Blood for Giraffes

Painting by Emily Langenberg (

A distinct odor permeates the morning air all around the hillside. As the old man climbs the worn path with his gangly giraffe plodding beside him, hitched to his brightly painted wagon.

The wagon jostles, as the large red wheels make deep furrows in the gory mud. They roll over pieces and parts, limbs and sticks, left from the previous day’s festivities.

Shaded by a wide brim surrounding his hat, the gristled man peers at this day’s work. But it must be done.

“Somebody’s guts te do it. Might tis well be me who strips awl these poor dead fellas down, mightn’ it Patches?” croaks a voice, addressed to none other than the entangled giraffe, who, with his usual gloom, stares at the carnage.

The old man set to work. Almost a hundred bodies were strewn across the slope, picked of armor but still sporting clothing items tinged red. Men had attacked these lands from far off, but young lord had rallied his men-at-arms and gathered his retainers to come here, to this spot to make his stand.

“Bloody chances lordy Lord Mok would pick this here hill, to fight his little war?” As he gruffly pulls a tunic off a man with nothing above the neck, “Didn’t put up much of a fight though, eh Patches?” Still addressing the giraffe, who stares at the old man and the bodies surrounding. “Not much for fighting, just good for stealing cattle, n’ dyin’”

One after another clothing is jerked and tugged free of the battered bodies. Each item is tossed in a large basket and the basket dumped into the back of the wagon. The stack of moist rags grows into a pile, as the sun meets its zenith.

Iridescent rays shine through thin clouds; wispy fingers brush the sun, causing strange hues to dance across the hillside. Patches stares, while the old man works.

Coming to the end of the day’s work, he come to a grisly sight hunched beside a stump, but as the body, the face makes him stop his methodical motions. The eldritch hues upon the sunken eyes, the ever-dismal drumming in his heart, the wanton misery abounding, the toll sounding.

Patches watched as the old man pulled his shovel from its proper place in the wagon. The rounded handle, worn smooth from years of use, unfelt by knowing hands. The sun was setting before the body buried. He did not work quickly, as he once would have. The payloads of dirt covered the memory slowly; no marker was placed upon the grave.

Leaving the hillside, gruesome and sacrosanct, the defeated lay where they fell but one.