— “Chaos, panic and disorder – my work here is done”
It’s all silence.
The beings here are shadows. Nothing born of nothing. Little left for me to do.
Waiting for an absolution. The date is set.
My visitor awaits.
May 5, 2005
I have never kept a journal, I never saw the point, but I figured it best to document my days in prison. The opportunity to help one in need prompted me to volunteer to be Victoria Duff’s spiritual counselor during her final days. My experience up till then had been limited to youth ministry, where disobedience was the only sin committed.
I first began going to prison last week and found it to be much as I expected to find it. It has high stone walls, which prevent anyone from seeing into or out of the facility. There is only one entrance gate, Check Point Charlie as I call it, and four guard towers surrounding the compound, each equipped with a heavy spot light. The prison itself utilizes the telephone pole design, therefore enabling close supervision by the guards. And the structure is topped off with an atrium where prisoners may exercise and consort with one another.
On my first day I was led to a small room by the warden, Mr. Harvey, a severe man. Upon meeting him I was given the impression that he rarely smiled, but I suppose that is to be
expected in his line of work. After he left I was alone in the dimly lit room with four steel walls, the barred door through which I entered, a steel table in the middle of the room, and two steel chairs placed across from each other. The absence of a window made the air heavy and the room seem even smaller. I could see that my mild claustrophobia would be a problem in this room, and it remains so even now.
Then Victoria Duff was brought in. Both her hands and legs were bound by an immensely long chain that she draped around her neck, preventing it from dragging on the floor. She came in, sat down and began smoking without so much as acknowledging my existence. I would have made myself known and greeted her, but I was quite taken by her rather remarkable physiognomy. Never in my life have I seen a more ghastly, sinister face on a woman. She looked as if she expected the destruction of the world. She is tall and slender, about twenty-five years old, with thick black, almost curly hair, and small fiery black eyes. She has a high forehead, a straight nose lacking character, high cheekbones, and thin lips that are permanently twisted into a mocking, malicious smile.
We sat in silence as I took in her appearance, and I assumed, she mine, until finally she asked, “Chilly?”
The question and that voice startled me. I wasn’t cold before, I was warm in fact (compliments of the little room), but hearing the question brought on a sudden chill that penetrated my skin and went straight to my bones.
“Very. Is it always so cold here? Do you get cold often?”
“Cold blooded creatures never do,” she replied as she winked her reptilian left eye. Of all her features, her eyes bothered me most. In them I could see that this woman could kill in full awareness and without rage. She could just as easily snap my neck as she could smoke those
cigarettes of hers, as if both acts were synonymous (and had no consequences moral or otherwise). That’s when I realized I was sitting across from someone who was “beyond evil.”
The concept of being more than evil, being beyond it, was first introduced to me when I read my grandfather’s journal. The accounts of his experiences in the war interested me most. While serving in Germany he worked close to the Soviet sector where he met a soldier named Boris. His entries were filled with accounts about Boris. One passage in particular always interested me:
I never believed that people could be born evil. Their experiences, their lives made them that way. But what if there was a man whose cruelty had no reason or limits, a man who was bound by nothing, feared nothing, who was not evil, but beyond evil? For Boris disorder is bliss. Women, children, the elderly, the living, the dead, they’re all subject to his cruelty, they’re all his play things. He pillages, rapes, murders like a one man rebel force of a bygone era. There is no reason that explains why he is this way. He just is. I hate and fear him more than my own war plagued nightmares.
After some time I finally mastered my courage and said, “I’m here for your spiritual counseling.”
“I’m aware, priest.” She spoke in almost a whisper, as if raising her voice was far too taxing.
“I’m a pastor, not a priest.”
“Priest, pastor, sinner, saint, pope, Satan, religion, they’re all the same. Nothing,” she added with a self-satisfied smile.
Thus ended my first meeting with Victoria Duff.
May 6, 2005
Before I can begin recounting our present visits as they occur, some attention to our past visits is necessary. This entry will be devoted to Victoria Duff’s story, a story which was told to me over a series of visits. At times she seemed eager for conversation, at others she just sat there staring straight through me. As unbearable as the latter was, the former was worse, for what she had to say about her past proved to be quite disturbing.
It was during our second meeting that I decided to question Duff about her past, for without understanding who she is, how can I help her? I am resolved to help her, for after all, no one is beyond salvation. I therefore asked her why she was in prison, which she answered by saying, “I got caught.” Such is Ms. Duff’s way. She takes a minimalist approach to speech. Even when she seemed “talkative,” if it can be called that, she was short and strict with language. Everything about her is restricted, only her smoking is excessive.
