I am not a well-loved man in Plymouth Colony.
I’m a man-hussy where it’s so buttoned-up folks wear cods to marital bed. For loo-looking and varied lowercase perversions, the bailiff, Mr. Ben, will crack your chestnuts. For just saucy whistles, Mr. Ben strung up John “Horndog” Smith by his ween, to give you an idea.
Five am: Holy terror Friar Mitchell’s whanging the Prayer Bell, and I can feel Eve’s mead in my brain. I put a hustle for Meeting House, but inside, before I knock the ice off my boots, Jenny Rodgers opens a cat-bag of crazy and thrashes me with my own damn buckle-hat—which has “bottom-feeder” writ upon it. Sensing a foul turn, I run out the Meeting House, jump on my hoss and lick a path out of town.
I head towards Grafton to see Sally Hirshfielder. Sally and I share a genteel epistolary—her steamy epistles give convulsion to my trousers—and I mean to ride to Grafton to boink the daylights out of her.
But outside town in waking dark, it’s cold and my mange-blankie is a bit holey. All the naked trees look like Jenny Rodgers about to hit me. The sun peeks over the butt-crack horizon, and I scan the rank day coming. I have the heebie-jeebies, and my heart is threadbare.
Town is a God pile of shit. Back in Colony, the passing years stack like leaden weight in my chest. I utter terrible oaths with the alchie sexton that frighten his dog. And every lightning storm I dare God might smote me and get done with it.
And that’s it: What if all the things you looked forward to was dreadful words you were too chickenshit to name?
Aging weren’t easy in the shadow of a holy terror like Friar Mitchell, and short my demon winds during Fall Festival (when three-bean salad bedeviled my bottom), I’ve never felt the Spirit. My grief stopped not there either. In December, I drank enough Eve’s mead to build a mighty pressure, and neglecting fitter spots (and from elevation of town scaffold), I shot my wicked stream into the bonfire—which gave rise to a demonic stench and mighty displeasure. Soon enough the next am, I woke to the pounding of both the Prayer Bell and my penitent noggin and a homily about my “pissfire” caper, which sounded shameful in the light of day, but also a bit sensuous. Sensuous enough I cranked out a half-chub behind the grain house.
Again: I am not a well-loved man in Plymouth Colony.
Out on the pot-holey road, I encounter a fresh lad hawking spendy artisanal quilts and mealy veg. I contemplate a wormy potato and wallop him right about the head with my cudgel. I pilfer more than need warrants all while taking pains to kick him in the chest for gratuity.
These days, I have little to go on save Sally Hirshfielder of Grafton. By parchment, I dispatched her a request to “Send Noodz,” and upon my lonesome grave, Sally did not disappoint.
Following Sally’s directions (writ in crude hand), I come upon the house, a drab number. A single-window wank-tank, out of which an occupant leers with portent. My unfed stomach compels me forth with mixed message. I’ve had nothing to fill save sad snackie of rotten, robbed carrot and depressive taters. And I didn’t shit in the village, as it was rush hour for privy.
I beat the door with my cudgel, and when some fish-eyed hermit opens a crack, I muscle in. It’s not too grand in there. It’s damn dark and a bit funky—I bead a few stuffed voles and an easel—and whether it’s the room, the hermit, or me, it feels colder inside than out. Looking around, I get an uncomfortable notion Sally Hirshfielder might be a lonely mad-man drawing pervy pictures in this sad spot. That’s what was coursing through my noodle when the hermit brained me but good.
And in the dream that came, the sun was direct above, like God had opened his giant eye to leave none in darkness. I was out in this field, and all the women were in white, fresh-stitched skirts, and something was cooking over the fire, and people—folks I have done mighty bad things to—were really glad to see me, and I’m not ashamed to say, I felt loved. Like, love. Some youth put dandelions in my hair, and I never wanted to leave. I felt love all around me. I wondered what I had ever done to deserve such a thing.
Then I woke, and I was ruined. I could never speak its name.