to be told at gatherings

The resignation of the sheriff left nothing to be done. The populace of that tiny hamlet poured out into the cramped streets, half-dressed and quarrelsome. Shops were broken into. Women were vigorously affronted. Men too were affronted, with equal vigor and panache. Many living near the municipal zoo were beaten by a crowd of contrary children. I taught everyone a hymn I had written, complete with musical accompaniment. It went:

                           Kill us if you like,
                           but you won't like Hell
                           when you do (when you do)
                           come to (come to)
                           in the heat (in the hot)
                           in the hot (in the heat)
                           in the goddamn fire of the Lord.

I pretend now to have made it up, but actually an old woman sang it to me when I menaced her husband with my little knife. I wanted their clothing, particularly her aubergine housecoat.

But don't be concerned for me. This sort of thing is what everyone does when everyone does it. And everyone who doesn't does play along, or at least watches from the wings as those who do do what they do, whether well or wantonly.

In another hour, we shall burn the town to bits. I've always wanted to, and now we're in cahoots. It's a wonderful thing, being in cahoots. One can't help but prefer it. We'll all sit on the hill outside of town and laugh and hold hands with pretty girls and boys while pretty girls and boys laugh and hold hands with us.

And the sky will stream fitfully across the sky, its sails filled by the same wind that prompted us this morning when we rose, rosy cheeked and ham-handed from our all-too-narrow beds, filled with the same rippling restless pleasure that even now sits like a lantern in my youthful throat.