A Reading from the Book of Fixing

Guy Benjamin Brookshire


One night the Cutthroat drank and drank until darkness interrupted, buzzing Nightmares in his brains like a wasps’ nest in a field skull: in the caverns of the storm clouds demon-lice were bleeding pus, 2) which channeled in a torrent down the nostrils of his ears, forested with greasy palm trunks, sharpened to impale a vast canopy of corpses. 3) Their mouths were rotten open, so the ichor flowed right through their cheeks, and animated their puppet limbs, which gestured hatefully toward the depths of his brainward abscess. 4) The sound the ichor made as it gushed in their mouths became a roaring shot with hissing. So the Cutthroat stumbled around his house screaming and smashing and raving. 5) He came into a place where his eyes saw nothing but his braingears stripping in showers of sparks: there was a cloud of pus-y fog that stretched to the edge of nothing at all, shot through with nerves of hair-like fluid, which wormed up to the surface strata forming a bubbleskin. 6) This new made body was bobbing on a sea of such fluid, amidst drifts of other such bodies – like pieces of feces. 7) And these bodies themselves had anuses which spurted out pieces of feces which were bodies themselves with anuses which spurted out pieces of feces which were bodies themselves with anuses which spurted out pieces of feces which were bodies themselves with anuses which spurted out pieces of feces, smaller and more and increasing. And this went on and on and on; a slime steadily multiplying in the bottomless gap of what is. 8) His shrieking and ranting terrified his wife, who had seen him lose his mind before but always watched him grow a new one. But this time the murder in his eyes seemed not to recognize his woman, so she opened up the cellar and came to hide with the prisoners. 9) The wise-man went out to try to calm the Cutthroat before he killed them all and began, “An accurate man is a rare and precious thing. 10) Sometimes while solving a mathematical problem, it just requires more effort than one is willing to invest to figure it out. 11) On the other hand, some things don’t exist until we name what we have destroyed. 12) For example, there’s a Dreamer I have recently made the acquaintance of that has given me food for thought. He told me the most curious thing: life is the memory of a Dream we have yet to wake from, and when we recall how it ends we slip into the sleep in which it occurs. 13) Now that might not cut it with the learned men of the Schools down in Thalamus: but that’s all politics, and living for politics is like eating for the privilege of wiping your ass.” 14) When the Cutthroat smashed the wise-man to the floor with a single blow, Jack leapt from the cellar and dragged him out of the path of the rampage. Then he sat down in the easy chair next to the fireplace and helped himself to tumbler full of drink, singing a merry song from the better days. 15) The Cutthroat fixed him cock-eyed before growling, “By these hands at the ends of my arms more throats have been cut than numbers can name, and this stomach at the root of my gut has held more oh-be-joyful than volume can carry. And now another world is opening out through the back of my brain.” 16) “Can anyone visit,” asked Jack with a wink, “or how do we know you’re not Dreaming awake?” 17) Just as Jack leapt over to the couch the Cutthroat bellowed and beat the chair to bits, “My mind was made of many minds with faces now before me, 18) rank on rank of corpses with their noses rotten off, but still they shriek with demon-speak, and fill my head and home with pus. 19) They say such things that burn my ears, and come into my stronghold – some even leave their dirty drawers on the front hall floor by the door. 20) So I’ll kill everything I see, and beat it into sausage. 21) And what is left will be the me that lives, to wipe away the filth that covers me. 22) But there can be no relief, for the world is only filth, myself the vanishing point of an anal perspective. 23) Everything that is, is simply shit begetting shit – I swim and float and breath and eat in an endless sea of it. 24) I have seen into the very knit of the weave at the root of the world. It is made of filth, so I build a raft of murders.” 25) Then Jack offered the Cutthroat a drink and a word, “You have been Drinking to find the black wall. You want to put the edge of creation under your feet. 26) The future and the past are one darkness that surrounds us, where everything forgotten waits to take back what’s been known; murder arcs like lightning from a man who sees his face in the mirror of the moment where there’s nothing to be seen. 27) This overpass is so complete, the world below does not exist, except to form a base as broad as oblivion: what you need is sleep. 28) I know you for a drunken murderous rapist that lives off the blood that you lick from your hands: your Nightmare is you live in the deepest dark and so you think the whole of the world is blind. 29) You have made meat of the abundance of bodies, 30) tried to leave behind the life (your particular style of Dreaming) that lives through you in this place it has found. And you see what it means to gnaw open this artery, the horse is galloping dead without believing in your Dreams. 