Touching Without Feeling and Other Near Impossibilities.

Posted on July 17, 2010

This Noose was Designed to Break on ImpAct.

This Noose was Designed to Break on ImpAct.

It’s half past dawn and already blazing hot when the treacherous villain called Creature and his villainous sidekick named Harlot scale the fence and drop headlong into the town square. It is Sunday.

“This is a slippery kind of place,” she says.

“That explains the warm welcome,” he replies.

He isn’t being sarcastic either. There is a disarming sense of surrealism here.

She feels it too.

Primitive, smiling types everywhere…

Robust work-a-day men, proud of their sweat and bathing in their stench drink liquor from flasks and wipe their foreheads with rancid bandannas.

They are fatuous creatures, the kind who shout even when speaking softly. They rub their swollen guts and gnaw on their stubby fingers and when they belch, it smells like vomit.

Diminutive women bustle to and fro with gaggles of children nipping at their heels. They regurgitate damaged ideologies with irrepressible pride and the children mimic their words by rote with no discernible emotion and then they violently scramble to fetch the birdseed and moldy breadcrumbs tossed at them as a reward for learning their lessons well.

The townspeople are possessed by the demands of the moment. It is all they know. There are no memories here, which works out well for rogue interlopers trying to quietly assimilate and remain under the radar. In this place there are no cynical suspicions.

Here, everyone’s been here all along.

And so, with none of the usual tense curiosities regarding their past to account for, the chiseled Creature with filthy hands and the Harlot made of fiery dust, pause for a breath. Warily, at first…

“We should call this home for a time,” he states, as though it were a suggestion.

As if I had an option, she thinks, knowing full well that she hasn’t.

“Sounds swell,” she says, in way that suggests that it isn’t.

“You have a bad attitude,” he snarls while simultaneously swatting at an errant ash, which is drafting downward, threatening her ruddy cheek.

She instinctively ducks which infuriates him, and so he clasps four dirty fingers and one disjointed thumb around her neck and twists her head toward the fallout so that she will understand that he was being heroic. That he was trying to save her.

She is unimpressed by his attempt, and also slightly reactive and she responds to his brutality with a sucker punch straight to his beautiful face “Don’t be a jerk,” she snaps in conclusion, as a verbal punctuation of sorts…

And when she pauses for a long moment, considering what’s next, he becomes enraptured by her irrational fury and by the heaving of her chest.

Then she is ready, and she continues:

“I remember a time when people like us didn’t mix. You might do well to remember that yourself once in awhile.”

She says this in tones laced equally with ire and syrupy sweetness and he suddenly feels the stirrings of an erection. His insides writhe beneath his flesh and he imagines the tiny, trampy cat-girl pouncing upon him, knocking him over and then passionately licking his sweat and his fever.

His excitement turns to heated arousal and so he turns and slaps her, boorishly and hard.

His calloused fingers coil and release and then violently impact her face.

A series of red, pock-like blisters appear almost immediately, marring her otherwise angelic countenance, causing it to swell and distend awkwardly and her wounds erupt in a curious pattern; one that is oddly reminiscent of The Big Dipper.

“This could go on for days,” she says in a manner that reveals nothing.

She makes a show of stifling a yawn before languidly sinking to the ground where she begins digging a hole in the sand with her fingers.

“I got nothing but time” he says sinking alongside her and starting in on his own hole.

They sigh in unison. In reckoning. He thinks her a spooky little scout and she regards him as a dastardly crook and a charlatan. They are a match made in hell, these two; digging holes in quick sand, bound together by hatred and necessity and psychotic twisted admiration.

The air is heavy with water and soot and shame and she considers the ocean and the trees. She considers this in spite of her mightiest efforts not to.

She longs for a moment so far gone that it feels dream-like in nature.

Creature recognizes her absent gaze.

“Remember all those days…” he says carefully as the sand sifts dramatically through his fingers, “…those days when all we did was sit and wait for death?”

She smiles at nothing and then turns toward him. Her eyes pierce his neck and she indulges a throaty laugh. And then: “No. I remember living.”

This is her reply and with her words still hanging low in the air she averts her gaze so she will not have to look at him.

She continues, more softly now: “I want to go back.”

He shakes his head in mock empathy. “That’ll end,” he says, “You’ll learn to forget.”

“Not without a fight,” she replies, but already her constitution has weakened and her delivery lacks its trademark vigour.

She sinks further into the mire of life and love and truth unrequited and begins to contemplate the ironic freedom of acceptance.

While she knows he is right, she prays he is not. This vague longing for a time not so far gone is all she has to remind her of who she’d been before the beast she is now; back before some vile, decrepit animal infiltrated her blood and being, effectively exorcising her humanity and forcing her to exist in this glitchy, scattered and heinously morbid, alterna-world.

