A tall thin man brushed through the backstage curtains and stepped onto the old wooden stage. His eyes looked tired, but he wore a grin along the face. Slowly, he bowed before the buzzing crowd and grabbed a long spear from the floor.
There was no spotlight, but the crowd of men, women, and children sitting of wooden chairs began to turn silent. The frail man then touched the tip of the spear’s steel head with his finger and showed the blood trickling from the tip. He smiled, sucked the blood with his mouth, then used his right hand to grab the spear’s shaft and swiftly throw it into the stage floor. The sharp edge drove through the wood and made a loud thud. The crowd was startled and went silent.
With his hands free, the thirty-something aged performer calmly took off his shirt. Although gradual, it didn’t make the spectators feel any less awkward. People gasped as the man’s frail body was revealed. Once done and wearing only pants and shoes the man dropped his shirt on the stage floor and smiled back at the frightened eyes and mouths across the hall.
He understood their widened pupils. After all, his scars covered his torso and back. Some were small and revealed only a small portion of elevated skin, but some started at the shoulder and ended at the hip. Other scars formed weird drawings, some X shaped, others went zigzag. It was impossible to determine whether all or some of them had the same age. Though unlikely, there were so many scars it was hard to tell. To the audience, the scene was disturbing at least. Either a lot of people wanted that man dead or he enjoyed pain.
As used to it as he seemed to be, the entertainer blushed. His grin widened even more, but his eyes expressed a slight shyness. He cleared his throat and spoke the following words as his hands freely strummed through the air:
Good evening dear audience, ladies, gentlemen, boys, and girls. Tonight, I, the one without a name, will be executing an astounding feat. I’ve wept enough throughout my life to know this by heart, but…as all you should know,
Tears Do Not Heal Scars.
Please pay close attention to this lesson, because during the following days I will perform my greatest act. Many people call it disgusting, some consider it insane, others refer to me as the undead, but I’d rather dub this as the “Healing Act”.
I will not be interrupted during this process, no matter the consequences. Feel free to eat, drink, leave, and come back during the spectacle, but please keep in mind the show must go on. Kids, don’t try this at home, but do watch closely if you want to learn something.
With that said, the entertainer (if one could be called that way), picked up the sharp spear and placed its base vertically in a tight gap between two slightly old wooden planks from the stage. Once having tested if the spear would not move accidentally, the man started tilting its tip towards his chest. Viewers did not understand the scene. Some frowned, others leaned forward, and a few leapt from their seats when blood started dripping.
Slowly, the head blades crept toward the heart. Blood curled along the spear as it hit the skin. The flesh cried as muscles and bones were violated. Red tears poured across the floor and slid through the maze of scars. All of them glittered, but none of them seemed to get any better. The pain was visible, as the man’s face agonized with contorted expressions.
My god! He’s killing himself!
Women started screaming, some men laughed, families left, and a few creeps remained. Among the “so called” creeps, two beings stood out: a young bearded sir who constantly wrote on his notepad, while balancing his chair on two legs and a small boy naively biting his lower lip and observing with large curious eyes. Unlike the remaining spectators that seemed to enjoy the gore, those two actually tried to learn something from the spectacle.
Finally the whole head pierced the man’s body and among the river of blood, only the spear’s shaft could be seen. What was once brown polished wood, now resembled a dark wine-like taint. Somehow the man still breathed and he held the shaft with both hands, constantly pulling the spear inward and playing a morbid tug-o-war with death.
The pain was indescribable. The man’s feet trembled and barely managed to support the half-alive body. The man’s eyes began to close and he embraced darkness in his thoughts. Suddenly his hands lost grip of the shaft and began to dangle lifelessly.
The crowd had somehow refreshed. Children weren’t a common sight, but a new batch of men and women sadistically observed the impaled body sluggishly descending on the spear. Many did not notice, but the body came to a halt when the spear’s head hit the skin on the man’s back, from the inside.
After a few minutes still, the tip of the spear head popped at the back accompanied by the sound of tearing flesh. The long forgotten pain woke up what seemed like a day-old body. The man’s eyes opened and his mouth widened as if desperate for air. His neck stretched as far as it could and his right lung, which was still intact, begged for air. An almost silent inspiration followed by an excruciating scream.
The dry blood on the floor boards meant to many in the crowd that the entertainer was long dead. That resurrection meant, nevertheless, that he never died and it startled those men, except for the young boy and the writer. Their eyes never faltered and their attentiveness as well. They paid close attention, unlike many who saw the performance as a mere act of entertainment.
The man’s hands no longer dangled, but rather firmly held the spear’s shaft. He maintained the torturous process, pulling the spear inward and feeling it exit behind his torso. His breathing was heavy and constant, as if it took years of discipline to execute inhale and exhale steadily in those circumstances. Sweat mixed with dry blood dripped from his forehead. What seemed like an impossible task, also lifted many burdens, as the man’s faint smile could not be hidden.
