Thursday, July 19, 2012

Elephants, Eagles, and Crocodiles: Excerpt from La Maga

“And what are these creatures on your dress?” Madame Whitehead inquired and waved to Leo and a man who seemed to be Mister Whitehead. “Come and listen. The maga is going to tell us a story about her dress.”

“Alright then, let’s see it in color—the story, I mean. Leo, you’re the expert,” the gentleman said.

“An illustrated tale?” Leo mused.

“Do you want to see Leonard do it?” Sofia grinned. “Lenny. Come here,” she anxiously chanted.

A group converged around Sofia and Leonard in the center of the patio to hear the story.

“Okay. Now make it nice. Nothing cheesy, Leonard,” Sofia admonished.

“First tell us what these creatures are, La Maga Magus—the one’s on your dress,” Miss Noumen requested.

Sofia answered, “Elephants, eagles, and crocodiles.” Then she began: “Once, there was an elephant.”

With a fidget of fingers, Leonard created a handsome-looking, scaled down elephant, the size of a chair. It had big, winnowing ears and long, thick tusks and was floating in space.

“We need an Indian elephant. That one’s African,” Sofia said. “Sorry, Lenny.”

The ears had to shrink, and the tusks had to be much thinner although Sofia told Leonard that they could be longer and curly.

“Make the scene junglely with a watering hole,” she instructed.

The elephant began to plod in place while the flora within the courtyard grew denser and more enveloping. The creature reared its trunk and let out a squeak.

“Okay. So, once there was an elephant,” she stuttered again, with her usual goofy bravado. “And it went to go soak in a lake when a humongous crocodile—not an alligator, Leonard, a crocodile—caught the elephant’s leg in its jaws.”

The ladies screamed. A creature heretofore resembling a rock jumped out and gripped the elephant’s right hind leg. Bellowing and thrashing began. The ruckus spilled beyond the magical mirage’s boundaries causing the walls and pillars within the courtyard to shudder, the trees to bend and sway. Quelled swamp water doused everyone and made a mess.

“Good show, Leonard!” the impressed guests cried. They blotted their mussed hair and attire.

“The crocodile was going to drag the elephant under and have a tasty meal, but in that moment, as the elephant faced its death, it remembered that, in a past life, it was a human king who was very devoted to the Divine Pervading Principle of the Universe, Lord Vishnu. I’ll do that one, Lenny,” Sofia interjected and went on: “The elephant prayed to Lord Vishnu but nothing happened. So then he prayed again, and nothing, ‘cause . . . gods are like that.” 

The thrashing and splashing, rumbling and roar continued with heightened violence. Sofia hollered her story above it: “Finally, just as the elephant was about to be overcome by the crocodile, its heart filled with the desire for—not life but . . . redemption. Nearly with its last breath, it called out one last time to the Divine Lord of the Universe. And then, the deity finally showed up, wafting around on his mighty giant eagle.”

With hands swirling in the air, Sofia materialized an image of a white eagle astride which was a handsome pale blue deity bejeweled, garlanded, and clad in orange-yellow fabric. A pack of arrows were strapped to his back. With his four arms, he held a conch shell, a discus, a gilded club, and an ornate archer’s bow.

The eagle and the deity placidly soared in loops overhead that Leo—inspired—doctored into a luminously endless galactic sky. Indeed, he obscured the boundaries of the courtyard with a wave of his hand, creating a jungle. Startling caws of birds and small primates, moisture, heat, and smells of musk, detritus, exotic flora, and loam enveloped the audience. Wild creatures lurked in the distance.

“Although on the brink death, the elephant plucked a lotus from the lake and held it aloft as an offering to the deity,” Sofia continued. “Acknowledging the gesture, Lord Vishnu whirled his discus to stun the crocodile. He dismounted his eagle, and—this should be good, Len—grasping the crocodile’s jaws, he tore the creature apart.”

Guts spattered across the room and doused all who were near. Squeals, grunts, and laughter resounded.

Quietly amused, Sofia wiped her forehead and picked bloody bits of grizzle from her hair. Lord Vishnu, spotless despite the grisly conquest, flew on his eagle into the sky’s galactic radiance. The elephant, showered in flowers, trumpeted and assumed a kneeling stance. Sofia recited the last stanza of a prayer:

“In the early morning, I praise that great god who holds the conch and the discus with which he tore apart the crocodile to relieve the elephant’s great distress. He who removes all fear, him I praise so that the sins committed by me in previous births may be destroyed.”

Sofia placed her hands over her face because the words still made her cry.

“That was very sweet,” the ladies said. The men heartily applauded and pat Leo on the back because his son was so clever.

Excerpt from Chapter 9 Elephants, Eagles and Crocodiles from La Maga A Story about Sorcerers and Magi by Soror ZSD23 available from 
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