There we were in tight black cafes, smoking out our lungs and feeling the stars burn holes in our eyes. We had a few conversations that dragged across the concrete between us, small and meaningless sentences that we would both forget. I remembered I hated you. I remembered I hated myself for loving you. I wanted nothing more than to leave you alone and to get myself walking down that highway towards a new direction in my life, something that would not tie me down anymore.
A beautifully painted limo pulls up on the side of the road. It is something the likes of which I have never seen and the short squat driver calls us over. He shoots sparks of pure terror from behind his eyes, wearing a driver's cap backwards and a black trench coat. He calls to us; he is requesting me, the street painter who is in the paper, to meet his boss, He who paints with Souls of the Living.
I have never heard of such a figure in my notebooks and social squabbling. We get inside with six other people and dash off into the distance. We pass ghosts in the tunnels at breakneck speed, going faster, past wheat fields, corn mazes, chalk outlined clouds grasping the moonlight. We are on a slick surface, screeching along the guardrail. I get the feeling I am all ran over, going to be sick. I cannot help but sit there motionless, staring at these people all dressed up, waiting to see the one they call He who paints with Souls of the Living.
In one violent moment, we came to a halt, in front of his house in the old rural country. My head is dizzy; I see images of my own heart, hopeless and marred, smoke and flames, tired and abandoned in the heap of the wheat fields. It is a cinema classic playing in my head as I walk through the open doors of the house of He who paints with Souls of the Living with you, and you would not even hold my hand.
One by one, the driver calls in each critic, each fan, and each patiently waiting art collecter to the back room. Once they're called, they do not return. I turn to you and plead that we should leave, but you keep telling me to stop being so selfish and to think of the big picture and then I am the next to go in.
He who paints with Souls of the Living is working at a pristine white desk, with a small watercolour brush in his hands. He does not even glance up from his work, just keeps on working, intricate reds and purples swirling in a stench of blood and flesh.
"The street painter. I have heard many things about you, but I have heard you are not happy at all. Why is that? You paint. You paint to be happy and you must do so even though it may come at great risk or harm to others. Can't you see what I do? Do you think it stops me?"
I see the cat is serious. I stand firm, hands at my side, head straight, shoulders back. I take a deep breath now; I breathe all the way in.
"I am willing to die."
He looks up from his work for the first time: his deep black eyes feel for frostbite in the far thumping of my heart. I see that He is also willing to die.
He puts his head down and goes back to his painting.
He did not glance back at all.
I look past him, see a horrible stain of blood, and flesh trailing from the room in the distance. I take three steps back, then out the door and I did not wait for you to catch up. I ran into that field, heading for the road, searching for the highway through the blurring tears in my eyes.
I am still looking for ghosts on the road that look like streetlights, home lights, helicopters and fire trucks. I cannot seem to find my way back.
I fall into a nearby gutter. I am under a great weight; my eyes are blind and I lie in darkness.