The stink. The dark. The weight. The moment it creeps in I let it pass and I am vapor. Until it returns again. And I let it pass again. This black is comfort. Ubiquitous. Swaddling. Like a bag cinched around me. Restraining me. Restricting possible explosion. This comfort develops opposing valence when it happens to speak. I wish it wouldn’t. The fact that it whispers doesn’t help.
i wonder why they put you here?
where is here?
you’re in the singles. you must be special.
i suppose that makes you special too.
syllogisms? i should have known. i have already misled you.
i know who you are. everyone knows who you are.
who am i?
you’re the American. the cop slayer. asesino de poli.
catchy. who are you, mr special? who do you slay?
i stole a lot of money from the wrong person. then i tried to move that money through the wrong people. then I answered the wrong door. much like you, i am struggling under the weight of my own decisions.
that could be said of anyone in here. we’re not so special after all.
now, now. maybe i’m not that special. i’m rotting in here because someone—a very specific
someone—wants me rotting. you are here because everyone—aside certain people in the government—wants you dead.
you know an awful lot about me. how is it you speak such good english?
a leftover from a complex childhood.
too many riddles, special. i’m going to sleep.
you will grow lonely very quickly in here, cop slayer.
The black was here before this place. Woven in a different texture. It’s face pressed against mine like Uranus against Gaia. I was sick then. I have no idea how long I had been there although my memory of how I got there is clear. Clear as hotel mirrors. But those memories don’t linger now. And they didn’t linger then. My hands cuffed behind me. Bound to a chair. My lips cracked. My teeth loose. No sleep. I had lost weight. I had no idea if Penrose was in the next room. I had no idea of there was a next room. I had no idea if this was a place with rooms. Throughout my life I wondered how I might endure this sort of confinement. Many times and places, many scenarios and people bore odds this might happen to me. It happened to others. People I knew. People I heard about. No need to wonder anymore. I was holding my own.
I’ve always had a knack for focused resistance. Endurance is a hobby.
Then someone opened that door for the last time. Before this they had forced liquefied nutrition down my throat. Poured water over my mouth with haphazard aim. This time things changed. Removed from my chair. Dragged. A hallway. A doorway. New air. Humidity. Heat. Urban osmyrrah. The hard rug and rumble of a vehicle. Traffic. Speed. Things had changed. I shrugged the persistent time travel brought on by the jostle of the road. Bullets. Fists. Broken bones. I kicked them aside. I caressed the movement of the wheels beneath me. The darkness squirmed. The black struggled. But I held tight.
Until I couldn’t. Until it was cleaved from my grasp as if my fingers had gone with it. The light pierced deep. Burning. Cauterizing. Blood from the glare would have consoled me. The grating flame brought only anger. The gradual materialization of heads and faces hovering over me stoked my anger further. But I wouldn’t thrash. I was more than aware of the futile rewards of thrashing. I closed my eyes in an effort to reconjure the darkness.
Another chair. The cuffs rearranged through the splat. Dirt beneath my naked feet. I smelled flowers. Cleaner air but still pregnant with heat and moisture. Tropical. My closed eyes proved a delinquent replacement for the bag and I slowly allowed the light its due.
i wonder if i’m headed for the same fate as you, cop slayer.
we’re both facing oblivion, cop slayer. but i’m nagged by this feeling that maybe my fate is worse than yours. you have the luxury of staring it in the face. squaring up to it like a bull.
i on the other hand might live in fear, i think. even if i live through my sentence, life outside might be even worse. at least in here i have a reliable compass. i know the possibilities. still very dangerous but much simpler. out there, it could move on me at any moment at any time. do you know how fortunate you are, cop slayer?
fortunate? wanna know what would be fortunate? not having to listen to you equivocate things you don’t understand.
as you can see, cop slayer, you are able to tumble off to sleep at a whim while my anxiety rattles this cage. i think i’ve called it correctly. you are a most fortunate man.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
That Night Filled Mountain
episodes post daily. Paperback editions are available.
My newest novel River of Blood is available on Amazon or Apple Books.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.