“Turner’s Comedy”

by Martin Bremer (2015)

The pistol lies across the desk from me—out of reach, but pointing straight at my chest.

Halogen lamps flood the interrogation room—I can almost feel my innards incinerate as the brightness forces its way through my retina—every crevice, every wrinkle of me, laid bare, out in the open—illuminated. I’m trying to sit straight and still, but someone turned up the AC and I can’t help curling up and shivering violently. The smell of red wine from the stain on my cocktail dress invades my nostrils—the wet spot where it spilled clings to my waist and crotch, revealing my figure underneath and intensifying the cold. Only the rasping sound of pages turning and the officer’s quasi-asphyxiating breathing while he leafs through the police report register over the humming of the AC.

“Mr. Turner,” the officer begins leisurely, “do you have any idea of what they’ll do to people like you in jail?”

I was sitting at the bar alone when Harry came up to me. He was the first one to man up and take a chance—he said hello, asked if he could sit with me, and offered me his hand. I must have gripped more firmly than he did—most of his strength had deserted him sometime between drinks seven and eight.

The bar was packed with men. Cocky seniors and juniors, most of them. A few in grad school—Harry included. You could tell none of them had ever been with a real woman. They’d either peacock around or just stare at my legs when they thought I wasn’t looking. I was about to leave when Harry walked over and introduced himself.

“Linda Turner,” I said.

“Pleased to meet you,” he smiled back and took a swig of his J&B.

His hands had something very delicate about them—the way they seemed to caress the air when they went for his glass. They were kind hands.

I finished my drink and let him order me another one.

“Are you trying to get me drunk, Harry?” I flirted.

“Oh good, you’ve done this before.”

I smiled at him.

He spun around on his stool and leaned back against the bar. For a moment, he observed the people there with a sincere, composed intensity.

“Do you ever get the impression—looking at people in places like this—that they’re just… well, children?”

I turned to look at them. Sexual innuendo, vulgarity, drunkenness—some invisible force transplanting their states of mind into a primitive, instinctual mode. There was an aura of innocent confusion surrounding those disillusioned by the night—as if, for a momentary lapse of belief, they recognized the alienness in their identity, the ritual became obscene, imposed by an ancestral nature. Tomorrow, they’d be back to denying. Tomorrow, they’d be back to their usual, faithful selves.

“Yes—yes, I do.”

His eyes were the palest shade of blue, barely short of emitting light of their own. That whiteness completely subsumed the tiny black dots in their middle. There was something relentless in those eyes—if you looked straight into them, you’d feel like you’d seen a crushing void, the whole cold and empty universe, staring back at you. But beyond that vastness hid a purity overwhelmed. That tinge of blue—bursting out of a profound core, travelling unfathomable distances, and revealing itself pleadingly in those oceans of nothing.

Before long we were in my apartment sharing the last glassful of wine I had in my cupboard. He was moving over on the couch, undressing me already with his eyes when I put my hand on his cheek. That last moment, that last instant before everything changes, before you surrender all control over yourself and step out of reality hoping to see the true meaning of anything, however fleetingly—that moment… and all I could see were those two blank and endless pits promising me absolute silence. I pulled him closer and kissed him.

Clothes slid off in the haste of young lovers who fear the reawakening of their innocence from its temporary slumber. Bodies moved in the half-light and our kiss went almost unbroken until both of us were completely naked. I was over him, closing in. He was breathing very heavily now and letting his gaze run over me—slowly.

I braced myself.

He jolted and I restrained him. He let out an unintelligible string of sounds—the alcohol had affected him more than I realized. I tried to calm him and eventually got him to lean back. The bewilderment in his eyes gave way to orders from his body to either lie still or risk losing consciousness. His eyes filled with water.

I gradually released him and began stroking his hair as he sobbed with incandescent suns locked behind his eyelids. Softly I slid down his torso, leaving a trail of kisses on my way…

“Mr. Turner?”

I look up.

