“…NO ONE SHOULD BE ASKED TO HANDLE THIS TRIP…”

My brother and I were standing in some unnamed beach, looking far into the horizon, talking about something I can’t fully remember now, though eventually we got to the topic of suicide. The beach was only “technically” a beach – that is, it was just a part of the ocean that reached out onto some shore full of brown sand, but the currents were so wild and strong, like the Atlantic ocean, that no one dared swim. In fact, the entire beach was desolate: not a soul around, though the sun was shining strong.

As we got deeper into the conversation of suicide, we both lifted our eyes from the horizon and placed them upon a huge brown rock covered in moss and algae that was coming out of the turbulent waters like an iceberg. Our conversation maintained the theme, though at times we talked about suicide and at others simply about death. Then, at some point, as the waves were getting angrier and bigger, I said to him: “watch out, man….we can’t get in the water…unless we want to die.” I then remember feeling some kind of morbid desire to jump in precisely to see if I’d die. I started holding on to the algae in the rock with one hand while dipping my feet in the water, but the current was so strong — driven by some kind of hurricane or cyclone under the water — that it nearly sucked me in, so I got scared and quickly pulled myself back up onto the brown sand. But then my brother said something about killing himself, recalling our talk of suicide, and he said it completely nonchalantly; almost as matter of fact. That’s when he jumped in.

I remember yelling hysterically at him not to do it, though it was obviously too late…as soon as his feet touched the water, he was sucked in underneath that big rock as if he had gone inside a blender running full speed. He just disappeared. Waves started getting even bigger, crushing all around me, sounding like thunder and splashing violently against the rock.

Without hesitation, I jumped in the water, though I held dearly to the algae and moss that was growing on the rock. I dipped my head quickly underneath the water to see if I saw him, and indeed I could see him just underneath the rock, caught on something while being tumbled around by the waves as if inside a washing machine. He was unconscious. As I tried pulling him out, I nearly lost my grip on the rock and nearly drowned, too. But eventually I pulled him out.

Then I just remember running with his unconscious, pale and cold body in my arms through the beach toward some huge mountain in the distance. As I ran, I was screaming “help!! help me!! help, please!!!” with utter desperation and fear in my trembling voice. Then I saw some people dressed in black/blue clothes come down from the mountain and heading towards us. I think they might have been paramedics, because when they reached us, one of them took my brother from me,  placed him on the ground and started performing CPR. His hands pushed frantically down on my brother’s chest, trying to pump his heart back alive. But he wouldn’t wake up. I stood there trembling…Then the man got up and simply said, “I’m sorry….he’s dead.”

My legs started getting heavy and my vision blurry…but then, suddenly, that moment was gone and I found myself in some house, though still feeling completely shocked and saddened by something I could not remember. Then someone knocked on the door, almost shaking me awake.

As I made my way to the door to open it, I recognized a picture of my brother hanging on the wall right beside the door. He was wearing a checkered blue shirt and had his hair parted on the side, sporting a big smile that showed off his two front teeth: it was a picture of him as very young kid – perhaps the one my parents took years ago, when he sat on Santa’s Lap at some mall. That picture stalled me from opening the door; it brought back a crippling depression that until then I wasn’t sure what it meant. Tears began coming out of my eyes, though the moment was interrupted by another loud knock.

When I opened the door, a young guy and a young girl came in — I think the girl might have been my ex-girlfriend. The guy had a big, green backpack, and in it there was a huge bottle of rum. When I saw the bottle, I suddenly realized that it had been months since my brother’s death, and that the entire time I had been drinking myself to death, too. The guy apparently knew that, and that is why he brought the bottle, though he didn’t seem like he wanted to drink at all.

Then the girl mentioned my brother — perhaps saying something nice — which only weakened my knees and blurred my vision again as I was gripped with fear…panic….sadness…I then took one more close look at that picture, as if trying to etch it in my brain, grabbed the bottle of liquor from the guy, and began walking to my left, towards some room off in the distance, leaving those two people behind me.

