The Axe

By Eric Cocoletzi

Hacha “Bismarck” Xixi is half Mayan & half Native American; a tall lean and brown gazelle-like man, immaculately beautiful, with sad forgiving brown eyes and long dark hair.

Bismarck could also fly anytime that he wanted to.

The world had never seen anything like him.

 

Bismarck had been able to fly since the age of 20, though he couldn’t always fly as gracefully or as natural as he can today. If anyone could have seen his first hundred attempts at flying, they would have described the scene as the spitting image of a trapped fly struggling in a spider’s sticky web, twisting and reaching, helplessly groping for a center of gravity that might level him off, still unable to break entirely free from the earth’s incessant gravitational pull.

His first 80 or so “flights” could hardly even be called flights; he hardly ever got up to more than a few feet up off the ground on most attempts.

He preferred going to his old high school’s football field to practice, hours after midnight when he knew it would be quiet and deserted. It was a simple field with faded white numbers and markers on the turf, and cement tiers for the fans on either side that were only ten levels high; not very many bells and whistles. About the only high tech or fancy quality about the field was probably the digital scoreboard that stood behind the end zone on the southern end of the field. It displayed the home team’s name and score in red while the visitor’s name and score were always lit up in fluorescent green. Besides that, the rest of the stadium was basically a neglected old ruin that, from way up in the sky, resembled a huge concrete hot dog, the brown patchy turf was its relish, and the purple seats the diced red onions. Only thing is the wiener was always missing.

And so, all alone in that stadium, illuminated only by the residual light that barely made it from the town’s street lights that surrounded the field and the milky moonlight that poured through the mesh of sewn-together clouds, Bismarck would timidly rise a few feet without making a sound, stabilize himself just enough to where he could float in a straight line from the 10th to the 20th–yard line where he would make a soft landing on his ass, as if he were coming down gently off a slide. A big smile always swept across his face once he met the familiar feel of the earth’s desire for all things to be bound by it.

 

His name. Well, they called him Bismarck because the Native American tribe pertaining to his mother’s lineage, they used to live and roam around that part of North Dakota, a long long time ago, before it was even called North Dakota, before it was called the United States, even.

Bismarck was fairly certain he was 50 50 Mayan Native American. He not only looked it and saw that he was every time that he looked at himself in the mirror and he compared his stoic eyes and hawkish nose with those of his ancestors. He remembered the sepia photographs of some of them and that unimpressed expression on every one of their faces. He had also traced his bloodline all the way back a few times, as far as he could, with expert genealogists and highly-recommended expensive genealogy kits that he ordered through the mail. The kits and all the experts agreed: that everyone on his mother’s side, for centuries and centuries had made love to nothing but Native Americans, and everyone on his father’s side had fornicated with nothing but Mayans. That is, of course, until his mother met his father and they decided to make love with one another, thus ending their long streak of purity with that one single, instinctual act.

After they died, that was the last time anyone like them had ever walked the earth.

 

*          *          *

 

You would think that the first human being with the ability to fly would straight-away use it to his or her own advantage, be it in a strictly legal sense (making movies, doing interviews for money, books, Las Vegas, even going to countries where the laws are a bit more flexible, and a person with very special talents is highly compensated); or be it in more malevolent rackets: the business of stealing, terrorizing for money, assassinations, or who knows what!

Bismarck had learned about several kinds of ways that he could make a quick fortune from all the letters he received in the mail: from thieves, Mexican drug lords, cons, pimps, burnt out professors—even mad men rotting in prison. They would write that they had the perfect plan to make a quick cool mil and that all Bismarck had to do was to help break them out of prison: ‘You fly yourself over here while I’m in the exercise yard and you spring me free, and I promise you that within a month, you’ll be rolling in some much dough that you won’t ever feel the need to fly again for the rest of your life!’ the letters said.

Everyone had big ideas, some more stranger and twisted than others, but always interesting, and always involving Bismarck helping them out so that he could help himself out. He thought that was kinda funny. He didn’t realize he’d needed any help at all.

 

On top of getting crackpot, get-rich-quick schemes, Bismarck also received piles of salacious marriage proposals from woman all over the world. Long inciting letters (most of them handwritten) from beautiful young girls and ripened older women. Several of the women included lewd photos of themselves along with their letters. Photos of them lathered up and naked in soapy hot tubs, or lying in the sun at nude beaches, or in their bedrooms on top of lush mattresses, sprawled out in all their flesh, ready for him, eager for the taking. He could even smell the faint traces of sweet perfume coming off some of the letters. Some letters even came with fragrant locks of glossy hair. He never touched the hairs, though. He quickly threw them out for fear that they might be laced with a curse.

 

Then there were letters from religious zealots of various sorts of faiths that jammed his mailbox, telling him that he was like God to them, or Christ reborn, come here to make this wicked world right again. He received invites from religious leaders across the globe, from all sorts of churches, even a few mosques, asking that he kindly take the time to fly to them at his discretion and make an appearance so that they could talk. ‘You will not be harmed,’ they wrote, ‘but safe, revered, and loved dearly almost as if you were Him—God incarnate…’

Those types of letters, hundreds upon hundreds of them, never fully coaxed Bismarck as they were designed to do. They never could, because as much or as many of those religious hopefuls wrote to him, there was always an equal amount of hateful letters from likewise religious folks, except that these people wanted Bismarck deader than dead. These people all said to him that he ought to not fly. That, yes, man had been made in the image of God, but that he was to remain an inherit terrestrial being, one that is humble toward God, and NOT one that can be in any way considered or even regarded to as equal with God. They said that him flying was an abomination, a crude slap to the face of God and to the ways of nature as God had intended them to be and should remain until the end of days. They called him ‘unnatural’ and ‘a flying devil’ that must and will be ‘shot out of the clear blue sky with celestial cannon fire.’

