where the writers are
Parallels: Three Stories

"[People] cannot endure [their] own littleness unless [they] can
translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level."
     ~ Ernest Becker, 1973, The Denial of Death

"The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to
cultivating habits."
    ~ Albert Camus, 1948, The Plague

"One must not let oneself be misled: they say 'Judge not!' but they
send to Hell everything that stands in their way."
    ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1894/1990, The Anti-Christ

Parallels: Three Stories
By Anthony Madaleni

The bus was warm, the night was cool, and each star reflected her
inner isolation. Life is so, pointless, she thought to herself. The
seats are torn, cushioning pouring out like a disemboweled angel. The
lights are cold, manufactured, casting a glow of monotonous warmth.
They are located on the ceiling, flickering furiously, not comforting
as one would expect, only personifying her many frailties. Stupid,
stupid, stupid light, make me feel something, anything, even pain. The
moon was full and clear, God's light bulb, he didn't want to keep us
in the dark after all. Her eyelashes flickered; the mascara she wore
covered the perimeter of her eyes, two delicate pools of blue liquid.
She wore knee- high brown leather boots, high- heeled, and a black
skirt. She had on a black coat, and a white button down shirt
underneath, a pink scarf, her favorite, adorned her pale neck. The
driver stopped, It was then she noticed an old woman, pale and full of
affection sitting directly across from her. How had she not noticed
her before? The woman was adorned in a checkered blouse, and she was
knitting, knitting a bright blue sweater. The only other individual on
the bus was sitting in the back, he wore black kaki pants a white
shirt, black tie, and perfectly polished Armani business shoes. The
bus came to a halt (creeeeak) and the front door swung open, it was
her stop. No, that wasn't it, stopping implied that you had some sort
of destination in mind, your life had a purpose, a goal to it, the
universe and all of its intricate workings made perfect sense. She had
no ultimate goal; her life had no meaning to it. The light from the
bus cascaded onto the dark sidewalk, bending the confines of the
darkness, twisting it into light, she wondered if some sort of
struggle ensued, if the dark fought against the warm radiations, a
battle of sorts, but she couldn't be sure, could she. One, two, three,
four steps onto the sidewalk, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
eight, nine, and ten steps toward brownstone house, and she was
plunged into the fruitless escapade known as her life.

                         Flies: An ode to a depressed, middle- aged house wife

The door opened, he still hadn't fixed it, even though he promised to,
on her birthday even, but that was six months ago. One, two her shoes
and coat were off and she stepped into their small living room, seeing
it once again affirmed her belief in the utter absurdity of the
universe, children starved, men butchered one another, women died in
child birth, and every single frailty the universe had to offer was
reflected in her living room. Her loving (lie, he beat her frequently,
teach you some respect, make me dinner on time, punctuality, a life
lesson) was asleep on his favorite chair, the slippers she had so
painstakingly knitted for him, adorned his feet, he looked remotely
adorable, in his white undershirt, fat gut extending down to his
crotch, and his feet peppered with the multitude of hearts that she
had sewn (key word) onto his slippers. The couch located directly next
to his chair was adorned with a quilt that said " We love our happy
family!" Once again, she had knitted that herself and, once again, he
had responded with a beating. The television casts a pale glow over
the vicinity of the living room, it didn't so much as substitute
darkness with light as replace the blackness of the room with a cold,
mechanical fuzz. Pornography, his favooorite, graced the television
screen. Big breasted, unbearably stupid women ferociously licked one
another, forcing themselves to take pleasure in the depraved act, for
the camera of course, always for the camera. Isn't that what its
always about, smile, pose for the camera, seventeen, Cosmo (she hated
Cosmo) get the paycheck and pay for the plastic! Forget personalities,
star in some cheap porno and you'll provide easy company for some fat,
disgusting men late at night. It was then her husband rolled his
fleshy neck towards her and he smiled, he smiled! Pig, she thought to
herself.