Once in the room, I remember only lying down on a big bed, face down and bawling my eyes out. I was having difficulty breathing, too. Then the girl came in and said something, not realizing I was crying. I then slowly lifted my head and turned towards her to say something about the death of my brother…Then I slowly pushed my face back onto the bed and continued crying…

When I opened my eyes, I realized I was in my room here in London. But I had also been crying — my eyes were full of tears — and this fact, for the first few seconds, had me convinced that he was indeed dead. After a minute or so, I realized it had all been a dream…but I could not stop crying.

TENTACLES

Some things don’t come wrapped in pretty packaging, with bright colours and soft, silk ribbons. Some things, sometimes, come engulfed in fire and death, warped by violence and delivered in fury.

There was only darkness in the future.

The skies were covered with ash – they looked like a painting that had been smeared by deadly, giant hands that only yearned to destroy something beautiful. Paranoia — fear and loathing — were all you felt in that desolate place, though it was softened by the melancholic past that played over in your head. That’s the only place where they managed to escape: in their head, for they knew the present was already ablaze.

So with blood and fire, the new pages of history were written. Brimstone burned in the distance, but for now everyone consumed themselves in the impossible; in that which they were told they could not do. They bled themselves to death writing their own lives in the sky and in the sand of the greatest deserts and in the oceans around the globe. Sacrifice was their absolute recompense.

And their death and life as soldiers both devoured and inspired. Like Venom, it spread through the veins under the sea. Like tentacles of the great octopus that haunted our dreams as kids. It reached across and sucked everyone in. Thirst for the Black Venom had us all sweating greed.

So engulfed as it begun, engulfed it will crumble. But not in vein will blood be shed, nor the sacrifice be volunteered. Not if the Tentacles are cut off for good; if the Eagle breaks its wings; if the head of Medusa is cut off; if the King is dethroned.

Could the Third TIme around indeed, be the charm? 

AND DEATH SHALL HAVE NO DOMINION (POEM BY DYLAN THOMAS)

 

And death shall have no dominion. 
Dead men naked they shall be one 
With the man in the wind and the west moon; 
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone, 
They shall have stars at elbow and foot; 
Though they go mad and shall be sane, 
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again; 
Though lovers be lost love shall not; 
And death shall have no dominion. 

And death shall have no dominion. 
Under the windings of the sea 
They lying long shall not die windily; 
Twisting on racks when sinews gave way, 
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break; 
Faith in their hands shall snap in two, 
And the unicorn evils run them through; 
Split all ends up they shan't crack; 
And death shall have no dominion. 

And death shall have no dominion. 
No more may gulls cry at their ears 
Or waves break loud on the seashores; 
Where blew a flower may a flower no more 
Lift its head to the blows of the rain; 
Though they be mad and dead as nails, 
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies; 
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down, 
And death shall have no dominion. 

Dylan Thomas

Uprooted Memories, Vol. 2: “The Possibility of Physical and Mental Collapse is Now Very Real…”

PAIN, FEAR AND INSANITY INSIDE THE BOWELS OF HELL

485817_287026561383202_928552709_n (2) (192x217)The body and mind are truly fascinating things. Perhaps even more amazing, is how much shit we put them through…and knowingly!! They are often put through grueling tests that don’t always mean anything – tests which only seem to prove that we can in fact do it, for whatever that’s worth…

