Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Jester and the King

I. The King Speaks

He is my life, the ember of my heart, the bowl that holds my soul. I hate him. I hate his wild limbs, his vital ribs, his skull-grin, his clanging laugh. I hate the way he shows me everything, everything.

Many times, I reached out with my armored hand, each soldier a finger. Each time that I drew it back with fewer fingers left, and yet clasping nothing, he cackled and danced and his poetry forced shame down my throat.

When I brought young women to me, beckoned them with a careless wave, he mocked me that they shrank from me in the night. I didn't tell him they did. But he knew. I don't beckon them now.

When my sons and daughters wept at what I chose for them, when they howled for freedom and I wouldn't give it — had I not begotten them for just these purposes? — his small jokes, his sly winks, taught them rebellion and escape. I don't know where they are, and I sit at table alone.

I could kill him. Hear my voice: no rage or spite. I tell you simply, I could.

Except I can't.

The cord between us, wet and pulsing, can't be cut. You don't see it, do you? You don't feel it, or hear the rush of blood back and forth along its purple veins. You don't believe in it.

How wonderful for you, to have that choice.

II. The Jester Speaks

I tried to leave once. Got as far as that hill. The only thing I remember is hot, stretching agony, and then waking, helpless, in my bed. The cord, it seems, cannot be torn.

I know more about him than he does. I see him disgusted by his desires and fears. I see the man who wishes...who wishes he could be....


Maybe someday he will see the difference between wishing and wanting. Maybe, instead of straining against the cord, he will grasp it to save himself. That's what I had to do. The evil of the king gives me life. I exist to be his jester. Which is to say, to show him his true self, forever. Hate him? No! Maybe, someday, he will see how alike two brothers can be.