FROM the lateness of Friday, and turning down after work drinks, you can come across like a real arsehole. Frank knew this, but was past the age where he confused the colours of things that matter and things that do not. He walked along the river taking nips from a hip-flask that a girlfriend had bought him. It felt good to him. One thing about the river is that it only brings certain types of people. You have the people that love animals, and that’s pretty much it. The walkers. The living. The graceful ghosts. A way to turn off the machine, the patty-cake embraces of unatural things.
It felt like the universe was inventing itself as he walked. There were the times when the synchronicity of life and the random were too close to each other, like a poem read out by a bad reader. But there was the night too, as it soaked everything with a song, and bled down the hills, redder than tanned trees and organised fire. There were too many artists dying. And the only thing replacing them were automated bones. Some skin. The animals by the river knew acting and performance. Even the man losing his last five pounds at the bookmakers knew how to act. Nothing was polished, but it was real, and in a tightly bound fervere, you had everything that the universe had to offer. Away from the specialist notions bound by reason, which equates to so many rats eating cocaine inside a cage.
This would be a good place to die, he decided.
The roots still remained with him of the work he had done before trying to go straight. However, he was too old to go straight. Every now and then someone asked him if he had any tattoos. He did. He would lift his shirt and show the roughly imprinted words: DUSK DOGS scratched across his ribs on the left side. It looked more like a set of scrawled scars than art, and like it had been done in a prison, by a needle dipped in biro ink, which it had been. But he liked it. And smirked before he spoke about it. He never mentioned his time inside. The relationships. It was a blackness and a call to violence, quiet, long, and away from light. So the tattoo was something he had let his friend do when drunk, which also wasn’t a lie. Life on the outside, and within normal parallels, was like being slapped all day long. Normalcy was going back to the places where he buried people. He went off track and cut across the car park. The gravel spoke like he did, making him remember the times when he had told his captors what to do. He couldn’t even afford a car now, lacking the funding of the people he had worked for before. But the cars were all around him. BMW’s and less conspicuous cars pulling into the large rectangular den. Even his thoughts were tick-tock, albeit in a way that was different to when he earned more. And finally, he let them come back, as just under a dozen car boots opened and he pulled out so many ghosts at different ages and times. He chuckled and wondered what he would say to death, moving a branch away from his face as he walked into the woods.
The increment was immediate, and the soil was slippy under foot. He looked forward to speaking to one particular job, a local Avon man who hadn’t caused any trouble when his time came. No where else would lend him any money apart from the gutter lenders, where Frank’s niece passed on the details of people who even they couldn’t lend to. He’d miss her. She was the only beautiful person he knew, and he hoped that when it was all done with she wouldn’t think bad of him. He took a swig of whiskey and threw the flask, before flicking his collar up by habit, as if the cold would transform his neck, which made him laugh at himself, and wonder how many of his old contracts he was walking over. He closed his eyes and walked under a cove of trees, seeing the moon’s light between the branches, blinking, opening and shutting in a deep moody milk. He came to the place where Gav slept. Sat down. And unbuttoned his old blue driver’s jacket. Took out his small revolver.
It was one of the only pieces of technology he understood. Although, guns weren’t technology to him. He should have enrolled in art school that day instead of going for sports science, he thought laughing. It was time to go. And death was a smooth thing, in his hands. The trees swayed like bodies in the wind, covered in a thick creosote of shadow and moss. In a few hours it would be time to go back to the office, and listen to the gags and love of the prior night via the soft clack of lost minds. He was insane. But not so insane that another story about seeing a footballer do the macarena would bring him cheer. Time to stir with the deeds done by mortal hands, in refusal to cooperate with the world. No more tabloid conversations.
The woods accepted the death, as, they were fickle, and did not always.
Sometimes they would ignore the spirits that came, and let them be taken away by other bidders. Frank’s was alright. The trees enjoyed poems, and together, with the moss, enveloped his body and let him come down. It would be over two hundred years before the bodies were found, Frank’s death being a story for a day. The mouth of the moss he’d been resting on opened up, and swallowed him in.
Time spiked and rolled.
