The Parable of Salia

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time humanity shared their friendship with all earthlings. All beings lived in harmony. And humanity oversaw the welfare of all of the earth’s creatures, and this is how they came to be called humanity.

Then one day a man drank tainted water from a well no one was to drink from. So very thirsty was he, for the day was bright and so very hot, and he needed to slake his thirst, and he thought, just a sip won’t hurt. But an infliction stuck him. And a fever ran to his head and damaged his brain. Everyone thought that he might recover. But he did not. The sickness worsened and twisted his reasoning, and he became ravenous in his desires and began eating the creatures around him whenever hunger fell upon him.

Everyone thought him mad. No one was able to reason with him, though they tried. And being close to him, they contracted his disease. And they, in turn, spread the illness to others, and they to others until all their brains had become damaged and all were afflicted with the desire to eat their fellow earthlings. All but one, Salia, who had been away traveling the countryside and did not contract the plague.

Now when Salia came home, everyone welcomed her, for she was much admired and they had missed her. “A feast!” They shouted, to celebrate Salia’s return.

And the festivities began. There was music, and everyone danced and sang while the firepits by the river billowed thick smoke of roasted flesh. But Salia did not smell the vileness in the air for the wind blew from the west, away from the celebrations.

Then when it came time to sit down and feast, they sat Salia at the head of the table, to honor her return, for she was well liked among them.

They set the table with vegetables fresh from their gardens and juice from the fruit of their trees. And Salia grew hungry, and her stomach began to rumble for she had survived on roots and berries and wild plants for so long while she traveled the countryside, and missed the cookings of home.

Someone shouted, “A toast!” and they raised their glasses to Salia who was joyful to be home again with family and friends.

But then Salia noticed there were no feathered or furred friends among them, and so she asked, “Where are all our feathered and furred friends to join us in this feast?”

And someone said, “They are on their way from the river bank and will be here soon.” And so Salia waited anxiously for her feathered and furred friends to join the festivities.

Then up from the shores came many people carrying many platters of many smoldering carcasses. And they thought Salia should have the greatest one of all, for she was highly thought of.

And there they sat in front of Salia the charred corpse of her favorite lifelong friend, Hochester the Pig.

And Salia screamed. She stood up and cried, “Oh people! What have you done to my friend, Hochester the Pig?”

And they said, “He promises to be quite delicious, Salia, and you should do the honor to carving him while our mouths water with anticipation.”

“You are insane, all of you!” Roared Salia. “How can you have done this to our friends? They are not for eating!”

And everyone thought Salia mad.

~The Parable of Salia, from the Book of Peter the Vegan

Peter the Vegan and the Orphaned Urchin

Chapter 3

<< Chapter 2- Peter the Vegan – The Burning

“Where is he then?”

“He’s gone missing, Your Honorable Honor.”

“Missing?”

“Yes, sir. I’ve dispatched my most capable guards to find and recover his corpse.”

“His corpse?”

“With all due respect, Your Honorable Honor, it stands to reason, the flames were moments from closing in before the downpour and–”

“And I suspect your men won’t have any difficulty tracking a dead man, eh, Executioner.”

“We’re searching throughout the village, Your Honorable Honor.”

“Do you think who stole the body is foolish enough to keep it in the village?”

“Well, Your Honor…”

“And what use has one of a corpse, Executioner, unless their desire is such as your own depraved manner. No, I believe Peter the Vegan is very much alive, though I suspect not feeling well. Nonetheless, when he does recover and manages to show himself again, and I believe he will for I’ve little confidence that your goons are even capable of finding their own penises — unless it used for some debauchery — much less tracking a dead man fleeing his execution. And whose survival may well be perceived by those simpletons who had witnessed your botched performance with this immoral, a miracle of God he survived. And that Executioner, need I tell you, will cast us both in a dim and challenging light.”

Continue reading “Peter the Vegan and the Orphaned Urchin”

Peter the Vegan – The Burning

Chapter 2

<< Chapter 1 – Peter the Vegan vs. the Honorable Honor

When last we left Peter the Vegan, he appeared in the Grand and Holy Court of Truth, Justice, and Right, a man condemned of misguided sympathies and a damning history of nonconformity. And where he now stand pelted by a barrage of eggs, rotten cabbage, old shoes, and tomatoes, and an onslaught of vile virulent verbiage.

