Horla Fiction (April 2021)

 

CHARLOTTE THE HARLOT

by ELI PHESAN

FATHER Lorenzo De Goya continued to stumble blindly through train car numbered twelve in search for the promised lavatory. The individual rooms persisted with their disparaging numerical pattern and some doors could now be seen harboring ten digit, two line fractional sums. Likewise to the previous carriage, which contained his own, rejected, personal living quarters, the corridor was completely deserted and contained an identical interior design. The priest flew past the closed doors, still seeking remedy for the indigestion caused by that unwelcome, fading aftertaste of his previous phantasmagorical experiences.

De Goya was three rooms away from the end of the carriage when he saw one of the chambers on his left, inviting his gaze by it’s glistening, translucent nature. The doors and partitions of the private cubicle were made of pristine, clear glass and through them, he saw a young lady with jet-black hair, which hung loosely over her expensive, red satin dress. She was somewhere in her late twenties or early thirties and possessed an extremely attractive and fair complexion. Several well-proportioned beauty spots highlighted the silent movie star vibe, which she fitted well into. She sat quietly on the single bed of her living space, gazing out of her window at the passing terrain, lost to a reminiscent daze. She was haunted by a most welcoming and charming smile, which betrayed her melancholy through the water-falling corners of her lips.

Next to her, sat a large, grey donkey, which shared the woman’s abstracted state of mind. The donkey remained dull and silent, but one could almost say, that the animal’s eyes radiated a most human expression.

The priest examined the pair and remained locked in a state of confusion. He felt a surge of mixed and conflicting emotions inside himself, one of which was the sudden urge for hysterical, mock laughter and the other of burning resentment and vile scorn. The fair complexioned lady sensed eyes of judgment upon herself and sharply turned towards Lorenzo De Goya. Her face wore a frozen expression of defensive aggression, yet the more she studied the priest, the more she became convinced that he posed little threat to her.

De Goya for his part, in all accounts concerning him, which were later related behind his back, retained the uniquely envious character trait of possessing an affable air of charisma. It was as if nature was trying to restore balance by compensating a hidden, decaying psyche, for a kind sustenance.

God sees all.

The beauty marked madam smiled at the priest and gestured with her marble hand towards him, politely inviting his being into her room; eight hundred and seven. De Goya humbly bowed his head in acknowledgment of the invitation and slid open the glass door with an air of supremely choreographed movement and dexterity.

The donkey turned its attention towards the new arrival and released a muffled whine.

“Hello traveller, please make yourself comfortable, it is a most gracious occurrence to meet a curious and polite gentleman in the midst of these most challenging times,” sang the dark-haired damsel in a voice sweeter than acacia honey.

Lorenzo De Goya remained silent, sousing out and weighing up the atmosphere of the room in his heart. He saw various open letters scattered over a crystalline glass table in front of the lady. He continually bowed in respect towards the dame, who spoke in such well-mannered tones.

“Please sit.” Chirped the avian.

The Father lowered his soaked carcass onto a bed opposite the lady and tried desperately and most carefully to avoid eye contact with the donkey.

“My name is Charlotte, traveller, and this is my husband William.” The young lady reached out her hand towards him. A soft, pale, radiant hand, which smelled of roses. The priest shook it gently and with the uttermost care. After a fractured second, De Goya recoiled slightly as he saw an extended black hoof creep into his peripheral vision. The donkey gazed at De Goya with an expression of surprised importance and annoyed impatience. The Father felt gnawing hate towards this beast fill his lungs and throat, but all the same, he briefly, reluctantly and very curtly, without a smile or eye contact, shook the cold hoof of Charlotte’s husband.

“Pray tell young sir, of your journey and history so far. Such is the elegant manner by which you carry yourself that it immediately births endless curiosities as to your nature,” extrapolated Charlotte, with sparkling inquisitiveness in her eyes.

Lorenzo De Goya wiped the beads of remembering from his forehead and began to speak in a low, hushed voice:

“My history is painful to recount and I am not able to do so without trembling to my core. Up until recently, I was in the service of God and carried that burdensome title of servitude, with resolute understanding to my given birth name: Lorenzo De Goya. Now I am here, precisely because I turned away from God madam, and no matter how loudly I holler, now as before, no one hears. I have reasoned with myself to seek this path to the end and only hope for compassionate redemption.” The priest was struck at the honesty, which poured out of him towards this feminine being, still more surprised was he by the effervescent madam’s reply:

“Dear Lorenzo, take no heed of that treacherous sensation labelled as guilt, God himself does not experience it, since he is too engrossed in fellating himself and his castrated angels.”

