Big Joe Wilson wants to stay rational, but a cult has brainwashed his wife. They convinced and taught her to forget language in pursuit of an uninterpretable heaven on the other side. Now Big Joe has to decide. Will he relinquish complete control over his wife’s catatonic state to doctors, or will he give into the cult’s nonsense and go in there after her, on the other side of language?
“They Live on the Other Side of Language” is a serial novel whose chapters will appear monthly, exclusively on TuffGnarl.com.
Part II, Chapter 2
After calling Vanderbilt’s nursing station and learning of no changes in his wife’s condition, Joe dropped the house-phone’s receiver into its cradle and sighed. “You said if we cracked their faces they’d return to their real bodies. My wife’s still out there.”
Antoine patted the front door and whistled. “Let’s go. We have to replace the bodies before they wake.”
“She’s just going to return to that ceramic body, over and over.”
“Hey, we’re running down a checklist to eliminate possibilities.” He lit the cigarillo that hung from his lips. “If you hadn’t guessed, we’re venturing into the unknown here. Now get your ass moving before we have a real problem on our hands.”
At the aluminum shed, Joe loaded wheel barrels with ceramic bodies. The mobile overhead cast shadows of his wife’s limbs. Her disassembled body crisscrossed, its parts floating in different directions. The shadows traversed the shed. The dark shape of his wife’s arm bent to the dimensions of the wheel barrel, undulated across women’s ceramic bodies, and pointed accusingly at him.
Antoine answered before Joe’s brain could process the question, “To ward off the evil spirits.”
Joe couldn’t process the answer. His eyes stared blankly at his wife’s disembodied shadows, without seeing their meaning. He wanted to escape all of this by curling into Alija’s arms.
By midday, they had strung the new bodies to the trees and wheeled the broken ones back to the shed. They exchanged broken parts for new ones and reloaded the wheel barrel for a second run.
Antoine asked about Nika’s missing body, about the little girl’s. “They’re not in the pile.”
He had to snap and clap his hands for Joe to respond.
“I buried them.”
“You treated them like real bodies?” Antoine kicked the dusty floor and paced the shed. He tossed his hat across the room. “Forget for a minute that those bodies cost money. How are they supposed to return to their real bodies when you treat them as if they’re already in their real bodies?” He entered Joe’s personal space and looked-up at him. “We want to send them home, not make them feel at home. They’re probably lying in those shallow graves thinking this is what death is like. You buried your wife alive.”
(Click HERE to read the next chapter.)
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