Sunday, April 8, 2012

Upcoming Project: The Pauper King


by Chris Eisenlauer

• • •


My name is Evan Stain. I was born into this world whole, knowing more or less what I know now, never having suffered a childhood, and never knowing my parents. I sometimes dream of someone who’s supposed to be my father, but I never knew him, or at least I don’t remember him. I have been described as handsome by women whose attention I’ve sought, which should be a greater source of confidence for me. Though my hair is gray, I’ve never required the use of a razor. I have no idea how old I am or if in fact I am old. Some have put my age at thirty, some at forty. My current ID says that I’m right in the middle at thirty-five. Eventually, I’ll need to forge a new one with new dates, though. I don’t know how long I’ve been here, but I’m fairly convinced that I am not native to this place. Certainly I am not human like most of those I find around me. While they can die, I find that I cannot. Or I haven’t come across the means as yet. I can suffer, though, and have suffered pain enough to account for death many times over. I have no proof, no way to corroborate this, but somehow I feel that this place is a kind of hell; a living punishment to help me atone for some forgotten sin. That makes it a little easier to take, anyway, thinking that eventually something—good?—will come of my suffering.

There is injustice here, as I am sure there is everywhere, and for good or for ill—and maybe because the dreams I have of my father are really nightmares, like cheap morality plays where he is the monster teaching the object lesson—injustice is something I simply cannot abide. Likely because I am his son, I too, am a monster—I’m extremely strong and fast, among other things—but because of my intolerance, I have endeavored to become a purveyor of retribution. I am not fond of pain, but my constitution makes me particularly well-suited to such employment and I am rarely wanting for work.

Of course I don’t tell any of this to anyone. We all have our secrets. Sometimes secrets are harmful to others, but often they’re all we can lay claim to as ours, and I believe they’re worth defending.

So, here's my pitch: If you’ve lost something or someone, if you’ve been wronged or cheated in some way and the authorities can’t help, perhaps I can. Place a help-wanted ad in the Weekly Tribune, citing an infestation of rats at any open accommodations located along the waterfront with the current date. Someone will meet you at the appointed place at midnight one week from the date indicated to discuss a possible course of action. Sometimes it takes an infestation of rats to clean house or to cure disease.

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