UNTITLED

BY

ROBERT WALLACE PAOLINELLI

 

 

It was a quiet winter's day; a body wracked with pain lay in the dry snow. The sun was up. The body moved. It crawled a few inches then stopped. Then it lay for a long time motionless; then it moved forward again. The head raised; a hand moving slowly brushed away snow from the face of the body; ten or so yards ahead was a cabin; smoke was coming out of a stone chimney; the mouth of the body opened; it drew a long breath; then the mouth formed a word, which leapt out of its throat like a quick slap at a mosquito: "Help!" The face dropped back into the snow and the body lay still.

 

Inside the cabin Regina Bern sat at her artist's table. In her hand was a long black pen with a fine needle point nib; she was working on a drawing of two crows on the snow. Her cabin was as quiet as the soundless winter forest that surrounded her studio dwelling. No clocks ticked; no music played; the only sounds to be heard were here breathing and her high-tech wood burning stove which kept her forest retreat warm. Her mind was clear of any distractions; the crows on the drawing paper wre coming to life; her concentration was focused on the task at hand,. She heard the sound; she heard the one quick word carry the short distance across the clearing and through the walls and land on her ears like a sudden unexpected insect bite. Immediately her hand froze. She put down her pen. The word "Help!" firmly registered in her mind. At the window she looked out and saw the body, just as it crawled another inch.

 

she turned the body over. Its eyes opened and its lips opened and whispered, "Help me."

 

Regina returend to her cabin and got a tarp. With some effort, she got the body onto the tarp and with a little effort, dragged the load to the door. She was not a big woman. How she mnaged to ger her burden into her house was something she would think about later.

 

In front of her stove, on the floor lay a man, he had several days beard stubble. He was alive--barely. She was giving him, spoonful by spoonful, hot coffee with a double shot of brandy. She had him wrapped in a down quilt and had taken off his boots and socks. She checked for frsotbite; she knew what signs to look for, but found none. She rubbed his feet and hands until she saw his white skin renewed with color.

 

"If you can stand, you can lie on the couch."

 

"Just let me warm up some more and I'll try to at least get on my knees. Thank you, thank you. You've saved my life. Please, may I have some more hot coffee? Do you have any bread? I'm hungry, too.dthe load to the door

 

2/18/96
2/17/96
It may seem to be a lot of things to you, but it doesn't mean a dman thing to Sardonios. You can talk until you're blue in the face, and you'll get no where with him. I can't say that I disagree with all of what he says; but I sure can understand his point of view. Listen: I've spent the better half of my adult life ferreting out petroglyphs. I've photographed them, drawn them, calssified them and written books about them and I have lectured on them. But you