Today a man is dead. It’s my fault.
Good evening class! Today we’re taking an advanced look at denial as a defense mechanism.
Can’t see the forest for the trees. He looked younger than me, perhaps 14, a kid. He had a knife, but what excuse is that? I should have let him kill me. Then he could have. Could have what? Lived a life under its control? He was just a kid. Just a goddamn kid. And I only have the words in my head to prove that he attacked us first.
So, what is denial? It’s the little switch in your head that makes you look the other way away from the things that you know cannot be true. Monsters, murders, rapes, genocides. Tall men without faces. Cuts on your arms that you might have made. It’s turning the other cheek in the worse way—not in forgiveness, but ignorance. The same ignorance that lets corporate crimes run rampant, not looking, not seeing, not wanting to know.
We were out, it was sunny, and we were in the middle of a damn crowd of people. I think it was a market day or something. I’ve been following the rules, all the rules, as best as I can. It’s difficult though; the Runner’s Bible has as many conflicts as the real one. We kept high apart from when we couldn’t, we moved, and we stayed together but away from runners but near people. And we’ve kept out of the bloody forest.
Denial can come in different forms, but simple denial is the denial I think most people have about the situation the world has come to. People simply deny the reality of the fact, but not, as in psychology, mere pathological lying. The brain creates a bandage to paste over the problem, and once “fixed” in this way, all memories of the event are ignored. This is the Tall Man perverting actual psychology once more.
I’m not qualified for this. I don’t know how brains work, anyone who’s seen how I cope with anything can tell that. Can the Gentleman literally block out the world? I killed someone and I don’t even know if I should of. Was it morally right?
We were walking-- no, we were sitting on a low wall around a statue. What was the statue-- something important, or it wouldn't be troubling me so much. And there were people everywhere, I saw cops and schoolkids and artists. Kim wanted to rest, she's not been good at walking much, I think she's injured but she won't tell me or show me. We were sitting down, but I went off because there was a guy selling smoothies and it was so hot. I grabbed us drinks and turned around and I saw the knife before I saw the guy. Kim was pressed against the statue, and the man had already hit her in the shoulder. He was going to kill her. That's no excuse. But I dropped the drinks and ran at him, tackling him to the ground. He still had the knife, and was waving it at me, attempting to somehow hit me. He was weaker than I was.
I punched him, several times. He still had the knife, and I was thinking of Kim. But no matter how many times I hit him, he stayed active and attacking. I wrenched his bloodied knife, a kitchen utensil, from his hands and attempted to stab him in the shoulder. It didn't stop him from grabbing at me. I hated myself for it, but I needed to immobilize him, so I shuffled back to his feet, and swiftly stood, kicking at his kneecap. I heard a crunch, but hit at both his knees again and again, each time hearing that crunch, watching the blood seep into his trouser legs. I glanced around. Nobody was looking at us, or even acknowledging the centre of the square. I scrambled over to Kim, sure the boy wouldn't be able to come after me, I mean Ibroke both his fucking knees. You can't walk with your knees broken. Kim's shoulder wound wasn't deadly, but it was painful for her, so I tried to wrap it up best I could.
I felt the someone's hands scrabbling at my back, and turned to see the boy. He looked drained of blood, and had something trickling out of the side of his mouth. His eyes weren't focused, and his knees were bulging and not pointing in the right directions. His skin seemed bone white. But his nails were sharp and he was scrabbling at my throat. I grabbed Kim and tried to run, but he lunged at her, dragging her to the ground where he grabbed her throat. I threw myself at him once more, and hit him over, off Kim. I remember punching him, aiming for his throat, trying to incapacitate him somehow. And then he went limp and he was dead. I killed him.
I know there are a lot of people who've killed because of the Gentleman. But I've had the privilege-- fuck, not killing is a privilege to us. What kind of a people are we? We know enough of the truth to ruin ourselves, but not enough to see what's in front of us.
And there's a boy with freckles and a second hand hoodie and size 9 shoes with no ID or a phone or credit cards who's dead. A kid who maybe watched a horror vlog series or his older brother told him a spooky story once. But a kid, with a life, and a personality, and a million things he'll never get to do and a million stories he'll never get to read.
The first funeral I went to and felt things about was a friend of mine. We were young and I didn't get it until the day of the memorial. There was a choir singing, in Latin, "O vos omnes, qui transistis per viam, attendite et videte," "All you who walk by on the road attend and see." The road that grows longer the longer I try to survive. It's slow, my breaking, right? I've handled this quite well I think. Devolving into drink is better than being crazy, right? I am crazy, though. Not as crazy as some are, not by a long ways. I'm not dying. I'm not giving in. I mustn't.
And no further instructions.