Ch. 1 here
Ch. 2 here
Ch. 3 here
So I was running down this Mediterranean beach, full of mania and malaria and mead and sunshine and oceanwater and a history of stabbings, to deliver my paintings to the pope.
This is what I replay in my mind all day long in room 4832 at the Pinch Punch, where I am allowed to drink only the vile liqueur TYRA calls her “specialty,” where I am allowed only jars of fingerpaint in the three primary colors with which to create my masterpieces. That I was almost there to deliver my paintings; that I was almost pardoned for the 357 murders I had committed the week prior; that I was almost free again. That I…
“Watch it again and tell me what’s missing, says my 19-year-old roommate Kashmir. “I just don’t think it’s right yet. Something about the beesting rings so false.”
Before he arrived at the Pinch Punch, Kashmir was a film student at West Suburban Community College for about three days before he fled because his brilliance “could not be contained inside the walls of WSCC.” He has teeth like a vampire and carts his projector everywhere for “necessary impromptu viewings.” Since he arrived he’s been making a film about my life, which he projects onto our wall at all hours of the day. Kashmir’s masterpiece began as a 12-minute short and has devolved into a 200-hour miniseries, which documents every itch, scratch, and orgasm of my existence.
"Watch it again, watch it again,” he says, so that I spend every minute of my current “life” inside the Pinch Punch reliving my life as it was before I arrived here.
Since I’ve existed in the Pinch Punch, I have not been in love (forbidden), nor eaten a French fry (forbidden), nor broken a sweat except those induced by drinking (the only exercise I enjoy is jumproping, also forbidden). There’s basically nothing left of the old me, so who cares that I wear a wig and swimming trunks at all hours, that I am a state of complete disrepair, that I stand in the shower for days at a time without turning on the faucet, thinking about washing then deciding against it? Who cares that I stab for entertainment?
“The bumblebee that stung my tongue that winter didn’t sound zzzz like an airplane, you bastard; he sounded like a puncture wound doused in hollandaise. Not fucking béchamel. Hollandaise. Their sounds are completely different,” I tell Kashmir.
Lately everything I tell Kashmir is a lie. TYRA says no books unless she wrote them or has read and approved, which means no books, which means no research for Kashmir. Fuck Kashmir. TYRA is in love with his vampire ass and allows him any artistic freedom he desires; he is the ultimate reminder of my former life.
Why is he wasting his life creating films about me? I don’t ask—I cooperate and tell him his project is way too brilliant for WSCC and pray that he destroys his whole life creating a botched miniseries of such impossible detail that no one will be able to watch it for more than ten minutes at a time without crumbling into a heap of boredom.
“Hollandaise…hollandaise,” Kashmir says.
Kashmir definitely grew up on Applebee’s; Kashmir will never travel the world, except to visit other suburbs.
“Can you describe that for me?”
“It’s like how your face tastes after I stab it.”
“I hear the new pope wears saucy red leather shoes made by a shoemaker in Genoa, which cost $600 a pair, but which are free for him,” says Kashmir, to spite me. “Wouldn’t I look fucking fabulous in those?”
“I think the new pope is a bastard, and that when I deliver my paintings to him I’ll wait for him to pardon me as his eyes to go afire with the love of Christ. Then I’ll then stab him in those fucking shoes, steal his robe, and make myself pope.”
Kashmir giggles, slaps me on the back, tells me I’m “such a card.”
He thinks I’m kidding about the stabbing, but stabbing is all that keeps me alive. Kashmir and I share bunk beds, and at night I stab stab stab up through the mattress, but his young skin rejuvenates itself immediately, frequently digesting my switchblades.
“A switchblade digested by pasty juvenile vampire skin is not the same as a switchblade destroyed,” I said to TYRA after I lost the first three to Kashmir's bellybutton.
She said: “Nu-uh girl. Same difference. You shouldn’t stab things that are so soft. The softest things are the evilest things. It’s the soft things that will seriously fuck your shit up.”
That’s when she put the humiliating purple wig on my head and told me I had to wear it always, else be sent to the Pinch-Punch vats.
I’m up to switchblade #7, but I can't help myself from stabbing everything in sight.