Who would ever have thought hell would be so ordinary?
A round fluorescent light in a grimy
plastic holder. One sliding
frosted glass window in a flimsy aluminum
frame. Dark mottlings of mold in the corners of the window sill. A cheap green rug on the floor.
Girlie magazines scattered about, and crushed beer cans and unemptied ashtrays.
A smell of old tobacco and stale beer, and dirt in hard to get at places.
The dankness of September, typhoon
season- not much drier when the rain stops than when it falls. Too humid to
wear clothes. Too cold not to. A constant grubbiness to one's skin and one's
hair. Lying in bed, between sheets soft with use, feeling the small
ever-present sweat, watching the fine dust-webs in the corners of the ceiling
moving in the draft. Hearing the kettle whistle, smelling the instant coffee in
its cup. Front door of
cheap wood, lacquered brown, . A window. A bed. One kitchen table, two chairs. Small
gas stove in one corner, small apartment refrigerator beside it, door to the
unit bath next to that. All commonplace and,. Oddly cozy in their very ordinariness.
A space, a pause. Time ticking
quietly by. I lie in bed, looking upwards, looking at the greasy smears on the
lamp frame and the filigree threads of dust in the the four walls and ceiling that have
become the world. The rest of my life is elsewhere, inaccessible. the window that's
opened an inch to let in the air but not the rain. On the other side of the
door that shows a glimpse of the thick trees outside each time it opens and He goes through
that door every
day too back into the world, back into that
forest, back to
The cut in my abdomen itches as it heals, uncomfortable in the humidity.
I how I got that. I think it must
have been my feelings that did it, slicing me open.
I don't forget. This isn't a place to forget, just to sit back and look calmly at it all. A place where feelings are small and manageable, and I am myself again, Cho Gonou, able to think about what happened and what I did and what I have become. I suppose that's why I was sent here and not to of torment. The torment was before and will be again afterwards. But for now it seems that I'm simply to remember and understand.
I have him here to remind me, should to
forget. Like someone met in dreams, a stranger who feels as familiar as my own arm. He talks to me like an
old acquaintance and takes the liberties of an old friend. His name is Gojou,
almost the same as my own but not quite. His hair is blood-red, and his eyes
are blood-red. All the innocent blood that dried sticky on my hands through all
those how many months- all the blood that stained my clothes and made them
stiff as cardboard about me for however long it was-- they're
concentrated now in his hair
and his eyes. Always before me in the day under the white fluorescent light,
always by my side in the bed at night.
He doesn't smell of blood. He smells
of cigarettes and beer, and his hair smells of Co-op shampoo, the cheap brand.
The signs of my crime, like everything else in this quiet place, are present
I doubt he even knows himself what he is. He brings me
take-out food to eat or cooks me scrambled eggs. Helps me to the toilet when I
need to go. Makes me cups of coffee. Lends me the shirt and pants I'm wearing. The
chill of September gets into my He gives me a cotton pullover to wear,
warm and dry. The humidity of September makes him sweat. He ties his long red hair up
in a ponytail, free of his neck, and doesn't bother with a shirt. There's a damp sheen on his muscled shoulders under the bright
overheadbright overhead light. The short dark hair in his armpits
goes into little wet spikes. When he stretches there's an odd warm smell there,
like a clean animal's. We play cards in the evening. He drinks beer and chain
smokes and loses, natured. Looks up and
grins at me from his blood-coloured eyes. 'Another game?' he asks.
And I want-- I'm not sure what I want. To clean the greasy plastic
square around the light ring- and clean the light too, because I'm sure the top
is black with
as well. Get at the mold in the corner of the window frame with some good
strong bleach. Silly things like that. It bothers me a little that I can't.
Maybe cook something for him, just once- a proper meal. At night he sleeps
beside me, warm and alive and unconscious. Guardian, friend, jailer, demon,
whatever it is he is. A strange man with
blood- coloured hair and blood-coloured eyes
known me all my life and who doesn't know what my name is. He sleeps beside me,
just a little bigger than I am. It's like having a cliff at my
back, a wall I can lean on and rest against at last, trusting myself to its
support. I am alone, still, but still, not
that too. But I must also be grateful
to whatever Mercy it is that gave me this little space- this nondescript room
and its casual occupant in the washy grey wetness of September- before I go
back with open eyes to face my damnation. Though I know I am damned, a murderer
and a monster his
ever loved- still, because of this room and this man, I think I may yet have
saved my soul alive. For who would ever have thought that hell might be, in the
end, so very heaven?