Hotel Palenque /1 — Louis Armand

NOW IS THE SILENCE AFTER THE KILLING. Burnt maize. Choked, acrid. Ash-mouthed. Advancing through predawn glitch-cycles. Orange-yellow squares inside blue-red triangles. Behind the wall something’s listening. Finger-on-switch. Eyelid. Iris. Optic nerve. Waiting. Los ojos de los muertos. Nothing moves & then everything does. It’s cold. The cold & the fear. Lung-shudder. Eye-shudder. Silence buzzing. Silence pared to nerve, reflex. A precipice inside the body. Inside the stalled mechanism. WE’RE GOING TO KILL YOU, they warned, like a mediocre TV show. La Noche de la Muerte. He made his hand into a gun & pointed. ¡Hijo de la gran puta! Finger. Switch. The cops, for reasons best known to themselves, still haven’t begun an investigation. Boil the tripe separately in half a gallon of water till tender. Water spreading over tiles. As the shooting died down we heard a voice cry out: ¡TRAICIONADOS! Add the juice of two limes. La noche y la muerte. You say to yrself that y’re drifting. Motionless. Motionless & drifting. Away from & towards the same point simultaneously. It’s only an impression. Cilantro. Jalapeño. Salt. Where were the guards who were supposed to be stationed outside the walls? The newspapers alluded to unnamed witnesses. He couldn’t see a thing. It was the wetness that made him think he was bleeding, that it was his blood & not someone else’s. All you could think of was scrubbing yr hands. Leave the tripe to cool to room temperature. Scoop off the foam. Remove tripe from water & cut into small pieces. There’s nothing to it. Yr thoughts were an idiot’s thoughts after all. A grackle’s laugh in the undergrowth. Zanate cackling in the doomladen first glimmers of. In a pot, heat the oil. Add onions & garlic. A match flares, somewhere in a metaphorical distance. You realise y’re still standing. Barely. One step away. La muerte de la noche rondando por la muerte. Night’s death spinning through the poem of death. In some unlocatable future present past. Combine the remaining ingredients: first the tripe, then the water. Shot reverse-shot. Somewhere in the dark they were dismembering the dead, compromising the evidence. Allow to stew slowly over a low heat. Alone, finger-on-switch. No matter where, or how, it’s always the same switch. Solo entre la noche y la muerte. Between death & night. Imagine yrself naked in a cinema, the object of the screen’s avid attention. Good. Empty yr mind, cabrón. The barest outline. Not even, or not yet. An image of something unseen. Watching. Some unseeable thing. Waiting. Always waiting. For what? All the bright ideas to stack up into a dead end? The first drink tastes of bile, the second of nothing at all. What’re you doing there, not-there? Other shapes, forms, human abstracts. Vague silhouettes only. Insect noises. Bird noises. A whole evolutionary miasma. God & his raving idiot companion stumbling through the swamp-weeds. They could’ve smelled the fear off him a mile away. It was a miracle to’ve made it this far. Undetected. Too long is never long enough. At 3:16 AM they made their first strike. Their actions showed a coordinated modus operando. I was fast asleep, having taken a pill after a hard day. Awakened by gunfire, but feeling very hazy, I first imagined that a national holiday was being celebrated w/ fireworks outside our walls. Another dreary political reverie. Howling their lungs out. ALL THAT EXISTS DESERVES TO PERISH! But the explosions were too close, right here within the room, next to me & overhead. The odour of gunpowder became more acrid, more penetrating. X looked as if he was fighting an imaginary attacker. Then he dropped to the floor & began rolling around, shouting NO! NO! He slipped one hand down between his legs. YOU HOLD A GUN LIKE THIS, they told him, feeling the butt of it. Crosshatched rubber exciting his palm. Finger curled around the stiff trigger. Clearly, what we’d always expected was now happening. It was a way not to sin. Hands tied to neck. Mouth-smeared. El ojo no se hace mundo. Journalists began to show up & by dawn an impromptu press conference was taking shape in the middle of the road. An eye within the darkness of