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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Memoir to Madness – Part Two

By Christian Weaver

To read Part One click here


Justin:

I think the soul is created when the sperm and the egg, having merged, become one. It is then that the dust is inbreathed with the God's spirit; it’s infused with His presence (e.g., life, electricity), and a living soul is born. An analogy is a plug, an outlet, and a light bulb. You stick the plug in the socket and the light bulb comes on. Now immediately thereafter you split the embryo in half... what do you have? Do you have two souls? Heaven forbid! What you have is two halves, two identical halves, of the very same soul. They are natural born clones.

Only this can explain the eerie synchronicities of twin studies, why 80% of identical twins live within five miles of each other, etc... We need our OTHER to be whole. We are not a whole person -- only half of one, in fact -- when we lack this communion. We‘re as blended as the Trinity, interlaced and enamored. I always marveled at that feeling that I got in your presence, a ghostly feeling. Not friendship or closeness but... well... am-ness, IS-ness. Not "This person is like me" (even exactly like me) but "This person is me." Now I'm standing outside myself, looking at myself, talking to myself. We used to argue as kids because I'd want to do something or go somewhere that you didn't. I simply couldn't grasp that you were truly your own person, that you had your own will. How on earth can you not want to do what I do? I would wonder. Do you think different thoughts?

Remember the Cobra Twins from the old G.I. Joe cartoons? When one of them got wounded his brother, from miles away, would instantly react.  He would cry out in pain or grab his arm and start rubbing. We never had an ounce of that. One of us could be languishing in a basement somewhere -- busted kneecaps, missing fingers -- and the other'd be as clueless as a baby on Valium. But emotionally it’s different. If I know you're in torment then my own is redoubled. You suffering from something is harder on me mentally than me suffering from that something. My center has been shifted... I feel like my sanity is connected to your welfare, which I cannot control.  Sheer helplessness, bro.

I had a nightmare about you once. I was watching you sleep when I hear a faint noise -- a din. It was soft but unmistakable. It seemed to issue from your pillow or the wall behind your head. I placed my ear against yours and heard a horrid cacophony, a factory, of noise. There were rattling pipes and whirling machines and grinding gears and shrieking animals. It was biomechanical, like a Nine Inch Nails song. The sound of fear, I thought instantly. That's what terror sounds like.

So that‘s the racket that you hear. What kind of pictures do you see? 

"I see my family being butchered, burned alive, tortured... I see the masses going blind and being turned into demons. I see babies with huge heads -- enormous bulbous-shaped heads, with branching networks of veins -- and forbidding black eyes. I see demon-shaped clowns with rusty instruments of torture. I see handguns and needles, rotting lepers in rags... aborted fetuses with bound wrists."

What about the voices, the commands? What kind of things do they say? 

"If you cross this yellow line than your steering wheel will stop working." "Recite the Lord's Prayer backwards or your brother will go blind." "Guess this angle to within six degrees or that many years will be taken from your life."

When you told me about your illness I was speechless with shock. Then I thought (at the least) you were embellishing its horrors. "Are you saying that you'd rather be blind or paraplegic or have AIDs or terminal cancer or weigh 600 pounds?" I almost shouted.

"Absolutely," you replied, like it should go without saying. "For not only do those sufferers have control of their thoughts -- and those who don't, like Alzheimer's patients, gradually lose awareness -- but they know that it's over with the death of their bodies. My suffering is eternal." 

"Is there a type of torture that could symbolize, or at least provide a reference point for, your experience?"

You thought for a moment and then frowned at the floor. "Burning alive. Being burned at the stake."

Suddenly, it made sense. I saw it flash like a strobe. You weren't hurting or stressing but were actually being tortured. The analogy of fire could be extended for miles... how would such a man act? It's not hard to imagine. He would roll on the ground, perhaps tearing off his clothing; he would claw at his face, burn and whittle his flesh, try to jump out of cars, be combative and violent, shatter windows and walls, swallow shitloads of drugs, attempt suicide repeatedly... what wouldn't he do? I explained this to the family but they just didn't get it. They won't assist you with bills, car repairs, etc… (which, of course, is out of character), because you‘ll blow it on drugs. "Well, good for him," I retorted. "He'll get a break from his illness." If someone's dying from cancer then he‘ll suddenly love morphine. Why? Because he's a junkie? How 'bout this: HE'S IN HELL!!

