Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Psychflare: Heinrich Lull

I'm inaugurating a new section in this blog, that I have dubbed "Psychflares". These are little pieces of narrative that spring from strange ideas that dance around my head. So basically, what I've been doing so far, except I turn them into short stories instead of whatever it is they are now. The subjects will range from sick to creepy to silly to random to metaphysical to whatever else. The name has some sort of metaphor about solar flares about it, but mostly I'm keeping it because it sounds better than any alternatives so far. So, let us boldly march towards the first Psychflare, and we shall see if I can keep 'em coming.

As a brief intro to what you are soon to read, I must say I'm not sure if I should be posting it or apologising to the world I ever created it. The basic idea started bad and did not improve as I wrote it, but what the hell. Enjoy, if you can. You sick fucks.

Heinrich Lull

Whenever I attempt to catalogue the events that marked my life the deepest, I keep returning, first and foremost, to the day I met Heinrich Lull. Of course, this is only on those attempts that took place after that day, and not before. It could perhaps be necessary to further clarify that, should I have considered the day in question shortly after it occurred, I might not have realised the implications it would have later. Indeed, I almost certainly wouldn't have, precognition not being one of my talents. This matters little now, though, being as I am fully aware of the consequences meeting Heinrich has had upon my existence. I hesitate to use the phrase “fully aware”, even now, but I can't deny I find it fitting.

Heinrich and I first made each other's acquaintance on a September 29th of a year I'd rather forget. My wife of ten years had left me earlier that very year, you see, and taken with her most of the people I'd come to consider friends, or tolerable acquaintances. A “most” that became “all” soon enough, for a variety of reasons. I understand their actions, she was a far more appealing human being than I was, truth be told, and that difference only became starker as my loneliness increased. As I said, I understand their actions, but that did not hinder me for cursing them over and over, in my moments of darkest solitude. It was in this very mood that a man which I soon came to know as Mr. Lull approached me with conversation. Cold and unreceptive as I was to his efforts at first, the wisdom and kindness opened me up to him at a speed that would have been astounding to any outside party that had observed me at all the last months. I have never found anyone as capable as him to offer comfort to those in pain, while avoiding the bland, meaningless platitudes that plague most of us mortals when we find ourselves in such a situation.

But it was not just Heinrich's grief-conquering talents that brought us together. Nay, we were both kindred souls in so many areas one might wonder if our minds were not specifically engineered to be the best of matches. I often reflected upon that very fact in the immediate aftermath of our first conversations, when I fancied Heinrich as a godsend, an almost literal envoy from the Heavens intended to wrestle me away from my spiral of depression and back into a functional life. It was no small surprise when, while commenting this with Lull himself, he answered, as he often did, with a close to exact echo of my thoughts. Were it anyone else, I would entertain the notion that it was nothing more than an attempt to console me (what could I offer to such a man?) but I knew that this was far from his style. Upon my querying, he told me that one area of life of which my knowledge vastly surpassed his own was, coincidentally or perhaps not, the very one that had prompted our friendship. Marriage.

Yes, Heinrich, puzzlingly enough, remained a bachelor, whereas I had, as I mentioned earlier, a decade's worth of experience on the subject. A failed experiment, one could say, but we both were ardent believers on the fact that humankind often learns far more from mistakes than successes. I gladly shared everything I knew and suspected about the life of the no longer unmarried, both from my own life and others I had seen go through the same affair. We spent many days in joint mental effort pondering this information, separating the wheat from the chaff, as they say, sifting through the useless to get to the valuable, and plenty of other metaphors I could use. As you may imagine, my friend had his eye set on a rather charming lady which he wished to make his wife. I encouraged him to find the happiness I had lost, and of course aided his every effort in the matter, culminating in, fortunately enough, her becoming Mrs. Lull.

Soon, they set to the task of building a family, marking the beginning of what was to be the happiest times in my friend's life, and my own as well. His joy alone would have been enough to bring forth mine, of course, but that was not the only reason for this. I loved that family as if it were my own, or indeed, far more, as those who knew my blood relatives could easily attest. Heinrich's children, two boys and two girls, were the most delightful young creatures I had ever set my eyes upon, adorable in their naïveté and yet showing signs of great intelligence. Heinrich often remarked that if I was so happy with them, perhaps I should see about getting kids of my own. I did often flirt with the idea, but the thought of a spouse was far too painful for me to bear. I was troubled by this dilemma for quite some time, until, almost out of nowhere, a solution presented itself in the form of Marie.

