The Dung Eaters: Chapter 1

The Great One

By Nick Delonas

Zarathustra Geist knows well he is a genius--that precious rarity visited to so few generations.

Oh great man! Oh Hyperborean! What length is yours! Long of head! Long of nose! Long of finger! And so long of palate! Pray, who can deny your stretch?!

A sideward glance . . . a heightened brow . . . Geist consciously and conspicuously shines a beacon of greatness for all those with eyes to see. (If only there were any.)

Pursing his lips like few others are able, the Great One contemplates his cigarette. A spectacular orbicularis oris muscle slithers about the length of his mouth like a leisurely snake on the slippery move. Barely hidden beneath modest flesh, it is the snake behind a sensuous and mysterious jungle canopy. Oh, what a damning temptation for Woman!

Stop! He must restrain this awesome power.

Smoke trickles from his long stack. How far New York is from the brownstones of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. How far and quickly man can evolve!

Of course, the true prophet is never recognized in the place of his childhood. Ha! Grandmama still calls him Dave!

He smiles. Oh Mrs. Schmitt! Little Dave is no more! He is metamorphosed! Fat, fat, fat, Mrs. Schmitt; don't you see your grandson's magnificent multi-colored wings?

Alas, can Pennsylvanian fuzzy worms be expected to see Truth? No one knows Zarathustra! Little people everywhere remain sadly unaware of the Great One. Even the boho artists and New York intelligentsia who share his company simply do not--cannot--understand. How small and blind they are! How wrapped in themselves!

The Great One sighs with momentary compassion and pity for the little people. Tout comprendre--c'est tout mépriser. To understand all is to despise all.

Leaning back, he blows another tube of smoke and watches it slither into disintegration. Then his eyes narrow. Qu'est-ce que c'est? His orbicularis oris tightens. Yes. It is something. Not quite there yet.

Wait . . . The heavens quiver . . . then . . . Silence . . . stillness . . . Time . . . Eternity . . .

WHOOSH!! Ha, ha ha! There it is!!

Oh Joy! Fragrance and light fill the air! Oh Bliss! Oh Greatness!

And now what is this? A soft snow? Why no. The gods themselves have opened the heavens to shower divine petals on the Great One! Bear witness one and all to the consummation of history! All the aspirations and potential of humankind are now fulfilled. Indeed, creation just found its purpose in that moment!

Whew! Yes, he now realizes the full scope of what has happened and pauses to catch his breath. Zarathustra Geist, the conceptual artist of his day, has just conceived the most perfect, the most sublime, the most profound artistic expression in the history of the universe. Just then and there it happened! The glorious Art appeared in its unimaginable beauty and depth on the canvas of the Great One's mind. Art so deep, so intensely beautiful, that the very fabric of existence will never--can never--again be the same.

His head swims as he stands and starts to make his way to the men's room. All about are the dullard faces of the bohos. Do they know? Can they feel it? One woman turns to his anxious stare blankly.

No! They missed it! Damn the fools!

No matter. He stumbles into the lavatory, drunk on the divine nectar still showering him.

He is the greatest artist who has ever lived. No matter that Zarathustra never really mastered drawing much beyond the stick-man level. He really is the greatest! Only concept matters. Execution is important only to pigs, dogs, and the bourgeois middle class.

The Great One stands at the urinal with a mind racing faster than his fluid. Am I still human? Have I become a god?

My goodness! What a waste of golden juice! Indeed, what self-respecting god wastes his divine essence this way? Go upstairs! Yes, shower blessings on the café patrons below!

He is lost in ecstasy and compassion for the little people now. This divinity thing may take some getting used to! But before he can decide on a prudent and divinely moral course of action, he exhausts his golden essence.

Time to return to his people. So he zips . . .whoops! Too soon! Uh oh. Ahuuoooowwww. The Great One's length is caught in le monde--specifically in the Earthly metal of his leather pants. How the gross can so quickly pull down the unwary god!

