August/September 2005

Silver Throat
Daria Karpova

You sang. I played.
They clapped. They paid.
Later, we made love. After that, I played. You sang.
We lived. We loved. Your brand of love was venomous, but I drank it down until my stomach burned through and my guts turned to acid. Your suspicions. Your madness. Your jealousy. I kissed your eyes while you thought of vengeance, but I have never touched another woman. Not while you lived, and even after that. No matter what you thought.

That evening, the air smelled of brimstone and roses. The crowd gathered beneath the dome of incandescent stars. You sang. I can't say how, or even what. Your voice blinded me, deafened me, with the acrid beauty of it. I never knew what exactly you sang, just like I never knew what made the fake stars shine so brightly. I played. The guitar moaned beneath my hands. Just like you did, when I touched you. My magic hands. You called them wondrous, remember?

Later, your door wasn't locked. I didn't knock. My mistake.

You lay there with him, naked and wild. You didn't even notice me. You moaned.

You called his hands wondrous.

I howled. I crashed my fist against your mirrored wall. If it hurt, I don't remember. But it brought your attention to me. You didn't bother to cover yourself as you rose from the bed. Neither did he.

You weren't sorry. You weren't ashamed.
You were angry.
You accused me of being the first to betray you. You screeched about the women you thought I had.

I swore I had none. You wouldn't believe me. I wanted to touch you, but you winced and jerked away.
The man watched, smiling.

You called me a fool. You told me of the men you had invited. Into your room, into your bed, into your body.

I called you a whore. I slapped you across the face.
You fell like a doll. You rose like a fury. You screamed like a twisted violin.

The man seized me. He was strong. He was ruthless. He was a leader of a street gang. He hit me, and I went out like a lamp switched off.

I remember the warehouse. I remember the electric saw. I wish I could forget the saw but I can't. You took care of that. You played one of our records as the saw spewed sparks on my skin and ate through my bones.

You said justice was holy.
I came to myself in the docks; behind ancient creates smelling of dirt and rats. The stumps of my wrists were wrapped tight with bandages. You were too nice to kill me.

I'm not nice.
I've been watching you. I waited, and pain sang inside me, and love joined the chorus. For I still loved you. I saw you evolve into a legend. I saw the crowds going sweetly insane once your voice touched them. I heard them call you their glittering goddess of the dark. For if you sang of joy, it was a twisted one. If you sang of love, it was a rotten kind. And if you sang of dreams, they were all nightmares.

I waited.
I discovered a talent for playing with money. I've been spending my days toying with the electronic stock exchange, bringing it up, pushing it down, and each time the night fell, I was twice as rich. You don't need hands to operate the keyboard.

Then, one day, I've met the man they called the Machinist. He built devices that painted copies of Modigliani, more flawless than the originals. Devices that transplanted brain cells. Machines that could please your body better than a human lover could. Creatures of metal and plastic that spoke in languages never invented and traveled the seventh dimension. He was an amateur broker, and a bad one, too.

I saved him from the crash, and he would be forever grateful. I described my ideas to him. It took him ten years to build the machines.

While I've been watching you.
It wasn't difficult to steal you from your gilded palazzo, not difficult at all. You were too arrogant and too adored to consider your safety with any degree of care. The people I hired drugged you and brought you here to my dwelling, its secrecy ensured by the endless stream of money I pour into the bank accounts of important people.

I stand here looking at you, and I remember. It hurts.
I have no hands, but I have money. It bought me new ones. Nanosilver is a fluid metal, a graceful metal, and a beautiful one. But the strings hate it. My new fingers caress the electric guitar, and it cringes away like a disgusted lover. Like you did.

I have no music, but I have hatred. My love has been fermenting in the fragrant brew of pain and longing and envy until it grew slimy and black.

I stand here looking at you, and I enjoy. It hurts.

My best machine sits in the middle, the shining towers locked in energy circuits, sewing through your skin with the ever-moving titanium needles. The sharp teeth of the synthesizer digging into the lump of your gutted midsection. Your throat skinned, red, raw, impaled on the nanosilver vertebrae of the primary sequencer. Your eyeballs dancing on the leashes of the optical nerves as the red and blue columns of the equalizer rise and fall, up and down. Your best records singing on the tiny disks spinning on the delicate dishes of your naked joints. Your skin is pulled tight over the surround-sound dynamics.

The tiny nerves are alive with brilliant pain beneath that taut, spread skin. My expensive machines wash you with vivifying liquids, sending breathing electric charges through you, turning the living rhythms of your flesh, the silent screams of your naked nerves, into a new music.

You have no mouth, and you can't lie.
You have no mouth, but you will sing.
For me.