A Judgement’s Sonnet
By Wendy Ashlee Coleman.
“Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” – Mark 9:46
A man clenches his bloody side and breathes heavily while staring at the woman who gazes back at him with beautiful, green eyes that show a blink-less still, now just the fossils of what once was. She is sitting down on the wet street, leaning her head back against the north building wall that makes up the narrow alleyway while her hand remains stuffed in the leather purse that displays a large bullet hole out its side, widowing the bags contents and allowing the dim alley light to illuminate her dead hand still clenched around a nickel-plated revolver. Blood pours from the multiple stab wounds and a massive slash across her throat, giving the woman’s blouse no proof that it was ever white. The man’s face contorts as the fatal gunshot leaks his life’s flow, rivering between his fingers and onto the concrete. He leans his head against the rusty dumpster that was supposed to camouflage his deed, yet now serves as the steel pillow that will deliver him away.
The man stands in the dark alley and leans his head against a back door that reads GIO’S PIZZA in spray painted black letters. He continues to clench his side as his breath remains erratic and his face stays flexed in deformed pain. He begins to breathe in deeply and exhale heavily. He repeats this process several times as his face begins to unravel from agony’s distort, momentarily distracted from the pain by his visible exhaust that smokes up the air around him, a sight foreign and improper to his climate. He lifts his head and opens his eyes, savoring a brief painless moment, resting before another wave of misery peaks, yet this time, it never comes. The hand that clenches his wound begins to rub along the left side of his stomach, his fingertips searching to feel a wound that can no longer be found. He stands up straight and looks around as his breath becomes more and more visible. He wraps his arms around his body bracing what is now a bitter, sudden cold that penetrates to the bone. Suddenly, as if hit by something unseen, he jerks up straight, releasing all his air in a throaty moan before falling to the ground and beginning to vomit up blood profusely, creating a lake of the crimson colored liquid that spills and splatters upon his hands. He continues vomiting up what the living could never do, until he finds himself surrounded by a puddle of what he has taken. As his vomiting subsides he stands up slowly and once again braces against the cold, wrapping his bloody hands and arms in a corpse’s cross, trembling in an unworldly frigidness while he stands in his red ocean. He knows she’s there looking at him before he looks up, the beautiful blonde, whose life has signified the last of his sin. He looks up at her with a fear that makes his cold shake with shakes, stacking shivers on top of the shivers that rattle his lungs and make him inhale and exhale in short, un-rhythmic segments. And in the midst of his fear, he looks at the woman with a hate that poisons the air around him and a disgust that makes his stomach churn and tie up in a nauseas knot. He turns his back to her in an act of blatant disrespect as he slowly puts his bloody hand in his pocket and pulls out a crumbled pack of camel lights and, with his vibrating fingers, he pulls out the last single cigarette and puts the crooked smoke between his quivering lips and lights the cig with an orange lighter that he pulls from the opposite pocket. He looks at her over his shoulder and then with a nervous laugh he looks down and shakes his head while tapping his black loafers, making ripples in the bloody pond he still stands in.
“You laugh on the outside… But you tremble there as well,” the woman says with a friendly smile but stern voice.
“Perhaps it’s just the cold tonight,” he says with the shittiest grin he can muster.
“For you, there maybe no more cold in sight.” the woman says with a sharper smile that threatens.
He looks over his shoulder at her again and then nods his head before dropping his cigarette and extinguishing it in the puddle of blood. She walks around and closer to him making the man put his head down with stubborn yet yielding submissiveness, before starting to shake uncontrollably with the sensation of an intense pressure pushing against his chest, the weight of her divine omnipotence. She stares at him with eyes absent of color and as white as milk, while her head tilts back and forth in a truly alien like manner, her arms hanging to her sides completely dead of movement and her posture straightly stiff and unnatural as if the very supremeness is warping the feeble mortal shell in which it tries to reside.
“Can you not face your own sin’s sight?” she says tempting him to look up.
He meekly brings his eyes up and locks them with the woman whose neck instantly tears open spilling blood down her blouse. The man lets out a gasp and looks back down to the ground. The woman brings her hands up to the leaking neck wound, positioning them under the bloody faucet and bathing them thoroughly in the dark red liquid.
She cups her hand with the color of sacrifice and extends it to him.
“In case you’ve yet to quench your thirst for more, here you go David, just to be sure.”
She says as she grabs his already bloody hand and smears on another layer. He immediately begins to cry uncontrollably in response to her touch as he looks down at the pool of blood and watches it as it heats up slowly, with one bubble here, one bubble there until the heat of what is soon to be a full boil begins to radiate through his shoes. He begins breathing heavily in response to a sun-like warmth that thaws his cold body out but only pleasures for a moment before it starts to sting his skin, making the bridge of his nose begin to drip like a faucet with sweat.
“What shall I do, David?” she says loudly with a stern look.
He holds his head down, wincing in fear.
“HUH?” she says louder, demanding a response and making him jump a bit, his whimpering beginning to increase in intensity like a child being disciplined.
“WHAT SHALL I DO, DAVID!? . . . . . WHAT SHALL I DO WITH AN EVIL THAT REJECTS MY LIGHT!?”
