ABANDONEDLAND – Darkness at Noonday

image“We never, of course, lost hope that our story would be told: since sooner or later the truth is told about all that has happened in history. But in our imagining this would in the rather distant future – after most of us were dead.”  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – The Gulag Archipelago


GODDOG stutters, a kind of screaming laughter now, high, drunk, obscenely jovial, and quite naturally 100% in charge of the situation in which I find myself.

“Are you still w-w-wuh-WITH us, Shithorne?  How ARE you, Shitty!?  And WHY are you, Shitty? Oh, Shitty-shitty-shitty-shitty-shitty-shitty-shitty! Hall hall hall hall hall HALL HALL HALL, BUDDY!”

Huffing hard now, I cannot catch my breath to speak. 38 years old, at least 60lb overweight, the slight disadvantage of zero exercise for 2 decades are somewhat more, shall we say, readily apparent while scaling a 100 year old, near vertical, crumbling masonry wall in the jet blackness that is noon in the tunnels.

GODDOG, in his maniacal way, is looking out for me. He is my dead-end, hood-rat Scout Leader, rousting his runt. I hear the rhythmic heavy clink of his army-navy BDUs, sagging, overloaded with 40s of Colt 45. The cherry of his cheap cigarette waxes orange, twitching with each stutter, now blazing red. GODDOG‘s burning, jittering American Spirit is the light at the end of my tunnel.

I am dead last, following eight, ten, maybe a dozen people, I lost count an hour ago.  I am behind a 12 year old girl irregularly illuminated by a Maglight velcroed around the crown of my black leather cowboy hat, throwing shafts of red filtered light twinkling with bright, white asbestos.

As I begin to climb, her tattoo peeks out below sheer black lace, between sacro and iliac: BYBERRY REST IN PEACE.

I am ogling jailbait trampstamp at the ass end of a Carter Kid convoy.

Cold comfort, indeed.  On Saturday, December 31, 2005 in the frozen underground passages of America’s most infamous abandoned mental institution, it’s cold comfort or no comfort at all.

Apropos of nothing, I start to sing, at the top of my lungs, a wholly improvisational ditty, a chant sung in military cadence to fit a dark march of misfits:

“I’m back in Byberry again!
I want to be a Byberrian!
I’ll walk all the halls
and I’ll schmoke all the bowls!
I’m back in Byberry again!”

What is it about the laughter of total strangers in these man-made black ice caverns?

“So a little ch-ch-CHILD shall LEAD them, Shitty!  That’s in the GODDOG b-b-buh BIBLE! If you wanna d-d-duh DO THE CRIME, you gotta d-d-duh DO THE CLIMB, BUDDDDDDDDDYYYYYYYYY!”

In GODDOG we trust. On, up, into stuttering, toxic and tattooed black, a walk-on part in my own True Climb novel.

It’s New Years Eve in Abandonedland.  High noon, destination midnight.

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One Response to ABANDONEDLAND – Darkness at Noonday

  1. Amazing picture dude, that’s me on the far left with the long hair and black shirt.

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