Rain is pounding on the cobblestones of Place Luxembourg as people cluster to the bars around the square for an after work drink. Colorful umbrellas alternate with newspapers hastily turned into makeshift headgear and the occasional “Merde!” can be heard when a passing car splashes water on a pedestrian.
It’s three feet farther to hell from New Town Bridge. The city recently installed an eighteen-inch “safety” extension to the pedestrian rail. Since it opened in 1978, at least twenty persons have jumped off the ugly gray span and found death waiting two-hundred feet below in the beckoning Philo Bay Narrows. Northern seas swiftly kill the pain; and when that comforting certainty outweighs the threat of damnation, I don’t see another foot and a half up, and down, getting in the way.
The scene is set on the top floor of an old greystone apartment in Chicago’s North Side, the windows of which look out to a black Lake Michigan. Two plates sit on a pub table. One is cleaned and on the other half a pasta portion remains. The diners have taken the wine to the couch, where they are presently reposed; John with his feet up on the coffee table, Lauren with her legs across his lap, her head on a pillow on the far side. Sinatra plays faintly from a speaker, about the same volume as the crackling fire across them. John reads and Lauren thinks. But then….
“Have we got any biscuits? I’m feeling a bit peckish”
“You’re not peckish, you’ve only just had lunch. You’re just bored; you know you don’t like it when it’s too quiet in the factory”
Well now here’s a favourite – Leila has been hi-jacked by Nik’s wonderful character Stormcrow – I reckon he either sweet-talked her or knocked her over with a feather – anyway this is what she said.
Here we are at Week 211.
I have had a bit of inspiration on my topics for this post.
Instead of me spouting my usual inane shite, I do have some more technical aspects to discuss.
There is no such thing as mundane disbelief on the wretched, glittering streets of New Orleans. No doubt lives among the connoisseurs of gin and light. No hesitation hides behind distorted Mardi Gras masks, only creatures moving lithely through the crowd of wayward travelers. The city breathes in a cacophony of sound. Even the steel factory rattles distantly, like a drum beat. Yet, as Thomas O’Clery stood in the braking trolley car, inhaling the piss and bourbon stench of the city, he felt only a cold numbness. Neither the driverless carriages, or the preternatural weight of hot summer jazz, like a voodoo queen’s curse, could frighten or arouse him. Not anymore.
Beachum stops at the Bi Lo to get his latest prescription filled. While he’s waiting he looks for something to kill the cat, some kind of poison. He looks up and down the aisles. It appears that grocery stores do not carry poison anymore.
“Where would I find the poison?” he asks the pharmacist
“What kind of poison are you looking for?” asks the pharmacist. He acts as if the mere contemplation of such a question has given him indigestion.
“Something that will kill a cat.”
The pharmacist sighs. “There are many things that will kill a cat,” he says stapling a sheaf of instructions and disclaimers six inches thick to the bag containing Beachum’s prescription that no one, least of all old Beachum, will ever read.
“Can you recommend something?”
The pharmacist shakes his head sadly. “No,” he says.
Nineteen is the number of times I stabbed my father. One in each forearm, shoulder, thigh, calves. Neck back stomach balls. Between two ribs the knife plunged and pierced one lung, two, and caught on a shard of bone, a tendon shred. Wrench tug free. I’d pictured each puncture in detail one by one. Not over and over on loop like some freak but while waiting for the bus or falling asleep I thought about the order of it, in and out and back in, the quiet shrill of it. Muscle rip against blade, bone scrape against metal.
I first saw the sculpture about a month ago, walking to the Cumberland Farms with Matt to get beer and some papers. It was shimmering under the late day’s sun in the back of a fenced-in yard. Even from a distance, I could see the long spindly legs of the black metal spider clinging to the delicate netting of its web, waiting for prey. I was mesmerized.