Friday, March 19, 2010

Machinery of night

The title of this post means nothing.

It is simply part of a line of Ginsberg poetry, a line I have always found particularly beautiful. I feel the need for beautiful things at present.

 As I sit here and think about it, though, perhaps it does have something to do with what I have to tell you after all. Because as I sit here reading it over and over again, I do not see the letters and words for the wonder they were meant to portray at the vast cosmos around us, but rather a more sinister label for the mechanics of darkness as it spreads across the human soul.

If I sound morose, or bitter, don't fret. It's only that I am.

I don't want to scare off any genuine survivors who wish to join us, but I would be doing you all a huge disservice to lie to you and say that we all talked it out, and everything is fine. The truth, as it often ends up being, is harsh, and painful, and makes me want to scrub my skin raw.

If I could paint you a tale of heroic valor, against odds too great to overcome, I would. But there was no epic duel, no beautifully choreographed swordplay. There was a building, and some men who lived inside it. Now, there are neither.

We watched from far away, too far to be noticed and hidden in any case, as men came and went. Many of them, more than we have in our group. We saw them leave clean and fresh and return spattered with blood. We witnessed a man try to bring in a captive woman, only to see her escape, the tattered remnants of her clothing whipping around her as she ran. If I could have helped her, I would have. But as she ran her captor simply unshouldered his rifle, took lazy aim, and brought her down.

Inside their home, a doctor's office, they finally gathered. As the afternoon sun began its march toward the horizon, they entered en mass and locked the door behind them. I can see why they chose the place: a single door, easy to defend. While it appeared single story from the outside, if you walked up to it, you could see a basement level. You could see it because the ground around it had been cleared to about four feet out, a path of smooth stones surrounding the whole thing. It was a good twelve foot drop. All of the windows on the basement level seemed to have been boarded up.

We were taking no chances.

They might have kept a watch, as we do, but if they did, the man was so drunk that he wasn't going to notice anything. They all were, after sitting outside for hours guzzling their way through the apocalypse. None of them woke as Patrick and I made circles around the building, checking for any bolt holes. We saw none.

As I was watching the first molotov cocktail arc away from my hand, I could not help but think of the beauty of its movement, flashing and flickering as it spun in that mathematically perfect curve, starkly drawn against the consequences of the act.

We threw a lot of them. Pat stayed at the door, the only normal way out, and I walked around it, watching for movement in case any of them pulled off the plywood covering the plate glass windows. The idea was to cut them down if it came to that.

But it didn't. I consider it a blessing. I have to assume that they all died in their sleep, small comfort though it is. We decided to end the threat decisively, to ensure our safety from those looters not only today, but for every day to come.

You may realize by now, that I feel a strange combination of depression and numb disbelief at our actions. But no surprise. I don't know if the fact that I can do these things mean that I am changing, or only that I always could and was only lacking the right (or wrong, I suppose...) context and situation. I don't feel different. I still love my wife, my mother, my friends. I hate what I have done, and that it was necessary.

I can't imagine that this will be the last of these sort of actions I will have to take. I only wonder if doing them will ever become easier.

God, do I want them to?

1 comment:

  1. This is the most heart-wrenching description I can imagine.