Chapter I: Requiem Aeternam

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WARNING: THE FOLLOWING STORY CONTAINS THE DEPICTION OF EXTREMELY VIOLENT SCENES AND ALSO ADULT LANGUAGE. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.


To my Nakama, who inspired me and whom I will always love.

 

           THE SHINING RADIANCE fades to red as it passes through the russet and translucent curtains covering the tall windows to my side. I walk towards the reddish light, rising from the darkness. First, my hand holding tight my cherished knife and then, my spectral face. Is it me or that me that isn’t me? The reddish shaft of light highlights the specks of dust flying suspended in the air as it spills directly upon the opposite corner of this dark room, thus, revealing the face of my prey, the face of Constantine. He contemplates the immaculate cedar-wood walls decorating this room once more which always fascinated him, and now, he feels with his hands and perceives behind his back. So white and pure as he used to be.  Circumstances led us to this crucial moment happening here, amongst the shadows and the scarce light, to cast the lot into the lap of fate. To cast a lot to determine who’ll be the hunter and who the prey.

           The old wooden gramophone on the other side of this large room plays Mozart's Requiem Aeternam, emitting a faint sound that harmonises with the organic hum from my circulatory system. The gramophone tonearm holds the needle while the nonstop vinyl spins clockwise, reminding me the remorseless time, which, like the gramophone, won’t stop so easily.

           The die is cast.

           I approach Constantine with slow but steady steps, like a clandestine wolf lurking in the shadows of the night as it waits for its prey. He shivers in fear inside, I can see it in his terrified visage. Same visage that seems perfect carved in marble as a Hellenistic sculpture,  but which at this moment, shifts away from the virtue of the harmonious and ideal, because he never foretold this coming from me. He boasted of taming me, and that’s why he must pay the consequences for the hubris of assuming his absolution from my vindication against the world. He turns the prey besieged between my flashing knife and the whitish wall behind him. I hold his gaze as he frightened yells:

           —MADS, THIS IS MADNESS!

           Yes. This is madness. Psychiatrists call it Folie à deux. He knows well. A madness of two. A shared madness. A madness that began the exact moment we met. Embrace the madness or annihilate it.

            —Just let this happen, Constantine. Close your eyes and wade into the quiet streams of your mind, and when you open them you'll see that, as in all occasions I’ve painted you, both in my mind and my canvases, you'll be overwhelmed by the final result. This may hurt both of us, but also may save us. Believe me.

           —You aim to give me eternal life and thus make me prevail over death. Can I posit this as your intention? —he asks me perplexed studying me and the situation intently.

           As I approach him, the look in his dark eyes begins to get lost in his face’s reflection in the chromed blade of the knife. His breathing turns agitated and fast; I can almost hear his heartbeats. His eyes, whose pupils still fixed in the knife, seem liquid.

           Then, a knot forms in his throat.

           I grasp the wrist of my metallic gloved withright hand for a moment, holding, in turn, the knife handle, as I revolve it around its own axis. I seek to bring it the same dexterity required to wield a brush. The joint rattles and then, our eyes collide again. Like the first time.

           —My only design endeavours to save you and our friendship —I explain him breaking the silence—. I must restore everything is broken between us. I placed you higher than all stellar divinities. Nevertheless, you aimed for more. You turned against me, thus becoming one of them —I say warmly welcoming him with open arms so he approaches me—. I know you came here with the clear aim of doing this same to me. This is reciprocal. But unlike you, I'm not going to stab you in the back —I add, holding his right shoulder to pull him towards me and thus prove once and for all he isn't another of my delusions.

           —You're too vicious for being God, and I'm too naive for being Lucifer —he says finally laying his head on my chest.

           While he remains in my arms, he settles among these trying to appease me with his mere presence. The daylight is getting scarcer, dying and dying, little by little. He makes a vain attempt to take my right hand to remove the knife from this, act to which, I immediately react with a subtle shake of my head in disapproval.

           —Can we leave hostility aside and speak calmly? —Constantine asks me, taking his head away from my chest and looking me in the eyes—. All this only happens in your mind. You’ve to be aware this is not the first time you do this. Don't repeat this story. Our friendship may prevail —he professes patronising.

