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DBC Pierre's “Mask”

Suicide and sexy shops meet dirty laundry in an exclusive story from DBC Pierre

In the lead-up to Halloween, Dazed Digital is running a Dark Arts season inspired by our November Dark Arts issue. Among other things, we've walked the path of darkness via the Hollywood Walk of Death and talked to Don Mancini, the creator of Chucky. Check back on our Dark Arts section for a journey to hell and back. 

Taken from the November issue of Dazed & Confused:

The gas mask was from the sex shop on the high street. Alan rigged it to a hose before drinking himself almost unconscious. To be honest, he thought, it felt more comfortable buying the mask for suicide than for sex. Not that it mattered; the eyes of sex shop attendants are always vacant. Light never burns behind them. Pawnbrokers put themselves across as agents of Right, but sex shop attendants are like strangers in an alley. Personality has fled their bodies so we can be sure they won’t judge, or even notice us.

Still, it was one thing that troubled Alan: his last human contact was with a sex shop attendant. At the sex shop. A man with unlit eyes. Sometimes the things we do churn us up, and those ructions lure out the symbols and ironies that Life seems so amused by. Suddenly, all around, like this one, imagine: a sex shop attendant was his last human contact. It’s no wonder the world is a mess of pain, if instead of watching over important matters Life is out planting ironies.

To be honest, he thought, it felt more comfortable buying the mask for suicide than for sex

Alan lit a last cigarette, setting off in his socks to open windows — his room mates were non-smokers. Then, to erase the sex shop attendant from the scene, he cleverly thought to call the police. He didn’t call the emergency number, but the station, where he imagined things would move more slowly, if at all. The reasoning was that he wanted to be found after death, but before his room mates came home. His body should be found by a professional, someone hard to disgust. They would call other professionals who specialised in the disgusting.

“Police,” a woman answered.

“Hello,” said Alan, “I’d like to report a dead body.”

“Where are you calling from, Sir?”

“34 Harrogate Road, first floor.”

“Is the body on the premises?”

“Yes it is.”

“Are you the one who found it?”


“And are you sure the person is deceased? Have you checked for vital signs?”

“Well, I...”

“I’ll send an ambulance. Is the person known to you?”

Life is no great artist in its designs. Just a decorator

Alan thought for a moment, ashing the cigarette into his hand. “Hang on,” he finally said, “he seems to be coming round. Yes, yes, he’s fine now, thank you.”

Life is no great artist in its designs. Just a decorator. And now the washing machine in the kitchen started to whine, thumping floorboards and rattling dishes in the rack beside the sink. Another symbol. Though Alan had to admit it was he who put the machine on, so as not to leave dirty laundry behind. It was an own goal. The anal are rarely good at suicide. To discover who’s good at suicide you need to see who’s good in a hotel room; anyone who tidies a hotel room before the maid comes will be a fastidious suicide, with notes and tokens to find, and towels and tape, instead of a lusty expression of blood. As a sensory event the slow spin cycle was a reminder of this. Nothing said more about Alan’s life, and about Alan, than the washing machine. It punctuated its slosh and grind with tedious grunts and sighs — then, after an eternity, and for no apparent reason — it spun out.

Petit Mal by DBC Pierre is out now, published by Faber and Faber

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