“Why do you smoke so much?” I asked during the same visit.
“I’m shortening my sentence,” was her reply.
“Are you afraid of dying?”
“Surely you must be since you’re on death row.”
“There is no difference between death and life. They’re the same.”
“Who told you that?”
“You’re naive and stupid. No use explaining.”
At this point I seized my opportunity and said, “do you have something more pressing to occupy your time with? We have to meet and we have to talk, so we might as well talk about your interests, i.e. your life, your beliefs, your crimes.”
“I.E.? Who the fuck talks like that?”
To think that she of all people would insult the way I talk. My indignation must have been apparent for she then added, “my apologies. I didn’t realize that profanity was an offence to the very delicacy of your nature. What do you want to know, priest?”
The account she gave me I will not recount here in full since most of it was incoherent, but here are the main points of interest.
Her “story began” during her college years. This branding of her life events as a story, made me uneasy, as if the facts she would soon reveal were a mere synopsis of her favorite book. In fact, it seemed to me that she was living a life she thought was befitting a story. As if all she did stemmed from a desire to live a narratable life that others would remember her for.
In college she was “introduced to Sergei Nechaev,” her words not mine, a nineteenth century Russian nihilist who wrote Catechism of a Revolutionist, wherein he outlined what a proper revolutionary needed to do in order to “ensure the quickest and surest way of destroying the entire filthy human race.” Duff said she dug deep into the teachings of Nechaev, Mikhail Bakunin, Ivan Turgenev, and Friedrich Nietzsche; she was unable to shake free these ideas that had consumed her being. She wrapped herself in them like those chains; a prisoner to her ideologies.
These teachings made her realize that life and all the things in it (i.e. love, truth, beauty, meaning, etc.) “were illusions of diluted minds that required illumination,” a task which she undertook. She spread her ideology, and astounding as it may be, she found followers whose minds she poisoned with the countless, manifold, hideous demons, that are her beliefs. Thus her revolution against all life began.
The first act of a revolutionary, according to Duff, was to sever the ties that bound them to family and friends, for none of her minions “should be swayed by connections to the outside world. A true nihilist must hate everything.”
That a person could separate themselves so fully from the world seemed strange to me, and so I asked how one would go about disconnecting themselves from their loved ones. Her answer was simple, “kill them.”
The murder of Duff’s family was one of the many points the prosecution used against her during the trial. Over the course of our visits she disclosed the facts of the events that led up to her incarceration. I do not wish to dwell on this information long, so here it is in brief:
Duff and her minions began their revolution by living among and studying people. Lists were then compiled that divided each “specimen” into categories. The first category was comprised of those who were a threat and must be killed immediately; the second, of people in high positions who would be forced to help them financially in order to achieve their goal; the third, those who with guidance could become revolutionaries themselves; and finally the fourth category was made up of individuals who must be subjected to torture first and then killed, their deaths and suffering would then be made public, causing people to panic, which would lead to revolts and chaos, thereby achieving the ultimate goal – anarchy.
It was after they kidnapped a government official that the authorities found and arrested her and a few others. The judge offered to reduce the sentences of the other revolutionaries if they revealed the whereabouts of their “comrades,” but Duff had taught them well.
She told me I was ideally suited for the fourth category.
A little troll has entered my life. Elijah Clark. Euphonious sounds run amuck in that name. I hate, loath, detest that name. He is a living ruin, a remain of a murdered ideology.
Timid – shy – radical large bullet blue eyes riddled with curiosity, they’re about to burst out of his sockets – they’re rebelling against his face.
His deathly pallor face with the question WHY engraved all over it.
A walking neon albino question mark with a holy book.
Shimmering, Shining, Enlightening.
Pretends he is obligated to hear my story, but he wants it. He learns what his life has failed to teach him.
A partially amusing distraction from the low level glass biters in this menagerie.
Tweet, tweet, tweet goes the bird at my window. That incestuous vermin will never just shhhhhhhhh.
It sounds blue – a blue jay?
Perhaps a distant relative of Father Elijah Clark. Pastor Elijah Clark.
Elijah – mother fucking, scum sucking, son of a whore bitch – Clark.
What his birth certificate should say, what his death certificate will say.
That bird is a nuisance. Dispose the u-i-a-n-c, add a double o and you get noose.
How I wish I had a noose
To choke my silly goose.
I crave pâté and caviar.
