Archilochus – (In Nomine)
Astor Place, Manhattan, New York. 1994
The sun didn’t seem to affect his vision, despite the fact that it was three o’clock in the afternoon, that point in the day when the light filters in between the buildings; catching on the glass to reflect just right. To say it hurt the eyes would be an understatement. To be walking down Prince Street without sunglasses made him stand out, surrounded by the punks in their ripped jeans and plaid cut offs. Safety pin conventions happening on every corner between the goth girls who seemed to have walked out of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the pretty boys that followed them as if on a leash. And he didn’t much feel like dwelling on that idea, he hadn’t yet noticed the black leather leash that hung from the o ring of his thick black leather collar.
It wasn’t exactly a body he had expected to take. It was just the most convient at the time. He’d been buzzing around the New York Subway system for a few months now. Every few minutes a new neighborhood, every few hours a new host. Sometimes a fly, sometimes a rat, sometimes a gnat. He had taken the body of an elderly asian man reading a battered copy of AM New York, riding the 3 train as it was heading uptown from Canal Street whe he saw her. She was a queen. Not in any form of sexual reference, but as a woman. Her black dreadlocks were interwoven with silver tokens of a life formed in the belly of promise and possession. The sides of her head shaved into intricate tribal patterns told him that she was a woman obessed with the mythology of the world. She was the queen of his non-corporeal form at first sight.
Her voice rose above the jostle of the subway cars, an angry punk chant emanating from between her uncolored lips. The natural rose hue accenturated by chapstick and the stark white unlit cigarette. She was a child of the city. Black leather combat platform boots, an obscenely short pleated black skirt attached to a matching corset, ripped in what was at least a dozen places and all held together by a variety of safety pins that lead him to believe that she was also the product of two subcultures.
Astor Place. The subway rattled and squealed along the tracks as it slowed. A young goth boy passed by the doors of the car as she emerged, a large brooding rottweiler lazily followed her off the car. He was unleashed which surprised Archilochus, and only encouraged his curiousity to find out more. Without a question he grabbed the body of the boy. He had to know more about this violet eyed goddess.
Hell’s Gate, Astoria, Queens, 1995
She hated the stage lights, true that the sweat they produced that encouraged her make up to run as she sweat only solidified her cyber-goth look, she still hated them. Espicially when the sweat dripped into her eyes as she screamed into the microphone. The crowd would cheer, or boo. Depending on the night and how late it was. Sometimes it didn’t matter. She wasn’t there for them. She was there for herself. And tonight she was screaming for them. She had drowned out the music of her own band, the three women who played alongside her, she had drowned out the crowd. But tonight, tonight something was different. Nothing existed in the small club except for her and an androgenous figure at the bar with rave-child goggles over its eyes and a coat long enough and straight enough to hide the figure of Helen of Troy or even Plexico Burgess. Depending on what gender you were hoping for.
Nothing else existed. And she sang with a voice that would become legend. Raw, impassioned, desperate. The words were not her own, they were in fact the words of a sub-culture and generational legend of her time, Robert Smith. However, she took ownership tonight. The violet eyes never leaving the figure. She sang for it.
“Every night I burn.
Every night I call your name.
Don’t talk of words that never were.
The ending is never true.
There’s nothing you could ever say.
Nothing you could ever do.
Every night I burn.
Every night I scream your name…”
Park Slope, Brooklyn 1996
He had been following her for years now. An essence. She could never know and in many ways, he would be perfectly happy to continue this practice. It was the hunt. It was the thrill he missed from his mortality. Even if it was over two thousand years ago and in the Greek isles where these mating rituals were much different. But he was in no shape to have a physical relationship with her. No, not in any sexual manner at least. He watched her write today. Scribbling away in a black composition book, the loosely wound scarf about her neck blowing upwards in a gust of wind that caught itself coming off the Hudson. Every so often she would pause, take into account the words that had been scribbled, lyrics, he knew from the way her mouth would move during these brief pauses.
In a motion of betrayal, he spread his wings ad beat them out twice. The black feathers ruffled against the wind as he took flight. With the practiced expertise of taking over a birds form he snatched the end of her scarf between his talons and draped it around her right shoulder before perching on the bench beside her. His motions were so uncharacteristic of a raven that she looked up from her writing to stare at him. Those violet eyes cut through him. And for the first time he noticed she was of gypsy blood. That pale skin, her jet black hair that offered no signs of artificial color. Those eyes. To any passerby this had to be as strange of an exchange as it was for her. A raven and a woman in a staring match, or something more akin to age old lovers rediscovering that look. The look of love and familiarity. No one passed by them though in those few seconds, and a few seconds was all it took before the rottweiler sleeping across her feet jumped up, barking madly at this bird that dared to disturb his mistress. He fluttered away rather than take over the body of the dog.
Too soon to be so close.