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#QuemPensa é Spiralist: “The Mantis” Parte I

#QuemPensa é Spiralist: “The Mantis” Parte I

He stumbled arrhythmically into his bedroom as her grip held on tightly to his tie. His horn-rimmed glasses waltzed jerkingly on his face by her erratic tempo, his short ducktailed hairs parting ways and edging off the frame, and his steps were vaguely willing but entirely submissive following the inebriant fuel he’d indulged in at her behest. Complying with her Largo metamorphosis was his price of admission, a price which trauma should have taught him to steer clear from. But perhaps memory was far too fallible to contain even the most pungent of remembrances. And so, amongst the warmth of their lust and the influence of alcohol, he tried to remember.

Foggy snippets of his puerility flashed and echoed faintly in his mind. Even from a young age, he seemed to have inherited the meekness that characterized the omen which was his father, mouth shut and eyes fixed on the floorboards of their house. The father’s empty title of “provider” came with none of the benefits normally associated with the mantle, much to the jeers hidden behind the walls of the neighbors. He knew no such thing as “patriarchy” in that household. In fact, he was fairly certain that even by the time he was contemptuously pushed out of his mother’s vagina, she had already firmly established herself as the family’s alpha through the machinations of language. No act, breath or intent went unchecked by her grasp, like Big Brother made flesh. His father’s income was monitored and his expenses were authorized as per her judgment, and he had also long learned not to question withdrawals registered in his balance. He used to try to ask about this, or why she would suddenly leave the house with no explanation, or why she refused to entertain his (and only his) family in their house, or why she accused him of stepping out on her whenever he didn’t arrive within 20 minutes of leaving work, or why she would lie about even the simplest of actions he witnessed, or why she talked down to him so much. And while at first she merely dismissed his concerns with mild insinuations of paranoia on his behalf, she soon grew unsatisfied by the insipidness of the approach and began… how shall we put it… “taking matters into her own hands”. Refusing to retaliate, he would take every hit. Every pinch, flicker, bump, push, slap, punch, kick, knee, hurl and slash went unassisted by healthcare professionals at her own command. What was a scrawny 6’0 footer with no semblance of self-esteem and an involuntarily warped mind to do?

She stood around him like a sexless monolith at all times. Even she couldn’t remember the last time she dominated him against his will, turning him into a silent, submissive object. For a time, nothing pleasured her like watching his eventual erection betray his repulsed conscience and his seed spurting out sadly the same way he had impregnated her. Her pleasure derived from power and control, not erotic attraction and let alone love. But even having her way with him lost its fun. So she patiently decided to wait for the slow but steady growth of their son.

By the time the poor boy hit his pubescent years, he was incrementally introduced to the vilest and most perverted evil a parent can submit their child to. He did not need to know much about moral conduct to be able to tell how wrong it all was. But bound and gagged by fear even outside of the bed he quickly learned what she meant whenever she said:

Momma’s gonna take good care of you.

What it was code for. What horrors those 7 words conveyed, and what nauseous ride he was about to endure once more. She promised he would learn to like it. She taught him every trick of the trade by way of his fingers, lips, tongue and penis. He learned to pleasure her in a way she loved to remind him his father could not.

