copyright © 2005 Todd Ristau

LUKE 9:60

By Todd Wm. Ristau

(Lights out, flashlight comes on, we see the light reflected off the script and onto the speaker’s face in the dark.)

I lie awake at night and I can still hear what I heard then. The screams and the muffled cries for help. They don’t last long, but they are just the first part. I try not to listen, believing that if I pretend not to hear them that they don’t exist. That it will end with the screaming, but when the doors are locked and the windows closed and there are no lights on in the house and the blankets are pulled up over my face so that the hot breath makes my chin sweat under too thick blankets I can hear every sound that I heard on that night. And it always starts with the screaming.

As long as my eyes are open and I’m staring up into the darkness I’m fine. Then there is nothing but me, and my bed, and my room. I know what’s up there on the ceiling. The glass fixture covering the light bulbs and the swirled pattern of the plaster and paint behind them. I know where all the cracks are and which corner has the spider web and I even know if the spider is watching me or not.

But when I close my eyes all that stuff out there in the darkness of my room disappears and I am catapulted through time and space to that sunny afternoon by the side of the creek. As soon as I close my eyes the night becomes day and the quiet of my room is wiped away by the sound of the water rushing past me, completely oblivious to what I’m doing there. I hear the crunch of autumn leaves under my boots and my labored breath as I drag what I’ve got in my arms through the brush. Just then the deer I startle dashes away and my heart nearly explodes with the fear of being caught…or is it the hope of being caught?

My eyes blink open and there’s nothing in all the world but the darkness and the spider I know is watching me now. Somewhere down the hall there is a click and the furnace kicks on. I know that the spider’s web moves in the changed pattern of the air, and he stops watching.

I can’t keep my eyes open and the woods intrude on me again. I squint in the bright light of the afternoon sun and start to dig. My hands aren’t used to this kind of work and before I’m even a foot deep I can feel the blisters rising on my hands. I curse myself for not bringing gloves. I concentrate on the hole, I don’t want to look at what I’ve brought with me. I’m digging deeper into the rich black soil and it feels good. Redemptive. Honest. Then a tingle runs down my spine. Like they say happens when someone walks on your grave, and I hear a sound behind me…where I put the thing I’ve brought to the woods. I’m terrified to turn around, but I force myself to open my eyes.

And I’m back in my dark room. The blankets, all of them, weighing down on my chest like a foot of black earth. I wonder to myself what it would be like to be dead. If I were to die tonight, here in my room, close my eyes and not see the bright light of day in the woods but that other bright light…or the blackness of nothing…what would happen?

Who would find me here? How long would it take them? I begin to imagine a quiet slip into death during the night, a peaceful release from my cares and concerns. I imagine my heart stop and my skin tighten. Then all my muscles relax…the years and years of tension released. My bladder and bowels empty and the mattress and blankets absorb all they can. Slowly, like a cruel irony, I get an erection. Then I begin to cool, until even my liver has lost all its warmth. The blood, having stopped moving around my body now pools thickly in my back, buttocks, all the lowest parts of my body leaving my top pale white and my backside a deep purple. My hands and feet turn blue while my eyes sink back into my skull. Just as the sun rises outside I’d be going into rigor. No one would know I was dead…or that anything was wrong for days, I suppose. I don’t have any friends…they’d fire me at work but never send anyone to look for me.

It takes a full 24 hours from the time the heart stops for all of my semen to die. I’m turning green now, and starting to smell. My face becoming unrecognizable, along with the rest of me…Three days later I’m beginning to blister and my body to bloat, filling with gasses like a balloon. It’s good that no one knows I’m dead, or cares that I’m dead, no one should have to see what I’ve become.

Better that they don’t find me for another few weeks…when the rent is overdue and the junk mail is piled impossibly high by the door. When this flesh that has tortured me has all fallen away, revealing the bones of the person within…freeing the soul to fly up or to fall down….

I’m back in the woods. I must have gotten drowsy and closed my eyes again. The hole is almost deep enough, but I know that I’ll never stop digging.

And I know that who I’m trying to bury here is actually me.

And the dead cannot bury the dead.

(Flashlight out, long pause before the lights come back on. When they do, the speaker is gone.)


One of the stream of conciousness auto writing don't have time to do anything else if I want a piece tonight so let's open a vein and see what pours out of it kind of pieces I'm so dang famous for.

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