by Shawn Phillips
The foot pushes into cement, threatening to pulverize into dust. Another foot follows with the same intent. Over and over, at a hundred miles per hour. Spit crawls around the lip and streams past the cheeks. No sole in the boot anymore, no soul in the carrier. He's the madman that questions what no one dares to think about even on their darkest day. He's the spirit that rises above and desecrates himself for the higher calling. He's the heart that pumps mercury, the bone that shatters, the laugh that dies, the quest that hungers eternal. And right now he has dove into the membrane that is known as reason and passed through the other side, only because it was the right thing to do.
And the next moment he is aware, he clutches at his chest, voice raspy.
It stopped. It failed him. Not even that piece of muscle can be trusted.
He recites this mantra, and he stands up from his cardboard box. The remains of his boots are brushed away, looking like shreds of a blown tire. They still smoked in the cool rain that fell without sound. He brushed the hair back, and met the rain face first. And in that rain, the voice still called to him for release from her torment. And he was never going to stop until he did just that.
"These bricks, these girders, so fragile, but I must rely on them to find my way... find my way... must..."
Grain stood in the garbage as if just waking.
"Where am I?" He turned around, only to see the alley and homeless shelters made of refuse. "Why am I barefoot? And... and..."
Confusion, that's all anything is. And that brief moment of consciousness left just as quickly as you read this. And in its place, the resolve, the man-machine.
"A Morningstar, is here. I can taste him in the rain. Yes... the pieces fit now. I take one here," and he pulled a used feminine pad from the space in front of him. "And one here," as he stooped and picked up a crushed can of Olympia Beer. "And...." he hesitated, studying the wall. "...here," clutching a chunk of concrete wall in a mangled hand. He walked forward, searching. "Where is it? Where is it?" Yet another mantra for the puzzle as the wounds scabbed over. "There." Above he looked to the fire escapes.
He watched them fall away, there, on the top catwalk, twenty-some stories above the alley. And there, at the end of the iron path, beyond the weathered door, behind the drawn shades, within those walls, was the enemy. The pieces came together, a encrypted code that only the part of him that wasn't him knew the meaning of.
Then, he was kicking in the door, the raging fires of ancient demons that haven't been risen since Faust enveloping the wood as it burst off its hinges. In the thick, thick haze of pot and other herbs that have never touched the streets of this hemisphere, the hippie lounged in the corner. Naked bodies, complete with lazy breasts, aereolas, limp and spent cocks, and abused orifices, lay wrapped around each other littered the stained and thin carpet like a lewd sculpture in a museum of art.
The hippie just grinned in a heavy eyelid manner. Opal pipe in one hand, and lighter in the other, he took another potent drag into his breathless lungs. He set these down, and looked at the intruder.
"I was expecting you."
And then Grain was in the kitchen, his upper body forced through the refrigerator door.
"Did you think I was a weakling and a coward simply because I keep beautiful things in bondage?" He had risen from his lounging recliner and crossed the several rooms of the apartment in slow, careful steps. His stringy blonde hair was fighting the pieces of hemp that held it in a ponytail behind his head. He opened the door to the fridge and looked down at Grain's milk and blood covered head. "Oh. Dreamcatcher, you had so much to learn before you answered the call. Time to keep on truckin', 'brother'."
The door slammed repeated on Grain's head, spilling more milk and thick crimson syrup in the kitchen.
"Come on! Fucker! Suck it!"
After several minutes of crushing brain matter, the hippie stepped back, avoiding the puddle of red and white blood cells that had pooled on the tile. There were chunks of... something wading in the mixture of fluids. The hippie drew a little bit of a chubby from the sight.
"Tell the powers that be to send someone who knows who he is next time. But God, what an orgasm."
Grain stirred, reaching for something, anything solid. "The pain..."
"Oh, come on, just die and save me the trouble." He turned to shuffle back to the dead orgy. Sitting in the lounger high on his special mix and waiting for the death rattle always got him off.
Only there was no death rattle. The hippie turned only to be greeted by the old metal fridge in the teeth.
Walls cracked where he and the appliance hit. Shakes his head, cracks the neck several time, despite the vertebrae protruding out to the side, and stood, only to meet a hemoglobin-drenched nemesis and his forehead.
Grain's voice, in short bursts, spat more blood as his forehead returned the favour, shattering the skull.
Crack. Fragments of bone are shifting and slicing through above the eyebrows. He let go of the ears and let the body slump to the floor of the hallway, panting.
"Ass." It was soft, barely audible. "This will just go on back and forth. You can't kill me." And the hippie, flinching at his head trauma, struggled to stand.
"But I know your name, Morningstar."
The hippie froze. His right eye bulged from its socket. "No one knows a Morningstar's name..."
"I do." And Grain reached down for the hippie's neck, and pulled him upright, so that his ear was within a whisper's reach.
A breath later, and the hippie lay suspended in the front door, which creaked on the hinges, the splinters thrusted through his upturned, bloated and blue belly. A trail of blood, entrails and milk trickled down the steps until it thinned out to nothing.
But the voice still pleads for others, others held in bondage by the stifling of what this life has become.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Dope, Dreams and Deliverance ©2000 by veneer coffin works, ltd
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