The Peasant King and the Tree of Life

The king rose early. His queen lay still-bound in silk, sleeping soundly atop the toil of faceless millions. Beautiful and delicate, great panes of glass stood as emissary to the cool spring morning; turning away the crisp, earth-laiden air while permitting a tepid flood of pale light to illuminate the intricate fineries of a life possessed.

Amassed over a lifetime of ardently honed discrimination, the king’s estate stood as testament to his worth and individuality. Conditioned since infancy to diligently select or reject from life’s abundant diversity, his sharp eyes scrutinized all they surveyed. Moved to possess beauty, they disregarded any shades of life whose tones did not gratify.

The king’s beautiful world was balanced atop the panicle of a human mountain whose base were the innumerable souls required to elevate Man to such dizzying heights. Well practiced as he was, he discarded such odious musings. He had not chosen this, thus he was absolved.

The king bathed in rose-scented water, dressed in beautifully tailored cloth and slipped soft feet into polished leather.  He emerged from his castle, beholding the realm over which he was master. On either side, from castles of their own, the neighboring kings emerged.

The hollow taste of contempt quickly coated in the dull sheen of habitual friendliness, each king honored the next with a quick nod. A clipped wave. Each boarded their own luxurious vessel and eased it onto the paved vine that connected their kingdoms with millions of identical others.

From deep, unexamined places spun the adage “All men are free. All men are equal.” Within each sovereign were these words seared. Working endlessly in the building and keep of their kingdoms, they asked not by whom.

The King rose as he willed. His Queen, ever-wakeful, hummed with delicate precision the melody of ten billion feet marching in unison. Shrouded as he was by her intricate beauty, The King’s unseen face bore the sly smirk of a magician. While Great Kings of Old bound their subjects in irons, he alone saw the delicate gold chains that everywhere bound her.

On a far away hill, an apple tree rose from the fertile humus of perpetual sacrifice. Its roots wound deep into ancient soil, millions of leaves twisting in the sun before perishing on the heap below.

How sweet the fruit.

How glorious the seeds.


Cody pulled into the Conoco station with a jerk as he tried to gaze casually at the large Ford truck that had just rolled to a stop at one of the dozen fueling islands.  The truck was on the inside of the terminal, so Cody slid up next to the pump on the opposite side of the island, the side further from the store.

“This will be perfect,” said Cody.

“What are you talking about?” responded Ray, working to snub out his cigarette – a difficult feat with the car’s sudden change of trajectory.  “I thought we were on our way to Garret’s.”

“I need gas.”

“I need another pack anyways.  I’m gonna run in real quick – you want anything?”

“No.  Just shut up and sit there for a minute.”  Cody’s voice was stern, and although he fumbled around in the car’s center console as if looking for his wallet, his eyes never cut away from the driver of the truck.

“Seriously, what the fuck?  Garret’s waiting for us.”

“I know, but just shut the fuck up for a second.  I’m gonna show you a trick I learned.”

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They came in the early morning. They always did. Inhabitants would keep their distance, watching nervously as the strange figures, hooded with faces obscured, made their way silently through the streets. Mounted atop dark, breathless horses, each pulled a tremendous wagon piled high with objects never to be seen again.

The sight was a familiar one, but lately the Takers were becoming far more brazen. Like starving dogs, they came closer with each pass, gnawing away at the unspoken perimeter that had stood for generations. The Inhabitants knew the day was not long before their own meek possessions would be sought to stave the collapse of the few cities still scattered across the scorching deserts of North America.

The Takers paused amid the blistered ruins of the desolate suburb, sand drifting high through the endless expanse of skeletal houses, picked clean through centuries of systematic looting. Nothing of value remained. As I sat in the dirt before my tent, the Takers turned their gaze on me.