IV. GODS AND TATTOOS
V. THE PAIN
VI. THE SUN
VII. A NIGHT
VIII. A FORM OF BEING
XI. PARANOIA EXIT
He woke up in the early afternoon and it was just another rainy day. An intrusive thought zipped through his head, rushed through the cold, dark corridor to the next room and jumped out of the wet window without opening it. The cold-boiling water on the asphalt swallowed it but he still had this feeling that someone is constantly spitting from a higher floor of the hotel. He could not see him, as if the unknown, mystical creature was using the shelter of the grey-creamy clouds. He could have stretched his hand out and touch them but some inborn superstition that they belonged to one, at least different world - the one above - kept his arm paralysed.
The clouds were there and they made every single thing bent under the heavy burden of moistening darkness.
He saw the trees outside had went through an ominous transformation that had turned them into nothing but sad bonzai invalids.
There were quite a few passers-by and even those who had the courage to bare the monotonous rain, walked with their eyes fixed in the pavement and foreheads almost touching the soaked knees.
And there was no sun. There was nothing reminding of its existence. The place of exile could have been somewhere in the dead deserts of Africa, giving light, warmth and life to only one caravan, following the route of a bright, hallucinatory trip to the nearest life saving watery shadows; or it was the end of Phaethon's trip - the day when the son of Helios who'd got so close to the earth with his father's sun chariot was killed by Zeus with a thunderbolt and it opened this gigantic tank and it rained and rained and rained and He stood shivering at the window animated by the streaming water and talked to all sun Gods he could think of: Apollo, Amun-Ra, Tonatiuh, Vahagn, Belinus, Bress, Sul, Iruwa.
They should be back. It will be back.
The morning was coming earlier and faster then expected. 464 km. were left till sunset. A straight line on the map was enough to show his route towards it. He was running in a state of hectic glide. He had behind him all those dry, yellowish sands that looked like crumbs of old cookies that had lost their original taste. He hated crumbs and the thought of them was more than painful. He still had one of those side effects of the medicines they had given him in the barred building. Just a few minutes after he had swallowed the pills he started staring at his hands, he brushed them, washed them but the crumbs were there. He had this pseudo-material hallucination all the time and the speed of his chasing ahead was doubled by his desperate need to stop it.
The sun was rising above him and its universal time counting urged him to go on. He knew he shouldn't look round but he did it and the trees - vivid ghosts that had just been at the hairdresser - were gnarling in his face:
"You'll never get away. You'll never be there."
He knew he should not listen to their envious whisper, they were just a gang of kids lurking in the bushes and when someone was approaching, they lined on both sides of the road, sway their hips, put out their tongues and curse vulgarly.
He made himself remember where he was going and the dirty words reaching him from the stand-still future paper bags lost their importance.
He was running away from the old building where time had completely lost its importance as a pragmatic notion; away from the red, white and blue pills. He had been waking up every morning with the desperate wish to reach the straight line on the horizon and to see the new one appearing next.
Still in bed he realized that the sun had appeared quite early and no one else had noticed it, so he got out of bed and used that exit he had never dared to check.
It was easy, quite easy.
Patience was dominant in the behaviour of the psychiatrist. He was clever. He was asking more and more questions rather slowly as if playing a game of chess, and he was sure his partner had no chance of winning.
"You have to sign here" - said the doctor and passed him a sheet of paper indifferently.
"What is that" - he asked and tried to meet the eyes of the doctor.
"Read it if you want. It's a written statement that confirms your agreement to be treated in our clinique."
He was reading it slowly and silently as if this was the very moment he realized that he'd come to a dead-lock.
The doctor was getting bored it was nothing but a routine procedure for him. He took the phone, kept the receiver in his hand looking through the barred windows, then put it back and looked at his patient who had broken into perspiration as pale as he had ever been.
"You have no other chance. This is the only way. Sign the document and let me help you.
He had to be in bed at two pm. It was hot, really hot and the sun effect could have been definitely killing. He walked on and the arrows of its power were piercing his body from the highest minutes of the day, he was stepping on his formless shadow and there were no legs, no hands, not a head to be recognized, there was just the agony of a reflected body, just too much of sun's generosity.