Speaking of the father, the man had no idea that his child was the victim of such horrors. All traces of evidence were expertly erased by the time he arrived home from work. And as much as he probed for the source of his son’s quiet demeanor, always out of his wife’s earshot and admonishing reproaches, that broken mirror he had conceived many years earlier replied silently with the same eyes, fixed on the floorboards. He could not tell whether he was deeply unfulfilled, a victim of intimidation at school by his peers, or, worst of all, had grown into an identical replica of his father.
Bathing in her wickedness and power, the mother failed to wonder if her chokehold on the lives of the two men would eventually drive them to escapism. She was fairly certain that her husband had proposed and married her out of a sense of duty and societal expectations more than anything else. But until she came across his carelessly forgotten notebook in the drawer of his closet (appropriately kept there from a metaphorical standpoint) on a fateful afternoon while he was slaving away at work, she would have never guessed he had done so in order to conceal who he was. And with the added constraints of a ruthlessly authoritative wife, he had lost all reasonable excuses not to act upon his true nature. She flipped through page after page of images and words, dozens of collages featuring cut-out pictures of naked men who were comfortable in their own skin, and texts filled with detailed fantasies of what her husband would do with these men had he not married such a monster and regretfully given her a child. Soon, however, the texts no longer described fantasy but reality instead. The reality of a man secretly in love with another, one whose love was reciprocal and true, like a fairy tale somehow taking shape in a nightmarish world. The more she read about it, the more her blood boiled. Their encounters, the vivid details of their sexual experiences or even his unfaithfulness were not the true source of her rage upon reading the notebook that afternoon, however. She had even found the details of his fantasies with other men mildly amusing and a great new weapon of torture and humiliation for her to wield. No, what truly drove her to unfiltered anger was knowing that her control over him was slipping through her fingers and right under her nose. She would have to put him back in line in a way she never had before.

When he arrived that evening, the father had the poorly subdued look of someone who knew he might be in trouble, and he used every fiber in him to try to fake it. He knew he had forgotten his notebook. It was already the middle of the day when he noticed it was not in his bag. He just prayed to a god he didn’t believe in and would likely stone him to death that his wife hadn’t found the damned thing. Or else he knew she was imaginative enough to find a way to punish him more severely than he could possibly conceive.
Most of the blinds were down when he opened the door. Inside, he could see a faint trace of light coming from the living room.
He passed every inch of wall made familiar as another place where she had once found a way to hurt him. He followed the light.
Honey, are you home?
He walked on to the doorless living room on his right, the black armchair illuminated by a single lamp, supported by a small table. On that table, his notebook. He knew he’d been caught. There was the very distant suggestion of a silhouette in the corner of his right eye. His chin trembled as he turned right.
Her slap landed hard on his left cheek. Her menacing shrieks began even before the tissue damage in his skin activated his pain receptors, and the signal travelled up his peripheral nerve to his spinal cord.
Would you mind explaining yourself, you piece of shit?
What the fuck is that? WHAT. THE. FUCK. IS. THAT?
She kicked him and punched him with closed fists repeatedly in the back of his lowered head. He was aghast with terror. Unresponsive. All he could do was weekly protect himself with his thin hands.
You fucking deviant piece of shit! You think you’re gonna get away with this? You think you can do this to me? And with another man? A man? I could have this whole fucking town rip you to shreds for this.
Stop, please…
Don’t you dare, you fucking walking turd, you waste of oxygen! I always knew you weren’t shit. I should’ve known you were a faggot with a capital fucking F all those times we were in bed and you couldn’t get your dick hard for me. I should just fucking walk to the kitchen right now, grab a knife and cut your marble-sized fucking balls! That’s how good they are to me now. I bet you were thinking about them Nancy boys every time you fucked me, weren’t you? Weren’t you? ANSWER ME!

He hopelessly tried to hide his tears. She had said everything so far with assaulting motion.
Stop this, this isn’t fair.
Oooohhhhh, I’m sorry, you’re gonna tell me about “fair”?
This isn’t what you think, I can explain!
I don’t need no goddam explanations from you! You wanna put my mind at ease? Make me sure I ain’t got nothing to fear?
His breathing slowed down and his watery eyes opened in his aching face from the terrible suggestion he knew she was about to make.
Then fuck me here and now.
The way she walked to him, groped his testicles and leaned onto his right ear conveyed nothing but pure malice. His state was such that he remained virtually catatonic. Her whisper carried rage:

Fuck me until I’m convinced.

Few of his muscles moved. He was so battered up and damaged, even more so emotionally than physically, that he could not properly respond to his abuser. He limited himself to merely looking down, as usual, humiliated, incapable of taking a true stand against his wife, but also incapable of complying with her demand.
Is that how this is going to be?
How much more damage could she inflict by now?
Baby! Come downstairs!
He had been holding his breath behind his bedroom door as soon as he heard his father’s key open the front door lock. His mother’s behavior through the rest of the day had been ominous, like an apex predator with unwavering patience and focus, waiting for the prey to come its way rather than stalking it. She had told her son:

Be ready for tonight. I will call you when it’s time. Momma’s gonna take good care of you.

