If a liquid isn’t green, I’m not going to drink it.
I’ll just sit here and listen to German post-punk while the back of my shirt keeps riding up. January isn’t as cold as I remember it. Not like the Januaries when I was growing up, frozen faced, eyelids ice-welded shut. Back then it was all about survival. Right now, it’s all about existing. There is not much else around here. Relish punching the clock, think about all the time ahead with little jolts of the future seeping through. Make plans.
When everything is working in sync, when nothing is failing, our bodies feel like an empty container. There is nothing inside. Until you get hungry or feel pain. Then the guts, the internal workings, reveal themselves and you’re nothing but an animal again.
I feel like a robot up until 11 AM most days.
Then I gorge until tired and moan like a ghost in an empty house. A ghost with acquaintances but no real obligations or responsibilities. Not that I want any. Responsibilities. I don’t want permission, have forsaken ownership for rent, placed high value on the views of lowlifes and the low brow.
I work only to go home and jerk off. Alone, I create legions of the never-will-live and draw my fingers through their ranks as they slide down my belly in tiny pools and rivulets. It seems that all of my passion centers around a tight grip and my cock and the hex I put myself under as I move them together in unison. Listening to noise, feeling like an empty container that storms along a wasteland in search of companions to hide a little piece of myself in. I think about being an android and I cum, to the voice that beckons me although I never move an inch. I go limp and search the ceiling for any evidence of that black blue sky midnight reveals itself with. I know it’s out there up and beyond the tallest spaces of the building. That midnight that kills any drive that I might have had to remain awake. That painted sky of bruises that tells me I am a child who only wants to fuck but never wants to truly create.
In the morning, I wake up with a bulge. I amble up and grab yesterday’s paper, sit. I run the back of the newspaper along the top of my cock, and search for the sake of searching. Skip the sports page, peruse the obits, scour the classifieds. I couldn’t honestly say why. The classifieds were the place for needs and no longer wants. It was like my heaven in a world completely devoid of the divine.
Same sea of desire. To be rid of or accumulate like fucking snow. I scan the entire section looking for triggers.
Hard. Wet. Gaping. Spread.
I land on an ad that read ‘COME INTO MY ROOM’ and I pause, snaking my hand down my shorts to a hardon leaking and straining against the fabric. My barometer. I write down the number as it is the only other piece of information in the ad and know that I have to call.
I gather strength and take a shower. Debate about jacking off, do it anyway. I watch the jizz swirl around my feet and get trapped in the drain cover. Underwater worlds are populated. Entire armies of creatures with my face on thin silvery tails, iridescent and shining in the depths. As far as creation goes, as far as bringing anything into the world goes, I contribute monsters and chimeras. That, and only that, is all I am good for.
I have had sex before. Enough to be able to boast. I prefer it to auto-manipulation. But I am frightened of its possibilities. The potential for harnessing essences that would grow to hate the world carrying them around the sun. I have enough hate for generations. I am afraid to encode that into children. Afraid to see hellfire in my son or daughter, in their eyes, see the chasm widen as they grow older and bitter. Listen to them drop words like daggers and bombs and curse my name. And my balls.
I have ghosts of children in my head, screaming out why. And that is why I work and touch myself. To silence the screaming. I mean, there are ways to control the potential for pregnancy but condoms kill the sensation and pills only work as long as someone remembers to take them. A matter of trust and responsibility.
If a liquid isn’t green, I’m not going to drink it.
Jonathan Deschanel met Marie Parker on a Saturday, late in September of a year that was not entirely spectacular. Their courtship was initiated over mixed drinks, dim lights and cigarette smoke. The length of their involvement lasted all of two weeks and they continually met in the shadowed confines of the same locale for the duration of its existence.
Jonathan did not own a car. He walked each and every night to the bar where they would meet, rain or shine, in sunlight or in shadow. He would wait at the bar, staring into an empty glass, indecipherable notions flitting behind his eyes. He kept to himself until she entered and sat next to him on an empty barstool. She would then grab his hand and trace her fingers on his fingertips.
This same ritual carried on each time they were together. It would slowly transform into Jonathan blankly staring at her face as if stuck in some sort of trance from which he could not escape. He would then smile suddenly, breaking out of his state, and stare into her eyes with a newfound fire. She would smile back and mouth something to him not meant to be heard.
They would remain at the bar for what some might call an eternity. Swallowing drinks, swallowing pride, watching their conversations slowly degrade into whispers and silence. Each night, a conversation buried in a graveyard of their own making. Yet their eyes met, formed a state of constancy and it would continue to do so.