the eye. After the shooting ended, kneeling over a ditch emptying my guts into the grass. My shoes were full of piss. I squeezed my lips together, so tight it felt my teeth were splitting the skin. I didn’t notice my name being called, everything was black, then someone lit a cigarette. The first one to find him smashed a torch into his face, left him w/ only one eye. It betrayed a certain artistry. La Vida Americana! Peering into the non-light of the retina at its least dilation. Of a light seen before any thing is seen. The assailants had thrown smoke bombs during the attack & now everything was grey. Creeper vines hung from invisible branches. He pushed himself over the rutted sill & crawled as quietly as he could through the undergrowth. The true language of “race” & “blood” is the dog’s bark & the pig’s grunt, he said. Progress by increments only. No victors, no vanquished. For a long time he lay there as if unconscious. The soundtrack had been switched off, then everything began moving again. The images crept foreword. At last an opening came into view. A gate, which led to a clearing. Its rusted hinge. Superstition of thresholds. A dirt path on the far side. Footsteps on the dirt. Dry leaves. The almost silent hiss of blood, nerves. Silence under the skin. Under the trees. In the sea of the sky. El mar del cielo en el mar de la noche. Another fusillade, this time further off. The terrorists were apparently covering their retreat. Splinters of glass flew in every direction. The scene reminded of one of X’s films, where a fugitive is being hunted in the dark. He can’t tell if the sounds of pursuit are coming nearer or moving further off. The jungle terrain is almost impossible to traverse. Is it because he lacks passion or has too much of it? Then the shooting resumed once more, but at closer range. There was no way to tell who was shooting, who was being shot at. A pair of headlights revealed the dark outline of a clapboard shed. The skeleton of an irrigation tank pitched against the moonlit chiaroscuro of fields w/ maize stubble. The headlights came to a stop. Where the road curved, a roadblock had been set up. Voices. X flinched. His tongue was thick w/ saliva like a dog’s. Meanwhile, those who’d survived the initial fusillade began to emerge from their hiding places & regroup. In his mind’s eye, a photographic negative. Seen in its opposite light, the iris contracts, describes its own centre. A face skinned & eyes gouged out. A row of fence posts. An enclosed yard w/ empty coops. Slowly grey was invading the picture, from above & from all sides. It resembled a torn strip of expired filmstock. Massacred ghosts hung from poles. Across the floodplain mist rises through the tree-line, obscuring it. Everything required verification: Rusted machine parts. A dry well. A mound of tree bark. Prickly pear. X crept up to the broken window & spied into the vagueness. He was afraid that by now others could hear his breathing, his pulse, his heartbeat. The air, too, had grown warmer. Tactile. Divisible. Pixellated. The ground was steaming. He gulped down the smell of turned earth, pig shit, rotten mangoes. A pale orange disc surfaced above the wake. Swelled. Turned grey. A grey disc against a grey distance. And something else, a figure, pressed against it. A human outline. Ghostwritten. This was years ago already. All that time staring into the same mirage. “Vanishing against a surface of visible light.” He squints at it, suspicious, but there’s nothing there. Deduction in lieu of observation. You put the glock in yr mouth & suck it just so. Piecing the evidence. The sickness of anticipation lying in wait. Handcuffed to a radiator. The bullroar of an electric cord wheeling the air. That first irrecoverable utopia of pain turned to a spectroscopy of undiluted grey. The scene is as nondescript as all those that proceeded & all that will follow. One hour like any other. One killing like any other. The first day. The day after. The last day. And the day after that. From now on he dreams by antithesis. What’s born, dies. Hallelujah! Perhaps, too, is born again, in order to die again. ¡GLORIA EXCELSIS! Sprinkling lime-juice over