04/01 Direct Link

In a moment all in attendance were on their feet. They edged forward, and encircled Orpheus and his companion. Orpheus shuffled The blinded man in behind him, and again raised a hand for peace. The faces tempered from plaintive yearning to frustrated desperation, then rapidly approached ire. Their voices soured into jagged overlaid shouts. Fingers pointed and threatened. Fists clenched. Something glass broke with a crash. Out from the midst of it all, erupted the store owner, lunging and thrusting patrons aside. He roared and grabbed hold of Orpheus and the blinded man, one in each of his powerful hands.

04/02 Direct Link

Like the mighty juggernaut of Ratha Yatra, the owner cleaved a path through the riotous group, his sempervirenous arms out-stretched, and our two heroes out front as a battle ram. Some made futile attempts to fight back against his inhuman strength, but all were forced to give way. The tattooed youth was the first to fall screaming under foot. The old woman let out a shriek of terror as she tried to struggle clear of the melee. She was pinned helpless against a rack of vibrating personal massagers, but shielded from a certain crushing death by her aluminum walker.

04/03 Direct Link

The office door banged open, and shuddered in its hinge mounts. Orpheus and the blinded man were hustled inside with the owner close on their heels. The creature slammed shut the door, and slide home a heavy oak bar across its frame. The thunder of pounding fists and wild peals of rage broke upon the other side like a great tempest spiraling out from the center of the shop. His office walls did little to muffle the rancorous assault. He braced the door with the bulk of his shoulder, and widened his stance with a shuffle of his gargantuan feet.

04/04 Direct Link

The owner craned his neck about to regard the poet and his companion. Through his long black tendrils of unkempt hair, a wide and toothy grin peered out that could chill the spleen from the devil himself. Orpheus and the blinded man stood frozen in place, weary of the creature's intent, and the purpose of their current imprisonment. Finally he spoke in his cavernous and resonant timbre. “There's a back door to the alley there, behind those boxes,” he said, “but make haste, there isn't much time before the fire axe is discovered, and made use of against us all."

04/05 Direct Link
“Actually sir,” said the blinded man, “this is far from our first angry mob.”
“And recently they've developed with great frequency as well,” said Orpheus shoving boxes clear of the door.
“Such is the plight of a ruinous life, hmm?” smiled the creature. A heavy thud rattled the door at his shoulder, and he repositioned himself away from its center. “I believe they found the axe.”
Orpheus pushed the last of the boxes aside, opened the door a crack, and peered outside at the still empty alley. He ducked back inside and began, “I am very sorry about your shop.”
04/06 Direct Link

“Don't trouble yourself, master poet,” chuckled the creature with the warmest smile his ghastly features could muster. “This is not my first angry mob either.” A glimmering sliver of axe blade breached the surface of the door with a loud crack. Splinters fractured and flew as it was wrenched free for another blow. His smile steeled to a potent melange of earnest and resolve. “And I'll be damned if this rabble will be my last.”

Orpheus gave him a nod and led the blinded man quickly toward the door. “How can we ever repay you, brother?” said the blinded man.

04/07 Direct Link

Orpheus paused mute in the door way, and searched in vain for adequate words of gratitude. The store owner locked eyes with him, clasped a hand to his chest, and said, “You have restored what has lain fallow beneath this breast for immeasurable time. Damn the material trappings of this hollow purgatory of ash. You have let slip, hope from beneath the lid of Pandora's box, a thing I had long since abandoned to myth.” The door cleaved into wobbling jagged planks. “Now go!” Orpheus recognized a rare and precious kinship in the creature's poignant eyes, and thank him.

04/08 Direct Link

“We can't just leave him,” said Orpheus.

“Yes we can,” said the blinded man, “They don't want him. They're after you. If we stay, they wont stop until they get what they want. You know this. Orpheus, we need to go! For him, we should go.” The full head of the axe slashed through the door. Before it could struggle free, the store owner grabbed hold of the cruel steel and tore it through the door. Armed with it, he commanded the crowd to cease their rampage with a terrifying roar. The blinded man pulled Orpheus away into the alley.

