Eggsquisite Corpse
Excerpt
Copyright © 2017
by Robb Hoff

                                                    Collaboration 1
                                            Brown Egg Resurrection
                                                            
                                                            *
                                                 March 20th, 2010
                                              White Stone, Virginia
                                                            *

    “We can never really know women,” the recently deceased author of the
Resurrection Gospel told me. “We may think we do, but we don’t.”

    At the time he said this, I was far more curious about the reel-to-reel film
projector that he had wheeled into the middle of his living room than his
announcement about the mysterious nature of women. He shot a knowing
smile at me before he pulled down the blank white projector screen attached
to a tripod stand.

    “And think about how treacherously women are portrayed to us in the
chronicles of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” he resumed as he reached for the
projector’s electrical cord. “Consider the event at the Mount of Olives temple
when a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus. Was
she stoned to death for breaking the seventh commandment or was she
forgiven for her transgression?”

    He stooped to plug the projector cord into the outlet strip on the floor. He
then knelt on one knee, facing me as he awaited my answer.

    “You know, that one sounds familiar,” I began. “But please refresh my memory.”

    “Jesus refused to condemn the adulteress according to the Law of Moses,”
my friend smiled then stood to prepare the projector. “He simply told her not to sin again.”

    “So Jesus ordered a slap on the wrist instead of a proper stoning?” I surmised.
     
     “Indeed,” he confirmed with his back toward me. “But first, Jesus told the
throng to let he who was without sin be the first to cast a stone at her.”

    “Yeah, that’s right, the whole ‘he who casts the first stone’ lesson,” I said to
my friend as I watched him try to pry open the metal film case with his fingernail.

    “That statement by Jesus certainly was the memorable moment of the
whole exchange,” he remarked before the film case popped open and he
turned the bottom half of the case upside down for the reel to drop out into
his hand. “But there was another facet of this event that seems far more intriguing to me.

    “And what would that be?” I asked.

    “Jesus bent down to write in the dirt with his finger two separate times
while the crowd demanded that he mete out the appropriate justice for the adulteress."

    “So what did Jesus write in the dirt?” I blurted my question before my
friend could continue.

    “The first time,” he began his answer before he undertook the task of
attaching the reel to the projector, “maybe he wrote that we never really do know women.”

    “And the second time?” I posed to him on cue.

    “We may think we know women, but we don’t.”

    This preamble about women and adultery suddenly made me anxious.

    “What does all of this adultery talk have to do with your film?” I finally
asked him. “ I mean, I’m really not interested in watching some kind of
antique stag film if that’s what you have there.”

    “I will halt all talk of adultery now,” he said as he stepped toward the light
switch on the wall beside the screen. “And you can chew upon another frame
of reference before we start.”

    “And what would that juicy morsel be?” I tried to joke.

    “The biblical account claims that eternal life without death on earth was
forsaken because of the original sin of Eve,” he replied. “But always
remember this: without woman and her affinity for temptation and pleasure,
there would be no cause of death.

    “Without the necessity of death in this world for all of us, the most
important facet of human spiritual life on this planet would never be known.”

    “Oh my God, what kind of film is this going to be?” I nervously half-laughed.

    “This is all I’ll add,” his voice boomed as he placed his fingertip on the light
switch. “Without woman and her seduction there would be no opportunity
for humanity to ever know the one miracle even greater than creation itself –
resurrection. Without woman, we cannot know our own souls or truly divine
nature because we would never know of the power of resurrection released by human death.”

                                                                   
 *

    The room is dark before the black and white film starts across the projection
screen. The grainy image of the face of a person lying supine appears from a
close-up horizontal camera angle.

    As the camera zoom pulls back, the face assumes the features of a man. An
egg teeters between his nose and his puffed out bottom lip. Single corners of a
few dollar bills are stuck to his face, and the traces of thinly twisted and curling
mustache strands punctuate his cheeks.

    A hand emerges into view then the index finger of the hand pokes into the
egg before the thumb and fingers spread open the broken shell of the egg.

    Several ants scurry out of the egg and across the man’s rising face.

    When the camera draws farther back, the man struggles to stand within a
rectangular enclosure suggestive of a coffin. Coins and dollar bills fall from him
as he uses a wand to gain footing in the false coffin. Once he does fully stand, he
makes a sequence of hand gestures before pointing to the unseen ceiling with his wand.

