8FOLD/ACRA: Speak! # 9
twopointthreefivefilmwerks at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 19 07:20:33 PDT 2005
DISCLAIMER: This series used profanity, sexuality, and morally offensive acts.
EIGHTFOLD COMICS PRESENTS
THE NINTH & FINAL ISSUE OF
by Tom Russell
THE EARTH SHAKES AND SPLITS and spits the building up in the air like a concrete and vinyl glob of chewing tobacco, only when it falls its not in a solid, gelatinous glob but in a screaming, screeching mess, walls and ceilings and furniture and flesh all jumbled together and stabbing, colliding, falling apart.
OUT LIKE A LIGHT, GREGORY: on your way down, you hit your head on the little table that the television was resting on. The corner digs into your skull and the TV clonks you on your head, and you're only conscious for a few more precious seconds, enough time to see the bed rolling towards you. Then, you're out like a light.
DOES IT FEEL REAL, GREGORY? Does it feel real? An earthquake. A nine point nine richter scale earthquake that appears at the drop of a hat, or rather a few words.
DOES IT FEEL REAL?
This is really happening.
OUT COLD AND YOU'RE DREAMING. In your dream, you make love to Sandy, and then the redhead, and then Metronome, each coupling more violent and savage than the last, and afterwards you mount Sandy again. You fuck her hard and fast, holding onto her hips, her sweet swelling breasts bouncing and then she splits in two, a fleshquake ripping from her pussy to her head, a jagged line running further and further with each stroke until there's two of them: the redhead and your mother, both dead, dead, dead... And you stare at your dick, and it's covered with blood; you stare at your hands, and they're covered with blood; there's blood on your hands.
THERE'S BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS. Does it feel real? Wake up, you bastard. Wake up; there's blood on your hands.
YOU'RE BURIED UNDERNEATH THE RUBBLE, it's hard to breath. There's a pain in your side (did something stab you? impale you? puncture your liver, your lungs?). Are you going to die? Is that what you wanted, Gregory? Is that why you told the earth to shake? Because you couldn't deal with being trapped, you couldn't deal with the police outside and having to own up to what you've done?
You've done far worse now, Gregory. And you'll have to own up to a higher power.
You say the words and the pain is quite gone.
A HAND REACHES TOWARDS YOU. It moves through the rubble like air, and you know it's Dr. Metronome, and that she's saving your worthless ass. Hmm. Wonder if she knows its you? If she did, would she even bother to save you? Of course she would. She's a hero and that's what they do.
Your whole body feels like air, and suddenly you're being pulled up through the debris, the dust passing through your body and the gravel dancing in your belly until you're on your feet and the sky is above you, pale blue through a gauze of dust.
Metronome's in costume now, complete with belt, no longer the helpless girl you tied up in the chair but something stronger, harder, more fierce and confident. If she didn't know it was you she just saved, if she is suprised or shocked to come face to face with you once more, she doesn't let on.
Dust in your voice: "Where's Harry?"
She doesn't have to answer, though: because now you see him.
THE GAS-MAN IS A HERO.
You sit down on the pile of rubble you've just been emancipated from as Dr. Metronome goes on to save her next person. There are fire-fighters here, and police men, and even a couple of other supers that you don't recognize. But you don't watch any of them. You watch Harry. Harry Cash. The Gas-Man. A hero.
Quickly, methodically, his iron-cased body moves from pile to pile, lifting up debris, searching for limbs and attached to those limbs people. He lifts the people out, sets them down, and a paramedic rushes up like clockwork. And then the next pile, the next person.
He moves like lightning, he moves like a god, flying through the air and soaring down gracefully to save yet another life. And another. And another.
A half-hour passes in this fashion, and you never take your eyes off of Harry, never even think about the shit-storm you're going to reap. You just watch him rescue people. You just watch as in the course of a half-hour, a life of sin and mediocrity is redeemed. You just watch.
He starts to slow down now. His movements are not quite as effortless. The god falters.
YOU'RE AT HIS SIDE IN an instant.
"Harry, are you okay?"
"I don't think so. Old man. Too old for this stuff."
"Let's get your mask off."
"You're wheezing, Harry. It's hard enough for you to breath with the dust here, and with that thing on. Must be a hundred degrees in there."
"And then some. But leave it on."
"Harry, it's not the time for--"
"I said leave it on. It's the way I want to be remembered."
"Don't be morbid. You're not going to die." And this much is true. All you have to do is say, heal. Live. Breathe. And he will heal, he will live, he will suck the air in with a gusto he hasn't known for thirty years. All you have to do is say a word, Gregory, and Harry Cash will be okay, just like you saved yourself with a couple of words, just like you brought this building down with a handful.
Most of the people have been saved. You did say once before that your power would never be used to take a life. And yet, maybe that only works directly: maybe it's only if you say die or explode that nothing happens. Maybe you can't depend on the limit you imposed to keep your power in check. Maybe you can't depend on God.
Harry's wheezing worse now, and you can see a pool of blood seeping through the rivets of his suit. It's more strange than anything else. Just got to say one word, Gregory. Just need to tell Harry Cash to live, and he'll live. Just one word.
