This is a short story poem I wrote in continuation of “Her Mind’s Eye on Suicide” (see November 21st post).
(Photo Credit: Matt D., St Peters, MO)
A voice from afar travelled through the wind and suddenly Quinn was stopped from committing a sin. A virtuous being leapt in her way, of what was supposed to be a tragic day. They both lay on the ground as they tried to breathe in heavy. They gasped for air and tried to level their heartbeats steady.
“What the hell were you doing? The train was coming straight for you,” he said, “The lights were in your face, you weren’t moving. If I didn’t save you, then you’d have been dead.”
“I’m at war with myself,” she replied. “Peace is not a piece of me. And I don’t think it’ll ever be. What’s peace without war and everything free? The games are futile and fun until someone gets hurt. Thought I’d get me some so I could sleep beneath the dirt.”
He lay there, in the field of grass, next to the girl who was willing to make those moments her last. He couldn’t help but think about the world with one less girl and although to her he was just a stranger he explained that he was no stranger to danger. He didn’t own a cape or have special powers, yet he felt like a hero with a new purpose to devour. He turned over to stare at the girl who was cloaked in despair. Bewildered by him she asked, “But why do you care?”
All the while he couldn’t help but smile. He rolled over on his back and stared at the stars and asked her if she ever dreamed of some place far. She nodded and asked him why, he began this story as his reply: “I lived in a concrete garden of evil, where no roses bloomed, only weeds. I was living life in upheaval and to never bite the hand that feeds. Every night I prayed that I’d be freed but you can’t escape a life of greed, when you’ve been planted in the system as a seed. Sometimes your only option is disappearing, when you’re faced with lessons on how to be immoral as a form of child rearing. A victim of being open minded. A thought escapes, now I can’t find it. This fine print of fine with it is enough to make me quit it, but it’s either you’re with it or you belong to a pile of shit where no troubled kid wants to be, when all he ever wanted was to be free. So this life of damnation and cowards, yes, makes you hungry for a life out there, which reeks of success. But this life doesn’t exist when you’re told to starve to death. Your only time to eat is when you’ve done your best. But your best is the worst, when it’s blood that quenches your thirst, so you’d rather go hungry and thirsty because you’re fated to die. And we all die inside. Not old, but young, when all you’ve got is your gun. Not a soul to save you for what you have done. When it’s the devil on your shoulder claiming you’ve won. So your desire sets in, because you’d rather win but when you’re faced with loss, you realize it’s a sin. To take someone’s life from him when they needed it most, but now you’re a magician and turned him into a ghost. With a bang, bang…damn. You thought you’d feel like a man, you didn’t think that you could but you can, when the one behind the gun is the one who had ran. They say that when you live behind the gun you’re bound to live forever, who’d have thought taking lives would be your future endeavor? But you don’t live forever; no one ever does, especially when you’re living to die at the hand of someone. Told to toughen up because men, they don’t cry, unless you’re weak or you want to be the good guy. They raised me to fear no one, not even God. When you kill it’s for the greater good and they give you an applaud. I learned to test my faith in a pistol and to believe that God is gone, my mamma’s praying for her only son, after I became a son of a gun. I was a survivor of fate, danger my mate, when all they used was power as bait. Glory be to Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, are the last words I said because I just could hear it. The sounds of screaming and sirens, I was just begging for silence. Sometimes I’d wonder, are we living to die or dying to live? That spell I was under is a gift I can’t give. We’re screwed up and scared and never prepared. We only see what we want to see or what we can through a lens, which is just a means to an end. All I’d ever hoped for was heaven and I’ll I ever got was a hell, sending letters to the devil in the mail. We’re convinced to love this violent life as if it were beautiful, until you watch someone die. You often bear witness to your best friend’s last breath as they lay there with open arms and welcome death. These are the stories which you’re told to never speak of just like your preacher who won’t tell you there isn’t a God.”
