Two Giants - a homage, a heresy.
1958. A sputtering truck. A truck sputtering across a rolling landscape. The landscape rolls. The truck wheels roll. Rolling green fields. Green fields with cows. Black and white cows. It could be Ireland. It’s not Ireland. It could be home. It is home. It is not home. It is home for now. Home is behind. Both homes are behind. One home is near. One home is far. One home is just a few miles down the road. The truck rolls from that home. The truck rolls past the cows. The cows low. Low and roll. Roll and low. Eating the green green grass of not home. Eating the shining wet road. Swallow it up a mile at a time. Two men sit in the truck. They sit in the truck side by side. One remembers Ireland. One knows nothing of Ireland. Both men are silent. Two silent men in a truck. One listens to the rumbling engine. Both feel the vibration of road through the wheels. Look closer. Both are not men. One is big. The other is all skin and bones. One is a twelve year old boy. The child is huge. The truck suspension sinks down on his side. The passenger side. The driver compensates and leans to one side. One buttock raised as if to force out a fart. The thought brings a smile to the lean driver’s thin lips. The thin-lipped driver plays cards. He plays cards with the boy’s father. The father is a Bulgarian farmer exiled in France. The farmer’s son is a giant. At twelve years old the boy weighs seventeen stone. The boy is outcast by the size and shape of his body. The driver has cast himself out by the size and shape of his mind. His mind is the size and shape of the road. His mind is full of the rumble of engine. His mind is the cows waiting to be milked. Cud chewing cows. Ruminants. Rumination. Room enough. Room enough in his mind to encompass it all. His mind chews on the cud. The cows are his mind ready to be milked. Not ready yet. Ready soon. Soon enough. His mind’s milk will make words. The cow’s milk will make cheese. Brie de Meaux. Bruit des mots. The words will make sounds. The sounds of his mind. Of sound mind. Of unsound mind. Sound of body and mind. The unsounded mind. The mind sounded and plumbed. Plumbed to the depths. The depths of the mind. Where unspoken words swim. Trawl the mind with a net. Catch a word or two. Pull it up from the depths. Cook it up chew on it ruminate spit it back out. Spit out the words. Unspoken words. Words that will wait for the pen. His crooked hand will grip the pen. His fingers are bent. Not all his fingers are bent. The middle two fingers are bent, crooked back towards the palm. Palms. Palms and Psalms. Palm Sunday following Good Friday. Good man Friday. Good man yerself. Or is it the other way around? He was born on a good Friday. Good for whom? He was born on Friday the thirteenth. Unlucky for some. Unlucky for whom? A life full of luck. The luck of the Irish. Luck good and bad. Luck had him stabbed in the chest. Stabbed in the chest on a Paris street by a pimp. Luck had him saved by a whore. A lady of the night in shining armour to the rescue. The luck of being born on a Good Friday saved him. The very day they nailed Jesus up on cross. Jesus didn’t die. He didn’t die, though the cold scar bears the memory of the slip of steel. The slip of cold steel between ribs almost punctured his lung. It pierced his pleura. Pleura. The French word for wept. Were there tears? He doesn’t remember. It was more the surprise. The sudden shock. The sudden closeness of death. Was he ever as alive as when death crept so close?
The boy giant talks. His twelve year old voice yet to break. The voice should rumble like the truck. Give him some time. Time he has. Time for the boy. Time for the outcast. The boy asks about cricket. The lean driver’s face unfolds from its wrinkles. Even the wrinkles have wrinkles. His right hand comes alive. His left hand on the wheel. The unrolling wheel. The right hand unrolling an invisible ball. His piercing eyes twinkle. He talks to the boy. The boy listens. The boy is a giant. A listening giant. A giant who likes cricket. A gentle giant. Singled out for greatness. Both are singled out for greatness. One with a giant body. One with a giant mind. They sit in the truck. The truck rolls down the road until it pulls to a stop. The giant clambers out. The truck sighs in relief. They have reached the giant’s school. A school not for giants. The giant will soon outgrow school like he outgrows his clothes. He’ll even outgrow this land. Both leave their native lands for faraway fields. They become more abroad than they could have been at home. Two giants who broke out of their shells. Cracked the chrysalis. Climbed out of the cocoon. André the Giant thanks Sam for the lift. Beckett tells André he’ll see him at four.