New Horseman


by Eric Mader




He was a headless boy in a roofless house with a brainless mother and a useless computer. The computer was useless because the house was roofless and the rain came in and shorted it out. The house was roofless because the mother was brainless and she enjoyed the sun. The mother was brainless, having been raised in the habitus she was raised in, according to Bourdieu.


A tongueles dog sat on a swingless porch panting.  Being tongueless, everyone thought the dog was laughing. 




The headless boy went to a classless school. The school had no class because it had no classes. The classless school had a bookless library. Oral culture was in vogue, and digital culture was catching on.


The boy got to his school on a tireless bike. The bike was slow, and it gave a sort of gravelly sound, being tireless. The boy was headless, and often got dismayed, or displayed, or displaced, or misprised. He often got lost is what. The bike did the boy's homework for him, being tireless in the other sense too. A Schwinn it was, very reliable.




A powerless principal fed his eyeless fish in a waterless pond. It was some ways from the school, as the story tells.


The boy, however, was fearless. He approached.


"What is that grinding, / As of the wheels of progress / Off the rails?" quoth the principal.


"It's my bike, sir," quoth the boy.


"Leave me be! My fish are ailing," quoth the principal.


"I am friendless, sir. I come to you."


"You are a headless boy. The others will be ruthless."


"Respect is what I crave, sir. Respect."


A moment passed between them, soundless. Even the fish were still, there in their dust.


"I know," quoth the principal finally, "I know a nameless girl with a hairless..."--he gestured toward the sky, seeking the word--"a hairless...."




"Yes! It is she who will bring you the respect and love you need. For she hath long suffered the same malady as you--a malady most capital!"


"Is she...?" began the boy.


"She is! Not merely nameless, but headless too. A pair of shears removed the top that once was hers."


"A pair of shears?"


"Scissors," quoth the principal.  "A pair of scissors is how you would say."


"Shall I go to her then?" asked the boy.


"Go, my son!" quoth the principal.  "She is your only hope.  You must seek her out."




Years later, after harried and fruitless quest, the boy stood at a door.


"I'm here for...."


"She's up in her room," quoth the crone.


The room was on a second floor. The hairless dog followed the boy up the stairs. The door having been attained, it was pushed open. The hairless dog having run to the side of the girl, she turned toward the door.


Unsure how to break the ice, the boy stood silent a moment, finally trying a wink. But the wink was without affect, for our hero was headless, as the story tells.


"So you're here," the girl said. "Finally."


"It's true," the boy said. "I've made it."


Through a half-open window a sunbeam highlighted a swirl of dust motes over the bare wood floor. The dog gave a puff of impatience, having practiced for this part too many times already. Standing slowly, the girl took a long-unused comb from the dresser, then snapped it sharply back down.


"Your accomplishments?" she asked sharply, as if on cue.


"I..." the boy began, taken aback. "I..."


"Your accomplishments?" she repeated. "Come on, now. List them."


"Well, I've found you, haven't I?" the boy brought out meekly.


"Finding me ain't much, to tell the truth," the girl said, sweeping a lock of imagined hair from her brow long gone. "There's many a lad before you found this old place.  You've nothing better than that?"


Nonplussed the boy stood, not seeing the swirl of motes or the dog, hairless there on the wood. 


"Think of the long road," the boy began then, "the tireless rims on rough gravel. Think of hatless days in the hot sun, and rain streaming down the gullet."


"Hm!" the girl said.  "There's plenty of lads said plenty of things like that."


"Many a time heard I the terrible squeal of tires approach, and the yell of drivers enraged, for I'd missed the red light that should have made me halt."


"You missed the light?"


"Yes. For I am a headless boy, and couldn't see the traffic lights, whether red or green. I didn't see the red lights, / So drivers saw red, / And the red of my blood did stain the streets."


"That's verse you're speaking. It's alliterative verse. Did you know?"


The hairless dog, now prone, lowered its head onto outstretched paws, signaling assent or disagreement.


"I am a headless boy from a roofless house with a useless computer. It did no good making web pages, I can tell you that. For solace, I came to a powerless man perched on a sea of dust. He uttered your name, and I sought you."


"How could he?" the girl asked. "I am a nameless girl."


"He gave me your namelessness, and I sought you out."


"So you did. And then?"


"The absence of your name--it called to me. I spoke its void each night before sleep. I repeated it, over and over."


There was quiet in the room, still as the dog.


"You repeated the absence of my name?" asked the girl. "Did you really?"


"I did. On a moonless night, sprawled at the edge of a treeless land, I repeated the absence of your name, and it sustained me, it kept me to the road."


"That's very poetic, do you know? Have you read Derrida?"


"No," the boy said. "I went to a school with a bookless library. Oral culture was in vogue, and digital culture was catching on."


"Never mind Derrida. Never mind him. I'm yours, you know. I'm yours always already, as Derrida would say. Finally you've come!"


"Mine?" the boy replied, taken aback by such sudden warmth. "You really will be mine?"


"Yes," the girl said. "To tell the truth, I've waited just for you. I've been waiting all along."


"Can it be?"


"Take me in your arms, fool. Kiss me!"


"I will," the boy said. "I'll take you in my arms at least. That part I can do."


In a rush the two came together, shoulders against shoulders, stump to stump.  With a huff and the slightest wag of a pinkish tail, the hairless dog indicated that this would be the story's end.  And so it was.







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