Golden Tablet by Rees Holdt
The genderless form rose from the desert haze in a tie-dye, hounds-tooth three-piece suit. Traveller Rees Holdt saw it at a distance – it was hard not to. The Barstow landscape is flat and Holdt was upright enough to see most of it. The form was not human, but not strange enough to worry a man whose past psychotropic experiences had served up far weirder. He took the specter in stride.
Except his stride was no longer his own. He stepped, compelled by foreign forces to the Technicolor rhythm of the lizard-skin drum clutched under the arm of the being to which he was transfixed. All focal lengths except that which centered on the dapper shapeshifter ceased to exist. Holdt felt his pockets bulge. Inside he found a paper cut. On a second, more careful dip, he found a grip of photographs. They came from different eras and seemingly different worlds but displayed little wear.
The form, now shifting between R, G & B encouraged Holdt to sit and leaf through his new-found photo-bounty. It could have been minutes, but it was probably days, of browsing. With each flip of a photo, a soothing narrative attached to each image was distilled into Holdt's memory. It was as if he’d known the subjects since the dawn of time. What was time anyway? And what rough beast kept refilling the god damned Doritos bowl?
The lizard skin drum skin enveloped Holdt as he pawwed intermittently at the tortilla chips and then back to the photographs. He saw all that he was to be shown. The cosmochrome form stood as a chameleon; each change of color synching with Holdt’s waves of euphoria. He was experiencing picture mediated epiphanies. Out west is the best. Avedon, the New Topographics, Mark Klett, Glenn Rudolph and all those fuckers who’ve shot at the Salton Sea made sense now. And it was good.
Now in his reptilian sheath, Holdt was ready to receive the messenger’s message. It was (verbatim): “Existence is an infinite loop of energy, we are all one and we are all none. Innumerable non-choices derail most humans from truth and truthful existence. Photography is a mirage of a mirage. Only a fraction of humans stumble through life and witness real truth. Only a fraction of that fraction pair that truth with photography.”
The fractional, anointed few were represented in the images now in Holdt’s possession. The Doritos bowl yet replenished once more, the golden calf spared its slaughter, and all was suddenly dark again. And quiet.
Holdt held the only truthful photographs in the universe; the golden tablets of imagery. Exhausted, he slept for two days and two nights before waking, thirsty and covered in tortilla chips. The photographs, of course, cannot be unseen and like the word that has been read, it served Holdt no further purpose to hold on to that which he already knew. And so it came that he gave them to some bloke in a diner in Farmington, NM. From there they made their way across the Land of Enchantment to David Bram's mailbox.
Editor's note: this statement was written by Rees Holdt. In the third person.