jerome de la lande

Dialogue In War

 

ONE
« What if I were to tell you there is nothing left, nothing left to do, other than hope for something really bad to happen, for the world to crumble, or for that war to finally get started? »
« I don't understand, what have we done wrong? You always said it was gonna be all right. »
« I thought it would be. Something did go wrong, though. I am not blaming you, don't worry. Only myself. I should have seen it coming. I thought Love would be enough. I thought Lust might be enough… I thought I could hide all this unpleasantness, and pretend convincingly enough that all was right, that You were right. For me, I mean. I sure wanted you to be. »
« But you're not blaming me. This has nothing to do with me. »
« Absolutely. It is clearly on me. »
« That I'm not right enough for you? »
« Absolutely. I should have seen it earlier. »
« That I'm not right enough for you? »
« Clearly. Isn't it obvious? »
« Perhaps… But what about the war? »
« What about it? »
« How would that help, the war?… Help us, I mean. »
« Anything bad happening could help us, but that war, certainly. »
« How? And why? »
« Because then we wouldn't be so picky, so difficult. When there's a war, you stick to what you have, to what you know. »
« I've never been picky… I've never been difficult either, for that matter. »
« I know, that's why I'm not blaming you… »

TWO
« We could try something different, something new… »
« Like what? Something new… At my age… »
« I still have a lot of things I have yet to try. I have never been alone in a zoo, or in a haunted house. I once saw an alligator, in a pond behind the Casino, but it snacked on a child and they hunted it dead. »
« What a sad story… Why would they do that? What difference did they think it would make? It wasn't gonna bring the child back, what is done is done… Was the mother relieved, that the beast was prevented from digesting her little one? »
« We were standing at the edge of the water, staring as it was turning red from all the blood gushing out… They cut the gator open from head to tail and retrieved what they could find of the child. It filled up a whole bag. One of those money bags from the Casino. With a big dollar sign on each side, in shining gold. »
« How much do you think it was worth, that bag full of a child remains with a big dollar sign on each side, in shining gold? Was it worth more than a bag full of hundred-dollar bills? More than if it were a bag full of shit? How much is a child worth when ripped into little pieces? »
« You are cruel, you always were. »
« War is coming. You will see much worse, and with your own eyes, if you're lucky to still have them. Don't waste your time remembering what once was. What used to be cannot help you now. It cannot help any of us. »
« I will not be watching any of it. I will refuse. I will close my eyes, and wait for the end of the war. »
« For the end of all things… Wouldn't you want to see the end? To finally know how it all ends? »
« You cannot wait, can you? »
« What else is left? What else matters? They have taken everything else. We have squandered the little we had. We have wasted what we were. »
« Each other? »
« Another sad story. Doomed from the beginning. A life sentence of emptiness, of the same few dull notes repeating themselves till you're ready to scream and scream, just so it would stop… Please make it stop. I wish it would stop. »
« It will. It won't be long now. »

THREE
« How much more can we say? How much else is left to say? »
« We don't have to talk anymore, we can just wait. »
« How much longer? I am tired of waiting. I wish it would just happen already, what they've promised us for so long, what so many of us want so dearly… Let's have it already, let it burst, let it explode in our face, and put an end to this charade! I am so tired of waiting… »
« There is no need to wait, you can put an end to it yourself. You can choose to end it at any time, whenever you're ready, whenever you wish. This is your supreme right as a human being, to decide when your time has come, when the time is right, to withdraw from the game and call it a day. »
« Wouldn't they like that… So many of us just getting off the road, their sweet precious money-paved road… No need to push us aside, no need to kick us to the curb, here we are, moving out of their way, making room for their armored-trucks, jumping in the ditch, in the dirt, full of shit… Just so they won't have to look at us, see us, how we live, how we dress, how we fuck. We'd just go ahead and use our supreme right as human beings, and clear out the road. Their road. »
« What difference does it make, whether you jump off or they push you to the side? You will always end up in the ditch. »
« Why make it easy on them, then? Isn't my supreme right as a human being to force them to eliminate me, force them to face their own evil, their own death in mine? »
« You know full well they will not do it themselves. They will send their lackeys, their beasts, their drones. They will never know who you were, who you tried to be. They will not care. As long as the road stays neat and tidy. As long as you're not on it. They will not care. »
« Then war is our only chance, but it will kill us all. Us and them. »
« This is our only chance. To kill us as they kill them. »
« You mean to kill them while they kill us? »
« Either way, it's our only chance… »