Marie always wore a dress of some sort. Light, pretty, revealing in one aspect or another. Jonathan, the same dark trench coat, under which would be any one of six black suits he had acquisitioned from different sources, accompanied with a black tie pulled taut into a half-Windsor knot.
Each and every night, Marie would attempt conversation, hoping to engage Jonathan, to bring him out of his shell. Jonathan would answer short, succinctly and the conversation would die a slow death as per usual, falling to the floor lifeless like ash. Information about Jonathan was never forthcoming and the blaring jukebox distorted any true answer beyond recognition. The volume of the place dissuaded Marie from even asking him to repeat what he may have said at times. Each time they were together, the same game of verbal warfare of one-sided volleys, the same end result.
As with each conversation, the night, in and of itself, would end the same. After the struggle to converse had fallen flat and died a muted death, the eventual search across each of their faces for some sort of glimmer which could lead to any one of a million possible futures brought only mixed signals and apprehension. The night would wander away from them and Jonathan, in his way, would bid Marie goodnight. He would take her hand, kiss it drunkenly and help her off of her stool. They would leave the establishment at the same time, say goodnight in various forms and part ways. Jonathan would stand and watch Marie get into her car, which was more often than not parked directly across the street. He would take note of that fact at every departure. “She has a car”, he would think to himself, “She owns far more than I do”. An inner turmoil would start within him, vying for some shade of attention from his inner being. It would remain until exhaustion or the all too real need to pass out would crush his consciousness into a comfortable, selfless oblivion, either upon his disheveled bed or the cold, gray ground.
This turmoil was repeated often during their two weeks together. Every night to some degree. Truths were revealed but suppressed. Intentions would rise to the surface only to be taken over by other intentions. This would repeat, cat-and-mouse-like, with Jonathan hiding whatever surfaced in a blank gaze or a subtle eye shift. Jonathan would mull the entire situation over and over in his mind, each moment while walking home from one of their meetings until he would fumble for his keys at his door and walk up the flight of stairs to his flat.
While Jonathan walked each and every night, Marie drove. And in her head, there were nothing but visions of Jonathan and his mysteriousness. Visions of what he was really like outside of where she knew him, outside from the few facts she gleaned from their brief discussions, however inane. They would meet at the same place and ogle each other night after night, never leaving to do something else, anything else, somewhere else. They remained each night in the same place, repeating the same things. These thoughts would pass through her mind and become replaced with the knowledge that he would always be there and she would always be with him. She and he would be a constant, no matter what secrets hid behind his blue eyes, no matter what intentions he failed to reveal to her. Marie would smile as she drove on. Quiet, resolute. His mystery making her quiver.
On what was to be the last day of their acquaintance, Jonathan Deschanel invited Marie to his flat.
This invitation came only after the first noted semblance of an actual conversation.
Jonathan had taken a seat at the end of the bar, hidden in shadows, running his fingers on the counter. He kept his foot on the stool next to him for fear of it being taken. There he waited. Dressed as he always was. Black suit and tie. His uniform.
Like clockwork, Marie Parker made her entrance, the same as usual. Walking through the door, basked in a brilliant silhouette of light that jarred only the most destitute of the patrons within. She wore a cloche hat, quite like a flapper, with barrettes in her hair to keep it steady. And as usual, a dress. She stood in the doorway, searching with her eyes, seeking out her companion. Raising her chin, she spied Jonathan blank-faced at the end of the bar. Her eyes lit up and she smiled, walking with the same face she always did. A beam of light erupting from every cell. When she stood at his side, he removed his leg from the chair and offered her the seat. She accepted and came to rest. Like clockwork.
The volume of the place took its usual pitch, hitting crescendo after crescendo in different areas. The clack of billiards and pool cues adding to the brilliant mixture, the symphony. Accompanying this symphony were the clink of empty bottles being moved from tables, lighters being struck, the odd chair being moved in an attempt to hear over the ever present din and the eventual aspiration of spirits onto tabletop, floor, toilet.
Marie let her hand fall on Jonathan ‘s. Jonathan looked inquisitively in her eyes and the trance began.
Smoke trails whirled above their heads, dancing in odd shapes under the gloom of the bar. The errant wisps becoming artificial languages that told tales of future events, dissipating before any translation could be obtained. These pictures transformed above their heads.
Jonathan ‘s eyes, inquisitive still in their very nature, sought something from Marie.
Marie mouthed words that were inaudible. Drawing closer to his ear, Marie whispered once more. His eyes closed, a rainbow of emotions flooded behind their lids, bending and swaying like a great tree caught in a storm.
“There. Must. Work,” three words fired through his brain. He held himself in check.
