Microfiction 446: Bluejohn

Every age has its chemical crutch. Prozac, Oxycontin, Xanax, Ritalin, Viagra – they reflect how far off course we have gone in search of what our age values.

A vaccine was devised and the world returned to post-pandemic normal. But the long months of lockdown, feeding on the slush pile of memories in all forms, made us unbearable to ourselves. Entrepreneurs being what they are, a product was soon invented to deal with the need. Bluejohn, also known as JS, Johnsmith, and Blur, made the return to the ceaseless tyranny of today bearable by wiping out the stockpile of yesterdays which caused so much grief.

Originally designed by Doxis and marketed under the name Librimeme, the drug was a PKMζ inhibitor prescribed to veterans, asylum-seekers, and domestic abuse victims whose trauma-addled hippocampi could no longer cope with long-term memory. (The hippocampus files and planes short-term memories into some kind of shape, then sends them off to the unknown realms of long-term memory). Librimeme allowed tormented souls a brief respite from the task of making new long-term memories and allowed them a breathing space to deal with the stockpile of horrors they had been dealt by life. Most pleasing to the FDA, Librimeme left short-term memory unimpaired, which meant that you could still be expected to hold down a job while you dealt with memories of your legs being blown off.

Tweaked by business-minded chemists in ethics-free kitchens, Bluejohn was a more potent version of Librimeme. It released you from the permanent memory of stressful events, which meant that you were largely released from the impact of life. Once you embarked on Bluejohn, you were like the dead in Dante’s Divine Comedy, liberated from the (neural) bodies with which you made new memories. While Librimeme had been intended for extremely short-term use under strict supervision, Bluejohn had a devoted and long-term following. Graduates began to take it when they entered the workforce, to cope with the fact that two-thirds of their lives were unconscious or unbearable. Mothers began to take it after giving birth: you could remember the joys of pregnancy without the horrors of the post-birth sleeplessness, the inevitable quarrelling, the lonely disintegration of self in the face of a child’s rapacity for all your time and energy. Those orphaned or retrenched by the pandemic took it to prevent themselves realising the extent of their situation.

Upon starting Bluejohn, the world shrank to a space around four hours long. After that, everything was new again. Biographical, implicit, and procedural memory was entirely intact. Memories from before Bluejohn were intact: you still knew that you were Bill Tucker, who was a left-hander with a good golf-swing, a dentist, and who drove a vintage Buick. But your wife’s affair, discovered the previous week, or your despair at the prospect of more days staring at porous molars, and the exhaustion which caused you to look longingly at your own handgun, was gone, wiped clean like a kitchen surface in a commercial.

Addicted to this gentle amnesia, people found they could bear not only each other, but themselves. It was possible to enjoy each day when you could remember being a teenager, and events after lunch, but nothing in between. Like a gambler walking away from the tables, the trick was to judge when you’d accrued enough good long term memories, and were on the inevitable turn to the bad. The Bluejohn entered, not legally but not entirely illegally either. Arguments, stressors, disappointments and exhaustion were experienced for a maximum of four hours then neatly binned. Use of Post-It notes and electronic reminders surged, but the decline of health, life, and income insurance conclusively proved that fear of the future derived largely from memories of the past.

Bluejohn was quietly agreed to be the drug of the day, because it released us from the tyranny of every other time.

Microfiction 445: Fortification Gate

Look at us, co-opted into this statement of foreign imperialism. It’s disgusting, is what it is. And even more disgusting that we’ve been betrayed by history so much that we’re identified with the very culture which absorbed us – as if we were no more than flatbread at the bottom of a bowl of soup. That’s the way it goes; even when the ones who oppressed you get oppressed themselves there’s still no justice, no reparations. If you were the underdog before, now you’ve got two oppressors squashing your struggling sense of self-hood. Underdog or under-lamassu, it’s all the same. You can stand here hoping someone notices you’re Assyrian, not Persian, until the end of time, and they’ll still let you down.

You’re just stonework, you might say. Symbols, bodying forth a power which was disbanded in 330 BC. How can a symbol be oppressed if it no longer has signifiying power? Well, answer me this – why should the suffering of statuary matter less than anyone else’s suffering? We’ve all heard about the Jews, wailing about around Babylonian waters (their degradation didn’t make them sympathetic to ours, or stop Ezekial representing us in his pimped-up multispecies chariot, did it?) And the Greeks! Don’t get me started on that bunch of squabbling demokratiks. If they’d had to put up with half of what we saw…

We’ve undergone the systemic dispossession of our heritage, we have. We’ve been effaced, written out, thrown to the winds of rapacious historian-archaeologists. But because we’re sandstone we’re supposedly above all that, even though our suffering is profound, permanent and public.

