Patient: Mr. Nemo
Chief Complaint: Forty-two year old, African-American male complaining of headaches for three days prior to hospital admission.
HPI: Patient had fallen off veranda one week before…bedrest for three weeks…smokes two packssss….
Good evening, good morning or best wishes on whichever manner of daylight that happens to catch you as you begin to read this piece. As you get comfortable and prepare to turn the pages allow me to introduce myself. I am Third Person Ominiscient. Yes, I know that you think of me as simply a point of view, but I assure you I am much more than a style of prose taught to you in grade school. I am indeed a spark of the Great Infinite, Yahweh, The All-Pervasive, the Is, God, or whichever name that you would kill to defent. I am much, much longer and I have a much better memory. I have been called pure inspiration, Muse, (I prefer this term) but by any name I roam through this dimension as a viewer, a cosmic peeping Tom if you will. My perspective in the crudest sense can be described as an invisible non-substantial ball hovering over humans’ shoulders, gleaning the compassion and cruelty of the ages as they flicker by. This hovering ball is just my “peephole” into your worlds of sadness and triumph. Being beyond your reality I can look down into your lives as a photographer would look down on a table full of negatives. My lens being that “hovering ball” I can skip from today to last week as easy as moving my lens across a table. That being said it is evident that time and space do not exist for me. Some of which I see is so extraordinary that I nudge and prod one of you until you cannot take the nagging in the back of your mind any longer and put my experiences on paper as your own or as fantasy, it matters not to me, as long it is chronicled somewhere that other may read and learn. Some of you I connect with easily, others not so easily and still others can subconsciously drag experiences out of me without my consent. These are labeled “the creative.” Amongst the Third Person Ominiscients they are labeled “the annoying.”
Introductions aside this day I have bore witness to something that amused me so I could not let it be lost to oblivion. So I found this sap of a medical student and nagged the poor bastard away from his beloved towers of text and his oh so important patient history so that he may jot down what I have for you. As we begin let me say that these events will not have transpired by the time you read them, but as your time exists for me past, present and future simultaneously I could potentially speak in any tense I fancied. However it has been my experience that it is easier for the writer and the audience if everything was offered in the past tense. You get front row seats as the story of your fellow man unfolds.
This little saga begins as I float in through the panes of glass of a twelfth-floor window somewhere in downtown Chicago. I find myself in the kitchen where the tower of dishes herald a busy week or a very loose notion of cleanliness held by the present occupant. I know something sinister has transpired here, something dark…in fact it was the curiosity of the dark deed that led me here. However, I elected to get here just after the scene…I always do. You see, the thoughts and emotions of humans are as concrete to me as a family-sized sedan is to you. So judging by the whimpering coming from the next room, I wager me floating in the window three minutes earlier would have been like any one of you stepping off the curb and into a Mac truck doing seventy. I float past the dishes and the fridge that had the adorable magnet of a kitten hanging to a string and float out into the living room. The scene lay before me and even one without omniscience could tell the story…everything else I’ll fill in. On a futon lay a woman naked except for a beautiful hammered gold necklace and one sock half-pulled off her right foot. Her wrists – obviously bruised – were tied to the frame of the futon. One of her eyes was swollen shut and the other glared at the only other person in the room. Her nose was broken and streams of blood ran from both nostrils. Her upper lip was swelling quickly keeping good pace with her eyes and a thin line of blood separated her lips as she whimpered. She looked out of that one tear-dry eye with hate and fear at the figure above her, a man by the name of Lucas Bringer. Lucas was frantically putting on his shirt and jacket his brown hair matted by sweat, flying in his face, his eyes wide in panic. The night had not gone exaclty the way he planned. He had met this pretty grad student at a local watering hole about three hours prior to his present rendition of “dance of the hidden shoe.”