Marie grasped his hand within hers, remarking how cold it was. She moved it towards her chest. He could feel her heart beating beneath his palm, felt electrical charges radiate through his fingertips. Dark shocks that bade him to continue on. To continue on and go forward.
He drew close to her ear as if in response and breathed words meant to overwhelm her. She held her free hand to her lips as if to hide her reaction, never once letting go of Jonathan ‘s hand which remained on the middle of her chest, sucking up her heartbeats like water.
Jonathan withdrew his hand from her chest and turned towards the counter, running his fingers along the sides of a glass beaded with moisture. He lifted the glass to his lips and took the remainder of the liquid into his mouth, swallowing it forcefully.
Marie swung her legs beneath her stool. “Any place but here,” she thought repeatedly as if to influence their departure.
There they sat for a good portion of one hour. Looking straight ahead, melding in with the patrons in all of their dingy, self-absorbed glory.
Jonathan turned his head suddenly, breaking out of one of his normal stupors. His eyes gleaming in the shadows. He cleared his throat in an attempt to speak.
“Let’s go, shall we?”
Marie stood up from her stool, thinking her repetitious thoughts had a tremendous amount to do with their leaving. A giddiness overtook her step, revealing a heretofore unseen excitation at the events that were now transpiring.
Jonathan pushed the door open, giving Marie the chance to exit first. The establishment’s door propelled them forth in a cool, cloudless night. A sliver of the moon sliced through the sky. Their forms and colors daubed darker by the absence of the sun, they walked to the edge of the curb. Jonathan spied Marie’s vehicle, as it always was, directly across the street.
“The alignments are perfect,” he thought.
“What shall we?” Marie said loudly, her ears ringing from the noise inside of the bar. She lowered her voice and offered an apology.
Jonathan flashed a smile, his face turning blank as soon as it appeared, like a stone falling into a pond never to be seen again. He cleared his throat once more and Marie’s ears pricked up, waiting for every precious word. “I would…I would like to show you my place, if that is not too much trouble. It’s…it’s a few blocks from here and the night is….it’s.” He wrung his hands together nervously, not knowing what her response would be, hoping against hope of what it would be.
Marie strode next to him and grabbed his hand.
“I’ll drive us there.”
During the drive, Jonathan dictated directions to an attentive Marie humming with each turn she took, making a grand circuit, a grand symbol in the streets, leaving ghost lines of exhaust to hover above the concrete. He shut his eyes in the interim, picturing images of a man, crowned, atop a camel, surrounded by endless musicians, having neither face nor clothing, but all playing a mad surge of music. The crowned man gazed in the distance as the mob traveled forth, searching something out with eyes as old as time, as black as the void.
Marie’s vehicle stopped, purred for a few seconds and came to a shuddering halt. The car’s doors opened, expelling its passengers forth.
The pair met on the patch of grass between the street and the sidewalk. Jonathan pointed to the second floor of the dark house they stood before, proclaiming it to be his flat. He grabbed Marie’s hand and pulled her forward towards the side of the house, his mind quaking with nervousness.
Thoughts of the crowned man, of Marie, of a forced serenity raced through his head as he guided Marie up the stairs which led to his home. The stairs strained and squeaked with every step as if crying out in pain from being overburdened. The familiar fumbling of keys and the turning of knobs opened onto the threshold of a darkened residence.
It had all been made ready, in preparation. The flat had one main room which played the part of both a living room and a bed room. Off to the side were hallways leading to the washroom and kitchen areas of the residence, but appeared to be only dark tunnels that led to darker caverns. Peculiarly, there were no windows in the main room. Its dark red walls were covered with photos of strange locations, odd curios, replicas of wood carvings of some import. Jonathan was pleased that the few lit candles he left burning were not bright enough to give Marie a better look at the place she now found herself.
“A seat?”, Jonathan asked, waving his hand to the bed that took up majority of the living room.
Marie bit her lip apprehensively. She looked at Jonathan whose mysteriousness had made her quiver for the past two weeks. His eyes were filled with an eagerness, like a little boy. “He is my constant. Anywhere else….but here”, she thought as she sat on the edge of the bed.
“Don’t be afraid. Shall I put on some music?” Jonathan walked to a record player secreted in the corner of the room. He crouched in the shadows, rummaging through records, and stood up finally, brandishing a black disc which he laid upon the record player. Pops and clicks came from two ends of the room where the speakers lay inconspicuous and hidden in the environment, becoming strings and whispers of melody, taking musical form.
Marie sat with her hands in her lap. She noticed several bookshelves filled to the brim with books, old and new alike. There was no television from what she could tell but she saw an old movie projector with its cover on lying in the corner next to the door that they entered. Her nose was assaulted with a sweet yet peculiar smell but she could not tell where it was emanating from or remember if it had been there since they arrived. After taking in the entire smallness of the room, she smiled to herself. “It fits that he lives like this. Somehow it makes sense.”
