The air is stale, and the wind is flat. Beneath the din of gulls, I can hear the sea rising and falling, vast and monotonous. It lurches against the wasted, vacant beaches, dragging into its lazy tendrils years of refuse and abuse – spent needles and spent shells, spent condoms and spent hopes. Some nights, you can even find their owners washed up in the tide – little pieces of little people, intestines unwinding in the pale sunset.
What a city.
The setting sun drags a bloody streak across the sky: indigos to blues to fuchsias to ochres. In the alleys, flies drone monotonously over sputtering neon puddles. Garbage fills the gutters and dirty rainwater seeps down from the eaves, baptising the city in shit. A storm has passed recently and the air is thick with a warm tropical dread. The engine hums quietly, and from the trunk, I retrieve my face. The night murmurs quietly to me, a solemn sultry warble.
The door buckles with a deafening boom, splintering the frame and sending a body careening away with a heavy thud. As my head spins from the dizzying rush of adrenaline, I catch sight of a baseball bat mounted on the wall, and immediately afterwards, two surprised men in white suits watching television a few metres away. Nicole’s right: the world really is so small if you think about it. Truly, there’s nothing new beneath the sun. Somewhere far, far away, a man is singing to his forlorn lover, Take on me, take me on…
Before they can even think to reach for their weapons, I have already slung the bat at the first one, sending him slumping into a table, and have effortlessly covered the distance to the second in no time, a flurry of blows driving him into the wall. A single kick obliterates half of his head, splattering my shoe and the stucco plaster with a Rorschach of cranial debris, blood, and parietal lobe.
Why is it that we do the things we do?
The room lurches as I turn around too fast, grabbing a shotgun from the table and letting loose two rapid volleys of buckshot which roar viciously in the small carpeted room, reducing the downed man’s torso into a pulpy bloom of viscera and vertebrae.
Someone once told me that this city’s just one big meat grinder; people go in one end, meat comes out the other. For whose consumption, is beyond what any of us can say for sure, really. But even if we did know – who cares? Anyways, it’s not for me to question. If this city’s one big meat grinder – all I do is turn the handle.
Retrieving a kitchen knife resting on the glass table in front of the television, I walk over to the man knocked down by the door, pin him to the floor as he attempts to struggle uselessly, and drive the knife twice into his neck, a calm staccato. Twin jets of rusty arterial blood shoot out in thick, angry geysers, painting the nauseatingly colourful carpet in Pollockesque dribbles. Some people say that you should never look into the eyes of the dying because then you start to feel guilt about taking a life away, but looking into these ones, you can tell there never really was a life there to begin with at all.
It takes him eleven seconds to stop sputtering, and another three as he drowns in his blood. I drop the knife and wait another ten seconds for any other signs of life – but the only sound in the silence is a gentle dripping, and the calm, steady tick of my watch.
Stepping over the bodies, I leave the house, returning to my car. Sirens whine in the vast canyons of the neon city but I am not worried because tonight, they’re not coming for me. I tear the mask from my face and drop it in the trunk. The upholstery wraps around me, consuming me. I need a cigarette, but my dashboard betrays me; my head pulses from the heat, and in my ears an ocean of angels is screaming. The pizza I ordered earlier has grown cold, and stale; and by the time I’ve finished wiping my hands clean, my phone has already vibrated several times, its shimmery glare rescuing me from my wandering, guiding me further and further away from myself. Three new faces, lost in a sea of what, hundreds now, it must be? I’m getting so tired of this, I tell myself, and yet still, the engine swells, its hoarse groan old and familiar, and I am watching myself pull up to another house, and another one after that, and another, and another, and another, and on the radio, somewhere far, far away, a man is singing to his forlorn lover, I’ll be gone in a day or two…