5. “To the Pure, All Things Are Pure”

The following morning, a package appears on the front porch. It’s wrapped in brown paper, secured with twine, and addressed to Inglorion in a bold, slanted hand. He opens it with trembling hands to find the first volume of Sir Richard Burton’s Thousand Nights and One Night. The paper and binding are stiff and fragile with age. […]

4. The Thousand Nights and One Night

Now that there are two mouths to feed, Lucius sends Inglorion to buy a half-dozen pullets, saying, “Lots of people sell them around here, but I’d recommend this fellow Brutus. He sells a few from his flock every now and then, and I think you’ll find him interesting.” And so Inglorion walks a few miles […]

3. Year Nine

Once they’ve eaten and rested, Lucius leads his father into the city. Inglorion is tired and numb. They cross the railroad tracks: Half-seen, impressive, mysterious, and entirely meaningless to our hero. He can’t make sense of the abandoned cars that clog the streets, either, so he ignores them. After miles of incoherent and abandoned cityscape, […]

2. At the Foot of the Black Mountain

At first, Inglorion felt the serene clarity that follows a long illness. As Inglorion lies there, in his son’s embrace, emotion and sensation well up within him. He says, “Where are we, Lucius? I don’t understand how you found me.” “What do you remember?” “Very little. It’s strange. I can’t recall where I’ve been recently. […]

1. Inglorion in the Elysian Fields

Inglorion emerges from a long, cold stillness. His limbs are cramped like he’s been lying in the same position for too long. He’s limp, drained and aching, as if he’s suffered a long bout of fever. Instead of the melancholy of influenza, he feels calm, distant. He rolls onto his side, lies there for a moment, then […]

33. Conclusion: The Great God Pain

Soundtrack and Video: Johnny Cash, “Hurt” Tereus wakes up, dry-mouthed, bile rising in his throat. He’s tied to the split-rail fence surrounding the stable yard. His arms and legs are spread wide, and he’s slightly bent at the waist, cheek pressed against a rough wooden beam. His bonds are cruelly tight. It’s exhausting to support his […]