    The screen then fills with the poster-sized photograph of a woman’s portrait.
She appears middle-aged with full, shoulder-length streaked hair and smiles as
she holds an egg between the thumb and fingertip of her extended hand.

    A smattering of applause ensues before the camera view wildly spins away
from the image of the woman on the ceiling to a pair of grayish eyes directly in
front of the camera lens. The grayed, speckled eyes stare slightly off at an angle
away from the lens itself. The camera then backs away from the eyes before the
unblemished face of the same middle-aged woman revealed in the ceiling poster
sharpens into focus.

    High cheekbones hoist her lustrous skin. Her thick, wavy coiffure cascades
in a stream of shades that shift between dark and gray before her hair silkily
fans against her shoulders.

    She wears an Op art printed top that shimmers from the lit projector screen.
The checkered squares of the print pulsate within overlapped circles as the
waist of the top clings to the curve of her high hips. The long sleeve of the top
tightens against her wrist as she lifts her hand to reveal an egg of shaded contrast.

    “Alpha and Omega,” her silvery voice resonates as she holds the egg
tip-to-tip between her thumb and index finger. “Your transfiguration awaits you, my love.”

    Her gleaming smile spreads above her succulent bottom lip to dimple the
corners of her mouth, then her smiling face warps, her eyes bubble to show only
white and a haloesque ring flashes around the crown of her head before her face
instantly corrodes from the glare of exposure.

                                                                    *

    “What do you think?” my friend asked me once the screen went completely white.

    “I’m definitely relieved that what you showed me was not debauched
cinema,” I answered as my racing pulse began to slow. “I’m not sure what I
just saw at the end there with that alluring temptress and her egg, but as for
the rest of it, I think I just watched the artist Salvador Dali get out of some
kind of bathtub after an egg hatched spiders across his face.”

    “That most definitely was Salvador Dali,” he confirmed as he turned on the
light. “Those were ants not spiders, though.

    “That was Dali in New York shot in 1965 as part of publicity performances
in the city. I was there. The footage you see taken was mine. That’s not the
footage that was eventually used, however. There were two of us there shooting the event.”

    “That must’ve been some sight,” I said with my heartbeat steadied.

    “Indeed,” he confirmed. “Never seen anything like it before and never
have seen anything like it since.

    “I was working in corporation film development at the time and living in
Manhattan. I was hired to shoot just this one scene and then edit the film. I’ve
mentioned this to you before but not in such detail.”

    “Nice gig to get, eh?” I remarked. “I guess you were credited for it?”

    “Nice gig, yes, but credited, no,” he replied. “Very good money for 1965.

    “But if I had to do it all over again, I’d curse myself to Hell and back before
I’d agree to take the camera for that performance. You see, the woman in this
film has tormented me ever since I saw her face and heard her voice.”

    “Why’s that?” I questioned him once he started to rewind the film onto the reel
.
    “That stunning creature who is filmed at the end of my footage apparently
didn’t really exist in human form as we know it,” my friend bluntly claimed.
“This is the last I saw of her or heard from her.

    “To compound matters, this woman is nowhere to be seen or heard
anywhere in the room at any time in the other footage that was actually used
for this event. She just vanished like she was never really there to begin with.
I’ve never been able to explain her presence, and it doesn’t look like I ever will.”

    “Just because you don’t see her on the other film doesn’t mean she wasn’t
really there,” I countered. “And she was pictured on the ceiling poster at the
end, wasn’t she?”

    “That makes me even more convinced that she wasn’t human as we
understand it,” he said. “The funny thing about that poster of her is that it
only appears on my film version, not the one that was ultimately used, which
featured a poster of Albert Einstein that I didn’t even notice until I worked
with the other footage.

    “The woman filmed here seems more accurately described to me as a
spirit in human form that has realized resurrection before death, almost like
what was historically referred to as a doppelganger – a double of an actual
person somewhere else at the time of the appearance – or an earth angel who
will eventually return to live on earth again complete in her transfiguration.”

    I incredulously studied his face as I glared at him and could see there was
an unusual edginess about him now that was accelerated beyond his
customary energetic self.

    “You got to be kidding me?” I shot back at him. “You’re trying to tell me
there’s two different filmed performances and yours features this woman
who wasn’t really there while the other one does not?

    “That’s it? That woman is a paranormal entity – a doppelganger – trying to
transform into a fully fledged angel for living life on earth?”

