Hotel Palenque /2 — Louis Armand

Dear X, I’m meditating a work, not one line of which yet exists. Except this one. Except this. This abortive commencement. This forgetting which comes back & forces the hand. Drawing a line through each vanished word. Each blanked-out space. Such locations exist. We can of course describe them. A geometry of scaffolds shoring up the crumbling façade. Of what cannot be shown. Cannot be permitted to be shown. In each of its rooms: guilt memory tyranny. Masonry & clenched fists in the shadows. ARRIBA, PARIAS DE LA TIERRA! A beaten man doubles up. Who is he? The victim’s identity is missing in the dream. In that improbable destination in which everything is made to not take place. Knowing that beneath their disappearances, all the nightmares are the same. The non-faces & non-situations. Whose mind was he in now? The interrogator’s voice coming from somewhere far off or very close. On the dark side of the partition. Silent question marks inflecting. “You know this isn’t a dream, don’t you?” The room opening out. Expanding beyond its limits. He sees himself shrinking. Overwhelmed by space. The voice coming to him from further & further away. (And the one question you won’t give up. Yes. Nor could you ever give it up!) And yet somehow X hadn’t moved. He was standing there, exactly as he had been a moment ago, watching w/ glass eyes. The flat of the hand striking the side of the face. Thumbs wedged inside the mouth, forcing it open. Flattening the tongue. TIME TO GO, DOROTHY! Exit down the Yellow Brick Road & out the rabbit hole. But the slightest gesture to arouse a lesser evil always entails a greater one. Blood from a vein running in a continuous dark line, as if painted there to rescue a body on the verge of formlessness. The room, the entire earth, tilting on its axis. Where will it fall to? Where come to rest? Bound to the pull of gravity like a pelvis bound in a chastity belt. This is how it will be from now on. How it has been from time-immemorial. The iron-clad laws of doubt. Ignorance. Uncertainty. Fragments of something, untouchable. A caste lower than even the lowest. On which all else. Balances. As upon a pinhead. As upon a proletariat. Because History has not favoured them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Reason in place of fact. A mask in place of. The sound of gunshots. Yet to speak their language, even for an instant, would bear over-abundant fruit of compromise? A bowl of rotting mangoes oozing onto a tablecloth. CO-RA-ZÓN DE MELÓN! First they beat then tortured the victim. A plastic bag taped over the head. Thrown not yet dead into an open sewer. Tlaloc. God of monsoon multiplication mud. Rebirthed from caverns measureless to man. A fortuitously aborted foetus in a shrine. Fusebox gaping from a wall, hung w/ crow feathers. Woven twigs. Coloured tinfoil. Everywhere unseen the electrical grid seethes. An invisible hand arranging the evidence. Approximating the event-sequence. Point by point. Lines drawn. Cracks in the seabed, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions. Once more they accuse the gods, seeking for lineaments of occult meaning. Secret communions. Conspirators by the light of a basement window. Voices trembling mid-flight. Dogs stalk the shadows. A television in the vaulted sky. They’re standing around a large clay pot in which the internal organs of their victims stew. Flicker of a stove w/ flames licking out. The dogs start barking. Someone screams. Fire! A figure runs out of the building in flames. A burning Cortés. Suddenly everyone is dancing around it, screeching at the top of their lungs. Dogs howl. The burning Cortés flails its arms. They chant. They sing. Their incest fables. Their bloodlines. Narcocorridos. Parricides. Doomed repetitions. This fear that leaves them naked. Wooden scarecrows masks. Lead in the veins. Mesmerisms. Sacrificial rites, elicit séances, malevolent espíritus santos. Even the false ideas exist when they believe in them. PLUMED SERPENT DESOLATION ANGEL. The burning Cortés has fallen to the ground. The dance halts, their hands raised in the air. Every human being, they shout, holds great potential which he must develop through physical conditioning & through mental & spiritual evolution! Some have pickets, others sing slogans. Flames spiral against the night. Shots are fired. A crowd runs towards them, terrified, pursued by militias. The air is hypnotized by the rhythm of their violence. “The true art is the one that brings the world closest to chaos.” To the ocean in the sky. To the underworld. To the ancestor spirits not yet become rocks. Not yet the road the path the broken heel & the dirt beneath the wheel. Las flores azules que están atrás de las montañas. Possessed as their secret knowledge is possessed. Las flores azules que están hablando! Ustedes que dicen saberlo