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Authors: Justin Chin

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BOOK: 98 Wounds
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He is working his fingers into my arsehole. All his tonguing and licking has worked my hole and loosened the sphincter. Unplanned encounters do not facilitate adequate cleaning or preparation. And with all the prying of fingers and tongues, I feel myself lose control and a small splat of soft shit falls out onto his face. But he opens his mouth wide, and catches most of it. The smell of my own shit repulses me. I am embarrassed. I don't want to carry on. I want to get up and wipe up, clean off, go home. But he's still licking and sucking and cleaning my murky hole. I force myself to cum, and the effort of that makes me shit more onto his face, and he eats that up, too. With his shit-streaked hands, he grabs his dick and in a few quick short pumps, disposes of his load. His face is still in my ass, he is whimpering like a puppy, still licking at my ass.

I get up from the chair, ignoring the dribble down my leg, and walk over to the coffee table and selfishly scrape together the biggest fattest line I think I can handle and force it up my nose, the bits that I cannot hold in there, which fall out of my nostrils back onto the glass plate, I wipe up with my finger and swab onto my gums. I think I am going to black out. I'm not sure how I'm going to get home, and I definitely don't want to stay here, though I might not have a choice. He is still lying on the floor with a satiated cheesy grin on his face. His mother is standing there in the dim-lit kitchen eating sugar, the sandpapery rasp and crunch between her false teeth, staring into space, trapped in her own brain, staring at us. At the very end. At the forking road. At the closing gyre. You will know what you are. You may even know who. And even if it is just for the briefest of a flicker, taken on some rare forgiving shameless night or day, you will see all the exit signs, all the detours and off-ramps, all flashing lights lit up just for you.

W
oo

1.

My suitor is a jack-booted thug, a gangster who stomped on my heart as if it were the liver of a swarthy nemesis. I lie in bed at night wondering who he is bullying and what he is doing with his pale hollow friends, for he never works alone. Not even when he is beside me, even inside me; he is never alone, he comes with far too many people.

I lie in bed and he appears by my window like the Blue Angel. My one confidant thinks the appearance is more like Jiminy Cricket. In the cartoon, the popular version: the conscience that lives in the wooden doll's head, ready to chastise and to prod awake the mechanisms of guilt. In the original version, smashed to bits in the second chapter, squished under the boot of the evil wooden doll: a bug, a pest, nothing more.

My suitor takes me by the hand and leads me down mad corridors and unfamiliar avenues. It is as if we were flying (but I have a fear of flying, of heights, of crashing, of flight, of speed, of air, altogether too many fears), and we land on a grassy lawn speckled with flecks of motor oil and engine grease. He takes me by the hand and he shows me a gorgeous building that he will burn down to cinders to prove his love for me. The beautiful marbled tiles, the intricate wooden panels, the luxurious carpeting, all mean nothing to him: these objects of crafted beauty are merely cotton and wool saturated with kerosene in his sore eyes. He places a matchstick in my hand, and guiding my small fist, strikes it against the side of a matchbox to watch it crackle into its horrible flame. Then he takes me by the elbow and leads me in a tango, a foxtrot, to the side of the building, the single flair of light the only illumination in the dark night. Hand in hand in lit match, we touch the side of the building with the tenderness of a vetrinarian, and he brings everyone inside of him to me.

I lie in bed and he appears at my window like Jiminy Cricket. I try to smash him with my boot, then my sneakers, but to no avail, his abdomen doesn't split open and spill its green guts like bugs would as he is not made of exoskeleton as insects are, but of real bone holding his flesh and helping his blood along the mad twisting paths of his fury.

I do not subscribe to any of his infuriating doctrines and silly conspiracies, and I tell him that he is nothing to think such thoughts; and still he comes to my window in a deranged state. I tell him he is mad to act on his cancer, and still he shows up at my window as regular as heartache and Hallmark holidays. I tell myself that I am insane, total batshit, and am slowly slipping into a raving pit the size of the Antarctic peopled by every demon known to Bible folk, but still I fly even as I fear flight. I fight even as I fear pain and conflict. I fly with him, follow his crusades across a terrain of tedium that holds nothing true for me.

I lie in bed and wait for someone to save me. Many show up but then they are just the people inside of him. A trick of light and night. And again, I'm flying and I'm fearing and I wish for the chartered seaplane, the magic carpet, the spread span of wings to fail and let us crash so hard to the earth, smash into the smallest roots of the tallest tree, and there we shall stay, there we shall make a little home away from the cranking madness of it all.

2.