the sainted forehead. Cilantro. A teaspoon of salt. A pinch of pepper. Anointing the massacred genitals w/ oil, onion, garlic. The departed spirit returns. The meat of the living dead, seared in a skillet. Pray for their sins. Turning from the darkness to the light as the flesh blackens, writhing in a parody of life. Speak, embers! What lies between? La niente. My dear comrade X, please don’t think that we’ve forgotten you, because we haven’t yet sent the photographs. Everything’s slower here, as you know from yr own experience. We’ve made some progress during the past weeks, but we’re still far from the end. A body was later found, face skinned & eyes gouged out. Hell has unloosed all its furies, in an offensive to which the sleeping world replies w/ empty dreams. Nothing at all about dialectics or materialism. From now on the life of the mind will be determined by war. Don’t be hasty, my friend, to revisit the scene of the crime. After this, if a series of successful revolutions don’t occur, more wars will follow. In any case, their silence is deafening. A bellowing silence filled w/ noise, w/ the accolades of cicadas, wings of dead leaves. The dry rasping wings of razor-grass. Earth cracking & air shivering, the way glass shivers before it breaks. In the middle of the night they encircled the house, scaled the walls, detonated tear gas & fired randomly through the courtyard windows. X sought cover beneath his bed & was shot in the ankle. The floor was cold. He remembered the feeling of vertigo. Of the space beneath him, swelling. A hell-mouth opening. Vapour coiling out the way steam coils off boiled tripe. Condensing. The sweat pouring off his face. Blood in his eyes nose mouth. Crawling through gravel, broken glass, maize stubble. Gashed elbows, raw knees, pierced breast. ¡Sebastiane! (The sky pours vinegar for the drowning bastard to gag on.) He lies there in a naked fever watching the ants burrow out the end of his cock. They’re erecting an obelisk to the Rosicrucian sun. Rays of celestial beatitude. The larvae are erupting, winged archangels swarm the air, suiciding at the radiant Virgin’s feet. The vision is contracting inward, a tight sphincetral knot around his neck. The almost silent vigil of the hyoid as it flexes. The solarised geometries recede. Vanish. In place of them, the desiccated, bleached-out skeletons of dead trees. Bones protruding at angles from the earth. Fissures. Cracks in the brittle surface of the film. Beneath the already too-visible light. A slowmotion danza macabra of underwhelm, mystery suborned to auratic kitsch. The phase of probing for openings, of making preparations, has been left far behind. All the stage props have collapsed under the weight their irrealism. Elsewhere, under the ground, their doubles are stirring. The hidden, the unseemly. The marvellous, the banal. They’re dreaming us. How do we know they’re not dreaming us? Those interlopers. Re-enacting us in an afterlife of dead gestures, dead words? Rising from the grave. Gulping fishlike the unbreathable atmosphere. Lockstep in posthumous hysteria. This is where yr thinking has led to. Exhausted reliving the same night ad nauseam. It’s for this y’ve been kept awake so long. To end in something as tawdry & ridiculous as a time, a place, a circumstance. What else did they expect, a cast-off alter-ego stretched on the ground? Dragged along by the feet? To go wherever you may go? And the dilemma you’ll never be free of, to do away w/ it, once & for all. The dilemma resounding w/ every false step. With every rustling of the undergrowth. Wind through a wire fence. Water drizzling in a cistern. A rusted bore pump. Rust-water spilling from an open faucet bleeding into a pool of mud. Footprints tracking away from Someone’s been here before you. Washing the crime from their hands. Arms. Neck. Face. It’s cold. The cistern casts long malformed shadow on the dirt. Crossing yr path, seven years’ bad luck. Knuckle bones. Stones, dead grass. Swelling, receding, against the agitated stillness. Pulsing from the foreground to the ground beyond. The groundless. Turning back on the glassine surface where you see them. The surface whose function