VII – I awake with a start
I awake with a start, and then slip back to this time. It has no end Rescue Me says. And I answer that it needs no end because we pass, as the dream passes, to start again. But we all want a resolution, don’t we? And we all get some kind of resolution, if not what we imagined or, rather, wished for. Death is not the resolution, just what is happened. We arrive at that moment and then diffuse out, dissipate, reorganize. Resolution is stretched all over time and in all its directions and permutations.
Rescue Me brings out my most unrestrained side; makes me go all distant. I enjoy our discussions. Rescue Me and me: we go back a long way. We’ve known each other for years. As kids we went to the same school and kicked the same ground; got kicked around and passed it on. Nothing excessive. Nothing that’s gonna make a kid grow up unusual. Not that I noticed anyway. Maybe living either side of a Shit Weekend Dad had something to do with it, albeit a tiny part. This type of Dad, perhaps a common type, got the kids maybe two weekends a month. An embittered ex would drop off what was usually a small boy and a slightly larger girl, around five in the afternoon, on a Friday. Some mild shouting would follow, some banging around and then loud music through until one in the morning. Saturday morning, around ten, there would be a loud banging on the door and a woman would shout out for someone to open the door. This would usually involve one of the small children putting aside its toy truck, junior beautician set or other cultural artifact and struggling with the door. Some talking would ensue followed by riotous giggling, kids squealing probably from getting their ribs tickled, the Dad articulating in a modulated and calm voice, the woman saying things like ‘oh! Be careful now! Oh! That’s funny ha ha ha etc etc’. Then: a long period of silence broken by the occasional sound of the children munching on a bag of sweets, maybe the rustling of plastic wrapping. No adult voices to be heard for maybe twenty minutes. Fucked up people up and down the country were approximating the elements of this attempt at a family life, which did indeed exist here and there. Still. Nothing here to do with abuse. Nothing that culture wouldn’t tolerate, if not advocate, in the twist-up misunderstanding of what it was all about. No. Just pervasive, insidious disregard and ignorance. Common or garden.
That was what we could hear, between us and at weekends, me and Rescue Me. Maybe it pissed him off for some reason. Maybe Rescue Me was already unusual. The first day we came across each other was the first day of high school. From that day on. We parted company every now and then; got it back together. Nothing unusual. Nothing else to say really; it was a long time ago. But I do recall a book incident. Me and Rescue Me had been to the library to kill some time. The library sold off its old stock on a regular basis; we’d root around for something meaningful and cool for the price of a drink. I found a sci-fi book in pristine condition. The cover drew me in immediately: you picked it up because you thought it was completely black and an all-black cover always draws you in. But once you pulled this book off the shelf the black gives way to a blue splash on the front. In this ice blue splash stands a lone figure: muscled arms torn. Cropped hair. Could be human on the surface but like no human you’d meet in this life; this is the post-human personified. Maybe cyborg. Maybe a figure recurred out of the dream you dreamt last night. It was good art imitating fear: something to admire and something to run away from. Then you realised you were looking through a big hole knocked in this black wall and the post-human stood there on the other side and you know that he killed you by the end. You just know it. So the book has you by the shorts before you read page one.
Me and Rescue Me both stood looking at this book in the library. And we both knew that we were in it. And it was gonna effect a slight shift in our trajectories. You get a strange feeling when you come across such a book. I don’t like to open it up. Don’t want to be let down and knowing that I won’t. Me and Rescue Me took the book back to the house. The thing with a lot of these ex-library stock books is the plastic cover they come in; protective. I hate them. Takes the book a million miles from my fingers and if I can’t feel the book I can’t meet it half way. So there in front of Rescue Me I try and pull off the plastic cover; not a dust jacket; a sign from the man that the man is more real than you; makes you go fetal. Curled up into a small ball knees drawn up just like a helpless little pup. Yeh we’re all helpless you dumb fucks. Fuck you for fucking being here. Me and Rescue Me looking at the book and I try and pull this crime plastic cover off the thing. And I tear it. I try and ease the cover off and the front tears inside the plastic. And right there it’s like the music just appears round me: quiet, melancholy. Reminds me of the horror I never lived through but somehow we all got born with. Human horror. Human despondency. Inbuilt nihilism. Just a design flaw, that’s all. Every down-beat moment every human individual ever faced, somehow reprised in the most insignificant of things.
