Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sittin' In: "Finton the Fearless" by Mike Sweeney, as based on the song "I Am A Tree" by Guided By Voices

Finton the Fearless

I am a man! cried Finton the Fearless.

I am a man who no man can break by sword or fist or lance!

Pride cometh, whispered Myrrdin.

I am a tree now.

Older than my rings will tell you for I count my age in the burdens I’ve carried not in the seasons passed.

I hate backhoes.

I was the man who no man could break, but who was broken nonetheless. Aisling Aine – the seasons still sing her name – was my love and my love was found hanging in the damp and mist on the morning of the Day Without Name.

Who could neglect a creature so?

Pain and the chill, ice in my heart, my heart to hers, dank and cold.

Finton the Fearless pressed into the bark. I don’t want to feel.

Chain saws, I also rank as obnoxious.

I really despise the sonuvabitch in the wife beater t-shirt. It’s not that he hits little Aggie. That would be too easy. For that I would sick my Sciuridae army upon him. Gnaw and feast, my little brothers would.

But he doesn’t hit.

I hit once. I struck so hard three men fell at one blow and Myrrdin said, will you be my champion?

But, Finton said, I have no use for titles or gold or glory now, stupid mage.

You have use for me, said Myrrdin. This I can end.

The manchild’s sin isn’t violence, it’s indifference. There is nothing so cruel as to ignore a love given so genuinely. It is the worst form of torture.

But I can end the agony, whispered Myrrdin.

How? asked he who once was Finton and fearless.

Take the cup for me. Protect it. Hide the prize in the world unknown and I will set you free.

Little Aggie should be set free. Not so little anymore. A score and two, I reckon. Just yesterday it seemed she was feral and wiry, innocent bare limbs scrambling over my bark to ascend, to hide away behind my ramparts, and imagine herself the queen in a land I used to know.

I would protect her.

Silly, silly, Finton, whispers the bird, the flying jackass. The mage said you wouldn’t feel. He never said you’d forget.

You have champions, said I. You have the Table and the Sword.

No more, hissed Myrrdin. Once, and perhaps again. But no more.

He wept.

I drank his ambrosia.

I crossed into lands not seen by my kind in millennia. I slew men of every color and tongue and dined on bear and dragon. Legend would’ve been my name but secrecy was my cloak.

It’s why he chose me: not for skill with the blade, but because I wanted to be forgotten.

Through the great untouched forests I walked: my mission, my salve; my burden, my salvation.

So I thought.

Bury it deep, Myrrdin said. Give it back to the soil and let the land thank us both.

It took my torment away and bade me stand watch in return.

No more.

Sub-division or strip mall? I care not.

Tell Myrrdin I’m coming.

Will he let you into the sky when you fall, asks the flying jackass.

Tell him the cup is still safe, deep in the Jersey earth, the best and most beautiful in the world. No one will seek it under a new Best Buy.

Come then, says the bird. We’re all waiting.

Smoke and oil. I wish the men who finally spill my sap were better. Have the decency to use a fucking axe.

The chain cuts my skin and Finton the Tree is not afraid.

The backhoe rears and lunges. Finton the Tree laughs.

I aim for the manchild’s new Camaro.

I don’t hear the crash, don’t see where I land.

Up. The bird leads me home at last.



Guided By Voices is a band from Ohio. In singer Robert Pollard's quest to create the perfect pop song, he's churned out hundreds of songs with dozens of line-ups. If you want to give a record collector a boner, ask him about his GBV 7" collection.

Mike Sweeney is a writer from New Jersey. Writing his bio became impossible when Google searches for "Mike Sweeney writer" came up with 172,000 websites dedicated to some schmuck who writes for Conan O'Brien. No matter. The real Mike Sweeney likes to write absurd things, and he's rather good at it. In fact, his sort story "The Werebear Who Wished To Come In From the Rain" closes out The 2010 Jersey Devil Press Anthology, a fine book full of other OBCBYL alumni and yours truly. That means you should purchase it immediately. In my mind, Mike hangs out with Danzig, Balls Mahoney, and Kevin Smith all the time, which is the only way to make him cooler than he already is.

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