THE SILENCE OF SKELLY WEAVER

SKELLY WEAVER 1 - andrew salgado 4[3] - resized 1

 

THE SILENCE OF SKELLY WEAVER

the bethlem psychiatric hospital is located in southhampton england

a psychiatrist walks with a hesitant woman in a black dress and a scarf and dark glasses

they are both flanked by muscular orderlies

the psychiatrist is soothing the woman with his words saying

we are so grateful that you decided to come back

you are the only one to whom he responds

he is in a most unusual state of dissociation

he resembles an extreme autistic mode

he will not speak nor will he respond to our words

you can see he just sits there and types on the word processor which we gave him

we are recording his objective histories shall we call them

he is aware of his surroundings but in a dissociative third person objective dare I say godlike awareness as evidenced by his furious writing

there is no first person in virtually any of his transcriptions nor in the fantasy narratives that he will compose of a sudden

only your name comes up in the narratives in the form of second and first person point of view over and over

caryn ashtree

caryn ashtree

we understand how difficult it is to see an old friend in such ill health but you do realize the good that you are doing yes

the woman finally turns and firmly faces skelly weaver and removes her dark glasses and then she gasps and covers her mouth and her eyes fill with tears and the woman asks of the psychiatrist

what happened to him

what happened

one of the orderlies relates as if confessing saying

he cut all the hair off of his head with a sharpened metal plate that he pried off of the toothbrush holder

the other orderly shares the confession saying

he used a grease pencil that he stole to write letters of the alphabet all over his face and body like tattoos

the woman now struggles to ask

is he typing everything that we are doing and saying

the psychiatrist affirms and points to the monitor screen where the text that skelly weaver is rapidly chipping away on his word processor also appears and is saved for diagnosis

the psychiatrist urges the woman

please talk to him

it won’t matter what you say

he will weave it into a narrative that we can analyze

please

the woman sits down across from skelly weaver and she says

   “Hello, Skelly.  How are you?”

   I feel myself brighten and I smile, saying, “There you are Caryn.  I have been looking for you.”

   Caryn covers her mouth and then lowers her hand and asks, “Where…, where are we, Skelly?”

   I close my eyes and smile and nod and I reply, “Rue de Rêves Cassés.  It’s after midnight already!  Can you believe it?  Don’t be embarrassed.  It is the charm of Paris to be lost in these ancient streets.  Come.  The hotel is that way.”

   Caryn wears the short blue and white dress that I find so attractive.  I say to her, “If you don’t mind, can we go back to the room?  The view of Paris from the balcony is so amazing at night.  You are amazing, Caryn.  I will have a surprise for you tonight.”

   Caryn whimpers and I look into her eyes, “Are you alright, Caryn?  What is wrong.”

   And then I realize: of course, on the sidewalk ahead is a pile of butchered cow heads outside the marché de la viande, the meat market.  In the yellow streetlight the blood glistens down the hilly sidewalk.

   I take her arm and guide Caryn across the cobblestone street and try to laugh as I say, “Not very auspicious.  We must rekindle the mood for this special night,” and I turn to kiss her but she breaks my grasp and I cannot see her anymore and I say with nervous humor, “Where are you hiding, ma cherie?  What game is this?”

the woman stands and nearly falls backwards over the chair in which she had been sitting across from skelly weaver

one of the orderlies is there to catch her but she regains her balance and walks quickly to the psychiatrist and whispers harshly that she does not have the strength for this, for what is coming

the psychiatrist puts his arm over her shoulders and tries to bolster her original resolve saying

yes this is hard for you we know we know but if you can just get through this you will have helped your friend as only you can

after a few minutes the woman takes a deep breath and turns and marches back to skelly weaver and she sits down once again and she says with determination

   “The view from this balcony is magical.  Look.  Look how big the full moon appears over the city.”

   I reply, “This couldn’t be more beautiful.  More perfect.  But it is you, Caryn, not the moon or the city.  It is you who are illuminating this night.  I want you to illuminate the rest of my life this way.  And that is why…”

   Caryn turns and interrupts and she points up to the full moon and says, “Isn’t it wonderful?  No matter where in our world we might be together or apart we can share that same moon.”

   I ask her, “If I have my way we will never be apart.  And that brings me to this…”

   I think Caryn knows what I am going to ask but she is so agitated and she excuses herself, saying, “Skelly, hold that thought.  Let me freshen up first, OK?”

the woman again arises and turns away from skelly and huddles with the psychiatrist again, crying,

don’t make me go through with this

he is going to ask me to marry him

the psychiatrist nods and says

and you refused him

you must find strength

that is not what broke him

we have learned that skelly has had many events in his life that have lead him to reject reality and write himself into his cocoon world where he can make everything turn out the way he wants

it is not your fault

help him

   I look over the dazzling city and while I wait for Caryn to return to our balcony I take out the ring and it is blessed by the full moon.  I look up again and I think to myself that I could wait forever upon this balcony for Caryn.