As the two massive doors of the Grand and Holy Court’s entrance creak slowly open, a hush descend the congregation. Within there stood the executioner; tall, straight, and smartly dressed in his patent leather marching boots, stiffly starched uniform, ornamented by his glossy black cudgel, flanked by two dimwitted goons. They remained in the doorway for effect, emitting intimidation. Then, as one, they marched lockstep into the courtroom, greeted by an outpouring of cheers and jubilation. A standing ovation from those having executed and witnessed truth, justice, and right carried beyond the fullest extent of the law: the Honorable Honor – commissioned by God, the jury of three well aged and grotesquely wrinkled government officials, and the spectacle of bloodthirsty spectators.

Although Peter the Vegan offered no resistance to these purveyors of the law – for what use of that – he was nonetheless bludgeoned into unconsciousness, thus drawing a heap of deafening hoorays from the rowdy gathering. The Honorable Honor nodded his approval as the age-spotted government officials cast a smirk of satisfaction amongst themselves, standing bent and twisted with age, clasping one another’s scrawny, pale hand, congratulating the other on their outstanding performance this day. They served their God and country well and were well proud of it. They would sleep soundly tonight, rewarded with the finest bourbon made available only to the most politically corrupt, in this the seat of many dry counties.

Peter the Vegan awoke, shackled to a cell floor, shivering cold and damp, naked, bloody, and bruised. One eye was swollen shut and the other nearly so, his ear bloomed to cauliflower, his lips fattened, his teeth shattered, their edges sharp to his tongue. He saw the glimmering light of full moon peek through the small barred window, reflecting off the pooled blood he lay in.

Then again, he lost consciousness.

And again, he awoke, standing barefoot and shirtless in a field of tall grass, whitetop, and cornflower. He felt robust, his muscles taut and wounds healed, no scars remain to tell of his ordeal. His long hair blew gently in a breeze scented by spring flora. The sun shone warmly on his skin. The babbling of a nearby waterfall sang harmoniously to his senses as its spray project a rainbow high in the sky above. He felt peace, of a sort he had never known before. It was the sway of contentedness that flowed within him.

He watched as they all came from across the field, the animals he had rescued over the years, those who shared his home, and those he had never known – but he knew them all now, and they all knew him. And they were all eager to greet him; chickens, pigs, cows, goats, and sheep, elephants and lions, horses and zebra, turtles, foxes, hares, and bears, opossums and snakes, and every other manner of creature, from the minuscule mouse to the mighty moose they all came.

And she was there, standing in their midst, wearing only a flower in her hair.

And for the first time in very long time, he felt happy. Glad to be shut of the cruelty that weighed him.

He smiled at her, and she smiled at him.

He filled with joy and a tear broke free.

They danced, they laughed for hours on end while the animals frolicked about. When at last they lay resting together and alone on a blanket of soft earth, the rays of the setting sun caressing their moist entwined bodies, she told him, with fallen face and tear, “You cannot stay here, Peter the Vegan. You must go back.”

“Go back?” he said and blanched. “No, I will never go back. I will not leave you, not now. Not this world for that I came, not ever.”

“It’s not time, my love. I’m so very sorry, but you must go.”

As she spoke these last words to him with a tenderness he’d not forget, he awoke to a rattle of lock and chain and a foul smelling goon singing sorely out of key, “A good day for a burnin’, I’d say. Yes siree, yes siree. Ya see, not a cloud in the sky, not a breeze rustlin’ by. Yes siree, yes siree. A good day for a burnin’, I’d say, don’t ya see, don’t ya say. Don’t I say?

“And you’s goin’ burn, don’t ya see. Now get your lazy bee-hind up. Ain’t proper keepin’ godfearin’ folk a waitin,’” said the goon with an accompanied swift kick into Peter the Vegan’s kidney, causing him to wrench in pain. He then threw him a pair of his own filthy flea infested undershorts to wear so that Peter the Vegan’s endowment be hidden from woman and child and the pure of thought.

He eased up slowly, fragile and hurt, but eager in a strange sort of way, knowing that this fate about to befall him, it too will pass, and then peace will come at the very long last. For when it came right down to it, to Peter the Vegan, dying always seemed the easier than living.

The goon grabbed hold the cord that cut tightly into Peter the Vegan’s wrists and yanked hard. As Peter the Vegan stumbled along with his blood trailing was led out of the cell, through the grimy and dank jail corridors amid a rain of spit, urine, and jeers from the other prisoners and into the bright morning sunlight where his eye squinch.