Bloody Xerxes. If we’re the gatekeepers of his empire, and there’s no empire, what are we? Subalternized anachronisms, that’s what. Co-opted out of our traditional roles by one lot of imperialists, disfigured by another, and now we’re just a curiosity, Othered by the millions of words and pictures which appropriate us from ourselves and plonk us in the drafty spaces of Near Eastern Studies.

And to think we were once constellations. (And female, but we won’t go into that. Being reconfigured isn’t always a bad thing, though I’d cut off my own beard before admitting it). Now we’re just Buhur and Birinni, the faceless wonders, ogled at by tourists making endless jokes about our fifth leg. (We don’t have one – we were subjected to Achaemenid limb norms several millenia ago). Our hybridity had integrity, if that doesn’t sound like a slogan. The Persians used us to body forth the syncretism of peoples in their empire. The maniacs from the Empty Quarter who’re currently presiding can’t decide whether they’re an abomination or an heirloom. And you, you just want holiday pictures and directions to the portaloo. Soon we’ll crumble away. From the stars to the sands, that’s us. From the portal to the portaloo, the limit to the liminal. Wait – where’re you going? I haven’t finished yet…

Microfact 444: Blue Gold

At the close of trading on Friday, the Australian market traded gold at $93.94 per gram. Although expensive, there are more eyewatering materials: rhodium is four times the price of gold, and both pale in comparison to a gram of positrons, which is around $25 million (US). Yet, demonstating the difference between price and value, pliable blue silicon earplugs cost around $0.28 per gram and make engagement with the world possible.

I once heard a deaf person say that while blindness cuts you from the world, deafness cuts you off from other people. Without wishing to be flippant or diminish the challenges faced by deaf people, I can’t help but think that I might benefit from some of that isolation.

In an already noisy world, Australians are a generally noisy people. It’s not just the multicultural nature of the place which has brought together people from some of the noisier corners of the world (Lebanon, looking at you). It’s not even the space and relative low density, providing noiseless acres to fill with racket. Rather it’s that making a lot of noise evidences the facile guilelessness promoted by a penal colony. Noise largely precludes thinking, which is one of those stealthy, solitary activities which lead to laziness or criminality, or both. I expect Arthur Philip (leader of the First Fleet and first governor) only sent the marines out to keep order when he couldn’t hear the crims sweating and swearing. The same attitude to audible effort has continued to the point where it is a national virtue. People who make noise – either with their own sun-tanned, healthily-fed bodies, or with the power tools which accompany peak suburbia – are engaged in creating and affirming an auditory culture from which it’s almost impossible to withdraw.

Noise-making in Australia is a (rare) source of class and gender equity. Men perform auditory chest-bumping, women shriek and cackle, families train children up in the cacophonic arts with iPads; schools devote whole afternoons to competitive screaming. Cafes here are around 85-95 decibels – our state government reckons you need hearing protection if you work in that noise for eight hours. On the upside, since I usually end up sitting outside to get quiet, I get a lot of Vitamin D. On the downside, I have stopped going out for dinner, to bars, and almost anywhere that the soundscape can be felt in your chest 20 yards from the door. The wealthy might be tastefully quiet, but they’ve outsourced their own share of the noise to tradesmen and their power tools (in the upside-down hierarchy of Australia, the ‘tradie’ is king, largely by dint of the size of his ‘ute’ and the racket made by the tools which say he’s a doer not a thinker).

Thus, blue silicon. I can’t remember when I started wearing earplugs, but I wear them for around 25-40% of my waking day. It probably coincided with a brief spell in hospital for depression, but whether sensitivity to noise was a symptom or an exacerbation of the problem, I can’t say. I live beside a noisy and aggressive (and aggressively noisy) family who have taken umbrage at our three complaints about their noise. Noise frightens and exhausts me. In a country whose citizens are on a mission to carve silence into quarter-acre blocks and build concrete McMansions of sound, life is lived on a decibel’s edge. I dread the day we evolve lungs and power tools more powerful than my earplugs can cope with.

