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passenger 54

Short story By: delapruch
Other


He---man weakens and complains nearing pitiful suicide---sentimental trivialities lost in the trip there---“We are all dead here,” she said---crimson room---an impetus for that thrashing rapture made its way and would dissipate like a flash in the pan---dawnish yellow---He turned and gobbled up his last bit of straight espresso.


Submitted:Feb 2, 2011    Reads: 23    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


passenger 54:
He was never nice. You look back at yourself and you remember moments of compassion, certainly, but then you reconsider them. Without any real-time recollection, all you have are your own memories or those of others present at any given time---thus, there can be no real recollection of anything. My compassion, my own compassion then, I find suspect. Those who remember me fondly may remember actions, but not the man. The man walks behind the curtain when everyone leaves. The man wanders in the forest and screams and babbles. The man weakens and complains nearing pitiful suicide, and eventually, when the man comes out the other side, he is no longer a man. He is a new concoction, a new physical orchestration. He is a mechanistic wonder devoid of all the sentimental trivialities lost in the trip there. He is Mr. Hyde without Jekyl---a new creation made in the very hands of the fiction itself. He is a hyperreality scoffing at its very definition. He has finally left humankind to go somewhere else. He has re-entered, re-administered, and therefore, re-integrated himself into the animal kingdom. And there, emotions drip as blood from the teeth of the winning carnivore. There, dying is a way of life.
"We are all dead here," she said, as she lit her cigarette and leaned back in the black chair near me in the crimson lit room. "Don't think yourself any more special than the next in that respect," she went on. As her voice seemed to trail off in between the long drags of her remaining cigarette that she had rolled herself earlier, I stepped out of the cave and looked up at the sky. It was pouring and dark grey, yet nearly only a bit after sundown.
He turned and went back in. The crimson room the same as the damp cave and at that moment, entirely different. Poetry etched in the walls like blood spattered on those very same walls. Darker in the cave than in that room, but all in the same, writing. Writing by the apple-bushel. He walked to the table next to her. She opened her legs and pulled her dark royalish blue skirt up slowly while sucking in the long drag from the cigarette. He could smell her. Her scent filled the room, the cave. Her own cave now exposed---throwing forth its provocation. He had two choices, always the same with Annette. He could have her there and then, the way he wished, often, however, often the way she wished. Whatever existed at the moment as an impetus for that thrashing rapture made its way and would dissipate like a flash in the pan. Like a flashbulb exploding and burning ash on the floor below when the pieces fell.
Annette's legs were long and soft. She had always kept them shaved and he could hardly remember a moment when she had displayed even a hair or a tint different from that skin that enticed. He knelt down next to her and kissed her knee cap. She blew a puff of smoke down in his direction. He breathed it and trailed his tongue up slowly. The room began to flicker a dawnish yellow and then the light finally blew. There were moans and roars, scratches and things deadly---scorpions and leeches, maggots and snake head dancing with the horns of leftover carcasses and then the streaming yellow drowned out everything---awaking them both again.
"When he died, we lost our compass," she continued. "And then there was nothing again. Not that nothing had not always been, but that there had been a group of nothings that had agreed at the time when he had initiated it---that belief in that very nothing, together, was in fact something. In this, he had a somethingness that he had created himself from that very nothingness. When he died…well, it died with him. There was nothing again, without that cohesion that it was ok to believe in nothing together. We broke apart like rotten flesh falling from the bone, and the bone, well, it cracked in the gutter." She lit up another cigarette.
"He was just a figurehead. A something to follow."
The little baby almost dancing down the steps in front of the two of them. Not dancing, more or less walking short steps. There was aqua-tile on each underneath the new and naked steps. The baby's feet got a bit dirty with each step and the mother leading with one arm down carried it finally, understanding the futility of it all.
After the two went down the stairs after the mother and the prospective child, Annette walked across the narrow street and after crossing, she sped up her pace and ran into the park. He, took his time crossing and did not follow her. Instead he turned at the entrance and began to walk to the left. Further down the sidewalk he began to walk. There were green new Spring leaved trees stretching out to touch him. Vines grew up the side of the old Gothic buildings and everything looked like a cheap imitation of Notredame. Is this where I have come to die? The thought came and then faded, like an old VCR tape flip-flapping on the other side of his skull. Reeling around on inside the player until he would finally kick it. Annette, well, Annette had left. Now he only had himself to doubt, as the clock on the wall in the café where he had ended up struck 3. Was it the PM or the AM? He turned and gobbled up his last bit of straight espresso and saw by the light of the outside that it could have been either, really. The industrial smogged atmosphere had claimed a new authorship to the outside. Like the night had given up and the day had never been. There was simply what he saw. He got up and walked to the counter. The young and hip attractive barista stood up, placed her book that she had been reading, splayed down on the counter and walked closer to him.
"What does that clock say up there?" He paused, waiting for her answer. "It says 3, sir. It is three o'clock. Would you like another espresso?" the hip barista replied. "Um, sure," he replied and the transaction made, he took the espresso and sat down. The whole situation seemed fuzzy, like images moving across a dirty pull-down screen in a 4th grade reading room somewhere in the middle of fucking nowhere upstate New York. To say "like a dream" would simply put a face on that very lack of creative potential that had been eating away at him. He stirred the spoon slowly and then fast, slowly, and then fast again. It reminded him of that scene in Once Upon a Time in America, where Leone shows (I think it is the character played by James Caan) the leader of the pack there doing the same with a silver spoon---before that curly haired blond comes in and checks the sizes of all their schlongs. And that fine line between depravity and reality thrown up on the screen does wonders to illustrate the fakeness of Hollywood. He himself kept stirring even more furiously. Leone had to show that dick-squish scene, and why?---To show that a bunch of gangsters still had the taste that actors had. That everything smelled sweet in the room. That she herself wasn't manhandled, raped in the most terrifying of ways and then strewn out on the floor after being beaten into unconsciousness. Hollywood would strike another blow to the teeth of the animal kingdom, making sure that true human suffering and factual depravity became cookie-cutter tangibility.
Annette, herself, was still painting. The two had met in a grocery store when she bumped into him inadvertently while buying a box of crackers for the cheese chunks that she would consider her range of meal choice for the next week. She was an ex-anorexic as the story would go and he felt the need like he always had when he met a woman who had a shittier diet than he did himself (as they all had seemed to), to ask her why she didn't eat better. Annette with a vicious wit and sharp temper looked back at him and asked him why he didn't write better. She followed it up by asking him why no one had bought a painting of his in years, and that she knew the real reason that she hadn't been able to see any of his "new work." It was because he had no "new work," and even if he did, that "new work" was simply old work revisited---bullshit churned in the same style that someone somewhere at sometime might have paid him some acclaim when at the end of the day, now, for all intent and purpose, he had simply disappeared.
Another sip of the now stale espresso, and out the window he turned his head again. What was he doing here for again? Where had Annette gone? Who was Annette really? What had the two of them become in the little time shared? This failed artist, this wash-up, he stared in the reflection of the coffee stained spoon and back up at the beautiful barista behind the counter. "You know, I never really meant for it to turn out like this, you know." He mentioned to her, and though she didn't really hear a word of what he had said, she nodded and took the dirty dishes he brought to her, laying it on the counter.
Out of the café and back on the street. It was drizzling. Funny that he hadn't noticed the drizzle all the while he had been in the café. Wasn't it sunny just a moment ago?




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