Usually these blows to the head left him confused and stunned. His god, a hallucination wrapped in rags, would crawl past his position. But this time when the sharp knock struck, he awoke fully conscious on a hilltop. Below him was his former world, the eccentric city he had left years before, a place that had frequently mistreated his morality.
All children must grow stronger and Gabriel was no exception. The city below him ran its many distant sounds up the hill past the scrub and shale to where he sat stationary and strong – as if his feet grew from rock and his body from cracks that divided the earth.
If chaos can be considered a plan, the city followed it beautifully, executing the streets with the same hectic asymmetry found in swarms of butterflies. An abundance of multicolored blocks tumbled from every corner. Buildings stretched their bricks and rooflines to strike the sky.
From where he sat, the city was a splendid but neglected mansion. He could see through the ceilings into the streets that connected the houses like twisting hallways of a palace connect the parlors. A quiet benevolence of sage and succulent entered his body.
And from this high spot, it seemed he could straighten a crooked plaza with a single finger or halt with his hand the slow fall of a tower. He tried to forget that he could also carve a new path of rubble to bury the people’s inarticulate yowling.
It was these same inhabitants that had once pierced his ears with the melody of thorns. They had driven him with sticks from the vineyards to bed down with their ditches.
But as a man can alter in his age of wisdom, so a world can exchange its cruelty for kindness when it grows older. He moved his hand toward the afternoon. In farewell or greeting, it was hard to say. His feet gripped the steep slope of rock as he descended. Slowly, the cries of the wonderful wounded and the hard tenor of bells came out of their cages to meet him.