The Mindshaft

by Steve Finbow
An extract from The Mindshaft published this year by Amphetamine Sulphate.

a note on methodology

It granulates, it crackles, it caresses, it grates, it cuts, it comes. Plot, like erected scaffolding, is torn down, and what stands in its place is the thing itself. Apophenia— unmotivated seeing of connections accompanied by a specific feeling of abnormal meaningfulness. I adulterate the truth as I write. There isn’t any pretence that I try to arrive at the literal truth. And the only consolation when I confess to this flaw is that I am seeking to arrive at poetic truth, which can be reached only through fabrication, imagination, stylization. Metagraphic composition.

from the prelude

Watching all of these is a Richard Wagner devotee, a painter of Viennese landscapes, his shoes do indeed need mending; he is homeless and is riding the tram without paying, hiding behind a week-old copy of the Deutsches Volksblatt, his moustache twitching at the decadents and the Jews in his midst. Adolf Hitler glares at these men; he would like to take the girl’s umbrella and run it through the likes of Stefan Zweig, Karl Kraus and that fraud Freud. And, he’s not sure, but the other man on the tram with piercing blue eyes and a penetrating stare is a fellow he may have gone to school with in Linz, yes, he’s quite sure—Ludwig Wittgenstein was his name. 

from the mindshaft

A week later, on June 26, 1977, 199 days after the Mineshaft opened its doors for the first time, across the bridges, through the tunnels, seventeen-year-old Judy Placido and twenty-year-old Salvatore Lupo have been dancing in the Elephas discotheque on 211th Street in Bayside, Queens, and are sitting in Lupo’s car. It is 3 a.m. and they are talking about the Son of Sam. Three gunshots from a .44-calibre Charter Arms Bulldog penetrate the vehicle. Lupo exits the car and runs back to the disco to get help not realising he has been shot in the right forearm. Placido is hit in right temple, shoulder and upper back, close to her spine but none of the strikes are fatal. Neither of them saw the stocky white man with short bushy dark hair. 

<< penis, expelled, bouncing up, shining, transparent film of jissom coating reddened flesh, violaceous on glans, marked with ringed imprints >> Exterior. 

It is necessary to invent with the body, with its elements, its surfaces, its volumes, its depths, a nondisciplinary eroticism: that of the body plunged into a volatile and diffused state through chance encounters and incalculable pleasures.

Park. Night. The Mapplethorpe lookalike walks through a tunnel with a man dressed in leather. A third man 179 leans against the tunnel walls while a fourth on his knees gives him a blow job. The Mapplethorpe lookalike and the man dressed in leather exit the tunnel. Another man dressed in leather leans against the wall, another two are on the grass verge, one masturbating the other. The Mapplethorpe lookalike and the man dressed in leather walk through the park. They pass other men, alone, in pairs, in groups, some smoking, some drinking. Cut to Mapplethorpe lookalike and the man dressed in leather walking deeper into the park. Sexual groans can be heard emanating from within the bushes. They walk further in. Man in leather says in a sing-song voice, ‘Who’s here? I’m here You’re here.’ Man in leather giggles. Man in leather laughs. They walk further into the park’s dense foliage. Ragged breathing. Close-up of Mapplethorpe lookalike. He looks around. Turns his back. He says, ‘Where are you, man?’ He turns, says, ‘Come on.’ Man in leather’s voice, ‘Where are you?’ Mapplethorpe lookalike looks around, nervous. Extreme close-up on Mapplethorpe lookalike’s fearful eyes. Pull out. Mapplethorpe lookalike says, ‘Don’t play games with me, man.’ Extreme close-up on Mapplethorpe lookalike’s fearful eyes. Pull out to branches. Extreme close-up on Mapplethorpe lookalike’s fearful eyes. Man in leather’s voice, ‘Where are you? I’m waiting for you.’ Extreme close-up on Mapplethorpe lookalike’s fearful eyes.

The Mineshaft is a New York bar. It is usually preceded by the adjective ‘notorious’—when it is written about at all. It is a magician—it takes the ordinary and opens it up and you find it rich inside with light and bright scarves and rings and coins and feathers and many surprises. It is a place to go to think. There are dark rooms.

Steve Finbow’s non-fiction includes Allen Ginsberg: A Biography, Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necrophilia, Notes from the Sick Room, Death Mort Tod and The Mineshaft. His fiction includes Balzac of the BadlandsTougher Than Anything in the Animal KingdomNothing Matters and Down Among the Dead. He is currently working on a book about Francis Bacon and editing the Infinity Land Press Anthology.