Jonathan disappeared into one of the dark, tunnel-like hallways. The noise of dishes clanging against each other informed Marie where he had gone. She heard the tap running and then silence. Jonathan reappeared and offered his apologies for running away.
“I’ve put on some tea.”
“Thank you. Sit. While the water’s boiling,” Marie patted the section of the bed right next to her, wanting to bask in his mystery at close range.
Jonathan sat, his hands in his lap as hers were. She reached over in the candlelight and touched his face. “You’re a strange one, Jonathan.”
“I want to know what’s in that head of yours,” she said as she stroked his cheek. “We’ve been inseparable for fourteen straight days now. Some people people might call you a boyfriend. It’s hard to say what I think about it all.” She paused.
“I just know that you make me question and….yearn, I guess. You’re a mystery and that makes me very happy. I want to puzzle you out.” She dropped her hand to his lap and pulled him to her. She wrapped both of her arms around him in an embrace two weeks in the making and they lay back onto the bed. Marie kissed his closed eyes and he breathed uneasily, a crowned man moving behind his lids.
Marie drew in closer to his face, her breath bouncing off of his cheeks. She sought his lips.
A shrill scream erupted from the darkened hallway. Jonathan sat up quickly and hurried into the darkness, leaving Marie to lean on her elbow across the bed. The screaming ceased only to be replaced by the jingle of dishes being moved from one location to another. Jonathan reappeared once more, this time with a tray holding two teacups, several spoons, sugar.
“Here. D-dr-drink this. It will make you feel more at home,” Jonathan said as he proffered her a freshly filled teacup on a saucer. She took the cup gratefully and held it in her lap.
“A mystery,” Jonathan said, more to himself than to her. He sat by her side and sipped at his tea, questioning himself, his motive. Would the crowned man listen?
“Let’s make it dark,” Marie said, hastily moved to action of her own accord, as if something snapped in her mind and made a definite and solid decision. “A mystery I want,” she thought. She placed her cup of tea on a nightstand and quickly stood up, walking to each lit candle. She extinguished them, one by one, with a sweet exhalation ushered from her lungs.
Jonathan entranced in his reverie of a crowned man, woke up as he normally did and did so suddenly. His motive, forever hidden and silent except in his mind, was making things happen, making them occur so as to reveal the motive in its purest sense. In action and deed. To reveal the crowned man. To question the crowned man and bring about the desired change. Marie was being led into action to begin that which had already begun. That which was begun with the circuit they drove on their way here, with the sliver of moon hanging in the correct house.
Jonathan sat silent in the shadows, realizing many things in unison as he sat at the edge of his bed. As he laid his teacup on the floor adjacent the bed, a sweet smell, sweeter than that noticed by Marie earlier, pervaded throughout, spreading in intensity. Jonathan knew of its significance. A vague mist formed through the darkness, gray as soot, cloaking the room in haze. Jonathan also knew of its significance. The mist blurred his vision but he could make out the silhouette of Marie Parker, flitting like a darkened butterfly in his midst, losing shape to her form. A faceless metamorphosis took place in the darkness and its accompanying greyness until no further movement issued forth, and Marie Parker, otherworldly, stood before him. She was entirely disrobed, a smile on her lips, her naked skin the color of marble. Her short dark hair carved crescents into the sides of her face, negative forms of the moon as it was hung in the sky that particular night. She stepped through the sweet smelling mist, an alabaster creature. The mist disappeared entirely, as it had been created - in a matter of seconds - leaving Marie bathed in a glow as if she were her own candlelight.
“A mystery…,” he said.
“Shhhhh….,” Marie, or what seemed to be Marie, breathed. She leaned down and looked into his eyes, her index finger positioned in front of her pursed lips. Her breasts hung
white in the air, her body a porcelain idol millions would pray to.
Strings and flutes issued forth from the hidden speakers.
“He will come, preceded by all manner of musicians.”
In the darkness, as Marie Parker’s white image stood silently breathing, Jonathan Deschanel undid his tie. He discarded his black suit coat, unbuttoned his white shirt to reveal his bare chest. Disrobing entirely, he threw each remaining item of clothing into a corner, leaving him naked on the edge of the bed.
Marie was now on her knees behind him, her black fingernails gliding across his back. Her fingernails pressed harder, digging into his skin, causing raised welts to appear. She tore into his back for several minutes, drawing blood at various points, creating a circuit. A sigil. A sigil reminiscent of the path that led them there. Straight lines. Twists and turns. Directly in the center of his back. A blood symbol.