           —That's right, Constantine. Our friendship shall prevail. Don't hesitate about that. This pursues the perpetuity of our devotion, and the only way to achieve it is by closing this circle we opened together. You need to believe in me again in the same way I need to believe in you. Again.

           —Eternity requires sacrifices. Do you intend to immolate me just like you did with your father and all of them? —Constantine asks intrigued trying to make me see reason.

           —We are posthumous. Every moment since the day I saved you is borrowed. This oblation will turn your fall into a beautiful work of art, Constantine. It's the only way to survive your betrayal and restore the natural order of things.

           —Natural order of things as well of laws of the universe were broken the moment I saw you and you saw me. But at this precise moment, who would be the betrayer and who the betrayed? The boundaries between us and all the opposite existing things became blurred.

           —There are no opposites. Just us. And we are balance, harmony. Two sides of a whole.

           —You and I are a whole. That's precisely why I'm not able to understand what you're doing, Mads. I am your only friend in the world. Moreover, I am the person who knows you better.

           —Even when my actions seem incomprehensible, you need to maintain your faith in my creation.

           —From here, your creation also seems as destruction.

           —Creation and destruction imply the same thing: change. Both states come from the same source. A picture that for some can result both elegant and macabre.

           —Like skulls and roses.

           —Yes. Like skulls and roses. What a uncanny idea is for human mind the deletion of bounds.

           —And are we that bounded? Do you long with such desperation to return to your secluded life and the pain and suffering that this caused you?

           —I long the days when world ceased to exist and we both confined ourselves to the Eternal Forest. I let you know me. I gave you part of my life without skimping. I placed you before everything and everyone, even myself —I say to him as the words begin to knot in my throat—. Nevertheless, you betrayed our friendship and since then, I die silently and slowly. Yet, I need your empathy for one last time. I want you to feel in your own flesh the pain that tears me apart.

           As I utter these words, I see how the Wandering Wolf emerges from darkness peeking between my legs. He appears drooling and smacking its lips. Crystalline and glutinous slobber overflows his snout until falling to the ground. Its blue eyes fixed on his, which, like an oscillating and sizzling bonfire in the midst of absolute darkness, mesmerise us both. All it wants is to pounce on him to split his jugular and carotids. I realise it eager to do what instinctively covets since the day I met Constantine. We both on the same side. We both aching for the same. Blood, blood, blood. The wolf would be enraptured to see how the blood spatters from his neck would spray up and stain my face with red. The darkness we saw looming over us a while ago descends as night falls and begins to sink us.

           Constantine lies in my arms like a shuddering child. The idea of hange frightens and disturbs him, but simultaneously, causes him curiosity. He must learn the only constant in this universe is change. Even our reflections in the other's gaze are no longer the same because these vanish with each blinking, in the same way, we both dissipate as fog.

           —Mads, put that down, please! —he cries once more—. Please, don't lose your mind, or at least, don't get mad at me. Even when cruel, your wrath is a worse punishment than your dagger.

           —You can't lose what you never had. Forgive me, Constantine, but you're giving me no choice. You became my yang, and I never accomplished such connection with someone before —I say embracing him with more strength—. I revealed even my darkest secrets to you, but you— you took that away from me. You took everything from me. You betrayed me by driving the dagger of prevarication straight through me without any indulgence. I gave you something that I never gave to anyone, but you despised it. Consequently, the only thing I can do to fix you, to fix us, is to turn you into my most beautiful work of art. I intend to transform you into the finest art so that the whole world can appreciate the extravagant glory of our unique friendship.

          —Please! —he begs in desperation—. This is not a way out! You will only cause everything to happen again! Doing this won’t bring back your father or my sister!

          —This is how it should be, Constantine. The feeling of being stuck in this same moment back and forth haunts me. Now, all cycles must be closed. I created you, and I'll destroy you. I extolled you, and I'll humiliate you. I gave to you, and I will strip you. Can't live with you. Can't live without you.