is to inscribe everything weightlessly upon the void. Monas Hieroglyphica. This miraculous writing machine of dead gods, by means of which they dreamed their infinite fugue-forms. Mathematical auguries. A throw of cosmic dice. Projected there in a regularly distorted manner. Nature imbued w/ every element of the supernatural. Every anti-element. Every parallel & contrary. Every geodesic of negation. Every antipode. In that place where once gods, then giants, now only the shadows of men. Staring into water cupped in a pair of hands. Moonface of mock innocence. Child Jesus w/ a head like an oyster fawned over by tumescent cops. Something as hollow & pernicious as any other bourgeois fairytale. ¡Qué llueva! ¡Qué llueva! La virgen está en la cueva, los pajaritos cantan, las nubes se levantan… By now everything’s growing darker again. The plain. The distant mountain. The intermediate river. The sky. The more distant sea. Swollen into its own half-night like a black obsidian egg, an inverse sun radiating dead light. The ground beneath opens up to be sown. You sink down from light to darkness. Non-light. The water slips through. It’s such a short step. And then the path comes to an end. The tile floor of a long & narrow patio. A black metal door. The door has frosted glass windows, two of them broken. And behind the door some sort of place. Some sort of dwelling. Y’re standing in a room. As yet, it’s not possible to describe anything more than its fact. A streak of muddy water on the floor w/ footprints. A pool of dirty foam amassed in a corner. A discarded mop tilted against a wall. A bucket w/ a bloodied blue shirt floating in it. Somewhere a toilet flushes. His shadow crosses the hall & disappears behind a door that opens to the kitchen. A bowl of fermenting black beans sits on a table beside a plate of chicken livers. A chopping-board, its surface heavily scarified. Words knifed into the wood. ¡PODRÁN MASACRAR A NUESTROS CUERPOS, PERO A NUESTRA DIGNIDAD E IDEALES, JAMÁS! Mortar has flaked away from the bullet holes in the kitchen wall. Mosquitoes buzz in the shattered window. He makes a note of the rolled-up mattress in the corner beside a metal sink, stained w/ blood. A stack of vegetable crates. Blue linoleum worn to yellowgrey. Inventories of stopped time, fixed in amber. The more you stare into it the more the details multiply. The word EXPONENTIAL fills his mind the way the buzzing light fills the gunshot window. But still the eyes, unsatisfied, restlessly back & forth around the room, pursuing the escaped clue. All the most obvious props had been removed, it was necessary to work by indirection, implication, association. A life could be entirely circumstantial & never know it. As now, his gaze falling on the open pages of a book. A thin dark shadow down its broken spine. Sheet of newspaper. A square of patterned carpet, red woven w/ yellow. A chair beside a low table. A faded lampshade. A shelf w/ more books. A medical dictionary. Archaeological journals. Bernal Díaz. Le Plongeon. Half-a-dozen volumes of the Encyclopaedia of Natural History. Piles of manila folders. A textbook of evolutionary biology. Packets of photographs. Notebooks. An old typewriter w/ missing ribbon. HIGH & ALONE LIVES THE SAD OLEANDER (UPON A VOLCANO ON MARS). Picture him there, w/ his pages & hours, as fastidious as a reinona emerging one facet at a time from her chrysalis. Behind the typewriter, a row of unmarked glass jars, precariously. Empty bottles. A wooden tray w/ torn squares of carbon paper. Ticket stubs. Street maps. Envelopes. A glass paperweight. I stop at the paperweight. Its appearance seems to present a contradiction. As empty as my seeing gaze. As flat & emptied-out as the image reflected in it. Refracted through it. The one overlapping the other. Surrounded by all of those incidental details. The room itself. The light coming from outside. Everything replicated in its detached fragment of a reality. A fragment of fragments. A glass eye in place of the unseeing eye. I take the paperweight & slip it into my coat pocket. My thumb slides into the hollow base. A splayed cone ridged around the middle & rounded at the top like the glans