Pukuj Book

Mendacious Stein

There was a man, he wanted to tell a story. Yes, he wanted to tell his story to his friend, Antún.

But before: when as a boy, a young man, who still had a lot of hair on his head, and his dark eyes took in many things... at that time, Jonás had decided to leave his Mayan village, to work in San Cristóbal, where he studied, reading as many books as he could. In the evenings he drove a taxi; he was lucky.

"Who are you?" he had asked. Jonah had met something in the street. He had left his taxi with the owner, and was walking back to his room, alone.

"Hello," said the thing, a man apparently, a Pukuj.

They talked. That devil had a straight back. They were together every night. They knew each other's names.

The Pukuj became a woman. "Love me," she said to Jonás. Jonás was very happy now. His wife arranged everything in their house, and had a job, which brought in money they needed.

Matal-María was beautiful and powerful.

Well now, Jonás found his friend Antún. Jonás had a dream, and would tell it. He leaned forward to engage his friend. Jonás, cleared his throat and the air in the room, too, with a short laugh.

He was alone, in the desert, he lived in a cave, with just a lion, and his care was to make a book, a new book but an old book, not any longer based on the Greeks, who were too inspired. This hermit scholar knew an ancient language, maybe it was Tsotsil, maybe Hebrew. Yes, and he wrote like new the whole book, from the old text in the language of the empire in which he lived.

It wasn't his book. The story belonged to everyone. It probably belonged to our lord, Kajval.

He had decided to leave his home, it seemed. Just like that. They had no children. They were childless, you see. She waved from the window. But her hand had long fingernails and her eyes seemed to have sunk to the back of her head; she farted every time she moved. She-he was waving. Pukuj.

So Jonás recounted.

Antún was startled, rattled. "Wait. Who? The man in your dream, or are you leaving your home?" he asked once, twice. Jonás nodded.

Antún and Jonás' wife loved each other. This was not something Jonas knew, it appeared.

Antún did not want Jonas to leave his wife! Antún was very smitten by Matal-María; more, it seemed he felt in paradise when in her presence, in her arms, and of course he wanted their affair to go on through this life. He was bewitched by her heavy black hair, cupped breasts, sweet breath, graceful movement. Indeed, he knew in some way that the mystery she carried for him, came from her having been at the same time another man's fantasy and interpretation, too.

That is why he shook his head in disbelief.

Poor Antún slept that night, without ever thinking that he was asleep. He fidgeted endlessly it seemed.

But even so, in the morning he knew he had dreamt. He dreamt of a man who was writing a book. It was the same man who appeared to Jonás in his dream! He knew the dream-man's name to be Jerónimo.

This Jerome met a friend. Maybe he was his cousin. Maybe he was Agustín. Antún remembered that Agustín was a man of great learning, secrets; his forehead was wide, as wide as eyes in surprise.

Antún saw them meet in church, in his dream. This Jerónimo and Agustín were disputing something. They were friends but maybe they were angry. Antún could hear the big-eyed and -foreheaded Agustín say that evil was a force, in the form of thought. A projection from within, not caused but released, like a fart.

Jerome, he who retranslated books, contradicted Augustine. "Satan is as real as can be," he replied with a sneer but with fear in his eyes. "A fallen god, true, a malignant angel with powers of the sea and much else. Real as my hand hitting this table. You confuse the bang you hear with the thing itself."

Real as the saints in the church. Even though some said the saints were just wooden, devilish icons, which heads one could knock off without effect. What devilish thoughts in that dream! Fascinating thoughts. What?

Antún now awake, perturbed, dashed to Jonás' house. He would say that he too had seen the book-man Jerónimo in a dream, disputing with his wise cousin or friend, Agustín, who poked fun, but smoking mad, said evil came from our thoughts.

Jonás was in bed with his wife! Who does that mid-day? Somebody bewitched. Well, no surprise, thought Antún, and thought for the first time he would be afraid to see María.

"Will you still leave home, like the Jerome you dreamt of? You shouldn't, you see... I had a dream..." Antún was interrupted.

"How could I? I see her as the woman of paradise," Jonás replied.

Antún did not mention, more, his disputing dream. He said, "You're enthralled, Jonás, in the thrall of your imagination. We are all, bold or coward. She is devilishly beautiful, though."

We heard her laugh.

The two friends, by Kajval, looked inside the hut. Four eyes, wide, on Matal-María. She held a comic book quite close to her face, almost kissing it, and tears of laughter ran down her cheek. Both men saw a woman reading a book, really.

**********

Which was it then? He only knew his Pukuj was his own projection. It was a fantasy every minute of every day of every year. Strong as a Devil, a force, you see.

Augustine beat Jerome. That's how it was. "That's the whole story I know," concluded Jonás.

Now Antón was confused, but not really. "You mean your Pukuj was never more than a bugaboo? Then with whom did you sleep so happily?"

It was a beautiful dream, which always convinces me more than any other thing.