Jason Jordan |
BLACK METAL IST KRIEG
I watch it happen. I don’t know how, or even why, but I do. I watch my dead self on a screen. I see my friend try to rouse me, unsuccessfully.
“How long you gonna be in town?” asked John. His voice sounded as it always had. I wondered if he looked the same, too—tan and thin, curly brown hair, brown eyes, a lip ring.
“Not long. I just need a place to crash for the night, after the concert,” I said.
“You’ll need to be careful around here. This part of town isn’t the safest.”
“So I should expect to get carjacked or shot?”
“That’s if you’re lucky.”
I laughed. It’d be good to see him again, and Karen, his wife. I hadn’t talked to her in a while either. I wondered if she looked the same—pale and thin, straight blonde hair, blue eyes, earrings.
Philadelphia. They get all the good shows. Living in the middle of Pennsylvania gets you disgruntled, fast, because the shows are either in Pittsburgh or Philly—opposite ends of the state. The trip takes a few hours by car, with bleak scenery since Subfusc only tours in the winter. In fact, they refuse to tour in warm weather. They’re Norwegian black metallers, and they’ve said that “winter is cold and dismal, like our music, and that atmosphere allows us to hate ourselves and our audience more easily.” Olenthod, the vocalist, was so quoted in his “first and last interview ever” in Black Metal, the premier underground publication for the genre.
“Who’re you seeing?” asked Karen, having been handed the phone.
“Subfusc,” I said. “They’re playing at The Trocadero. One of only two U.S. shows this year. The other’s in L.A. One show on each coast.”
“That’s cool. I’d go, but I’m afraid to.”
“If I were a woman, I wouldn’t be comfortable going to a black metal show either. It’s a hostile environment, for sure.”
“You have fun, though.”
“I’ll see you in a few hours—probably well after midnight.”
“See ya, Karen.”
The show was excellent, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Luckily, I bought my ticket on the Internet as soon as they went on sale, because when I got to the venue I discovered the show was sold out. The Troc has a capacity of 1,200, but I’m sure people flew in from all over the country (other countries, too) to attend. The crowd was a sea of black—T-shirts, long hair, tattoos. It may’ve been in the thirties outside, but it felt like it was in the nineties inside. I had a few beers, but paced myself so I wouldn’t have to drive drunk. I wasn’t going to leave my car overnight, as it’d probably get towed or broken into. Sleep in my car? Nah, it was too cold to do that.
John unlocked his front door, opened it, and asked, “How was it?”
Like I expected, he looked the same as always, but tired. None of the lights in the house were on, and John appeared as if he’d been asleep before receiving my call telling him I’d arrived.
“The bathroom’s the first door on the left. I’m going back to bed. Goodnight.”
“See you tomorrow,” I said, unaware that I wouldn’t.
I looked like shit. The bathroom’s lights and mirror provided firsthand evidence of that fact. My face was oily, my black hair unkempt. I smelled like beer and smoke. Some guy ran into me and spilled half his beer on me, on my hoodie, my pants, my shoes. I told him to watch where he was going. He said, “You watch where you’re standing.” We locked eyes, and I thought about telling him that that didn’t make any sense, but he broke the stare and walked off toward the stage. He was fat and bald and angry and he would’ve demolished me.
I brushed my teeth, took off my shoes, pants, and hoodie. I walked back into the living room, laid down on their soft brown couch, and covered myself with the red blanket that they’d set out for me. Before long, I fell asleep.
Then, my heart stopped.
But I watch myself on some kind of screen—a TV?—and there’s darkness all around me. I can’t move. It’s like I’m floating in space, or standing in a cave without actually touching the ground.
I hear rustling in the kitchen, which means John and Karen are up fixing their breakfasts. I also hear voices, ones too low to understand. And soon, the flush of the toilet behind a bathroom door.
Finally, John walks into the living room and over to the stereo, where he puts on OutKast because he knows I hate them. He cranks the volume, obviously “retaliating” for waking him up at one a.m. last night—but I don’t stir. Even with the loud music blaring from the speakers, I don’t move.
The camera, or whatever it is, stays focused on me the whole time. John walks over to the couch and pokes my arm with his forefinger. He does this a few times. Again, I don’t stir. He holds his finger under my nose. He pulls back the blanket, leans down, and watches my chest. Nothing.
“Karen!” he yells, and walks out of the living room, out of the shot.
I continue watching. More screens pop up throughout the day—every time someone talks or thinks or writes about me. I have a feeling, though, that all the screens will disappear, one by one, slowly, and eventually I’ll be left in the dark where I will stay.
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