04/09 Direct Link

Orpheus closed his eyes for an instant, and felt the unfettered keening absence in his heart. It sat ragged and pleading in his chest. A moment later, he and the blinded man were running down the alley. They crossed a busy street to blaring car horns, rounded a corner, and cut through a pay-lot. They ran until their lungs ached, and their legs felt palsied and burned. They could take no more. They collapsed behind a milk-soured dumpster, beneath where a gray squirrel squatted, and gnawed on a chicken bone.

“Low Cowardice!” panted Orpheus,... “I need a drink.” 

04/10 Direct Link

“Here, here!” gasped the blinded man. Between breaths he continued. “I know a place,... it's quiet,... it's not far,... we wont be,... bothered.”

Their strength returned, and they left the rodent to its meal. The blinded man directed Orpheus a few blocks away to The Gateway Tavern.

Inside, just as promised, Orpheus glanced around and observed no one beyond a lone bartender, and an ancient black mastiff by the back door. By all its appearances the dog was either sound asleep or possibly dead. The blinded man retired Orpheus to a remote booth, and made his way to the bar.

04/11 Direct Link

The blinded man ordered drinks, and engaged in some quiet conversation with the bartender. Orpheus slumped in the booth, and willed his dehiscent heart closed with each measured breath. He ground his heel against a fresh ruptured blister beneath the table, and drew a smear of blood from his lip between his grinding teeth. The blinded man opened a tab, and headed back to the booth. Orpheus sat up and spread out his left hand, palm down, on the surface of the table. He made a white-knuckled fist with the other and punched it. There was a sickening crunch.

04/12 Direct Link

“Pluto's thorny balls!” exclaimed the blinded man, “I wish you'd stop that!” Orpheus wiped the trickle of blood from his lip, and slipped his hands beneath the table. “Here,” said the blinded man sliding Orpheus his drink, “if you need hit something.” He held his glass as though to toast, 'to one step ahead of the mob,' but thought better of it. He sat quietly and sipped his drink instead. Orpheus produced a fistful of red brick-dust and salt, and poured it into his own glass. The blinded man sighed with exasperation, and said “Hera's crippled bastard, what now?”

04/13 Direct Link

Orpheus did not answer. He finished corning his drink, and bent over the table to suck up the spilled portion. Before reaching his lips to the puddle, the blinded man insisted, “What did you just do? You do something to your drinks. What is it?” Orpheus made a quick huff at the puddle then sat back. He gave the blinded man the most terse description possible. At its conclusion the blinded man dumfounded. It was as though Orpheus's words were only recognizable as individuals, taken out of context. Together they were rendered meaningless, and as clear as hard tallow.

04/14 Direct Link

The blinded man finally broke the awkward silence, “Are you aware of what awful company you tend to make?”

“Said the pot to the kettle," answered Orpheus sipping his gritty drink.

“The irony of my statement is not entirely lost on me, no,” said the blinded man, “but I must say, it is awful, because it is. It is truly awful. Sharing a little time and space with you is trying on a Sisyphean level. Did you know that?”

Orpheus shrugged and continued sipping.

“Did you just shrug?” asked the blinded man, “Did you just shrug at a blind man?”

04/15 Direct Link

“That poor doomed soul,” said Orpheus, “I will carry the guilt of his abandonment to the end of my days, if 'end' ever comes.”

It took the blinded man a moment to contend with the non sequitur, and connect what was said with the fate of the creature they left behind with the riotous crowd. "So you have beaten yourself bruised and perhaps bloody for his sake?” he asked.

“What?” said Orpheus, “no. I was merely stating a fact. I realize he's capable of defending himself and his property alone. I just feel our leaving him was cowardly and inhumane.”