The beginning of the end will come when we begin to trade silence. Stock market tip of the week: buy big in silicon, which is worth more than its weight in gold.

Image from postermuseum.com

Microfiction 443: Swiss

Home is a ginger cat, old now and drooling,
whom I found abandoned, crying in the garden
of a condemned house. I called her Dido.
I have spent half my life homesick,
though I have never had a home.
Twelve schools, more houses,
six parental permutations, and never
a treehouse or a patchwork quilt in sight.
Houses are sold, parents efface you, the past turns
its back on you and disappears in the crowd.
Better to say I have been sick for such
a thing as home, the way the Jews
were sick for a messiah, not the way
anemics are, those who eat earth.
Better to say I was homesick
because home was sick of me.
I have stood at playground railings and howled
for mercy against the exile of school;
I have been sick for the sun’s warmth
behind the grey English sky;
I have been sick for height and loft
when living in the flatlands;
I have seen the drifting seeds of Scots’ homesickness
in Queensland thistle-fields;
and not once in all that sickness
was a home sick for me.
Mal du Suisse, Schweizerheimweh,
suffered by mercenaries on the Flanders plains,
wasting away amid their halberds and pikes
for lack of height and the sweet kuhreien.
Homesickness says of every place but one
‘I am not meant for this.’ Utopia cures
homesickness by destroying home.
Caelo tegitur qui non habet urnam
et undique ad superos tantumdem esse uiae
.

If you are homesick and have no home,
you are called not to have one but to be one.
Take a crying cat, hungry and abandoned,
feed and love her, so in one feline body
you have made a home.
Home is a ginger cat called Dido.
It is nothing and nowhere else
and never was.

The lost thing

Written for a class exercise. Students were given 15 minutes to write about something lost and then found. I read mine to the students. They laughed, little bastards.

I lost my heart to a guy called Terry. I didn’t know him very well and he knew even less; the imbalance of knowledge was caused by my relentless stalking of him and his increasingly exasperated attempts to avoid me. But at some point I realized that my heart wasn’t with me. He said it wasn’t with him. I’d lost it, somewhere on a street in Oxford.

I panicked a lot when I realized that. Everyone said it would grow back, even if it took some time, but I just lurched about, moaning and crying like a zombie in a bad film. I had visions of my heart, lost and confused, hungry and tired, wandering about the streets and colleges, peering in at gates and windows, just wanting to be back in my chest safe and sound with the other things I kept there, like my dog, and Spanish poetry, and bread.

Terry left Oxford. I left Oxford. We left Oxford separately. I went back to Australia and spent a while lurching about there, crying and moaning and experiencing phantom heart pains. I would wake up sure that my heart had just been clipped by a bicycle outside the science building on Parks Road. I would email friends who worked there and ask them if they had seen my heart, or clipped it by accident. They would email back saying no and was it still lost, or hadn’t a new one started to grow back?

A fair bit of time passed and a new heart did grow back. It was different to the old one – a different colour and shape, and not quite as elastic, but it was harder-wearing and roomier. It wasn’t as if I had other options, anyway. Like mushrooms in a damp bathroom, hearts grow the way they grow.

Then recently I had an email from Terry. He had been looking through his old phone, he said, and it fell out into his lap. My heart. Just as it was that day, years ago in Oxford, when I lost it. It was crumpled and a bit blurry but still wearing the same running shorts and skimpy top. He really liked it. He liked it so much that he hung onto it for a while before he contacted me. He had moved to Canada, where he was mostly cold and lonely and wondering where he’d gone wrong in life. He sometimes took my heart out for company, and it made him happier. Maybe we could meet somewhere, he said, and he’d give it back to me.

I emailed back saying my chest had changed. The old heart wouldn’t fit any more.

Image: Lee S. Hee from Pinterest

Microfact 442: Denim

I knew a workman once. Charles wore shambolic dark blue jeans, baggy at the knee, and brown oxfords. He had mastered four languages and couldn’t keep his shirt tucked in. He made the Classics Society hold meetings at Rowda Ya-Habibi, in the pillow room. He smoked cigarettes in the third arch of the quad, by the jacaranda tree, before coming into class with his sleeves rolled up – they were always rolled – to chip away at the ignorance of Latin 103.

