Author: Guede Mazaka
I will have
* * *
They say that the mind is the only true prison, but Paul has to wonder who of they ever did actual time.
It’s a nice cell, as such things go. Rough rectangle, kept antiseptic by yours truly both as part of his ceaseless chores as an unwilling dependent/hostage of the state and as a habit to keep the insanity at bay. Plain—the paint haphazardly washed over the walls is the same soul-stifling shade used in the back-halls of hospitals, the ways through which they wheel the bodies so that the still-living will be spared their glimpse of mortality. The modern age is so sterile, so calm and mundane, so goddamned blind. Maybe the old pagans saw illusions, fakes, false faiths, but at least they did so with a frenzied vividness that’s lacking now. They saw in panoramas, epics as wide as the sky and as colored as the blood spilling on the fields. Now the most color Paul gets is the prosaic blurry photos in the newspaper, the flesh tones already fading to yellow, the black print constrained by the headline layout and bleeding into the morose gray paper.
There’s a toilet, a sink. He thinks about drowning himself in the toilet at least once a day, but chooses to splash water on his cheeks instead over the sink.
Prison has its routines. Paul’s added his own to them. And, with the dull acceptance that is his share of humanity’s common inheritance—sheep they all are descended from, though some of them have grafted on fangs since—he’s gotten settled into them even as inside his skull he rails at himself for it. He can see how it might go: the old man of the place, spry and experienced, cut-tongued but clever, guarding his little niche with the tunnel-vision and pointless ferocity that develops within high walls. Hell, he’s already gay. That skips about fifty steps on the road to adaptation.
His trial date’s in three weeks.
Maybe they’ll give him the death penalty. That would be a relief at this point—all decisions out of his hands. But Paul doubts that, and he does so because every fucking day he gets up and he washes his hands off and he shaves. He’s so fucking old that he doesn’t have the will to be a suicide, a glorious martyr, and they’re so fucking government that they wouldn’t waste their time on high tragedy. They still need him—he’s their genius gone so far astray he’s off the fucking flow chart, but he’s still their genius. He’s their ticket to Il Duce, and Il Duce’s not looking like he’ll give up any time soon so they’ll have to find him and give him a bullet.
They’ll offer a deal, and years and years of reflexes aren’t going to let Paul refuse it. Game theory, expedience was his natural habitat for all of his life and it still is. Prison isn’t doing anything except reinforcing what was already there.
He wishes he’d done a better job of tearing down his walls before they’d put theirs around him. That he’d beaten down the old lessons and taken the twins all the way, ate of their faith and drank of their deeds more deeply so that now he’d be mad or dead or anywhere but this mind rusting into its patterns, croaking the song of insular pettiness.
Paul thinks of them. Constantly. If he’s honest, the habits he cultivates are as much distraction against the memories as they are against the crushing boredom. His cell is watched and tapped for clues and if he’s to get any concessions he needs to safeguard what he knows till he’s seated at the bargaining table. His pride is, inevitably, beginning to recover from the sheer fucking shock of getting caught and it doesn’t want them to see how hard they’ve really beaten him. His goddamned son of a bitch soft center is weeping and clutching the remains of what was almost perfect glory, his modern-day odyssey of righteousness and firm faith and purity, and doesn’t want anyone to have it, even now.
They against them, them against they. When he’s awake, he dares only to refer to them by such distancing pronouns.
They say that the only real freedom anyone has is the ability to dream. He wonders how many of them ever fucked a pair of Irish boys at the same time.
Because he remembers it, and when he dreams he remembers that he remembers it and then he forgets and thinks he is in it. Remembers the sweet long slope of Connor’s back and thinks he tastes the roughness of the scar rumpling the skin, remembers the dark-bright spiraling of the tattoos over Murphy’s cream skin and thinks he is licking its curves.
Paul remembers the heat of their bodies, the clench of their asses, the ungainly beautiful way they twisted around him, always trying to get to each other even while they drowned him in their sweat, groans, come, blood. Their shit, their fucking shit of a father that he was polite to for them, their goddamned shitty overblown prayer that touched him so deeply he mouths it before bed because it was their prayer. Their love, their wrong love blazing from Connor’s eyes to Murphy’s and their amused affection that shows in how they curl around him, babble stupid little details about their latest killing streak to satisfy his need to know. Connor has his head in Paul’s belly, mouth against the muscles and tickling while he coaxes Paul’s prick to have just one more go, one for the road because they were going a long swing to avoid the coppers, no offense intended. There’s Murphy’s hand riding light on his brother’s shoulder and his mouth lying against Paul’s neck, talking about how the bastard they’d killed had raped some woman who’d printed a thank-you letter to them in the newspaper and did Paul want a copy of the clipping?
There they are, sainted and obscene, ordinary and inspired, and there he is, clutching at them, pleading for them, laying himself open to them even as his cock splits first one and then the other, as his breath shorts his words because he’s giving it all to them, pouring it into them and fucking them and loving them and fearing them and and and--
--coming beneath the thin frayed prison-issue blanket, head jerking back to clang against the wall. Prick dying in his hand, just as the visceral part of his humanity dies a little more every time he wakes. Soon he’ll be no more than an automaton, grinning for the benefit of others and scheming to keep the works going and wishing all the while that he didn’t remember.
He can’t remember them—not as they were, two joking sweet men with too much bonhomie and too little understanding of the grey shades of the world and too much skill with killing. They were the Saints, not Connor and Murphy, and he lost his head because of them and now he’s in a cell for it with their blood-stained crosses the only decoration and their legacy his slow slide into inconsequence.
He can’t think about it in reasonable terms. There’s no reason here, and no feeling either. There’s only him, rolling off his bed to wash his hands in the sink and staring at his reflection in the water in the toilet bowl, a grey man in a grey world dreaming of a colored one.
Paul thinks about drowning himself in the toilet. But he only allows himself to think that once a day, so soon he must move on to other thoughts. He picks up the newspaper and ignores how he lingers over the photos.