"Hurry up, this heat is dangerous, it's killing me." - was saying the nurse who led him to the building at the far end of the alley; and what he had seen from doctor's window was gaining more and more details. - "You should have been in bed already, you know that?"
She was nice, almost beautiful - just the right person for this job.
"You are OK?" - she asked cautiously. Her expression showed no presupposition about his answer, reaction or mental state. She could have expected everything but he didn't say a word, just smiled and she counted this as an answer. She increased the speed, since the shadow, the tree was throwing down - was replaced by a sun-contact-direct patch of asphalt and the next lime-tree was a few mtrs ahead. She was almost running - her hand was covering her eyes - and he was doing just the same.
Helios: Sun god in ancient mythology, son of the Titans. Hyperion and Theia, married to Perse, father of Aetes, Circle, Phaethon, Pasiphae and Perses. Helios drives across the sky each day in his four-horse chariot. He is known as Helios Acamas (The untiring), Helios Panderces (The all-seeing), Helios Terpimbrotos (The one who makes mortals rejoice).
"Here we are." - said the nurse, pressing the bell at the front door of the old, ugly building. They passed through two metal doors- joined by another nurse and they both invited him to their room.
He was inside the building and they treated him accordingly. He took off his clothes and put on brown pyjamas. His luggage was searched thoroughly by the first nurse for anything that could be dangerous, so she locked his pocket-knife, his razors, several pins and his belt in the safe.
"Do you have any drugs on you?" - asked the second nurse but his negative answer did not seem to be enough and she went through every single thing of his belongings. When she finished, she turned to look at him and smiled:
"Some of our patients have problems with heroin, you'd have to be very careful. Do you understand what I mean?"
He did, when he entered his room, saw four men - smoking heroin and went to bed immediately. He closed his eyes but he still felt the presence of the five hieroglyphic signs- tattooed on the neck of one of them. The Eye of Ra - an amulet against injury; The Fish - an amulet against drowning; The Djed - the sign of endurance and stability, The Ankh - eternal life, and the fifth one - meaning horizon and representing the sun rising over the mountains, so that the dead can witness its rebirth and be reborn again.
The first three days were a blank. He could not remember anything that had happened but the moment when a blond nurse had given him four pills.
His perceptions, thoughts reappeared on the third day. He was shocked, it was a disaster; and the doctor wanted to see him in the consulting room after breakfast.
It was a sad room. There were two chairs and both of them were uncomfortable. The room was definitely large but there was not a single detail, piece of furniture or attendance that could have made it interesting. He sat on one of the dodgy chairs and the cherished mystery of having good time was sneaking away.
"I want to help you." - the doctor started and paused, expected to be interrupted, but he was not and the pause was spreading its domination over time - filling in the space under the ceiling with insipid jelly that said nothing.
And then, there was a voice saying: "Man is the ultimate projection of the Universe, a unity of contradicting tendencies. The Universe we know exists in an obvious state of equilibrium, otherwise it would twist and burn, it will disintegrate, it will disappear. It should be the same with us because the universal principles are copied in us but to uncover them we have to translate them into the language of particular existence. It is the talent of the interpreter that shapes the essentials of being. Phaethon is the son of Helios. Once he asked his father to drive the chariot of the sun through the heavens for a single day. He got what he wanted. He got the chariot. But he was too week to do it. The Earth was scorched. Zeus had to punish him and there was a thunderbolt; the light was too bright to be measured and the sound burned to death. Pain was everywhere. It was all."
And there was one night he felt almost dead. He felt almost dead and this cruel, throbbing pain made him feel pity his perceptions were still alive. It was malevolent, it possessed more power and persistence than his potential to resist. There was nothing left of him but the annihilating pain- spreading from his eyes to the back of his head. He was pressing his eyeballs harder and harder, he tried to massage his forehead and the pain forced him to do it in a state of irresistible hysteria. His eyes were shut, any light penetrating through them could have killed him. The pain was swirling uncontrolled between his ears. He wished he could faint. He was scared.
The doctor was watching TV in the next room and the giggling of the nurse was proving the show they had was not a good one. He shouted for the doctor and several minutes passed before he turned up - quite repulsive, wearing a red face and a filthy robe.
