|The Science of Exceptions
Author: Blue GhostGhost PM
Someday there will be a mummy. m/m slashRated: Fiction M - English - Supernatural/Romance - Words: 2,376 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 6 - Published: 06-04-10 - id: 2813959
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality"—Paul Kantner rock band Jefferson Airplane
If you want to see the world like everyone else then it is best if your universe is directional. Things happen, without exception, in a certain order. An egg can become an omelet, but never the other way around. Always forward, never back in other words. It is an unassailable fact of entropy, the 2nd law of thermodynamics in which all things hot go cold. Things fall apart.
As the French philosopher Henri Bergen writes, the world is in a constant state of "coming into being." Once past, he warns, the moment solidifies from a flowing to a solid mass, an unalterable space with a location on the map consisting of latitude, longitude, distance from earth, and moment in time. The fourth dimension never receives a second visit. It is maybe the logical perception of this that is the difference between madness and sanity. It may also just be an extremely dull way of looking at things.
This story is an account of the occurrences in the life of the extraordinary Dorian Mayfield who not only discovered that the universe has exceptions to these most logical orderings, but also the science behind such exceptions.
June 12th 1894. In Which We Learn of Dorian Mayfield's taste for Opium and Other Character Defects.
It was nearly June when Dorian woke on the dirty mattress in Chinatown, glass-eyed and whispering Walter's name in far too husky a voice for it to be mistaken as anything but a very indecent memory. One of his best indecent memories. At a little under five feet tall with the delicate bones of a bird, Dorian Mayfield took up very little of the mattress on his own. He turned now as it shifted slightly under him to observe his fellow mattress companions as one might look to those one shared a life raft with in a turbulent sea— one part compassionate comradely and one part seeking out any signs of an infirm mind that might cause trouble later.
In Dorian's case he was also wondering what else he had uttered under his opium haze and if it might have warranted the attention of his compatriots. You always had to exercise a little extra caution when chances were good you were the most infirm mind in the bunch. It was difficult to cause alarm in the opium dens of San Francisco, but Dorian had managed it nonetheless, on more than one occasion. He relaxed a little when he saw the man beside him was Jui and he knew he certainly did not need to censor himself on that man's account in any case.
"Hey pretty white boy you're back," purred Jui when he realized that Dorian's eyes had come into focus to some degree. He wondered vaguely if he meant coming back to the smoky basement with peeling yellow wallpaper or reality in general. Jui let a hand stroke his arm lazily causing Dorian's eyes to slide half shut, his lips parting a sliver. Jui made him wish that all the unmentionable things the newspapers claimed happened in the dens were true. "Come upstairs," said the boy, cutting to the chase as always. His voice had the precise pronunciation of someone not speaking his native tongue. Dorian's French was perfect, but his German probably had this quality, but he doubted it was half as seductive. Then again, it was pretty hard to feel seductive in German regardless of your proficiency.
Dorian, in fact, had already been considering the offer he knew was coming. He bit his bottom lip thoughtfully. The opium burned through him so wildly it left him devoid of carnal desire most of the time. Tonight was no exception, but it didn't mean he couldn't go. He liked the closeness sometimes, was always mesmerized by a partner's excitement, could get lost in Jui's scent curled up on his little cot. He even found he liked the strangeness of being taken in the dormitory where men came and went amongst the little beds. If anyone thought him out of place the concern was never voiced in his presence. When it was over Jui would weave callused fingers through Dorian's hair, telling stories of how those fingers had once woven fishing nets in a land so far away it seemed like a fairy tale. It felt good to mingle a mutual loneliness with their bodies, suspending the burden.
"Not tonight, but thank you," said Dorian with his habitual politeness waving him back a few inches. He would have to sail down the Pearl River a float Jui's lilting voice another time. He had received a note in the afternoon that Peter was back from Paris and was curious to see how that maniac poet had fared abroad. He had, he remembered now, rode his bicycle here with the express purpose of riding down to the beach to check on Peter afterward. And his dream about Walter had left him unenthusiastic about love making with one person when his heart was with another, even if that only amounted to an exercise in misery. All of his letters to that traitorous bastard had thus far come back unopened. He kept them in a drawer in his small apartment like an extravagant diary whose pages traveled to the East Coast and back before it was ready to be filed. He had even gone so far as to begin to make personal notes to himself in the margins of things he might wish to remember several weeks later.
It was to his great shame to admit that now that he was here, and Walter was back at Yale, Dorian felt like a ghost without him, without his charismatic energy to make him feel alive. He found himself compensating for the loss in the most depraved ways. Where was that sweet innocent Dorian that Walter first encountered? Systematically eradicated. If he was honest with himself that Dorian may have just been an act anyway. An affectation he had developed in childhood to alleviate the concerns of his parents and tutors about his mental constitution.
There was never any doubt in his exceptional intelligence, but once opened the valve of his wit could flow out of control. His expression would become fixed, his voice mechanical, the language often an incoherent mix of Latin, Greek, and French. In such fits his gestures took on the abrupt motion of a puppet and Dorian could paint such grotesque and cutting images with his words, calculatingly bringing adults to tears when he directed his critique on them. There were other aspects to his peculiarities as well. It was always a constant struggle to experience the passage of time in the same manner as those around him—to keep it from jumping ahead or slowing to a crawl. He had learned very quickly to never talk of such things with others. No it did not happen to them and no they did not understand. If he was good, discerning, sweet-tempered and timid it was to keep his teachers from quitting and himself out of the insane asylum.
