Author Topic: Canal Cowboys  (Read 4602 times)

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on: 04:28 PM, 02/26/18
There are always those kinds of videos online and they can never be erased from your memory. The webpage could 404, the upload could delete the video or hell, the police could even get involved but that video is permanently in your mind forever and it is never going to leave it. Everyone has one video stuck in their minds and every generation with the internet will have a video like that. There is Two Girls, One Cup, there is Two Guys, One Horse, and there is even the infamous spankwire video but those are all the famous ones. Those are the kind that trend and everyone has seen at least a few times but there are always a few that slip through the cracks and that only a few people have seen. These can be harmless to downright awful and, back when billing per month was unheard of, I found my video and gladly shared it with my friend.

However, before I go into the video, I must say that it never had a true effect on me as it did my friend. The only reason I can think to why is that I am colour-blind and my friend isn't. I must firstly state that being colour blind doesn't mean that my vision is like that of a black-and-white film, it is more akin to being handed a box of thirty crayons and only being able to see twelve shades of those crayons. While everyone else can see thirty shades, I can only see twelve of those shades. Although this may seem extreme to try and explain, the number of people who have pointed to a bright red thing and asked me to tell them what colour it infuriates me still. Anywho, this video had a smattering of flashing colours at the beginning and the end but I could barely tell the difference between them. Between these splashes of colour, I could certainly what was going on.

For lack of a better term, the video felt like it was supposed to be a macabre music video. The music sounded like someone had mixed together a roaring fire and the beating of a heart, making them into this strange tortuous symphony that was beautiful to listen to. I sometimes wake up in the dead of night and I can still hear it in the floorboards, making me feel guilty. The imagery was that of burning logs and old medical imagery, snapping in between the two or even making them go over each other. An old picture of the human nervous system would flash on screen, transparent enough to see the roaring of a fireplace underneath it and the picture would zoom into the brain, letting the image of a brain sit in front of a burning log for a little too long and then another image would come on. The only real visual that has remained in my mind for long is that of a real brain, being handled by a man in vinyl gloves. Underneath those gloves, his pale hands were stained brown but he wore the gloves anyway as he fingered along the folds of the brain.

He played with the brain for a while as the macabre music played over it, the heartbeat and fire suiting his slow trailing fingers perfectly. His slow index finger that pulled along the top of the brain perfectly matched the mix of the music, fire crackling and heart beating in almost perfect sync. I remember cringing but also feeling my heart as it followed along the beat, rapidly getting too fast for my tiny chest as my heart tried to escape to my throat. After the strange massage of the brain, the video cut to a frying pan over a campfire. There was a moment of worry in my mind but they were confirmed as the gloved man threw the brain onto the pan, the hunk of thinking meat suddenly spitting like it was a tangled ball of bacon fat. The music continued but the fire sounds got louder and louder until they engulfed the heart, making the beating disappear into nothing. The music cut out as the frying pan experiment faded away, then there was the strange splash of colour on the screen again.

I wasn't as affected as last time but I still felt unwell but when I looked at my friend, Ryan looked downright sick. He was shaking like a leaf and breathing like his lungs were water balloons. Offering the chair I had selfishly hogged, he quickly walked over and sat down but not before almost tripping over himself, dizzily shrinking into the chair. I asked him if he was okay but he only could whimper that he felt unwell and something was wrong with his eyes. I asked again because the eye comment scared me at the time and he just listed off what his eyes felt like, they felt sore, tender, irritated, stiff, and were aching.

Quickly, I told my mum that Ryan was terribly ill and needed to go home. She simply told me that I should walk him home and maybe get him a Lucozade on the way. Pocketing a pound, we walked out and Ryan and I stumbled down the street towards his house, heading towards the local corner shop. He could barely drink the Lucozade that I brought him. I didn't want to feed him it like he was a child but I tried to coax him into drinking it so he could actually have some strength or even ability to walk on his own. He had barely drunk a quarter of it before we reached his house and he struggled to get himself inside.