It truncated back to the apostle wastes of wild minds and severed roots. The soil boiled and cooled as Frank’s body floated down among it. His heart was bleached with a million different sufferings, recolections, souls from the bulbs of ungrown flowers, shrubs, worms, and the verdoracine scents of unfamiliar seas. His limbs were awake among the moulases sea, and the earth no longer lied about its dreams. Gravity was the colour of a deepening flesh, and made light work of his huge frame. He spun many times, as thick clumps of soil passed up and between his limbs. The souls of those he had brought here too watched and listened, like calm owls sleeping below the branches, life was different, and he was allowed to swim in this way, being part death himself, and having nourished the woods with the blood of his work. Down and through the liquid sedement he departed, and realised that he was breathing. His body was now full of the soft quick-sand minerals, and the echoes of the fire sang in time old barritone. Those that dwelled here, were curious and lively, having known only a small amount of human ghosts. They pulled around him like jelly-fish, whispering, then darted away.
Limp, his bones landed on a solid surface, after falling through miles of the earth’s layers.
After a time, his tongue searched around his teeth. Again. Automatic responses whilst he came to. It was a booming darkness, like someone was turning a light on and off worlds away. The air was solid, and particle by particle, he awoke. The soil was red and full of the things he had seen in the hills when alive. However, it was no longer tight, and his eyes no longer burned with the savagery of madness that he saw as the morning woke with him. He slowly began to wonder about mundane things, having never really changed from being that security guard that had a tussle with a smack head so many years back now. He had been around 26, and was at the weight that he carried into the boxing gym every night after work. At the end of this particular shift however, in the basement level of Selfridges, a thin, scarecrow man had placed the box set of Desperate Housewives season 3 inside his knackered blue fleece. And Frank hated the job. Working here, meant wrestling with a shop-lifter at best.
He moved his arm out to the right, to find his phone, to touch Rach, and ask the time. Nothing. He found a solid hard layer of coal-like soil, and realised that he was naked and the trees were singing. Christ. I finally did it, he said behind his eyes. When he opened them they were connected to the soil, and found that he could see through the many levels and miles of the planet. It was like a connection from cornea to sun via each molecule of soil. It was not oxygen he was breathing, but the pact substance of mineralic sedement. He took a few good deep breaths and stood up, seeing too much, as his ghost reflected the many lives poured down through the earth’s layers. In one moment he saw a man drinking in a bar in Miami, searching his shorts for his bent bank card. In another he felt the prickly bark of a lemon tree as a monkey climbed it outside of a house in Tunisia. They were all bright and moving, like films piercing the screen of his mind. He closed his eyes again and breathed, becoming adept at understanding the many lives pouring from the world in a moment. A fury hand touched his shoulder.
“Iiii hiiiit will take a while…” The voice rasped.
Frank turned around and saw the voice speaking. It was clouded in musky branches and roots, like a swaying shadow inside a humanish hole. Frank blinked a few times, trying to make out the form. The hand that had touched him was definitely solid, but the more he tried to discern where the limbs were of the creature the more they shifted away from tangibility. However, Frank noted that interacting with the creature calmed the rapture of sights bayonetting his mind, like things did when he walked by the river. And he felt a great joy at knowing that he was finally the madest man on earth, and that, this was how it was. He mumbled a few words, still alarmed at being a spirit, and understood the swirling figments of loose bodies swimming near-by. Worms and other deepening creatures walked and slid infront of his eyes. There was no music. But that of their bodies pulsating and growing like ameobas from odd worlds that were not a part of anything known. The being that spoke spoke again.
“Would you come with me? Siiiir. Kicch. I am nerve-ape Sayolemőn. I will be your guide to the great hall. They begin now. They… awaaait…” The shadow bones said. Vision was becoming easier. And like sight, action was the same, somehow foregoing the need to think about actions if the bidding asked was the same as what made sense to your body. Frank nodded slowly as they turned together and walked through the soil, towards a beating organ that looked like nothing he had ever seen before, a few hundred miles or seconds away. The soil burst out into different directions as they walked, and there was no sun or moon, or other ways of knowing where he was, he knew exactly where he was, and began to see more of Sayolemőn’s form as they flew at points, the fucker had a tail, then they walked other times, and ran like reincarnation splitting life at others, Sayolemőn was the fox that sat beside him on a wall when he had managed to get into university in a different life, and he turned and realised that a small warmth was sat quietly beside him, watching the night with him, Frank was the darting bats in Richmond park, that zig-zagged in the night, beside the wide lake he would go to when he had to be alone, Sayolemőn was Christie, a long haired spirit with an androgynous voice, that slept beside him, while they both laughed at not being able to sleep.