He worked as a financial analyst and came in the lounge straight after work, still looking slick in his steel grey suit and blue silk tie. Lucas was actually feeling good. He got out of work early at Pan & Sons on a Thursday, which seldom happens this time of the year and he dodged having to go to the bar with Moses. It’s not that Moses was a particularly bad chap, he just wasn’t Lucas’ kind of people. Moses was a new contracted worker that started about two weeks ago. Every few minutes of free time Moses found himself with he managed to make use of it walking from office to office making jokes that were often just a little too lewd and chit-chatting with the female interns. Invariably, however, he would end up in Lucas’ office with a sly grin on his face. At first Lucas humored him because he liked his youth-like zeal, but by now Lucas’ patience had worn thin. That particular Thursday, Moses found himself leaning on Lucas’ doorframe at exactly 3:45 p.m.
“Ay, my yout,” Moses called out as usual in his West Indian accent. Lucas didn’t look up and just grunted his annoyed acknowledgment fo Moses’ presence.
“Ya too tense, Bossman. All a’dese gyals round here and you look l…”
Lucas looked up to see what could have possibly answered his prayers of having Moses’ jaws seize shut. Moses’ head was cocked out of the office door as the female junior-partner walked by.
“So ya gun set the dinner reservation fa two tonight right, Heather?” Moses said with a playful smile.
“Yes…for me and my husband.” She said returning the playful smile in defiance.
“Well he has to get at least one night right? Call me tomorrow.” Moses said unfazed.
As Heather laughed and shook her head as she walked away, Moses began where he left off. “…yeah, all desse gyals round here and you always lookin’ like someone just mash ya corn?” Lucas often wondered how Moses was not already fired, but he knew Moses was good at what he did, very good in fact, much to Lucas’ chagrin. It was almost supernatural the amount of work Moses could finish in a workday.
“Listen, Moses, not everything in life is about girls.” He tried to go back to his work hoping Moses would take the hint. Then Moses smiled even broader, “Did I ever tell you I was a Tiger?” Lucas was used to this question because since Moses was hired he asked Lucas at least once a day. However what drove Lucas up the wall is that Moses never gave an explanation. Lucas could not hold it any longer. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?! It doesn’t even make sense!!!”
Moses put his hands out mockingly as if to calm Lucas, “Easy star. Watch that blood pressuh!” With that Moses was gone down the hall. He could still hear Moses talking to someone down the hall as he wrapped up what he was doing. Usually it took him at least forty-five minutes to get rid of Moses. Today might turn out to be a good day.
Lucas walked in the establishment and made a bee-line to the bar. Dolores noticed him immediately as he had what she and her friends call “the works”: green eyes, six foot two inches and the body of an Olympic swimmer. After some deliberation between her sense of prudence society had forced on her and the shots of different liquors that were now becoming intimate in her stomach, she led her friends over to his side of the bar. He was shy at first, which she thought adorable but after the third long island they were both enrapt in each others’ eyes. This was the point at which Lucas did his usual. As he reached for both glasses two little white pills slipped from the inside of his palm as if by accident and landed into her drink with two unfortunately inaudible splashes. The rest is a blur to Dolores: the conversation about going home, if she lived alone, her address, the taxi ride, him searching through her purse for her keys, him on top of her. Lucas had done this fourteen times before, the gruesome details of each of these encounters hitting me in a flash as I watched him find his last shoe next to the television set. It is one of the curses of being omniscient. If I had facial muscles I would have winced. All of the ones prior had never woken up until he was already gone. The thrill had worn out for him by girl eight but he found a new way to spice it up. He began using a boeing knife and carving a diamond with a dot in the middle somewhere on their body before he left. He felt it was his personal calling card. Dolores had awoken during his encounter and he panicked. In an effort to render her unconscious, he began beating her frantically. Lucas had never knocked anyone out before and after his fists were raw and her face basically an overripe tomato with one glaring eye, he realized it didn’t work like the movies. He knew he was fucked. He took out his boeing knife, the whimpering turned into crying and pleading. This was unnecessary becasue he knew that he wouldn’t kill her because deep down, he knew he was a coward. He could not even bring himself to carve his bloody nom-de-plume into her while she was watching. In a rage, half with her, half with himself he put the knife back in his jacket coat pocket and stormed out the apartment. He walked for blocks before descending into the subway system.