It was his family's insistence on education that had been his final undoing. Left stupid he might have managed, but reading Nietzsche the summer before school and then Henri Bergson that fall had left him swimming in an inky new world with the gears of his mind spinning with all the frantic order of the stars in space. Walter had been there to catch him in transformation. He probably credited himself with the results more than he should. Dorian was always doomed to suffer the consequences of his dangerous originality, Walter just turned up to give the last shove.
He pictured the older boys face, as he had loved it best eyes crinkled in laughter all teeth and strong jaw line. He wondered if he kept the fine cashmere scarf he had given him—gray-green like those eyes. Would he wear it? And what would become of the little silver cigarette case? Surely, Walter would not use it publicly now, with such a ridiculously over affectionate engraving inside, not with everyone knowing about Dorian. He liked to think he might keep it in a desk drawer or something. Walter always appreciated something a little scandalous. For all their talk of a new world, for all the relentless plunging towards a reality turned on its head, Walter still loved all those little bourgeoisie trinkets and Dorian loved to give them. Why not? What else should he do with his father's money?
Walter had given him a little derringer pistol in return. What a perfectly nasty little thing to give an innocent lover, a boy who had never even undressed in front of another three months previously. The thrill of its cool form in his pocket when they went out had been devastatingly arousing. He had it with him still and fired it whenever possible. He wondered sometimes though if he had he been meant to use it on himself?
It was the last part of the story that unraveled him every time. It was so damn humiliating it bordered on exquisite poetry. Walter had done it on purpose. Every last bit of it and Dorian had given up his mask of sanity for the attention of that man, risked everything to not be alone anymore. He wrote for him dirty little stories that blended with musing on social theory. After nights of drinking and smoking until the sun rose he wove fables where man was beast and God irrational. In these moments of delirium he mixed the writing of Symbolists, anarchists, Decadents and Mystics. He said Sufi chants with a cigarette in one hand a bottle of wine in the other. Everything skewed, became a black and delicious satire of itself. It would forever be the happiest time in his life, one of discovery and the innocent surrender to desire. He bent the laws of nature and science at will and with them the propriety and laws of his upbringing. He should have known there was no return after that.
It had been so hard for him to figure out how Walter could have been so foolish, how he had let all their private correspondence (Dorian's side in selected portion anyway) be exposed. It plagued him like a toothache as his social standing crumbled around him. They had called him an anarchist and a homosexual. You couldn't get much more undesirable than that. He had protested the anarchist part legitimately for a while. His feelings towards what was known as "propaganda by the deed" and the recent rash bombings they produced were mixed.
If he sought revolution it was a battle of the intellect first. If they had really read his texts with any astuteness, truly understood the important allegorical meaning behind references to Walter's physical attributes, this anarchist accusation would never have held up. They would have realized he aligned himself with no one. He said as much and possibly with less tact than he might, and was not particularly surprised at his expulsion from school. Nor was the abandonment of his family unexpected. Nobody doubted that their approval had always been conditional. His only comfort had been that the blame was all his and Walter had been exonerated of returning such perverse affections to his younger classmate. Walter would survive this messy business in the clear after a season or two.
They met one last time alone in the park. It was a pretty day, still early spring, still cold. He told Walter he would be going to San Francisco; a compromised exile that meant his father would not completely cut him off financially. If only he had the guts for real destitution.
"Well," Walter sighed, "putting one of his initialed handkerchief in Dorian's coat pocket, "my poor sweet Dorian, look at you playing your part so beautifully, always wanted to die of a broken heart and now you can." Dorian's eyes had narrowed at this. Damn he was good. Dorian had, in fact, made a short list of good ways for an author of his promising abilities to die: consumption, alcoholism, murder, but a heartbreak trumped all of these. The handkerchief was a nice touch. The sign of a true professional. Then he had known the answer just by the look in Walter's eyes. He had done it on purpose.
"Why?" Dorian had murmured, but he might as well have asked why little boys pull the wings off flies. He had done it because he could. Because Dorian had more money or more talent as a writer. Maybe he resented the too pretty, too sentimental youth with fine breakable bones like a little blue-eyed blackbird. Did he worship this man too recklessly? In the end he had done it because he could and more than that would be over explaining it. And Dorian still loved him anyway and would still take all the blame given a choice, so maybe Walter had a point. If Dorian secretly cherished this pain, did Walter still love him because he had dealt it? Maybe Walter knew him best after all. But maybe not. Maybe Walter was just spoiled and board and numb, as desperate and damaged as Dorian knew himself to be. A strange and unsettling calm took him drawing his mind into a dangerously blank place.
With the swift motion of an assassin he plunged his silver pen into the soft flesh of Walter's upper arm. It pieced through his coat and shirt and stuck there like an arrow. He yelped his face becoming a pattern of shock and pain as all the color drained out. A red bloom began in the fabric around the pen like a carnation opening. "Oh Walt darling, can I have my pen back?" He pulled it out and Walter gasped and took several steps back warily looking for all the world as if he thought he was dealing with a madman. "I will need it to write you after all."