The mass murder monologues

Steamrolling right ahead with my man-crush of the month, here’s a few of my favourite moments in writing from the Punisher MAX series by Garth Ennis. I can only describe it as hardcore poetic prose.

* * * * *

Father David: Tyger, tyger, burning bright… in the forests of the night…

(Frank Castle): And I imagined the Tyger.

Like the caged tigers at the Bronx zoo, but something more, something that could not be held.

That would be bigger, badder, deadlier than anyone or anything that walked the planet. That would look you in the eyes and know your terror. That would not know mercy, or remorse, nor even the concept of stopping: not having been constructed with those qualities in mind.

A force made flesh.

Father David: What about the line, actually my favourite line, “did He who made the lamb make thee?”… Frank?

10-year-old Frank Castle: Does it mean… God didn’t make the Tyger?

Father David: Heh! Frank, God made everything. If He didn’t make the Tyger, who did?

Frank: I dunno. Someone who don’t make things like lambs…

That day I realised there had always been Tygers.

Living in the darkness of our dreams. No less alive for being gone from the physical world. Emerging as it suited them, to stalk, to terrify, to overwhelm completely: to keep the planet in their thrall.




Somehow I knew we needed them.

I know what the world needs now. Same thing it’s needed all along.

I walk off the Brooklyn rooftop and into the future: a future full of screams and bullets, and bad men dying in the ancient dark.

And I show the world a face not made by God.

The Tyger #1

 * * * * *

I will not die in Vietnam.

My name is Stevie Goodwin and I am so short I can taste it.

I am down to thirty-nine days and a wake up, and on that magic day, I will step aboard that big freedom bird and leave this place behind forever.

On the great silver craft that carries me home I will sleep the sleep of the just, and beautiful roundeye angels in stewardesses’ outfits will smile with joy and bring me cold, cold beer.

I will not die here. I will escape these fields of slaughter.

I will not re-up and serve a second tour, will not become a combat-junkie like so many of the others – forever jonesing for their next sweet firefight, their lethal speedball of adrenalin and tracer.

I will not fall in love with war like Captain Castle.

Frank Castle is the finest officer the Marines of Firebase Valley Forge have ever known. He is the reason I am sure I will survive this.

His dedication to his men is total. Not from love – that word and he do not belong together – but from the same determination to do his job correctly that informs his every action. Since he arrived six months ago, not one patrol he has led has suffered K.I.A.

His first tour, so the story goes, began with Tet in sixty-eight. The brass in Da Nang detected some dark promise in the young platoon commander, and Special Forces had themselves a new recruit.

Within that strange Praetorian Guard his star shone brightly. His second tour is mostly mystery, but I’ve heard talk of wetwork in Cambodia, black ops, the company, an N.V.A. General sniped just outside Hanoi… 

And horror stories too outlandish to be true.

But now the war in Vietnam is winding down, and no one knows quite what to do with the predators it has bred. His third tour saw him sent to Valley Forge – because they had to send him somewhere, after all.

A specialised assassin in command of infantry. The writing is upon the wall: America will soon be gone from here.

Alas for Captain Castle, he is running out of war.

I will have sons.

When the big freedom bird takes me home I will make love to many beautiful women, and when I meet the most beautiful of all I will marry her that very day.

She will give me sons and they will grow up tall and strong as giants, and I will watch them grow and sing with pride.

I will take them up into the woods and mountains and show them the greatest country in the world: the Promised Land that is their birthright. The good America, the real America.  

And not this tragic misstep into darkness.

In years to come the boys will learn their father went to war, and gaze on him anew, eyes bright with fascination. They will ask the old man what he did, and who he fought, and where he went, and what he saw there…

And I will never, ever tell them.

– Stevie Goodwin, the Punisher Born #1

 * * * * *

There is a Great Beast loose in the world of men.

It awoke in dark times to fight a terrible enemy. It stormed through Europe, across the Pacific, and crushed the evil it found there underfoot. But when it was victorious, when the crooked cross and the rising sun were done with, the Great Beast’s keepers found that it would not go back to sleep.

The Beast has many heads, and on its heads are written names: Lockheed. Bell. Monsanto. Dow. Grumman. Colt. And many more.

And they are very, very hungry.

So the Great Beast must be fed: and every generation our country goes to war to do just that.

A war for war’s sake, usually. And one that could have been avoided. But there must be blood, in extraordinary quantities, and whether it is foreign or American is of no consequence at all.

And so, today, at Firebase Valley Forge, our turn has finally arrived.

– Stevie Goodwin, the Punisher Born #4

 * * * * *

They hated that old man so much they shot him through my family.

The world went crazy on a summer’s day in Central Park, in the time before Uzis and Berettas, before nine millimetre popguns ruled the streets.

It was a Thompson, like the ones our fathers carried, and I recognised its rattle even as its big, man-stopping forty-fives punched blood and breath from my lungs.

I hit the ground beside my daughter, she’d been gutshot, badly, and when she saw the things that boiled and wriggled from her belly the expression on her face was not a little girl’s.

My wife bled out later on the operating table, her heart a gaping hole her life drained through. Whenever I get careless, that yearning in her eyes creeps up and brings me to my knees.

Right then the old man’s soldiers started shooting back. My son dropped wordlessly, without a mark on him. I took a breath that cut like glass, spat blood, rose to my knees, picked up the boy and searched in vain for entry wounds.

The bullet had entered through his open mouth.

That was our picnic in the park.

And now… every night… I go out and make the world sane.

– Frank Castle, the Punisher MAX #1 – In the Beginning

* * * * *

Ann Larsen, I know you and your husband have been shooting pornographic films with your children. I want to make this as easy on them as I can.

Invite me in.

Someone should suffer, not just die.

That was the thought I had when I went in there.

It was a simple thing to watch him cough his teeth out, listen as he choked on the shreds of his tongue. His eyes said everything: the agony, the disbelief at what had happened to a normal evening, the realisation of Hell came next.

Part of me could have stood there for an hour.

Not the part that raised the pistol, took up second pressure.   

I made the call and waited, didn’t want the kids wandering down to look for mom and dad.

Later, slipping out the back door as the cops kicked in the front, I thought about the looks on their faces.

The little girl couldn’t have been more than four. She might stand a chance, depending on how much of it stayed with her. Not being an expert, I couldn’t say for sure.

The boys looked like the damage was done. I had a sinking feeling I’d be seeing them again in twenty years.

There are times I’d like to get my hands on God…

– Frank Castle, the Punisher Max #44 – Widowmaker


~ by John E. Roberts on 15/06/2011.

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