Just Below the Curvature of the Thumb

They promised him, that this time, everything would be different. This penumbra of shapeless shadows conceal their faces: these lawyers and physicians, and dental hygienists, fresh from manicured golf courses, standing in hushed circles; features distorted by firelight, as a penitent progeny kneels to receive her eucharist. He can’t stop scratching at these three little perpendicular cuts. The skin around the wounds is inflamed and seeping. They convinced him that it would all be worthwhile, with gently whispered epithets, and dedications and incantations. After this sordid little rite of passage, he is left a solitary, weeping carcass. They promised him that they would transform him into something extraordinary, these surreptitious plastic surgeons, and tax analysts and bus drivers, murmuring behind mirrors. They promise him that the torment enclosed within his skull would stop, that the kaleidoscope of voices would no longer haunt his silent moments.

He still remembers it all so clearly, the glistening glass bottle of antiseptic fluid, resting innocuously on a stainless steel table, under the harsh illumination of the surgical lamp, glinting on the edge of the scalpel: the unforgiving truth awaits. He remembers the rough texture of the man’s hands as he poured the transparent droplets onto his skin, just before he began to cut. Three perpendicular cuts engraved into the surface of his right hand, just below the curvature of the thumb. Corresponding cuts on the man’s hand, turned to scar tissue, shone silver in the everlasting light. The man has a blur for a face, and he calls himself an acolyte. The surgical lamp is surrounded by rainbows and he can still taste the sweet elixir that they forced down his throat. The red slides down his wrist like clarity, the blade so straight and true.

All these ecumenical ministers and IT consultants and altruistic architects tell him that this is his shining symbol of true acceptance, his gateway to repentance and redemption. These three perpendicular cuts are the death knell for bitterness and resentment, his cathartic portal out of drudgery and regret. He has joined the ranks of the immortal and he will sparkle in the night, dismembering insanity and conquering misery.

He did not flinch when they stood over him and tore apart the photographs of his children and cast them into the flames. He must renounce such trivial, earthly concerns; he must shed himself of these grinding, restrictive responsibilities. He can still hear the deafening screams of his beloved as these hooded animals devoured her sanctified, porcelain flesh. He let them tear into her as they told him that this was the only way to embrace the true way: to be reborn into the light. And now, his special one is still hung up by the neck, rasping and frantic, dangling just above her delicate, patent leather tippy toes. She swings in the white room, with the whirring machines, where the bad things happen.

They spoke of the world of the elevated, where the rivers are no longer diluted with the tears of the lost, where oak trees are woven with silver, mercurial dreams and he will finally taste the sweet fruit of rapture. All of the anguish and butchery will leak out of these three little perpendicular cuts, these cracks of golden light in all of the darkness and this deliverance will lead him into the garden of joy and all of its vertiginous splendour. His pain will evaporate into the stratosphere among this new generation of martyrs, dancing across the heavens, scribbling ecstasy across the clouds with the angels, as they emulate the voice of god.

He slices open her wrists with three perpendicular cuts, with all these accountants and insurance brokers and librarians rhythmically cavorting around the conflagration, with all of the demons, all of these beasts, screeching and fucking, and dying, spurting their ghastly fluids, amalgamating and coagulating, their glorious voices melding into one spectacular cacophony. A plastic smile plays on the lips of the superior elevated as her glistening intestines drip and drip into the mire of feathers and antlers and gore.  And now, they have him.

He scratches away at those three little perpendicular scars, all shining and silver in the light of the surgical lamp, as he tightens the leather cuffs around the wrists of a new woman with a manic, desperate halo around her retinas. She salivates at the prospect of being their latest convert, she pleads for the kiss of the blade.

She does not care that her special one weeps inconsolably within the white room, all of those whirring machines and recording equipment regarding her agony, dispassionately, as the man with a blur for a face advances upon her. The atrocities unfold as the cameras look on: white lights, too bright, her dress all torn and crumpled, as the animals slake their thirst. The latest deluded progeny awaits her three little perpendicular cuts, all in a row, knowing that she has paid her debt, and that paradise awaits.

He picks up the scalpel and the glass bottle of antiseptic fluid, as another acolyte transcends to the elevated, and she is reborn. And all of this will go on and on, and the cuts seep red, just below the curvature of the thumb.

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