We found ourselves along the lakeside at dawn, no sounds but the birds and the gentle words you whispered to me. You wouldn’t come with me to Boulder. Suitcases stuck in the corner of your closet that I’ve been living out of; the thought of crawling in there for another 6 months made my stomach itch with spiders. I wanted to strangle you, for the catharsis, a stress test around your neck to hear you scream because, after all, hurting you hurts me — there is one thing I can feel and I feel it beautifully. The one person I thought I wouldn’t live without has changed her dreams, and fallen asleep without me. We sit in the sod and you open your palm. No hard feelings? I want to throw my shoes in the lake, throw my cellphone and my notebooks and my wallet into the lake. I would rather destroy every last thing, shoulder a single little bag and walk heart-heavy across the plains to Boulder. I don’t want to flee; I want to brood my time in peace. I want solitude — from you and your parents, from my future, and from any responsibility. I never loved you: you put your palm back in your lap and look out at the lake. Did you hear me? No, I didn’t, fuck you. She should never have expected me to stay. I expected me to stay. We made love in the fishing boats off the docks; we drank most nights and slept long days in the hammock behind her aunt’s. We wasted weekends downtown at the cafes. We took off our skin and let each other in, and were always foolish to think I could stay. The beauty of these months we’ve spent, it was always meant to be looked back at, a memory of what was had and what we regret.
I don’t know what brought me here, I’ve awoken from a nightmare 4 years in the making and find myself strangling with a JC Penny tie around my neck. I sit in bed in the early a.m. and I don’t look at you – I don’t look at the bed or the dusty typewriter on my desk, I stare at the wall until my brain turns numb. I won’t think of it; I won’t think of us or anything at all. Willingly brain-dead the morning routine before the commute down Route 80 – neurons shriveling, a brain matter withering into the mundane hum of the skull. I find myself at work with a tire-iron bashing the hood of my car. I don’t want a Keurig or all the clothes in your closet and I will go through life with a single pair of jeans. I’ve thrown in the trash every little gift you’ve bought me. I’ve been drinking beer every evening on the drive home, just so I can stand walking into our house. I’ve blown out the speakers to heavy death metal and dreamt of wrapping the car ‘round the tree in our front yard: a windshield shattering in my face and a welcomed wave of fresh air. I want to be free of this life, from washing machines and office PC’s and the nights we sit through in silence because three years ago I choose to say I Love You. And I still do. But I can’t live with myself enslaved to shitty illusions and the delusion that plunging a career through my chest is somehow what’s best for ourselves. This morning I put our kid’s chair through the flat-screen: no more watching Sesame Street. No more watching ER dramas or those lying commercial comedies. There isn’t a single thing to laugh at here. This morning I screamed that would you please just shut your mouth, we’ll pay the god damned thieving bills when they turn the power off. There’s still a shattered refrigerator pitcher on the floor that I refuse to sweep up. There are holes in the dry-wall. I broke your precious bathroom mirror and flushed his toys down the toilet. I’ve lost it. I woke up this morning and shaved my head with a number 2. No more pompadour comb-over, this sweet rider on the storm, I woke myself up this morning and can’t see that it’ll ever come back.
Here on the roof day-drinking and we are quiet. The talk was small for the most part, and eventually when the talk began to loop ‘round to politics and the spirit world, we silenced ourselves, and gave ourselves room to think quietly. Up here on the roof day-drinking – Spring is new and Winter is old, and the cold that kept us cramped beneath blankets on the couch has turned into something refreshing and almost virile. The fresh air touches my groin. The sunlight fading near the end of a long afternoon, its grapefruit hues color the air. There is something faintly exciting about this time of day, a vague expectation of having something to do or to enjoy. Of places to go.
From up on my roof I can see the road and how it wraps the planet. Long dusty stretches of highway; rust-eaten gas stations in Michigan. Romance in Venice, let’s take a walk on the pier, and feel the anticipation of eager kissing as the lights in distant Malibu one by one come on. Finding matronly strippers at Brinkley’s in Philly, maybe later tonight around two. I could be in Denver by midday tomorrow. Brick alleys waiting to be explored in Hoboken, histories of unsung drunken melodies pitched into the ivy along Boston’s side streets. I can meet a young woman whose name is Mica and for a night pretend we’re in love. Pretend we’re in love and escape our shadows, we’ll leave them behind 1,000 miles down the road.
There is blackness shattered in the cracks of the small bare-wall room. Puke on the throw rug bought at Target left sitting for three days straight. The wracking of the nerves leaves shuddering on the bed the infant who tried to escape their fate by running for his god damned life, halfway across the continent to a city raw with beggars and transient thieves in the night. There is no woman here; there is no mother. There is nothing here but an empty desk and a waste-basket filled with ashes of a life of peace disregarded – contentment discarded, illusory harmony torn at the seams of the suit jacket and college degree: there are no Bachelor’s here, no dreams of vacations in Caribbean seas or the totalitarian pistons that deliver by degrees, the consumer success your privilege had blessed as something you could accomplish with ease.
