FULL STORY TO APPEAR IN THE GOTHIC (November 2010) ISSUE!
I’m sitting at a glass table in the middle of Fountain Square. Jets of water burst in the center of the tiny man-made lake in the middle of the cross-section, and water splashes lightly to the brick red cobblestones that the glass table that I’m sitting at rests upon.
There is a ragged copy of a novel to my left, an odd little piece entitled The Picture of Dorian Gray. The government claims to have written it. Maybe they did. I’ve never heard of a citizen ever creating anything aside from an outfit to wear. All entertainment is provided to us by the government, even the nightclubs are run by them on some level.
It is a good day. The heat has been too much for me lately. It’s been so intense that it has warped all of the city’s dandies into cartoon-ish wooden puppets, no longer standing straight when they walk but bending into indeterminable angles.
Even in the heat, they won’t stop wearing eight layers of velvet clothing or multiple scarves and top hats. Their plastic eyes gaze out, almost melting, their pupils dilated from obviously the strongest of drugs. The dandies consume absinthe and marrow like water and bread, making homage to their dark god Bacchus, the absinthe his milky green blood and the marrow his own red flesh.
They wear feather boas and fur coats, holding their canes out and slapping the peddlers they pass by. Their hair is dyed black, purple, burgundy, or whichever color they happen to fancy on whichever day it happens to be, and they paint on the darkest of eye make-up, smearing it on their faces like charcoal and smudging it without notice. It runs down their faces in thick rivulets of sweat in this horrible humidity.
I know the government turns up the heat somehow. They must be behind it. They claim it is an unexplained phenomenon, but I’m not as dumb as most of the “citizens” of this prison. They’re behind everything that ever goes on here. I even suspect they are behind my drug dealing. I can’t be sure.
I don’t know Dr. Venison well enough to know anything as an absolute regarding his motivation. But I do know the government is behind this heat. They’re behind the cold when that comes too. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I should care, either.
I have heard that the dandies can be rather violent. Once I saw one beat a young boy of about sixteen bloody and senseless with a cane in a back alley. The boy lay bleeding for ten minutes before crawling under a bench and waiting to die.
I am not a dandy myself, nor could I be. I am decadent, yes, excessive, yes, but I could not fit in with these people because, for the most part, they are my customers. It is not good business to fall in league with your customers. And aside from that, though I do many drugs, I do not find myself reaching the level of pivotal madness that these men do – they are haunted with ghosts from the past, ghosts who visit and torment in the form of syphilis, amongst other things.
I don’t have syphilis because I know who I’m fucking (usually). They really don’t care who they’re fucking. And that, you see, is the essential difference between myself and a dandy. I give a shit.
The city’s government tried to crack down on the dandies nearly two decades ago. At this time I was a young man of twenty-six (and I do rather look like a twenty-six year old to this day, as a result of my constant face erasing and other plastic procedures which I have undertaken at great pains to myself). I remember it as if it were yesterday.
The government was not successful in capturing all of the dandies, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the whole thing was a sham crack down anyway. Those who were not imprisoned or killed were let go for a reason.
They controlled many things that happened in the city back then – maybe starting to rival the Bit City government for power. Now they don’t, of course. Now they are simply mechanical creatures, re-fueling with drugs and unloading all of that un-necessary semen in the closest vessel at hand. Something happened after the crackdown. Maybe they had gained too much power, climbed too high up a tree, and our fearless leader had to shake it to get them to come back down.
Dandies are great lovers because they always fight back. They hate being out of control. Naturally, the older the dandy, the harder it is to capture him (or her) for such a means, but of course, the older the dandy, the less you want to capture him (or her) anyway. The older they are, the more decayed they are, the more dangerous, the more risky.
Get them while they still think they have the city in their hands, ready for a fucking. Hold them down and listen to them protest before the heroin takes effect and collapses their veins, softens their eyes, drains their vitality and hardens their flesh with age. Take it before the marrow powder fills up their eyes with blood and their souls with filth.
I sit at the table with my ragged copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray, imagining.
I look into a back alley from my safe vantage point in the gray daylight. I see a teenage boy trying to fight off an attacker. He’s got green make-up on his face.