Fiction from Web del Sol


Brian Evenson

      I am here at the timberline, having just arrived. Ebé is not here yet. Or he has come and gone. I have looked for footprints and have found none, which might mean something. But then again, Ebé does not often leave footprints.
      The timberline is much as I expected. Although it can hardly be called a line. There are gaps, and the line itself is more of a jag. But this much is true: below me are trees, above spreads bare slope.
      Am I in the right place? Should I stand on the bare slope or in the trees?
      It is true that I am at the timberline, but I am only at one point on said line. Perhaps Ebé is at another point miles away, hiding in the trees, anxiously fingering the object in his pocket assuming it is in his pocket. While I, miles away, take the Ziploc bag out of my pocket, smooth it out, open it, close it, crumple it into a ball, put it away.
      I am on time, assuming my watch is correct.
      Looking at the place, I wonder if in fact it is the correct place. Did I not curve rather slightly as I climbed? No, it looks like the place except that Ebé is not here. Where I am standing the ground is barren.
      I could vanish in the trees!
      No, this is the place.
      Two questions above all others: What is the object this time, and why the timberline?
      The last time, the object would not fit within the plastic bag. Ebé handed it to me and then watched as I tried to cram it in. It would not go.
      "No problem," said Ebé. "All he really needs is the digit."
      "The ring?" I said.
      "The trigger," he said. "You do the honors," he said.
      I had to borrow Ebé's knife. Reduction made, it fit nicely. But that was last time, not this time. This time there would be a different object.

      I have looked behind some of the nearer trees. I look behind a tree, then leap back. It is important for me to be as visible as possible. Ebé, however, must be as invisible as possible. In this and in many other points we differ. My role is to dispose of the object. Ebé's role is to collect the object. The object's role to be collected, and then disposed of.
      Is there a method by which one can determine the object to come from the object that preceded it? If so, such a method has escaped me.
      But is object the correct word? Will this word not rather lead to confusion?

      I am here at the timberline, speculating. I have looked behind several hundred trees, but have not found Ebé. I have looked up and down the slope, but have seen nobody.
      It was a hard climb up. Now that I am here, I must face the fact that the climb was, perhaps, in vain.
      He is not behind this tree, either. Perhaps he still struggles up the slope, burdened by the object. If the object is a)large, b)bulky, c)heavy, d)all of the above, Ebé is likely to be detained. But does the object have any of these properties?
      I cannot answer any of my questions.
      Another question I cannot answer is: "Why the timberline?"
      "Ebé," I cry, "Ebé."
      "E," I hear, "E."
      Do I call out again? Do I hastily depart? These are some of the questions a man waiting at the timberline might ask himself. I stamp my feet, beat my arms against my body, watch the sun disappear.
      There! I tell myself when the sun vanishes. Now I have done it, I think. Now I have really done it.
      Or if it was not I who did it, was it Ebé?

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