todo, interprétenlas! Here they resemble the gods called “the Dancers.” Here the Dancers talk to them in their language. In their own words. In their own thoughts. They’re far away. Among us. Above us. Below us. Garnished w/ glass beads w/ thunder w/ lightning. To love what can’t be mastered. “I’m born more than once, & die more than once.” Stumbling like a re-animated corpse. Who is he? Who are you? Tempting fate merely in order to exist. Y’RE KILLING ME, he says. The shadow draws you towards it w/ subtle skill. Filling the blanks. W/ each stab of the needle another wound appears in which the mythical body opens outwards. “And if I could remember, what then?” Subprogrammed in hypothalamus. Lower-brain immediacies. Operating the limbs. Seeing w/ its own third eye. The distance from cornea to retinal wall. A tunnel of light spiralling towards the vortex of all perception. Refracted, polarised. Far off, in a distance more present than any self. A pyramid in the clouds. Man-woman w/ an iguana’s head. It whispers: “Allow yr actions to appear to come from a point of weakness.” Everything bathed in blue ethereal haze. A window. Rushing up. Disintegrating. I pass through it. I cross the space of the threshold. Glass slips from its frame. Shatters. A curtain wraps the body like a shroud. Tears. Delivers the body up to gravity as it falls. Falling slowly. The air is liquid. The falling body is sinking, faster & faster. This is where he must open his eyes. Where the hand must reach down. To arrest that fall. Drag the body back up into air. The hand of god? But there’s no hand. No god. The world extends infinitely downwards. An infinite cathode tube spiralling through darkness. Its light resolves into the one same image. An other, in whose eyes I’m endlessly reproduced. Two mirrors placed in opposition. Inwardly spiralling. It seems to go on “interminably.” Time collapsed into a closed vortex. I see myself at once in the first cell division. The embryo. The child. The geriatric. The raving of voices in the wilderness. A single nervous thread coiling & uncoiling. Coming apart. A fragment for the whole. Moving w/ dream-like rapidity from montage to montage. Beneath an archway, a scrawny kid in sunglasses. The lenses of the glasses so dark it’s impossible to guess even the shape of the eyes. Hustling for twenty pesos on the edge of a comedown. “The kind of high that scares other people to death.” Blowing out smoke w/ the look of a bored come-on. Once open, the hand immediately goes limp. La Concha Dorada. Sacred pudenda of the Virgin Mother born. Things like that don’t happen. A corridor, the light over the doorway at the end comes on & then goes out. We’re alone. Always. Even though they say we aren’t. Vague halo of predawn through unshuttered windows, anonymous as a hospital ward. An orderly guarding the doorway while a nurse moves among the beds. A sidewalk after dark. Traffic sounds. A cinema marquee w/ the lights blown out. A storefront w/ TV screens. The imaginary escapee stands there staring at them. A hidden video camera feeds his image back into the closed circuit of spectacle & surveillance. It’s a scene in a hundred films he’s learnt to relive. Alien figures in passing cars. In cars not passing. Headlights dimmed. A tabaquería. A man standing in the doorway reading a tabloid w/ naked woman & bloodied corpse side-by-side on the front page. PORNSTAR SORTEA PALO PARA UN PAPÁ. COSEN A PUÑALADAS A UN HOMBRE, ADEMÁS LE CORTAN EL GAÑOTE. Behind a barred window, shelves of butcher’s meat. Rows & rows of ciphers filling-up & closing-out the picture. Meat & gristle. Meat & gristle. Meat & gristle. A stairway down under the sidewalk that widens as it recedes. Strip-lit underground arcades. Plastic oleanders, ceibas, banana trees. A limp figure hanging against a wall like a coat on a coat rack. A hiss escaping between teeth. Its face, cut across by the flicker of neon. The face melts as suddenly as it appears, becoming a procession of rubber masks, harnesses, prostheses. Trotsky, Stalin, Escheverría, Díaz Ordaz. The fugitive stumbles on through alleyways between buildings. Walls slaked w/ graffiti puke blood. Dogs barking at his heels. Teargas. Loudhailers. NO QUEREMOS PUTAS, QUEREMOS REVOLUCIÓN! Helicopters overhead. Green signal flares ripple the night sky. “Stick the needle in & get it over w/, cabrón.” A reward of a million pesos has been posted by the government, the unseen monster now fitted up in a rubber fright mask. An opposite that’s no longer invisible. Seeking that inwardly tending circumference in which the all encloses the all. Barely cohering & already coming apart. They put you in a cell y’d do anything for a fix. Names, faces in photographs. Pick a dozen at random, concoct a pattern of events, spew as many unforced confessions as they demand. A dog eager to its task. The ultimate reward