Saturday 6 December 2014

Day 6 Billy and the Shaman by Ben Osborn

Billy and the Shaman

Ben Osborn
The foxes are screaming tonight. In between the pools of light, where the Shaman is hobbling, he makes a high lonesome barking sound in reply.
“Are you talking Fox?” says Billy to the Shaman.
“What does it sound like? Of course I bloody am,” says the Shaman. His accent is nasal and North American but he has picked up a lot of English turns-of-phrase. “Hey,” he squeaks in human, but to the foxes, “hey come back here, I’m not done talking to you.”
“How did you learn to speak Fox?” says Billy, walking next to the Shaman. Billy is a very tall man, with long hair tied in a ponytail. His hair is the colour of sand and very nearly its texture. Like the Shaman, he wears all black.
“For chrissake,” says the Shaman, “I speak Fox because sometimes I’m a fox. Will you shut up for a second?” he says, like he’s interrupting himself, and then, clearly, to Billy, “no more stupid questions” – as if to prove that it’s Billy he’s annoyed with, and not his own self – then, very quiet, to the night or the foxes or something, he says, “I’m listening, I’m trying to listen…”

At 2pm the next day, Billy and the Shaman don’t appear to have slept. They’ve got to the point where neither seems certain as to who is following whom – is Billy some protégé of the Shaman’s, or is he studying the Shaman out of a more detached curiosity, journalistic, academic (though he is clearly neither journalist nor academic)? Or is the Shaman following Billy around? Perhaps it’s some kind of curse on Billy? Or perhaps Billy looks after him and, for all his magical powers (which really aren’t ever in doubt [so if you’re doubting them please stop now]) perhaps he needs looking after in the Cartesian West, where body and soul aren’t one and the same, where material and spirit are on different planes – the Cartesian West of Kings Cross, where he is hobbling, on the hunt – or perhaps the Shaman is studying Billy, trying to understand all the other strange people through Billy’s example?

About the author:

Ben Osborn is a writer, songwriter and composer. As musical director of Fellswoop Theatre his productions have won the Cameron Macintosh Award, the Wildfire Award and the Methuen Emerging Artists Award. His stories have appeared in various publications and his libretto 'On false perspective' was set to music by composer Josephine Stephenson and performed this year.


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