Typhoon in #China
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Hute caught Klara as she fell forward. “This demon. The Red Demon,” he said. “It promised to destroy all of our line. This Red Demon told me that I had destroyed all of his. I cannot beat this demon. It can take and take. And I cannot stop it. It is not all the same as the others.” Hute waved his hand at me in an abrupt stop. He brought his hand to Klara’s face and rubbed her cheek. She came awake again.
“Your next question will come,” he said, beginning to take off his coat. “It will come and then answer itself.” Next came his shirt, and then he was stripped to the waist again, the same old Hute. The fine bones of his chest poked at his skin. The necklace of teeth rattled free above his sunken stomach.
Hute reached his left hand to his right shoulder. What I saw made me jump to my feet at first, and then nearly vomit on the floor of the jail. He spread open the wound on his shoulder with his thumb and finger. Blood poured forth and I heard a ripping sound.
“Have you lost your damned….” I said. He shook his head no, that I wasn’t to talk, as the blood pooled into his cupped hand. Slowly, and without spilling a drop, Hute moved his hand to Klara’s shoulder. The smell of rotten eggs came on strong in the air. Hute flipped his hand and slammed it on Klara’s wound as if going after a fly. No blood leaked down, all poured into the wideness of where she had been stabbed. He lifted his hand up less than an inch, reached his head over close, and blew a quick breath into the arch of his fingers.
When he pulled his hand away, the skin was without puncture nor scab nor scar. Just plain flesh.
Klara worked her head from side to side, shrugged her shoulders. She said, “Iz done now. Iz time to fix yours.”
“Not yet,” Hute said. “He is a thick one and he must know.”
“Ve can tell him later,” Klara said.
“The fat man at the bar is living right in his dying,” Hute said to Klara. “There may be no later. The king is a thick one. You should have asked me to do it long ago. Now it must be done.”
“It iz okay zen,” Klara said, “for you to do it now.”
She reached up and pulled off the goggles. If you had seen her for the first time just then, without even the black goggles, you would have even been more sure of yourself that she was blind. Her eyes were nearly all white. The circles in the middle of her eyes were just a shade darker than the rest, like an egg held against a spring cloud. It was as if what was once an eye had been turned nearly to dust by a thousand years in the sun.
Hute repeated the ghastly operation of his shoulder. More ripping, more blood. This time I saw his face twinge in pain, the first and last time I ever saw him give outward sign of any suffering. He did not slap her across the eyes as he had done her shoulders, but he was firm in placing the blood there. This time, the seal was not perfect, perhaps due to the angle, and tiny rivulets of Hute’s blood ran their path down Klara’s cheeks. He blew into the crescent of his fingers once again.
This time, though, it did not happen so instantly. I did, in fact, believe at first that he had done no good at all. Klara’s eyes were rimmed with the blood, but the middles were still white as before. But slowly, with just a pinpoint of color at a time, it returned. It was a magical thing to witness. I stared so hard into her eyes that the obvious did not occur to me. I dreamt that I was watching the sky being written, else the ocean filling in for the first time. When I realized just how blue her eyes were, it felt like the devil himself had reached into my chest and stopped my heart from beating. Klara’s eyes were the exact same eyes I had seen in the mirror for all of my twenty-five years. They were the same eyes I had tried to see in the picture of my mother since I could remember. They were the same eyes I imagined when I spoke lies of my mother to my friends as a child. They were my daughter’s eyes, no less an impact than if she had appeared through magic right there in the jail, more real and alive than every pore of her flesh and smile and wonder.
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As of today, I have been in #China for 7 straight years.
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