Artist once drove the world mad. It was the pain of Bekah. And he was trying to find a way to explain it. It was the hate of Draconic and her hate of him. It was the constant raging burn, and the tortuous slow burn, of the death he was dying.
It took him two weeks to write Tragedy of the Outcasts. No one knows how long he worked on it. He will not give any details. He calls it the worst weeks of his life and he won’t talk about it at all. He wasn’t eating, but that was nothing new. That first semester after losing Bekah, we lost thirty pounds. We were skin and bones when we got out of there. Nearly dead.
Well, when he finished his diabolical work, we had crafted the perfect explanation for all of it. He had explained to all of us what had happened with Bekah. But he had done it in his way. In a way inaccessible to any of us. We would not figure it out for two decades. What we did know by then was that it drove people mad. It broke rules. It made women wild with lust, and it was in every way the greatest thing he ever wrote.
First, we will talk about the effects. Let’s start with Draconic. That is always fun, right?
She came on one of her hateful visits. While she was there, Artist pulled it out. He read it to her.
She became enraged. She threw things and she screamed at him and she ran. She ran out of his room, and he walked into the hall to watch her run away.
She called that night, and over the sound of rain in the background, she told me she would hate me forever for Tragedy. She had been out all night, walking in the rain. She was downstairs in the vestibule. She didn’t know what to do. She was lost. A part of her had died.
That night she went home she had laid in bed. When her man got home, she was weeping in bed and he climbed in to hold her. She jumped up and said, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t be yours tonight. He is too fucking brilliant.” She walked out of the room, went to the front porch, and slept on a piece of furniture out there. She watched the lightning slam and slice the sky, and she hated me and wanted only me at the same time.
When years from then, Siren is sitting in a restaurant reading the next day’s stories, she will have an experience just like it. She is in my Creative Writing class and she is reading that story in a busy restaurant. When she is done, she is breathless. She is overtaken. She looks up at her friends and they stare at her.
“What is wrong? You look horrified. Or broken. Or— Are you okay?”
She will look at them and say, “I am going to marry—or at least fuck—the man that wrote this!”
When the professor reads this piece of work, she will take it to the head of the department of English. He will have his secretary call me for an appointment. When I get there, he will shake Tragedy at me.
I will, in a panic, swear that I did not plagiarize it. He will tell me he knows. Then, he will break every rule of college when he tells me I need to drop my major in History and become a Creative Writing major.
When Bekah heard Tragedy, she wept, and she thanked me. She did not understand how; she just knew it was about us. It was obvious. Absolutely obvious.
When Guardian finally breaks and can’t handle the pain anymore and retreats for a year, we will be with Sapphire. She will have read the story. That was the turning point for her, too. That was when she knew she needed to be with us.
Artist broke everything with his masterpiece of horror and love. He told us all perfectly what had happened in one breathtaking, horrifying and tragic telling of our story.
It starts with a hooker on a porch on her usual corner. She has a gun in her hand, and she is holding it to her head. She wants to pull the trigger. She knows she will when she hears a voice behind her in the abandoned building tell her to please stop. Point the gun at him. Do not do it. Come in. Get out of the rain.
She joins him in the building he is squatting in and when she sees the room lit up, she gasps. He is a painter, a homeless one. He has painted a masterpiece on his walls, on the floor, the ceiling and the support beams. It is every imaginable thing that an artist can contrive and when she is looking at it, she finally looks to the ceiling and sees her face, hundreds of times, painted as angels covering the ceiling.
She points the gun at him as she sees the final wall. It is a picture of Vietnam with him crucified on a cross of dead bodies. He is a vet. A soldier broken by the war.
She demands he tell her about the angels, and he professes to being in love with her. He watches her every night but knows he has nothing to offer her, so he stays away. He just could not watch her die.
They fall in love and she lives in his hovel.
Until her boyfriend shows up. He is a crazed addict and wants her back so she can pay for his drugs. There is a struggle and she grabs the gun. She accidently shoots the artist, the vet. She kills him. She turns the gun on the drug addict. Then she turns it on herself.
This is Artist trying in vain to explain to us that Bekah is dying. We are the homeless, broken war vet trying to be with her and love her. And her parents, crazed and driven by religion, are trying to take her away.
In the story they all die. There is no hope, because not even Artist can see hope for these two lovers. Not even Artist can save them. He is helpless but to watch. For the first time in his life, Smear Lord of Ire is helpless.