They found him. He fell on his back, was unconscious for who knows how long, but by the time he was awake people were standing around him and a long haired, bearded man helped him sit up to calm him. He could finally speak.
“Don’t touch me, you’re dirty.”
“Don’t worry, sir, if you would like, I can even fix your tie.”
“Who the hell are you? Don’t touch me or I’ll call the police.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but there is no police around here.”
He quickly looked around. Torn clothed, dirty faced poor men stood before him, most of them covered in shit. Some of them were staring at him confused about his garments. At first he didn’t know what to say but a thin man approached him.
“Ex-ex-excuse me, s-sir, what, what, what is t-t-that thing around y-your neck?”
“Don’t embarrass yourself, Stutter, that’s a necktie,” answered the bearded one.
“A, a, a n-n-n-necktie?” Stutter dropped his eyes and plodded away.
“I demand you take me out of here right now. This place smells and I can’t bear to stay with such people,” he pointed at Stutter.
“There is no,” as if he forgot for a moment, he quickly added, “sir, exit from here.”
“What do you mean there is no exit? Don’t the moneyed come to visit sometimes?”
“Oh, you’re Moneyed? I’m Bearded, the stuttering one is Stutter and she’s,” he nodded at a half-naked, shapely woman, “Silent.”
“Alright, let’s stop here before we get anymore acquainted. How do the moneyed arrive if there is no exit?”
“You should know this more than I do, sir. They come in boxes, with spinning rods on their tops. I don’t know what they are. I find it weird too, that you came on foot.”
Moneyed raised his brows for a moment, surprised by his own ignorance. He never cared for things outside the city.
“Don’t just sit here, come, it’s almost dinner time.”
Ants were crawling on the cracked wooden table, searching for crumbs. Bearded’s hand rested on the table, playing with the insects who were fleeing fearfully from his giant, brown fingers. Moneyed sat as far as he could without causing a stir, his hands on his laps, sitting straight. Bearded sat on his right, Silent, who dressed up since then, her perfect figure still seen despite the loose clothing she was wearing, also her long, wavy red hair, as if the creator wanted to counterbalance her silent nature with flamboyant appearance, on the other side. Stutter sat at the corner of the table, alone, with his head down, fumbling with something under the table. About ten people were there, although there were some more groups having dinner across the Canyon.
There wasn’t too much variety. Millet balls and oatmeal and a little bit of baked chicken. They ate from wooden bowls with wooden spoons. One knife was in the centre, but besides that Moneyed didn’t see any metal tools.
Bearded held his hand. Moneyed pulled it away, as if he just touched fire.
“Don’t be so reserved, Moneyed. The food must be blessed first.”
He gave up his hand grumbling, the other one for Silent. The woman’s skin was dry and hardened.
“You, who gave us food and drink, blessed be your name. Sweet sunshine, our guest you shall be, bless that, which you have given to us. Good appetite.”
Except for Moneyed, everyone repeated the blessing, even Stutter, although he finished much later. Besides him only Silent remained silent, her face caught by the last sunshine, dancing with her fine lineaments, before winking and hiding behind the canyon’s walls, but she closed her eyes instead.
Everyone gobbled munching, leaving crumbs around, which made Moneyed feel almost sick. How can anyone eat like this?
“So, sir, tell us a bit.”
“What do you want me to tell you about?”
“About the Mountain, of course. Down here we know nothing about your city or whatever you call it. Adroit tried to climb out of the Canyon, once, we found his dead body a day later. He must have fallen, the poor one.”
Everyone looked up, their gazes resting upon Moneyed, and Bearded motioned with his head, what’s up, tell us about it. Moneyed cleared his throat.
“First of all, the city is a much cleaner, much more orderly place than this d-,” here he stopped for a moment because he wanted to say dirty nest, “delightful village. The city is the pinnacle of human civilisation, a place where we can enjoy our lives happily, far away from all of nature’s dangers. No diseases,” he hit his temple, “no mosquitoes, no work. There is cleanness, there is prosperity, nothing bad can happen unless one takes part in the game of power.”
“It must be a strange place. You mean nature doesn’t creep into your city?”
“It does try but we exterminate it.”
“And what is the game of power? How can anyone get into trouble by playing a game?”
“Don’t take it literally, Bearded,” here he swallowed, he didn’t want to say his name, “for the citizen the game of power isn’t a game. A more correct way of saying it is that it’s a competition for power. Man fights for power, so he can live better.”
“And how do you gain power?”
“There are two ways. Either you acquire a lot of money or gain a high social status.”
“Excuse me, sir, but I don’t understand. First, what is money?”
Moneyed frowned and the shadow made a scary face as it fell between the wrinkles.
“What do you mean? You don’t even have money here, or what?”
“Not that I know of. You know, sir, I learnt to read, a long time ago there was someone here who taught me. That’s how I know what a necktie is or how I should speak with someone like you but I haven’t read a single word about this money.”
Moneyed sighed then went quiet. Everyone listened in silence, only the cicadas chirped tireless.
“You know what? It’s getting late, tomorrow you can teach me all about money,” broke the silence Bearded and motioned him to follow. “Come, I’ll show where you’ll live.”
At this moment the party rumbled again, they carried on with their chatter where they left off, making noise, munching. Some made fire. The two men set off towards a small house. Stutter joined them.