Whatever Happened To Mesopotamia?

March 8, 2007 at 6:13 AM | Posted in Fiction | 1 Comment
~~~Been a while since I posted some fiction.  I think it was only one other time.  So here now, is a fable.  It’s up to you to decide:  is it from the past–or the future?

Whatever Happened to Mesopotamia? 

  The streets were
relatively empty, save for the man selling his wares from a handcart, and the
old woman sweeping her stoop.  The old
brick buildings and the cobblestone path made even the most subtle noise echo,
giving them life beyond their want.
  Europe
is a different place now.  At least this
part is.  My home town.  There was a time when children would play in
the streets, and adults would gather and talk, sharing the family wine or
perhaps some lager.  I’ve heard, though,
that it is similar in other places as well. 
Hardly anyone has children anymore.
  All of us—slowly,
gradually—came around to a new way of thinking. 
Do what you want.  Think of
yourself.  Live for today.  With these selfish thoughts, our goals changed.  Why have children?  Burdensome and expensive, not to mention the
smell.  Would we ever get a peaceful
night’s sleep again?  Ever?  Non.
  And so, the children
started to grow up, and hardly any replaced them.  Schools started to close.  The very few who had a child had only one,
and schooled them at home.  Mostly to
keep them from sight.  Having a child
almost seemed to carry with it a stigma. 
How could they do that?  What were they thinking?  These things were whispered in shops
amongst the elders behind the new parent’s backs.  They took to hiding.  And they never had another child.
  I could see it in
their faces, down at the pub.  All the
adults drinking and laughing, enjoying their childless life.  With a twinkle in their eye—
  If you look right
behind the twinkle, you could see the subliminal, collective motivation behind
it.  Something even the most literate
dare not put into words.
  These people made a
choice not to have more children.  And
with it, they made a choice for racial suicide.  They were willingly killing themselves
off.  Their culture and everything would
be gone soon.  Very soon.

  I came from another
funeral today.  The provost of this
area.  Suicide.  No one said it, but it was.  The service was in a church, but no mentioned
god.  No one has for years.  The priest gave a little talk, and his
concubines handed out beer and crackers. 
Ashes to ashes–?
  I felt as though I
was standing on the edge of the world. 
Close, perhaps; the edge of civilization.  The end of the world?  Some face the end of the world individually,
every day.  Very seldom, does a group, a
society, a whole people feel it.  Is this
what it was like in Pompeii, when the volcano erupted and thousands knew that
not only was their life over, but so was their . . .people?
  Or when Rome fell?  Surely there were people left, but the
civilization, the rules and order that they had come to know, disappeared
virtually over night.  The new order, the
people, the new way was coming in,
taking over, spreading out, engulfing. . .everything.  A thousand other times, throughout the course
of civilization.
 
I stood at the bar
in the pub.  Normally loud, it had taken
a somber tone recently.  The new wave,
the new people would soon overrun us, overtake us.  The few with a little fight left in us stayed
quiet; we were alone.  Everyone else had
a cultural death wish.
 
Old Man Johann sat
next to me, brooding.  At times he wanted
to fight.  Trouble was, he wanted to
fight everyone.  Sometimes, I agreed with
him.  Why did these people just give up?
  “Slovenly bastards,”
he muttered.  No one heard but me, and I
nodded agreement.  When the time came, I
would fight.  It was hopeless, but I was
going to use what dignity I retained, and go out like a man.
 
The marauding hordes
we could hear just over the mountains. 
Taking the land, killing the people, changing the world we knew into
something else.  I would fight them.  And Old Man Johann, and the half-score others
who were so disgusted with their own people that we all felt like killing them
ourselves, for practice.  And to prove a
point.
  When you give up,
that’s when you die.  These miserable,
pathetic wags gave themselves no children, no progeny, no future to live
for.  They killed themselves.

  In the morning, I
woke from my bed.  My Spartan existence,
that I once thought so chic and “European,” has left me with little to show for
my life.  When this ground is buried
beneath successive layers of civilization and darkness, and the ruins are
revealed, will there be anything to show of what my life had been?  Trinkets, souvenirs, and heirlooms…I have
none.  They are gone, all gone.
  Will the scientists
and philosophers know that I had loved, truly and deeply, and then love had
gone?
 
My bare walls betray
the paintings that had once hung.  My
love had a flair for decoration, and making a statement.  When she died, I made a statement and ripped
them from the wall.  My bed was now a
single.  The large bed we had shared I
traded to an older couple for the one their son had had.  He had died in his youth, one of the last
children.
  I never saw a
funeral without tears.  It was odd.
  With my beloved
gone, you would think I had nothing to live for.  But in my early morning café-induced
meditation, I realized that I wanted our love to never be forgotten.  Whether I was remembered or she was, it
mattered not; I wanted our love to be remembered.
  With somberness of
purpose, I painted.  The side of the old
courthouse, long abandoned because there was no law anymore became my
canvas.  I painted a picture that was a
story, a poem, a sonnet; an ode to the love we shared, that was bigger than all
of us.
 
I knew the savage
hordes that would come would not destroy it, because it was the largest
building in the valley.  Their savage
kings and savage priests would claim the building as their new temple, as they
often did.  In generations to come, it
would be forgotten that the old people had put it there, and they would claim
all credit.  And the painting, the mural,
would enter their mythology, and it would be a story passed down through the
ages in their savage, barbaric tongue.
  And perhaps the
painting itself, and the story it tells, would inspire one of these savages,
and cause a turn in their thinking, ever so slightly, and down through the
ages, and perhaps be the catalyst for a renaissance for their people.  Perhaps some good can come from this after
all. 

  That night at the
pub, Levin told the story of his travel over the mountains.  We listened with rapt attention; any clue,
any portent of things to come was devoured by us all.  They are close, and closing in.  We won’t last the winter here.  The fall leaves crunched beneath my feet as I
ambled drunkenly home.  A fitting
metaphor for our whole stinkin—
  A couple of coffees
later, and I sat up listening to the news and sharpening my sword.  The news always made me angry; that’s why I
listened to it.  I had so little emotion
left, anger was the only one I could muster with any real conviction.
  I knew I was going
to die.  The other townspeople knew as
well, I just wasn’t complacent about it. 
I would take some of the savage horde with me.  I swear to the God who has abandon us to our
fate that I would.  The price of
civilization is blood, and their civilization was going to cost them.
  My sword was sharp,
and I was ready.

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1 Comment »

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  1. Excellent story.
    You kept me curious.
    You have a wonderful writing style.
    You are very talented.
    🙂


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