"In those days they will seek death -- but in vain. They will lunge for it madly, but it will flee from them, laughing." (my paraphrase, of course)

"Suicide is among the most rational of acts. One reasons that being dead is most likely less painful, both mentally and physically, than his experience of life. Death is either non- existence, which is painless; or is the existence of consciousness or self-awareness in the absence of a body, and thus a nervous system. So the dead are exempt from the physical pain and the mental torment that accompany sickness, injury, malnutrition, or old age. Moreover, accounts of near death experiences are nearly unanimous in their claims that the afterlife is a painless, and even blissful, environment. No one reports writhing in the flames of Gehanna."

The top priority of medicine should be to end -- or to reduce insofar as possible -- human suffering. That's its ethical imperative. This should fully take precedence over saving, preserving, or extending one's life. Any condition that renders that life either physically or mentally unbearable (and he alone can make that call) is sufficient to merit suicide, a legal, honorable, and good ole fashioned suicide. And this includes assisted suicide. I'm so sick of those jerks who are against it on principle: I believe this so you have to suffer that." What the @#?! They're not the ones suffering!

If I insist that you live then I'm condoning your torture. I am actually participating. The pleasure you bring (that you bring me, my pleasure) justifies the agony your existence brings you. "Stay on fire -- I need you" is my mantra and plaint. How selfish is that? Nobody should feel obligated to BURN for another! And though it fills me with horror there is only one way: I must cut you from the flames. Lincoln once said that if releasing all the slaves would keep the Union together then he would do so at once; but he would keep them in chains if that was what was required. Whatever rescued the Union.

I would honor your wishes but we would have our last day. You couldn't rush me through that. While you crackled and roasted -- while you skin became black and you bubbled and peeled -- while the smoke billowed higher and the smell of burnt hair made us shudder and gag -- we would have our last day. We would drink and smoke cigarettes (Marlboros, of course) and we would fire up a joint and get crackling stoned. You always start laughing when I called it a doobie. "Why a doobie?" you asked. You used to take a huge hit and try to hold it forever, ‘til you were blue in the face. Then you'd squeeze your eyes shut and pinch your nose really tightly; this would puff out your cheeks like a giant red bullfrog. The whole room would start laughing.

After a minute or so you would gasp out the hit (what was left of it anyhow) and look around meekly. "I know how stupid I look," you'd concede with a grin. "And I'm normally quite shy. But I'm trying to get as high --"

"But wait," someone says.

" -- and this requires that I glean, that I harvest, the maximum amount of tetrahydrocannabinol from each hit."

"But your lungs absorb it all in the first ten seconds."

"Bullshit," you snap. "I know it gets you higher."

"That's asphyxiation, bro. You're brain's starving for more oxygen."

"Ha ha. Whatever."

We’d discuss our favorite painters and writers and specific works of art (our mutual favorites, before I fell into drugs and your illness prevented you from serious study): our obsession with Gogh (I read "Dear Theo" and his attitude was remarkably innocent and humble. I never saw a hint of insolence, vanity, roguery, or malice. He was literally a saint [and that was really who he was. He never knew that those letters would be published and read!]). How's that for an admirably long incomplete sentence?

We'd discuss our early favorites: Dr. Seuss (The Fabulous One-Hump Wump); Shel Silverstein (Enter This Deserted House...); Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Wrinkle in Time (that dripping, pumping, evil brain); James and the Giant Peach; The Chronicles of Narnia ("Turkish Delight... that means sin," you observed); Picasso, Monet, The Seven Chinese Brothers (remember the one with the reeaaaaaaally long neck and the one who drank up the ocean?); those condensed kid versions of Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (La Esmeralda... my first literary crush. How I burned with that priest!); A Dream Within a Dream; The Tell-Tale Heart; Alice in Wonderland, of course ("Have some wine?" said the Hatter. "But I don't see any wine," said Alice. "That's because there isn't any..."); and an illustrated Pilgrim's Progress that impacted us for years. Remember the skulls in the Giant Despair's courtyard? There was one in the foreground with an eye in its socket, still bloodshot and startled. A couple years later came the Catcher in the Rye (with the most "goddamns" in recorded history); A Separate Peace, Salvador Dali, the Encyclopedia of Serial Killers; and psychology textbooks, which infused our vocabulary with passives and jargon.

We would stroll amongst the pastures and woods of our youth. We would find the old tree house and sprawl on our backs and gaze lovingly at the light-speckled canopy above. The leaves were so dense and the shade was so dark... if you blurred your eyes right (and used your imagination) then it suddenly became night and you were staring into space:

"... a mountain in space... where a vista of galaxies stretch far beyond... what adults might perceive as an acre of land, with a cluster of pines and a pond."

