Fiction from Web del Sol
Job Eats Them Raw, with the Dogs
Bone Job clawed his way through the smooth wood of the
coffin lid, wearing his finger bones to stubs. He wormed his way
up slowly through the loamy soil, pulling himself skyward by the
roots of trees.
He walked down the dusty cemetery road, bones clicking,
shards of sack fluttering, skull fixed in a grin.
"What a glorious day to search for God!" proclaimed Job.
He stared at the slight knobs of finger left above his
knuckles, worried that when he met God he would be unable to
shake God's hand.
The sun beat down. He walked through forest and field.
"My only fault," Job revealed to the stinkbug crawling along
his radius, "was that I was Job." He stopped, gave a fleshless
smile, flicked the stinkbug weedward. "God's only fault was that
God was God," said Job.
"What does Job declare?" Job cried aloud, in distress.
"_is_ God still!"
He walked ashen paths, his bones growing grey with
dust. He wiped his bones clean, but the dust of the earth
continued to trouble him. It trickled between his bare joints,
stopped them up. His steps went jerky. He lamented onward.
"My joints--they bind, they petrify!" he cried. "Yet shall
I curse the dust which, serving God, heaps this affliction upon
me? What is Job, but bones? And dust, but the will of God?
What is man but dust, and dust but the son of man? What is man's
soul but dust, and man's body but dustbin?"
Job stopped, listened for Zophar, Bildad, and Eliphaz to
babble their response from deep in their rocky plots. Nothing
but insects and birds.
Rigor Mortis Genuflectus
Job Saint-Vitused down the path, his left knee joint
packed tight with dust. The leg had turned straight and stiff,
unbending. He heaved it along spastically.
"_Rigor mortis genuflectus_ has joined itself to my afflictions. Lord have pity!" prayed Job.
He pitched forward into the dirt. Striking the kneecap with
a fleshless fist, he managed to crack his metacarpals.
"Affliction!" cried Job.
He pounded on his patella, attemped to unscrew it. After
hours without success, he agonized himself to standing. The
knee, he found, had regained suppleness of its own accord.
"Salvation!" he proclaimed, and continued on in pursuit of
Heart of Affliction
Striding toward him was a man wearing a red-and-black
plaid shirt and suspenders. The man carried, slung over his
shoulder, a double-edged Redline axe.
Job quickened his pace.
"God, I presume?" said Job, extending the ruins of a hand.
"Not quite," said the lumberjack. "But put her there."
They shook hands warmly.
"I could have sworn..." said Job, shaking his skull.
The lumberjack shook his head. "God don't have no axe like
this," he said.
"I must admit," said Job, reaching out to stroke the axe.
"Without doubt a precision instrument of fine quality."
Swinging the axe off his shoulder, beckoning for Job to
follow, the lumberjack left the path. The pair walked through
young aspen and birch, Job trailing behind. The lumberjack
wrapped his arms around trees, moving from tree to tree until he
found one he could not reach around.
"Here's an eyeful for you," said the lumberjack.
He held the axe handle between his knees, spitting into the
cups of his palms. He lifted the axe and, with a single blow,
cut the tree through.
"Affliction!" cried Job. "What sin have I sinned, Lord,
that I too have not received an axe of this caliber? Wherefore
hath God forborne to reward me openly? My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?"
"Affliction?" said the lumberjack. "You want affliction?
You don't even know what affliction is!"
The Holy City, Afar
The trees thinned out, disappeared entirely. At the
base of the distant hills, they discerned a walled city, a smooth
lake before it. They slept on the edge of the woods, in the
early morning continuing toward the city.
"The holy city?" said Job. "Beside the cloudless sea?"
"You got it," said the lumberjack.
"The light of God upon its face? The gates thrown open
"None other," said the lumberjack. "By day, that is."
Behold, the Sharpness of the Blade.
In a field of trampled wheat on the edge of the city,
they came across a woman. Her hands were tied behind her back.
A dirty, frayed rope led away from her waist to a thick stake in
"You must help me," she said, seeing them.
"She is our sister in affliction," exhorted Job. "We should
render her service."
The lumberjack approached the woman, axe held high. He
halved her, quartered her. He kept chopping her finer and finer
until all trace of her had vanished.
"Now that's affliction!" cried the lumberjack.
He turned, ran back toward the trees.
Job looked at the holy city, then at the receding figure of
the lumberjack, then back at the holy city. Bowing low to the
gates thrown open wide, he turned from them, ran shouting his
"Lord, I move forward but thou art not there; and
backward but I cannot perceive thy presence. I turn to my left
hand and find thee not at all; I turn to my right hand and thou
art absent. How long must they servant attend before he may hold
the blessed weapon of thy mercy in his hands?
P.S. Speaking directly to the matter of the weapon of mercy, I
would prefer a Redline axe. If _I_ had one to give, Lord, I
would give it forthwith."
Vale of Tears
Spring rains washed the dust from Job's bones. Soft
tendrils of mold sprouted from his spine. Water poured through
his empty spaces. Chipmunks mistook him for a tree. Birds
pilfered his bones for their nests. In summer, the sun bleached
him. In autumn, red leaves, paper-thin scrolls of birch bark,
lodged behind his ribs. In winter, his parts fled him. He
curled up in a snowbank, awaited a thaw.
He ate rot and tree mold, shat grubs and maggots. He
swabbed the insides of his ribs clean with handfuls of salt
grass. Masticated mint leaves worked miracles for his breath.
Standing on the Edge
He tore stiff whips from the willows, weaving them together
for shelter. With the thaw, the beavers pilfered his hut strand
by strand. He awoke to find the hut gone, a beaver gnawing on
the tip of his coccyx.
"Affliction!" cried Job.
The beaver scuttled back, watched from a distance, fled.
"What are bones but sticks and stones? And what God if not
the master builder? And what Job if not scrap lumber? Use me
roughly, Lord, to fill the gaps, but discard me not.
"And provide the axe," Job prayed. "Amen."
He wandered on the edge of the forest, scaling the trees at
night to sleep skewered in their branches. He gathered grubs and
fungi from under rocks. He swallowed handfuls of poisonous
berries, watched them drop through his jaws, rattle off his ribs.
From the edge of the forest, he saw the holy city, distant,
floating in a mist. Birds built nests in his pelvic girdle.
Hatchlings skittered within him, demanding food. He spent hours
eating, but was never satisfied.
Fungus consumed his feet, crept up his legs. Termites dug
into his bones, consuming the pithy marrow which the maggots had
passed over. He was aswarm with insects.
He climbed a large rock, looked out at the distant city. He
stood atop the rock. He stopped moving. He felt things moving
through him. He watched the sun slide down into the water by the
city--as much as he could see of it through the trees. He did
not move a muscle, having no muscles. He did not move anything
that he had, not even a bone.
But in thought, he lamented.
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