Confessions of a Black Dog

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Chapter 2

Two

Sam hadn’t left his room for three days.

He was alone again.

Emotions came flooding back to him, memories of good times, of laughter.

His indifference was a fraud and a cheat.

It was armour, full of chinks.

He had fucked up again.

It was his paranoia that had taken him over.

All tin foil hats and invisible rays.

He saw things in people that were not there.

He was right.

He was wrong.

On the first day, he lay on his bed naked as the sun tried to rise, blotted out by the winter’s clouds, then fall. He had masturbated frantically all day to try to rid himself of his headache. He did it to feel good, to cum the depression away. He didn’t shower, just letting the salty liquid dry all mingled up in his belly hair. He couldn’t bear the thought of people noticing him. Looking at him, when all he wanted to do was watch them. Every now and then he would check to see if his curtains were pulled tight enough.

On the second day, he pulled himself off the bed, his body aching and his nerves crying out for nicotine and wrote in his Black Book all day. He had dreamt vividly the night before.

When he awoke he wrote these words down.

“i remember … thinking WHERE IS JOY?, i felt she was here, i know she was.

i’m in a town, a typical Welsh red brick, grey brick town. i’m walking, looking all around me, searching.

WHERE IS JOY?

i seem to be in sort of educational facility, a school or college, and something is pursuing me; something big and nasty with many, many legs. a centipede. a giant centipede is after me. a giant centipede is after me and it crawls up walls, and it was once human. i think it was once a friend, who exactly i don’t know. who was it, you bastards! it wants to kill me. you bastards! it waits for me behind walls, around corners, under tables, and it waits for me in toilets. it almost got me, too, when I went to take a piss. you bastards!

i’m running away from it, when i come to a crossroads.

then i realise i have two paths to choose from :

one heads towards a housing estate, from which comes gruff shouting, and triggers an immediate feeling of terror

the other way seems to lead towards a dark forest, brooding and natural … i choose the latter, and plunge into the undergrowth, smiling like the moon.

I BEGIN TO ACT AS A BEAST.

OR TO BE MORE PRECISE, A DOG.

THE BLACK DOG.

I SNIFF THE AIR, SEARCHING FOR A SCENT.

BLOOD.

THE FOREST IS SULLEN, AND A VICIOUS WIND IS BLOWING ALL AROUND ME, GETTING STRONGER BY THE SECOND, WHIRLING THE DARK BROWN AND ORANGE DEAD LEAVES IN VIOLENT CIRCLES ABOVE MY HEAD.

BLOOD.

THERE IS A STORM COMING. A BIG ONE. THE SKY IS BLACKENING, BEING SMOTHERED BY CLOUDS LIKE A PILLOW IN A CHILD- KILLER’S HAND.

I’M MOVING ON ALL FOURS, MOVING FAST.

BUSHES AND SMALL HARMLESS PLANTS BRUSH AND WHIP AGAINST MY FACE AND LIMBS. MOVE.

IN THE DISTANCE I HEAR MEN’S VOICES …

FEAR.

MEN’S DESPERATE SHOUTING, WANTING TO GET HOME, AWAY FROM THE STORM, AWAY FROM MY FOREST. THE FOREST IN MY MIND. THERE IS ALSO A THREATENING TONE IN THEIR VOICES; THE VOICE OF THE MOB IN THE FOREST OF MY MIND. I REALISE I NEED TO FIND A WEAPON.

THEY WILL HURT ME, IF THEY FIND ME.

FEAR.

I’M STANDING NOW ON TWO LEGS AND SEARCHING FOR A STICK TO USE AS A CLUB. NONE ARE OF ANY USE, BUT I COME ACROSS A LARGE PAIR OF BLACK-HANDLED SCISSORS.

BLOOD.

I’M HIDING NOW. THE SHOUTING IS GETTING CLOSER AND THE WIND IS BLOWING HARDER AND THE AIR IS GETTING BLACKER. I’M CROUCHED BEHIND A TREE, PANTING, READY FOR THE FIGHT.

BLOOD.

I CAN SEE THEM NOW.

FEAR.

THEY CAN’T SEE ME IN THEIR DESPERATION TO FIND SOMETHING ELSE. “HERE’S THE CHILD!”

