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When I awaken choking to such violent extent that pure blood pours from my eyes, I tell any witnesses that I have experienced yet another moment of narcolepsy, entangled with emphysema and sleep apnea, all undiagnosed. Impossible years of depressingly brutal manual labor will take its toll, of course, with the insomnia of exhaustion and the poor diet of unobtainable resources tradecrafting this wretched persona who cleans up quite well only for the right funeral. These moments are so much more gruesome than the supposed anxiety attacks felt by the greater masses, and as I never take any prescriptions I could not possibly undergo a panic of any order myself. No insurance means no guarantees in our enlightened age, aside from the predictability that is life itself and excepting for what we might piecemeal together to explain away our sins. But that’s not really what’s at play here, the source of my attacks, is it?

It’s never really a matter of trial and error, but trial and sentencing, this life resulting from dreams and from nightmares. The same life where I can call up any police station in these United States of America. Call them and say that I am a journalist who found inspiration, and that I am writing a book regarding the wrongness of the New England literati, for declaring in their vainglorious pursuit of centrism that creationism could actually be a metaphor for evolution. They are ill-advised, woefully misbegotten, for what we interpret as evolution is how we lowly and hopeless mere mortals can see acts of creation unfold. Creation is the one, true medium, while evolution is simply the media used, the very tools wielded by the hands of the almighty. Tell them all of this, and tell them that because of this project I need copies of any suicide notes from their evidence lockup, going back throughout their archives, because I need to research to learn whether it was angels that eased their suffering or demons who blinded them to joy, these lost souls gone home for a rejoinder with their maker. The book would aim to look over the ledge for once and for all, to prove beyond all shadows of doubt that if we can finally see what lured their self-sacrificing this gift of life, then through their eyes can we in turn see the intelligence behind the grand design beckoning us all. The police of whichever station will promptly, uniformly, send my way all that I ask for, because their opted worldview hangs unrelentingly on god and country’s good versus the devil and the city’s evil. I keep it binary, as binary as life and death, and the junkyard mutts are trained to line up in accordance. We smell assurances in one another’s whiskey breath over the phone, over the shared lie.

In other cases, reading the obituaries in the local newspaper, and newspapers from other places thanks to the public library where, in better days, I spit-shined toilets, I can piece together the events of suicides. Write to the next of kin, especially immediate family, and they are almost always so ashamed of allowing their loved one to go, the full gamut from enragement to embarrassment, they’ve little interest in keeping the most morbid of memorabilia around for stoic reminder of the misdeed. I share with these people something closer to the truth, that I am collecting these suicide letters for a coffee-table book, the sort of thing which any student of Barron Storey could do a finer job in designing. But that I want to curate these notes and letters by aesthetics and by revelation, to honor their memories, and also, hopefully, to remind those of us left behind how there is a world brimming with the kindest of loves here with us still. These words help the surviving family and friends to feel better about their neglect.

The point is that I have been collecting these suicide notes and letters for many years now, traveling where necessary to slowly accumulate hundreds and then thousands, the largest collection on torment held. Unbeknownst to each and every suicide story, of the ones thoughtful enough to leave a message in their wake, the words they write down are fragments to a spell, binding their souls from making that long, long journey to the other side of all-encompassing oblivion. Esotericism being the opposite of popular cultures, I was so distraught as to be displaced, peering at the limited ways of the world from the outside, as though I were trapped within a broken mirror. And from this vantage point following my first encounter with such a missive, writ in the hand of my one, true love, did I come to read between the lines.