Come over here baby he said

Screw you, she shot back. She was not going to be dragged into one of
his sick games tonight, she had had it with being beaten and abused by
her lowlife husband.

Come on baby, it was then the billows of fat mass that made up his
face parted, in the same way Moses split the Red Sea. He smiled again,
and stood (somehow) he was gradually approaching her. She cringed and
stepped back, he looked hungry, she ran.

Running through halls echoing nothingness, she ran, through a bedroom
where the love was replaced with the passionless throngs of an unhappy
marriage. Approaching the closet, she smiled, opening it and reaching
for the rifle she smiled, and while loading it she was absolutely
ecstatic.

She heard his voice, bellowing, carried by waves of useless desire,
and a control that he could no longer exert over her. She went down
the stairs (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten)
and approached him, rifle raised hesitantly.

What the hell, what you doing with that girl?

Shut up she said (so empowering)

It was then she noticed the flies, buzzing, lightly tapping against
the lamp above their heads. Trapped much like she was, in a situation
that demanded immediate escape.
She wondered, do they laugh, cry or love? Did they enter one another
with more passion and mutual respect then in her situation?

She began to cry, small gleaming pearls traversing their way down her
pale cheeks.

You've always been a cry baby he mocked

Don't you have anything to say for yourself, anything? Are you sorry,
even a little bit?

Put the gun down, his manner suddenly stoic, he approached her, now
stop all this talking, you need some discipline.

Get away! She shrieked, and fired

He opened up to her, finally (at least his face did.)

His being coated the walls in a thick, sticky paste, a shining
scarlet, a sanguine lilac. He was magnificent, more beautiful than he
had ever been in life.

She laughed a long heartfelt noise. The flies were still buzzing,
trying desperately to find a way out, trapped, like she used to be.

She used the butt of the rifle to break open the overhanging light
which had served as their confinement for so long. They hurriedly flew
away, and she opened a window for them, they were free of their
chains. She too, has to leave now, she packed her bags quickly and
methodically and approached the front door.

She took one more glance at her now defunct husband, and the room
covered in a macabre assortment of roses,

Thank you, she said, and stepped outside into the cold evening air.

 

He hated the bus, too many people. Even though there were only three
(counting himself) an old hag and some young, fleshy brunet, easy on
the eyes, at least. Couldn't wait to get off, just get off this small,
cramped contraption. Holding his briefcase tight, he stroked it, like
one would try to soothe a dying man, it'll be ok, we'll be home soon,
he whispered to his briefcase, and his tools. So shiny, gleaming,
gleaming, gleaming they are! He needed to get home now (!!!!!) and use
them! The voices, incessant, use them, use me they cried into his
psyche. No one would suspect him would they, not if he wore a suit,
and nice shoes, and a nice house with a convertible. Not if he
attended church every Sunday, ate all those awful (!!!!!) cookies at
those school bake sales his kids dragged him to. Not if he had a
beautiful (albeit plastic) wife whose brain was the size of a trampled
grape. No, he was fine, never better actually. He kept his kids
satiated with cartoons and copious amounts of high calorie snack food.
Anyways, this generation never turned their IPod’s off long enough to
notice which season it is. It's funny, he thought, how a society so
intertwined with technology knows absolutely nothing. That’s why they
were so easy to find, men and women dying to be beautiful, he would
grant them their wish, most definitely. The bus halted to a stop, the
brunet walked off, it was his next. He opened his briefcase, and
checked his instruments, it would be waiting for him when he arrived
home.

Beauty Pageant: An ode to Perfection

Off the bus, and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine,
ten steps to his front door, he opened it slowly and went inside. The
house was dimly lit, the only light permeated from the kitchen. He
preferred it to be dark, he stepped into the living room and both of
his children were sitting on the couch, side by side, staring intently
at the blank television screen. They didn't even greet him when he
entered,

TV off, his son said

Turn TV on, his daughter said

He proceeded to grab the remote and promptly clicked the red button
labeled power. a cartoon featuring a fat  hippo graced the screen.

