by Larry Blazek
The pavement winds
over the highest of the hills once considered
sacred, but the roughnecks still walk the low
pass where natives once tread. The low pass
circumnavigated the highest of the hills and
wound through underpopulated woodlands and forded
small, rapid streams.
In following the
path of his heart, a brunja came to the low pass.
The first time that he negotiated it he
impossibly drove an old tractor. Since that time,
he had negotiated the pass several times and
observed as a people with a strange brand of
false righteousness settled the area. Once he
came to that place during a time of much turmoil;
someone seemed to be after him. "What should
I do?" he asked his spirit guide.
hide in this old barn.You must let them capture
He climbed into
the loft. Soon he was found and led away. He was
kept in a room of an old clapboard house with
others who had been rounded up. The captives had
their wrists bound with leather cords but the
cord kept falling off of the brunja.The guard in
charge of the captives saw this when he came to
lead the prisoners to the kangaroo court.
prisoners must be bound," the guard said
almost apologetically as he replaced the binding.
The brunja smiled
apologetically but the bindings soon worked their
way loose again. The brunja listened in silence
as one helpless person after another was unjustly
accused and sentenced by the judge, a self-righteous
hag, to a variety of cruel punisments. Most
notably was a weeping woman who was punished by
seeing her mother drowned in a portrait slowly
filling with oil.
The time came, at
last, to try the brunja. The charges brought
against him were mostly false.
"I am chiefly
guilty of defending myself," he at last
uttered in his defense.
prisoner away!" the hag screeched. A young
bearded man moved to obey; others brandished guns
menacingly. The brunja hardly seemed to move, but
the young man was laid out upon the floor with a
profusely bleeding nose. Then the captors all
seemed frozen in place. The brunja gestured to
the prisoners and they made a hasty exit.
cried a weeping woman; the brunja looked at the
painting that was filling with oil.
"It is but an
illusion," the brunja uttered; he carefully
selected a place in the wall below the painting
and attacked it with his feet and fists. The
flimsy plasterboard gave way into a small dark
room. The woman's mother crawled out through the
He collected hot
coals in a steel bucket from the wood stove then
left the house. Some of these he tossed upon the
roof with the aid of a stick. Some he bound to
stones with the leather thongs that were used to
tie the captives and threw them through the
windows. The rest he poured into the woodpile in
front of the house. He strode back to the trail
through the low pass. He came to a red barn; he
heard weeping. He entered and found that a
portion of the barn was partitioned into an
outhouse. The door was open; a young woman was
sitting inside. She glanced up in alarm, tears
streaking her face.
"Are my tasks
never done?" the brunja uttered, then