Untitled: Number One
by Laurence Bass
Inspiration: Oren Ambarchi's "Remedios The Beauty"
Anthony Johnston remembered very little regarding what happened minutes ago. Recollections of a block party, the taste of fruit punch and his older sister’s voice were faint. They were vivid images transitioning into shadows, a choir lulled to a whisper. Breathing is a luxury. The plastic mask covering his nose and mouth halts speech, more oxygen is forced into his mouth. Light above him is obstructed by a figure. He fights to adjust his blurred vision only to have it regained seconds later. The apparition is true—God is a black woman, donning latex gloves shouting his name. The tiny room quakes and sways over potholes and sharp turns. Each movement adds a new sensation. Where there once was fiery led now resides a cool vacancy. His naked chest displays the crimson tattoos of entry wounds. Nickel-sized holes allow life to ooze into his shirt and onto the white sheeted bed cradling him. Sins of the target repented for with the blood of the innocent bystander. His tears follow, mixing with the sweat upon his face. Voices replace the stalled engine that vibrated the room. The unlatched door reintroduces Anthony to the muggy June night atop Chicago. Stars are the lone respite from pain. A neon-red sign soon cuts through his vision as he enters his destination. Shouts become louder. The wheels below him wiggle down the taupe corridor. Fluorescent lights pass over him in rhythm. His head is now heavy, weighted down by the inevitable. Ice water replaces the warmth that pumped through his 11-year-old body earlier that day when his mother let him lick the cake batter from the spoon. His lungs contract as his extremities relax. The change is as slow and dramatic as the tilting of his head to the side. He sees the running brown stripe on the wall broken only by doors. A fleeting moment before all fades to white.