Robert Wallace Paolinelli
705 Vallejo St. No.6
San Francisco, Ca 94133-3820
KNOSSOS IN SPRING
Mildred sat watching the bull from the safety of her car.
Spring was in full bloom. The day was bright and the sun just right with a warmth which enveloped her, lulling her into thinking life was always so gently warm and mellow. A fair breeze moved the air gracing it with a tender redolence which clung to her hair, her skin, and taking deep draughts of the scented spring air pulling deeply into her lungs she became a bit light headed, but she didn't care because she felt she was even inhaling the songs of the birds whose song was held in the air by some touch of magic making a hovering resonance which could be heard all over the countryside, heard by both men and beasts.
Mildred, who lived in the city, had driven to the country. Today was her day off and she felt she needed to be dressed in her new spring dress and shoes and be among flowers and trees and walk on rocky, rutted, rustic roads and commune with nature. The city air was choking her; she longed for open space and sights cleared of masses of people and their frenzy of cars accompanied by noise and ugly smells from exhaust pipes. Out here in the bliss of the country she was sheltered by a blue sky and the kind of peace she sought.
Some distance from the city she turned off the freeway, and finding a narrow road, she followed it. The road led her to remote country farms far and few between. Just the sort of refuge she needed. She drove slowly, drinking in and savoring the sights, sounds and the sunshine of the day.
Gradually, however, she was finding the car a hindrance and a frustration more than anything else, for there were so many delightful places which attracted her, making her want to stop at all of them, and she did, but the stopping and the starting was distracting her. It was hard to chose between the dark, jade green moss covered rounded stones on the banks of a small stream and a stand of wild irises next to a clump of bright yellow dandelions rivaling the haughty irises
Everything seemed to beckon to her while behind the wheel of her sedan. She cocked her head back and made a decision: "No, I won't let this car make me its slave," she said out loud feeling very brave and independent. Spring always made her feel just a little extra assertive.
When she saw the wooden fence, the tall shade tree, the brook, and a profusion of various wildflowers, she saw her ideal spot come into view. The right setting for a long stay was found at last. This was the perfect spot to jump out into nature, and she was happy.
That's when she saw the bull and kept her engine running and was hesitant to shut it off. She was afraid to get out because of the very large bull behind the high fence.
The bull's head was down grazing close to the ground. When Mildred's car slowed, stopped and idled, the bull tilted its big head and gave a perfunctory look over its shoulder. This bull was no stranger to machines and returned to biting at the grass and paid no more attention to the humming machine.
Feeling she was wasting gasoline, Mildred shut the engine, but was still apprehensive about leaving the safety of her car. "Suppose the bull charges the fence and breaks through and gores me?" thought Mildred, trying hard not to spoil the good mood of the day so far; nevertheless, she was afraid. "You are being foolish" she exclaimed out loud, and that outburst seemed to settle her fears and with her mind now at ease and her conviction strong, she got out of her car and smelled the scented air and admired the colors of the wildflowers At last free of the car, she twirled and laughed and looked up into the turquoise sky then down to her new spring dress spreading out and rising and she was genuinely full of glee at this show of spontaneity. Mildred slowed and feeling a little dizzy wanted to sit down to regain her equilibrium. She sat under a tall, tall tree, an oak which must have been very, very old.
Leaning against the base of the oak she enjoyed a slightly elevated vantage point allowing her to see clearly beyond the fence into the meadow and the bull which stood out dark and conspicuous among the young green grasses and vari-colored flowers. The bull's horns stretched out at least two feet on each side--or so she imagined, and her imagination was not too far wrong. The horns had been what frightened her most upon seeing the bull. Now, however, as she sat still, calm flushed and refreshed, her petty fears of his horny spread were lost in the soothing, relaxed state she found herself in.