ONE OF THEM YELLS, A BIG MAN. CLOTHES BEING PULLED BY FINGERS OF THE STORM. HE’S POINTING AWAY FROM ME, AND THE MOB IS ALL CROWDING and I awake to the cold light of the morning, shining through closed curtains in a small room in London.”

On the third day he looked in his mirror and for an instant he saw a Black Dog standing behind him.

“Hello” he said.

On the fourth day, he realised that the storm was over. He had weathered it well.

He went to the bathroom and showered. He needed to get out of the flat, to go for a walk. He needed to brush the cobwebs away. He needed to get out of the four walls in his head.

Grabbing his coat he made his way down the dirty, given up South London streets.

Walking along the South Bank, he stopped for a cigarette at one of the rotting benches overlooking the Thames. Looking over at Tate Britain on the other side of the river, he wondered how many people had sat on this bench after a break up. How many had wondered where to go next. There’s always somewhere else. There was nothing to be done about it, he was alone again. He must enjoy it. Being alone. If only he could get rid of the memories of the good times. In time. They’ll go in time, the good times and bad. Always have done.

Dropping and stamping on his fag’s sucked up carcass, he crossed Westminster Bridge, trying to ignore the crowds of tourists. There were millions of them. They were a plague of biblical proportions. He headed for St. James’s Park past the Houses of Parliament, where he wondered which country those fuckers were considering invading this time. Iran, probably, they had a bee in their bonnet about that little state. Oil money, blood money, it was all the same to the starched collars. Why not just go for China or North Korea and have done with it all?

“They want t’ kill us all” he thought, “but not before they’ve drained everything and everyone of any dignity. And we let ’em.”

St. James’ Park was relatively quiet for once. Sam wandered down to the pond to see the ducks and sat down. The willows around him seemed sadder than usual, wearier. The ducks carried on in their typical loud manner. They reminded him of some neighbours he had once had in Manchester, always arguing and grabbing at this morsel or that. They had even stolen his dole check once.

He knew she had left because of the accusations. What a stupid hypocrite. He knew what he’d done. She did nothing. She just wanted the best for herself. Well, she shouldn’t have got involved with him then. He had pathetically projected his guilt onto her. If she had have slept around, it was his fault. He was thirsty again.

Why did he always have this feeling of abandonment?

That’s what he was afraid of. Being abandoned. And he had always instigated it. It was a feeling of not being able to breathe with others around him. Of being smothered. That’s what he was afraid of. Being trapped with nowhere to run. Being trapped by people’s thoughts, their desires, there hopes. People do indeed enjoy their private suffering.

A shape moved out of the corner of his eye.

It was a stray Black Dog. An ugly looking brute, ragged, feral and evil smelling. The ducks nearest him knew and they quacked their panicking way back to the safety of the water. The mongrel stared and growled at Sam as if he was carrying a T-bone steak in his pocket. The dog always knew when to turn up. He was a vicious bastard, always throwing fists when Sam was down.

He was afraid.

Fear.

The delicate sweet fear that gave his life a sharpness, a spice. That sacred panic which embraced him no matter what he was doing; smoking, drinking heavily, having uncomfortable conversations, leaving his squalid flat for the grim outside, it touched him each second. Every action taken and every action untaken.

All promises were guided by that gut feeling, a feeling which he had felt since before he could remember. An apocalyptic mindset, which had set his mind longing to wander. A feeling that every moment he was on the verge of a monumental discovery that would change his life beyond all recognition, yet which he knew he could never reach unless he moved.

A hunted man, but hunted by what?

People, he realised were afraid of anxiety of any kind. An emotion that is so necessary to survival, yet one that has been turned into a social evil. Fear, they thought, makes a person less of a man. Less human. A hunted man. The dog was always there howling for him. It was an egotistical thing, this horror. An attachment to himself.

“You again?” whispered Sam.

He spat at the creature, hitting it right between the eyes. Then Sam blinked and the Dog disappeared.

The Black Dog was the catalyst for this book. It came to me in a dream. It will come to Sam too.

