Beluga

by Jelle Cauwenberghs

Don't ask me how. Don't ask me how I ended up here. With this brain out of sync, out of balance, uncommunicative. Here is the old bakery, the former missionary station where the willing souls were harvested, the leaking house where spiders and mould fight over the occupation of haircelled ceilings, where water, smothering water, is your lover, a thieving maid, pale and cunning, a ghost in your lungs planting kisses of decomposition. No place to be a germloather. At night, I don't snore. I drown, I am poisoned. The plague is a carpet of miniature puddles in my chest, mushrooming clouds of toxic dust. And I think, I think of the whales singing out there, the rats in the basement, the big-brained creatures moving unseen through this darkness, and piercing, piercing this sheet that I call sleep, or somnolence, for I don't sleep, I am awake in the knowledge of my organs decaying. And this head, so big, so full of desire, that I must keep mobile to reach the edge of the ice. To stay afloat, I swim. Do I swim, or is this sinking? Outside is the beyonderness. There is the wind, the hysteric sister element, howling and clawing at the tarpaper that I nailed to the roof, raging across the tundra, disseminating terror among the horses in the field. Abyss of sound. As the grass rustles like a cluster of adders. And they will welcome me in the morning, white-eyed and fierce with hatred, the horses I mean, those beasts so forlorn and full of scorn. If they could hiss. For me, for my weakness, for my species. Each day I make peace with the world and then, the sense of self shatters, the awkward reverence shrivels to the size of a vein pumping, the grey and brown brutality of the land overwhelms me with this message. Stranger. What the bitter cold is. The opposite of supremacy. About my housemate, the Spanish brothel owner turned cook and carpenter. Don't ask me. What happened to his whorehouse, to his whores, to his wealth? To his dick. This magnetic brink. We both belong to this religion of the sorrowful exile in Europe. Too comfortable to be pioneers in this day and age. Astronauts in a recycled space, cynical explorers in a clinical wilderness. We buy plane tickets, we buy stale sandwiches, we are minutes of expectation accumulated into the shape of journeying bodies. Zip. Flash. Customers of dream.com. Visa voyagers. We are too dull to be highway scoundrels. We harbour no modern nomads in search of secret destinations, the dawn without end of film endings. Of such stuff we are not made. We aren't brave enough. In fact, cancel the idea of courage. Medals don't pay for mortgages, for wives in office jobs. We're here for a good time. Beer drinkers, butterheads. The crisis killed our romance with adventure. Our needs drive us, here, where the world ends in water, in soft flesh. We are this herd of teary-eyed reindeer staring at the blank screen, waiting for the slaughter in the corrals. We breathe and toil and weep. And in front of us, the sea continues, endlessly igniting our brains with the sound of a burning tape, a ladder lost in froth. Again and again, like fragments of the future. Our breakfast of fantasy. Remote control era. I switch to this conversation. A lighthouse keeper and a spider lady. His obsession with the cycle of light, the location of the sun. Geocentric versus heliocentric. The inquiring eye. He knows this band. That band. Iceland is mentioned. That land of indielore. She, of the plants, of the cockroaches in a laundry basket, of the tarantula in its terrarium. Of the collection of eraserheads, as in: the character. The darkness. Everywhere, doors opening. A movie collection that gives me goosebumps. Horror. Real, uncut. A small tattoo in the nape of her neck. Can't figure it out. Have you read. What. Have you read Wittgenstein. Oh yes, naturally. Which one is your favourite. Is there such a thing as a favourite Wittgenstein. What about, what about. Laughter. I could rearrange this and call it a play. And then, the cupboard opens. Absinth. Several bottles. Could be, could be. I wished I were here, elsewhere, here again. Triangular spectre of yearning. Give me the bottle. I prefer the liquid to the solid. Colourfields. I mumble something about plastic bottles in the sea being the phosphorescence of man. Ah yes. Such was my intention. A tribute to waste, to collectors, to the product of death that I like to call art. I like to be an artist, it's without definition, it's forever extinct. God, I am a futurist, not a post-modernist.