           I say those last words to Constantine as I prepare for a theatrical reckoning. He's caught without escape.

           Between my arms.

           Between the knife and the wall.

           Between life and death.

          He became the elusive prey ensnared inside the collapsed doorway of my lucidity. Without no escape for either of us, Constantine faces his inevitable and final brush with death. We both get trapped in the perfect labyrinth I created. The cul-de-sac of emptiness conceived by the alienation punished me throughout my life.

           This is the moment of truth. The moment for the ode to friendship and true brotherhood. A square and relentless courtship waltz will be danced on the edge of madness.

           I introduce my knife with subtle violence, which like a wolf that jumps over a defenceless lamb, carves its way through the flesh of a victim surrendered to its faith, sinking its teeth and spraying the blood of retributive justice with such beauty and grace it even resembles poetry. Constantine’s a helpless lamb who, by his own will, placed his life on the claws of a stealthy wolf eager to fill its appetite for companionship in the world, which, conversely, never stopped loving its loneliness. I’m that wolf, and I need to stain my fangs with blood once more.

           I start listening to the reverberation of a tremendous sound. Like a set of drums played in a violent and riotous way, which, little by little, begin to coordinate in unison, thus, becoming part of this wild dance taking place right now inside my head. I feel a fascination for those sounds, after a while though, I realise it’s my heart beating and trying to come out and join the frenzy that happens at this moment. I’m the only performer of this Opera. I’m here, as a watcher, observing myself from the outside. Being accomplice and partner in this paradox I am about to create by immolating the only friend I had since the Darkest Night. Accordingly, I’ll be forced to return to that confinement that will eventually end my existence.

           I push Constantine away from me. I hold him by the back with my left hand as I begin to thrust my knife into his chest in a firm and relentless fashion while still holding his gaze. The limpid and semi-transparent fabric of his shirt starts to pigment with the garnet of the blood, blending in like the canvas and the oil. A series of ephemeral sobs escape from his mouth as the dagger penetrates his flesh. Tears come out of his eyes, but despite that, he suffers his blade bizarrely. His eyes express a mixture of gratitude and contrition as I hear him mutter something.

           —I understand —he whispers as I hold him in my arms—. This is our nemesis. Yours and mine. I forgive you, Mads—

           Then, in that moment of clarity, I stab his heart just like he stabbed mine, ensuring he feels that blade inside of him and procuring injure with such tenderness, so he has the opportunity to become part of my tribute to loyalty. This our Last Supper tableau and this is us, in flesh and bone, more alive than ever.

           Constantine:

           ‘What kind of irony am I a victim of? What kind of mockery of fate put my life in the hands of the one I considered my best friend? I suppose it’s just that. The fact that I trusted him so much it was me who placed that double-edged weapon on his hands. I gave him that power to corner me between life and death in this decisive moment in which that shining metal blade grabbed by his hand, the hand of madness, it’s my expiation. I could never see him completely how he indeed was. Hidden all the time behind several masks concealing the colossal emptiness inside of him. I heard that untamed wolf howling so many times, starving for flesh and blood, but I never saw it with the monstrous clarity I see it now. I kept my eyes wide shut. It’s late for regrets. We mean nothing but smoke and mirrors.’

           Mads:

           ‘My symphony seems complete now. This complex composition, that, as a requiem is played in a phlegmatical tone, whose crimson notes I engrave in the immaculate wall in which this dark performance it’s spread and draw. This sorrowful and romantic medley would surely give him chills when played by delicately kissing his timpani.’

           Constantine:

           ‘I find myself facing the hangman who will execute this sacrifice. He became my nemesis. I feel the raw and stinging knife reaching my heart. It hurts, suffocates, punishes, and condemns me. I see into his eyes while he turns his blade inside of me. I peek a glance of what, from afar, might seem a tear running down his face before my sight vanishes. As he said, the pain feels unbearable, but concurrently, feels liberating. He gently holds me to prevent me from roughly falling, and then, he subtly lays me down. He approaches me, and even when I can barely see him, I am able to perceive him. I feel how he stands in front of me and steals my last breath and takes it inside him.’

