Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Curupira

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Curupira, of flaming orange hair, feet facing backwards so trackers run the wrong way. Guardian of the forest, the one who keeps hunters in line, the one who kills those who would harm a nursing pampas, the one whose whistle drives men insane.

They caught him in a net before the loggers came through. Dragged him out, face down, stood on his arms and head, hard soles leaving mud on his fiery locks. Fear was in the men there, as if they had found a broke-winged angel, as if they expected their due deaths at any moment. None so vicious as the afraid. Sledgehammer in hand. We can’t let him get away, we’ll never find him again, those damned feet. While the guardian ate dirt and moaned his toes still pointed to the sky. Nothing so dangerous as disgust. They pushed his feet down so the sides touched earth, but still the bones and muscles brought the toes back to the sky. Ankles wired wrong. Like when Pedro’s brother broke his forearm and it bent at right angle and his arm in whole showed x plane, y plane, z plane. Nothing so terrible as disgust, but nought as right as setting a bone.

Twenty pounds and a shaft thick as cola cans. Swung an arc, and gravity and momentum pulled smashed down onto the ankle. Yes, even mythical creatures have bones. At the sound of Curupira’s scream, rats and monkeys and deer ten miles away started from their homes and rushed, and ran, and stampeded through the growth, knowing they were no longer safe. Second. Curupira had sharpened teeth and he bared his lips as he cried but he did not move. Spines tingled underneath t-shirts. Luan snatched the sledgehammer from Ricardo, desperate to make it stop, desperate to complete their heresy. He slammed the metal on the toes. Crunch. Crunch. A third time. That’s enough, Pedro whispered as he winced. Fourth, to be sure. The birds left every tree. Luan threw the hammer aside, exhaled as if he had finished absolution. Curupira whimpered.

What now?

Put him in a museum. Put him on show. They’d pay good money for this, they would, everyone, show that myths are real, more money for all of us —

Pedro picked up the hammer.

Curupira, spirit of the forest, could show himself as parakeet, as barbet, as sloth or bat or jaguar. He could have shown them the dead body of a wife and crawled away as they raged and lamented. He could have whistled.

The guardian lay still, silent, as if he wished to sleep. The others discussed who to call first about their prize. Curupira was always described as a boy in their childhood tales, but as Pedro approached he saw wrinkles and worry on his forehead, an ancient man behind a youth’s face.

A wind blew.

Curupira opened his bright green eyes and looked at him. He spoke exhaustion without word. Muddied hair. Feet bleeding, no longer backwards, no longer recognisable as feet. He closed his lids and made a noise like a sigh, as Pedro raised the sledgehammer once again.

The others shouted, hands out, no, our future —

The hammer slammed on empty earth.
A pile of leaves skittered away, danced in circles from where the body had been just before.

The men shouted and argued and came to blows. Pedro returned home with a swollen nose, cut lip, bruised arms.
At dinner he clasped his hands to say grace, and the words were clogged leaves in his throat. Tears sprung at the backs of his eyes. Curupira did not whistle. Curupira did not kill them or take their minds.

The next day, the loggers moved into the trees.

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Written by G.J.

11/07/2014 at 1:15 pm

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