Here he said, and threw a piece of chocolate at the two children, they
fought furiously over it, tearing at the others hair, biting, and
scratching, the two were beginning to bleed and he left the room. It
wasn't that he didn't love his kids, he did, but keeping then
distracted like this allowed him to complete his work in relative
peace. He went to his bedroom and noticed his beloved spouse, laying
in bed, blanket wrapped tightly around her like a white funeral
shroud.

Hi, she said, copious amounts of tissues littered the room, scattered
in heaps along the edge of the bed, he hated when she did this.

Paris Hilton killed herself, his wife managed to say through a torrent
of tears, they say that it was a result of a deep depression she
entered after bruising her face in a purging accident! Who will the
kids look up to now!

It'll be ok, he said, and laid a comforting hand onto her trembling
shoulder, now take this dangerously high dosage of xanax I bought for
you and sleep.

She acquiesced to his request, and within a few minutes she was
asleep, tears still streaked across her face. He left the room and
took one final glance into the den, apparently, his son had lost the
struggle, for his throat was torn opened, a large, gaping hole, a
bloody maw. A thin jet of blood squirted out of the wound, staining
the carpet, his daughter was now savoring each bite of the succulent
chocolate. He told her to clean up the mess, and he left.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven,
twelve, and he was at the top of the stairs, directly above their
bedroom. What stood before him, an ebony door appearing in striking
contrast with the sharp white of the surrounding wallpaper. It was
locked at all times, but he had the key (oh yes he did!) The door
opened, and it was still there, thank God, his package was still
alive!

She was sitting on a black chair, hands chained behind her back, white
rag crammed into   her mouth. She shook back and forth when she saw
him, brown hair shaking violently with each drastic movement. He
approached her, removed his jacket, as well as his shirt, exposing his
chiseled torso to her. She began to sweat, and he removed the rag from
her mouth.

Please! she said, I've been waiting for such a long time!

I know, I know, he said, and gently stroked her dark, wavy hair.

It was then he opened his briefcase, the one he always carried with
him, and she saw them, rows of surgical instrument, thin knives, some
stitches, hooks, and two of the pale globs typically used for breast
enlargement.

He smiled

Please, make me beautiful, and she began to cry, I'm so ugly she
screeched, fix me!

He placed his hand over her mouth to quiet her, she obeyed his request.

Now, dear, he said, lifting one of the knives, this may hurt a bit but
in the end, it will be worth it, you will be famous. Like all of them!

He opened the velvet curtains she had been facing, pulling on a yellow
rope than dangled from the brown ceiling.

Several men and women, five to be exact, adorned the white walls. Long
dead, skin resembling that of a porcelain doll, a collection of
perfect eternal companions to this man. The beauty astounded her,
their faces were so pure, blemish less, and divine. She yearned to
reach that level of perfection, even in nudity every orifice was
shaped in the perfect manner.

Now he said, your breasts are not large enough, lets make them bigger

Oh, of course, she said

He removed her shirt and lowered the blade into her flesh; the skin
welcomed it, and gladly opened itself. He smiled, and with broad
strokes he neatly fixed the globs inside, he then ever so carefully
stitched them back up. Staring at her breasts, the skin a swollen red,
and the stitching apparent, she immediately realized how close she was
to reaching perfection.

Keep going she said

Gladly

Now your lips, he said, who would ever want those upon them?

Absolutely, you're right she said

He used his silver instrument of purity to open them and he inserted
what resembled stuffing, making them that much more pleasurable to
glance upon and suckle one's lips.

Almost done, now look at yourself, he held up a silver mirror and she
now realized that she was in such a state that warranted herself being
added to his collection. Blood smeared her lips and beyond like
lipstick, her eyes bloodshot but beautiful, it was in this state he
would adore her.

Please, she said, i want to be with you forever, and the tears began
to caress her cheeks.

