...or the amazing chronicles of everything that I like and stuff.
This fills me with awe. What a lovely montage…
I wanted to do something to celebrate Edgar Wright’s THE WORLD’S END, which lands in North American cinemas this August 23rd. It’s a fantastic movie and everyone should see it. It reunites the director with best pals and legendary cinematic duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, along with a slew of other very fine british actors. I didn’t know what do do and then it hit me : last year I wrote a short story in which there is quite the epic bar brawl. This ties in quite nicely with Edgar Wright’s film as it has probably the greatest bar brawl ever put to film (no hyperbole). So here it is, a short story that I very much hope you’ll enjoy, to wet your bar-brawl-loving appetite until August 23rd.
I have been walking for hours. It is very dark outside. The moon is hidden behind a thick veil of clouds. All I can hear is the sound of my own footsteps, irregular, the footsteps of a bleeding, wounded man. A dying man.
There are still five knives sticking out of my back. Their blades embedded in me like a punishment, a reminder, an alarm. My clothing are wet with thick dark blood that travels in globs slowly down my legs, like long wet slugs, and pool in my shoes. I feel no pain, though, the drugs take care of that for now. Except those drugs can’t do a thing about the memories. The black stinking punch to the gut memories of being tied up and beaten and stabbed. The memories of five ugly deaths cut right into me, so deep into me I can feel those blades carving etchings on the grey, rusted and broken surface of my damned soul.
I finally get to my destination. The Devil’s Anvil, a pub where only dead men drink. I kick the door open and all eyes turn to me. Red, bloodshot eyes that scream at you, that stare you down like a boot crushing eggshells. Big bad fuck you eyes that don’t blink. Eyes with teeth. Eyes that are staring at you from the flip side of death. They don’t phase me one bit.
I walk in and a man sitting by the door stands up and puts his hand on my chest. His hand burns a mark through my overcoat, through my blood-stained shirt and tie, on my skin. This is the doorman. This is the guy who will look me over and decide if I’m dead enough to have a seat at the bar and get my drink. I behave. He circles around me, slowly, and considers my sorry state. He touches all five knives, make sure they’re in me, deep, not some show I’m putting on. They are. He sits back down and takes a long sip of some black liquid looks like ink. Maybe it is. He doesn’t look up at me again. I’m no longer his problem. I guess I’m invited in.
I walk up to the bar and take a seat. I see the man for the first time. He’s behind the bar, his back to me at first, then he turns and his eyes lock on mine. He looks like all the damn books say he will. His skin is red like blood, he has thick black horns sticking out of his skulls, he looks confident, malicious, perverted to the core and incredibly smart. I look over the bar at his feet. Hooves. This is the man I’m looking for. “What’ll it be?” he asks. “You tell me,” I answer, “what’s the last drink you wanna pour?” The man smiles. I don’t. The place goes quiet around us, all kinds of quiet. The scheming kind. The threatening kind. The quiet before dead men get angry. That doesn’t phase me either.
“I thought you’d be coming,” the man says. He turns his back to me and reaches for a bottle on the back wall’s highest shelf. He opens it and pours two small glasses of a blue shinning liquid. He pushes one of the glasses slowly towards me, and takes the other. He raises the glass. “To never leaving this pub,” he says to me, drilling holes in my eyes with his gaze. I raise my glass to meet his toast, and pour the content down my throat. An unbearable sadness washes over me, the feeling only lasts a few moments but it completely takes me over. I don’t show it, though, or I think I don’t. I do my best. “What was that?” I ask the man. He smiles. “Supplication,” he says, “hers.” I stare at him but I say nothing. I let him say his words. “She begged and she pleaded and she asked God, every god and any god, anyone, really, she asked anyone for help,” he continues, very calmly, still looking me in the eyes with that cold goddamn stare of his, “and I bottled that up, that desperation, and fed it to you. That’s what just happened.” I feel rage inside of me, burning, boiling, delicious rage, and it helps me keep it together, and I give him nothing. I push my empty glass back to him and I say: “That tasted watered down to me, I thought this was a reputable establishment. Another.” He smiles again and I fucking want to break that damn bottle inside his mouth and make him chew it. He pours me another glass, and he pours himself one too. We both drink. Another wave of pure, absolute sadness washes over me. The man turns his back to me again, showing me he’s not afraid, not worried, not one bit, and puts the bottle away, back on the top shelf. “The first one was on me,” the man says, still his back to me, “but that second one? Man, that’s gonna cost you.”