is within their grant. To be at peace with myself. Egoist! Their love is neither an image, nor series of images, but a texture. Something present in the very fact of itself. The very FACT! (This isn’t a lie, they tell you, isn’t a betrayal, things fall apart by sheer force of gravity without anyone even lifting a finger.) Running the line-up gauntlet in slowmotion. Mirrored glass. Execution squad w/ machineguns at half-mast. Play acting. Look, this is what we can do to you! The bulge of their cocks stiffening inside their fatigues. Any moment now El Capitán will give the signal. He’ll close his eyes. Sebastiane! A boy in a Salvation Army uniform w/ a collection tin, outside the row of half-lit stalls at the back of the cantina. Men, alone or in pairs, disappear inside. Messages on pieces of newspaper passed between adjacent cubicles. Urgency & inertia meshing in the hot, foetid air. A night of ellipses. The incidents themselves are nothing. It’s the details alone that are important. To be an eye, separated from the cortex. The dog sees but does not understand. The other’s dog-like face. Eyes empty. Cerebral hemispheres eaten away. A parasite living in the ruins of a body. One kills oneself the way one dreams. A closed circuit of repetitions. There’s no more breathing space. Everything’s made to bypass the mouth & proceed directly to the vein. From vein to cortex. The faintest possible glimmer of light. Counting the seconds minutes hours days months. An insect in a jar spiralling & spiralling. Submit to me, it sneers, hisses, whines. Write this down a thousand times. Keep writing it, till it manifests its own truth. Singular from compulsive sameness. Again the vertigo. Again casting ahead to the terminus. Again the echo of an original, pristine ruination. Again the final solution. “That first rush is a devastating feeling.” Bleeding it dry till y’re left crawling through a desert. Doubled, a scorpion on its back. The alarm clock says 11:56 pm: 2g chloral hydrate dissolved in 150cc of water. W/ the development of narcosis all the stimuli progressively diminish. Fixing upon the way the other holds his body, ready for abuse. Maybe wishing for it. Hands growing ever colder. I drift in & out. The body’s time multiplied & divided by the mind’s. Its elements neither contradict nor affirm me. But I’m within their grasp & they have a strange power over me. Propelled towards some future advent of which I’m the unknowing instrument? Arriving elsewhere. Midnight. Geographies of a naked city. Jagged rooflines pressing against the sky in a fugitive hustle. X is sitting on a mattress, staring down at a mirror lying between his knees. At what is written there, perhaps. “Paths taken & not taken exist simultaneously.” A labyrinth of faint white lines dissecting us. Constantly bifurcating. Fading. In his eyes too. My shadow in the dark harbour of his imagination. Longing for untold genealogies. At the end of Calle Línea, there is a long shell-strewn beach. The skeleton of a concrete showerblock jutting over the water. An abandoned hotel w/ rooms identical to this one. And other, equally identical, unseen rooms multiplying around it. The sound of traffic & voices & dogs barking. A key grating against the mechanism of a lock. Someone in the stairwell. Two pairs of footsteps, one seeming to pursue the other. A faucet is dripping. A pool of rust water. The hair at the back of the head matted w/ cold sweat. A fly buzzing against a window pane. A pair of shoes. Trousers hung across the back of a wooden chair. A black leather belt. Blue light from a television screen. Someone’s shaving w/ the light off. Dazed & slightly dishevelled. Through the window there are other identical windows, flickering blue & white in autistic unison. Their aquarium light contracts & expands in synchronicity. Someone audibly exhaling. Shifting their weight in the darkness off-screen. What kind of transaction has taken place here? Is about to take place? Mechanical caresses in an elevator. A fusebox humming in a stairwell. Striplights. Neon. Taxis parked on the sidewalk w/ radios blaring. Across the street, a starch factory bellowing. The silhouette of a large counterbalance swinging in an upside-down pendulum motion. The hammer raised & brought down through a staggered arc. A repeated blow in distended time. Beating the unresponsive head against the floor. Inertia. A sack of flesh & bone lying there to be kicked. The mouth protrudes. The eyes turn. The fingers grasp. What unreal objects haunt the spirit through the underworld? Mechanical vultures of unsleep plucking the liver nightly from yr sides. A plastic bag w/ a sheaf of polaroids. Bank notes. Weapon w/ serial number filed off. A blood-slaked crucifix. These talismans to ward off the evil eye. They have presented evidence that hell exists. A strangled Baby Jesus w/ a condom full of