The Belgian woman stood on the West end of the Bridge Gate in front of the bronze statue of the monkey. She was buried in thought and barely heard him calling her at the edge of her absorption and chose to ignore the interruption. Ultimately, he reached her at the statue.
The Baron listened as the woman spoke with von Ehrenfels. He had returned to resume his role. Baron von Pufendorf had been part of this theater of absurdity for over two centuries. The Baron had crossed the Neckar right here, on this bridge so many years ago; the stone and wood giving way to the river’s flooding. The winter snows melting under the perfect Spring sun: sometimes attacking the bridge, other times slowly overcoming it. How many times had he seen it rebuilt? How many times had he drowned Ehrenfels in the Neckar? He should have chopped him into mince meat and fed it to the swine. Then, he would not have to drown him again and again and again.
He resurrects thus as Prince of Spring
Only to be offered at end of harvest
A sacrifice to Winter’s King.
Heidelberg sits in the steep Neckar river valley right where the Odenwald opens onto the plains of the Rhine Valley. Legends are rich in the Odenwald, such as the sacrifice of the Corn god, following the rites as were done in the time of antiquity to secure his resurrection by the success of the corn crops. Tree spirits, spirits of vegetation and animals abound in the Odenwald. And it is the Baron’s charge to sacrifice the human personification of the corn.
Night falls upon the Old Bridge. The Belgian woman and the lamb have left and the Baron walks to the statue of the bridge monkey. Ehrenfels has a Seer and has learned the truth of the Old Bridge monkey and the Prince whom it displaces, Prince Karl Theodor, for whom the bridge is named. No one knows the curse that befell the Prince for all the illegitimate children he sired. “Behold the monkey as you pass upon this bridge, for you are his heirs.” The Baron will inform the Master that the Prince has been uncloaked, but it will be to no avail– there is no better place to contain the cursed Prince, lest the Master wishes him finalized. More fodder for the river?
The Baron is beginning to grow weary. Not from lack of sleep, but from lack of living. Gazing into the river, he sees the thin, crisp layers of ice– the last of Winter’s grip upon the valley. The Heiligenberg mountain is under little snow and ice now. The pathetically few ruins at the top, broken, scarred, and further humiliated by the Winter’s snows will soon be warmed by Spring’s gentle sun. How long has it been since he has climbed Heiligenberg? A year? One hundred years? His memory holds little of days or years that come and go without a speck of change, indistinct from others. He exists only for the seasons, from the death of Winter to the resurrection of Spring. Summer is his respite until Harvest and the dance of death he and Ehrenfels perform for the Master.
What a theater his world has become. How much longer will this bridge stand and he upon it? He knows every facet, every aspect of the bridge and often grows sick from looking at it. The bridge and its Baron are fluctuating fixtures of history: the bridge eroded by the passage of time and the Baron encumbered by the accumulation of time spent.
The Old Bridge has been damaged and nearly destroyed since the Middle Ages, violated by floods, munitions; blood and screams of wretched wounded and the dying. Its latest stone skeleton rests upon the remains of eight previous bridges. It has seen more atrocities than the two complicit strangers and the annual rite of sacrificial murder. The Baron has thought about rebellion more times in the past centuries than not, but is unable to refuse his Master, Osiris. And so, the dance will go on and he will drown Ehrenfels once more…again.
Once More With Feeling #12 – Cognitive Reflection
Photo Prompt: Credit – Kuri
Word Count: 689