¡¡ — And Hodgson

From the appendix ‘defunct realities from the notebooks underneath my bed’ in Reperfusion

   iii.

It was about 8 pm when things took a step too far. And whereas upon such a step being taken, I would have preferred things to take two back, suffice to say they didn’t. It began a series of steps, a hop, a skip, and a jump. And the rapid trundle of events began before I knew they’d started. I’d sat awaiting the obligatory responses – LOL!, ROFL – I’d’ve settled for a WTF, although I’d hoped for a LMAO. But for all my pounding of f5 nothing came in quite yet and I was happy to welcome the arrival of the plumber, as the water from the burst pipes in the lavatory walls had reached a depth of two feet and mine were soaked. Faced with such dampness I had removed my trousers entirely, and stood before the man bottomless. He was quite tall and looked down into me, but the water around my shins obscured my full depths, and from his face I gleaned he was undecided as to my motives. I noticed him notice the laptop open on the dining room table as we waded through me and my wife’s house and I thought to add to my audience. My French failing me, I strung together various words, imploring him to ‘look me write’ before remembering I was in Spain and calling for my long suffering wife to translate to him. She did so to a greater or lesser degree, a garbled phonetic account of which I will here spare us both. He nodded as she spoke and soon we – I, she and he – one and all were squinting and thumbing noses at one another. He lined and dotted the air, nodded, smiled and tended to his business. It will be a week later, as I lay in the Bay of Biscay unthinking, that my serenity will be hindered by the first shots. And at that point his leaving with little more than a grassyass and a fist raised high (accompanying the facial expression already painstakingly documented) will click, and it will dawn on me that I had forgotten to pay him. But that’s all to come. There is still a background hum of malevolence to let build.

I took a broom and began to brush away the water. However with the back draw in preparation of another thrust the water was drawn back into the voided space at every attempt. Until I gave up and lounged a while. I saw no piranhas and so let my toes pickle in the water. White, swollen and wrinkled, it was asif at the point at which the water stood my legs succumbed to necrosis. The feeling that it was all already over soothed me and I fell quickly aslumber, readily expecting the necrotic effects of the water to spread through my extremities and save me the bother of waking up.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. I was woken after what was between 17 minutes and 17 days. It couldn’t’ve been longer as upon looking out the window I saw no green shoots and so was sure Spring hadn’t sprung. And my toe nails, although due a clipping, had not curled so as you see in the Guinness book of records. My face time with the window was broken by three relatively instantaneous realisations. Firstly, I was inexplicably fully clothed. Secondly, the floor was dry, arid even. And thirdly, a small boy had stood before me upon waking who I had failed to acknowledge in writing. I watched his shadow against the wall a while until the strain of pivoting my eyes in such a manner forced me to give up. I gleaned (looking out of the westward window) that his shadow – to be painted thus taking up my wall space, meant it must be morning. Although that told me little as I was unsure of the hour at which I lost consciousness. I was stuck in quite a quandary indeed. A burglar? A mugger? Kidnapper? Ghost of Christmas past? Satan¿¡ His intentions were unclear and so as the blood thumped through my temples. Lacerating my knuckles, I pivoted on one foot and with an almighty downward swing punched the entity to the ground. It only took one punch and he didn’t move further. I felt buoyed by my victory, and a little remorse that he was still breathing. The gloating power of killing satan is much more so than rendering him temporarily incapacitated. Just as I thought to save the world a whole lot of trouble and stamp him out I noticed a note in his hand.

It read, I transcribe for you here:

Querido Hullcity_fan11,

Solicitamos cordialmente su presencia esta mañana a las 12:00 en las oficinas de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española.

Usted debe traer consigo el dispositivo que ha usado para expandir su ridículo manifiesto. Si no se presenta voluntariamente las Fuerzas de la Guardia Civil española procederán. ¡Piense en las pocas oportunidades que le quedan, Hullcity_fan11! Su gente no puede protegerle por mucho más tiempo.

Llegar a Calle María 20, 15420 Ferrol.

Jesus Gloria de Concepcion

Now, as you know, Spanish isn’t really my forte. But I made several deductions from the artifact. With mentions of Jesus or whatever my suspicions were confirmed. This boy was an evil spirit, but not the big dog himself. Secondly, I had to be at 20 Calle Maria at 12 o’clock. Where I gathered a big dog would be. It was unclear as to why such drama had developed, that I could not make from the letter. Although the sneaking suspicion scrawled across the inside of my skull was ¡¡. Clearly in my absence something had developed beyond the capacities of the usual authorities. And now it was down to me to stop it. I asked my wife for my gun, to which she astutely replied I didn’t own one. I nodded my accord and told her I would have to use these guns, tensing my biceps. She replied in the positive although her face seemed less than convinced, however the part of the brain that controls movement of the facial features is different to the region that controls speech and so one vote of confidence of two was good enough for me.

