Friday, May 25, 2007

The Revolt of Guadalajara, Chapter 1 part 1

Sometimes, on the shores of a shipless sea, at the foot of an uninhabited and bald-scraped mountain range or in the middle of a parched and arid plain inspiring little hope of a lone house, much less a cluster of them, there lies a town. Its raison d’etre—a rich mine, a good harbor—has long since been abandoned and still the town remains, the inhabitants breeding forth though starved of new blood or money, their line like that of the surrounding tribes growing meager and weak. The outside world does not begrudge this town her pinched existence and leaves her be; she is harmless.

Only for the lonely traveler bound for better places does she present any real danger. Tired from long journeys, seeing that town lying there now in the middle of nowhere, he wants to rest. The town juts out on the coast, on the foot of the mountain or in the middle of the plain like a reef that is hard to get around. If he risks getting too close to her, all the hope, all the longing for a new life and a better fate that exists in the people of the town and the plains as surely as it does in all mortals, is poured out upon him. He doesn’t notice it, he takes his feeling to be a heavy exhaustion after his long trek, such that he decides to stay on the plain or in the town for a few days to catch his breath. But a terror does seize him when he sees the hungry, hankering faces of the locals lifted up towards him, when he wanders through the alleys and streets and hesitates on a sunless square about where to go, when he reads a persistent inbreeding on the pallid faces and slack suffering of the inhabitants. And despite his exhaustion he runs faster and faster and, if he is lucky and his sense of direction doesn’t leave him in the lurch, he gets out of there, and stands in an hour on the other side facing the same plain, prostrate now and endless before him, wholly manageable, beckoning him to cross. And if, clammy with sweat, he should have the good fortune of a stream to bathe away his weariness and his brush with the town, then he’ll be saved.

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