Friday, 18 April 2008

A, B & E (2)

Present company excepted of course, but I find revenge is a dish best served flush across the bloke’s cranium. Well, the Greeks are all for cracking the crockery. So when in Rome and all that. Besides, they were the first ones to craft an art form from vengeance. No wait a tick, it was my second husband Damon, who really elevated it to Olympian heights. The final word in retribution. Where they look in his unblinking, guillotine eyes and heed there’s no coming back at him. Nipping any escalation in the bud. A la thalidomide.

See ordinarily, revenge is the furthest thing from my mind. You can sail into my island sound and behold any of the Wonders of the World, ancient and modern. Hanging gardens laden with fruit; all the mystery of the Sphinx; even the Temple of Artemis, virgin goddess, if that’s your package. Let my clitoral Pharos Lighthouse guide you in. I’ll take you there. I am anything you want me to be. Except a victim. Attempt to gain any other method of docking and vengeance is mine saith this lady. For, though propelled by all things anal as he undoubtedly was, Damon never, ever brought his work back home with him into our bedroom. (A change is as good as a rest as they say). Yet the same could not be said for that bloke George, from this so-called cradle of European civilisation. I don’t know if he was trying to get his revenge in first, or he was just missing his goats back out on the hills. But that final night together I was not having it. Any of it. The restored me, blackballed from myself, was to be the only one disposed to fuck like a man, and I was highly capable of fighting like one to keep it that way. A revenant from my long-abandoned past. To Damon, revenge was a vindication of his rule of law. Mine is just vindictive. A sudden, spontaneous surge from the seething cauldron. A kicking out against the pricks. A hen party with my witchy friends Nora Pinephrine and sisters Mel and Sarah Tonin. Modern day Graeae.

Alright, with George trying to cast a new intagliated relic, henceforth to be called the Corfu shroud, by drilling my face into a pillow, I’ll own that the notion of revenge didn’t spontaneously leap, surge or combust. I mean our consubstantial faculties were otherwised engaged. What with the trial of sequestering oxygen from already inundated muscles, which explained Nora’s dereliction of dragon-slaying duty and Sarah’s noble yielding, while Mel bless her, just raised the drawbridge. And lowered the portcullis. ‘Vagina dentata’ ? Oh please, not you as well ? What is it with you men - Oh really ? Do I look like I’m smiling on the other side of my gritted labia ?

Damon with his daemonic energy was a marathon man. Fortunately George, despite being native, was no Spartan. Silly sod just collapsed on top of me and passed out. A deadweight pinning me to the bed. Sowing our once lush field with slabs of stone. Like some smooth deathmask being pressed down over the gnarled cortex of our relationship. Thus interred, with my face chafing to bits on the stubble of the floral mattress, the cicatrix of revenge began to sprout. By dawn that next morning, I had what you could term, an almost fully-fledged, scion of a notion. And I ain’t talking about no olive branch either. (See how easily I morph in and out of the various cultures ?) I was most definitely going in for a spot of haughty culture on Mr Fetid Cheese, lying there bombed out on Ouzo. There’s graft that takes and then there’s graft that don’t, as my Damon was fond of saying.

The piggy little smile on George's bovine face didn’t exactly mitigate his cause, but I was already half-way through my husbandry. Still, I did pause momentarily, to wonder which little love ewe had parted George’s lips. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. And thus another percolation of garden soil described its path from my fingers, like a grated (dead-)stock cube. This goose is cooking George’s gander. Let him soil his own bed for once. I say garden soil, but of course all I had recourse to, were the potted plants in his third floor apartment. A thin, powdery loam, like all the earth in this scorched land. I recollect scanning my cull of cracked and upturned earthenware, back through the bedroom, along the hall and past the living room, all the way back to the bathroom. Some still cupped their blooms bereft of plot. Others had already lost the will to live, limply prostrate on the carpeted desert. The dessicated marrow of life trodden into the pile beneath my frenzied perambulations. My very own slug trail. I got out the dustpan and brush, but was able to cull very little, so deeply was the soil piledriven into the warp. Reverse mining. Lead-lined, radioactive revenge. An aptitude that had lain as an untrodden seam, until I’d met a quarrier like Damon. Just can’t deduce, if it was tapped through the shared aspiration of the good times, or the lonesome desperation of the bad.

