Friday, April 6, 2012

Preview of 'The Dark is Light Enough for Me' by John Claude Smith

Good Friday, all. I say that as in "Have a good Friday," but on some of the Christian calendars, today is Good Friday, the commemoration of the death of Jesus. Today represents the ancient tradition, largely observed by women, of mourning the death of the Annually Dying and Returning Vegetation God. 

This will make tomorrow Holy Saturday, or to people of Polish descent, Święconka. I've been pronouncing it "Swiss Sanka," but that may not be very authentic. The Sweiconka tradition is to make Easter baskets filled with the food that will be eaten on Easter Sunday, take them to the Catholic church and have them blessed by the priest. 

I am excited for my upcoming Epic Easter Post - can you tell? 

Now, please enjoy the work of John Claude Smith in these two excerpts from his The Dark is Light Enough for Me

John Claude says: The first sample is from, “Not Breathing,” a kind of Burroughsesque romp through the horror of addiction...with Horror being as much a part of what’s transpired as addiction. Hmmm... The second piece is from, “The Sunglasses Girl,” a hint of things to come as she, a woman who seems simply a prostitute, though we learn so much more about what she really is, shows the main character, Trane, a little of something he shouldn’t be prying into seeing, hehe...

Excerpt 1: 

“The sheets are devoid of anything but stale smells and my quaking body and the needle that still protrudes from my scarred arm.
I force myself from their tangled grasp, slouch into the bathroom. The mirror is broken but I can still see my reflection—our reflection—skin draped sickly over a hunched skeleton splashed in the middle like a shattered ripple across a restless lake; restless because I convulse in disgust, scratching scabs off of bruised arms. 

Off of dead arms, the bruises indicative of decay, of death.

I move closer, staring into the void that is my pupils, my eyes; eyes I used to know so well. 
The mirror disavows my presence. The fog of breath is absent. 

I hit the mirror with my bony fist; it is not the first time. My reflection splints even more, pieces raining to the sink, the floor. 

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men… 

Each piece holds a sliver of my soul, of what used to be my soul. Of what was abandoned, but has never found a home after…

What remains is the body, the rotting flesh and abysmal vestiges of what once was human. 
The silence of my scream, the bloodless stump that is my ragged hand, the soot collecting on my transfixed orbs, all is grim confirmation that the monkey riding my back is a weighty gorilla intent on breaking it.

Having opened my eyes to the possibilities, it is made excruciatingly clear that my reality has been shaped by the needle, ever since my death, the death of my soul, and the bewilderment that accompanies my being, my still being here, existing somehow, a zombie but not a zombie, a dream of being human again.”

Excerpt 2:

“... She smiled, all teeth, vicious, gleaming with disgust, and took off her sunglasses.

“Remember, you made this choice,” she seethed.

The moment was brief. Description was useless, but Trane’s mind flashed with unexpected images: vast gulfs of infinite, starless space; yawning abysses where the lost tumbled for eternity; black scars that oozed blindness. He felt an oppression begin to suffocate him. She had no eyes, per se, just the empty sockets where they should be, empty sockets that defined the word “empty” in new, disturbing ways: fathomless wells in which the echoed response of the dropped stone would never speak. They epitomized nothingness, a vast, turbulent nothingness that indicated there was no soul within her, no self, nothing of substance—nothing!—but something of unspecified definition that roiled like a cavern of agitated bats. The nothingness started to leak like viscous black rivers from a whirlpool of resentment and hatred and loathing and spite and so much more negativity—negativity, that was what he witnessed; the whirlpool writhed with an omniscient negativity—Trane’s head pulsated with the pummeling weight of her wrath. He gasped, his erection went south, and she put the sunglasses back on. 

It was only one moment.”

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