Vignettes of Ruin and...

Servus Ex Debilis (Slaves to Vice)

In Wrath on April 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm

The dog had been antsy, he needed a walk. His barking and pacing was starting to get to me. So I took him out to the park across the way from my home.

The horizon beyond the hill was smoky orange, scarred by the setting sun. Mallards had waddled up onto the banks of the lake and settled, their heads tucked under their wings. A single swan glided serenely through the water, his graceful neck curved and his head bowed. The crowns of the trees were temporaily aflame with sunlight, before their glow began to dissolve into an incomplete darkness.

Peaceful. The dog sniffed the grass intently and I pulled him away, onwards. It may have been quiet then, but it was only a matter of time before we warranted some unwanted attention.

I had barely thought it and we happened upon them. A thriving gang of teenagers mid “party”  on the sheltered side of the promenade. I quickly scanned the crowd, there was about thirty five of them, probably the largest group I had ever witnessed; all gathered to attempt a pathetic claim to adulthood and independence by corrupting themselves in whatever way it took. Well, they were only following in the footsteps of mother and father or whoever else was supposed to be raising them.

I didn’t have to spend time with them to know what path had lead them here. The girl with the dyed blonde hair and extensions, covered in make up far to dark for her pale skin with spots clustered around her chin, clutching a can of cheap cider with one hand and the arm of greasy looking youth in baggy pants in the other, smearing his neck in loose wet kisses as he acted disinterested, with smugness filling up his eyes… I already knew her Ma was a wino and her Da always worked “late” at the office. When he finally did come home, he smelled like some other bitch and could not care less about what she did. Neither she or her mother had the power to hold his interest.Now she was desperate to capture the attention from someone else.

The short feckled boy with the stick-out ears, his Dad had died and now was Mam was in the throes of a great depression. He just wanted to belong, to be part of company, but he was also afraid of the people he was trying to belong with. So he acted like the group clown. He drew a hyped, cackled laughter from his mates that was forced and hollow.

He dreaded the moment they stopped pretending to laugh.

The slightly overweight girl with the sour face, wearing a vest so small that it rolled up past her belly- the flab from which hung out over jeans that were ridiculously tight: her Ma was single and she spent every other night chasing after any scumbag who’d have her. My life was over when I had you! I’m entitled to “have fun!” And the petite, extremely thin girl, chewing loudly on gum and swigging from a vodka bottle, both her parents were at home. Junked up and stretched out on the bed, utterly useless.

These jilted children forged their new family out of the sum of all their broken parts.

And I had stumbled upon their makeshift home, in the cold recess of the local park, amongst the graffitied benches and overflowing rubbish bins. I could taste their rancour and it terrified me.

How had I not seen some evidence, or indeed, heard them? Either way it was too late to turn back, because they surrounded me and my dog.

“Ah Jaysus, would yeh look at the DOG, isn’t he CUTE, givvus a pet!” One of the girls dressed in leggings and four inch shoes was clearly wearing no underwear, she tottered forward and bent over, trying to pet my dog who was having none of it, sidestepping her clumsy hand. One of the boys sidled up to her and pretend to screw her from behind, to the laughter of just about everyone else there.  The girl straightened and realised what was going on behind her, she just joined in with him and laughed louder than any of them, swinging out of his sleeve and falling all over him. A few seconds later they had their tongues in each others mouth.

I felt sick. I pulled aggressively on the leash and attempted to make my way past them. They just sneered at me and made some crude comments, but I was feeling confident that they would let me leave without any real incident- so busy were they getting drunk, smoking and trying to cop off with each other. But then I tripped over a bottle of spirits that had been left on the pavement. It fell over and smashed, spilling out all of its contents. There was a moments silence.

Then uproar.

I was suddenly being pelted with vicious name-calling and almost-empty cans. The smell of alchohol pervaded my senses as it splashed in my hair, the crumpled metal grazed my skin. My dog was going crazy, lunging and barking, I tried to hold him back. One of the dark haired boys ran up and kicked him- the pain in his yelp was like a dagger in my heart. Seeing his tail go between his legs and him scurry behind me was terribly sad. He expected me to protect him, but I didn’t know what I could do.

Except run.

And that’s what I did. My dog easily outrun me as we dashed off the promenade and into the arboretum. I could hear the tumult of heavy steps chasing us, a volley of merciless insults aimed at our backs. But then, unexpectedly, nothing. I stopped to recuperate a moment, every breath seared my trachea and my legs were cramping up. My dog whined and nudged me: I knew we should move on. But I couldn’t resist looking back.

I could see my tormentors in the clearing, their silhouettes clear against the backdrop of descending twilight. They had lost interest us. A gaggle of girls caught up with them, barely managing with their ridiculous footwear, collapsing into the arms of boys who had nothing better on their mind, laughing lasciviously and drinking excessively. I was replete with disgust. I was about to turn away when something caught my eye. It was hard to tell in that light, but a wisp of shadow seemed to shimmer above the heads of the gang as they began to gorge on alcohol and each other.

I narrowed my eyes, trying to focus. But then I didn’t have to, because a trio of clear forms materialised in their midst- though this new presence was unnoticed by all but me and the dog. I crept forward, in spite of the dog’s protests. What were they?

And suddenly I knew. Intoxicatus, Medicatus and Raptura were among them. A dark strand of mist tied the gods to their servants as they fed from them. They seemed to grow larger and more frightening with each passing moment, as they inhaled deeply on the heady vapour of debauchery and greed. But something was happening to the people in their sway, the more the gods drank. They became less frantic, less aggressive…in fact, they ceased to move at all, except for their heads, lolling around as though their necks could no longer support them. It seemed they only remained standing because they were still held by the gods, who now pulled tautly on the dark cord that bound them. With a final sharp twist, the threads snapped, and their slaves fell into a crumpled heap to the ground, like rejected marionettes, spent of whatever made them useful.

The gods stood motionless, staring down at their work dispassionately. The dog whined and tried to pull back on his lead and I was roused from my horrible fascination.

But the commotion caught the attention of the gods too and they now fixed me with burning, hungry eyes.

I tried to leave.

  1. Oh jesus christ, please tell me this did not happen. How the hell do you summon any courage to simply go outdoors?

    The teens knew where they were going, though, their parents taught them that much. It’s little wonder they tried to take you and the dog down with them; it’s a frightening sort of world to enter, but the more people end up there, the more they can kid themselves into believing it’s “normal”.

  2. Okay, obviously, I’m hoping this isn’t fact … you have totally conveyed the terror of the situation and no-one would want to experience that. Twice recently I have dared to instruct teenagers not to swear around my children – an involuntary, parental reflex, but the age and society we live in left me wondering if they would be waiting for me later on, which is so very wrong. Parents should parent, and this piece has captured the conflict … we are disgusted by such youngsters, yet who raised them? Did Intoxicatus, Medicatus and Raptura chew up and spit out their parents too?! I absolutely loved reading the description near the beginning, the start of the walk … images so vivid. The ending is abrupt and shocking, leaving you hoping there was an escape. Brilliant writing. 🙂

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