Monday, July 11, 2011

The Prayer

He wields in his hands the curse of famine. Flesh and spirit dangle on the edge of a precipice where, miles beneath, despair breeds a feral species of hunger and thirst. Bodies more emaciated than any mahatma can dream to have lie at the bottom in wanton disarray. As hours turn into days and days into weeks, his misery swells, dragging him down the slope and making every effort to claw his way back a Sisyphean ordeal. In time, heaven and earth will no longer distinguish the seasons. Everything will be the same, signifying the unity of opposites with neither rhyme nor reason. With an empty wallet to complement the emptiest heart he has ever had, life is at its most unbearable. There is no one to turn to, not even his self. There is nothing, not even a wound to nurse and heal with promises made beyond his deep stupor. It is six in the morning and the dream is real as soon as it is over.

The wooden ceiling was his first field of vision, the filthy walls second, and the door third.

To his far left was a plate empty for the last four daybreaks. At the table, a glass of water refracted the morning light streaming faintly from the window sill, partially illuminating his pale face and lethargic eyes. There was neither coffee nor sugar to greet his lips on that cold Saturday. Still too weak to air curses against the silence, he opened his mouth without saying a word. He turned to his side and wrapped the white blanket around his body, all the while knowing that even three sheets of cloth will never shield him from the penetrating chill of the whiskey fog swirling the small village on that July sunrise. He restrained the pool of liquid gathering at the edge of his eyes from trickling down his face by shutting them for a moment. The room, it seemed, was not spacious enough to house all the emotions wallowing inside his small frame.

Outside, footsteps of increasing intensity signaled the coming of the old keeper. The subsequent calm declared his presence.

Three hard knocks after and the door swung open. His landlord pried a bit inside the room for a good five seconds as if to interrogate an innocent convict lying lifeless in a wooden coffin for whatever the effort is worth, only to leave a small note by the table before brandishing a clout of arrogance with the thump of strides. Yesterday, today and tomorrow will never be good mornings for the jobless, he thought, unmoved by the unannounced arrival and abrupt exit of the apartment proprietor, the lone avatar of power in that little patch of feudal lot. Slowly, he got on his feet and fetched the bill with his bony fingers, glorifying the paper as if it is a divine edict decreed to liberate all tenants in the universe, some paying less religiously than others, him most of all.

Four thousand five hundred pesos, apart from a mouthful of apologies for the delayed payment, must come from him within the next five days. Otherwise, he will need to haul his ass out in a crate or the landlord will have to do it himself minus the procedural courtesies. It has happened before, grist and grime and all, and it can happen again.

Standing in front of the mirror, he forced a grin he has not seen in years. Endless bouts of caffeine on previous months have stained his teeth with a deep shade of ochre while tar seemed to have already clung to his gums. Other than the small cut on his forehead and a broken nose bridge to remind him of a drunken fistfight several nights back, nothing else was new. He was perpetually miserable.

He stepped closer. After mustering what little is left of his strength, he removed the mirror from its mount and raised it high with both hands. The drop was brief but the sound of shattered glass permanently broke the morning peace. Shards littered the floor and tiny reflections of light filled the opposite walls.

The familiar thump of footsteps drew nearer until finally the old man found himself standing before the door, gesturing his confusion and anxiety with little control, for there he was making a return that was not intended. Poised to proffer a visceral litany while hunching against the light, the keeper’s vexations ended as swift as they began. The first stab came unseen, with nary a shrill whimper from his final breaths. After six stabs on the neck, the man bathed in crimson. The old man lay lifeless, belly slit open from left to right like the earth sliced in half, innards spouting amid blood and juice. Then he knelt beside the fallen elderly, clasped his hands and began to say the prayer of the godless as red and light glimmered from the broken pieces.

Breakfast, he mumbled at the end.


the green breaker said...

And am I really reading this at breakfast time with this chill? I felt unusually close with your descriptions, it scared me. I thought I was the only one who had a criminal mind..

Off topic, Splice, can I borrow some lines from your manual? I was thinking yesterday of how to let you know, good thing you came up with a post.

Désolé Boy said...

"It is six in the morning and the dream is real as soon as it is over."
It's like you dragged out all the unspoken and unwritten words I could not summon myself and put it all here.
Please write more often.

SPLICE said...

@the green breaker
Sure, go ahead, you can use the lines you would like to borrow :)

@Désolé Boy
Thank you. I wish I could write more often, too. I've been a bit busy with many things lately.

gayla said...

was here.