The Wise man and the Fool


Witch Table 4“You know they’re watching us don’t you”

Bob looked up from the book he was reading, and inwardly sighed. It was Gary. He always sat beside him. He always wore the same black and silver shell suit and matching trainers, and, beneath his bleached blonde mop of ever unruly hair, Gary always looked at him apprehensively with his pale blue shifting eyes. Not as nervously as he watched the gargoyles that adorned the church behind them, and not as panic-stricken as when the clouds began to darken for a storm. Poor Gary, thought Bob, the cruelly named Town Fool, a schizophrenic, and a shambling delusional misfit within the local community. A laughing-stock, with his often voiced fears of persecution, and a complex puzzle to the local health authorities, and one which Bob thought they could never solve.

Gary had his orgonite pyramid though, and that was good, as it always seemed to give him some solace or protection, and a defence against the ever present dark hordes in his mind. He was rubbing it now, while he glanced up at the gargoyles. His Protector, as he called it, his protection against dark energy, and an energy emitter that helped him with his protective spells As long as he carried it, as he often reminded Bob, he was safe and he could come to no harm. Today was one of Gary’s bad days though, maybe he had forgotten to take his medication, or possibly he was scared of the dark clouds which were increasingly beginning to form

Bob wearily closed his book so as to give Gary his full attention. The gargoyles, all black and shiny from city pollution and a sharp shower earlier that morning, did look menacing and evil, and Gary needed a friend to talk to; but this was Bob’s break time too. Bob knew that, as a vicar, he was expected to be wise, and to have all the answers, but even he needed a few minutes’ space and reflection, so under his breath, and very discreetly, he gently chastised the gargoyles as they shone in the cool morning air.

“Go thee hence Gargoyles, go back to your Lord and Master, and leave me and Gary alone!”

But the gargoyles remained, looking down at Bob and Gary. There was no escape, there was to be no easy resolution, and as Gary looked skywards, Bob knew that his brief moment of reflection had come to an end.

…………………………………………………………………………

“Them there gargoyles are servants of the dark forces, and of the Dark Lord and Master who can never be named. I’ve got this pyramid and my spells, and they’re out to get me. I’m clever though, I’ve got protection, but I need to be careful and keep watching, otherwise they’ll come down and grab me, and then they’ll take my pyramid and my power”

Bob sadly looked at Gary, as the young man repeatedly turned and stroked the pyramid that he carefully cupped in his hand

“They won’t get you Gary; they’re just bits of stone held on by chunks of mortar. They can’t hurt you, and they never will”

Gary didn’t believe him though, as Bob knew would never believe him, and after shaking his head, Gary pointed yet again skywards, and up towards the gargoyles and the now menacing clouds

“No, no, they’re bad’uns. Folk like me understand the land beneath and around us, we have to be watchful. They be our enemies, and if we aren’t careful they’ll come down amongst us and destroy us all. Nasty things is gargoyles, brutish, selfish, and aggressive, they swoop down from the walls and the tower tops, grabbing and killing everything they can find. Never trust them Father, just like their Lord and Master they are evil and bad. We know about such thing do us pagans that is why we spend so much time living so close to the ground! Sometimes they ride forth to try and get us, and if there are too many of them we have to go and hide.

Bob studied Gary carefully, as the young man rose to his feet and began to walk around in a circle.

He was still muttering, and still pointedly looking skywards; a poor confused creature living out of time and place, in a world that he could never, and would never, fully understand. Everyone in the community knew about Gary and his shell suit, or Shellco as they often called him, and having been teased and bullied at school, such bullying had never gone away.

Gary could never manage to mix freely, let alone adapt to the outside world that lay in waiting to persecute him, and come down on him from all sides. He had tried, God bless him, so many times over, but it was of no use, and now he lived in a fearful fantasy world which Bob knew would and could never come to an end.

Bob liked him though, as despite his oversized feet, short stature, strange ideas, paranoid delusions, and odd country talk, there wasn’t a bad or malicious bone in him, so, after catching his attention be rapping softly on the seat that Bob was sitting on, he motioned Gary to once more sit by his side. His writing that he had been working on would have to wait a few minutes. Gary needed help, he needed a bit of TLC and a supportive arm around him, as only then could Gary begin to keep his demons at bay.

