Page 31 - the Noise December 2017
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knotted with love, squirming like a snake with days of passion and desire, down the long wire came the word — “Monsieur,” softly spoken, sibilant and sure.
Sure as the old fire in him, he heard and knew the sound.
A thousand needles pricked within, then turned, to rise in bumps beneath his skin. Those eyes, pulling as a lure, brought him to kneel before the child.
“Monsieur, why do you call me that, my boy? How do you know my name?”
“My mother told me I would meet you here and you have come at last, but you are late. She said you passed this way each day, but I have had to wait, since dawn, Monsieur Mattieu.” A drop of water from Matt’s drooling eye splashed, and rolled, and sank into the sand. “Since dawn ... and you aren’t afraid? Where is she now? This place has quite a reputation,
Sangre Glade. You know what sangre means?”
“Oui — I mean yes, sir — it means blood, the way it’s sang in French.”
“And your mother ... she is French no doubt?”
The heart of Matt Kinkade already knew, by its strong impulsive beat, the little boy who
stood there at his feet. But to transmit that message to the brain through the haze of time, feelings of guilt, loss and despair, his heart would need to pound a million beats there in his breast.
Anyhow, the boy was going to spare him the pain of slow discovery. He answered now, again, “Yes, Monsieur, she is French.”
“And your father ... is he too?”
The small one lowered his head, raised his eyes and brought the kneeling man in view, tangling lashes with the brows. “No, my father is not French, Monsieur Mattieu. He is ... you.”
Concussion! Crash! Tinkle of exploded glass! Splash!
A sudden river of blood upon the mirror, oozing down in froth, reflecting a dual flood! No! Not blood, wine. Red wine. Burgundy! Beaujolais!
And the odor long will linger, long will stay deep in his nostrils — make them tang and swell, because it comes with her—strong and heady, with her eyes, her olive skin, her hair, mixed with her smell.
“Danielle ... Oh, Danielle! I drank Rose from your warm mouth, from your tight breasts, Beaujolais. And from the thimble pool in your belly, bare sparkling’ like a ruby there, I drank Claret ... God! Mother of God!”
Dimly, through the crash of splintered glass, another sound. The boy was speaking as if being wound, he’d come uncoiled ... “And she has told me all about you since I am very small. I am not to call you Pere without your insist — she said that you were very tall ... And very strong! She thinks not to be gone too long, she will return for me.”
Here, the awning of his lashes fluttered down; he wiped another of Matt’s tears from his tight fist.
“She told me of your eye, sir, and of the scar. She told me I was not to cry, sir, and I will not. I can fry two eggs and cook a steak, I am almost eight.”
And there he stopped. For the first time since they met, Matt reached out and gently touched the lad. This motion, at once impulsive and protective, had a strange effect. The tenseness that held the little back so long erect, went slack.
Dark determination in the eyes wilted as a flower wilts for lack of water.
Matt, to his breast, slowly drew and tightly held the little one, who then unleashed his tears. Tired, sad and weary sobs shook his frame, shook his fears aside. Matt took the new responsibility in his stride.
“Son, if that is who you are, and it seems to be so, I will have to know what to call you. When we go back to Gutless I may not be able to say, ‘Son.’ We may have to make a fable and stick to that till we know what to tell, till we discover when your mother, Danielle, is comin’ back for you. Do you agree?”
“Oui, Monsieur — I mean yes, sir,” he nodded with lowered eyes.
Then raising them, looked straight at Matt with two dark wells splashed over on the sides. On his bottom lip there sat a tiny smile.
“My name is Matalot, Monsieur, but my mother calls me Matt. She told me you would know the why for that.”
“Matalot. My son, Matalot. A hard thing to believe.”
(Yet he had cause to know it could so well be true; the tracing stood before him — brows, hair, nose and mouth below, carboned in each detail, all ... except the eyes — they were hers.)
“Come on, young feller; we’d better get on back to town.” He rose, walked to Portero, then reached down to hoist the lad aloft.
“Please, Monsieur Mattieu, may I get on him by myself?”
Matt’s first impulse was to put him off with some excuse — “The horse is wild ... too big for such an elf as you ... wouldn’t want you gettin’ hurt.” Instead he smiled, and said with little ire, as the round, sincere eyes eased from him their first desire, “Sure, but how’ll you reach the stirrups?”
Matalot moved quietly and sure, toward Portero, where ground-reined he stood, head down and sleepy-eyed.
“His name, Monsieur?”
Talking softly all the while, he gently reached to rub the horse’s muzzle, then firmly took
the reins and to a large trunk of fallen willow, led the beast who bent to nuzzle the small creature there below.
Matalot stopped then and asked the huge horse for his head. Placing the reins over each ear, into one he spoke the single word, “Reste.”
Portero blinked his eyes and stamped, the boy climbed up the fallen tree, grabbed a hank of mane, and from the height of his tall flank, mounted to the saddle.
“Avant,” he smiled and turned the horse, toward his master. Matt stood entranced. the complete ballad is still available at
“Monsieur, you will let me guide him to the town?”
“Yeah ... yeah, sure,” his owner answered from the ground.
He reached the saddle horn and winced in pain, as he swung up behind his son who
loosely held the reins in his small hand. For once the sleek horse stood at ease and did not prance. A sudden wind whipped through the Glade, swirling dust and moving shade from one place to the other between the beating leaves of ill-tempered cottonwood trees. Matalot twisted ‘round his head, looking for the go-ahead, but Matt, still shirtless, felt the sandy sting lash at his back, and once again, a thermal, cold and clammy made him turn to see the unseen.
The boy, feeling himself drawn close, did not object. Yet Matt could not have told his reason — to protect? Or be protected?
“Let’s go!”— and of habit touched the reins. The second he took hold there came a reflex answer. Nostrils flared, eyes cloaked in smoke turned ruby red.
His effusive prancer reared, cut the shadows of the Glade to strips with flashing steel. Fought for his head— forgot the boy; returned to what he knew would please his master, performing the show act of a circus dancer.
Matalot hung to the horn, and as the horse’s head came near, said something softly in his ear, which changed those manners once again. Portero dropped his flailing hooves to sand, returned his fire-eyes to smoky haze, shook his mane and rubbed his nose between his fetlocks.
“I’ll be damned!”
Matt dropped the reins. The little one gave two clicks with his tongue, leaned over the black neck and said, “Avant, but not too fast, my tall, strong, friend, I want you now to walk. Monsieur Mattieu is some upset ... He thinks I do not know you yet, and this is true. Ah, such a coat, it shines like jet. I would like to have a horse like you.”
He turned to smile up at his father, brown eyes twinkling under matted shade.
The eyes of Danielle! For eight years she’d been away ... what a story he could tell! Portero walked back to the trail with his new burden.
The thoughts of Matt Kinkade, entrapped beneath the dust of many years, lingered, in
Sangre Glade. | the NOISE arts & news | DECEMBER 2017 • 31

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