The Clouded Identity

By , Deep River, CT
The sunset sauntered along the Piazza dela Rotunda, illuminating every rustic stone and transcendent birth of knowledge within the Augustian square. The meringue colored Latin inscription on the Pantheon extolled the words “Pacem virtute” (Peace through strength). Triumphant trumpets cornered every square of this street, for this was no ordinary Roman empire. Cascading along the hustling exaggerated streets, Artists fluctuate with the future against their mediums, the philosophy discussed was a pure defiance of Gnosticism, for Plato was Caesar and his words were the empire. Rome was once again the buzzing bee that robbed the nectar of intellect.
Within the riveting Piazza stood a tattered and terrified excuse of an individual by the name of Romano. Such as it was for men of his time, he could not sustain brevity in the re-born society, so as simple as it was he maintained a concise world view through the lens of his bible and with that he was heavily rewarded. His sluggish wide eyes and sporadically patterned hair were easily connected to his patchy relationship with sleep. Standing at a meager five foot two, the bridge of his nose provided illusion of a melting man to a person of perfect yet precise vision. His posture could not have been more catawampus, as his body always slanted to the left as he walked. The only dignity he possessed was within the scriptures. God had given him purpose, at least, so he imagined.
He was blessed with the job of being a herald to the Pope and each day he would haul himself into a cart of hay with the intent of harnessing the clouds one by one. They were soft spoken and they listened intently without a voice. Although they uttered no words, they understood him more than anyone, and the gentle escape they offered him was cane sugar to his tea. Upon a magical day there would be no limit to his imagination. Captivated by the clouds, each day they would capture him in their hypnotic nature, for Romano knew nothing yet everything.
And on this queer day, with a sunset caressing the Roman hive, a cloudless sky muttered to the meandering man:
With that, he continued to meander with purpose. His face purported clarity yet he knew there was much uncertainty left unanswered. With each step he took he chased his shadow. The sunset was at this moment gracefully distancing itself from Rome and a great darkness was destined to follow.
Suddenly, Romano snapped and leaped into the pillars of the Pantheon. He remembered. The greatest deed ever asked upon Romano was now into its next phase.
The Pantheon, now the Church of St. Mary and the Martyrs, was indeed one of the finest accomplishments in Roman history. Its artistic intellect and symmetrical prowess made it a testament to scientific achievement and the eternity of Roman greatness. The ocular ceiling was second to none as the sun journeyed through the building throughout the day, starting in east end and floating to the west. The water system also added to such celebration of achievement, for in the time of Hadrian the flooding system of the Pantheon was an innovative sight, one that was unknown to humanity.
“Such a building could only have been established by Hadrian” thought Romano as his cautious steps pitter pattered along the ancient floor.
Indeed such a building held the characteristics of Hadrian, pragmatic, polished, perfect, but most prominently, it defied the past. The dangerous depths of the Pantheon were defiant of its history. Stepping outside the boundaries of human consciousness, the building created an atmosphere where fantasy and reality had no distinction but rather abstraction met commonality.
Romano’s hands began to tremble in terror.
In ceremonial pattern, candles lined up to form a haunting path towards a hooded figure whose face was not unfamiliar to Romano. The pitter patter became cacophonic. Reaching the iconographic steps, his rigid body formed an aligned position for the comfort of company. As the hooded figure tugged down his cover, a serpent smirk met Romano’s presence. The bald, slithering man was none other than Marcus Minonocchi, a prolific right hand man to the Pope and antagonist of logic and human creation. He stood with vicious intent, seeking only to fracture what he desired from Romano. His slimy body foreshortened Romano’s view of the magnificent altar and with the tip of his tongue he hissed the confirmation of what Romano had done.

Marcus: Why what a fine evening it is, don’t you agree, Romano?

Romano: I have not the light words to offer, for the deed that you asked of me placed nothing but provoking ambiguity that has caused my heart to bear destruction.

Marcus: Men limited by their consciences surely have no business in matters of all things holy? I would not live to see the day where Romano, the doormat of society let down his one true calling in life to his holiness, Jesus of Nazareth, and our Lord God because of something as impulsive as a pathetic internal voice that barricades what must be done! Surely the chronic nature of your so proclaimed ambiguity bestows on you a heretical plague and makes you as insufficient to his holiness as a rat to our harvest. Such men deserve no seat at the kingdom of heaven and should be rid themselves of papal institutions! I have seen men such as you be withered at the gesture of a hand and crushed at the nod of a head. I ask, nay, I demand that you be rid or at least bury your synthetic integrity and reflect upon your actions through a lens of a world where the Papacy has absolute power, which is what you agreed upon when we gathered you from the pile of dirt where you came from. Do I speak clearly or do you wish for me to enlighten you once more?

Due to Marcus’s intimacy of space at this moment, the scars on his face were so transparent that Romano could see them flaring a fiery scarlet red as his temper rose. His forehead bounced up and down like an out of rhythm symphony of instruments. The manner in which he spoke made him a prolific scaremonger of men. The Church, being aware of such nature, paid for his deviance. A part of Romano wished to become such a monstrous man, but he knew his flaws and a conscience did indeed restrict such a wish. Fear had an aura of mystique that only a certain kind of individual could control and possess.
It had been nearly twenty seconds since Marcus had pugnaciously ignited a brutal verbal attack on Romano and a floating void of silence had entered the room as he gazed into Marcus’s reptilian eyes. He felt inclined to speak, to cry, to run around in a frenzy of madness, for the brutality attacked him for successfully carrying out a dark deed against his will. Yet, he stood still with a gaze sharp enough for any sword in battle. The notion of being a door mat was supposed to be a didactic attack, yet Romano took it in with a deep sense of pride, for his absence of identity throughout his life had made him a prisoner of his own mind and after all, any identity is better than none. The fear had been somewhat lifted.