He reached the turnstile still fumbling for his CTA card, his face slick with an anxious sweat even though it was 45 degrees outside. He hastily tried to pull it out of his pocket sending all of its contents spilling to the floor. “SHIT!” He scrambled on his hands and knees, picking up rolling coins and business cards that lay strewn between him and the passage home. The CTA worker peered at him from behind the thick glass of the kiosk as he leapt to his feet and plunged the card into the slot and shot through the turnstile. He went down to the underground platform, taking the steps two by two when at the bottom he bumped into someone’s shoulder as they rounded the corner.
“Sorry, I…” Lucas stopped short when he saw in front of him a very familiar face. This man was wearing a chocolate pin-striped blazer, which complimented the brown of his skin and eyes nicely, over a maroon shirt and straight jeans going down over some very fashionable brown dress shoes.
“Moses? What are you doing…” Lucas asked flustered. He felt as if his deeds were written on his face in the blood he didn’t have the heart to take.
“Hey bossman! I comin’ from a private party ’round here. Wha goin’ on wid you? And wha da hell happen to ya hands?” Moses said this still brushing off his jacket as if by bumping into Lucas he had been irreversibly soiled.
“Oh…a fight. I was in a fight. Guy caught me making out with his girl in a bar.” As he said this he began to calm down. He felt oddly at home when he was lying. It was something he prided himself on doing well. He straightened his collar and wiped the hair out of his face.
“Yeah, he tried to blind-side me but the drunk fucker missed and just glanced off my chin and lost his balance. I ploughed into him after that. The bouncers weren’t too happy to say the least…” He looked up to see Moses walking away toward the end of the train platform.
“Hey, where you going?”
Moses didn’t even look back as he raised his voice to answer, “It’s better you catch this train down on dis side so you hafta walk less when you get to your stop.”
Lucas took some heavy strides to come abreast of him, “Yeah anyway they threw me out and I guess it will be an early night for me.” Lucas glanced at Moses through the corner of his eyes to see if he was swallowing it. Moses’ face did not show any signs that he had even heard the cream of the fabrication crop that Lucas had whipped up for him. Suddenly Moses broke into one of his inane smiles, “Well bossman let we take a seat. This time of night, no telling when these damn trains goin’ reach.” Lucas noticed they had come to stop at the very end of the platform in front of a bench. The train station was devoid of any life except for the two well-dressed figures on the bench, the CTA clerk that had now gone fitfully bakc to her slumber from which she had been awakened minutes earlier by the scream of a madman and a family of sewer rats that Lucas was passing the time watching as they ran along the floor of the trainway. A newspaper rustled back at the entrance from which they came, snapping Lucas back to the present. He looked at Moses who had his head turned toward the other end of the tunnel as if in anticipation of the delinquent train.
“You know I was a Tiger?” Moses said suddenly without turning his head.
This question caught Lucas by surprise for the first time this week. He decided to play along. “Okay, so in what figurative way were you a tiger?”
Moses turned toward him, a warm smile on his face, “Can’t put nuttin’ pass you dread. So yes it was figurative obviously.”
“Yeah, I don’t even think there are any real tigers in the Carribean, right?” Lucas said, feeling satisfied that he was finally breaking down Moses’ hold on that ridiculous question.
“Ya right on that one too. But it have to do with the superstitions of the West Indies.” Moses paused to see how Lucas would react to this. When he nodded as if to say “go on,” Moses leaned forward with his hands on his knees for effect.
