February 3, 2006 at 9:23 am #1609ArianrhodParticipant
The footfalls grind rhythmically against the cobblestones of the abandoned alley as the lone man makes his way through the city. Here, in the blessed cover of the fog, on one of the few abandoned thoroughfares of this sprawling city, he has no need for the masks and affectations that he uses when others are around. Here where no one can see him, he can cast off the farce of humanity. It is as if a great stone weight has been removed from his back.
Were there anyone about to observe, they would see that his eyes, now completely blank, dilated, and staring, barely resemble those of a live person. They lack any warmth, depth, or even life. They are the eyes of a dead man who doesn?t know any better than to stop drawing breath.
Not far now. As he reaches the end of the alley, he is forced once again into his pretender self. His eyes soften while the corners of his mouth turn up into a friendly smile. None of the passing city folk suspect, on a conscious level at least, that the well-dressed black man passing them by on the street has, in place of an actual soul, equal parts unquenchable hatred, fury, and rage.
Just another block, he thinks as he suppresses all of the infinite desires bubbling for release, just one more block. ?That one Roland,? they whisper, ?the woman in the brown dress. Take her Roland, take her into the alley and choke the life out of her.? He clenches his fists and breathes in and out; smiles to the woman as she ignorantly dodges certain doom. ?Him then Roland, that child. Who will miss that filthy beggar? There are hundreds more just like him. Take him Roland. Take him and watch him die. Watch the life leave his eyes so that they look like your own. DO IT ROLAND.? He tenses as his feet take him by the boy, sure that he won?t be able to resist this time. Before his eyes he sees, as if in slow motion, a pistol bullet crushing the boy?s forehead into paste and spraying the air behind him with the exquisite and elusive pink mist of the headshot. It is not until the little urchin tugs his trousers and lisps at him through missing front teeth, that he realizes that this is just his heart overlaying reality with its own desires, and that the boy?s head has not, in fact, just exploded before his eyes.
?Thoo-thine for you guvnor??, the child asks, ?Tax-thee cab per?aps??
?No?no leave me alone.?
There at last. It had taken him only a few short hours upon his arrival in London to find this place. His missing soul had drawn him to it. Just as the needs of his blood had found the opium district without having to look, so had the needs of his rage had taken him here.
The performance has already begun at the small concert hall at the edge of Coventry. A dowdy little cottage really when compared to the grandeur of the Royal Opera House, but to him it was a palace; a veritable fortress of sanctuary. He looks about him once to make sure no one is paying any attention to him and then ducks around the back of the building, giving no care for his stolen finery as it snags on the various thorny bushes that line the perimeter of the hall. His jacket catches on a stubborn branch, laying open his arm in the process, and refuses momentarily to pull free. He curses once before tearing the thing off and leaving it hanging on the branch, the bitter cold and his now bleeding bicep failing entirely to register with his consciousness.
Up, up, up, he goes; scaling the rose trellis nailed to the back of the hall, producing further cuts and streams of crimson from his arms. His shredded white shirt is hanging around his waist in great stained strips by the time he reaches the roof. The moment that he hauls himself bodily to the tiled covering he can feel the anger beginning to ebb from the front of his mind. The glorious music is tinkling out of the nearby chimney and he throws his head back and breathes deep of the freezing, fog-ridden air around him. Without being aware of their meaning, or even that he knows them, his lips begin to mouth the Italian words along with the female solo. The opera is apparently in town, and whether the half-naked man standing on the roof is cognizant of it or not, he has heard this one before on countless roofs of countless halls like this one in countless cities from Haiti to Moscow. He has never, to his memory, joined the masses at the actual concert. That would defeat his purposes entirely.
<Strumming my pain with your fingers?
Singing my life with your words?>
The man walks with a lightness of step and brightness of countenance that one who knows him well would not have thought him capable of bringing forth. He steps with an exaggeratedly long right leg stride and then slowly drags his left over before putting his back to the chimney and sliding down it until he is sitting on the tiles, the alien words and blaring orchestra now a constant stream of pleasure issuing forth above his head and into the night.
Slowly, and without panic, he reaches into his back pocket and removes a worn and traveled leather case from which he produces the component elements of an iron syringe. With immeasurable care, he assembles the instrument, and then lays it aside while he goes about pouring white powder onto a spoon that he has wet with some saliva. He unconsciously begins to move his head from side to side with the music as he applies a lit match to the spoon, even whistling tunelessly while it bubbles up from the heat. The match is discarded over his shoulder into the chimney and the syringe is retrieved and used to suck up the warm brown contents of the spoon, which he licks once slowly before placing it into the case and then using his free hand to tap the bubbles out of the reservoir on the hypodermic. Taking it into his right hand, he clenches his left fist, causing the scarred veins in his arm to burst out. He hovers the point a hair?s breadth away from the blood vessel, savoring the anticipation as much or more than he will actually savor the drug itself.
<I heard you sang a good song?