of a circumcised penis. Its bulk hangs ungainly against my thigh. There may be other clues. A wooden staircase. A pair of gloves discarded midway. On the seventh or eighth step. A trail of ants ascending from the bottom landing. In the adjoining upstairs room the walls are covered w/ photographs. Bromide. Acetate. On the floor, a large patterned carpet frayed at the corners. A track in the carpet marks out two perpendicular lines. Where they meet, the lines form an apex. The eye draws an imaginary hypotenuse across the open side of this L-shaped figure. On the other side, X is sitting there just as I remember him. Hunched over his writing desk. Self-portrait w/ eyes doused in kerosene. A low hanging lamp produces the obligatory chiaroscuro. Blue as a blue flame. What impresses itself most immediately is the angle of the arm. Shoulder. Head. The plane of the desk. Pictures framed on the wall. The determined isolation of each of those frames keeping the montage in a fixed arrangement. The air is unbearably humid. Acrid stench of damp, mildew, ejaculate. Residues. I try to determine the source. To the right is a second door. I begin to approach. Halt. It seems the smell is somehow linked to me. I proceed & it dissipates. I stop & it surrounds me. Again I look across at the space where I expect X to materialise, but he’s vanished. The blankness of the room displays all the signs of a hurried evacuation. Tracks on the carpet. Shadows on the walls. Traces of abducted human furniture, denuded in a wrong exposure. Light striking or cancelling the one who’s no longer there, or was never there. These two ideas suddenly appear equivalent. Cross over or efface one another. I don’t know. There’s only this reflex, of seeing or not seeing. At the same time, the game of detection goes on according to its own implacable logic. From reason to clairvoyance. Seeing through alien eyes things which are strangely familiar. Too familiar. Entering as if upon some alien shore in the form of an embodied intention. Moving purposely towards the inexorable criminal impulse. At the point of the apex, at the exact perpendicular & one true end. Those stairs, that room. A Pythagorean fatality lies upon everything. The dead walls of the police station. Interrogation rooms. Holding cells. Cubicles doused in cigarette smoke & cheap shaving lotion, hair gel & gun oil. Like a dosshouse reeking of crack & KY. Siamese twins parted w/ an acetylene torch. You savour the stink of burnt flesh while watching the desk officer fill in the charge file. Sweat dripping from the lampshade. Lizard-scale. Moth-wing. The scratched impression left by a clotted felt-tip. By the butt of the hand moistening the paper, creasing it. Something to be retraced through the palimpsest of time & other figments. Which would prove what? That it was never really a question of searching. Of trying to uncover. Of following all the routes back. Even if such a thing were possible. “There’s only the fear,” X says. THE END-IN-ITSELF. Always coming back of its own accord. Despite you. No matter how many times you pull the trigger. This ritualised act of denotation. Call it a game. The moral vulture plucking at the liver. Fear of rejection. Of fire. Of isolation. Of spiritual & physical eviction. Of all the emissaries of nothingness. Sending you reeling aimlessly into doubt & self-analysis. The exercise of narcissistic detachment. From others. From what’s called the world. TRASPASAN LOS LÍMITES ENTRE LA REALIDAD Y LA VERDAD. A piece of lost property. A stolen virginity. A calamitous 5-year plan. A dead letter, posted to one non-existent address after another. As if to determine in advance the trajectory of its non-return. Left behind, as though it were some sort of clue. A memento. A captive piece of inertia. To stand in place of you. Of yr own immanent departure. Haunted by figures forever patiently converging. Menacing. Pursuing through nightmares. The envoys of malignant destiny. Expecting them one day to suddenly arrive out of the blue. Even though y’d scripted it. Anticipated it right down to the smallest detail. Calling yr own bluff. And despite yr most elaborate precautions, still succumbing