Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chamber of Secrets

It was a clear, sunny, breezy afternoon. There were probably better reasons to be outside, but we were on our way to the pharmacy, the one inside the big hotel that had a lot of medicines and other items imported from the United States. The whole place was covered in slight teasing glimpses of another life, a life far away and drenched in sex, violence and money. I could feel the caress of these visions in the way that man was dressed as he signed up for a room, in the way the bellhops spoke to each other, in the smell of the leather of the sofas in the bar, in the laughter of the people seated in a circle, drinking large glasses of hard liquor and talking very loudly, one of them wearing dark glasses with his arm around a much younger woman wearing a mini skirt, in the cold voice of a tall man giving orders to two guards about their respective positions, in the shiny gold of the handrails that lead up to the hotel rooms upstairs. I felt it and I wanted it, I wanted to be part of it, to be in it, to receive it and become it, to swim in it and let it drown me in its unimaginable pleasures.
We stepped into the pharmacy and my eyes immediately wondered to the newsstand. It was very wide and very tall, full of mysterious magazines I had never seen before. There were some comics but these were not the comics I was used to. They were all in English, the covers screamed sex and violence, they told of stories that had begun before me and would continue after me, stories I would never fully understand and I adored them because of it; because they escaped me, I wanted them more. There were so many that I felt overwhelmed, my eyes shifting quickly from one to another, spotting some familiar characters in very unfamiliar situations, sensing that this was the "real thing", not the imitation I had become used to… here was a chance to touch what had formerly been just a rumor, but where to begin? Which one to pick?
Quickly, before the maid picked up the needed medicines and it was too late. I looked up and saw it.
It was the size of a regular magazine, not the smaller size of a comic. The cover had thick, dark colors, not the bright glossy colors of the comics… it was the color of real blood and not its fake counterpart. And blood is what there was. Lots of it. A large character dressed in red opening a bag full of human entrails and laughing, the pieces of intestine and heart dropping onto the floor along with a broken hand and the remains of a human foot. I looked a little closer. The large man had a long white beard and a tall hat. The large man was Santa Claus. My eyes opened wide. This was a comic book, but it was not like the others. It was so high up that I couldn’t reach it. It was probably not meant for my hands. But neither the maid nor the man behind the counter had any clue about it. For them a comic book was a comic book and they never even looked at the cover. So pretty soon the strange magazine was in my hands and I was breathing intensely, reading the little blurbs that spoke of the mysteries to be found within.
This space, this instant of recognition, surrounded by temptation, closed doors and revelation, was now inside of me. I would now search for it. There was a new "me" that now swam within my inner ocean whose only purpose was to find this space, over and over and over. Search for the place, the special chamber, find it, activate it… search again.
It would now be a comic book store in the suburbs of a faraway city in California, or a little college town turned into a festival of medieval color and strange little rolling dice in Wisconsin, or a lost little book store in the heart of the Basque country in Spain, or a strange web site in the lost backwaters of the Internet, or a little booth covered in flashy covers in the middle of a huge convention specially prepared for others cursed like me. Wherever I may find it. However I may look. I would shift aside and under, let my attention slither out and connect and I would look for it.
And when I did find it, it would only last an instant. It would not be the moment before, it would not be the moment after, when I may or may not have an item in my hands and be ready to pay. It would only be that single eternal instant, when my eyes would land on it, on the cover, on the text, on the voice, on the message, on the color, and I would hear the laughter, and the cars, and the voices, and the golden handrails leading up to the secret rooms where the hidden heart of darkness would finally be revealed. Always one step away. Always just slightly beyond my reach, always alive in its obscurity, infinite and eternal in its insistence on staying one step removed from time, space and form.
And as it would always escape me, I would forever want it more.

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