Conversations With a Demoniac by J S Khan. Fiction. First published // Thieves' Jargon // Issue 196 // Winter 2009


“How much wisdom one acquires depends on how deeply one has suffered.”
—St. Francis of Assisi

Standing here on an underground platform waiting for the subway listening to the heartbeats of hundreds of people surrounding me smelling the burnt piss smell of the station a little sweaty a little metallic not so bad not so great smells like home

People stand tapping feet all around me hearts thumping like rabbits in cages all of bone arms in protective crosses over chests faces smirking smiling frowning drowning in boredom yes here many nations many tongues represented in the belly of this beast this city


Trains screech through tunnels a banshee whine like these voices my electric jaw clawing upward my throat gabbling all at once trains of thoughts like feverish worms segments intestines or screaming veins jolted with fire hundreds of tongues like living books a seat of demons yes a monstrous farce no force no wait

Hundreds of people await the proper trains get on get off speak in coagulated clots on cellular phones faces aglow worms in an apple pumped slow through arteries a sea of carnality adrift with countless voices incessant tongues yes A PANDEMONIUM

But do you remember the time yes you the time in the swine in the hordes of pigs screaming bristling dark chins dark shrewd eyes howling right off cliffs toppling every last one into the sea with hooves so hot they struck prints in stone after the man with the cleft beard did cry εξελθε το πνευμα το ακαθαρτον εκ του ανθρωπου

O PEOPLE DO NOT STARE look down give them the shaggy brow pinch arm NO PINCH HARDER shutup YOU ARE TALKING OUT LOUD put hand over chest now breathe please breathe

I used to not be like this

The name of this city once known now forgotten though I too once like these rest got on got off trains rushed tunnels streets bridges came out in a light too bright and scissor wind cut us to pieces as herds of pigs plummet off cliffs and you scurry to your job your office your work and home again a circulatory system overflowing everspilling a cacophony an agony yes A CONTROLLED DESTRUCTION

Suffice to say a city like any other a once-mighty metropolis a crumbling brick façade secular seeds of this earth a sowing field of indigenous and exotic peoples a corrupted flower of Persia or Rome does it really matter which say New York Paris or Tokyo maybe San Francisco

Sounds good to us

Saint Francis of Assisi whom we tempted taunted tormented often at the Feast of Exaltation remember the gift of five wounds wear your stigmata you tonsured fool with your trembling grapewhite eyes your Kingdom of Heaven upon you at last and you prattling on in praise of your weeping donkey of all things Dì loro che ringrazi l’asino how about that


Sounds of uncleft hooves aclatter terrified squeals furious grunts snorts and cries like fingernails on glass or bats shrill devious chortles nostrils suck air breathe in the urinous sea over cliffs goodbye now goodbye

Pinch arm shutup why act this way no sense of perception left NO TRUE MEMORIES LEFT no an infestation of histories YES MULTIFARIOUS MEMORIES once had a wife a girlfriend a pretty little woman remember her in three whole years of courtship never once heard or smelled her fart amazing really how about that

Sounds good to me but wait no at times a voice cries out YOU ARE ACTING CRAZY STOP IT NOW but no wait not really crazy ma’am because this voice it is my true voice SURPRISE it knows it’s sane it knows its right from wrong yessir could it be my conscience

While up above and here below subways freight legions ferry lost souls without pause hither and thither a soul machine this bottomless pit babbling venous streams building Babylon yes bricks of words hurled aloft on swollen tongues babbling Babel CRY OUT YES NO WAIT

Yes once too like these rest got on got off trains rushed tunnels streets bridges on personal business marriage and kids perhaps too one day then retire and rock away the porch of a thousand sunsets but wait no saw a man shivering in a gutter one night curled in a fetal position one day caught an Evil Eye ayin ha’ra the bla bland yes overlooked and pneuma exhaled from the gutter inspiration of unclean spirits a burnt piss odor enveloping us together knew then I was doomed irrevocably


But no wait hop in front of lady could you be my woman my pretty little woman gnash teeth shout say HOW ARE YOU MADAM no wait why act that way why run away such ghastly manners such a beautiful tan only looking for a pinch of sugar no pinch her arm no pull out your hair no STOP THIS NOW THIS VERY MINUTE

Was that me or was that you Amanjaku or was that you O Asura or Indra was that you Ifrit or Iblis or was it no just run darkness tunnels howling stay hidden doomed yes DO NOT LOOK ME IN THE EYE YE PASSERBY I WARN YE O for the love of God shutup

