Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dark Genius (Prologue)

The nightmare begins the same way: Night. Dark. Air so thick you can hardly breathe. The walls of the loft give birth to partially formed demons. Slowly, they emerge; first a foot, a rib cage, a deformed head. Round, smooth, covered in greasy birth slather, soft, slick images frolic through the bedroom, down through the halls, leaving smearing footprints. Low whispered voices calling out. They float from room to room, space to space. Their guttural wails waft into the bedroom and Jimmy pulls the sheets up over his head. Black shadows surround the bed. He's got to get away before they reach him, before they touch him or he will melt into one of them.
Racing to the bathroom, he slides to the floor in front of the sink. Unable to stop the room from spinning or to stand long enough to take a leak, he kneels to relieve himself in the bathtub. Shaking involuntarily, he sits on the cool hardwood floor and studies the small room, waiting for the demons to slip in under the door.
The unframed painting on the back of the door moves in a swirling, wavy pattern as he studies its composition. What's not to hate about that painting? It looks just like him, his burnt soul, a mass of black and gray lines intersecting in a warped ball of nothingness.
Jimmy pulls himself up to the sink and stares into the mirror. The rings under his eyes are a dull umber. His narrow head and bulbous nose are what he hates the most. The red lines just under the skin twist and dance to the beat of his racing heart. An open envelope on the sink still holds white powder. Jimmy wets a finger on his tongue and swabs the crystal poison onto his gums.
They are pounding on the door now, the demons, calling his name in a dreamy, guttural singsong: Jimmmeee, Jimmmeee. They dance on the floorboards; ethereal rats mixing it up, just outside.
Go away! Leave me alone.
They scuttle across, projecting tiny dark shadows in under the door. On his knees, his face flush to the floor, he can see them moving back and forth.
Whispering; Do it, Jimmy, just do it.

He knows what they want. Come to play lethal games; he feels it in his soul, come play in hell. Everything that is wrong with him they hunger for. They'll suck him dry, the vampire demons; squeeze every drop, all that's left, until his soul is empty.
It's so wrong, isn't it? All wrong: The loft, the work, and the money, loneliness, all alone, all gone wrong.

But it's time to face them, take the pain away for good.

He remembers the noose, already made up, waiting for him just outside the door, left over from Halloween, and kept intact to amuse unsuspecting visitors.
Running to the front hall, he stands near the ladder, searching for them, waiting to see them scurry, slip and slide over each other for first place in the race to his hell. Top of the ladder, he takes hold of the hanging noose. Gently, he guides it down over his head, and snug around his neck. The room is spinning again and the demons just below the ladder, rush in circles, snarling and hissing.
Jimmeee, Jimmeee!
Jimmy stands on one foot, taunting them, sniggering, but his attention is drawn to a large canvas on the wall. The brilliant cadmium red and dull burnt umber seemingly melt together into one oozing color and run off to the floor. The yellow ochre needs adjustment; it doesn't quite fit the rest of the composition. He might fix that, get some more burnt umber going. Reaching for a brush, he takes a step off the ladder and... That's when he awakens, heart pounding, not sure if he’s dead or alive, shouting: “I’m not Jimmy, I’m not Jimmy, I’m John Harper…and I am not dead, I am not dead...”


  1. Chuck,

    I just read this prose and realized I've been amiss at reading your work here--I'll have to catch up with your entries. I so appreciate your comments to me, they are very insightful, true, and nourishing. Perhaps this is something we have lost in society, a way to support and nourish each other towards some greater goal. The politicians and bankers have run amok, and I fear as well, that we are losing our face. Merry Christmas, I am so glad that you continue to write, when so many have given up the pursuit. Did you ever have your knees operated on, I don't remember if you told me...

  2. Hey Raymond, haven't given anything up...still painting, writing, playing drums...Had both knees replaced a year ago June. Been a long recovery...I still have a few good scripts I want to develop. When you were talking about developing a play, I was reminded that both Ibsen and Shakespeare had a company of players to write for and develop plays with. That's a luxury few have these days. Enjoying your posts.

  3. Love your writing. Like your art, your words paint a masterful illustration.