03 April 2016

The one about the string

I first encountered the Infernal String on Milam Street downtown.

It was clinging to the back of a sharp and slender woman – a lawyer, I suppose – as she clicked down the street, talking of important matters on her telephone.

Her suit was dark. The Infernal String was short but white.

It was no more than a thread, really, but it screamed out to me. It screamed out to the world. Why did no one else notice? Or, if others did notice, why did no one say anything?

This is how civilization breaks down.

I was only a stranger to her, walking behind on the way to my own meeting. If I had an Infernal String upon my back, I would want someone to tell me.

She was still on the telephone. The conversation looked and sounded intense.

I matched my steps to hers. I reached out – carefully, so carefully! – to try and pluck the offending Infernal String from her smart striped jacket.

I missed.

My obsession with the Infernal String had grown so intense that at last I turned away from her, onto Texas Avenue. I wandered like Majnun, going directions I did not need to go. O, to be away from Her and It!

I would walk away and in time, the memory of the Infernal String would fade. That was my reasoning and it was fine reasoning, I believed. I still believe it could have been good, in different circumstances.

But only two blocks away, what did I see? Coming towards me now and still on her phone? No. Yes.

It was clear: The Infernal String would never let me be. I know it is out there, clinging to the sharp, slender woman still. It has always been out there, screaming to me, waiting to haunt me. It always will be.

Why couldn’t I just have tapped that sharp, slender woman’s shoulder and said, “Excuse me, Miss?”


(with apologies to every 19th century writer who ever wrote a horror story…)

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