An Event Psychological

When you reach a certain age you don’t expect to meet anything you’ve not already experienced to one degree of another; not much can happen that turns your head or shakes your soul. You figure there’s nothing you haven’t seen or heard or experienced. I thought so. I was wrong.

It’s Sunday night at 6pm and I’m relaxed in my power recliner for the premier of HBO’s vampire series “True Blood”. It’s blaring out from my TV screen when I hear a shout over the din of the TV and the tires singing on the highway from the busses and cars outside my open window; and then another scream. I can’t make out the words except for the plethora of “fucks”. A minute passes and the voice interrupts again; this time with more vigor; sustained now; constant. A man is shouting in obvious distress; not from a physical assault it seems but out of frustration, anger and desperation.

The voice builds to a shattering crescendo of cymbals. It sounds like one of the various homeless lunatics we let wander our streets at night and howl at some imagined unknown affront. This begins a fifteen minute shouting tirade that becomes more desperate and anguished. His is the sound of a man whose heart is breaking; shattering; dissolving. He is begging someone to “stop lying”.

Once the noise reaches the greatest octave possible for the vocal chords of a human being I imagine the pain and suffering he is expressing to be beyond his capacity to endure. I have never heard a human being in such a grand mal seizure of grief, sorrow, misery and woe. He is wrenching up a Christ on the cross suffering serenade. It’s clear now from the screaming guttural cries that he is having a total psychotic breakdown. He is over the abyss, in the tube, five by five, tumbling and diving straight into hell and screaming bloody murder all the way down. Wild dingoes are eating his soul.

In the apartheid prison in South Africa, 3,000 African and 37 of my fellow European inmates, overheard, over a period of six months, three executions by hanging. The government was murdering convicted “terrorists”. The entire population were locked in our cells for the hour it took for the hangman to enter the prison in his pickup truck, set the noose, release the trap door, nail the coffin shut and drive away and we heard every bit of it since the silence these events created made a pin dropping sound like a sonic boom.

Two or three days before the deed the prisoner was locked in a tower on the prison grounds not unlike the Tower of London where the condemned await their fated neck tie party. Knowing they were to be stretched and dispatched with a quick sharp pain and would be no more, having no loved ones present to give moral support, the condemned would scream, shriek and bawl; a sickening prolonged howling conjured from the final fear of a highly organized death march.

That constant soul quaking noise was interrupted periodically by guards that either beat or drugged the victim with Thorazine or both which temporarily stopped the sickening lamentations. The language emanating from these lost souls was foreign to me and when I asked my mates what was being said it was always the same. The terrified dead men wailing were crying out for their mothers. It was a sound I would not want to hear again. The damned begged for prolonged life. Sunday night man was begging for that quick sharp pain. He was already dying.  

His sounds were worse; much worse. The condemned knew they were soon to be no more but the victim weeping Sunday night sent forth the primal guttural wale’s of a man who knew he must live with his torment. I never heard a human being make such unworldly sounds like this before; maximum torment; torture.

When I realized the grief-stricken pain was coming from my next door neighbors house just 20 feet from my chair I listened to make sure his distress was purely emotional. Had I determined he was in danger I would have dressed, maybe grabbed my pistol and went over there to ask; can I help? But this was something else; something emotional. I thought it must be some variation of love lost; either by the news of an actual death of a treasured loved one or the loss of a woman he believed he could not live without.

At some point every man and maybe every woman, though I doubt women experience emotional pain in the same way men do, reach a point in life where they lose all hope and facing an overwhelming cataclysm find themselves completely alone staring into the abyss to find nothing stating back a them. It is at that moment that, hopefully, they find their character; and that is what keeps them out of the abyss.

The cops showed up and waited on the porch until a giant guy with a pensive shocked look on his faced pulled up and bolted up the stairs and then the cops split. He was safe from their clutches but this damaged brother was well past any saving. He was gone, no longer human, falling headlong at twice the speed of gravity completely despondent, doomed and beyond the earthly plane where the milk of human kindness could touch him. He will be forever damaged by this event and I doubt he will make it.

I’m an emotive guy myself but felt my feelings cheap when I heard the sounds of a man who cared more about a thing than I would ever care about anything. It was likely a woman who made him this despondent, this desperate. It was Eve that took out Adam, Cleopatra that wasted Mark Anthony and Virginia Hill that ruined Benny Siegel and Whitey Bulger would still be sunning in San Monica if not for a woman, so I’m leaning that way.

You can die from any kind of excess; drinking too much water will kill you; breathing too much air will do the same. It’s the survivors that know when to quit. No matter what attachments we gain; if you want to survive this Passion Play you’ve got to have nothing you can’t walk away from in thirty seconds flat; if you feel the heat of hell around the corner.

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About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and Culture.net and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

2 Responses to An Event Psychological

  1. James Mcfarland says:

    7.1 rating, thanks.

  2. Linda says:

    Nick’s foretelling of that evenings events were gripping, leaving you waiting to read on.

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