Sacred Sex

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CHAPTER 8

I’m at work. The morgue. It’s cold. The sterile room makes no sound. No heart beats, there. No eye opens. Everything is covered in darkness. It’s the vacuum of space, itself. Nothing pierces such silence. Though full of death, I’m the only ghost in that room. The foreigner. The intruder. Life, alien to the dead. My presence isn’t noticed by anyone. So many bodies but no one’s here. No one can see me, hear me, smell me, touch me or talk to me. Sensitivity in this room has always been a one-way street. Passivity doesn’t exist here. All phenomena come from me. Activity. Just like when we were born, when we die we find ourselves naked again. The dead have no shame. At least they can now get rid of it. Shame. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, “they opened their eyes and found themselves naked.” In death, at least, they are rescued from the Fall... they return from East to the Eden. But, maybe, they’re just dead.

Two body drawers are opened in front of me. The frosty, pale-purple-colored corpses show their chests without hesitation. I watch the cloths that cover part of their bodies. Even here, in a way, they were dressed, shame being still in the eyes of the living. Each curve of the linens, each fold reveals a sort of sculpture of death. I remember seeing a plastic artist doing something similar. I remember I found it very ironic that the Bulgarian artist was named Christo. I found out he was part of a group called the Neo-Realists. This was yet another reason for me to enjoy his work even more, especially because he covered many places—even islands—in sheets just like we do with the dead, covering their eyes with a sheet. Funny. The new reality was death. At least, that was the impression I had of his work.

In the first and second drawers, I see that their tags are pre-filled. Placing both my hands against the cold metal supporting the corpses, I read:

“Husband” in the first.

And in the second: “Responsible.”

That illusion took me by surprise. I open my eyes to absorb such great action, either from fate or from my mind. Then, my look gets lost and I translate the symbolic information I had seen on the corpses’ tags.

“Getting married or being a father?”

The image of myself, opening the two drawers, jumps into my eyes again. Slowly and with moderate force, right drawer, then left drawer. Or could have been the left, and then the right? I look at my right hand and, placing my fingers against my thumb, I try to notice if it’s still cold. If it is, it might have been the last one to open the drawer. It isn’t. I try with the left hand and it’s the same. In a moment of stupidity, I try to grab an answer from the wrinkles of my hands. They are very similar, on both hands. So the answer comes to me without warning.

I opened both drawers at once.

“Getting married or being a father?”

I take the scalpel with my gloved hand and make the first vertical cut on the chest of a white woman with small breasts. She must be in her 30’s. Her skin is so smooth you can barely notice the cut. The line crosses the belly as if it were a brush stroke. Straight. I do the same to the second woman with larger breasts and also looking 30 years old. Her skin is a little more robust, but still smooth, beautiful and violet.

A vertical line is drawn on both corpses. My hand with the scalpel hesitates to take the next step.

Would I go from the top of the line to the...

“Left or right?”

“Left or...”

Peter is in a nightclub. The lights are flashing, there is smoke and smell of sweat, alcohol and cigarette. The place is huge and the sight of people dancing looks like a sea under a storm of bodies. Picture those who lost their tickets to board the Ark. Silhouettes of people are alive except for the girl Peter is watching. He wears a pink shirt and black pants, holding his drink. His gaze doesn’t leave the girl with her curled hair, who was pretending she was pole-dancing.

“Be brave, Peter. You can do it.”

By the counter, Peter’s fingers drum like the ocean, billowing. Once. Five times. Fifteen times. Thirty times. Peter’s mental powers were being put to the test as he tried to catch the girl’s gaze. After an optical trance that seemed to bring them together to just one inch, a glass hits the counter; one foot steps on the floor and Peter is ready.

“It’s now or never!”

Everything is dark except for Peter in the middle of the dance floor with his chest swollen like a rooster’s, walking toward the brunette across the place. Resignation. She is leaning against a pillar, quieter, looking tedious. Her gaze is wandering on the floor.

“Be brave, Peter.”

Such a feeling burns fast inside the chest. The accelerated blood engine always wastes some of its alcoholic fuel. Right now, Peter wished it were a flex-fuel engine.

That coward needed real gas. But there was none, there. He was alone relying only on his own strength. Then...

A glass hits the counter; one foot steps on the floor.

Clarity.

“You can do it.”

Resignation.

– Hello, how are you?

– Hi… I’m fine.

– Are you alone?

– I am, how about you?

A look of surprise takes Peter’s face. He wasn’t expecting a second sentence.

– Me?! No... I mean, yes, I am.

“Peter, you really are an idiot. Forget your Jessica, just for today.”

An expression of discontentment from the brunette. Somberness.

– Sorry. It’s just that I’ve just got out of a relationship...

A glass hits the counter; a foot on heel steps on the floor. She’s gone.

Peter’s head lowers and his hair covers his hopeless face. Every tiny part of his muscles feels hard, ill, and rusty. His fingers drum again and their echo seems to resonate even in his stomach. He practices repetition. His heart pumps the venom that has been circling around his body for hours, like a snake eating its own tail. His gaze gets lost and the sight of that sodomite ocean of people is all he can see. Everybody there is willing to sin, and he’s distant from that storm... infinitely distant.

Peter feels holy and as if God guided his future. “But I want to sin.”

The brunette fades in the middle of the dance floor and Peter is paralyzed in the background, alone. There, he watches mesmerized dozens of couples rubbing themselves to the music, kissing or even worse. Even in threesomes. One man kisses a crying woman, others drink from women’s bodies. One kisses a half-asleep woman, while girlfriends kiss and touch each other like children. And he’s there, holding his glass, his body that doesn’t even flicker, even with those waves of sin and his desire to plunge in. It’s dry and he’s thirsty. He can look at the oasis, but a desert is all he sees.

