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BLACK BOX by Robert Cole


After a long silence heavily laden with smoke, he continued at a heart-stammering rate, his asthma tripping him. Abolfazl Makmalbaf lullabying over his architectural blueprints fished in his Armani pockets for the key. Seismic photons fusing across his Raybans from the black box. The steady fragrance of kiff obscured this sleight-of-hand, he pulled out worrybeads like a deft pickpocket. You say she is virgo intacta. Of course. Not stitched like a camelskin bag. You had certain obligations to fulfil. The walls will be hung with kilim. Naturally. My luminaries said you were the best in the business Mr Da Silva. They must have been off their faces. The hi-tech equipment restricts the imagination among other things. These irons crush the radial nerve. Your black box may have its uses.

I feel an enormous injustice has been perpetrated against you Mr Da Silva. The ptomaine poisoning was by the way. I'm no hard-line despot. The nightclub assignation was a mistake. Counter espionage is adventitious only to those who pick up the tab. Lucrative for the traders. I'd like a tree of life, a dowry carpet. You have a marriageable daughter don't you Mr Da Silva? Oh, in crimson and royal blue, no acidgreen. Makes you bilious doesn't it Mr Da Silva.
A thousandth of a microtonal wavelength disturbs the bowels; these kilocycles play havoc with the ganglion. But I don't have to tell you how you own baby works, do I. The human body like a split watermelon. Open to temptation. Sprinkled with cinnamon, cauterised with red-hot needles. Crude devices compared with this little shocker. His fingers strayed tantalisingly over the black box. Irritating isn't it Mr Da Silva. Knowing the patent is yours and, you the first recipient of its treatment. You told me the girls had no reputations. They weren't on the usual sex-shuttle. Azadi Merjui tut-tutted behind Da Silva.
No twinges of self-reproach? I'm very discriminating in whom I use, consequently I have more than civilised commerce. But you Da Silva, you chose to flout my trust. You chose to forgo the devotion I had nurtured in you. Those mangled bodies could have been you and me. If I had opted to visit a down market whorehouse in Jerusalem it might have been expected. No lime green for the tassels. Mr Da Silva my patience is endless for my fellow beings. You however have ceased to be. I have taken all of your preferences into consideration and given them a little spin. Your death will not be unrelated from your life. Certain parallels will be only too obvious.

Your eyes will be popped like sugared amphetamines. Let's not gild the lily. Your arms will be held by the hardware. But it's the software that is the business, isn't it Mr Da Silva. And you should know all the potentials of that. Your baleful submissions are somewhat uncalled for. I always respected your penetration. But your predilection to wander has become wearisome. That little camouflage you affected did not work. The anti-aircraft parts were welcome, but was it worth the political backlash. You abused your family, Mr Da Silva. You allowed your own daughter to perjure herself. Brace yourself Mr Da Silva. The girl you supplied was Jacqueline, you own daughter. Yes she was virgo intacta. Here is the video. I will playback her deflowering in slow motion while the device is attached. Everybody deserves a pleasant death. We are somewhat conservative in our choices. Yes she was manhandled. The descendants of slaves have a saying, but it wouldn't apply to you, a patrician, would it. She was very beautiful. The climax hasn't come. That rasping cough could be quite unhealthy. I chose the marble bathhouse for its aesthetic possibilities. Those hardriding boys begged to be excused. You are bound to feel nauseous Mr Da Silva. Take no notice of the jack-knifing. I suspended them, a trick I learn from the piscine geometry of Anaximander. I will not further elaborate. The rest is self-evident. This mainframe device will cut down on blunders. Your mouth a mere cicatrise. I find the kicking of feet crude, don't you Mr Da Silva. He seems to have flatlined on us. Wake him. I want to program for him the longest death possible. Now where were we Mr Da Silva? It was when you jumbo-jetted your way home to Lahore. You had many opportunities. The x-raying didn't show. Your body and your bags were clean. So how come you managed to pass yourself as a desert tourist? You were scheduled to arrive at my palace, such an interminable delay.

I thought the tigerlilies a good touch, don't you Mr Da Silva? We almost lost you a moment ago. However you tilt your face away the vision of your daughter's savage death comes on again and again. You search for your tongue, a phenomenon common to war-amputees. The electrodes can be applied to the power of a cattle prod and still not numb the reaction, I believe that was your pitch. The sensation of underpinning the prostate, the disorientation associated with a bad trip, these were selling points, Mr Da Silva, the supersentisitizing of the nerves as if you had been flayed. Vis-avis I had to invest in this. The black box creating vibrations of innumerable atoms, causing epileptic spasm, the inhibiting of beta blockers. Resign yourself to a designer-death Mr Da Silva that you made possible. This software torture-chamber will have democratic uses. The insensitivity of those users to the pain of the subjected. We owners of your most effective equipment cannot expose ourselves to any psychological or physical danger. Your refusal to destroy all blueprints of this and the new vehicle left me with no other option. Your good behaviour advertised in advance. So I purchased from you. The fact that none of our dealings is recorded anywhere is a mercy.

