Thursday, September 11, 2008
On that day
we drank grief.
We drank rage.
We took long pulls off that dark bottle marked Vengeance, and toasted with tears the memories of those who had been murdered by monsters.
But now, seven years later, some of us just stay drunk all the time.
They stay drunk because as hard as they try to block it out with dusty flags taped to their windows with bumper stickers, the murky light leaking in from reality is just enough to limn the lumpy, jagged outlines of disaster.
Just enough to show the rot.
The splinters of once beautiful values, now smashed.
The tatters on the wall where a magnificent Constitution used to hang.
The empty spaces where the future used to be, now hocked to pay for imperial catastrophes and domestic failures.
The piles of debt everywhere, like snowdrifts at twilight.
They can hear the skittery toenails and see the glittery eyes of the scavengers and parasites they have let roam unchecked through our great nation.
They can make out the faint, terrifying roars and bloodthirsty giggles coming from the pitch-black back rooms; the gibbering of the leering maniacs they invited in because they were such wild, psychotic, brownshirted fun to have around when the Party was at its orgiastic peak.
They stay drunk to block out the smell of blood. Old blood. Fresh blood. Clotted blood.
Blood on their hands, from the night before. Or was it a year ago? Or five?
From a time when they were furies flush with cash and righteousness, and the thought of blood was like hot wine.
When they were omnipotent Titans ready to torture and slaughter half the world, and then laugh and drink and piss on the bones because they knew God loved them and would forgive them anything.
But all of that was from some age long past, now only vaguely remembered in strobing, fever-dream flashes.
In the here-and-now someone has been pounding on the door. Pounding and shouting at them for what seems like a very long time. First telling them the stink from their place was making everyone sick. That their beautiful home had become a fire trap.
And a crack-house.
And an open grave.
Then the shouters said there was a leak. A leak in the gas line.
And, finally, that the place is on fire.
Fire! Fire! Wake the fuck up! You are burning alive!
The pounding and the yelling go on and on and, Jesus, can’t those stupid fucking hippies give it a rest already!
They muster one, last, braying "Shaaaaaaadaaaaaaap!" and fall back into their polluted cups, feeling just a tickle of that bloodlusting frenzy of old, and in that fleeting moment they are Alexander again, eyes squeezed shut, wallowing in the warm, brown embrace of their own filth.
In that moment there is nothing left in the whole wide world to conquer but the badgering light that keeps slithering in past the flags and the slogans.
In that moment the only coalition partner left is the bottle, which they would lift once more to their lips except the rats have gotten bold enough to begin biting their swollen fingers.
And the madmen they once let crash in the back room now rule over them, laughing and razoring out their pockets looking for the last of their loose change.
Whispering that after the money runs out they will come for their flesh.
They stay drunk because then maybe it won't hurt so much when their hearts are carved out.
They stay drunk because now that it's they who are being readied for the axe, the smell of blood is no longer intoxicating.