My head goes dervish derby and the music takes me to a sad, mourning, world-anchored bittersweet look back in sadness euphoria...in these throes of wounded despair I wish to tear my flesh off, break the indifferent membrane of this dirty, unjust coil, to go where it doesn't matter, won't matter, ever.....
In dreamland I see it again, head on, dead on, the image, blood creating a new and growing and altogether damp and sticky world on earthly, mundane floral pattern velvet and I am a sprawled mannequin, naked, pale, in a frozen, silent, muted scream---statue of drained human ash remnant, leftover, trash----my wrists hold the one semblance of a lifething as they sore and ooze and bubble---the twin, ragged, furious maws grieve aloud---bashed, mangled life ebbs away from them, still wet and blackcrimson and raging as they seem, the clutch of life would still appear to be upon them----
-----Music is playing closing out the slothful ignorant parchment world and my dark is a crazyquilt of mauled emotion; I'm huddled, manfetus, on this carpet and I'm rocking like precision machinery and somewhere in the haunted back, the pain attic, I know I'm crying---I can't stop---retreating into my nucleus, loser again—failure again—the worst man again—booby prizer tot of the Easter Egg Hunt again and I cannot change it, cannot steer it in my direction it won't end---
---I unkrinkle my body and try to heave it into a semi-upright position---I open my eyes and stare---the first time with open eyes in a sea or so; it takes nothing to focus as if I've been accustomed to the dark---I stare at the corner of my room---the space of white (now gray) wall between my closet and my bureaub and it's there, confronting me, glaring back eyeless shapeless but it's intent on me....
The black thing. I can't make it out—an object, a blotch, there sitting, facing me---what is it? Black----so deeply black it eclipses everything, like a cavity in the world that threatens to swallow everything, everyone----
The black thing sits, stationary, immobile, looking at me----a penetrator, a cancer that poked, violating, thunder, raping this world and it is intent on me, this abomination......I can't look anymore.....
I fold up, enclose, and shut my eyes, wrap my arms around my head and pray for the black thing to leave me. The music merrygorounds again and again---I need it now to blot out the beckoning, the whisper of the black thing. Sick. I throw up on the floor. I keep my eyes shut and I try in my mind to crumble into coal, to unwant, to invincibility so that the black thing will leave me alone----
At an ageless time I awaken. The stench of my vomit is incredible and my displaced head feels like a racetrack-----the black thing is gone, it has vacated the corner. That's an empty worldsmile---I know with my deep downest that it will return come nightfall to torment me----
Running, now, downtown in the cold and the laugh of the springsummer electric Coke commercial dirt---people laughing and squinting phase in and out of my tear bleared vision---nine beers plus what the hell ever and I can't walk a straight line, I can't stop, the Janeharrow is whittling at my insides---I can't go home; I have to escape the night sit solitude in my fetal crawl and the gloom and the close and the silent threat and stare and point of the black thing, the new intruder in my house.....
Outside is a teetering carnival full of jeering clowns---Emmett Kelly in shadow and cigar and shitstain and laughing, ballyhooing fat ladies, circus renegades with pissed-on flower sundresses all bleached and worn---pukes and pugs congeal and clot on corners, playing King of the Mountain for bleachy-headed, gum-snapping ragamuffin dumpster porn angels; yowling, smearingunshaven,, toothless phantoms rove by like obstacles on a hellish, nocturnal sideways funhouse distortion mirror drivers' course----they haunt me and chastise me and in the blunt of my blur and my desperation I throttle among them away as they come too close----
---the sidewalk, pissing and shitting, discarded journal rags blow by me and it's all a sewer, a sewer carnival and every fifth girl I bump into is a Janething, a giggling, mocking counterfeit Jane, a worm in the mold and disease of the rubble of that harsh dynasty---the haves, the have-nots, the you-can't-haves, the golden chalice in chains, the shut-in angels, away, Tantalus, the little Janes, the inescapable crush of sorrow, of madness, of hell, of hurt, and it won't stop, it won't stop----
Cal Kelly the remnant crashes, flaming to earth all ashen and ruined, uuuuuuuhhhhh, I cry aloud, uuuuuuuuhhhhh, no more, no more, oh, God please no more and I die and my stomach twists and needles up as I fall, teeth clamping down---I cry, I taste blood, I smash my chin on the cement...all around me the gleeing, sneering, roving outdoor den of shambling garbage people point and laugh at this new spectacle---wiping my chin I turn on them. “You don't know,” I roar and my voice is fragmented, teetering out of an even tone, a bellowing, cracked trumpet, “none of you, not one of you fucks know, goddammit, Confucius say no problem, but there is a big problem, a big problem, and it's right here!” I stumble to my feet and I mime throwing rocks at them, all the plaster-faced, sniggering multitudes. “I look around at all of you and there's nothing, just nothing!” I shrug my shoulders cartoonish and bigfoot, and then I start screaming again. “For the five fuckingb card games you win some sad son loses every godforsaken day of his life, damn you all, and this, and THIS sorry opus is the bare-assed crux of it all----who did you forget? No, don't tell me....ask yourself! What about the forgotten ones?!” Dull faces stare back----this is the downtown zoo and more and more I realize I am the panda bear. “She forgot me,” I cry, hands extended, “I am forgotten.”