The treason against your own country is a small matter. This kind of traffic has to continue. You were merely a player in a vast game. Lunching in that restaurant with my aide was not advisable. I realised that you panicked. But your motivation left much to be desired. I demand unfeigned loyalty. Your death will be a new addition to my museum of oddities. I could have let you go a helpless amnesiac at the stopover, but your insistence to proceed confirmed by belief in your treachery.

Your provocative statements to my aide and your defiance to accomplish this abysmal thumbscrew left me with no other option. However stylish, effective and cruel. Come now Mr Da Silva, your faking it, I think. Why the blubbering? Since this is a banquet and you the chief guest and meal, let's proceed without regret, inexorably.

Tell me didn't you test this on any living creature a priori to selling it to me? Oh so the monkey sample proved unforthcoming. Their shaved heads and applied electrodes a thing of the past. You only had to point this in their direction didn't you. It's like health food rammed through a hole where you can only spit and shit. The corners of your mouth have turned down. Isn't this adequate accommodation? Didn't it occur to you that your black box holds out possibilities of correction? Purists would argue that the ultimate punishment must be self-realisation of a crime. Doesn't this smack of poetic justice, Mr Da Silva. You were quite voluble about all its applications on our first meeting.

I think you must have missed something in the trials. Pet monkeys are one thing. A timeless space to feel only pain, another. This is nothing like the charge of when they put cigarettes out on your torso. The severing of your limbs an unnecessary procedure. Oh I forgot about your asthma. Have you ever felt that feeling of discouragement, pointless now, as it is to ask, when a friend throws acid in your face? You might be nearsighted but you can see your daughter clearly being raped and murdered? I only demanded the use of razor and shampoo as an aesthetic gesture. Bewitching isn't it.

Unconsciously holding the evidence in her hand the while. The key to the footlocker. Your stash. I hope this doesn't disturb you. Your mistress can't realise on your felony. Your fraudulence is such to invite only disgust.

The cigar clippings merged with the pubic hairs are evidence in the Black Museum. If we hadn't bounced your molecules then Scotland Yard would have. Still could. It depends if your infringement of my contract with you pended allegations of arms smuggling. Who's advantage were those psychoactive drugs you slipped on my aide. The fact that he now has the retention of a squirrel's skull is nothing to do with why you are here Mr Da Silva. When the rogue cell starts to multiply the worst of deaths pales into insignificance. If you mere jerked on a hook and contemplated your own body from the coign of a severed head you could not conceive of a more grisly death, Mr Da Silva. However extraordinarily entertaining that may be as a concept your reality doesn't bear thinking about does it. I can picture you suffering for as long as my surgeons can maintain the possibility. You cut a pitiful figure.

Zipped in a correction-suit, thrown in a centrifuge, jucuzzied at boiling point, you couldn't feel more pain, or could you? It is bliss to see you trussed so by your own machine. I must commend your admirable style. The snuffing of your daughter will be as nothing to your disassembled parts thrown at you one by one. You can fetch up. You realise you've crossed the frontiers of orthodoxy with this thing of yours. When your oesophagus is used as a snorkel for a shark and your spleen has been occupied by gastropods you'll wish you'd not got tangled up in our affairs. It might be unreasonable to ask, but one little problem has been teasing my mind. Were you estranged from your wife before you contacted MI6 about her involvement in the deal?

Her licence plates are recorded here. She seems to have spent long hours at the Turkish embassy. Two emergencies blurred our immediate discovery of your infraction. Ridiculous as it now seems you were the perfect team-leader. Do try and do something about that slurping sound it grates on my nerves. There there it's as infectious as laughter. A chancre on the eyeball couldn't be more harrowing. She died at this point. The insertion of a phallic device. But you know all about that. I'll play over her condemnation of you and your sexual advances to her as a child. Reads well as an affidavit. The ten-digit number you quoted in your blackmail message will be the calibration of your next spasm. An infinitesimal jolt at first as we hunt for fresh nerve clusters. The scald is nothing. I felt particularly perplexed at your reaction to my offer of friendship, Mr Da Silva.

Your credit card company confirmed your whereabouts on the days in dispute, their tyrannical regulations somewhat cooked your goose. To say every card was stolen by an unknown assailant leaving you with amnesia, unable to trace you comings and goings, seems now like the diseased imaginings of a desperate man. The following morning you were heard to speak your name over and over as if in a fever. How does this figure with amnesia? We have a voiceprint. Would a sane man claim to be the thief of his own cards and belongings? In a Muslim country that would not be advisable.

Your coverstory was a delightful concoction. It's no good pirouetting like a hung goose dripping blood. Nothing has happened yet. If we fix you up with the excesses of a heroin habit and deny you methadone say, or with the most desirable woman in the world and suddenly you discover you're a eunuch, could that be worse than you have afflicted on the world? A moot point, wouldn't you agree? I just want an apology before I schlock you for good. All these morbid possibilities unleashed at a touch of a button. I shall keep you in a suspension of unthinkable pain next to Torquemada's corset in my museum, Mr Da Silva. Think about it, we could become friends, eventually.

copyright: Robert Cole 2001


Robert Cole has published two collections of poems, the latest CAFARD, is published by Community of Poets Press, Hatfield Cottage, Chilham, Kent, CT4 8DP, England, UK.
Price £3.20. ISBN 1-902529-06-5. A5. 44pp.



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