He sat on his tombstone smoking. This was a lonely place. A place occupied by the dead. Lost like children. Motherless in a city of friendless streets. And connected irreversibly to their mortal remains. Each mad in his or her own way. Frenzied. Weeping. Expecting a lifetime of normalcy to resume. Wretched that it never would again. Such are delusions of life. Common among the dead.
But he wasn’t lost in death. He looked down and considered his scuffed leather shoes. And he knew his place. He was content. In a vicious way. The way he’d been content in life. Now, he’d decided, he haunt. Find a way to infiltrate the minds of men and drive them insane. With the sound of his subtle rage. That dripped slowly and echoed. Like the night’s rain in a forgotten place.
What was odd about death, he thought, was the free flow of random abandoned memories. Ones that came back to him now as he sat on his stone. The taste of blood and the raggedness of his inner cheek. After his first fist fight. A wall of red lipstick aunties. Overcoated and cooing. As they surrounded him on a neighbourhood street. When he was just six. The way he’d punched repeatedly the solid bars of his first jail cell. How the pain of his bloody broken knuckles was a bitter one note madrigal. That had kept him awake in the florescent lighted night.
Absent mindedly, he let his hand go to his fatal wound. Now a bloodless stitched over avenue inside of him. There was still a slight sting to it. A clinical disinfectant scent emanating from it.
Rachel had held him so grievingly tight. The wound had come fast. A knife blade fast as a bullet. That was how it was, getting cut. He knew this. He’d pulled the trigger on his own blade enough times. He wondered then, dying in Rachel’s arms. If he looked like all of the ones he’d cut. Doe-eyed and shocked at their absolute fragility. Made innocent. For the first time in their lives. By a balisong knife. He probably did, he guessed. To gloat in victory and whimper in failure was human.
“Oh look,” Rachel had wept. He was bleeding to death. There were bits of him being forced out. Through the hole in his abdomen. There were sirens somewhere. The sound of someone running down an empty tunnel. “Look at what he did,” she said. Her hands blood black in the dark. “The bleeding won’t stop, baby.”
It’d been over a few poorly chosen words. An aversion to withdrawing them. Standing at a bar with beer and shots lined up. The loud music making it hard to hear what was being said. Something about punk band sucking. Which of them had disagreed? He couldn’t remember that now. There was the heated callout to the alley behind the bar. It had been sepia and wet. He and his opponent wearing the same black leather and jeans. Smelling of the same stale sweat, cigarettes and alcohol. Then the knives. The circling. The absurd posturing.
When the knife went in. For a moment. All of the world and its moving elements stood still. The blade’s presence inside of him was definite. But surprisingly painless. His destroyer allowing it to linger a few seconds. Eye contact lasting as long. To emphasise something neither of them knew.
He fell when the blade was withdrawn. As though it alone had held him up in his life.
Then the ambulance came. Pointless questions he couldn’t answer. The stark light of a hospital. Syringes and tubes. Rachel. Histrionic to the very end. And the moment of his departure. A low flying black bird over a red brick city. Crumbling beneath its own weight under his fleeting gaze. Until he arrived home and landed on his stone.
Oh, how they had prayed over him. They’d really prayed. Until their distraction was obvious. And no one could say his name ever again.