The Velvet Garrote
Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Shadows cackled on the wall of the cell and I huddled the best I could in my bunk and blankets as I awoke in prison, in some abyss, wrong as it seemed even to me; fearful, confused.

My second thought was of hell, a place dark and quiet with an occasional flickering television.

I stood, stalked around the cell--pacing, gasping, thinking, mumbling, speaking, weeping, crying, standing, sitting, trying, brooding, whimpering, lavishly flashing, teeth-gnashing, hammering, stammering, shivering, giving ground to shadows, breathing, dying, frying, freezing, lying to myself, sighing, timing, and setting and casting and catching and forgetting. For all this I had one realization: the cell was strange to me, entirely so, and I had no use for it.


I crept when they let me out. Thought I was doing my best to blend into the scenery and not draw unwanted attention. I did well at it, at least that was my impression of my own actions.

The same time, I was ready to kill a motherfucker because I wanted some answers, and I would do whatever it took to get them.


I decided on a motel as I came outside it in a cheap taxi, the kind that is actually a van on its last legs. I put my two bags on the bed of the room; slammed the door and made it to the cab before it left me, and soon came to a bar.

There was a woman there who bought me a drink and had the favor returned. Eventually I kissed her and tousled her blonde hair. She came back to the motel with me.


I wasn't sure of anything.

I had flagrant and detailed memories far prior to waking up in prison. But there was a serious black hole as to the time I spent getting there. I remembered getting thrown out of my house, staunchly walking away. That hadn't been good as things absolutely never are.

I remembered losing my job and roaming the streets.

I remembered an ether trip--and then there was blackness. That must have been it, but even that I couldn't be sure of.


I trudged on; into a park even as the snow fell the next day.

I looked at a playground nearby, walked a hundred, a thousand leagues or more. In that moment I dealt with the greatest of regrets. A wife and kids in the toilet, ether swirling around the rims, loss of memories and lost minds. Moreover, I took all of it in stride...


I struck my way through a gray morning atmosphere some days later, walking up the street, and eventually I decided to flag down a sympathetic cabbie --though I had no money.

Once he found me, I for some reason felt more sure of things. It seemed that in the gray of the week or month or however long it had been the cabbie was a suitable guide. Like a sheperd finding a lost member of his flock.

Before getting in, I stood and looked across an ocean of rubies and diamonds and this compelled me to tell the cabbie to wait. He did, and the aforementioned ocean did glimmer at the two of us--and I took pity on the cabbie as it changed him as a man, and I wished suddenly that I could go through like changes--knowing all the while, of course, that to change a man like me, a man so lost and foolish and clueless, was simply not possible.

I took good stock of my surroundings and told the cabbie to drive. He asked where and I reminded him, or at least that's what I thought I was doing, that it didn't matter. I had every intention of paying him, but it didn't work out as the continual non-reality of my empty pockets surfaced and re-surfaced, and I was thrown out somewhere downtown.


I started smoking, chain-smoking, as a habit suddenly when I saw a cigarette machine weeks later. I wanted to use the machine. As I lighted a cigarette, smoked it, purchased another and smoked it, a line from Kerouac's On The Road occurred to me; something about "only the mad" being for him; and I was as comforted then, nictoine buzzing my brain, as I was when I had first read it. And the lively feeling was bright and spastic and gave me the urge to jog somewhere, anywhere, to roam and never strive for the so-called stability of bourgeois existence again. Kerouac's words and cigarette smoke clung to me like mud from a swamp might.

I went back to the motel where I was still staying. I don't remember how I kept paying for it, or even if they ever charged me. I don't actually remember if it was even a motel.


Hours later, I found myself sitting atop the table in the room's kitchenette, writing on a tablet. It felt as if I had come awake again, like the time in prison, and I didn't know what or why I was writing.

But it felt good. Extremely good.


I've lived the sort of life where many times I have been forced to see myself simply as the protagonist in some great, unheard-of, worthless, unpublished, half-baked novel.

A short one, I see now as lights flash outside and the corpse of the woman from the bar comes to light, but a worthwhile one nevertheless.

P. H. Madore has never been to prison that you can prove. He HAS been published in a bunch of places recently, including insolent rudder, Yankee Pot Roast, the Lampshade, and more. Bother him at http://phmadore.net



Anonymous Henry Chalise said...

I dug this thing long ago. First time I read it, I was drunk, and I had the distinct impression that the author was drunker.

7:05 PM  
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Anonymous オテモヤン said...


1:32 AM  

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