Oh! And the games. I almost forgot games. I won steadily enough (and by enough of a margin) to disturb you quite deeply. You couldn't justify it logically and probably thought you were cursed. You have always felt inferior and this launched your "twin envy" to incalculable heights. Remember how we mastered playing ping-pong in the garage? We slammed the ball from way back, from maybe five or six feet. The table was full of dents because you always got mad and started slamming your paddle. Then you'd hurl it across the room -- in my direction, I noticed. Once, after a seemingly impossible loss, you quietly requested that I take a step back. "A little further," you growled. Then you flipped the whole table like Jesus at the temple. You snatched up your paddle and methodically began to rip it into evenly sized pieces, layer by layer, till it was only a handle -- which you smashed with a hammer. I found it humorous but frightening. I would snicker and snort and then you'd spin around wrothly, with murder in your eyes. I would act like I was coughing. Anyhow... we could drive to Mom and Dad's and play ping-pong again. Of course I'd beat you even worse since I‘ve been playing in prison.

And there's the games for the original Nintendo: Mario, Contra, Jackal, Excite Bike, Tetris, Zelda, Tyson's Punch Out, Double Dragon. I'm sure the last one rings a bell. We used to battle on doubles mode -- mono e mono (however the hell you spell it) -- and for hours at a time we became mortal enemies. I would find some little glitch where I could throw off  your game, some real bullshit, you know... and then I'd use it incessantly (the exact same move!) until you popped like a cork. Once you slung the poor controller... Oh God, I keep laughing... you slung it so hard that you knocked off the door to the TV‘s display case. The controller was hardly scratched (Nintendo was like the Tonka of video game systems: indestructible). The music from Tyson's Punch Out got ensconced in my head, when it was in-between fights and the guy was jogging slowly past the Statue of Liberty: da... da, da da da da... da, da da da da... and now its thirty years later and it's still in my head. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Ole Tyson'd hit you once and then you'd fly off the screen. The oth --

"BANGE SPLAT!" Your head explodes into bloody chunks of brain tissue and bone pellets. A love killing. I don't panic or feel frightened (they say the second time is easy, a sort of bloody deja vu) and all my heartache's been spent. I feel like David did when he heard his infant died: relief, tranquility, and even joy in the Lord. I thank the Lord for His strength and for the fact that no fiend, however ghastly' and gaunt -- not prison, your eternal absence, or the judgment and rejection of society and even family -- has ruined my mission.

I kill you in the car (like I did with my victim) so the sound will be muffled. I have nothing to hide but we will need a full night if I'm to bury you properly. I find a road near our property and lug, heave, your bulky ass like a huge sack of flour. You're a strapping old bastard, as strong as an ox but unnaturally bloated from all the years of medication and late night, medication-induced food binges. I take you to an area that I call "The Oasis." It connects to the property and is probably no bigger "in floor space" than a fairly small house. It has a brook, a patch of grass, a corner of woods (the tip of our forest), and a slice of the neighbor's lake. There's even a little knoll with a big rotting log. It's my personal utopia, pastoral and perfect. When I started getting high I would roam to this place and scrawl poetry and think. I would stumble though the pasture, the tall grasses... then I'd squeeze through the fence and watch the green hills quiver. Like Van Gogh painting.

Well, it takes me thirty minutes and I'm covered in sweat. I remove all your clothing and then gently, very gently, as gently as Moses by the banks of the Nile -- lay you down in the water. The brook is ice cold and it swirls around your body like a pile of rocks; you seem to shiver for a moment and I jump through my skin. An illusion, I hope. I note the wound on your head is not as large as I'd pictured (I used a little .25) and once I wash off the gore it's hardly visible at all. I examine your skin and run my hands on your scars... you're all tattered and bruised and there is nothing much left of the you of your youth. Perhaps the shape of your face, the handsome ridge of the brow and the small, princely nose... Oh yeah, and your teeth. Freakin' movie star white. All the rest is a parody, a monster, and a mockery of life. All the rest is your illness.

I hold you tightly and weep until the sun starts to rise. And then I start digging...

Write soon, bro.
                                                                                                         Christian

To be continued....

Christian Weaver 271262
NECX 12-40
P.O. Box 5000
Mountain City, TN 37683

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