Thursday, 27 May 2010

Hard Time - Friday Flash

Lights out.

Stipulated sleep. Designated dormancy. Medicated soporifics.

No longer able to see your fist in front of a whipping boy's punchbag face. No warning glint off the barrel of an improvised shank.

Yet there is plenty defiance of circumscription and the circadian all around. Both conscious and unconscious.

Calloused hands cradle listless cocks, in order to foment some warm milk to carry them over into languor. The darkness matches their own played out inner visions.

Denied both sun and dial, junky horologists listen to the whirring of their body's broken cogs. Trying to calibrate for their midnight feast. The nodding gateway into the land of nod.

Even among those who have succumbed to bromidic conformity, an ease of repose is far from reached. Cavernous shouts gouged from deep within sleep. Sonorous screams wrung from nightmares. Moans rent from all sorts of involuntary persecutions. One-sided catechisms with demons and incubi (a distinct lack of succubi for this benighted company. Least of all the spectres of those women they rendered into ghosts by gun or fleshy garrote).

The most serene may in fact be the psychopaths evenly poised in the slumber of both the just and the unjust. Or those schizophrenics restful in their dreamscapes, where any extraneous voices blend in unobtrusively.

Those superficially at peace, still subconsciously suck their thumbs. Reach out for their mothers in their stupor. These hardened men, off guard and off the clock. For eight hours they can sleep secure that they don't have to plant their backs anywhere more unforgiving than a lumpy mattress. That these eclipsed of society, at least for the duration of the moon's lazy eyed winking around the earth, can rest easy from the indignity of being preyed upon by one of their own kind.

Except me. For I am a nocturnal animal. I need to be abroad when it's dark. Rather than a caged tiger. My keen senses itching for some external movement to latch on to. To snuff out and extinguish. Mentally I pace my cell from the confinement of my bed. I do have a cell mate snoring in the bunk above me. Gulping insufflation of his nightly dose of guilt; absolved with his glottal expulsion. Movement of a sort.

Only I determine when the lights go out.

26 comments:

Virginia Moffatt said...

Ooh I like this. The different ways prisoners deal with it & his final choice not to be ground down by the system. Great stuff (Did you watch that recent programme on Wormwood Scrubs by any chance? Made me weep)

Marisa Birns said...

A daytime of escaping the predator in the jungle, a nighttime of a peace of sorts.

Cellmate, however, calls notice to himself by his in-and-out breathing, so he is no longer sleeping prisoner number whatever. He is prey.

Amazing piece. Cicero would nod.

Sulci Collective said...

No, but in my twenties we played football on the fields outside The Scrubs and the prisoners used to climb up to their windows and yell at us. But the distance was such that all you could hear was indefinable shouting.

ThomG said...

What a strong piece. Amazing ending.

Michael Solender said...

great word choices and meter, still interpreting...

shannon said...

Dark. "those superficially at peace, still need to suck their thumbs." Wow. Now I feel sorry for the psychopath. This left me with the feeling I need to go scrub in the shower.

John Wiswell said...

"Except me. For I am a nocturnal animal."

I knew he was a bat all along! Called it!

Sulci Collective said...

I was thinking more of a tiger John!

alisonwells said...

Fabulously atmospheric, a world in a kernal.

amharte.com said...

Very powerful descriptions, dark and gritty and twisted, although I'm sad to say you made me feel my utter lack of vocabulary -- there were a number of words with which I was unfamiliar!

pennybibi said...

Hot.
Pen

Jen Brubacher said...

I like reading your story first on Fridays because it always presents me with such an amazing picture I want to give it its space. This is one of my favourites. I got the picture, the situation, long before you made it totally obviously. Very well done.

Laura Eno said...

Dark and dangerous. You wring emotions with your words. Fabulous!

Karen from Mentor said...

At a loss for words to discuss this kennel full of wounded and wounders.
Wonderful writing.

Cecilia Dominic said...

Wow, freaky. I actually work in sleep and think you nailed the descriptions and all the things people do to get there. Your predator is quite creepy mentally pacing his cell.

CD

Danielle La Paglia said...

You did a great job setting the tone. I love the line about pacing his cell from the confinement of his bed, but, like amharte.com, I got lost in the language.

ganymeder said...

I had to go look up words as I was reading the story which is both good and bad. Bad because I feel my vocab needs work and it took me out of the story a bit, but good because I learned something.

I did enjoy the rhythm of words and the final predatory line at the end. Nice.

Tony Noland said...

Strange to think of such a hard place as being soft and introspective as night closes in.

PJ said...

Very dark, yet philosophical. Hard to imagine you've never inhabited this man's skin - you've rendered his world beautifully.

Heather Lloyd said...

Love how your portray how sleep exposes the human vulnerability of even the most superficially 'hard' characters - the thumb sucking image was very effective and the closing line leaves the reader teasingly hanging.

Gracie said...

What a way you have with language. Just gorgeous. And the layers here-- it would take anyone else 50 pages to portray what you have in this flash. Someone should pay you for this piece.

Utterly outstanding.

Mark Kerstetter said...

"Those superficially at peace, still subconsciously suck their thumbs." - I particularly like that whole paragraph. Sometimes I think a person is only free in their own mind. For the incarcerated this must be so.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool story. Dark and edgy. Nicely done!

Deanna Schrayer said...

One of my favorites Marc. Your ability to weave just the right words into a palpable atmosphere astounds me. Bravo!

Carrie said...

Wicked Marc! The layers are outstanding. A nice splinter of doing time. And the alpha inside maybe. At least in his own mind.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Ooo, the dangerous predator.

I liked the descriptions of how each type of mental illness finds their own freedom through sleep - so interesting!

This really had the sharp edge and voice of the MC. Excellent!