August/September 2005

Instrument of Love
Mike Philbin

The studio was set in the grounds of a chateau - a reconstruction created from 15th Century engravings. It was well after nine when we arrived. I had never brought a groupie back to the studio before; it just wasn’t the done thing. We made our way up the gravel driveway; she gleefully regarding its security lit frontispiece; for me, the lustre of this once-great tenement had long since decayed to a dull familiarity.

Passing through the vast receiving hall bedecked in period splendour - camel hair carpets, tarantula rugs, blood rich wall coverings depicting silk entreaties to unknown deities - she gasped in wonder at his morbid collection of ephemera.

Replica constructions from the 1440's; in one corner a set of stocks; in another a hangman's noose depends from a black beam. Central in the hall stands a grotesque statue crudely hewn from the base of a massive oak, as if growing from the foot of the stump, a man possessed by demons scrapes at his skin and tears out his innards to boil in the cruel glare of the moon.

The connecting room, which led to the sound studio, was equally vast and as opulently bedecked in art of the era. Paintings this time - massive Breugelesque tableaux framed in the bronzed skulls of animals of the land, voles, rats, cats, even geese, ducks, central top bottom left and right respectively the plated skulls of bull, cow, lamb and goat. The familiar nightmare scenarios of the Middle Ages were graphically depicted - Witchcraft; Demonological symbols; Repentant missionaries; Torture; Children put to the stake for the sins of their parents; Farmers run through with living pitch forks; Women pregnant with fat, horny reptilian charges; Girls barely pubic raped on inverted crosses by the Offal Magus; Beater of Mercies; Wings of the Dark Bat named Beelzebub; The air full of tragic prayer; Trees bearing fruit of ruptured cherubs; Rivers of gore.

Velour curtains decorated with inlaid gold framed the 13 stained-glass chapel windows depicting the betrayal and arrest of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, his unjust trial in the court of King Herod, the crowning of thorns applied by torturers whose gleeful eyes burned holes in the lead work, the ascent and crucifixion on Calvary and the miraculous resurrection some days later. A chandelier of baby bones hung from a camel hair hose. The brickwork of the dead fireplace the bad teeth of a death shriek. The cloying air like the stagnant chill of a dead man's hand on naked flesh.

“Can you understand how phoney all this seems to me?” I asked her as she gaped in awe, my voice like a cracked bell.

I led her through to the studio. Etienne was there looking at his watch and huffing and blowing like an old maid. We did our sound check and, that formality dispensed with, Etienne excused himself.

I asked her if she’d stay the night while I drained a can of Coke.

“You're rich?” she asked, looking around the state-of-the-art facilities.

“Just indebted.”

“Thought life on the road was all tour buses and sleazy motels?” she was all groupie talk now, which sort of annoyed me.

“Eti likes to live in style. At my expense. Says it is good for his muse. The bastard's crippling me.”

“Advances?” she flipped to journalist mode, which made my ulcer, bleed a little stronger.

“You soon piss them away let me tell you.” I led her from the studio down oak panelled corridors chemically aged by professional craftsmen.

She was hesitant as I opened the door to the master bedroom and indicated she should enter the darkened chamber, I leant round her to flip on the light.

She suddenly ran in at full speed with a girlish whoop of delight and threw herself on the four-poster bed kicking up a thick plume of dust and mite faeces. Groupies, I smiled to myself, love ‘em or hate ‘em, you can't do this without ‘em.

I got to work on the adoring fan, there in the settling dust. Spectres of previous seduction scaring the shadows away like overlit porn. Etherial emblems of en-suite shower sessions with the face pressed into the tiles. A tooth-brushing reflection taken from behind in a storm of need. Crawling doggy style from the bathroom conjoined at the crotch. Struggling onto the bed clumsy in their urgency. Boiling flesh punctured by the rogue bedspring of arrhythmia.

Reaching into her cyan-coloured cotton bra, I got a good hold, rubbed a bit like I thought she might have wanted and thumb-nailed the nipple for no extra charge. Lifted weighty globes out of soft supports. I had them in my hands in a trice. I could feel the cooling flesh, sweat underarm. She pulled away from me, willing me on with eyes dilated purest ebony lust. Go on, she hissed, do it now. How was I to know she expected me to fucking kill her? I plunged a hand into her knickers. Got the shock of my life.

