This is something I have been planning to do for quite some time. I am beginning now to write a series, my very own “super hero” story.
This of course is through my own dreamings, the land scape of Night, if you will, and the characters here echo pasts of my pasts, beings of my beings. If you look carefully you may find the secrets of a man broken into word and placed in careful disarray.
I look forward to seeing how these children will save us all some day. Or will they trip like so many of the greats, upon their own humanity?
Anyhow, here are their humble beginnings. I give you the first recruit in a sequence of back stories.
I give you:
“I met a man at death’s door. The door just happened to be yours.”
Dull humming reminder on my cheek. My straight red hair swept out on the linoleum like autumn leaves on the kitchen floor. Dull to the feeling, I learned how to swallow, to steal the satisfaction from him. Which of course sometimes meant blood.
His anger, looking up at where his once well groomed hair had laid perfectly in its meticulously combed ridge, now a tangled pile, his pressed white shirt, besmirched by unsightly, nebulous, sweat stains, gathered, veining down his soft, formless chest, his gut.
I made him look repugnant, when I took in the pain, ignored the the spinning room. I would lay there in shambles, wanting to vomit and scream and cry, betrayed, as I used to. Instead I breathed it in and produced a perfect, bored, unconvinced smile.
He drew his lips back until his jaw line was skeletal. As he made me wretched so I made him, his weakness like strength turned against him.
I can’t move for the moment, but I know my blood stains his spotless floor and I constrict, clenching out like oil paint, and smear cadmium red curses no bleach on earth could dissolve.
What weapons have we who lie on floors like broken coal in the grid iron trap, never to be collected in the east?
When he was done expressing himself on my ribcage, he would walk in to the bathroom and wet his face. When he came up from the sink his expression sometimes made me laugh out loud. He made this guttural sound, I can’t even describe, like something was caught in his throat. The door would slam, the bath water ran, and he would hum that song. The same song he hummed when he organized his post marked bills, or the items in the fridge by date and letter.
He was once a mild man. Order was his law. It was the walls that kept him safe from all those things he feared. You see, my father, he didn’t know how to exist, not really. That was the biggest laugh of all. How controlled he was, how he could master anything with a formula. Life, sadly for him, does not have one of these.
He spent his time building models and putting ships in bottles, weighing numbers, organizing, creating his own equations to solve and dissolve, anything to stop him from thinking about it, life, until, of course… he met her.
She, a fiery red haired, anarchist who spit in the eye of The Man, a painter, a poet, and, according to herself, a revolutionary. After displaying a detailed painting of Nixon with Monroe’s nude body on a live television auction some problems began.
Now she needed a number crunching mad man to split mathematical atoms for her. She suddenly came down with a bad case of tax fraud, unless she could find someone who could gather up enough sense from her “books”, which could only have existed due to the chaos theory, to present in court. This would have been a systematic impossibility for anyone but my father. In the end he cleared things up for her and everyone was ordered to let bygones be bygones.
I think it must have been their differences that pulled them so close together. In some papers I found she had said ‘We were so many worlds apart that we were from the same planet’ or something like that.
She, and I guess it only could have been her, somehow brought him out into the light, without even trying. She had him seeing colors he never knew existed. He was walking outside, perhaps for the first time.
She loved for them to take pictures, her life was so fast she could barely catch it in a camera flash, she wanted to hold on just as badly as she needed to let go. There were little wallet sized portraits of her on his back, the strips from those corny booths they perpetually have in your local malls, dated Polaroids.
She thought he was hopelessly cute, a dork by every way of the word. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t understand each other in anyway, but she was one to just go with a good thing until it stopped, and for the first time in his life, so was he.
Father had never really talked about her, and I was afraid to ask, or say anything really. Most of what I knew I had gleaned from bitter fragments my dad would let loose on accident, occasionally, or crying, shut away in his room. I cherished that fragmented image of her. This matron saint I had supposed left because of the man turned monster in the wedding chamber. She became an angel in my mind that I could call out to in times of need. I could conjure her up in my mind in an instant.I had always made plans that one day I would leave this hell behind, I’d find her and we’d travel the world. Perhaps it was because of the height that I had put her on that I fell so very far.
Once, when I was hiding under my dad’s bed, I found the shoe box full of those pictures, and the paper scraps that may have been the remnants of an attempted journal. I remember thinking “who are these people?” I was shocked after I realized this elegant looking, pale, poet type was my father, then, piecing together the woman out of scraps of paper offal, my mother, my saint in the red on white dress.