No time for recriminations, I hurtled pell-mell around the apartment in search of fresh supplies. Yet even now I cannot recall the precise moment of epiphany, when I stood stock still in awe at my own prowess, before fouettéing into the kitchen. (Ballet, another throwback from my nice little girl incarnation). Flinging open the cupboard and there she stood, in all her shiny reflective glory. Entrée, an industrial size, catering tin of coffee, or what passes for coffee in these parts, but which I believe to be the slag collected from inside the walls of all the pottery kilns in this clotted country. The dimensions were appropriate, given the magnitude and frequency of hangovers the coffee was intended to countervail. He’d obviously pilfered it from his internet café. Well now my friend, let’s put it back to work. Slag to slag, cull to cull. Skull to skull.

I can’t even remember going back into the bedroom, I must have glissaded there. Back to gorgeous, glabrous George and the sleep of the dead. Glance over to the bedside table. The digital figures on the alarm clock, indelible bright red, burn into my mind like the eyes of a salivating Cerberus. Soon, soon my lovelies. I picked up another of the long-stemmed roses from on top of the clock and carefully laid it on the surface of the soil mound, so that the flowerhead almost corniced his chin. Three others intertwined on the pillow, skullcapping his valerianed pate. He looked so peaceful. Without a care in the world. A slight adjustment, and I gently prodded the stem back down into the earth, until only the flower was visible. Yes, just so. As I turned for the coffee cache, my arse must have clipped the table, as the cackling flibbertigibbetry of two empty bottles seared through my whole being. (Did I not mention, I was jetéd headlong from the ballet for being too tall, too plump and too clumsy, once my distending twin orbs ineluctably realigned my gravitational pull ?). I shot George a frantic look, but he was in a parallel universe, where the only report delivered by two empty bottles of ouzo was a ‘must try harder’. I steeled myself back into the present and gathered up my whole body in order to regain it. The clock blinked a bloodhsot eye as it outlined a new digit, licking its lips in anticipation. I carefully knelt down to the coffee tin and began to lever off the lid with my nail working the groove. Keratin versus cheap metal, a patent mismatch of impatience. The lid took a dive as I frisbeed it away. I hurriedly gnawed the sundered frangible, scarcely noticing the sensation of blood welling up beneath the denuded cuticle. And then it struck me.

Saying it with flowers by all means, after all I had bought the roses two days ago in a foolish, one-sided proclamation of love. Yet while the garland and the one under his chin were spot on, the composition would have looked just ridiculous with flowers popping out all over the earthen mound itself. For this jarred horrendously with revenge’s nihilist nub. Instead, such iconography rather lent itself to George being laid out in state, before his big send off. It bestowed on him a fecundity that went against the grain. Other than the chin strap, I deadheaded the other eleven roses. Thus wreath became a crown of thorns. No, that doesn’t count you see. Not my symbology. I don’t believe in god. But a yet higher power.

Almost time to spill the beans, but hey George, you’re a really lucky guy. Damon would have had you spilling your guts. Sans aesthetical tableau too. A ripple of coffee granules slid down my palm and on to the burgeoning barrow. (I’ve sinced discovered, that ‘barrow’ has an additional arcane meaning of a castrated pig, what more need I say ?). Ersatz coffee made for an ersatz topsoil, ironically of thicker substance than the real thing below. The idea of brewing the kettle briefly flittered behind my eyes, but one of the heads of the chronological Cerebrus flicked out its tongue and haltered my attention. I’m lacking the element of time. Another ripple and gentle cascade in response by the mound. Then another. And another. Til the receptacle was drained. George was just about sufficiently shrouded, up to his neck in it you might say. I patted the coffee into the configurations I required, before gently threading each trepanned rose stalk into some strategic salient, thorns primed to press the flesh. Dug in, and out of sight. Cameo-flaged, in order to carve my relief on his body. The siege is about to be lifted. All eyes on Chronos now, I didn’t want to make a mess ... Of my delivery. This was the big one, when all three LED digits would absail down the clock face and usher in the coup turning twilight into a new dawn. Here it comes. George, oh Georgie-boy ... Wake up and smell the ro- uh, er coff -

