The village sprawled through the mountain pass, each street weblike and twisted as if the entire village was carved from the land by a spider wishing to span the ravine. The peaks surrounding the humble city, if one could call it that, were pure white with snow, broken up by dark ragged faces of smoky rock.
The man was out of place, with his messy blonde hair and light skin and scruffy beard, but even in the urban cities of the west he rejected all company and was rejected by it. If he could belong nowhere, he would wander everywhere. The man wove through the dirt streets, scattering the chickens that clucked and gossiped near his leather heels.
Darker, beautiful faces with chocolate and amber eyes turned as he walked the grassy paths. Some carrying baskets caught a glimpse of a stump at the end of the man’s right arm, wrapped in the colored cloth of an old prayer flag. Before he vanished the unfinished limb inside a pocket in his leather jacket, one of the teenage boys could see an oddly shaped brand puckering the skin near the elbow.
The man walked with aimless purpose, right arm slung deep into his coat, his left playing with a crumpled Polaroid in his hand. He checked it idly from time to time before coming upon the behind of a great dark and hairy beast.
A chubby tail, thick with coarse hair swat at a fly. The man scooted around the yak, which was tethered loosely to a wooden post upon witch strings of multicolored flags flew. The yak chomped and gorged itself on flowers and dried mountain grasses.
The man approached the twinning horns and, with his good hand, pat the beast’s star shaped blaze. It’s cows eyes blinked and its great lashes fluttered as he stroked its head lightly.
“You are not what I thought you were, big guy.”
The yak gave him a long blank stare, chewing its cud.
“I thought you were this:”
The man held the crumpled photo up to the yak’s flat forehead. The yak studied the photo, enjoying the bright sunlight heating its dark back. In the photo, the hulking black shape had the same blobular construction and the same hair, course and granny, but the face was sharp and angular and it’s teach pointed and red like a rapid hyena. The yak raised its head and puffed a hot breath in the man’s face. Then it gripped the photo between its teeth and ate the crumpled paper.
The man tried to extract the paper by picking at the mottled gum line of the bovine animal, but after many minutes struggling and inserting fingers in the animal’s soft pallet, he gave up, both his hand and stump covered in viscous gooey saliva. He glared at the great cow and sucked on his lip.
“Fine.” Said the man. “I’ll just print out another.” He looked from the yak to the surrounding blankets, woven in kaleidoscope fabrics and the small dotting of cowhide-clad children he pretended not to notice.
“Now where do you suppose they keep a computer out here?”
©2014 Lex Vex