Jul 4, 2017

Panahenoc and Mehianoc

Once there were two brothers, Panahenoc and Mehianoc by name. They were chosen by the elders of their people for a sacred duel -- ritual combat reenacting the battle between the brother gods of sun and sea. Now, Panahenoc and Mehianoc loved one another and were much pained by the fate that would pit them brother against brother. Against the wishes of their elders, they postponed the ritual for one hour and one day and one month and one year, saying to all that they would walk the earth and swearing that, should the gods still demand that brother slay brother upon their return, that each would at least know that their brother had seen the world and could die with no regrets. And in that time, Panahenoc turned west, Mehianoc east, and each strode away, to circle the world and return at the appointed hour.

The brothers had many adventures, and each grew wise in his travels. Panahenoc rode a ship to the Orient, where he met and loved Que Cho -- a woman who was also a river spirit. He walked the steppes and climbed the mountains of Tian Shan. Mehianoc crossed the great prairies and braved the cities ‘til he reached the deep Atlantic. A ship took him across the steel-grey waters and landed him on the coasts of Africa. In the bazaars of Casablanca he bested an assassin and in the windy canyons of Tunisia he looked upon ancient and forgotten writings in the stone.

The brothers nearly met one another in the heart of Arabia, where both made their way to the holy city of Mecca -- pilgrims in their hearts, if not truly of the faith. Panahenoc was found out and called infidel. He nearly died but for the kindness of an ancient cleric who could see the destiny writ large upon his brow. Mehianoc turned away from the holy city at the last minute, respecting the faith he would never embrace, and was nearly undone by hunger and thirst as he wandered the desert.

Panahenoc walked the streets of ancient Jerusalem and Damascus. He visited the Holy See and the Parthenon, and knew love again in the arms of a Portuguese fisherman’s widow before sailing across the sea to chill Nova Scotia.

Mehianoc learned the art of cobra charming from a poor street performer in Bangalore. He worked to feed himself in the great rice paddies of Thailand, and flew a kite in the shape of an eagle over the Yellow River.

Long were their paths, and many were the brothers’ adventures, but destiny drew them inexorably together again to fulfill their sacred duty. And as Mehianoc stepped into the yellow lights of the CopyCenter parking lot in Riverside, California, and spied his brother, Panahenoc, grown lean and bearded but still the strong figure he once so admired, waiting next to a FedEx drop box, he looked to the sky, a silent question posed to the silent gods. And in that moment, Panahenoc struck his brother down with a used toner cartridge, and did his duty before the gods of his people.

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