Saturday, 26 September 2009

Saint George - 13. Curtain-call

Don't ask for the scenes among the prisoners at drawing lots. The emotions of their relatives simply got lost in the entire community's mammoth shudder that reduced everything else to sheer insignificance. Should this be called a mass hysteria?
Nor ask for details of the performance itself. Their fleeing, the attempts at resistance, their injuries and when at last they were crunched, what was to be heard thereof.
As of today, this would only evoke disgust.
Incidentally, there had been one who didn't flee at all, who didn't resist and never uttered a sound. He just stayed down, without a stir, as if saying 'come and eat me,' like a bread roll.
A hoot of scorn went up from the audience. For a moment the monster stood undecided and by its next move captivated all hearts. It looked around, went to a coppice nearby, broke off a bough and sharpened the torn end with its fangs. It then returned to the crouching figure and laid the weapon down within his reach. Quick as lightning the man now jumped at his last opportunity, or whatever he thought it to be, seized the stick and stormed the dragon, aiming at its eye. Poor soul, to the other he meant nothing but a sparring partner. However, it all but saved the show.

When the last prisoner had been consumed, though, a new decision had to be made. How to proceed from here on? To fall back on sheep was doomed from the start. Not a living soul would turn up at such a turn off. To let it starve then or, even worse, to insidiously waylay the beast and seek its destruction by joint assault? This also, was out of the question. For at present the monster had become a popular figure, it procured the top entertainment of the week and when only properly fed it wouldn't harm anyone.
And wasn't it even beautiful! The bright colours of its head, the sheen on its claws and scales, the agile movement of its armoured body. It should be kept safe, this much was settled too.
Besides, it appeared that people no longer felt ashamed of their feelings, that they dared openly confess to how luscious they found these shivers running down their spine, men as much as women. During an offering, it sometimes happened that by their common mood the population as a whole was elevated to a state of unity, which a pious congregation may now and then reach under influence of an inspiring pastor.
They even went so far as to grant the beast a curtain-call for acts of striking cruelty. From pure elation, they couldn't forgo exchanging glances often still radiant, while on their way home.

English translation by Ronald Langereis © 2009
from the Dutch, "Sint Joris" by Belcampo, 1983

No comments:

Post a Comment