Mercifully Bob wasn’t the only one who cared for Gary. Rachel Symonds, a Wicca “witch” and natural healer, who ran a shop called Wicca World, also kept an eye on Gary. Bob liked Rachel, and had often discussed the Gary’s problems with her, despite his calling, and heavy handed comments from his Bishop. In accordance with their own beliefs, they tried to help him cope with his problems. Sadly, for Bob, who empathised with much that Rachel had told him, she more often or not, got through to Gary in a way that Bob couldn’t always understand.

His life, and his beliefs were centred on the Christian faith and the bible, but Rachel talked of older powers to Gary. Powers that came out from the landscape, and every living thing upon it, and powers that had to be balanced and respected in order to harmonise the body and soul. Bob didn’t disbelieve Rachel, he had an open mind, and was glad if anyone got any reassurance from something they believed in, but he found it hard to accept was Polytheism, Shamanism, Pantheism, and Animism within certain branches of paganism. As an ordained member of the Christian Church he found such ideas out of step with the Christian values he had to promote, and which he believed in. It was also his job and his vocation to instill and reinforce such beliefs within the local community, and as his bishop often told him.

“Think and believe what you like Bob, in private, but outside of that it’s your job to promote One God, and one true God only, and that true spiritual relief came from Christian teachings, rather than through a reverence of nature in all its forms.”

He was a good man, his Bishop, and they’d enjoyed many a lively discussion over the years they had known each other, but he was also a confirmed realist and pragmatist. He had a busy diocese to run and more than just Bob’s interests to consider, and he had to keep his feet firmly on the ground.

“Look at this book I am reading Gary, it’s a good book, and it will help you calm your fears”

As if coming out of a daze Gary looked at the book that Bob held out towards him.

“What that’s then, I don’t think I know that one. Is it a book of spells?”

Bob paused for a moment, then opened the book so Gary might start reading

“Not exactly Gary, but it’s a bit like your book on Wicca spells and pagan beliefs that you are always reading, and it’s all about good and evil, and how such forces can be beaten in the end. Some might say your book is just a book, with strange spells and pretty pictures, while this book is a living book with a special message that you might understand. Why don’t you borrow it? I have another copy inside my bag.”

Gary looked through the book thoughtfully, and then, almost, began to smile.

“Oh I know this book; my mum read it to me when I were a nipper. It’s that one about goodies and baddies. There’s a strange ghost, and some guy who never actually makes an appearance; and there’s a whole lot of people with mill around a lot with either silly little forked tails or wings. Then there’s an even weird sort of a go between really, who is always here there and everywhere and who, was pretty good with his hands. My book talks about the real world though, while yours is just a tale. Look at who his dad was, look at where he was born, and then look at all of his party tricks, nobody’s going to really believe, that now are they?”

Gary then gave the book back to Bob, who, after glancing at the passage that Gary had indicated, closed the book slowly before laying his hand on the cover and the spine.

“I think you’re wrong Gary. I can’t prove to you that it is any more than a story, but I think it is the truth. Millions more just like me think so, and as so many people believe in it; then can it really be wrong?”

Gary just looked at him questioningly though, and then he began to frown

“Maybe, I don’t know?”

He hesitated for a moment, and gave Bob a deeply suspicious gaze

“You see, just like you, my Mum always told me that if enough people said something that it had to be true; but do you believe in Father Christmas, and his herd of reindeer, and do you believe in the tooth fairy. When I was little my Mum said that everybody believed in them, and at Christmas she left out a glass of sherry, a carrot and a mince pie. It don’t mean they exist though, now do it? Santa and Rudolph are no more real than the tooth fairy, but she swore that they came to us kiddies all the time. No, you stick with us pagan folk, Vicar. We may seem daft and simple to some big city folks, but we know what the real world is, better than any expert clever clogs what comes down upon us to spy.

We know the land see, and we hear and understand its message as it pours up from the rivers, the rocks, and the soil. We’ve listened to its tales and it’s songs since the beginning of time, and we know all about good and evil. We may be country folk, and we may go round talking to nature, but we’re good company with a jug of beer beside us, and we can hold back the darkness, if we can’t always hold our liquor, for we are at one with the land!”