Hundreds arrived for the Extravaganza. A festival now well underway where people gathered from miles around to witness the burning of what had only the day before became the most talked about and hated man alive. There were swindlers of every flavor and bogus magic people and every sort of trickster and opportunist who converged at the scene to leverage what they could from the naïve and gullible. Food canteens were hurriedly set up the night before and sold cheesy souvenirs and served overpriced half-cooked sausage on a stick, pork chops and ham hocks, hamburgers and frankfurters, sugary drinks, gummy bears, and cotton candy for the kids. All served by boisterous fat men who hadn’t seen their penis since puberty, and who now required medication to produce an erection, of which, without the trick of mirror, they are still unable to glimpse.

The burning stake stood seven times higher than needed, the Flag of Blasphemy and Shame affixed to its top, hang lifeless in the still air. A crude platform lay atop wood and tinder meticulously laid, encircling the stake, strategically set so as to burn gradually from outer perimeter inward, ensuring the most agonizing prolonged event possible. Peter the Vegan, led by the executioner upon the platform to where two goons bound his hands, feet, and neck, tightly and securely to the stake. “Damn you anyway imbeciles,” Scolded the Executioner in a condescending manner. “Don’t choke him to death before we’ve a chance to kill him! Now loosen that neck.”

As the mob began to pelt Peter the Vegan, with epithets and everything else they found to throw his way, the order came to stand down by the Honorable Honor himself who stood up, and out, proudly wearing his papal tiara and his finest purple priestly cope draped with satin stole affixed with precious jewels and gilded idols. Perched high above the others on his grandiose platform, commenced with lowered head, the ceremonial prayer, “Let us pray. Dear merciful Lord our Father, we ask for your blessing this day upon us your children who have journeyed warily from near and far to witness your Hand of Judgment. We are proud O Just Lord and God to be the call of your highest servants, to do your bidding, to root evil from the world. By all that is gracious, sacred and holy, we most humbly praise you, O Mighty Merciful One. Amen.

“Now, burn the heretic!”

With that, the goons lit the tinder.

The trumpets blared.

And the mob let out a deafening roar that shook the ground.

And the children stood wide-eyed and spellbound in terrified anticipation, absently biting off cotton candy and chewing gummy bears by the handfuls.

As the tendrils of smoke rose from the kindling, the Flag of Blasphemy and Shame gave a slight wave, then another. A sign of the Almighty. Or, so the faithful assigned.

Slowly, but surely, the fire closed around Peter the Vegan. Its intensity pressed upon him from all angles, increasingly. Heat and smoke begin a scouring of his open wounds and bare flesh, his hair began to singe. The platform on which he stood grow unbearably hot to his bare feet and the superheated air surrounding him seared throat and lungs with each breath he drew. Although his head tossed from side to side seeking relief not found, not a scream or muted sound did he let go. Much to the disappointment of the mob, whom many among confessed to having seen better burnings in their time. A lot better, they said with an inflated disdain.

Through the waves of shimmering heat and flame, among the sea of happy faces, he saw her.

Then, as the wind grew stiff, she disappeared.

So mighty the wind that the Flag of Blasphemy and Shame flew straight out and shredded at its edges before it ripped from the stake and flung itself across the face of the Honorable Honor. Who fumbled furiously to free himself of this indignity, only to knock off his papal tiara in the process and into a muddy hole it rolled, only to be trampled upon and ruined by the frantic throng.

Meanwhile, clouds gathered, as though the goddesses had commanded them to do so. Thick, black and threatening, bestrewn with blue veins of lightning. Angry clouds were they, turning day to darkest night. When soon let go their rain, as they had never let go before. Their jagged thunderbolts, thick as tree trunks, blindingly burst from the sky into the ground they crater throwing dirt, rock, and debris high above then raining down, as thunder reverberated the earth with explosions so violent it caused many to poop themselves.

And the children watched in fear and dismay as their cotton candy dissolved in the downpour, their gummy bears blew scattered upon the ground, and they squealed for the unfairness of it all as their mothers hasten them away to a shelter.

The food canteens blew over, and again over, spilling their deep frying lard and catching fire. And the boisterous fat men, who hadn’t seen their penis since puberty, rolled out of them as fast as fat men could roll, butts aflame, only then to be tossed about like tumbleweed in a sweeping desert windstorm.

Fearing the worse to come, the Honorable Honor and his entourage bolted for the cover and safety of the courthouse storm cellar, the Flag of Blasphemy and Shame caught up in his stole flapped behind him as he ran. And those who hadn’t already fled followed on his heels.

The fire at the stake was quickly extinguished, and not a moment too soon, not so much as a smoldering ember left to glow in the darkness.

