Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Art of Blindness: Part 4

(Part Three)

The Man found that he could sit up, and Chim still hadn’t returned.  The strange spread of sensation he’d felt before, just before Chim had burst in and beat him, had started again not long before Chim left.  When the tingle reached the point at which Chim had stopped it, it gained momentum, a painful one that turned the tingle into a scoring of forks across his body, as if there were now dozens of Chims in the room, more polite and sophisticated than the original, ones who used silverware.  This made the Man scream a little.  And he didn’t hold back, wasn’t able to hold back, and didn’t want to anyway.  Let Chim get an earful, if he was nearby, but the Man didn’t think he was.  He thought Chim would probably be gone a good while.
The pain became wonderful, and at some point, with each contortion of his body, with each stretch of his muscles, with each dull blade and rusty poker that was rammed through his guts, the Man began to laugh.  He screamed laughter.  His body flipped to its side, and he marveled at the queasy rippling in his stomach, the rhythmic rippling of the muscles in his face as he broke out in a sweat.  And he wondered at that, too, at the hot-cool beading he felt along his forehead.  He reached a shaking hand up to his face and wiped the sweat away, and he felt it wet on his fingers.  And he let his fingers travel down his face, feeling it again, remembering what he probably looked like, feeling that amazing, nearly forgotten revulsion as the sandpaper surface of his eyeballs rubbed against his fingertips.
Suddenly he sat up, like a drunk man in bed who suddenly realizes he needs to vomit.  He sat there in the sudden silence, his laughter and screams gone, cut off, and he just sat there and shook.  How sick am I? he wondered.  Pretty sick, it would appear.  Something was leaking from his mouth and he wiped it away.  It was thick, whatever it was.  He smeared it from his hand onto the floor next to him.  Then he scratched his head.  His head, he realized,, was moving, moving like it belonged to a functioning human who wanted to look around a room, see where he was, figure out what was going on.  This made him laugh again, a little.  What a strange thing to do.  Had he ever done that before?  He didn’t think so.
The floor was hard and warm beneath him.  His body had heated it.  He’d never really felt the floor before.  He felt it now with his hands, stroking it, touching it in the loving way he thought he should, after being without the sense for so long, but he couldn’t seem to muster up much affection for it.  However, the floor had been pretty indifferent and uncaring during these recent horrors.  It just lay there like a board while some wheezing madman had tried to eat the Man alive and sell his eyes.  Fuck it.
But he could still feel the floor under him, and his legs could move along it.  He could slide one leg so that one knee was cocked out to the side, and his leg now lay in a triangle.  And that other leg, he could bend that one so that it was also a triangle, but this triangle pointed up to the ceiling.  He could sit there like that for a bit.  It was only a couple of seconds sit there like that for a bit.  It was only a couple of seconds before he found that he could also put his knuckles against the floor, and press down, while pressing down with his legs, as well.  And he found that by doing this he could stand up.  So he stood there, and now he did throw up, bent over and let out nothing but bile, sour and scorching, somehow making him think of what it must be like to drink, and then vomit out, gasoline.  It was thick and disgusting.  It didn’t splash against the floor, but seemed to flop down like syrup.  The sound made him want to throw up again, but he had nothing left.  So his stomach and throat kept pushing and pulling, trying to rip something else out of him, but only air came out, and after a while not even that.  He was able to stand up straight again.  He felt clean, despite the itching pain up and down his chest, stomach, and legs.  That pain felt washed.
And he brought his arms up, hands out, and he groped like a blind man until he felt the wall on his right.  This wall would turn into a door, and he moved along it until he found himself walking on wet wood, soaked through with melted snow, and his hands roamed over the door frame and onto the battered surface of the door itself.  If he ran his hand quickly down the door, his palm would come away full of splinters.  So his hands went down slowly until the touched something round and hard, made of metal, something that turned in his hand with glorious ease.  The door opened.  He stood in the doorway, naked and covered in dried blood and scabs.  Slowly, he walked out of Chim’s home.  It was terribly, terribly cold outside.
 *  *  *  *
“How come Deuryde ain’t here tonight?” Chim asked.
He was drunk and had been for a while, and he had already asked this question many times.  But he hadn’t asked this man, this short fat man whose own eyeglasses, when compared to Chim’s own monstrous pair, looked like a pair of microsope lenses.  And there seemed to be no arms for the man’s frames; the glasses just sat there on his thick nose.
