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."

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