And now she had called him. He worked out the math in his head, but kept reanalyzing every variable so as not to end up at such a miserable result as the one he most feared. He was at her beck and call, and now, as he slowly opened the door and walked down the stairs with his fingers twitching in nervous spasms, he feared her more than ever before.
She had subjugated him in such a way that she knew it would be unnecessary to call him more than once. She just waited patiently as every passing second weighted more heavily on her husband, a silence far more cruel and crushing than any of her blows against his body. He felt his teeth clicking against one another in fear. Soon enough, the shadow of their son announced him on the floor.
He saw her clearly standing atop of his father despite being shorter. He was crumbling beneath her. Embarrassed tears dried up slowly as he blinked nervously, hoping that there was a remnant of mercy in her somewhere.
His hopes were in vain.
Come to momma, baby.
He did. She put her arm around him.
Now tell him the truth or I will.
The boy didn’t even look at them, he just stared at the floor. He felt horrible for his father.
Son, hum… listen. I… I-
Your father is gay. He likes cocks. And he’s been lying to us for all of this time. Using us. Disrespecting his family like the shitty husband and father he is. Look here.
She picked up the notebook and opened it in her son’s face. She showed him the pictures quickly. He said nothing. No change in his facial expression, not even a peep from him. All he wanted was for this to be over sooner than later.
Let’s get to know your daddy’s lover a little better, shall we?
She was quick to find the page she wanted.
“We know it’s time as soon as the bell rings. We make sure to have lunch separately with other people so that no one suspects, making sure we don’t look at one another in the eyes from a distance. No one can know. After lunch, he goes one way and I go another, and we meet in the storage room. No one goes there at lunchtime. I wait the whole morning and the night before for him. Those broad shoulders and perfect jawline. That beautiful smile and firm grip. But I love his comforting words most of all. Beneath that gruff exterior, he is kind and caring. We want the best for one another, and we long for one another in this hellhole. He tells me we’re gonna be alright someday, that we’ll stand strong together. With him, I feel like I can escape her”. That’s me, isn’t it?

She was smirking. A frown began appearing on his face.
“I feel the slight sting of his small beard when he kisses me. I like it when he caresses me and unzips my pants. I’m already hard for him by then-“
That’s enough, stop it. Please.
“He holds my penis and slides it out of my underpants. We don’t have much time, so he doesn’t take long to kneel and wrap his lips around my-“
We haven’t even gotten to the good parts yet.
I’m begging you, please. I’ll do whatever you want, but just stop.
She raised her head without blinking and closed the notebook eerily.
He was far too broken to refuse.
That smirk again. She summoned all her ill intent, her demons all at once.
You know we have to cleanse you off of those filthy thoughts, right? We have to make you a man again. Baby, we’re going to do something for daddy tonight, ok?

The way she said it, so calm and reassuring, almost seemed compassionate at first. But he had learned to read her by now. Deep down, he knew what was coming.
You stay where you are.
She underdressed the boy quickly. Then herself.
What are you doing?
Cleansing you. Watch.
She sat the boy down in the sofa behind them, and sat on top of him, facing the man, clutching the boy’s hands and rubbing them against her breasts.
This is what you should be doing to me.
This is insane, you can’t do this to him!
She took one of the boy’s hands and caressed a finger against her clitoris. She moaned.
Aren’t you embarrassed he’s already so much better than you?
Stop us or leave, and I will tell this whole town what you and Mr. Broad Shoulders have been doing together. Everyone will see that notebook. I will be the victim, ask for a divorce and everyone will shame you. You will lose your job and your life, and so will he. They will find you and demolish you both. Is that what you want?
That is our son.
I know. He’s been good to me, you know? He takes care of me when you don’t.
You sick fuck.
We’re doing this for you. To cleanse you. Just watch. Enjoy the show, honey.
She turned around to face her son, to dominate him too. She saw his horrified expression and willfully ignored it. She knew he would do as commanded, and her husband had no choice but to take it. She was in full control. Her tyranny knew no boundaries, and she would exercise it to the fullest. The irreparable damage of others was not even much of a price for her to pay for her complete and absolute satisfaction, and, like a supermassive black hole, she consumed all life around her into infinite emptiness. She felt like she was sitting on a throne.