So many lovers diseased and maimed. I have seen everyone of them somewhere before, a bright red despair in my guts. The sounds always sound better with the moon full of cancer, and white beasts crawl across the unanswerable extent of my urges: the one I chose was the one with the white eyelids that peeled off. That was the due, the dotted line above his eyeball and the tiny lifting flaps that facilitated such an easy peel.

And should I choose wrongly, should I choose at all from among this bunch of rejects, castoffs: the young one with skin so saggy, his face lifts off like a rubber mask. The one with nipples ingrown to dank pits in his chest cavity, the ribs parted to let the rot sink in. The hayseed one with fingers and toes, pieces of nose, a whole ear, fallen off in a year's worth of leprous fits. The old one with gangrenous opals for eyes, asbestos pipes for hands, and chipped new age crystals for a cock. Should I choose what I chose, I chose?

He was the only one in the running. I was only running. My pick would have such white eyelids that flutter and fall off like the last petals on the last white flower at an outdoor wake; I chose a funeral in a bitter storm. What was left behind after the wilting and falling were the bitterest eyes.
Like a corpse
, my dear soon-to-be late father said,
just like a corpse
.

My siblings tell me stories about how certain unfortunate folk meet their ends with their eyes open: fiery deaths in closed spaces, rat poison suicides, hypothermia, certain blood fevers borne by biting insects no smaller than the period which ends all our louched sentences. I join in to remind them: Jeanne D'Arc met her glorious end with her eyes wide open in rapturous quiver; and so did our Christ, in some stories and certain version of the Gospel, where it is said that our Christ, in passion on the cross, faced the loss of His Father with eyes open, looking straight through the gates of Hell and beyond, all the way through into his boudoir in the Kingdom of Heaven.

In school, we had to dissect rats. Mangy things with wet fur, their original white turned so muddy with sewer goop that they elicited no ounce of pity, even as their filthy rat-lungs squeaked and collapsed, as we pushed large pins into their crunchy paws, impaling them onto a tray of wax, preparing to slice through from neck to anus. No pity even as we grew up, weaned on cute singing mice and heroic rats in cartoons and animated movies, rodents intelligent enough to outwit cats and dogs and humans. The dissection lesson went routinely except for one incident. A young classmate, upon cutting into her assigned rat, found that the rat was cancerous; the stink emanating from the decayed insides of the rodent caused the student to scream out in sheer disgust, disrupting the class. Upon assignment of another rodent, the student dutifully cut into the animal only to be assailed with that familiar stench and the familiar sight of green-blackened guts. Two more rats were dug out of their cages, chloroformed, and assigned, but both were cancerous, too. Both reeking of that same foul stench that was judiciously taking over the classroom. An air freshener, supposedly Spring Linen, was employed to fight the whiffs of decay. By this time, the teacher was losing patience and ordered that the next rat was to be the last one assigned. Sobbing and shaking, the student held her scalpel and nervously brought the sharp edge to the final rat's flesh. The surgical-precise blade only had to prick the second dermis of the rat, and that stench, now so familiar to all in the classroom, seeped out of the rat. Cancerous, again; but determined to maintain discipline and order, the teacher ordered the student to proceed; and sobbing and shivering even more, the student pushed on, picking out the necessary organs and stretching them out on the wax tray, sketching them in her workbook, documenting their color, texture, and what was partially digested in its rotting intestines.

Later in the semester I saw that student's workbook and the sketches of the cancered guts were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I do not know whether that was testament to her artistic genius or if it was really what was found in the insides of that cursed fifth rodent. It was as if the slicing into the low, and lower still, in disease and rot; there, in the leak of failed organs and foul blood and stink, there in the face of a corpse or a suitor without eyelids, his holes perpetually pus-infected, one might witness a vision where angels of every order kiss one another secretly to their God's displeasure.

3.

I came into the charms of this husband by way of the fantastic promises he whispered into my ear and my arse-crack when I was a mere innocent teenage virgin.

I now hate his flaky peeling lips and the smell of his gums, but what choice do I have; poor poor pitiful me, forced to live with my equally poor poor pitiful sibling, my parasitic twin, attached to my coccyx, barely alive and breathing shallow like salamanders. I keep my twin hidden in the folds of my clothes; a task especially hard in the summer when everyone is wearing capri pants and espadrilles; there is nothing fashionable, off-the-racks that can properly hide a parasitic twin.

