A loud screaming. A burst of anger directed publicly at an already crying boy. Dad is unseeable under the hood of his Parka. Temperature is below freezing. Boy doesn’t want to pedal. He’s three years-old and his small shivering legs can’t stay on the pedals. Dad grabs the boy off the bike and pushes him into the doorway. I can feel the tears on my cheekbones. Dad’s baritone howl echoes off the frozen buildings and bellows deep into the hearts of the suddenly transfixed neighborhood.
Kid cries tears fought back in all of us. None of us intervene.
* * *
I am hiding under a rotted, sunken bridge, a barren monument in a dry, flat, dirt-brown countryside, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I have seen children wading and then floating in pools of blood. All of them murdered. Not a single survivor. I can still see the beasts growling and kicking up dust, a dust that accumulated like a darkly-somber light cast upon a fine transparent glass I try to close my eyes but I can’t. I see bruised women scurry around like lizards trapped in a burning glass cage, men fused against the glass bleeding tears and alcohol through every pore. I wait for the ceremony to end. I must see the fractured remains of their children held high and tossed away into the oblivion. Children – fractured but whole, even beautiful; beautifully, elegantly stitched and wrapped in knotted twigs; sweet, sweet faces framed by fine twine; corpses preserved like dead gods; mortal flesh submerged in the rancid pigments of dried, rotted orange rind.
I drop, drop off, drop into a soft bedding.
* * *
Been running, don’t own a thing, no clothes, no shelter, only stolen rags which cling from the sweat of my most recent stupor. I change clothes when the foulness of my lower body creeps past the stench that often foams around my mouth. I am only clothed so as not to attract attention. I’d rather be naked. I stopped wearing shoes, my callouses have turned inward. My hunger is infinite. A few days back my fingers were dripping with the fat of some unrecognizable animal quivering with insects. Yesterday I was lucky enough to snare a spider with my tongue and suck all day on its carefully silk-wrapped prey. I avoid shitting because of the odor and emptiness of my bowels and the pain of a constantly dry retching. I only wish I could keep throwing up, so as to chew permanently on my own spew. I am hiding under a rotted, sunken bridge, and I am disgusting. Something disgusting is traveling inside me. It starts in my stomach and pushes against my ribs. It travels to my crotch and causes a kind of unpleasant arousal. I feel it move all over my back, legs, and arms, finally reaching the center of my being and spreading its contaminating force into all of my peripherals, pulling at my extremities. It pushes me hard into the ground. It is heavier than gravity. But I am not ready for the burial.
I have to sit up, depressed.
* * *
I said goodbye to my wife and child not too long ago because of this implosion. I thought it had been goodbye forever. But I have seen too many children tortured and dragged until they were no longer children, their pieces everywhere, mixed into the ether, all of them, one by one, cut, each child, a terror that remains fixed in me, fixed as a frozen expression of everything lost but also as something found, an imperative, an urgency to protect my own child.
But I hear suddenly that loud screaming again, that father’s growl rippling through the phosphoric dust. This must be a different image, a sort of screen burn, a father’s snarl. Dad is unseeable under the hood of his Parka. Boy doesn’t want to pedal, his small shivering legs can’t stay on or push or reach or do anything useful. Dad grabs the boy and throws him. Dad has clearly crossed a line.
The screen flickers.
I fall back, exhausted. I wait for some sweetness to stir in me. Those drunk men and bruised women are still dancing heroically in the face of tragedy. Their children are gone, indeed; but this is the kind of grieving that reawakens sexual binging.
I turn the television off and disconnect it entirely from the wall and throw it out the window. I remove all antennas, electricity, wires. Everything electronic of our modern era has been crushed and removed from my premises. There is nothing left, not one link to the outside. Windows are shut, curtains drawn, doors locked, walls made bare. And yet the feed of images remains.