Oh no! He struggles. Ouch! No good. He has zipped too much of his precious flesh. What devil is at work here? Which jealous god ordains this outrageous sacrilege?!

Oh, but how quickly divine rapture can give way to mundane urgency. What to do? The Great One's eyes widen as he scans the dirty walls for solutions. The greatest moment in the history of the universe had suddenly fled his consciousness. He is barely even aware of his new found divinity. The Great One needs help!

Finding no suitable towels or other coverings, Zarathustra pulls off his jacket and ties it around his waste like an apron. Biting his elegant lips, the Great One tries to walk. Moving his right leg forward stretches at his pants and tugs painfully at his soul.

Arghhh. He hikes up his pants and finds he can tolerate the pain if he takes tiny little, wide-legged steps. Moving slowly, like a fuzzy worm, the greatest artist in the history of the universe moves toward the door. One foot, one inch, the other foot, another inch.

Slowly, the Great One creeps out into the café. His eyes thoroughly moist from his bliss to not-bliss journey, he struggles to look natural perhaps even fashionable. Why not? After all, who is better qualified to define chic than an artist-god?

Many faces turn him a querying glance. Do they know? Do they know?

The Great One manages a worried smile. Such courage! Such martyrdom! It is for them he suffers!

After slowly waddling to his table, leaving payment and a generous tip, the Great One, still smiling, moves toward the street and hails a cab.

"Hospital," he groans.

No longer in the mood for chit chat but still forcing an ever more panicky smile, the newborn god simply lifts his jacket to reveal the purpose of his medical visit. The E.R. receptionist bites her lip in a failed effort to conceal a smile and calls for some assistance.

A couple of nurses help the Great One onto an emergency-room roller bed and wheel him into E.R. While a doctor examines his wound, a young woman asks him for his name.

"Dave Schmitt," he says.

(No sense in confusing the mortals with his real name given his divinely mysterious situation! After all, some mysteries are best kept hidden from humans.)

The Great One's presence lightens the mood of the hospital. Nurse after nurse and doctor after doctor breeze by to sneak a peek at the fallen god. A security guard, a janitor and even an elderly bag lady named Erma drop by to pay their misguided homage.

Oh sad, sad, sad, is the day when mortals lose their wisdom and mock the gods!

A smirking doctor begins to set the Great One free with a pair of what look to be store-bought bolt cutters. The leather pants and zipper are getting ruined, but Zarathustra will keep the whole of his malehood.

"You should be more careful," said the doctor.

"Yes." What can he say? A mere mortal cannot understand the meaning of true distraction.

Having been dragged so unceremoniously into the world, the Great One realizes that he can no longer picture that sublime Art in his mind. The memory is gone. No matter. It had happened. He really had conceived of the greatest Artistic expression in History. He really is no longer a mere mortal. He has changed the universe.

Oh the irony of it. The greatest artist in history flat on his back with girls barely out of high school sniggering and sneaking ridiculing peeks at his mere appearance in this world. How blind they are!

"What do you do for a living Mr. Schmitt?"

May as well change the subject. This is one doctor who knows he can cut a zipper off a man and still engage in some friendly small talk. Even mortals can show mercy.

"I'm an artist."

"Really?" says the nurse, who holds his length while the doctor cuts metal to metal. "How interesting."

"Yes, I'm a conceptual artist and also a conceptual writer. I haven't painted thirty-seven major works and I haven't written four novels."

They work away. "How interesting," she says.

His Earthly stewards finally finish and bandage up the source of the Great One's golden blessings. By divine providence, no stitches are required.

The doctor is both amused and pleased with his work. He smiles at the great one as he prepares to move out of the light. But first, a little more small talk.

"So, how do you stand on the great dung-eater controversy?"

"I'm against legislation," said the Great One.

Yes. Let them eat dung! So sayeth Zarathustra.

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