Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Derrick Lawson

------------------------------------Part IV----------------------------------

Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be…

Derrick Lawson was an artist. He lived in New York City in an artist complex, a type of housing that supported artists. He had been living in the Big Apple for only seven months, but to him it already felt like home. He dabbled in oils and acrylics, charcoal, and watercolors, but his passion was ink. “With a pen,” he’d say, “Anything is possible. I can draw and sketch whatever I desire. Or, if I choose, I can write an eloquent poem. I can write to my senators, or even the President. Yes, the pen is mightiest of all mediums.”

Derrick’s sketchbook was sitting on his desk. It was bound in brown leather and filled with heavy, hand-made paper. Beside it, several ink pens were sprawled about. A jar of Indian Ink was open, and a fountain pen was used as a bookmark.

Derrick’s style was clear on every page. He was a Realist, drawing things as they were. A one-armed man on a street corner, his hands held out for help. A young mother with a babe in her arms. The cityscape minus the Towers. The big suits from Wall Street, autonomous and uncaring. And then there was a series of self-portraits.

The first page was of Derrick. Long hair, eager eyes. The next resembled Derrick, but part of the face was disfigured. Thick, dark marks streaked the page. Behind the focus was another figure, faint and barely noticeable. Another page vaguely resembled Derrick, but was more disfigured. The same marks were slashed across the page.

By the end of the sketchbook, the portraits of Derrick had transformed into a monster. The last did not even look like Derrick. Behind every face, the faint figure gradually became more concrete and noticeable. On the final page of the sketchbook, a paragraph scrawled in a desperate hand read:

I feel it changing inside me. Something is different. I’m seeing things that keep me up at night. Things that I shouldn’t be seeing. At first I thought something was wrong with my eyes, but I think it’s deeper than that. Even as I write this the black things are in the corners of my vision. They’re affecting my art. I’ve left my room only once in two weeks. And when I did I thought I was going to die. All around me, everywhere, the black things were there. Surrounding me. I’ve tried drugs. I’ve tried everything. I can’t get rid of them. I think I’m losing my mind. I’ve been sick for a month, ever since I went to the Live Zombies concert in the Alley. I don’t know why this is happening. I need help. Last night, my mom and dad were sitting on my bed, talking to me, encouraging me to finish my drawings. I listened, finishing the series of portraits I’ve been working on. I didn’t even question why Mom and Dad were there. They’ve been dead for almost a year. And I looked back through my portraits and I noticed him in every one of them. He is standing behind me, ready to consume me. And my portraits were supposed to look like me, but I’ve changed since I began. Each day I look more and more like a monster! Why? What is going on with me? He’s here again. Watching me. Whispering. Demanding.

Beneath the desk on which the sketchbook rested, a shell of a man huddled against the corner where wall met wood. Emaciated and gaunt, he was dying. He had gouged his eyes out to stop seeing the black things and wrapped a bandage around his eyes. Blood streaks stained his thinned face and parched lips parched. His mind was snapped.

Derrick Lawson died beneath the desk. The official cause of death was fatigue, combined with dehydration and starvation. He was found twenty minutes after his heart stopped beating. He was discovered when two newer members of the complex inadvertently walked into the wrong room. Derrick’s door had been unlocked. He was still huddled up into a ball, arms wrapped tightly around his raised knees. Teeth marks were on his arms, which would later turn out to be Derrick’s own desperate desire for sustenance.

He was buried in Willow Hill Cemetery, just outside the city limits. Some of his friends from the complex scrounged for money and paid for a makeshift ceremony. It was a beautiful, sunny day in May. He was lowered in the ground gently by the funeral home workers and the priest said a few words for the stranger. Nobody cried; nobody really knew the deceased, it was just out of respect he was buried.

He should have been cremated.

The service ended and everyone left. The sun burned down below the horizon and the stars came out. A figure stepped out from the trees and onto the plot. He carried a large staff. With it, he thrust it down through the dirt, through the cheap coffin, and into the chest of Derrick. “Arise, Child of the Bite. You are now a Child of the Night!” The old man laughed at his rhyme.

A pulse ran through the staff, and below ground, Derrick gasped for breath.


Poison said...

Your stories are seriously Edgar Allan Poe-ish. That's a funny word, isn't it? Poe-ish.

The rhyme was, I have to say, weird. Child of the Bite? No wonder the old man laughed at himself.


logankstewart said...

Thanks, Poison. Indeed, Poe-ish is one of them words that you just have to look at and think, huh?!

I was going for a little weird with the rhyme, so great!

Krista said...

The Rhyme made me giggle! I even really liked the first one, too - “Anything is possible. I can draw and sketch whatever I desire. Or, if I choose, I can write an eloquent poem. I can write to my senators, or even the President. Yes, the pen is mightiest of all mediums.”

Great job, more please!