Steady hand.  Fluid wrist.

He commences, conducting an orchestra of pain across flesh.  Razor twinkles.  Nary a wince.

Slash Slash Slash

Rinse.  Repeat.

Torrid water singes skin.  Crimson rivulets streak throat.  Razor kisses flesh again; long unhurried strokes abuse corporeal canvas.  Pauses.  Countenance he measures within warped polished metal anchored into wall.  Glimpses little.  Save distorted haze of ruined reflection.  He smiles.


 Slash Slash Slash

 Rinse.  Repeat.

Water murky within stainless steel sink.  Chunky with gore.  He has no business dipping fingers into scorching bath.  No business doing anything at all.  Beyond unforgiving bars of his cell swells heinous cacophony.  Thunder low and throaty upon hollows of the valley.  But this is not thunder.  This is anguish.  This is hopelessness.  So delectable.

This is hell.

Swirls razor into steaming mess.  Watches idly frothy, bloody rings cling to sides.  Ruined tissue.  Barely audible, a squeak from behind.  “Are you afraid?” he deadpans.  Interest seized by serumy whirlpool churning within sink’s bowel.

Scampering.  Feet seeking purchase.  Harried breaths.

“You shouldn’t be afraid.”  Razor to flesh.  Skin yields in neat flaps.  Fine meat under honed slicing blade.  “Not yet, anyway.  Didn’t I tell you this would happen?  I did tell you, didn’t I?”

Outside the bars, wails.  Chaos.  Lunacy.  Choked voices plead mercy.  Invoke God.

 “Yes, I’m pretty sure I told you.”  Air trembles.  Ripples with disorder.  Sniffs air, he does.  As canine, no.  No.  Inhales as predator.  Bite of sulfur.  Copper.  Sickly sweet in throat.  Delicious these nuances of suffering.  “Yes, thinking about it now, I’m absolutely positive that I told you.”

Pops from beyond.  Another, deafening, just down the hall.  Again, a whimper from behind.  “It’s rare when one holds steadfast about something.  Very rare.  Take personal belief, for example.”  Razor to jaw.  So steady, hand.  So fluid, wrist.

 Plop.  Plop.  Plop.  Chunks plummet to sink.

 Slash Slash Slash

 “I believed this day would come for a long, long time.  I’d have bet my life on it.”  Long strokes.  Graceful.  Measured mutilation.  Rinse goes the razor.  Plunk goes the flesh.  “No, no.  I stand corrected.  Can I do that?  Can I correct something already said?  Why, I suppose so, if I’m the one doing the saying.  So no, I would not have bet my life on it.  But I would have bet my soul.”  Chuckles.  “Can I share something with you?  You won’t judge me, will you?”

Gunshots once more.  Outside bars.  Just down the hall.  From here.  From there.  From here and there.  Each extracts a strangled sob.  Behind him.  Closer to the floor.  “I don’t like to be judged.  Really, who does?  Did you enjoy it when you were?  In the literal sense of the word, you were judged.  You received, what, nine years?  Already had a few strikes against you, a few prior convictions.  What did you expect?  I’ll tell you what you expected—you expected not to be judged.  Your life was hard.  No proper upbringing.  You expected them to understand.  You expected someone to give a damn.  But instead, you were damned.”

Outside bars, screams for a child.  A boy.  His name rips from father’s mouth.  Wishes to hear it, perhaps, before he dies.

“Yes, I’ve been judged as well.  A long, long time ago.”  Blade to forehead, above brow.  Steady hand.  Fluid wrist.  Left to right.  Left to right.

Slash Slash Slash

Rinse.  Repeat.

Splashes scalding water into eyes.  Rinses free the gore.

“I didn’t like being judged then.  All because I simply saw things…differently.  All because I held firm, positive in my sentiment.”  Teeth clinch.  Snare vicious drawl.  “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Outside bars, prayer in wild howls.  Fades.  Cloth tears.  Rending fills the void.  Then an awful sound.  Pigs to trough.  Jackal to meat.  Wet.  Slobbery.

“So, yes, I did tell you this day would come.  Yes.  I’m positive now.”  Din deafens.  Maelstrom of degeneration.  Yet one voice heard above all.  “I’ve enjoyed talking to you, by the way.  Enjoyed your company these past few years.  You’ve been a good egg.”

Body slams into bars.  Mangled.  Glistening.  Chewed.

He stares into distorted mirror.  Hand hovers inches from face.  An artist, he applies the finishing touches.  Long, fluid strokes.  Graceful, sweeping curves.  Not much longer.  Not much longer at all.

 “Listen, you’ve got nothing to worry from me.  Not a thing.  I will not hurt you.  It’s those animals.  Out there.”  Jerks head in direction of bars.  Ploop ploop ploop the crimson splatters shoulder.  Prison garment soaks.  “Those things, they’re you.  What you see is only yourself.  So look, this will go in one of two ways.  Release your inner self, become them and serve.  Or simply become part of them.  I’ll give you a minute to decide.”

 Putrid decay seeps into cowering shadows.  Madness reverberates against walls.  Tang of suffering clots the air.

“Time is up.  Sorry, but I haven’t all day.  Places to go, people to see.  Lots planned.  Bet no one thought the end would ever start here.  I mean, it is a penitentiary, after all.  The monsters are supposed to be on the inside.  But not anymore.”

Razor drops into sink.  “I blame all this on your judge.  He thought he had all the answers.  Problem was that he never asked the questions.  Now it’s too late for that.”

He pirouettes. “He tried to make you into his image.  Aren’t you tired of wearing his mask?  I certainly am.”

And last of face oozes down chest.

“So what’s it going to be, hmm?  A brand new world awaits.”

~ Joseph A. Pinto

© Copyright 2011 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Judge

  1. I really like this piece for its contrast; event-specific narrative against abstract internal dialog voiced aloud. Being the only witness to his self-mutilation and so attentive to his own thoughts, he would only take notice of the basic fundamental experiences of his senses; what he hears and see, what he thinks (embellishment) is only about his monologue. I was captured but the process of his “work” until he spoke, and then the simple, direct narrative became a frame accenting him. Taking notes…
    Thanks again!


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