Delirifacient, p.13
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       Delirifacient, p.13

           Trist Black
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And then the young man shrugged off his withering indecisiveness and marched on, up the stairs, to his fifth storey apartment.

  Vulgarians, he heard a shrill someone yell, vulgarians the whole sodding lot of them. He paid these wronged words no heed. The shrill someone may have been a dog barking and suffering the distance for the night’s amusement.

  Diaphana. He had a tapestry of argentate diaphana to cleave through on his way up to his fifth storey apartment, and they slowed him down and sped him up and played him up and down and made it generally difficult to situate and adapt oneself spatially. He was confused and his breast heaved but he was not in pain. The browncoat did not interrupt his ascent and still swerved ably past the doors and the railings lining his passage, avoiding catastrophe with his third eye alone, until that wasn’t enough and a dark rude boy on the corridor took advantage of the browncoat’s politeness to unleash a savage tackleblow to his chest.

  The eruption of violence scared him and woke him up and, quivered by ungentle instinct, he ran up the stairs as fast as he could and locked himself up in his fifth storey apartment. These unorthodox athletic exertions demanded their toll on him immediately, and the browncoat slid halfway to the floor, his back against the bolted door, breathing heavily and slowly regaining control against the diaphana and the violence. Then his breath came back and he stood up laboriously and undressed. It had been an hard day. Browncoat then turned around and laughed at the old man, gurgling and coughing up cooking oil out of his mouth and nostrils as he laughed. The old man sighed resignedly at this signature of petulance steadily inking browncoat’s oily body and, tired of his little notebook that was tiring his old hands, slipped it into a random thick dusty tome off his recently unpeopled bookshelf (the old woman had taken many of his favourite volumes when she left him). Browncoat was stung by the insect suspicion that the notebook did not actually belong to the old man, not in natural right, but this feeling, as always, was too slippery and his position far too tenuous to articulate into forceful argument. The old man naturally took note of browncoat’s noetic acrobatics and, airing his uncombed mane in disapproval, seemed to change his mind about the notebook; he walked back to the bookshelf and extracted the notebook with unhurried dignity from its transitory book-lined sarcophagus. He scribbled a few casual words inside, taking his time and fully absorbed by the calligraphic challenge he had set himself. When he was done, he looked up to browncoat, who saw that something was expected of him and reluctantly poured a voluminous bottle of oil all over his head and inside his shirt and inside his pants. He did not omit his back or his two-sizes-too-large shoes and ensured a uniform distribution of oil across his lean body. The old man smiled at this and wrote inside the notebook more words. In defiant reply browncoat dropped to the floor and rolled across the entirety of the very spacious living room; the floor was so filthy that when he got up he had acquired a thick crust of aggregated dust and variegated refuse, close in species to cigarette butts and parts of soiled napkins and sunflower seeds and the ancient contents of carelessly overturned spittoons. He then lit a match and attempted to set fire to his person, but curiously his new coat of dust was dense enough to render him immune to the attractions of the tiny greedy flame; even his hair resisted the match’s overtures. He tried more matches but none could burst through. The old man smiled once more and added a few more words to the notebook’s silent vault; browncoat wasted no time in ripping out an healthy couple of fistfuls of hair that previously had been endorsing his left temple. The disciplined, short black hairs naturally stuck to browncoat’s oily hands in ways that tickled him and made his palms and the small well stretched platforms of skin between his fingers feel uncomfortable and unclean and quite uncleanable, at least for the time being. His hands had been the cleanest part of him, since when he had rolled around the floor he had kept them neatly stuck to his sides. The old man stubborned on, determined to remain unimpressed, and inducted his shortest entry yet into his little notebook. The browncoat reacted almost instinctively by slapping himself as hard as he could. The oil on his left palm caressed his cheek and it seemed as though the only points of resistance between the two were the little hairs still stuck to his palm; he felt them bend and coil and etch their ugly microscopic scratches into the skin of both his palm and his left cheek. Browncoat proceeded to rub the left part of his neck while the old man appeared to cross out furiously everything he had written and replace it with a new text. The new scribbling was dense and explosive and the old man carried on with verve and visible steaming passion. Then he fullstopped just as suddenly as he had begun and replaced the little notebook in one of his jacket’s many inner pockets. Rabid over the cessation of the actofwriting, browncoat tried to slap the old man as hard as he had just slapped himself, but immediately discovered he was unable to lift his hand against the old man. At this the old man shrugged and said