Sam was very tired. He was daydreaming. His spit lay on the ground next to his feet. A cold wind made Sam shiver down to his marrow. A cold sweat appeared on his forehead. He had to stop drinking one day, but not today. He was thirsty. He felt that the whole universe was persecuting him today, the tourists, politicians, the ducks, the trees with their sorrow, that fucking dog.

“Well, fuck, I must be special then, eh” he said out loud to the ducks.

“Indeed you must be, Sir” came a voice from behind him.

“What?”

Sam turned and faced the chest of an old man. His great big moustache and beard were piss coloured and his eyes were shot and red lined. He was wearing a gigantic old over coat and a hat that made his face difficult to see and he was carrying a Victorian doctor’s bag. He sat down on the bench next to Sam. The old man’s stench wafted across to Sam’s nostrils. It was unpleasant to say the least. Like fried roadkill. He seemed to be smoking.

“Sorry, Sir. You don’t mind if an old Antipodean takes th’ weight off ’is feet, d’ya?”

“No… I mean, of course not” answered Sam embarrassed by his rudeness at the sight of this old man.

“As I said, young man, ya must indeed be special. What, with all that persecutin’ goin’ on.”

Sam didn’t look directly at the man but he found his attention was drawn to the old fellow’s bag.

“What d’ya keep in there?” he asked pointing at the carrier.

“Memories, dear boy. Me short term’s wonderful, it’s me long term that’s the bugger.”

“So, you packed ’em up in your old kit bag, eh?” Sam was intrigued by this man. There was something unusual, yet familiar about him. He felt comfortable talking to him. It was a relief to talk to someone who smiled even though it was obvious that the man had been hit harder by life than Sam. It was that Aussie charm and comfortableness with life. The guts.

“Indeed,” chuckled the old Aussie, “…I’ll never forget ’em now”.

“That’s good” sighed Sam feeling miserable again.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get over ’er, Sam”

“Yeah, s’pose so”

It was then something clicked inside his head.

It was then he turned to look at the face of the man sat next to him.

The man wasn’t there anymore.

He needed to sleep the daydreams away.

He was hallucinating and talking to himself again.

He sat very still for a couple of minutes.

He was so tired. He should go back home and crawl into his grotty unkempt pit. An aging woman walked briskly past him. She had the look of a twisted and bitter soul, as if life hadn’t lived up to its promises.

“What just happened?” asked Sam. She turned her pink rinsed head with a look of disgust.

There are always lunatics in parks. People muttering to themselves, beggars asking for money, lone gentlemen feeding vermin. Sam knew her type. Living with a long suffering, apathetic husband, who she blamed for all her bad luck had ruined her. He saw them fuck once every year after he’d at the whisky and she’d been out on hen night and calling her his secretary’s name. He saw their many years of procreating and uncomfortable silences in a domestic hell. He saw her watching her beloved television set, watching the BBC morning news that spoke of hurricanes in places she would never see while the hypnotizing cathode rays penetrated into her bones. He saw her taking a drag on her cigarette that took a cocktail of cyanide and nicotine to her already sluggish brain. The smoke combined with the reek of her cheap perfume making her husband more nauseous with each wave of smoke. She carried on walking and Sam watched her until he vanished around the corner. He wished her luck.

What had just happened?

Another daydream?

He began staring at the pigeons rummaging for scraps by a bin.

“Where did that come from?” he asked them.

The small squalid birds did not care, they were too busy decimating a cheeseburger in its bun, the sweetened ketchup irritating their glands and intestinal tracts, their head’s buzzing from a sugar rush making them even more jerky manic than usual. Dizzy from watching the cheeky pests, Sam walked over to an Ash tree.

“What’s goin’ on?” he asked it.

The tree seemed to react to the man’s words as a breeze gently blew its changing autumnal leaves. In reality the caressing wind transported a deadly blast of carbon dioxide from inner city London’s cloud of smog that was constantly choking the city’s trees, people and urban fox population. Shaking his head in sadness, Sam hugged the aging plant then wandered down to Westminster Bridge, past Whitehall and Big Ben, where the important people worked, through crowds of uninterested teenagers, families of tourists and workers waiting for buses to take them back to their homes. Crossing the bridge there was a sudden break in the clouds and the evening’s sun appeared.

“What…?” he asked the setting sun.

The fiery orb shone indifferently, slowly consuming itself and in the centre of the Milky Way a super massive black hole waited patiently to implode.