FOUR
« They will never agree with each other. How could they? They want the Other to be exactly what the Other is not. How can they be expected to get along, to even try? »
« They have no choice, they must get along. They cannot physically separate and go their own way. It is scientifically impossible. »
« What do you mean, scientifically? »
« I mean it cannot be done. »
« But with the right science, it could. »
« Maybe. But as it is today, as science goes, it cannot help them get along, or separate. »
« Do we need science to separate them? Maybe if you're looking for something permanent, something irreversible, set in stone, then yes. But if it's only about putting one side to one corner and the other side to another corner, then what is stopping us from doing so? »
« You don't understand, it is not enough to put them in opposite corners. You have to make sure they will never set eyes on each other again, that they will not even be aware of each other's existence. You would need to convince them that the Other has never been, or has been destroyed to their very last man. Or remove any trace of the Other from their memory… That’s where you need science. »
« So that means we cannot separate them, not in a way that would be useful to any of us, to our survival, I mean. »
« That is correct. It cannot be done. »
« What then? What is to happen? »
« War, is what is to happen. »
« War?… »
« War. Here and there. For them and us and the others. For everyone. »
« What will that solve? Will they then agree to live together? »
« It is not that kind of war. There will be no reconciliation. Only survivors. »
« And what will they do? »
« Survive. As best they can. Without much. And for very little. »
« But that will be better than now? »
« Anything will be better than now… »

FIVE
« What did you expect? Did you really believe that things were going to turn out as you were hoping? That you would get what you wanted? »
« Not in totality perhaps, but in part, yes. You have to hope that things will turn out right, or otherwise why bother? »
« But what makes you think that things did not turn out right? Just because this is not the result you were expecting, doesn't mean it wasn't the right one. As a matter of fact, it may be the case that things turn out right exactly because it is not the result you hoped for. It could even be the very reason why it makes it right. That giving you what you wanted would have been wrong, in the universe's mind, I mean, if it had one, or any kind of sense or logic. »
« And of course, if the universe did have a mind, it would without a doubt be as cynical and twisted as yours… »
« Lucid, always. Never cynical, remember that. I have seen too much and been scarred too often to be cynical. Cynicism is the luxury of the sheltered brats, who because of guilt over their spoiled existence choose to become cynics. I did not have that privilege. I was too busy surviving. »
« But some people do get what they want, do get satisfaction. You see happy contented people all the time. What is wrong about that? Why can't it happen to me, at least some of the time?… Not even half of the time, just a little bit, once out of ten, or even less, once out of twenty… Just once in a fucking while, can't I get a break? »
« You're right, there are happy satisfied people, and they walk around with a stupid smile on their face, showing off their bliss and the numbness of their mind. And the happier they become, the less human they actually are… They do walk around like you and I—-talk and think and fuck and sleep—-like you and I, but they do it with much flash and spite, only to hide the emptiness that is crawling inside them, eating up their soul, bite after bite. They are happy and satisfied empty shells… How would you like to be one of them? »
« I would like to get a break, once in a while, get something good happening to me. Not forever, not eternal bliss. Just for a little bit, you know? Just for a few days maybe, or a few hours. Something good that will help me keep going, that will show me that it can be done. That it is not just about puke and shit and blood. Something a little prettier, that smells nice, to put on my pillow and enjoy while it lasts. Even just for a tiny bit. »
« You will soon see how lucky you are. When war comes, all those happy satisfied blissful smiles will turn into deformed rictuses of pain and fright. They will lose their mind, and devour each other in order to survive, naively believing there will be such a thing as survival. While you and I are prepared for anything. For the worse, even. Because the worse is familiar to us. We live it every day, it is our natural habitat. We will stand tall while others crawl. »
« And we will survive the war? »
« No. No-one will. But we will die standing up, happy and satisfied… »