  ‘if you had a fuckin brain youd be dangerous.’

  ‘if you had a fuckin brain youd be dangerous,’ the browncoat wittily retorted and immediately started chuckling at the irrepressible vim of his quick parry. The chuckle gradually cataracted into a full-throated laugh that seemed to require what pathetic little was left of his unassuming vital forces. This went on for a good couple of minutes, but he ultimately interrupted his Olympian laughter to inform the old man that he, the old man, doesn’t understand anything, that he never understands anything, but that he used to, back when the brownback was innocent. Awaiting the old man’s answer he even forgot to resume laughing.

  The old man asked him:

  ‘you love these bottom-feeder bitches dont you.’

  The brownback was impassive for a few moments, and only afterwards did he laugh heartily, passing gall stones as he laughed. This laughter was a delayed, retarded reaction, but not to the old man’s remark but to the old woman’s death. The old woman had died.

  The old woman had died, the old man explains, precisely because of

  ‘her decadent lifestyle of doing lines of cremated men actual cremated men and also that pointless cunt consumed four and not 5 helpings of fruit per day.’

  Browncoat thought this was funny, but he did not think this was funny immediately upon hearing it. Immediately upon hearing it said he thought nothing of it, he thought it was nothing. The old man had an exquisite coprophagic rictus surgically imprinted on his otherwise blandenough physiognomy as he said it. As he pointed out that the old woman’s death had been a fitting conclusion to her ‘decadent lifestyle’.

  The old man and the old woman had been fighting on Œdipal matters.

  And the woman died in the old man’s eyes also, and in her eyes no more words were written, and in his eyes no more words were written also.

  The old woman stopped screaming and patiently she threw herself out of the window, the window to her fifth storey apartment, and she landed on a cardboard police car, with cardboard police officers around it, and the cardboard police car had been waiting for the old woman and the cardboard police officers got in and the cardboard police car drove off, the old woman still splattered onto the hood. An half-empty syringe protruded from the small of her marble back.

  The old woman was old but she had been much younger than the old man, who had been still screaming at her when she jumps out of the window. It had been a fierce ancient argument with the old woman, who was younger than he but nevertheless looked more ancient than even the old man.

  The old man stood tall and tremulous before the browncoat, his flowing gray beard writhing quietly like a satisfied serpent around the breathless Laocoön. His face was a dark stab. A face like a stabbing.

  The old man and brownback had desired the old woman both. But now – or then – the old woman was dead, the old man rejoiced and smiled using everything from his navel to his Adam’s apple to the wrinkles on his ponderous forehead. The brownback had witnessed a primal scene but preferred not to think of it in those terms. He wanted to slit the old man’s throat so the old man would smile with his neck also, but as us
ual he didn’t.

  The old woman had died many times before. She was often found dead – and quite drunk – in two places at the same time. But this was different. The old man had never smiled after the old woman died before. He knew, and brownback trusted his judging.

  Brownback could talk to the old woman easily, he never had trouble expressing his doubts and annoyances to her, and felt she had always understood him even when he failed to express himself in a cogent manner. And he failed to express himself with great regularity. He could never really talk to the old man, because he was scared of the little notebook; although the old man would normally tuck and slide the little notebook away when browncoat came near him, browncoat always felt the little notebook, and he always knew it was there. The little notebook did not understand him like the old woman did, or perhaps it understood him so much better than the old woman – or anyone else browncoat knew, and he did not all in all know so many anyone elses. Regardless, he did not like the little notebook, and he often thought of asking the old woman to hide it or burn it or throw it down the black tubes or make a gift of it to another old man or old woman (there were always many, many old anothers around brownback). But he just as often thought the old woman did not even know of the little notebook’s existence, or that she did not even know what it was for. This persuaded him to keep quiet and respect the old ones’ silence.

