:: Article

The Mindshaft

By Steve Finbow.



The following is an extract from Steve Finbow’s The Mindshaft (Amphetamine Sulphate, 2020).


Interior. Bar. Night. The young man in open-necked police shirt with metal eagle badge on leather jacket who now resembles the Mapplethorpe lookalike pulls the head of the other man towards him. The man is wearing a leather cap. Pacino/Burns watches. Close-up of man chewing gum. Man chewing gum approaches Pacino/Burns, says, ‘Hey, baby, what’s happening?’ Close up of man who resembles Mapplethorpe lookalike. Pacino/Burns replies, ‘I’m with someone.’ Close-up of Pacino/Burns. Man chewing gum says, ‘Aren’t we all? Wanna dance?’ Pacino/Burns walks away. He walks to the dance floor, starts to dance. There he is. The dancers are shouting, whistles are being blown. Man chewing gum blows smoke into Pacino/Burns’ mouth. Man chewing gum snorts poppers. The two men dance surrounded by semi-naked men. Close-up of man in full leather outfit and mask. Cut to Pacino/Burns after a hit of poppers. Full colour. Cut to close-up of flashing neon Stars and Stripes. Cut to Pacino/Burns frenzied dancing. Cut to close up of man who resembles Mapplethorpe lookalike. Cut to close-up of sweating Pacino/Burns. Cut to close-up of Mapplethorpe lookalike. Cut to close-up of sweating Pacino/Burns. Cut to close-up of flashing neon Stars and Stripes. Cut to close-up of sweating Pacino/Burns’s even more frenzied dancing. Cut to three naked men writhing together. Cut to close-up of sweating Pacino/Burns’s even more frenzied dancing. Zoom out to Pacino/Burns and man chewing gum dancing. Lyrics — ‘All the things that were out of my head.’ Pacino/Burns and man chewing gum dance close together. Cut to close-up of Pacino/Burns’s eyes. Cut to close-up of Mapplethorpe lookalike’s eyes. And back to Pacino/Burns’ frenzied dancing. Cut to man in white singlet with permed hair and moustache. Cut to prone man in black leather chaps strapped to crux decussate. Cut to close up of Pacino/Burns dancing. Lyrics — ‘See the glimmer of twilight. Let me have my way.’ Pacino/Burns yells. Men dance. Exterior. Meatpacking District. Night. Metal door opens. Brick wall. On the right is an arrow pointing left with ‘Private club’ above the line of the arrow and ‘837’ below it. The man opens the door. Two men exit, walk past the sign. One is wearing leather jacket and cap, the other a denim shirt and jeans. They walk past a car. Inside the car are Pacino/Burns and another policeman. Pacino/Burns in back seat says, ‘There he is.’ Cop in front seat says, ‘The one with the red scarf?’ Pacino/Burns replies, ‘No, the one with the hat.’ Cop in front seat says, ‘The one on the outside.’ Pacino/Burns replies, ‘Yeah. He calls himself Skip. I don’t know his last name. He’s been in a lot of hassles here.’ Cop in front seat says, ‘Is that the one that followed you?’ Pacino Burns replies, ‘Yeah.’ Cop in front seat says, ‘Why didn’t you go with him? I don’t know. I kind of choked… but I think you should check him.’

The critical ontology of ourselves has to be considered not, certainly, as a theory, a doctrine, nor even a permanent body of knowledge that is accumulating — it has to be conceived as an attitude, an ethos, a philosophical life in which the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and the ordeal of their possible transcendence.

On August 10, 1977, across the bridges, through the tunnels, 307 days after the Mineshaft first opened its doors, outside 35 Pine Street, Yonkers, police officers stake out the building and investigate the parked yellow four-door 1970 Ford Galaxie. On the back seat is a Commando Mark III rifle. Searching the car, they find a duffle bag, inside they discover maps of the crime scenes, ammunition and a letter to NYPD threatening more killings. The police wait for a search warrant to be issued but also because they didn’t want to confront their suspect within the confines of the building. At 10pm, before the warrant arrives, the suspect leaves the building and is about to get into his car. He is carrying a brown paper bag concealing his Charter Arms .44 Bulldog. The suspect opened the door, sat in the driver seat and placed the gun in the brown paper bag on the passenger seat. Detective John M. Falotico approached the driver’s side of the yellow four-door 1970 Ford Galaxie and pointed the barrel of his gun at the suspect’s left temple. From the passenger side, Detective Bill Gardella mirrored his colleague, pointing his gun at the suspect’s right temple. He says, ‘Freeze!’ ‘You got me,’ says the suspect, ‘What took you so long’? Falotico says, ‘Now that I’ve got you, who have I got?’ ‘You know,’ says the suspect in a soft voice. ‘No, I don’t. You tell me.’ The suspects says, ‘I’m Sam.’ ‘You’re Sam? Sam who?’ says the detective. ‘Sam. David Berkowitz.’ After the arrest, police officers search apartment 7E, 35 Pine Street, Yonkers. The space is a mess, the walls covered with satanic graffiti and cryptic messages: ‘Hi. My name IS MR WILLIAMS AND I Live IN this hole. I have Several Children who I’m Turning Into Killers. WAIT TIL they grow up. My Neighbors I have NO Respect For And I treat them like shit. Sincerely WILLIAMS.’ ‘This ain’t the Garden of Eden / There ain’t no angels above / And things ain’t what they’re supposed to be / And this ain’t the Summer, this ain’t the Summer / This ain’t, this ain’t, this ain’t the Summer of Love.’


Steve Finbow’s non-fiction includes Allen Ginsberg: A Biography, Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necrophilia, Notes from the Sick Room, Death Mort Tod and The Mindshaft. He is currently working on a book about Francis Bacon and editing the Infinity Land Press Anthology.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020.