Authors: Patrick Downes
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Downes, Patrick, 1968â
Fell of dark : a novel / Patrick Downes.
Summary: Chronicles the lives of two mentally ill boysâErik, who believes he is a saint, and Thorn, who believes he is a demonâas their minds devolve into hallucinations, showing the way their worlds intersect, and culminating in a final stand-off.
[1. Mental illnessâFiction. 2. Good and evilâFiction. 3. Hallucinations and illusionsâFiction.] I. Title.
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Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.
The City of God, Book XXI
IT'S ALL I KNOW
how to do, all I've ever done: read and think and write. I have to write to someone. That someone is you.
I've known you since before we were born. Aren't all true loves, the really great loves, destined? All we have to do is meet. When will I learn your name?
Go ahead, ask me a question. When was I first hurt? When did I first see you? When did the first miracle happen? When was my first kiss? When did I first write a eulogy?
Eulogy for a Young Boy
He thought. He wrote. He read. He ran and drank milk. A boy made of milk and concrete. He was cut in two. He bled. He died.
A stranger smart enough to steal a child and lock a door took the boy's life. The man cut him in half, then chewed him up. Blood and rubble.
Even though the boy was dead, he dreamed up a girl with skin and hair of light, taking care of him, holding his hand. He dreamed the girl gave him a kiss, and he wondered if the kiss would send him back to the world. It didn't. It kept him under. He sleeps in the box with the girl made from light.
We have to forget him so we can take him with us.
That's the eulogy exactly as it came out of me a little less than six months ago, the day I turned fourteen. I haven't touched it. I've read it a few dozen times, and I still can't be sure I understand it. But I can tell you this: I had died. I eulogized myself.
I remember the locked garage and screaming for it to be unlocked. I remember a square of brown sunlight on the floor of the garage and a window I couldn't reach. Why couldn't I figure how to reach the window? Why couldn't I stack crates and climb out? I could've broken the glass and escaped. I don't know. I can't exactly tell you what happened in that garage, except I left it without the belt I had to hold up my pants, my zipper was broken, and I was bleeding. My right arm didn't look like mine.
I don't remember what happened, or how many times I ended up in that garage. It might've been once or a thousand times, but I died, and this came so soon after my mother lost my father.
No, she didn't lose him, like he was a mitten or a penny dropped through a hole in her pocket. A car killed him in the street.
MY FATHER'S NAME WAS
Ian Lynch, and he died right before I turned five. I don't remember much about him. I remember he rubbed his beard on my neck and called it a goat's kiss. I remember he limped as if he dragged an invisible chain behind him. Walking made his legs ache, so he preferred to ride his bicycle. I remember he sometimes carried me in the metal basket clamped to the front of the bike. I loved the wind and bumpy streets.
I remember the morning he died. I was crouching by my bed with my head between my knees, watching a beetle crawl around the floor. How much can a beetle carry? I wanted to know, so I pressed my thumb into its back. The beetle stopped. Even when I picked up my thumb, the beetle stayed put. Then I crushed the beetle. Why? I don't know. I don't know now any more than I knew then. The crack of its body, like a nutshell, scared me. A milky liquid bubbled up from its broken back.
My mother came running across the apartment. Did she hear the beetle break? I kicked it under my bed.
“Erik, come on with me.”
My mother took my arm and pulled me hard behind her. That's when I started to cry and told her I killed the beetle.
We took a taxi to the hospital. We didn't really have money for the luxury of a taxi, so this meant something serious. My mother couldn't talk to me. She cried. I watched her. Her shoulders shook, and her nose leaked over the knuckles of her hand.
The cabby pulled up to the curb. “Emergency, right?” In the rearview mirror, he had only one eye, off-center.
My mother nodded and opened her purse.
“Keep your money,” the driver said. “I never take money outside Emergency.”
We waited at reception, holding hands. I heard the voices of panic and work, my mother's voice and the receptionist's. Voices without bodies. A typewriter. The wheel of a bed. Shoes on the floor, squeak, squeak; a rubber stamp; a revolving door, thwup, thwup; the bell of an elevator.
There were all these sounds, and then one more. A crumpled-up girl strapped into a wheelchair. She was a crushed beetle. And she was a kettle, steam coming out of her ears and a long, high whistle.
A nurse wearing a uniform as bright as the walls took my hand and led me away from my mother and the girl. She offered me a lollipop and asked me my name. I didn't understand what was happening. My mother held her face in her hands, and a doctor spoke to her. He was dressed in white, his stethoscope around his neck and his eyes on his shoes. The girl in the wheelchair had disappeared. My father had already been dead two hours.
My father died. A week or a month later, I was locked in a garage, and then the headaches came. I'd hear trains in my head. I heard them like we lived in the middle of Grand Central Station under the ceiling of painted stars, where trains meet and talk and say good-bye, and I'd ask my mother, “Do you hear the trains, Mama? Hear them?”
My mother would say, “No, Erik. I don't hear any trains.”
A little while later, the trains would hit me, and I would be in too much pain even to scream, and my mother would try to get me to lie still, but with each train, I would feel the impact and throw myself against the wall or onto the floor, and there was the pain in my head until the trains left the station.
Everything gone from inside my head. Only long, rumbling echoes and the ringing tracks.