People cross the snowy valley, good folk, from rustic places beyond snowy hills. They come with parliamentary questions, with riddles, with quandaries and yarns to fiddle. The giants too, asking giant things, as giants do.
“Has the North Star fallen?”
“Who protects the soul bird’s soul?”
He wouldn’t have any of it. He would balk at their rationale. He would quip, be glib, but amusing.
“Did Lalli really slay that Bishop? We gotta know!” an old-timer yells, already anticipating the punchline.
“Axe me another one. I’ll try and finger it out.” Always so cleaver.
The old-timer leans to his son, a younger man, “that’s an old one… a classic. One that I love.”
“What’s that city doing up there, you?” A woman, a wooly coat, shouts at him between the waves of applause and laughter.
“It is none of your concern, what’s stuck to the ceiling, on the shell of the egg.” He bleets, smiling that clever Reindeer smile.
Laughter from a single source, off cue, erupts from the center of the crowd. “Oh…” the laugh, a lady’s, is musical and pure. “I get it!” the voice suddenly recognized as elderly chimes, “… after more than 80 years, I finally get it! That joke you told me, as a child, ha, the joke, all those years ago. What subtle humor indeed!” she manages to articulate between her spells of riotous laughter.
“Tell us! How does it go?!” a small boy cries.
The woman looks at the reindeer, through the tears in her eyes, and only laughs harder. “I…” she pauses and laughs. “I can’t remember how it goes!”
“Me either!” cries the reindeer. He too begins to laugh, triggering a contagious and enormous laughter in the crowd. It is a melodious laugh, orchestral, symphonic. The elderly woman, whose laugh dances above the babbling brook laughter of the crowd, falls down from laughing. She laughs and sighs, leaning back onto her elbow on the stairs. The crowd, not laughing at her, but with her, collectively reaches to help her up, but she laughs and shoos them off. She leans back and sighs again, a most satisfying sigh, and dies there, cradled in the ripples of laughter in the air.
The soul bird, flashing on the horizon, zips in, right in time. The crowd cheers, greeting him. He, casting beams of light from the flutter of his wings, bathes the recently deceased, and she becomes a bear, born giggling. The reindeer bursts into laughter again, triggering another wave from the crowds symphony. The soul bird carries the cub off the stairs, through the air, and to the woods outside the city on the ceiling of the egg, to start a new life, full of new jokes and elusive honey.
Eventually the crowd recovers. The reindeer shakes his head adroitly, wiggles his ears, and takes a breath, “next?”
Eaters is multi-instrumentalist/composer Bob Jones and recording engineer/sound designer Jonathan Schenke. The Brooklyn-based duo have new material in the works, to follow their self-titled 2014 debut on Driftless Recordings/Dull Tools. They play Rough Trade tomorrow with Dan Deacon.