The Ecstatic Silence: 28


28 May

Johnny is upset because he’s in love with a blonde with a British accent who might be German. His hands are badly disfigured throughout. They are distractions. It was worth seeing him at a disco with this other girl and joining her in a double coffin. 'As long as there’s death there’s hope' is what this whole thing declares. There are close-up shots and the blonde dances a lot. She wears a see-through red gown and takes long standing baths.

Another time he’s up against this sadistic, dumb, small town officer appointed by his corrupt alcoholic uncle. Johnny is like a Ray Milland character who drinks, goes to pawnshops, and tries. He meets a hip-talking girl, thinks he sees a bat killing a mouse and wakes up in a ward. He doesn’t kill himself. It began as a publicity stunt. A singer parades a jaguar on a leash. But when it escapes and a woman is found all torn we look deeper for something worse. She was mysterious. She could be sultry. She could be blonde. Or a dazzling redhead. Or prim with brown hair. Or a gracefully aging matron. There was a mystery about the deaths of the ordinary men she knew. The woman who arrived on the boat was young, golden and beautiful, a full cry. Nothing mattered when you saw her face. She would look at a pencil like a gun. She descends into the world of drugs, prostitution and gambling. 

The way we die now is full of lies and rumors. Nothing really looks like a million bucks. Everything gets converted into precincts. There are kids smarter than their assigned psychiatrists. Doesn’t that worry you? Johnny is the man with the most extensive collection of fake receipts, phony bills of sale, and counterfeit sweepstake tickets in the place. Two men, two objectives, same target. But one was defecting. The other wanted a higher percentage. It was dog eat the same dog. Johnny was tired of games. He had changed identities a dozen times. He made fewer calls. He might finish alone. A dream score. It was a cream puff. He knew he was dead until he awoke. On account of the several nights, he was digging himself up again. Maybe calling him a hustler was right back then. He could still recall making up stories. There’s no point now. What did they say – the French will not and the Americans can’t?

He read Stendhal: ‘ The holy priest turned out to be frightfully ugly, and even more frightfully befouled by mud. The cold rain that was falling increased the gloom and the dampness of the cell. The priest tried to embrace Julien and began to snivel pitifully as he spoke to him. This was plainly the most abject hypocrisy; Julien had never been so furious in his life.’ 

Johnny was always that. His many hours waking up as a normal man was a substitute for drink. His proposed solution was simple: humiliating, unshareable loneliness. His summary: ‘the fountain had long ceased to spout.’ 

He had many sharp memories of that winter. It becomes merely the standard of comparison. The mistake was running for someone else's life. He’s adept at the simple hallucination. People who grow, grow immortal. There’s a pivotal mystic significance in spoiled kinship. With everything he eroded social comment. He had no clue where the right exit was. He hardly colours the air he's so far dissolved. Behind the impenetrable mystery is just another one. The individual is worse than a shadow. Don’t be fooled. The emptiness is illusory. Johnny’s cries would have been heard only by the sleeping. He wasn’t afraid until too late.


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