Friday, September 16, 2005
He stood by the outcropping and gazed upon the waning sickle of the moon overhead, wreathed in wispy night clouds. He felt his callused hand twitch upon the sleek black Heckler Koch holstered by his side. The air shimmered with invisible tension. The smell, that smell...he could almost taste it on his tongue.
Tonight held the greatest oppurtunity for him. His trade had oftimes involved actions that changed the course of history, but the power that came with it never attracted him. It was the chase that fascinated him. The chase, and something more...intimate that even he knew not, and dared not know about. A seed that was anathema to his entire nature.
As an assassin.
He had no name. He did not exist. His life was tied to a clandestine agency whose very name was not revealed to him, whose payments were invariably in cold cash. Untraceable. He had no ties, no acquaintances, no friends, relatives, loved ones. He had never had them. He stood there that night, waiting, even as his keen sense of timing counted the drawling seconds that led to his target acquisiton, and tried to recall, to reach his tendrils of faltering memory into the miasmic past.
Nothing. It was as if he had never been a child. That blood had always been on his hands, dripping red life from innocence. Money? Self-justification? Envy? Or satisfaction in skill? The assassin did not know what made him kill. But when he saw the expressions on his targets after he had dispatched them - those rare times they had remained alive long enough to display emotion - he had seen flashes - flashes of kindred kind and shared sorrow flitting like an ephemeral star through their dying gazes in the seconds before they had died.
With each successive kill, the skill and the prestige - at least among the ones in the know - had increased. But so had that...strangeness that made that vague sense of self-doubt well in him.
They had families. He had never known family. And if he died right now, right then, there would be no one to mourn. An unmarked grave, an innocuous death no more tragic than the falling of a single leaf.
It was time, however. They were approaching, in corcodance with the assassin's predictions. Almost unconsciously the assassin made himself a mental note of approval, and slipped down, movements graceful and quick as a pouncing cat's. The undersides of his boots made no sound against the wall as he scaled down with incisive intent.
The target approached, as always oblivious, as always unwary. Flanked by two bodyguards, he considered no possibility of danger to his person. The assassin had done a considerable amount of homework on his target; understanding his impulses and security measures was no easy thing even then, but he had done the best he could do.
From his perch, he tracked his target with his eyes, recalling all he had read. He was outspoken, a politician of the masses. No skeletons in his closet - a rarity. But his messages and rhetoric made him dangerous to people in some circles, especially in a nation as fraught with tension and intrigue as this.
He had a family. A wife who by all accounts loved him well, two young children. He was going to kill this man who gave more to society than he could ever have, this man, who, had he been a citizen of this nation, he would have shouted with the rest to bring to office, and he was going to kill him for...what? Money?
He knew that he would kill this man if he chose to. But would he? Could he deny the purpose of his existence for this sentimentality?
Emotion is the greatest weakness of the assassin. He knew that mantra well. But what if emotion was not the weakness, but the strength? Would not killing be that quintessential weakness that humanity could do better without? He had never thought this way - his training had involved the truth - which was truth more often than not - that the people he dispatched were better off dead, corrupt, slobbering inept men who lived off the juices of excess. But this man was not.
The target was approaching, close now. The assassin's hands twitched on his gun as the dilemma wrestled with his resolve. His head filled with flashes, images of a funeral and gray and green and black, and the weeping of three whose his actions would affect the most.
But he was an assassin. Trained against such emotion. He could not abide such weakness, for that weakness meant that his life would be a failure, fraught by weakness and sin. It was his ideal, his driving force, and the only bride he would take. His mind clouded by guilt and anger, hesitation and a rabid desire to kill.
Closer. What would he do? Closer.