Rescue Me just stares at the cover a-while. He simply feels what I feel and I can understand that. But I guess that Rescue Me got the active and I got the passive because he leaps on me knocks me to the ground with his hands round my throat. I can’t blame Rescue Me: I’d do the same. Rescue Me squeezes my throat so tight I think the blood turned to dust in my neck. I dried out there and then. And I passed out too, so the nurse said. But Rescue Me had me down as his second murder victim. And still a teenager.
Rescue Me had a dad and a mum. They all lived together in a small wooden house. He had a strange sister who hung around with girls maybe six years younger than herself. She never spoke much but talked a lot with the family cat. Once she had a conversation with a coffee machine waiting for the bus. I think she was asking it which type of drink to buy. The coffee machine tried to ignore her but she was insistent. It advised her to go for the hot chocolate as the hot-chocolate was the most authentic tasting drink on offer. Everything else tasted like it came from a government experimental lab. She took the advice but didn’t like the taste. Picked an argument with the coffee machine, which pissed scalding water over her left leg. The coffee machine got carted off to a mental asylum where everybody knew the machine was part of the plot and they gave it a wide birth; bought hot-chocolate no questions asked.
Rescue Me’s sister was run over by a red estate car and killed. As she died she said something to Rescue Me, who was knelt by her side trying to stop the blood coming out of her ear. For a moment, something drew close and nearly intervened and Rescue Me’s sister nearly made it. But she can’t have wanted it badly enough and something went back into the detail. I thought about stepping in and changing the outcome, but at that time tended to leave things to themselves. I stood on the pavement watching Rescue Me trying to gather up the valuable blood and ring it from a handkerchief back into her ear. That was the worst thing that ever happened to Rescue Me. The mum and dad drew inwards after that. They stayed together, but for a long time Rescue Me couldn’t touch them. It’s better now. But they still don’t know about Rescue Me’s first murder. Slightly built, maybe underfed kid. Shocking hair shocking temper. Shocked an old lady stood unsteady on a small table.
Rescue Me helped the old lady every weekend and got rewarded with sweets and pop. Which was fine until Rescue Me started the book collection. Which became an obsession underfunded by pocket money. And sweets and pop. So one Saturday, Rescue Me explains to the old lady quite politely that this book collection is taking shape and would it be possible to ditch the sweets and start earning some cash. The old lady declines Rescue Me’s offer and then makes the fatal mistake of expecting the disaffected Rescue Me to turn off the electric whilst she unscrews this blown light-bulb. She gets the bulb out; notices the holder-electrodes are green-black and corroded and asks Rescue Me to fetch the small screwdriver to scratch away at them. Rescue Me gets the screwdriver and puts the mains fuse back in its socket in the electricity cupboard over the kitchen sink. The old lady didn’t die of shock but snapped her neck as she hit the floorboards. Rescue Me said that as the fuse slid back into its socket he got a vision of the old lady on the deck with her head at a crazy angle. After that Rescue Me shared the power and I got where I am today.
Down through one town we pass, along the wide main-street, with the white buildings on either side peeling into dust. Windows of filth hiding lifeless people. Filthy doors open to let the apathy out into the daylight. And from there it slowly spreads to the next town and then the world. Rescue Me says that these people in these towns work themselves to death scraping poor quality produce off the land. They’re simple farmers with simple brains, all believing in the reality of the cow stuck up to its shitty neck in the shitty bog; believing that Dear John exists. I feel an urge to experience the town at closer range and suggest we stop. We stop outside a row of buildings; five shop fronts about to disappear under the invisible shower of grey threads from space. The threads come down and slowly fade out anything that moves too slowly: old people fading from the spirit outwards, whole towns fading down into the earth. Entire species leaving vacant lots on the face of the planet. One day the grey threads will come down so dense we’ll be only a smudge mark in front of a dying sun. Rescue Me wants a coffee. I want a soda. We see the sign that says ‘Restaurant’ and Rescue Me pushes back the wide glass door and in we go. This isn’t my natural line of work. I kind of just fell in to it.