"How did your wife die?" Just need to say one word.
"Cancer." Say heal, and he'll heal.
"Yeah. Um. Eighty... eighty-seven. Cancer. And when she died, she said, to the doctor she said this, she said, tell that schmuck I love him. And I was the schmuck. I've always been the schmuck..."
You look at him with disappointment in your eyes. Just one word, Gregory.
His voice is quiet. "That's... that's not quite right, is it? That's not quite the truth."
"No, it's not," you say. "But that's okay, Harry. It's a good story anyway."
DURING THE HOUR THAT FOLLOWS, you hug his iron body, your arms aching from the weight of the metal, and the blood sticking to your shirt, congealing. He wheezes and wheezes and stops breathing, and then, it's done.
YOU COULD HAVE SAVED HIM.
YOU GO QUIETLY WHEN METRONOME and the police place you under arrest. You accept the handcuffs gladly. Is it because you're sorry for what you've done? Is it because you're tired of running?
Or is it just because you couldn't think of anywhere to run?
"EVER HEAR THE STORY," HARRY said, "of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? Old story. Let me tell it to you. You got, you got King Arthur, right, and all his knights, round table and everything, and one day, this gigantic knight-- Green Knight-- hundred stories tall or something, he comes to Arthur and his knights and he issues what you call a knightly challenge, on account of that's what knights did in stories like this. And he says, this is the Green Knight now, he says, I challenge any of your men to take this here ax and try and lop off my head. But if I survive, then a year and a day from now, I get to return the blow. And, since it's his story, Sir Gawain says, I accept your challenge. Green Knight hands him the ax, Gawain lops off the dude's head in one clean shloop, and then, the man stands up, puts his head back on and says, right, well, see you in a year, then.
"Year and a day. So, it comes close to the time when he's supposed to meet the Green Knight, and so Sir Gawain goes out to find him, and during his travels, comes across this castle and this lord who is kind enough to let Gawain stay there a couple days. And he makes this deal, see. The lord says, I go out hunting every day. I'll give you everything that I win at the end of the day, as long as you give me everything that you win at the end of the day. Gawain shrugs, says sure, why not, because this, again, is typical behavior of people in these times, they make challenges and bargains and so forth, and so they make this deal.
"Lord goes out hunting, and Gawain just kind of hangs around the castle, and the lord has this wife, see. This woman-- she is a comely jewel, as they say. She is gorgeous. Voluptulous. Beautiful. Body made for sin, and that is exactly what she tries to get Gawain to do. Well, this first day, he resists, more-or-less. In the end, he accepts a kiss from her. Lord comes home from hunting with a, I don't know, whatever the fuck, a boar or some shit, and he gives it to Gawain; then Gawain gives the lord a kiss. No explanation. Of course.
"Day two, lord goes out hunting, and the comely wife, she tries to get it on with Gawain, but he's still pretty steadfast in his resolve, but yet the dam is weakening, and he takes from her, he wins from her two kisses. And so, the lord comes home, has a deer, I dunno, and the deer is exchanged for two kisses, on account of that's what Gawain won that day.
"Day three, the wife is trying extra hard, probably because her husband is out killing things all day long and probably, I dunno, sleeping all night, she's kind of lonesome, and this pretty young thing really lays it on thick. Gawain kisses her three times, it being the third day, and gives in just a little more than that: she takes off her girdle, and he accepts it. Now, the lord comes home, gives Gawain whatever he hunted, and Gawain gives him three kisses. Keeps the girdle. The girdle that was wrapped around her body tighter than string around a finger, the girdle that touched her so intimately, the girdle that is stained with her sweat and her womanly mysteries. The secrets of womanhood. And Gawain-- yeah, this is a little faggy here-- Gawain wears the girdle and the next day, he goes out to find the Green Knight, because this marks a year and a day. And he finds him, no problem.
"Gawain, quite naturally and matter-of-fact like, he offers his neck, and the Green Knight brings the ax down three times. The girdle takes the brunt of each blow, and it is only the third that draws blood, and then only just a bit. The Green Knight puts down the ax, starts to shrink, and all-of-the-sudden, he is transformed into the lord of the castle. And he explains that for each time a kiss was won from his wife, there was one blow. Now, you ask me, that should have been six blows, but three days, I guess, three times Gawain submitted to the wife, I ain't going to quibble over that. But anyway, the lord further explains that since Gawain saw his wife kind of in the nude there, on account of she took off her girdle in front of him, it was the third encounter that he was pissed about and the third one that drew blood. Though, that's kind of funny, ain't it, because if he hadn't gotten the girdle in the first place, he probably would have lost his head with the first lop of that
"Anyway, Gawain goes home, ashamed of having taken the girdle, but King Art says, you know, ain't so bad, man. You did good. Proud of you. If we had sent Lancelot there, man, Green Knight would have went ape-shit, on account of Lancelot is a bit of a lady's man. Anyway, all of Camelot is proud of Gawain. And in his honor, from then on, the knights of the round table wore a green sash, on account of the encounter of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight."
(C) Copyright 2005 Tom Russell. Dr. Metronome was created jointly by Jamie Rosen and myself.
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