Cult Illustration #3, ball point pen on paper, 11" x 8.5"

   This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actua persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

The T.V. Production room was dark, windowless. The substitute teacher asked the juniors and seniors to be quiet as she introduced the assignment.
“Dark Crystal,” she said, “Jim Henson’s masterpiece involving animatronics. Do you remember Sesame Street?” she asked them surprised to see their eager unembarrassed nods and general approval.
A crisply folded paper airplane sailed across the room and she ignored it, but it reappeared sailing as she paced and talked about the “ground breaking film” that they would be viewing shortly.
“Your teacher would like you to write a one page review of the cinematography. Think about how the shots are seamlessly fused so that body suited people, traditional puppets, and robots all create a realistic image when, in truth, the shots were spliced together and have little to do with each other.”
The airplane was traveling between two parties of boys at separate tables. Ms. X asked them to stop, in her off-handed manner, that was meant to downplay the attention given to the perpetrators. As she turned she saw a flash of white from the corner of her eye. It was deftly sequestered beneath the black table top by a large handsome, dark haired boy. Ms. X approached the table, four boys in all.
“Okay, I know your hiding something,” she said without addressing the dark haired boy in particular. They all seemed genuinely dumbfounded and silent until one piped up saying, “hiding what?”
“Whatever it is you have under the table.”
“Under the table?” said another and they snickered and muttered words that Ms. X could not make out, but was sure they were sexual in nature.
“Yes,” said Ms. X, undaunted, addressing the dark haired student who kept his left hand hidden, his chest up tight at the edge of the table. She felt them all looking at her but she stared into the innocent brown eyes of the one who definitely had something to hide.
“I know you're hiding something under the table,” she repeated in a non-threatening tone that was meant to somehow disarm them.
“No, I’m not hiding anything,” said the dark haired boy and Ms. X perceived him dropping the object as he brought his arm and hand free and set it on the table.

Ms. X’s eyes fell on his hand, as the boys shifted restlessly in their seats. The white hand lay in the middle of the black table, the hand, which Ms. X was forced to view was terribly deformed. Her stomach turned and her head instantly fevered and swelled on the verge of shock. Swaying, as if she had been slapped by her own silly haughtiness, she felt the air fire with tiny missiles of emptiness, hot bursts of reality exposing her. She caught her breath imperceptibly, not wanting to reveal how thrown she was. Instinctively, she shifted her eyes but let them readjust on the hand once more which the boy kept there on the table, appearing in the moment to be the worst of rebukes.

Yes, she was sure that it had been damaged. In the womb? Or as a child? Had he thrust it into some awful predicament so that only two fingers remained of the mangled hand? The sub averted her gaze and quickly changed gears, trying to seem calm and unflustered. In a fake sweet voice, that was meant to say nothing has changed, she uttered, “okay we can see the dvd now.” Ms. X turned her back, mulling the whole thing over, thinking perhaps he had not meant to freak her out.

Ms. X had a phobia about hands. She would swoon and sometimes abruptly faint if she happened to slice her finger with a knife while cooking or jab herself as she carved one of her artistic creations. But now she wondered if the airplane truly was in the boy’s disabled hand, hidden under the table, clutched between his thumb and the other finger. Maybe he had behaved the way any teenaged boy would have behaved in this situation. Or had he deliberately rebuffed her, intent on shocking her white bread world to the core? She fumbled with the computer buttons that would launch the dvd, as her mind raced around the argument, her heart still throbbing from the experience.
The movie began and someone stood up and sauntered to the door where the light switches were located and swiped them off. With the room darkened, Ms. X settled into her cushioned, high backed teacher’s chair. Colored images flickered on the screen as the class grew quiet and attentive, all staring ahead as usual. The white airplane, like a little ghost, came from the side, sailing past Ms. X’s head where it rested on the floor a few feet in front of her. Her eyes fell on it and from that whiteness an image came to mind.

The Guru's wife and a handsome assured young man holding the legs of a goat, and the famed healer, a dark man standing behind the handsome one. The men were dressed completely in white, even their shoes. Ms. X held the knife, and waited while the wife gave instructions about what exactly this sacrifice was for.
The two men were lovers. They lived on a mountain in New Mexico. The dark one had many followers and workers who catered to him, including the lover. He was getting a special medicine bundle, a vortex of energy that had to do with the magical mystical healing properties of plants. Though, Ms X was sure the wife had advertized it to him as a fetish good for controlling his followers.

He was a very quiet man with large piercing black eyes, yet he was small in stature and held himself aloof. Ms. X was anxious to perform well in front of the holy man even if she suspected he was the type to find prophetic images in his own poop.

The Guru's wife had given her the “heads up” on this guy, he talked to “cowboys”, little extra terrestrial entities that would sit on his shoulder and the shoulders of his followers and communicate the secrets of the Universe. The wife always became enamored with these little “ways” of seeing the wonders of the world, adopting them for a short while for her own personal use until the inspirational person faded from her clientele. Ms. X knew the wife was sincere in these dabblings but she could never understand why, had no courage to ask her why, and so remained silent with the question renewing itself each time the wife was swayed.
There was always the pressure to live up to the exclusive reputation of the Foundation so Ms. X felt she had to do the sacrifice smoothly, effortlessly and decisively, to some extent, mimicking the wife. She was sure that the others were holding the goat tightly, both sets of legs, the front threaded through the back, held taut by the two, and she steadied her own two feet. Holding one of the goat's horns in her left hand, she used her right hand to position the knife along the jugular vein on the neck. Then swift, like the wife, she sliced down and as the blood spurted out the goat surged against it’s handlers, not able to escape. She kept the knife going, the top biggest part of the blade her favored cutting edge, until the point descended and the young gay man who had been so brave, yelped loudly and yanked his hand away, shrieking that Ms. X had sliced him.
She was not sure how she did the thing as a sickening pall fell over her.  He crumpled to the ground holding his blood covered hand, horrifying Ms. X who was swooning now with fear and self loathing, swaying, nauseated, ready to collapse in despair. The holy man and the wife had abandoned the dying goat, as it writhed on the ground unattended, kicking the air frantically, its blood spilling to the earth. They huddled around the injured one, quick to administer first aid, but as they wiped his hand clean they could see that he had only a small reddened welt, no broken skin at all! Ms. X was falling backwards, the air blackening around her when she heard him say . . .
“Oh, I’m okay,” in a tender but reconciled way, “it’s nothing, she just scratched me.”
Ms. X regained her footing almost exhilarated by his words, but she had to see it for her self. Finding her bearing she moved between the others, knelt and took his hand and inspected it closely as if finding some golden treasure. In a weak  breathy voice  she apologized repeatedly as she rubbed it the way she might soothe a small child. He responded with repeated assurances, becoming annoyed finally, and yanking his hand away while snapping “Forget it! I’m okay!”
Later when the Monarch pair and Ms. X were alone, the wife revealed the episode to the Guru. She seemed almost gratified to point out why Ms. X had caused the panic.
“She didn’t use the point of the knife, she used the fat part, the wrong part,” the wife intoned gravely.
Ms. X made a decision. This would be the last goat she killed.


  Cult Illustration #14

ball point pen on paper, 11" x 8.5"


© 2017 Lea Atiq, all rights reserved