"What the fuck's going on! Don't you remember, I told you I can't help you right now. We have to wait for the ambulance to come then I'll drive you to the hospital. I've got no medicines, nothing that could help a person in your condition." - his voice was even, harsh and impassionate, as if he was saying that every quarter of an hour through the speakers of the last station of all trains that had ever existed. - "You'll be fine, just be patient. And don't make me repeat it."
The bed sheets had turned into a dirty drenched ball he was pressing to his head. He was writhing in agony, praying everyone he could think of to stop that extreme pain. It was like preparation for death, just at that point he realized that nothing else was really important.
He tried to control the throbbing pulsation but he was too exhausted to manage.
He passed out.
No matter how far it was, it was there.
It was the first morning he could make a precise cut and divide the hallucinating time counting from the reality beyond the glass hemisphere "gently" decorated with invincible kilos of metal.
He managed to cheat the nurse and the fucking pills were swimming down the drain. That was not an easy game.
He stayed in bed. And this time he had no pills he had no voices.
That morning he almost remembered who he was. It was like a message from those spheres of his mind that could not be tamed or imprisoned. He revealed that which the monotonous daily brain washing was trying to cover, seal and bury.
It was not reality that had changed it was only the environment. The sun was coming to see him every morning. It seemed to be the only familiar form of presence that appeared regularly. He was quite uncertain even about the way he looked, mirrors were not allowed, they were dangerous; but he had been following the constant routing of The Father-Disk. He had been changing the view - walking from one window to another and all that mattered was the sun. Follow the golden chariot, the tragic end is nothing but a misunderstanding. A kind of pagan homage was conquering him, he felt the bright, warming light streaming around like a magic veil - changing not only the way things looked but their position in the paradigm of nature.
The wind sliding through the leaves of the trees made the light dance on the tiled, white walls. His eyes were closed and his hand- hanging outside the window - was motionless between the bars. His eyes were closed but he still recognized the shadows dancing in the dark. He was calm and relaxed. He heard or rather felt someone shuffling his feet towards the window he was sitting on. It was one of the guys he saw daily - a short creature, wearing the same fucking pyjamas and billion of kilometres away from the so called successful treatment.
"You are OK?"
"What do you want?"
"You want something?"
"You want a fag?"
"Thanks." - and he smiled, he was happy and the trembling hands did not seem to bother him - " Would you take me out for a walk?"
When night starts falling down, it is getting dark and darker and darker, it is getting cold and colder and colder. The shadows - reflections of any objects with visible shapes - start their transformation into nothing and finally disappear quietly.
Twilight swallows the streets, then it rises above and replaces the last sun rays which part from the highest buildings, fly to the west and dissolve into the gigantic ink spot of irresistible night.
The air - coloured in blue, grey and black - makes the distant objects disappear, then it spreads like half-a-day illness, comes closer, then thicker...
She was taking her clothes off looking at him and her face was getting closer and closer to her idea of expressing excitement and lust.
"Could I have the money first?" - she said. Then started apologizing: "That's my job. I hope you understand."
"I do." - he answered but the only thought he had was to reach the door, then down the stairs, on the street and away.
"What's wrong..." - she shouted but the answer was hanging unuttered two blocks away. - " Fuck off." - and she started dressing repeating it again and again.
Newspapers, magazines, wine, coke, milk, orange juice, apple juice, grapefruit juice, vodka, whiskey, gin, chewing gum, sandwiches, biscuits, chocolate, cigarettes, souvenirs...
"Could I have a pack of cigarettes, please."
"You just wait a sec, Ah? Those two punks are trying to steal."
They did it, slammed the door and ran, ran quickly.
"Fuck, I can't chase'm."
"Could I have a pack of cigarettes?"
"Yes of course, sorry."
The hands of the guy were trembling, he was more than nervous- scanning the street up and down.
"You can try it if you want." - he said.
"Is it good?"
"Just try it."
"It's the best you can get around."
"I hope so."
"...and the weather forecast for today, read by..."
It was a monotonous voice.
"You hear that? - asked the bar tender, - "It will be sunny, great. I like that."
"Is there a toilet?"
"If you don't mind - left, then right." (Was it that polite?)
The guy with tattoos was lying loosely in the opposite bed and that was the way he usually spent his time - uninterested in his treatment, protected by all those signs he obviously believed in. Like most of the brown pyjamas inhabiting the building, he counted the days, knowing that it was pointless and it will hardly get him closer to the end of this empty sojourn. He was neither happy, nor unhappy.