04/16 Direct Link

The blinded man pressed on. “So there's some other reason for all the repulsion, the self-injurious behavior?” Orpheus acknowledged nothing. “Fine,we can leave the self flagellation aside for now, but how about this brick-dust and salt business? Any thoughts?" Orpheus kept mum. “It's her, isn't it?” said the blinded man, “It's all for her,... isn't it?” Orpheus stiffened. His broad shoulders climbed up and inward. He glanced down at his swelling left hand, then feigned distraction over one of his coiling shoulders. The blinded man continued to pry and prod as though unaware of the mounting fury.

04/17 Direct Link

“You scourge yourself in every way imaginable, at every opportunity, and taint all you imbibe with salty filth, and it's all for her. Tell me, do you imagine, that out there, somewhere, your sweet Eurydice appreciates all these gestures?” Orpheus exploded across the table. He grabbed two handfuls of the blinded man's rags and flesh, and yanked him half-over the table.

“If you cherish your lips and tongue you'll keep that name far from them around me, understand?!” The blinded man nodded, and Orpheus dropped him back into his seat. “Hear me, Oedipus, I won't tell you this again.” 

04/18 Direct Link

A tense silence passed between them. Finally Orpheus spoke. “He has her in a keep, Hades. Its brick and mortar, five akainas thick, no windows, no doors. A swirling gray sea surrounds it. Waves pound at its base on all sides, but never leave so much as a mark.” He turned his glass in the light. “I hear those waves in my sleep, as does she in her every waking moment. I feel the cold mason stone, as does she against her cheek, and I taste the tears she leaves there as she weeps.” Orpheus raised his glass and drank.

04/19 Direct Link

Orpheus finished his drink in one deft shot, and signaled for another. The blinded man bowed his head into his hands to ponder what he just heard.

“Well then,” said Orpheus, “Was that adequate?” The blinded man looked stunned.

“I,...” he said, “I don't have words. I can't fathom your,... the pain, gods!.”

“No,” said Orpheus, “I meant your song? Was that sufficient?”

“Oh,” said the blinded man, “that, of course! yes! exquisite, everything I'd hoped, and more. I'm afraid I don't have the words there either. Your gifts defy reason.” The bartender replaced the empty with a full glass.

04/20 Direct Link
“You suffer alone, sir,” said the blinded man, “but know you are not the only one.” His tone resonated with stark sincerity. Orpheus turned and regarded him as though for the first time. He continued. "There is no love waiting for me across any sea. I have the whole of the empty world as my prison. You may think my desires are base or callous, but they are all I have. I am a vile and wretched scoundrel, to be sure, but I come by it in the most honest way. For what it's worth, you needn't feel entirely alone.”
04/21 Direct Link

“I can appreciate that,” said Orpheus. “You have my sympathies. Of all the arbitrary devils on Mt Olympus that glut themselves upon human suffering, the Fates, the sisters Moirai, are by far the least forgivable. In a man's life he learns to loath their ilk respectively; Clotho, the spinner, for permitting our birth in such evil times, Lachesis, the allotter, for the perennial coat of hide with which she burdens all our days, and finally Atropos, the unturnable, for the inevitably undue time of our death.” Orpheus gave a grim chuckle. “You and I owe her dereliction a special thanks.”

04/22 Direct Link

Orpheus paused to salt his drink, and the blinded man seized the opportunity to reroute their conversation. “I'm sorry,” he said, “You'll have to excuse my thick-headed lack of deduction here, but about your hand,” he hesitated as though treading over jagged broken glass, “and before, all this self-abuse?”

“Yes?” said Orpheus over the dusted rim of his glass, “what of it?”

“Well,” said the blinded man, “'what of it' indeed? why do you do it?”

Orpheus peered down at his blooming purple hand. His fingers splayed out on their own with pulsing turgidity. “Good question,” he said.

04/23 Direct Link

“My, 'gifts,'” said Orpheus, "you called them, 'defy reason'? I don't know, but what I can say is they are not free. They demand sacrifice to exercise. 'Some assembly required,' I believe the phrase goes.”

“I see,” said the blinded man. “But just then, when you hit your hand, I heard bones break, for what was that a payment?”