The Black Sea.

Another body drawer is opened.

Fog.

Cold.

A pale man’s hand shows a golden ring.

“Getting married?”

Another body drawer is opened.

More fog.

More cold.

The white cloth has no bulk until half of the table, which supports the body of a violet child.

“Being a father?”

The scalpel again meets the chests of the bodies.

The first, with aged hairs and old skin.

The second, with smooth skin and no hairs.

The elderliness or the youth.

Husband or father.

The past or the future.

The incision is made vertically on their trunks.

“Left or right?”

Or... or... or...

The cut goes to the left in the chest of the elder, while in the child’s chest it goes to the right.

“Now, what?”

“...”

The apathetic hands feel the psychosomatic crisis.

Beneath thin gloves, holding a sharp scalpel, my spirit meets doubt.

Hesitation.

Tremor.

“My God.”

Another glass hits the counter.

Peter now talks to a woman in glasses, striped shirt and thin face. Her skin has a white shade that only a chemical powder could render to human skin. Everything about her sounds artificial, even her lips. But there was nothing Peter could do to hold himself back, since she was still an attractive woman.

– What’s your name?

– It’s “Get Lost”.

A glass hits the counter.

Lights come on.

Lights go out.

Music.

Flashing.

One foot steps on someone else’s foot.

Peter now talks to a short-green-haired black woman. She’s covered in ink that glows under black light. She also wears a leather or black vinyl dress. She’s pretty skinny, but by showing off all her curves with such tight clothing, she really catches the eye.

– Hi, baby, how are you?

– I was good, up to a second ago.

Another glass hits the counter and almost falls.

Peter’s elbow hits a drink from someone who’s still holding it. “Hey!” It also hits bodies that were dancing. He stumbles until he stops.

Lights come on.

Lights go out.

Music.

Flashing.

Peter finally rests on his legs. He looks around from left to right. The lights are very strong, just like the darkness, before. The echoes of luminosity flood his vision. Music contaminates him and causes him stupor. He’s lost. He’s drunk. When he realizes it, he’s talking to a woman with long brown hair who’s still facing the other way. The most beautiful hair he’s seen in his life, he thinks when he sees her. Since conversation is not going well, better to try some physical contact soon – that’s his most logically drunken conclusion.

Peter puts his hand on the woman’s shoulder, with the intention of and, at the same time, actually pulling her hair off her shoulder, touching the skin on her face like he’s seen so many times in movies.

– Hi, hi...

The woman with the beautiful hair slowly turns and shows her face.

“Holy shit! It’s a man!”

– Bye, bye, you idiot!

A punch flies towards Peter. But with a resourcefulness only the drunks have, he leans backwards and manages to deflect it. Even then, with the guy’s hair moving, he thought it was beautiful. He smiles totally stupidly at his aggressor, who exhaled anger. He rejoices at his only victory that night. However, on the second hit, Peter slips on the drink he had knocked over.

He falls, grabbing the man with beautiful hair and bringing him down with himself. His hair and Peter’s shirt get soaked in Bloody Mary, which distracts the man long enough for Peter to throw him aside and run away to the dance floor, not without thinking that the man’s beautiful hair was on fire, and that he had been stabbed by having “blood” on his body. Such moments would only be flashes, the next day.

An endless row of drawers with bodies.

Rosacea whiteness.

The fog of the dead.

The cold of silence.

They all have only the first vertical chest cut. It looks like a prisoner counting down his days till freedom.

By the last one, my hand still holds the scalpel, but...

It falls.

“I can’t choose...”

Tremor.

“I can’t...”

Fear.

“I…”

Doubt.

By the bar counter, Peter is downcast and complains of life in an incomprehensible babble. His head moves in many directions, like the head of a possessed man. He seems to talk to himself or some other entity that only alcohol allows you to see. He stays there in a hypnotic state for a few minutes. Sometimes he looks to the side like trying to see if the man with the long hair is still after him, but soon resumes his inner paranoia. His round anguish.

– How do you do it, Dante? I just can’t... I’m a failure.

I’m not paying attention. My mind is orbiting other spheres. Peter’s voice is just another noise among so many where we are, just as his image is just a blur among so many other lights flooding my eyes. Not even his presence is in fact noted by the subtlest of my senses. I, myself, am hardly present there. I’m merely existing. I just stare at the ketchup and mustard in front of me. Lost.

“Being a father or being a husband?”

– I told Jessica I needed some time, but she said “it’s over” and I can’t be with anyone else. – I only notice Peter when he says “anyone”, but his almost crying voice only makes me ignore the triviality that might be troubling him. I’ve got more important things to think about.

“Being a father or being a husband?”

– Hey, Dante... how do you do it? Tell me.

“Being a father or being a husband?”

– What’s the secret, Dante?

“Being a father or being a husband?”

– Dante, I’m telling you my problem, damn it! – Peter yells, banging on the table and getting himself some balls. But it doesn’t take long and he glances over his flanks to see if he was spotted by the man who was after him. That somehow makes me angry. That. That courage, extinguished by the cold water of cowardice; those downcast eyes; that fast falling asleep thing. Then the rage ambiguous to friendship takes me.

– I’ll take care of your fucking problem, you son of a bitch... – I whisper almost inaudibly to Peter, while still thinking of my dilemma. One problem at a time. From the easiest to the hardest.

I walk out of the nightclub alone.

The exit door is the only bright thing.

Lights come on.

Lights go out.

Music.

Flashing.

Silence.

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