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I woke up to the stink of garlic. I could feel the rash it brought up on my neck and cheeks. It was going to be hard to pull a drink with this kind of complexion, I thought.
I traipsed through Pigalle until I found a Japanese tourist drunk enough not to care about skin rashes, or just not see them, and split him open, and sucked him down, while he murmured quiet syllables of good bye. “That’s what you get for being drunk,” I thought, “Drunk.”
When I turned, sustained, to the night’s work, my real issue. Killing a drinker. I wandered through the alleys, watching for operators. I thought I found one I could take, a rotund masc with eyes like a clock. When I went to charge, I found the black haired vixen blocking my path.
I pulled up. “Good,” I thought. “No trolls.”
She said, “Such fortuity. Or, perhaps, I know you.”
She reached out, pointing a red fingernail at me like a gun, her finger as long as a spider’s tentacle. She grazed my temple and BANG. Kaleidoscope of negative color and out.
I woke under some garbage bags, in the gloaming, and felt my head swim and turn. I retched some Japanese blood into the earth. What kind of drinker has fingers that trigger mental explosions? She was some other thing.
I wandered lonely as a cloud, not thirsty, scared of hunting my own. I went into the countryside. Nights I walked, past little rues and hamlets until I came to a collection of raggedy cars and trailers and brownish children running in circles. When I was a long way off, I heard a man shouting something. The children scurried into the cars. The adults followed them in, and I walked up to the camp. I saw mothers peeking behind the curtains, holding up crosses and spitting prayers at me. In the middle of the camp was a fire, with a great pan of potatoes and green stuff, and some small animal too.
Stirring the panfry was an old woman. She looked up and her face was pretty, red lips and, behind heavy glasses rimmed in brown, large eyes. Her skin was more stretched than wrinkled.
I said, “You’re not scared of me?”
She laughed, and her voice was deeper than a man’s. It resonated through me when she said, “You don’t scare me.” Still she traced a cross in the air. Where her passed, a gold gas filigree hung in the air, ethereal x. She blew it gently and it wafted toward me.
“Don’t,” I said. As it breezed by me it unmoored my limbs from their sockets. Then it was gone. She grimaced through her thick glasses.
“You’re not scared of me?” she parroted back.
I shrugged. I had no idea what all was going on.
She said, “You seem upset. I smell garlic on you, and you talk woozily.”
I said, “And then there’s the way I look.”
She said, “I can’t really see.”
“You care?” I asked.
She took a tinsel fork from in the folds of her garment and with quick stabs loaded it with potatoes, greens, and small animal leg. Like a man. “Strange rumors, a former woman who killed three soul suckers in a night. Strife among the second born. You fit the description.” She munched for a while. “I hate your kind, by Mary, by Kali Sara. You march in the dark places, marshaling all to your appetites.
The children have to run inside. Not since Hitler has there been this fear. Blaming murders on us, knowing nothing of you. Always the fear in the little ones, the hate in the big ones.
“I’m saying, ‘What you are doing, it is good.’ However, you are doing it wrong.”
“You got tips, old woman, I’d appreciate it. I’m not making any progress out here.”
“You want to kill them, but they smell you. They smell the used blood, its fetid copper aura. You smell like the hunger of death, the insatiate thirst. To kill them, you must kill the drinker in you first.”
“Stop drinking. In separation there is strength.”
“How am I going to survive if I don’t eat?”
“Fem does not live on blood alone.”
“Oh yeah? What else is there?
“I’m supposed to eat the earth?”
“Pregnant women do.”
“I’m not exactly pregnant.”
“With purpose you are pregnant. And pregnant women are strong. You need strength.”
“I’m not eating the earth.”
She stood up. The eyes weren’t so much big I realized, as magnified from the glass on her spectacles. “Take my hand,” she said. I grabbed it. “Lead me to the fire.”
“You are at the fire. It’s right in front of you.”
She jumped then, into the flames. I shouted. “Help.” Then she rose in it. The flames wreathed her, a
The sound subsided. I looked up and she was sitting by the fire again. She scratched at the dust on the ground, gathering a pinch. She brought it up to her mouth and dropped it in, and followed it by another pinch of potato. “Not bad,” he said. She said. The voice was so deep.
I was losing consciousness. The vision of the chasm that opened revisited me. She said, “I am earth, and the fire does not burn me.”
Then I was in it, a closing opening in the earth, the heavy smell, the tight quarters. A tunnel. I knew that I must go one, go further, before I found the way. The only way forward was to wriggle, and I did, but each wriggle made the tunnel smaller and I fought the panic rising within me. I hate earth.