They were fleas and lions.
They were stars and whiskey.
The organ they flew towards looked like a heart at times to Frank, but then changed again as Sayolemőn dipped and Frank followed. Then it was a beating liver. A rupturing wing on the edge of a high mountain, an eagle and a sillouette. Its colour never changed however. It was always a fleshy novae red. And as they flew towards it a mouth opened in its side ahead of them. Steps began to form in the darkness of the mouth, and they finally settled down on the platform before the entrance. The underparts of the world swam everywhere, through all directions and solid gale, the bidders visited around the beating organ that Frank and Sayolemőn were ready to enter, and observed their movements.
“Pay… No matter… Sir.” The nerve-ape said, “They wonder if they may still take you…” He added, rasping each word out in a low dirge. He didn’t speak exactly, it was more like a collection of thistles being stroked by a passer by, “I… I…”
Frank looked away from the entrance knowing that they would enter soon, and understood what Sayolemőn was talking about. There was a sorrow in his voice that he didn’t understand, and matched the shifting change and altering depth of his form that he did. It was like a trying to register a deja-vu from a different person, when you looked yourself into a hall of mirrors, dusk, trees and roots growing around a sillouette, and the slow steps of a knowing cat dancing away as you looked at it.
“We…” Sayolemőn added. And the they began to walk towards the strange organ’s inner steps, departing from the fluid threat of the specteral walztes outside, that sang like grey slabs of concrete in an ever flowing storm, that every now and then grew small eyes in the rain of twisting smoke, like black holes in a deepening fog, ruby pupils inside an onyx eye, teeth and tendrils lost in a maze of fluxing soil, poems and banterings, that shat out and shot strange words in a moxie that sounded like threats, in amongst a brown black oxygen, where they were the enemies of the peaceful ghosts that flew around them.
They walked inside, and Frank felt the stairs go up and down inside the organ’s mouth. It was like being on an escaltor going both up and down at the same time. In 208 AD he abandoned his care, and spoke with Tarmulesse Hienveren II, about the way that their church was small in numbers, but that there was a small caravan of people arriving late in the evening, and that they had to prepare some meagre supper for them. They had not eaten for several days themselves, and had had to move from one accomodation to the next for several nights in a row, chased, Frank took another step, and realised rather disturbingly that he was the edge of a lick of a blazing fire, then a Fosters beer can discarded in the undergrowth, then a wolf howl, the single jumping particles that distubed the icy air, and dragged down space with the sweat and steam of an animal, with the long crooning knife of a call for his mate.
“…we are here, sir.” Sayolemőn said, as a black fleshy wall turned into life, and Frank realised that he was passing through a door. Sayolemőn departed the way that friendship does, in a blink of effervescent steam, returning and going in the lungs of music. Head first, Frank was brought forwards through the doors. They opened in turnstyle fashion, like a slab of concrete moving up, then slapping him on the arse as he went through many times. He looked back and growled, before looking forwards, as he died a second time at what he saw.
They were collected in every order, quite prim in their posture, sitting upright asif they were quadruped, or in other ways if they were not. Some held hands. Frank noticed that. There were wild arrays of infinite linked limbs where the creatures that had comradery supported each other via contact. He floated through. He couldn’t tell how big the hall was, again, like everything here, it changed each time he tried to use his old senses. He looked down and realised that all the the seats must hovering above a deep drop, he’d taken one today already, and didn’t like asking where it went. It was dumb to be dancing alone, but he was still in the soil, so he felt everything that the judges were thinking. Some of them were beginning to riot in excitement, like pigs running away from a farmer knowing what’s next, and squeeling with all delight, nirvanna and excrement spilling from both holes. His life had taught him how the game worked, and he hoped that this was the same. He floated in the middle of the rapturing hoard for sometime, touched his chest, felt for his necklace, a piece of leather with a wing pendant, and smiled, wondering where the roulette ball would land, and his exit strategy, just like he’d been taught. There were too many for him to take on his own, and he didn’t know the lay out enough to know the best roads away.