I left through the west facing window, turning to close the portal I glimpsed my wife helping the demon to a chair and looking generally concerned. I knew at that moment two things, she was either working for the other side, or was too good for her own good. Either way, upon my return, words had to be had. As I made for the far pavement something began to eat at me, something in the letter. Something stood out, and with it in hand I gazed at the ink. ¡piense! Like two pillars it surrounded the sentence. This was no case of points, it was a prison. Built up across the line, a jail for thought, made to measure. No longer was I presented with the trap of dialectical progression. This was punctual barbed wire. A gulag for words. For all my trying, in my absence something terrible had happened. And now it was down to me to fix it. Strengthened in my sense of purpose, a purpose that at that time still eluded me in its enormity – I had however grown by then to trust my instinct – I set off down the hill, the jaunt in my gait growing jauntier with every step. It would be half way down when I would first notice the blood red graffiti. But that’s a new development for a new chapter.

   iv.

When I passed the Cor I took a right, a right, a right. I paused a moment, wondering if I was making the right choice and swiveling on the ball of my left foot I moved to hang a left. It was then the mood changed. The air dropped deep in a red hue and I was unsure all of a sudden. I nearly fell when mid swivel I shifted my body weight to the right and attempted a counter swivel. It wasn’t then I fell, but 2/3 into the action, with my lower body committed to the left and my upper the right I managed a pretty slick somersault on the way to the ground. I wasn’t sure if I was correct in my second guessing, but I felt it was right, and so I took a right and found myself outside the Cor. It was then I knew I’d taken a wrong turn, as, you may have noticed, I had ended up right back at the beginning. The air was clear at that point, and I wondered, in the furore of my walking, turning, falling, what had contributed the red streaks across my blurred vision. I looked about me and, upon scanning the wall, I noticed, can you guess? How did you know! Oh that’s right, I already told you. Yeah, blood red graffiti. I took my time analyzing the wall, a mucky cream colour and emblazoned across it the word INDIGNADO¡¡

My heart leapt, although it didn’t get far, impeded by my collar bone. Safely back in its place it followed to sink. But it felt like my whole body was sinking with it and so I received no butterflies to my tummy region (or nausea, as some might call it). It was some time before the floor began to solidify, and I began to feel I should pull myself out of it (as I remained crumpled on the ground still). I lounged a while, staring at the wall. Unthinking, leaving my eyes on the blank polarity of grey muck on cream paint. Working up courage to raise my vision, I think the rate works out about an inch a minute. Which by my standards of cowardice is a pretty good rate of building courage. It was a while before I looked upon the paint. It had dripped a tad. The writing sloping forwards, downwards. The capitalized letters showing little consideration for linguistic morays. And then, there. Dropped slightly from the line of writing. Dotted with fervor rather than afterthought. Two upturned apostrophes. An indignation mark. I began to sweat, and not due to the physical exertion of dragging myself up the wall, but from the shackles of dismay and confusion being drawn tighter and tighter about my ankles, neck and wrists. I thought it best to get to this meeting on the Calle Maria and sort this out quick sharp. It was while I slowly crawled up the wall that a number 20 bus to Ferrol rocked up at the kerbside just by the Cor entrance, and passing the doors – which opened with a BING BONG – I threw myself on. The driver seemed to expect something from me, but I mustered ‘yoo habbler no spanyol, hombray’ and he left me to press as deep into the back corner of the bus as possible.

From the window I watched space pass, but time dragged far slower. The bus passed the tall buildings growing shabbier and shabbier as I moved from the outer reaches of Corunna town center to the indifferent outskirts. Soon, the tower blocks, paint cracked and walls crumbling, dissipated and I found my vision resting on a continuously replicating field of green pastures. The butterflies began to flit about my ankles, of course on their way to my liver and kidneys and so I looked away from the glass, down to my feet. The black of my shoes pressed half heartedly against the floor on the right, and a piece of paper on the left. Just right of where, through the leather, my big toe rested, writing spilled out from under my sole. Upon shifting my left foot left, I saw the phrase, common to me from my days as an undergraduate. But far more horrifying. HASTA LA INDIGNACION SIEMPRE¡¡