That masonry work, both foundational and restorative in its different ways, took the form of sentences and then paragraphs about Darth Vader, qui perfruitur lacrimis et amat pro coniuge luctum. His class, at 10am Monday to Thursday (because no one at the University of Sydney ever has, or ever will, work Fridays), was the saving of first years.

Charles followed his supervisor, Professor Kevin Lee, a teacher of such exalted ability and human kindliness that we were ashamed to say hello to him, and we followed Charles. 10am Latin proceeded in the unspoken knowledge that we could not possibly deserve either of them, but we could try, by not muddling gerunds and gerundives, and by pretending to like Lucan as much as they did.

Neither of them, masters of their difficult and elevated subject, despised these small beginnings, and rejoiced to see the work begin. We were lucky to have them both, and the plumb line of their profound and generous teaching. Although even I, with a fairly fertile imagination, cannot see Kevin Lee in jeans, I can’t imagine Charles in anything else, because I think of him as a workman. And I wish the work could have saved him.

Charles Tesoriero 1973-2005

Kevin H. Lee 1941-2001

Microfiction 441: Flash

Lying in the sealed ward in the little Los Alamos hospital, Slotin waited for nature to disassemble him. He had more or less made peace with the fact that he was dying and just wished it would happen faster, and painlessly. His parents were being brought from Winnipeg; he didn’t relish seeing their grief and disbelief when they realized he had caused the accident himself, but it couldn’t be helped. He had been stupid and now he would die because of it. He only hoped that the others would live. He had tried to calculate the amount of radiation relieased, the amount he had absorbed, and how much the others would have got depending on their position in the room. But he was doped up, and as the radiation broke his neural cells apart the calculations wriggled out of his grasp.

Uniforms kept appearing by the bed asking him to go over the events one more time. They had the decency not to look astonished when he said screwdriver. He had kept the beryllium hemispheres apart with a screwdriver. The distance between his colleagues and death by cellular liquification and a lead casket was screwdriver-wide.

And then what? The screwdriver slipped. The beryllium sphere closed around the core, which went critical like a claustrophobic stuck in a closet.

And then? A blue flash. A wave of bitterness in his mouth. Heat, in a rush over his exposed skin. And the sudden smell of freshness, like seaside air, like clean laundry newly brought in from the line, and his hand, burning prickly hot where he had touched the sphere.

And then nothing. Something about the dosimeters being locked uselessly in a box. Shouting. Weakness. A stretcher and the lights of the corridor overhead, and realizing he would die as Harry Daghlian had died only months before. Then helpless laughter, vomiting, a needle, and darkness.

Now he lay in the bed and let his thoughts coalesce as the brain producing them succumbed to entropy.

Only one thing ate at him, and that was the blue flash. Radiation was stealthy, generally. The military liked their mushroom clouds and world-ending bangs, but Slotin knew that the danger really lay in its silent invisibility. It was, like God before Moses on the mountain, suddenly all around and within you, killing you with the energy which created all things. I am who AM: that was radiation. The evidence of being in its purest form.

And yet there had been a blue glow and what troubled Slotin was this: had that blue glow been ionizing radiation, the flash of excited particles in the air returning to their normal state, or had it been that radiation transecting the denser vitreous humour of his eye and so perceptible only to him, in the private theatre of his eye?

He lay staring at the net around the bed, his burned hands resting on the sheet. Why did it matter? If it had been radiation in the surrounding air it could be captured by a fast camera, or even on film – assuming the film stock wasn’t damaged. But if it was a product of the ionization moving through his eye, then it was private, visible only to him.

It mattered, Slotin thought, because he had spent his life needling the universe, stealing its toys, trying to provoke it into playing with him, and he wanted to know if it had finally whispered a momentary, personal, terrible response.

Image: Los Alamos National Laboratory, via the New York Public Library’s collection of Paul Mullen papers.

Microfiction 440: Olivine

At Hampstead, nearly 200 feet below the street, she would slow the train fractionally and look for the wolves’ eyes in the darkness. Their bones had been found in the Crossrail excavations for the new Elizabeth Line, and bison bones gnawed by wolves 68,000 years in London’s past. The tunnels were a realm out of time – or perhaps, Olivine thought, they were a kind of interstitial space between times, where you could still see reindeer in the dark below Royal Oak, or the plaguey dead, tossing and turning in their mass grave at Liverpool Street.