in the final act to the idea of escape. Casting about, hysterically. Rushing at doorways. Windows. Anything. Groping for the one impossible means. The only one which can bring the morbid game to an end. A stage actor running frantically into the wings, only to find himself back at the starting point. Staring helplessly out across the orchestra pit at the vast empty volume of the auditorium. A grinning nothingness. Mouth open. Head back. LAUGHING MY FUCKING ARSE OFF. Then work in a few choice gesticulations. At first, perhaps, wildly. Agitated. Theatrically overcompensating. Then slowly, by degrees, more purposefully, sparingly. Or else the hands don’t move at all. Possibly they’re not even hands but two semaphores in permutation. A staggered clocklike movement. The caricature of a man waving back at you from the bowsprit of a sinking ship. Teetering on the proscenium ledge. Blinded by dark overarching waves. Already drowning mid-air as he falls, about to be swallowed up. Only to be slapped awake again by the cop w/ sweaty palms. The typing stops. They’re shoving something at you to sign. Yr magnum opus no less. Reprieved by deathless prose hahaha. Through bits & pieces of detached retina the words swim. The moistness of the cop’s hand. Lips to yr ear. “I must formulate completely the work I’m about to undertake. I must search for the law to which all things submit.” Beginning at the beginning. The first word. First account. First confession. Ah! The shadows set out once more upon their journey. Insomnia by fractions. Evolving towards that single, far-off point. Lentamente! Over the doorstep. The bloodied linoleum. Up the wall. Across the vast ceiling. Their nightly dumbshow. Growing aroused at the sound of yr voice. At the sight of that half-formed caricature between yr legs. The dead hand begins again to work at its strings. Closing around the neck. Turning off the oxygen to the brain. Only then is it time to wake up. Time to keep running. 5:00 AM. Dark out of the Metro. Reaching the corner, crossing the avenue & continuing on. Moonlight over the Zócalo like a silent movie’s comforting simplicity. Eyeless in Guadalajara. Yellowgrey fog thickening the gutters. Stumbling over cracked pavement, sewer grates, always listening for the telltale footstep. Doubling back. Scrutinising the reflections in shop windows. A street sweeper’s orange revolving lights. Kid on bicycle dragging a glacier behind on a trailer. Federales in black utilities w/ mounted machineguns. Street vendors setting up, slaking the sidewalk w/ mop-water. Crates of flyblown mangos. Water tanks. The smell of cooking fat. Chopped jalapeño. A drunk lies passed-out on a bench behind a newsstand. Shoes stolen off his feet. A hooker at the end of the graveyard shift bums a cigarette. Hypochondriacs queuing for the farmacias  to open. Yesterday’s headlines shining shoes. The widely-reported death of Juan Carnivale. Schoolgirls playing football w/ a tin can. A comedor on Ignacio Mariscal. Tortilla. Fried egg. Watered-down coffee. I TELL YOU, says the Man, WE’LL DIE LIKE DOGS. Being hungry, being cold. Have you experienced that? Strangers passing in coats w/ frayed collars upturned. The same strangers perhaps time after time. “Some people find life boring.” Or: “It depends on circumstances.” The politics of an ant crawling around inside a box. A demon in a box, chanting in the dark. PODRÁN MASACRAR A NUESTROS CUERPOS… Stepping out of the traffic into an alley between kitchen & storeroom. Pots simmer on a stove. A knife working a board, shaving off ever-finer slices of meat till only a sliver of gristle remains. Rows of garbage cans. An unhinged gate. One room leading to another. Other rooms. Other facts. Set against you in a closed, geometrical medium of resistance. Before you. Behind you. Under you. Above you. Backwards, forwards. What resists & what fails. The language of bodies barely seen. Barely heard. Rooms for memory. Or the opposite of memory. The daily crumbling of the sensitive tissue. Pain in the gums. In the kidneys. In the liver. The conduit between shoulder blades. Between nape & anus doused w/ salt. Black sauce smeared all over a pile of dirty