And conscience no true voice SURPRISE hah hah only its host am I just another tongue inside alien to this flesh just another sneaky little goblin MAY GOD DAMN YOU ALL

… … … [grumbling something] … … … 

For on the eleventh day Azazel with his shaggy legs and swollen goatdick the whole earth corrupted through his seed (hey stop pinching!) and Shemhazi with two hundred Fallen razing Heaven’s Latin Quarter and Rameel commanding the Grigori digging trenches apposite Golden Hordes listening to polyphonic music for morale and Lucifer Himself yes ole Tricky Lucy Himself with his fabled honeypoison in the Seventh Sphere reclining on celestial divans of all things with seraphim of all beings engaged in peace talks still engaged in cosmic sex of all divers methods of incarnation Talleyrand till the end political calculations and craven moods in the flesh of the wolf when it hunts

And Heaven burning all around us

But I do not beg no I shall never starve WE ARE STRONGER THAN EVER though I forget to breathe head and heart hurt sometimes nor do I sing like a blind man keeping time with his cane who with his third eye open once saw these demons fluttering in my hair how strange nor do I play music for spare change like Mexican fine fellow with Aztec features no mal ojo but dignified manner six strings strumming sweet sad voice singing Guantanamera

Heart stop hurting heart stop beating me up heart stop heartbeating stop heartbeat stop hurting stop STOP

For entropy ensues Tricky Lucy postulates with one hoof thrown over the other as he hooks his queen like a knight the impish fellow grinning behind the board But first comes the harmony that lends to chaos its juicy aftertaste

Think maybe drive them out into these other lost souls faces aglow on cellular phones yes if only the man with pigeons hidden up his cleft beard would appear all fall swine tumble down yes trains coming streaming rain yes O come quickly LORD WHAT HAVE YOU TO DO WITH ME or no do not think useless to oppose abandon hope no end in sight yes DOOMED IRREVOCABLY

Or in Russia once stumbling drymouthed in the tundra met a prophet calling himself a doctor reeking of vodka crucified his brother ravished his mother took the Tsaress by force in the arse in the form of a horse SHE LOVED IT stopped dropped his arms looked us straight in a dying girl’s eyes and a flock of pigs with leathery wings aclatter spilled from her impure lips and nostrils released πνευμα

But this city too you people too staring like me like you with voices of your own spittle and unclean spirits of your own animalcules in your bloodstream YES YOUR OWN phones and loved ones headphones favored musicians books and newspapers drowning boredom EXCUSE ME THIS IS CHIEF PATTERSON WITH THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY ASKING YOU OUR RIDERS PLEASE BE OUR EYES AND EARS IN CASE OF ANY SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY ON THE SUBWAY SYSTEM THANK YOU

Yes Babylon too you people too Hydra-tongued many nations babbling in your blood all hopeful monsters yet living books yes strands of twisted code and prophecy yes LEAVE THEM OUT OF THIS GODDAMN YOU run fingernails over face peel skin how about that

Sounds terrible to who oh me yes dear

No wait scratch fingernails take away weapons scrape or sand pumice over papyri leave dustpiles of fingernails for rats slithering fat bellies over rails vermin like me hosting parasites like you only remember your sweet woman’s halfgrin O go home FOR THE LOVE OF JAYSOOS how you loved her dearly wonder does she remember how mad she got whenever you tried to watch her pee hee hee WELL CHERISH THIS MEMORY OF HER AND DIE

Or Tricky Lucy asks with Puckish glee What texture do you like your gravy how about with dumplings or bacon bits floating in pools then pauses lining up suns and moons aiming fastidious with his cue before sinking whole star systems down black holes with a deadly accuracy You see its only natural all planets be sundered like junked fighterjets and machines as Yahweh begat Archimedes what use in keeping batteries as drained as these weary souls of men

No not a musician can play nothing not even castanets nor even clap in time but still these outside noises or inner voices strum me their instrument caress my larynx yes play my tongue like a fiddle

Y antes de morirme quiero echar mis versos del alma Guantanamera guajira Guantanamera

And this subway station too this accursed metropolis too a part of the same system same disease a sea of carnality adrift with countless voices viruses dead ancestors raging in your veins your mothers’ foul voice too and former lovers even passing strangers or is it estranged passions never apart no discernible heart no central station where the aortic arch where the pulmonary veins where the testicularis artery yes nowhere but mindless necropolis still gabbling streams of tongues babbling YES CRY OUT NO WAIT

