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From The Glow Of The Gaslights Comes A Prayer
The prayer of a man who has seen the lie.
[738 words]
Literary Fiction
Timothy Houlihan
I am forty-seven years old and live in Idaho with my wife Treva. My hobby is sitting on the top of the mountain and watching the elk and the deer graze in my pasture.
[March 2003]
[email protected]
Justice For Mrs. Millicent Meeks (Short Stories) - [1,428 words] [Literary Fiction]
The Belch Of A God (Short Stories) Kids learning to fit in. [2,586 words] [Literary Fiction]
The Silver Ride (Short Stories) Obsession. Insanity. Murder. [2,264 words] [Mind]
From The Glow Of The Gaslights Comes A Prayer
Timothy Houlihan

From the Glow of the Gaslights
Comes a Prayer

A quarter pound of Pharaoh flesh. The cost? Thirty pfennig. It’s about time we got some of their dead meat, because, God knows they’ve eaten enough of ours. So here it is, the noble meat, that some say tastes quite like beef (when cooked over an open flame). What? You’ve never tasted the flesh of kings? You’ve never supped on them? Well--- you’re in for a treat, just take a seat, it tastes like deceit and sin.
It’s time to move on from this. I have become quite bored of it. Everyone knows it will never happen. They’ll devour us into eternity, while they tease us into eating Burger Kings. I rather object to the fact that I have been sent here to serve these fuckers, to scrape the dirt before them. Who are they? Aren’t they just men? That’s what we’re told when we still wear blue jeans, and we get pushed and prodded and forced to try to be like them, by people we call parents, who couldn’t climb to their lofty nests themselves. When I step away and look at it, why would I want to be them anyway? Is it a desirable thing to have people scrape and jump to obey your gravelly voice? Do these killers have friends? I wonder.
Today I saw a bag lady on the street. She was screaming at her imagination. She shook her cane at her self-made ghosts and launched into a tirade. She pushed along a shopping cart full of desirable trash. All of her possessions. Behind her she drug a big cardboard box. Her own heavenly home.
“ That’s pretty handy,” I thought to myself, and smiled, and watched her walk by. “ Now, there’s a soul who lives on the go, in a land where every argument ends in a tie.”
I sat there on the wooden porch in front of the store. You know the one. It’s the one where the old men sit face to face in creaky chairs with a checkerboard on a banged up table between them. In the shade of the overhang where they watch the new world roll by, and compare. I listen to them, and am compelled to agree, even though, I know, that I will roll along by as soon as I leave.
The sun’s going down on the old lumber town. The old men lean back and yawn. Here and there in a house made of wood, in a window, a lamplight comes on. I stand and stretch, and toss the burial shroud, the deaths cover, of the flame broiled Pharaoh’s flesh, into a bucket of spit and butts, and step off the wooden porch. I turn and wave at the yawning old men and go rolling by, into the new world, at night, night, the time when the black snake rides over with the moon on it’s back and with it’s tail coiled around the travelers: Venus, Jupiter, and Mars. I walk alone down the dusty old street and listen to the people huddled hidden in their wooden homes yell at each other and pray about their victuals.
At the end of the block at Thirteenth Street, the illumined ones skulk, they sneak, into their lodge and make their plans for our future. They grab on to the black snakes tail. They take a ride, because, they’re travelers, too. Leaned against the side of their lodge, the bag lady has affixed her home. She shouts at the illumined who reject her wisdom and make a constable call, who taps his stick on her cardboard mansion and tells her to move along. I laugh at the scene. It all seems so important to them. The bag ladies wisdom, and the bag ladies trespass, and the illumined ones right to be left alone. The constable’s swagger and the tap of his stick, and his voice. Authorities song.
In the glow of the gaslights I walk along until I reach my door. I step inside and hide, like the rest, until the cracking of dawn. The gaslights glow through my window, I hang my clothes and kneel by my bed. I pray:
Now, I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should wake before I die,
Help me endure,
another day,
the lie.
I tuck myself and think, “ My prayer looks like a snakes head.”



"Very interesting!" -- Molly Houlihan, Houston, Tx, USA.
"I have always loved the way you use the language. Your word pictures are vivid. I especially like the 'bag lady' Thanks for sharing. Terasee" -- Terasee Morris, Uvalde, TX, USA.


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© 2003 Timothy Houlihan
April 2003

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