           This is the end of everything, or maybe, it’s just the beginning. You and I develop into Alpha and Omega. We’re the beginning and the end of each other. You lie in front of me, so powerless and ethereal like I never saw you. I begin to divest you of all materialism, so that close the cycle of life, and restore you to the state you were born in. Without chores. Without guilt. And even if you are no longer present, I will relish you for the last time. I see you transparent as never before. I appreciate the beauty of the velvety bare skin of your angelical body among the dim and dying light entering through the window. Now, I will consecrate you to what you always represented to me: an angel who showed me the closest to heaven, but who fatefully descended from the podium I placed him. But I will glorify you again turning you into a post-mortem work of art.

           I close my eyes.

           I see two fuzzy silhouettes merging into one. You ascended from my arms and set yourself up in the pose will give you immortality. From your back, a pair of wings arises filling this room wide; these will complete your metamorphosis. The lamb at least became a lion. The light that, at the end of the day, extinguished, is enlivened with greater splendour and as it enters through the windows, these transform into a majestic and colourful stained glass. Pink. Purple. Yellow. Many brilliant colours make up. Beautiful, like a field of flowers blossoming accelerated before my eyes. A lot of geometric living patterns intersect each other like in a kaleidoscope. From behind, I see your backlit silhouette standing against the window light which makes your open wings seem endless as these vanish in the dark. At the top, right above your head, I can recognize a figure, it’s a lion inside a circle. But I reconsider it for a moment, and it also resembles a gryphon.

           Thus, with every drop of your spilt blood, I will colour this beautiful piece I pictured in my mind painted in your memory, which I will call “The Fallen Angel.” A masterpiece.
           The moment you leave me, both my heart and the universe and as well the whole will be halved. Just like I’ve bifurcated your heart in half. One half of mine will be filled with memories, and the other will die with you. See? See how merciful I’ve been with you? The dagger I carry inside of me will not lead me to death. Instead, it will be a sorrow punishing and cursing me for the rest of my days. I’ll be stabbed, over and over, every time I remember you or think about you, and I can never root that out from my being. I'll wake up in the middle of the night, inundated by the leaves of memories detaching from the trees of the Eternal Forest. I forgave you, but I’ll never forgive myself for changing you. I changed you. I changed you forever. Now, I can only hope for the inevitable inversion to befalls. At some point, time will start to reverse, recomposing the natural order shattered and prevailing over any sign of entropy — I tell him gently caressing his chin and realising he's still resting on my lap while we both lie on the floor.

           “I turned to him.

           I started to cry.

           I wanted to kill him.

           I had to do this.

           I had to be with him.

           He had to be with me.

           We were the only ones left.

           We were the only ones who mattered.

           There is no one else in sight.

           There is no one else in the world.”

 

           Inversion is here.

           Close your eyes.

           Eyes wide shut.

 

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           Hello, again. Have you seen it? That shining and blinding radiance I see every morning poking through the window, it perfectly complements the emptiness I daily feel within me. It’s everything I witness when I wake up. It’s there as a reminder of this permanent agony rooted in my being, which roots slowly absorb my existence by feeding on it.

           I heard you howling. That loud but muted sound nobody else can listen to. The everlasting and desperate roar woken me up.

           Panic.

           Loneliness.

           Non-existence.

           Remember it’s you who trapped us in this perpetual state that only evokes claustrophobia. Let’s not forget only I exist. You don’t. Never lose sight of that fact.

           For you, loneliness never meant a problem. You are wild, sharp, and always enjoy the rawest violence. Your howls aren’t due to anything but your wrathful desire for freedom and to emerge from me to satisfy your voracious and sadistic appetite. Of course, you can't do it because we made an unspoken bargain that pursues to keep us inside this same body without hurting each other. That’s how this duality works. This is what prevents any of us from taking real control. You don’t cancel my will, and I don’t cancel yours. That’s the balance that should never be broken.

           I spend my whole life looking for something so banal and simple for many like finding rapport with someone. Someone capable of understanding me. Someone who offers me his outright complicity. Someone real able to seeing you living inside of me, without fear.

