The Great Soft Suicide Machine

The Great Soft Suicide Machine

Sometimes what seems to be the problem often is not.


Flash fiction


Lewi Lewis (United States)

By twenty-seven You were expected to quaff the realization of The Great distinction between the corpse’s touch & the startling novel of the flesh.
You have surpassed that constellation now by six years.
Now, at thirty-three, straight as a gate, clean as a glazed bullet, neat as a pin, You laugh at this morbid pronouncement handed down to You with such surety, such wisdom, with such a hard-tuned finality that You had started to believe in the audible hallucination of Your preemptive parting over, like well-trained hair.
But You can still hear them, their voices. They mimicked one another: a singular facsimile of sage sound echoing through a fixed loop in space, over & over – the message always the same like traffic lights. Their mouths would invariably shape the object of concern, and with a gaping intensity of terrified sincerity, would illicit:
“You’ve got to stop. All the Drinking. The drugs. Lord, You’re out of control. What’s the difference between this and straight up suicide?”
& You remember how, some of the time, on the lighter days when heaven refused to peel back the fabric of its origin – & how you would affix Your ears so gingerly against their coarse-grained tongues it could’ve been a stunning cradle – You would smile in return, Your response, a thanking gesture for their botheration.
Most of the time, though, You would set Your gaze onto theirs, peer from out Your stony reality & answer them with a decadent silence fat as Addiction. Because what they didn’t know, through their gossamer wisdom & concern, was that at the edge of it all, sat The Great Soft Suicide Machine, clicking Its sharp patience, a razor blade being tapped against a pearly tooth.
What they didn’t know through, what – their shallow perception, was that It was ubiquitous; alive, deep between the pages of the books You read & lived with. It gaped from out the keys of Your typewriter, dead-glaring stupidly like eye-balls securely fixed in a Bell jar. That it oozed suspiciously from the edges of Your pen as You wrote Your poems & pantomimed Your shadow during open mic performances. What they didn’t know is that It was always first in line last to leave never to clap. Only clicking Its fantastic patience. Constant Death rattles.
You see now, because You’ve started to hear it click click click again, that they had it wrong. You know that The Drinking made It malleable, like hot rubber. The Cocaine sweetened Its taste: Your nose became a leaky faucet that dripped pure essence of awareness into the cup of Your soured, clenched throat. All of it shadowed the meat of it down to merry moppets You could easily conceal, say, in a pocket or a bad dream, but what’s the difference? Their reasoning was flawed, reversed & scattered stuck in the mesh of the state of State dependent learning. At the root of it all, they had it so wrong You couldn’t – & can’t – untie Your knotted tongue; couldn’t - & can’t – control Your queasy heart from palpitating from out Your chest like a throbbing Nova: their reality wouldn’t allow it, but instead, welcomed only the soft body of complete surrender & resignation.
What You should’ve told them – what You wanted to tell them but couldn’t -, as the flames began licking Your face & the ice shingling over Your world, was that it wasn’t the Booze or the Coke that had Your number. Reflection to reflection, those are the easy addictions. Those are the addictions that turn on & off like a bomb, like a switch, like a cold sweat. Yeah, knick for knack, those are the livable ones, even from the grave.
But the addictions that creep-crawl beneath closet doors at night?
Those are the ones that will weigh you down.
Those are the ones that will bury you in echoes let loose a thousand years ago.
Those are the ones you will bed down with, night after night, Death as your pillow, normalcy as your costume.
You wanted to grab their shoulders & tear them from their sockets, plead for them to soften their wisdom as wide as their stance, & listen. Just listen, for one second, that’s all.
Had they – You play this scenario like a film in Your head day after day – in the ensuing silence like a breeze suddenly stopped, You would have asked them how it was they couldn’t see it, couldn’t feel it circling, a Kettle of Vultures.
It’s the poetry, You would have revealed, only this one you can’t jot down to the corner and Nickel & Dime.
It’s the poetry that has my number, that has me racing toward the Finish line like a slobbering addict.
It’s the words, the art of being art, that has my bones shaking themselves into disease.
It’s the poetry, You would’ve said, probably desperately. It’s the poetry: The Great Soft Suicide Machine clicking Its patience.
& You know this, today, right now, because You can feel it, again; You can hear It, again. It makes You blush with worry because You know You were right because It continues to bargain & borrow against the worth of Tomorrow, clicking, today six years later, clicking, underneath the itching hostility of Your defenseless & aging skin, & there is nothing that You can do except wait until it finally

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