Sunday, May 6, 2012
I’m feeling cocky and like my old self again now that I’m out of the box I was being painted into against my better judgment. Rumors of my premature demise at the hands of either Mexican drug cartels or a misguided author were indeed exaggerated. I’m still standing and taking on all comers. Better bring you’re A-game if you expect to become something other than the next head on my trophy wall.
Doubtless the notion of trophies on a wall now comes to mind because there’s a killer who collects them — like notches on a gun — from his victims in my new case. That’s all blood under the bridge, so to speak, until that past intrudes upon the present and the killer is forced to kill again. I hate it when that happens, and I find it happens a lot. The past toys with us, pretends its safely entombed, like Jurassic amber, only to abruptly crack open, unasked and uninvited, to unleash Pandora's worst ills on our world. In fact, it's the way the past weighs upon and warps the present and corrupts the future that has emerged as the unifying theme of my new adventure.
It’s a nasty idea — an active and insidious past — that undermines all our pretensions about being free in our self-absorbed here and now. Such notions have always been bullshit, of course; the pixie-dust lies we sprinkle over our eyes to lull ourselves to sleep every night. I’ve been known to have a dark, even jaded outlook on things, and so plead guilty to thinking the past is built more on fear and pain than it is on well-planned successes. There is something innately poisonous about the past, something oppressive and tyrannical; the long arm of a shadow that grabs us from behind just as we think we're breaking away, or the noxious, sweet-smelling memory that jumps out of the hall closet to prick us to death with the sharp needles of last year’s Christmas tree.
The past isn’t benign any more than it is static; it’s alive and as fluid as quicksilver. It’s also the playground where our private demons nibble at our fingers and toes until growing bold enough to devour us whole. Let’s be real: we’ve all done things in our pasts we hope have been forgiven, but forgetting them is a whole different thing. Being a fatally-flawed fictional character I can neither forgive nor forget, but hopefully you’re a kinder, gentler soul and have managed to perfect the art of at least one of these dubious virtues.
Tossing proverbial shit in the game is the fact that my latest antagonists aren’t any better at forgiving/forgetting than I am. If anything, they’re worse; hard cases imprisoned by a past they can’t trick and can't out distance no matter how fast they run. They’ve learned, as have I, that the past never truly goes away; it’s always just a sound, a touch, a scent away; ready to curl back and splatter us like a glob of spit in the wind. When it’s really pissed-off the past can roll back on us with the vengeance of a runaway freight train or, better yet, the relentless resolve of a curse.
There’s one of those in my new case, too — a curse — more like Tut’s than Dain’s in this instance because it involves something — numerous things, really — stolen in the past; the bill for which has finally come due. That’s what curses are, when you think about it, overdue bills, and getting them paid can be messy.
Hence the title, “Blood Rituals”, and it seems I’m not the only collector tracking down deadbeats. Someone is busy taking their heads and hearts faster than I can their names.