May 16, 2005
My family has always been religious. We attended church regularly, said grace before every meal, and observed all of God’s laws. As a child I viewed such practices as necessary; my parents did it, which meant I had to also. My older brother Joshua, however, was different. For him faith wasn’t merely inherited, it was the reason for living. Others struggle their entire life trying to answer the ultimate question (what is the meaning of life?), but he always knew the answer. “We must live to obtain salvation.”
Everyone loved Joshua, me most of all. My parents, especially my mother, would always tell me to be more like him, to be less shy, more outgoing, more friendly, more devoted, but he insisted that I was just fine. The fights, pranks, and jealousy that seem commonplace among most brothers was absent in our case. He was my idol.
When Joshua was fourteen he was diagnosed with leukemia. We tried chemotherapy and radiation, but he needed a bone marrow transplant. In most cases siblings are the best candidates but my test results were negative. I took the test two more times, the results were the same. My parents tried everything else and took him to the best doctors, but Joshua wasn’t interested, he accepted his fate without resistance, something I could not do. I was angry but Joshua begged me to accept as he had.
He said that I should not be upset or pity him for he was going to be reunited with his Lord. He told me that I should not be angry with God because “faith in God is the only refuge for humans in all the trials and tribulations of life, and in the hope of external joy promised to the righteous.” He died two days later. I was twelve.
I couldn’t save him. Joshua’s death changed everything. Time itself came to a halt; every second felt like a life age. For weeks I wallowed in my four wall bedroom refusing to come out.
My parents never tried to get me out. My father spent all his time consoling my mother who was silent for seventeen weeks. When she finally spoke it was to me.
Losing Joshua changed me, I tried to be more like him and began living a more righteous life. But the grief and pain his death caused was never fully relieved and I know I will carry my burden till the day I’m laid to rest. So how can someone possibly kill family, that which is most sacred in this world, and feel no remorse?
“What was your childhood like?” I asked her today.
“Were you mistreated by your parents?”
“Why, because I slit her throat and drummed a hammer on his head?”
“Well, yes. Why would you kill someone unless you had reason to?”
“Because I could. Reason had nothing to do with it.”
I once read in a textbook about garbology, a sociological science, wherein human habits are assessed by studying what people throw away. Victoria Duff throws away people.
“Didn’t they love you? Didn’t you love them?”
“Like a clock, when I tick, I tock away, Blue Jay.”
She has been calling me that for some time now. When I asked why she said I was tweeting and flapping into a cage rather than out.
June 1, 2005
Today the steps of our dance were altered. This whole time I have been asking Duff questions in hopes that I might come to understand and then help her, but today she decided to play musical chairs.
“What will you miss when you die?” A question I had been pondering for some time now.
“I tire of your questions. My turn,” was her response. All this time she asked me nothing.
It was an unwelcome change.
“What’s your happiest childhood memory and what’s your saddest?
“What is this, role reversal?”
“No, it’s shut up and answer the fucking question.”
One moment she is subdued, almost normal (whatever that means), the next she’s ready to attack. When in attack mode it’s best to comply. “I guess it would have to be when my brother took me fishing for the first time. We didn’t catch anything the whole day, but it didn’t matter, it was great just being together among God’s creations, being surrounded by all his wonders.”
“That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m on death row and that’s what you tell me?”
“So you don’t want to know my saddest memory?”
“What, the first time you broke a nail, Nancy boy?”
“No, when my brother died of cancer.” She didn’t say anything so I continued. “For months we searched for a bone marrow donor, but we couldn’t find one. I took the tests but it didn’t do much good.” There was no change in her expression, in her manner; she just continued smoking her cigarettes.
“What? Are you waiting for a reaction? For sympathy?” No, for human emotion. “Poor little Blue Jay, lost his little bitch. I don’t give a shit about your worthless brother. No one does, they’ll just pretend to. The world is veiled in appearances, in performances. Don’t go looking for sympathy, it doesn’t exist. We are all grains of sand on a vast beach, the loss of one life is equivalent to the loss of one grain.”
At that moment I wanted nothing more than to walk out. How dare she insult Joshua like that? Yet in spite of my desires I couldn’t leave. I’m bound to Victoria Duff until my job is done. I am responsible for her.
“Next question. Who do you hate?”
There was no point in refusing to answer, so I just answered truthfully, “I hate no one,” which then prompted her to ask if I hated her. I don’t, I pity her ignorance. “To hate someone means you wish them harm, but I wish no one harm.”
