Sense gone. He steps out of his home. The trivial click of the door-lock final and massive under a low-slung, black-and-white sky. Perhaps a hand flickers in momentary and useless memory of a left-behind door-key. From there to the pavement is 90% of the journey.
Then solid resolve lifts and drops the feet in a steady pattern, each step a jolt of assurance to the wretched death-baby perched on his shoulders. “Carry me there!” He tramps in swift blindness along a path that is as relentless and consuming as a line of fire edging its way across a field of stubble. There is only one direction.
Perhaps colours flicker in and out of the half-tone – a traffic-light, a dress, a billboard – but lessening as the memory of colour yields to the black-and-whiteness of purpose and instruction and chaos. The pace quickens into the narrowing worm-hole where chaos spirals down into its calamitous singularity. Now he’s a trotting donkey with the dread baby bobbing left and right with each stride, passing through a vortex of humanity. “Carry me there!”
Like water he pauses for no corner, wheeling into the next straight line. His mind repeats and repeats the instruction, oblivious to the distractions of possibility and preference that led him onto his path. It’s no choice now, just the maniac insistence of the baby, the all-powerful, all-consuming baby that has to be carried. His sob, a repressed admixture of obedient ecstasy and desperate regret. A groin-tingling, ear-pressured anticipation for what will be.
Now the vortex. There. Finally, a place. The place.
A boxed confusion of tinny noise and jerky movement, of children-laughing-parents and the earnest deceits of there-and-here running adolescents. A distant smell of carpet, a passing air of human happening. But somewhere else.
At the centre, the baby is settled now, complacent in the totality of its power, a poised weight on the shoulder of the obedient mule. The baby is in control, it sees beauty in the perfection of its punishment. It is brilliant with resolve and decision and it seems to be finger-spinning the very vortex it beholds.
The boy looks around, awed nauseous by his deafened stillness in the centre of the Dervish-whirl of greyed-out humanity. He looks hard but cannot see. He is already dead, the umbilical with social life cut away and flailing off. His entire perception now is panic, stretched long and thin and forever like the spaghetti person falling endlessly into a black-hole. He tries but cannot see the hurt, comfort, pain and pleasure that is humanity – he sees in half-tones. People reduced to pebbles, voices to noise. The moment is too massive, too all-encompassing to fit into his shivering head – it is disproportionate. He looks and looks and looks and sees only targets, those whose innocence defines their guilt.
His thumb touches and plays with the baby-button as he searches desperately for that hook that will connect him once more, rescue him from his stupor of compliance. “Now!” screams the baby, thrilling to mayhem. He still tries to see a face but sees only skin and hair, bone beneath, bone that will splinter. In his malignant senselessness he has forgotten how to see. He suddenly has a chemical memory of the taste of milk but it turns into sweet, red blood on his tongue. Paradise! Disco! Red bricks! That girl’s covered breast! Coffee! Mosque! Nike! Thoughts! thoughts! thoughts! Eggs! Car! Maths! “Now!” screams the baby in its frenzy. Thumb presses but releases no pressure. Nothing. The noise is deafening now and the movement erupting, engorging. “Now! Now!” A flash of shocking colour bursts through the grey – the red lips of a girl, blood-red. His head jerks back in shock, his eyes dilate against the naked luminosity – he sees, he SEES! The death-baby seizes the moment. – “For her! To her! Now! Her lips demand it! Be faithful! Now!” He embraces her, in her decadence and desirability. His mind, enfeebled by months of entreaty lurches into purpose. He embraces her as he embraces his mission. She becomes the mission. Her lips desire him as he desires death and escape. She is him. She kisses his thumb as it presses down. The baby goes off with a laugh and lips and faces and knees and livers and hats and tongues and Nikes dance their Dervish trance.