They all spoke at once, sensing his mixing of old deliberations with the impossible truth. The crickets laughed. The spinning seats that mice crawled around on. Some dogs just slobbered, all the different breeds, and all of the deformed possiblities of both flower and animal, most of which made Frank feel sad, as if seeing siamese stars, flesh and concubine kissing the dark wood desks in the hall with one head and howling with luaghter with the other, cicadas bred in pockets of soil, bursting free after seventeen years, and then dying in the heights of the roof, where an awful and brilliant light shone down, like a spot-light of justice, sending an arrow down that shone on Frank’s spirit, he could trurn, but could not fly away from it. The forms in the hall, most of which Frank knew as animals, made sense, even the hybrids of animals, but some of the roar was just too insane, they were just… gestures, actions, thoughts, loves, decays, claws, joys in formaldehyde countries in jars, birds joined with jokes, jobs, cadavers, carrion alive, whiskey girls with dripping teeth, blues songs, electonic songs, rain, rain running down a nail lighting black hair, libraries of posum families becoming swans, cougars, birthing suns, old canvases, renaissance men too poor to eat but alive enough to laugh, parts of unused dreams, mechanical fleas, burning veins wearing diamond crowns, shrews, ghost grunts, duplicating giro checks that somehow had a place too, simple dogs, complex dogs.
And they all spoke together.
“This is your judgement. Or, as you may prefer to call it, arena, circus, waltz.” The beings said together.
The beam slightened in its imposing gait, and let Frank drift down, where he met the sand of the amphitheatre, as a chair appeared below him and he settled into it, placing his lower soleus on his knee. In that moment a million things flashed, and he realised that he wasn’t sitting in a court, but was interacting with the spirit of all animals. The hall moulded to one’s life, and the things you were closest to. Some of the abstract beings flew up and away, glass jars burst and let go of their strange contents. There was some time for pleasantry through, and masses of parasites shook hands with sand-daemons and things that looked like infinite legged graphite bears, creating their own departing waves of ritual goodbyes among a sea of flowing gestures.
They all shot up through the gap in the organ’s pallet, a circular hole in the roof. And all that was left was the animals that Frank knew. He sat in the seat and looked around, damn, if it was like this I would have done it sooner he thought, and the animals chuckled with him.
Now the light turned out, and beamed on a specific head within the crowd. It beamed on the face of an old goat. She looked up, and smiled at Frank.
“Do you know who I am? Do you remember me?” The nannie asked.
Frank had no idea.
He scavenged through his mind feeling some weight in her question. “Nooo… You don’t a-a-a-a-a-ahhh,” She said, bleeting in a not unkind way, but in a direct way all the same that made the entire hall shuffle and make murmurs of laughter too. “I am Sh e e—e-e-e ka.-aa, ah-a-a-a, the goat that you freed from the ba-a-a-a—ar-bed wir-e-e-e fence, when you we-rrree six.”
And good hell, Frank remembered her. It was her. Frank had been taught things about animals from a young age since his grandfather used to be a farmer. It was an affinity that he couldn’t explain if he didn’t know you well, but they treated the dogs and cats differently. Time moved on. But from a young age he had been trained in how all animals must be respected. There was a great savagery in his blood that destroyed everything he did until he understood this later on. He learned it later when he heard a scottish terrier barking outside of Selfridges when he finished work and cared about nothing apart from getting drunk and laid. He turned back and heard a dog barking through the street, there was stafforshire with its jaws openening and shutting near a young girl’s ankles as the terrier tried to protect her. No one was doing anything. And Frank didn’t either. It was his blood that reacted. He’d always wished that he continued to sprint, professionally, instead of becoming what he was, but the sprint was there when he needed it, and the force. A way. At the end of his sprint towards the scuffle, he linked his last step with a lunge down and gripped the staffy behind the neck shuvving his elbow into its jaw, since it was too adrenalised to be calmed otherwise, and pushed in until it gagged, then pulled his elbow out. Looked up at the bad owner and told him to go without speaking, and then stood up. The terrier was alright, a few broken ribs, Moscow- what a crazy name for a dog! And the girl was a woman thathe stayed with for four years.
That was so many years ago, and he knew that the bitch was in the audience. Another time was a crazy thing with a bird. Again, leaving work, nothing going on but the joy of London, which is a joy so self-creating that it is impossible to ever feel lost or tired. Many do. But when they join with others that feel the same way it isn’t so bad. The bird interlapse isn’t so long. It was another night after work, in that world, and the conversation was about escaping the doomed prison they had been in all day, they laughed about the same things. The things that were so obvious. Like how Selfridges didn’t have any windows in the levels above ground so to keep you in this neon yellow nightmare. The night air always smelt like pure opium, and disected your heavy feeling with a graceful knife. Frank walked along with the crew and discussed which bar they would go to. They always went to the Bull & Rifle, a place that played good 80’s and even the odd David Sylvian track. Frank saw something strange this night though, as a feral pigeon had its head lodged in the corner of the pantry before the main bar area. A doorman was standing infront of it, but, the sight just stook out too much for Frank to ignore it. And he knew how to handle it. The doorman smelt the beer on his breath since Frank started early in the security office, but told him that he was being serious, as he came back a few minutes later with a box carton he had found in a near by alley. The doorman said that the bird was ok, but Frank knew that it wasn’t, and was a person of action, not pissing about. The doorman moved out of the way, and let Frank do his stuff. He knealt down carefully and said in words that he had been taught, unaudible to most, that everything was alright, and that he had to hop inside the box. The pigeon understood, and slowly hopped inside. Then. In another few minutes, they were in the alley, where Frank examined the startled bird on the ground, opening the make-shift hatch he had made on the box, and letting him hop out in his own time. The bird was fine. No injuries. And just flew away.
There was a flapping in the lower quadrants of the hall, where the pigeon gods cooed. Holy fucking crap. Frank thought opening his eyes, as Shekaaa spoke, both in direct goat eyes sending him her thoughts, and in the humour of that fact that she knew he didn’t really understand what was going on. It was hard at times to understand what she was saying, but time enveloped itself many times, burnt into paper as she spoke, like burning fireflies pouring out from a crevice, and finally came out in a way that was clear. She spoke in a resolute and low tongue.
“We-e-e are your gods dear friend. We are not judges or the beings you think. This is your tribune of deeds towards us. We are multiple, triumvirate, and other. Everything you have done towards us, where you may see us as animals, is where you are judged. We know nothing of what you do to each other. You are judged purely on your interactions with animals. And. We have noted your strange kindness towards us, beyond your tiredness, which is where most misunderstand their actions… You are judged… The judgement has passed, we are at war with the entities you saw outside of the hall. You need not join us. But hear this! We know everything about you. And hope that your next dance is with us…”
Frank heard no questions in the goat’s tone, only the ramifications of not siding somewhere. He looked into his chest in the silence as the goat finished speaking. Found a smile among his darkness and confusion, and asked “How much do you pay?” Looking up, through smirking lips.
Poem, his partner that lived in his garden was speaking somewhere too. His dog told him not to push it, so he listened, and didn’t. But the sacrifice was in the fact that he was born a man of war, as some are. He began to shake, teeth gritted, as the lightening came,something alive in his veins that he didn’t know, he chose a side in the booming arena, and began to feel the fire again, it began near his gut and spread to his canines, he roared, and roared, and roared, Shekaaa bleeted with him, half disturbed and half knowing of his fury, as did the arena of animals, as Frank looked up and shared his roar with the inner space of the earth, and felt his next calling, the obsidian mass of dislocated eyes were staring down, he was looking up, and flying up, war in his heart, war in his blood, enough blood to last multiple lives, comin for ya! Coming up to shatter this silence! Time for dance, time for my bones against your bones.
“He… Goes…” Sayolemőn said appearing beside Shekaaa, taking away her empty tray of water mixed with barley, and replacing it with a new one.
“We do not know how he will fare, shadow comrad, but, there is life in his bones. A vitality that is rare. Let us pray.”
Frank hooked the first face that came towards him as he flew up towards the eyes in the fog, with a good right, disappearing into a heaven of strikes, as lightening belted down as he fought, and the earth world sang, sending their hope towards his knuckles. All the possibilities heard thunder that night. It sounded like mountain bones slamming into mountain bones. The rabbits looked up. The hares looked up. The rats, and even the quiet adders halted in their movements and stood up. Swans mated. Lovers held back from dismissing their hatred for each other, and spoke like books, calming each other’s day. A comet burst. And you could of sworn it sounded like a man smashing the sun.