The Poison Pie Publishing House presents:

Hebeloma's Lament in a Dozen Denials
Hebeloma Crustuliniforme
(link to main page of novel)

April

April 1, 2024
In Crete, as in Athens, women were regarded as the property of their fathers until they were married and became the property of their husbands. Thus, it was inconceivable that a woman should travel alone to establish herself independently. Berenike and Kallias recognized this no less than Europe. To secure her passage, they adopted her as Berenike's sister. This familial association lessened the irregularity of her solitude, though some residual awkwardness in the arrangement was felt by all in the trio. Conscious of the strain that she created, Europe pledged to placate the couple by remaining as unobtrusive as possible.

written while listening to:  Macha Gharibian - Trans Extended (Jazz Village, JV 570132, 2016, France, cd, discogs.com)

April 2, 2024
Berenike remained behind with her cousin, while Kallias accompanied Europe to a temporary wooden shack erected on the dock where the quartermaster and deck officer directed the remaining preparations for departure. Having already gone through the process once, Kallias knew exactly what to say to the men. He introduced his sister-in-law as another colonist. Eager to return to other business, they hastily added her name to the ledger. Only in bits and pieces, did Europe come to understand that in exchange for passage, she was, upon reaching Tenedos, under contract for seven years of indentured servitude to the colonial magistrate.

written while listening to:  Tivoli of the Mind - Pavia (Gold Records, GR-012, 2019, Denmark, lp, discogs.com)

April 3, 2024
Europe sank into a gloom, having just traded seven years of her life to escape Crete. A storm raged in her stomach. Among many who had made the same bargain, she had little to complain about save the unexpected manner in which the exchange had been revealed to her. If there had been intentional deception, she remained unsure. Perhaps, Kallias had misjudged her familiarity with the terms of the arrangement. Perhaps, Berenike assumed that she knew the price of freedom. Perhaps, Abydos supposed that she shared his cheap appraisal of a human life, much less a few years of one.

written while listening to:  Webber/Morris Big Band - Both Are True (Greenleaf Music, GRE-CD 1075, 2020, United States, cd, discogs.com)

April 4, 2024
In the shade of a tent, Europe waited beside the woman who had volunteered to become her sister, though they were strangers with no shared blood between them. They bore little physical resemblance, Berenike reaching the shoulders of the taller woman. While both possessed brown hair and eyes, Berenike's complexion was tanned and her face rounder. Despite the obvious contrast, Abydos declared them twins before announcing that he would be on his way. Surprised by his abrupt departure, they nevertheless wished him well. Berenike imagined Europe's sense of abandonment and clasped one of her hands to comfort her.

written while listening to:  Derek Bailey - Carpal Tunnel (Tzadik, TZ 7612, 2005, United States, cd, discogs.com)

April 5, 2024
They passed the time that day in conversation. Berenike originally thought to learn something about her new sister, but discovered Europe was reticent to discuss her past. What few words she extracted bore a clear Athenian accent. "If we are to be kin," she said, "we would do well to speak alike." She then began the first of many lessons in the Doric dialect of Crete. Europe practiced pronouncing words with what she regarded as a rural drawl compared to her cosmopolitan upbringing in Athens. Her over-exaggerations caused Berenike to repeatedly break out in laughter. "You really are from the sticks."

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - Reveal'd to none as yet..., disc 1 (aRCHIVE/Important Records, archive14+15/imprec074, 2006, United States, cdx2, discogs.com)

April 6, 2024
Berenike was more forthcoming in sharing her own history. She had married Kallias, who grew up in a neighboring village, six months ago. "He's quite handsome," she remarked, loud enough for him to hear, "Don't you think?" Europe nodded in agreement as he turned to observe them, then blushed. The husband was of hardy stock, his arms and legs well-muscled by labor since childhood, with strong jaw and movement full of vigor. Beneath this masculine exterior, lurked the kindness that had prompted him to allow his wife to take her in, or so Europe hoped.

written while listening to:  The Art Ensemble of Chicago - Reese and the Smooth Ones (BYG Records, 529.329, 1969, France, lp, discogs.com)

April 7, 2024
As the day drew on, rumor spread that some hiccup in delivering provisions would delay their departure until the morrow. The crowd of colonists groaned at the formal announcement, but had little recourse save to wait. Having signed away their freedom, they had surrendered control over their destiny. Ample rations in the form of bread and a stew of beans and vegetables, coriander and dill, were distributed to tide the passengers over another day. Even when fed, Europe could not dismiss the ominous feeling, which had burdened her since her selection in the lottery, that she too lived at the whim of fate.

written while listening to:  Joëlle Léandre & Pascal Contet - Miniatures (Trost Records, TR244, 2024, Austria, cd, discogs.com)

April 8, 2024
Arranged along the far margin of the wharf, the line of open tents offered protection from the rain but no privacy. It suited Europe since she was able to lay down with Berenike separating her from Kallias. Before any of them fell asleep, they were roused by a patrol of soldiers. Their search for a fugitive quickly became evident. Europe waited with apprehension as the glow of the oil lamp moved from one tent to the next. Even the innocent were filled with terror, for the violence of King Minos' minions was legendary and its dispensation frequently ungoverned by fact or reason.

written while listening to:  William Parker & Matthew Shipp - Re-Union (RogueArt, ROG-0111, 2021, France, cd, discogs.com)

