Thursday, April 5, 2012

imperialism - 2. the pomegranate agent

by sabine sablon

illustrated by roy dismas , konrad kraus and rhoda penmarq

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

click here to begin imperialism

click here to begin the 14th princess

nudworth, the pomegranate company agent, awoke at his usual time - just before noon, in his permanent room on the top floor of the hotel. his head felt like a bomb ready to go off - as it did every morning. he kept a bottle of hair of the dog in the drawer of a small dresser by the door. getting up and crossing the two yards of floor to get it was torture, but experience had taught him that if he kept the bottle within easier reach he was prone to knocking it over and spilling it or even breaking it.

the headaches had one good effect - they dispelled the traces of his terrible dreams and assured him in no uncertain terms that he was safely back in the real world. the latest dream had been the worst of all - or at least as bad as any. had he cried out? had anyone heard him? he hated living in the hotel - how he wished he could afford a small villa of his own, far from the eyes and ears of the other white men. often he thought of getting a little shack - no better than a native's. with a dirt floor, a corroded wash basin and pitifully inadequate mosquito netting. but how would he justify it to the other men? and, terrifying as the night was with its dreams, the clean and starched white sheets that the hotel provided were always a pleasure to slip under - the only pleasure he had in life, really.

he took his first judicious swallow. ahh! he needed it, badly. but it hardly decreased the hammering in his head. the other chaps often compared their headaches to jungle drums, but his were more like factories with thousands of ungreased metal wheels grinding in rising crescendos. like the factories whose endless corridors and skywalks he dreamed of, when he wasn't dreaming of deserts or deserted beaches ... (never jungles or plantations)...

he took another pull at the bottle, holding it a little steadier. for the first time he really opened his eyes. and of course, wished he had not. he carefully capped the bottle and placed it gently on top of the dresser. he would wait now until he dressed and made it down to the bar.

nudworth never considered not drinking. drinking was all he had. the hangovers and other physical discomforts were a small price to pay for the partial obliteration of reality.

reality. ah, yes, reality. by day - the continuing failure of the pomegranate crop. not as bad as the almost total failure of the mangoes - but wilkinson had his job as hotel manager to fall back on. nudworth was alone with his pomegranates.

and by night - the dreams. the occasional standard "nightmare" - of being chased by giant nameless beasts or by lions - nudworth had never actually seen a lion, as they were not common in the area, though he had heard tales. but these were not the dreams he feared.

the dream he had just awoken from was typical... he had been walking in a dark garden filled with moss-grown statues and haunted by shadowy figures (waiters? guests of the "prime minister" ? - a recurring figure who was privy to all his most shameful secrets). beyond the garden a railroad track which was also a beach -

the track/beach filled with giant red crabs/boxcars that he had to count before morning - and he had not even begun! there was no hope... and then a voice behind him. the typical voice.... menacing, mockingly respectful... filled with darkness... he turned and beheld the hulking black brute ...

with shaved head and bulging muscles... a creature from the arabian nights... little resembling the local native "boys" with their sunken chests, long legs and big feet ... and naked! he felt the amused gazes of the guests/waiters and the suddenly alive statues (mostly women in evening dress)... he tried to maintain his dignity and say "look here, fellow, put some clothes on if you please" but the words would not escape his mouth. and the arabian nights creature seized him in a passionate embrace that he could not resist... suddenly the "prime minister" strode through the garden .... "what the devil is going on here, eh?"

and the guests/waiters/statues/women in evening dress/crabs/boxcars laughed as he cried out and saw the face of.... of.... and woke up. as always, wondering if he had cried out and been heard...

when he first had the dreams, before he had even come to the tropics, nudworth had prayed to be released from them. first he had prayed to the presbyterian/methodist god of his forefathers. and then, after reaching the tropics, he had picked up some of the materials from the papist missionaries and begun praying to the virgin and various obscure martyred saints - to no avail. he had begged, if not to be freed from the dreams altogether, at least for his irresistible seducers to be white! some golden apollos or davids or angel gabriels ...

but the dreams only grew more frequent and his ravishers more dusky....

he had surrendered. there was no hope. he had resigned himself to eternal humiliation in this life and eternal damnation in the next.

well! no use rehearsing all this for the five thousandth time. he put the bottle of hair of the dog back in the drawer. it was time to straighten himself up and get down to the bar to do some real drinking.

3. bongo

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