When I was but a young buck, there was a castle that stood high on top of a hill behind our village. It was so enormous that when the sun rose it threw a shadow over the entire kingdom. Each morning, the sun would rise behind the castle illuminating the structure to glow in a brilliant orange halo. When the sun reached the top the parapets would blaze with golden crowns.
Over the years, different people occupied the castle. I heard that in olden days the King was some chubby man with a golden voice who wrote story songs about ghettos and lemonade.
I was a snot nosed youngling, and I thinked I could be anything I set my mind to. What I had my mind set on most was getting out of the village and seeing me the kingdom. We was poor and papa was stricken with a bit of the madness. Often he was consumed with drink. Ma always said the creature’s got him. She done what she could to keep the peace as well, the family together, but it was for naught. When I was eleven I stopped learning my studies and went to work tending the fields while my brothers and sister fought over the view screen.
True tell we had one. Fact is everyone in the village had one in those days. My ma seed I wanted most to get out of the village so for Christmas one year she got for me a tale of storied songs called Off The Wall. It was made by a great man in the kingdom. I knew who he was of course, but I didn’t know that man would one day be king.
Off the wall showed me how I could work day and night, rock with myself to get off the wall. Most importantly it told me not to stop until I got enough. Off the wall was my first tale of storied songs and there were many to follow.
Older I grew and it came into my head I too could be a great man and maybe one day make some storied songs. By then things had changed. That great man thrilled the kingdom with another set of storied songs and on view screens all across the kingdom he danced to a story song about a lassie named Billie Jean. And just like that the people declared him King.
A few years later the Prince came to the castle. It happened the summer of the Purple Rain. It showed on view screens all around the kingdom and that summer, papa took us on a road trip up through the high country where I was hoping to see sasquatches and aliens. I did not. We did see the sight where the great volcano exploded and changed the world. The explosion was so big that it covered a quarter of the kingdom with ash. It was awesome, but the trip was days and days sitting in the back of the carriage staring at trees. It would have not been the same if I didn’t have the story songs of purple rain by the Prince.
The Prince spoke truths of the world like nobody ever did, even the King. The Prince invited me to go crazy and he didn’t care where we went or what we did, as long as I took him with me. He told a story song about a darling friend of his named Nikki. Then he told me about being a Prince and that as a Prince he would die for me and I thought that was awesome.
When I returned home I had new ideas. I wanted to paint and draw for the King and the Prince and hoped that one day, one of my painted pictures would hang on the walls of the great castle on the hill. It was only a dream of youth and it was short lived.
There was a Court Jester in the castle in those days. He too was a great man. He was funny and was able to tell so many stories. The court jester was a chameleon. I first learned about him pretending to be an alien on the view screen, but nothing struck me so much as the day I seed him in the view screen telling the story of the dead poets… it was an amazing sight and brought me to tears I must say. Right there and then I started to look at something else that I wanted. I began right then to write testimonials of my thoughts, ideas and make up my own stories. Those stories I spoke all around the kingdom.
I told stories and made manifestos to greatness and sadness, stupidness and kindlyness and every other ness I could imagine. I wanted to be like the King and the Prince and yes, even the Jester and I would do it with my own storied words.
Since those days I have created and found inspiration in others, all in the shadow if the great castle on the hill. It stands high and is mostly in ruins now, though it still casts a shadow over the kingdom. I return and stare up at the crumbling walls and the vines that are the only thing holding it up.
They are all gone now. The King and Prince created hundreds of storied songs. The Jester was everything else and he never stopped playing until the end. The dream is still alive and the inspiration still has me, but what happens very often in dreams, people can become side tracked. I did, and I held to them to uphold the kingdom. When I learned the King died it was sad, but I found that I had outgrown him. Yesterday the Prince died and I shed a tear and draped myself in royal purple as the kingdom mourned.
It was the Jester that hit me the hardest. I don’t know why, but I think it has something to do with inspiration and how his words moved me, much more than the storied songs. His performance made me cry more times than I can recall. The Jester could be a child when the moment called for it. He was a joker and a trickster and the funniest funny man the kingdom ever knew… though I never met him. I heard one day that he had hung himself from one of the parapets. I thought of the sad clown and the irony of that… all that funny, hanging. I wept for days, feeling as if I lost someone in my life, a great uncle that never came around. I wanted to know him though I never did, I got side tracked.
I returned to the great castle on the hill today to remember, recall and pay tribute. It is in ruins, but there are remnants. There is a dance studio, a recording studio, even an amphitheater. The great hall has shredded purple curtains and there is a hole in one wall that looks out to the kingdom below.
The wind gusts in and blows me back. I hold my hand up and scream out a barbaric yawp to the kingdom below. There are rusted guitars on one wall and an odd shaped symbol on another. In the corner I find some black dress shoes and they fit. I do a step and slide over the floor, spin and skate backwards like I’m walking on the moon and begin to recite Shakespeare. Suddenly I have a guitar in hand and I find that I can play. Lightning flashes in the sky and the clouds move in. The wind gusts through the whole and I laugh. The voice of the Jester echoes and I know if I had net him I would never have had a friend like him.
Tears drip from my eyes and I play the purple electric guitar and begin to tell a story. I dance and slide around the room in my black dress shoes. I finish and the lightning cracks again Rain begins to fall and looking up, I can see the moon peeking out of a crack in the storm. It lights my way as I walk back down the hill.
Today I visited the pedestal where these people sat like gods, but something struck me. It is not too late. In fact there are vacancy’s now. The castle may never be occupied, but my story words can still connect and effect the coming generations. They inspired me and it is up to me to take that inspiration to the next level.
The rain has soaked me. When I reach the bottom I can hear them all echoing in my mind. Talk to the man in the mirror. Tell him carpe diem. Seize the day. Make your life extraordinary and remember life is an electric word that means forever. And that, is a mighty long time.