Saturday, June 24, 2006

after seeing Gauguin

from Wendy
I made this scratchboard pic to go with a short story I wrote after looking through a book on Gauguin's paintings.

The title of the short story is 'Through a Waterfall Darkly', set on a South Pacific Island, and is about a female tourist who rides into the hills with a guide, finds a waterfall and a cave and is curious to explore further.

I crawl through again, ignoring the skulls, and reach an opening to a ledge above a circular plateau. The dilemma is how to get down. Then I see a tiny scratched JFK in soft stone, a marker of sorts, and plank steps lead downwards. I sense a presence in the snapping of twigs, a flash of a moving shadow. Curiosity drives me on as in a half-waking dream. I find a village of sorts and beside a large house there's a wooden statue, straight as a bollard, placed on a square stone platform. The face is definitely John F Kennedy! Oh, sure.

I walk boldly across the village green. This is tourist territory where islanders smile, welcome foreigners. I remember my gym friend's words - 'The people are trustworthy, friendly, laugh a lot.'

But she's so very wrong. Two men, with ash-blackened faces, dash from a house, grab me as they shout in a language incomprehensible to me. They fast-trot me up the rough-cut wooden steps of the largest house and throw me inside onto a pile of pandanus mats with a thump!

In the dimness all I can make out are three people, one sitting on floor in front of a kind of cane-ware throne. A middleaged man rests his head on a woman's lap as she massages his back. He is wearing torn jeans and no shirt. I lean closer and notice that he is fair-skinned, has blonde spiky hair, a nose-ring.

'Hey! What's going on?' I am red-faced, without dignity.

'You asked for it.' He speaks English with an American accent. 'This village is taboo to outsiders. ' He is a lean man of about forty, long-legged, unattractive.

'Who are you?' I demand as I stand up.

The women move quickly towards me, restrain my arms, and force me to sit down. When a man mutters to them in some dialect, they let go.

'What's with the John F. Kennedy out there?' I ask.

'He's their new god,' he says wearily. He has strange albino eyes. 'He'll bring fortune to my people here.'

'My people! Surely you haven't conned the people into some New Age myth! Are you Andre, the guy who was supposed to have drowned?'

He looks so pasty, sickly, as if he never sees the sunlight. 'So that's what you thinkā€¦'

And it goes on and on. The narrator is rescued by her original guide in a landrover, goes back to the resort and eventually realizes the whole adventure, from beginning to end, has been a con.


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