When death is so near, sometimes it walks on padded feet, strumming the ground like a guitarist, rhythmically – louder – softer, then with fingers on the wood, tap, tap… tap, tap. The sound is everywhere, no one can hear it but the poor fuck. It builds and then suddenly subsides, then as each pebble of doubt and every dark word is cast into the waters of his mind, the song builds again on each ripple. Inside his head each wave combines with the last, getting larger and larger. With the sound of the pebbles dropping into the water, cast by each tap, tap… tap, tap of the syncopating guitarist’s strum, the poor fuck holds his face in his hands trying to stop his mind from throbbing with the tempo.
But its not so much the sound of the padded feet that is maddening, its the unseen presence, the incessant tap, tap… tap, tap, the ripples beating upon the shores of his mind and the knowledge that Death stands over his shoulder. The poor fuck’s head pulsates with Death’s breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Sucking him in. Blowing him out. Breathing him in, hurling him out – cold, icy breaths. The poor fuck lands on the floor, pummeled, bruised, exhausted.
Yesterday when he was spit out the last time, he was nearly catatonic, couldn’t move, limbs stiff, sprawled on his bed, the sheets became straps, holding him – a prisoner. All he wanted to do was hide from the sound. He closed his eyes and sought refuge, but he could still hear Death pacing on padded feet, tap, tap… tap, tap, strumming his every thought, saying to him, “I’m still here, remember why? Do you remember the time when… remember why you are a fool, an idiot, good for nothing asshole, God Damn you, you fuck, you are a fuck!”
With each word a phrase would be built until there was only one conclusion – he is a fuck, a good for nothing idiot, a fool, weak and better off if he were dead. Then Death lifted his wand and the poor fuck became the soloist, marching to Death’s tune, singing Death’s song as his own, strumming his hand on Death’s guitar, with each tap, tap… tap, tap in cadence with the words, “God Damn you, asshole, you fuck, you are better off dead.” With each chorus, the poor fuck would search his memory for new notes for the song – the times that proved he was an asshole, a fuck and God Damn you and shit and fuck. The poor fuck would tap each note out on Death’s guitar, stringing verses together from memories of pain and anguish – all woven in a cadence of tap, tap… tap, tap – his life according to Death’s song. With every chorus the poor fuck twisted Death’s razor wire round his head, sinking it deeper into his flesh, cutting the skin and muscle, blood streamed out in rivulets down his contorted face.
It was an easy song for Death to lead with his baton, standing in front of the poor fuck on padded feet, he had only to strum memories on his guitar. They all lead to the chorus of Death: Die You Fuck. It was a game to Death, the poor fuck would end up dying anyway someday, so Death played out the song on his guitar, strumming the background tap, tap… tap, tap – and the poor fuck would begin to sing, actually carry the song and relish Death’s vision of his life, using his own memories to drive the song its crescendo.
Day by day, from morning till night Death taught the poor fuck the song. The poor fuck sang the discordant melody willingly, and little by little, faithfully, it became his song, the truth of his life, the embodiment of the emotion of his soul. Death was supreme as a Maestro as each day he would lift his baton when the poor fuck awoke, and the first verse was Fuck or Shit and it was followed by a harmony of memories, ending in God Damn. Death kept building the song for the crescendo, when, from the poor fuck’s mouth; with his own fingers the fucker would end the song in perfect tragedy. “Oh,” Death thought, “it will happen soon as the poor fuck sings, let’s see, will it be today as the idiot holds his head in despair? When will the singer succumb to the logical conclusion of the song of his life, the life strung together by my brilliance?”
“Ah, it is coming, you can see it in his eyes, he is now carried by the song, Catatonia, the emotions surging and driving him to madness. Sing!” now Death encourages him, “remember your failures, the love lost, the family forsaken, all done by You, You Fuck, you’re coming to the end of the song… feel it!” The song rises in a movement to perfect destruction; Death waves his baton but still taps out the rhythm on his guitar and moves him toward the end of the scale.
“Remember the failures, remember when… you are a Fuck, why live?” Death sucks him in and then, in a wave of emotion blows him out. The poor fuck is flung on the floor, his head in pain, his voice spent as he tries to scream out the anguish – it is stuck in his throat and comes out in a whimper, his mouth contorts and he weeps –for himself, a poor fuck, God Damn person, good for nothing shit, failure of a man, destroyed, nothing. The poor fuck takes the baton and becomes the Maestro as Death steps aside on padded feet.
