I don’t know about my dreams

Written by

Matthew Woodson

James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

Walter often recited of the expression, “cut off your nose to spite your face.” But he didn’t spite his face; he spited his nose. It was long. It had a crook. The tip had stuck out of the water during his baptism 35 years ago. It still felt different – that last half an inch exposed to the whistle of the wind with the rest of him submerged. That last half an inch crawling with the bacteria of sin.

The power sander out in the garage called to him. He could make this all right. He could grind his way, half an inch, into heaven.

His nose wasn’t the only thing he thought about cutting. Sometimes Walter imagined lopping off his hands with a cleaver. Maybe he’d bleed out. Maybe he’d pass out but eventually heal, living the rest of his life with stumps to poke and prod at a keyboard with. Almost certainly he would be fired, left to starve to death, but probably unable to literally feed himself anyway.

Trying to picture picking up a chicken nugget annoyed him, so mostly he daydreamed about setting himself on fire. He would bring a red canister to the gas station and fill it with gasoline and he would pour that gasoline all over his body. The smell would sting his nose. The damp, dark spots on his clothes would spread. Then, he would use the fingers that he had decided not to chop off and strike a match. For a few moments, he would just let the match burn, staring at it. Eventually he’d hold it close to the fumes coming off his clothes and catch flame.

He knew from something he’d read that once your skin burned the heat wouldn’t hurt. Your muscles don’t have a mechanism for feeling that sort of pain. Walter figured he could last to that point, when his outside was charred. He had two qualms. One, without another fuel source, like the wood piled beneath witches, could the human body sustain a fire, or would it just peter out? Is muscle tissue flammable? Two, what exactly would kill him, if anything? All those witches died, so surely this is a viable means to death, but exactly how did they go? Did the flame eventually melt the lungs and prevent breathing? Did the heart stop functioning? Perhaps at a certain pain threshold the life switch disengaged?

Once it becomes a goal, extinguishing life can seem difficult. For example, a bullet through a brain sometimes doesn’t penetrate the right folds and the person can go right on living, just, you know, retarded probably. Failure at suicide seemed to Walter the most shameful possibility in the entire universe. So he kept clacking away at his keyboard with his fingers, inserting mortgage foreclosure data to scrape by some sort of living, too afraid to even attempt what he considered the only out. Every once in a while he rubbed the tip of his nose with the back side of his palm, sniffling slightly.

[James Blake. Matthew Woodson.]

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