******

We’d been up most of the night, only crashing in the last two or three hours of the morning, once all the drugs and alcohol had been consumed. That was the second or third fucked-up night in a row. During the days, we’d been tooling around town in our little grey sedan, completely twisted but definitely on the calm side. I’m sure that everyone we interacted with was able to tell, too; if not from the glazed eyes and huge bags under our eyes – since at least we were wearing sunglasses –, or the rambling though lucid conversations we’d establish with them, the powerful odour of Rum and Sweat emanating from us like steam out of subway vents was sure to give us away. Luckily, our charming personalities seem to have gotten through to them, because no one dared call the police on us…and for what? What would they say? Officer, these gentlemen reeking of rum keep bothering the help, jabbering about music and other things. Sure, we’d probably get some Public Drunkenness ticket, but it wouldn’t go further than that; there was no reason why it should, and The Fuzz doesn’t appreciate being called to places when there really aren’t any emergencies…The only hard time we came across was at some strip-joint, where we were being forced to leave for being too drunk and “harassing the help”. I can’t defend or attest or protest anything, because, quite frankly, I don’t remember. But nothing else came out of that. Once all the bars were closed, we’d head back to their place to reload on whatever it was we were packing for that night. But apparently shit was about to hit the fan, and our luck would run out…or at least mine.

We opened our eyes to the rays of light coming through the wide-opened window, which felt like daggers piercing our faces. My eyes hurt so much, way more than my head and body, which seemed to be vibrating and twitching all over; they felt like the amps in speakers when they throb violently back and forth because of the booming bass. I felt dizzy and groggy, and it took me a few minutes to realize exactly where I was. Eventually, after much noise and shuffling, everyone was up and sitting dispersedly around the room, on whatever they could find that was not wet, dirty or stacked with all kinds of things, from clothes to electronics and even some cutlery. We were watching T.V., just flipping around to find something easy to watch; something that wouldn’t take much effort to pay attention to – something like a funny movie or some cartoons. The dog also seemed lethargic and somewhat hung-over, though he had only drunk a few sips of beer and hadn’t really acted drunk, as other times, when he’d roll around with his ear to the ground, as if trying to dig out a tick gnawing at his brain. We sat quietly for a long time, unable to conjure any energy to even say a word. Suddenly, my insides began rumbling and in that calmness it was easily audible to everyone so that they all looked at me curiously. I instantly got up and ran to the bathroom, which was directly across the room, and slammed the door shut. I got down on my knees and was suddenly looking at chunks of half-digested food twirling inside a thick black and red liquid – which I was convinced was blood diluted in alcohol – pouring like a mini Niagara Falls into the toilet. But I wasn’t necessarily worried at that point – we’d all done the “Big Spit”, as the Good Doctor once described it, and knew what it was like and what was to be expected. But I did begin to get worried after my third trip – which was just as vile, if not more, and which happened within six or seven minutes from the first one. Everyone was beginning to ask me questions, though their words sounded like muffled woooas wooas wooas or something else nonsensical. I could hardly gather the strength to respond, much less move myself between rooms so constantly and frantically, so I decided to stay in the washroom after my fifth or sixth trip, when there were no longer any solids coming out but only a slimy residue which I figured was bale mixed with other stomach acids. I was now beginning to seriously worry, and my immediate though was that I should get to a hospital as soon as I get up and cleanse myself. But that would never happen, because almost as if being punished for even thinking that by some higher power, I began a descent into a physical and psychological hell I had never until then seen or been a part of, and to which I wish to never return.