They are frozen, uncomprehending----I give up. Zero. Gone. I turn and shun their dumb scrape of skeetch this, chillun and I look at the stairs, the classical, elegant rough bludgeoned railed cement tower thing, the walkway I cut my burning, babbling, grieving head on---the stoop is scopeful, architectural refinement and it leads into the church. I stumble up those stairs and halfway to the summit I crash splintering to my wobbly knees scuff scrape and bleed cold scorches like ropeskip asphalt mishap child-manhood---I crawl to the entrance and I'm muttering every spare despair desperate litany left at my disposal....the church's dim innards loom, the towering stained glass robular Sunday School legend hero designs and a hunched, shawled womanthing putters around inside, painstakingly setting ablaze a network of candles, all solemnly peeping hotlight in a tangled assortment of twisting candelabrum; each candle, each atom of twilight fire represents a Saint, from booming Saints like Anthony and Joseph and John and Jude (of that Novena fame) and Christopher and Patrick and Valentine all in their congregation with obscure Saints----the Saint of mottled flesh, the patron Saint of the nearsighted, the Patron Saint of Zydeco music, the Patron Saint of nose hairs, all in a holy jumble and I'm peaking, summitting and I'm creeping for the Jesusholy refuge sanctuary cavern and now the Priest, Father Ironclad, Padre McVictory, arrives in his robes of glory and rebukes me.
“Sorry, buddy,” he rasps, “we're closed an' we don't take vagrants.”
“I'm lost,” I squall. “I'm God's Children!”
“Want a medal?” The Priest snarls. He slams the Cathedral doors in my face and I hear the lock click into mechanical intercourse with itself---the Heavenly Host booms in boundless celebration and I watch the iron entryway solidify, become inaccessible, before my eyes.......
Copyright 1991 C.F. Roberts/2015 Molotov Editions
I went about this kinda in reverse, or roundways, mostly because it's my fuckin' blog, and I can if I want. HELLO, UGLY was actually the first Walk, and I wanted to craft a kind of Dark Night of the Soul where you're literally with this kid every step of the way as his already-precariously-balanced cheese is sliding off his cracker.
The Walk in THE EASTER EGG HUNT is a nervous breakdown on paper....to me all of these bust down into a sequence kind of like the Stations of the Cross----that, of course, is my lapsed Catholicism at work.....and the Catholicism in THE EASTER EGG HUNT is pretty overt. Some of that is, yeah----obviously a Kerouac ripoff-----but you can take the boy out of the church-----can you ever really take the church out of the boy? Well, maybe, if you have a good scalpel.....I don't know if I was following a conscious motif at that point with the Walks, but it was definitely there......
When I wrote “The Walk” in '93 or '94 I knew exactly what I was doing and it was kind of a “Meta” piece where I was going through my usual messed up pathology and at this point I could break down the nuts and bolts of my pathology and tell you exactly what the ingredients were.
I wrote several Walks throughout the '90s somewhat similar to the ones I've posted in this little run. Another story I wrote around that time, “Shark's Fin Slices”(title taken from a line in The Birthday Party's “Six-Inch Gold Blade”) was very similar in tone and theme to “The Walk”----in fact, the line in “The Walk”, Not a bloody lot in the whole sad world, you saviors you liberators you hawkish mawkish regulators can preserve me from THE WALK---also appeared in “Shark's Fin Slices”, which probably tells you I have some trouble telling the two stories apart, but they share lots of similarities.
Another big early Walk was in a short story called “The Night is for Lovers” (The granddaddy of all my Guy Who Can't Get Laid stories), which was actually based around this semi-spoken word piece I did with the S.E. Apocalypse Krew. As a spoken word piece it was my knee-jerk reaction to codependency and dysfunction. The story, which was from 1990 or so, concerned a socially awkward office drone who gets passed up for a promotion in favor of a more extroverted, charismatic co-worker. To belabor the point, the latter also nabs the protagonist's longtime office crush. The character goes off on his own brief Dark Night of the Soul, which culminates in him watching some random couple engaging in a stupid, codependent squabble. He concludes, “I'll never be a part of any bullshit like that,” and he goes off, ominously enough, “into darkness”, and that's the end of the story----the note probably suggesting he might go postal or become a serial killer or something to that effect----in reality, using today's Johnny-on-the-Trend vernacular, he probably goes on to become an MRA, or a MGTOW, or a TFLer, or some other such asshole like that. In short, he's a lonely asshole who's very hung up on being a lonely asshole. And he will probably die a lonely asshole.
I released “The Night is for Lovers” as a longish chapbook on Shockbox Press. As far as short stories go it was kinda lengthy and way above the word count of what most publications were accepting for short stories. And again, it was my press----I was gonna do whatever the fuck I wanted. That was the inaugural year for Shockbox Press---I released THE MASSACRE ANNEX and BOTTOM LEVEL the same year, both of which got a better reception than TNIFL. Oh, well.
If I were to write another Walk in the future my goal would probably be to construct it very tightly around a Stations of the Cross motif and I'd probably model the various segments around the individual stations. I've got no immediate plans to do that, but it's a neat literary trope that might bear repeating in some form or fashion if the right piece of writing calls for it.