There were stories in his mind; deep in the recesses of his brain were wonderful stories looking for an escape valve. All his life he had wanted to write them down - these stories that aroused such trepidation in his heart, stories that came and went flitting across his mind like multi-colored butterflies, always beautiful, always out of reach. One morning he started to write:
"They killed Ba in '43. On a low tarmac in deep winter when Peter Lake was riding across the Coheeries he heard the shot so clear it was almost as though it had gone through his head instead. It stopped him in mid-air for seconds,'They've got him,' he sobbed, 'that great heart is no more! The swine..."
But it didn't come out right – he had read Helprin too closely to make-believe that a bullet could kill a man in the twenty-first century. Disappointed, he tried again:
"The desert stretched in front of Clancy; the wind was a low coyote howl climbing up the dunes and getting entangled in the brush and finally coming up to him going round and round his ears. Clancy picked up his saddle and gave a long whistle. Instantly, Black Lightning bolted up out of nowhere and came to a standstill beside him in a cloud of fine dust. Clancy took out Sara's blue-green scarf and inhaled the fragrance of her again, dare he leave?...."
Close but not quite. The storyteller closed his eyes and tried to recapture the vision he had seen that had stayed with him for as long as he could remember: it was a vision of a rainbow stretched from end to end of the sky; and on each side of it spread out smaller rainbows, hundreds of thousands of rainbows that covered the skies quite completely; and every rainbow held a story that only he had the key to. Some he knew and some were stories he would have to lie down and dream of again to be able to remember all the details. The seventh rainbow held the story of the star-husband – of the girl who would marry no man but a star-husband and so she did when he came to her to make her his; and they went away together, skywards, and they never knew a day of loneliness so happy were they with each other.
The fifth rainbow held the story of the baby who was child of man and child of God too; of how he grew strong in the wind and rain and stronger still upon the craggy cliffs that threw up seaspray into his face and wound seasongs into his ears so that he would grow up with the knowledge of the sea for it held the secrets to the mysteries of life; at the bottom of the sea lay stories – on the sea-bed were some stories that clung to the sea floor like anemones and glowed, other stories roved in the waters like so many seahorses and still other stories lay within the songs of the dolphins waiting to be born. Inside conches were pink and white and babyblue stories. Some conches washed ashore and held to the ear strove to tell their stories. But they were songtales that no land dweller could ever hope to decipher. Into his baby heart, for he was pure, poured the sea her secret stories in songs that he would sing for an eternity. And the child grew and waxed strong because he knew.
The 21st rainbow, darker and heavier than any other rainbow, held the saddest story of all; the saga of a race of men, fine men who loved the land they were born into and loved the freedom that came with the land. "Leave them be," said the wiser ones, "they are but children, almost, so wise in the ways of the soil but so uninitiated in the ways of men, content as they are, it would be a sin to let the outside world in and upset the delicately balanced equilibrium of their lives.” But those who came after did not heed: they came in and branded them as one would brand so many cattle, staking ownership on property that was not theirs, killing those who wanted to be themselves and filling the land with the blood of the killed, bleeding it everyday with the blood of the newly killed – so much blood a man could wade into it and be drowned in the sea of Naga blood that refused to congeal.
There were tears in the storyteller's eyes. Not now, not here but some other day (would it still be called a day?), in another lifetime he would tell his stories. He would tell them in a song – a long lay that interwove tale upon tale – these songtales could not be told otherwise- words were themselves not enough, words alone could not carry the stories, he would need the weight of music that could strike like lightning or soothe like a swaying sea to tell them as they ought to be told.