Well, damn it, that's what the truth is like. Or rather that's what any attempt to record truth inevitable requires: a fictionalisation of the chaos of reality that allows our limited minds to grasp the complex and imponderable depths that inform it.
On Saturday, I sat in my makeshift study, surrounded by books and files, sound tapes and film reels, old fading photographs and newspaper cuttings -- all marked with the coded symbols of the esoteric filing system that Hugo Drakenswode assigned to them. To coordinate these is a daunting task and for a long time I found myself unable to see the possibility of coherence anywhere in the random scraps of absurdity that they represent.
Outside my window I could see cars in the distance, a young boy riding a skateboard, one of my neighbours -- Mrs Meštrović, I believe is her name, a Croatian immigrant fully integrated into a society that was, 20 years ago, alien to her -- standing, tea in hand, staring at her roses. All these are evidence of a life that simply does not embrace the realities that Drakenswode persistently uncovered. It is world to which I used to belong, but one I have been forced to abandon. In that world people are part of a communal society that offers them support, both monetary and emotional. Once no longer connected to such a supportive network one easily feels as though one is drifting inexorably toward an abyss, doomed in fact to plunge into it and be lost forever.
I came upon a photographic image that has apparently been doing the rounds of the internet of late, showing a gigantic snake in the Baleh river in Borneo.
Reportedly this photograph was taken from a helicopter by an unnamed member of a team monitoring flood conditions in Borneo. In this age of digital fakery, it is, of course, easily dismissed -- in this case with good reason. To connect the giant serpent in the picture with a local legend -- the Nabau, "a dragon-like, shape-shifting sea serpent" -- seems in the "real" world to be a somewhat fatuous attempt to give resonance and legitimacy to what is unlikely to be more than a smirking hoax. As such it serves not to enlighten but to obscure the realities of what does, in fact, lurk in the hidden corners of the world.
I found this brief entry in one of my great-grandfather Hugo Drakenswode's archives:
Nabau, giant snake -- Dennison told me he caught such a creature some decade ago and when I showed appropriate skepticism took me down into his cellars, where he uncovered the most enormous snake skin I have ever seen. Perhaps 50 feet in length and yet only a partial item. Extrapolating from it to a full creature I would guess its owner must have been some 200 feet long. Dennison insisted it was not a fully grown specimen. It shimmered, even then, so long after life had been taken from it. I asked Dennison about its origins. He was evasive as to why he had been in Borneo and could not adequately explain how he came to have only a quarter of the full thing. I left thinking that the Baleh river might be a place I should visit.
The photograph may be fake, but need the reality be a falsification as well?