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From the Curvature of Certainty / The Wail

Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres.....


I’m standing with a bunch of the inmates. They’re mostly black. Rudy comes over with a new guy – just admitted. Rudy has his arm around the new guy’s shoulders and, looking straight at me and pointing, he says to the new guy, “He de one”. The new guy looks sullenly, blankly at me. He and Rudy sit down on a bench with some of the others.

Then I realise that they’re all looking at me, fixing me with their huge dilated pupils. I look around at them, standing and sitting. Completely uncontrollably, a smile breaks out on my face, a huge massive sunshine grin. My eyes fix on the new boy. Just starting his time. I stare into his eyes. I see the defeat, the cornered-ness, the dread of the long wait, the wasted time. Staring into his eyes, my sunshine grin covering him with love, one hand reaches out and rests on a shoulder standing next to me. Still staring deep into the new guy’s darkened, sullen eyes, I lean forward and put my other hand on his knee and, slowly, feel a huge sob rising from the bottom of my chest. With my hand still on his knee, my head drops. The sob rises. It comes up through my chest and I open my mouth. A low tone emits and just keeps on coming. All the agony, all the injustice, all the lost love. The tone rises a little in pitch and volume; gets more gravelly. It begins to take over my lungs and body. All the pointlessness, all the lost time, all the lost life, all the desertion, all the failure, all the isolation, all the indifference, all the deception, all the duped-ness, all the suffering body pain, all the lost good intentions, all the mis-interpretation, all the mis-representation just keeps coming. The sound just keeps coming until it’s a very loud reverberation, shaking me, my down-turned head, and probably those around me. It just keeps coming and I’ve lost control. I am holding on to the new guy’s knee and the shoulder of someone next to me as I bend forward, almost vomiting. The wail keeps coming. Saliva drips from my mouth, snot from my nose. The volume increases and the reverberations intensify. The room is absolutely filled with the sound, shaking the rafters and the very cell bars. It still keeps coming as I struggle to look up. I see a blurry John Mac through my vibrating eye-balls. He is sitting next to the new guy, on the other side. He is staring at me, stony faced, quietly nodding. I lurch my hand to his knee, staring into his dark hooded eyes. The sound intensifies and swells and resonates, and then, slowly, oh so slowly, the reverberations begin to become echoes. The resonance begins to drop. My lungs must be fully flattened. The last vestiges of air are extracted, forced into the now diminishing sound. Then, suddenly, all that’s left is the departing echoes.

Then, silence. Long deep silence. I close my eyes and take a deep deep deep breath. I slowly stand up straight and open my eyes. I see, again, my fellow inmates. Looking around at the gathered prisoners, I see that their dilated pupils are still fixing me. They're wearing very serious expressions. I’m struck by how funny they look. Slowly the sunshine grin rips over me again, splitting my face from ear to ear.

I'm still standing up straight as they all begin to smile, and then laugh, and pretty soon we are all, even the new guy, completely and utterly helplessly convulsed with laughter. Tears stream down our faces, our bodies contort and stagger and convulse. We bump into each other and trip over the benches or fall to the floor.

Rudy gasps, “I told you he de one…” and everybody creases up all over again. The guards are watching, completely and utterly perplexed.

© 2018 Deacon Martin

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