dishes. The invoked spirit. Coatlicue! Cihuacoatl! Teteoh  Innan! Snakewoman. Moonmother. Starmother. Sunmother. Warmother. The live wires writhe & hiss. Solder & cordite. Two slits of eyes. Quark, Charm & Strangeness. The ancient woman places the Shem upon his blackened tongue. Shush now my little stupid one. Arms outstretched the monster roars, rises from its laboratory crypt. Its first awkward hydraulic steps. Navigating the strange apparatuses. The metallic creak of the stairs. “Who is it? Go back to sleep! You know y’re not allowed up here!” Each blow resonating w/ sharp moans. At the back of the laboratory, the tiny shower is curtainless & the toilet has no seat & no lid on the cistern. Lying on the cracked tiles. A ruin w/ blood spilling out. The wind carries the hum of radios & barking dogs. A janitor is pouring a bucket of mop-water on him. WASHING AWAY THE HUMAN STAIN. They’re laughing, roaring. Wheels veer, screech. Vendors chant their litanies, their mantras. A barrel-organ on the sidewalk. Alarms ring. Immune to their insults you grab yr clothes from the ground, yr shoes, & run. The air clouds w/ steam. Votive candles. The jammed second-hand of a clock vibrating in place. A boy sits at the foot of a bed pulling on a pair of socks. Siete de la mañana y diecisiete minutos. Siete diecisiete… He dreams he is a spoon tapping on the dome of an egg, cracking it. A cracked window. Drowned out by clouds, the morning light fights to pierce through. Curtains. Lamps. In the background the Cerro La Caldera. An open plot amidst the rubble. Pieces of polished glass. Mirror, mirror. I & I retrace our steps. I’m standing at the gate again. There’s no-one. Knocking at the door. Entering. The walls are tiled. A single fluorescent hangs from exposed wires. Metal washbasin w/ soiled towel. Pieces of eggshell & soft-boiled egg. A cubicle. Two men inside. Grey light through a hole in the wall. A grill over a half-window opening onto a ventilation shaft. Dried shit & sweat & genitals. The streaks of piss are brilliant red. Vermilion. Like great gouts of putrescent liver kidney intestine. In commemoration of Cristóbal Colón’s first fuck on native soil. Contorted by a nervous twitch in the left side of his face. Scalp. Tendons aching in his arms. Close yr eyes. Exhale. Head tilted back. Open eyes. See the plumbing gradually subside through the gashed ceiling. Its dilations, its contractions. Pupil dilating. Aperture. Anus contracting. Forcing the internal switch. Dividing the absolute from the not-there. As if, on the other side of a piece of film. Piercing it. As far as the furthest image. Until it bleeds. Or not before it bleeds. As close as the image of it. Blood standing in his shoes, in his clothes. The shape of the room coming apart. Blackness & then blackness & then blackness & then light. A door opens, closes. The same door. Same opening. Same closing. Someone enters. Again. Re-enters. Re-entered. Row after row of locked cubicles. Corridors suffocated w/ the stench of fucking. Broken-toothed groans. A sewer pipe, ruptured all over the floor. On the wall, a mirror cut into blood-diamonds distorts you. Becoming a hole in the fabric of things. Something missing from the surface of observation. And now the broken light is flickering on the stairs. The room atop Everest. If only you could reach it. But yr legs fall out from under you. Inhaling the bugspray carpet. A mattress woven of dead hair, cockroaches, rat bait. Eyeball to eyeball w/ an overturned ashtray. Cigarette butts ranged on either side. DELICADOS OVALADOS. Tender is the enemy of our dreams. An empty bottle of Cabrito stands there in silent adjudication. Behind the door, a suitcase full of plastic bags X-ed w/ packing tape. Awaiting the perfunctory dismemberment. Bone-saw. Dentist’s drill. Numb from the jaw up. Swollen mouth twisted into a raped sphincter. A side of the face knots into a fist. The other gone completely slack. Once more the self-loathing. Once again morning caves-in the last refuge of stolen sleep. 

Louis Armand is the author of THE COMBINATIONS (Equus, 2016), THE GARDEN (11:11, 2020) & VAMPYR: A CHRONICLE OF REVENGE (Alienist, 2020). He lives in Prague.