           You know me. You understand me. You were there, present on the Day of Wrath. You witnessed how both of us became lonely creatures wandering in this strange world, which we will never belong.

           Although most of us consider themselves unique and different from the rest, I must say, I really am. That's what has made me partially what I am now. A furtive and wandering wolf stealthily moving among the shadows of the Darkest Night of loneliness. I’m a nomad travelling along with his inseparable and insufferable intimacy.

           This day is just like any other. Such tortuous routine that I could asseverate even my own thoughts remain the same of yesterday and the day before yesterday. My own thoughts?  Am I the thinker of my thoughts? I’m condemned to live in this everlasting loop with no beginning and no end.

           We, you and I, are wild animals locked in our own cages of routine. Invisibles, but not least oppressive. We live this quasi-Faustian and paradoxical duplicity which makes us both equal and different. That ideal balance has allowed us to become inherent; thus, we are one individual with two natures contained within. You find contentment in your exile while you wander lonely looking for freedom and running away from crowds and men while, on the contrary, I have always longed for the faintest sense of belonging which is a contradiction since the fact I’m not human anymore.

           I’m face to face before this shining void, and like every morning, I'm about to repeat the same cycle.

           I wake up.

           I think about how isolated I am.

           I go to my gallery.

           I return home.

           I realise I’m still isolated.

           I sleep.

           Repeat the cycle.

           Right now, I am captive among the walls of this house with vast and gloomy crimson corridors that not only lead to the most splendid, light and high rooms filled with art, knowledge and all glorious things, but also to those vaults that remain sealed and dark, which should never be opened. This enormous palace is filled with emptiness and the muted echoes of those who are dead but are not really dead. Those who dwell with me, keeping me company. From my studio to the dining room, each wall of this house serves as a support for the most exquisite paintings. Tableaus whose scenes range from Leviathan being destroyed by the sword of God, to the image of that Bacchus full of youth with half-naked torso who accompanies me nightly to dinner, which looks at me with his seductive liquid eyes to taste the red nectar of his frenzy.

           I’m trapped in this infinite loop that tediously starts with a cold and mournful morning and ends with the inscrutable and eternal dark of each night. I stand in front the mirror, and it’s not my face what I conceive, but the fragmented reflection of what’s under this man's suit. That caged oddity that I can’t allow myself to be, even if that could mean being the freedom from this confinement because it would go against the code my father instilled in me. The Wolf is for me a reminder of my father's teachings. It is there to recall me of the first of his commandments: no man is trustworthy.

           What does this day hold for me? At my 31 years of age, I have lost all trace of hope. I buried all my expectations because whenever these are unfulfilled, only broken illusions are left, leading it to suffer and despair. Living without hopes prevented me from all that. There's no way I could feel disappointed because I don’t expect anything from life or people around me anymore.

           Each day, this bare and inhospitable void in which I find myself in, turns more unbearable and does nothing but to drag me to that vortex from which it's impossible to escape. I find myself needing to struggle against this flow that attracts me with sudden violence. I'm desperate to quarrel against my loneliness and to put an end to the unanswered question my life is.

           I can’t stand to see around and realise there's nobody near that makes me feel real. Someone who strips me from this attire of invisibility which I continuously wear. The caustic irony is I find intricately impossible to establish a connection with mankind and simultaneously, I find insufferable the very idea of disconnection.

           The pain slowly killing me of which I’m a slave since my brush with death on the Darkest Night feels like a dagger I carry embedded in my being. From time to time, this is screwed inside of me with sadism and fierceness. Like an injury that has never meant to be healed. That sharp weapon that hasn’t been extirpated is killing me a little more each day.

           I am foreign to my body. I feel beside myself. Maybe, on the contrary, I introverted so much I went lost inside of the immense void I found inside me. I feel alien to my own skin as if this “me” wasn’t really “me”.

           —Mads, you all right?!