Coda. The unchained melody of quavering voice and rasping alarm. Calling forth a minutely tremorous upthrust in his torso, enchaining a pas de deux sur la pointe for thorns and skin. The downdraught, a pas de chat, a cat’s cradle clawing criss-cross over a man’s membrane. A hundred tiny ploughs foraging furious furrows, in his to be hopefully forever, fallow flesh. Fashioned in an iron maiden of my own devising. Soft spun of tissue, but hard of heart and spine within. The balled fist inside the velvet glove, with just one broken fingernail casualty. The imprint of a good hiding. Some flower re-arranging of his features. I planted one on ‘im. Delicious ! George you old fraud, you never were an oil painting. But now I’ve applied some craquelure to attribute you some authenticity. One great big desquamation mark ! There’s some punctu(r)ation for you. Hey sieve face, riddle me this. The only thing you are going to be able to pull from now on, is your own perforated sprinkler ! Fizzog lit up like a Belisha Beacon’s gonna warn all the little girlies to stop, look, listen and then look again. And then safely cross to the other side of the road. Mourning glory ! After my night of the long knives. Or tiny stabs. One slug of ouzo too many, led me to slug that slug of a boyfriend. Well not slug him so much as pour salt in his wounds. Shrivel his manhood. His night of the short, sharp surgical scalpel. This blow-up doll, puffed herself up and stuck it to him. Psss. Down he went. Chronic deflation and devaluation of the drachma. Damon taught me all about rates of exchange. No tete-a-tete-anus, just a straight right jab for lockjaw. Where’s your vagina dentata now, my Ionic man? Self-impaled, hoist on your own petard. You were the one armoured up to the hilt. Torso dentata, chained male. I’ve extirpated you from the tyranny of invulnerability. You’ll have to wear it on your skin from now on. I’ve planted a little canker and it’s taken root. So now you know what it feels like. What it fucking feels like George. Shit ! My cup so runneth over that it’s completely drained. The price you pay, for a bit of idle divertissement.

Of course the seamless gloss of it all only comes from considerable contemplation, long after the event. Sat at bars like this, devising cocktail-fuelled mnemonics. A reconstruction purely in words, a reportage, since the pictures had flashed by far too quickly for me to even catch a glimpse. (In fact, having sown the wind, I didn’t hang around to reap the tornado. As appears to be my wont). I can recall almost everything about the preparations, but the eruption was so rapid, so explosive, that recollection slips through my synapses, my own colander head. Damn. Let me at least dine out on it a little while longer. A liquid lunch.

I wish I had choreographed it all out in advance. Then all the witty barbs I’ve since projected, could have perpetuated the onslaught. A sort of unfolding radioactive poisoning, after the initial mushroom cloud type of deployment. Maybe a treasure hunt of little ditties placed throughout his apartment, just to keep pricking the scabs, tipping the heaped scales, for that bit longer. Closet conference to have read: ‘Love lies bleeding, love lies limp. Forehead’s receding, you dress like a pimp.’ Bathroom meditation: ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. Always said you were anal, now flushed you down the loo’. Kitchen corkboard, affixed with pins: ‘Love lies bleeding, love lies limp. Get some other scrubber, dirtying her hands in your sink’. Bedtime reading: ‘Roses are red, violence black and blue. To the pisshole in your prick, figured to add just a few’. You simply never think of it at the time do you ? Just as well really. Doesn’t even scan properly. All this is purely embellishment anyway. After all, in the final execution, I mixed my bleeding metaphors didn’t I ? ‘Wake up and smell the-’, oh never mind. All that remains now is the perhaps misguided notion that in extremes of weather, be it hot or cold, the little red scars will angrily rear their heads all over George’s flesh and remind him. Just remind him. Of what I don’t actually know. Of some woman’s empty handed revenge. Or empty-headed. There again, you don’t really get variegation of temperature, or anything much, down here in Corfu.

Thresholds (1)

... Nonetheless, silence is the worst. The absolute rock bottom of the chasm of nothingness. Of extinction. Naught enters it and even less emerges. Except a plethora of your own ideas and notions bombarding you. Flashes, images, spurs and figments. All contending to light up the old grey matter. Bumping and boring for your migrainous attention. Assaulted and concussed, your ears ringing like a steam kettle with the pressure of the brainstorms. The mind under siege from its own outpourings running riot. Until the membranous dam can’t tamp the synaptic flood any longer. The threshold engulfed. Crystallised. Fulgurant. Stabbing me behind the eyes. Lining up all the rods and cones to form a prodding arrow “You are here”. Where you’ve always been. Back in this bedroom. This tortuous chamber of horrors. No matter which trajectory you fumble toward in trying to flee. Rods and cones flaying and funnelling my puling consciousness. Spare the rod and spoil the child. A single stab wound. That’s all it was. That’s all it took to take him away. Only felt like a punch. No great spike of agony. No jag of presentiment. But a slow puncture of blood from the belly. Apparently he thought a signet ring might have scalloped the skin. But he’d been breached minutely, invisibly. A self-occluding violation, but sadly not self-sealing. Pressure differentials. Scrabbling fingers among his own blood glaze, trying to verify the source of welling pigmentation. Merely served to separate the fresh weep from the encrusted patina. Daubing his own dissipation in his nonplussed anxiety. Still no polestar of pain. No neural sensation. Weltered under his panic override. And down he falls. To his knees or on to his side, witnesses fail to render. Liminal lacuna from all and sundry. Slumped on the stony concrete, as the stone cold slayer skedaddles scot free. Further psychic preterition.

