"Huckleberry Finn's Raft" by Joseph DeMarco

Joseph is the author of Plague of the Invigilare, The 4 Hundred and 20 Assassins of Emir Abdullah-Harazins, At Play in the Killing Fields and Blind Savior, False Prophet.  He lives and teaches in Oahu, Hawaii.


© 2008 Joseph DeMarco


excerpt from: Blind Savior, False Prophet


"Huckleberry Finn, a shaman, the Lizard King and me...were floating on a raft down the Mississippi," Siann heard Joe Kaye announce, as if he were a narrator in a play. Siann felt like she was the audience, but there was no stage, they were really on a raft. And there was really a black medicine man with white face paint and hoops through his nose. There was really a guy who looked like Jim Morrison with a beard and a large gut, and there was a dirty little boy in overalls with no shirt, and well, of course, there was the False Prophet of Fennimore Place: Joe Kaye. It seemed to Siann that she was invisible to the other four members, as they paid no attention to her. They (Huckleberry Finn, the shaman, the Lizard King and Joe Kaye) seemed to be involved in a strange discussion.


"The soul is not whole, the secret's been stole," Jim said in a voice that was quintessential Morrison. The raft floated through an eerie, ominous fog that engulfed them in a mist. In the middle of the raft on the ground in the center of the four of them, was a large, circular, silver disc. There were several trinkets, a glass statue, and several shiny objects lying on top of the large disc. Joe Kaye spun the disc; as it moved it glinted in what little light the fog allowed.


"Tain't fair...Tain't fair and it ain't right," Huck said shaking his head.


"I reckon Mister Mark Twain entrusted his soul with me for some reason," Huck complained.


"You don't have to give a big piece," Joe Kaye reasoned.


"Besides you're getting three for the price of one," Joe Kaye reminded Huck.


Huck pulled out a baggy of what was presumably marijuana, but could've been any herb. He fingered a yellowish-green plant. He broke off a piece of the plant and placed it on the disc. The Lizard King reached into his leather pants and pulled out a satchel. Inside the satchel was a purple plant. He placed all of his plant on the disc.


"I was out for a stroll...An act in self-discipline of losing control," Jim laughed. "I wasn't really doing anything constructive with my soul."


Joe Kaye pulled a baggy out of his pocket, and broke off a small piece. His plant was dark green. The shaman (whose plant was amber) in turn broke off a rather large piece. The disc had stopped spinning. The shaman placed the four pieces of the plant in a cloth baggy.


The four then gathered wood, which was stacked at the corner of the raft, and were placing it on top of the large disc. Siann thought it looked like wood for a bonfire. When the wood was stacked, the shaman pulled out a piece of string. The shaman's hands moved like magic, as he turned a piece of string and two pieces of wood into a beautiful bright burning blaze. The baggy was then placed in a pot of water. The pot was put over the fire. They were making tea. Soul tea?


"Shamanistic soul tea," Jim echoed answering Siann's question.


"Have you ever had it?" Jim asked Joe Kaye.


"If I did, I don't remember it," Joe Kaye shrugged.


"You'd know," Jim Morrison insisted.


The shaman did not speak. Siann wondered if he could speak. The pot began to steam. The shaman pulled the cloth baggy out and dunked it back into the pot. He did this numerous times.


Joe Kaye was singing in a rough voice, mimicking Kurt Cobain, "I sit here and drink Shamanistic Tea, Steals the soul that's inside of me."


The shaman sprinkled something else into the pot.


Siann thought she heard bells jingling.


The raft drifted further into the ghost fog. Siann looked for signs of a shoreline or even a skyline, but could see neither. They seemed to be drifting through an endless fog on their way through oblivion. The wafting aroma of the tea was starting to make its way around the raft. The shaman pulled the baggy out and was wringing it out with his hands.


"Don't that hurt yur hands none?" Huck asked the shaman. The shaman shrugged.


"Pain is life," Jim remarked to Huck. "Life is pain."


"Life is..." Joe Kaye stopped, "fill in your own blank, whatever you want it to be...don't let Morrison here sell you the poet's excuse for a wicked living."


Under Jim's wooly facade was a lengthy smirk.


The fog was growing thicker.


