Taboo | Andrew Szemeredy

Not all tickets to paradise are one way.


Andrew Szemeredy

For the Eighth Woder Award

“Two tickets to Paradise, please.”

The ticket wicket operator punched in some codes, took our money and issued our tickets.

The train ride was bearable. The boat ride was a bit more upsetting: Jody got seasick, and I could not believe how good the captain looked, in her white cap, tight blouse and miniskirt. Jody was not amused by my admiration of this leg of the admiralty.

The next leg of our trip was on an air plane, and the next, on our own legs and feet.

Finally we arrived at paradise. This place had the same look, feel, and atmosphere exactly as it had been first depicted in the Holy Scriptures. So I shan’t go into details describing it; just please read Psalm 32-43, and Hosiaiah’s 49:42-66.

On our way back I noticed something was sticking out of Jody’s bag. “What is that thing, my little one?” Jody became red in the face.

“A memento.”

“You STOLE something from the Garden of Eden, from Paradise?”

“Yes, master.”

“What is it, you ganef???”

Jody opened her bag and pulled out… a tree branch. It was completely made of gold, with emerald leaves, and diamond-hard blue apples of the Moon. There was an old mark, possibly carved with knife, on the bark of the branch, showing a heart with an arrow through it, with the letters “A” and “E”. “A” was crossed out and overwritten by “S”.

“What a wonderful branch… what do you suppose you’ll do with it?” I asked Jody.

“I don’t know… it is so wonderful. It makes people say the truth when I wave it at them.”

“DON’T YOU WAVE IT AT ME, YOUNG LADY!!” I said. “Wave it at that reporter who is talking to the porter of the teleporter.” She did. The reporter became mute. He could never again utter a word.

So much for truth in reporting.

Next we waved it at the sea, at the sky, at infinity. They answered with blood, sweat, and tears; they answered with Dolores, the song of the river of the deepest and darkest sorrow.

We waved it at Life. Life had spring flowers braided in her fine, golden blonde hair; she danced, sang, threw handfuls of rose petals in the air which sparkled as they floated down to rest on the ground.

We waved it at the night. She whispered, like the night wind, she ran through between our fingers and between our feet, and she made our eyelids heavy as if laden with old ruby red wine. The night slipped away, like a thought, and she left us there, dazed.

Next we waved the branch of tree taken from paradise at the hooker who stands at the corner of our street. She (or he?) leaned back, and her pupils dilated, and we were drawn in into her soul, and we descended into her id, and saw the subconscious of her mind duking it out with the morals of the Baptist background she had been raised in, and we saw her struggle against her foster father who pushed himself on her, and we saw her struggle against the injustices dished out by her foster mother of never getting the best cut of meat, or a second helping of the cake, or a good word for putting away her slippers at night. Then there was nothing, nothing else, nothing more inside of her… except a long, dark, wet-walled tunnel, cold and hard, which we had to find our way through, and there was no light at the end, no dead relatives beckoning, only a voice saying, “How much?” and teeth gnashing and handcuffs snapping and bullwhips cracking and police sirens. Finally, there was the sinful rapture of explosively good feelings provided by illicit substances.

We exited the same way we came in: via her pupils, and left her there, silent, motionless, leaning against the wall, waiting for customers like a spider for flies.

We rode the elevator up to our apartment on the seventh floor. I had to wrestle the branch out of the hands of the sobbing, weeping, angry Jody, who wanted to wave it at God. “Why? Why oh why creation?” she howled between sobs of despaired sorrow.