The experience with the old Antipodean had shaken Sam right up. It was irrational, another hallucination in a life of waking dreams and nightmares. Sometimes it felt like the line between being asleep and awake was undefined. Like a somnambulist awaking to find himself naked in a church. His bloody visions. Maybe he was mad, like his father had told him he was. Maybe it was a chemical imbalance.

Closing and locking his door, he disrobed to make himself feel more comfortable and lay on his bed. His cock and balls rested happily and flaccid against his hairy belly. He was an incredibly hairy man. He had always felt better naked. Not that he was a naturist, but he was lonely and loneliness is better dealt with when you can lie around naked. He only showed his rapidly aging body to the women in his life. He felt sorry for them.

He put Calexico’s “Feast of Wire” on his tiny CD player, closed his eyes and felt the tension lifting as the music absorbed him. His body became sound, the notes swirling colours around him. It was a trick he’d learnt in Bangkok, riding the awful wooden floored buses to work. He would hear music in head, usually Beethoven’s ninth or Mahler’s tenth, and forget about the strange surrounding, the inquisitive looks and mutterings of discontent. It was a trick he used often. Shutting out the world and losing oneself in music.

The colours swirled and shifted into an image. It was a woman, blonde and voluptuous, like she had walked straight out a Bond flick or a film noir. A real slick sixties noir chick. A fantasy. He felt his cock harden as the fantasy took his mind elsewhere. The blood flowed fast as he pumped with his hand.

The music described the scenario, the narrative in which his sexual fantasy took place. The moody Morricone-like tones sent him to a dark, foggy street following a woman, dressed in a black knee length coat. She entered a first floor flat, her flat and closed the heavy wooden door. He gazed in through the window and she began to dance, snakelike around the room. Slowly, she performed a striptease for him. First disrobing her coat, then slinking out of her black cocktail dress. All that was left was her blood red underwear, stocking and black high heels. She was in control of everything.

He would do anything she wanted.

She made eye contact with him, smiled and gestured him to come in, her red nails as dark as blood in the soft light of a lamp.

She moved towards him, touched him on the face and began to unbutton his shirt and her lips kissed his belly…

He convulsed as his balls contracted violently, his back arched and suddenly there was a momentary pain in his crotch. His hands became hot and sticky as his seed spilt over them and his belly, even getting as far as his shoulder. Twitching, he wiped off his hands onto his legs, grabbed a towel and headed for the bathroom.

Jesus, he was highly strung. It hadn’t taken much this time. Lying in the bath, his thoughts drifted back to the old man. Now his tubes had been cleared, he was thinking objectively. Had he drifted off to sleep while being sat on the bench?

Had he just been too immersed in his inside world?

Had a man he knew to be dead just appeared in front of him?

He searched under the mess of his belongings for his book.

When he wasn’t drinking with his accidental tribe or reading or writing poems and stories, Sam would sit alone in his room writing in a thick Black Book. He was searching his own mind for a clue to himself, writing as if his life depended on that book. And it did. All his true thoughts, his self analysis, his weaknesses were stored in those pages. No one ever got to see its contents, no printer would ever print its secrets, as banal and wearisome as they were, they were his. One thing that intrigued him about himself was his obsession with the apocalypse. It was the one thing imprinted into his psyche from his father’s religion.

The End.

Beautiful friend.

The End of the World.

The End of all Things.

All things must pass away.

He had been writing in thick Black Books for ten odd years. As soon as he finished one, he would re-read it once over and then burn it. After the sacrifice came the ritual. He would collect the remnants, stand on his balcony and scatter the ashes to the winds as if they were dead relative in an urn. He protected these books like a she wolf would protect her cubs. The sacrifice cleared him of his thoughts. He abandoned them. He was emancipated and could move on again. Free to escape. He was no longer trapped.

Today he wrote down his feelings about the events in the park; his confusion and panic.

Why had he asked the old woman, the pigeons and the tree?

Why was that Dog following him through his night and day dreams, whatever they were?

He began playing with these images, trying to turn them over in his mind, to give one clue into subconscious images. He scribbled his thoughts and images, creating sigils and shapes out of them.

Patterns.

Giving them a life.

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