My Backface (excerpt)


I’ve always been alone.  nobody wants a kid like me.
the other side of my head won’t stop talking so I take off my socks and try to fit them in its mouth but it bites my fingers with its stubby, skin covered teeth.  cripes, I swear it won’t shut up.  I smash the sock into my backface over and over, and it hurts like christmas
shut the fuck up, I’m tryna sleep.   have to whisper it… or else.  my backface doesn’t know any better, it got me into this mess.  It gets me into every awful mess
I shake and pull the shiny blanket around me as my backmouth’s black tongue pushes the meat down my throat
I gag
I’m fed through both holes and as much as it seems like my backface keeps me company, I‘ve always been alone
nobody wants a kid like me
wish it was different
but life is nasty and no one looks out for you so I guess I’m glad I got another set of eyes doesn’t matter that they can only see shadows and lights… shadows is all I ever have around me since I had to leave home, anyway
one cold hard floor for miles: cement and wires.  these new shadows pace through spaces between wires like apes, running their sticks across the links
that noise… chingchingchingchingchingching
they’ll turn on the juice if we’re leaning against the fence ZZZZZAAAAAAP I‘m getting used but not getting used to it.  They haven’t stopped showing us who’s boss.  I don’t expect them to any time soon

with their electric sticks, their dark clothes, hats and spit shields it’s easy to pretend they’re only shadows … then they prod us with those sticks.  that’s when they stop being shadows for real.  when they cut the lights off and strip us bare, that’s when they force themselves onto us and in.   that’s what they did last time.  the shredded beef of me stops moving when they tear their way through and up.  up so deep

they hear everything— this place is all echoes and sharp sounds.  the only time they talk is when they’re honking orders at us through those cones.  when they’re calling us everything but humans


the shadows pull their masks down so every part of them is blacked out and they take turns putting things in both noses (if you call two little lopsided holes separated by a string of skin in the middle of the back of my head a nose) both mouths and my bum.  i have no idea what they’re sticking into my backnose but it feels very gooey.  it’s dark and I can’t tell what’s what— when it goes dark in here none of us knows if we’ll be the one who never sees the lights come on again… never mind the outside of these beige walls.  none of us knows what’s happening to us, but, I can tell you, it all hurts.  my backmouth snaps whatever they put in it in half and one of the shadows starts howling.  Backmouth spits whatever it is out and I hear it bounce off something and fall on the floor.  I feel a warm wet trickle down the back of my neck.  Then only sounds of drops pip pip pip on the cold concrete I’m curled up on.  He kicks me in my back and another shadow does the same.  they all have a go… I loose track of how many voices  I’ve heard.  something snaps and my lower half feels like it’s caught fire.  I can’t move my legs.  they laugh and laugh and one guy laughs so hard he has a coughing fit

I feel something smack the back of my head once, hard… then again… much harder and a hood pulled over my faces.  then it’s quiet.  it’s unbelieveable how dark it gets in here with or without hoods.

when I wake up, it’s freezing again.  I’m in a different dark place.  The bag over my head isn’t there anymore, and I’m alone… least I think I am; I can’t hear the other kids whining and sniffing.  it smells like bad meat and poop and I can’t help it: I throw up.  I vomit up that gray, soft fat from earlier, but some gobs get stuck in the back of my frontnose and both back and frontmouths are coughing and snorting.  my backmouth screams, YOU FAGGOTS WANT SOME MORE OF THIS?  HEY FAGGIT!  FAGGIT!  FAGGIT!  WANT SOME.MORE OF THIS BECAUSE I’M ONE THOUSAND TIMES THE BOY YOUR WIFE WILL EVER BE?  which makes a really angry shadow shove the slot window in the door open.  I see light for a second before it’s blotted out by a fat headed shadow.  I’m trying to roll over– my legs won’t move.  not really.  meanwhile my backmouth is going, FAGGIT! WHAT’S A MATTER ?!  I KNOW YOU HAVE IT BAD FOR THOSE HOLES!  ORPHAN AND DONUT!  oh no, I cry out through my frontmouth.  PLAIN AND CHOCOLATE!  IN ONE HOLE AND OUT THE OTHER!  screams the backmouth over the frontmouth.  YOU LOVE THEM CHOCOLATE ONES!

sucks that of all the parts of my backface, my backmouth works the best.

the door on the observation window slides shut with a crack like a firework in the empty space.  COME ON IN, MR. MAN, AND GIVE ME WHAT YOU CAN’T GET ANYWHERE ELSE!  YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS SWEET, HELPLESS POON!  the heavy metal door sweeps open whooooosh and the lights cut on, blind me.  I press my head to the floor with all my might and my backmouth is swearing at me into the cement., tasting the ridges of it.  it sounds like YEEEUUUU LRRRGGLL CMMMMSSHHSHHHRRR!  the shadows leap through the room and surround me in a few seconds because of it.  I feel like a lamp that’s been turned off and now I’m going to be taken apart

we got a smart ass here.  he hasn’t learned his lesson yet.


they roll me onto my front face and they look like dark blobs to my back eyes.  as soon as my back mouth comes off the floor, it’s screaming.  I’M A KID!  YOU FUCKING WEAKLING, YOU FUCKING COWARDS!

I’m on the business end of the shadows

what the hell is he?  one asks, sounding like a dog barking.  Fuckin FREAK!
Snap the neck and burn the body, I say, says a shadow that sounds like bird

they all make noises in their zoo voices

I guess it’s night time again
but it’s hard to sleep with the spotlights that are never turned off unless the shadows are bored with only looking at us.  when the lights go out they get very busy with the things they don’t want the cameras to see and it all seems to go on forever
I pull my hood over my eyes 
it starts hissing softly. I cram the sock in the backmouth again.  ssh ssh ssh. I push the sock  deeper into it and it bites me.  HARD!  I flick it in the eyes; it hates that.  I have to use all these little tricks on my backface 
I got a smelly blanket to lay on.  the girl next to me won’t stop crying.  I know I shouldn’t, but I try to hold her hand.  I move it slow, crawling it under the blanket towards her.  I hold her fingers.  they’re smaller than mine.  she’s shaking.  I want to tell her something.  not that it’s going to be ok— because I know it won’t— but something else that might make her stop crying.  the shadows pay special attention to the criers.  I think I whisper, ‘I’m with you’ but it’s louder than I mean for it to be

a shadow with a stick shouts WHO SAID THAT?  IT’S THE FUCKIN FREAK!  growls the gorilla sized one opening the gate.

I pull my hood completely over my faces 
squeeze my front eyes shut, lay down
pressing my backface into the floor
it whimpers
I raise my head  


and smack the back of my head, my backface, into the floor thuckthuckthuck
Twisted Unto Freedom, pen on photo, 2017 copyright GPD

Author’s Note: This piece began as a collaborative effort with my friend and fellow writer Johnny Scarlotti. It was left unfinished in favor of another collaboration with him that gelled more quickly and cohesively.  He gave me free reign to use this narrative as I see fit, but, in the interest of full disclosure much of the spirit and some of the lines are his. Shout out to Johnny.


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