smack stuffed down its throat. Hecatombs of routine & boredom they call the Corporate-State. Everything needed to be described in the most forensic detail. Whole bureaucracies of slaughter. Crime scene fetishes on a production-line. The whole Cartesian litany of ego-assassins punching the clock, doing time. One press of the button & the slated would be wiped clean, but this is the way the world turns. The glock goes ba-da-da. The old makes way for the new, supply & demand, profit & loss. Chakra points of entry, exit, recovery. The life-stories of faceless bookkeepers holding all of Destiny in their hands. The epic poems of aggregated data. Proceeding in a strictly logical manner. Begin w/ an itinerary. A purpose. Relation of memory to future experience. The meaning of that. Of whatever’s to be gained by computing it. By recomputing it. Repeat until a pattern emerges. The unique ego-coordinate. Call that pattern recognition. Credit rating, psych profile, fingerprint, blood type, genome, character, known associates, place of residence, date of birth, cholesterol. The relation between. Every quantifiable, woven into voodoo effigies that take yr place in the world. Agent of foreign powers. They’ve marked yr forehead w/ the indelible sign. Confess! Floating above the room like a witness at yr own interrogation. One disembodied hand signs a paper, another applies pressure to the neck, the wrist. Soon you are no longer able even to make a show of putting up a struggle. The texture & smell of latex gloves. Sweat, halitosis. A light hangs from the ceiling. The large cop spits on you repeatedly while he buckles his trousers. Turns his back at the door. Still you couldn’t describe any of their faces. A waste bucket in the corner of the room, documenting numberless similar transactions. Tissue paper w/ blood. Dried sputum. Sucked-off makeup. Macula & broken teeth. A crust of vomit adorns the rim like salt on the rim of a margarita glass. Against the wall he rolls a cigarette & lights it. Face momentarily lit from below. Eyelashes unstuck. Half-moons, black under the eyes. Coughing his larynx up. Mouth on the verge of deformity. Bruised. Gap-toothed. Split lip. Hair brushed wet across bloodied scalp. In an instant everything’s reversed. A security camera suspended from the ceiling in the opposite corner of the room. The screens multiply. A close-up of the face pushed against the wall. The floor. One haemorrhaged eye bulging from its socket. Mouth, swollen, unbreathing, prised apart w/ a steel ratchet. Other eye stitched shut. Face in profile, front view, virtually indistinguishable. The same face (apparently) from before the “operation,” photographed unawares. In close-up & from varying distances. The situations also vary. A trace of lipstick, mascara, assorted wigs. Headshots, standing against a wall, seated in a chair, speaking. The eyes directly at the camera or at a point slightly above & to the right. A hand raised to the mouth. Closing over it. Nail varnish on cracked nails. The back of the head. The collar of a shirt. An exposed collarbone. A naked, unidentified body. A clothed figure, lying on one side w/ a dark stain on the front of the trousers. The tortured, prostrated body of the victim in a bathtub filled w/ dark liquid. The film rewinds & the body reanimates, breaks free of its restraints. A detonation in which the body’s shot like a shell, ejaculating itself. Grimace. Rictus. Laughter. Lips drawn back, exposing the teeth. Mouth forced up against the screen w/ drool spilling from the corners, the shade of unripe mango. A faint white line descends the screen, bisecting the image. ENTRE EL ALBA Y LA NOCHE ESTÁ LA HISTORIA UNIVERSAL. According to the official report, the entire ward had been evacuated due to a contamination scare. All of the operating theatres were empty. The quarantine lasted for the entire period under consideration. The entire installation was cordoned off. Sanitation squads in hazmat suits. Despite its total isolation, the building soon succumbed to an invasion of spiders, insects, scorpions, snakes, rats, monkeys. Strange calligraphies appeared on the floors, walls, ceilings, bed linen. Birds’ feet, jaguar paw. Clawings & expressive smears. The same features reappeared time & again. The chaos of its initial appearance as if held close in a single frame. Elegies of the all-seeing eye. The nearness & remoteness of god. LAS TEORÍAS DEL INFIERNO. Random causes that are also symptomatic, like one of the signs that announces an illness. It’s impossible to tell how many eons have passed. White lines divide the shutters. Outside the sun already burns on the horizon. I went out into the corridor & up the first flight of stairs. The corridor was empty. By this time the substance was beginning to act. The bougainvillaea hanging in the windows glowed darker. The light seemed