. . . as if the shadows themselves where concrete, and threw shadows of their own, a multiplicity of shadows that threaten to crowd my mind in to insanity. So, if I whine in my sleep and you see my legs moving, you know now what I am dreaming of. I’m not a dog chasing a fox . . . The fox is chasing me, it’s a huge, unholy shadow with fangs the size of daggers. I haven’t the guts to face it, though I know that if I turn around it will simply fade away. It’s my own damned shadow I’m running from. It’s me.
I’m never going in to a natural shallow pool of water again. You’re thinking: what’s he got this time? What neurotic, crazy idea has presented itself to his addled mind, resulting in this silly resolution? It’s Humboldt, the crazy bastard, it’s the eels, man, electric fucking eels! They’re gonna get me! I’m not even goin’ near the edge, now that I know they can jump the fuck out if they want to. Shocking.
Thanks to Why Evolution is True for giving me real nightmares.
All the hordes of promises you have made dance around you, needling you. Laughing you out. Though you consider yourself a man of your word, there is no way you can fulfill them all. Circumstances prevent you. That’s your bitter fate. The woman you loved above all, the woman you promised everything, in your heart, has turned away because you couldn’t fulfill them.
You’re ready to kill yourself. You even know how. It’s easy. Just go to the red light district, get the nearest whore, allow yourself to get connected to the pimp, who certainly knows someone who can sell you a pistol and ammunition. Costly, but worth it.
A fucking gun. Your uncle, the gentlest man in the world you ever knew, taught you how to use them. He allowed you to load a 22-calibre rifle and do target practice with it; fourteen years young, you were. You saw him shoot a rattle-snake that was lying on the hood of his pickup with a pistol. Afterwards he took it apart, cleaned it, and put it back together. The pistol, not the snake. You barbecued the snake. So you know what you are about, you have a good memory. Why would I want to do this, you ask yourself, once again. Because life has no meaning for you anymore. Without that woman, it simply doesn’t matter.
You are drunk. You know you are drunk. You know that when you are drunk your feelings take the upper hand. But on the lower hand, in vino veritas, you say to yourself. Why shouldn’t you live what you feel? Or die what you feel.
And then, in the middle of the fucking night, as you sit on your balcony –smoking your second or maybe third to last cigarette, you think– a family passes by on the sidewalk below. The child in the buggy they are shoving before them is saying “papa”. Papa, papa, papa it sings, so happy, so innocent. You feel an instant glow in your heart.
So much for killing yourself, you romantic jerk, you reflect.
The power of a child.
You know, I’ve made so many right choices in my life, and so many wrong, and in the end it hardly seemed to matter. Some of the very best choices I’ve made led to hell. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, though. And there were times when I thought I was being foolish, irresponsible, maybe even just plain crazy, but I just couldn’t help myself, I had to do it… and in the end it led to wonderful things. And all of that, just the other way around.
Christ, how am I to find my way like that? No fucking system, just probabilities, possibilities… it’s enough to drive a man insane. Especially a man like me, an organized, systematic type who sees flaws in the system and wants to correct them. Correct it, for Christ’s sake, make it whole, make it make sense. As if I could correct the vagaries of life, as if life was a bloody fucking workflow. As if I could force it to be like it should.
Perhaps all that is normal, and most people just accept it and go on without a further thought. No pattern, no system, inherently flawed. Perhaps I am a stupid sick fuck because I think about it. Nevertheless I am still trying to understand it all.
It’s as if I had heard of the perfect poem in which lie all the answers I’ve been looking for. I’d always known that this poem must exist, and I climbed the hermit’s mountain to read it, only to find that some asshole has killed him and torn it to pieces. There they lie, flecked with blood, and I frantically collect them as they blow away in the wind, crying the while, because this can’t possibly be… God, the injustice of it! Blowing away in the wind! No!
What’s left is a collection of gibberish. little bits of paper with one or two words on them. Even if I manage to piece some of them together, they are incomplete. Even if I spend my entire life on it, I will never be able to make sense of it. I sit here, moving the pieces around, combining, rearranging, again and again, trying to find the right way, until I feel like dashing my head against the wall.
