Elan 1 (beginning)

Elan was dedicated to a densely packed church, shiny with fake gold. A stranger in a suit held him up to the congregation and smiled, satisfied that he had been absorbed into the light of the lord. The church filled a huge auditorium in the middle of Manhattan. Other areas of the building had large TV monitors that screened live footage of the service. Thousands awed at this puny confused baby. As he waved his arms the pastor joked that he was going “to be a preacher man”. The crowd laughed, and the infant was passed back to its keepers.

The area surrounding the church had once been a cesspool of porn and narcotics, now it housed a flagship m&m’s store and oversized copies of popular american chain restaurants. Billboards hung from enormous glass rectangles announcing things like soft drinks, or underwear. People flew in from around the world to remark at just how big these billboards were as they became accosted by silent Elmos and Batman’s who wanted money for pictures. North of the billboards was the Church, which had been built into the skeleton of an old broadway theatre, the theatre was then hastily attached to what appeared to be an old office building. While the theatre was magnificent, the generic setting of the office was a complete juxtaposition. While one emphasized the sanctity of this place of worship the other seemed to underline the church as an institution, like a school, or prison.

The music in this church was southern soul gospel, and attracted Elan from the moment he was able to understand what happiness was. Happiness, surrounded all faces that clapped their hands and smiled to the sound of this praise. Large south african women in colorful dresses jingled their jewelry next to reformed junkies and failed catholics. Sterilized bathrooms with uniform soap dispensers stood on every floor in the same place. Long roles of burgundy felt rugs were strewn about everywhere. Children were shuffled into classrooms to be taught what it was they should be praying for. It was in these rooms that Elan often found himself, coloring in pictures of white-Jesus smiling at some sheep. His father, being one of the reformed junkies would occasionally teach the young ones how to color in these sheep.

His father had an emphatic smile, a heaping spoonful of loving energy, and an impatient temper. He loved Elan more than much else in his life, in fact in many ways his father considered Elan to be the climax of his own existence. Anything good that came out of this boy validated the change that had taken place in his own life, from a searching addict to a responsible man. He was handsome, chubby, with graying blonde hair and buttoned shirts he tucked into his blue jeans. In his pockets sat his switchblade, and around his neck hung a cross. His outlook on most things was melancholy; to life, he applied clever cynicisms that were often under appreciated. His knowledge of literature, films, and drugs were encyclopedic. His dedication to the church was to appease his wife, his sobriety, and his therapist.

Elan’s mother was a dark creature, that he was never able to fully discover. Her mind was filled with tortured pangs of obsession and apathy, followed by floods of content silliness. She was often depressed, as she was after Elan was born, and while she viciously loved him it seems her mind would often trail off to what her life could have been like far away from them both. She was pale, had long flowing black hair that had started to bloom white strokes. As a fellow drunk she met Father at a dance for recovering addicts: both of them putting their chips on the table when they conceived Elan. They both wanted him so badly that they overlooked the incompatible elements of their marriage to forcefully push the little boy into reality.

And they succeeded. Elan was born healthy, fed well, and treated like a prince. They had planned its many names tediously, and quickly went to work preparing an environment for it to grow.

Elan was a frightened energetic young thing, hyper dependent, and decidedly odd. As a child he let his hair grow to his shoulders, causing individuals to often mistake Elan for a little girl. As his parents had conceived him in their forties, most spectators of the family believed they were watching a set of grandparents lovingly babysit their grandchild. Grandparents seem to love differently than parents: for they are not only raising a child, but they are raising their “last chance”. Subconsciously many parents know that “Mama” may still have some eggs knocking around somewhere, and if the child was to die after many tears they could try again. Elans mother would never be able to do that, in fact giving birth to Elan this late in life was risky. Not only could it have killed her, but the child was at a higher risk for countless illnesses, as well as mental problems. But they pushed on, and Elan was cut out, spanked, and handed back.

Some of the earliest memories that Elan had were inside the walls of the church. It was in those rooms that Elan developed a certain sense of self awareness or what others might call consciousness. This consciousness was a terrible burden for young Elan, like any child the expansive universe was to say the least, daunting. This sense of fear was continuously reinforced by his mother, who in order to fortify his salvation revealed to him the elements of spiritual consequence. On many nights she would read revelations to coax him into the comfortable arms of exhaustion, where sleep would later find him. If you are not familiar with this part of the bible, it describes the end of the world, where sinners are punished to an eternity of suffering on earth, and the faithful transcend into heaven. It was what the pastor referred to as “the rapture”. The testing ground for enthusiastic born again christians, and adamant atheists. This was to be his first baseline for reality; that underneath the well kempt structures and attitudes of humanity laid dormant a primal, evil archetype that would ultimately face punishment.

As he grew older this concept followed him everywhere. Was he faithful enough to avoid an eternity of suffering? This torturous self examination of his life grew into a decade long insomnia. It wasn’t ghosts or ghouls that Elan believed lived under his bed: it was the devil; each night Elan would hear it whisper, slowly trying to convince him to relinquish his soul. Putting on the mask of Jesus the devil would often try to deceive the young boy. Sometimes the whispers would be tender and charming, and other times they would resonate with anger and hatred. God would make a guest appearance in some of these debates, but almost always as a conclusion was to be reached the identities of the two would switch, and god would reprimand Elan for having trusted the Devil. For if he had been “good” enough he would have been able to distinguish the evil of Satan from the purity and glory of God. Thus time and time again, Elan came to the punchline that he was bad, which made him try very hard to be good.

On one occasion Elan had been under the supervision of another church goer. They were holding hands and heading to the park on a beautiful day when they passed a mirror. As clear as day there stood a smokey cloaked black silhouette standing in the place of the care-taker, hand interlocked with the boy. He withdrew in horror and refused to explain what was happening. Who could he tell? The woman who may potentially be leading him into the gates of the inferno?

It did not occur to Elan, or his parents that these extensive conversations with himself before bedtime, or the periodical existential terrors may have been more than just a child’s imagination, but it’s easy to trivialize the fears of a child when they have “no basis in reality”. In the background of this assumption we sit calmly on a magnetized rock that is covered in gas and factories, tethered to a ball of fire. This ball drags us further into an abyss that is devoid of even noise. Each person on our rock has a mind brimming with fantasy, the collective of which contributes to an expansive universe that we don’t understand. We have boxes in our home that cook my meat with invisible light, I talk to strangers across the world out of boredom, and I keep computers in my pocket. Science has brought us to the gates of a dilemma; that even our observation of the world may taint it’s very nature, a perfect give and take from the collective fantasy to the outside world that we share. A world, apparently, we understand so well that we are confident in identifying what is outside the realm of its enormity. The universe itself picking out elements of its corpse that are disagreeable and proclaiming that they are not there. Proclaiming that it itself is fantasy.

Elan knew that God was real. Elan knew that Satan was real.

Next Chapter