Sunday, December 14, 2008

Virgil Claus

Among alligators, Virgil informs me, Santa is King.

"I'm going to be really busy this Christmas," he tells me, "crawling through snow and muck in my universal terrain vehicle, the Microlight Muskeg Rover, delivering cardboard boxes, cloth bundles, and other mystery parcels, making sure I get to all those wigwams in the Nick o' Time. Ritually speaking, Christmas Eve's the night when we turn the mood, liberate chickens, autistic colonists, and generally overthrow the world that you remember. I'll be trimming my nails for the occasion, mending any broken zippers, and smearing rouge and other cosmetic hues on my cheeks. This is big!"

"Maybe I should pin a star on your hat?" I offer.

"Right, that's the ticket," Virgil winks at me. Then he quickly looks down at his lotus toes, which are even more erotic than he had imagined. Once or twice a week, when Virgil is lonesome, he draws silk ribbons between his toes, an unusual method of meditation. Virgil needs his meditation, because like any true warrior clown, he is prone to worrying about demons in the blood and insects near his ears. Besides, there are those moments when he will suddenly lose his connection with tribal alligator time. This can be difficult, because, for instance, when Virgil comes to see me, he believes he is an alligator, but I would lay it down cautiously, as if with tongs, that in truth, he is really a mind monkey. Or maybe one of those legendary lamas who used to climb mountains but still knows how to make things clear. Sometimes, though, he'll fake it, pretending to be one of those students at the Nankai Middle School with Zhou Enlai, speaking a rather formal and footsore language. Mostly, however, when you scrutinize the plots more closely in this hero's career, Virgil really thinks of himself as a stunt pilot, waving his arms in the air all day and all night while thinking up mad projects, such as becoming a friend of that millionaire alumnus, God.

During the solstice season, however ("It brings out the artist in me"), Virgil avows his real name is Santa, and so he'll be traveling over the silk roads with reindeer shamans, back to the golden ruins, the peaches and the lapis lazuli, roving the borders and doing the late-night shows, appearing at holiday parties dressed in bone bits, ribbons, and braids, while reciting to himself over and over agaim:

"A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

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