The washroom door, which was half opened, became extremely blurry, and the little bit of light that was coming through it finished blinding me. Nevertheless, I could hear the background noise – voices, the television, water running somewhere – just a bunch of noises that clustered together into a deafening and constant hum. I felt as if I was tumbling around violently inside a running laundry machine. I wanted to say something to someone or to call them near, but I was losing my ability to speak. But I quickly lost sight of those facts when I began throwing up again, though this time nothing was coming out; I was dry-heaving savagely, completely reddened all over and pouring sweat and, more alarmingly, I was beginning to feel numb. First it started on my legs: like a small surge of electricity beginning on my toes, it kept creeping up my feet, then my legs and finally onto my torso, where it felt as if someone had smeared nitrogen inside and it was now spreading. Then my hands, which were clutching the sides of the toilet, began to contort: my fingers were slowly becoming warped, like deformed claws recoiling onto themselves, so that it was impossible to hold anything. Unable to hold the toilet, I fell back onto the wall, with my legs spread out in front of me and my arms paralyzed in the shape of tree-branches and half-opened claws twitching like spider legs after they’ve been stepped on. My neck was also beginning to stiffen on one side, so that by the end of my transformation I was left looking a paraplegic who had fallen off his chair, or some kind of disturbing realist sculpture symbolizing the Pain of Man or something of the sort. It was a horrific sight, like something out of a horror movie. With the bit of strength I had, I yelled out something incoherent and someone rushed in. Upon seeing me like that, they called someone else urgently, which worried me even more. It was all noise in the background to me; just voices without bodies moving around like wind and disappearing just like the same. At one point I heard one of them say, “no…I can’t see that again…just take him to the doctor’s…” or something like that. I couldn’t understand, but later, when everything had calmed down, he had told me that he’d seen too many of his friends die like that and he himself had been too close-a-call to go through it all again. Anyway, in that state I couldn’t even make sense of what was happening; all I knew was that I felt as if I were dying. Then I saw the legs of one of them moving around in the room again, and before they could leave, I pleaded the only thing I could muster at the moment: “Could you please…uh…just turn on the cold water….and shove me in the shower…”…

******

When I came to, the shower was running at full strength and freezing water was coming down on my face. For second, I thought I was drowning at the bottom of the ocean: that’s why I’m still fully clothed and I can’t move or breathe, I thought. But after a second or two I realized I was in the bath-tub, and that my fingers and legs were finally beginning to loosen up. Though my arms and legs laid in front me in the exact same position I was in when on the ground, my fingers were slowly moving until eventually I could make a fist and open it back up. Then I began moving my legs slowly, pulling them back and stretching them again; though they hurt, it felt wonderful to be able to move again. I laid there, letting the freezing water hit me for a good 10 minutes before I dragged myself out. I was shivering from the cold, but I was actually moving again, which was the only thing I cared about. Everyone was asking me if I was ok and if I needed a doctor. In retrospect, I should have gone, but at the moment I figured I should just rest.

After an hour or so, continuing to shiver and feeling my shins cramped up, though still able to move, I got up and decided to leave. I sat on the passenger seat staring out the window the entire ride home as my girlfriend, who had been with us only the last night and was unaware of everything else that had come before that, drove the car, quietly sobbing and wiping away tears. I knew it was a terrible thing to have seen, and I felt the fear and disappointment that emanated from her as strongly as her delicate yet powerful scent. I felt guilty, but mostly I felt scared: scared that I had nearly died; but particularly scared that I had exchanged what was then one of the most important things in my life for an unadulterated and savage physical and mental test that in the end, had meant nothing.

******

…Still, in some sinister corner of my mind, there was a perverse sense of victory at having stood on the edge of some kind of hell that most will never experience, and having pulled back just before it was too late…Though, of course, after one visit, I vowed to never return.

Uprooted Memories – Vol. 1 (The Eucalyptus Tree)

STORM BREWS AND TREEExcept for the obvious storm brewing inside his head, the day had seemed otherwise promising when it started. Morning had come wrapped in a blinding splendor, radiating the kind of confidence and grace only a clear sky could inspire. He stood up and parted the blinds, and his sleepy eyes automatically squinted so as to adjust to the glistening light now penetrating the windows and illuminating the room like an altar or podium of some kind. He stood there for a few minutes staring into the blue canvass before him, which seemed to extend for millions of miles, or just far enough to lose itself inside the shimmering horizon engulfed in an orange and yellow fire. He liked the image and felt a nostalgic tranquility at letting himself get lost in it; it was like staring at a beautiful painting where no single brush-stroke could be detected – it was Marvel and Perfection at its best. His lips slowly parted to let out a nearly inaudible “click” sound and he slowly winked his left eye to mimic the shuttering of a camera, then he moved away to begin dressing himself. But as he reluctantly put on the same white gym t-shirt that was part of the mandatory ensemble at his Private Elementary Christian School, his mind began drifting to an earlier and morbid time which violently shredded the picture he had just snapped. He continued functioning on a basic level, putting his green sweater-vest over the t-shirt and then getting inside his grey trousers, but he was no longer there: his glazed, paralyzed and petrified look clearly said that he had returned to that sinister morning when he had witnessed a brutal accident at the tender age of seven, or perhaps eight years old.