Oh my dear, and he kissed her passionately, you will; and it was then
he used the same exquisite blade to slit her throat, one swift
continuous motion, and the cycle of rebirth was once again completed.

She seemed to mutter the words thank you before she passed, and he was
ever so welcomed to please her.

In the end, he thought, she was his favorite so far, the rest of them
protested futilely, but she, she knew that this was transcendence and
he was an artist, she was merely the canvas. Da Vinci, Michelangelo,
they used oils and he, flesh. He held up her head, and stared into her
eyes, dark as two coals, absolutely magnificent. He would have to
bleach her soon, in order to turn the skin that porcelain white she so
envied in her last few moments. He was glad she understood, it was
then he lifted the mirror, stained in some places with her scarlet
fluid, he looked, well, flabby, he would have to hit the gym soon, so
many prospects begging for the perfection they witnessed in magazines.
Satisfied with his work for today, he went downstairs and had a
filling meal, it tasted particularly good tonight.

Lights, so many of them, darted by like comet trails; it was as if
each speckle of blossoming warmth contained within it a universe all
its own. She sat, tasting the cool night air, like a thin coating of
frost on her tongue, feeling it caress the white strands of her hair,
the aging face. Thumbs, her hands, ring finger, and index finger, all
were busy knitting; it was her favorite hobby, sweaters, vests, even
socks occasionally. The bus was almost devoid of anyone, except a
petite young girl and some troubled young man holding a briefcase,
which for some reason seemed odd to her. Her musing was interrupted,
the bus came to a stop, lights blinking, the young girl stood up her
appearance harkened back to the images of frightened rabbits she had
read about in the picture books of her youth. The girls ebony hair
shimmered, lulled in the wind when she stepped outside, like the mane
of some magnificent horse. The glow from a nearby street lamp danced
across the girls face and at that moment the world seemed so perfect
and beautiful and the act that was inside of her head seemed to have a
small amount of justification behind it. God willed it didn't he, the
heathens of this eroded society needed to be purged, but that young
girl with her radiant visage and those eyes with their shimmering
symmetry gave her some semblance of hope. She smiled her lips
(cracking) appeared scarlet in the dying embers of the light as her
face was reflected in the window she was sitting next to. Shadows
dance across her face and in that moment everything was beautiful.
Glory: Or the reclaiming of The City of God

The bus stopped and the light was slanting through the dusty windows,
she got up out of her seat and walked to the front,
clickclackclickclack her feet went on the floor. High-heeled shoes and
stockings, she left entering out into the dark evening street. It was
cold outside, bitterly cold to be exact, and she was glad she had
dressed accordingly. She was ready for the task that needed
completion, the task that the Lord God commanded her to do, she must
purge the world of filth and that which would offend Christ. She knew
where he was, as she was walking she reminisced about her childhood,
so many memories scattered in fragments across a dusty floor. She
remembered pain and the Lord's absolution of said pain, when He had
entered her life everything had changed for the better. That was
precisely why she must punish those who do not adhere to Him, they
have voluntarily walked to the light and thus they should face
consequences for avoiding the rays of the Lord. As that thought passed
through her head, she realized she had reached her intended
destination, a dilapidated, dust colored building lay before her eyes,
and the man she desired would be waiting inside for her, waiting to
experience the true love God has for him, even insignificant beings
receive mercy from the all mighty.

The inside of the rust colored building was almost alive with the
smell, the feel of perversion. It radiated of the beaten down
doorways, and musty furniture in the run down apartment complex. High
above her, she could hear water dripping down from the partially
collapsed roof in a rhythmic series of noises, and little light
penetrated the interior of the dull building. She heard him first, a
faint noise traveling across the landscape of time and entering her
ears, it sounded like (singing?) perhaps, or was it laughing? She
followed the thin thread of the echoing sound gradually to its source.
He was squatting in a green shirt, frayed around the edges and caked
with dirt, he was wearing ripped jeans and sneakers that were the
color of decay, the same decay that seemed to permeate his entire
being. He was rocking back and forth, arms clutching his fragile frame
in a manner resembling a twisted embrace.

