Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 Linkin Park Bleed It Out
 Vince DiCola War
 Michael Jackson Thriller (Instrumental)
 Eric B. & Rakim I Know You Got Soul
 Tina Turner We Don’t Need Another Hero
Better out than in, isn’t that what they say? This may be all well and good but how many pints before I start coming over queasy? As far as I understood, blood was far better positioned pumping through those ventricles than seeping out onto a page. So I guess that now would be a good time to go grab that band-aid right? Patch myself up as good as new? I appreciate the concern but, on this occasion, I think I’ll just see where it leads us. Clearly I’ll need to be prudent as the last thing I need is to pass out right here at my station and, should I begin to come over light-headed, then I reserve the right to rush myself to the nearest emergency room for an eleventh hour transfusion and, with a dash of outrageous fortune, a flannel wash. But I’m holding onto excess cargo here and can feel my shoulders starting to buckle as we speak. Bleak? Would you mind terribly if I came clean? Actually, perhaps a pictorial will explain things adequately on this occasion and I’ll catch back up with you on the flip-side.
I’m the one on the right in case you were wondering. Hopefully this should clear up any confusion over where my mind’s at currently. However, what you may fail to realize is that I’m also the shonky looking character on the left. Are you beginning to see my predicament? Perhaps that is why I avoid making enemies, after all, I appear to have one of my own and of the worst variety to boot. Everywhere I go, this callous bastard tails me, haunting me while flaunting his gaunt taunts in a foul bid to relinquish me of my happy juju. “You don’t need that” he spews, “here, I’ll look after it for you”. Like a sucker I mistake his offer for kindness and hand over every last reason to be cheerful. Before I know it, the majority stake is his and I’m left resembling little more than an empty vessel. While admittedly not the ideal time to commence hemorrhaging profusely, there’s bad blood between us and it is this that I’m looking to renounce. That blackened sludge is bad for the circulation and I reckon I can mould it into something less inky if I knuckle down and give this bleeding gig some welly.
Failure is a word that springs to mind at times like these and this happens to be one of his favorite ice-breakers when looking to set the mood. Talk about damp squib, what the hell did I do to end up with such a Dabney Downer in my corner? That said, Rocky Balboa had to tolerate Mickey’s bitter jibes of “You’re a bum, Rock. You’re a bum” and it didn’t stop him from eating lightning and crapping thunder. That reverse psychology is a powerful thing I hear although I don’t recall Mickey crying out ” Down! Down! Stay Down!” while severing his prize fighter’s Achilles heels with a rusty box cutter and I’ve seen the Director’s Cut dagnabbit. No there’s something suspect going on here and I’m not altogether sure I can endure another round of relentless pummeling as my gumshield is out, one of my eyes sealed shut, and the other not far behind it. Then there are the knees and, once they start packing up on you, the only thing that can save you is the bell. This may appear a lifeline of sorts but I’ll give you three guesses who’s ringing that shit and timekeeping never was his strong suit.
Now I’m not suggesting that I’ve read the boxing rulebook from back to front but isn’t 48 hours a little excessive for a solitary round? That’s how long I’ve been battered witless by my opposing number. Don’t even get me started on him as, while my trainer may not be the greatest team player, at least he doesn’t wield a flaming scythe. There’s me with my burning heart emblazoned on my wrist and he can pick my exposed thumper off like a week-old scab with a single well-placed swing. Then there’s the hand sickle and this becomes the weapon of choice when things get up close and personal. I try my darndest to keep my distance as, if there’s one thing that The Grim Reaper packs that’s more terrifying than his vicious left hook, then his horribly misjudged breath would be it. It really is some way beyond ghastly and brings to mind the funk of forty thousand years. That’s right Grueheads, turns out that you need not travel to Manilla for that thriller and, for one fight only, it even comes packaged with diller chiller. Charmed I’m sure.
So let’s take a glance around this heinous hell hole shall we? It’s currently rather perilously close to midnight and, as we’ve already ascertained, something evil’s lurking in the dark. Ordinarily moonlight offers the ideal illumination to set the mood but I guess that all depends what’s under it. While a Lady & The Tramp reenactment would slide down rather marvellous right now, my sore eyes don’t discern such. Instead, my attention has been alerted to a sight that almost stops my heart. What would you do in such ill-omened circumstances? You’d try to scream right? Well what if terror were to take the sound before you make it? Freezing comes next and there’s nothing like a dash of horror looking you right between the eyes to stiffen those joints. Before I can moonwalk over to those light-up paving slabs, I’m paralyzed and, with the beast about to strike, suddenly find myself fighting for my life. Eventually, and right in the nick of time, I manage to shake a tail feather or two and scurry back to my sanctuary, grateful just to be alive at this point. The nightmare is over. Or is it?
You see, just as I’m sliding into your carpet slippers and preparing myself that nice warm mug of cocoa, I hear the door slam and it doesn’t take long to realize there’s nowhere left to run. To make matters worse, I then feel a cold hand and it begins to dawn on me that I may never again see the sun. Perhaps now would be a good time to close my eyes and hope this is just imagination being a bastard. However, all the while I hear this creature creeping up behind and that tapping sound I discern is its inhospitable indication that I’m out of time. Had I mentioned that the thing has forty eyes? Surely there’s no escaping the jaws of the alien this time as they’re open wide and, as this night creature calls, the dead suddenly get that second wind and take a brisk walk in their masquerade. If it doesn’t rain, it fucking pours.