She watched the bull and his impression called up in her mind words and phrases connected to bulls and horns, and in so doing she played a little game with herself trying to recall and recite as many references as she could think of with horn and bull: To take the bull by the horns, no bull, to bulldoze someone, shoot the bull, on the horns of a dilemma, horn in on someone, to be a bully, and suddenly she uttered "and bullshit." Her normal reserve was shocked by what she'd said out loud, but the magic of the day was upon her and she went lightly on herself for this breech of verbal decorum. To be horny, slipped into her conscious-ness; "Oh," she said crinkling up her face and pinching her lips together tightly. This phrase, too, she found offensive, it grated on her conventional sensitivity. How could anyone treat sexual desire so basely, equating it with some animal lust? Why it was so positively degrading. She was somewhat the prude, even if she would not admit it.
The bull walked away from his spot traveling in an arc. When he stopped, he was closer to the fence and facing Mildred, yet he paid no mind to her; she was, after all, only so much blur from his distance from her.
He could smell her scent, however, her eau de cologne, the one she'd selected to daub on her body after her morning bath; it was wafted to the bull's powerful olfactories by a gentle wind and her smell pleased the bull.
Having sat for as long as she needed to recompose herself, Mildred got up, and not with a little apprehension made her way to the fence.
At first Mildred hesitated at the fence, then put her left foot on the middle rail, took hold of the top rail and pulled herself up, resting her arms on the top rail with her waist half bent as she leaned over in a comfortable manner.
The wind, from behind her again carried the smell of her cologne and her natural odors to the bull and he was pleased, for he recognized the smell and he liked it, and lifting his nostrils high, he caught the scent on the wind and he walked closer to its source.
Mildred tensed when the bull trotted closer and her body's smell of fear was carried on the wind to the bull who stopped and sniffed the new smell deeply; he too tensed and sensed danger; but the wind carried a new smell when Mildred relaxed.
The bull stood still for a long time. Mildred could now see him ever so clearly. On its chest was a large white spot which seemed even whiter than it was against his otherwise deep, dark brown body, which seemed to shine under the bright sun.
The bull lifted his head and she fixed her gaze on him and tried to make eye contact with the horned beast; but the bull would have none of it; for he lowered his head to the ground and began to graze.
The longer Mildred watched, the calmer (in spirit) she became. Gradually, she lost her fear and she let herself be comfortably limp on her railing perch with this grand beast her private spectacle.
The bull was now sitting down; its legs tucked under its proud wide chest. The bull was calm, satisfied; it sensed no danger from any quarter. Mildred, too, felt no danger.
And then she did something which was completely out of character: with a delicate swing of her leg and a pull of her arms, and being careful not to catch her dress on the rough rail, she was over the fence and on the ground before she was even aware of what she had done. The bull flicked his tail at some pesky flies. Mildred sat where she'd alighted. With her legs under her, she posed with her pretty spring dress arranging it neatly around her. And clasping her hands in her lap, she half closed her eyes and concentrated her gaze on some nearby flowers.
She didn't try to pretend the bull was not there, but because she was so calm (something not normally part of her demeanor) any menace presented by the bull went unnoticed, pushed away by the peace she was feeling and the pleasure she felt gazing at flowers in complete abandon.
Slowly , unaware of what she was doing, she began to coordinate her breathing with the slowed beat of her heart and began to focus all of her attention on her breath and heart beat, and her mind drifted into a peaceful state, and by degrees she gave herself away to the exact contemplation of these inner phenomena; gradually her awareness of her connection with the ages opened her psyche, where ancient archetypes slept in the crypt of consciousness, where old rituals lay waiting to be summoned and acted out to satisfy forces stronger than the intellect, for aspects of the inner mind are primitively powerful beyond reason. There in that state, Mildred rose above her contemporaneous self, the one known to all her friends and family. There arose from deep within her, spiraling up her spine like a thousand transforming serpents of gold and silver, the re-awakened images and juices of remote longings, spurting through her arteries and spreading throughout her nervous system.
A force from a source beyond time and daily thoughts gripped her from her very marrow through every muscle, every organ, every neuron, down to the core of her brain; and all this physical transformation brought heat: her body glowed with warmth; every pore tingled, shivers of ecstasy made her body tremble with pent up, awakening energy. Showers of colors flashed before her eyes; the whole meadow seemed to sparkle with precious jewels, and the sounds of the lea harmonized, all synchronized to help fulfill the image which destiny had recreated in her ancient and aroused consciousness..