April 9, 2024
"Do you think they are searching for a thief?" Berenike whispered to her husband. When Kallias shrugged, she turned to Europe, who replied uncertainly, "Maybe." The quartet of soldiers eventually arrived at their tent. Europe huddled beneath a blanket beside Berenike and shrank into a ball so that she hoped to appear of similar stature. She clung to her shoulder like a frightened younger sister. Beneath her fingers, she felt Berenike trembling no less than herself. One soldier held the lantern to their faces, so all could examine the two women.

written while listening to:  Chris Pitsiokos - Art of the Alto (Relative Pitch Records, RPRSS012, 2022, United States, cd, discogs.com)

April 10, 2024
A guard gruffly barked, "Who are these women to you?" If it crossed the mind of Kallias that his recently-arrived sister-in-law was the subject of the search, the suspicion may have governed his response, for, in the courts of Knossos, to be found in the company of a criminal was to share in their culpability. Regardless, Kallias' reaction was sure, "My wife of a half year and her sister. We are off to Tenedos to build a new trading outpost for the glory of the empire." A soldier in back grunted, "We didn't ask for your life story." The unit moved on.

written while listening to:  Liberty Ellman - Tactiles (Pi Recordings, PI08, 2003, United States, cd, discogs.com)

April 11, 2024
They could not depart quickly enough on the following morning. Ere the sun rose, they had boarded the ship. All men of age, including Tenedos, were given places on the rowers' benches. The women were ushered down a narrow stairwell into a dark hold. So low was the ceiling that even Berenike had to stoop to make her way to the area, beside the supplies and provisions, reserved for human cargo. In the windowless hull, the women could only imagine the vivid colors of dawn reflecting off the calm waters as the trireme pulled out of port.

written while listening to:  Arnold Dreyblatt - Animal Magnetism (Tzadik, TZ 7004, 1995, United States, cd, discogs.com)

April 12, 2024
For Europe, Berenike and the other women, it was not a pleasant mode of travel. They arranged themselves as comfortably as possible during the long hours spent in the damp, cramped space. Kallias and the men labored at the oars, arranged in three tiers. Those on the top level had the pleasure of sunlight, the sea breeze and the view of the blue horizon. Those on the lower two tiers viewed the calves, ankles and feet of those above them. Fortunately on this journey, the ship hugged the coast to avoid, if at all possible, spending nights at sea.

written while listening to:  The Leaders - Unforeseen Blessings (Black Saint, 120129-1, 1990, Italy, cd, discogs.com)

April 13, 2024
The timing of the oarsmen was kept by a flautist and a singer. Both men stood upon the deck and performed a steady chant in which each measure mimicked the rhythm of the full cycle of a rower's stroke. While the singer had begun the morning with a sea shanty, most of the day he vocalized without words beside the rise and fall of the flute. To those sheltered in the hull, the sound was muted, a dull pulse, marking time in a manner that gradually seemed to elongate with each repetition. Some moved their hands to cover their ears in the darkness.

written while listening to:  Jack DeJohnette - Selected Recordings (ECM Records, :rarum XII, 2004 (orig. 1971-1997), Germany, cd, discogs.com)

April 14, 2024
In truth, Europe found the dark confines reminiscent of her incarceration in the labyrinth. While the myth of the minotaur did not dog her steps, she preferred solitude to the constant babble of women's voices, raised alternately in complaint or prayer. She felt relief at having left Knossos, though the ship would pull ashore farther east on the Cretan coast before leaving the island entirely. Yet more strongly did she experience the suffocating sensation of having surrendered entirely any semblance of control over her destiny. She was like a fig, tossed in the sea, battered by passing waves, to be washed upon some far shore.

written while listening to:  Catherine Sikora, Colin Fisher & Brad Rose - Recherché (Ramble Records, RAM 166, 2024, Australia, digital files, discogs.com)

April 15, 2024
It appeared in Berenike's nature to raise the spirits of the other women. She consoled them as a group, saying, "We've left our old lives behind for a fresh start in a home that we'll have a hand in making. Did you think that our birth into new lives would be painless?" At these words, many heads nodded and the muttering subsided somewhat. Berenike wrapped her arm around Europe and leaned her head against her shoulder. "That's goes for you too," she whispered in Europe's ear. "I know not from whom you've fled, but he is behind you now."

written while listening to:  Chet Baker & Crew - untitled (Pacific Jazz, PJ-1224, 1956, United States, lp, discogs.com)

April 16, 2024
At the end of the first day, the vessel came ashore near the easternmost tip of Crete. Rowers climbed down the hull then hauled the ship with two ropes until it was partially beached. A ladder allowed the women to disembark without soaking their chitons and peplos in the sea. After a day of sitting, the women stretched their arms and legs fully. Even Europe was moved to straighten up to her full height, reaching her arms toward the sky. No one noticed; the men were exhausted from laboring at the oars and the women soon intent on making dinner for all.

written while listening to:  Sonny Rollins - The Bridge (RCA, LSP-2527, 1962, United States, lp, discogs.com)

April 17, 2024
After eating a dinner of traveling provisions—standard fare of lentil stew, bread and olive oil but provided in unstinting proportions—they settled down on blankets on the beach. Again, our trio lay with Berenike situated between her sister and husband. Europe prepared to wander off should the couple seek time to themselves. As it turned out, with a full belly a weary Kallias fell immediately into a deep sleep. The two women lay on their backs beside his softly snoring form. Berenike took hold of Europe's hand as she gazed at the constellations, wheeling across the firmament.

written while listening to:  Miles Davis Quartet - The Musings of Miles (Prestige, PRLP-7007, 1955, United States, lp, discogs.com)

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