“What's this?” I asked out loud, my palm resting on the place designed by God to house a woman's sexual anatomy. I could gain no purchase, could slide no finger in, this didn't even feel like female genitalia. Nothing about it was right.

She just looked up at me affecting her best victim. She was using some sort of magic on me, willing me to get enraged by her anatomical tomfoolery. I could see she wanted me to put my hands round her throat and keep squeezing until her lips when grey and the blood vessels in her eyeballs popped and blood spilled out of her doe-eyes. It sickened me that look. I couldn’t believe there were such people in the world who would stoop so low. I shook my head to eradicate the murderous invitation.

“What is this?” I repeated the initial question, applying pressure to the unbreachable genital area.

“My chastity...” she blanched.


“Chastity.” she recited a well-practised sermon, “I am now and always will be chaste. Retaining one's purity, as the wise have foretold, is the essential keycard to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Was she sniggering? A twitch in the corner of her eye?

“You're taking the piss.” I unzipped her jeans, intent on uncovering the gag – maybe Eti had put her up to this, that man was without remorse in such matters. Cold air rushed in between her plump thighs. What would be the use of a biologically chaste woman to someone like him at a time like this when he had a rod on him like concrete. And fury, just plain fury to do the deed.

Picture the soft crucifixion scene. There she lay, fully exposed in the sudden chill. Biological virgin splayed on the altar of annihilation. I examined the woman for stitch marks or latex seams stress marks in the fx make up but could find neither to accompany the unsullied aperture of her rectum. The lightbulb this side of the master bedroom was missing its shade hence full beam. Spot on, no doubt about the documentary evidence.

”What is this?” I noticed a vaguely hexagonal mark on her left hip. The sort of indentation left by a childhood dose of chicken pox or rubella. The walls of the hole as I examined them further seemed to resolve themselves into a true and regular hexagon. I may be going slightly nutsoid here ...

“Where are you going?” the woman, propped up on one elbow, felt the moment of redemption slipping away. She clearly had come here to be killed. Maybe she had been stalking me for a few weeks. Maybe I had been recommended by The Underground as someone who could, in the throes of sexual passion, squeeze a little too hard on a suffer and forget to let go....

“One minute..” I pulled out a blue velvet guitar case from underneath the wardrobe, flipped the locks like a Rodriguez film, removed an item, relocked it and returned the case to its allotted place of rest. I resumed my place knelt between her thighs and touched her left hip with something cold, metallic? A sliding sound as of some Victorian mechanism clicking into place. My cock, I have to say at this point surged with heavy longing; it made a physical indentation in my leather trousers.

The Allen key I had shoved into her hip was a perfect fit, for the love of all things subversive. I licked my lips. Turned the key through one hundred and eighty degrees. Only a true madman would have spotted the potential of the crude musical tuning device.

Eyes tear-laden with incredulity, I watched the blossoming of a truly alien piece of technology. Sole witness to this most astonishing exhumation. A Lazarus sideshow in a world choked by denial. The heady musk of never before released sexual oils and pheromonic unguents filled the air as her convulsions lost their desperate edge. Some entirely different set of serpentine musculature had been activated it seemed.

Only half aware of the consequences of his next act, musical fore father of his own lover and all the incestuous mind games that sorta shit can play on folk, I set about making a child to carry my code into the next millennium and beyond. This, I resolved in my distorted logic, was the future I had been denied; the key, if you will excuse pun. I resolved to shag this thing here on the flea-ridden master bedroom of Machecoule Recording Studios registered in the name of my agent Etienne Davignol.

That's what I set about doing.

The woman’s obvious plans of aided suicide fell by the wayside that night as tortured screams of sexual release had to be gagged by my own hand. She was an epileptic under my palm, no one driving the eyes shot with fear at this unkindest twist. Worse than murder, she knew. Worse than terror. Worse than pity. Worse by far than death.
“Come this way, now...” I said after it was done, and together we walked naked through the rain-lashed night.