Anyhoots, it’s now painfully clear that these demons are out to get me and fast closing in on every side with possession tippity top of their one item agenda. We all know how it plays out from here as, without the soul for getting down, it’s a short trip to the local dog pound and they just had an influx of hell hounds dropped off ironically. Can I pitch you a poser? When was the last time you rotted inside a corpse’s shell? And how did that work out for you? Foul stench huh? The kinds of stink that no mere mortal can resist I take it? However, this is where it starts to get interesting. Remember the whole soul for getting down deal? Well I only recently did a head count of all major internal appliances and, while I couldn’t quite decipher the precise coordinates of its essence, I swear there’s a soul in here somewhere and the item I’m currently grasping sure as shit ain’t it.
No I’m reasonably certain that the soul is where it’s at. Indeed during the long cold winter of 2013, when deep in hibernation, it was this splendid piece of imperceivable equipment that shone a light through my darkest hours. To think that my eleventh hour savior was right beneath my schnoz the whole time is a bit of a bone of contention and it could’ve piped up earlier if I’m being pernickety. But with forty beady eyes undressing me to my marrow catsuit, I’m not about to look this kind of generous pony in its mealy mouth. Let’s not be under any illusion here, the current situation is a good six-foot deeper than grave and I’m already on first-name terms with a fair number of the earth critters, one of whom has kindly offered to weave its way through my eye socket the very moment that pine casket seals. But soul will see me good, of that I am damned sure, and if I’m off-kilter with my calculations then I guess I’m just damned. Either way it’s closure right?
So come on then soul, you’ve dug me out of some tight holes beforehand, let’s see that shovel shall we? I don’t wish to apply more pressure to an already airtight situation but time she’s a ticking and there’s a seven-inch tongue currently worming its way through my cranial canal with the sole intention of licking. All I’m saying is…HELP! Apologies for not sugar-coating my frantic cry for assistance but I’m starting to understand why postage stamps feel so violated and don’t feel quite ready to hear those solemnly delivered last rites just yet. In case you’re not 100% on my page here, please allow me to remind you how all other vital organs are getting on. My withered body is on the ropes, fragmented mind clinging on for dear life, and heavy heart desperately tapping out to absolutely no avail whatsoever. No pressure then soul. You just mull that over and I’ll gradually break down into human compost. Sound reasonable to you old bean? Well does it? Hmm? Not trying to be a dick here but those forty eyes just became eighty.
That’s the spirit soldier, fling me over your shoulder and carry me to safety like my name is Bubba. It seems that, no matter how towering the threat, my soul will never stop defending my honor which likely has something to do with the fact that it’s the whole reason I got into this gig in the first place. Unlike the heart, it cannot be broken. Unlike the mind, it never becomes cluttered or forgets its place. Unlike the body, it will still exist long after I’ve ceased to. And it achieves this by simply remaining on the lay low, popping up only to infuse every last word I scribe with purpose and meaning. Unless I’ve accidentally changed the language setting on my keyboard to Swahili, it should be fairly crystal that I’m in something of a temporary rut at present and it is at times like these when I request the assistance of my soul as it’s the only thing in my inventory unbreakable enough to see me good. It reminds me that I’m not a failure and that my misdemeanors are not what ultimately defines me. More critically, it jogs my memory on just how of myself is invested in what I create. Not bad for a whatchamacallit.
So I guess the burning question now is whether or not my soul has bailed me out of my current predicament. Listen I’ve got to level with you, I’m hardly swinging from the rafters with a clutch of bananas underarm, singing I Wanna Be Like You in my very best falsetto. But I do no longer wish for the earth to open up beneath me and swallow me whole if that’s any indication as to where I’m perched. Whoever said every victory has to be gargantuan anyhoots? I’m more than happy with plain old consolidation right now as it sure beats rotting away inside a corpse’s shell and The Grim Reaper had grand plans for me that I wasn’t altogether comfortable with. Some smart Aleck only went and told him about the eyes being the prize and he seems most intent on “borrowing” one. If he’s looking to twist my arm, then perhaps this isn’t the best way to go about it.
I know right? The power of persuasion at its most suggestive. Not bloody likely sunshine. Granted, my peepers may be looking pretty bloodshot at present and underwritten by a pair of ocular testicles so pronounced that they recently sprouted their own pubes but there’s no way I’m donating even one of my ocean blues to such a wretched cause. They’re far too precious to surrender willy-nilly, and besides, I just paid both arm and leg for a local handyman to give them a hot wax. He almost couldn’t make it due to prior arrangements but, I have to say, this guy’s pretty useful with a shammy. Tell you what, give him a wave Grueheads. He’d like that I’m sure.
It tickles my pickle to its pinkest shade to think that just one of you guys just pulled out your handkerchief and offered him a gesture. And that’s precisely what I’m blathering on about here. You see, no matter how bleak things may seem, I still have power enough in my prose to evoke a reaction and that’s all the reason I could ever need to keep keeping on indefinitely. Right now it’s as cold as an Eskimo’s sack outside and frightfully uninviting to boot. Meanwhile, in here with you lot I’m cosy and secure, toasting marshmallows by the log burner while telling one another scary stories and at what paltry cost?
The occasional hand job. Big whoop, at least I let you keep your mittens on. Therefore I shall remain here for the time being even though confident that the danger has now passed. Take a look outside will you and tell me what you think. Safe as milk right? Fuck it, I suppose one game of swingball couldn’t harm none. Who the devil knows? It could turn out to be something of a thriller.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Grueheads Films 2016