Jonathan, blank faced, turned upon the white god form of Marie Parker, standing with bloody fingers on his bed. She drew symbols on her pure white chest and stomach. Her eyes were closed, her thoughts no longer her own. She was under a thrall as deep as the oceans, a seed left in her by Jonathan Deschanel and nurtured for fourteen days time. She drew two vertical lines of red that ended at the trimmed black thatch between her legs.
A blood flag.
Jonathan pulled himself onto the bed and stood, erect and bearing heat from various points of his naked body. His back, stained red with dried blood, bore the symbol for their union. Extending his arms, he drew her close and sucked her tongue into his mouth, pressing her bloodied chest to his, leaving new sigils on his skin.
Their embrace transformed, second by second. They fucked in bloodstained sheets.
Minutes passed by in terms of epochs. The white form of Marie parker, no longer Marie Parker, but the embodiment of a satellite, enmeshed itself with the black magician, with Jonathan Deschanel. Heat transferred between the two, cooled and reignited. Their tongues shared entire histories of secrets and hidden things, passing through each other in salival form. The darkness around their bodies took an even blacker tone, growing palpably colder and void-like; their bodies took on a brilliancy of their own accord, white as stars, battling back the darkness with burning light. There was no longer a room, it was no longer the residence of one Jonathan Deschanel. It was oblivion giving birth to magnificence.
Jonathan ‘s form began to shudder, rapture coming from his inner workings, sending brightness through his mind, behind his eyes. Oblivion shifted, to his room and back again. He felt as if he was falling but then grasped the sheets of his bed in his fingers which pulled him back to a present he was bound to lose again. His body began to shudder once more, Marie bathed in her pure white glow, throwing her head back, pixelating in slow motion, black crescent moons cutting swathes on her white face.
The final shudder.
Jonathan’s hips lunged forward. His legs quivered as the feeling of release began to wash over him as he emptied his will inside of Marie. White fire of creation. White hot burning of invocation. His hands shook as he flashed a blade, shining against Marie’s flesh, across her delicate, white throat, emptying her all over him.
His face, covered in blood, mouthed two words.
His mind. Filled only with the crowned man among the throngs of musicians, playing every conceivable instrument to herald his coming.
“You wear my mark, young one.”
A roaring voice reverberated through Jonathan Deschanel’s room, through his head. Marie Parker’s lifeless, white body still hovered above him, her back arched in post-coital, postmortem spasms. He was still inside of her. Her throat, a gaping chasm four inches deep, rasped open. Air bubbles spat blood from the wound, striking his body in intervals.
Jonathan, his eyes closed, his ritual complete, stood beneath the black gaze of the crowned one, his dromedary snorting loudly through the ludicrous symphony of the faceless musicians.
“Open your eyes,” the crowned one, Paimon as he was known by his symbol, which Marie Parker had ripped into Jonathan’s back, roared. His mind’s eye, bearing witness to the arrival of his patriarch, was swallowed by the black orbs of the crowned one’s eyes. He once again felt as if he were falling. Blinking his eyelids open, the falling sensation left momentarily. In his line of vision, he was greeted with the unpleasant site of a demon incarnate, taking residence in the glowing white body of a sacrifice, using her lacerated throat as a mouth to voice his commands and converse with agents in this world.
“With what sacrifice and with what cause?” the crowned one called, Marie Parker’s throat mouthing the words in a macabre elegance. Between the roars, her trachea, no longer of any use, sputtered and gurgled forth more blood which ran down her chest.
“Yours is the order of dominions. I want to be your charge. You wear the sacrifice” Jonathan spoke quietly yet full of conviction. His motive, his remarkable play, had brought forth that which he had wanted. A doorway to all knowledge, to a power otherworldly, a power Marie Parker could never understand.
“Mine is the order of dominions.”
“I am your charge.” Jonathan smiled. His face covered in blood, in the blood of Marie Parker.
On the last day of their acquaintance.
I see her in the small hours of the night. I can feel her breathing and it reverberates over my skin like so many storms. If moonlight penetrated this room, if we would ever let it, she would glow more than she already does. I can close my eyes and find her in an instant.
There is a power behind her eyes, a sweetness in the way her smile plays across her lips that stops my heart and rebuilds it from the ground up. It happens countless times. From when we first feel light pervade the room at dawn until we give ourselves over to the blackness that comes from sweat and love and a day sucked of its marrow. We repeat this. We drive each other to do so.
Like a shakti powering a blue-skinned deity, her touch knows my reborn skin. My eyes awed by the beauty, the fire, of her face.
Dead hands deliver us, they escort us from one thoroughfare to the next.
