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So last night was sleeping on the couch in Landlord’s house when I heard a scream. Horrible, blood-curdling scream. Was coming from Landlord’s room upstairs. Thought he was being killed. All those terrible things come into my mind. They’d come for him. They were getting back at me by hurting the only person they assumed I was closest to. Obviously hadn’t heard about the policeman.
Without thinking, I raced upstairs. Like an eejit. What the fuck did I think I was going to do? Honestly. Protect him? Ridiculous. Also ridiculous because Landlord didn’t know was in the house.
Burst into room. It was empty apart from Landlord. Just him, struggling. Yelling out in pain. He was leaning forward, grabbing at his leg.
Was weird. He wasn’t surprised by me being there.
‘It’s nothing. Cramp,’ he cried in desperation.
Cramp is a bitch. Knew it was a bitch. Had been through it. During the purification process. And it hurt like hell. But I knew what to do.
Rushed to the bed to grab Landlord.
‘No, no, no,’ he objected.
‘You have to stand on it,’ I told him.
‘No, no, no,’ he objected again.
Because he was naked. Still managed to get him to stand. He wouldn’t put his right heel down, though. Knew that was the culprit.
‘Put down your heel,’ I commanded.
‘Ah. No,’ he cried.’
Bent down, taking hold of the back his his heel. Forced it down to the ground. Landlord yelled out in pain, holding onto my head. The majority of the cramp, I knew, had abated.
I stood up. Was now time to walk it off. Took hold of his hands, led him towards me as I walked backwards. He grimaced, and limped as we took a walk around the room.
‘Can I go back to the bed now? This is slightly mortifying.’
Understandably. He was naked. Helped him back into bed where he very quickly covered himself.
I reached his foot once again, taking it in my hand.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Just going to rub it for a bit.’ Still felt odd, talking. Like I had just learnt a new language and wasn’t yet sure of the feminine and masculine pronouns.
Gently, I rubbed at Landlord’s foot.
‘Why have you been sleeping here?’
He asked the question quietly, not looking at me when the words escaped his mouth.
So he had known, somehow. I didn’t have to ask it — Landlord was still accustomed to my lack of speech. A glance at me and he knew my question, answering it without me having to utter a word.
‘I came down for water the other night,’ he explained. ‘You were there. Peaceful. It was the first time your face looked peaceful. Even, all those years ago, you wore the expression of someone under constant trial. Like you do now.’
I could not respond to his judgement of my expression because it seemed impossible to respond to someone who had so easily read my face. Someone who then, and now, barely knows me. But I suppose he does know me. Somehow, in some way. Which is my failure. Because I am always trying so hard to not let people know me at all. Even Him, my greatest love, didn’t really know me. He knew the idea of me. He knew my pain. But never my joy.
It is true that I haven’t much joy. Yet it is in there somewhere. The joy I feel when seeing rain or smelling popcorn. The joy of touching leather. The joy of smelling a book, new or old. Small joys hidden under synthetic ones. Because I was ashamed. Ashamed to be happy. I suppose I thought I didn’t deserve happiness.
I told Landlord that I had been coming to sleep in his house because I feared someone had been in my own, I feared that they had found me.
It was easy to tell him such things, easy to speak in full sentences, because the room was quite dark. Secrets lie in the darkness, and I was willing to divulge them.
‘What would happen if they found you?’ He asked.
I listed my fears. That they’d blackmail me into going back. That they would try to kill me, masking it as a suicide.
‘Why would they try to kill you?’
‘Because I know their secrets,’ I told him.
And I do know their secrets. Not all of them, that’s true. But enough. Maybe not enough to bring down the church, but fracture it at least.
The problem, of course, is that they know my secrets, too. And to be honest there’s a greater chance of me being fucked over by my secrets then they will be by theirs.