unnatural, coming from somewhere within the things themselves. Shadows stirred in the corners, gradually animating. I became uneasy. Chilled despite the heat emanating from the walls. I stretched myself on the floor. There was brown paper stuck over the cracks. Mosquitoes buzzing in the ears. “Sting them! Sting them my anopheles!” Lightbulb overhead flickering. A heavy, paralytic weight. Beginning at the feet. Then knees. Thighs. Genitals. The base of the spine. Diaphragm. Lungs. Throat. Mouth. Eyes. Tiara. Corsage. Veil. Medallion. Voodoo candle. Iguana. Aspersorium. Incense. Stained glass. The Blessèd Virgin sucking off Christ on the Cross. Head folded into the gap between shitcan & cubical corner. Pounding of fists on the door. Disavowed but always inescapable. The black weight of night hangs upon me. Dry-docks & deserted wharves. Junkyard of scrap metal at the ass-end of the harbour. Rusting hulks. Machine parts. Cranes, elevators. Like crude works of fiction. Anchor-chains rising vertically from luminous scum. THE FLUID WAVE-MOTION LOCKS THEIR DREAM-FAST MEMBERS IN THE CRAMP OF SLEEP. Yet only one shadow on the ground. Footfall of someone following behind. Stop. Wait for the slower step. Who? You keep walking. The wharfs almost deserted. Two men leaning together beneath a lamppost. A street vendor sitting on a box beside a handcart w/ sailor’s caps. The sound of ropes snapping against flagpoles. The wind blows an empty carton against a chain fence. A sound like rats deserting a ship. The streets looked the same. A cruising taxi slows down & then drives on. In the square, a pair of papier-mâché figurines dancing in the wind like skeletons. An archway under a neon sign. Muffled voices. A door painted metallic green. Inside, two hustlers in black jeans leaning sideways into the bar. Eyes fixed on the entrance. Someone at the back jokes about a whore from Veracruz. Stuck his cock out the window to attract customers. I half-listen to the conversation, as though from far away. Will the real Comedia Divina please stand up? Finally one of the hustlers leaves the bar & comes over to the table. An affected come-on. Asks if I have the time. I point to the clock above the toilet door. “Is that the time?” “Five minutes, maybe.” “Five minutes?” Holding up the open palm of a hand: two almost parallel lines diagonally across it. The fingers brush against the shoulder. Mouth curving into a sneer. “The world today has no more mysteries.” His clothes stank of scum-rot, violation, submission. Pushing his face into the toilet. PISS FUCK SHIT! they screamed. Naked he resembled photos of the death camps. MEAR JODER MIERDA! What was forbidden was precisely what was done at every opportunity. “Though we’d learned that our anuses weren’t the source of disease, we still couldn’t get rid of the maggots infesting them. The maggots of the State, of the Church, of the Mothertongue.” Their imaginations were limited only by what their implements were capable of depicting. From the simplest to the most convoluted. One day they simply handcuffed him to a corpse & left him like that. Which is to say, chained to a mirror. There was no escape. He asked himself if something missing. Some equally unpleasant but necessary formality, which if performed, would release him from his fate. The corpse leered undisguisedly, the skin & musculature torn from its face. Thus do we lie naked before god, it said, its ruined eyes gleaming at him like neon signage at the end of a dark alley. The same alley he saw in all of his dreams. The same neon. And at the end of the alley, a mirrored door w/ electric drumbeats spilling out from behind it. The door swings back & yr reflection slips through the tarnished glass. This is the password. Then one day the reflection stops appearing, y’re not there anymore. A glitch in the eye’s differential calculus. A disturbance in the air. Perhaps the world itself has lost sight of you. Slipping between the cracks, the fissures, the fractals. Between the glass & mottled silvering. The lichens & mildews. As if expecting to catch a glimpse of something on the other side, spying through the camouflage, seeing you as objects see you. And then to go on as if nothing’s happened. As if this is the way it’s been all along. Pushing past the masked figures leaning against the walls. Boots & fists. Running the gauntlet. The music grows louder. One of the masked men spits. Perro! Eyes like the eyes of Vicente Huidobro. Bluegreen death’s-head tattoo under ripped black T-shirt. Blackened fingernails & blackened teeth. The air in the interrogation room was oppressive. A heavy pall of cigarette smoke. For a period of time everything seemed weighed down. Leaden. Their uniforms represented authority of the stupidest kind. They ordered him to his knees. If he could’ve closed his eyes he would have. The first blow was at once reckless & hesitant. “They didn’t feel that there was a great deal to do.” He could hear there voices, even afterwards, stretched out like an overplayed cassette. Their movements, too, trailing off as the pain collapsed in on itself. One blackhole opening onto another. A void between two voids. “The void women understand more than men.” When we arrived at the emergency ward the intern had me lie down on my front. Then he painted the form of a cross on my back w/ iodine. The tip of the cross grazed my neck, the base sank below the coccyx. “In any case, we must make no mistake as to the difficulties such an operation might encounter.” An expression played back through the other’s gaze. Unwavering now that y’re entirely in his hands. Each gesture, the function of some hidden intent or of an equally sinister absence of intent. I finished my drink & went out. Crossing the street again I realised there was blood on my face. The air was cold & someone on the opposite sidewalk was coughing. Revolving orange blue red lights. A stairway leading down, between a barber shop & a newspaper stand. The sound of wind blowing through the metro tunnels. Three figures standing on the platform, talking. Their voices have no life in them. They stop & look across at me. There’s no-one else in the station. No-one into whom to escape. Then after a few seconds they turn back to themselves. Impossible to make out what they’re saying. The shudder of an approaching train becomes a scream. A fog of burnt rubber spews from the tunnel. Stink of anguish & frenzy. “The killing train.” Its hydraulic mouths yawn open, vomiting the half-digested remains. Slam shut. Once again we’re being ruminated. Waiting our turn to be spat out. And this process could go on forever. Through endless successions of stomachs, intestinal tracts. The ghost of the Madonna of the Subways whispers FIREWALL W/ ME. You too, like all who are victims, shall be punished & thereby purified. Dragged naked along the Stations of the Cross draped in gunshot neon. It is the WAY OF THE LOST. The deeper you go, the louder the voice, the scream, the gnashing of teeth. LOVE ME, she says. Y’re choking on her breath, it’s burning yr eyes, sour as a vat of acid. Hands grabbing for the trigger, handle, switch. SEÑAL DE ALARMA. EN CASO DE PELIGRO JALE LA PALANCA. TODO ABUSO SERÁ CASTIGADO. An elevator opens its doors & smoke pours out in a gust of hot wind. Immediately y’re outside. The nonstop tabaquería on Lázaro Cárdenas. Crossing the street. The traffic seems more than just familiar. Faces behind windscreens. The colour, make, model of the cars. The intersections, overpasses, bridges they hang the eviscerated from. Lines branching off. Bifurcating. Redoubling. The suspicion y’ve been here before, in this exact situation. Maybe this is the bonus play. REACTION TIME IS A FACTOR. The first scene takes place very quickly. Afterwards, standing on the sidewalk, X shares a cigarette. Then a taxi to an apartment. 37 Cerrada de Medellín. Worn tracks on the carpeted stairs. “Have you come for treatment or for a report?” Bland décor w/ off-white windows & blinds. Beige seats covered w/ clear plastic. The next scene follows in immediate succession. An almost identical room. The same white uniformed figure is still standing there. Indifferent yet scrutinising. Somebody else sits in a fake leather armchair watching you. Dry, peeling skin. Black around the shirt collar. The things that were discussed “belonged to another world.” A world to which I, you, he no longer possessed any emotional connection. Once again we’re naked before our confessor, signalling w/ our tongues. Too hard a tongue beneath the distended buttocks. “The other doesn’t flinch. He pretends to read or to scribble notes. But he doesn’t miss a single one.” The interrogative expression in the eye. Face pressed up close w/ magnifying glass, needle, surgical twine. Blood on his fist, under the nails. Sealing the abominable wound. Eye in its prepuce. Blind glow-worm in the solar anus. And what was that like? What else was like that? How did it make you feel? The cancer of it wasn’t terminal but he still had to survive it. At first when they told him this: Panic? A tightening of the chest? The feeling of drowning? He lent back in his chair, paying no attention. One is put upon this Earth, the consequence of a biological & not an ethical or moral process. That is the only context given to us. Like a strap-on placebo of no woman born. The indices change, but not the basis. Or there exists a biological consciousness & a biopolitical unconscious. The human virus wears away at the living nerve. Machine-brain plugged into primitive life-support. Every sadist is a self-hating submissive on the rebound. Every slave is a conditioned reflex made to believe it was born that way.

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.