“Two men go fishing and catch a golden fish. The fish says that if they release him he will grant each of them a wish. The first man wishes for riches and when he gets it he becomes the happiest man in the world. The second man sees this, becomes jealous, and wishes for the first man to be poor again.” How she comes up with these things, I’ll never know.
“If the second man was jealous, why didn’t he just wish for riches too?”
“An outsider is gladdened by their neighbor’s misfortune.” Only a truly disturbed individual could think like this.
“Do you really believe that?”
“Aren’t you happy that I’m in here, sinner that I am?”
“We are all sinners. We all sin against each other and are guilty for each other’s sins. We are all responsible for each other.”
“You know, with all the bullshit you keep pulling out of your ass, you could really have a bright future in the fertilization industry. You can call your company Bird’s Droppings and your slogan can be ‘an ounce of morality is worth a pound of manure.’ ”And that’s when I heard the most unnatural sound ever, a laugh where none was expected. A braying sound amplified by the cell walls. Like the sound of rustling dumpsters on garbage day.
“Is that why you became a pastor, because you feel responsible? Is that why you’re here?”
“As a pastor it’s my responsibility to help those in need.”
“The world is full of people in need, yet like a yo-yo you keep coming back to me. Do you like what you hear?”
“What I hear? Tales of your disturbed past, your malice, your cruelty, are hardly welcoming.”
“So then you’re here for the view. Are you weak for my physique, Blue Jay? Warm for my form, eh?”
“Excuse me?” The thought that I could ever harbor such feelings for Duff is utterly preposterous.
“I know most priests consider altar boys a delicacy, but your tastes are more refined. My chains are your bane.”
My patience had run out. “That’s enough!”
“You’re quite sexy when you pout. Is there a yearly priest calendar? You’d be premium for the month of July. What joy such a calendar would bring to the mentally and terminally ill.”
I’ve frightened the little birdie.
I give him a shiver, the sight of me makes his liver quiver. What else quivers I wonder?
His language. His manners. His words. He should have been born an English old maid – Dame Elijah Clark.
He would have been a premium specimen for the fourth category. Naïve – Check. Weak – Check. Dumb Fuck – Check. Bleeder – Most likely.
Why didn’t we use a priest? A far superior candidate to children – it would have led to more outrage. Headlines would read: “A Tortured Man of God.” A double meaning in that.
Feathering that fettered hen would have thrilled the men. Would be more entertaining than when we castrated the boy scouts. Children break too easily.
Good morning Ms. Duff – how are you Ms. Duff – goodbye Ms. Duff. My first name must scare him.
Bing-Bing next door is in competition with the blue jay – rending my patience with her dismal screeches, howls, bangs, and gasps for air. Is she dying or turning into a barnyard animal?
She confessed all her “sins” to her priest today – a real priest, image that.
She’ll have her very own last supper tomorrow.
She best get used to gasping for air.
My plans are in order – everything is ready.
I await that glorious day.
It’ll make Elijah Clark tremble in his little cassock.
Elijah Clark. Alterations. Equals. KILL.
I can’t torture his body, but will torture his mind. Then again the body is also tortured.
Question: Why did he become a man of God?
A – he truly believes in the big guy. B – he wants to help others. C – penitence, he’s trying to ensure his place in heaven with the bro.
He’ll find out soon enough.
The brother. Responsibility. Guilt.
God bless the Holy Fool,
Within himself an epic dual.
The demon doubt will enter his soul,
He falls down, down, a massive hole.
Salvation is what he wants,
Yet doing God’s goodwill is what he flaunts.
Revelation awaits my Blue Jay,
It will come when I fade away.
June 15, 2005
When I sleep I rarely dream. The few dreams I have had over the years have in some way served as a sign, a warning, a reflection of my present state of mind, showed me something I desired, or showed me what I feared. Such was the dream I had last night.
I dreamt that I was running through a blizzard, running in circles. The wind ragged, wailed, and scurried, the night was strange, it was turbid, and so was my dream. I had no strength left, I couldn’t circle any longer. Then finally I found my way out of the blizzard and was standing in front of a large columned pearly white gate. I felt light, as if the oppressive weight bearing down on me had vanished. I felt a kind of joy that knows no label or description, and that’s when I saw Joshua standing within the boundaries of the gate. I called to him, asked him to come to me, but he remained still. A somber smile lingered on his face. I yelled, cried, tried everything, but he wouldn’t let me in. And then the gate, Joshua, everything was gone and I began to fall deeper and deeper into darkness until I woke up.