These things I know but I pay no heed, artificial lights are far brighter.
Coughing appears to whet their maws, appears to call them out, draw them out as if
They know I will be theirs shortly.
I have started to use a kerchief to muffle the sound of my hack for their greed is
Etched on mirrors, my name writ.
Whispers upon whispers transform into bellows that become the hot breath in my ear
that wakes me when I least expect.
Worlds shatter, despair of every kind as the things that should not be there
advance in steps, in silence they stare.
Dead hands deliver us to our bed each night
I have felt their hands tug on my clothing as if they were children eager to show me
a secret place.
In hospital, I have heard them giggle, running the gamut of stairs in a timeless race
for subtle advancement.
In dark hours, my innate sense, my internal striving for nihil, is shattered by their
crawling, breathing frost on my flesh.
I know there is more than nothing after this. There is ravenous consumption and
earthly fetters. There is voyeur ultima. There is wither and flight, vitriol and
blight, for a thousand years, a thousand miles, for millions upon millions of us.
Dead hands push my pen, and I write this knowing that they do.
I have made a conscious decision to do away with my kerchief and to not hide my cough
It is not I who am ashamed of it, I expect. They see all too clearly with their bone
white eyes that I can only accept.
This acceptance glimmers in the sheen of their bared teeth.
Their whispers upon whispers are now the screams of jackals and the titterings of
long forgotten shapes left alone in oubliettes.
They know, as do I, that I am not long away.
The dead welcome their own and as they guide my hand, pushing so eagerly, I feel a
river inside dry up.
Rictus smiles abound, shimmers, shrieks and calls
Dead hands welcome me through the walls.
deep enough so that eyes are pinholes and all things living are covered with cilia.
deep enough to shatter bone with the pressure. deep enough to make constellations of graves, to make light of death.
this is where they are found. they flow with the ancient currents.
they creep through the blackness, marking the land with trenches.
they know we are here.
they watch us while we sleep.
we breathe their cilia and they control us.
these legions of the deep.
After using the retina shovel, the doctor placed a small section of mirror plate inside the eye and then sewed it all up with a bow.
The crazy glue would disintegrate after a few years.
Although sight could not be fully saved in that particular eye, it would allow her to look into infinity upon gazing at any mirror as she was wont to do.
The doctor only hoped she would do so while in a moving vehicle.
That way, the fatal car crash that would follow her endless loop of vanity would ensure that she wouldn’t have the chance to destroy his waiting room like she did this time around.
There were inhuman stains over every surface, his staff.
And the ceiling.
On snow-covered streets, the carcass is ridden like an icebreaker. Its chin is ground down to the root of the tongue. It spills magic words in the shape of brittle teeth. One could follow the blood trail as it turned to ice. A brilliant red lacquer that bounces light and soaks up atmosphere.
End results don’t posit much truth. Just undesirables reduced to vehicles that are left to rust as blood stains on the landscape. Highways of headless pilots, bodies strewn like dirty laundry, magic words in clumps advertising filth in an unforgettable laundrette.
Then the snow falls again and the world is cleansed of evil.
Until the next thaw.
With skin stretched taut as if a drum, she dances, and the beat rides through her and initiates a sordid dalliance with the floor.
There is action.
Glands of the hyperactive. Chemicals pouring from her into the air.
My nostrils flare and gusts of smoke dart out as if from a pissed off bull. I look at her and see summer and its complete disregard for clothing. I see her pulse like a beacon in the air to prevent plane collisions. She dances and my eyes are focused.
Pilots are ejecting and airplanes are streaming to the ground like birds made of fire.
Under my skin, everything writhes and then falls away.
"Handle me with care," she said, twirling a scabbed up index finger in her drink. In the half light, it was hard to tell if it was hers or someone else’s that she kept in her pocket to stir things with. The way my mind worked, I’d have preferred the latter. She mumbled something about silver and disappeared under the table for a few minutes. When she popped back up, her mouth was trickling blood. Could have been black spit. The lights. Hard to make colors out.
"You really should pay attention. It doesn’t cost you a thing. You might learn something. Like how to take an impressive cock shot or how to debone some vertebrate thing." The word thing shot off of her tongue, spiky and eager to penetrate. I heard it and longed for a Viking funeral. A terrible sea, a lone longship, fire, a dark sky to swallow it down.
"Whatever you say. You want to show me something, show me. You want to tell me something I haven’t heard, try your best." Coughing, I nodded to the tiny darkling who came towards us. "Another. Please." The wooden floor took her away, not her legs, not her feet crammed into heels too small for her. The throngs pressed in and she was gone to fuck up my drink on her first night on the job. I’d be waiting three hours to get it.