Mildred was now lost to her generation, her time; her memories and social position were obliterated by the assumption of the archaic archetype. She now belonged to the cosmos, the endless ages, regressing to another time, a remote era when differentiation of things was dim and the concept of self was concatinated with everything else.
Freed from all conventional restraints, guided by another mind, she removed her dress and undergarments. She stood naked in the spring sun singing paens in a language spontaneously created with her every utterance.
Bending down she plucked flowers and delicate stems of grasses and wove them into garlands which she wore around her neck and on her head. Completely innocent, she steeped through the meadow on light feet immersed in the moment, the supreme moment of destiny.
The bull neither moved when she approached him and decorated his head and horns with flowers, nor did he feel intruded upon when she sat next to him, skin to skin, stroking his neck and rubbing her hand on his body. The bull sniffed the air and it was good. She hummed music which long ago people knew but had since forgotten. In her throat warbled that music which defied all laws of reason and logic, a music which had its own memory and meaning. The bull understood the music and swayed his head clumsily with it.
She stood and moved her body rhythmically. Her gyrations were slow and her steps slow, graceful movements as she danced around the bull.
Thrice she circled him in her ancient dance, thrice she spoke words slowly, intoning them with reverent voice. Now faster went her dance of sensual motions slicing the air with hidden meaning.
Her song rose up louder, and its tone changed from a lilting largo to a sharp staccato sung faster and with the new rhythm of her dance and song, the bull's ears went up as if to catch more clearly the meaning of her song. Memories stirred within his bovine brain, memories unknown to men and their philosophies.
Her dance became wilder. She contorted her body and made rigid her movements syncopated with jagged leaps and arms scratching the air and her teeth gnashing, her lips curled almost in a snarl, and for a moment she was ugly. The bull sniffed the air; the message of the ages received with her smells told him what to do and what to expect.
She leaped over the bull's back. To and fro she leaped, her skill increasing as her memory reawakened more and more. With an airy leap she landed with her feet on his back. And with a sudden bending of this stance, she threw her body into the air backwards. Up she went, turning and landing effortlessly, sure-footedly on the bull's massive head. Her arms reached out and each hand grabbed a horn, steadying herself for her next leap.
She kicked out her feet and stretched back her head and arms; her body turned in the air; she landed and recove- red, turned and faced the bull with arms raised up to the sky and her legs akimbo. The great beast rose up on all fours and, twisting his neck and shaking his body, he bellowed out as if in answer to her primeval song and dance.
She laughed and moved her body in a high-legged prance limbering up her newly awakened body.
Through obedience to original orders, the bull awaited his partner. She ran several paces, leaped into the air and landed on his huge head; again she grabbed his horns; and by command, she sang him into a slow trot; his heavy hooves crushed flowers and grasses; he plodded around in the direction she dictated by the pulling of his horns. Her voice called out for speed and the bull hastened his pace to a gallop. Around and around the meadow she went riding the bull to re-enact archetypes and cosmic remembrances remani- fested in her after aeons of dormancy from the human condition.
Laughter and song tumbled from her mouth like sparkling jewels. Birds called out in answer to her laughter. Around and around the bull and the maiden went dancing out the ritual in unconscious participation.
Earth-sprung lusts and gusts of warm spring air vibrated and stimulated the participants in the afternoon meadow. She slowed the bull's gallop and performed feats of sommersaulting on his back, springing into the air with the grace of a flying puff ball borne by a gentle breeze. Then to the ground she went playing, tempting the horns and trampling feet of the bull but-swiftly-leaping through his spread of horns and recovering on his back. Several times she stood holding onto one horn and stretched out one leg and arm reaching out and up like the rays of a star. She gloried in the play and in the dance. Again and again she threw herself into the air landing and swift-footedly running to the front of the bull presenting her body as a target to the horns and hooves, but with the precision of an acrobat and the grace of a ballerina, she leaped over his horns and onto his back just at the most perilous moment landing safely on her feet-all in a trice it was done.