Yet there is someone who steps into the physical breach. A woman scoops up his torso and cleaves him to her. Tears off her glove between her teeth as she scrambles to compress the wound, even while screaming at someone to dial 999. Multitasking, women are superior at that you see. But his essence rivulets through the delta of her fingers, no matter how she clamps them. A surrogate mother, an end-wife to deliver him lovingly into death. What a slap in the face for us, the true parents. The blood relatives sat unpierced at home and at work, blithely unaware of their closing moments of intactness. She’s busy extemporising on the hoof. What to do, though I suppose all mothers know instinctively. I say that, but how many are called upon to conduct a juvenile soul across Lethe ? Just well, what would we have done ? We were deprived of the opportunity to ever know. Our distant love able to staunch nothing. While her impromptu love wept onto him, as he cosanguined on to her. Anointed to one another in the final exchange, disinheriting us. Extreme unction. So extreme. The knife wielder expunged him, but she swiped him from us. Just how are we meant to be grateful for her on the spot tenderness ?

It’s perhaps aberrant that we resort to her for our bilious repository. Our human spittoon. Why excoriate her for a display of compassion ? Simply because we are acquainted with her face. We know so much about her, including what she got up to and did next in her life, when our son was no longer in a position to get up and do anything. She stands in the foreground, a coconut shy on the emotional rollercoaster amid our unfairground. But we have more than mere impression of her, we have her account. Without her we’d possess no possibility of a final narrative. Of the unfolding of events that wrapped up a life. For all our resentment, still we grilled her remorselessly for information upon more information. Caulked ourselves to her to a far greater degree, than to the police family liaison officer assigned us. We didn’t care for that lady’s fresh faced platitudes and third-rate textbook psychoburble. We wanted facts. We wanted the whole thing spelled out to us. In words of one more syllable than our son could ever muster.

What remains shadowy, the tenebrous absence within the tableau, billows around the murderer. The true expropriator. The silhouetted hooded skull. Done up like the Grim Reaper, with scaled down scythe. Sneeringly aping the unavailability of our own cowled and cowed son. We are forced to sketch him backwards. For he has no features. We can console ourselves that it wasn’t personal. That the light of our life, seemingly hadn’t a dark side disgorging fatal enemies. Since this was no onslaught of multiple stab wounds. No targeted thrusts of hate. The blade was not frenziedly sunk up to its hilt, mocking our son by wafting at each dying heave of breath. Clearly there was a dispute of some kind. A steel-lined disagreement. A metallic gainsaying. When push came to shove, the assailant could back up his argument to the hilt. Marshal his cold, hard proofs. Dialectic fleetingly entered, then a flashing antithesis. Discontinuation rather than adjournment. A cessation. Termination. A full stop, gruffly punctuated. Clangorous whisper. How kids express themselves today. Asperous aspersers. Knives carried for protection, reflexively whipped out to make a point. To underscore a position. To affirm a negation. To recapitulate. (Just his luck that the single chink, cut something direly critical). This was neither rancorous, nor a rupture. It was just elision of question and answer, call and lethal response. Variance and confutation. Disparity and pronouncement. There was no conviction behind the pitch. In fact it was the very opposite, stemming from being backed into a corner and bereft of ideas as how to disengage. On the verbal ropes. The knife demonstrating a lugubrious bouncebackability. Rope a dope. More of a lunging non-sequitur. Retracting a retraction. “Don’t bother me. Move, get out my way. Get out my face. Don’t look at me. I wasn’t talking to you was I ? You what ? You and who’s army ?” Any and all the categorical imperatives designed to seal off intercourse. Those practised countless times here at home in your daily dumb shows towards us. No, you were too smart and more significantly, too inuringly reticent, to have bad mouthed him. Of course it could cut the other way too. If he called out to you and you failed to respond. That habitual lack of respect at home, magnified tenfold to disrespecting out on the street. Instantaneously switchblade redeemable.