Kev the Vampire
by Phillip Donnelly
|Cast of characters|
|Chapter 4: Disintegration|
‘The blood is the life! The blood is the life!’ That is all the mysterious Patient K would say at first. Dr. Mac Pherson gradually pieces together the story of K’s life: his gruesome school days at the Holy Bleeding Pelican; his drug- and alcohol-induced visions; his wars with Social Welfare zombies, and his attempts to use his meagre housing allowance to rent a castle. Dr. Mac Pherson learns of K’s romantic misadventures as a dishwasher in Bavaria and how comically difficult life can be for the quixotic would-be vampire in the 21st century.
Epiphany: from the first light of birth to the light at the birth of death, it is the search for moments of clarity that drives the soul. Or so Joyce, Maslow and a hundred hungry humanists would have us believe. The self must grow and reach toward the light if it is not to wither in the dust.
Having spent a professional lifetime delving into the troubled minds of the insane, I am inclined to agree. Insanity, as paradoxical as it may sound, can be seen as a sane response to an insane world. If the ‘real’ world is is robbed of all opportunities for epiphany, then the ‘soul’ of the mind will create other worlds in which to explore itself.
If you find this concept absurd and are tempted to cast this case study aside with the epitaph ‘poppycock’, pause a moment and ask yourself why you are reading this piece of prose in the first place? Are you not seeking to understand your ‘real’ world through the world of another? Do you not attempt to see yourself more clearly through seeing me, through experiencing the world of K? Readers and writers: you are all insane.
There are six billion worlds on this crowded and lonely planet, and only the fearsome fundamentalist would claim that his world is the only true one. Beware the allure of the fascist simplicities of Ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Führer. Let us instead suffer all children and grant all their monsters an audience.
While I am no left-bank existentialist, I feel we must take into account the expressed thoughts of those who carry the heavy burden of the label of ‘insane’, since it is only in understanding the world as they see it that we can hope to help them achieve the epiphany that will be their salvation. All of us are lost and all of us can be saved, but only if we are allowed to speak and only if we are listened to.
The Road to Damascus is fed by many small paths, some thorny and overgrown, and if a voyager should become stranded on some lost and lonely lane, how can we help him find the road again if we do not know where he has fallen? There is no GPS for the world of the mind.
I trust you will forgive this digression, but I felt it necessary to set our journey in some kind of context. We should not travel to a destination without a reason. Do not ask ‘where’: ask ‘why’.
But after this preamble, I will now return to study our voyager, Patient K. In truth, his world was already beginning to crumble, and the violence wreaked upon his body was slight compared to the damage inflicted upon his psyche; and licking these wounds, he withdrew into the alter-womb of his bedroom.
He lay in this sarcophagus for weeks, physically dormant but psychologically active, tearing down his image of the world and his place within it. Only one piece of prose survives this time, a recurring dream that was to pull him from the embrace of Morpheus on a nightly basis; and in an effort at catharsis, he wrote it down, and I have included it below.
* * *
(Some Notes Found in K.’s bedroom)
A harsh dry wind rattled though the city’s deserted streets, whipping up the dust, debris and ashes of the burnt-out city; a world that was falling in on itself, like a corpse that even maggots have left for dead; an implosion slower than the rotting of teeth.
The clock ticked and the city crumbled.
The sun, dirty red and melancholy, lugged itself over the barren mountains to the east and mumbled its mournful mornings.
I spoke to the sun. ‘Why have you come here?’
It did not answer, but the shadows sang in its place. The tattered facades of once-great buildings cast dour forms on the streets below, soothing them in a caress of extended darkness, dressing their wounds in black shade.
I addressed the city and its denizens, billions of dust particles, all nameless and faceless and formless. ‘I name you “Shadowland.” I am your master, Ozymandius O’Donghail, dust king and heir to all lost worlds.’
The dust shroud grew deeper in a sudden wind and quickly covered the streets, feet-deep in places, sometimes reaching my waist, and I was forced to wade through it.
The wind whirled the dust and set it into temporary frenzies, scratching my face and burning my eyes.
A statue stood alone in the centre of the wide boulevard, holding its arms in outstretched indignation, pleading its case with heavenly judges, challenging the sky as I challenged the wind.
