The Revelation of John had been bridged by Simon Baden in 1981…but it was a tenuous bridge that needed fortification. The future fortifications that’d resulted from the mesmerism of the 12. But the 12 had all doped out or been crushed out of the nether-reality and so failed at the mission. Maybe I was the last one left. Morags and me. But Morags stood waiting and balancing himself on an invisible beam of truth and nothingness. He wouldn’t make a conscious move either way but stood there tying the truth and anti-truth together. And then there were the phone messages, the barrage of criminal quotes and poems he voice-hammered into my voicemail. It was only after the Facility stay that I discovered the heart of darkness that he’d led me into and all in accord with his discord, his ruin. But what had happened to Morags? Or really, why was he passing the mission of the bridge of words solely on to me?
I couldn’t answer for him. And I could only suspect that something insidious and nefarious had taken place inside him. After all these years of sheer innocence on my part, and on his part even, the time-release revelation had come and it caused enough disturbance to flip souls and inside-out the ghost values of the day. In the interim, Morags had crippled his first wife with a blow to the forehead. The blow had broken her neck and clammed up her mouth. She lost the power of speech and the power of mobility. If her hands still worked, she wrote only feeble phrases that never pinpointed his guilt. She was inadvertently playing the martyr and, in the end, she preferred to be pushed in a wheelchair and wear dark glasses and dark gloves. She didn’t want to see anybody and she didn’t want to touch anybody. She’d been touched by a force that came out of the hurtful past and Morags had to swing his heavy fists so hard because he had to battle the ghoul child that he’d created with her. But the child turned out to be himself.
This was sham theory. This was the imagining of a supermarket produce worker who’d lost his way—i.e., myself. I’d destroyed my own marriage with mostly imagined infidelities. And my wife had gone west. She’d stay west until the time was right to return to nether-Brooklyn unexpectedly, bust open the bedroom door, and shoot me. I kept having visions of being fired upon by Carlotta. They kept me awake at night and in my fear and insomnia I scribbled the caustic anti-poems that were never strong enough to support the bridge. To bring the fortification home and whisper sleepily and conspiratorially back to Simon Baden—the dead Simon Baden—it’s all about to come down.
At bedtime in my room at the Facility I wanted everything to be pitch dark but instead there was a vague gray light. Even when I pressed my head between the mattress and the wall, I still sensed the gray light. The light was the leftover presence of my Nurse Mother. She’d been through my room and some aspect of her remained, and lingered as a vague gray light. To escape the light I burrowed and dug my head further into the space. But even with my face buried I sensed her presence. It was as if she’d left the scent of herself but in a synesthesia-like moment it’d transformed into vague light.
Then there were the times during the day when she was really in my room. Sometimes we’d go through a little question and answer or I’d say something outrageous to get her going.
“I don’t really love you,” I said to her one day.
She scribbled some words on a notepad.
“Who do you love?” she asked.
“Anybody else?” she said. “Your wife?”
“Carlotta? Yes I love Carlotta…”
Mala and I were having an abstruse affair. It was all being done in silence—with hand codes and unspoken language. We were sharing each other’s bodies in non-spatial invisible dimensions. Mala may not have been aware of it but she was still participating, at least unconsciously. I could tell by the movements of her body and the looks on her face. She may have been in denial about it but under the surface she was there with me. It was unspoken and undisclosed. But every face-to-face we shared contained elements of it. And even when she left my room that aspect of her remained. The gray light that kept company all through the night.
I’d gone smashing through the black mirror. I was 10 or 12. I was 7 or 8. I wasn’t any age because the black mirror was the other side of reality, a way into the alter-reality of the basement. The place where abuses were rampant, the laws of normalcy suspended. Dragging your shadow around as it clutches your leg. Being dead and alive in death.
A Christ figure for a Christ figure, Simon Baden.
The King howled in his sleep. That’s what he told us in class, at least. That on some occasions he’d awaken in bed in mid-howl. He’d been cursed in his Alabama boyhood—bitten by a rabid red wolf. “And don’t let me tell you how they go about curing rabies,” he said. But he started telling us anyway, something about 36 needles puncturing your belly in unison. Your arms and legs buckled in restraints, a rubber bit crammed in your mouth. The doctors all serious and long-faced, the word rabies having made them nervous and grim. “Once bitten—then rabid,” one doctor said.
“The Rabid King,” Simon Baden said aloud in class. He knew—like the rest of us—that the King was just stretching the facts and making a mockery. But such stretches were diamond-pointed truths for the King. “The Rabid King, indeed,” Simon said.
