dontravis.com blog post #355
Courtesy of Pixabay.com
Inasmuch as I’ve been sorta under the weather this week, Mark Wildyr agreed to guest post one of his stories this week. It happens to be one of my favorites. Thanks to Mark, and I hope you readers enjoy the story as much as I do.
THE SUN AND THE MOON
By Mark Wildyr
Michael Lanier was my best friend and next-door neighbor. Had been since forever. At the El Rey Community College, the initials M&M didn’t represent chocolate candy but Mitchell George and Michael Lanier. Yet we were so different nobody understood why we were such buddies—probably me least of all. I was physical; Mike, cerebral. He nurtured me in the classrooms, and I protected him on the playing fields. I was a healthy, popular, golden-haired blend of many cultures and bloods; he was a dark-haired, pale, enigmatic Celt. We got along like the opposite poles of magnets. If I could keep him out of his notebooks, he was a great guy. He had volumes of the things filled with his constant scribbling. They were part diary, part observation, and part poetry.
How close we were was brought home hard when his cancer showed up last year. I hadn’t understood how much of a hole he would leave in my life, my heart, my soul. The last time I saw him was etched into my brain for eternity.
“Sunshine,” he had wheezed weakly.
God! “Hello, Sunshine.” That was his way of greeting me each morning. Thereafter it was Mitch or Mitchell, but always the first time of the day was “Sunshine.”
“Hi, Tiger. How you feeling? I saved you a place on the soccer team.”
He gave a shadow-smile. “Gimme a week, okay?”
Damn, I hoped I could get through this without bawling. I didn’t mind him seeing me cry. I just didn’t want him to know how scared I was—for him.
“Mitch, I want to give you some things, okay?” He nodded to the table beside the hospital bed. That sentence wore him out and tore me up inside.
I damned near lost it when I saw what was there, going blind in spite of my resolution not to weep. The silver Celtic cross he’d worn around his neck for as long as I could remember lay atop a thick, blue binder, one of his famous notebooks.
“The cross is to remember me by.” He clutched my hand, surprising me with his strength. “The notebook is to know me by.”
“I know you, Mike. Better’n anybody.” I gouged my eyes with my palm to clear away the tears so I could see.
“Maybe. But promise me you’ll read it. Might take more than... once.”
“I’ll read it until I can recite it,” I swore.
“Don’t go nuts on me, Mitchell.”
Michael Roger Lanier died that same night. I didn’t know a jock could blubber so much, but that’s what I did in the privacy of my room. My parents understood and left me alone to work through my grief.
Now the cross hung around my neck where it will remain forever. I read through the notebook twice simply because I’d promised, sobbing over some parts and laughing over others. Someday he would have been an author or a poet or a journalist or all three. His writing reflected him so perfectly I felt we were reading it together.
But I was still puzzled by his last words to me in the hospital. There was nothing in the book I didn’t already know except for one poem or poetic essay that I did not understand. He’d gone mystic like he sometimes did in real life. Determined to figure it out, I sat down in my bedroom and reread the piece he’d written just before they discovered the cancer about a year ago.
Naught but a distant star, I am Venus glittering low in a sun-starved, moonless hemisphere, one of a myriad of astral motes slung carelessly across the distant cosmos.
The hair on the back of my neck rose, unbidden, unexplained. I glanced around the room, freaked out by my own skittishness.
The Helios of my universe cuts bright and blinding across my path, nourishing even as he eclipses my luminance with his green Phoeban fire. Oh, how I long for this enervating, nurturing Apollo, this Greek Charioteer, this beautiful Egyptian Ra, would not his glowing incandescence sear my caress, shrivel my kiss, and turn fevered passion to pale ash. Thus is Venus fated to orbit second in his precious vortex.
I whirled about in my chair, convinced I was not alone. But I was. Hackles raised, I rubbed my puckered forearms as if they were cold. I swallowed and resumed reading.
Then comes Luna to my sky, whose shimmering beauty merely bedims my glow with his shaded shine. This Artemis, this brother of Helios, this sibling of Eros, accepts my timid suit, my kiss, my shy caress, enriching my aura with a molten, milk-white nimbus.
Selene’s time is tender but fleeting. Then again Hyperion’s son ascends, obscuring my silver-footed king whose taste is oh so sweet, except… he is not my Roman Sol.
I finished reading, uncertain why my upper lip was touched with sweat. Whatever the cause of my unease, it receded as I closed the notebook. I was alone again. Of course, I was; I had been all along.
No doubt this was the piece Mike intended me to “know him by.” I’m a jock not an intellectual, but this was something he’d asked me to do, so by damn, I’d understand this piece if it blew out all the circuits in my brain. So I dragged my fanny down to the library and took a stool before the biggest, fattest dictionary in the place and started making notes. An hour later, I moved to a reading table to assimilate what I had learned.
Venus, of course, was the second planet from the sun, moonless and the brightest star in our solar system. And Mike equated himself with Venus in his poem. Helios was the ancient Greek god of the Sun, sometimes known as Apollo. The Egyptians called him Ra; the Romans, Sol. Okay, so Mike had a sun in his heavens. So far, so good.
And the sun turned off the stars. Shit, he’d have my ass for thinking like that. The sun obscured the stars, or eclipsed them, as he put it. And it was both enervating and nourishing, like the real sun, I guess. It was necessary to nourish life, but if it got too hot, it drains you. So this sun made the planet feel inferior. Okay, got it.
Then comes Luna to my sky.…
Luna was the Roman Goddess of the Moon, sometimes known as Diana or Phoebe or Selene or the silver-footed queen. And Artemis was another name for the moon goddess. Hey! The guy found himself a girl. The devil had fallen in love and never even told his best friend.
But wait! Something was wrong. I hauled out the notebook and read:
Luna bedims my glow with his shaded shine.
His shine? The goofball mixed up his genders. He meant her shine. I frowned as I reread something else. Artemis the brother of Helios? ‘Silver-footed king?’ Uh-uh. Mike wouldn’t have made one mistake like that, much less three! He’d turned the moon goddess into the moon god.
The notebook slipped from my fingers as the truth struck me.
What has Mitch discovered about his friend Mike? That Mike loved him? Not much question about that, but there more? Tune in next week and find out.
The advance buy link for The Voxlightner Scandal follows: http://www.dsppublications.com/books/upcoming-releases-c
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See you next week.
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