31) The meat of your body is trying to kill the thing that looks out through its eyes, because that part of you is just smoke above the fire as far as its unconcerned. 32) To live by dying at different speeds on different days is worse than being an animal, because they don’t have Dreams to waste. 33) I tell you Dreams live through you like a brush stroke on the breeze. 34) Everything then is the single stroke of a brush with infinite bristles which are endless both in number and in length. 35) We only know the surface by the colors pulled across, and we only intuit the brush by its elegant sweep. 36) And when we think we’ve found a bristle by watching a color go, we find we’ve found a bundle of bristles together, and a bristle in that bundle is a bundle of bristles together and a bristle in that bundle is a bundle of bristles together and a bristle in that bundle is a bundle of bristles together and a bristle in that bundle is a bundle of bristles together and a bristle in that bundle is a bundle of bristles together...” 37) And all of this time Jack had been pouring the Cutthroat drink after drink. 38) The Cutthroat said to himself through squinty eyes, “Haven’t I met this fellow at the narrow lip of the inkpot, right before I dive in at drinksend [176]; 39) Then he said to Jack, “That Dreamy waste of tonguework makes me sick down to my nutsackseam, let’s see how you can spin your yarn after a little refreshment. 40) Have another tumblerfull and we’ll get down to business, and I’ll show you what gets me through the night. I might not even skin you alive before I kill you if my mood improves enough.” 41) And then he slurred in continuation, “With drink and club I cleared this valley in a single night of murder.” 42) But Jack could only watch his father’s ring flash on the Cutthroat’s finger. Jack let the liquor run out of his mouth and down the neck of his shirt when they both threw their heads back in the rush to gulp and guzzle. 43) Then the Cutthroat demanded he accompany him on a ride through his valley that very instant [177], and grabbed him by the throat and yelled, “Yi-ha!” [178] Jack was looking all this time for a way to safely kill him. 44) When the sky turned an angry violet the Cutthroat burped to Jack, “I think I’ll just get ready for bed, or have you seen my slippers?” 45) Then Jack crushed his nodding head with a rock and slid the ring off his finger, taking the wise-man’s daughter for his wife in exchange for the ring [179], her name was Jill. At this time Jack took the house for his own and began to cultivate the valley 46) Jack was old enough to wish he was younger when he came into possession of the high hanging valley and its rimland full of ribiers. He spent hard years of labor making the valley a home for his comfort in age. 47) And the worked earth multiplied his efforts from splendors to brilliance and glory. 48) Jack cultivated vines for wines and hives for wax and honey. The shaggy cattle that waded the weeds became many and fat in his care. 49) Though he took on hands to help him grow and measure such fine abundance, there was always too much work to do; in this way Jack became a wealthy man. 50) Before the hard times hit them like a snowball stuffed with rocks, two children came of Jack and Jill’s connection, the daughter and son of the wise-man and Fool. 51) Jill named her baby boy Pineal [180] and said, “This child is the conduit of longing into flesh.” 52) Her baby girl Jack named Stinky [181] saying, “Every time I clean her off she squirts more out again.” 53) Then the trouble started, 54) and the trouble liked to never end, just as Jack had learned throughout his youth. For Jack had made himself a fellow conspicuous for prosperity, in a land of Cutthroats good for nothing but keeping knives razor sharp. 55) When the Cutthroats saw a stranger in their midst, they questioned one another on the fate of the previous master. The Cutthroat’s wife was now Jack’s servant and told them, “A Nosepicker has made the place his kingdom.” 56) When the Cutthroats saw they could not break into the valley by way of his strong house astride the pass, Jack was forced to constantly range the peaks they climbed to slaughter his cattle, because they tried a different way everyday. 57) And word of Jack’s prosperity spread down to the cities below, because a drought had turned the crops there to dust.

[176] This sounded good to Jack, for Dreamers had a long and fruitful relationship with the twilight that flickers in the shadows of bottles, which Blinkin’ had said was so good, “Makes me want to slap my pappy.” A gate to the waking Dream.

[177] The Cutthroat often liked to gallop about in the black of the drunken night and company would make it that much sweeter

[178] This war cry was also one of jubilation, for cutthroats love the battle like a party, this kind of cry originated in the Land of Nod, and Dreamers had been using it forever

[179] So the daughter of the Wiseman was bought with the ring of Fool

[180] This was an old family name, not in her family, but an old family name nonetheless

[181] While Stinky might sound like a terrible name for an adorable young lady, it sounds much worse in the original

Guy Benjamin Brookshire is a writer and editor of apostrophecast.com living in San Jose, California. He has completed his first novel, A MAN LIKE ME.