I heard you had a style?
And so I came to see you, and listen for a while?>
Smack! Goes the needle into the man?s vein. Down! Goes the plunger. Sloosh! Goes the drug into his bloodstream. WooOooOoobly! Go his stomach, eyes, limbs, and brain simultaneously. In that moment, there in the cold, lying half-naked on a roof in the fog, a medicine cabinet of stimuli descends upon the man and as a result, a feature even more alien to his face than a snout would appears. His teeth are bared in a genuine, ear-to-ear smile and his dead eyes get, if possible, even further from human.
The drug works quickly through his blood and soon his spinal cord begins to release a cascade of serotonin to compensate. At the same time, the cadenced vibrations of the orchestra on the chimney at his back begin to reach harmonic convergence with his own erratic brainwaves and, for a short time at least, his own mind becomes ordered and calmed and, for one blissful moment, the man realizes: He is not angry. He does not burn with a rage for which there is no cure. He sees himself at only other moment in his memory that he can remember being like that. He is once again somewhere around four years old, barely aware of his individual existence. He wakes up on a pile of straw in the corner of a room. Slowly he opens his eyes to look at the world about him. His vision is slightly blurred, as if one of his eyes is refusing to open, and this confuses him for a short moment. He moves his small hand toward his face to feel if something is wrong there and it is in that frozen instant before his tiny fingers reach and irritate an eye that is swollen nearly shut from a savage blow, that tiny fragment of time that it takes to move a hand from your side to your face, that the boy lives without his constant, and overwhelming rage.
Stranger to my eyes?>
His hand reaches the eye and he yelps and flinches from the searing pain. The bolt of ache brings it all back. It reminds the barely aware boy of every part of his existence. His mother is a whore. He does not know what that means, but at this age, he understands that it is something cruel that everyone calls her. Said mother does not, like the mothers of other children in the town, want to be a mother. He was given over, when he could walk, to the owner of the brothel in which his mother worked.
By this time, his native Haiti had been free of colonial influence for over forty years, but the island was still dominated by rich white landowners and tradesmen. Many of these rich white men had a thirst for the taste of local women. One of these men had fathered a child, though it never really occurred to the boy to wonder which one, and now he was an afterthought. An existence about which, literally, no one on the planet cared.
<Strumming my pain with your fingers?
Singing my life with your words?>
He lives again, on that roof, through the years of beatings and hunger. He again grows up with no concept of affection or family. He lives again through the neglect and the horror. He sees the young boy and he feels again the impotent rage building within him, clouding his ability to think, becoming a constant furious buzz in his head. Even the vibrating music and his redlining endocrine system strain to keep the man calm and in the moment. Desperately he searches his tortured memories for a point of tranquility. Somewhere, in the vast and empty desert of despair, he finds an oasis in another captured flash of time. He is now ten years old. From the white noise has risen The Voice. The soft and narcotic whisper of his constant rescuer and tormentor.
<Killing me softly with your song?
Killing me softly?with your song?
Telling my whole life?with your words?>
The owner of the brothel sits in a barber?s chair; his fat black face smeared with shaving cream, recently applied by the hand of the small boy. The boy stands now sharpening the straight razor at the strop on the wall and idly listening to the sweet voice?s soft advice.
?Today sweet Roland. Today is the day. No more will we sleep silently in the corner. No more shall we suffer the indignities of this life.? She tells him, ?Today you become a man. It?s sharp enough, dear one, go to him now. See? He is calling you. Go to him! Don?t let him suspect!?
?There buoy!? The owner yells, ?What do you think yoar doin over there anyway? Get over heah and shave me you ungrateful bahstad!?
?On my way, sir.? The boy says, calmly drying the razor and approaching the stool by the barber chair that he has to stand on in order to reach his job. He looks into the man?s eyes as he begins to scrape the stubble from his chin, and in them he sees a reflection of his own. Why? The boy wonders, why are his eyes so different from mine. Why do his light up? Why not me? And in that moment the volume on the noise in his head is turned up to a thunderstorm and The Voice throws off her whisper and screams in the maelstrom,
?NOW, dear one! DO IT NOW! Claim your manhood! STRIKE my love!?
And of course he does, slowly and clumsily at first; dragging the blade across the Adams apple, but soon pressing it savagely and skillfully into the soft black folds of the fat neck flesh. The man begins to flail violently, but it is far too late for anything like that. All the man can do now is choke and chortle and bleed in a great black flood onto the boy?s hands and face.
<Killing me softly?
with your song.>
The boy backs slowly away from the expired form of the man. He is shaking all over and his body is covered in gooseflesh. Stiffening the front of his tattered pants is the glory of his first erection. What to do now? Run?
?NO! Not yet, my sweet! There is another test you must pass. You know what to do, don?t you, Roland??
Yes. Yes, he tells her, I know. His trousers continue to throb, the warmth and ache reaching out in all directions to his stomach and thighs as he walks, then runs out of the anteroom and up the stairs to the block of working suites. Where is she?
