the Warlock's Word Made Meat

The fourth tale of  Six Warlocks My Age, Tales of Contemporary Supernaturalism, by Vinsent Nandi, 45 aSWW


The followers of Jesus of Nazareth observe it,
usually a fortnight early
to suit the lovers of saturnalia.
Countries ruled by Jesus' followers observe it,
offensively officially
to please the partizans of the total state.

Those who disbelieve in the one god or demon
join in at it,
because they have not yet been slain before Him,
tho loathed by the devilish-divine Lord-God.
Those who are not wholly hetero are gay at it,
which will be holily for the same reason
in this season.
Those who lack the virtue of being male
keep house at it,
because they have not been conscientized so far

Since this poem is being used as material for the novel Triptych of Times, you are presently being given free access to less than a third of it.

With a questioning glance Cathleen looks up. What will the others at the table think of it? But she has hardly finished reading out Sophy's Christmas reply card, when a heavy burst of reactions follows.
    "A load of crap! I've never heard such rubbish in my whole life", or something to that effect her father exclaims. Angrily he takes a bone and starts tearing the meat from it with his teeth. Reminded of the cards the family have received from people they have forgotten to send one to themselves, and of the cards they have sent to people from whom they have not received one in return, he is the more angry.
"That's really outrageous!" says her mother, thinking of the gorgeous plump, trussed and skewered turkey that she had the pleasure of cooking; and of the man who had prodded it several times at the breastbone to show how good it was.
"What a nasty nonsense", Dominick, her boyfriend, remarks after having been served lavishly to large pieces of fowl and splashes of sauce. "Christianist -- ever heard a more awkward word than that? How unpoetic you can get!"
The two other people present, her grandmother and her brother, remain silent. They appear to be mesmerized by the food heaped up on their plates and the warm mouth-watering odor emanating from it. In actual fact, however, Theodore, her brother, is too much baffled by a few lines which arouse his curiosity but seem to require some arcane knowledge he does not have. And Granny somehow cannot find the right words to describe what she senses: a distasteful combination of confusion and revulsion.
    "Does anyone of you want to keep this card and add it to our collection?" Cathleen asks.
Lifting his head from the bone and pointing at the open fireplace in the room, her father answers:
"Throw it into the fire -- that's where it belongs".
The others agree or fail to disagree.
    Cathleen gets up, tears the card into dozens of shreds, and drops them above the fire. The little pieces of paper whirl down like snowflakes. When reaching the hot flames underneath they do not turn into water and steam tho; into tiny black bits of ash they turn. Cathleen smiles. "Still, I think the little drawings of turkeys on it were rather cute", she muses. While walking back to the dinner table she has one more look at the family's marvelous collection of Christmas cards. It seems that every one of them tries to outshine its neighbor. Its thoughts are the warmest, its wishes the best, its wintry fairyland the snowiest. No detergent could compete with these whiter-than-white pictures of human blessedness.
    The radio, which is left on so soft that it does not interfere with the talking and so loud that the music need not be missed, plays Silent Night:
"Silent night, holy night,
 All is calm, all is bright
 Round yon Virgin and her Child,
 Holy Infant, so tender and mild ..."
Not a word about turkeys.
    Outside a chill rain, violently driven forward by a storm, taps on the windows, drowning out the dogs that have been barking and howling for hours. It is one of several foul days in a row: windy, dark and dank, with temperatures just above freezing, so that it feels bitter cold. Even in this part of the world so much closer to the abode of Father Christmas than where the Child was born, the odds against snow on the 25th of December are 20 to 1; the odds against snow on the ground and a clear blue sky, perhaps, 50 to 1.
    Yet, there are some very pleasant things which make up for the bad weather, besides all the beautiful cards, and the fairy lights, and the tree baubles. At no other time of the year are the shops so well provided with goods and goodies. At no other time of the year do you receive so many presents; from every friend and relative, from people at work, and also from casual acquaintances. It is a custom for adults to jolly one another into telling little children that the toys in their stockings or pillow cases --lead soldiers for the boy, a plastic doll for the girl, among other things-- were put there by Father Christmas, described as a genial old man with a long white beard. Every child is made to believe that this saint of saints by the name of Claus lives at the North Pole; that he travels all the way to its home in red-and-white regalia on a sleigh drawn by reindeer before coming down the chimney. (According to Sophy the warlocks' betrayal of truth starts at an extremely early age, not seldom at a child's birth.)
    Where so many presents are received, there no fewer presents have to be bought, granting that a self-made present is regarded as an insult, even more so than a self-made card. Joseph, Cathleen's father, does not really relish the shop till you drop business. He would rather give presents at a time he feels like it or on a personal occasion. However, in order to gild the pill his wife had proposed that they go to London for a change. This had turned out to be a good suggestion, for the displays in the shopwindows certainly were more fantastic than they had ever seen in the largest city of their own country. The enormous bookshops in particular had drawn Joseph's attention, as he is very interested in books. Of course, there were the typically UK books about the One Family with fancy titles such as Royal Ceremonies of State and even fancier ones such as Queen So-And-So, The Queen Mother. They do not turn him on, but what magnificent colors! (Apart from the people in the limelight, who seemed glad to be snow-white.) Knowing that the tinsel of high office does make his wife Mary swoon he had secretly bought the Royal Ceremonies for her.
    There was a window, too, chock-full of engrossing books about the Great War, like World War I, Echos of Terror, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Military Vehicles, each one of them of excellent quality. It was only equaled in splendor by the next window with books like World War II, Modern Military Aircraft and The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Fire Arms. Joseph would have loved to buy the whole lot of them, save that in the days before the Festival of Peace one is expected to buy presents for others, not for oneself. The worst thing about this obligatory show of goodwill is that he usually has no idea of what his wife and mother need, what Cathleen and Theodore want, and what his friends have got already.
    "And, do you like the book?" Mary asks Joseph, referring to the Illustrated Encyclopaedia she bought for him in London while each of them had gone shopping on their own in the afternoon. Her purchase had worked like a surefire charm, tho. She does not need to ask him, for Joseph is an Aries with the traits of a ram: energetic, forceful and fiery. Perhaps, also a little bit militaristic, if the One Whose birthday they are now celebrating had not said it Himself: "Think not that I am come to bring peace on earth. I came not to send peace but a sword". In that respect, too, he is in Good Company.

Since this story is being used as material for the novel Triptych of Times, you are presently being given free access to less than a quarter of it. (For more info about this novel by Vincent van Mechelen see http://mvvm.net/Tong/ThL/Fict/Triptych.htm.)

©MVVM, 45-71 ASWW


Short Stories
Six Warlocks My Age