“’Tis not the swords, but they who wield them.” -thomas the younger
-thomas the younger
Christen this train.
Its passengers: my crew, and this lass.
Steam stained cathedral glass dream…
-“Threnody” (chorus); Ph.Daemon’s Hypernova.
She gestures; the show begins to stream.
Victoria prays, and blood becomes her eyeshadow.
The opening sequence cascades across their cracked monitor–an imperious detective, his exasperated sidekick, his lover and fan-fave foil, various equations and graphs superimposed–it all parades before her kneeling figure, and a rousing violin piece confirms that, yes: she decided against the SKIP INTRO option.
Victoria isn’t watching. Not really. -Her eyes are certainly reacting to the shit, sure; they even move to the actors’ faces as they come and go, no matter which quadrant of the screen they appear in–she’s seeing them.
If one cuts to the meat of it, though…the sense which has dominion isn’t Sight.
Victoria is listening.
With every fiber of her being.
Because its always starts with a sound, and it never ends there.
Seventeen days ago, Djomo took two steps toward their rickety bedroom door and dropped dead. -His death certificate reads myocardial infarction: vasospasm, but…well, Victoria knows better. -Even as she clutched him and screamed for her AI, she knew. “I’m sorry, Vittorio. I didn’t understand that.” Deep breaths. Talk. Slow. Tremulous. “Did you ask me to call an ambulance, Vittorio?” She knew, yes–people know these things about the ones they love, and no bastard Latin can capture the way such knowledge breaks you, medical terminology does not successfully define the ruthless functions of hurt and its opening, its flowering, and how you are all alone now, no medic’s presence makes a goddamn bit of difference, no ambulance takes you to a place the loneliness does not follow, you wait to quit weeping for a few minutes, you wait, you wait, and his arm never finds you. No.
Victoria fucking knows, okay? -To her core.
Djomo died of a broken heart.
Describing her lover’s tone would be impossible–it’s in a zone all its own, as is almost always the case with him. Djomo inflects with the best of them, he really kept your ears perked.
Wait: inflected. “‘221’?” Victoria called, pausing in picking her afro. -She wrinkled her nose at her reflection; stuck out her tongue; floated an eye inward; returned it to its proper position, snorting. (That mirror would be shattered, and soon, and badly…but this was seventeen days ago, and that Victoria could still make silly faces in it. Unbroken. She could smile. She didn’t. But she could’ve.)
“Yep.” Djomo shifted on their queen-sized thrift store acquisition; rose; padded down the itsy-bitsy hall–appeared in their eensy-weensy bathroom door, poor and nearly naked and impossibly beautiful and alive and not healthy but they don’t know, they don’t know, they don’t. “How much is it again?”
“Eight ninety-nine.” Victoria smirked at Mirror Djomo; he grimaced. “Autodrafted.” No need to say what eight ninety-nine meant to them, because hey: escapism. Seven out of the last twelve months, at least. A good year. “Is that chick flick up yet?”
“You’re a sexist piece of shit,” he murmured, slipping his arms about her waist. “WHICH is why the Digital Deity did not see fit…to let me answer ‘yes’.” Mirror Djomo peeked around Mirror Victoria’s flare of hair, grinning impishly. “You’ve got another week.”
The spinning circle.
It appears right after the detective winks, roguish, and stalks purposefully toward _________. -Djomo called it Ouroboros, that circle: eating its own tail, eternally. (That’s what it feels like, right? The waiting? Queuing up in Hell.)
Victoria straightens her left arm, propping her weight upon it. -Her right hand’s still aloft; the faint glow of her MyChip, embedded beneath her forefinger’s nail, is more marked in the twilight betwixt credits and opening scene–she notices, and retracts her hand–raises it again, flicking that finger, and her WorldPieces come up: it’s nine forty-one, Eastern Standard.
Seventeen evenings ago, Djomo stopped breathing…at nine forty-two.
A weak bud of hope fights for sun within her.
Victoria leaves the WorldPieces app up for a sec; her right hand floats to her forehead, slow as a subaquatic dancer’s, and stops where the myPhone struck her. She winces, but she perseveres–lowers her hand in the neardark, blinking sluggishly.
She closes her eyes.
Thirteen dusks ago; fresh from the funeral home.
It was easy to assume that someone had broken into their apartment. Never blame the victims, Djomo insisted…but man. Sometimes, that was fucking difficult.
When she got her first look through the doorway, for instance–right then, as her Shyft driver sped off in his redneck engine-gunning glory, misfiring Mustang’s nearly kaput catalytic converter insulting the cul-de-sac and polluting air all throughout, blue exhaust billowing–right then, Victoria wanted to hunt the housebreakers down and slit some throats. Real talk.
Because of the message.
It was scrawled in acrylic, just below the miniature grandfather clock’s exposed and weatherbeaten gears; the brush wasn’t in evidence, either. Neither was the tube of rose madder. It could’ve been anywhere, anywhere at all in the topsy-turvy that had been their home. In something; on it. Among.
The phrase marched across the brief stretch of wall behind their raggedy-ass futon, letters awkward as an idiot child’s. (Betwixt his two unfinished paintings, in fact…and won’t that be a can of worms–an artist’s retrospective: it loomed in Victoria’s subconscious, knitting old resentments and undying faith together, linked up with that hot knot in her chest and roiled there, coiled. Fucking roiled.)
was what the shit said, and it was far from funny.
Swahili: “Lake Queen”.