He was sternly forewarned that if he should ever find himself flying through the patch of sky that pertains to their way of life and of loving God that ‘it will not be us that will be doing the shooting, Mr. Bismarck,’ they assured him, ‘rather, it will be all of the hands of heaven and Earth coming together to meet you at one point in time in order to bring you down, so that heaven’s angels can clip off and reclaim from you what is rightfully theirs and theirs alone.’

 

Needless to say, Bismarck soon realized that he couldn’t get close or even begin to get close to just about anyone. Friends were sparse and eventually far and few in between, until around the age of 30, when he turned around and found that he’d organically isolated himself.

Trust, although he’d gotten to know it and was familiar with its powerful ability to bond people, had become a stranger to him. With every person that he let into his world there also came with them this notion that they didn’t want him to fly as much, or even at all. Why would they want me to stop doing something that brings me so much joy? He wondered. Why would they want me to stay grounded? To be just like them?

Even through all that confusion, Bismarck couldn’t bring himself to grow hatred for any of them, or even anger toward those that tried to stop him from flying. That was due to the immense happiness that filled him with each time he took to the skies and whirled around in dizzying loops under the twinkling stars at night. Every time he broke through the whisked clouds as big as ships; all of the happiness he felt was too grand, too pure & much too bright, and so pleasant that it blew away the furtive soil inside of him needed for the seeds of hatred to germinate and spread their black twisted roots. It’s as if a wash had cleansed him whenever he reached the lowest underbelly of the earth’s troposphere and he pierced through it with a willful push that plugged his ears as he rose high above the dense clouds.

 

Lonesome? No. Not really. When you can easily traverse cities and states and long desolate stretches of pure land, or fly across any ocean (clear conditions permitting) within a matter of hours, you are always enthralled with every resilient landscape you come across, none of which ever appear to be the same. The yellows and deep oranges and reds bursting from the incandescent sunsets of Morocco are entirely different yet familiar with the ways of Argentina’s citrus sunsets, each seemingly borrowing form and hue from one another, the latter more subtle and in a bigger rush to hurriedly dunk itself into the sea.

The moon, she is also very different depending on where you experience her. For example, from the peak of Kilimanjaro she’s as white as a sheet of paper, and her rounded edges appear razor sharp; and they seamlessly contrast with the pool of black and blue space dangling all around it. Yet, if you’re standing at any of the breezy edges off the coasts of Puerto Rico right around midnight, and if you look up at the moon, you will see that the moon broods like an angry hollowed out luminous pear floating in a bowl of milk.

Those sights have so many layers of curiosity and awe that it would take anyone hundreds of years to even begin to peel them back enough in order to look upon them with some understanding.

No one had ever roamed with the beasts of Tanzania as Bismarck had, or rode upon the glaciers of Antarctica, or passed above the icy water beside schools of migrating whales as they spout their greetings before diving deep down below a cluster of ice chunks the size of sky scrapers.

Him? No. Not lonesome. Always with his mind ablaze, struck, dumbfounded and speechless by the boundless beauty the world spewed out at him from every corner that he visited, heartbroken by every color and every new way of life he discovered. The morphing purview and the cascade of emotions it drew into his heart were his faithful companions. They were simply too many to sort out or to go through in one lifetime. If anything, the solitude from humans acted as a soft, cleansing cloth which he utilized to wipe clean the looking glass of his consciousness. He could see all the more clearly how acceptance was all everything and everyone truly desired, and to co-exist in the world the way they came to be into it.

 

True, he could have lived in practically any corner of the world as moving was no obstacle for him. So, why did he choose the city, you ask?

That’s simple. It was habitual.

Bismarck was so used to it. For one, he felt that he could get lost more easily in a big city, sort of blend in amongst the throngs of different types of people you find in one. It also had lots of department stores, which meant it offered plenty of disguises for him. He also knew he could get a job doing almost anything in a big city. Didn’t matter if the pay wasn’t good, his mother had left him the house he grew up in, anyway, and besides eating and drinking water, all he really felt he ever needed was to be able to fly.

However, being at home for long periods of time was not viable. His visits were never long and were always aimed at being undetected. When he came home during the night he would quietly slip in through his back door, light a couple of candles in the middle of the living room and close all the curtains so that no one could tell he was there. He’d quickly change into some new clothes, shower if there was time, grab a quick bite to eat (usually something lite, like a cup of plain yogurt with almonds), then he would blow out the candles, grab a warm jacket, and out he’d go, up into the sky again.

When it got too late or he had gone too far and had become too tired to fly back, he would fall asleep peacefully in a fragrant bush somewhere between two dark houses, or plop himself in some banana trees with his feet up as if in a hammock. Sometimes he would wake up high above in some jacaranda tree, straddling one of the thicker branches. Avocado trees he liked best except when the birds would pester him at sunrise; they’d try to eat the creamy fruit off the curved branches above him, sometimes sending the black stones crashing down hard upon his head.

 

*          *          *

 

As a willing member of modern society, Bismarck knew that he should always follow the laws of the land, if only for the sake of preserving his freedom. For instance: He always made a conscious effort not to fly near the airport so as to not rouse any trouble with the airlines. He steered clear out of their way, and in exchange, they didn’t blow the whistle on his flying around everywhere else. The last thing he ever wanted was to go to jail, end up in a cage, just like all those radiant and colorful birds he always saw at the swap meet and felt sorry for. Poor little things, he’d say to himself, caged up and for sale to anyone who’s only going to take them to some other place and keep them locked up in that same small cage for the rest of their lives.

“Ah, me,” he’d say. “They want us to be like them, living in supposed freedom, locked up in houses and in cars. Ah, me. Such a pity.”

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