“I think to myself that if I were to disappear into that crack, say somehow miniaturize and slip into it, the odds are good that no one would notice I was gone. No… one… would… care. In fact some, if they noticed my absence, might feel an odd, indefinable sense of relief. This is true: the world is better off with some people gone. Our lives are not all interconnected. That theory is crock. Some people truly do not need to be here.”
Bret Easton Ellis. American Psycho.
It all comes down to this: you feel like shit but you look great.
You pay the taxi driver and step onto the pavement. You can see your shoes, your legs as you walk, your hands and arms. Nothing else because your face eludes you and only exists in glass. Nothing can be touched through glass. You think for a moment whether or not you even exist but you’re thinking it so you must. You wonder whether it could be the case that you exist but the world does not. It seems plausible. Your heart begins to beat faster so you think you’d best think about something else. Maybe you created the world around you because to think about only yourself all the time would be tedious. Maybe in that sense you are god. You miss being god.
The door swings open as you push it and immediately the smell of beer and piss and the human condition hits you. You almost gag but you don’t, sniffing deep instead to pick up the distant smell of smoke. Fuck, you crave a cigarette now. In a minute. You walk over to the bar and take your coat off. You feel lighter. You let your hair down and shake it out. Immediately, three men turn to look at you. They’re pathetic. Each of them is pathetic and sad. Why else would they be here? Why would they be anywhere? It’s all pathetic. It’s all sad. Men desperate to climb and clamber back into the womb; women indulging them until their bodies give out and shrivel up.
One day you will shrivel up.
It’s already happening.
Smell that? Human stench?
You’re a part of it.
A rotting contribution.
You sit on a stool. It’s uncomfortable. Everything’s uncomfortable. You order whiskey. Why is it always whiskey? The sickly sweet smell. You’d bathe in it if you could. Maybe you will, someday. Maybe you’ll ask for your dead body to be doused in whiskey and set alight. Maybe that will get rid of the smell.
You hold the glass with one hand. You think briefly about refraction, but the low bar light turning the whiskey into gold distracts you.
Chapter 2: If you think it
“For weeks [I] thought [I[ was going to die any minute, and there were also times when [I] was afraid [I] wasn’t going to die.”
― Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream
You stare into the glass and wonder whether you really are losing your mind. Then you ask yourself whether you really even had it in the first place. You take a big sip of whiskey. It takes the edge off. You take another.
Three glasses in and your hands are starting to feel separate from you. Idle hands are the devil’s plaything and you need a fag, so you head outside the door. Stupid fucking laws. You don’t bother with your coat. The evening air is cold and you close your eyes against it. You stick a cigarette in between your lips and contemplate the meaning of oral fixation. The next thing you know a Zippo clinks open and your cigarette is lit. You look at the hand holding it, blinking your thanks, then the arm, the long white sleeve but unbuttoned at the cuff. Your eyes follow the line up to the shoulder and finally the face. You think he is attractive but his chin is too prominent and his eyes are too far apart. He smiles at you. You smile back.
He is asking for your name. Julia. His name is Charles. You think he looks more like a David. You’re not sure why you think Davids look like that but you do. He’s tall like a David, with floppy black hair and brown eyes. Like a David.
But his name is Charles.
You smoke together. He makes small talk. The weather. The laws. Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday. Westminster will be busy. She was a cunt, he says, all his friends think so. You don’t give a fuck either way about Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher came to one of your parents’ parties once. She said you had pretty eyes.
You don’t tell him this. Instead, you agree she was a divisive figure.
You don’t use the word cunt.
But you think it.
Does it count if you think it?
Chapter 3: Taking Things
“Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.”
― Richard Siken
Almost two hours later and you’re in the car with him. Let’s go back to yours, you said. My place is a mess. And he can’t believe his luck because a pretty girl is going to fuck him and it’s not even the weekend. In the taxi he touches your thigh and it occurs to you it’s only meat. It’s your meat and it will rot. Perhaps not now, but not long for now. The smell you think you can smell becomes unbearable. You open the window and he tries to kiss you. You play the tease and push him off. You’re used to this. When was the last time you did it? Yesterday? Ten years ago? You can’t remember.
