She glared at the strange figure spray-painted onto the wall. The simplistic and boxy shape of a man, with legs apart in a power stance and arms out and slightly bent as though caught in an eternal shrug. The completely spherical head contained no facial features other than a big ‘X’ cross stretching from jawline to forehead. We’ve walked past this a hundred times but for some reason she has decided to engage.
She spins on her heel and her eyes are glowing amber in the fading light of a terminally ill sun. Pointing behind her into the ‘X’ she snarls, her voice bubbling out of her throat as though the words were born from the acids in her stomach. I do NOT like the way he is LOOKING at ME.
I know I cannot make it better, and trying to make things better is like trying to put out a fire with petrol just because it is a liquid and therefore the same as water. I shrug and stare up at the sky. There are no birds anymore and I miss being jealous of their freedom. When I look back, she is carving at the stone maniacally with a broken panel of glass. Blood is running down her arms from how hard she is gripping it, slashing and grinding into the stone. I can only sit and hope that the wave crashes soon enough for pain to register. To interrupt now would guarantee the loss of an ear… a tongue… two eyes and the tip of a nose….
“All women have a built-in grain of indestructibility. And men’s task has always been to make them realize it as late as possible.”
-Chris Marker Sans Soleil
I have always been fascinated by that which I do not believe. What can you know about something you already know? I delve deeply into books of the absurd – UFOs, Flat Earthers, Spontaneous Human Combustion – trying to find some common ground, a portal into another reality away from this horrible mess of cynicism, avarice and virtue. I hold out for surrealism, abstraction, perversion. All big expansive words for something so simple as the need to find my own connections, to finally slide into the freeway lane where there is nothing in front of me and I can relax. She once told me I was just a wound looking for a host, how all the best people were only there to remind everyone of the beauty of remaining alive and unblemished. If I questioned our lifestyle, she would light a cigarette and give me a look that aged her by a couple of decades, small eyes and cheek blades. She said to me; okay babe… tell me how Bukowski wrote those stories sober… tell me he had a relaxed life, and I won’t believe you.
I never really took any of this seriously until we were sat on the garden wall of the Rectory, pushing fragile needles into our pulsing ankles and waiting for the oceans to fill our lungs. As the vicar walked towards us concerned with the blood gently meandering down our shoeless feet, she pushed a pair of dildos tied into a crucifix into his face and started screaming at him. You are no better than those dogs who wait outside the offices of their dead owners. You don’t want to achieve; you just want your memory to be adored. You just want love after death. I offered her my mouth to calm things down. As she kissed me, I began to count the probable stitches I would need to reattach my bottom lip. It is only when everything wears off that I remember how much pain I am usually in.
She keeps having this recurring dream, where she has a baby in her arms suckling away until it begins to chew through her nipple, through the tissue of her breast towards her heart, finally devouring it. She tells me she can feel the pain of those little teeth like machetes through her nerves and tendons, and when her heart is consumed there is a rush of air inside her chest. She wakes up with stabbing pains and struggles to breathe.
It is all true. This evening, much like all the other evenings, I will not sleep tonight. Instead she will curl up on my feet, folding her entire body into itself. She will thrash and writhe, clawing at my leg with her dirty nails and leaving thick yellow infected streaks where I ignored any kind of medical attention. Then she comes out of the other side. After an hour or so her body sighs loudly and everything relaxes. She lies serene, softly breathing, her eyelids barely acknowledging the curious tiny insects that land on her eyelashes looking for salt.
I look across to a red painted figure of a crossed face, hacked and slashed by this maniac snoozing on my toes. I know I am tired when the figure cheerfully waves at me, and calmly walks away.