And all the while I have the sneaking suspicion that I am on a fool’s errand. That bastard inner voice is telling me that the man who killed the hermit was on the same mission as I am. Another crazy idiot looking for the answer. I just know that the hermit told him there is none. I just know that is why he killed him and tore it all to pieces, and that, in the end, the laugh is on me.
Gimme a drink.
The teenage years are long gone, but nevertheless your girlfriend, the woman you love above all, tells you is she ending the relationship by sending you an SMS to that effect. Nothing personal, right?
Then, crying, before you even have the chance to get miserably drunk, you spill your first glass of wine in a simple mishap, splashing it all over the table and wall. Of course, you are living in a furnished room, so neither the table nor the wall belong to you. You spend the next half an hour desperately trying to clean it up, thinking of the bill the landlord is going to present to you after he has had everything renovated. But of course there is no way to get red wine out of wallpaper, and it seems the table was never properly oiled… the stains will remain forever.
In the process of cleaning, or rather trying to clean, shortly before giving up, you tear a fingernail off on the corner of the table. You watch the blood oozing out, cursing in pain –I can’t fucking believe this!– knowing for sure that the wound will infect itself in the next days no matter how well you take care of it.
Fuck it, you say too yourself, I’ve got to get out of here. You go down to find that some fool has parked so close to the car that you can’t get in. So you have to crawl in from the passenger side, so angry that your coordination is affected. First you step in the deep puddle there, soaking your foot completely, then you slip and bang your head on the gear stick, allowing a beautiful welt to blossom across your brow.
By now you are barely in control of your rage… you are so furious that you’ve almost forgotten the sorrow that is weighing your heart down like a ton of bricks. Almost. She… she…! With a sigh that lies somewhere between relief and deadly misery you settle down in to the driver’s seat at last.
After having missed gears a couple of times, causing horrible grinding noises that make passers-by look at you curiously –how embarrassing, as if you hadn’t been driving a stick-shift for the last twenty years, for Christ’s sake– you back out of the parking space somewhat abruptly, grazing the car parked next to you. Not the car that was parked too close, which you were conscientiously trying to avoid, but of course the car on the other side. And you’re driving the car of your ex-father-in-law, a cantankerous old fellow who will simply freak when he sees the scratches on his car, the car your ex-wife kindly allowed you to use without his knowledge while he is away on vacation… this thought is stopped abruptly by you grinding the car in to the big rock behind you, the one that is so hard to avoid because it is just a bit too low for you to see it in the rear and side mirrors. The one you’ve watched others crashing in to from your balcony time and again, laughing and swearing it will never happen to you. Unconsciously you are also cursing the circumstances which force you to rely on the kindness of your ex-wife.
Motherfucker! you scream, slamming your hands against the steering wheel again and again until the bandaid comes off and the blood from your finger drips on to your new pants, which had somehow remained unscathed up to this point. Startled, you jerk your hand to the side, causing little droplets of blood to spray all over the passenger seat.
It’s then that the landlord drives up in his Porsche convertible and parks in the spot you’ve just vacated, giving you a quizzical glance as he goes by. You’re reluctantly thinking about getting out and telling him of your little mishap with the wine when your cell-phone buzzes again. It’s another SMS… And it serves you right, you lazy bastard! she writes.
You get the picture? Some days are like that.
K@k@in from Leningrad. Need I say more?
You decide to hit your head against the sink. You are very drunk, but the pain is nevertheless exquisite. You do it again, and again. She will never come back… again. Is that blood? Yes. Again. Something cracks. Is it the sink, or your head? You aren’t sure, you are extremely drunk, and the blows to your head aren’t helping either. Again. Your vision blurs… at last, you think, some results. Again. The sink cracks. The landlord will simply have to replace it. Again, again, again… again! My God, the pain! Get it done! Again! She will never come back! Again! You pass out and fall on the hard white tiles.
It was one of those cry for help things.