I had finally met Jay Branson.
It was the very stone-severe heart of winter, on the street, as he was walking past.
He must have been traveling northbound, which surprised me, because I always picture him traveling south or southeast in the winter. But no, it had to have been north. W with that audacious scarf tied around his neck and a glimmer in his eyes that seemed a bit alien to me. But I suppose all of us just expect him to keep par with our own hearts' beatings -- but, that night, he wasn't even contrasting mine as I sat, staring off, waiting for work with my pen and papers and bucket half full of change.
Jay Branson walks over to me and lays a greasy bag of what smell like fries on one of my texts, and before I can object, he begins “Women are funny, proud creatures... Because man always tries to see them naked, because he strains to see them all softly nude spread out before him.
“But you know what?” he continues, drawing out a fry from the greasy bag. “You know what makes her proud? Its how, and I’m talking about the real pretty ones, how you can feel that milky concoction without thinking about it, just by seeing her doing something simple, something caught in her blindsight because she needs to concentrate.
“And if you catch that—“ he munches, “that domestic act; if you can get away with feeling her, afar, without or before she sees you— then you get into the real trouble man, and I’m not talking about infatuation or anything you know about, really, or atleast that guys these days are prepared to admit to themselves…”
A wind whips by us, and I cringe, but Jay just stands there, following out his weird thoughts, and I find myself thirsting to know where he's taking us.
“See, you get this glimpse, of how it would be, to be there, to be that domestic thing and moment, but you can’t. You can’t let go without releasing yourself. And to be in her hands, dude, is to be far from what gets you.”
“Anyhow,” and he offers me a pinch, “anyhow, these things man, these things you’d do well to remember.”
And I wonder if he noticed the “Do not disturb” sign taped to the front of my desk, or if he just plain remembered his walking, but as he turned to walk away I shouted a bit to loudly:
--Jay! Spend some time with me!
“Why dude?” he asks, sort of solemn, “What reason is there to spend anything right now? If you want to take a walk, then set down your cusps and follow me.”
I stood up and grabbed by bean bags and left my table as it was, taking the tune of summer to my heart and following the jacketed thin form of Jay Branson up the street.
--So then dear Jay, do you know your history, I mean, you ancestry, where you came from, where your name came from?
“Oh yeahI You’re the one all in on the past, on the origin stuff. Well yeah, Branson, its an ancient title, man, it means son of Bran, who was quite a famous—“
And the sop starts laughing away, bristling up in his patent laughter— the scathing laughter not of detachment or history or irony, but of clairvoyance— yes, the seering laughter of the oracle is his, and as I realized this, he continues (of course with the smirk of a thousand inside jokes poking holes in his speech):
“But really man, its all in there, it has all already been writ, and will continue to be, like fate, like that fate, that fat sloppy love-hearty fate you pretend to know or believe in— I can’t just shell it all out, just for the sake of your greedy need to revel in the supreme elasticity of facts— Bran, my friend, is an old Celtic tree god— he has something to do with the crow, with the blackbird if you will, and so you may call upon me like this:”
And he jumps up on a bus bench and suddenly his overcoat unravels into a cape of a thousand serpentine tendrils, quite black, very black, so very black reaching back and cupping his hands to his mouth and shouting
“KA! KA!! KA!!!”
And a tingling scrapes down the back of my neck, making me to turn and flip my bean bags up in the air like we’re in a Nike commercial set in a renaissance fair and I the central spokesgod flabbergasting the peasants with my prowess, sudden surge and feeling feverishly potent with something other than the word, and my senses trickle out their gates, and Branson screeches past me like a starship, and I follow, the boyish lover, so overburdened with disparity and chase, so lost to the catch that holds up the lust-riddled heart and wrenches---
--I would be you daydream, Branson, drowning in your muddy Jordan, I would!
“Then I your Salome,” he says, suddenly turning to me, pulling a knife from his coat and catching hold of mine, making movements quicker than my eye can follow. He shoves me to the pavement, growing big and fearsome, towering above me, smoke from the sewers spiraling me back against the whole scene.
--Then a prophet I must be.
“Hardly one to loose your head over,” and he offers me his hand, slicing his blade across the back of my wrist as he pulls me to my feet.
“People have lost their secrets,” he says with much false ambivalence. “It would seem the Keepers have done too good a job.”
--Too good a job at what?
“At being Keepers, of course, at keeping the secrets too damn arcane. We have work to do… Well, you have work to do, a whole Hell of work, a vast tedious chaos to build, to defend, to make a Heaven of…”
We were walking again. I felt a little arid, in the head.
--She hides a lot, I mutter.
“A lot more than you or I could ever guess, be sure of it.”
It disturbed me to hear him so… full of wisdom, so something in the mind, but solid, and here. I could feel him beneath my thumbnails, doing a queer sort of thinking. I turned to him and asked
--Do you feel safe?
“No. No I don’t. That’s your job.’
--Well then, its back to the dessert for us, I suppose.”
“No. There are other lands to be mapped out. You think of that place too much, man. Too much. Now come, let me buy you a drink.”
“No no no. We get you a drink, a dame, and a damnation, and then we continue.”
--Jay. Don’t be a knob. Not now.
“Have you ever let yourself know that Hell is close to Heaven, always close, so very, very close?”
--Yeah. Sure. Balance. It’s a good thing to remember.
“And have you ever thought that you contain them both, and always will, for now?”
--Jay, why are you so thoughtful tonight?
“And do you know what she tries to keep hidden? Do you know why she simply expresses it instead of hashing it out? It’s because her Hell is becoming yours, and ours is turning into hers. She burns in you, Thomas. In your doubt, and in your flames. She drives through the raindrops of your morality, and they splash against her heavy, heavy. Now, just one drink...”
He raised a finger, and brought me through the door.
Qliphoth is the "Basin of Shells" which in the Kabalist's scheme is located beneath the Tree of Life. It is where the incomplete or discarded forms fall, when they are found unsuitable to be a part of Creation. It is not so much hell as a Divine Scrap heap, a collection of the shards of futility or the clippings of possibility.