Here there is darkness.
Synthetic Chinese amphetamines. Craigslist sex-list swapping fluids through a spectrum of genders, leaving you a hollow waste huddled on the mattress on the floor. Luckily, the internet has movies for free. What were your dreams? What did you sever the cords of the safety-net for? The map laid it all out: degree, career, marriage, a new TV and couch and color splotches to match the walls and you decided to get out. The map was well-defined. Skunked beer mixes with the spunk on your bedsheets. It’s been three days. Cold winter sunlight barely touches the floor and you’ve waned to a pallor of jaundice or piss. The hope that your parents miss you fearfully plunged down the toilet. The strange city, you immigrant; the cafes are filled with echoes and the shadows on the corner see you as the ghost. Weep out the window for the touch of a familiar hand.
Here there is darkness.
On the floor the bundle of books you backpacked ‘cross eight states, left untouched for six whole days. The paragraph you typed still up on the screen (great promise here, you tried to say), minimized behind the scenes of comedic relief that let you freeze, however momentarily, the blackness that rots through the cracks in the wall. You had peace on the map; follow the dotted-line they’ve defined as contentment. But here the darkness is allowed to seep and the oblivion of it crushes you to weep – you fool! There is nothing here past the boundary but the infinity of what you can dream and daily swallow. Fill yourself with the possibilities, you haven’t to be so hollow: These are the constellations of oblivion and they dance beyond the boundaries of their maps.
Jasper Kerkau, founder of Sudden Denouement, interviews SK Nicholas of A Journal For Damned Lovers.
The college square has no strife, early morning in clear light, students passing in quiet voices spoken to friends. This – the soporific morning hum of students abiding schedules, making their ways to class – scene comforted by the recentness of sleep and waking dreams. Students texting, drifting by on long-boards, I sit here on this bench at this particular moment watching. The breeze is cold, breaking up warmth from a low sun. The sunlight has the quality of light passing through ice, a white that shimmers gently. There is a small rack of religious pamphlets, Christian I think, two volunteers sitting near and they are quiet. Low sound of traffic sporadically passing by down the street, on the other side of the student center. The trees are bare, spindly branches; squirrels perch gnawing nuts. There is nothing in this air but the ease of passing time, keeping an eye on the train schedule as it guides us through life. This moment of stillness, isolated from the direness of political papers, the fears of the sensible and the pains of the restless. Just here, for a moment on this bench, to pass this time with a gentleness freed of stress – now there are no bills, no debts, no deadlines or reasons to fret. Sitting here in isolation of all other moments, the stillness, this fragment of time, holds no regrets, no reasons to dread – now it has no future; now it has no past. This moment removed from the fingers of time: now isolated by eternal oblivion; now forever heedless of our watches; now it is forever and now will never die.
I am the exoskeleton on the couch, the shell with six stick legs that kick with random ticks of subterranean neural sparks. The cushions here are comfortable. I can’t remember what I’ve been watching on the TV. The TV seems to be off.
There are beer bottles brown vessels empty on the coffee table glued to the finish with the stick of my ejaculate. The blankets on the couch are warm. It might be close to sunset. The real chore is counting the hours from the moment I ran out of gas.
Gas sputtered in my thorax choking sounds within the shell before the release valve (mid-point between my second set of legs) burst, and the gas burst sticky and yellow out like old motor oil. The sputtering oil ruined my carpeting.
There are insects grotesque that can survive while they’re headless, exoskeletal husks lumbering on with oil sputtering from the thorax. But the subterranean neural kicks subsist on basic instinct – it all gets very subconscious.
As the exoskeleton on the couch, bloated with self-serving pleasure I’m quite the debauch. And while I’m in this couch-pit funk something in the head continues to tink, tink, tinker away like a clock with hands that don’t move even though you can hear the ticks.
The ticks are in the bookshelf. I can hear the ticks and it isn’t the TV this is for damn sure. The ticking is in the bookshelf. My six legs spasm and kick and I am walking quickly across the couch, over the end-table, sideways on the wall around the room to the bookshelf.
There is something here I am hanging upside-down from the bookshelf’s top shelf and my mandibles pull every volume from the shelves, looking for the tick, searching for the ticks. It is here.
When the spark-plugs die the gas backs up and blows the valve. This is simple insectoid mechanics. The spark dies and the gas gets stale and that’s called motivation leaking from my abdomen. The motivation leaks liquefied intestines turn to carrion on my ruined carpeting. This is me, hollowed exoskeleton on my couch.
But the spark is there where the ticks in the bookshelf hide. It is a matter of remembering where I put the spare spark. This is me rediscovering religion in a novel I haven’t read in years and it doesn’t have a title and it doesn’t have a single chapter and the message on each page is the same as the last: It Doesn’t Matter. Be Excited Because It Doesn’t Matter Be Excited Be Excited You’re Alive.