HERE BE MONSTERS
After the mad excesses of the last two years, the nonstop circuses, the
Hollywood flirtations, the sexual canoodlings… after all that came
crashing down…after he found himself standing on a ledge outside his
room in the fabled Chateau Marmot, high above Sunset Boulevard, singing the national anthem as the sun rose over the Hollywood Hills, pig blood smeared on his hands, the porn star overdosed in the bathroom, the mega-deal with the studio suddenly on hold...after all that, Ian
Citrine decided that maybe it was time to reassess the situation.
Once the temperamental star of the neo-primitive art scene (hailed “The
Next Boy Wonder” by Time magazine, part of MOMA’s permanent collection at the age of 23), Citrine somehow lost his way in Hollywood.
Now back in New York City (where a man named Freddie Vongerichten first “discovered” him thirteen years ago), he’s living in a loft in
Chinatown. It’s a large unfinished space with bare walls, dirty wooden
floors, and 27 floor-to-ceiling windows covered by green rubber
tarpaulins that block out the sun.
He paces back and forth in this cavernous space that he rented sight
unseen from a broker he never met, pausing in front of a huge blank
canvas (that he tries to ignore, but he can’t ignore the fact that he
hasn’t painted anything in months). Behind him, there are cans of
paint, brushes soaking in jars of turpentine, scissors, rollers, and
piles of pictures stacked on dusty floorboards.
“It all started a few weeks ago.” He speaks into a small hand-held tape
recorder. “At first I thought I was losing my mind. But now I think
that something is trying to drive me crazy…”
Ian Citrine gazes in the mirror and sees a slight, almost delicate
figure with a narrow face and long brown hair—a liquid, shifting
ectomorph who doesn’t look exactly like a man or a woman but something in between those two conditions. He is from different angles both masculine and feminine, chiseled and soft, a paradoxical character with big eyes and a small mouth.
“The shadow grows stronger all the time…and now I don’t know what to
do…because lately… I find myself fading into my dreams…”
Citrine shudders and tries to suppress the murmuring voices in his
head, to maintain a semblance of control, but he can feel his grip
beginning to fail, his fingers slipping from the ledge of reason, and
now, he smiles at the thought of this, he wants to let go—just to see
“So, in short…” he chuckles dryly, “I’m fucked.”
Citrine stands at a long wooden table covered with red and white tubs
of Kentucky Fried Chicken, wings and thighs coated in soggy brown
batter, paper cartons of pork egg foo young, shrimp fried rice and
General Tso’s chicken, barely touched, now cold and slimy, stacked like
mountains all around him.
The phone rings from time to time.
But he ignores it.
“There’s only so much I can do…” he mumbles.
Every now and then Citrine seems to forget that what he’s thinking is
supposed to be an internal monologue.
He sits down in a crummy green chair and stares at his feet. The chair
is set between columns. There’s a radio on the floor beside him.
Several Lowell lights are placed at various points around the room,
giving the naked space the feel of a cheap movie set. He lights a clove
cigarette and puffs it, momentarily framed by a plume of vague
fiber-optic light. Then he brushes back the hair falling across his
eyes and gazes up at the ceiling eighteen feet above, worked with
ornamental panels made of tin.
Men hammered those shapes in the early 1900s. They lined the ceiling
with these elaborate tiles. They decorated the room with filigreed
shapes that people don’t bother to make any more (because there is no
time for handcrafted things in a world of mass production).
He can hear their mallets if he really tries. He can see the room as it
was back then, in a different city, in a different time, those burly
immigrant men from Poland standing on ladders and banging at the
Now he pulls back a rubberized tarp and gazes at the varied turrets and
towers of the city, arrayed like chessmen all around him, somewhere
deep in Chinatown.
The drape falls from his hand, sweeping down on the scene, shutting it
Lately, he’s been having these terrible nightmares. The details may
vary from time to time, but the atmosphere remains the same. He’s
trapped in a dark subterranean world of dead-end streets and blind
alleys where shadowy figures watch him pass…where streetlights glimmer in the mist…where sinister men with blowtorches (their faces concealed by masks) are constructing something underground, fusing sheets of metal together, building a giant black square.
Then he wakes up, feeling wasted and drained.
And now he’s afraid that he’s doing things in his sleep.
Like drawing pictures...
...of the Devil.
He unfolds a metal tripod, spreads its legs, locks it down, sets the
level with a bubble in the center, places a small digital video camera
on a steel plate, clicks the camera into place, and turns it on.
Through the eyepiece, he can see a big white bed. Over the bed, there’s
another camera mounted with a 360-degree fisheye lens that can see the
entire room. Dangling from the overhead pipes are several
“I believe that a demon is trying to destroy me…” Citrine speaks
softly. “I know it sounds crazy, but I can find no other explanation
that fully covers all the facts. And so I’ve decided to conduct a
little experiment to catch the demon in the act…”
He ends the recording with a click.
Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he takes a blue pill from a green
bottle and swallows it with a glass of water. Then he lies down and
closes his eyes. After awhile, his breathing slows and he falls asleep.
* * *
Now a green light begins to spread in the darkness like a cloud, the
light begins to fluctuate, to assume its own peculiar shape… and
through it steps a shadow-man composed of something dark and shifting
as smoke. The figure is a blur, not a body per se, but the suggestion
of a body. It speaks in a harsh, guttural voice that resonates inside
Why have you brought me here? What do you want?
* * *
And Citrine wakes up terrified.
The room’s a shambles.
Strange pictures (drawn with ink pens, felt-tip pens, crayons, and
Magic Markers) are scattered on the floor.
Playing back the videotape, he sees himself staring at the camera, eyes
wide open; hears himself laughing in a voice he doesn’t recognize.
Then, between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., there’s nothing but hash on the
videotape, as if the camera failed to operate. But when he checks the
equipment again, he finds there’s nothing wrong with it.
Now he sits on the edge of the bed, a thick white sheet of paper in his
hands. The spongy vellum is covered with frantic marks—splatters,
blots, teeth, eyes, twisted indecipherable stuff he can’t explain, like
a shrouded figure in a cloak and hat. His face a barren landscape
devoid of life, his eyes a smear of quarks, a smudge of photons, always
And there, below the image, Citrine (or someone) has scrawled in bright
HIS NAME IS MR. BLUR.
For a moment he feels a little dizzy. It’s as if he’s standing on the
brink of some vast abyss that he didn’t even know was there until a
moment ago, and now he’s falling, falling down, falling into this huge
black hole with no bottom.