  And then the old man talked to him

  ‘reality is and always will be simply a minor hobby of mine.

  ‘you yourself may be reality, or you may not. i knownot.

  ‘know thou therefore that truly i am tremulous, and ticklish, with anticipation. astound me.’

  But browncoat did not answer. He didn’t know what he could have said, or what was expected of him. He was quite certain that in fact, nothing whatever was expected of him, as always.

  The old man paused awhile, systematically effacing the dribbling smile off his face. But the old woman’s death would not wear off him so quickly, so the mutilated smile survived in the darker knots and whiter cruds and drier crevices of his old, cruel lips, the ones his speared tongue could not reach or scratch so easily.

  ‘you cuntish, anosognosic insect. i hope you perish in a burst of miasma and pisspuddles.

  ‘but yours is also an intelligent, thoughtful beauty. it is languorous and softly intelligent, like a calculated violence bred of flame and the whore rationality.

  ‘i flatter you, i deceive you, there are very few rational things going on about you.

  ‘i have known ye for many years, known ye well but not like i know Him.

  ‘but his rod hath made god in my belly, his rod be made god in my (secret) cunt.

  ‘fertile and black like the nile, i respond to the gods prayer, and this brings black ink to my eyes and lips.

  ‘ink for the notebook, or notebook for the ink.

  ‘inkdrips sometimes, but this is good since (even) it is art.

  ‘but you freefloat, and refuse to think because it is vulgar, and your concepts answer only to the contingencies of your unbroken whim.

  ‘you artless becunted factotum. you cannot speak, you cannot do, you cannot destroy, you do nothing.

  ‘float and observe, float and observe, ‘tis all you ever do. float around yourself, crawling with lovely young thoughtlets, yet you abort them all and settle on burning their corpses and inspiring the ashes.

  ‘i have a parable of ash for your ashthoughts. think on it.

  ‘a man scattering urn of ashes of friendwife into sea or off high

  cliff. wind blowing against him, breath of the sea carrying long-

  forgotten curses, daring him.

  ‘he opens the urn and tosses the ashes

  free against the wind. they fly back and hurricaneengulf him speeding around him and snaking as if

  the ash were one, snaking into his mouth and pockets and ears and creaks and

  grinding his biological clock to a ruminative halt. like sand wedged

  between the teeth, like a sandslap trapped on his face.

  ‘he eats and

  spits his friendwife and his coat is chameleon gray and the wind is

  not even laughing. hidden, he escapes in an envelope of gray and

  writes himself into an undelivered letter. (in) wet ash. he writes in wet ash. never

  delivered. ashwet.

  ‘he coughs his friendwife and tears him out of his

  sockets and drops the urn with the clear white label on it and drives


  At this the old man ceased his clawing, and hissed himself into a comfortable silence. Brownback hadn’t an inkling of the old man’s intentions or reproaches, but he realized he was not needed in the fifth storey apartment anymore. He only thought about the phrase ‘drive home’ and laughed at its pointed futility. He laughed at the pointed futility of something or other most days, unlike the old man, who only ever laughed when the old woman became a mermaid to the cardboard of the police car, and that had come into being but once.

  No he did not. In truth, the browncoat in times out of mind, times all and one, hardly laughed at anything at all.

  So the brownback exited the tunnels of his former fifth storey apartment and emerged into the day and forgot to be blinded by it and forgot the word home. He had never known how to use it properly, so it did not strike him as the gravest loss he could incur at this point in this young brown life.

  Chapter vii

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