SIX
« Can I scream? Can I scream now? Would it be acceptable for me to scream at this point, now? »
« How much of your leg have you lost? All of it? I saw your foot hanging on a tree around the turn of the road. You shouldn't have worn your favorite snickers. Not on a day like this. They forecasted a killer-drones storm on the weather report. »
« Did you call an ambulance? I am in a lot of pain, I think. Or maybe I cannot feel anything anymore. I am not sure which it is. Should I not be feeling something, and scream? »
« Ambulances stopped operating months ago. I applied a tourniquet like they told us to do. They never told us what to do after that. How do you feel now? »
« I don't know! Shall I feel something? All this blood is making me nauseous. I've always hated the sight of blood, especially mine… Will you go get me my snicker back? »
« What good will that do to you? You're not getting your foot back… »
« Maybe if I get a prosthetic, and they make it look like a real foot… Like those cyborgs are wearing. »
« Cyborgs belong to the oligarchs. That's why they get the best prosthetics. I doubt you'd be getting anything, other than a wooden leg. »
« Wooden legs can be fun. I'd walk around like the pirate in that book, Treasure Island. »
« That book has been banned for cultural misappropriation. You are not even supposed to mention its title, even less its content. »
« I miss books… »
« You get the official Newsletter once a week. All you need to know is in there. All you need to know for not putting your life in jeopardy by knowing what you should not be knowing, and talking about it… »
« When is this war going to end? »
« It will not. Not in our lifetime at least. If ever. »
« Who are we fighting against? I forgot… »
« Stop asking stupid questions, how do you expect me to know who we are fighting with or against. This is not for us to know. It was not in the Newsletter. »
« Did you place the tourniquet tight enough? I still feel blood oozing out without interruption. »
« I put it as tight as could be. It's at the maximum. Tighter would section off what is left of your thigh. »
« But I am still bleeding… And I still can't feel anything. Not even my chest… »
« I know. You're turning very pale, yet dark at the same time. »
« Do you think I am dying? »
« Probably. »
« Does it make you sad? »
« That you're dying? I guess. I am supposed to feel that way, am I not? But how does it make You feel? »
« I don't know. I can't feel anything. »
« That's good, then. That's good… »

SEVEN
« You are so transparent, so predictable… »
« What do you mean? I was only trying to let it be known that I was not against the idea, that I was prepared to consider any possibility, that I was agreeable to the thought of a tighter connection… »
« In other words, that you are a whore. »
« That I am ready to do what it takes in order to get you out of here. Is that so bad? Shouldn't you be thanking me for that, for what I am prepared to do for you? To have you released? »
« They will never let me go, and you know it. You are only trying to make yourself feel better, pretending you care, for everyone to know how brave and strong you are, when all you really want is to get it hard, preferably under duress from someone in uniform and heavy boots. »
« You've always tried to put me down, in anything I do. Till the very end that is who you choose to be? »
« You used to praise my blunt honesty. You used to say it was turning you on, when I would tell you everything that was wrong with you, because it reminded you of your father, and how small he made you feel, when you were careless enough to open your mouth in his presence and say what you were truly thinking… »
« I am glad he died before any of this started. I wish my mother had been with him that day, instead of staying alone behind. »
« Any news of her? »
« No. But the few people who made it out said that the whole town was leveled to the ground. I do not expect she could have made it to the mountains. She's probably still in her bed. Under the rubbles. »
« Then she's at peace, as I soon will be. »
« At peace, really? Will you be able to find peace in that last hour, before they cut your throat and let you bleed to death? »
« I will have the comfort of having seen enough, without seeing it all. They say the sure sign of the visionaries is knowing to exit when the time is ripe, rather than overstaying your welcome, and falling victim to an overstretched storyline. »
« Will you think about me when they come for you? Will you feel sorry for me? »
« Like I always have, probably. »
« They told me I will have to be there that day, and watch. »
« And so you should be. And watch. And remember. That it's all a game, without any rule, other than the end is soon to come, for all of us… »