I laid there in the dim light with sagging felt lining itching the back of my neck, thinking about this woman in concept, the whole situation, the strangers in that box, wondering what happened to them. They were so happy in there; their little cardboard coffin. What was it like, the happiness she brought to this home, to my father, when he once smiled and went to theme parks? I wouldn’t really know since I killed her when I was born.
The last page I read was the ending, dated the day before my birthday, the date my mother died. Only then did that severing connection incise my little mind. I stayed, uninterrupted, under that bed for almost three days, crying until I heard footsteps, and sleeping in an unending cycle of web like dreams, clutching her picture, anointing her final scriptures with tears.
I saw her face, I saw myself with the shechita blade, the long, rusted, tool that I used to take her apart, piece by piece, blood soaked dress, white feathers falling, all in the name of me. Or I saw her in the scene of that photo in front of the rollercoaster rails, sitting at a bench, father had some hot pink cotton candy and mom had a giant corn dog. They were laughing, I could hear them from inside of her belly, but I couldn’t breathe, I had to get out, I had to scratch my way out or I would die. In the end I would be standing in the gaping mess I carved out of her body and she would still be screaming while my dad tried to strangle me; a pact was made.
I should not have read that diary, not then. It revealed something I had wondered my whole life; what had I done wrong? What had I done to deserve this? I was content in thinking that my father was a monster and trying my hardest to hate him, but, when I found out what I had done… I became the monster. I was the reason. It was punishment for murdering the only thing that had ever made him happy, that made him human, and I deserved it.
I began to take my punishment then, with very little resistance, and then none at all. Whenever he felt the need, when life became too apparent and he had no one to turn to for his confusion, his disordered grief. I let him turn to me. The pain was my apology, and I screamed.
Years went by, this is simply how it was, and I became more and more a dead thing. At school there was nothing they could do to me, or say that hadn’t already been done, said, or that I said to myself. They were meaningless, everything seemed meaningless then.
I was a pain in the earth and I had only the strength for him to break me, I could only hold on enough for that. No time or interest in anything else.
The sympathy from classmates, the curiosity of teachers, they all fell through me; the hole with the converse shoes. I did what a functional human should do, I sustained my life, but I was not human any longer. I don’t think I ever can be.
Then something began to change.
I was used to my flavor of accustomed torment, I suppose, but the beatings gradually became soured. No longer a penance, it seemed, to a ruined man, a martyred mother, but a pettiness. He was far too used to his whipping boy, unattached. He began to abuse the abuse, as it were, he dropped a plate, was stuck in traffic, his boss yelled at him, he cut himself, there were a thousand reasons now to be torn and he wrote them across my flesh.
Slowly, creativity began to work in his mind, he started to scare me, and fear can have a strange effect upon a dead man.
I was awakened from a grey dream and, when I opened my necracious eyes, it seemed the pain of ten years echoed to me in the wakening, defibrillating me back from the shade of limbo. In full color came the nightmare that had been decaying the house I lived in.
Father had let things go. He was losing control, grip. His meticulous calculations, his compulsions, they had become reflex now, useless, like drawing meaning from breathing. In the crucible of the incomprehensibility that is life, and without his tower of idiosyncrasy to hide in, he went unchecked, he began to unravel like a spool on a stair case, gaining momentum with each step. I had been too withdrawn to see, too lost to call him back or to want to.
I could not recognize this place. Barely a light was shining in its electric vice, dust lay strewn upon dust, there was a rancor in the air. I heard the drone from the television in the other room, and saw the flicker of cacophonous static streaming through the dust mangled light of a cracked door.
This room was completely on its side. There was one flickering florescent tube streaming over from the wall that looked like a ceiling across from me. The ceiling over head had a book case that stood inexplicably above me in great disarray, the wood was marked and pocked. There were smudging marks on the walls around. Books lay torn and strewn upon the wall on which I was leaning.
I began to feel a deep pain in my head and abdomen, as well as many sundry frequencies of smaller burnings and piercing coldnesses scattered on my arms and back. My stomach felt cavernous.
How long had I been here in this topsy-turvy room at the dim end of a nightmare? I could not seem to recall. The dim pressure points I felt bruising on my back were old, I had been here for some time and I now recognized the sensation as the pain of too long sitting in a wooden chair, the shaped wood slanting bars and bulbous carvings trying with gravity’s strength and time’s persistence to penetrate the back of my ribs and spine. There was also a great pressure on my hands and a painfully pulled muscle that was twisting slowly from my shoulder’s odd angle; both shoulders were burning dully.
I tried to move my head which slammed instantly, with a force I’m sure was disproportionate to reality, back on to the wood of the chair.