I realize a crowd has gathered around me. I get up slowly. The drugs are starting to wear off. I feel the knives in my back. I feel like a man counting his last cold dark minutes, the weight of a life’s worth of wrong turns on my shoulders, my heart looking for blood to pump but not finding much. Except I don’t need blood, I have better than blood. I am the angriest man in this place, and I am going to kill them all. All these dead men, I’m going to kill them all…
“You’re alone,” a man says next to me. His voice sounds like rocks being banged together. “You’re unarmed,” another voice says, somewhere behind me, like an ice cold breeze coming from a shadow. “We’re gonna paint you every shade of dead,” says someone else, somewhere. They all laugh. The bar fills up with deafening roars of laughter, almost screams. The man from behind the bar stares at me. He is still smiling. Again, my face gives him nothing. I hold his stare for a moment longer and then I turn to face all the sorry bastards that I am about to dispose of. I wait until the laughter dies down, it doesn’t take long, and I say: “I’m not alone.” There is a man in front of me, a tall, towering brute of a man, with a cigar bigger that my arm sticking out of his mouth. I reach out and take it from him. I bite on it and suck some smoke into my lungs. It burns me, it hurts me, I need that. I blow the smoke out and I say: “I have five friends with me.”
The rest happens quickly. I reach behind me with both arms and pull two knives out from my back, ignoring the sharp pain, and I burry them both it the cigar guy’s neck. They both come out the other side. The doomed man’s head falls to the ground and a fountain a black, thick blood shoots out from the man’s neck, as his legs give under him. I waste no time. I become a tempest, I rain my fury down on these men, cutting and slashing through them. Once, and then one more time, I bury a knife too deep into a man, in a stomach or a rib cage, and I leave it there and reach for another one in my back. I break a knife into a man’s skull and reach for another. I use all my damned knives. I get punched and stabbed and pushed and bit and scratched but I never stop. I never break. I never die. Not yet. I can’t. I’m too goddamn busy for death. I cut these men down until they are piles of flesh, until they are parts, until I am covered from head to toe in the blood and the piss and the poison that ran through them before I stepped foot in this place to deliver them from their bastard existence.
After a minute or a week, it’s done. I take a long drag of the blood dripping cigar that is still sticking out of my mouth. It feels good. The smoke comes out of my wounds before I have time to blow it back out. Heh. I turn to the bar to face the man I came here to kill. The man with the horns and the hooves, the man with the burning red skin and the malice in his eyes, but he is gone. He did not dare face me. Figures. It doesn’t matter. I know where he ran off to. I know where to find him. He went back home, and I’m on my way there already. I slowly walk behind the bar and reach up to that top shelf, for the precious bottle. I walk back to the other side of the bar, stepping over the piles of dead I have covered the floor with, and I sit at my stool. I reach into my jacket pocket and fish out a picture. An old photograph. It is covered in blood and punctured by knife stabs. No matter. I flatten it on the bar and wipe the blood off of it, to reveal the face of a woman. She is smiling up at me. She has no clue what’s coming. Good. Better times. I pour myself a glass of the shining blue drink and I pour it down my throat. I like this sadness that engulfs me. It’s overwhelming but it’s hers. It’s her. What’s left of it. So I’ll take it.
I finish the bottle, taking my time. I work my way through most of that cigar, too. I’m at the tail end of it all, and I know it. Might as well enjoy the finer things. Eventually, time slows down to a halt. My eyes glaze over. My heart stops. What’s left of the cigar slowly burns it way to my pale dead lips. The clock’s run out on this side of things.
You better run, motherfucker, because I’m in your house now, and I’m coming for you…
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's last (first) album is one of my favorites of recent years so the fact that they have a new album out on October 29th (same date as the new Arcade Fire - this will be a good music day) is great, exciting news!
Here’s the cover art:
Find out more and listen to a new song off the record by visiting pitchfork.
I’m going to turn 39 in a couple of months.
When you’re my age it’s both easy to think of yourself as younger than you really are, and to long for the days when you actually, truly, were.
That’s where The World’s End begins. With a man my age (ish) who not only refuses to accept that he’s an older man, but who achingly longs to touch those years again, from two decades ago, when all of life was laid bare at the tips of his fingers, ripe with the promise of a fantastic life and a future paved in good times.
But you can’t live in the past, and it’s dangerous to try.
That being said, man, it is fun to watch.
The World’s End is a beautiful, funny, clever and thrilling exploration of the dangers of refusing to grow up. It’s about the wisdom in leaving the past well enough alone, and about the fact that the past probably wouldn’t recognize you anyways (or you wouldn’t recognize it?), if you showed up at it’s doorstep begging to be let back in.
But seriously, it’s a fucking funny movie.
This album, Ruby Red by The Love Language, is out today via Merge Records and makes me very happy. It’s really good and maybe you should get it. That’s all.