By Shannon Barber
The room is destroyed, fragments of a life busted open like a piŮata are scattered around. The lights are flickering, what lights there are left, just that single bulb in the kitchen, its weak yellow light no substitute for the big bright floor lamp that lays in a twisted heap in the corner. It would be more fitting if it was raining but, Mother Nature isnít known for excellent timing.
The room is still and silent, waiting for your gaze.
The room serves as a rich tableau of spent violence. If you look more closely, splotches of still wet blood dot once white walls. There is hair stuck to the wall in a fleshy, bloody clump. You donít want to think about how the pillows got strewn about the small room. You donít want to think about what their spilled innards say about whatís gone on here.
Throbbing silence burns in your ears; you can almost feel it against your skin as if the ghost of the violence that took place here is rubbing itself against you. There is pressure, an insistent push to look further. Look beyond the disturbed living room and sad empty pillows, past the splashes of brown and red. You donít want to. You know that there are forty-two other things youíd rather see and rather do but youíre drawn inextricably to it.
Down a short, demure hallway you can see more blood, sodden little pools of gelatinous crimson. The distance between you and the horror is too short, you want to beg but thereís no one to listen. Remnants of the horrors perpetrated here flash across your conscious like heat lightening you canít weep; you canít scream you can only move forward.
The small bathroom was once pink with black and white accents; a decrepit little jewel. The tarnished silver fixtures with their abstract fleur de lis patterns, they are sullied; smeared with gore and death. Your eyes are dragged to the mirror, it is the only thing whole in the room. It is an old thing, slightly warped and ugly but it gives you a moment of respite.
You are really in it now. The abattoir stink of butchered meat seeps into your entire being; it has you.
Your eyes follow the smell to the mess in the bathtub. You donít know if it was man or a woman, black or white, now it is just the mess in the tub. You wish it hurt; you yearn for some signal that there is something beyond the vision. There is nothing but the suck of violence.
You know the violence, the hate intimately. You cannot separate teeth and torn viscera from each other. This is the apotheosis of memory as visceral experience. Fall to your knees. Despite the rarified terror that pulses under your skin, the arousal and triumph rolls up your spine. Your hands find the bestial arousal between your infidel thighs.
Your body moves, your eyes are riveted to both the present image of cold death in the pink tub and the overlay of blurred nightmare that flashes over it in your imagination. Victim/Victor, Monster/Innocent, you are everything and nothing with one foot in the hard cold world of this room of death and the other in the ether where the monsters roam freely.
Orgasm brings death. The French had it right all along.
La petite mort.
Release of soul and tears and blood and at the end a life you had nothing to do withóa death you enjoy vicariously.
In the end as you retreat from all of it, experience melds with memory that melds with reality that melds with the unrealó
It will never settle. And you will never again touch anything so beautiful and horrifying. The experience will live in you long after the death is gone and those small silent rooms are cleaned up and released from the event.