My arms were crossed awkwardly behind the chair back, I could move my fingers but my arms and legs were completely restricted. Between my sinewy digits I felt the syrupy residue of nearly dried blood on the wall.
The wallowing sponge in my head was shifting and growing with a degrading expansion, like a reverse expanding of melting of ice.
I stilled myself a moment, I breathed, I drew in the pain until it was immaterial. The wall became a ceiling and the ceiling a wall. My teetering head sloshed over and surveyed my father’s now recognizable study, though I could not conceive the material of which its reality was made quite yet and the air was still a murky pond of confusion.
I breathed laboriously, wheezing slightly at the obstruction in my wind pipe. I coughed and wobbled and jerked like an inarticulate sack of tenderized meat, trying to reconstitute its former process of movement. I jerked my useless arms from behind the toppled chair. The fingers tingled and lay limply as I examined them to make sure they were what I thought they were.
This was my father’s study, I was on the floor, and the red streaking scrawling on my arm was from a needle whose contents were slowly diluting in my blood stream, the depths were fading. I was laying in filth on a toppled wooden chair, I pulled a small amount of a cottony material in a string that made me cough as its length was drawn from my mouth; the remnants of a gag. I rubbed my bruising throat. This was beyond mere retribution.
I began to rise in a clumsy clamoring over the coagulated pallet of my blood. He had drugged me multiple times, and gagged me. He had tried to kill me. The fog had lifted, I could see clearly, I was shuttering with alertness, and an eye watched me from the doorway. A moment later it was gone, and I heard a familiar voice humming a song with a strange dissonance fading down the creaking hall. How did it come to this?
I didn’t know what to do. My perspective had been so warped so long that I was struggling to grasp the situation clearly. Do I call someone? Do I let him kill me, a life for a life, finally? The terror was alive again, and I was small as that beaten child in memory.
I found myself hiding at first, a hellish hide and seek we’d play, where he would call for me in rage, enticed, prowling like a nightmare creature, the succor of flesh polluting him. The blood on his lips was mine, he was starved for it. The fear of the unknown, of pain, I learned these lessons anew, and knew that I had to find a way to overcome them. I could not be his wound any longer. This was wrong. Where the callus had once been, began to grow a steel resolution. The sacrifice arose from the altar and cried in defiled defiance, “no more” was the cry, “no more!”
When he came for me, I struggled for the first time in years. He did not look surprised but merely adjusted to my resistance. He stood down last time, but was it an isolated incidence? I could not see how it could be. My eyes were open now; it would never be like it was again. He was gone, I lost, and my purpose was lost, but until my path was clear, I had to fight. I had to find a way. I found the specificity of his hunger and resolved to starve him of it.
It was in the pain, his new found masochism bared its teeth. There was an equation to torture, a new endeavor for his calculations. He no longer left the house. He no longer had need to. He housed himself in the living room, where the front entrance was clearly in view. He was guarding the exit, little did he know the frivolity in that. I had nowhere to go, no reason to at that. All I knew were these walls, the only pleasure I had was the resolve in the penance that was now gone.
When I robbed him of his last pleasure, my pain, the change in him became tangible, as apparent as fangs. The back door no longer would open. It wasn’t said, but it was clearly declared that I was not to leave. Even his thinking that I would do such a thing scared me.
He was closing in from all sides. The punishment was no longer allotted to only the physical; It was the inner turmoil he sought for as well. In this kind of pain was a new pleasure and I could find no resolve.
When the electricity went, another corner had clearly been turned. He no longer held interest in television, bills did not concern him any longer, I’m sure the water wasn’t far from shutting off. It seemed his life became a trifled thought and his mind, obsessed with the meticulous, was now meticulously obsessed with me alone. The distraction from the life he did not understand was no longer the distraction from, but was the whole, me.
I had, by now, long mastered the taking and harboring of the electricity that is pain. It became like a new organ, nurtured deep within. For so long pain was all I knew, it was air. Now it was the lung that breathes, the self sustained heart pumping the life’s blood to the body that had newly discovered need.
Energy can neither be created, nor destroyed, and as for the energy within me, the result of years of rage, mine was now bottled lightening, collared flame.
I no longer slept. I sat awake in my darkened room, waiting for the door to open, wanting it to. I sensed it that night, that it all now was coming to culmination. Something was building in the air and it smelled of a charge, of blood and static. I realized, after two nights of wakeful paranoia, that this too was a part of the equation. The anticipation, the cool fear, it was all of his design. He had no plans of coming up to my room. I was caught on his computating web. I was left to the offensive for the first time.