The thick night air is decomposing quickly, giving way to stale mustiness. The townspeople are tucked safely away in cottages made of ash and stone, and the darkness provides suitable disguise for the two specters silently digging graves with mud-caked faces. They contemplate memories that they are not supposed to think of because the memories make them human and they are anything but. Now they are the past. They exist as voids in space, bereft of hopes and dreams and hindered by the remoteness of the lives they’d lived and the ones they’ve stolen. They are goblins feeding in the shadows, slogging and toiling and scouring the ground in obscurity. Though they disregard daybreak, it always comes and is always the same: steaming, toneless, aggravated. They kiss the sun as they sweat in their sins. They woozily cluck and hiss while sitting against the rock wall, chained inexorably to the other vagabonds and exceptionally unacceptable types. They are the stars of an exclusive reunion, conceived of and played out in hell.

“I don’t belong here,” Harlot cries suddenly, without warning. She is panicked and thrashing.

“But you do,” Creature replies evenly. “You do belong here. That’s why they welcomed you. They only welcome what they know.”

He pauses. And then:

“And if you aren’t actually what you seem to be, I must say that you fake it alarmingly well.”

“I am…haltingly honest,” she says less convincingly than intended.

“If this is about him…we could always keep him safe, you know…”

He attempts to sound casual but his efforts are futile, for she is hip to his game.

“How long has it been since you actually believed that?” (Scorn.)

“You will leave him alone.” Her words are a command and her tone pricks him; it is suddenly deep, guttural and unfamiliar; rooted in evil.

In that moment, Creature feels a creeping sludge begin to well up from his insides. It heats his spleen and begins to bubble up through his windpipe and he feels the tightness of fatal asphyxiation descending.

He fears that his Harlot with her purple face and her blood orange revelations might never truly learn to be gracious and still in his picturesque underworld.

In his periphery, Creature spies a pale horse crawling toward a water trough in the distance, squawking in desperation. The trough is just a mirage, but Creature sees no reason to impart such heartbreaking knowledge upon the brute.

Soon enough, he thinks.

Calmer, he is now ready to re-approach the girl.

“Given enough time, all love fades,” he says, “And then it ends and then we move on. It’s inevitable. I just cut out the middleman. Saved you some trouble. Procrastination is the Devil’s playground, you know…”

He says this and must immediately quell his overwhelming instinct to laugh gaily at his endlessly clever wit.

“I know,” Harlot replies, “but the process is in place for a reason. It enables resolution. He needed to love me so that I could learn to not love him.”

“Come now…you would’ve quit anyway. While it isn’t a terribly unique exit strategy, you certainly perfected it.”

“I never quit! I just left. Leaving isn’t quitting. Leaving is leaving. Quitting is final…It’s…different.” She is sputtering now. (Chord. Struck.)

“Don’t be simple! It’s no different at all. It’s exactly the same. You were born to quit and you can gel the lens and turn it the color of roses, you can sheathe it in riddles and perplex the senseless masses but you can’t hide what you are from your kin because we smell your intention. And while circumstances provide reason and allow the unthinkable to be forgiven, your intention is your truth. And even you cannot hide from your truth. That is why you belong here and that’s why I helped you. I did for you what you couldn’t for yourself.”

“Well, thanks for that then. Next time you should just help me right over a cliff…”

“That can certainly be arranged.”

She ignores his offer. “Sometimes you just want to be important to someone. But you aren’t. And no matter how you try, you won’t be. And once you know that…once you really own it, it’s simpler to remove yourself altogether. It’s provocative. And when I couldn’t be important, I could always be provocative. I’d rather be hated and remembered than disregarded and forgotten…”

“Then you should thank me. You were a infected sore, with an incomplete story. But tragedy is trite. And now, because of me, you will exist as a mystery until the end of time. I gave you a legacy.”


The two continue punching and jabbing and quibbling and quarreling until suddenly, with no discernable impetus or reason, she kisses him. Her outburst reeks of a trenchant, deep and falsified passion. She runs her lips up his bloodless arm. She accosts his neck and licks his face before abruptly switching directions and making her way toward his despicable chest, which she slurps at for a spell. He stares straight ahead, determined to remain unmoved and unaffected by this hellion and her transparent manipulations. But finally he can stand it no longer and so he yanks her hair and begins to delicately maul her. This is the exact moment that she tires of the charade and wordlessly turns back to her hole, which, sadly, has refilled itself, almost to the top.

She angrily sets about digging it out all over again. (Poor thing.)

A China man appears from God knows where and dashes hurriedly past them. He carries three plastic bags bearing yellow smiley faces. He kicks up dust and rubble; leaving a waft of sweet and sour in his wake.

“I’m hungry,” Harlot whines.

“I could eat,” Creature replies, “got any cash?”

“Not a dime.”

He stands quickly and moves toward the Asian yelling and waving his arms, “Sir, excuse me sir…” The man stops as Creature approaches and with no further dialogue, the Creature reaches out and snaps the man’s neck. The Asian falls to ground and Creature removes the bags from his still-clenched fist as his ferocious little cohort claps from the sidelines.