“You ask me something?” the man asked.  He has just come from Bozz’s back rooms, slipped behind the bar, and was now rummaging for something in one of the squat refrigerators they kept back there.  The bartender had already fielded this question, and he stood well away from Chim and the new man.
“Yeah,” Chim said.  “You Bozz?”
“Yeah, I’m Bozz.  You’re Chim.  You gotta ask who I am?”
“No, I know you’re Bozz.  Hi, Bozz.”
“Hi, Chim.  You bring money tonight?”        
“Always got money.”
“You’re puttin’ it away good.”
“You want me t’take it somewheres else?  I, there’s a place, there’s bars I could go to.  That’d not ask me.  If I brought money.  You know, I put, I spend good money here.  You gotta treat me like I’m some fuckin’ guy, some poor, no, some poor fuckin’, that I won’t pay for my – “
“Chim,” Bozz broke in, “I shouldn’a asked.  I know you can pay.”
“You don’t know shit,” Chim shook his head.  “How, how’m, who am I to you?  I’m nothin’ to you.  Just for drinks, er, for money.  I’m…where’s Deuryde tonight?”
“It’s her night off,” said Bozz.
“God, wul, shit.  I’m – “
“Christ almighty, Chim, how long you been here?  You’re wrecked.”
“I’un know.  Where’sa clock?”
But now Bozz ignored him and turned to the bartender.  The bartender shrugged.
“You got any lemons out here?” Bozz asked him.
“Yes,” Bozz said, sighing.  “Lemons.  Are there any?”
“Yeah,” the bartender said.  “Well, I think.  Someone need a lemon?”
“No, well, I got, back in my office.  She suddenly wants lemon in her – “
“Who?” Chim piped up.  He’d been staring through slits at the two men talking.
“What?” Bozz asked.
“Who wants lemon?  Is she back there?  Is Deuryde back there?”
“No, you numbskull,” the bartender barked.  “It’s her fucking night off.  How many times we gotta tell you?”
“Oh, but – “ Chim stopped, looking over the rim of his glass at nothing.  “Is…”
“Where’re the lemons?” Bozz demanded.
“Refrigerator,” said the bartender.
“Thanks, genius.  Where in the refrigerator?  Which refrigerator?  I been in and outta there half a dozen times already.”
“Lemme see your phone,” Chim said, and he held his hand out.
Bozz looked away from the refrigerator.
“For what?”
“I wanna call Deuryde.”
“What?  No.”
“No, I think she really wants me to call her, probably.  God, lemme have the phone.”
“No.  You ain’t callin’ Deuryde.  You don’t even know her number.”
“Well, tell it to me.”
“No,” Bozz said, laughing now.  The bartender was trying to find the lemons.
“She should be down here,” Chim said.  “It oughtta be me’n her down here, an’ she should be – “
“Oh,” said Bozz.  “You’re in love, are you?  You fuck her yet?”
“She should be what?” the bartender asked, smiling.  “Suckin’ your dick?”
Chim glared at the two men.  He had something to say about Deuryde, and somehow these two men had just stolen it from him.  It was gone completely.  A fully formed thought, emotion, in his mind, and he couldn’t make his drunken mouth tell it.  Now these men had somehow just knocked his head empty.  All he could do was stare at them.
Apparently aware that he’d made Chim angry, the bartender reached out for his glass.
“You need a fresh one?” he asked.
“I’m goin’ home,” Chim said, slowly.  His forehead felt numb.  His lips were slack.
“Okay,” Bozz said.  “Let’s see that money.”
Chim leaned far to the left, digging his hand into his back pocket.  He was close to falling off his stool.  He pulled out his money, every last bit he’d been able to find in his house just before leaving the Man alone.  He put the money on the bar.
“That enough?” he asked.
The bartender rifled through it and smiled at Bozz.
“Yeah, that’ll just about do’er,” Bozz said.  “Good man, Chim.”
Chim eased himself off the stool and staggered a few steps towards the front door of the bar, which was all the way over there.  The room, of course, was spinning.  It had never done this before, but Chim had always though that this was the way it should be.  The room, rotating slowly around the center, around where Deuryde stood.  And now it seemed to be doing that, but the door never moved.  It was still there, just like that, a sharp black rectangle, and he kept moving towards it.  Then he stopped, turned around, and said, “Tell Deuryde I called.”
“Yeah, we will,” Bozz said, grinning.
