map 604

by Andrew Wardle

Published in Issue No. 4 ~ July, 1996

Do you want me to prove it? Do you want me to take you there? I’m telling you: I did everything just like I said. I know you don’t believe me. Do you want to see that what I say is true, that what I do is true?

You sure you can take it? It’s not pretty, I warn you. And it’s altogether too real. If you’re at all squeamish, we can stop right here. As a matter of fact, I think that would probably be best. We just won’t talk about it anymore, and you can carry on thinking I’m crazy. Okay?

“No, no. I want to see it. I’m not squeamish.”

Oh no? You sure?

I thought I could see it in you. That kind of searching quality. And you have shown me your quest, so it’s only right that I show you mine. We are both artists, after all.

Meet me tomorrow on the corner of James Street, by the police station. Say, around six?

“Are you serious?”

Of course. I’m always serious.

“How will you get out?”

What? Oh, don’t worry about that. Just meet me by the police station.

Hey, what’s with the tape recorder? This isn’t a confession, friend.

“Don’t worry. It’s just…I want it to be real.”

So why not just keep it in your head? What do you need that thing for?

“I would always remember it my way. I want to keep all of the other voices…your voice.”

Yes, well…Have you had it all along? You should have told me. Still, it’s an interesting notion. I suppose you’ll edit it all later, when you transcribe it? Perhaps you and I will do it together. I don’t see any harm in it, so long as we don’t use any names.

“You know what? I don’t even know your name. I saw it on your charts every day. It was even on the door of your fuckin’ room, right under your number. But still I can’t remember it at all.”

Yeah, me neither. Let’s go.

Want a drink? It’s cold. A drink will warm us up. Come on, it’s on me.

Victor! Two, in the back. Come on, sit down. We’ll go after we drink. Did you bring the car? What? Okay, good. Don’t worry about gas. We’ll stop on the way.

Want a smoke? Here, go ahead. No-one lives forever. Thank you, Victor. Put it on my tab, won’t you?

Drink up. It’s good brandy. There you are.

Now, listen: what’s wrong with you, anyway? You’ve been looking kind of pale and shady ever since you saw me on the street. Shit, I thought you were going to pass out right there on the sidewalk! That would’ve been pretty, eh? Right there, in front of the police station. Can you imagine?

“How did you get out?”

Are you still on about that? Tell me: why must you always ask ‘how’? ‘How’ only leads to complications. I much prefer ‘why’ to ‘how’.

“Alright. Why did you break out?”

You make it sound as though I blew a hole in the wall with a stick of dynamite. I didn’t break out at all. No-one even knows I’m gone. By morning, it will be as though none of this ever happened.

“You mean you’re going to go back?”

Sure. Why not?

In any case, I think I’ve proven my point. There’s no need for us to go any further.

“You’re not going to take me?”

You still want to go? You don’t look well. The booze might help, I guess. It couldn’t hurt. But I still haven’t told you why I came. I did it because I feel compelled to help you, to guide you towards the truth. In the end, truth is all that an artist will ever need. Have you ever thought about truth?

“It’s too big to think about.”

Oh, no. Not at all. It’s devastatingly simple.

Do you remember what we were talking about last night, in my cell? I believe we agreed that life is art, and art is life. Correct? Well, death is art as well. Murder is an art form in itself. And death is also truth. It’s the only truth.

I suppose my art could most closely be compared with sculpture. Except that its real essence is beyond the physIcal actuality. But the graves could be seen as sculpture, I suppose. A representative physical presence.

“You’re losing me.”

Already? Okay. You would agree with me if I stated that we leave impressions on one another as we interact? We leave our impact, large or small, on everyone we meet, and are in turn impacted ourselves. Correct?

So, then: what is the most powerful way for me to impress myself on someone? What is the most concrete way for me to impact someone else’s fate? Love? Perhaps philosophy?



“You could kill them.”

Correct. And, in killing them, I permanently impact, and in fact I create, their fate. And, furthermore, I impact the fates of everyone that this person I killed ever knew. Whatever else my victim said or did or was, he or she will be remembered for what I did to them. They will only remember the living person for the way they died.