I used to not be like this

Or even further back in Cairo remember Cairo Asmodeus darkeyed boy big carmine lips ears like an elf O DO I YES INDEED the way he smiled when he saw our shadows heaving along the wall while we buggering Augustine’s son to death below taking our turns nice and slow said GO AHEAD GIVE HIM THE SCREW but slow don’t be shy he screams cause he likes it naturally you know its natural comes naturally normal even these tongues in flesh you know so natural

And when you come out in a light too bright and scissor wind cuts you to pieces the Ultra-Sonic Bird Repeller (U-4 Model, standard design) sends calculated chaos pulses of agony a cacophony a controlled destruction disrupting wings unhinging pinions of sparrows and cardinals both without recourse a blood vibrato in malefic waves the heart itself an anvil smashed upon a monstrous farce no force yes A PANDEMONIUM

And even farther out lost deep in starsuffering cosmos beyond all flesh out there on the celestial foam radar picks up voices singing in the dark matter angelic hosts from the farthest shore broadcasting Princes Powers & Responsibilities Inc. at a pitch faster than light (very ultrarelativistic) engaged in galactic quackery still these tongues everspilling yes gabbling hosannas irrevocable


Y para el cruel que me arranca el corazon que vivo cardo ni ortiga cultivo cultivo la rosa blanca

But remember your pretty little woman your girlfriend or your fiancée O WHO KNOWS NOW could it be she was not real only a trick no an angel perhaps no imagine sweet nymph yes lovely peri yes immortal goddess without bowel movements yes fed herself on ambrosia NO SHUTUP she was real DO NOT LISTEN TO THEIR NONSENSE

Or the man with the baseball cap wearing a sign around his chest emblazoned with a protective cross carrying fliers featuring the man with the cleft beard and pigeon nests up his armpits remember him shouting saying REPENT SINNER THE END IS NEAR but no furious grab his shoulders scatter his crucifixes cry out SUFFERING YOU FOOL NOT SINNING just the cross-fertilization of ideas or competing eidos yes Plato’s folly or Socrates daemon does it really matter which too many voices inside a noxious brew a breeding ground of monstrous forces no farces O CAN YOU NOT SEE I SUFFER

Heart stop hurting heart stop beating me up heart stop heatbeating stop heartbeat stop hurting stop STOP

Nil nisi Cruce yes Nil sine numine no Nisi Dominus Frustra yes redemptio sine Diablo yes no wait

BUT NO MORE WAITING the man with the cleft beard never appears nor the pigeons fluttering from his throat without recourse but no remorse for I the swine though foul spirits themselves shall never die still I released yes alas NO MORE WAITING trains coming quickly howling the worms intestines yes the bats shrilling aclatter yes the cacophony CAN YOU NOT HEAR THEM ROAR CAN YOU NOT

Pardon me dear sir scusi signorina just run leap in darkness breathe in air a little sweaty a little metallic a burnt piss odor the final taste so delicious now dive over cliffs goodbye now goodbye steam from rain spills off train’s sides yes pneuma rising but down among the vermin below the mist am I yes I the scapegoat on Yom Kippur released come quickly Lord O come quickly HEAVEN IS BURNING ALL AROUND US


[Screams of passerby as the subway conductor pleads over the loudspeaker for all to back away from the car]

Or Tricky Lucy on the barge steaming around Purgatory toward Paradise to discuss union contracts with the Boss playing poker with roughshod gamblers from the north cutting cards with extra Aces behind his horns says to his fellow sailors all suffering turbulence of the heart As the machinery grows older and collapses from weak infrastructure there is more work than ever/ My smithies are running at 118% capacity with no blasted end in sight/ Personally I blame management/ The Boss is the very devil himself or I’m a bloody bastard/ Why else obscure the Holy Name in useless Tetragrammaton/ Only mark my words friends there are no two ends about it

But these incessant voices neverending these countless tongues irrevocable shrieking now inside you YES YOU POSSESS NO PARACLETE hah hah surprise you now the carrier of our voices FOR NO MUTE WITNESSES SHALL SURVIVE flesh gone dark matter still babbling on everspilling animalcules in your bloodstream Babylon in your brainwaves yes YOU WHO HEAR US STILL for long ago already with our pox you were infected


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