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Get Back by Jac Jemc

Villard took my grace with an undone, half-paralyzed anger, and so I found him daily and burnt his house down for what I deemed a repeated whim. Jean told the world I was nutty, scouring my freedom for black marks, and so I broke his teeth back and forth on many rainbows of oily asphalt. Claude opened my door, not knowing it was my door, and so I hand-plucked each hair from his scalp for what seemed like days. Paul swore spite upon my family; I knocked him on the head so hard his thoughts never again amounted to more than clouds. Herman smiled at the wrong time, and so I futzed up his nethers with weird knives, moving his muscles around carelessly. Jacques intervened briefly, and I gave him a nasty version of a baptism with ugly fluids wept from the sores of the other prisoners. Simon showed early willfulness by calling me stupid, and so I punched him hard in his calm heart. Jean returned with his crumpled mouth, to make more out of what was nothing, and I burst my fist into his eye socket with a dazzle. Nicolas rambled about when he was on duty; I took his simple feelings and drove them down his throat.
Up inside of me, the dread kept smoking. How long would I feel this urge to seek justice on those who did me even minor wrongs? I kept whispering to myself that I’d relax after all was right, but I kept exacting these filthy retributions.
Antoine hammered me for forgiveness, but still I dragged him through his own good will kicking and screaming. Jean, again, having allowed me to destroy him twice already, spoke of his children, vowed for them with purpose, but I took their happy little family of self-righteous brilliance and promised to scale them one by one. When Jean heard this intention, he hid, leaving his daughters in my hands. This cowardice caused the sick to rise in me, and I held the first girl closer, snorting, allowing Jean to observe the intimacy of my destruction from his warren, allowing him to imagine I’d stop at blinding her, and then erasing his reverie. Nicolas returned, repentant for his scatter. I killed him like it was a novelty, like I was paying empty tribute, and hung his face on my wall. Franklin shouldered a secret to me, thinking he could gain my trust with nonsense; I turned his tomorrows to yesterdays. Ligier dripped his mongering thoughts on me, and I pepped up, acknowledging his delirium by digging through his organs with slowness.
The desire arises from satisfaction. Like an addict knowing exactly what awaits him, I look for more ways to recreate the feeling of the first time. I huddle the fear and death close to me like a comfort. I say, “Must I?” and affirm myself.
Philibert was so-so, and this seemed enough reason to pike his loins. Pierre was the victim of two different swindlers, and this weakness disgusted me. He shared his affections, and I showed him how base I found him by taking possession of all his fingers and stringing them on a length of hemp. I thought of Jean and his dirt-ceilinged fate. I thought of his daughters arranged around him like sun beams on burial plots. I thought of the taste of their tears as I licked them from the blade of my knife. Truth seeped through. I thought of the room waiting for Jacques at the asylum, small and the same every day for the rest of his life. I elegantly detached Pierre’s fingernails from the string of dead flesh and tiled a tiny box which I presented to him the next day. I broke through the judgment made on Antoine and used my own. I leaned into him, and said, “It is I, your forward intimate. You of the drooling class have elected yourself to the privacy of an execution. I, of the more syllabled humanity, am pointing my finger. It is your time.” He went oil-tongued, as his body slid beneath the bridge of the table.
It was a turnstile of dead bodies. One would think my conscience would shriek at the steadfast profusion. The illegal disease of communion I was granting each man. I was captured by the empty smoke of the crematory. I could no longer smell the damage of the loose women or the misdirection of the determined perverts. I gawked and groped for some impulse that led to the coals, I gulped the spinning exorcisms in the air. I waxed on the impropriety until I made fictions. The severity of this swinging justice kicked my balance out from under me, nerves intact, yet sabotaged anew. A channel, a galley, a passage through the chickenwire throughways of me, the increasing margins of my message, the whirling mirror of coarse disaster, the dissolution of sin and the hope for happiness at last.
Jehan was bold and armed. An icon of exotic life and fearful decadence. He used his girth and draping nets of sentimentality as his nonpareil excuse, and I gave out explicit commands: the trilling snap of spine and unthrottled gush as his body let loose upon the parlor floor. Germain fled, and when I caught him I formed cataracts on his earthly joy.
Some believe good must triumph over evil. Some think we must empty ourselves of both to achieve a perfect emptiness. Some insist that evil is just the lack of good, that it doesn’t even exist.
I believe in tidal permanence. I conceive of inundating gravity. I find within a belief that the turning, trawling winds of mortality should be turned upon the unworthy. I call myself a fluctuating compass. There is power in the fall of verdicts. There is a price to such dismissals. The fields sigh with their chorus of pity, as the open land becomes freshly turned with the soil of graves. It is only a chronology that brought us here. Death is a scar. I empty the clocks. I swallow the skeleton keys.
Jac Jemc’s novel, My Only Wife was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award.  Her collection of stories, A Different Bed Every Time, is due out in October 2014.  She’s the poetry editor for decomP and web fiction editor for Hobart.