“Madam, your disclosure overwhelms me by its inconsiderate nature,” gasped the priest, “man strives for the eternal good and battles with his vices in accordance with the moral voice of God, bestowed upon him: his conscience.” De Goya grew irritable and passionate yet was dismissed crudely by dame Charlotte.

“Man is a tool by which women impose and carry out their will into the world, young sir, and it would be most wise for you to allow this prophetic fact to diffuse into the very core of your being, before you set upon any pathetic searches of dignity which man is so liable to fall into. Heed this advice, otherwise you may find your questions wholly unanswered due to their ignorant genesis.” Madam Charlotte sat in silence, smiling a polite, albeit a now seemingly more sinister smile at the priest.

Charlotte the Harlot.

Oh Gods! How I long to witness all in their nature, impaled in an open plain and washed in their own filth. All the would be Mata Hari’s and Messalina’s of the world. Such disgrace, such shame that man allows such woman to saddle him so insistently. The priest felt a violent sensation ballooning in his chest. It may be true that De Goya was hardly a saint himself, but he was prepared to maintain an open mind and was always willful and optimistic when it came to reproaching himself. Yet he failed to comprehend the blind self-righteousness and overt confidence, such as the kind that stunk its way out of Madam Charlotte’s refined pores and which, solely in her mind, offered her a pedestal from which she could gaze in contempt at the primitive beings around her.

De Goya could hardly stand the beast that stared at him from Madam Charlotte’s side. The beast that deemed itself worthy.

“And by which ego-soaked vice do you allow yourself to reason so confidently madam? Sat as it were, next to hardly The Colossus of Rhodes, but to an ass.” The father sneered with a condescending tone.

Lady Charlotte’s nostrils widened and hellish fire burned fiercely in her eyes.

“A man of the cloth, who can only dream of the ephemeral scent of woman, while he bitterly masturbates in pathetic darkness before an idol which has no fact in reality nor solace for the mind, would do well in keeping his truly foolish and…” Madam Charlotte turned to the donkey while searching for the appropriate word. The donkey was already smiling in anticipation of her glorious scorn and had definitively reasoned that the upper hand belonged to their possession, “…impotent disdain to

himself, for fear that he may upset himself and flog his being to death in reproach of his vengeful assertions. My husband remains more of man, limp Father, then you could ever pray to be and he prevails so, quite effortlessly,” triumphed Charlotte, offering herself a round of applause.

“I am subjected, like many men before me, to lose myself in the impenetrable fog of deceit, while searching for that most dark of continents, which calls itself female sexuality,” continued De Goya, “but it is through these childish insults that the one who Christens herself ‘madam’, reveals to all her true nature. Even if a Jack goes to Mecca, he is still an embryonic Equus. Tell me, what fairy tales do you tell yourself when you look into the ignorant eyes of this impure animal? This Hamor. Do you have no self-worth when you lie next to this neutered member of the Equidae family? Women, donkeys and goats all have heads. Your actions present themselves in white light, Madam Charlotte. By your arrogance and vanity you sit here pouring over letters of lovesick gentlemen, who have had the unfortunate luck of loving a heinous abomination. Men have become your collectables.

“You are unable to reply for fear that your true self-worth will be revealed in close contact with these esteemed emotions. So you choose these cheap trinkets to cover yourself, bury your vain emptiness deep within you and blind the eyes of foolish men with your fleeting, sick, cancerous beauty. With an animal however, you are safe, a donkey appears beautiful to a donkey, it fails to notice your nature, it is crucified for questioning your conduct and in return, the animal feels pride in mingling with a member of the most respected race. But ye are both traitors to yourself and your species and spare me your sentimental objections of love, the defining need for attention belongs to narcissists, the very beings which are unable to love anyone more than themselves.”

The donkey became infuriated at such a hypothesis and released several short and agitated whines. It continued to bray in ignorant confusion and the more it brayed, the more it grew morose, having sensed the definitive line, which highlighted the limitations of its ability to express itself.

