For my first 1,000 Word Challenge entry for 2009, I have chosen this link sent to me by Sarah:
I’m pretty happy with the end result. 889 words, and a compelling story. I feel that there is more that I can do, but then it would grow past 1,000 words faster than you can say “Hermaphroditos” three times fast.
Gregory kicked the white sheet off himself, revealing his bony, striped pajama covered body to the early morning sun. His back ached fiercely, his body discomforted by another night’s sleep in a hammock that swayed on the porch of his small Cape Cod home. Gregory hated waking up in the dimness of his dark home when he could greet the day with the roar of the ocean in his ears and a brilliant sunrise in his eyes. He looked out over the flat expanses that lurked outside of Provincetown, then at the town itself.
The streets were small and cramped, the houses and businesses too close together. It was as if the entire town was crammed into the toe of a sock. There was no room for new growth; just buildings that would empty and be refilled like the shell of a hermit crab. Gregory reached for his toes, hearing his back crackle as it decompressed. Rising up, he lifted his arms high towards the sky, appearing to the entire world that he was bowing worshipfully at the sun. He was a lover of nature, disdaining the small town that crouched at the edge of North America. Soon, the height of summer would be upon the Northeast, and soon the tourists would come to Provincetown, or P-Town as they liked to call it.
Gregory hated the tourists as much as he hated the town. The tourists brought the outside world with them; he believed that the tourists brought the artists and with the artists came the homosexuals. The homosexuals (as Gregory always called them in barely tolerant tones) brought the drag queens, and the drag queens brought more tourists. That was the vicious cycle, and it continued until the town was brimming with people, vexing Gregory more and more as the years passed.
People, thought Gregory, it’s always people. They come and take from nature all they want and never give back. They have no reverence for the sea anymore. For them, it’s a place to play for the day. They don’t take the time to realize that she is our mother, mistress, and murderer all in one. Well, they will rue the day they came here and stole my land. Gregory saw the inhabitants of Provincetown as thieves who stole the life he knew when whaling was dying, as thieves who even stole words from him; he could no longer feel gay, nor could he think of a crab with human hands as queer. They even stole the “rovince” out of Provincetown.
He looked at himself in the mirror. He was old and white, just what the country did not need anymore. He combed his snowy beard and hair, remembering his grandfather on his mother’s side. He was a jovial Canadian that spoke with a thick Quebecois accent that Gregory found endearing. He remembered thinking that his grandfather looked just like Pere Noel when they sent him out to sea to rest. The outside world wouldn’t allow Gregory to be sent out to sea when death came. The outside world would put him in a box, maybe set him on fire.
Taking a handful of pomade, he began to shape his long beard into winding tendrils. Some people saw him as eccentric, and few knew that the beard was a symbol of his vocation. He was a priest of the sea gods, and his congregation was shrinking like a starfish left to dry in the sun. Today was a special day. It commemorated the anniversary of the destruction of Argos, and Gregory hoped that all would be in place to send everyone screaming from Provincetown like Acrisius with his head on fire. Slowly, he dressed in a fine suit, donning a chain that suspended a golden clamshell above his heart.
He went to town, smiling deceptively at the tourists. None of them knew that he would call on Neptune to release the Kraken; they didn’t know that he’d be amongst his congregation at midnight, chaining a woman to a rocky promontory. They also wouldn’t have been able to imagine the irate screaming of this quirky, smiling old man when one of his followers failed him.
“What is wrong with you? This is not a woman, you clam-brained toad!” Gone was all semblance of civility as Gregory fumed and spittle foamed on his lips like the crashing tide. A spindly-limbed woman with a prominent over bite begged Gregory’s forgiveness, but it was all ready too late.
“He looks like a woman. He was in the women’s room when we abducted him. He was sitting down to pee!” cried the woman as she groveled. The transvestite she and the other followers had brought stood in a stupor, half tied to a large rock, with his wig askew on his head.
“Instead of Andromeda you brought me,” pausing dramatically, he looked at the drugged cross dresser, “Hermaphroditos!” Gregory spit out the name with contempt.
“Maybe the Kraken won’t notice,” offered a voice from the congregation.
“From far away, you really can’t tell,” said another.
“Maybe he’d like a man for a change. You know, for variety,” said a third.
Gregory stroked his furrowed brow and shook his head. The sea was all ready churning, and soon the Kraken would rise. The priest just hoped the Kraken would not be too disappointed.