"But I would agree all great art is caused by pain," Joe Kaye added.


The shaman had pulled out cups, which were really just coconuts cut in half. He was stirring the tea with a large staff. Siann thought she saw a face appear out of the steam directly over the pot. The face floated towards her whispering, "The time to hesitate is through," before dissipating. A smug smile dawned upon Jim's lips as if this special effect was done intentionally. Could Jim see her? She was fairly certain he couldn't; no one had acknowledged her presence as of yet.


Joe Kaye asked the Lizard King a question, "Jim did you ever feel that when you were producing something that there was this invisible force or being trying to stop you?" He was completely serious.


Jim remarked, "It seemed whatever I did someone or something was collectively trying to stop me, but then that could be because I was testing the boundaries of reality."


The shaman gave a huge smile; his mouth seemed twice the size of a normal mouth.


Joe Kaye remarked, "When I was writing this novel Blind Savior, it seemed like there was this invisible being that was trying to stop me from writing it," Siann's ears perked up at the mention of the lost manuscript, "and this being could transform reality around me to make my life more difficult; gates would lock, things would get stuck, poles would fall down, cars would box me in, but it was weird." Joe Kaye stopped as if he were pondering something deeper than the Marianas Trench.


Joe Kaye continued, "Sometimes I felt like it was trying to give me my edge by making me stress and suffer, thus making my writing better, like deep down it was trying to help me by hurting me."


"If I don't suffer my writing does," Jim remarked.


The pot began to bubble, and the shaman gave Siann a strange esoteric kind of grin. Could the shaman see her? He had looked right at her. Siann felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Siann wanted to run away screaming but found she could barely move beyond the perimeter of the raft. Anytime she did she would merely be pulled back onto the raft by some elastic invisible force. Siann was forced to watch as the shaman poured four cups of soul tea into hollowed-out coconuts. The three men and one boy held the coconuts up.


The fog was growing so thick it was difficult to see.


"PU KINRD," Siann heard a deep voice say. It was the shaman. He had finally spoken.


Jim started in with one of his poetic toasts, "I drink to you my new soul friends, again we'll meet where the crossroad ends, for when the game is said and done, we will all be only one."


"Closer to the sun," Joe Kaye added oddly.


Huck, who was worried, spoke up, "I reckon this'll mean I'll start hearing voices."


"You very well may," Jim assured him.


Huck looked like he was having second thoughts.


"You won't hear voices," Joe Kaye insisted, "unless you used to hear voices before this whole episode."


"I knowed this ain't right," Huck muttered under his breath.


"How's it work?" Joe Kaye asked more for Huck's benefit than anything else.


The shaman did not answer. Jim felt obliged to field this question with poetry. "Well, part of me will be in you, and the shaman and Huckleberry Finn also too, we'll share some thoughts, mannerisms and quirks, but that's really all it does, if it works."


"Anda sole," the shaman reminded him.


"And we'll share a soul," Jim added.


Huck looked like he was on the verge of freaking out.


"I believe, along with many shamans, after one dies, all his mannerisms go into those he was closest to anyway," Joe Kaye shared.


"Even when you end a relationship," Joe Kaye explained, "that is a death. You exchange certain mannerisms with your partner. I once dated a girl with a scorpion tattoo, who gave me a photic sneeze reflex after we broke up. She was a witch, it was a gift."


Huck, Jim, and the shaman all gave Joe Kaye muted expressions, mouths open.


Several moments of silence ensued.


In the distance an unseen whippoorwill whooped.


The shaman spoke once more, "Now is da time."


"We are one anyway, we are just moving closer to the original origin quicker," Jim said nudging Huck. Huck looked at the smoking coconut in his hands, filled with shamanistic soul tea. A look of determination crossed his face.


"I warn't gonna get into Heaven anyways," said Huck.


"That a boy," exclaimed Jim, in a pretend Southern accent.


The four knocked their coconuts together, and then it was bottoms up. Siann thought she heard fingernails scraping a blackboard, as the four slugged their coconuts.


Siann was waking up. She was on hard, solid, uncomfortable ground, but felt like her skin had soaked up about twenty pounds of water like a sponge. She felt queasy.










All work is copyrighted property of Joseph DeMarco.





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