For a second you catch a glimpse of a street sign and it surprises you it’s written in English, not Cyrillic. You feel like there is something you’re forgetting and it presses at the back of your mind but you cannot articulate it. You push him off again and he gives up and contents himself with squeezing your thigh. You don’t mind that. Your thigh is less personal than your face (is that because you can see your thigh, so it isn’t you?) (What if you took a saw to your thigh? What if you sawed it clean off until you couldn’t see it anymore? Would that make it more or less you?)
You’re both so sure about what you want. He wants to fuck you, you can see it in his eyes. He wants to do what all men want to do and he wants to claim your body and imagine while he’s shoving pieces of himself into your body that he’s claimed your mind too.
You want to claim his body too.
But you won’t be putting things into him.
You’ll be taking things out of him.
Chapter 4: Want To Be Pure
"I just want to be pure.”
― Jim Carroll, The Basketball Diaries
You follow him into his apartment complex. A yukka plant, resilient and overbearing, claims more space than it deserves in the corner, by the lift, which he leads you into. He slips a hand around your waist, imagining he already has you and you offer no resistance. You glance at yourself in the mirror as you ride up to the fourth floor. There’s your face. It doesn’t look like you. You don’t remember what you look like.
There is something you should remember, but you don’t. For some reason you think of cupid and his bow. You are not sure why. You look at Charles’ lips. They are thin and pressed together in anticipation. You kiss them dispassionately. They feel wrong. They’re only lips. You think about the absurdity of kissing, of opening that which you use to speak and eat and attaching it to somebody else’s. The thought makes you sick and again you smell that smell. You pull away from him even though his hand tries to pull you in again.
Open the door, you say, and he does, his keychain of the Eiffel Tower jingling against his spare keys. You wonder whether he’s been to Paris or whether that was given to him by somebody who went there. The door is opened. You step inside. He asks you to take your shoes off. The place is immaculate. You have a vision of shit smeared all over his white walls. It would serve him right.
His bookshelves are filled with books, colour coded, sorted by height. But their spines have never been cracked. He’s never read any of them. They’re all ornaments. You nod at them. I see Deleuze there, you say; what do you think of him? He’s… complex, he says. Bullshit. You hate him even more now. You want to tear out the pages of the book and decapitate him using only paper. You wonder how many paper cuts it would take to tear through his skin. You’ve never cut through a blood vessel with paper before. You have no idea what it would be like. You’re curious.
He offers you a drink. You take it. Sip. It’s Port. He is trying to impress you again. He asks whether you like it and you say you’ve had better and he looks hurt. So you kiss him again and he’s a little boy with wandering hands. You hate him so much. Him and everyone he represents. You’re not sure who he represents. Everyone who isn’t you.
If you created the world around you then you must have created him too. And if you created him then you can annihilate him. And you long so much to feel the warmth of the blood spurting out of his aorta on your hands that you take his wrist and lead him to the bedroom and he feels so lucky.
Chapter 5: Life
“Everything in the universe is everything else. A man is a killer is a saint is a monkey is a cockroach is a goldfish is a whale, and the Devil is just the angel who asked for More.”
― Craig Clevenger, Dermaphoria
You ask him to keep the lights on and he tells you you are perfect. You smile and grab his crotch. He’s hard already. He moans and you tell him to take his clothes off. His shirt gets unbuttoned, his belt loosened. He turns around to unlace his shoes. Have you ever been to Paris? You ask him. No, he replies, but I’d love to one d-
You bring a large blue vase down on his head. He collapses forward onto the bed. You open his wardrobe and come across his collection of perfectly ironed white shirts. You see his ties, all arranged by colour. You pull a few out and put them on the bed. You roll him onto his back. He’s still hard. You’re not sure whether to laugh or spit on him. You do neither. You climb on top of him and tie his wrists together, then tie him to the bed. You do the same with his ankles. You shove a pair of balled up socks into his mouth. He bleeds from the gash on his head, staining his pillow. You spend a few minutes trying to find patterns in the blood but you can’t. You conclude that to find patterns in blood you have to go to a cellular level. At a cellular level there are always patterns.