On particularly warm and sunny days when gym class was scheduled for his fourth grade class, the teacher would opt to have the class in a little park that ran adjacent to the east side of the school, only separated by a small street that rarely saw any traffic. Aided by one or two assistants, the teacher had a very well established system for crossing the street, where a chain-link of four or five kids interlocking their tiny arms with a teacher in the middle would look both ways then dash across the street; then the second team would go with one of the assistants and then third. Once across, the kids were always warned not to get out of the parameter the teachers had set for them, for there was a river that ran behind the woods which, although wasn’t easily accessible, could easily mean the death of any of one of them should they fall in, for it was a mighty river that was used to over-flooding in the rainy season and that roared invisibly behind the trees like some kind of hidden wild animal. But there was never any real danger of that, because the parameter was wider than the kids could actually reach, despite how much they’d run. In any case, the kids loved the place, which obviously made gym class everyone’s favourite. But on this particular day that had so callously intruded his memories – and from thereon, in fact – gym-class had ceased to be what everyone looked forward to.

Everything happened almost in sync, like it had been perfectly choreographed in a studio somewhere and was now being faithfully executed, step by step. Just as soon as he had finished crossing the street from the park, still holding on to the teacher’s hand, he turned around to see who his friend was crossing with. At that very moment, all his young eyes managed to see was his friend’s left foot take the first step off the sidewalk and onto the street when a whitish-grayish automobile zoomed by in an almost surreal speed, leaving only the faint trails of the backlights lingering and a white gym-t-shirt that seemed to hover weightlessly in the air for a few seconds before hitting the ground with a petrifying THUMP! The entire scene seemed to come to a standstill for a few seconds and the sound of everything around simply disappeared….it was a soundless and paralyzed scene that seemed to linger for minutes as he tried making sense of what had just happened. Then a sea of people suddenly surrounded what was now probably certainly a cadaver of a seven or eight year old kid, and a horrendous wallowing began to fill the air…There were savage yells echoing throughout what now seemed like a morose and desolate atmosphere, clamouring for “911” and “medics” and every other emergency responder they could think of. Soon thereafter, one of the assistants led him by the shoulder through the Big Metal Gates and into the school while the others scraped the remains of the poor kid off the side of the road. The rest of the kids who had already been gathered in the classroom seconds earlier were speculating about what had happened and what the fate of the kid could possibly be. By their comments, it seemed that nobody had actually witnessed what had happened…except our protagonist, who could not help but be surprised at how easily everyone else around him seemed to toy with the possibility this poor kid whom they had run around with just a few minutes ago might be dead. The conversation went on for a few days before things seemed to just kind of move on…

By now, he had finished getting ready and eating his breakfast, and was already walking towards the bus-stop where he waited every morning. He tried shaking himself loose of that dark memory but not before wondering if other people also remembered horrible memories like he did – so…vividly. And then he remembered that there were other things on his mind, or perhaps things that should have been on his mind, or perhaps things that were so ubiquitously on his mind that they made everything else as morose and tragic as they seemed to be…But why? He thought to himself. But he did not wallow, and instead he let the warm rays of the sun shower him, which seemed to wash away the lethargy of his soul as he waited for the bus. Moreover, despite the dark and obscure corners children are sometimes pushed into, they are resilient vessels with a kind of Inner-Light, and the inkling of innocence, joy, play and friendship often prevails in them like animal instincts, even if it is in short-dosages. So at school, like every other day, he played, and enjoyed, and laughed with his friends, knowingly distancing himself from the harsh realities of having to see one parent on weekends only and of going to a house which isn’t a home. But the faster his little legs ran after the ball, the more he forgot about it all. When it was his turn to wait on the bench, so as to allow others to play also, he sat back with arms stretched and looked up at the tiny birds dancing in the blue sky; then, feeling the Sun’s Warm Rays on his face, he gently closed his eyes, still seeing the Silhouette of the Heavens and the Tiny Birds above in a reddish hue…For a second, as the Sun’s Rays rained down and engulfed him like a sort of armor, he felt as if the Sun was actually watching over him, and feeling what seemed like the warmest feeling he’s ever felt, he let go of all those fears and worries  that had tormented him seconds before. The Morning came and went like that, slowly disappearing as he sat in class and day-dreamed staring out the window, into the sky full of birds soaring and singing freely. By the time lunch had come, he had forgotten about the Dark Clouds that followed him, and the storm seemed to dissipate.

