Oh arrogant angel with your disdainful eyes, your contemptuous lips,
you wear apathy like Armani on your slim hips, your fine wrists,
rich in the security of your superiority.
Your cruelty’s a tease, oh fickle moon with that sickle smile,
long limbs lax but your sharp tongue’s fast
and you go for the kill every time.
The abandoned hospital hunched amid deep shadows and bright floodlights, the latter placed there to dissuade interlopers from trespassing on the construction zone at night. Despite the lights, the chainlink fence was cut in a dozen places and fresh graffiti scrawled over both the building and the waiting construction equipment. As if sensing tonight’s intended activity, however, the usual rebellious teens seemed to be giving the site a wide berth. Only one figure moved between light and darkness, their shadow tall and straight as the floodlights threw it up against the hospital walls. Tanim, standing beyond the touch of the lights, watched this shadow for several long moments before ducking through a hole in the fence. Gravel crunched beneath his feet as he approached, the sound absurdly loud in the still night. He paused at the black mouth of an underground garage to let his eyes adjust before descending the ramp.
“If you plan on stopping me, I suggest getting out of my way,” Tanim’s eyes just barely picked Daren out in the darkness, a stray shaft of light glinting off the small blade in the man’s hand. The voice itself was warning enough – the knife merely made good on the threat. Swallowing, Tanim held up his hands and slowed his pace, leaving a good distance between them. “I don’t want to stop you,” he soothed, “I just want to know what you’re doing.” He nodded to the bag slung over Daren’s shoulder and the metal cylinder at his feet. The man had stowed two other such cylinders around the building in the time Tanim watched him; how many others he had already placed, Tanim could only guess.
“Too much evil has been done here,” Daren tapped the cylinder with one foot while his eyes pinned Tanim in place. With the same foot he then knocked the cylinder back, causing it to roll up against the support column behind him. He seemed to wait for some answer, perhaps a protest, but Tanim gave none, only nodded in understanding. Daren pocketed the knife, though Tanim knew it would be back in his hand in half a second if he felt threatened, and gestured into the bowels of the garage. “There’s one left.” He pulled the final explosive from his bag and set off into the darkness. Tanim followed at a wise distance.
When I die and am autopsied, they’ll find your fingernail gouges on the inside of my skin, the desperate clawing of someone buried alive. The medical examiner will call in doctors and forensic analysts, have you ever seen anything like this?, but they will not be able to explain it. There will be hushed conversations with my family and friends, but they will merely shake their heads and say, who knows; she was crazy. And since I will not be there to explain, I’m a sarcophagus, a coffin, a cage, don’t you see?, I will go down as just another medical oddity and the truth of your imprisonment will be lost for good. Believe me, though – if digging from the outside in could free you any better than your internal efforts, I would meet you halfway through my meat with torn and bloody nails.
He returns to the alley too often. It is not a gravestone, after all, but close enough and all he has. Sometimes he sits on the cold concrete, recalling the night they met – though he sits on the far side, never beneath the darkened streetlight. Most times he just paces back and forth as he lights, smokes, and discards cigarette after cigarette. Their burnt ends litter the cement, are ground beneath his shoes and grow soggy in rain puddles. He hopes some shred of fate still lingers here. He hopes he will catch his lover’s tragedy, be infected with whatever curse or punishment took the man from him so he can experience the same pain, the same misery, the same slow death. In this place where everything started, he seeks the beginning of the end. It is the only way left for him to feel close to his beloved. He hopes he will die here; living is a betrayal he cannot bear much longer.
There’s this idea that if you fall in love with a crazy person, your love can save them – that, given time and patience and devotion, you can fix their madness, you can make them “whole”. It’s a load of shit. Madness can’t be fixed; it can only be suppressed, and will always come creeping, seeping, bleeding back. So why try? Why not accept the madness for what it is and wait for the morning you wake with your lover’s knife in your throat? At least there’s honesty in that. Believe me, the crazy ones know they can’t be fixed. It’s cruel to force them to go along with the charade when you both know you’ll end up at the same tragic conclusion anyway. Blood and broken glass are enough to bear; spare yourselves the disappointment, at least.
He waits. The shards of glass have glittered like snow on the white carpet for five months now; he steps around them without thought as he paces. Sometimes he still purposefully treads on one to feel the bright, sharp pain travel up through his foot, to leave a few more bloodstains in the wreckage. He hasn’t even bothered to replace the shattered glass tumblers, instead drinking his liquor out of a coffee mug or straight from the bottle. He’s stopped bothering with an ash tray, too, and the cigarette butts leave little burn marks where they fall from idle hands. He doesn’t care. The one he loves will return to him, he is certain of this despite their parting words, the broken glass and passing months. The one he loves will return to him and so he must be here, cleansed by his penitence and proven faithful by his stasis. So, he waits.