Marcus: Do you contain an answer for me or was I wasting my breathe assigning you a task of such importance?

Romano: My conscience is and always will be clear. The deed is done.

Marcus: Magnificent! Bravo! Did your actions go unseen? I’ve always had unscathed faith in your character!

Romano: That notion is highly impossible, for the burning was done behind the church, out of sight for any individual that would likely take notice and record such an action. The only individual that could have noticed was Priest Moraveli, and he has been notified by his holiness of a suspicious happening around the perimeter.

Marcus: You have truly outdone yourself! His holiness will be most satisfied. And of the remaining evidence that you collected?

Romano: Vanished, burned to the last shred of its short existence. It will never be seen by anyone besides its creator.

Marcus cackled and then quickly transformed back into a straight composure, for as he continued to talk he seemed less and less human to Romano, and suddenly the monstrous man had become a monster. An empty sinking feeling overcame his stomach and the growling of the monster inside of him attacked his internal organs causing a sickly floating feeling, one that mirrored a man fearing his sealed fate. He attempted a sigh of indifference but a voice inside of his head reiterated the word “Absence….Absence….Absence” until he could no longer stand straight. He clutched his hands against his head and murmured the Lord’s Prayer in a reach for clarity and relief. He drew his attention to the window. The moon floated freely without a cloud in sight. His imagination was of no means of escape now. He pain became polarized, so he quickly took a seat on an empty pew.

Marcus: That fool Leonardo will wake up tomorrow and understand he cannot scratch the surface of the Lord’s creation, for there is but one almighty. Playing with the hand of the Lord is demonic! I shall make it my quest, my goal, and my destiny to obtain this Satanic ”Science” for the word “invention” will be eradicated from the course of human history and the plague of “Philosophy” will be lifted from Rome by giving power to the Church. I will show no mercy to any man, woman, or child that sympathizes with Pagans such as Da Vinci for the word of the Lord shows no mercy! Blue Prints are the flowing ink and word of Satan and as such your deed of destroying the Prints will not go unrewarded. Your Bible has taught you diligently, Romano. Gnosticism will control once more. Plato and Socrates will be sent back to the depths of hell where they were once situated! There will be no rest, there will be no sleep, and I am indifferent to any bloodshed that is of consequence!

The unspeakable deed that had been performed had just been repeated, for hearing what he had done sunk his character even lower. He had been commanded by the Pope to burn every single Blue Print Leonardo Da Vinci was currently working towards, making an attempt to stagnate the current birth of innovation. Marcus and the Popes greatest fears were being transformed into reality day by day, for the birth of logic and reasoning was unstoppable, and Romano knew his bible could not answer why. He knew now that every day he would wake up with the lingering thought of him being able to do the right thing, if only he knew what the right thing was.

Romano: There is something you must know about the man you just held anger towards.

Marcus: Socrates? You insult my worldliness. Of course I know much about the Plebian!

Romano: This is something you could not fathom. Growing to adulthood in this bastion of liberalism and democracy, Socrates somehow developed a set of values and beliefs that would put him at odds with most of his fellow Athenians. Socrates was not a democrat or an egalitarian. To him, the people should not be self-governing; they were like a herd of sheep that needed the direction of a wise shepherd. He denied that citizens had basic virtue necessary to nurture a good society, instead equating virtue with knowledge unattainable by ordinary people. Striking at the heart of Athenian democracy, he contemptuously criticized the right of every citizen to speak in the Athenian assembly.

Marcus: How on the face of this earth did you know about such lies! You’re only bound to the truest book of them all, the Bible. We chose a person like you to do this deed because you have minimum intellect; Socrates and Pagan facts are foreign and beyond! And besides, what difference does such heresy make?

Romano: Such insults made me ponder, who were these men and what is it about them that his holiness wishes to deceive the masses?

Marcus: Such diction shall have you hung!

Without hesitation Marcus captured the nearest candle and pointed it towards Romano’s face.

Romano: You didn’t confirm that I had finished speaking. Whilst such insults made me ponder who these men were, I found mindful liberation after the burning by cautiously crawling into the Cathedral. After affirming no body was within radius of the premise, I found an old text by the name of “Plato’s Republic” and after discovering more about such names, I found it quite queer that Ancient Greece is quite like the state we are in right now.

Marcus: He corrupted Athens youth through Paganism!

Romano: He was a hero. He pushed men to think outside of concrete reality and pushed for a world beyond the acceptance of fate, completely parallel to Leonardo.

Marcus: Blasphemy!

With one swipe of a candle he seared Romano’s face, creating an elongated burn along the course of his cheek. Romano felt nothing.

Romano: The fate of Athens is upon you.

Marcus: If you wish to live you will accept another job of this nature in Florence and leave here at once!

Consciously, Romano would never have done what he did next under any circumstance but a supernatural force drove his brain into frenzy and a great eruption surmounted to chaos. He sphered into Marcus like a chariot into battle except there was something quite beautiful about the scrawl between the men. Romano soared on top of Marcus as a Phoenix with a tale of fire and placed two hands around his neck, grasping viciously. He felt as though he would never let go, even long after he was dead, for every problem and limitation Romano had in his life had just been set free and was flying away like a cloud in the sky. There was no right and wrong, there was no Bible, there was no God, and only his two hands defined his fate. The face of Marcus lost life, and so did Romano’s world. The sound of the wind hustled through the Pantheon.
As he stood up and turned around, a lone cloud interfered with the sight of a full moon. He wept violently.

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