cover, sample page spreads, and excerpt
cover by Kier Cooke Sandvik to R. Hell's The Voidoid
You and your parents will love Alabama.
First, a photo you might enjoy: We're outside the back door, facing a rainbow mist. To our right, barely visible through the fog, is a 25 foot cherry tree, red fruit poking out at the top, to our left a gnarled old tree hung with a rope swing. A creamy young stallion is walking between the two trees, and the edge of an old wooden chicken coop is visible in the lower left corner.
Alabama is like Ali Baba. There's honeysuckle out in the field, a dusty dirt road, very hot sun. The scenery's yellow beginning to look white. A baby chick emerges from an egg. Later, Grandmother will chop a hen's head off. Everyone will have the chance to see what a chicken with its head cut off acts like.
We're happy all the time. There's a big heavy table in the dining room with six or seven people sitting around it. Everybody's laughing and calling for more, saying please pass me the butter. The sun's pouring through, the screen door slamming. Father says Now don't you do that, to the little girl, but everybody is so busy that no one notices. (Which is good, because her face that is so beautiful would have looked terrible if she'd cried!)
The grass is still soaked with dew in the shade.
Later in the morning it happens that everyone but you has gone off to town. You walk out in the back yard and realize you feel like jacking off. You are such a happy god... the flesh over your ribs consistently 2/5's of an inch thick. Are you male or female? Today you have a huge cock to fuck the cherries with.
The stallion starts to move, shaking its head as if it has just swallowed a mouthful of whiskey. Glad to get outta there, it thinks, its only thought in its whole life and gone as fast as a snake that's a piece of rope. At least you could eat the snake. Don't need no rope. Can't lasso a fuckin' rabbit to get a bite to eat in this godforsaken desert... but the mist is all burnt off and you lie in the shade of the cherry tree and pull your pants halfway down your thighs. You feel like balancing the landscape with some violence. You grab your cock with one hand and start cursing the cherries. Fucking little red fruits blocking the sky. With your goddamn leaves. You're pumping your cock. Never do nothin. Get fat, more trees, get fat, more trees, get fat, more trees, blah blah blah blah forever. I'd like to grab a handful and send you to hell--"mother nature" didn't figure on that, did she, ya fuckin pieces a shit. Ya think you can do without me? I'll give you an experience ya won't forget! I'll ram your pits till yer jest my decorations, thirty at a time and won't stop then. Your cock is stiff and you're pumping while your left hand squeezes your ass. Aaa motherfuckers. Eat you. Red juice. You take a break, not wanting to come yet. Your face is red. You take off your shirt. Cool green grass against your back and ass. You start imagining someone is watching. Ah fuck that--who needs humans? I'm a fucking puddle in the grass. Alabama thank you ma'am. Better put on my shirt.
You pull up your pants and buckle your belt. You lie in the grass and rest. A man in a wheelbarrow without any limbs or head rolls out of a car door onto the sidewalk. Interesting.
You watch yourself sit up and rub your eyes, but you shake your head like the horse to pull yourself together and stand up and look around. Wander into the fields.
An old man with sunken cheeks appears and walks along by your side. He says he has a toothless dog that would like to suck the shit from your asshole, if you so wish. Then he starts staring into your eyes with incredible intensity. By now you're in the wilderness. "What's in it for me," you ask, jutting your head forward and staring with equal intensity as you make a chimpanzee face and stick out your tongue. The old man, who is a poet and playwright, turns a deep red but then regains himself and starts screaming YES! YES! and violently scratching his armpits. But you escape. You continue being a chimp in the woods for 15 or 20 minutes as it wears off.
Time to wash your bones. You pull the flesh over your head as the landscape simultaneously raises like a curtain to reveal swarming dirt and quivering organs of all shapes, sizes, and colors. The place is crawling with empty swimming pools. The dead leaves seem much stronger than usual. You sit and feel the wind blow through your ribs. You gaze at the sky as if you'd just come off the street into a movie house. All else is dark. You lie back and rest your head in the dirt to watch the epic of porcelain inheriting the earth. Gigantic porcelain fart clouds emerging from a sky blue anus that ripples with the grace of a ballerina's hand or a field of wheat in a crowded stadium. It's so funny. Who would have believed that it all fits? the murdered woman's lover repeats to himself in convulsions of hilarity as he lies naked in bed hugging his skin.
Something starts to grow and take shape. "Mary, how do we know whether it will be good or evil? We're so ignorant. Yesterday I was a newspaper reporter, and now... I have a responsibility for the whole earth... no one will ever know... probably... something starts to grow and take shape. Has anyone ever seen this happen before? I'm here watching it happen. Do I destroy it or let it grow? I think I'll stick a 7-Up bottle in it! I wonder where this thing came from? Was it an accident? Are the persons or things who sent it watching us? Maybe it's conscious and watching us itself. It doesn't matter! We'll go crazy if we use our imaginations. We must act purely on evidence. We must treat it as if it belongs here until we have definite evidence to the contrary. We must perform experiments on it with the greatest care. As befits the scheme. We're moral. Touch it, Mary, squeeze it--see what happens. We'll have fun."