You wander over to his kitchen and open his cupboards. All his plates are white. You want to break them but it would make too much noise. You open his fridge instead and throw his full carton of milk across the room. You open the cutlery drawer and find his bread knife and his steak knives. You take one in your left hand and one in your right and you go back to the bedroom.
You’re forgetting something, but you can’t remember what.
You take your clothes off and fold them. You put on one of his shirts. You sit astride his stomach until he wakes up. Hello, you say. You smile at him. He doesn’t understand. You show him the knives. His eyes grow wide. You’re not in the mood to talk. He shouts for help but the gag absorbs the sound. You pat his head. You could assure him it would be over soon but that would be a lie. And you’re not a liar.
You take the bread knife and run it over his stomach, then dip the point into his navel. You try to cut skin but the serrated edge is useless on flesh. You should know that by now. The steak knife is a lot quicker. A scalpel would be even better but you haven’t got one. You open him up from his navel to his throat, pushing and pulling the blade as you go. It’s hard work. But you’re used to it. How long since you last did this? An hour? A lifetime? You don’t know.
He screams, feeling everything. You tell him he’s the lucky one. Most people never get to experience this. You cut into muscle. You dip your hands into the cavity and pull it open. The insides fascinate you. A perfect little machine and it is failing now. He faints. You reach forward and break his little finger to wake him up. You touch the tip of your knife to his liver. It’s slippery. He doesn’t have an appendix. Somebody’s been in here before. You feel a little let down. He screams again and you shush him. He’s being very inconsiderate now. Wetness spreads underneath him. He’s urinated. The smell is terrible, but the smell of blood is lovely. Tangy. Metallic.
You consider pulling his organs out of him but you’re not a monster. All you want is his blood. He passes out again and you don’t bother waking him back up. You puncture his lung with the tip of your knife and push past it. You find his heart, then his aorta, red and thick. You take the steak knife and cut from underneath. Blood rushes everywhere. So warm. So red. You put your hands up to it like a jet. He dies in seconds. You stay there until he stops bleeding. You don’t know how long for.
You feel alive.
Chapter 6: The Sin of Stupidity
“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
You get up. You feel the clarity returning. Humming a song, you walk into his bathroom and turn the shower on. You get in under the warm water and close your eyes. The blood washes down the drain. You don’t use any soap.
I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair,
And send him on his way…
You don’t know how long you’re standing there for. You do know you need to clean up after yourself. This is basic stuff. You can still hear Yuri’s voice in your ear, reminding you. You step out of the shower and dry yourself. You put the towel into a garbage bag. You go around the flat, throwing away everything you’ve touched. You wash the steak knife and keep it. The other knife, you clean and put back in the drawer. You wipe down the drawer. You throw away his shirt, which you were wearing. You throw away his blood-soaked ties. You put a pair of kitchen gloves on. You should have done this before. Stupid. You wipe down every surface you’ve touched. You’re there for hours, it seems. Wiping. You leave the milk on the floor. Let it spoil. You put your clothes on and look around at your tableau. There’s blood on the ceiling. This makes you laugh.
You leave the apartment. Nobody sees you leave. You walk a few streets away and hail a taxi, holding the black bag filled with clothes. You ask to go to Curzon Street. The driver asks what’s in the bag. You explain you are moving house and are getting rid of old clothes. He uses this as an opportunity to talk about his wife and how her clothes take up all their wardrobe. You let him speak. It’s background noise.
At Curzon Street, by the stump of your mother’s tree, you pour gasoline over the bag and burn it. You add some of the wood from the tree you recently cut down. It’s a small bonfire. You sit beside it and close your eyes and chain smoke. Fire cleanses everything. Everything is reduced to ash.
In a while, you get up and pour yourself a drink. You stand against the hallway arch and drink it. You remember what you had forgotten. You miss Holmes. You want to go home.
You think it’s about time you went back home. You remember the airport. You remember cigarettes and whiskey. You remember fire.
How long has it been since you last killed somebody?
A year? A second?
You don’t remember.
You go home.