AND FOR A LITTLE TREAT: The Dorley Cycle in one comic strip
THE DORLEY CYCLE
Paulie made small whimpering noises while I searched the car for my gun. I punched the glove compartment and it fell off, still bearing two bullets inside.
He looked at me pathetically, blinking blood off his eyes. His face was beginning to swell.
I pulled him up, the barrel pressed to his gut and pushed him to walk in front of me. He tripped and fell, crawled on all fours, stumbled back to his feet, and limped down the dirt road like a drunk, struggling to find his feet and not cry, and I didn’t move a muscle to help him. He lied. He deceived me. I found a piece of Dorley that was sane and innocent enough to balance all the bullshit accumulating around me. He even fuckin’ saved my life! So, what was I supposed to believe in now?
I licked my dry lips. There was only one thing left in that black pit inside me that I could trust – the cleansing I came back for. Correcting the wrong that has corrupted Dorley. Draining the whirlpool.
I grabbed him by his jacket and knocked him off stance, pulling his body towards mine, shoving the gun in his cheek. His hands went to mine, trying to push the gun away. I moved my free hand to wrap it around his throat.
“Who is the reason for it all Paulie?”
He screamed when the steel pushed deeper into his cuts, reopening the steaming wounds. I loosened the grip on his wind pipe. His voice trembled.
“I tell you, you shoot me right away.”
I was glad I couldn’t really see his face right now. The words bubbled up in his mouth more than before and I could imagine spits of saliva sliding over his chin, dripping like slimy tears all over his front.
“You don’t I do it either way.”
I grabbed hold of his hair and jerked his head backwards, sliding the gun inside his mouth. He bit the steel and cried out again. I whispered in his ear.
“I will be quick if you tell me where to go.”
He mumbled something and gagged. I slid out the gun and shoved him off of me. The look on his face told it all: he wasn’t going to spill. I was to follow. Fuck to this. I had him at aim.
Paulie pointed at the gun in my hand.
“You ain’t got enough bullets to shoot a whole town.”
In the distance behind him, Dorley shinned like a black pearl, swimming in a black sea of waves curving like the intestines of a giant beast. It was calm, but secretly dangerous. I feared what it would be when awake. Him, Paulie, he made no difference alive or dead. He was a speck that irritated my eye right now.
“I will win.”
“You won’t. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about survival, Jackson. You can’t adapt. Your mind refuses to accept Dorley as it is and that’s slowly killing you. You drifted away from yourself. Who were you before this? I don’t think you know anymore. You’re not a survivor.”
“What makes you so fucking sure?”
“The way I see it, difference between you and me is that I want to live. I want to continue to exist, and you don’t. You’d bury yourself along with Dorley. You push me down the road aiming a gun you know you won’t fire, because you know death awaits at the end and you don’t give two shits about it. You just want it over with. “
He spoke fast and confident, not scared, not alerted.
I lowered the gun, staring at him. It would be easier, won’t it?
“It was never about the others. It was about you meeting an end fit for your story, am I right Jackson? I am taking you there, friend. I will help you finish this. Everything that’s been tormenting you for the past two years will go away.”
The gun rested in my hand.
He is taking me to die. He will help me accept there is no rescue, only in death, only when the eyes are closed and the heart is beating no longer. I will hum her song no more, nor dream of the blood in her hair. I will forget their tormented faces, and her, the sacrificial lamb. I will be free.
“I am not fit.”
“I was going to tell you when we got back in town. You didn’t need to do this. But don’t worry, you’ll get rewarded nonetheless.”
The semi-darkness turned to ash, the morning near. We were back in Dorley, back on the streets of ignorance and Paulie was leading me, I no longer the assailant.
He carried his lame body along the pier, quickening his step, his boots hitting hard on the wood. He sighed with relief.
“Here we are, Jackson.”
I looked up.
There was a soft click-clacking noise and one by one the Ferris wheel’s light bulbs buzzed with green, drawing back into life the frame of the wheel. It casted ghoulish highlights on me and Paulie.
The music rolled into its repetitive rhythm, but it was low and it was just a playful background on which the most cheerful laugh I’ve ever heard sounded.
“I told you you’d come back later.”