They've been prepping me for my first sight of it for a few weeks, now.
Robin, Val and Ross have all been very supportive. They've answered all my questions----who, what and why, and they've been patient. They know it can't be easy.
For the last two or three days (Two that I remember—it feels like it must have been three but I can't recall), they've made vain attempts to show it to me. I freaked, It wasn't their fault. I wasn't ready yet, mentally, physically, philosophically, and we'd be right on the verge and then I'd panic and they'd have to give me a shot and let me sleep awhile. They've been good. They understand.
I think I'm ready now.
All the same they've been cautious. They let me stay comfortable, allowing me to sleep in today, and Robin's been grilling me the whole time (“Are you sure you're ready for this? You know we're not going to force it on you if you don't feel you can handle it....”).
I want to. I have to. All logic points to the fact that I must. You can't live your life ignorant; you must see and understand the things that affect your life and environment. I have assured them, Robin and Valerie and the rest, that I feel this way, and they agree. I'm comfortable with the fact that they're beside me, behind me, and regardless of what happens or what I see, they give me security.
The three of them are seated around me, Val, Robin and Ross, true friends, and they're with me....”okay,” says Val, “are you all set?”
“Yes,” I tell her. “I know you've been waiting to get it over with.” She runs her hand through my hair.
“Let's not bandy,” says Robin. “Show him.” I am relaxed.
Robin and Ross show it to me---they don't make any big to-do about it. A glance between them and the the unveiling.
My first thought about seeing it face-to-face is simply, “oh.” After the second I need to take in and think about what I see, in crashes the revulsion, then fear and now I'm screaming, screaming, clawing and climbing and screaming oh Christ get it away get it away don't let it touch me---
Val is battering me now this is Val and now she's battering me smashig me and I can't believe it Jesus Val it's me, Cal, Cal, your brother oh stop hurting me and I'm fighting retreating all the while crying no and then she shrieks out, “Cal! Stop! Cal, you're clawing me! You're hurting me!” And that makes me stop because I don't want to hurt her but I'm scared as hell I can't stop screaming my legs are giving out---
“Cal!” Yells Robin. “Chill, man! We told you, it won't hurt you!”
“He can't handle it,” I hear Ross saying---now the three of them are holding me down. I'm still screaming. I can't stop. Christ oh Christ stop---”deal with it,” yells Robin. Hard love. “Deal with it, Cal! Did I stick with you this far to have you melt on me?” He slaps my face. “Deal with it!”
“Noooo,” I whimper.
“Cal,” says Val, “open your eyes.”
“I can't,” I cry. “I can't, I can't, oh please don't make me I can't take it don't make me look OH GOD NO DON'T MAKE ME---”
“Cal!” Booms Ross. “You're stronger than this! Open your eyes!”
“Open them,” says Robin.
“Christ, Robin,” harps Val, “He can't handle it! He wasn't ready!”
“Ross, force his eyes open,” says Robin, ironclad, mind made up oh Robin, you bastard, how could you betray me like this???
Robin and Ross force my eyes open; I struggle and fight and object but they outmuscle me and hold me fast.
“Oh, Cal, oh, my poor Cal,” weeps Val. “it's okay, Cal, we told you---we know it's horrible, but it won't hurt you.”
They force me to stare at it into it oh God I am afraid it's hell it's calamity---”deal with it,” shouts Robin and I try I stop struggling I stare it's inconceivable and it stares back it stares back oh my God but like they say it just stand there and.
“I'm scared,” I tell them.
“We know,” and they stroke me and touch me soft and relax their grips....
“What is it?” I wail. “Jesus. What is it?”
“What do you think it is?” Asks Ross. “It's like you, me, anybody.”
“Ross, I'm sorry,” I cry. “I know, I know, you told me, but how? Oh, God.....why? Why?”
“Sssshhhhh,” sooths Val, cuddling me, coddling me. “It's okay, it's okay.”
“You know why,” Ross tells me. He's trying not to sound impatient. “We spent almost three weeks telling you.”
“I'm sorry,” I scream.
“It's okay,” says Val. “Jesus, Ross, we all knew it was going to be hard on him!”
“I know,” grudges Ross. “I'm sorry, Cal.”
“S'okay,” I cry. “S'okay....I know.” I stare at it---at once I can't stop looking at it but at the same time I want to shut these cursed fucking eyes and never open them again. “Oh, God,” lamenting, “oh, God, it's here, isn't it? It's always been here, hasn't it?”
“Yes,” Valerie whispers, rocking me back and forth. “Sshhhhhhh.”
“It's here,” says Robin, touching my shoulder gently. “It'll always be here.”
“Oh, God,” I moan. Finally, they let me close my eyes. I feel like I've earned it.
For several days they've kept a vigil with me. Val. Robin. Ross. I can't tell them enough how grateful I am. They say they know. Helping me to cope with all this horror----I'm not sure they do know.
Today it all went wrong. They left Blake to watch me. Like Blake, of all people, has any idea what gives. Blake is a fucking bastard.
I woke up and right out of the blue there was Blake and he was pissed. He said he'd been there several days (which I found very hard to believe) and he'd had to sedate me----he had bruises on his arm and cuts and bruises on his face and said I'd done this to him.
He then locked me in there with that thing----presumably to punish me.
The only comfort I found all that time, the only thing that took the edge of my fear, was that they told me, remember, Cal, remember, no matter how scared you are, it's at least that frightened.
Ross told me, when all else fails, don't show it your fear. Fear drives it wild, agitates it. That's why it bares its teeth. Just the same, I hid my face for what must have been hours, may have been days....
Finally, Val showed up and pulled me out, thankfully. She said Blake wouldn't be coming back.
She held me. Comforted me....
It took me a long time, but I learned to accept it as a part of my life. It's been a difficult process.
Do unto, the law my sad head keeps going back over---do unto, do unto, and I cry for it and understand it----its pains, its burdens....it didn't ask to be born----none of us asks to be born, and I always have to remind myself of that. Sometimes I feel an urge to collapse on it, to throw my arms around it and beg its forgiveness, but its repugnance keeps me at arm's length....
Still, I have learned to coexist with it----sometimes I stare at it for long, bewildered hours on end. I know that's hard to believe, but I do.
And I know and I see that in its own stunted intelligence it tries to reciprocate. The way it feebly reaches out, touches back in its questing, ham-fisted way.
I think it is possessed of a brilliant, blunt, unfortunate soul; when I reach out, it stares back placidly. It almost never blinks as I run my fingers along its smooth, flat, shiny face....
Originally published in THE MOWER. Copyright 1993 C.F. Roberts, 2016 Molotov Editions