“Be silent beast, your ears are for cooling your blood not listening to human reasoning,” preached De Goya, “you believe that your sexual experiences offer you a mysterious veil? That they give you a power and a sense of self-importance? And it’s through your secrets that your soul pledges eternal allegiance to Satan who harbors all darling mysteries within his breast, as if his own, and uses them as collateral.”

“Abstain, you degenerate hypocrite, reveal your arm to me saint and I shall measure your words accordingly.” Spat out madam Charlotte.

“You may try to mold yourself into the scarlet woman but the angel of history knows your reality. You are neither fish nor foul, no kings of the world have laid with you, the earth is indifferent to your fornications and you can only hope to choke in the filth, which you yourself have allowed to thrive like kudzu, within your soul.”

At this point something phenomenal happened to Lorenzo De Goya. He felt a surge of energy within himself and his voice boomed with righteousness. He shed all fear and doubt and forgot completely about his hopeless dilemma. He ached, he burned, he vexed in the arrogance of it all. Immuring all humility and servitude and acting as locum tenens for God himself, in this place, in front of these beings, De Goya felt himself to be redeemable and upon witnessing such arrogant perversions, he felt faith, once more, glide underneath his confidence.

“It is my duty Madam Charlotte, by essential and holy bonds to provide peace to your turbulent psyche and lay you to rest alongside your deformed Prince Hamor, in such a way, you may reach your lord The Devil, much sooner than you expected and I would have severed the possibility of you breeding an abomination, which may spread its degenerate virus and corrupt the world still further.” With this closing sermon, Father Lorenzo De Goya grabbed the dormant letter opener, which lay on the glass table by madam Charlotte’s side and plunged it deeply into her neck. The heritage began to instantaneously gush from Charlotte the Harlot’s wound, covering De Goya and her donkey spouse. The lady gurgled violently, her eyes rolled into the back of her head as her hands desperately clamored for the nugatory and idle love letters which lay scattered before her. Her ichor dripped onto her collarbones and down the valley between her breasts, soaking the voguish satin dress.

The donkey brayed wildly in frenzied fright as Lorenzo De Goya turned his holy administration in its direction. The ass hopelessly flailed about, expanding and contracting its hind legs. Yet sat as it were, in a human position, it did not possess the complete use of its faculties, which inevitably made it helpless. The priest jabbed the letter opener into the animal’s neck evoking convulsive spasms from the creature’s muscles. The regrettable husbands dry tongue slid out from its mouth and onto its side, as its eyes lost tension in their coordination.

Madam Charlotte was rasping her last breaths as she slid underneath the glass table.

“Mother, I cannot see you anymore…” De Goya heard her faintly hiss in a bitter poverty of reconciliation. The donkeys braying became drawn out and deep as its life oozed out collecting in a pool on the cubicle floor.

Lorenzo De Goya scooped up a handful of blood from the puddle, which accumulated under Madam Charlotte and splashed it over the donkey’s head. In burlesque repetition, he subsequently soaked up the beast’s blood and covered Madam Charlotte’s snuffed person with it. De Goya stood silently, observing his work, framed in between the two corpses.

The light in the room began to slowly fade and with it dissipated the anger from the father’s heart. He revised his actions and was astounded by them. A newly born man of apathy, who chose to serve on one, now succumbed to those very same corrupt ideals, so deeply imbedded within his soul. Was it such a vital matter, being in this place of feverish hallucinations, that he should open his heart and release repressed fury under the guise of sin purging? He was at the crux of malevolence and if he were to seek retribution in each of the many compartments aligning this train, he ran the risk of exhausting himself and perishing before the chance to obtain self-satisfaction. These lurking wolverines would gladly etch upon him, innumerable crowfeet with their talons of time. It does not bode well for man to allow emotions to guide his conduct, foresight is needed to calculate and weigh up which battles are to be fought and with how much fervor.

Not another instant, demanded the priest of himself, not another instant of relinquishing self control. The room grew darker and more obscure. De Goya, having regained his composure, left Madam Charlotte’s room, covered entirely in dried blood.

 

 

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Eli Phesan is a writer based in London. He has made several films, which have been screened at festivals internationally. He has also written several screenplays along with two unpublished novels. He is currently working on his third novel.

Title photo credit –  Jonathan Barreto on Unsplash

Horla standard disclaimer – image is illustrative only and has no direct connection with the fiction