Shit, I thought. Shit. I dared not look down for the rest of the journey, and braving the nausea I chose to stare out of the window. The bus sailed down the motorway as if whipped, but the digital clock sitting above the back of the driver’s head dripped forward at an ever slowing rate. It was a strange feeling, like being jerked back abruptly when running from a car bomb. And it was just so that I found myself stood at the top of the Calle Maria. Shit, I thought. Shit. My steps were laborious, but I took them anyway. It was at 11 Calle Maria that I heard a horrendous sound. A horrific wailing emanated from an open doorway. My overbearing moralistic tendencies, of which you must be well acquainted by now, forced me to enter. I rolled up my sleeves ready to fight off some terrible accoster and save a damsel or two. It’d be good prep for the ever circling battle with Jesus awaiting me at number 20, I thought. The corridor stank. Ammonia and rotting bills. I forged on, expecting the motion sensors to flick on the lights. By the time I reached a leftward kink in the corridor into total darkness I had reached the conclusion this building didn’t have any such sensors. But by then it was too late. I saw, in the blackness, a commotion. Two figures in the shadows rolling this way and that. The shrieking at this stage was deafening, reverberating around the walls and ceiling. I hesitated, only a moment mind, just a moment, before throwing myself into the melee. I felt a clenched paw beat my face and swung hard knocking whoever it made land on back. I then felt claws dig deep in my face and I began to wonder if I hadn’t broken up something consensual. Soon they were both on top of me beating my face and torso. Dragging their nails through the flesh of my cheeks, I fell back into the light and realized I had made a terrible mistake. They backed off momentarily to see if I had the guts to carry on. I raised my knuckles, taut and white, in a show of defiance. They jumped about me hissing and bearing their teeth, sticking their tails straight up in the air as they do. I turned and tried to run for the front door, for sunlight, for freedom. But before I made the doorway they were upon me, and I fell face forward into the street, they sat atop me clawing at my neck and scalp. I, screaming, managed to throw one off into the road, which met face on with a shiny chrome fender doing 40. The other was more tricksy, it set about me like a prize fighter, ripping at my tendons and paltry muscles. I regained my feet and set to for a 15 rounder. It was about twenty minutes later when I finally managed to suppress it and silence the wailing.

I staggered on. Finding number 20, I had to walk over one of my recently defeated nemeses, who, after being calmed by the front end of a car had been thrown 9 doors down. Red dreck seeped from its ears, its grey fur flowing seamlessly into the grey concrete blocks in which the steps to the building were rendered. I’d’ve not noticed the corpse at all were it not for its terrible bloody claws extended full tilt. That and the internal organs strewn across the pavement. Although limping and somewhat flayed, I felt I had made a tremendous preliminary triumph, and entered the great wooden doors with a feeling of utmost confidence.

Which quickly fell apart first around my ears, before tumbling down to my ankles and laying in ruin across the floor behind me as I stepped further into the reception. Large marble buttresses shored up golden arches paced every twenty yards of the 110 yard space. Leaving an uneven space between arches at the beginning and end of the pattern. The floor squeaked as I walked, a four bar beat with a stressed intonation on the two and four due to my slight limp. I had recently, I remember, sprayed my shoes with water protector (this region is prone to rain, as you’ll find), and in my carelessness covered too the sole. And so I tramped over the polished marble floor, I could say slipping, but I would prefer gliding, to the far doors to the inner sanctum. Reaching the doors I stood in tatters, the ribbons of my clothes matching my shredded id. I held a hand to the handle engraved with the word PUSH, in English. And pulled. Before reading the inscription and throwing my entire 11 stone behind it. The door inched open, not quite as dramatically as I had hoped and I greeted the innards of the building with the cry JESUS¡¡ To show I would not be defeated on whatever issue it was I had been called upon to address. I opened my eyes and thought to perhaps arrest my bravado. But I was spared the effort, as four large men in too tightly fitted uniforms threw me on my knees and arrested me for me. The room was large, vast, you might say. And brimming with big blokes in black shirts. I bit my tongue, although not in any abstract sign of silence, but as a physical exertion of downward pressure from the upper incisors and upward pressure from the lower on the tip of the tongue due to the application of sudden force to the rear of my cranium and the resultant burst of trapped energy created upon my chin greeting the floor. From such an angle I could really appreciate the quality of the marble, a cream colour with a grey grain running through it. Really quite spectacular. And of course hats off to whoever has to buff the thing, he’s a greater man than I. Blood trickled from my mouth, running in a gulley where two slabs met. I coughed and laid, hands shackled to my feet and neck and stared unthinking at the spray of red blood across the cream and grey floor. My vision began to ebb into shadows when a black shoe landed in my plane of sight, rousing my consciousness. The shoe was accompanied by what I assumed was babbling Spanish, smashing through the dam of my lowly solitude and flooding the room and my head with noise. I thought the shoe had bit its tongue too, when a moment of sonorous silence fell. But it wasn’t to be. I was dragged off to some anteroom or other, plagued by the scrape of my shackles on that beautifully maintained marble floor.


And Hodgson is a PhD researcher based at Université Paris Est, and a lecturer in English language and literature at various universities in Paris. @andhodgson