When his seemingly last kink was no longer a kick, A realised he was going to die. Not in the sense that his warm flesh was truly in danger or that some latent disease had suddenly manifested itself and begun to gnaw away at his cells. More like a late-game glitch in an RPG, when the only solution is a hard reset, or a picturesque mountain path that unexpectedly ends on a clifftop, inviting you to follow the unfortunately positioned path to the end. A writer’s death. A death of perverts, confirmed lunatics and Sildenafil abusers.
A did not have curtains or blackout blinds. Everyone was allowed to see him and what he was doing, even though no one ever really saw him. It had become a ritual years ago, when he was still a child and as smooth as oil. Just after the evening had licked away the safety of the day and it became too dark to distinguish torso from bed, A switched on his lights. All the lights, everywhere. Night after night, he carefully jammed parts of his still-mutating child’s body into discarded objects that he gathered every day on his way home. His wrinkly adolescent scrotum, the nail of a little finger, a swollen earlobe or a burnt tongue. Any small part of skin that was long and pliable enough to stretch like a cloth was eligible for his secret cabaret. On Sundays, he invariably chose to flatten his member between hefty works by long-dead poets and thinkers.
Only the thickest and dustiest books would do. Whenever there was a full moon, he trapped his lower lip, rather full for a boy, in the steel deadlock of the bedroom door, by general request. He poked the tip of his tongue playfully and flirtatiously into his father’s Dahle 77, thinking of the subtle red hue it would soon give his blueprints.
He thought so often about everyone who was watching, observing his movements with bated breath. In the apartment complex of his younger years, where everything was built too closely together, there was simply no escaping A’s scrawny and somewhat repugnant presence. He remembers his parents’ neighbours, friends & colleagues, city councillors and retired police officers, shrouded in darkness, secretly throwing pebbles, copper coins and stray buttons at his childhood bedroom from their viewing rooms. Cryptic expressions of praise from his most faithful and desperate prompters, whispered encouragements not to dim the light that night and force them onwards to tomorrow, lonely and without a climax.
Now, too, A is standing hopefully at his window. Passing cars, dads on bikes, and police patrols taking the shortcut beneath his window can see his body from afar, silhouetted against the glaring yet warm light of his room. Once they are close enough almost to smell his sweat, A never fails to see these involuntary extras slowing down, each and every one of them. Pretending not to notice, and yet all of them without exception hitting the brakes. Arms outspread, A welcomes the night and his audience.
The technology he lacked as a child was now available in abundance. Always there and begging for abuse, A’s body can now be taken and shared infinitely, magnified and superimposed on every possible wavelength and signal, far beyond the concrete confines of the room where he breathes, bleeds and cries. As the loyal followers and sycophants sign in for the nightly shadow play in a procession of tragic bleeps and bloops, A prepares his body. The childish physique has given way to something else over the years, fleshier and rounder, but no less repugnant inside. Layers upon layers of lavishly applied scar tissue have made A more palimpsest than human, more armour than skin. His anonymous audience usually likes nothing more than for him to run his whisky-dipped fingers through the fresh trenches in his legs, with skill and care. And for him to pull his clothing, unwashed for weeks, from his torso strip by strip, until his body, in the darkness of their bedrooms, appears to them like a bright-white lunar landscape, a dead region of craters and ravines. From all corners of the world, the spectators are now pouring in, all hoping to see A go to the utmost limit tonight, and then far beyond that limit to the point where no one understands where pain ends and idolatry begins.
Yet A is alone among his people. Afraid of what must follow, he does not grant the voices what they desire. That tonight only, exclusively for them, he will feel pain and humiliation like never before. That he will set himself on fire. That he will beg them for forgiveness and for permission to take his hand out of the fire. That, before the lights go off, he will have satisfied everyone, absolutely everyone, and their darkest dreams. That he will have cloaked their loneliness, like filings on a magnet.
Slowly, A moves into full view of his assembled mob. The fact that his body is already naked and looks unusually soft, even before the night’s spectacle has really begun, sends a shockwave through the tangle of bedrooms and living rooms from which they watch A’s torture with bulging eyes. A hears the curses and pleas, can almost taste the despair of their bodies. This can’t happen, this mustn’t happen, not tonight, give us one last glimpse. A stares at his ravaged body, his hands gliding one last time over his skin, now soft as silk. A sees thousands of faces, in thousands of rooms filled with a multitude of desires. He stands up and spreads his arms, feeling his flock answer every sudden movement with convulsive twitching. He opens his mouth, and the vile channels fall silent. The murmured poem that leaves his lips changes nothing, forgives no one who hears it, cleanses no wound that still festers. As the intercontinental fury froths over A, he smiles for the first time in ages. A gets dressed and mutes the sound. The next day, people returned to their business somewhat saddened.