I couldn’t go back to sleep afterward. I was reminded of that big earthquake, the one that happened eleven years ago, when our house began to rattle, twitch and shake as if it was possessed by a swarm of evil spirits.
Earlier yesterday I went to my parent’s house. Mother was alone again. It’s easier for Father to deal with her when he’s not there. He stopped trying to console her years ago. I tried to talk about my work but she wasn’t interested.
“Joshua would be a wonderful pastor. Goodness, purity, and strength, he has it all.” She never refers to him in the past tense, to her he’s still present.
She talks to me now, unlike before, but still she says nothing. She still hasn’t forgiven me.
“It should have been you, not my good boy. You’ve cheated us. Blast and damn you,” were the words she spoke to me then, the words that broke her silence.
I was supposed to be the bone marrow match. The burden is mine to bear.
I saw Duff today. She seems happy to see me of late. Happy is not the right word, it’s more like she looks forward to giving me a hard time.
I am starting to feel that we’ve fallen off course and lost sight of the agenda at hand. I’ve tried on several occasions to bring up religion, God, Christ, salvation, the final judgment, but every time that I do Duff finds a way to change the subject, ignores me all together, or recites spontaneous poetry that she makes up on the spot. I’ve heard all kinds of ridiculous schizophrenic rubbish from her, everything from poems about her victims (“I told her that her blood would drip, drip, drip,/ That her head into acid I’d dip, dip, dip,/ So she’d better not give me any lip.”), her mother (“You gave me life, dear sweet mother,/ You gave me milk, and me you did smother,/ And how your head fell off, oh brother.), to poems about me (“Little Blue Jay
said you frighten me,/ Little Blue Jay said let me be,/ Little Blue Jay, I said, I’ll snap you free.”). She’s a Satanic Dr. Seuss.
Today I tried again. I asked her what she thought would happen to her when she died, and just as I expected she avoided the question.
“Still mourning away are we? Can’t bear the thought of worms having access to me while you still fiddle with your prayer book.”
“Please, answer the question.” She didn’t, not right away. She just sat there, her small smirk slowly turning into a smile.
“Nothing will happen,” she finally answered. “There is no heaven, there is no hell, just freedom.” She didn’t stop staring. There was no movement whatsoever.
“And does this doctrine apply to everyone or just revolutionaries?”
“There will be entire freedom when it makes no difference whether one lives or dies. No fear of pain, no fear of death. Nothing.”
“And what about me? What do you think is going to happen to me?”
“What do you think?”
And so I told her, explained to her, that the purpose of life is to receive salvation and in order to do so one must accept Jesus Christ into their heart and soul as their lord and savior, must live in accordance with his teachings and do his will, and then they will be saved and go to heaven.
And that’s when she pounced. She jumped up from her chair, grabbed my shoulders, pulled me within inches of her face and said, “and what if you do all that and you still don’t get a pass to heaven? Wouldn’t that be a fucking kick in the head.”
June 22, 2005
I should have foreseen what came to pass today, but I chose not to. I thought I could change Duff, help her – I now see that all was in vain.
I arrived today at prison as usual, but instead of taking me to my little room I was taken to Warden Harvey’s office. He told me plainly that my services were no longer needed or required, that Victoria Duff was dead – she fashioned her bed sheets into a noose and hung herself.
She left a note addressed to me and next to it a decapitated blue jay.
They took me to see the body. It was draped from the ceiling like the chains she use to drape around her neck. Her contorted, swollen face seemed to be smiling – a smile of eternal satisfaction.
I haven’t slept in three days. I shall never sleep as I once did.
I’ll never be able to forget that scene, our conversations, her demonic voice, her note. Her face is always before me, vividly emblazoned in my mind.
There’s no denying why I became a pastor, why I went in the first place. No denying what my dream meant.
Victoria Duff has penetrated me. She has stained my everlasting soul.
I am ready for death.
I have started my revolution which my ever expanding legions of followers will continue. Emptying the world of humans and their ridiculous notions of meaning – purpose – truth – value – love – God.
You have failed. You could not save me. You could not save your brother. Forevermore you’ll be consumed with guilt.
Welcome to the fourth category.
The Answer – you desire heaven. Access denied.
Nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted.
There will be entire freedom when it makes no difference whether one lives or dies. No fear of
pain, no fear of death. Nothing.
I am free. I fear nothing, I will miss nothing, it is all nothing.
Remember my words little Blue Jay, you’ll see for yourself soon enough.