“Well," smiled Orpheus, " I don't do encores if that's what you're entreating."

“No, neither do I,” said the blinded man, “not without a sandwich and a nap first.” Peels of laughter erupted from Orpheus, and it warmed the blinded man's heart.

04/24 Direct Link

“Hah!” said Orpheus, “maybe you're not such bad company after all. You can make a man laugh. I'll give you that.”

The blinded man smiled, and gave a short mock bow. “And not just any man. I might add.”Orpheus nodded his head to acknowledgment the feat.

The moment passed, and he went on to explain how within his heart he contained all his memories of Eurydice. They filled a stone keep there, much like what Hades built to imprison her in Tartarus. “The constant repression of these memories is vital to my sanity,” said Orpheus, “what's left of it.”

04/25 Direct Link

In order for his song to attain its full endowment, Orpheus willed this keep open, and allowed its contents to fill and inspire him unbridled. He described the experience as “-akin to the quickening of desire to a sentient and willful presence,” and as “-cold-flaying the hide from the inside his soul.” Enabling the escape was always a far simpler task than the re-capture. Localizing pain, distal to his heart, afforded him the focus and strength required for re-sealing the vault with all wistful ghosts and howling anguish inside. The completed explanation left the blinded man speechless.

04/26 Direct Link

Orpheus swirled his drink, spiraling its coppery silt into a rising nebulous cone. “So,” he said, “if you've no more curiosities, our bargain still needs some requiting.”

The blinded man stirred himself from revery and said, “Well, since you asked, I do have one more question.” Orpheus gestured for him to proceed, but he felt a tinge of impatience creep into his chest. “About the keep,”continued the blinded man, “Hades's keep, not your own, you understand?” Orpheus nodded. “No soul of the perished has ever escaped the Land of the Dead. So why build a prison within that prison?”

04/27 Direct Link

Orpheus went dumb. He felt as though the answer laid there as obvious as if it swirled around in his glass, but he just could not give it tongue.

“Think on it,” said the blinded man, “no one, no one dead that is, has ever returned from Tartarus, as far as we know, yes? So why then would Hades, after all his duties and obligations as its supreme ruler, waste the energy building a secondary prison, an inner prison? The cost and effort hardly seems worth it for mere redundancy?”

“Who can claim understanding of anything they do?!” Orpheus snapped.

04/28 Direct Link

“Be that as it may, Orpheus, however, what gods do undoubtedly makes sense from their point of view.”

Orpheus lurched forward to the edge of his seat. “'Their point of view?” he scoffed, “Listen, their point of view is maximum yield! How to expect it. And how to extract it! That is best borne in mind when forced to encounter any such beings.”

The blinded man sensed the launch of another fervorous tirade, and chose to rest his point. The opportunity to re-husband the wild snorting charger would come again soon enough, when it dipped its head to drink.

04/29 Direct Link

The blinded man played the attentive listener. He did not side with the arguments outright, but supported the impetus beneath each of Orpheus's bitter assertions regarding the “-black-hearted and thoughtless gods,” and their “-arbitrarily molestations of the poor and innocent mortals,” with an affirmative nod, “mhm,” or “aye.” Soon enough the sermon ran its course with Orpheus mumbling into his glass, “-the rapacious monsters devalue compassion, shed no tears, my friend, they care not.”

The blinded man interjected at last, “if that is so-?”

“It is!” Orpheus insisted through a grimace and labored swallow of saline grit and mud.

04/30 Direct Link

“Hear me out,” the blinded man began again. “Take the king of Ephyra. You're familiar?”

“Sisyphus,” said Orpheus, signaling the bartender for another round.

“Yes,” said the blinded man, “doomed forever to roll a boulder up a great hill only to have it roll back down again, day in, day out.”

“Go on,” said Orpheus.

“And where is this great hill?”


“Yes!” said the blinded man, “Tartarus, the Land of the Dead, and home of the angered god who set him to the task in the first place.”

Orpheus puzzled over the blinded man's blurry point with diminishing patience.