The assassin did not have the time to think. He drew his Heckler Koch and held it with one hand even as he used the other to pivot around a bar, lowering himself gently on the ground. Then he drew his knife in his other hand and crept up behind the bodyguard in the rear. The arm with the gun closed like a vice around his abdomen even as the knife sliced a bloody rictus at his throat. Choked on blood, the bodyguard made no sound, and swiftly as a snake the assassin raised his gun while supporting the bodyguard in his arm and took two quick silent shots - one at the brain stem, the other at the heart, for safety. The man jerked and collapsed. The assassin knew he was dead. And soon even the bullets dislodged in his body would dissolve into unassuming constituents of water and glycerin. The assassin slipped away before the other bodyguard could turn and see him.
But something happened that had never happened before. As the assassin fled, he was weeping. Quiet tears that had not fallen for so long, held by a stony heart that never shied from killing. At first he tried to push them away, for tears would admit that he had done something wrong.
But the irony of it did come through. He had done something wrong. And the tears flowed freely and unashamedly thereafter.
A grave filled with regret stood before him, penitient in its regard. The assassin's weathered face held regret and deep-shadowed guilt. From his tree he had for an hour watched a woman and her two young children stand and mourn by the graveside. They would never see him in the flesh again. And their father would never be in their hearts. After they had left, the assassin knew it was his turn. But mourn for whom and what, he did not know. His association with the man he'd killed did not extend to grief at loss. Rather it was the grief for something else.
It was not grief for the man he'd murdered that filled him with the sharp pang of sorrow. It was grief for his own soul, lost long ago in the blood of his first kill.
He laid the chrysenthemums gently down on the soft grave dirt. And left.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
The pathos of decadence, thought Roland Blaine as he strode down that great dusk-lit promenade, swinging his long arms to and fro. The wind crept into the recesses of his crisp jacket, bathing him in inebriating cold. Nice feeling, cold. Curious. Perhaps, when winter finally descended in all her pure white splendour he knew he would think exactly the opposite thing. Blaine smiled, a secret, knowing smile. How the mind justifies the present. How it forgets the past.
A sudden, wild bout of daring and pugnacity caused him to tear his jacket wide open, exposing him to the elements. The sudden icy shock knifed into his innards. He sighed, trembling, heavy, masculine eyes half-lidded with brooding introspection as he casually ignored the incredulous stares around him. He tolerated the cold with steely resolve. Blaine was not a man used to the cold of this far above the equator. But he smiled at the thought of even revealing that particular truth to any who knew him in this baroque city. The very conception filled him with an invigorating terror of his own personal ruination.
Telling them. Now, that would be telling. He savoured it a few more moments, and let the terrible, numbing thought slip away, and closed his jacket, resisting the urge to sigh in relief as warmth once again enveloped him. How sweet air must be to a asphyxiating man. How unpleasant it seems to me now, dry and cold. "Such a wondrous paradox the world is," he muttered under his breath.
Lifting his gaze up to the rarefied heights, Blaine espied gulls leaping from rooftops, wings catching the air and lifting them amidst the autumn currents. His eyes slithered caressingly down the marble-and-brick facades, the carved finery and erstwhile fashions of the art deco and avant garde. They were stark in the lilac-orange glow of the setting sun. Blaine's thoughts wandered to a conversation he'd once had with one of the ubiquitous and distressingly mediocre scolaire of this decadent métropole.
"You do not do well disregarding the power of art," he had said, scowling over a cup of chocolate. His accent was thick and he drawled his syllables in that languid fashion so unique to bored aristocrats. "Art gives colour to life."
"And inequality," Blaine had replied. "Art is a tool of blackmailers and manipulators. Love for art is a weakness that cannot be tolerated. Art is a crutch for fools and cripples, a means of attributing ersatz beauty to things that have none."
The scolaire looked vaguely insulted. "You are a fool for saying that. A fool."
Blaine's eyes, dulled with a filmy boredom, strayed toward an exquisitely crafted dagger hanging by the wall. Its hilt was carefully carved with intricate motifs, and ornate gold scrolling adorned its ivory sides. Blaine toyed with the idea of grabbing the dagger and driving the sweet point through the scolaire's eye. His lips twitched into a faint and mocking smile. It would be an interesting challenge. How would he hide the body? He pictured dragging the limp body of the dead scolaire to the fireplace and letting him burn there. Too crude. He grew tired of the train of thought. I have not the time for such.
