Sunday, 12 September 2010

Doing Death


I dreamed that I had died, or that I had had sex, I can't remember. It all started when I followed a girl in her early twenties, that I knew very well, followed her into a bathroom somewhere with the intention of doing one or the other. 

Long brown hair, a black leotard tucked into sky blue drainpipes, but in such a way that you can spy soft hips exposed above the jeans because of the shape of the leotard. Teasingly and paradoxically voyeuristic. The hair is swept round to fall only over one side of the neck and expose a milkily vulnerable nape, the coy frown is shaded by the perfectly curled eyebrows, pointing to a spotless forehead. Cute little black watch, big gold south london earrings and a gap in her teeth. Cute little black tennis shoes - how confrontational - and a bum that makes everyone's legs go like jelly.

She turned her back to me and pulled down each shoulder of the leotard so that it hung by her waist. She moved further away and pressed herself against the cold tiles - all white skin against shiny black faux marble.


‘I want to have conversations that mean something, relationships that mean something, meals, movies, walks in the park, sex that means something,’ she said. ‘But I can’t explain away my passionate distaste for that, that intrusive intimacy of it all.’ She said this while twirling a loose strand of cotton around her silkily feline fingers. And so this is where it begun, how she did it, with her back turned to everything. 'And I want all this before I die.'

I regret never being able to make any sense of this, fumbling about and stumbling over unidentifiable objects in the ambiguous dark she used to create when she spoke like she did.

'Sex and death are, in my opinion, the two most inherently and inextricably linked themes in art and literature. So why not in real life? I can pretend the intimacy is foregone as long as there is sex and death. Although you must remember, of course, this is a sweeping generalisation.' 

I considered this, but again gave up after a few minutes of painful silence, accepting that I was never going to be able to understand what she was going on about. Why should the two be linked so inherently and inextricably in real life? Because she says so, it seems. Ignore the wildly unlikely. She has not killed anyone she has made love to, nor has she made love to anyone she has killed for that matter. Does she think of death during sex? The martyrdom of virginity or the sacrificed cherry lying rotting next to the fruit bowl? Dying during childbirth, Judith and Holofernes, revenge, black widows, mantises, disease, erotic asphyxiation, or even something totally unrelated - a car accident, drowning, self-immolation? The list is endless, It could be anything, and none of these. And I must remember, of course, it was a sweeping generalisation.

But then she hates the intimacy of it all, she has her back turned, yet beckons me forward. Her skin is warm and the tiles cold. She will kick me, hit me, scream at me, and as I turn to leave she will wrap both arms around my neck and drag me to the ground. What is she thinking when we fuck on the floor? What will the cleaner find in the morning - an errant pair of underwear or an arm in the bath? 


Saturday, 4 September 2010



I was once standing in front of a large mirror, but at such an angle that I wasn't able to see my reflection - rather the large expanse of empty room before me. After a while, this room began to fill with people. Sometimes one, now two or three, once even four, they all trickled steadily in and occupied chairs and tables in front of me.

An imperiously decorated carpet was pierced here and there with the indentations of the legs of quasi-rococo chairs, tobacco stained lace curtains drooped lugubriously from their rails, and a lethargic black greyhound sat with its head between its paws under a mahogany table taken by a young couple that leaned towards each other frequently to share a kiss and exchange trivially mundane sweet nothings. 

After a long while, a man approached me from across the room, and I was about to talk to him when another man behind me interrupted him. He told me he had been waiting for me, but I had never seen him before. I tried to ignore him, looking at the man in the mirror. He was tall, and I suppose once relatively good looking. Whiskery clumps of skin hung limply from high cheekbones, watery eyes sat deep in charcoal rings, a withered shadow of a human being. He hovered about on the spot, constantly changing his stance and struggling to keep his balance. He was clearly very drunk.
I was fascinated by this atrophied human being before me, but this fucking man behind wouldn't shut up. I felt every growled, alcoholic syllable find its way into my ears, my nose, the nape of my neck. He talked for what felt like hours without stopping, telling me everything. Everything I was supposed to know about, to remember. At long last, the man in the mirror held up a hand for him to stop, a hand covered in white and purple scars of varying sizes.

"What happened to your hands?" I asked.
Finally the usurper allowed the reflection an entry. "I can't help it. It's my way of making myself feel better when I'm down, sad, upset, pissed off, pissed, angry, lost, sad, very drunk, upset, and/or generally lacking in self esteem.

"I start with my hands first. I want to mutilate them the way I feel mutilated. Mutilated by whom? I don't know. That's 'the root of the problem', as they say. I enjoy the irony of the perpetrator turning on himself - the executors their own victims. These are all my problems you see; they are my mind's own conceptions, thus I deal with them. I feel better to punish myself for my own, my very own sins, - that aren't even sins.

"I just want to cut things to remind myself I'm still alive, to see the blood. Given time, the resulting scars will remind me of when I was still alive."

I interjected. "But if they are problems you yourself have created, surely you can be the one that solves them, and peacefully so, rather than by resorting to self-inflicted corporal punishment."
- "Ah you see it's not all that simple. I am like the sorcerer's apprentice; in trying to deal with one problem by cheating the system or taking shortcuts, I have created a much bigger one, one that is by now far beyond the limits of my control. I do not feel self-determining any longer, so the scars remind me of the last bastion of which I am in control of: I may have lost the mental battle, but I am still in charge of my body - the cosmetic mutilation is a reminder of who is boss, so to speak."

He is certainly logical, but recklessly so. "And turning to alcohol for, how was it that you described it earlier, ah yes - 'numbing consultation,' was one of these unsustainable and Pyrrhic shortcuts?"


"And what about other drugs? Are you on medication for anything?"
"Yes and yes, but all irrelevant. You've probably ascertained that I'm not here to muse about the past, and besides, I am tiring of this, everything."

"So why is it that you're here?" I asked, noticing at the same time that the heavy breather behind me was holding something shiny and metallic by his side.

"Why," came the reply.  "For us."