Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #7

March 23rd, 2009 by Wordsman


It was a beautiful spring day.  The sun was bright, and not a single cloud marred the brilliant blue sky.  The temperature was in that perfect range where you can comfortably wear a t-shirt and sit in the sun without having to worry about getting too hot.  Abigail thought that sitting outside next to a river or in a park would be the best way to spend the day.  Unfortunately, that was not why they were there.  They had not traveled thousands of miles to just sit around and enjoy the weather.  They could do that anywhere.  They were there to experience culture.  That’s what Theo insisted, anyway.  Thus they ended up at yet another shrine.

“So what’s this place about?” asked Abigail.  She was not quite as bitter as she had expected to be.  Sure, she had sulked through most of the train ride, but once they actually arrived it didn’t seem so bad.  She would have preferred to be out in the sun, but a walk through the woods of the shrine was pretty good, as second choices go.

Theodore pulled out a guide pamphlet.  He always had one, though Abigail never noticed him picking them up.  “This,” he announced, after flipping through the pages, “is a shrine to the Fox God.”

“Hmm,” she said.  Abigail’s attraction to shrines and temples was in their architecture and their natural surroundings.  She was not especially interested in the gods or spirits or other mythological figures that were being honored there.

Her brother, of course, was very interested in these things, so he continued to read.  “The Fox God has been worshipped as a deity of fertility, rice, agriculture, industry, and worldly success,” he said.  He looked up from the pamphlet and glanced around.  “Ah, I think that’s a statue of him over there,” he said, pointing.  Then he frowned.  “Or maybe it’s a ‘her.’”  He turned back to the pamphlet and flipped through all the pages again.  “It’s not clear.”

“I guess we’ll have to check the statue,” Abigail joked as they walked toward it.  She certainly hoped that it would not portray the vulpine anatomy in enough detail for them to be able to determine gender, though she realized that this was not out of the question.

Theodore ignored her comment and continued reading.  “However, the Fox God is best known for being a trickster.”

“Huh,” Abigail said.  “I guess it’s not that different from Western mythology.”

“Yes!” her brother declared excitedly.  “Just look at his . . . or her face!  Can’t you see the effortless cunning and guile evident there?”

Abigail looked up at the statue.  “Actually, it mostly just looks angry,” she said.  “Like it’s going to spit that scroll at me in disgust or something.  What’s that scroll for, anyway?  And that bib?  Does it say in your guide?”

But Theodore had more important things to discuss than scrolls and bibs.  “Oh, of course the Fox God is angry!” he said dramatically.  If Abigail had been looking at him and not studying the statue, she would have noticed that he was no longer reading from the pamphlet.  “Why shouldn’t he . . . or she be, with these foreign devils trespassing on his or her land?”

“Foreign devils?” she asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow as she turned away from the statue to face her brother.

“Yes!” he said again, quickly raising the guide back to his face.  “It says here that over the years the Fox God has caused dozens of unsuspecting foreign tourists to disappear at this very shrine.  It calls it the ‘Japanese Bermuda Triangle.’”

“Uh-huh.  How do you even get lost at a shrine, anyway?”

“The paths lead up the mountain for miles and miles,” Theodore explained ominously.  “The dense forest cuts off all sense you had of the outside world.  When you’re alone out there, it’s very easy for the wily Fox God to lure you off the beaten path.  Can’t you imagine him or her out there, whispering gently into the ears of those who do not know better, causing them to go astray, secretly laughing all the while?”

Abigail pictured not a spectral fox spirit but an old man with a bed sheet, an ancient projector, and a kazoo, mumbling something about how he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.  “That doesn’t make any sense,” she argued back.  She normally wouldn’t have bothered, but this Fox God business was just so ridiculous.  “You said it’s a ‘god’ of industry and worldly success, right?  Why would it want to scare off tourists?  I’m sure that’s how this place makes most of its money.  Does the ‘Fox God’ want to go broke?” she asked with a smirk.

Theodore looked down at her seriously.  “It is beyond the capability of mere humans to understand how the mind of the Fox God works.”

“No,” she countered, starting to feel a little irritated, “humans know exactly how the mind of the ‘Fox God’ works, because humans invented it!  All this stuff is made up.  I mean, I could make up another ‘god’ right now: the . . . ‘Weasel God.’  It’s worshipped as a deity of mockery and criticism.”

“Such blasphemy is not wise, especially while we are within the bounds of the Fox God’s shrine!  Do you want to get lost forever?”  He did not seem nearly as concerned as he should have been, though, seeing as it was Theo, Abigail figured that he would probably enjoy being lost in the woods forever.  He’d think it was an adventure.

“Whatever,” she grumbled.  “I’m not afraid of any Fox God.”

“You will be.”  At first Abigail assumed that it was her brother who had said this, but when she looked up she saw that he was already heading off in the direction of one of the paths where he had just said tourists had a tendency to disappear mysteriously.  No one else was around.  “You will be.”

Posted in Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? | No Comments »

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.