He stopped for a moment, looked at his pyramid and caressed it softly, as if seeking some kind of reassurance, or as it were his child. Then, for the first time that morning, he nervously smiled.

“ Anyway, I’m ok see, cos’ I’ve got my pyramid, Just look at it why don’t you, look see how smooth it is, feel it’s power, and see how it glows!

Looking around cautiously he passed his pyramid to Bob who studied it carefully. Gary only handed his pyramid to those who he thought were special people, so Bob handled it gently, but sadly he knew the object only too well. Rachel had told him of its powers and of its beneficial qualities, she had given it to Gary for protection, but to Bob it was just a multicoloured lump of resins, metals, and semi precious gemstones. A shiny yet meaningless trinket, and a placebo sold to the weak and gullible. I had an attractive blue sea green and gray colouration, but for Bob there was no glow, no power, and no glory; yet, as the sun briefly peeked out of the clouds and ran through the pyramid, he couldn’t help but smile.

Who was he to doubt its power with his background and calling? He had his commercial yet allegedly Blessed Sacrament, his candles, and his highly symbolic but still all powerful olive wood crucifix. He had his incense, his bell, book, and candle confessional, a string of beads or his rosary, his multicoloured vestments, and a set of prayers for every occasion. He always carried a bible, a curious tome, for both believers and unbelievers, full of questionable births, disasters and miracles. Finally he oversaw Christmas, Easter, and a whole of inter linked and overlapping festivals, or bluntly hijacked festivals, of questionable authenticity. Who was he to speak with any real authority, and what right did he have to question or shatter the young man’s faith and dreams.

“Don’t knock it if you don’t know about it” an old priest once said to him” We may be priests, and we may trot around wearing a crucifix and a dog collar, but what gives us the right to crush any man anybody’s dream?”

He took too long though looking at the orgonite, for suddenly he felt an urgent tug on his arm

“Quickly, I must go now, dark forces are coming, and don’t you start putting that pyramid in your pocket! You just hold it so I can see you. It’s mine see, it’s very powerful. It’s mine, all mine, and not even the Dark Lord and Master can take it away

…………………………………………………..

Bob had remained sitting in silence after he had handed the pyramid back to Gary, and he looked sadly towards him as the young man, still muttering and anxious, shambled and stumbled away. One power to rule them all, one power to find them, one power to bring them all and in the darkness bind them, that is what Gary had once told him, and as he thought about their recent conversation, he once more opened the book at the passage that they had both been reading.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him mot anything was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

He got up from where he was sitting, closed the bible, and began to walk back towards the vicarage. I really must have chat with Rachel, and read up about paganism, he thought to himself, as he scratched his forehead thoughtfully.

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something.”

He muttered to silent gravestones around him. “Yet who’s the fool, and who’s the wise man, and what will the world think of them, as both lay crumbling and rotting in the grave?

He shook his head ruefully, and then looked up again at the gargoyles.

There he was, all alone in a graveyard talking to two blind and lifeless gargoyles, and a bunch of lichen covered gravestones. As if they would provide him with an answer, or have anything useful to say. One word though, one word, one God, one crucifix or pyramid, and an everlasting fight between good and evil;

Who was sane, and who was delusional, he thought to himself ruefully. Maybe Gary should be the real wise man, or Town Elder, within the community, and maybe he wasn’t quite such a misfit or such a laughing stock after all. He had a sermon to write though, a sermon, ironically, about respect for others and care in the community, which now would have to be modified, and a cold east wind was nipping at his ankles; so head down, and with a deeply creased frown on his forehead, he quickly scurried inside.

So quickly, that he forgot to give his customary final look at the two gargoyles who, as ever still grimaced, and still stared blindly down from the tower.

High on the church tower parapets, the two gargoyles yawned, stretched and unfolded their wings and then, after nodding briefly towards each other, and at the now closed and locked door of the vicarage, they looked towards Gary with a cruel, cold, greedy smile.

Soon it would be dark, soon they would go out hunting for Wicca folk, and they knew of one particular believer, who was the very proud bearer of a pyramidal orgonite “stone”.

The end

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