Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Those Eyes

“You must try to think how strong the thing inside must be, that you don’t kill yourself when there’s no sun. I wandered in the dark and it made me hard and for a time I think it made me insane. There’s this time, I don’t remember so much and sometimes I hear voices crying in my head from that time. It's not like being blind, you know. When you’re blind you are still wanted, a person of the sun and a human being. But to be without sun, you live like a rat in the dark, and you become so angry and cruel. You are not even human, but you always dream to be, so you hate people. You are out cast like it says in the Bible, into the outer darkness and you’re exile from everything, from the passing of time, and from God and the human beings. You’re nothing. And because why? It’s like being a rape. I didn’t ask for this. If you knew what it was, you wouldn’t ask for it. It was done to me, by someone who was also exile and alone and wanted to see if I could be his companion together. A blind person, he can yet be loved. But no one loves a filthy leech who takes from others and they see you coming and even in the dark they know you’re not right and a thief of the life and they hate you.”

“You haven’t convinced me you’re a vampire yet,” He said, “but I’ll admit you’ve thought about this kind of thing a lot.”

“There is nothing else to think about. I’m not so smart or so special, I’m just ordinary. But the world is so treacherous. It’s like there is this hole, and you fall into the hole and you can’t get out and your whole life changes upside down. The world is full of these holes. A person kills someone, who never killed before. Or he loves his wife but he performs the adultery or some unnatural thing and he’s caught and he’s fallen through to the other side and his life is over and will never be the same. I fell in this hole very long ago and can’t get out.” She poured herself some more tea, emptied the pot. “But you? What is it you want?”

“I want a miracle!” He blurted out and realized it was true.

“What kind of a miracle do you want?” She said.

Nixie and Father Delmar
from “The Dying Light”

A man walks into a kitchen of a suburban house, somewhere outside of Baltimore. The man is about 40 or so, and the person he has come to meet is a girl of about fourteen. To make things worse, he’s naked.

This guy, you can hardly call him a man, this wretch, this doofus, this monster is standing in this nice looking kitchen waiting for his girl to show up and keep their rendezvous. But then a bunch of klieg lights come on pinning the guy in their righteous heat. A big man with a very big video camera on his shoulder comes out of the living room door, followed by a guy with a boom microphone and this TV correspondent named Chris Hansen. This ass-clown isn’t just busted. He’s busted on national television, the MSNBC show “Dateline”. All these people walk up to him and the camera zooms into his face. His eyes. They’re haunting. Once you see those eyes, you’ll see them in your worst dreams.

This isn’t terror the dingbat showy screamy way it’s depicted in the movies. No, this is what it really looks like when a human being witnesses his life implode right out from under him. This is the face of the mother on the phone at three in the morning when the Georgia State Highway Patrol calls and her daughter isn’t home yet. This is the guy sitting in the doctor’s examination room with the X ray of his balls pinned on the light panel on the wall. The face of parents looking out the window as the grim faced messenger in dress blues comes up the sidewalk with a doleful letter from the Office of the Secretary of Defense in his hands.

Real world ape-shit terror is this naked guy on TV. Silent. Almost calm. He’s emotionally shutting down, blue screened, memory dumped, totally honked, a skull full of quivering white noise in which thought is off line and dropping into free fall.

His eyes jitterbug from face to face. His lower lip trembles. It doesn’t even occur to him to scream because screaming or crying out to God or his life passing in front of his eyes, none of that bullshit will get him out of this. He stands in the hot silver lights and goes on breathing. It is the revelation that his life is over and from this instant on he will be one of the walking dead and the human cry will pursue him like the eye of God followed Cain across the wilderness. Now he will be defined by only one event. Life as he has always known it has collapsed in an instant. He will never get it back. Not ever.

Don’t get me wrong. This guy, and all the other guys who melt and whimper and threaten and sometimes plead for mercy in the stern presence of this camera crew from Hell, they deserve it. That’s not what we’re talking about here. There is something horribly visceral and communal about witnessing another man’s nightmare. This idiot, this cringing little fiend, had a life up until that moment. A job. A future with plans for the summer. Friends. Neighbors with barbeques. Trash pickup on Wednesday. Alternate parking on Sundays. A wife. Maybe even, the mind boggles, a little girl. But in one instant, all that is swept away. Its different from having a hurricane drown your family or losing them in a car wreck. You can’t help those things. This guy saw Nixie’s Hole and jumped right in.

I’ve had dreams at night where I did things that were seriously weird. Really deranged things that in past times might have landed you on a therapist’s couch. But that’s not it either – it’s the feeling you have in your dream when you know you’ve done something pretty dammed strange or just plain wrong and you’re scared you’ll never get it back – but wait! Ah! Your eyes open in the dark. Your wife slumbers next to you. The ceiling fan turns overhead. A glance at the clock and the alarm will be going off in one more hour. Aw shit! Aw thank you God. Oh it was just a dream. I didn’t screw my mother. I didn’t murder the pope. The world is not being attacked by ravenous vampire armies. Oh Jesus, I’ll be a good boy from now on I promise I will. Thankyouthankyou.