As I walked home, I tried to hum the tune to the video. Not out of spite or out of curiosity, it was just something my mind was doing. The song was strangely hypnotic and it just seemed to enter my mind at random times, making me hum along. It was like when I was in primary school and they practically forced us to learn Mister Blue Sky, the song would just randomly come back into my mind because of how long it had been drilled into my head on how to sing it correctly. Something twinged though when I realized that I learned Mister Blue Sky for entire months whilst I had only heard the brain song twice, yet I could hum it with almost immediate recall like it was a favourite song of mine. I stopped humming it but it was still in my mind, beating in the back of my head and my feet seemed to stomp to the tune.

As I slipped into my door, I could hear the chatter of a conversation in the kitchen. It seemed calm but heated like how parents used to argue about who gave who lice at the sleepovers. I tried to sneak up the stairs but the old wood creaked and, as the phone clicked to hang up, I was called to the kitchen. I cursed my lack of exercise and wandered into the kitchen, facing my mother. She asked me what I showed to Ryan but I told her that it was just the normal things that we watched when he was over there.

She shuddered, saying; "well, your friend is seriously ill. His mother might be taking him to the hospital."

I raised an eyebrow, he was only unwell and his eyes hurt a little. It was hardly like he had had his arm broken from watching the video. I thought that his mother was simply overreacting and went upstairs, slipping into my computer chair to watch some more videos.

After a few hours of staring into the abyss, I slowly slipped out of the computer chair and curled up under my blanket. In my dreams, I could see the gloved hands come from the darkness of my room and rub along my head, massaging my brain underneath my hair and skull. The hands were larger than real life, a singular hand could envelop my head and suffocate me with a singular thumb but that didn't happen. It simply and carefully massaged my head like the fingers did in the video, trying to get to my brain like a dog tries to get to a bone in the ground. I woke up in a cold sweat.

After waking up, I just wanted to see Ryan and see how he was. Really, there was no reason but I think that there was something wrong or my mind was simply guilty for what I had done to him. I got ready quickly and ran out of my house, snatching my keys before I shut the door behind me. Running over to his house, I found the door was slightly ajar and it made me stop stone dead in my tracks. 

Ryan's house wasn't amazing, it wasn't really anything great about it or noteworthy apart from how unnoteworthy it is. It was so unnoteworthy that it became noteworthy again and because of that, I will always remember the concrete shitbox with a little oak tree on Canal Street. The thing I always remembered about that house and is forever burned into my memory is that they always locked the doors no matter what you were doing. Even if the entire family was around for dinner, that front door was locked and double-locked to make sure no one could get in. Seeing that black slab swinging lightly in the breeze made me nervous and I really didn't want to go in until I heard the crying.

There were tears and tears and crying just coming from inside the house and I could tell it was his mum (his dad had run away ages ago). His mum was just bawling in whatever room she was in but I couldn't go inside, I just felt myself not wanting to go in. I felt like if I walked in, part of my world would be broken and remain broken. So instead, I simply walked to the oak tree and sat down at the roots, leaning my back against its trunk. I wasn't really relaxing, just staring at the crystal blue sky. I would have thought it would be grey but no, bluer than it has ever been. I just sat there, trying my best to listen to nothing. After a minute or an hour, I simply walked away back home. Something in my mind was trying to just tell me to walk home, forget what happened, pretend everything was normal.

Monday rolls around and Ryan didn’t come to school. Tuesday comes, Ryan isn’t sitting at his desk. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; all come and go and Ryan is nowhere to be seen. On Saturday, I had to be told by my mum that Ryan had run away, disappearing into the night. Ryan’s mum had spent the week searching the nearby woods, trying to find her son. All she found were snack wrappers but those could have been anyone's. I still feel guilty, I don’t know why but I do. Somewhere out there, there must be Ryan and he must either be having a normal life or be in the woods like an animal but I always pray that he is out there. Sometimes I don’t, sometimes I remember how I was told about how he stole all the kitchen knives before he ran off and I imagine my once-best friend slicing open my head but that’s only sometimes.

I miss you, Ryan. Canal Cowboys for life.