She lay there and listened to him unfurl a new world in his story of danger and despise. “It’s a story that should stay between you and I,” he said, “you wouldn’t tell it if you tried. Keep your tongue aligned with your promise to comply. You’re going to pack your things and run away to a place where we don’t count the days, the days where you fear it’s your last, where fear is a thing of the past.” She took his hand and ran with him, where she could learn to live again and he could learn to live a life without sin.
He said, “Here’s to a new beginning.”
She replied, “Here’s to good deeds and sinning.”
I couldn’t resist. I had to post something to do with Edgar Allan Poe. After all, what’s Halloween without some chilling prose? You might agree that this is the perfect kind of story to set the tone for Halloween. Too scared to read on? Come on. I double devil dare you.
In The Imp of the Perverse, Poe creates a character who seeks freedom because he surrenders to the cruel impulses fueled by the devil. This leads the reader down an exhilarating path which leads the to the question, what the hell is an imp and does it really have the power to drive someone mad and to drive one to kill? Now, you might say that any person with a good head on their shoulders knows that murder is immoral and wouldn’t have the drive to kill. I’d say, “Why yes, you’re right” but Poe would say you’re wrong. He would argue that you wouldn’t be able to escape the imp’s compelling attraction. The imp is what drives us to feel because it drives the individual to abandon reason and to participate in doing cruel things. This causes you to embrace and indulge in sensations and raw emotions you thought you never had. Poe’s horrific, satanic, revolting, and blasphemous prose provoke us to feel the same as what we’re reading. The imp of the perverse is a divergence from morality because it evokes perverse, murderous fantasies and induces horrific feelings and thoughts into the reader’s mind. The narrator taunts and entices the reader to feel unsettling sensations just as the ‘imp of the perverse’ entices and excites the narrator to go on with the story.
After the chilling character commits murder, the ‘imp’ begins to tear away at his psyche. He convinces himself, “I am safe- I am Safe- yes- if I be not fool enough to make open confession!” Poe uses the recognizable “I am” found in the Bible and combines it with his character’s conflicting thoughts of wanting to confess to the murder suggesting that a man evil enough to commit murder is not a moral man. The imp of the perverse alters the sadistic mind because as Poe describes, “…that single thought is enough. The impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, the desire to an uncontrollable longing, and the longing, (to the deep regret and mortification of the speaker, and in defiance of all consequences,) is indulged.” The narrator describes the pinnacle moments of this mad act and the moments where he is satisfied in committing murder. This murderous act suggests his allegiance to the devil. Horror and disgust saturate the mind of the reader because Poe intends on not filling the reader’s mind with pretty things. He’s driven to displease the reader so that our senses are awakened by what we do not know. The fear of the unknown is what makes us feel perverse because we’re intrigued by what the narrator is describing and we want to know more.
Poe’s narrator explains that he is“…of the many uncounted victims of the imp of the perverse.” The narrator is suggesting that every human being has a demon living within them and has the resolve to think of or want to bestow evil acts upon another, but most aren’t willing or aren’t mad enough to proclaim to the world that they’re planning a murder or have succeeded in murdering someone. Poe doesn’t actually give away gruesome details of the murder, so the reader is forced to think of the dreadful details on their own. After the murderous act is committed the narrator explains that “The next morning he was discovered dead in his bed, and the coroner’s verdict was, death by the visitation of God.” Ironically it’s the absence of God that provokes the narrator to commit murder.
Poe’s story swallows you up to fit the sadistic mind of the murderer. The reader surrenders their morality and freedom to the perverse imp, narrator, and Poe. Death, sadism and darkness become us because it’s all we can think about and it’s pretty much all I’m thinking about at the moment. Yeah, it probably wasn’t the best idea to read this kind of stuff before bed or in the middle of a storm (like the one we’re having now). Thanks a lot Poe. Now you’ve got me worried about that imp. I’m only hoping I’ll sleep well tonight, hopeful that the perverse imp won’t get the best of…Muahaha!
…Uh oh! I think I spoke too soon.