Introspection is a dangerous thing. Sometimes we can over analyse the crinkles in our souls. Mine is a ragged mess which I have tried to hide with a muslin cloth of daily activity. I daren’t look too close for fear that what lies beneath the delicate fabric is something different than I remember.
My better self is not easy to find. I think perhaps I only have the one that sits on the wall outside my house, dangling my legs like the boy I still am, hoping that someone will come out to play. There is no other me on a shelf somewhere, no better me, just the scrag-end feeling too sad, too often and holding in the tears so no-one knows my secret.
But you have to peek beneath a cloth like that don’t you? When I am at my lowest, when my dark shadow monster Mr. Squiggles comes to visit me, there is nowhere for me to hide. I wonder about him often. That he is not a constant in my life, that he has stayed away for a while now, offers me the time to look a little closer at him in his absence.
I am not religious. The Catholic Church worked hard to beat it into me as a boy, but instead crushed it out of me. I am unleavened bread. There is no depth to my former Christianity. I attended a funeral recently and I still knew all the words, but I can no longer allow them to slip from my lips in a lie. It has been a long time since they have.
Is the absence of this former God in my life, the hole in my psyche that allows Mr. Squiggles to creep through when I am vulnerable? Like a sneak thief he comes to visit when I accidentally forget to put the latch on my soul’s window. That dark shadow man just watches me. I have seen him scent the air, raising his head to smell me like a piece of meat. When he comes, he is the wolf and I the lamb.
But as a man of science not religion, I cannot believe what my eyes tell me and I have tried to rationalise his visits. I have failed. It may be hard to imagine believing the unbelievable, especially if like me you believe that there simply must be a logical explanation for everything. I think that if there is no explanation, I simply don’t have enough information or knowledge to find the answer, but I know there surely must be one.
Let me give you an example. I was once given a miraculous medal, a gift from my maternal grandmother. I lost it several times but it always found its way back to me. Over the years, more miraculous medals have appeared and I have lost them. I have never purchased one or sought them out, I am after all a godless man. Why then do I keep the medal? I said I was godless, I never said I wasn’t sentimental. When I found a second medal in my wallet, not knowing how it got there, I started to keep it in my car ashtray (I don’t smoke) When I changed cars on 2 separate occasions I forgot to take the medal leaving me again with one, only for another brand spanking new one to appear somewhere on my travels. In the past couple of weeks I came across 2 more medals. Where? One in my shirt pocket and one in my wallet. Don’t ask me how, I didn’t put them there. I now possess four in total and I have no idea how.
Perhaps I have a secret miraculous medal benefactor you might say, or I have blackouts and subconsciously buy them in secret. I hardly think so, but I know there has to be a reason. I just don’t know it yet. Much like my Mr. Squiggles, it is one of quite a few unexplainable things in my life. There must be an explanation I am sure but I am so far in the dark.
I have crafted myself a cloak of invincibility but it is like gossamer. I whet my life sword to battle through and I wet my lips with the excitement of each new journey that I begin. There is an adventurer in me, and time left for more adventures I hope. But that part of me is only possible as long as I don’t look under the muslin cloth covering my darkness.
You might think it is that easy, just don’t look. I have to look. There is a tether there. It pulls me back and ties me in; afraid my wings will set me free of the despair within. But my flight is more mayfly than butterfly and my brief attempts to soar, leaves me spent of joy, and exhausted from the effort to draw free of my link to the darkness beneath my covers.
It is there that Mr. Squiggles finds me I think. Yet he is not drawn from the darkness, rather he is of the darkness. There is a chill I feel when he is near. I dare not open my eyes at that very personal witching hour, for I always know when he is due and he is never late. No matter how dark the night, he visits me at such times and he is darker than any nightshade.
The worst of him came as I lay in my hospital bed having come back from the brink, and I know I brought him with me from that place. He was happy and free that first night. Excited to have found his form again like some genie in a bottle, he was loose and he sought out those waiting to cross back over. Perhaps he needed an exchange to remain free I don’t know, but when he finally settled on my window ledge that night, I knew he was waiting for me.
He is patient my shadow man. He will wait. Several weeks have passed now and he has not called on me. But I know he is close. I know he is lurking, waiting in the shadows of my shadows and he will find me again. That I know him, yet know nothing of him, makes him no more or less real. That I cannot believe his existence nor deny it, can only mean I am lacking the knowledge to understand. But he is real. He is dark, my Mr. Squiggles. He is dark and he is quiet, and he has patience. There will come a night soon when he will return. I do not fear him but I also know that one night he will come and he will do more than watch me from the corner or from my window sill. That perhaps is the night to fear for I know on that night; he will look for me to go with him…
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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