The name-pin on the officer’s tan sleeveless shirt reads ‘P.O. Perry’. He’s middle-aged, overweight, and apparently immune to the cold. His glistening bald head looks as if it’s melting under the room’s bright lights. His hands, also drenched in sweat, lie on his lap covering his groin region. The folder with the report in it lies on the desk now, visibly crumpled where he had grasped it. His face is red. A discrete but persistent twitch grabs a hold of his lips. His eyes, previously avoiding me and glued to the desk in front of him, now rest hungrily on my implants.

He turns away with a jerk of the neck when he sees he’s been caught peeking. After sliding his hands even closer to his groin and shifting his eyes around over the desk for a second, Officer Perry stands up abruptly. He grabs the folder to cover up the noticeable bulge below his belt. There’s not enough space in the room to pace, so the policeman just turns around and faces the exit in the corner.

“It’s too bad you’re only a witness. I’d love to send your sodomite ass to county,” he utters in a frenzy, grinding his teeth. “It’d be only fair, since you’re the one who caused all this horseshit.”

“Excuse me? How is any of this my—” before I can finish, he darts towards me and slams his open palms on the desk.

“Don’t talk back to me, you filthy freak!”

He slaps me across the face, knocking me out of my chair.

I hit the floor of the apartment. The blue in Harry’s eyes was gone—they were blazing, fueled by a rage I had never seen in them before. Fists clenched—the infinity in his stare, now filled with hate.

His flat mate had returned three days early without any notice, cutting short our secret rendezvous. Half-naked as I was, paralysis grabbed a hold of me—the flat mate’s stare alternating between the contradicting volumes in my briefs and bra. In this perplexed state, not much of a fight was put up against Harry pushing him out the front door again. Harry swung around—then came the blow.

The flat mate was banging on the door now, asking what the hell was going on. We could hear keys jingling outside and a fumbling noise from the lock. Harry pulled me up by the arm. “Get the fuck out. Now!” He was half-whispering between his teeth, but his voice lacked none of the menace of bellowing commands.

            “My stuff—

Fuck your stuff! Just fucking leave!” He dragged me to the backdoor in the laundry room, muttering, “Just look what you’ve done to me,” only stopping to pick up a random pair of jeans and a white t-shirt from the hamper. A second later I was outside in my underwear with a small heap of dirty clothes at my feet.

            The sunlight outside was ravaging. The contour of things was losing sharpness. Everything was blending together—fusing with the background wherever the light hit. Not a tree cast a shadow. Around the corner, a concrete saw screeched against the pavement. I noticed a couple of red spots on my t-shirt. My nose was bleeding. A metallic taste inundated the inside of my mouth. A chilling wind crashed on me from behind. It spun me around and I was blinded by a glare from a window pane. The shriek of the concrete saw raised in pitch and loudness. I clasped my ears and shut my eyes. The blood was pouring out in a thin stream, dripping from my upper lip. Its smell overwhelmed me.

            I ran into the subway station. The platform was deserted. I was finally shielded there—under the dim, flickering lighting—from the obliterating sun outside. Suddenly, the ground started to shake, a mechanical growl rose from the bowels of the city, and a murderous flash emerged from around the corner. A torrent of people spewed onto the platform and knocked me over. Somehow, I managed to crawl my way into the train, where I sat on the floor and pressed my face against my knees.

I tried to hide my bleeding, unshaven face the best I could from the other subway commuters—a woman’s breasts and a man’s two-day beard on the same body proved to be too much of a paradox for them. The sight elicited a wide range of reactions from the subway audience—from indignation and disgust through to panic and confusion. Harry’s flat mate had reacted essentially the same way as he walked in on us. At least now I was fully dressed.

            I didn’t turn the lights on in my apartment. I just buried my face in the couch and finally let the overdue tears out. I clutched a nearby blanket and curled up as tightly as I could, trying to contain the pain that threatened to spread my limbs apart and pull at them until they were ripped off, leaving only that aberration of mixed parts and my sodomite ass.

The pain in my jaw and nose where Harry’s punch hit me made my head throb. Those kind hands had hurt my body, but the guilt and shame on his face had left a scar on my heart. I began wondering if his hands were that kind after all; if what I took to be a charming personality all those months ago wasn’t just a technique he perfected; if I had really seen or just imagined the drop of blue in the shade of his eyes.