But this was my destiny, fate, if you believe that sort of thing. At that tender age, I was rendered despondent, depressed by way of terrifying nightmares. In the dream, I saw a land of trees and greenery burning in flames, airplanes dashed overhead spewing orange plumes, the trees shrivel, and the landscape turns an unflinching sausage-brown. In the brown streets unshaded by these wilted bunch of branch and twigs, all manner of beast and child, naked, with open sores, pus and fluids running down their twig-thin bodies, third degree burns blistering and untreated, run like Olympic racers but with no sense of direction, nowhere to go. In one version of the dream, there is a diminishing jungle, the type seen only in movies, recreated in Hollywood back lots or on golf courses in the Third World; the jungle is chock full of animals though all of them are oddly silent; all their larynges have been severed; even the crickets and the cicadas do not make a sound, their legs amputated. The only sound is a pitiful whining and yelping, and the high-pitched whine gets louder and shriller and fades away and returns all year around, unceasingly; and the animals and insects sit where they are, transfixed by this sound which goes on for years; and no one moves for years.

That was my recurring nightmare, my regression. My parents employed specialists and nurses, psychologists and mystics to lure a life out of me. They tried bribes of sweets and cash, threats of beatings, but nothing worked, the world of my nightmares stained its indelible scrawl in my immature mind, leached in, spread too vast, too hooked to draw its talons out. The parents threw their hands up in defeat.
Let the little bastard be
, they eventually declared.

It was then I met the soon-to-be husband. He was a visiting houseguest, newly emergent in his time. His breath smelled of tarnished metal even then.

One accidental whiff of that metallic burr of his mouth and I wanted to vomit but my stomach was empty, and still somehow, his funny loose ways flexed me, and I was finally bespoke in my still clasped clench.

From then on, I saved my newly pupated life for the suitor-to-be-husband who waited as patiently as he did. Weather permitting, when the grass was cut, we lay on the damp ground, looking at clouds and all manner of flies; I enjoyed rolling around the lawn like a hedgehog. It was in this state that I thought I might conceivably love him in some manageable way.

When I was years older, I imagined every excruciating detail about my shadow life ending. I crawled into my head and saw such simple uncomplicated dreams in all their crossed-haired wires, and so, nothing more. But that tarnished metal smell shocked me as smelling salts would, jerking me back to ground zero zero point zero one.

On that last night, did he, metallic gums and all, mumble,
there will still be time for salvage
. (At least that was what I thought I heard.) And like a dream, I the somnambulist slowly climbed each rung of deep sleep, rung until the end of days.

Sleep-paste worn off my eyes, I jumped back into my life; the husband was gone, left for another, a younger more innocent one. And my awful sibling twin, silent when I was, and still silent when I was not, did indeed die soon after. She breathed her last sighing breath and drooped from my tailbone, never to be missed, never to be answered to.

4.

I saw heretics at a wedding: great ugly behemoths casting a rain of rice and brimstone on the unfortunate couple.

The groom in tails and tie, carnation in buttonhole, dashes down the aisle with his bride, a mob of white lace flying behind, a super-hero's cape if that's what heroes are reduced to these days. The rice grains burn as harsh as acid rain, scorch the guests and the minister, but the happy couple, protected by their unyieldingly sure devotion, were unharmed. The rings exchanged were ancient finger traps designed to amputate clean below the knuckle; the minister was a pederast fucking the flower girls and the pageboys behind a tapestry of the Virgin Mother receiving her immaculate conception, her cunt juices flowing so freely in rivulets down her legs, stray dogs would lap it up and pigeons would bathe in it, devotees collect the ichthyic fluid in goblets and in thimbles, and make communion from it. At the reception, the cake was spiked with ground glass; the punch was poisoned with latex emulsifiers; the salmon finger sandwiches harbored salmonella and bread mold.

I saw heretics at a wedding kissing the bride and groom with the familiarity of a sea bass, a proud clown hired for a birthday party. The hookers and their pimps sashay down the street and leer; the bookie counts his wad and jots witticisms he overhears at the race track down in the little black book he keeps taped to his inner thigh; the panhandler paints himself red and writes manifestos about the rise of communism, claiming with Baptist fervor prophesying that the hole-in-the-wreck bar down in skid row will be the site of the revolution which will wipe the world clean of its vile greed and potato recipes, and every weekend will be May Day and the children will be let out of school early so they can wash their state-approved pets and learn about the institutions, like marriage, that they will have to participate in eventually.

The happy couple kiss under the banner of god and family and love; they will fornicate when appropriate, they will create litter upon litter of newborns, all with sharp teeth and bawling dispositions; each litter of carbon-copies even genetic engineering couldn't have created any better who long for mothers and fathers and milk and money and meat. This, this cycle, is multiplied over and over, unquestioned; and the heretics for centuries to come will never be unemployed, nor want for any entertainment, nor any passion.

This was what I saw.

BOOK: 98 Wounds
9.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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