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He loved me more. More than anyone. More than his country. More than death itself. He never did say so, but I knew it. When he held me against his palm, I knew then. I sensed connectedness. I was at the centre of his consciousness. The heart of his darkness. The soul of his indiscretion. His passions were me, movies, more me, and music sometimes. In that order. So he was seriously pissed when he lost his job at Gutbuster Video. It was crummy by any standards, but at least he got to watch DVDs – when his line manager Carl wasn’t being shitty on account of super-concentrated hydroponic withdrawal. Despite its Frenchness, number seven loved Claude Chabrole’s The Lords of War. He watched it more times than was healthy for any 19 year-old college drop-out who had majorly flunked life and minorly flunked Earth Sciences.
I won’t say his name. It’s not that I don’t want anyone knowing. Just wouldn’t want it pre-judging anything here. Animates could be tuning in. You never know these days. And we all know what animates are like. With their principles and values. Don’t know how they stand it. I’m surprised they don’t go off at the deep end more often.
Not that animates woulda picked them up with their lousy three-dimensional perception. But there were clear signs with seven. That thing with the scotch tape, for one. The roll was plain resistant to normal use. It was anti-functional. Recognise one of them anywhere. No matter how many times he went round it slowly with his index finger nail, he could not find where the tape started from. He scored it countless times in an attempt to knife into the roll. He went OCD on it dude. Three months later. Scarred his own forearms and peeled back the flesh like bloody scotch tape.
By no means the most self-destructive handler I ever had, number seven was definitely my first and only self-harmer. In body count he made the top three. Number one he only made in celebrity status. Not that that lasted a second longer than the regulation quarter of an hour. Barely long enough to register the horror. Do the shocked outrage thing over Cheerios. Get in a big metal box and drive to the mall to shop, or get shot at.
Number one was an obscure man. He wasn't into celebrity. That wouldna been professional. For number one, a pervasive, but generally low-key notoriety went with the territory: it helped scare the crap out of the animates. Boy did he not like them. That's not to say he loved us. Not like number seven. No, I can swear on my safety catch that number one didn’t love us. Personally, I was his tool, his piece. An instrument to get the job done and be done with. Half-Polish/half-Italian. 100% American gangster. He had a so solid grip. None of that limp-wristed, Boyz in Da Hood sideways dangle. When he took a hold of you, you knew he meant business. His business: the kill or be killed business. Not like number seven. No warmth. No compassion with number one. Badda bing badda boom! Thank you and goodnight Venice Beach. Outta here. Number one: the meat face who broke me in. Unsullied, unused, virginal. He adulterated me. I grew up quick – pistol whipped, thrust, jabbed, cocked, tossed, prodded, poked, and popped.
His dislike was tangible. I felt his desire to shed me after every kill. I was not his weapon of first choice. His true love was automatic. I was his bit on the side, his unmarked back-up, his generic squeeze. No name. No company. No brand. Nada. Enter. Scramble brains. Exit other side. No mess. Just brute power. Pure adrenaline rush. Eyeballs popping out like helicopters on anti-phase cancellation. Capisce?
Two was a one-night stand. One’s killer as a matter of fact. I never got more than a sense of nervous energy from her. Fear masks a lot. She abandoned me for a tampon tesar gun. Packing 50,000 volts, the Pink Stinger causes more agony than I ever could.
Three was the custody cop who accidentally capped himself in the foot. Just couldn’t resist it.
Four... Jeez, what can I say? The question with four was this. When a murdering sociopath asks for a hug, do you give the crazy loco sonofabitch a hug or not? I resisted at first. But the mother made me. He took control. He called the shots. I never wanted to get close, to cathect, to form the oneness that me and seven attained in our finer moments. Four was a dependency based on a dark psychotic delusion. If you could hear Satan's heart, this is how it would beat. The rhythm of the lie detector. Alone. At night. In the dark. No-one around. Only me. Under his pillow. With the pulse. A nervous junior doctor. Beats per minute manic. But perpetrating wholesale pain and industrial slaughter, tranquility personified. A slow and steady 60 bpm tops, with the occasional blip. Efficient viciousness.
Five was a saint. Only used me once. Almost by accident. I felt like popping one off again to make sure. But I resisted. We got him off on a manslaughter rap – mitigating circumstances of a crime passionelle. Woulda got some serious ten gallon justice in one of the 36 states who fry, inject or gas in the name of retribution.
Six. My next port of call. Paris. The banlieues. Asalama Alikum there was not. May la haine go with you. Six inhaled Anthrax spores at a drumming workshop! Designed by well-meaning social workers to curb fundamentalist enthusiasm. He only went on the advice of his Imam, so he wouldn't end up radicalised. Ended up dead anyway. You couldn't make this merde up I'm telling ya. He'd've been better off in the riot, popping me off at les flics. Least we woulda bonded. Ended up unowned. A parody of myself. Unclaimed, unwanted, unloved. Roaming the streets touting the slipstream for a new number. I went the way of the French connection via military intelligence. Through the ISI in Pakistan. Back through the Balkans. Turned up in Philly Uni courtesy of a Company asset. Postgrads who didn't know where France was. Son of a survivalist nut from Illinois. Eventually, got sold on through a conduit to seven. Seven, my true love. Seven, my lucky number. Twice seven is fourteen. The fatality count. Two times seven. Me and him. I'm going to miss him.
I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of an SKS assault rifle. Just got off of a FBI black bag job and reads animate pretty good. Claims to. But I'm not so sure this long barrel ain't stringing me along. Typical semi-automatic. It cost me some serious ammo to get even a piece of the suicide note.
I know everyone will remember me as some sort of monster, but please understand that I just don't want to be a burden on the ones that I cared for my entire life. I just want to take a few pieces of human crap with me.
Waste of gunpowder if you ask me. Doesn’t want to be a burden, whinge, whinge, self-pity bleat bleat bang bang. That’s so not what he was like. Take it from me. The other piece – some mindscan he picked up off of a junior frequency – is more curious a curio for a lonely old handgun like me. Mawkish I know.
Green tin box. He wants to see what’s in it. Grandma won’t let him. Grandpa won’t, but he doesn’t mind. He can. He can reach. Where’s his step? The bathroom. It’s in the bathroom. The box with the toilet rolls in. Lots of paper inside. If he can take out the rolls, he can get inside there. Where can he put them toilet rolls? He knows where. In the air-raid cupboard. Where the towels are. Grammy’s towels. Take them out. Where to put them? Grandpa’s room. Shouldn’t go in there. Shouldn’t go in Grandpa’s room. Smells of Grandpa’s old sneakers. Going in. The mirror closet. Never to go in there. Grandma says not to go in here, but Grandma’s not here, is she? Mummy says not to. Daddy says not to. Grandpa says only to listen to Grandpa. I need somewhere to put the towels. Put them somewhere. On the bed? OK. Open the mirror closet. Here’s Grandpa’s gun. It’s dangerous Mummy says. Grandma says. Daddy says. Grandpa says they’re all liberal pacifics. He says it’s ok to play with the gun. It’s ok. It’s dangerous Mummy says. It’s not dangerous really is it Grandpa? He pulls my trigger. He pulls. He pulls harder. He pulls it and… Bang! B- A- N- G Bang! He can't read that word, but he can wave it above his head. He likes the little United States of America flag.
There you go again. With your judgement calls. With your facile anti-Americanism.
The reading thing. How many literate four-and-a-half-year-olds you
know? Such a cheap shot man. Way wide of the target. Damned animates.
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