Maya North, continued
Bill Rogers, continued
Maya North, continued:
Chambers of the Heart
To everybody else, he was Saint Simon, the noble gay man who took care of those worse off than himself even as he valiantly fought his own battle. After he died, they determinedly stripped away from all that made him human, even as the bonds of human flesh fell away as he fled his prison of emaciated flesh and aching bone.
Such a cruelty. We are what we have become through struggle and error as well as triumph and joy. They stripped him of his humanity, sprayed him with epoxy and installed him in the shrines of their memories as the most noble, the most beautiful, the most patient, the most loving, the most perfect of all men.
They thought they were making him more. They were making him less.
They didn’t know him at all.
Who did? He had long since created the simulacrum he skillfully operated for the delectation of his viewing public all the while muttering “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
I knew that man. I knew that man as a child who slunk out from behind that curtain when he thought no one was looking and sniped and pinched and bit until I started making enough noise for the adults to notice and then his little face brightened up, those blue eyes got rounder, shinier and more innocent (if that was possible), the sweet smile was paraded out and so the excoriation went onto my head.
Really, Mother, it really was him.
I also knew the child who watched his allotted hour of TV with me, leaning against my larger, sturdier body. I was on the floor, on my side, head propped with my left hand; he leaned back against the cushioned curve of my stomach, sometimes with his arms stretched out along my hip and my side, sometimes twined together, hands clenched under his chin as was his habit when the realities of his fragility and vulnerability had in some way been brought home to him.
I wanted to kill him. Really. Actually kill him.
I would’ve killed to protect him. Really. Actually kill.
I couldn’t protect him at all. I couldn’t protect him against our father who brutalized both of us out of his own wellspring of anguish. I couldn’t protect him against the mother who laid the burden of ‘favorite child’ on him but allowed our father to continue unchecked. I couldn’t help him with the bullies that roved the boy’s bathrooms in droves, looking for the fragile, the vulnerable, the different. I was in junior high by the time the bullies began their marauding; they would’ve noticed if I had begun to haunt the grade school, looking for small heads to clunk together.
I couldn’t protect him from all the neuroses our upbringing and his native vulnerability to them gave him. I couldn’t protect him from feeling ugly against all sensory input that had to have told him otherwise. I couldn’t protect him from his own beauty and all the deadly temptations that brought him. And I couldn’t protect him from AIDS, because nobody could do much about it back then, in 1983, which was probably when he got it.
Bill Rogers, continued:
Flanker, the title character, was a dinosaur whose name was a hand
gesture meaning "person attack left rear." A visiting scientist, the
dragoness Redflame of clan DaHar, found his species was evolving
toward full intelligence but was doomed to extinction. This upset
her. To prove his species was worth saving, she modified Flanker to
demonstrate his kind's full potential.
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Revised: September 8th, 2021