But nothing had changed—no, the world has been this bleak place all along. We irradiate hope and see only how it bounces back at us—a mere projection of wishful living. The hope decayed for me that day and revealed a barren planet. Radioactive hope.

All we create is an illusion. Nothing means anything outside the ego. Life does not deal in matters of worth. In this, I find my liberation—I finally find darkness. Exhilaration floods all my senses—fuses them together. Ecstasy. A sexual, creative energy engulfs and elevates me to a transcendent state. No sound pierces my ears. No scent invades my nostrils. No taste fills my mouth. I have no boundaries. No light blinds me now.

“You piece of shit.”

My eyes are closed. The air in the interrogation room is warmer now. I’m not trembling anymore.

I feel a strange sense of peace wash over me—the bald, little man cannot hurt me anymore. He’s a victim—his very identity rests on phantasmal tenets. The order he fights for is shattered. I am the aggressor, not him.

LOOK AT ME!”

I open my eyes to find the report folder open on the desk, covered with photos of the victim’s face—pure gore. Beyond the report, the pistol still lies where it was.

Curious thing, a pistol.

“I’m so glad you forgive me—darling. Such a relief. So much so that my bladder is trying to get a piece of the action, if you know what I mean—I’ll be right back.”

He left me at our table with his steak vanished from his plate and my cannoli untouched on mine. I had my hands on my lap and my gaze on the cannoli. If I had looked up and seen someone staring at me, I would’ve bawled.

“Are you alright, miss?” a voice asked, startling me.

“Yes—yes, I’m fine,” I said, straightening the cutlery beside my plate, flattening a crease on the tablecloth.

“Is that guy being disrespectful to you?” the man pointed at the restrooms. “Girl like you doesn’t have to take that, you know.” He sat down in Harry’s seat—smirk on his face.

“What’s the idea, pal? Get the hell out of my chair!” Harry said, marching back from the toilet.

“The lady and I—are having a conversation. Why don’t you go take a hike, huh? Go get yourself some apple juice or something, okay?”

“That’s it.”

Harry grabbed the intruder by the jacket and lifted him out of his chair. A little commotion ensued—people were looking. The maître d’ excused himself from a table across the restaurant and strutted our way. I got up to try to calm Harry. The other guy pouched his lip, nostrils flaring, brow curved—conflict was imminent. I put myself between the men and a split second before the maître d’ reached us, the man threw a punch at Harry.

He missed him, but thumped his shoulder against my face. My heels slipped. My left ankle twisted inwards. I lost my balance, tried to grab the table for support, but grasped only the tablecloth, taking a wine glass with it, and spilling it on my lap. I fell on the floor, flat on my back, and my hair came off.

For a moment, people had to adjust to the absurdity that had just invaded reality. The maître d’ was in shock. The intruder looked down at me, saw my face—makeup, earrings, and scruffy, short hair—and eventually recognized the meaning of the wet lump on my groin. Harry was eyeing the wig with an expression of sheer panic.

Next came the laugh. Hysteric in pitch, maniacal in volume.

“Are you serious!? Alright, man. You can have… this,” the man said, gesturing at me. “What a fucking faggot.”

The man had taken a lot of blows before we could finally restrain Harry. After that, there was a broken nose and a pool of blood where that bastard fell.

“You fucking disgust me, you hear?”

Nothing new will ever be created again. Freedom doesn’t mean anything when all you’re free to do is to follow the rules. We are all slaves.

“Someone should rape you—that’s what you deserve.”

People are oblivious to their shackles—wristwatches, ties, jewelry. There is no more personal expression. The more we see ourselves as unique, the more we’re glorifying meaninglessness. Our narcissism keeps humanity tame.

“I pray to God that your kind never be accepted.”

The pistol glistens on the desk. I break a sweat. My mouth is watering. The barrel almost pulsates. A current of blissful energy races across my entire body. The trigger twitches. My breathing accelerates. The pressure rises. I gasp.

“YOU ARE THE BLIGHT THAT PREYS ON HUMANITY!”

The pistol goes o—

Martin Bremer was born in São Paulo, Brazil, where he lived for 19 years before moving to Heidelberg, Germany, where he’s currently in his seventh semester as an English major. He’s been at UConn for over a semester now, as an exchange student.

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