“Never saw it coming…” he mutters proudly returning to her and pawing through the bags.

“Way to stay under the radar,” Harlot remarks.

Then they fall silent. They slurp their delicious lo mien. It is too late for words.

While Creature’s solution to funds run dry could appear callous and injudicious to the layman, it’s actually quite sensible when one considers the rules of survival singed into the collective psyche of thugs and dames and delinquents of their kind: They are taught not to make plans and never to become attached. Reality is in a constant state of flux and there is no time for comfort when everything is ephemeral. There is no space for belief. When existence itself is transient, there is no need for forethought.

There is only blind action. Hurl it quickly. There is no tomorrow.

And they are the result…

Like some less mystical, unsophisticated form of a maenad, they indulge without thought or concern for consequence. It is all they know.

Yes, Creature and Harlot and the other untouchables merely exist in this dustbowl. Even “survival,” with all of its mediocre connotations, is far too grand a term to properly depict the depths of hollow nothingness associated with their subsistence. There is no life left here. Not for them. They’ve sold their souls to savages and moths in exchange for nothing. Now they watch from afar as tiny children play Battleship and Jacks in alleyways; content and unaware of the hurricane force winds threatening their milieu.

Schoolgirls skip stones across riverbeds that have long since run dry; their hair ribbons, once tied prettily and shaped like bones, have been violently whipped and turned and unfurled and now lie limp, draped across their tiny ears. Yet still they remain blissful, traipsing gallantly through time; hurtling toward the infinite oblivion without care. All too soon they will grow into foolish, foul-mouthed adults whose only desire is to rule the world, qualifications be damned. Though flowering trees may perish in the frost, plants will bloom again in a year or so; human beings aren’t as resilient.

There are no resources here. The terrain is desolate and nearly untenable now. It bears a horrifying resemblance to the minds and hearts and souls of the discarded denizens who flock to it and pitch their tents in the night. There is no justice and they have no shame. They are all puss filled wounds; they are martyrs and pawns.

They are the powerless and the indecent.

They are disabled big rigs and derailed trains…built with purpose and strength, but suddenly sidelined and awaiting repair. The passengers are starving on the side of the road; munching on some stale CornNuts they were lucky enough to find in the glove box and between the seats just before the engine exploded and incinerated the framework. They are saddled with the tyranny of choice, the problem of promise…

They are terminally ill and gruesomely falling, expecting a net that will not appear.


Some weeks or minutes pass, and no-one knows which. The sun sets as it does and night dawns. It is neither unusual nor special.

There is an arrow and a bow and a pumpkin they think, but it could easily be an oversized gourd. There is a small tussle involving a ninja star hurled by the increasingly ornery Harlot in response to a shower of shrapnel set off by a Redheaded Minx who blatantly disregarded a large, neon sign bearing the words:

“Active Land Mines. KEEP OUT.”

The Minx is new in town, having just arrived as the sun fell from the sky. She admits she was overly exuberant and smidge cavalier (but she was “just so excited to be here!”) and she feels awful for the trouble she’s caused. But Harlot is in no mood for mercy.

This is somewhat reasonable however, considering that it is because of this Minx that she and Creature have a long night ahead of plucking thousands of shell casings from her legs and stomach.

Harlot has become increasingly important within their strange caste system (though she claims to care nothing for the power,) and she banishes the Redhead to the horrid and untamed Western-front, which is where the surliest of the filth-mongers and hate-mongers are sent to dwell. They fight and kill for sport. They are outlaws amongst the outlaws; forever engaged in pointless territorial crusades egged on by adrenaline and unrelenting bloodlust.

After most of the flotsam has been eliminated from Harlot, she and Creature sit in the sand sucking helium from balloons in the moonlight. They do some blow and then eat some pills that make them nauseous at first, but their brains quickly detach from their feeling and nerve centers and they float higher and higher still…far, far (far, far, far) above the Earth. Now they dance wildly and without inhibition, tearing their clothes from their flesh and replacing them with carcasses of the vermin they’d burned for fun that afternoon. They spin dizzily and fall to the ground gasping for air as the last balloon disappears into the rotting, red sky. Their thoughts tread the air and then sink back into the dune before finally smashing and scattering into indelicate, watery graves.

“We are a sad cliché,” Harlot says, finally.

Creature misses this however, as he is vomiting violently into a burning bush they’d set aflame hours earlier.

Finally, when there is nothing left inside of him, the Creature crawls to his Harlot, who is now lying in the sand scowling at the stars, and he lies next to her. He peels the remains of a muskrat from his left thigh and places it over her bony arm, for the night has turned frigid and they’d destroyed their tent during a mishap with a hand grenade earlier in the evening.

And so they stare at the sky, disappointed and bored and somehow ignorant of the swarming buzzards feasting delightedly on their cadaverous clothing. They wait without hope for something mystical to happen which might give them some ever-elusive reason to continue.

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