Another scabbed up finger stir and the woman sitting next to me, the one who bumped into me quite on purpose earlier, drained her glass dry. What little light there was slid up and down the cubes of ice. Her hair cut off the show as she leaned over the table. A drop of blood hit my hand. It smelled like blood. The reek of an entire battlefield in just one little drip. I moved to grab something to wipe it away but she drug the pad of one of her diseased little fingers over it and smeared it down the back of my hand. A straight red highway leading on into the night.
"I want you to make a hole in my abdomen. Puncture my stomach and place a shunt in it. I want you to fill my stomach. With your seed while I’m drinking red wine. I won’t suck you off. The shunt is the only way you’ll come inside me. I want to get gastric acid all over you," she smiled. Her eyes bored holes all over my side of the table. Holes that she’d want me to fuck more than likely. Fuck so I could bleed and give rise to scabs that she could put in her drinks.
The darkling showed back up with my poison. Almost right but not right enough.
"That’s a new one on me." I paused and saw the drill bits of her eyes hidden behind her hair. Sharp tiny things of silver and sky blue. "Shall we?" I tossed back the glassful of first night incorrectness and we disappeared through the throngs.
Not using our legs but using something much more vile.
In my line of work, images prevail.
I’ve seen some things. More than most people. Regular joes take everything in with their eyes but let it all out in one amnesiac yawn. Pictures are lost on them.
I, on the other hand, take the pictures others don’t want to see much less acknowledge.
It’s what I do.
The domestic squabble that ends in murder, I’ve recorded it. All variations. Different shades, different colours, different techniques.
It’s to the point where I feel that I’ve mastered the field.
I don’t use colour film any longer. It lacks a sense of beauty. Black and white is where the heart lies. Like an old Bogart picture. Like the beatific image of Rudolph Valentino’s corpse. The glint of lights off of a sunken ‘36 Ford Coupe pulled from a watery grave.
There are droughts though. Tt’s hard to be first on the scene.
But when it pays off, I find the depths that humanity can fall to in the bodies that remain.
How about that one, a true prize piece. A jilted lover who bled out all over a kitchen after a possible reconciliation went south. And the girl? She was found gibbering in a closet, a broken glass bottle covered in blood clutched in her hand.
Or there was that one. A successful defense attorney by day, a closet pederast by night. They found him hanging from a swing set at a local playground, strung up by a necktie, all dolled up like a baby. It was hard to tell if he did it to himself, auto-erotic like, or if a concerned parent found him out and took care of the problem the only way they knew how.
Most pictures feature a body prominently but it’s the pictures where the bodies are lacking that seem to make the biggest impression. A lawn hiding several fingers. A small mound of dirt hiding the remains of a human jaw. An arm protruding from a sewer opening. Those things stay with you at night. They come together and make a patchwork person who lulls you to sleep, who tells you what a good job you do, what a service you do for the community of the dead and the dispossessed of breath.
But when I sit back and think about it, why say that I record the blackest moments of existence? Why deprive myself of what I am?
An artist, no matter the subject matter.
Isit back, smiling sometimes, a picture of a torso lying in some weeds hanging up to dry on the line and I think.
Who’ll make art of this artist after I’ve gone west?
The fields stretching on for miles in every direction are fallow and I’m standing here like the king of scarecrows, not knowing where to put my hands. The question on my mind is making me feel hotter than the humidity that’s turning my underwear into a swamp.
There’s a gun sitting on the backseat, a .38 and the metal’s about as hot as I feel. There’s a knife in the body that’s in the trunk, stinking it up, what with the heat and all the holes in his guts. You never stop to think about how bad several gut wounds might smell in the middle of the summertime before you squeeze a round off and by then it’s too late. You’ve committed yourself to the task and to the pleasant smell it brings with it like a kissing cousin to the prom.
That question keeps coming up. in a field filled with nothing, dust devils spinning and spinning in the distance. Where am I going to hide him?
The sun’s directly overhead and it’s not helping me think. The longer I take, the worse the trunk’s going to get me. I’ll puke up what little I could scarf down at that diner, retch until my face feels tight and there’s blood vessels bursting around my eyes, looking like I tried to fight Jack Dempsey and got away before he could finish me off.
There’s only one answer here. In this barren place, full of quiet doom. I’ll open the trunk and unleash this body on the unsuspecting world and my nostrils and be done with it.
The king of scarecrows’ll leave a gift for the birds and the insects. Let the sun scorch him and turn him to leather. Burn him like he burned me. The crows’ll come from miles around.
I’ll spend the rest of the day, scrubbing the stink and partially digested food out of my car while a murder of crows will be tearing him apart, soaring in the swelter once they’re finished.