For the guy on the TV screen – it’s all over but the suicide. He stands nude in the hot lights like a hideous silly dream with the news guy in the suit and the yammering voices asking him questions he can’t hear for the sound of his own heart pounding in his ears and the insane world just keeps going on and on and it never stops. That look in the suit’s eyes – it’s the first time he’ll be seeing that look. He’ll be seeing that look in the eyes of every person he knows from now on, forever.

John Edwards, running for president. His staff knows about what he’s doing with that Hunter woman. They’re so terrified of what can happen this has become their nightmare too. They’re seriously thinking of sabotaging this campaign just to make sure he doesn’t actually win and have all this insanity come out after he’s the goddamn president. They’re running in circles because the see the cloud of Nightmare gathering over their own heads. Republican politicians, dragging them under like schools of ravenous piranhas, sticking them up in front of Senate Hearing Committees on CSPAN: “What did you know and when did you know it?” Their own careers ruined. These guys didn’t fall in Nixie’s Hole, they never asked for it, they’re chained like galley slaves to the randy boner of their leader and he’s heading right for it.

The last night, as Edwards leaves the woman’s room, feeling slick from her juices down below. Feeling stud.

“Excuse me Mr. Edwards.” A stranger waiting for him as he steps off the elevator.

The tabloid reporter chasing him down the hotel hallway, the sonuvabitch knows - everything! – and Edwards scuttling like a roach into the men’s toilet near the lobby in the early morning with this Enquirer reporter and his howling crew throwing their shoulders on the door. From this moment on, his accomplishments, his plans to help the poor, all of that will mean nothing. He will be defined forever by this one thing. The men’s toilet with the smell of piss on the floor. The face in the gilt edged mirror over the gold plated faucets. He has those eyes.

Not only does he not wake up from this nightmare, but the fun never stops. The woman’s confession. She’s pregnant and claims it’s his. He refuses DNA tests. His best buddy rats him out and writes a book about it and makes a zillion dollars while Elizabeth Edwards wastes away from cancer on the cover of People magazine. And there are tapes. Tapes!

I’ve had those eyes too, but so far only in dreams. Sometimes when I watch these human implosions on the news I think “There but for God’s mercy it could be me.” And a little voice in the back of my mind whispers “It can still be you, little buddy. Your own vanities are just waiting to be thrown on the bonfire.”

C. Sanchez-Garcia


  1. Garce,

    You're right. The waking nightmares, the pits of hell we dig for ourselves, are probably the worst.

  2. Garce, when I see someone famous being lambasted by the MSM for something that most normal people would put down to human nature.
    Yes life can be a nightmare, but it needn't be, but because the worst part of our society craves titillation, sensation and the desire to make a great deal of money, and be dammed to those who are hurt in the process.
    Your post is frightening in it's truthfulness, what does it say about our society when the truth can be so frightening.

  3. Hello, Garce,

    I may be naive, but I believe in redemption. I don't think there are too many holes so bottomless that you can never crawl out, given sufficient will. Of course there are mistakes, serious mistakes that can change your life forever, but I seriously doubt that John Edwards is doomed the way you suggest.

    Even Nixie is not doomed. You know that perfectly well, having written the end of her story.


  4. Garce,

    Personally I have to worry about the entrapment issues raised by shows like the Dateline one you describe.

    And I also have issues with the press's 'right to know' over some politician who's doing nothing different to a large majority of those he wants to vote for him.

    Nevertheless, I take your point about the horror of these waking nightmares.

    Fantastic post,


  5. Hi Kathleen!

    Yes, the nightmares we make are the worst, because those are the hardest to escape from. Which brings up the question of redemption as Lisabet mentioned. Redemption is one of the great themes of literature.


  6. Hi Paul

    Yes, our society is ravenous for titillation. Also rage, so much of news media and talk radio is rage driven. I think many of the things we hear about, such as the scandals of child molestation plaguing the Vatican have probably always existed. But we live in a time where everything is exposed. Its a transitional period, and the exposure of private lives and sins will affect out society and even our evolution in ways we can;t even guess at yet. Its the dystopia of "Fahreinheit 451" actully coming to life in many ways. At the same time its the exposure that gives erotica writers the freedom to write what only a few years back would have been banned.


  7. Hi Lisabet!

    I believe in what you say about redemption. Redemption is one of the great themes of literature and that is why I couldn't just let Nixie go on without a way back in the end, or instead of just punishing her. I love her too much. I hope God feels that way about us. I don;t know.

    John Edwards has dug the most horrible hole for himself, and by the most human mistakes. We've seen other scandal figures go on to redeem themselves and get back in the world. In my heart I wish that for everybody.

    That's the great thing about Christianity that sets it apart from other faiths, whether one believes in it or not. That theme of forgiveness, of being able to hit the reset button on your life. That has liberated so many lost souls.


  8. Hi Ashley!

    I agree with what you say here too. The age of mass media is very powerful, and it really does bring up the issue of how much we need to know. The press has changed. John Kennedy screwed around a lot when he was president, and the press knew about it too, but it was just deemed to be too uncivil to publish. Everything is different now.



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