I had for a long time now abandoned wearing clothes that exposed my scribbled flesh, the cursive scars, too many tedious questions, redundant concern, but this night I would wear only a robe, a satin bath robe that had gone neglected in a stored box marked “C”.
I lit incense in my bathroom. I baptized myself like a virgin before ritual, in the dark. As I emerged from the ivory oval of water, I noticed something peculiar… myself. A cold, white, street lamp was pouring over me from a frosted glass window, and the glowing skin caught my eye. I gazed for the first time in memory at what I was.
There had been no care taken of my body, no manicure. I was thin of self neglect. My hair was long and straight, down to my chest. I did not know how long it had been since it was cut. My face was long, my cheekbones high, eyes, evergreen with a diluting gold and smallish, my lips were full, and pink, there was a scar that divided the right side of my mouth, a flying pan came into memory, my skin was milk white where it was not black or greenish with bruising, and even whiter were the scars that I could not find a surface without. There were freckles across my nose and cheeks that betrayed a childishness, and I now realized that I was rather tall. I had always felt so insubstantial, yet there I was.
It took me a moment to notice the tear. It had passed my cheek and was itching down my neck. I saw there in the darkness of my bathroom, I now realized, a familiar face in the shadows. “Mother”, I whispered the word as a prayer to the spirit that was my reflection. I did not even know her name, my first victim.
“This is who I am”, I thought, as I gazed in resolution, not this face that some would call beautiful, that belonged to her, but these letters we wrote together upon it, the scars of forgiveness and guilt that I sent to heaven for the lives I had taken, my fathers and hers.
For a moment, as I read the brail of my flesh with my hands, I allowed myself the humanity of a single hope, the hope that somehow she knew, and somehow she forgave.
I left her there in that mirror, she did not need to see what was to come. I poured the silken, white, robe over my undernourished frame and left that oracular place with a new resolve. Purpose had found me there, the purpose to an end.
I opened my door, I felt as though I might still be glowing there in that doorway, blessed by the mother goddess. I descended the stairs with the vigilance and repose of a priestess as I entered the living room.
Let the ritual begin.
I passed the shady couch and tables in the living room. Nothing… stillness and silence only. I walked the hall, reflecting light off my skin onto the dark wood paneled walls leading to it’s room. The cave was empty.
“Shall this be a hunt then, father? Artemis and the beast?” Nothing answered me, not so much as a car passing by, not a breeze.
Was he hiding? I looked in his closet, then in the hall closet. I pushed aside the haunting coats, in darkness hanging like deflated bodies on wire. Boxes.
I glided into the kitchen adjacent to the den, drawers were open, everything was in disarray, but so was the whole house by this time, his cavern of oddly organized clutter.
I saw a hem of fabric move out of sight on the other side of the island counter, I moved toward it. He was ducking behind the island, waiting to pounce. I was going to better him. I walked slowly, stepping on the bits of bare floor around the arrayed trash and mess, then I lunged around the corner toward him like a cat upon his prey. I raised back as fast as lightening. There was a knife in my back.
I reeled around and saw the thing as I struggled with this new kind of pain. The cloth had been a mere diversion. The hair on its head was greasy, in strands like piled spider legs, it’s glasses smudged, it was squat and wore a thin tank top, its flesh was swollen and pasty, the breath I could smell was that of festering gum infection, teeth, blunt and yellow, nose thin and crooked. The expression upon its face was unearthly, the eyes were listless behind the spectacles, dead, but the rest was hungry for mutilation, eager. The contrast was up heaving to the senses. I stumbled back.
It took only a moment for my well trained constitution to react and absorb the sharp pain in my lower back. I removed the knife, a small one, it pattered to the floor as he launched at me. I side stepped, anticipating his move and pushed my hand behind his head, borrowing his inertia, and slamming his face into the wall. I heard the crack of his glasses. As he turned to face me, grinning, one of the lenses fell to the floor. He began to hum again for a moment.
He leapt forward again, hand raised in a fist. I moved to position myself around the island and my head met the sharp corner of it suddenly, I had slipped on some matter sliming the floor.
Blood leaked down my face as I tried to stand, but met a foot in my chest instead which threw me back down. He was wearing his best dress shoes which continued to pummel my chest and stomach with their narrow heads. I could not stop him. Each kick nudged my body a little further back until I was up against the other wall. He was mumbling something about a mistake, about happiness, about the things I already knew; they couldn’t hurt me.