She lay on the beast's back resting and staring up into the blue sky unaware that there was any other way of life. Immersed in this timeless state, she was oblivious of the world she'd left.
But that other world was aware of her: for while she and the bull trotted in trance, a farmer and his helpers passed in a truck, saw her and stopped, gawked in disbelief. And while they gawked a county road repair truck with its five man crew arrived on the scene. They too stared at the spectacle in front of them. But all they saw was a naked woman performing crazy gymnastics on a bull.
The men became more and more excited. And while she lay on her back contemplating the sky, the men grew impatient. One farmhand pressed the truck's horn and called out, "Hey, lady, get off your back so's we can see your beaver! Haw, haw, hee, ha!" All the men laughed. Then the two horns of the parked trucks were blowing and the men shouted in a chorus of coarse comments: "I got a horn for you, honey," said one, "I'm quite a bull myself!" shouted another.
The spell was broken. Suddenly Mildred became aware of herself naked, holding onto the horns of a bull!
"I've gone mad!" she screamed. Fear seized her; her grip froze on the horns. She dared not let go. "How did I get here?" she questioned herself in a state of panic. The bull sensed the cessation of the magic.
His nostrils picked up the scent of fear of the rider on his back. He tossed his mighty head in an attempt to shake off the fear on his back, he kicked up his hind legs. Mildred's grip, frozen at first by fear, now began to weaken; her fingers loosened. The men shouted and tooted the trucks' horns.
The bull became angry at the calls and the horn blowing. He now had two problems: the weight of fear on his back and the noise makers and taunters jarring his nerves. Straight to the source of the irritation charged the mighty bull of Knossos, maddened by mocking men and their machines. The bull knew no fear and lowered its head.
Some of the men were foolish enough to have climbed over the fence teasing the charging beast,. presenting themselves as targets, daring destiny. Before anyone of them realized what had happened, the bull struck the fence. It was a strong fence, but the bull's charge was stronger and his ramming head broke a fence post and the railings dropped and dumped the men to the ground.
One of his horns hooked a farmhand and blood spurted from the man's side. A hoof crushed the hand of another. The other taunters jumped to the safety of their trucks. The road repair truck had a radio and the screaming, panicky voice of the crew chief was calling into his microphone for the sheriff.
The maddened bull stamped and butted and snorted in uncontrolled anger, but at last he was freed of the burden on his back. Upon impact with the fence post Mildred had been thrown off violently and fell under the hooves of the bull and her neck broken. She died instantly.
A sheriff's car arrived with red lights blinking in the golden spring day and its siren blaring, drowning out the dulcet songs of the birds. The deputy sheriff stood at the fence, his rifle at the ready. He took careful aim, held his breath and fired. The bullet easily found its mark: straight through the bull's white spot on its chest. A few staggers, a hollow moan from its throat and the bull of Knossos dropped dead in its tracks.
An examination of the facts by the sheriff brought little light on how Mildred came to be naked on that bull's back. Her clothes were found, her purse was in her car, but nothing could be found to prove anything about her actions.
Her body was taken to the morgue and her car and possessions taken to the courthouse. Her kin came to claim her body. Mildred's family was shocked. Some thought her gone mad, others said, among themselves, that she had probably taken drugs, but a coroner's autopsy proved otherwise and her actions were ever a mystery.
The owner of the bull wanted to sue for damages to his fence and the destruction of his livestock; but the owner's lawyer wasn't sure whom he should sue.
In a few weeks the story lost its interest, but now and then some would mention the crazy naked woman who had ridden a bull in the spring meadow.
The road repair truck had a radio and the screaming, panicky voice of the crew chief lwas calling into his micro
The maddened bull stamped and butted and snorted in uncontrolled anger, but at last he was freed of the fence post Mildred had lbeen thrown off violently and fell under the hooves of the bull and her neck broken. She died instantly.
A sheriff's car arrived with red lights blinking in the golden spring day and siren blaring, drowning out the dulcet songs of the birds. The deputy sheriff stood at the fence, his rifle at the ready. He