I extend my hand and place it upon the cold dead trees and attempt to push open the door. I feel Darkness and his legion of guilt push from the other side, preventing my entry. I consider redemption and finally manage to overpower resistance and Darkness explodes, filling the room, regenerating itself and creeping out like a growing fungus into the hallway.
The sunlight radiates my living room as it rushes in when I open my door, as if an army of solar flares were waiting to gain entry and overtake my fortress. It unites in solidarity with the lights already illuminating my house, creating blinding white walls. I can hear the preacher still talking as I leave, still trying to preach to the emptiness of the separation of light and dark.
I step inside, my eyes sucking the fundamental elements of each object in the room, robbing them of their essence, and turning it over to my mind for processing. The room itself is dark, except for a soft yellow glow like a yellow cross on a white garment originating from the lamp let there be light; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness above the bed. There are various electronics watching the patient, but I don’t pay too much attention to them; they are already busy beeping and keeping each other company, trying to convince the silence of their importance. My gaze lands on the television, now a formless void, darkness covering the face of the screen. And God separated the light from the darkness, thus spoke the preacher.
“But why, preacher, why? Why were the light and the dark separated? Why did God consider the light good but disregard the dark? What did the darkness do to receive his neglect?”
But the preacher keeps talking, even over my questions. It is the same as always. He never answers me. He always neglects my questions. It is noon and my stomach turns. I put on my white shirt with the yellow cross on the breast pocket and pick up my walking cane and turn my back to the preacher, leaving him to preach to the emptiness.
I move my eyes from the void to the void. I sit beside the patient who will never have another visitor. His hair reminds me of a spider sack of eggs and his secrets are locked behind his eyelids. He is feeding the birds and whispering his fear of the dark and begging the birds to stay so he won’t be afraid but they depart as I approach. The machines make the sound of his breath. I study his face like an equation, trying to multiply and divide the darkness he is in by his fear begging the bird to stay and wondering if the solution is enough to revive him. His skin is tight against his bones now, as if they are taking the flesh of his flesh and eating… eating… eating
“Goddamn devil,” he says. “You ain’t nothin’ but a tha goddamn devil come to scare the skin off my bones. I ain’t gonna let ya, ya hear. Lazlo Able ain’t scared of no man.”
My stomach growls at him, angry that this degenerate is preventing it from the fish it desperately needs. I look at him sitting there on the steps of the church, his dark brown flesh melting off his skull his face covered in dark thumbtacks that look like moles used to hold his skin in place.
I see the tacks but his eyes are closed and I wonder if this is how lonely his world was before the coma if this was the darkness he was afraid of if now he is in total darkness not separated from the light the preacher says God separated the light from the dark but he won’t answer why and my stomach growls and I put on my white shirt with the yellow cross and grab my cane and I leave the preacher preaching to emptiness. I want fish and I open the door to blinding white light and birds and the preacher is still preaching to emptiness to the spaces that need salvation. The space between his eyes are stitched up but it used to be open and it used to pump blood to feed the ground the blood of his blood and the machines speak to the silence and the silence says nothing and he says nothing as I ask for forgiveness.
I take my bag of leftovers and walk home, approaching the church approaching the homeless man, as the earth buries the sun. The bum is scratching at a raw spot of skin on the top of his head that looks like a red sea surrounded by curly black trees His hair looks soft but the exoskeleton on the tips of his fingers are hard and tear apart his scalp exposing a raw wound like butterfly wings or a plot of earth pulled apart to reveal our disintegration.
The machines beep and the man cocooned in the hospital gown is as still as a soul within a corpse. “hey man, watcha got in the bag?” He stands and walks toward me on silken spider legs “Whatcha got, man? I’m hungry help me out, man, help me out”
“I’ve got nothing”
Forgive me I’ve got nothing I am empty Please forgive me.
“What’s in the bag?”
What’s in his head? Can he hear me? Does he know how sorry I am?
“I’ve got nothing”
“But I’m hungry, man. Come on, help a brotha out.”
“You want food, get a job.”
I tell him I’m sorry with a weight of stones placed in pockets to drown the dead to cover the empty eyes with water to fill the lungs of the lifeless with the waters of death. I don’t think the weight affects him. He remains silent. Does he know I am drowning? I speak louder, louder than his silence, louder than the machines he is plugged into, trying to recharge him. “Come on, man, help me out.”
“Come on, man,” reaching for my arm. “Help ol’ Lazlo Able out, man, help me please.”
I need your forgiveness
7:00 p.m. the sun set and someone’s legs carry a torso, arms, and head toward us. “Is this man bothering you?” “I’m hungry.” “Sir, please calm down. Is this man bothering you?” “Please,” my bag transfers violently from my hand to his. “Sir!” a black stick lands upon Lazlo’s head with a muted thud. “No!” Again the thud… again the thud.
Again the thud.
7:00 a.m. and the blinds slice the morning sun into segmented membranes of an orange, leaving them littered on the white linoleum floor. Without redemption I turn to leave. Damnation, cold and boney, grabs my wrist.
Forgive me. My words full of hope but this is no Christ looking back at me. I stare into his eyes and watch them drown in a haze of milky white and I too am pulled below the undertow where nothing exists except a deep emptiness with no shelter and no hiding place from the carnivorous life that wants nothing less than all your blood. I look up from these depths to see blinding white clouds moving upon the waters and my eyes torture me by fixing themselves upon his salvation, his redemption, his separation from the grave as he is brought from death into the light. He takes my redemption with him and I see that I am the darkness; I am to be separated from the light, as I grab my black cane again the thud.
I beg the birds to stay but they fly away with every sound of the machines and oblivion crashes upon me like the hand of God swatting a gnat.
And I feel that I am hungry.
Jason R. Huff