Can you imagine anything more poignant than that? Can you think of any better way to show the truth of human existence? Can you conceive of any statement more enduring?

The graves are an expression of that. Necropolitain sculpture. I guess it’s kind of like the old Egyptians, in a way.

Are you finished? Let’s go.

It occurs to me that your technological account would benefit from a little exposition, no?

Allow me to elaborate, for the benefit of the tape:

My good friend (who can’t remember my name) and I have just left the Pheasant & Fowl, a very traditional English pub run by a very amiable Greek gentleman named Victor. We are now in my anonymous friend’s automobile, in search of the truth.

In the circumstances, I think that the first relevant truth would have to be an admission that we have both been drinking, perhaps a touch too eagerly. But I’m not concerned. I’m sure any policeman that stopped us would be able to think of much more interesting topics of conversation than drunk driving. I think the hospital gown I’m wearing under my suit would probably be his first choice.

Put on your seat belt. It’s more anonymous. Turn left here. Do you have my cigarettes?

We have been driving for about an hour now. It’s dark out here. And the sky is higher.

You know, it’s been years since I’ve been in a car. It really is a strange feeling. Like watching the world go by on television. It’s hard to believe that any of it is real.

“Where is it? Much farther?”

We’re almost there now. What’s the rush? You should savor it, like me. This is a very special one that I’m taking you to. In all these years, no-one’s ever found it.

Okay, turn right up here by those trees.

Look at the moon over the fields. God. It’s just like a movie. I remember that old barn, that one there with the moonlight shining through the boards. It hasn’t changed in fifteen years.

Okay, slow down. We should come to a bridge soon. Yeah, just over this hill. No, no, go across it. You can park on the other side.

Has it occurred to you yet that you are out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, with an escaped lunatic?

Don’t worry. I’m only teasing you. If I made a sculpture out of you, who would tell the world?

See this, on the post here? Here, just below the rail on the first post on this side of the bridge. I carved that sign with the same knife I used to kill her. It was enchanted, you see, because I killed with it. That’s my sign there: a crescent moon.

There, that’s another reason you don’t have to worry about me trying to kill you. The moon’s almost full tonight.

Follow me. It’s just around the bend in the river. Don’t worry, you can easily get under the bridge if you crouch down.

For the listener:

Two men with no names are now walking slowly along the bank of a shallow stream. It’s all rock underfoot here, and the moon looks like it fell into the stream and broke into splinters in the water.

Can you see the clearing up around the bend? Can you imagine my silent sculpture?

I met her years ago, when she was just a little girl. I waited until she was fifteen. By then, she trusted me enough to accept a ride home. I didn’t really feel the urge to rape her, but I sort of felt obligated. Just killing her seemed…pointless, somehow.

Then, after I killed her, I wrapped her in the blanket that she used to love so much when she was little. She was all curled up, just like a sleeping baby, and I wrapped her up like that and put her down in the ground. And I lined the walls of the hole with all of the pictures and things from her purse, and I tore her clothes up into strips and tied them into decorations, one at each of the four corners of her tomb.

It’s almost a shame they never found it. I’m sure it would have created quite an impression. And yet, I’m glad that it has remained untouched. It preserves a kind of virginal quality, don’t you think?

I’m very fond of this one.

There it is. Can you see that sort of low spot, between those two saplings, on the far side of the clearing? That’s where it is. The ground that I disturbed has sunk over time. But it doesn’t spoil the effect too much, does it?

Come on.

Okay. I’ll take this side, and you can start digging over there. We’ll have to hurry, though. The moon’s almost gone already.

Well…What are you waiting for? Start digging. What did you think we brought the shovels for? What’s with the blank look?

“I don’t think we should disturb her.”

What? Are you nuts? Trust me, kid. She won’t mind.

“Why don’t we just leave her there. I don’t have to see it. I believe you. I don’t need to go any further.”

But then, all of this could be fiction, right? I mean, without digging her up and taking a look for yourself, it’s not real, is it? In hard, cold fact it’s just more rambling from an anonymous lunatic, right?

“I think I like it better that way.”

Yeah. I knew you would.