Which is why she didn’t expect what happened next.
He pulled his wife by her hair in a rage and she fell to the ground, stunned.

He threw himself at her on the living room floor like a man possessed by an avenging spirit, a rabid animal, his every repressed thought and emotion returning to the surface like the Spartan army in Thermopylae. He let the beast out, his closed fists raining on her like meteors, one after another after another after another, his bony arms gathering all of his rage and putting it to work. It was the boy’s abuse at her hands that broke the camel’s back, and he wouldn’t have it, not this. He swore to himself repeatedly that all would end that night, and he rearranged her face in a way she never thought him capable of. As much as she tried to flop like a fish out of water to let loose, he held her down, his eyes wide open, tears streaming not out of sorrow but pure hatred. He could feel her bones cracking with the pressure of his knuckles, his shirt already stained with her coughed blood, his sweat melding with his tears. He could feel her movements weaken and her body betray her intent, her arms quitting on her, the legs that once kicked the air ceasing with the shedding of blood. He did not once give her a chance to supplicate, she had had so many opportunities to redeem herself before, and she simply did not want them. And he knew that if he did not finish her, his life would end and retribution would fall upon their son. He saw the limited paths of his future lay ahead of him in distinctive timelines once she turned her back on him, and was thus left with only one vaguely honorable, but still gruesome choice. And he made sure to enact it.
She was already long dead by the time he finally put an end to the relentless pounding. His adrenaline lowered slowly, his breathing still fast, and he stared at her lifeless body for a while, contemplating what he had just done, engraving that frame on his memory for the rest of his earthly existence. His shame, sadness and regret were relieved by the sense that he had just rid the world, and especially his son, of a demon. He knew full well that he was doomed, one way or another. He had freed them from her clutch at the cost of the rest of his life, and he knew he would never again see his lover or his son. For all intents and purposes, he was now a criminal, and no one would ever truly know what she had subjected them to for 15 years. But they knew. And they would never forget it.

When he finally stood up from her corpse and managed to breathe in slowly, he looked back at his son with seriousness. The boy was no longer expressionless. There was horror and gladness on his face. Disgust and thankfulness. Tears were still hanging from his eyes as he stared at her bloodied face.
He looked at his father at once.
Call the police.
The boy shook his head sideways. His father smiled reassuringly.
It’s ok. You have to call them. Tell them what you saw.
And you…?
I have no choice. I’ll pay my dues. Call them, son.

And he did. He described the ghastly deed with his tremulous voice and gave the police their address. The sirens did not take long to sound off in the distance. But before they arrived at their doorstep, the father had some words of wisdom to impart on the poor boy:
Now listen. I’m probably going away for a very long time. You might not ever see me again, even. But promise me that you will never forget what I’m asking of you. Never, ever, make the same mistakes that I have made. Remember what she did to us, and never let yourself be at someone’s mercy like this. Don’t let them be in control. Can you promise me that?
He was crying profusely, but he nodded. The man walked in his son’s direction and embraced him like he never had before. His son embraced him too and soaked his father’s shirt in tears.
I love you.
I love you too.
They remained embraced until the sirens wailed right in front of their porch, and the living room flashed in blue and red. The father kissed his son on the forehead, let go of him, walked up to his wife’s corpse and kneeled down with his hands behind his head before he was even asked to. He gave his son a head signal to open the front door to the policemen, and he offered no resistance or said a single word when they came in with their loaded weapons. They were quick to find and apprehend him.

And that was the last time he ever laid eyes on his father. After being hopelessly relinquished to an orphanage, the boy learned that his father had, as expected, been sentenced for life. He might as well have been sentenced to a few months only because, weeks after being imprisoned, his father was found brutally sodomized and killed in the corner of his cell. He was 38 years-old.

Artemisia Gentileschi – Judith Slaying Holofernes, 1610