"I’m sure the large part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil." – Mark Chapman
You pull out a damp cigarette from your pocket. They watch you silently as you clamp it between your teeth, pulling out a month old match that you thought you had lost. You strike it against your fingernail and it bursts into sunlight, spitting and writhing as you bring it to your lips. You breathe in the rich smoke, rolling the cigarette against your tongue, tasting the spicy aroma. The woman settles back into the couch, folding her sickly white arms against her skinny breasts.
You watch her with growing remorse as you remember the last time you had seen her, younger and pinker. You remember how neat she felt in your arms when you kissed her goodbye. She always kept herself busy, even though she had two maids to help her run the household. Sometimes it seemed like she was too busy to talk to you, but you never minded. It just meant you had more time to play with your friends.
Then, one day, everything changed. You saw her for what she truly was – another human being. Mortal, vulnerable, and damaged. You saw through her deception and then one day, you stopped looking. You didn’t want to look. You didn’t want to see anymore. It was the same with him. Ever since that day, everything has been obscured. Even life itself seems to be a distant memory. You lick your lips as you recall the day of your death.
The sun was angry and you remember how the salt from the easterly sea wind stung against your cheeks as you watched him. He was too young to die, not even grey, but you knew that you had to save world. Saving the world meant saving the children.
You lean back as you change your attention to the man. He frowns at the dancing smoke which is forming a hazy wall in front of you, obscuring your vision of them and their vision of you. You remember how he used to be God. He was always taller than you and you would walk in his shadow, stepping in the footsteps he had made in the dirt. Then, one day, you were taller than him and you stopped following and started leading. He knew that you saw through his words and actions and he stopped talking to you. You never minded. You never minded at all.
You saw him talking to his woman, making pains to laugh at her dim witted jokes as they walked to the grand entrance of the hotel. Rage flared and colours screamed as you took a step towards him.
You don’t talk to them as you finish your cigarette and they don’t talk to you as they watch. A pearly stream of tangy smoke escapes your lips and you drop the glowing cigarette butt onto the new carpet. They flinch but don’t say anything. Crushing the butt under the heel of your shoe, you stand up, pushing apart the curtain of smoke only to see that they still look vaguely obscured.
He smiled and waved at the doorman, his gold rotted teeth glinting and his silver studded rings flashing in the roaring sunlight. You felt your anger cut deeper and your fear for the children suddenly bled with a newfound fury.
You see the woman stand to answer an incoming call. She gives you a nervous glance before taking the call in the kitchen. You don’t want to smile at her. Smiling meant contradicting yourself and that will make your death worthless. That day, something inside you died and ever since, you have been the walking dead, shedding your skin like a snake and holding the silence like a monk in prayer. It is satisfying to think that the last words that had escaped your lips were from your bible. It seems fitting and proper - much like that red hunting hat.
You pulled out your Charter Arms .38 and took another step forward.
You glance at the clock, pulling out another cigarette from your pocket. This one, too, is damp. The pigs are coming at eleven minutes to eleven. It is thirteen to eleven. You watch the second hand jump from one number to another as you shift your weight from one foot to the other, feeling the prickling burn in your calves. The man coughs and you catch his eyes, feeling the flittering warmth spread into your fingers as he looks away, rattled. He sees the darkness and decay in your eyes and you feel happy. If only you could squeeze the life out of him and make him as dead as you are. You glance at the ceiling. With a mission as big as yours, you can’t afford to lack responsibilities. You have to refrain from killing the man as long as children are in the house. When they are gone however…The man coughs again.
You remember how the ground moaned under your feet and the sea wind screamed in your ear; the silence and the darkness as you stood under the roaring sun; and you remember how you opened your mouth to say that one line that you had rehearsed fifteen thousand times in the mirror the night before.
The woman stops talking and she comes out from the safety of the kitchen. Shrewdly, she stays in the doorway and leans against the wall, her arms folded and her pale face guarded. The clock ticks. It is twelve to eleven.
“Do you know where the ducks go in the winter?”
You run a hand through your hair and sit on the arm of the chair, not wanting to resort back to the comfort of the seat to retain your mask. The pain of the blunt metal jars your bones and bruises your thighs and you shift your weight to intensify the sensation, savouring the sudden spark of life. The silence hangs in the air, sticky with sweat, intertwining with the diminishing smoke. The woman whispers something incoherent to the man and they both look at you with a strangely perverse expression. Red molten flares in your guts.
You want them to fight. You want the man and the woman to fight. It was like that when you were alive, screaming death wishes and exchanging threats with each other as you lay in your bed, reading your bible. The Jesus in your bible was you, wrapped in dark chaos and confusion, lost in the world of masks and deceit. You used to stand in front of your mirror in the shadows, talking to your reflection, reciting passages from your bible. “…the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born,” you’d used to say, “and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied…” The screaming would get louder and louder until the words disappeared in the rush of white hate. “Goddamn it,” you’d say, “goddamn it all.”
You remember the buzzing in your ears as you said the words. The pale shock as he turned to see you and your revolver and the joy of seeing his futile struggle to maintain control over his rising panic. How delicious that moment was, as it reflected your first victory in your mission. How delicious that moment was when you pulled the trigger. How delicious that moment was when you died and began your new life as the catcher in the rye.
The clock strikes eleven to eleven. You turn to the man and the woman and you pull the bloodstained cigarette from your lips, tasting the spice, the salt, and the pain as you push the glowing head onto your tongue, snuffing the life out of it. The doorbell rings. The man stands and the woman pushes herself off the wall. You drop the dead butt onto the new carpet. The door opens and you smile.
“Mother,” you say.
The woman looks at you, surprised. “Yes?”
You look into her dead eyes.
“Do you know where the ducks go in the winter?”
"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."
– Holden Caulfield in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger
Am...I....Back? Yes...for a little while anyway. :)
well, where do the ducks go in the winter????