Djomo used to call her that. -Because of Lake Victoria, of course…but he was never one to leave a thing simple.
Victoria was a squirter, see, so…yeah.
Somehow, the message was worse than the up-ended bookshelves and the downed world map and the half-made peanut-butter-and-nothing on pumpernickel on his desk and his desk, oh his desk, they seriously did that, they did.
Oh, the offense of it.
Later that night–it must’ve been after two:
The globe. On the floor. -Groggy again on the heels of an adrenaline rush, Victoria put it back on the pretentious half-wall which separated their (her) living and dining spaces. Walked back into the bedroom with Djomo’s machete, eyes already trying to float shut.
That time, it got all the way to the futon.
It took several incidents–Victoria had no idea how many, really; by the time she pulled up what Djomo used to call “Debtflix”, it’d been more than a few. Before she began to suspect.
That it was him.
Long before his despair destroyed him, Djomo evinced the classic traits of a manic-depressive person. -The life of a party, or a wallflower headed for the door in fifteen: he was both, and his cycle was incalculable.
Triggers. -He could be triggered, and thus rush into his abyss from his apex. Terrifying to behold, and even more frightening to love…but it also produced what Victoria considered genius. (She wasn’t alone in that assessment, which made it all the worse: Djomo’s sworn enemy, Capitalism, ruled the very world he sometimes wowed. A poem on Monday, a song on Monday night, an impromptu speech at a protest that Thursday, and poverty still snatching him about in its snare the whole time–she remembers his captivated audiences, how could she forget, and how it all gave her a straight-up chill. How her Djomo was, essentially, a Hitler. Who hid.)
…and that was the key: the increase.
By the time he threw the phone, things had gotten completely out of hand. (As opposed to just, y’know, out of hand. Let’s be real: a basic poltergeist problem was already enough to drive many sane folks mad…but not Victoria. Perhaps it took a certain species of insanity to love Djomo at all. Perhaps that conditioning was a buffer–an Ouroboros of ego, of id; a circling of wagons on her mental frontier, warding against crazed and disenfranchised Confederates. Nah–she was good until the phone, and that was that. Whatever it meant about her.)
The mirror came before his phone. The prior night. -She’d fallen into one of her fugues
(we are at Tybee Island, he slips inside me against the lighthouse as a heat storm flirts with the mainland, what brilliant forks, what colors among the clouds in that heavy air, he’s flexing, stretching me and yes yes it begins to rain, rain, o it will never)
when the mirror caught a fade, and isn’t that just hilarious–a fade, a fade, it splintered and spiderwebbed and spat silver slices before the force of it–later, frayed and all out of screams, Victoria fished a shard out of her hair. Large enough to operate on someone with. -She wondered if she’d done it herself, and a new unease moved in her.
Djomo’s miPhone came from the darkness, lit like someone had hit the Home button, and an eldritch tracer burned in its wake.
Oh, it went on a journey. -Djomo had opted for the guerrilla glass case, last time around at the kiosk–its patent was still pending, but the potential had been enough for him. “Unbreakable,” the infamous M. Knight insisted, smiling from the sixth ad on FaceSpace. “The finest bit of technology the Orchard has ever grown,” the case’s progenitors Fleeted. In fact, Flitter-entire was flooded with vids on a handle: #BREAKTHEBITCH. None had succeeded…so far.
Djomo was no exception. -His miPhone came in so fast that it whickered–it cut air like a whip or riding crop. Had it hit plaster, that would’ve been where it stayed. Like a goddamn ninja star. Jutting from the ruined wall. No question.
It first kissed the windowsill, though…and thus it was off to the races. Passed her face twice with a hum and a breeze; slowed a bit as she flinched on its third pass, the monitor’s touched somewhere in there; the fourth was the charm, and the miPhone caught Victoria on her forehead: not slowed-down enough, too bad, it split her meat to the skull and ricocheted into the closet. (Its glowing screen was swiped sideways. Minimized. -An app, represented by a quarter note icon, sprang to full screen.)
A song: “Victoria…bless this train…its passengers: my crew and this lass…”
A smell: wet metal. Red. White blots, blue dots; dancing. “Steam stained cathedral glass dream,” a vocalist crooned, coming in tinny from another continent.
She’d started to crawl at some point–fell off their bed, her bed–maundered toward the monitor, MyChip initiated with a thumb gone clumsy. “Ungh,” she stated. “Ummuh.” Her back sagged, something cold touched her nape, the song started over: “Victoria…” Grey, the world went grey, it came back and she was fogging the monitor with her nostrils, ruby smears above ruby runnels, ohgodhands, cold hands on her hips. Cold.
Other objects began to rise, slow and simultaneous: a coffee cup, an ashtray, his sculpture of Odin, his Moleskine socialist manifesto, his Moleskine sketchbook, his Moleskine dream journal, the Hairless Hare they used to take turns pressing against her clitoris.
An increasing chill–that’s what raised the pebbles on her, that’s all it was. The chill. -She tried to remember if she set the AC to something ridiculously Arctic.
She did not.
She chooses “221”, sluggish but going now, there’s no stopping, she daren’t, the hands are still there but not so grippy.
The ashtray, aloft. (A sense: him. -Watching.)
His sculpture–gods, it must weigh twenty pounds easy. Easy.
She glances at his miPhone with watery eyes, miTunes is still up but the miDashboard is too, it is paused. Like the hands.
Hairless Hare, buzzing.
-thomas the younger; may 26th, 2017. all rights reserved. all rites observed; all nights, disturbed.