13 Aug

The first three stories of the apartment building were taken up by some government tourist agency. So when you rode the lift, you’d literally be staring at a dusty wall for the first (or last, if you were descending) three floors. If you knew the trick, you could hit the combination of buttons required to stop the thing, swing open the glass accordion doors, and write shit on the wall like the others. Not graffiti. It wasn’t that. I wish. I saw, later, the real graffiti done by the kids in the Village and Washington Heights and Brooklyn and all over the city subway cars. Basquiat and Lee Quiñones and TAKI 183. Those guys were artists. This here was just illiterate…shit. Who loves whom, who sucks whose, who gets the ladies where, fictitious phone numbers of fictitious women who’d sleep with you, and–strangely enough–where to go to get the best pork schnitzel and fried cabbage in town. That kind of nonsense. I still have dreams of getting stuck in this ancient, rickety lift in between ground and three, staring at the brown, dirty wall. Even to this day. There was no emergency button or telephone or any of that junk. This was in another country and no one gave a shit if anyone got stuck and asphyxiated to a rotten death. Often the lift was out of order and often I wondered if some poor sod wasn’t trapped there, waiting to run out of air.

The thing written in the largest, most prominent letters was Isus Hristos. Our Saviour. Son of God. It was weird seeing His name plastered among all the other obscene notes and advice. Maybe apropos. All I know is I never felt comfort or fulfillment reading it. I was living in an atheist state and I always felt like even the scribbled name was some kind of trap set up by the secret police. I don’t know, you could get busted for even seeing something that wasn’t sanctioned by the Party. Ten to fifteen in the salt mines. Isus Hristos. I dream it even now, as it was carefully written in neat calligraphy on that bloody, decrepit wall. It’s still a menacing thing, invoking paranoia and fear into the subconscious. Maybe it’s apropos. I don’t know. At times I felt the urge to suspend the car on its cable and paint the entire thing, top to bottom. Any color. Anything but that shit-brown. Paint over Jesus.

Nothing’s changed. Twenty-nine years later and that garbage hasn’t yet been cleaned up. Just the opposite: it’s multiplied. The tourist agency’s gone. It wasn’t really a tourist agency, anyway. Just another front for the secret police to spy on people and regulate travel. Isus Hristos is still there. Trapped forever between ground and third floor for other freaked-out, claustrophobic disciples to take comfort in. He’s there and here and everywhere at the same time. And still, that doesn’t give me comfort.

(inspired by Sly’s dream)


2 Responses to “Isus”

  1. Slyboots 13/08/2008 at 8:23 PM #

    I like this one- thinking about hidden messages and places where people don’t look. Especially for salvation. But they probably need it there more than anywhere else. Because it’s suspended over the abyss and all.

  2. (S)wine 13/08/2008 at 9:35 PM #


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