Only one shadowy figure remained, motionless in the storm, oblivious to its rage, an orphaned urchin possessed of face to draw pity (or ridicule depending on one’s disposition) and one that only his wretched mother had ever loved. He held a steady gaze on Peter the Vegan. His intentions were unclear. His expression was unreadable as he watched through the slanted rain for the slightest flickering hint of life. For although Peter the Vegan remained upright, held tightly so by his bindings, his head drooped as though he were dead. But he was not dead. No, not yet.

Chapter 3 – Peter the Vegan and the Orphaned Urchin >>

Peter the Vegan vs. the Honorable Honor

Chapter 1

<< Peter the Vegan – The Poem

“Peter the Vegan, you stand here today before us in this The Grand and Holy Court of Truth, Justice, and Right accused of the most severe offenses. Blatant disregard of established convention; exhibiting contempt of our most treasured ancestral cultural cult-heritage; the disavowing of our sacred religions and the denial of their God; while refusing to participate in our time-honored traditions, annual celebrations, sacrifices, and our consecrated Holy Days. In addition, you have steadfastly refused to take part in our democratic election process, the very process of which ensures your very freedoms and protections of this court. Further, it stands that you have publically denounced our wars waged in the holy name of peace while hypocritically fighting for the rights of animals. How absurd.”

Peter the Vegan stood tall, proud, and though he possessed with fear, for he knew well the score, not a tremble did he let before the towering Honorable Honor’s bench. A gargantuan structure crafted from the several trees of African Blackwood, generously inlaid in ivory and adorned with the finest of African gems mined by the blackest of black African slaves. It was imposing and intimidating, built in a semi-circle, as wide as the vast courtroom itself. At its height, far above, was seen the Honorable Honor’s shining bald head, furrowed brow, and a pair of beady spectacled eyes peering over its smoothly curved edge. In its center, sculptured from the skulls of malcontent, the Ministry’s emblem of Truth, Justice and Right, a trinity of white angelic virgin aside a guillotine shielded by the snow-white arms of God the Father, on the left the sun rising over Golgotha, on the right the severed head of nonconformity.

“These exemplarily and complying citizens,” said the Honorable Honor, “peers whom you know and see seated in the gallery above and around you, Peter the Vegan, they are your co-workers, your wife, your children, your grandchildren, your friend, and other beloved members of your family and community. They’ve gathered to bear witness against your actions and intentions of free thought and individualism, and what is described to me as ‘your incessant annoying activism.’ Theirs is an unwavering concern for you, Peter the Vegan. Their seeming betrayal is nothing less than an act of unmitigated love that you should find yourself grateful for and warmed by in this dire time of yours. They, as all obedient citizens of our World Order, in this blessed region of Amerika, in the righteous State of Togetherness within the hallowed township of Ultimate Oneness seek only your right-thinking. Thereby we declare you guilty of gross and deliberate individualist thought and action, thus deeming you a terrorist threat to the way of our esteemed and cherished life of unity, love, and liberty.

“As to these vilest and severe charges, Peter the Vegan, how dost thou plead?”

Silence.

“You must enter a plea,” said the Honorable Honor in agitated tone and condescending manner.

Again, silence.

“Peter the Vegan, might I heap contempt to these charges facing you this day?”

“You may do as you like, sir, for your minds are set and your judgments long made, though I’ve done no wrong in my freethinking. I’ve harmed no one, and no creature has died for my pleasure. I will enter no plea of any sort before a court having no authority or legitimacy over me for I have pledged allegiance to no god, man, or government, only to the truest essence of peace and to the innocent of the earth, in every and any form they take.”

“No legitimacy or authority is it?” scoffed the Honorable Honor, rolling his eyes; muffled snickers heard from the masses.

“Blasphemy! Heretic! Satan!” shouted the jury of three well aged and grotesquely wrinkled government officials rising to the occasion as they point their pointy pale-white fingers, spotted with age. Their vicious malicious yellowed and bloodshot eyes betray their obvious desire for harm to come to Peter the Vegan, who nonetheless remained composed.

“Burn the pariah! Burn!” shouted these jurymen, banging their scrawny fists on the table while provoking the assemblage to cheer and jeer and mock and stamp their feet in a shameless bloodthirsty ruckus of approval.

“Silence! Silence in the court!” stood the Honorable Honor, pounding his titanium .45 caliber gavel against the sounding block. He took aim along the rows of the gallery. With a sinister intent in his eye, he dared anyone the slightest peep.

“Peter the Vegan, in that you are unwilling to enter your plea, in the name of God and justice I am compelled to do for you. In light of the overwhelming evidence and damnable testimony weighed against you, it can be no other than a plea of guilty, though I request mercy of the court.

“Gentlemen of the jury, how find you?”

