Yesterday wasn't a Monday, Tuesday, or any other day of the week. Yesterday was Hell.
When I say Hell, I don't meant that I'm whining about a bad day. People compare things to Hell, trivial things, never knowing that Hell is real. It’s not a long wait in line at the post office, it’s not a birthday party filled with screaming five-year-olds. It’s not seeing the person you love walk away with your heart, or a day at work that seems to never end.
That’s not Hell. That’s life.
My imagined Hell was the kind of place where AC/DC was the muted soundtrack, the devil walked around in red smoking jacket, occasionally burning you with a red hot poker and giggling with Jessica Rabbit, like it was more Playboy Mansion than perdition.
For the real thing, there is no apt comparison. None.
It's like a never ending series of dreams. The kind that bleed together, so it seems less dreamlike. It's finding that someone has had the time and patience to sew together the worst fears and nightmares of your life into a suit of clothes that you wear and can't take off. Hell.
Hell isn’t generic. It’s not a one size fits all kind of afterlife. Hell is handcrafted pain, exquisitely fine tuned to each individual. Hell is an Etsy store, the work of many skilled artisans; there’s something for everyone.
You’d think Hell would be about flesh pain, the agony of ripped flesh and torn tendons, bone and sinew roasting. But that would mean warmth.
It’s cold. Not freezing, but cold enough to make you hang your head, your shoulders slumped.
That cold that’s not so bad, if you could only warm up. This cold sinks in, a bite at a time, never cold enough to numb, just cold enough to hurt.
Plus, pain is something that comes from your mind, your soul. You don’t have a body when you get here, but your mind is intact. Mind pain is worse than body pain. The best torturers know that to get what you want, you break the mind. Feed on the fear, and drink it down.
Hell is the deep feeling of unease rolling through your stomach. The way your feelings are always determined by the way your stomach feels. Sometimes curling in on itself, sometimes feeling like a hot ball of dread was resting there, sometimes charring like a bit of paper, then crumbling away into ash.
It's a garden party of elegance. The taste of despair like a fine wine, instead of one course, or seven, it’s an infinity of tastes. Despair, horror, guilt, regret, trauma, dread, loathing, secrets, all seared in the juices of other wrongs, plated with a side of your worst memories. There’s no palate cleanser, so each taste piles up, like ashes.
You have something, though. Something that none of the rest of them have. You’re no murderer; you lived a good life. You were good to the people in it. You loved, you gave. If He hadn’t shown up at exactly the right time, you wouldn’t be here. And every time you live through something, you hold onto his eyes. Those green eyes. In your mind you’re still screaming for him. It’s where you go when the mind pain gets too bad. His eyes, green fire, lighting up a room. The way he’d look at you from underneath his eyelashes, pretending to be serious, but making promises and heating up the world with one look.
Even for all that, you hate yourself for wondering if it's worth it.
The worst days are the days when the Master wears his face. When he wears those green eyes, every word hits home. You know it’s not really him, you tell yourself its not, but the words, the inflections, the silver bright eyes are his. You choke on your guilt those days. You cry until your tears come out as blood.
This, this is your special Hell, the one bought and paid for, with that one word.
There are some things you learn here; namely the history. Like the bands who traded part of their soul (not all) but part, for a shift in hell. Those that wanted fame so badly they couldn’t wait for their talent to catch up. Those bands you’ll recognize, because they all had one thing in common. I’ll name a few, just so you get the idea—Robert Johnson, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Johnny Cash, Van Halen, AC/DC, some others are more of an ‘a ha’ moment, namely the talentless. Kid Rock, Danzig, White Zombie, Motley Crue, Metallica.
There are two names you never want to mention: Charlie Daniels (because that song is an autobiography, and no matter how many years ago it happened, it’s still a sore subject) and God. Charlie Daniels is more forgivable. Say the G-word, and you’ll find yourself face to face with one of the snarling, silver-eyed angels.
I don't know what everyone else's Hell consists of, it's enough to try to live through my own.
Mine is a home, a beautiful home with this golden lamp light, that should feel warm, but instead feels like a handful of ice cubes against your skin. The walls and carpets are the finest you've ever seen. Carpet so plush your feet sink in. Furnishings so decadent they gleam. But each room has its own horrors waiting, no matter how beautiful the decor. Even the crimson carpet carries the leaden weight of despair.
The first room in my house, was a bedroom. No other furniture. Just a bed. Immediately, my mind goes to the worst possible place. I may have to fuck someone on this bed. Worse, it may be ten or twenty or ten thousand someones. I can feel my stomach twitch in disgust, trying to prepare myself for that as much as I can.
A soft laugh, and I can feel the heat baking off his body. Him, the Master. "Shhh...," he laughs softly, "It's only one person. Just one. Once you've come, you can get up from this bed."
I felt his hands softly sliding through my hair, "Most never get up from this bed," he whispered, "but you will. You're different."
And he was right. I did make it out of that bed. But all I remember about that, what Hell won't let me forget when I was finally able to leave that room; my father was crying.
Yesterday I made it to the bathroom. The most beautiful bathroom I have ever seen. The marble sink had an array of perfumes lined against the wall. Immediately, I went to smell them. Once I got a smell of the first, my stomach clenched in revulsion.
Each perfume smelled more wonderful than the last. Glorious, as if made of the air of Heaven.
But, this isn't Heaven. Those sparkling top notes were laced with an underlying tone that was the same of each and every perfume. Regret.
The time my cousin ran into the street, and I tackled him into the soft shoulder, feeling the hot breeze from the truck ruffling my hair.
The time I fought with my Mom, the last time I ever saw her, because she died in a car accident the next day.
Coming home to my family after I'd spent years away, trying to sort my life out.
"Does everyone have this many perfumes?" I managed to ask, barely a whisper. He clapped his hands together, delightedly.
"No. Not everyone has let down the people they love as much as you. This?" He picked up a perfume, closed his eyes while inhaling the fragrance, as if it was divine, "This is the time your brother almost drowned, while you were supposed to be watching him."
"This? My favorite. This is when you were in that terrible car accident and you came back to your family."
I felt my eyes burn, and with a throat thick with tears, barely managed to say, "I know I've let my family down a lot."
He tilted his head toward me, almost sympathetically, "You have, but not in the way you think. After your accident, you thought they invited you back into their lives with open arms and all that business. They reguarded you as a rabid dog in their midst. Your instability, your unreliability, your irresponsibility. Their only regreat was that you survived."
That was Hell yesterday, and Hell today. I don't know if I can face Hell tomorrow, but then again, I really don't have a choice.
That one thing, that one thought, like a mantra, that won't quit, that string of words that are almost as bad as this house.
(was it worth it? was it worth it? was it worth it? was it worth it?)
And Dear God, I just don't know anymore.