Sounds like heaven.
I’ve been purchasing sleep in small allotments ever since it showed up on the black market. I had heard good things about it, how it restored vitality, how it created something called dreams, how it allowed you to leave the world behind for the duration of its effect. All I could think about was finding a way to procure this illegal substance.
Eventually I did.
Soon after my first introduction into the unseemly world that brought me my first bit of sleep, I found myself going back religiously to the rundown neighborhoods, the darkened hotel stairways, just to find more, to get another fix.
I was an addict.
There were entire days where I found myself in huge cemetery worlds trying to escape some unknown terror with an exquisite dread taking root in my heart. There were other things, ephemeral in nature, that came and went as soon as they arrived. Strange things.
Some of my friends were envious, asking if I could score for them. Others were frightened by my change in character and chose not to associate with me any longer. My family became distant. I spent most of my time in sleeping galleries. Eventually those inquisitive friends that stood by my decision began to join me and we would lay about, draped all over each other, unconscious, sometimes naked, always frozen in twists of bodies and pillows and blankets.
And such was my new life.
Until the raid happened.
There’s something in the drink. Drink it anyways and climb ten flights to some stranger’s apartment. A blank face opens up and you tell them to shut their mouth much like the door. Her breathing smells stifled, a ship’s hold filled with zaftig rats and you want her teeth to dine on your ribs in a summer full of drought and trees that will not blossom.
It’s starless out as if their power is derived from all of the bastards that are present on the earth. Perhaps the bastards have gone underground. Drips and the sound of water mains and steam keep them warm while those above ground notice the stars missing and the absence of thieves and murderers and no-goodniks.
The blank face pulls into a question and the answer is a fist. There’s a fire escape out back and the rust on it swells your tongue. That drink had an iron taste. Makes your head swoon.
The window creaks, splinters rub, cut, let you see the world from a rusty cage. The indentation on your knuckle matches the gold cap tooth it came to know intimately and you wish you had more time to cultivate a relationship.
The metal rings to footsteps. The stagger fails miserably at keeping things straight and there’s a need to fall headlong over the railings, like so much garbage, like a paper airplane made out of a page torn from a bible.
Get thee behind me, Satan. and push.
So you can get to heaven with a crash.
The palm of your hands ache from all of the bites. Same with your neck. Vision blurred by the settling of dust on the creaky floor of repetition. Fingers, flushed with blood, scramble but are bound tight gaining seconds but no true distance. The wood is hard, the floor harder and the room is a package of others might.
Memory is only measured in the rasp of your throat and sensations of night. A light flickers and nothing looks right in the flashing intervals. All sideways. Saliva pooling on the left side of your face, on the floor.
Minutes can’t be measured but they can be felt as one particular itch that cannot be scratched.
Until he comes back.
What the sea wants, the sea will have.
It’s the last thing I remember the stranger saying. Everything else that was said vanished as if a dream.
I sat alone in the darkest corner of the public house and he sought me out to inflict my senses with his briny smell and whiskey-oiled tongue. He sat across from me and stared, not a drink in hand. The shadows fell around his face like a mourning veil, defining the features of his skull and turning his eyes into black pits.
His arms were crossed, the left hand covered in a black leather glove. The right hand had letters tattooed on the fingers that I could barely discern.
When he spoke, it was as if ice were being scraped away from his windpipe and there was a sense of great loss in his words. He told me that he had noticed me lowering the cigarette in my mouth to a candle to light it and how someone had perished under cold waves because of it. He advised against doing it further in so many words unless I wanted to people the ocean with corpses that had my name on their lips.
As the shadows moved in the corner, blue flickers alit in his eyes which were quickly swallowed as he moved back into the darkness. With his right hand outstretched, he leaned forward and pointed at me, drawing my attention to it. I made out the word ‘hold’ on his knuckles.
We remained in the corner and talked feverishly, minutes bleeding into hours. He never once had a drink to wet his mouth or to thaw out the chill in his voice.
A bell tolled somewhere in town and he stood to leave as if beckoned. Although I felt the touch of the grave, when offered I shook his gloved hand and knew it to be a replacement for what he had lost sometime in the past.
With that, he whispered those last words and I knew him to be a sailor lost. His seat soaked through with seawater.
No pig or rooster had kept him safe.
What the sea wants, the sea will have.
She will never let go. Pulled into her arms by riptide, crushed by her embrace until life’s blood turns to salt water, the eyes of love are the darkest blue and filled with teeth.
As I left the establishment and braved the haunted night, I whispered two words to the bloated dead and to the shipwrecks that housed them in the deep as I knew I had met one of their own.