The Primal Flower, Chapter 3

Our protagonist, after experiencing a little more of Lily’s family, reacts in the only way he knows how: he drinks too much.

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An excerpt:

As for me, I was neither happy nor unhappy to leave Market Makers. The patronage was all fixed, and I was an outsider: they were there to socialize; I was there to not socialize. What’s more, that fourth beer was laying a heavy load on my body in more than one way. An uphill climb with a heavy leather roll—probably, I figured, the outside of that stew we just ingested—along with those five pears, which had grown into melons while I was sitting there, not to mention the desire of at least one of those beers to escape my body. This was a cause for unhappiness. I began my journey up the hill to my house.

My house? No. To the house of the goddess; my house was sold, whose new owners had not made themselves known. What had he put in that fourth beer: a fifth beer? I knew from experience that this path was graded uniformly uphill, but this afternoon it seemed to pitch every now and again, straight down, then up. It was one thing to catch the earth coming toward me, or to try to find the earth as it sped away from me, but worst of all, the path suddenly pitched side to side, as though the path itself were trying to throw me into the ditches on either side. I was on my own adventure upon the ocean.

“Next time,” I reminded myself. “Pale does not mean light.”

“What does it mean?” a nearby stranger prodded.

“Drunk,” I said. “On my way to see a great big man with great big hands that go, that go, that go…” and I gesticulated despite the sack of pears and the roll of hide.

“Oh, I gather,” he said, grinning. “Crush your skull.”

I thought about it for a second: “Yes. Crush my skull. Why, oh why, did I have that fifth beer?”

“Brother,” he said, “that’s not my problem. But don’t worry about the next time.”

“Why not?”

“There won’t be one,” he said.

“Oh, no…” I groaned. “Don’t say that. This man, with his eyes, can make a glare so that the sun smites your brain, setting it on fire from the inside, and while you’re writhing in pain, he uses his hands to go smash!”

“You need to get home,” said the stranger, “before you cannot.”

“No home,” I said. “No home I sold it to drink beer for the rest of my life somewhere on the highways.”

The Primal Flower, Chapter 3