Olivine had only ever driven on the Northern Line, but her mother had been on the Bakerloo Line, and before that the Central Line. And her grandmother, who had emigrated from the West Indies and never been deeper than a church basement, had begun the family tradition by moving from bus-conductrixing to ticket-collecting on the Piccadilly Line. Olivine’s teenage daughter, Windrush, swore she would not follow her foremothers into the Stygian shadows and stink of hot air and old diesel on the London Underground, but Olivine could see that already Windy was drawn to the dark, the tunnels, the speed. She had been brought home once by the police, who found her in the disused station at Down Street, in Mayfair.

‘What were you doing?’ Olivine demanded as Windy sat sulkily on the sofa picking her nails.

‘Nothing! Just sitting on the platform looking,’ she said.

‘Looking at what?’ Olivine said, knowing the answer.

‘Nothing – just the tunnel and the rats and stuff.’

Sometimes Olivine wondered what force had brought the Carter family from warm, well-ordered Kingston, with its bright shops and civilized people to the bombed wreckage of post-war London. Soldiers of all colours had been welcome during the war, but afterwards people posted No rooms rented to niggers signs on their windows, and spat at them in the street. And then from those streets to the other London below, the arterial maze of the London Underground, where the trains zipped like corpuscles and the strata of all past times, like Beau’s Lines, could be read on the walls. The Carter women had been called from over the seas – twice over, if you went as far back as west Africa, Olivine thought – and from the upper world, down to the bowels where they operated like tutelary gods of the lines, servant-masters of the vermicular mirror-world.

At Camden, where the left and right brances of the Northern Line briefly rejoined, she would speed up again, to enter the city – her city, she thought, and soon her daughter’s – with purpose.

Microfiction 439: Flamen Spinel

The Rector sounded a low tone which hummed and rebounded from the walls of the dark quadrangle. The cloaked bodies, which had been walking with time in a clockwise direction, halted. At a second tone they began to walk backwards, pulling time with them like a huge, silent horse. As they walked, they passed the Rector on his dais, with the chronotope chart spread before him, keeping track of exactly how much time the college was reversing, and how many other lines and planes it would affect.

‘Did you see the chart?’ Alo whispered from under his hood.

‘What about it?’ said Nico, concentrating on not being flattened by an eager senior fellow who wanted to draw the College back to the dawn of time.

‘It looks like the chart in Mistress Spinel’s room.’

As they passed the Rector again Nico cast a curious glance at the chart. It did look similar to the one in Mistress Spinel’s room but what, he wondered, would a penny-augur who worked above a tavern be doing with a chronotope chart like the one created for Sirius College? It seemed doubtful that she would even know how to read it, let alone manipulate the labyrinth of lanes and sutras connecting times and planes.

‘Can you see the name on the underside?’ Alo hissed.

Nico risked a quick glance. ‘It’s Spinel,’ he said, ‘but I can’t…Flame Spinel something.’

‘I knew it looked familiar. And the Spinels have lived on the island since before the waters rose. But where’s the anchorplace for her chart?’

‘Maybe the Uranion,’ said Nico with a snort.

‘We’ve got one more circuit,’ Alo said. ‘Look again for the first name.’

‘How do you know we’ve only got one more?’

‘I made a rough guess,’ Alo said. Nico did not bother to ask how Alo could have calculated it. Such calculations were the province of senior and very learned fellows. He bent down, as if the magnetic pull of time in the other direction was sapping him, and craned his neck. He could see the coordinates of the college quad, the chart’s anchorplace, and a flowery dedication in a lozenge of scrolled writing. There was an oath to the effect that annihilation would visit the maker if the chart proved inacurate.

‘Flamen,’ he whispered, straightening up. ‘Flamen Spinel. But how is that possible? The priests were driven out when the Masters came to the found the scola here.’

‘Perhaps not,’ said Alo. ‘Power is always stronger when it builds on power.’ He was about to add something when a high chime sounded and the walkers stopped. There was a beating, silent moment, prickling with possibility, as time settled into its well-trammelled groove and began to roll forwards. The Now had begun again.

Microfiction 438: Strawberry Ocean

The Director visited the nursery every three months. She didn’t always choose a unit, which the nurses found frustrating – with a selected baby came a gratuity, and with very promising ones came very generous gratuities. Not that it had anything to do with the nurses; they administered physical contact and made sure the 10,000 hours of cortical conditioning was on track, and that was all.

