One Decadent Life: Part Two
Just past five she was awake all at once, to see him standing in her room, his back to her, staring out the eastern window. Without, a gibbous moon faded in a thin blue dawn. Venus hovered upon the horizon, with the bright glint she shows just prior to her vanishing. As Angelique stirred, David did not turn, only said, inanely “This morning…” and she knew something was wrong.
He was the thing that was wrong; he was still kicking heroin, but in a whole new phase: the psychic withdrawal, facing up to his soul’s death. How much longer was she expected to serve as his psychiatric nurse?
Angelique was anyhow constitutionally incapable of functioning under the rigor of an early awakening. Now he was at the door, giving her his severe look — “Get up, Angelique. We have to go outside. NOW.”
She did not reply; he expected at least a false-normal greeting. But she was hardly used to being ordered about, and for that reason instantly arose.
She proceeded with a full-on makeup: face, eye, eyebrow, lip. Rummaging in a closet she discovered a long black man’s coat. She put it on, and it trailed on the ground. Perfect! She located a rather large stetson-styled “cow-woman hat,” she thought to herself. It was black as well, so she further enhanced her lipstick to purple.
“Can we find any gloves in this place?” she asked him, unaware that he was utterly furious she had taken an hour to get ready.
But when he stamped to the front door, yanked it open and stepped out she screamed, “Are you INSANE?” he understood and came back in… “Since you’re so impatient, you might make a tea, or coffee or SOMETHING for me.” But he was slumped by the window again, in the broken-backed lounger.
So she took as long as she needed to prepare her own tea and toast. He declined having anything himself. The day was getting brighter, but still overcast.
“Where’s that famous New Mexico sunshine?”
He didn’t answer. She coughed slightly, settled herself at the dining table. “So… then? What is this great imperative you’re under. You are running out there nearly naked and empty, and I think…” and she murmured this softly, “I think you can get killed out there, if you’re not careful.” As she continued her breakfast unhurriedly, he decided to show better grace.
“Well, I had a dream and you were in it.” Angelique suppressed an impulse to yawn… instead, she slightly giggled.
He glanced at her sharply, “It’s a dream I often have… and since I’ve left New York, I’ve had it, maybe three times.
“I’m on the Lower East Side, the worst part of it — but a place that doesn’t actually exist. But it’s the epitome of all the worst things there: burnt-out buildings, and a sort of people, more demon than human. I am standing on a plaza, all filthy with trash, shit, the grime of the ages… the earth cracks open. I’m staring down. Staring into Hell. Sometimes I fall in… last night I was just standing on the edge.”
The yowl of what sounded like a very angry cat pierced this narrative, “Oh my gods and goddesses!” screamed Angelique, “The poor thing, what’s WRONG…?”
“What’s WRONG, Angelique, is that — that’s not a cat.”
“Not a cat…” she was confused, “What is it, then? A fox, a mountain lion WHAT?” as the thing shrieked and yowled again.
“It’s the heroin demon.”
“The heroin demon.” She didn’t know whether to laugh, or scream.
“I’m just coming to that part of the dream… So there I am, standing on the very lip of hell, about to fall in, when this enormous Black Cat, as big as a house, rushes at me and drags me down…”
“And what else does this Cat in your dream do to you? Does it eat you?”
He looked at her, disappointed… was she making fun of him? The Cat outside made a few loud growls, then seemed to move off.
“It leaps up, from its fiery pit, I fight with it, I battle it… no one comes to help me. Then it gets its mouth around my head, and I feel its fangs penetrating the back of my neck… and I wake up.”
“Are you dead in your dream…”
“No — dying.”
It suddenly began to pour rain, and Angelique shrugged her shoulders, “I think I’ll go lie down…”
“You CAN’T lie down… I mean…” he reneged, seeing her startled look, “I mean, you need to kill that cat for me.”
After this bizarre early-morning conference, Angelique had gone back to bed.
At high noon she was awake all at once. The sky still looked dull and grey, and she tsked aloud.
David could be faintly heard, calling her name.
Well, really am I expected to face the entities without being armed and decorated — as per my rank?
She recollected his description, “As I stand on this plaza, where there’s huge obelisk, the earth cracks open. I’m staring down into Hell. All my friends are there. And this huge black Cat…”
As if on cue the cat outside began its wail.
And David was at her bedroom door again: “THE CAT IS MADE MANIFEST!”
She was unnerved to see him in a manic condition, his eyes glassy, his face flushed, perspiring.
“Maybe you had better drink some water…”
“Angelique I’m telling you,” he panted, “You’re going to kill that cat for me. You have to kill that cat.”
She decided she would hold off on responding to his madness. She withdrew into herself, pretending to ignore what he said. But she was terrified.
He watched her wash her dishes, dry her hands, put on hand cream and he thought he would scream. She then went back into her bed-chamber for more adjustments, and ten minutes later — he timed it — she emerged.
“Well where shall we walk?” she said brightly, as they set off down the mesa. The sun was finally out, and the early rain had melted some of the snow. There was a faint path in the earth between the shrubs and grasses. Overhead she could feel the sun forcing its way through the clouds — the blue, celestial blue was on its way.
David kept ahead of her on the path. The mesa widened at this end, to merge with a wide swath of elevated pinon and chamisa shrub. But after a rise in the earth, where they stood on a ridge, there was an magnificent drop, straight down, to the canyon floor.
Before them were red rock formations of stunning beauty — long, high columns of rock, for centuries eroded by water, and the wind, and time. It gave the impression of an enormous castle. They sat on the ridge and gazed their full. She was wholly taken out of herself, dazzled by perfection.
She turned to look at David, and it was with a certain sick sensation that she saw him toying with a large, chambered revolver.
December 30th, 1985, 3 AM
Archuleta, New Mexico
Was dragged out today on a cat-hunt, as it turned out… I thought we were taking a Nature-walk.
The red rock cliffs at the end of the mesa were a revelation… I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life. If I lived here I might lose all impulse to create. How can a mere human compete with that manifestation?
After we came in I got straightaway into bed. He really is torturing me! I don’t know what I am to him anymore, but I do not like being the focus of his madness. I slept almost the whole evening through.
Before he went to bed he knocked gently at my door to see if I wanted anything. Exhausted as I was, it was heavenly to hear his voice sounding a little more normal, being somewhat brotherly. My love for him took a serious beating today. I think I may also be somewhat overstimulated by his presence. I’m not crazy with desire for him anymore, but I do have to work on more properly effecting the sublimation.
He came in with some tea and settled on the edge of my bed. He complimented me on having what he called “A majestic aspect.”
“There’s something about a woman sitting up in bed… with a little jacket on.” I told him a little about the ‘Precieuses,’ those 17th-century females who received, indeed did everything, from bed.
He is completely obsessed with this cat, a poor wild thing wandering around outside, probably starved or rabid. He says it’s like this cat in a dream he keeps having, and that the cat is not really a cat but a “heroin demon.” And now, for whatever reason, he has decided that I should kill the cat for him!
He is insane.
The Beast is definitely trapped between two worlds. Like the cat in the dream. It’s from Hell, but it walks the earth. And this cat, it was domesticated, but now it’s wild. It doesn’t trust us enough to come close and get any food.
Anyhow I just threw alot of icky lunch-meat out there for it… David was dead passed out on the sofa.
Yes so for whatever reason, I have to kill the cat… FOR him.
“I can’t kill it, but YOU CAN,” he’s said more than once, and finally:
“Tomorrow we’ll have a shooting lesson, so you won’t miss.”
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