“Make some tea! Make some tea! Water in the pot, pot on the stove, fire in the stove, wait. Such a fine morning it is!” The old man stepped into his front landing and absorbed the day. Breathing in each moment of peace and solitude. The mountains surrounding him were gleaming in the sunlight. It had snowed all through the night, though not very hard, and the world was covered in a thin white robe. It was not terribly cold, though. The world would disrobe before evening fell. “Perhaps I will have some rice and egg, and if it is good a may have some cake after.” “It is a very crisp morning. Perhaps I should dig into the carrots and share in the crispness.” He breathed in the fresh air once more and began the walk to his breakfast.
“Oof?” The old man looked around. “I did not oof! There is no reason to oof ! Who is oofing?” He stretched his ear out and cupped it. Silence answered. “Hmph! I can ‘Hmph!’ at my mind, for it is imagining oofs where there are none.” He turned to re-enter his mountain abode.
“Aggh?! Now I know I heard aggh. There is no doubt. What could it be? Just a few paces from the entrance of his home, there was a sheer cliff. In fact, on all sides of his home, by no more than a few feet there was a sheer cliff. He had built his home in a small cave near the summit of his mountain. He loved the natural setting and the quiet. He was able to traverse the valley every few months for supplies, but he did not climb. He had his own secret way up and down the cliffs and was not wont to share it He stepped to the edge and squinnied. No birds or anyone in the distance. “Hello?”
“He- oh God… Hello!” A voice called from below.
The old man quickly withdrew from the cliff side. “Oh no. Not again….” he grumbled.
The old man had departed his village long ago, back when he was more commonly referred to as the regular young man. His village was growing very dense at the time, but it was not growing very large. The hustle and bustle weighed on him as he tried to carve out time in which he could pray, and study, and work on his crafts. It was nearly impossible to concentrate on holy and deep matters while outside his window men were proffering cheap baubles and making lewd rhymes to music, and women were gyrating in all manners their exposed bodies. The day he decided to leave the village for good, he condemned the shallow fools with powerful and biting words and stormed out in a rage. He knocked over an oxcart or two on his way out. He roamed the forest for a while before finding his ideal cave in this mountain near enough to a village for trade and renovated it into a livable space.
What he did not know was the effect his exiting speech had had on the people of the village. They were shamed and began to turn their carnal desires and brutish lifestyles into more scholarly and devotional deeds. The village’s officials sent trackers to find the wise young man so that they could shower him in riches and follow his leadership. It took them a few years to discover his home, and by this time he was referred to as the wise middle-aged man of the mountain. They begged him to return, to usher them into a new era of prosperity. He was charmed at the prospect for a moment, but when he learned of some of the claims the village-folk were making about his abilities, he realized the wisest thing to do would be to stay put. For he wasn’t exactly a wise man, he was just a regular man who had gotten sick of the idiots he was surrounded by and moved away.
The wise old man of the mountain scuttled to the cliff-side once again and studied the small ragged boy from the village.
“Sir, I come from the village of your birth, where your wisdom and love are well known and celebrated! I have traveled many miles, traversed traversed great dangers, and fought fierce battles to meet with you!”
“That’s nice! Hello! Go back home now!”
The boy was dirty, and his clothes were shredded. He was not a strong looking boy either, and thin. “Probably should have died numerous times during the trip. He will probably want food, a bath, and tea if he makes it up.” The old man paused. “Tea… now there’s an idea!” He ran to the stove, grabbed the boiling pot and returned to the cliff. “Oops!” he cried loudly and intentionally, and dumped the boiling water over the edge of the cliff. He waited for the screams but couldn’t bear to look. None came. He turned back to the boy and found him closer.
“Damn. I missed….” He pondered his situation for a bit longer. “I am not dressed for company you know!” he yelled downward.
“Then put on something while I’m climbing up!”
“I’m deathly ill! …and contagious! My canary caught whatever I have and keeled over! You’ll get it too if you come up here!”
“Wise man, you will need comfort then in your dying days! Though I suspect this is a kind of test of will! I won’t fail you!”
“Dammit, boy! Go home or I’ll kill you!” He turned back to his cave. The morning was just passing when the boy finally finished his ascent. The wise old met him at the edge, scowling. The boy fell to his knees and kissed at the feet of his master.
“O wise old man of the mountain, who years past dwelt among the unworthy people of my village…”
“…who healed the sick and raised the dead, who taught us to seek knowledge and love one another instead of cutting each other to bits and copulating with any available woman, whether she was clean or unclean, who brought the holy light of God upon our village and persuaded him to spare us and make us like unto Himself, I come to you to ask that you take me under your wing that I may soar to new heights of spiritualism and peace, and take your words and knowledge to our people in these troubled times.”
“Rise, young man, for I will teach you that which you should know.”
The boy’s eyes lit up. “Thank you, my master.”
“Yes child, lesson one we must start right away. Take these words into your heart and never forget them.” He placed his foot on the boys chest, “Don’t ever bother the crazy old man who lives in the cave on the top of the mountain!” And he thrust the boy off of the cliff.
(To be continued in 1/9/2013: Zeroth)