I showed her the final room of the studio, the holy of holies. I am sure that even now she envisioned a prolonged end to her life incarcerated in the steaming filth of her own excrement, eating rats and cockroaches to suffer another day in Purgatory; bitter morsels that stain the pallet after months of consumption. The tongue turning grass green. Teeth, enamel eaten away by fungus, naked nerves biting down on each struggling crustacean back and vermin pelt. How could she have read me so wrong? I am no murderer. No serial killer.

Thunder cracked overhead. We were in the vestibule, the little foyer of a Catholic church where one makes the sign of the cross with Holy Water to ward off any demons one might have secreted in the coat hood or pocket or necktie. Crafty little buggers, these demons, you're scrubbing them out of your personal things for weeks after the possession. There was indeed, here, a damp sponge in a bronze tray.

She dipped her fingers in, made the sign of the cross and followed me up sixteen stone steps. No handrail. A sheer drop down the left hand side. Along a short arched corridor of rough stone. Through another door.

This final chamber was no church. At least, it resembled no church in the Orthodox mould. No morbid crucifix hanging from the ceiling. No altar. No tabernacle. No stained glass. No pews. No recognisable religion whatsoever. Just a white clay floor reminiscent of a Sumo dojo. White, carved limestone walls. A raised pedestal of Black Marble in the centre of the chamber seemed to suck down the energy of a ceiling that illuminated itself; a monochrome playground of infant shadows scampered about the eerie walls. I knew Eti would have already gone across.

As this was my final night in this or any Earthly hemisphere, I stood on the plinth and showed her how the mechanism worked, holding my cock and softly stroking until I faded from existence.

* * * * *

From her perspective, she would have witnessed the ass-thumbing masturbator at his seedy job. She would have registered a real change in his anatomy, as he appeared to be stroking the neck of an electric guitar in place of his manhood. The gleaming elements in the ceiling would have congealed above him. He would have held out his palms in the glowing snowfall, the guitar jutting from his groin, titanium cords refracting rainbows as somewhere a fader eased in.

Music, identical to the piece that she had heard in the studio session would have echoed in the chamber. Who’d have guessed it was a sound check for this bizarre instrument? There would have been something close to satisfaction tainted with imminent loss in his smile then.

His body would have resolved itself into no shape this woman had ever seen before. Never would she have witnessed something, someone, so totally naked. Stripped of substance, rendered in rhythm, made of music. Hadn't he always worn his leather disguise to protect the unadulterated splendour that was this magnificent organ, she might have pondered? By now, tuning forks would have sounded. Flutes and copper curls would have been sprouting from every fleshy part of him as their Love Cantata for Lazy Lead Guitar was given the full orchestral arrangement.

She would have seen his human back break open like the crust of fresh bread and a horn section welded to the side of a saxophonic structure would have burbled out erotic syncopation as it slowly rose from his spinal column. Gills of ecstatic song would have erupted all along the length of his forearms. Veins weeping counterpoint. All about him, like iron filings littering a dish of butter, sweet music would have lifted him to a choral ascent.

In what remained of his gaze would have been raptures. His physical form would have lifted as glowing motes of musical disintegration as the piece climaxed, fattening on major chords, sheared by the shameful lunacy of key, rocked by tempo.

* * * * *

I watched from the other side. My home you could call it.

She took her hands from her ears and straightened up. Then I saw it – the eyes of my greatest lover. My brother from the Stoned Years. His eyes shone forth from hers and I knew she would step onto the pedestal as I had done. She would follow my example and we could be together as we had been once-before in this realm. She would step onto the pedestal the way an early morning bather dips a toe into the pool. I knew once in position, she would insert a finger into her arsehole and stimulate her clitoris with the other hand as I had shown her. I knew what it was like to travel on the waves of music and be at one with the chord and the counterpoint and the climax would be like no other gold-bleeding loin trembler she’d ever had as she travelled across the galaxy to be with me. She and I would be at one, why did I not see it in her eyes before this point – the wrong side of a one-way system?

Her mouth twitched with obvious hesitation. I willed her to take a step towards the plinth...