Friday, March 11, 2011


Sometimes a dark, early spring night can feel colder and damper than a frigid, dry January midnight. But Papa did not care. Temperature meant nothing to him, so long as it stayed below the ignition point of human tissue. He was still comprised of that. So he hung suspended in the air just above the tallest tips of Number One and Number Two Liberty Place. Let me see. That would put him approximately eleven hundred feet off the ground. He liked it up there. The city sparkled like a set designer's model. He saw the rivers winding through the ordered chaos like gun-metal ribbons. And traffic noises rose up like muffled sounds from a damp forest floor. Heavy jet aircraft traced paths across the misty velvet. And he slept. He could do that. He could chose a spot and float there for ages. Well, so long as it's a spot where the sun don't shine. Papa drifted in and out of lurid dreams. But his internal recreations of past events were so vivid they were equal to time travel. Who knows? Perhaps that is what they are. Rome rules the world. The elite of the empire take their summer ease along the Neapolitan Shore in a sumptuous pleasure town called Pompeii. How Papa liked that place. They worshipped him there. OK, so it was really Baccus. But he was a good actor. And if they wanted Baccus, he would play that part. Ravishing the temple virgins was a special perk, one that he liked best. The  girls were quite special, the daughters of nobles. Some even the daughters of old patrician families. Each one eager to accept his embraces. True they were drunk first. Yes the drums and the flutes and the hoarse 'singing' drowned everything out.. In one corner of his holy site, old crones and old goats ripped live little kids (goatlings, I mean) to shreads. Did they use knives? No, fingernails. It was a religious ritual after all. Had to keep things pure and simple. Other revelers formed naked, human daisy chains, kicking their feet and squeezing their partners jiggly rumps as they danced and snaked their way through the hot, dense crowd. Some made the donation, in order to gain entry. And they kept their robes and clung  to the walls with their friends, pointing and laughing at the others. And Papa held court amidst it all. Oh, he loved his costume. What was it? A crown made of golden grape leaves and a matching torque. Divinity needs little else. The girls flocked to him. But socially ambitious matrons paid dearly for the honor. Not for themselves, but for their daughters. For as of late, the brides of Baccus were prized as wives among wealthy Romans. It was the fashion. And Romans were nothing if not fashionable.  So Papa melted through into a private sanctuary in the back, there to await his 'bride.' Giggling hands pushed the girl in.. The stupid, little thing should have been honored. They bathed her in the finest ungents brought all the way from Persia and doused her with the costliest Egyptian perfumes. What did the little bitch want? Well, I'll tell you what this one wanted. She wanted a seat next to God Almighty. She wanted a place among the elect. This one spent too much time fraternizing with Christians. Now this was before what came to be called the 'Protoschism.' Before all that trinitarian, unitarian brou-haha. So nobody knew what her lable really meant. Who cared. They could kill her anyway. Well, I guess you know where this is going. She starts crying and coughing and choking and pleading. She gets a knife (passed to her from a friend) and tries to slash her divine 'date's' face. But even though Papa wasn't a god, he was still miraculous. So what could she do to him? Nothing and that only made it worse. She starts yelling 'demon' and 'devil' and ...I don't know what else. Zebulon hates scenes like this. Then she raises the knife (everyone gasped) and plunged it into her own neck, bathing the sanctuary in blood...human blood...apparently a big no-no. People saw. Revelers knew. Everyone instantly sobered up and an eightyfive percent naked crowd of old, wealthy Romans went running out into the streets. They manically scraped at their skin trying to dig away the taint....That was it. Baccus was 'out.' No one lit his insense. No one said his prayers. Should Papa have taken it personal? Of course not. But he did. You know how moody he can be. And twelve nights later, Vesuvius errupted, burying the town in searing, noxious batter. Oh, it was terriblly wonderful to behold. The special effects were marvelous. Papa out did himself. The screams. The pain. The torture. The pathos. What, you doubt him? Remember, he was twentysix thousand years old even then. And vampires soak up power like a sponge. So now he wants to reassemble a 'family.' Yet make no mistake about it. He also means to be top dog. Could he even imagine anything else?...No.... Who's gonna be able to control him?.....Even a benevolent diety throws thunderbolts now and then.......Look, his eyes are opening. The wind ruffles his hair. He picks up the scent from the old shipyard and begins to float in that direction...........

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