Marie was Heinrich's niece, the daughter of a sister who had died in a tragic accident recently, along with her husband. The child so orphaned was not healthy to begin with, as she had lost the ability to speak some time ago, and was now in dire need of help. I offered to take care of her the moment I heard the news, Heinrich himself being far too burdened by raising four children of his own, and the rest of his family all being in similar positions. Marie was a troubled child, and she was reluctant to accept me as her adoptive parent, but I persevered. My efforts paid off, slowly, and I built a bond of trust with her that I think few people have had. With time, I hoped I could help her recover her voice and live a full, healthy life. Ah, hindsight, how it mocks us.

While Marie did manage to trust me, as I said, she did not extend that benefit to almost anyone else. Her aunt and uncle, who had no shortage of reasons to visit our home, were still concerned about her extreme shyness around them, often manifesting as hiding whenever she knew or thought they were around. I reassured them that, however long the process might take, she would grow accustomed to them as she had to me, and suggested that her cousins might be a viable road. I had often taken care of the Lull children before when their parents needed me to, having the advantage of a job that demanded little time and allowed me to stay at home, but that habit had been suspended since the adoption. The doctor had insisted that Marie needed calm and quiet, before she got used to her new life, and I had been quite through in providing it, which of course kept me away from my babysitting duties. Perhaps it was time I took them back.

The Lull children were overjoyed to find themselves visiting my home again, and to find a new playmate in their cousin. I sometimes had the feeling they were happy to stay away from their home, but I suppose every child must find their own parents overbearing sometimes. Their own parents were quite glad to be able to take care of some other occupations, and Marie greatly benefited from the new company, and warmed up to them far easier than to any adult. An arrangement advantageous to all, and I was quite proud of thinking of it.

I mentioned Mr and Mrs Lull being engaged in other occupations. To be more specific, Heinrich was gaining a certain renown in the community, building a reputation as the intelligent, dependable man I had always known him as. When he confided in me that he was interested in politics, and I could not be happier to hear it. We had both often complained about our inability to find people who shared our views on the issues that most mattered to our society, and I could not conceive of someone that represented me better than Heinrich. I offered my assistance in this endeavour, as I had in all the others, not just by taking care of his children. I had money to spare, and had come to build professional connections with other wealthy citizens. I spread the word and declared his virtues to all that would hear, and helped him keep his confidence and high spirits when luck was not as favourable as we wished. In short, I did everything you would expect a true friend to do in such a situation, with my by now characteristic devotion to him.

It was a key night to Heinrich's campaign. We had just learnt of a surge to his popularity after a particularly eloquent speech, and his victory seemed more and more real with each passing day. Few weeks left before the big day, and the opposition seemed to be lost, unable to find a way to counter our strategies or show a flaw in our candidate that he could not graciously accept and wave aside. As one of our increasingly frequent meetings ended, Heinrich left for his own house and I went to Marie's room to kiss her good night. I was walking down the hallway when I heard the voice I had long dreamt of. Marie had pronounced my name, her first word in years. I rushed to her room, my joy boundless. Ecstatic as I was, it took me a moment to realize my daughter was crying. As I asked her about the reasons for her weeping, she, stuttering and with difficulty, but with resolution clear in her countenance, told me the story of the last day she had talked. A story I still wish I could erase from my memory.

She told me how her uncle had come to visit for the holidays, and how her parents were away at the time. How the way he looked at her had seemed her weird, almost comical, and how she ceased to find it funny very quick. The horrifying accusations she made, the abominable acts she said he had performed, how she could no longer talk to or trust anyone, because he had said they wouldn't believe her, that she would be branded a liar of the worst kind. How she feared every time she looked at him, that he would do it again, that he would hurt her, or her cousins, or anyone. It was too much to take, but I made the effort to show a calm façade. I hugged her and led her to the kitchen, offering her a glass of warm milk.

As she cried and I soother her, reassured her that she would be safe, I thought of the man that had changed my life. The father of the children I had often cared for, the husband of the wife I had helped him court, the best friend I had ever had. The lives depending on Heinrich, his family, and soon the community that would look to him for guidance. And then the picture she painted, the monstrous image her words invoked. It destroyed me. It would devastate them. It could not be true. It was not true! Lies, all of it lies! But they would believe it, they would use it against us, wouldn't they? They would descend upon the corpse of the best man I had ever known, like the vultures they were. A family would be crushed, left without their sole means of support, the core that kept them together. As a friend, I could not allow that to happen. As I still hugged Marie, I grabbed a nearby knife. And as I let her go, I showed her my benevolent, comforting smile one last time, and slit her slandering throat in two. I stabbed the body of the girl who wished to harm my one true friend, who dared put a stain in his name. I stabbed and stabbed until the lies went away forever, but they would not go, they were still in my head, they would not leave.

And now, as I reach the final moments of my life, I can still find solace in the fact I was loyal to the end. Everything I did, I did for the man that had saved me once. Everything I did, I did for the people than needed him. I did it for the family I had found after losing my own. I did it for the Lulls.

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