I love to write stories with twists and turns. I love to write stories about monsters and devils . But in order to do that convincingly I have to be absolutley sure that the world is full of good things too.
So I have chosen this quote about writing by Gustave Flaubert and these photographs to illustrate the point.
” I’m telling you, ” Alivira Rust’s nextdoor neighbor told her as they stopped for their almost everyday chat at the row of mailboxes at the end of their street, ” I saw him. He was buying a Frozen Yogurt and he was standing there as real as you or me. I think he got strawberry chip and shortbread crumble toppings.
Alvira reached into her mailbox and pulled out a wad of junk mail. She really needed to get out here more often. ” Strawberry chips are gross. Just FYI.”
” You know what else? He was wearing one green sock and one blue one. You know what that means. ” Francie’s voice dropped to a whisper.
” It means he’s color blind. ” Alvira whispered back.
” That’s right Francie said. ” That means that the Devil is color blind. Can you imagine such a thing? Prince of Darkness or anything else my Aunt Fannie. The elastic was broken in one sock because it was all rumpled and slouching around his ankle.”
Francie grabbed Alvira’s wrist. ” You’d never catch God wearing rumpled slouchy mismatched socks. God wouldn’t be color blind either. God is perfect. ”
Alvira thought about it for a second and then she took her handful of junk mail and tossed it all into the bushes. ” Be sensible Francie. Do you really believe that the Devil is color blind because of mismatched socks? Maybe the Devil forgot to do the laundry and those were the only socks left in the sock drawer. And why would God wear socks? Doesn’t he fly around or ride on clouds or something?”
Francie stomped her foot. “I’m telling you. I saw the Devil in McNally’s Fro-Yo Shoppe. He’s color blind. He’s imperfect. And if you came to Church at least once every so often and maybe attended one of my Bible studies, you could spot the Devil too. It worries me that such a smart lady like you is so lacking in Spiratual matters.”
Francie collected her mail from her box and they started to walk towards their houses.
Alvira looked down and found a little stone to kick. It plunked up and down like a gray speckled little rubber ball in front of her foot.
Blah, blah, blah. Alvira thought to herself. Francie thought she was so smart because she was a Sunday School Teacher and her Camp Fire Troop had earned more badges then any other Troop in the County.
” I’m serious Alvira. I worry about you. ”
Alvira kicked the little stone and it sailed up and into a tree. A few seconds later a cloud of screeching birds took to the sky and two fat squirrels jumped into the next yard from one of the upper branches.
Francie shook her head and walked a little faster. She was muttering under her breath about Alvira’s naughty ways.
” I’m am not color blind Missy Know- it- All ” Alvira said under her breath. ” I’m tone deaf.”
Alain, whose story this is, was a victim of ‘ Fake News ‘ and a mindless mob.
In 1870 France a group of villagers brutally assaulted Alain de Monéys and then they nailed a horse shoe to one of his feet and then cut the toes off of his other foot. They gouged his eye out.
Those injuries didn’t kill him, the murderous mob burned him alive.
The oldest person tried for Alain’s murder was in his 60’s , the youngest who was encouraged to set the fire that killed him was around nine years old.
Why did they do this? Why did they go as far as to encourage a young child to participate in this demonic act?
In the book, not even the murderers really knew… but this is the ‘how’.
The Villagers deemed Alain’ to be the enemy’ the ‘other’ even though they knew none of it was true.
Make no mistake Alain’s murderers, the members of the mob who tortured him, beat him, nailed a horse shoe to his foot and then dragged him- still alive to a dry lake bed where they would burn him alive, were his friends, people who liked and respected him, who knew him for his generosity.
They also probably liked his Mother, who he called for before he died.
But in the end what mattered to them was the fantasy that they had spun about Alain being a Traitor. They invested emotional time and energy into recreating Alain into that someone else and they invested even more energy into holding that image together.
There was no turning back for them.
The truly evil act was the decision they made to beat and torture a man they knew to be a good person. They knew this fantasy was just that, but it became more real then what they KNEW to be true and they acted on it.
Four people were executed for killing Alain, others were sentenced to hard labor. The child was acquitted. But in the book the scope of how far gone these people were was when the Police treating this like a real murder investigation were faced with the realization that everyone who had been there and either attacked Alain or stood by and cheered needed to be arrested.
In other words- almost the entire town.
After reading this book my feeling was, they should have.
” How did you get so good at carving pumpkins? ” Aubrey asked her Grandmother on that last autumn evening in their golden sweet smelling and warm kitchen.
” Practice.” Enid told her Granddaughter as she delicately put the tip of her butcher’s knife against the side pumpkin’s blank face. ” Lots and lots of practice.”
She pushed the knife into he pumpkin’s flesh and as she broke the skin she told Aubrey, ” I love that smell.”
” That pumpkin smell?” Aubrey wondered out loud.
Enid looked over the pumpkin and said, ” That what?”
” That pumpkin smell.”
Enid shrugged and then pulled the knife up and dropped it down into the pumpkin in one clean motion after another.
Instead of answering her Aubrey, Enid hummed.
When she was finished she put her knife down and wrapped her fingers around the pumpkins stem. She took a breath, closed her eyes and smiled as lifted and heard the pop and rip as the top of the pumpkin’s skull came away in her hand.
Enid opened her eyes and sighed and then she answered her Granddaughter. ” No. I don’t mean that smell. I mean that other smell.”
” I can’t smell anything except for Pumpkin.”
” Really?” Enid said, ” You can’t smell that?”
Enid set the top of the pumpkin’s head down and she reached for a large wooden spoon and plunged into the pumpkin and began to scrape it out.
” Go ahead. Take a sniff. You really can’t smell that?”
Aubrey leaned over the pumpkin and sniffed.
” What is it? What should I be able to smell?”
As Enid stood up she picked the knife up off the table and said to the back of her Granddaughter’s neck as her stealthie shadow crept across the table: