The Words – Chris Benton
December 6, 2023
A brief glimpse of the pit for a few black seconds and I’m back wiping blood from my eyes and waving the pickax handle around like a torch, the very handle I kept by my bedside over the decades in case of home invasions only we’re the invaders of our home, man and wife made strange and deadly by the magic words spoken at last.
I behold the debris of our home, the heart-broken bones of our furniture, the historical atrocity of her shattered lamps, the wailing holes in the drywall, I behold her, or something like her, I will never be sure beyond the bestial gaze, the eyes no longer blue but silver, drinking the great mythic gleam of the steel saucepan she wields with ancient concentration as she lithely steps over the crushed coffee table toward me, her feet bare and bloodied, her path pitiless. Seeking meaning I open my mouth where nothing is left to speak, already a lifetime arranging, rearranging, deranging the words, waiting for them to gain power, to give brave new wounds who will never heal. Is this what we wanted? Is this what the words wanted? The words were our only children, bastard monsters born of failure and terror, hundreds of thousands of creatures gestating in our guts and skulls, a thousand born a day, necrotic nouns, venomous verbs, psychopathic adverbs clasping hands in relentless roundelay in our ribcages… The portents were everywhere, the unending night sirens and train wails, the sudden withering of beloved houseplants, the sour wine, the spoiled meat, the endless fruit flies, deafening wall mice, the limp dick, the stale potato chips, the death of my last friends and family, the pale horses were everywhere and mounted upon every last one were the words. I saw and suffered every last sign, she embraced and translated every last tragedy yet still we endured stubbornly, psychotically, we knew we were not destined to be together, knew without the need for words and without words were determined to violate the impossibility of our communion. Did we ever love each other? We used the word often the first decade before the first wave of concussions, we used it passionately, we used it tenderly, we used it vengefully, we used it mockingly, we used it mournfully, it was only mournfully the word took on meaning, deep in the trembling dark of our bed, we would whisper the word, the last lost most lethal child we could give birth to, oh shit, she’s close and now we begin to circle each other among the ruins of our home, the final waltz, what were the words that unmade our marriage? It was an exceptional fucking combination, a fucking masterpiece of monstrous diabolism, what was the moment, what were the clues, where was the genesis of the wound, seeking memory and first finding her on a back porch in 1999, surrounded by seven catatonic supplicants staring in rapt fascination at this unhinged orator declaiming to their bastard hearts the secrets of their worthless trauma. She is feral delirious wreckage from the future, I see the miracle of my abduction by her, the holy filth of our bottomless intimacy, the words that walk in the silence of assassinated worlds, her gaze meets mine and a quarter century begins, she takes me aside, seeing me see the future of our marriage and other planetary disasters, and she asks me if I like Jung (I confess, I haven’t read classic psychoanalytic works, I have read schizoanalytic works, they take reading comprehension to another level, I declare with idiotic pride).
Schizoanalytic, you like to read literature like a lunatic? That’s fucking sad, what you’re telling me is Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is a fucking suicide manifesto.
I’m just as catatonic as one of the back porch flock, but she’s sympathetic, and keeps the subject on Jung.
I’ve got the same birthday as him, the collective unconscious cured me of Catholicism, don’t get me wrong Catholicism is a wonderful sea of signs but every sea has a floor.
Are you baptized?
She smiles a smile filled with disbelief and dread of my idiocy.
Are you baptized? She counters.
No, my sister was, I’m an ex-born again.
What the fuck is that?
I let Christ in my heart when I was sixteen. Again, I am large, my idiocy contains multitudes.
What happened, did he turn out to be a psycho?
No, I got tired of waiting for the apocalypse after several months, it’s all I’ve ever wanted, a loving annihilation and now the wait is finally over as I’m seeking mooring within her aim and drop the pickax handle and lean into the blow, this is not the first time she’s sending me deep down below, yet perhaps the last, where the words and their prodigal brood roam. My head detonates into blinding light, and for a second I wonder if she took it off in one magnificent swing, not bothering to turn and confirm. Where are the words? The words are two miles down Market street, dumbfuck, at a condo complex half demolished, the unit I seek is still intact. On the second floor of the unit there is a guest bedroom and within that guest bedroom there is a bare mattress on the floor. Upon the mattress the words are huddled, shivering, starving, humming longingly. I lie on our desolate wedding bed and open my arms, my legs, my heart, for the words to pick their father clean apart in a vast loving frenzy.