Honourable mention in the 2nd Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
One day, on a hiking trip through the Alps, Marx takes a wrong turn and ends up in China. When he arrives, he looks terrible. His overcoat is in tatters and there are bullet holes in his wide-brimmed hat. “I’m a philosopher-in-exile,” he tells a group of peasants, who eye him warily out of the corners of the eye. It’s not until he introduces them to the delights of sauerkraut that he’s well received. Soon he’s quoting from Confucius and can play the lute by ear. He joins a band of travelling magicians and for months wanders the countryside, juggling cabbages and breathing fire through his nose. Word of the strange-talking foreigner spreads and people come from great distances to see him for themselves.
The emperor hears of Marx and summons him to the capital. Marx plays for him his very best rendition of “The Blue Danube” on his lute. Moved to tears, the emperor offers him a room in the imperial mansions, complete with dancing girls and a golden monkey. Every day Marx and the emperor play chess, drink wine and feast together like long lost brothers. It’s a sad farewell when he finally takes his leave. “Politics at home,” he explains. On the day of his departure, he’s given a grand send-off. The emperor, together with one thousand soldiers and trumpeters, accompanies him to the border.
Years later, Marx lies ill in bed and dreams of China. He’s standing at the crest of a holy mountain, looking down on the villages and rivers that stretch out beneath him. Below, smoke rises from the rooftops; somewhere in the distance bells toll the dawn. A gust of wind suddenly lifts him off his feet and he’s carried upward and away, over the trees and valleys. He flies through the clouds, beard and coat flapping in the breeze. He’s like a great dark bird, poised between earth and sky. In his sleep, Marx shivers with happiness.