Monday or Saturday, maybe Sunday. He was getting ready for the Sunday morning heroin-experience.
"I started taking it here." - he said and his eyes and the rolled on note followed the brown drop - running down the foil, then he lit a cigarette and did not breathe out until his face changed; his voice changed, - "I am sick of it but I can't think of anything else in here. Fuck me. You want some?"
"Why not? - He looked up and his eyes were gone, no pupil at all.- "Mind the door".
"Pass me the cigarette."
"It's good." - said the guy and gave him the foil. - "I have enough for today. You like it?"
"I like it... I don't like it in general."
"Try not to vomit."
"Actually I hate this shit, this might be the only thing I really hate."
The other started thinking about it, and he thought about it, and he thought about it, then he started thinking about something else, then he stopped thinking about it, then he stopped thinking at all.
The near future is a consequence of the correlation between present and past- directed by the active will, its absence or substitute.
The thick white cotton-paper turned into a picture, the lines - drawn with extreme preciseness created an impression that surpassed the meaning of written speech.
The absolute principle does not seem to allow verbal definition, if it is "defined" then it is not it, language can just make suggestions that may direct its intuitive or mystical understanding; the rhythm and the sequence of events in us and around us draw the lines of its manifestation. And this is the universal principle - a philosopher called it Tao. It precedes appearance of God.
And there he had another day. And then it came again. One immaterial ghost - a child of impatience, tension and hysteria was visiting him during the last few days. He had turned up, stayed with him for a while, then disappeared. This time he came stronger and more persuading than ever.
The reason for its apparition was easily deciphered. The result was no doubtful. It provoked him to make the first cautious step along the tightrope - tied to the rays of the longest day coming. It was coming soon and realizing that, he made the second step. Then there was a joke about a runaway - a patient of a similar institution - who was trying to escape from his building surrounded by three walls and he was just jumping over the second wall, when he felt tired, looked at the last wall sadly and went back for breakfast.
This scenario was unacceptable and the invisible visitor seemed to agree.
The day was over and counting the last minutes of the night he realized that the supernatural impulse - gaining power from his decision to leave - was still with him. The morning came and still in bed he noticed that the sun was rising earlier than usual. He had to follow it and he did it.
He did not like the obsessive power he had been talking to but it made him increase the distance between himself and the humiliating feeling of smoking cheap cigarettes all that time. This feeling was gone and the miracles promised were giving him colours, sounds and scents. Things around were changing in no time and the burning radiant chariot of Helios was ahead.
White or yellow, orange, red, green, blue, grey, black could be a choice. He did not have any. He had to wear brown - his pyjamas and the noisy slippers were brown. They were really making noises. Then he thought that the favourite colour of men - apt to commit suicide, couldn't be different from brown. It is brown. It was brown. And the drop was sliding along the foil. And the sweat came.
"Fuck that. Forget it" - he was saying when that sort of gloomy images appeared.
He could not see the city lights yet but he anticipated the moving figures they threw down on the asphalt. He had not forgotten the scent he had for civilization- the scent of seaports, train stations, airports. He had never been quite certain about its origin, but thinking of it he called it black-oil. There were moments when he used a different word for that but it was the very scent that mattered. Sun makes it stronger.
"I should have arrived already" - he thought and considered the last pills he had taken, - "Fuck that. Forget it."
They both smoked and the sun - dashing inside through the plastic window - made the smoke living. ' " You see the water - oozing down the plastic window?" - the old man asked the young man.
The young man touched the window and said:
"It's the central heating, it might be on."
"Isn't it hot? - The old man did not seem to believe him.
"It is hot because the heating is on."
"Isn't it summer?" - he went on asking.
"It is but there is no water."
"Why can't you see it? I don't understand."
"I'm pretty sure the window is dry" - answered the young man touching it carefully. - "I see there is no water. It is my cigarette, the smoke you see."
The city was near but his eyes were telling him he was wrong.
He was tired. Almost tired.
The city was beautiful at sunset.
He had one night. The next train - going east to the seaside - was leaving in about 15 hours. Then it was going to...