******

By the time he stepped out of the final class that afternoon, the sun was only a specter of itself, still keeping a vigil on the day, evidenced by the melancholic purple and faint-orange sky, but no longer watching over him; the Sun had left, and even squinting, it was now only a Bright dot in space. Even the warm breeze felt chilly and cavernous to his tender body. He began walking towards the Big Metal Gates slowly and languidly, no longer enthusiastic about the day and rather pessimistic about its ending. But he knew he had to go on. So he did. However, when he finally crossed the doors, nothing was like he expected and, in fact, he felt shaken to his very core by an image he had never imagined he’d seen…at least not while awake.

There were two Black SUVs parked at the curb right outside the Big Metal Gates, and one or two men standing just outside the doors, dressed casually (with black sunglasses) but obviously in command there. Just outside the back passenger door stood the kid’s father, being half-covered by the presence of one of the other men standing by the front passenger door. In his hands he held what the kid immediately recognized as the same plastic, inter-galactic toy-gun they had seen in a window-shop weeks, or perhaps months, earlier. They had been walking along the street looking through shops’ windows and making noise and laughing loudly as always, knowingly but placidly hiding from the brutish toll a hostile separation takes on all family members. Upon seeing the gun on the shop’s window, the kid had immediately demanded it, unable to contain his love for anything that shot plastic bullets, made a loud noise or had bright lights shooting from it. But for one reason or other, his dad had said no; he had resorted to some logical argument, most likely surrounding financial issues, as to why he couldn’t get it at the moment….of course, the kid only heard a big, fat “no”, and disappointment and hate were the only things he could feel…at least for the next few minutes, or perhaps hours…and then, no mention of the gun was ever made again….Until that morning.

The kid knew exactly what the gun signified; what the entire scene yelled at him in the clearest and most direct terms. But it was his father’s face that most struck him. He had never seen something like that before. His father had always been a Eucalyptus Tree that stood high — far beyond the reach of everyday men, of Commonality, of Routine and, particularly, of Fear; and he had felt as being on top of such when he’d ride high on his father’s shoulders, defying the entire world together as one. Indeed, for anyone other than himself, this Tree had seemed un-climbable and out of reach, and certainly unmovable. But now he was privy to something he’d thought the world should never know or see: he had seen the Eucalyptus Tree Moved and Eroded by a Primal Fear – the Fear of being uprooted; of being savagely torn away from the very roots that kept him grounded. Now, the man who he’d though would Never Lose was trembling with fear and loathing at the sheer possibility of being severed from his Seed…Indeed, for the first and only time, he had seen his father Defeated: The tear running down his cheek, so out of place – so foreign to his old and hard countenance – pleaded “sorry,” as his trembling hands yelled “come here, my son!”

Was it me? The kid thought to himself, overwhelmed by sadness and fury. Did I cause my father so much pain over a stupid toy? Did he not know the toy did not matter? Why did he buy it? Did he think he Needed to buy it? Why does an Eucalyptus Tree lose its leaves? Why does it fall?

******

It was a special visit – unscheduled and allowed by both parties: the father and mother who, until then, had not been able to resolve their differences. They enjoyed the rest of the day together, probably shooting that inter-galactic gun at anyone they could aim….

The rest is History…