(8:09 am Nov 26, 2005)
Ignore. As in, I think you might want to ignore this day's writing as well gentle reader. Not that I will not try and find something to at least amuse you. I will. Just that I will attempt to speed through the sections once again.
Ignore. Dismiss. Neglect. Fail to acknowledge. I so broke, I can't pay attention.
Vikta D. was a mess this morning. He was mourning this morning. He was still in his pegging garb. Still sitting on a bench at the tournament grounds. He had been up all night, cradling the broken remains of Chocolate lovingly in his hands. From the very first peg last night, his uneasiness had begun to come to life as an actuality. Chocolate, normally such a home gal, had taken to going on long walks. He tried talking her out of it, but she ignored him. Ignored everything he had to say to her. Not only had she taken to walking, but unlike in the past when she could be guided along easily with the string, last night she had had a mind of her own, he would try and guide her and she would constantly keep trying to wander off in some other direction.
Worse, again, she refused to be picked up and carried. Every time he tried, she would jump off of his palm and back down onto the tarmac. It was frustrating and his fear for her rose with every incident.
(8:21 am Nov 26, 2005)
Luckily, the challenger was off his game as well. Chocolate too some early minor damage, but gave as well as she got for the early going, even though it wasn't easy. When Vikta D. saw what was happening he decided that the way to save Her was to be sure his hit home on every peg so as not to have to bring Chocolate back around for the touch. This was the beginning of the end. The pressure on a pegging team is high, but bearable, when both partners are working well together in the dance of death. It is way too much to bear for one.
Vikta was able to hold up under the pressure for a while. Hitting the opponent on the throw, even if in ways that did not inflict too much damage. But, the pressure was too much. He would miss and Chocolate would go wandering off. Sometimes, he could coax her back for the touch, sometimes she just would not come and down she would go. To sit and take the blows of her larger opponent. Each peg she suffered brought a stab of pain to Vikta's heart. It was almost as if they were joined in some way.
(8:33 am Nov 26, 2005)
The tops continued to give and receive blows from each other for an hour. The crowd was getting restless. It wasn't the length of the bout, no, pegging crowds would happily watch a match that went on for hours as long as the battle was fought at a high level of skill. Tonight's battle was anything but, however. Vikta could not bring himself to care though. His only thoughts were for the safety of Chocolate. He considered walking away from the match and conceding. The problem was he would lose Chocolate in any event, but if it were a sure way to save her he would have done it. Pegging doesn't work like that though.
(8:38 am Nov 26, 2005)
Electric. Thrilling. Tense. Power. Storm. Electron. Conductor. Wire. Heater. Engine. Motor. Energy. Plenty energy. Dam.
Under the rules of pegging, if a competitor walks away from a match. His top becomes the property of the other contestant who wins by default. Vikta could have lived with that, but it is the rest of the rule that he could not chance. You see, it is then up to the winner if he wants to walk away with his newly won prize or if he want to leave the other top on the ground an peg, and peg, and Peg, and PEg, and PEG nand PEG! Peg until the other top lies split open and dead on the tarmac.
Vikta knew that this would be Chocolate's fate if he were to walk away. One, he and Chocolate had been on top for too long for any opponent to leave her whole. Two, his opponent tonight had a reputation. He never took an opponents top into his stable. He never let them leave in one piece if he was victorious.
(8:47 am Nov 26, 2005)
(9:05 am Nov 26, 2005)
And so Vikta had fought on, trying again and again to split his opponents top, trying again and again to get Chocolate to listen to him, to stop walking off when she missed on the throw. To sleep on his palm when he picked her up. She was just not cooperating in anything though. She had a wild and crazed look about her which got worse as the evening progressed. She assured him that she was feeling no pain from her wounds and that she knew what she was doing.
Well, she may not have been feeling the pain from her wounds, but Vikta D. was feeling it and that pain told him how badly Chocolate was wounded. He knew she could not take much more abuse.
(9:09 am Nov 26, 2005)
Finally, in a moment of searing, electric, agony for Vikta, she split open and the match was over. Vikta fell to the ground, his heart desolate. His mind numb. He rent his clothes and was beginning on his mask when he stopped, realizing that if he did that, he could never seek his revenge for the death of Chocolate.
He had picked up her cold pieces and wandered off to the outskirts of the crowd to sit and grieve.
The other matches were fought. The new champion was crowned at the end of the tournament and the crowd dispersed. Most ignoring Vikta and Chocolate. A few came by to offer condolences and one or two to gloat. Vikta just sat. Trance like. Numb.
The starts made their way across the sky and the sun rose in the east, bringing new promise. Still Vikta D. sat, numb, his mind a strange mix of frantic kinetic energy and cold, arthritic molasses.