She stares at him with white eyes that chill his soul and carry with them the quiet patience of eternity waiting for an answer, as she keeps moving her head with an un-human vibe and her neck wound continues to drip with the realism of something fatal.
“What shall I do?” she says as she begins circling him. “What . . . shall . . . I . . . do?” she repeats again quietly with an echo like tone timing the words with each step.
“Perhaps the mighty mute could answer when I call,” the man says with meek and muffled aggression, whose tone barely wrestles from his incoherent inaudible weep.
The woman stops her movement and just looks on and watches as the worldly hardened man begins to grit his teeth and take control of his fear.
“Or you could just remain the innocent creator that allowed this putrid destiny of your to fall,” he says finally building up the confidence to look in her eye and say it with conviction.
The man screams in pain and falls to the scorching, bloody asphalt that begins to smoke and cook his kneeling knees. He looks at his forearm and grits his teeth as blue worms swim under his skin searching for an exit.
“They only feast in the darkness, David, . . .they can’t feast in the light,” she says with a whisper as she looks down on him.
“I don’t even need to know you!” he says looking up and shaking, “I gave you so many chances; perhaps you can just leave me, . . . and let me burn the way I always have, . . .by my own hand and alone!” he says as he shows her the scarred texture of his own self-inflicted burns that blemish his forearms.
“Perhaps their feast will drain your hate and you’ll call out my name for salvations sake.”
“But will you answer unlike before? Or will you just stand silent and cast judgment on what is your very own?”
“Oh, David,” she says shaking her head.
“Perhaps should just carry this feast to your flames of sadness,” he says with an angry cry.
She looks down upon him with a respectful look. “Your fearlessness, I gave you, David,” she says with a persuasive tone.
“But you gave more,” he says as a singular worm bores from his arm and he screams.
“Take my hand to tame the feast,” she says kneeling down and making the pool of boiling blood part before her knee hits the ground while extending her pale, blood stained hand.
“Take my soul; it was always destined for your feast,” he says looking up at her with tearing eyes and the quiet voice of a man broken. The ground around them begins to ignite into flames, ones that begin to cook the sweat off his body into a steam.
“Take my hand so the eternal flames will cease.”
“EXTINGUISH MY SICK SO THERE’LL BE NO DARKNESS FOR THEM TO EAT!!!”!!!!” he screams.
“Finish this life in the light, David.”
“But it belongs here, in the night.”
“Take my hand, David, and let your sin taste the light.”
An old man wakes up from bed tangled in sweat-bathed sheets that fight his escape and makes him wrestle in a mad panic. He walks over across his small prison cell to a sink and splashes cold water on his scruffy, aging face, staring at himself in the small-circled plexi-glass shaving mirror. He grabs a hold of the old wound that scars his side and sits on the toilet rocking back and fourth, beginning to cry. The old convict grasps a hold of the small wooden cross that dangles around his neck and feels the contours of his faith with his hands.
He lies on a hospital cot designed more for deaths transfer than livings comfort as a physician swabs his vein with a numbing skin agent and inserts the needle with the expert accuracy of an experienced white collar killer. A suited official stands beside a large clock and waits with cold, patient cruelty forcing the punished to stew in the anticipation of death a few more minutes. The man looks over at a mirror that he cannot see through but envisions a mother and father embracing each other as they painfully witness their child’s murderer pay the ultimate price of his worldly deed.
The murderer looks at a guard that smiles on like so many with anticipation of his death and he looks away before beginning to cry.
The minister grabs his hand. “David, . . .remember your favorite verse for faiths sake?”
He nods his head as the tears travel across his temples and into his ears.
“Let His words ease you into the light,” the minister says gripping him tightly with old hands and skin like onion paper.
David shakes his head in doubt.
“In Him we have redemption through his blood,” the minister says with a calming tone and relaxing smile.
David hesitates for a moment as he gazes in the man of god’s dark blue eyes.
“Remember, David, for faith’s sake,” the minister repeats.
“In Him, . . .we have redemption through his blood,” the minister says with a smile as David begins mouthing the words.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us of our sins and will purify us from all unrighteousness,” David now says with him, his dark voice beginning to drown out the minister’s.
“Their sins and lawless acts, . . .I will remember no more,” David says alone now as the minister nods with encouragement.
The suited official nods his head as the doctor casually empties a syringe whose milky content begins to travel in a tube that spirals to his vein.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood,” he says keeping his eyes fixed on the minister’s.
“If we confess our sins,” he says muffled as the glaze of death begins to coat his blue eyes, “He is faithful and just,” he says with the last of his strength.
“And will forgive us of all of our sins, . . .and will purify us from all unrighteousness,” the minister says finishing the verse for him and wiping a tear from his wrinkled cheek. The minister closes David’s empty eyes and begins to pray to himself.
David’s blood soaked body submerges in the pure waters. He swims underneath a crystal clear ocean and with each stroke the blood is washed off and is left behind like a red cloud in the water.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wendy Ashlee Coleman is a published author in both fiction and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in the Evergreen ReviewThe Foundling Review, Echo Ink Review, The Houston Literary Review, The Fringe, Bull Fiction, Full of Crow and more. She lives in the midwestern United States.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, July 24th, 2012.