?Fourth door, my love, on the left.?
That was it. She would be there. The boy calmly tries the door and finds it unlocked. As he turns the knob his back shudders from the release of pleasure chemicals from his spine.
<I felt all flush with fever?
Embarrassed by the crowd?
I felt that you found my letters?
And read each one out loud.>
He steps into the room and sees her. She is perched atop one of the men from the town. Her face turns to investigate the intrusion and her lip curls from her teeth in a disgusted snarl as she recognizes her son.
How dare you? He thinks, How dare you?! He approaches her slowly, brandishing the gore covered straight razor as he closes in. The tempest in his head is still rolling toward its climax. It blinds him until all he can see is red. The ache in his stomach and groin is now unbearable. He launches himself at his mother, grabbing her by the hair and in one sweeping slash, he cuts her open from her forehead, down her face and neck and across her chest and abdomen. With every inch of flesh that he cuts, the boy becomes geometrically more empowered.
The customer of this perishing whore sits up now, grabbing the boy by the neck and screaming epithets at him that the single-minded machine with the bloody razor does not hear. The machine calmly reverses its blade, slitting up now through the man?s thigh, groin and stomach. The newborn man is baptized in a deluge of sacramental blood. The man throws his head back and screams his birth cry to the world while his mother and her trick die at his feet.
<They prayed that you would finish?
But you just kept right on?>
Others begin to arrive at the scene of the carnage, aroused by the noise. The boy turns to greet them; the smile on his face is one of carnal lust, and adult pleasure. To me, he thinks, come to me. His head is now clear of the roaring buzz. He knows a clarity and a peace that he knows he will only be able to achieve in this way. Only by doing this can he ever calm the fury of his heart. He lets fly at the gathering crowd, sweeping his weapon in tight arcs around him.
?Stop him!? they scream.
?He?s just a kid! Christ grab him!?
?He?s too fast! Oh God!?
?Where is he? Where is he? Where – – – – ?
<Strumming their pain with your fingers?
Ending their lives with your words?>
The boy is a blur of motion around the brothel. He is in thrall of his handiwork; he is empowered by their loss. Soon there is only one person left alive in the brothel. He can hear her weeping in the closet. Everybody else is dead, or dying, but this one last life, he can hear how strong her spirit still is in the pitch of her wailing. He pulls the door open and stares at her. She is a new girl, one who was actually kind to him a time or two before she found out the hard way that she wasn?t supposed to be. She raises a hand to his cheek, sobbing and sniffing uncontrollably now.
?Roland,? she begs him, ?No?please no.?
As her soft human hand caresses his machine?s cheek the last vestiges of the boy within the man call out to spare this one. She doesn?t deserve this. But The Voice will not accept this. She turns up the volume of the chaos again.
<La-la-la-la-la-la-la! Whoah ohhhhh! La-la-la! Whoah ohhhhh! Laaa-laaa-laaa?LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!>
And that?s when he understands?just like his own life, this has nothing to do with ?deserve?. Yes, he tells her, yes I will. The razor is brought to eye level as he goes to work.
<Strumming their pain?>
Again and again he lashes out at her, taking from her that which he will never know or understand. Robbing her of something he only knows that they have and he doesn?t. Finding peace and release in the spray of her blood.
<You were taking their lives?>
When finally she falls over, bled completely out and lifeless the boy again glories in the full body shudder of pleasure. Today he is a man.
<Oh killing them softly…
with your blade…
taking their short lives…
with your hands..
Killing them softly…>
Across an ocean,
On a roof,
A grown man awakens in the cold of a London morning.
He rubs his eyes and cringes when the syringe falls out his arm.
Within his head, the buzzing begins.February 3, 2006 at 9:45 am #2127BBSTParadoxParticipant
can I swoon? I’m swooning. A great kick off on this board me thinks.. hehehe I love your stuff.February 3, 2006 at 1:30 pm #2128VEST ParadoxParticipant
Fantastic Kickoff to the game, you have certainly gathered the darkness and gloom of the time and spun a marvelous tale. I can’t think of a better post, or better poster, to take the Cherry of Greater LondonFebruary 3, 2006 at 4:28 pm #2129ArrolinParticipant
I’m in agreement with the two people above me.
Fantastic post. Really great stuff man.February 4, 2006 at 6:06 pm #2131Jeff CrowleyParticipant
That called for a moment’s pause of being in complete awestruck. That was quite a piece. The imagery and gloom and all the chaos along with it makes Roland even more (can you believe it?) complex than he seems in play. Beautiful, bloody, and beautiful.February 14, 2006 at 8:19 pm #2134Helen FollmerMember
OKay it took me forever to start reading the boards but man what an awesome treat!! I forgot how much your stuff rocks this just blew me away. I agree with everyone else it was dark and gorey and everything else I love, keep those posts coming.
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