Story A Week (SAW) 18: September 27th, 2018
By Adam O’Sullivan
The Lunatic Jester slams the gun down on the desk beside me, and a loud bang echoes through the office. No-one jumps – not even me. I am the only one who can hear the sound, and I’ve been expecting it. I ignore it anyway, although you could really say that I have called forth this scenario on myself. I continue to stare at my computer screen until he slinks out from underneath the desk. He looks up at me with a crazed look in his eyes, a maniacal smile on his lips. His skin is pale, almost grey, and he wears only a loin cloth. His face is unkempt, long scraggly hair and an attempt at a beard – if a lack of personal hygiene could be considered an attempt. His bony fingers hold on to the gun and he lifts it. It looks to be attached to the end of his arm, as if the hand and the cold steel are intertwined. Maybe he can’t let go. I know the feeling.
“It’s time?” he questions in the raspy wheeze of a voice that always sounds like it’s about the crack into insanity. He doesn’t need to explain further, I already know what he means. This day has been particularly bad. People hounding me for my time – it all seems so overwhelming. A reminder of the better days has also set off my memories. Flashes of days where everything seemed so perfect.
It’s like my old grandfather used to say, near the end of his life, when he stopped being polite and laughed at the most insane thing. “Even when everything seems to be going wrong, you still have one last decision left to make.”
“Go away,” says a voice beside me. Materialising to my left is Lorna the Pixional. Her appearance fluid, often changing – this time she has long blonde hair and wide beautiful blues eyes, the window into a soul of happiness and support. Small wings peek out from the back of a long bright blue coat with red trim. She is physically smaller than I am but so much stronger. On days like these, I gain my strength from her.
I feel her hands on my shoulder, than her arms around me. My soul leaps, and I find the strength.
“Go away!” we intone together, and the Lunatic Jester pulls the gun to his chest. He looks briefly at me before he gaze focuses on Lorna the Pixional.
“He is protected” she whispers, and it’s almost like she’s just saying it to me, right in my ear. I know, however, that the Lunatic Jester has heard it. He hears everything that I hear. She does too.
No-one else in the office makes any sign that they have heard this battle going on. Which makes sense, considering that my physical body hasn’t moved and this is all going on in my head. Active imagination, or sign of my slow descent into madness?
“You want this as much as I do.” The Lunatic Jester places the gun down on the carpeted floor, as if offering it to me. He takes a step back, but the gun is still clasped in his hand, and it drags along the floor as he pulls it back with him. The symbolising is astounding – he and the gun are forever connected. He turns it slightly until the barrel is pointed towards me. He seems to be hoping that I will reach out and pick it up with his hand still around it. I feel Lorna stroking my hair and an intense happiness fills me. I don’t want to move. I don’t ever want to leave this moment. They say that when your life ends, that time slows down and your last few minutes extend into infinity as your brain dies. Maybe this is what’s happening here. Or maybe that would extend the moment forever.
The Jester scowls and lifts the weapon to his chest again, cradling it like a treasured object. I suppose it is, considering it’s his entire existence. He fixes his gaze to my eyes, and I can feel him worming his way through my soul.
“I’ll be back.” He spits back in a hoarse whisper.
“I know” says Lorna the Pixional.
“And next time, she might not be there to save you.”
“I know,” I say. I feel the energy start to drain out of me, and the Jest pauses as I slowly slump in my chair. Then arms are wrapped around me as Lorna picks me up, pulls me back into the chair and holds me in her arms. The warmth of the hug flows through me, though I worry I am too numb to truly experience it. The Lunatic Jester stands teetering on the balls of his feet. He seems to be considering whether he should come back towards us, like there could be a chance for him to get back in. He thinks better of it and backs away again. He knows, as well as I do, that when Lorna the Pixional has been summoned, he no longer has any power. He plays with the gun in his hand. I can tell he wants to point it at me, but there’s no use. It’s not loaded now. It doesn’t have any power anymore.
This dance played by the three of us has happened many times. The Lunatic Jester, offering his services when I feel at my most down and emotionally drained. The fictional pixie Lorna the Pixional created to save me when I can’t save myself. Which leaves me, sitting in the middle, the source of both characters and the object they fight over. What can I say, it’s nice to be needed.
In the beginning, it was just the Lunatic Jester and me. That was back before he was all bark and no bite. Screaming at me the things I wanted to hear. Back then, he didn’t have a name, and his appearance was much more like me. He was a reflection of my darkest fears. A mirror showing the person that I thought I truly was, deep down inside. The version of me keeping the real me in check, when I felt I had drifted too high in the self-confidence stratosphere. He didn’t have the weapon back then. He hadn’t gotten strong enough yet.
Lorna pulls back and stands before me, pressing her hands against my chest. Cut to an x-ray view, where our outlines are soft gold, and my heart beats slowly in vibrant red, tinged with grey. The Lunatic Jester is a grey blur off to the side. We are fictional person within a fictional representation, forging a symbolic path through life. Lorna leans forward and kisses my heart, and I feel love flow out from the heart to the tips of my fingers, into my head. The grey dissipates and she stands again, removing her hands from inside me. She kisses my head and then returns to her position behind my chair, my protector, shield and patron saint. How could I literally live without her?
I push the Lunatic Jester out of my mind and he disappears with a final wail. The world seeps back in as I return to my emails. People yelling, screaming, asking me to do their work for them. People in relationships, who have ones that they love, ones who love them. And then me, the single fat man, fixing as much as he can, all alone.
“People suck.” I whisper to myself. No-one hears except for Lorna.
It’s strange to think that you suspect the method of your expiration. I live with the thoughts day in, day out. Lorna is there to help me when I need it, but to keep me around she will continue to fight. All it would take would be one lax moment, one particularly terrible day, and the Lunatic Jester could win. Press the gun against my head. Yes, I know the gun is actually a metaphor. Hanging’s the preferred method for me, I think. A big thick rope around the neck. Not from too high, I want to expire from strangulation, not hanging there with my neck broken from the force – and let’s face it, a fat man hurtling towards the ground is going to generate a lot of force.
Already I can see the tell-tale signs of the Lunatic Jester, reforming in the smoke of madness.
The battle continues. Back and forth. For the rest of my life.
It’s like my old grandfather used to say, in the days before we found him alone in his apartment. “When shit goes south, you can still get out of it by killing yourself.”
I miss him. Maybe I’ll see him sooner than later.
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