"Haw. Haw-haw HAW." His overemphatic hacking could only barely be accepted as laughter. His mouth and his empty eye socket gaped at Caleb like two wounds made by the same weapon. "It was jest Louis an' me for a month. After that, I been here another week." He was madder than a loon – and only in the space of a month and a week? It was easy to see how he had gone mad – he sat in front of the fire stirring the kettle of meat preserves as it sat in the glowing, coal-like embers – but so quickly? "Oh, balls, nothing better than that smell, that burning sperg smell. Like to keep the place filled with the smoke, reminds them loopers what's what an' who's the head honcho around here ta smell their own fat burnin'."
The smoke was sharp like pine, acrid like rubber. It filled the second story room. Reddish pieces of blubber floated in the kettle as he stirred. It could've been turkey necks, except for the yellowish oil that rose from it in waxy bulges as the meat cooked, and except for the lack of bones. "The company had us established here as a mine, and Louis an' me were the rock men. Just me an' Louis and ten men, hard workers an' Indians, two packs. They done went their separate ways. The white ones went straight to hell with no scalps, I reckon. An' the Cibecue went off nuz. Nuz is that way," he said, and he indicated the direction by pointing down the beach. "Ain't no north south east west I decided. Shit on you if I know what happened to 'em. The Apache. There's nuz and there's zun." He indicated his directions again, and pulled his spoon from the kettle a little too quickly, slinging broth about.
There had been no change from day to night. Perhaps there was a sun here, somewhere behind that higher-than-high wall. If there was a sky, Caleb had no sense of its place – there had been a breeze over the blue waters, but no horizon. He had never considered being in a world where there was no sky. Arizona had a big sky; this place had only the weight of the wall and the fog, and a stony beach, into which this man's mind had surely been ground.
"So, I sang a lot to myself about Suzanna an' I took to eatin' the black bugs. I can play the fiddle, but ya ain't got one, an' I done shat on that idea already. That idea, I mean, going back to globe and fillin' the whore farragut fulla daylight and takin' up the stringer-dee agin. Oh Suzzana! Don't you cry for me!" He wailed, it wasn't anything like singing. He had two plates. "Louis'," he said as he spooned a hunk of boneless meat onto one of them and extended it to Caleb.
Caleb took the plate in his hand and sat it down in front of him. His gun had been drawn the entire time.
"So, pardner, ya gonna shoot me soon?"
"No. Keep talkin'. What were ya minin' for?"
The Old Man spooned another piece of meat onto his own plate. "Ya sure?"
"No – yes – fuck you. Tell me the story."
"That's all the story there is. Don't care what we was minin' for, it's all still in there. I'm all done talkin' about harshus now. Been here a while, you know. I'm thinner now in my guts. My skeleton's gotten all small, and you see pardner I got no eye, them little black ones take your face if you're not up high enough when you sleep. Learnt it the first night here. Can't see no more can't talk no more!" He stood up. "Just go an' shoot me! Just put the bullet right in here ya sopping donkey's cunt!" He pointed to his eye-hole, touched the dry gouge with his dirty finger tip. "Yessir, dude, I don' care about your face or your balls, but by my balls! I am not livin' much longer now just do it, goddamn you and then shoot yerself. In the face you whore lickin' son of a bitch cunt monkey takin' a stroll on a stony beach like it's picnic season."
Caleb didn't respond.
"I fucked yer mammy til she called me Joseph," he said, almost as if asking a question.
Caleb watched the Old Man.
"Then I gave her to my Yaqui buddy, Loo Loo, and he strung her up like a brave by her ears and sodomized the old bitch like . . . like the fooker gollamphed on her like a cow trick on you turd."
"Sit down. Eat yer slop."
He bent over and picked up his plate. "This here yarfle slop in my gout? Eat it? Strip it? Here you have it!"
He slung the plate at Caleb, who fell onto his right elbow, managing to avoid the plate itself, but not the splattering of yellow oils and stewed ocean water. Hot droplets smelling like the fruited breeze from earlier landed on his neck, burning him.
"Ya like sperg, ya bafflin' turd? Ya like looper meats?" challenged the man as he stomped into the fire, throwing half-melted bits of glowing red looper flesh across the ground. "Here, fuck you! Shoot me!" He kicked the flesh-embers at Caleb. One landed squarely on his pant leg. It wasn't coal, but it was hot like a coal, and it was very near his groin. The Old Man took advantage of the moment and leapt through the fire. Standing over Caleb, he raised one foot in the air. "You shoot me! You shoot me now!"
(Caleb has been burned by a bit of fat! -1 hit point. This is combat! Initiative is on Caleb.
Thelonius passed a sanity check. -2 sanity for being thrust into this alien and confusing situation. Thelonius will be feeling the stress of the cumulative sanity losses, though he will not be insane.
Please include descriptions of your characters in your comments. To clarify, the scene is taking place inside a room, which is connected to a cave. In the orange glow of the fire, the stones from which the room is constructed seem to be made of dark stone taken from the cave. In this room there is also a pickaxe, and two sets of stone stairs cut into the wall of the cliff (into which the cave extends). One goes up, one goes down. Behind Thelonius, the cave is dark and seems to continue on an ascending grade.)