           I hear a voice in the distance, rumbling like a dry thunderstorm amongst the tempest of my head, trying to free me from the prison of my thoughts. I slowly open my eyes. I see a blurred face both unknown and tremendously familiar. He’s there, standing next to my bed. He's dressed in a mandarin collar style white shirt of very thin fabric. I feel like I’ve known him forever. His gaze is gentle with a touch of irresistible naivety. He smiles at me as if he was delighted to see me and as if we were friends. He calls me by my name. Do I know him? Does he know me? It must be another of my intricate dreams. That's right, I must be dreaming, but— Why I’m here laying on this bed? It cannot be a dream because I feel entirely sore. Did I try getting rid of this life? Probably that desperate act in search of a way out of this world and its desires would have gone wrong.

           —Hiya! —exclaims this young man as he smiles again. Almost like daring me to look directly into his big, rounded, dark eyes as I return the greeting with an instinctive smile that barely draws on my face—. You've finally awakened —he says to me as he gets closer and gives me a firm handshake. This is a first contact so authentic. A remarkably simple ritual, so clumsy, so human, that although I lack social skills, I can appreciate the beauty that lies in that first and honest connection.

           —Hello. Have I? Who are you? —I ask intrigued incapable of figuring out if I genuinely am awake or if I remain trapped in some of my dream ravings. Am I dead and paradise has turned out to be real? Then, maybe he is an angel welcoming me to this.

           After a moment, I realise I don't. Not even in death I can find the confidence of a friend who liberts me from the oppressive chains of this reality.

           —Yes, you are —the young man says nodding and ending my delirium—. Don’t you remember me? —he replies surprised and almost disappointed I don’t—. You saved me. You’re my saviour —he explains next, while I am unable to understand what he's talking about.

           —Your saviour? That’s impossible —I answer with a hesitant murmur. I hadn’t noticed how difficult it was to speak, and I mean it literally, not only because I'm unused to hearing voices outside my head. I'm a beast. I'm a monster. I'm your worst nightmare. I'm not your saviour.

           —Today you saved me. That makes you my saviour —he replies insistently—. You've saved me from an ill-fated destiny. You've bravely taken me from the clutches of death —he says moved once more.

           Now I remember, I went to my art gallery located in central New London being accompanied by my cloister habit of non-existence; surrounded by people and simultaneously alone in the middle of a dissonant and customary morning hustle. I don’t feel comfortable travelling surrounded by the faceless crowds abstracted inside their virtual realities implanted into their brains, They’re slumbered by the screens and amused by the violence, politics and alienation. That's why this morning I decided to call an autonomous car. Because, although the Hyperloop travels at speeds higher than the speed of sound in those glass ducts that go through the continent, I find it a punishment to travel in these surrounded by people. All of them are focused on their micro-worlds, distracted,  connected with their devices but disconnected from each other. Walking like robots without a warning that, in their environment, there are others next to them. Lost in their digital worlds, chats, and technology. Desperate to communicate with others to avoid being with themselves. They’re a multitude of misanthropes looking to interact with others to feel less isolated. Many of them no longer even walk, because they’ve become dependent on technology even to move. How will their muscles atrophy due to disuse? I guess in the same way that their brains atrophied. It's unbelievable how all these "smart" devices have made all these people more obtuse.

           The lights in the traffic drone-bots always provide me with the necessary pause to stop thinking a little while I hear them buzzing like bees over my head. They are watching us from the air like an Orwellian Big Brother. Furthermore, it allows me to stop to pay attention and observe the behaviours of the “normal” people around me. I watched them and with discreet stealth, I sketched their lives in my mind. I'm transported to these for a fleeting moment wondering, “Are these just as lonely as mine?” The answer was “yes” because I saw in their faces the reflection of diffidence, futility and indolence. I found empathy, and I almost encourage myself to get my inner misanthrope to play a little and find a friend.