‘What are you feckin’ doin’ here?’ it asked.
‘No-man sent me...’
‘For...’ I began but could not continue.
‘Lookin’ for a bleedin’ statue to ride, I bet, ya metal-molesting pervert! I’ll learn you some bronze justice!’
The statue jumped off its pedestal and gave chase, and I ran from it.
I came to a river and crossed the bridge, but turning round, half-way across the bridge, I saw that the statue could not follow me.
It had climbed a pedestal belonging to another statue and was shaking its fist at me belligerently.
‘A pox on you and your running water! I’ll cross you yet, flesh-head! I’ll be staying right here now and looking out for you... Just wait till you place you scrawny feet on northside territory! This statue’s gonna rip out your insides; this statue’s gonna tear you limb from limb, like a KFC chicken; this statue’s...’
I looked away from the metal ogre and gazed into the water below me.
Dividing the city, the pulpy river oozed more than it flowed, dragging the silty memories of what once was soiled earth to the dead sea beyond. It groaned, begging for death, but the clouds would not heed it and dropped black rain on the mountains beyond and sloshed the dust into this liquid artery of decay, into Earth’s final defecation.
I walked away from the river and the poisoned invective of the statue beyond it.
Apart from the dilettante clouds and the churlish river, only the sun moved and only the wind spoke, while all around the charred remains of cars and fallen mortar sat and waited.
Waiting was the only entertainment on offer, so the city waited for man to return, waited for life to begin again, and I waited with the city.
As the sun reached its zenith and the shadows died, the methane-laden air took on a incandescent green tinge and the city and I spoke to the wind. We asked it what had happened to all the little lungs in which it once had rested.
‘Where is man?’
‘I am the wind and no man commands me.’
‘Where is man?’ I asked again, but the wind would speak no more.
Day by day, the cityscape changed to moonscape.
The clock ticked and the city crumbled.
* * *
And then I awoke, as I did every night, to my waking world within a world, to the prison of my bedroom. I turned on the light to better see the darkness.
In light or in darkness, the only sound is the clock ticking. Who will rid me of the turbulent tick of time, the lice of life? Time will not stop, no matter how much you will it to do so.
The room is black, matte black. Hastily painted, the wild careless brush strokes have left lines of dried paint running down the walls and parked them in limpid pools of sorrow on the parquet floors. These lakes of night and the veins that fed them, these chemical tears, stain the wood below; and to hide its grief, I have placed books and periodicals of every shape and colour around the edges of the room. I dress the floor and cover its naked shame.
The shelves, which hug the wall, sag under the weight of hardbacks and paperbacks, backed against the wall. Dog-eared and annotated, they wait for me, folio emperor, to discover meaning in the printed word. I scrape notes onto them in sleepless loveless nights, branding them as my own with amorous annotations.
A forgotten phone, permanently off its hook, lies behind some books, entombed, and I will never exhume it.
Dust clings to everything, made grimy and strong by the passage of time. Dust and entropy are the incoming tide that will submerge our universe and I will not fight them. I am no Canute.
Red velvet curtains are drawn and their creases bear witness to the fact that they have not been opened in some time. ‘Non plus ultra,’ they seem to say.
They are barriers to the outside world, ramparts to my citadel, but in spite of their thickness, a dull light is beginning to penetrate them. No hymen can stand the corruption of the sun.
The seeping, creeping radiation of dawn tells the room that this half of the planet is about to stand between the sun and the void beyond. The burning light of day is coming, but I will shun the dawn.
A sheet covers a built-in mirror that I cannot bury, and another drapes an unplugged television screen. I abhor reflections and the violence of screens. This world is ugly enough without its bearing bastard reflections.
Everywhere there is silence. The clock’s battery has run down and only its rusting marks the passage of time; an acidic sizzle so low and muted that even woodworm cannot hear it. Its hands are as still as the words in the books and the wood in the chair that is too tired to creak. But still it ticks.
Nothing moves: not even the mould in the air and the dampness in the walls. Nothing. All is still in the ruins of my room; a fitting testament to the ruins of the life that had given birth to it.
‘Partum camera mortis,’ I write on the door, in rouge lipstick, and then I cover this message in the shroud of a sheet.
Copyright © 2011 by Phillip Donnelly