It was rumoured that the Director had envisioned a new product which would be launched in the 2040-42 cycle, and would surpass all records and finally – finally! the nurses said to each other – infiltrate the Mongolian market. The name was rumoured to be named Strawberry Ocean: a six member, mixed – mixed! the nurses said – group designed around military chic, whose members had already been sketched out in painstaking detail by Product Design. One album’s worth of songs had already been composed, and four members had been selected over the last eighteen months. These four, from impeccable bloodstock either proprietary to SM Entertainment or traded for from one of the other big studios, were now in Training, acquiring 20,000 hours of subliminal American English and 40,000 hours each of Mandarin and Japanese. Each night a Juvenilia mask neotonized their growing features, maintaining a fine balance between development and the required appearance of childish softness, pliancy, delicacy. All and any lengths were gone to in avoiding surgery, but it had been unavoidable for Unit 3 (names were given by Marketing after a study of phonetic trends closer to the launch).

Units 4 and 5 were still unassigned, but would have to be found before the end of 2021 to preserve the optimum age gap between members of the product, which the current public had decided was 18.42months. Korean audiences were expected to become more, not less, conservative after the projected Reunification around 2027 (the soundgeist had already been planned for this, with a six-member product called Solid, comprising three males of northern appearance and three mirror males of southern appearance). Therefore the preferred age gap between units would likely narrow, meaning that 4 and 5 were either currently in the nursery or about to be born.

The Director pointed to a unit wrapped in a soft swaddle of Australian lambswool. The nurse detached the Lizst Cortical Conditioning unit from its skull and handed the child over. Sometimes it baffled her to be holding KR₩69 billion in a blanket with toy sheep on it.

‘This is our Number 4,’ the Director said. ‘I have a good feeling about it.’ She nodded decisively – a gesture famous from her own career in the company’s hit product f(x). The nurses bowed, and a gratuity of KR₩ 100,000 was credited to all their accounts.

On her way home from her shift, it occurred to the nurse that the Director had spoken unusually that afternoon. Although in greater control of the Korean peninsula’s future than the President, the Director could not have feelings, since she was a wholly synthetic life-form.

Hand Outline

In the so-called ‘holiday’ workshops with the tiny kids, I did outline poems and realized that everyone, of any age, is fascinated by the outline of their hands (or any body parts; some small boys attempted to trace their own ears, and that was a pleasant waste of half an hour watching them do that). To say that I’m glad these grisly holiday things are over is an understatement.

Hands

For years I’ve looked down
and seen my mother’s hands
at the end of my own arms,
but I’ve made them my own.
Like me, they’re small, blunt,
fair and practical. Not grasping,
but they hold on hard to small things
though the big stuff is beyond my grasp.
This outline – like your own death,
it amazes me to be thus bounded.
This is a small poem.
All it says is Here is my hand.
Hold it please.

Microfiction 437: Bloodstone

In a market in Lebanon a poor woman tries to sell him a bloodstone amulet, saying the red spots come from the blood of Christ, where it fell on the stone at Golgotha.

He knows this is untrue: there was only chalky rubble on the skull-hill, not chalcedony. The dead Jew’s blood splashed the soldier who was beneath him, angling the spear up into the shadows of the rib-cage, his face screwed up in concentration like a plumber mending a pipe under the sink. No one stood around holding amulets. The sun was falling, the place stank of shit and vomit. He was trying to ignore the erections they got as they dry-drowned on the crosses, and the ejaculations which spurted as they expired.

It’s a relic, the woman says. This man was the Son of God. His blood, shed for your screw-ups, touched the earth and here’s the proof. Wear it and be saved.

But he remembers that of the three hung up that day, the middle one died first. The other two were thieves, but the middle one had done something to piss off his own hysterical people. He cried for his father before he carked it, and there was a slight tremor which the hysterics said had torn the veil in their rathole of a temple. He remembers his disgust at a people who would demand foreign soldiers do this to one of their own, and his shame when he had to stick that exploring spear up through the spindly ribs to make sure he was dead.

He looks at the amulet in the woman’s hand and thinks that we want to believe that the earth cries out at the death of a good man, that the fabric of the world changes because we have been monstrous. But nothing changes. He hands the stone back. It had been 2000 years. A gentle man was tortured to death. Those who did it had forgotten by sunset. Golgotha is a car park today.

Image by Charlie Macksey from charliemackesy.com