.

 

Rein, carnation

A goofy fiction.

When I was in England I was at the site of a 12th-century battle. The standard placards were up, with Helvetica lettering and the seals of royalty. We walked through the remnants of castle grounds, a half-exposed, dug-up firmament stones, the bones of some arched 30-foot tower. I was bored and read the placards. Some Earl or Baron or Thane or Archduke wanted this castle, and its land. He had some grudge.

I knew nothing about this place. I had never read about it. I grew up in Indiana. I had never researched this time, or heard it existed. I was in England to meet women, see the London homes of great novelists, and to drink. My friend liked wars and pulled me out here.

Suddenly I could see the battle in its entire scope. I saw the uniforms, the torn fabrics, the horses rending up their hooves, and mud flying everywhere. I saw armor on the rich and heard bows springing and then the whistling hiss of arrows. Shouts and relentless, terrifying screaming. A man with a sword running another man through immediately to my right. Bales of hay, for some reason. A long field, and dirty, old flags raised in the air.

I remember the castle embroidered onto something-a flag? A tapestry?

A minute before I died I looked up at a hill and saw an audience for the battle. There was a beautiful woman, and she was waving a kerchief. She seemed beautiful. It might have been her manner of dress. But I thought then that she was waving at me, and I plunged deeper. I was a foot soldier of some sort, but we all understood how knights behaved and like children we pretended we were knights, without the armor, without the horses.

I plunged into the crowd at the waving of the handkerchief--I do not even know whose side she was on, or what side I was on. I was on her side. I plunged, and with my pike I struck out, and I was immediately knocked down, gored through by something sharp and slick. I rested in the mud and felt the life bleed out of me, and it hurt agonizingly, but the body knows death when it sees it and began to give to me a kind of slow, quiet peace.

I heard the horse hooves roaring and splashing past me, and thought of that handkerchief, and the face of a young women of whom I was very fond whose father kept the Dogshead Inn, and I thought of the horse I wished to own when I had farmed enough and saved enough. I thought about the oxen I owned, four of them, and the images blurred. The oxen turned green, the faces of the women turned green, and the world around me turned green.

Later I hovered over the field and watched as some boys lifted my body and dragged it to a pile of other bodies. They checked my pocket. They found nothing worth stealing. Someone knew my name and yelled it out as I was dragged. And then the images turn blank gray.

So when I returned to the States I researched, and I

I saw a hypnotist. These things are very anticlimactic. I sat on a blue vinyl couch and this man in his mid-30's with a well trimmed beard speaks to me, holds up his fingers, and wham. Then, later, he and I watched the videotape.

"Where are you," he said.

"I am on a field in the year of our Lord 1225," I said. "My name is Etherood. I am a smith. I have made many of the swords here today." My voice was ethereal, dark, gritty, my lips barely moving.

But now I think I had a flash, a sense of connection. And a memory of movies--like Branagh's Henry V--and books compiling.


[Top]

Ftrain.com

PEEK

Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.

FACEBOOK

There is a Facebook group.

TWITTER

You will regret following me on Twitter here.

EMAIL

Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.

POKE


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0

Contact

© 1974-2011 Paul Ford

Recent

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

The Moral Superiority of the Streetcar. (1) Long-form journalism fixes everything. (2) The moral superiority of the streetcar. (3) I like big bus and I cannot lie. (May 4)

More...
Tables of Contents