After the entirety of the spear head had already traversed through the man’s body, he felt relieved. No longer would those blades need to rip his flesh anymore. Only the shaft remained, but the wooden cylinder occupied less room than the triangular shaped blade. Since the spear was firmly held in place by the stage floorboards, the man no longer needed to force the weapon inward. The man let go his hands and simply started slouching towards the floor. His movement was slow and resembled that of a near-death vampire with human-sized steak driven through one’s body. The steps were taken one at a time, but eventually no effort needed to be made any longer.
The man simply stopped moving and leaned forward, his body slid on the remainder of the spear’s shaft and the man’s face hit the floor. The loud smack of flesh and bones kept the audience on their feet, but after a while of apparent death, once again, they lost their interest in the presentation. Like sheep being herded, almost all of them left. A few booed and waited a bit longer, but eventually only two spectators remained, watching as the spear-driven corpse laid on the stage floor.
The sunlight made its way through the boarded windows in the auditorium. The rays hit the corpse’s pale eyes and brought back life to the flesh that almost became one with the floorboards. A few feet away stood the note taker and curious eyes, always watchful and attentive to any event.
The man breathed heavily, making out the most of the only intact lung he had left. Not even bothering to stand up, he slowly lifted his arms and grabbed the spear shaft that stuck out from his back. With what little strength he had left, the man wiggled in order to loosen the spear from the floorboards. He kept shaking it, side to side, hoping to detach it from the stage floor, but nothing happened. He kept trying and both the boy and the writer approached. The performer never stopped trying, but his eyes focused on both spectators. No subtitle was needed; both of them stepped back and silently watched.
After wiggling the spear in vain, the man decided to give one precise tug at the shaft. He tried holding firmly, though his hands were sweating, and without hesitating placed all his remaining strength into the movement. The spear detached from the stage floor and seemed to pop out. The man carefully pushed it away, avoiding the contact with any exposed internal organs, and relaxed. Every muscle in his body, even those torn apart, relaxed. Every inch of the man’s body stopped contracting and would have liquefied, if they could. What once were groans now manifested as deep sighs of relief.
After a few minutes of rest, the man got up. He slowly lifted his body and stood facing what remained of the once populous audience. Upon the sight of both a possibly a man in his thirties and a boy under eleven, the man smiled. He stepped toward the stage’s edge and squatted on his weary heels. The hole in the man’s chest made torn heart, lung, bones, and tissue visible, not to mention the pink curtain stage behind him. That scene frightened the man’s lonely witnesses, but luring them wasn’t hard. He placed his hand inside his pocket and from it retrieved two glittering white pearls. The small polished spheres shone in those red hands of dry blood.
For pigs do not deserve pearls, but you two are different. Here is my token of appreciation. Might you have any questions?
The young boy hesitantly raised his hand and asked:
What was the hardest part?
The man licked his lips as if preparing to talk. He glanced at the second spectator and noticed the man did not stop taking notes once.
Once wounded, there isn’t much one can do…except confront the pain. Once the spear head has already perforated your flesh, the best thing to do is drive it in and get it out. The problem is it will perforate you again, but once it has gone through your body, the final stings of the flesh cutting edges are the hardest. After that you’ll have to put the matter behind you, but many are not willing to do so. How long does one take to get rid of the pain and the problem? It depends, how far are you willing to pull the spear?
So the worst part was getting the spear out…- the boy concluded.
Indeed. Once the spear head is out, you know the shaft won’t hurt as much because it’s smaller. It’s a matter of putting issues and the pain behind you and preparing for what lies ahead, which inevitably takes time.
What about the scars? Don’t they bring back memories? – Asked the writer while taking down notes on his pad.
They always do. Every scar is a story, a show, a performance. But in time those memories tend to affect less your heart and mind. That is, if you’re willing to advance. Unless the spear has been extracted from one’s body, the scars will never have a chance to form. Though thoughts come to mind, time rewards those with disposition. Some, on the other hand, prefer to remain forever trapped in pain impaled by the spear. They don’t confront the pain and they don’t try to end it as well.
The man slowly stood up and futilely tried cleaning his hands by patting his pants.
I couldn’t ask for better viewers. You’ve been a great audience, the best. Value these lessons. Keep smiling and keep writing.
The teacher’s back revealed new scars that had been formed through the course of those few days. Though both spectators could see the man’s ripped dangling heart, they had no insight on his feelings. Leaving his bloody spear behind, past the stage curtains the frail man slipped, never again to be seen.
If scars bring back memories, so does the spear. Ever since I placed it on my wall I need only one glance to remember the notes I took on that fateful day. No grief or sadness could ever make those moments return. Ever since, I’ve carried a smile on my face because I know tears won’t help. They’re fruitless and they end here.