Birdsong: The Walkabout Man
“…and that was what Altjira, the lord of the Dreamtime, meant by the music of language,” Otium cooed to her Mukel. The great branch of the Great Tree was crowded by her seven: Penerimaan, Benevolentia, Teremto, Devotio, Vergaeven, tiny Empatia and even smaller Venia. The rest were out in Miogaror, with Serenite, her mate. They were out too long. Too long.
The Mukel nodded and twoked their approval. Devotio, a little louder then the rest, quieted quickly, nuzzling Vergaeven.
Teremto asked “May we have another story, Otium? We..” noticing the others looking her way, “…um..I’m not tired, yet. Please, Otium? Please?”
“Yes, yes..please Otium…” they all chattered on. All except Venia.
Otium smiled, gave Venia, who nestled in her palm, a light kiss, and asked “And you, Venia..do you want to hear one more story tonight?”
She nodded, “Yes, please Otium.” Pausing for a moment. “Could we hear the story about The Walkabout Man?”
The nightdusk sounds around the Great Tree, and on the branch the Mukel perched, went stone silent. Mother Otium looked from one to the other, eyes averting as met, until she returned her attention to Venia.
“Where did you hear about The Walkabout Man, little one? I have never mentioned him, here, before.”
Penerimaan spoke up. “I told them, all, Otium. What little I knew. It was a late night tale, you were off listening to the Honey Ants Dreaming. I didn’t mean..”
“Hush. It’s done,” she lilted. “Come closer. This is a story that was meant to be heard, at another time, and another place, but… it’s been recognized. It is time, this is the place. Unless,” she grinned, “..are you sure you wouldn’t want to hear about how the Birds Got Their Colors?”
“No,” they all said, in a very quick fashion.
“Or the Dream of the Shark?”
“No,” quite emphatic from all.
“How about why we should Never Avert Our Eyes?,” twinkled Otium.
“NO!” laughing, bouncing and crowing together the Mukel answered.
“Settle, then.. his is not always a happy tale….,” and so, she began.
“The Walkabout Man had come a long way, leaving all he had loved behind. Once he was known as Alejandro, but no one has called him that for a very long time, and he has not accepted that name for even longer. He wore a hat of the night, a coat made of sand and of pebbles. His robe went from neck to ankle, in blackest grey, and made of cloth that both itched and soothed, depending on how it lay. The Walkabout Man’s feet were shod in a cushion of wind, so his feet never touched the land.
Some say he is Alchera, the Spirit Creator, but the truth is much simpler than that. He came from the waking lands. He had a wife and a child that he adored. More then any of you can imagine. His love was so powerful, so complete and encompassing. But..” she sat, thinking. “But…are you sure you want me to continue?”
“yes,” they went.
“Yes. But, a sickness took both, first his wife, then his daughter. Alejandro cursed everything and everyone, but mostly himself. He sat vigil for twelve days and nights, neither eating or sleeping. Instead, his mind went away. It entered the Dreamtime and traveled. I do know he met, and wept with, the Man of Beads, on the Flower Isles. His essence seeped through the song-lines. Discordant, it came to the attention of Altjira.
Altjira pulled Alejandro out, laid him to rest, and felt his story through. On the mortal walking plain, on the twelfth night, at the twelfth hour, Altjira sent the spirit back to its vessel. There was no more Alejandro. The Walkabout Man arrived.
Since then, he has visited all of the Seven Realms, helping where he could, observing more times than not, for sometimes… sometimes, it is not meant for everyone to get involved with the destiny of another. The Walkabout Man learned that lesson the hard way.”
Otium, head bowed, sighed. Looking up, she continued.
“The Walkabout Man brought his suffering with him everywhere he went, but it was wrapped up and hidden in layers and layers of The Virtues. These were placed upon him by Altjira as he, tending the wounded and sick spirit, took pity. The Walkabout man left a widow with renewed hope, many children with a sense of wonderment, helped lift despair off of lovers…oh, so many other wondrous things…
…and some very painful tales as well.
The crowd of “awwwwsss” were tamped down by “Enough for this. It is time all to rest, time to all greet the lord of the Dreamtime, and let him wend you safely through your night thoughts.”
Otium noticed that Teremto was going to say something, but Benevolentia and Empatia brushed her down, in a gentle manner. Settled, one by two they closed apart, and down.
“Yes, enough. The Walkabout Man will come, soon. You’ll know more. Soon.” Turning her head to the darkening, beyond the Great Tree, she whispered, “Serenite. Too long. Please, be safe.” Otium, herself, closed apart and went down, meeting Altjira above the great branch.