He needed some rest but his efforts to stop thinking about things he wanted to forget activated his paranoia and it flied faster than any notion...
The thought of the rainy 24 hours he had had was not leaving him. It was a rainy day. All those intrusive thoughts coming - zipped through his head, rushed through the cold, dark corridor to the next room and jumped out of the wet window without opening it. The cold-boiling water on the asphalt swallowed them and the clouds were there. They made every single thing bent under the heavy burden of moistening darkness.
He saw the trees outside had went through an ominous transformation that had turned them into nothing but sad bonzai invalids. Just a few passers-by, quite a few cars and two buses were visible from the window of the fucking hotel. He hated that hotel and the trip interrupted by that unprovoked violence.
"OK, you have another 45 minutes, this is your last chance, just do what I say or I'm sending your fucking ears to her."
She was licking his ear slowly and there was more passion in her breathe than in the whole book of Kama-Sutra presented live.
He lit a cigarette and looked through the window.
"You smoke a lot."
"I like you Darling."
"My name is not Darling."
"I like you."
"My name is not Darling, it is Darrling. Remember?"
It was the morning train.
The sun was giving colour to the brightening horizon. It was sliding slowly like the pendulum of a gigantic universal clock. Time does not exist but they count it. He thought that and tried to calculate the speed- no speed available. Every object, touched by the hot orange-red ball of rising protuberances, started shining gently, then brighter and happier.
And he closed his eyes. And it was dark and when he opened them again he saw all those houses as if they were presented on an enormous screen. He could not understand whether they were unreal or the sun - getting higher and warmer - was giving birth to their ghostly inhabitants- meeting the first rays of the coming day.
"Can I see your ticket, please? Cheers. You are OK?" - It was the conductor who stopped what he had just seen.
"I'm fine. Do you know the name of the town, we have just passed through?"
"I don't understand your question. The nearest town is at least 15 kilometres from here. Are you OK?"
"I am. Really." ' He thanked then he went towards the window and pulled it down. The track-ta-rack of the steel wheels penetrated through his ears and attacked his brain directly. He liked the sound, he liked the rhythm. It made him feel like running down a steep mountain path, trees and bushes were running in the opposite direction and he did not want to stop. It went on to the next station.
He was going to see her in an hour - finally.
They jumped over a red-white striped barrier and the sea was still quite far from them. The line parting the last wave from the wet sand muddy mixture was like a vivid reflection of that - imagined to be, created by logic only - idea of horizon, but a decipherable one. It was followed by a quite dryer - almost black - hardened sand, covered by tiny veins of water-left still, then there were pebbles, limestone, concrete and the train that just dashed in the break point of a deafening hysteria two metres from them. She was saying something then she realized it was useless and laughed.
They waited for the train to blow over, crossed the rails and walked all the way down to the sea- watching out for drier isles of sand. The sound of the rising waves was getting louder and more tones became audible. It was hypnotizing and he stopped.
He had stopped and he had been standing motionless until he saw that the girl he was walking with was no longer with him. He looked round and the water was everywhere. The blue colour was fading away then the sea became pure white and a sudden sparkle made it pink, then red - auburn red. The sea was calm, quiet and red. He looked back and it was just the same. The red waves were so gentle, that they hardly existed. The sea was quiet and he couldn't hear it anymore.
"Let's go." - startled him and the girl was there. Everything returned to its common state - the waves were fighting in blue, his shoes were wet and she was with him. They walked back.
It was his decision to be there, on that day and what he had just witnessed was proving it was not wrong. He walked slowly and his eyes were not even touching what was around.
He thought about her. She was beautiful. She looked at him and gave a smile:
"It's the longest day of the year, the sun is here for longer."
"I know", - he made a pause and continued, - "I have been waiting for that."
"What do you mean? You've been waiting for what? Me?"
"I need to ask you something."
"You told me you wanted to see me."
"I wanted to ask you something. Now I can do it."
"Could you possibly kill me? Can you?"
"I don't think I get you." - she said, not looking at him, - " That's why you brought me here?"
He said nothing and she proceeded:
"And if I really do it?" - her voice was hushed. She turned to face him but there was no one and some child's "Ta-Ta" was walking away unsteadily mixed with the sounds of the sea.
It finally disappeared.
© Лазар Лазаров, 2000