Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Short Story: Those Babbling Blades

I’ve never smoked drugs my entire life. Only at specific times and when I was much younger. . . . And no, they never spoke to me, not directly. But there was a message to be found hidden there in that experimentation, a lesson to be learned about life. I don’t suggest to anyone that they try them - it is an utter waste of money, brain cells and life. Find a better teacher to enrich your life, think for yourself and enjoy the company and friendship of others. Life is a transient, fickle flame and there are far too many ready to blow it out on you. This story is short. It has a point. I hope you enjoy it.

Those Babbling Blades
by Paul Darcy

The grass started speaking Yiddish in the summer of ‘77.

It wasn’t so much the banter, it wasn’t so much the language, it wasn’t so much this particular crop. It was more the ‘why now of all times?’ And of all things it could have said, and in any language it could have spoken, I would have expected screaming instead of chatter. It was, after all, burning, wrapped in export cigarette paper and pinched cruelly with an alligator clip. Maybe smoldering would have described it better. I could see tendrils of smoke curling away from it like the twisting trail of a doomed fighter. Still, it shouldn’t have been talking calmly in Yiddish. It shouldn’t have been talking at all. The whole damn situation felt somehow, strange. But this was my fifth so everything seemed at least a little strange.

I know what you are thinking, auditory hallucination. No, I retort emphatically. I was intimately familiar with hallucinations, auditory or otherwise and this was nothing of the sort. But I stray from the point, or should I say joint, in hand. What was left of my reefer was speaking to me and I didn’t quite know what to do.

So, wanting to stop the torture I had inflicted upon this innocent weed, I pinched out the smoldering parts with my fingers though it kept right on talking, in Yiddish, as though nothing at all was the matter. I wondered what would have happened had I let it burn away to nothing? Burning, Yiddish. There was a morbid and historical connection between those two words though I couldn’t quite nail it down. I believed I was on the verge of solving the mystery, but like I mentioned earlier this was my fifth and I was feeling a little strange.

I began to focus, as best I could, on why number 5 would start to talk and Yiddish of all the languages on earth? Why not Arabic, Spanish, French or even Hungarian for that matter. And why to me of all people and why now? God, how the universe is filled with mysteries too deep to fathom with any hope of clear insight, especially when you are feeling a little strange. So I looked at my situation from another angle. Perhaps it wasn’t something the grass had done but something I had done. Maybe the power to bring life to grass and make it talk was within me, unlocked by my many years of communing with nature by inhaling the burnt carcases of grass. I may have been transformed into a half plant, half human. Could it be a least partially true that you are what you smoke?

But no, this was the stuff of science fiction, and besides could I, even had I the power, teach grass a language I myself did not know? So there had to be another explanation, one more mundane, one more founded in the rigors of science. Maybe the seeds popping in the burning joint merely simulated the sounds of speech. Perhaps this particular batch of weed seeds popped in such a fashion when burned as to mimic in almost perfect simulation, Yiddish. But I saw the flaw in this theory almost at once. The joint no longer burned, the seeds no longer popped, and the grass swaddled in export cigarette paper continued to babble.

I had been quietly listening and thinking up till then and decided a direct confrontation and experimentation was now the order of business. I cleared my throat lifted the reefer with the roach clip close to my face and addressed the grass within. It stopped its chatter for a moment as if listening, then began again. Its tone subtly changed. I believed it to be a blind thing and imagined myself in its place. Darkness, cold, well maybe not cold especially during the smoldering bits, but lonely without direction, purpose or motive. A drifting something biding its time and saving its energy for generations to call out from the void and try to reach another sentient soul and convey its utter misery. Maybe not. How could I be sure of anything.

So we conversed in a manner, I talking slow sonorous English in my state of a little strangeness, it spoke fluent, for what else could it be, Yiddish. Then its tone and inflection began to change and I was reminded of a speech I had seen on TV. It was trying to tell me of its origins, link itself not with words but with meaning to what it was that all people should know. What was it, Seinfeld, Captain Picard, and then I had it?

By God I had it, and I shivered to the bone.

It was the charismatic and mesmerizing speech patterns that could have emanated from only one man, sending cold fear down through time. Adolf Hitler. My addled and befuddled mind slowly fit the pieces together into a coherent whole and what I found left me sober and cold. This batch of weed I knew had come from overseas. Now I had a pretty good idea from where it had originated. This weed had been grown on soil fertilized by the lives of a million Jews, brutally murdered by a madman’s dream. And I, seemingly no better, had put those same molecules to the torch once more.

That message had come to me in ‘77, and I knew it was time to move on from my idle life of degradation and worthlessness and better myself and all mankind. Had a million dead Jews not spoken to me of life, I would have spent what days I had left slowly sinking into death. I had seen the embers of hate and pain and suffering and knew life was a gift far too precious to burn away.

I buried the remains of that batch of weed under an oak tree, and I swear that oak tree prospered like never before. I still go back to that tree each year and collect the acorns and plant them where I can.

The summer of ‘77 had changed the outlook of my life forever.

The year the grass spoke Yiddish.

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