EIGHT
« When is this night ever going to end? »
« Some say it never will. »
« Are we condemned to live like rats until the end, then? »
« We are filthy like rats, we scavenge like rats, and scream like them, too. But there are so much fewer of us than there are of them. Rats may have a chance to make it through this and come out alive. We, on the other hand… »
« Would death be better than this, do you think? »
« Some say it is, some have chosen to so believe, some have unabashedly taken that step toward nothingness. A night is a night, if you ask me. This one or that one makes no difference to me. »
« Then why have you stayed? »
« Curiosity. »
« Curiosity? Of what? »
« Everything. The next chapter, the next page, the next line. Could anything out of the ordinary happen? Any surprise waiting for us around the corner? Could we push the boundaries of pain, of sorrow? Could we find love in the mud? I am curious of all things. This is what keeps me alive. I do not want to miss a single episode. Unless I cannot help it. »
« Then you will outlive me. I have lost all interest in this non-sensical war. I am ready to go. Will you miss me? »
« At first, probably. But then I will be curious to find out if anyone else is there for me. If another chance meeting will bring me unexpected joy and warmth. »
« Are people interchangeable for you, then? Lose one, find one? »
« Not interchangeable, but endless. An endless source of opportunities, of finding that one person that is right for you at this place and time. Not perfect, not the one and only. Just for the right here and now. Just for that moment in time, till it is time to say goodbye. »
« I find it so hard to say goodbye. »
« Is that why you have talked yourself into staying alive? »
« Probably. I was afraid to leave you behind. »
« You will not leave me behind, you will leave me forward. »
« You will not be missing me, then? »
« Only for a little while… »

NINE
« It ain't gonna end well, it sure like hell ain't gonna end well… I've always known it, I've always felt it. But now I am sure of it. It ain't gonna end well, and we're gonna be right in the middle of it when it blows up… »
« Nothing we can do about it, then, is there? Why worry, then, why care? Can you stop it? Nope. We're stuck here, and no matter what's coming, we're gonna get it. »
« It ain't gonna end well, am telling you. I can feel it. »
« So what? What are you gonna do about it? »
« We gotta get outta here, we gotta do something, anything, it's coming, am telling you. »
« So it's coming, okay. Soon it will be here. Soon it will be gone. Soon it will be over. Okay. »
« That's it? That's all you gonna say about it? You ain't even gonna scream and get angry? You ain't gonna cry? You ain't gonna run to the mountain and hide? »
« What good would that do? Will it save our ass? Probably not… »
« Could be worth a try! »
« And die running and screaming? Die while feeling sorry for yourself, with a heart full of fear and resentment? I'd rather lay down and relax. Maybe read that book I was saving for better days. Now is the time to read. »
« You gonna read? There's panic all around, people are going mad, and you gonna read? I can't believe it… It's the end of the world… »
« Would things get better if I joined the madding crowd? I could. I could join those hopeless kids running around in circles, or those faithful men, killing the ones they love so they don't have to see them die… But I'd rather stay here. I got a drink, a good book, and all the time in the world. »
« No you don't, it's coming, am telling you, and it's gonna get you like everyone else. »
« Most likely it will. I wonder how far into that book I will be when it happens. Page 20? Page 35? 147? Shall we make a bet? »
« How about page 77, it's always been my number… »
« Okay. Seat with me, I'll read out loud. Let's see how long together we can last… »
 

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