Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sketch 2 (Frog and the Scorpion)

Oberammergau, Bavaria 1880

The oil lamps made dancing shadows like a ghost puppet show on the brick walls and stage curtains. Thunder rumbled outside the small theater. Back stage the little girl waited patiently by the stage door for her Papa, loving the shadow shapes which seemed to be playing out stories for her. Minutes before Papa’s leather and brass trimmed Centurion’s costume had been removed and hung with care while she had stood dutifully by holding the plumed helmet, in the dressing room Papa shared with Pontius Pilate – Franz the cheese maker – and Caiaphas the High Priest – the mayor of Oberammergau – and Judas Iscariot, who the other nine of every ten years was Johan the horse doctor and dentist of last resort.

The oil flames flickered a bright yellow light on the little girl’s thick white-silver blonde hair, making a dancing halo of light, as though she might be a angel girl from a child’s book of prayers. When at last Papa came over, dressed again in his farm clothes he took her hand , caressed her soft hair which was his delight. “Did you see me?” he said.

“ ‘ He truly was the son of God.’ “ she said, and he laughed.

“You have a good memory,” Papa said. “Someday you’ll have to be in the Great Passion Play too. “Who do you want to play?”

“A donkey!”

“No. You’re too pretty for a donkey.”

“I like Veronica, the lady with the kerchief,” she said. “She does a kind thing to wipe the Lord’s face, and she doesn’t talk too much.”

He caressed her hair again. “I can see you playing her. It’s late, the storm is coming. We have to go.”

He kept her hand and pushed the door open. The air was cold and a strong wind was rising. They clambered down the stairs. The big man waited on the street, and paused to examine the sky with his farmer's eyes, thinking. Lightning ignited the clouds, in ocean waves of rolling light.

“I’m hungry,” whined the girl. “Grandma is making dumplings.”

He hoisted her up on his great shoulders that only a while ago had been draped in red velvet and armor as he stood in the hot spotlight beneath the makeshift cross holding a spear. He ran a brisk trot for the cart. “It’s not the lightning that worries me,” he said.He trotted up to the cart and froze. The horse was prostrate on the ground. From its neck, behind the ears was a sheen of black blood trailing to the cobblestones.

"Tanzer!" The girl striggled to get free and run for the fallen horse. "Tanzer's sick!"

"Nixie - Tanzer is dead." Papa stood holding her on his shoulders. He looked around wildly almost dropping her. “The worst,” he muttered. “Pieter’s come back. It’s the worst. We’ll go to the church. Hold tight.” He tucked the girl down close to his neck, no longer trotting, he ran. His wooden shoes clambered against the stones, splashing through puddles as the clouds let go sheets of freezing rain.

As they turned the corner to the little Peter and Paul church, lightning blazed throwing the village street into stark glares of silver and black. Papa looked up at the bell tower in the blaze of light and saw. He dropped the girl roughly on her feet and quickly crossed himself. The rain was soaking them.

“Papa!” The girl held up her arms.

He threw himself into a shop doorway and pulled her in after. Holding her tight they crouched low in the door, and he hid her with his body. “Don’t let it see you,” he whispered, and the girl realized he shaking. She had never seen her Papa afraid.

Lightning exploded across the sky and she looked up and saw what he had seen appear and vanish in an instant.

On the top of the Church of Peter and Paul, on top of the bell tower was a great iron cross. In the instant of fierce white light she'd seen a tall thin man standing, leaning his body against the iron cross with his arms outstretched as though being crucified.

“Who is that?” she cried and pointed.

“He's the one who killed Tanzer. Don’t let him see you!” Papa pulled her arm down and threw his broad palm across her eyes.

“Who is he?”

“A lost soul.”

“Why does he do that? He should come in.”

“No, darling. That’s not what he wants.”

“But he’s all wet and the lightning!”

“He was drawn by the Passion Play. His kind are. Now he repents. Now he wants the lightning. ”

“But why?”

The lightning blazed and high above came a shower of hot sparks. When Papa took his hand from her eyes she looked up at the tower. But the storm man had vanished.

“He’s a nosferatu, Nixie. He wants God to kill him.”

C Sanchez-Garcia


  1. Wow,
    That was an incredible story,spooky but I couldn't stop reading it.



  2. Powerful, Garce—and indeed intriguing! Thanks for sharing.


  3. Full of atmosphere. Garce, I hope you develop this into a full story. There might still be room somewhere for one more vampire (a real one). :)

  4. Hi Margaret

    Thanks for reading my stuff. This isn;t actually a story of course, its more of a pencil sketch, just kind of noodling out loud. I haven;t found the story yet. I've come to find that the best stories don;t just pop up. They make you look for them and when you've about given up - suddenly they pop up almost fully formed. I hope this one will too.


  5. Hi Emerald!

    Thanks for coming by. As I was saying, this is just messing around. The setting I want to use someday is Oberammergau (I just love to say that word out loud Oberammergau Oberammergau Oberammergau ) in Bavaria where they have the Passion Play every ten years. That's all I know for sure.


  6. Hi Roberta!

    Well, of course Nixie's my girl, my vampire. I just don't know how she became a vampire. When I know that I'll have my big story.


  7. Hello, Garce,

    It's a real treat for me to watch you play with ideas, move them around, roll them around on your tongue tasting them...

    Don't worry, I know you'll find the story eventually.


  8. Would there have been an actual theater in Oberammergau? I picture it as a village. If the passion play occurred only once every ten years, a theater might have been superfluous.

    Also - I think that this would have been Nixie's first passion play.

    Anyway - thank you for sharing the workings of your creative spirit.

  9. Hi Lisabet!

    Well, as you know, you've been following my struggles and false starts with this story for a long time. It may be that I'm just stuck on certain ideas. This would have been Nixie's first Passion Play. Its happened every ten years on the year for a couple of hundred years so far. Now its a big tourist attraction. But I figure she'd be about 8 years old this time, and ten years later she'll be about 18 which is the age i imagine her when she was changed. I'm not sure about the theater. This was a serious commitment for the village even though at the time it was just for themselves, so they may have had a place set aside for it, as they do today. Maybe.

    "The shortest way to a man's heart is to saw through his ribs."

  10. Beautiful and atmospheric-- your writing never fails to capture me! Thank you for sharing this piece.

  11. Gotcha! Thanks for letting me capture you.



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