“Well there are stories about all kind’a supernatural things that go bump in the night. There is the Sukeena which is a skinless person that fly by night and suck the blood of innocent passers-by. Then there is the Malajabless who looks like a woman near the river or the sea and will drown any man foolish enough to approach. The cow-foot woamn: half woman, half cow. Now the Tiger is one of dese such creatures o’ de dark. The Tiger never been seen because to see one is to know death. Anytime things get too lawless on the island, too much corruption, people start to go missing, then everything gets better.”
Lucas interrupts here, “Wait I don’t get it; the Tigers take people and that somehow solves the island’s problems?”
Moses raised an index finger like a scholar of the senate making the closing point. “Ah, but the trick is the right people have to go missing. Good Tigers always find da right people. You see the Tigers know the spiritworld, dey delve into the earth rituals, the great works, Voodoo.”
“Black Magic!” Lucas said breathlessly now enrapt in the story.
“Now Magic ain’t black, as it from nature.” Moses said turning his head for a moment to look at the scurrying vermin below.
“But when these people disappear I doubt they are sent on an all-expense paid cruise by the Tigers. They are probably killed,” Lucas rebutted with a grin.
“Killed, yes. But like I siad the right people…” Moses finished with his usual playful grin.
“That’s murder no matter how you cut it…wait a minute.” Something was dawning on Lucas like a sick feeling of foreboding crawling over his scalp, “You said YOU used to be a tiger!?!” Lucas finished with a timber in his voice not unlike something he heard in someone else’s voice that evening.
Moses grinned, but now the grin went into a smile, an obscenely wide smile showing teeth that were just a little too sharp and a little too long. “Oh sorry, I misspoke, I meant I AM A TIGER!”
As a reflex Lucas put out a hand as if to ward off any approaches. Just as soon as hte hand was up Moses caught it and wrenched it down. The crunch of the wrist bones breaking would have been audible to anyone in the station. Lucas’ eyes shot wide, and his mouth went agape like a newly netted bass. His voice would not come to him as he was still in shock. Still holding the crumpled hand Moses jerked Lucas forward and plunged down into his chest, biting into his collarbone. With one sharp movement Moses pulled back from Lucas with his collarbone still clenched in his teeth. Shreds of crimson flesh, skin and the remnants of a very expensive Armani shirt hung out from either side of his mouth. Lucas lurched back and his voice came to him now in one magnificient scream. Blood spurted out his face and open mouth, making the scream into more of an insane gurgle. He pressed his good hand to his chest, instinctively trying to stop the bleeding. Moses looked on as an expression of dark pleasure slid over his face. Lucas didn’t know if it was because of his terror but he knew Moses no longer looked totally human. He looked like something else. Lucas tried to get up but then one of Moses’ haunches (which until very recently Lucas would have sworn was a brown loafer from Banana Republic’s fall edition dresswear) came down on his knee crushing it into the cement. At the same time apt claws on Moses’ right hand gripped into Lucas’ remaining good arm and in one motion Lucas could see the red sphere of the top of his humerus gleaming at him. What used to be Moses raised the severed limb above his head and let the blood pour down his throat in thick gulps. Lucas tried to scream again but could not unclench his jaws. As he looked at this thing now bearing over him he experienced the very same feeling you get while walking home late at night and see something move ahead. You look up and see it’s a rat lying in the street. But as you move two steps closer you realize it’s a black plastic bag and you wonder how you could have mistaken it for a rodent. Lucas looked at Moses and realized he hadn’t changed at all, he had always been this thing but he wondered how he could have ever mistaken it for human. The Tiger-formerly-known-as-Moses strode toward Lucas and leaned in close. At this point Ladies and Gentlemen I took my leave and floated back down the platform. The sound of blood spraying against cold wall; I go past the spot where the rats had been before they fled; many bones splinter simultaneously in the distance behind me, must be the ribcage; up hte stairs and past the still sleeping clerk; a man screams into the unhearing night ending in a much more horrible silence. Like I said…I hate being present for the crescendos.