 

 

 

 

 

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AMERICAN DISMANTLING

american dismantling

AMERICAN DISMANTLING

        Dear Lord, if you are out there, and in case you have forgotten, I am Hezekiah Green and I work for American Dismantling.  We’re a demolition contractor providing industrial demolition and dismantling for manufacturing facilities and as well we specialize in precision demolition projects.  And 1924 is a very good year so far, thank You very much.  Right now I’m in Maynesboro, in the northern part of New Hampshire, estimating the dismantling of the saw mill and the demolition of the old church.  The government wants to build a prison here.

        That Androscoggin River there twines along fifty miles of the New Hampshire, Maine border.  “Androscoggin”, You know, is an Abenaki Indian term meaning something like “deep dwelling river”.  The Indians used to mine rhyolite along here for their stone weapons.  The river drops about eight feet per mile, so there is lots of water power for the towns alongside like Maynesboro, who built the old saw mill in this heavily forested area.  Hell (pardon me!) when the British owned this territory all the pine trees were to be cut and fit for the Royal Navy.

        This old Catholic church turns out to be the problem.  Saint Hannah Mother of Mary Church of the Good Shepherd is not quite abandoned.  I was surprised to encounter an old lady when I entered the basement of the old church.  She was sitting at a spinning wheel.

        “I am Elmire Jolicoeur,” she said defiantly with a French accent.

        I looked around and the basement looked like the old lady’s parlor.  There were quilts and rugs on the all walls and on the floor.  It was softly lit and, I was thinking, irresistibly cozy.  There was a drowsy German Shepherd curled up on one rug who was keeping the sparkle in his eye upon me.

        I didn’t know what to do so I introduced myself, “Madam Jolicoeur, I am Hezekiah.  Hezekiah Green, madam.  I am sorry if I surprised you.  I was not told that anyone resided here.”

        Madam Jolicoeur turned her head and eyed me, saying, “Hezekiah.  King of Judah.  Abolished idolatry.  Hezekiah even destroyed the bronze serpent that God told Moses to make because it had become an object of idolatrous worship,” and her eyes seemed to look through me and I thought that she had gone into some kind of an old person’s trance.

        I said, “Madam Jolicoeur?  This church is going to be torn down.  Do you understand?  I am sorry but I have been hired to make the preparations for the demolition.”

        Madam Jolicoeur focused upon me once again and began to tell me her story, saying, “My husband Benjamin came to this town for work after your Civil War, in 1866.  There were no houses to rent here then and so I and our one-year-old child Nellie stayed behind with my uncle and aunt on their farm in Québec.  Benjamin worked in that saw mill from 7AM until 6PM for $1.75 a day.  After one year I had enough of missing my husband.

        Without telling Benjamin, I packed what I could carry in a valise and along with our child and I boarded the train for Maynesboro.  There were no amusements in Maynesboro so the men always came to the train station after their supper to watch the train.  I saw the disbelief in my husband’s eyes when I got off the train onto the platform.  I heard the man next to my Benjamin say that he wished his own wife would decide to join him.

        Nellie and I had to stay at the boarding house with Benjamin.  I unpacked my valise upon the single bed and took out the ten pounds of flour, five pounds of butter which I made myself, five loaves of maple sugar, one dozen fresh eggs, and two pounds of tobacco.   And there was one quart of cherry wine with which we celebrated like newly-weds.”

        Madam Jolicoeur stopped talking and she smiled.  I took the opportunity to make her focus and understand, asking, “Do you have somewhere else that you can go to live, Madam Jolicoeur?  This church will be, will be gone, do you understand?”

        Her sleepy German Shepherd growled at my tone and he stirred.

        Madam Jolicoeur shushed the dog, saying, “Maudit!  Wait!  Obey me!”

        Then Madam Jolicoeur merely continued her reminiscence, saying, “We needed more money.  At this church I offered to teach the town children.  In this basement I was provided tables and benches for the children.  I even cooked for them.  But there were so many I had to be clever.  I had a large deep saucepan, called a casserole, and I combined meat, vegetables, and flour and covered it with cheese and I baked it slowly and I had a hearty meal for all of the children and they did not have to leave my school all day.  My new recipe received so many compliments that before long others were making similar dishes and they were calling them casseroles.”

        I was getting absorbed into her stories.  I shook myself back and asked, “Casseroles?  You invented casseroles?  Quite a story, Madam Jolicoeur but we have not addressed your situation, with all due respect.  I have been sent here to remove this church.  It’s the government, Madam Jolicoeur; they want to build a big prison here.”

        She said to me, “Hezekiah, ‘rebel against the king of Assyria and serve him not’.  Independence!”

        The German Shepherd was standing.  What the hell was I supposed to do now?

        Leave!

        I backed up the stairs and said, “Madam Jolicoeur, you make a good point.  I will discuss this new situation with my boss right away.  Thank you for your hospitality.”

        Madam Jolicoeur smiled and asked, “Wouldn’t you like to buy a quilt or a rug?”

        Back upstairs I just was going to leave and get help but I stopped here at this empty altar.  I haven’t prayed like this in years, Dear Lord, but I don’t need your help; really, this old lady needs your help.

        You don’t mind that this is a Catholic altar, do you?

 

 

Based on the stories of Berlin, New Hampshire

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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS