The Witness

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Zigzagging bodies, 

Intersecting lines and

Curved spines.

Body Geometry

The Mechanics of

Love and Fucking.

 

The tremors of a heaving chest,

you drank the six pack,

even though you were ‘cutting down’.

 

Your lips are crusted with last nights dinner.

Saliva pools in the cavern of your mouth.

You wake up

For a piss.

 

And leave the door open.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

The seasons change. The air swells with humidity. Debris collects around us, churning and frothing. The walls perspire, water drips onto us as we sleep. Trails of mould creep up the drainpipes. Our hair grows heavy and lank, our fingernails septic. Bluebottles with bulbous, scaly undersides pinch at our skin. The stagnant air presses down upon us until we sink into the floorboards.

It began in the middle of the night. The sound of claws against the plasterboard. I woke up, worried that the shelf was detaching from the wall. I could visualize it, the shelf falling onto us, splintered craniums, shards littered on the pillow, squelching tissue and spinal fluid and half formed thoughts swarming in the sheets.  You roll over. Go back to sleep.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I made you dinner.

We sit in front of the flickering screen.

It’s some movie from the 80’s. The cops have handlebar moustaches and Southern accents.

The lightbulbs have fused, so we watch in the dark, our faces ghostly in the fluorescence.

It’s like being at the movies.

I put my head in your lap. I can hear the tremors of your stomach.

We laugh at the funny bits, tears dribbling down our cheeks.

The credits roll.

We sit in silence.

You put your hand under my shirt.

I take off your belt.

We follow the script.

After we fuck,

You throw the used condom against the wall.

It sticks.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

The signs were there. You came back one evening with a crate of cheap wine, the kind that scalds your tongue, and coagulates in the passages of your throat, burning a trail down to the depths, leaving your mouth raw. You sat on the ledge of the window, chain smoking and listening to that same record. Ash christened your fingers. Tumours pulsated on the empty packet.  You watched with glazed eyes, there was distance between yourself and everything that was real.  I was already asleep when you finally moved. I could see your silhouette in the partition as you undressed. You lifted up your shirt, your ragged cuticles ran along the length of your stomach, your fingers like a scalpel, trying to break the barrier to find the source. You finally lay down next to me.

Silence, silence, silence, darkness was just the absence of light, but it seemed to have a terrible voice, it crashed around us, storming through the caverns of your mouth, and echoing in the corners.  Flashes of skin, the guttural cries of the factories on the opposite bank, the shifting currents of your hair on the pillow, the pulse on your neck, the spasm between beats, with each contraction of systole and diastole, something sped far away and came back again. Again, the scratching against the wall, the sounds of the everyday magnified by the darkness. I did not know then, I was blind, writhing in the darkness, like the creature behind the wall.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Your team won. Chest thumping, erupting screams. War cries and bloodshot eyes. You bought everyone a round. Everyone sang half remembered lyrics and told dirty jokes.

You’re the life of the party. The centre of the swirling crowd. The eye of the storm.

The Peroxide Blonde with Big Tits kept touching your arm. She has a hoarse voice, like a jazz singer from the 30s. It crackles like static.

Your friends say she’s a nine out of ten.

I hide out in the pub bathroom, dry retching into the sink.

Coronas make me feel like shit, but they’re the cheapest drink on the list.

Fuck this. I slump over the grease topped counter. Graffitied penises on the wall, L.V. is a whore, 1994.

After the pub closed, we drank in the parking lot. You smashed bottles and pissed on cars in the name of anarchy.

We walked home together, past the vacant lots filled with the carcasses of totaled Camrys, past the wastelands of naked power lines protruding from expanses of brown grass, you leaned on my shoulder, and we shrunk beneath the sulphur streaked dawn.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

I shaved my pubic hair in the bath. The clumps floated to the surface.

I heard the scratching again, louder than ever. A silent witness, a voyeur, watching me in the bath.

I scraped the razor against my legs. The trails of hair looked like a line of ants.

I’d developed a layer of fat, soft and gelatinous, cushioning my body. Layers of cottage cheese rippled skin. It had happened gradually, until one day I couldn’t find anything that fit.

You walk into the bathroom and sit on the toilet.

You don’t mind, do you babe? Nothing you haven’t seen before.

The scratching against the wall continues, persistent, urgent.

I think we have a rat problem.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

You set the mattress on fire again.

You’re lying naked on the lawn. A constellation of  pitted scars and wiry black hairs, your penis unfurling like a snail.

You’re singing along to the radio.

People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you.

You’re surrounded by a fortress of glass bottles. You offer me a toke.

I’m gonna get some rat poison.

You nod, your eyes glazed over.

You used to be beautiful.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

I dream about leaving you.

In my dream, I dump piles of your clothes on the lawn. I smash your records, break the spines of your books. Cardboard castles of junk rise up out of the ground.

I lock and double bolt. I draw the curtains.

I wait.

I wait for the apocalypse.

You get back from the pub, bleary eyed and stupefied.

You call me a whore. You threaten to smash down the door.

You scream and beg and plead.

I want to talk it over.

and I tell you to Go Fuck Yourself.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

You can’t find your stash. Frenzied ripping of cushions and emptying of cupboards.You tear through the piles of debris, upturning the mountains of crap that has crystallized around us.

Manic and mercurial.

Your paranoia eats away at the fabric of our lives.

The scratching starts again. You hear it too.

Your hands make contact with the plywood, and you begin tearing at the wall, trying to find the creature behind it. I try to stop you.

You collapse on your side, your knees drawn up to your chest, clutching your fist in your mouth.

The scuffling grows steadily louder, until, suddenly, it emerges from behind the cracked plaster, the invisible witness to our lives, its fleshy tail trailing behind it like an attendant parasite.

For a moment, it pauses and watches us.

It then streaks across the floorboards, the barbs of its teeth visible as it runs toward my ankle.

It begins to circle, its grey fur bristling.

You scream, try to kick it, and miss.

It shifts its attentions to you, slowly advancing, its claws clicking on the floorboards.

You grab your switchblade, and I lunge at it.

I catch it by the tail, and it begins to thrash wildly. It sinks its incisors into my hand, and frees itself from my grasp.

As it runs away, you throw the switchblade in its path. It catches the rat in the spine, impaling it, its severed body splitting open like a ripe fruit.

You approach it, slowly, and turn it over to its side. Its entrails drip from the slash in its fur, and a graying sac protrudes, filled with crouched, barely stirring creatures floating in embryonic fluid, clinging onto life, but it is no use,

their mother is hopelessly dead.