My dear she said, and she approached him and held his arm up to hers,
a series of pinpricks the size of dimes littered his pale flesh, she
glanced about and found a rusty needle lying beside him.

Mama is that you? he said, eyes red and mad in an apparent hallucination.

Yes dearie, you've been a naughty boy, what would Jesus think of what
you are doing?

I don't know mama he'd be pretty upset with me, and I'm sorry but I
wet the bed last night, I couldn't help it! PLease mama, I'm so sorry

Oh dearie she said, come here, and she embraced him and before she
knew it he was kissing her softly on the lips, mama he said.

And for a moment, possessed by the devil or some mad physical desire,
she slid her tongue into his waiting mouth.

The needle slid in quickly (for he was certainly used to their bitter
sting) and he collapsed into her arms without a struggle.

He was dreaming, dreaming of a large multicolored ball, bouncing to
and fro like a mad animal. He extended his arms, but he just couldn't
reach it. It seemed to morph, change shape before his very eyes,
change into something horrible with a litany of screaming faces and
sharp, gleaming teeth. Their breath seemed to ignite the world around
him into a conflagration of miniature stars, each one pulsating with
some sort of perverse reality about to be exposed to him.

It was then he awoke, a quick sharp movement broken by a miniature
gasp, deep within his throat. There were quick glimpses first, a
single naked light bulb, flies, and a cement ceiling. He tried to move
his hand but couldn't, his legs were immobilized as well. He would
have screamed if his mouth could have undertaken the necessary motions
to do so.

She preferred it this way, enjoyed it in fact, for it states, "For
many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus
Christ is come in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an antichrist."
Does this man not personify those qualities, she thought to herself.
His hedonistic lifestyle led him away from the true light of Christ,
and thus it was her duty, as his spiritual guardian, to show him the
true grace of God.

She approached him swiftly, now, she said, are you ready to accept
Christ as your eternal savior?

What, fuck you he spat

Well, that just won't do she said, and she slapped him, hard.

I'll ask you again, heathen, are you ready to accept Christ as your
eternal savior?

No, he bellowed, what has your God ever done for me

Everything, she hissed, are you blind?

No he said, no, no, no, I believe in myself and that’s all I need

Wrong, you ignorant fool, Christ saved you from the fires of hell, and
he did so for your sins, and mine, he loves you, don't you see?

If your God's idea of love is to have men butcher one another for no
apparent reason, than he shows his compassion for humanity every day

It took several crucial seconds for this thought to reach her brain;
she just did not believe anyone in their right minds could say such a
thing. She took him in, all of him, his fragile form bound to the
rusty chair, his defiant eyes, and she took out a knife she had been
concealing (God's divine hand acting through her) and removed the top
of his pinky finger. It was a quick motion; he didn't even realize it
was gone at first, not until his eyes grew in terrible realization.

You bitch, he snarled and his face contorted into a mask of rage, and
he began to shake violently, rocking the chair back and forth and
moving his head furiously at the same time.

You bitch, you bitch, you bitch, he kept repeating and eventually his
words became choked sobs. my fucking finger he wailed, you bitch, you
bitch

You see, that is what happens when you reject the Lord our God, you
must be punished for your transgressions, now she said, would you like
me to get the pliers?

No, he squealed, I'll believe anything you say, just tell me.

She then began to educate about the one true God, and his son and
equal Jesus. Who came to earth, preached love and forgiveness, and was
crucified by angry men that did not understand, or were skeptical of
his message. She told him how one must live in the true light of
Christ by spreading his message, forcefully if necessary. In the end,
he must live the life Christ intended him to.

As she began to release him from his chair, slowly cutting the straps,
he said, I sort of understand what you said, but parts of it still
don't make perfect sense to me.

Dearie, she exclaimed warmly, it doesn't have to make sense, you just
have to believe it.