I have had moments of pride. Ah, fine, if you listen to your century’s wide, wireless infidelity, you’ll say I’ve had many moments of criminal pride. Arturo de Rosa—I use a brief name now for all I’ve been.
I brush a fly from my face and it returns to crawl up the black silk strands that drape my shoulder. I wonder if my long hair will be bug infested. I am eternal but I am not a god. At night mosquitoes nip and spiders bite and in the day the damn flies crawl over a body that doesn’t sweat. Yet I have scent. And like you, I’ve had moments of pride.
Fear them—those prideful moments.
Wait! Do not sweep me away, nor turn the next page. I imagine you reading this tale on loose leaf, crumbling it now and high-fiving it to the tall chrome pail.
Because loss and fatigue have made me humble, do you look to your surroundings for reassurance? Yes, let’s look at what you’ve accumulated, how grand the house stands in exclamation of how well you’ve done. The family talks around the table of Cornish hen and apple stuffing and organic greens from the fresh-mart. “Toss it in the recycling, Maddy.” Yes, you are successful.
What blood will be drawn, what spirit diminished in self-reflection? I stood in the Mosque at Cordoba, having led good hearts to this place of transformations. I could not kill my conscience on my own. I needed the help of the righteous.
Let me walk with you in your true-green grass. Ice clinks with the soothing sound that only crystal can sing as we sip. Sip? I’m generous—I believe that was a full-mouthed gulp. But we deserve it after such a day. Such a day. Into your phone, you say, “They don’t matter. It’s the edge we need.” There is much configuring in the world of the mighty. Our polished shoes crush the grass. Good-soled, we don’t feel the worms beneath.
But I was talking about fear before these distractions. Though pearly with lack of direct sunlight, my skin has a glossy health. I take my fill of nourishing blood, only the best, as you feed your progeny at the table their gluten-free, pesticide-free, soy-free, freeing wholesomeness. It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? Providing security and health? It defines us. It names us good. We look in the mirror and see success. And all that configuring and all that power points toward us, center of the universe.
As dawn rose from the dead in its humbling ritual, the mosque began to drown me. I needed him, my nemesis, my conscience. To survive, I needed him slain. I needed his blood. How else is one to survive but on the blood of others? The naïve willingness of the masses to … ah, am I naming my conscience “the masses”? I admit I did not mean to. Another humbling experience, when our words speak truths we didn’t know.
In the mosque, the man was Alexandros de Mersecal, a vampire, and it is his ash that itches under my healthy glossed skin. His ash that the flies smell. Inside, I am deteriorating. Conscience. It does us all in. With time. Do you have time?
From the verandah of empty wealth, I watch you cross the grass, phone to your ear, drink in hand. I pretend we are one because I am going to kill you. Through treated floorboards, insects find me. The Mosque is an open, pillared structure, an ordered labyrinth with the illusion of chaos if you believe everything is yours—if you demand the sight be mastered. How we fight the world we are part of.
The cellular voice picks at you, picking, tick, tick, pick, like the borers infesting the maple. “Damn, that’s why I’m at the top,” you say. “Edge.” It’s all about the edge, how we make our space, control the pillar in the labyrinth, while the lost wander hollow in a hollow place. Poor souls. I’ve found it’s easier to kill those we pity. I am trying to pity you, but the day has worn me.
You fall into the padded lounge chair and I close my eyes. My own phone buzzes like the mosquitos. I don’t need to open my eyes to know its message. “Arturo, where are you?” they keep demanding, and I don’t answer. I prefer talking to you. You swat bugs and settle back, your drink at rest on your thigh. Your pestilence encourages my hunger. Hunger to dash your greedy desires, your disdain at my dream: the moon and the sun, a boy, the magnetic nucleus.
Mon Dios, that buzzing! I throw the phone at the verandah screen and it bounces back. It buzzes. You slap a mosquito on your arm and stare at your bloodied hand. Desire stirs, but I don’t move yet. The dream is coming again: a young man mirrored, unsure what’s real and what’s beyond. The phone buzzes as annoying as the insects.
I fly over green-grass ocean. “Success is inconsequential,” I say to you and fling your phone to the grass. You don’t know how to scream without preparing its presentation. The silence amuses me, just legs kicking for life against polyvinyl-coated fluff and foam. I will give you to the river. Your blood will take me to this family’s son. My dream follows the moon.