The scolaire's gaze was still fixed upon him. His countenance betrayed hidden suspicion and contempt. Abruptly, Blaine stood. He smiled briefly at the surprised scolaire, baring his teeth in a rictus. "I will take my leave," he said.
"But...what about the rendezvous?" the scolaire had sputtered. But Blaine waved him off with a flick of the wrist. "Invent your own excuses."
The scolaire was outraged. "This is highly irregular, monseiur Beauvais!"
Memory faded into the vistas before his eyes. "I follow no man's schedules," he whispered, echoing his last words to the scolaire before he had exited the opulence of the manse.
Unbeknownst to Blaine the sun had set, and the sky was beginning to darken. The antique street lights began to turn on, one by one. The boulevard, far from retreating into the morass of night, was transformed - from sedate walkway to scintillating, eclectic mix of high and low culture - men in tuxedos rubbing shoulders with buskers in rags, women in glittering accoutrements set against drab matrons on nightly strolls.
Blaine detested the thrum of nocturnal activity. It always seemed a waste of human life. Not that he treasured it; life translated into work, work into power. And power did not suffer being squandered.
A slight commotion aroused him from his reverie. He paused to look, his face a studied mask of studious detatchment. In one of the side streets an elderly crone was whispering animatedly to an enthusiastic lady of the botiques. The victim was forty-ish, clad in expensive but tasteless clothing, and decked with heaps of garish but cheap jewelry. The crone was clearly enjoying herself. Blaine saw that she was a fortune-teller, one of thos skilled but desperate con-artists, who, bereft of their insecure contracts in two-bit troupes et ménageries, resorted to furtive prowlings at such streets of plenty, in the futile hopes of ekeing out a miserable existence in the occasional snaring of a gullible but wealthy street patron such as this particular specimen that Blaine beheld presently.
The crone held a card in her hand. As she laid it down on the worm-eaten table a cackle escaped her shriveled lips and the gullible matron squealed in excitement, flapping her flabby arms about. Blaine wanted to kill them all, rend them and cast their shattered remains into the deep winding river that coursed through this cursed city. The repulsive sight was almost too much for him to bear. Without thinking, he had already taken half a dozen steps towards the two women when he stopped himself, checking himself in disgust.
I have... more pressing priorities.
Blaine rarely lost his composure. But a few years in this accursed city, monument to art and the decadence that came with it - a few years was enough to drive a man insane. Seething inside, face still a still visage of tranquil, he turned away.
But a seed of a thought captured his soul. He stopped in his tracks and looked up at the moon. A bubble of mirth, springing from some source unfathomable as the tides of night, erupted forth from his lips. They pulled back from his mouth, and Blaine's mouth opened, the sounds of laughter pouring, the tears coming even as he sank down to the ground, bubbling with painful and irrational, useless mirth that he could not control. It was like art, the laughter.
And as passerbys stopped and turned to stare at the strange scene before them Blaine wanted to scream at them. Don't you see? Don't you understand? This is you? This is your work! But the laughter could not stop. Before their incredulous stares Blaine seemed to waver in form, and faintly they could sense the incorporeal visage of generations past, joining in a gargantuan crescendo of mirth.
But laughing at what, no one knew.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Decomposition, you moribund source of
Composites. Now defunct impresario
Palls of holly decked with festive cheer. Cough
Up your secrets where phlegm cannot follow
“No, really, you may stay, with your flagelle
I insist on tumescent jugulars”
Queerly! Five fathoms down is the Gazelle
On tenterhooks with twenty Regulars
Lapis lazuli, vacuum packed diamond
Next door is one in a brick enclosure
Upgrading his stay. I believe a frond
Would never be unparallel or sure
It’s cracked, how honeycombs do misconstrue
Silly saccharine upon sick fondue
My first attempt at poetry after that haiku :) I'll work on being less bombastic/cryptic