           The drone-bot’s traffic lights gave way to the passersby, indicating my little recess of rumination, and studying of human behaviour was over. As always, someone took the first step. On this occasion, was a young man of about twenty, slight build, light brown skin, and straight dark hair that fell on his forehead. I watched him, taking the initiative with a relaxed walk that seemed contradictory to the context. I was alongside him. We were about five people away and for a fleeting moment, our eyes collided, then, I took my eyes off him so he wouldn’t realise I was watching him. To my surprise, in a matter of seconds, I saw him being struck by a reckless driver who narrowly gets his scythe out of the car’s window. Was this a herald of the death itself? I anticipated the scenario, predicting what would have happened to that young man if he didn’t notice the immediate situation. Meanwhile, the propaganda of Cassius Price, the Supreme Chancellor of the Great Confederation of United Nations, sounded with a reverberating echo throughout the city until I began to hear it more and more slowed down.

           At that time, without thinking twice, I threw myself nimbly towards him, pushed him off the street and accordingly, saving him from possible death. Everything happened so fast I could barely get the feeling of everything moving violently, ending this in total darkness.

           Now, I wake up surprised I'm not in my room surrounded by my usual solitude and the shining radiance, but instead, I’m in this darker room whose only light source comes from frosted glass windows. I’m in this bed flanked by wires, bright monitors and the beep beep beep that these emit. The smell of this place is like sterilised rotting. A foul odour to illness hidden under litres of disinfectants. One can perceive the lugubrious stench of death. Of course, I’m in a hospital. I immediately feel the repudiation that these type of places cause me. That's when I understand it. I am lying in this bed because in an instant of impulsive heroism I decided to risk my life to save a stranger’s life. He is in front of me at this moment feeling entirely indebted to me for my daring act of courage; he calls me by my name interrupting my delirium. To saving him hasn’t been anything extraordinary, given my declared enmity with Death, which’s a platonic repercussion of having snatched from me the only real friend I ever had. I return to the present, to me, the great painter Mads Madsen who is now prostrate in this bed of impotence and vulgarity.

           In the back of the room, I see a man dressed in white from head to toe, who seems checking some X-rays on a screen that hangs from the ceiling. He turns and heads towards us with his PAD in his hand.

           —Hello, Mr Madsen. I’m glad you’ve wakened up. I'm Doctor Ambroise Crow. I am the director of this hospital —says this severe and grey-haired man—. You’re in Saint Thomas hospital, by the way. Will there someone who could take care of you? Some relative? Someone who lives with you? We have scanned your retina, but our biometric records haven't shown anything. There's no medical history. Nothing. All we have been able to get among your belongings is a library card with your name. —he adds looking at the device’s screen without being able to understand why I don't appear in the database.

           —No, doctor. I live alone. And what you mention must be a system error —A “system error”, that's precisely what I am. Simple-minded. Clearly, he hasn’t found any information about me in the databases since I never let them get any record of me. I’m invisible even in the informatics world. Do I even exist?

           —I’m related to him, doctor —Interrupts this young stranger whose life I saved, which name I don't know and I still try to guess it in my mind, relating it to some characters in the literary works I have read and even to the authors themselves.

           Virgil! It must be Virgil! Look at his resemblance to that magnificent bust that is still preserved in Naples. His thin, slender face with large, proud eyes in this. The straight hair that dimly curls as it reaches his forehead; thick lips and half-split chin. It's Virgil! I’m sure to have guessed.

           —Are you a friend of Mr Madsen? Sir? —the doctor asks, finally and discreetly formulating the question flitting around my head like a wandering little ball spinning in a casino roulette wheel, which, in a tiny chaotic moment, will end up falling in one of the pockets, giving rise to one of many possible universes.

           —My name’s Constantine Shepherd. It's a pleasure, Doctor and yes, I am —he says as he shakes the doctor's hand, but not before drying his sweat in his trousers.
Although I haven't succeeded in guessing his name, the charm of the melodic sound of those interwoven letters has fascinated me. Constantine. Constantine. Constantine. The grace and rhythmic power that I find in the locution of that name to hear it escape his mouth resembles the sweet tinkling bursting out of Giotto's Campanile on a dying spring afternoon.
       

Continues in Chapter I - Part II

Hiya! My name's Seph Brand. Thank you very much for scrolling and reading up here. I hope you enjoyed this literary work as much as I enjoyed writing it. I would love to hear from you, especially your impressions and theories about what you just read, so please leave your comments below.

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