fucking her hard.
She squealed and sloshed as he smoked a cigar and drank a can of beer. She reached between her legs to help herself along as the fat bastard watched baseball on the TV in the corner. He slapped her ass hard when Roger Maris got a double, and his dick must have grown two inches because she came in a wild flood  just as the winning run scored.
I walked closer to ask why this made for better smells in cafeterias, but they grew wings and off they flew into the darkness before I could smell any pizza or a graper kool-aid.
This journey continued and repeated until the trails ran out and all my memories of lovely fragrances had been tarnished.
The only spot of light remaining was where I stood. I held the still many-layered orb in my hand and decided the woman had deceived me for her own amusement. There was no flawless perfume, no perfect fragrance, and no perfect memory.
Then the light at my feet rose in a gentle bloom and I found myself at an all too familiar tree. Looking up, I watched a white raven land on a limb I recognized, and the white raven became her once again.
She smiled and spoke.
"Did you achieve?"
I held the orb up.
She pretended a frown and said, "What seems to be the trouble?"
I turned my eyes to it and replied, "It seems whenever I peel a layer away, a new one grows within."
"That's true," She offered. "Each layer is a moment and for each moment past, a new moment is born."
"So," I puzzled, looking up to her, "The riddle has no solution."
She said nothing but bent down low and softly blew upon the orb.
Instantly the air was filled with white wings that lifted and landed among the branches of the forest. Above her head I could see the sun and moon standing side by side. Rain fell from a starlit sky while soft white clouds swirled through the trees.
I looked into my hands and the orb was gone. I had felt nothing. But then the most beautiful fragrance well beyond imagination filled my being and filled the forest.
I smiled as never before and looked up to the she-raven.
"Disappointed?" She asked
"No," I answered. "Pleased beyond all hope. Tell me, what do you call it?"
"I call it "Now"
And with that she changed again and joined the other moments in the trees.