I could smell lavender in her tears when she cried. Something that struck me as exceptional as a quality that in the same instant was both beautiful and yet very terrible. Transcendent of anything that I could expect in a mortal woman. But then that is why they are so, is it not? The old shop keeper stood before the young man with the fatal object in his palm. A small desiccated thing enclosed in a bituminous afflicted parchment covering tightly wrapped upon a small armature of birdlike bones. The damnably fascinating thing had sat in one juxtaposition on relatively plain sight within eye-shod of his showroom window for literally decades. It was almost an icon of his presence that had survived in my mind since those latter years of post adolescence. this infrequent times when on weekend evening sojourns escaping from the weekly banalities of suburban juvenile existence I had stumbled across its stark reality. The terminology of ‘glory hand’ coming in vogue to the tongue after a few trips and a touch of insightful wisdom by one of my fellow ‘know it all’s‘. There was much speculation of how such a horrific object came to be so shamelessly displayed publicly without fear of prosecution? How naive were shelter American youth of that time? The tremulous obsession to see it firsthand subverted by that to be expected fear of untimely death the grave so ingrained in the contemporary level of understanding of the world by callow youth. The rest of the small establishment a fully-stocked storehouse every kind of barely imaginable oddity equally demonstrating the ‘crème de la crème‘ of extremely off-beat qualities. The proprietor’s sensibilities as represented suggesting someone of such eccentricity and daring that one naturally hesitated in his presence as such a character one would think could be capable of anything?
A small typed expository paragraph that sat hanging just beneath the object within its bell glass resting place explaining what I had long ago already surmised in my tenuous youth bound sorties into the realm of the generally abrupt and high strung fellow. It neatly mentioning the well-accepted suggestion that such artifacts as harvested from someone gallows bound were employed in rituals of magic to when the fingers were lit like a candle and the thin carried palm upright it could open any locked door while rendering any other that its holder motionless and at bay. The text going on to say that once it was burning it’s illumination would continue unchecked and inexhaustible forever. The mouldering and mashing of it in my older mind still stultifying in range of the horrid thing resting in dust barely and inch above. Still the cloying sense of fragrance that persisted around it gave it an immediacy that chilled one’s own bones. Why one would ask in the wee hours late at night was the seeming eternal promise of youthful innocence and the sudden intervention of mortal death so akin? Especially from those whose lives had been contradicted by laws of times that now seemed ancient and pitiless in their barbarity? A burden that one might be cursed with after several days or sometimes weeks of sleepless obsessing. The fragrant smell of eternity lingering in the nostrils as a hint of an ultimate horizon beyond which imagination went blank. Those infrequent points in time when the warm vibrant living equivalent of a young maiden was firm within one’s own grip poisoned to some degree by the persistent mentally inscribed heirloom. So many short decades later. Now, since my own youth has been swept away by intervening time and the capricious meander of so many varied and inexplicable to this day experiences. I sit back into my easy chair in the inevitably slow graying haze of distant memory and see the thing not under its bell shape. But too often resting gone recently dormant and incrementally growing cold. The hand transposed into that of a newly departed loved one now leaving their weary flesh behind in favor that journey to who really knows where?