For as long as he could recall, an eternity of time, to be honest, he had his ways about him, his methodical path which was strayed from only in extreme situations. He was a slave to these rituals, and he would create more as his experiences moved forward. These were not the “no shaving during a winning streak type” of superstitions, these were loosely grabbing at the last strings of his sanity, keeping him from fully jumping off the deep end. He recalls as a child, red stripes on socks only on days with the letter “U”, and this was about a girl, of course. She liked red and he saw her on two of the four days, in study hall. He never really knew if she even knew his name, if he even existed beyond the one time he inadvertently headbutted her. Awkward, too smart for his own good, already drinking like a 40-year-old alcoholic and in the sixth grade. What an idiot.
Pens in the jar, point down, pencils lined up in descending size order, left to right. Always use the right most pencil, never go out of the order, out of the order is out of control, and we can never really tell what will happen then, can we? Mostly harmless and just peculiarities to the outside observer, but this was critical, one wrong move and you fall from the tightrope, into the abyss. He never remembers what happens when he falls off the deep end, maybe that is for his own protection, but he hears stories like it was not even him, he is disconnected. Calling a teacher mom, getting into a fight with someone, he can never be sure what was real and what was people just sensationalizing, he draws a blank, he chooses to feel that it is for the best to have these black holes in time.
Straying had its price, before all hell broke loose in his head and therefore in his life, his rebellion from a path would throw him into a dark world where dismal things happened. It was always the outside looking in like he was a casual observer to the pain he would cause himself if he were to fail his expected maneuvers. It was a separation in his ego, this was the beginning of the other, as far as he can tell, the dispassionate cold bastard that took control when something needed to be done. When feelings were a liability, when humanness equated failure, the monster would arise and do the dirty work that all others turned away from, including his other selves. When he would administer punishment to himself, it was as if he were doing to anyone else, no remorse, no pity, because it was not him, it was someone else. He did not even feel it, that was intended for the one who violated the ritual, usually the hopeless romantic, in his effort to chase feelings anywhere and everywhere.
Was it breaking the ritual, part of the ritual, the result of the ritual which started to splinter his ego into a warring pair of duelists, he can never know. This is the life as it is now, a balancing act to just seem sane enough to function in society, a society he believes to be both the predator and prey of simultaneously. He never portrays the victim, “he” would never allow it, it is a weakness that will not be tolerated and would certainly result in someone’s death. “He” was always quite clear, kill or be killed, someone raises their hands, they will be sent to the hospital if they have a weapon they go to the morgue. Suffer in silence or be party to the slaughter, that was the way, that was the life. Obey the rituals, and at least his violence was directed elsewhere, cowardly as it may seem, self-preservation meant sacrifices.
As he aged, as he came into his own in the underground world, the rituals began to take on the properties of his environment. Always load the revolver clockwise, 1 3 5 then 2 4 6. Recite the litany as you line up the long shot, do not squeeze until it is done, the words carry Death with it and they are delivered with the bullet. Meticulous and cold and so different when not on the job, these two worlds never collided if they did someone had to disappear. Darker and deeper the schism went, one not human at all, the other so inescapably so, one hand was almost mechanical in nature and the other felt everything so much the edge of insanity was always there. The sad fact is the one in the middle, the man at the controls was desperately trying to keep his shit together with these two sociopaths vying for power. He knew eventually he would fail and then one or the other would displace him, the life of the lifeless assassin or the melodramatic romanticism was to be the end.
So this is our hero, our villain, the subject of our examination of a life lived too much and not enough all in one go, our inglorious fuck shit, in all his disappointing splendor. So many tried to love him, but all anyone could do was hate him, in truth, it was all his fault, that is the tragically hilarious part of it. There is a fine line between love and hate, a thin fabric which is invisible to the common eye, the love that one may have for another very easily turns into a desire to destroy. He is a master of manipulating this veil because try as he may with all his power he could never truly feel love like other people did. It was either so far in the deep end it could only be described as infatuation, obsession, and psychosis, or nothing at all, there could be no moderation.
Upon reflection of what so many accused him of, there was so much less than what was the reality, he was accused of putting people on a pedestal, idolizing, but nothing was further from the truth. Women for him were the perfectly flawed goddesses, clumsily gracious, fearfully brave, oxymoronic and consistent, or they were non-existent. He never wanted to fix anyone, never wanted to repair damage, he knew he couldn’t, and would not want to anyway, that damage was what made them beautiful to him. It was not only the bruises, discolored lines of scars, these were superficial, the magic was internal, he could see the torment behind the flesh, beyond the cut. The assumption of issues is what the normal people got, he saw with eyes that showed him these crowns that weighed heavy on the head. He saw beautifully crafted chains, used to hold people who were purely magical in this realm of shit and despair, this was his gift, this was his curse.
How easily a woman became part of a ritual, talk at this time, send little forget me nots, because he always knew that moment they will walk away forever was coming. Dote as much as possible, this was the only time the monster relented, when his voice was quiet when the hopeless romantic could have a day in the sun. All the while hoping that maybe this one time it would move toward a normal relationship, not some codependent psycho mess that left both more broken than when it started. He has a museum, in his mind, of all the women he adored through time, the ones who stuck with him, in his head, the ones that could never be forgotten. This is the result of that ritual, building statues of the women he cared so deeply for, with all the troubles, issues, emotional scars. He can relive at his leisure every moment, remember what it was like to be human, or at least be like a human, for a time.
Spending time, reciting to himself all the things he wants to tell her, letting them slowly leak out over time, he is not cool, calm or collected. It is his nature, you see, to see the end, and he is powerless to change that course, this is why the monster is silent because, in the end, the monster has more of a grip. The most capital crime one could say is committed against him is the natural dishonesty of humanity, whoever the “she” is, the trait of wanting to feel wanted, needing to be needed was his enemy. In his eyes, she is gloriously imperfect, which makes her perfect for him, but she has this idea that she needs to be perfect to deserve the affection. This seems to be the root of the dishonesty, he seeks kinship and gets served a lie, more times than not, but as an old friend always says, “The truth always comes out.” In no way is he a victim of anything but his own self-perpetuated delusions, he knows this and moves forward anyway, in the hope that he may be mistaken. The monster knows, resting easily in the background, hope is by far the most damaging four letter word in the English language, the source of destruction for this pathetic excuse of a man.