Oh Alabama! You make us so happy. What a playground. Without a word you remove the lake from around your neck and place it on mine. Emeralds. Diamonds. Rubies. Alabama, thank you, ma'am.
But now the evening light of New York is falling on the plush tapestry of my armchair. The rooms are filthy--wads of dust gather beneath the furniture, the walls are sheets of cracks, the ceiling all patched, yellow bits of scotchtape hang everywhere, the floors slant, and there's no food to be found. A wino sleeps on the landing below.
As it gets darker I turn on the lights, sending hordes of cockroaches back to the walls as I enter each room. My saliva tastes more and more bitter. It's going to be a full moon tonight. Very thin blue flames flick out for split seconds from my chest. I desire something to strangle or eat. I plead with tears in my eyes for something to devour as I wander the four rooms.
The vampire's disgusting mind glides from one torture chamber to another, slashing, as it passes, the gossamer membrane of his brain walls with razors that it holds in the grasp of the tiny hands protruding from its wings (creating long thin bubbles like glistening red balloons bulging from the slits in the walls), and now cowering in the darkest recesses, terrified of the horror around the corner. (While, like thousands of others, there is really nothing he would like better than to ride the air currents along the edge of the ocean at dusk, invisible and inoffensive to everyone and everything.)
The vampire that lives alone on the top floor at 173 Elizabeth Street, New York City, lies sweating on his yellow sheets with his lips parted and teeth clinched. He stares at the black window beyond the foot of his bed, thinking, "black widow," and repeating to himself every phrase that enters his head. It's all tones of desperation in the yellow gallery. He turns and spits at the wall and then watches with complete concentration as the gob sends a gradually slower quarter-inch drop five inches down the wall. Interior decorator.
I want company! I'll start an interior decorating company. Decorate your arteries with spit. I love you! I have feelings. You have illusions, but listen to me--you'll be happy--we'll have each other. Try something else--you're not happy now, are you? (Leer.) Listen listen this isn't me talking--I have a mother too like everyone else. I learned how to tie my shoe. I didn't want to be like this. But anyway, look around--is one thing worse than another? Did I do it to myself? If so, help me--if not, join me. Am I God's presumptuous brother? Am I a sophist? We're alone here in this New York cave, dungeon, castle--we're out of time...
...We're going to die. We might as well die for the last but one time now. We'll be together! What do the others have? Television. We'll be alone here in exquisite tension, anticipating each other's needs. During the day we'll pull the shades and examine each other's genitals in front of the mirror. Each cockroach, each glass that breaks in the sink, will be significant. And we'll buy tomatoes and ride the subway. We'll sell travel guides to Alabama.
They hate us around here. They hate us everywhere. My glistening cock pokes out. Everyone envies the dead. They resent us as the children of the poor resent the children of the rich. We're the inspiration of evangelists! We're the seducers! We'll hate each other openly--we'll relish it. We'll deny nothing! (I am a hovering mouth, like a shark. I adore you. Your cheekbones, your nipples, your wrists, knife... )
People hate vampires because they're blameless. A vampire isn't guilty. He has nothing to lose. But this vampire sometimes wishes he were otherwise. He is insane. He lies on his bed, paralyzed below the full moon, fantasizing... In truth, at the moment he would taste her blood she could never again satisfy him. She would be a vampire herself. In my throes on the yellow sheets. Little particles of dust fall upon me. His brain is like a whirlwind in the desert. The sand gets in his eyes and he curses. It's the only way my eyes ever get wet. He longs for real death... and that's what the lock does belie...
They say obese women are the most sex-thirsty, which I believe, but any word with an x in it is sexy. Take axe.
A vampire's sex-thirst consists of brilliantly lit white caverns where 105 degree stalactites are slowly dripping onto the points of 105 degree stalagmites. But how does a person to whom each building under construction... they're going to get us... no one notices... the crane swings and who sees it but the tiny construction men, the earth the size of a marble from the moon. And you, president of Allied Ice, with an icepick in your office and a piece of tripe in every orifice--what would they think if they saw you like this? On Blank Point, love doesn't cross your mind much. But I have this assignment, and I intend to really do the best I can with it. Does Love know how to drive? It's not born with the ability, but can easily be taught, as they say about parrots. Love is a forty parrot diamond ring that pulls down its pants while its parents rot. I know a lot about this subject because I wrote an essay on it once.
It's true that love is everything to a human being. Love is the water that Jesus walked upon, but when the "water" fails and one falls into being a hermit, it is still love into which one falls.
The reason some people equate love and death is that they don't live on the equator. It's because love is so objectless that they must call it an abstraction and death is the name for abstractions. In other words, it makes you want to play dumb. If you do though, you eventually get caught and have to start again somewhere else, obliged to fall in and out of it for as long as you survive, like a spy. Nothing wrong with that, though. One could say caterpillars are in time what honeybees are in space.
This has been the prelude. Now you pass your hand over your face, and in that split-second you relax your gazing features completely as if you were asleep with your eyes open.
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