Episode 5: Battle

Lu Cafausu, Italy
September 1, 2016

This is the final episode in Lu Cafausu’s series of five stories. Read Episode 1: A Mirror For Five, Episode 2: Anna Vaniglia, Episodes 3a and 3b: The Screen Will Be White, and Episode 4: The resurrection of the wizards.
Battle

The armor is so heavy that to tie his shoes the knight has to press his head against the wall, to keep from toppling over. There’s no time. The horse is thinking about making a break for it as dense smoke rises all around. Before the horse can stir its limbs and gallop away, the knight grabs the reins, sticks the untied shoe in the stirrup and pushes down to dash forward.

(Sequence shot, 2 minutes, slow motion): The horse gazes fisheyes at him as the shoelaces slip into the joint of the armor at the height of the knight’s knee. Inevitably the wretch slumps awkwardly onto the horse, which raises its eyes to the heavens. The result is a sort of Guernica with a big final thud. The smoke mingles with a dusty cloud of horsehair, whinnying and armor shards.

Bugle

The bugler looks for the opening at mouth height in the carinated helmet, trying to stick in the mouthpiece and sound the charge, but it gets stuck between the little bars. He can touch the mouthpiece with his tongue, but blowing is impossible. Smoke is wrapping everything at this point, penetrating his nostrils.

(Close-up, slow motion): a series of sneezes make his nostrils shake, which in contact with the mouthpiece produce a feeble sound like “fiiiuuuu, fiiiuuuu, fiiiuuuu.” Three blasts, the signal for retreat. While the knight, after arduously remounting his steed, unaware, rushes forward, the troops – far from disappointed – pull back.

Lu Cafausu's collective signature.
Lu Cafausu’s collective signature.

Beloved

(Panoramic): From the double lancets of the room she gazes into the distance and dreams of nights spent with the one who loves her. She loves him unconditionally. She thinks back on the last time, in which they reached the limits of the speakable. She was hanging from the greasy pole, so was he, right behind her, trying to lick her but not managing, in a game of pure airborne eroticism. Straining to stretch the tongue, a mockery of a cramp stiffened that organ like a bird’s beak.

The horse, observing from below, can imagine what will surely happen shortly thereafter, something he would love to avoid, with all his heart: the rope that holds the knight unravels and lengthens scarily. The knight manages to clutch at the leg of the damsel who continues to spin. Now the rope that sustains the beauty, due to the excessive weight (let’s not forget the armor) unwinds, but incredibly it does not snap. The maiden, kicking at her lover as he tugs her down even further, squeals and flails, trying to get a grip on something to stop the plunge. And what does she find? Why the horse’s mane! (The horse tries to bite her hand.) The trio is now racing at high speed, as if competing in the asskicker contest, but the situation is hopeless…

I wonder if that unlucky dragon found by Luigi Presicce was the tumefied horse.

Toyota

(Soundtrack): A rock band bangs it out, distortion and kick drums. Something more than mere disorder. The sound comes from the Toyota, a woman clatters away rapidly on heels, hands plugging ears. A mouse races after her. Birds beat a hasty retreat. From the trunk, amidst the din, one seems to hear a cry for help: it is the beloved who is about to give birth but has the urge to throw up and doesn’t know which way to push. The Toyota rocks and shudders: the traffic cop calls the tow truck: the vehicle cannot remain there. The arrogant tow truck with the outlaw Toyota, the delinquent Toyota with the bouncing trunk, the flailing trunk with the screaming woman in labor, the vomiting woman with the burgeoning belly, the belly ball-swelled with the baby, all depart for the junkyard.

Food

(Fixed shot): The beloved fixes dinner with her hands, pork in a pressure cooker. To the side, she prepares blueberry sauce and slices of toasted polenta. She has to cut everything into little pieces because of the bars of the helmet, at mouth height.

(Flashback): The intermittent wailing suddenly stops and a bouncing baby boy tumbles out of the Toyota. To avoid stomping on it the horse slams on the breaks and gets stuck in the asphalt: the knight lurches and is shot forward. The baby crawls on all fours over to the bugle and with inborn awareness manages to produce a triple “fiiiuuu.” Another immediate retreat for the troops who finally meet their captain (the knight) who, however, is now a missile soaring over their heads, always in the opposite direction. We discover that there are two captains, and two suits of armor, both flying, one spinning around the greasy pole, the other tracing perfect ballistic trajectories.

(POV of the blueberry sauce): the polenta has fallen in love with the knight and the mouse takes advantage of the distraction to gobble it up. The pressure cooker begs for mercy and the blueberry sauce, which in this chaotic situation sticks out like a sore thumb, loses its temper and abandons the recipe. The beloved, seated with her legs outside the double lancet window, snacks with the mouse and fiddles with a smartphone until she finds a clip of the rock band. The guys in the band have become friends with the Toyota: they saved it from the junkyard. Now she is the singer.

War

The soldiers lost in the Po Valley try to untangle the shoelaces that keep them from making any forward progress. As soon as one takes a step, he drags the rest with him, and after a fearsome vacillation the whole metallic contraption tumbles in a heap. There is no way to stand up. Certainly no way to move forward. The prodigal captain, finally reunited with his troops, after hours of flight, tries to free them one by one, but only makes matters worse. He recalls, however, having seen a manual, “How to disentangle anything while wearing a suit of armor,” in the glove compartment of the Toyota. The only one who can recover the manual is his sweetheart, who after having dug it up races off, still with the dangling umbilical cord, towards the Po Valley at top speed. The cover tells the tale in no uncertain terms: the prominent message “How to disentangle anything while wearing a suit of armor” stands out against a photograph of Lu Negro who gazes proudly at the reader, while struggling with a rat’s nest of white wires.

Night falls, and the clot of armor has yet to be even slightly undone. The captain shudders, because he knows he cannot command the bent-legged joined-arms jump on the camp beds. It is impossible to imagine that the soldiers will do it, since they are stuck in a tangle. It is an ancient and irreplaceable ritual, which brings strength and tranquility, and prepares one properly for a good night’s rest. The captain has to attempt it, no matter what. He calls his soldiers to gather round: “Men, you have a difficult trial ahead of you, which will require all your courage and ability: you must jump on the bed with your legs bent and your arms joined.” Slight murmuring swells to a chorus of dissent. The captain sets a good example and goes first, and since he is on his own he manages. The soldiers, so as not to betray his trust, decide to make the best of a bad situation. One two three: whoops-a-daisy!

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Translated from Italian by Steve Piccolo

Lu Cafausu

Lu Cafausu is a collaborative art project initiated by Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese, and Cesare Pietroiusti in 2006, then joined by Luigi Presicce in 2010. Lu Cafausu, an old coffeehouse located in a small town in the south of Italy, has become the inspiration for stories, performances and actions in different European and American cities.

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