“Okay.  Thank you, Bozz.”
And he made his way back to the door again, and he pushed through into the coldness and stood there shivering, the alcohol and his great black coat doing nothing for him.
 *  *  *  *
In some ways, this is a marvelous world [Blue Baby wrote]That anybody can find something to enthrall them in the midst of all this uselessness and idiocy could almost be called a miracle, if one merely looked at things briefly and with blunt vision.  People everywhere are fascinated, mesmerized.  They find things and activities interesting.  How nice, the spoon-eyed would say.  How pleasant.  Yet with only the barest filing down of the senses we see that everyone is engaging in acts of cannibalism, that the world and its people coil back on themselves like Ourboros, devouring themselves into infinity.  People are made pop-eyed by their own banality.  They water a flower, and day after day after day collapses and dies until finally a few petals creak open and suddenly something useful, something interesting, has been accomplished.  Or so the gardener tells himself.  Of course, in reality, nothing has been accomplished.  Even if properly cared for, that flower will die quickly.  The gardener has merely channeled the strangely energetic oafishness of himself and his life into a physical act of worthlessness.  So the gardener finds the fact that he is Nothing interesting.  He celebrates it, and pretends to be unaware of the dark ritual he is performing.  He is too busy amusing himself with his interests.
            So how is it possible that this world is sometimes such a marvelous place?  One need simply have a day of such exquisiteness as I have just had to understand.  And this perfect day will never be forgotten by me, as it has offered up the materials for my masterpiece.  This world’s two most profound and abundant qualities, blindness and banality, have been handed to me in their purest forms.  Before me, on my desk, sits Man Rising, a squalid, unbelievably cheap lump of sugar.  I erase the name given to this still-born creature, having only barely remembered the title long enough to write it down here and I re-christen it Idiot’s Idol.  The title’s assonance is predictable, and it is perhaps even a worse name than the one I wiped away, but that hardly matters.  I call it Idiot’s Idol merely so I can properly laugh at it before I really get down to business.  For that business I need Blindness, the eyes of Io, and right now I do not have them.  They exist, I have seen them.  They have been promised to me.  But I do not have them in my hands right now.  It is perhaps the anxiety and anguish that this causes me that is fueling my pencil right now.  It would be a simple matter for me to get up, go outside, and walk the short distance to Chim’s house, where they are kept.  Pluck the eyes from the head of the unworthy beast who was stupid enough to spend his life cursing them.  But something tells me to wait until morning.  To plan out my project, to understand exactly what I will do with my strange materials, what I will create.  If anyone other than myself ever reads these pages, I hope I don’t have to tell you, though I expect that I do, that it is never wise to rush art.
 *  *  *  *

            Chim had liquor with him so he could be drunk when Blue Baby showed up.  And the booze helped him wipe his head clear of whatever the hell he’d filled it with last night.  He couldn’t remember anymore, but it had been bad.  Now he was able to drown the specifics, though he could still feel its presence, hanging there in the form of depression.  But because the reason for the depression wasn’t clear he couldn’t really feel that bad.  So he sat in his chair and kept drinking, and waited for Blue.  When Blue got there, Chim would just mumble out some indecipherable excuse until he left in a rage.  And “rage” was absolutely the right word.  Blue would probably trash the place some.  Break a table.  Or, rather, break the table.  Chim would just have to weather it.  Hope that maybe when it was all over Blue will have decided that he wanted nothing more to do with him.  Leave Chim to himself, to live out alone whatever time he had left.  Which couldn’t be much.  Chim’s hunger seemed to be steadily ebbing away into nothing.  Life had never held much joy for him, but he had always clung to it, desperately wrapped his body and mind around the idea of life for its own sake, and he would let his mind go off on its own sometimes, see if it might not dredge up something useful, or, at any rate, interesting from his existence.  But if his mind had uncovered anything in this quest, it was keeping quiet about it.  The flood, the endless channel of, of something, from his mind down through the rest of him that he had expected had never even begun.  And it never would begin, and he’d known that for, Christ, for a long time now.  So it was all catching up to him, making him want to be drunk all the time, making him not care who he pissed off, and making him lose his appetite.  All he did was he sat, and he drank, and he waited.  He thought no more about the Man, other than to note his absence, and the consequences of that absence.  He looked at his window, waiting for a great blue shape to pass by, blocking it, briefly eclipsing daylight.  He wished that son of a bitch would hurry up and get here.

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