I appreciate you coming here, I really do, but you’ve got to stop looking at me like that. You remind me of my shrink. She kept staring at me in such a way, as if I were going to strangle myself with my necktie.
Have you ever heard of Sisyphus? No, it’s not a venereal disease. He was an ancient king. Nasty bastard. He enjoyed killing people. He was deceitful and his greed for power and money was insatiable. Eventually, the gods punished him by making him roll a boulder up a hill, but before he could reach the top, the boulder would always roll back down, so he would never complete his task.
Like Prometheus, who was punished by having his liver eaten by an eagle every day only for it to grow back and be eaten again the next day.
If you thought you were smarter than Zeus, he would punish you in a way you’d never forget.
Sadly, they don’t make gods like they used to. Our modern god seems to go through something we would call a midlife crisis. He wears a white suit. He may or may not wear an expensive watch. He may even drive a Ferrari, for all we know. But he’s no longer interested in punishing us. He doesn’t love us but doesn’t hate us either. He just doesn’t care.
We need to pay for our sins. God has to smite us. We need to bow down on our knees and beg for mercy. We need to cry for some god that never loved us and probably never wanted us anyway to forgive us. We need to suffer, and we need to suffer right away.
Every night I would bow down on my knees and pray. Looking at the starless sky through the window, I would cry and pray as if he could really hear me. I just wanted someone to hear me. I just wanted to be punished.
Every day I would go to a church and confess my sins to a priest. Every day a new church, a new priest, a new religion, and new sins. Sins I had never committed. I made them up, every day more and more gruesome and more terrible.
“Father, I killed a man because he was so ugly that it felt like an insult. No, father, I’m not making fun of you. I killed him because I felt that someone had to. No, father, I’m neither joking nor am I mad.”
“Rabbi, don’t you feel sometimes that you would like to kill someone just because you’re bored? That’s why I stabbed him the eye with a toothpick and watched him bleed to death on the floor.”
I kept waiting and waiting for some feedback from god. I guess I should have emailed him a list of sins I wanted to be punished for. Not mine, but everyone else’s.
I expected for something to happen, something terrible, like an airplane engine crashing down on my bed from Heaven while I slept my pathetic, dreamless slumber. But, no. Nothing happened. He just didn’t care. I began to hate him, and as months passed, I began to forget him.
Some say that in this life, we don’t pay for our sins. All the pain, all the suffering, is a way of paying for the sins the ones before us committed. That meant that my ancestors had been freaking saints?
Every day felt the same. Every day resembled the one before in excruciating detail. Every day, nothing happened. I contemplated committing suicide. I would imagine how it would be to step in front of a passing car, how it would be to have my body hit by two tons of pure power. I wanted to take a bottle of pills, go to sleep, and never wake up. But you see, those who always think about ending their lives never have the courage to actually do it. They’re not living, but are not really dead either. They become lonesome figures, empty shadows, plastic mannequins in a dress shop.
I kept asking myself if my soul could feel any pain that would be inflicted upon my body, because, you see, pain is the only thing that’s real in this world. So when I was all alone, I would use a needle to tear a hole in my arm. Just so I could feel something. After a while I grew used to the pain, so I began to use a knife. I would use it to carve into my flesh. I made tens of little scars, of artificial wrinkles.
Me destroying God’s ultimate creation.
That’s when I stopped wearing T-shirts.
And then, when I had lost all hope of redemption or punishment, when I thought that nobody could save me anymore, something happened.
Jonathan’s hopelessness and self-loathing seems to have no limits. He lives in a sort of perpetual deja vu, and his desire to break free takes him down a strange and perilous path.
Starting with this chapter, I realized that my character did not like social conditioning very much. He was also intelligent beyond what is needed to operate in the world.