The poor fuck replaces the wand with a pistol, eases back the slide and watches the bullet dance in time with Death’s strumming; the bronze shell disappears into the chamber. Nine millimeters of cold steel pressed to his forehead, the poor fuck watches the gun quivering in his hand, black and cold, an end to a poor fuck – he shakes to the tune, tap, tap… tap, tap, faster, faster, faster, the end, he thinks, only a trigger pull away, “Poor fuck, go away, forever, be gone, God Damn piece of shit, it can be over.”
Dancing in tune with Death’s rhythm, he shakes, holding the trigger, ready; Death waits and taps his guitar, “Ready, pull…” “No,” the poor fuck says, “I don’t want it to end like this. This is not the way it is supposed to end….” and his face contorts, writhes in pain, “No!”
“The poor fuck is ruining the song! God Damn it!” Death screams.
“No,” weeps the poor fuck as he cries, tears pouring from his eyes, now wrinkled slits clamped shut against the reality of the cold steel of death.
Tap, tap… tap,…. Death stops the song. He looks at him, disgusted, “you fuck, you piece of shit, you fucked it up, you good for nothing shit head….” Then he calms himself, exhaling cold steel, knowing he has time to finish the song tomorrow. “Yes,” he says, “the song will start again and you, you poor fuck, will sing again and again the words of the chorus: Fuck, you shit, Fuck you, God Damn piece of shit. Then the memories can serve again as verse until the poor fuck is spit out on the floor again and maybe, tomorrow, the bullet will pass into his brain and end his suffering. His blood will ooze from the back of his skull and flecks of brain will dance on the pillow, the wall and the floor. His children will look at him in shock, his parents collapse in grief and a new song can be tapped out in the ears of his sons and daughters as they remember the poor fuck, and I will creep up on them with padded feet and begin to strum their song on my guitar tap, tap… tap, tap, and carry their dark words to their lips.”
But whether he pulls the trigger tomorrow or not doesn’t matter, Death’s song has made him useless, a poor fuck, good for nothing – the singing itself only adds more verse, more strength to the truth captured in the chorus. Death stops strumming his guitar and walks away, on padded feet, thinking that tomorrow will be another day to toy with the poor fuck and that the verse won’t be altered because the poor fuck thinks that he doesn’t want it to end that way.
As the poor fuck lies on the floor, gun discarded next to him, a new rhythm takes shape, and so silent it is not audible, but inside his mind, in the clarity of the exhaustion left behind from his song of Death, the void is filled with despondent relief, a sadness quelled, a new beat, a soft chord, soothing his injury, massaging his bruises. All through the night it played.
The next day, Death returned on padded feet and found a new maestro in his place holding a baton, playing softly, peacefully on another instrument. Death looked at this newcomer with scorn and took up his guitar: tap, tap… tap, tap. The man responded, hearing the song of his soul and said, “Fuck, you shit, asshole, God Damn!” And Death smiled and turned in triumph to the new composer standing by his side. He laughed and called the composer a fuck, a shit, you loser, and then said, “I won, now fuck off.”
The composer looked at him, nonplussed and went on with his song. A chord drifted on invisible notes as the poor fuck was saying, “Fuck, God Damn.” Then the poor fuck heard the new song and stopped singing Death’s song. He said to himself, “What if I don’t say Fuck and God Damn, what if I say good things about myself. What the fuck do I have to lose?” And so the composer smiled and let the music dance, the dark words disappearing in the light of new words, soothing words, encouraging words – good words. Slowly, as the man forced the words from his lips his soul began to feel better and the darkness of God Damn was gone. After a time, he just felt numb, and then the pain began to subside and it was replaced with hope, and… faith, faith that he is not a poor fuck, but a man with goodness, goodness and what? And the anger replaced by faith, and faith encouraged by the light of love.
At this, Death fumed. He swore at the composer and tried to make the poor fuck sing. Death leaned close to him to suck him in, but the man wouldn’t sing, he wasn’t paying attention to Death’s baton. Tap, tap… tap, tap – Death strummed and beat on his guitar, but the man could not hear it would not hear it, he was listening to the other composer, the Maestro of light. Death shrieked, “Stop that God Damn song! Stop it! Stop it! Fuck you! Fuck off! God Damn it, you Fuck, You Fuck! Shit, Fuck you ass hole, Stop that God Damn song!” But the man would not stop listening to the new song and he began to add words of his own, and he renamed himself, in harmony with the new melody, he was no longer poor fuck.
Death, furious, dropped his guitar, took his strong dark words, placed them in his pocket, tucked away the nearly completed composition and walked away, on padded feet.