    “An angel who will live eternally on earth,” he clarified. “But a woman
who can astral travel and transcend time in her pursuit of consummation
with a soulmate perhaps.”

    My friend then paced back and forth in front of me, rubbing his chin all
the while. I could tell he was searching much harder than he normally did to
find the right words to explain his theory.

    “There is no way around this one,” he muttered in an uncharacteristic loss
for refined detail. “I’ve never been able to understand this ever since I discovered it.”

    “I’m really not sure how to follow what you’re saying,” I replied with
mustered calm. “She had to be real. There’s just no way she wasn’t real.
Maybe you added her to the film after the event happened.”

    “No,” my friend somewhat snapped at me. “This entity clearly manifested
before me as a direct result of the performance by Dali It was as though Dali
opened a portal for her to travel through time and the material dimension for
the sole purpose of her interaction with me.”

    “Say I’m willing to go a little ways out there on your limb with this,” I
offered through a sigh. “Why and how would the Dali performance open
some paranormal portal for this otherworldly actress of yours?”

    “Dali’s rise from the coffin-like structure was a resurrection of
homeopathic magic,” my friend began his explanation. “He reenacted an
astral flight from a sarcophagus to the celestial dimension where resurrection
renews being, much like the transfiguration an initiate would experience
within the empty sarcophagus of the Great Pyramid of Ancient Egypt.”

    “So you saw this as a reenactment of initiation into the practice of
resurrection?” I asked him.

    “More or less,” he continued with his explanation. “I believe Dali’s
performance represented the astral flight that the initiate experiences once
immersed within the capsule of the sarcophagus. It illustrates hermetical
practice as the means of ascension from the constraints of physical being. This
doesn’t represent an entombment because of death: it is the pathway for
resurrection achieved through enlightenment and separation from the body.”

    “So you think this reenactment shows and explains a pathway to
resurrection through astral flight?” I asked him for further confirmation.

    “Yes,” he replied. “But that’s not the aspect of this performance that
effectively changed my life forever. There’s one thing about this film that I just can’t shake.”

    “What’s that?” I asked.

    “That non-existent woman is holding a real brown egg,” his voice now
boomed. “Not only did I see the brown egg with my own eyes, she more or
less gave the egg to me when she flipped it up into the air for me either to
catch or let fall to the floor while filming.

     “I chose to catch the egg, and I still have that very same brown egg.”

    “You still have the same egg from fifty years ago?“ my voice detonated.

    “Yes, I do still have the egg,” he nodded. “I waited forever it seemed after I
lowered my camera with the egg in my other hand, wondering if she might
return from wherever she vanished. She never did return, though, so I
wrapped the egg in a cloth and secured it in my camera bag.

    “After I had kept it in my refrigerator for a week or so, the idea of
preserving it for the long term somehow entered into my mind. I talked with a
Chinese cook about the process and he actually found suitable materials for
me to do it. I used a preservation technique derived from preparation of the
Chinese century egg.”

    “What on earth did you do to the egg?” I probed in disbelief.

    “Well,” he began, “I had eaten century eggs before as they are considered
quite the delicacy. Essentially, the egg is preserved in a way to force flavors to
emerge that didn’t exist before by virtue of the egg inside the shell slowly
transforming instead of quickly spoiling like a normal egg would do.

    “The name century egg really isn’t accurate, though. In the traditional
Chinese method dating back several centuries, the eggs are basically encased
in a clay, lime and rice husk mixture for about a month or so that keeps the
egg from spoiling and preserves it while it undergoes its change within the shell.”

    “Sounds like a glorified rotten egg to me,” I commented, shaking my head.

    “Actually, it’s quite appetizing once you get past the kind of burnt-flame,
ammonia scent,” he countered. “It’s somewhat unsightly though. The white of
the egg becomes this clear brown jelly, almost an amber color. The yolk of the
egg becomes a corroded-looking dark bluish-green like certain types of algae bloom.”

    “Did you ever think about eating your egg?” I blurted.

    “Yes,” he admitted. “Even more so recently, now that I’ve kept it for nearly
a full half-century.

    “But I’m not sure why any sane person would actually ever decide to eat it.
I still do have to wonder, though, what it would taste like, how sick it would
make whoever ate it and whether or not it contains some secret from another
realm that can only be conveyed by ingesting it. I just never have quite
mustered the courage to indulge.”

    “Do you have it here?” I asked him.

    “I do,” he said. “Would you like to see it?”