“Yeah, the Rabid King,” the King said, chuckling. “It has a nice ring to it. But don’t you start spreading rumors.”
“You’re spreading them yourself,” Simon retorted.
“It’s only a rumor if it isn’t true,” someone else said. Haha, we laughed.
Then the interlude ended. We got back to reading Macbeth. It was getting late in the play. Very late. Birnam wood was coming forth to Dunsinane.
Right before I went into the Facility, Carlotta had started serving us dinner on black plates. I didn’t know where the black plates had come from. They just appeared on the kitchen table one day. But they didn’t look store bought. Instead they resembled something that’d been handcrafted and spun on a wheel. Maybe Carlotta had done this herself but I read it as a dark message. We were eating dead meals together—maybe our last meals together. Carlotta had given me a last chance. But now, with the black plates, that last chance was about done.
When I’d married Carlotta she’d been a kind of earth mother but I’d worn on her senses over the years and she turned noir. She’d probably started unwittingly plotting my murder about the time the revelation had overtaken me. As I lay in bed shaking and shivering with seizures, letting the apocalypse work its way through my body, Carlotta lay on the sofa in the living room and polished her small silver-plated gun. It was the perfect weapon for the sort of assassination that she’d have to commit. The day I left the Facility we knew it’d been coming down to a deadly showdown. If I’d hung around the apartment one more day, one more night, Carlotta would have found me at the moment I’d lost control. When my muscles were spazzing and quavering and my hands were trembling and hot. Then she’d have plugged me with all the bullets the .22 contained. Emptied every chamber. And we both would’ve known I deserved it.
But the black plates—the black plates—were the symbol of this demise. They were a warning and a goad. And Carlotta was shouting at me without shouting at me. “Eat your meals off the black plate. Eat your last home-cooked meals off of them—and then cry apocalyptic wolf here no more.”
Simon Baden’s revelation went right through me—it went through me like water. But living water that would come again. And I’d read that revelation over and over one indelible evening in the last days of 8th grade. Somehow I’d been allowed to take the revelation home or maybe it’d been transmitted into my consciousness by Simon during one of our face-to-faces in the abandoned music room behind the library. Whatever the case, the revelation was part of my body and blood too. It’d run through me like water but it was an everlasting water of renewal and life. It was the Christ curse or the accursed Christ of the Revelation of John who is not accursed but comes to the accursed world to save and salvage it as well as upend and destroy it. Simon Baden was breathing life again into that dead scroll so that the arisen could be arisen and the dead, dead. It was a war of words or a war of Word—a Highway 61 Revisited schoolboy assignment that’d gripped the King’s soul and intoxicated the rest of the 12 and we were nowhere men and nowhere boys but we had glimpsed this document and it’d held us down and lifted us up and left us speechless and enthralled.
“This boy isn’t really a boy,” the King had said. He wasn’t talking about gender. He wasn’t talking about me or my Jesus Girl alter. No, he meant Simon Baden. How Baden’s words had broken the camel’s back and the shining life of lion and child had come round to being a man again and even Nietzsche’s madhouse ravings didn’t diminish Zarathustra’s down-going and the down-going of all of us, the common-uncommon man, going down and going down.
But none of this mattered. For years and years and years, more than three decades, none of it mattered. Because incubations are often unconscious and I had forgotten everything I’d ever known until the revelation overwhelmed me again and told me that now was the time—the time to twist and turn in bed with wracked nerves and blubbering lips and the mistakes of a lifetime crushing out the life in me, crushing out the life that was a way to lose the life that was the way to gain it and/or lose it and/or gain it again and again.
Morags knew and didn’t know the revelation. Morags knew and didn’t know it. He’d nearly written his own—by way of the oracular. He’d voiced his own on city streets—made billboards of language. He’d done the things—he’d done the things of Simon Baden and the things not of Simon Baden too. And so he was part of the revelation but in revolution against the revelation. And so I was in revolt against his revolution. But either way—with the revelation or against it—I didn’t know and couldn’t pinpoint it. Anyway maybe there were more ways, three, four, or five other ways. Or a hundred, a thousand other ways. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand how, and had never understood…
Carlotta called late at night sometimes. But I never picked up. My phone was turned off so I didn’t see the calls till morning anyway. But even if they’d woken me, I wouldn’t have picked up. Because I suspected it was not Carlotta that was calling me. It was somebody else, somebody using Carlotta’s phone—somebody she was staying with…that’s why they never left a message. I knew who it was. I might know. I suspected it was a liar and a cheater like me. But then, of course, it was not very important.