“Guilty, your Honorable Honor,” they spoke in unison as they bowed in respect, a slight sneer of satisfaction on their contorted faces.

“Gentlemen of the jury, how act you?”

“A merciful death by fire, your Honorable Honor.”

“So it shall, on morrow’s morn.

“Thank you, esteemed gentlemen of the jury; may God go with you.”

Chapter 2 – Peter the Vegan – The Burning >>

Peter the Vegan

Peter the Vegan - Image: Myna Meeting © CC BY-SA 2.0 by Thimindu Goonatillake
Myna Meeting © by Thimindu Goonatillake

I am but a simple man,

a vegan,

‘n self-denoted poet.

Who’s lived ‘n died in four prior lives.

Tho’ this, my first as vegan that I know it.

I am twice a poet.

Once a woman,

now thrice a man,

‘n once a lowly pig—

(which alone was enough to convert one to veganism.)

‘n in all these, I meagerly lived.

Hailing from the 16th, 18th, ‘n 20th centuries.

‘tho before that I have no clear recollections,

only foggy, surreal conceptions,

‘n the occasional startling nighttime impressions,

but soon these all go poof.

 

’twas the 16th century,

‘n I, the wife of a cobbler.

Tho’ one to be reckoned with I was.

‘n I was . . .

Burned at the stake for heresy ‘n witchery.

Indeed, I was guilty on both charge—

A Crown‘s punishment severe,

‘n unbefitting such petty offence,

of little more than defiance.

‘n for this to burn at stake?

O make no mistake!

’tis no way to die,

‘n no crime fitting

to burn a soul alive:

Foul stench of flesh ‘n marrow burning,

blisters raising, boiling, bursting,

lungs broiled to a tender,

by superheated air rendered.

‘n in my last, everlasting recollection,

’twas the sight of my femur splintering.

‘n the eager smug faces glittering,

of the bastards who stood nigh,

passing judgment in their god’s eye.

 

’twas day one of the 18th century,

that I was born unto rhyme,

in a much, much happier time.

A scanty life tho’ more than pleasant,

my life as a farming peasant.

Hard work ‘n a simple way,

with a woman to grace my night ‘n day.

When one day . . .

High atop the terraces of Guangxi China,

the evening sky fill with myna.

‘n at age ninety-nine I drop,

dead atop a lush rice crop.

 

‘twas the summer of 1918,

the war no longer raging.

The allies had won,

alas we were done.

‘n thru the Black Forest we ventured.

Our spirits set high,

with packs loaded ‘n shouldered

‘n rifles retained tho’ cautiously loaded.

In a troop of six we made a journey,

for the town of Freiburg Germany.

‘twas there I met a lady,

who sheltered us ‘n quite quaintly,

her acquaintance I fancied greatly.

We danced ‘til morning light,

our laughter echoed out from night.

O she was a beauty!

Of a sweet ‘n charming duty.

Her name I recall was Laverne,

‘n I swore to her I’d return

when my stint in the Army was over.

But as our ship sail for home,

a mine drifting not far below

found us at sea all alone.

‘n tho’ I survived the blast,

a tank of kerosene caught fast

‘n our ship soon fell to burning.

‘n once again. . .

I die burning.

 

‘twas an uncaring winter

when a factory pig delivered a boar.

Birthed on a cold hard floor,

on a frozen December eleven,

nineteen hundred ‘n thirty four.

Nuzzled beside my momma,

I suckled her teat

‘n welcomed the heat

of her coarse ‘n dirty pelt.

‘twas a brief love . . .

the only pleasure we ever felt.

Then one day a man he grabbed me,

O roughly he handled me.

Cut off my balls

clipped my tail

pulled my teeth

‘n slammed me—

‘n I tell you!

That burning to death dare not compare,

to the hell a factory pig bear.

I never saw momma again—

tho’ I heard her frightened cry

every now ‘n then, since then.

Locked in a cage for 200 days,

‘n with every painful hour past,

I prayed it be my last.

Till finally my time to walk the line

and welcome death at last.

 

With that I hoped all’d be over.

Let me die ‘n be. O please!

Tho’ here I am . . . again.

Damn Death!

Defying me, denying me

a sweet ‘n longed abode.

I, now with purpose left untold.

—To hell with Him!

Let Death have His eternal death!

If I must be

than it shall be

I’ll fight to my last breath!

. . . ‘n it matter not,

whether they wear fur, feathers, scale, or skin

it’s their peace I’ll fight ‘n win.

~Peter the Vegan

A Short Story – Chapter 1 – Peter the Vegan vs. the Honorable Honor