(There is a place in New York City,
They tell me is called "Hell's Kitchen."
I'm uncertain where it is specifically located.
Hell's basement, however, I've been to.)
An ancient black man, (and here I don't mean African black, but a minstrel-show relic from a bygone age)
Assures me his black pit bull is a gentle, docile beast.
But I can't believe it.
The decor down here is stark; white doors leading to cubby-like apartments,
Wherein unfortunate souls are domiciled.--(who knows, perhaps for all eternity.)
Right away I make the dog is a guardian at the White Gate, wherein a trapped soul might egress from Hell to Paradise.
But, as of now, the Painted Man says, "Everyone else down here loves him, most likely."
And I know that to be true; as in, a captive may, in time, learn to love his captivity, his captor, and that which first captured him; his folly, his unpardonable SIN.
(And, my, that term is left open-ended and vague...)
When the lights go out, and I know I am down here, in blindness and darkness and imprisonment,
With the Dog, that makeshift, poor-man's Cerberus,
I begin to panic. And pound the walls and scream. But this is Hell, and death, and the Afterlife. And what I asked for, all along. Or what I was doomed to.
I see a strange, cloud-like, shifting image in the air. Followed me upward, from Hell visions of a slumbering brain, to manifestation in the material plane.--a dream-being swept in from the astral.
A living shroud. A twisting, macabre, indistinct thing which seems to fold inward upon itself, dragging its skinny extremities
Into the cowering gloom.