Weeks, perhaps months of mournfully raging alcoholism on whiskey and wine at last gave way, and I’d left for the woods for nights of a private campfire and solitude. I gave to myself an anointing of Abrahamic oil, as I gathered my faculties to imbibe prepared DMT over a pinch of marijuana. Through the oil I beseeched the hermit from the tarot’s major arcana, soliciting guidance. Instead, my despondency called forth something else altogether. Mostly invisible and mostly intangible, a malicious presence held me frozen to the floor of my small tent where, suffocating beneath its intent was I raped, my seed stolen with such force and with such vigor that I was unconscious in pain and terror for what proved to be two days and three nights. At my utmost lowest had I been defeated. I was emasculated, abused by a thing with no face, left as physically devastated as was my mental state and crying so much blood that everything I saw was the scene of a crime. My last prayer for salvation, making me a bloodied portrait of myself, done and done. I would meet this presence again, this paranormal, this supernatural foundation stone for what dreams may come, this rock upon which I will build my church, my temple to my fallen goddess. For if god would not exist, then bruises and cuts confirm that something else does, and so the oath I swore that day was to spend the rest of my life seeking out the one, true path to compel that something else to bring me back her.

The second suicide note I added to my collection was a family heirloom, written by an uncle before he took his life, before I was even born. The more and more notes I tracked down and laid claim to, the more I would feel that I was somehow completing both a puzzle, and a spell, giving form to a thing without words. I knew this to be true, for as my collection grew, so did the number of attacks on my person. Striking at any time, though most often as I slumbered alone, what was mostly invisible and what was mostly intangible would alternately prey upon me as a female or as a male, with what I suffered growing in misery well beyond mortal comprehension, like a night terror haunting the eternal night; nowhere to run and hide, nobody to confide in, and no means to safeguard myself from these increasingly near-death experiences. My hair prematurely turned gray as the years of tracking suicide notes and in trade being tracked by the phantom rapists passed, my teeth turning brittle and rotting away as a weakness infected every muscle, every nerve and tendon, as though all my energy had been drained to depletion from my body and nothing but a battle-wearied husk remained. The debilitation where all faith leads. As the collection grew so too did the attacks, prompting my understanding that a dark magic was in effect.

It was the despair, the despair from the final messages of the suicidal dead being brought together which drew these lecherous presences to me as moths to flame. And the more they sought to abuse me the more I understood what they truly were amid this mad tug ‘o war with spiritually barbed leash maneuvering my sympathies, maneuvering my sympathies to reveal from nightmare and dream their original incarnations, their true forms.

The old crone known as Lilith, first woman of man, had grown ancient in her years when young lovers Tristan met his Isolde to be and Isolde met her Tristan to be. What prolonged the twilight was her seething hatred of this love so true shared by the young lovers to be, her jealousy unbridled, her scorn enticing the darkness of the world. She employed the last of her magics and the last of her will, cursing the young lovers in her dying breath not merely to forget of themselves, but to be transformed, to be transmogrified into the most vile of elementals and compelled beyond all reason to forever fornicate with all souls but for the one, true love they each had been sworn to, one for the other. The love so true bastardized immeasurably, with each and every new decimation had they become less and lesser who they once were, forced again and again and again to deny virtue, to betray the one they loved most in all the lands. This do I now know as gospel, this impossible truth without words.

Envisioning the source for their plights, I call out to them from my deathbed, commanding them to set me free of this final bondage to the world, as I now set them free by sharing their true names to the winds, the voids between the moon’s light glistening as it does from the wings of fluttering insects entranced by my lifelessness. I come to see them both before me, the Succubus and the Incubus, this Isolde and this Tristan, and the brightest glow imaginable emanating from within their mostly invisible, mostly intangible spirits as they witness each other beneath the masquerade, divine sparks of remembrance defiantly alighting murky centuries kept apart. The two conjoin their virtue torn asunder, rising above and pirouetting about the worlds forgotten, their newfound, shared sense of pure elation over being freed at long, long last uplifting them on high and away from irreparable sins of the past, on high and away from care and worry, on high and away from the words of sickened, tired fools feebly commanding them to give back the mythologized, virtuous love taken from this world, taken from this life.

I recall a thing a poet once wrote, “Remember when you said ‘mine’ and I said ‘forever’? You said ‘only forever’? Well, it’s forever, now.” Hope departing hand in hand with the last of my horrors, my eyes closed for the last time, my last sigh drifts upwards to the heavens, my last word rattles the morning’s fairest drops of bloodless dew.