I rolled forward quickly as he prepared another kick and knocked his only standing leg, he toppled to the ground. I stood up as he recovered, dazed, I was more emaciated then I had thought. I wheezed and coughed out some blood from something he hemorrhaged either from the blade or the kicking, I didn’t know. I leaned against the island; I saw my blood on the other wall, on the counter, pooled a little on the floor.
The room was trailing as I looked over and met a flying punch to the face; I hit the wall behind me and fell to the counter to my right, breathing deeply. Pain in my head. I had to get it together. I closed my eyes for a moment and drew in the pain with a breath.
Something inside of me broke. A thresh hold had been reached, and pulsating hot pushed out from my core, a white burning cold. My body tingled as my brain correlated each scar on my body. A thousand instances of destruction poured over my eyes. A fist, a pan, a stick, the small table, a thousand pummeling noises, screams of rage, and then a silence so deep it quieted the past and a future spread its wings and sang.
The creature that was my father was standing right where he had been. Even he sensed something give in the atmosphere. I stood up straight in the calm of the moment, my robe fell away like water, and I stepped one foot forward into the light and smiled, at peace. He screeched and fell back onto the pillar that stands between the living room and kitchen.
“Oh god… my angel” he croaked out, “forgive me, forgive me.”
I raised my hands to my side. “Years of forgiveness I have for you. Let it fill you.”
The first scar he ever gave me, on my forehead, opened across with the sound of something swift through air. In unison his forehead opened. The second, on the right side of my ribs, opened for him, the bone cracked. He bent over in pain.
“What are you doing to me!?” he screamed, two scratch marks ripped across his cheek, his head went to the side with the force of them.
“Sharing your love, father.” As I said this he lost breath as his lips split wide open on the right side.
As I spoke I tasted it. “You loved her so much. Each new wound was an expression of that devotion. I want to give that to you.”
Like the tearing of fabric, eight new lashes arrayed on his back, stomach and arms; blood trailed down in stripes, wide to thin.
“I remember” I said, reminiscing, “this one, it’s special.” I traced the scar as it opened from my right shoulder down to my lower left ribcage, he grimaced in pain. “That’s when I learned of her birthday.”
“And this one… an anniversary present.” Crimson flowers bloomed in rows as he cried and sobbed.
He looked over the room in desperation like a rat in a filling pool. He finally settled on the front door, so close, and ran.
He passed the table next to the couch. He reached the coffee table, mid-room, and fell screaming to the ground. I limped over to him. My once broken ankle had cracked once again. He was crying and hissing on the floor.
“I pity you.” I said “Look what you’ve become. Once a proud man, a grieving genius, reduced to a simple creature, a glutton, wallowing in his own filth and shame.”
He screamed at varying decibels, a few more small condolences I gifted him.
“Those were accidents… pointless, frivolous, accidents. You changed, you stole my meaning away.” I leaned down over him, blood dripping from my wounds into his. He spat and winced as he backed away and sat up next to the door that he no longer had any hope of leaving from.
“I’ll do anything. Please.” He was dribbling, he clearly did not understand. “You’re my son, Ner-“ he wretched as a seam opened, crossing over other wounds on his right side.
“No, creature. You will not put my name in your vile mouth. That is mine. The pain, the pain we can share.” I stood up, and raised my hands, blood, dripping like ruby beads from my arms, trailed down like bejeweled wings of crimson rain.
The tearing and rending continued, I gave him penance, I could not hear his crying any more, though surely he was.
The familiar warmth of pain ran all over and around me. I was pain. I smiled down on him, now a mass of red ribbons. I stepped into the light, toward him and his eyes widened, dazed, as light refracted off of red on white, glistening like nothing of heaven or earth.
“My angel, you came back… you came back…”
“Yes, your angel is here. Let her lead you to peace.” I took the butcher knife I had brought from the kitchen and wrote my first words upon myself, my very own, across my neck. He didn’t move or wince as I sat down beside him, a synchronized slaughter.
“My angel”, he whispered low, “My Carolyn…”
I smiled as I collapsed in his arms, drifting to slumber with my mother’s name, and all my dreams of heaven were Carolyn.
– – – – –
I awoke this morning from a beautiful dream, quite surprised to have done so. I was in a sterile room, with plastic curtains. Everything was white but the man leaning in the corner, he was black, an ink stain on the tender, white room.
My movement was constricted, I looked at my hands and arms. My entire body, in fact, was wrapped in soft gauze, I was bandaged and stitched, and doped, I’m sure.
“I am Pain.” I said in half delirium. He nodded slowly, as if he already knew.
He said one thing then, and hearing his voice, I knew I had heard it before… in my dreams, or perhaps in the dreams I will have.
“Knock, and the door shall be opened to you.”