Finally, an old friend showed up and took him to the beach and laid him in the shade, hoping that the fresh salt air might revive him some during the day. He tried talking to him, but it was almost as if Vikta was comatose.
(9:20 am Nov 26, 2005)
Igloo. Dome. Hut. Ice. Snow. Sod. Blocks. Cold. Warm. North. Munitions? Cooler. Chest.
And so he left Vikta in the shade and went home and put together some food and drinks and packed them in his Igloo and then drove to the gas station and bought a bag of ice for the igloo and went back to the beach.
Vikta was still there in the shade although he was sitting up and looking out to sea and moaning quietly.
(9:28 am Nov 26, 2005)
He took a slam bam and a pepsi out of the cooler and handed them to Vikta. "Eat! You need something in your gut my friend."
"I don't think I could keep anything down."
"At least try, I have to go get something done. I will be back to check on you in a few hours."
"Well, I'll be here, I guess, I don't have anyplace else to go."
So he left Vikta D. sitting in the shade with a slam bam and a pepsi and the fresh salt air and drove back over the bridge to Nassau. (Actually it is no longer quite accurate to say he drove back over the bridge to Nassau as for several years now you go on one bridge and come back on another.) He headed down to Hospital Lane and sought out a particular man. A man who was the last in a long line of top makers. A man who still turned Lignum tops. A man willing to skirt the protections offered the tree and continue the old ways.
He paid his respects and handed over a warm cup of tea and a thousand dollars. "I need a favour my friend. I need you to find me your best piece of wood and I need you to reach down deep inside and make me the best top you ever have or ever will. I don't know if you heard what happened to Vikta and Chocolate last night, you must have, but I am afraid for him. He needs a new top or he might not make it."
(9:38 am Nov 26, 2005)
"I heard last night when it happened, news like that can't hide. Keep you money man. You're gonna need it for what is coming next."
"What do you mean, for what's coming next?"
"You my friend, are going to have to get Vikta away from hear for at least a few weeks so he can recover. I have been in touch with some old friends down in Long Island who are still recovering themselves. They will be able to help Vikta in this time. But you need to go with him to be a thread to his old life or he may just wander off and never come back to us. Come let me show you something."
(9:45 am Nov 26, 2005)
Jack. Jill. Hill. Pail. Water. Down. Crown. After. Bean. Giant. Golden eggs. You don't know jack. Jack Tar. Small ball. Plug. Game. Flag, who's ya people? One eyed. Car. Lift. All jacked up. Nimble. Quick. Male. Donkey. Hence jackass? Jenny - Jack's gal. Mule. Hinny. Horner. Plum.
(10:02 am Nov 26, 2005)
"That is the most beautiful piece of Lignum I have ever seen in my life."
"Isn't it though. It has been in the family for hundreds of years now, passed down from father to son along with our woodworking and carving secrets. I have thought about it long and hard since I heard the news last night. This is to be Vikta's next top. But if I make this for him, you should know that he will never step onto the field of battle with a top again with her. In fact, once I make her and he accepts her as a gift, he will never step on the filed of valour to peg with any top again. From now, till his days end, never again."
"That is a steep price, do you think he can pay it?"
"It is steep, but he can, and he must pay it if he is to recover and go on living."
"Make her then. I will give her too him and see that he accepts. Do I have to warn him as to the consequences of acceptance?"
"I will leave that up to you. Come now and watch as she is born."
(10:10 am Nov 26, 2005)
What a most auspicious time. I am sure the crabs would agree. perhaps even the soldiers.
He watched as the piece of wood (yo lucasta) was lifted lovingly and carried over to the lathe. The turning started and the birth of a new top began. A new top? An old top? Is the age of a top determined by when the tree was born, by when the wood was cut or seperated from the try in some other fashion, or by when the top was turned? We are not talking the fighting age, but rather, the real age. Did it really matter?
The top was a true beauty. He had never seen another to rival it. Chocolate, even Chocolate, had not come close to this top. But would Vikta accept? Should he warn Vikta of the consequences, or just offer the gift and let him learn the consequences later if he should accept her.
The two of them discussed this issue for a while as they admired this new top to top all tops. And as to a name? Wait and let Vikta name her is he took her in. But should he be warned? The discussion went back and forth for a long time with various pros and cons being thrown about. Finally they settled on the prior warning option. A person should not be tricked into such important decisions, even if it meant they may choose the wrong path in life. What was the right path with a life of regret? Could a person really be made to walk the right path in life by means of force? Or would it indeed be the wrong path dressed up to look like the right path? In any event, they decided they did not have to answer these questions today. It was enough that they had decided on telling Vikta the full story before offering the new top. Well, not quite, they thought that they should present the top and the offer and the warning all at once and let him weight up the options for himself.
(10:41 am Nov 26, 2005)