Ivan Brunetti wants to kill himself. That's what he's wanted for some time now - to take his own life. To end it all - what could be better. Imagine the peace! Imagine it, no longer having to write, to work - there'd be no deadlines, no demands from editors. To die - and then to curl up in a quiet place for eternity.
But meanwhile, Ivan Brunetti has to write. The issue's due at the end of the year. He works page by page - no more long stories, not anymore. Not the long stories that began the first three issues of Schizo. A page at a time, that's enough. Who could plan for longer than a page? And besides, he's working all day, he has a day job. He's busy enough! He has enough to do, especially at this time of year, when it's getting dark so early, and its so cold.
A page at a time - so Schizo 4 is made up of pages, of complete strips. One page, then another. One page - in the evening, or across a series of evenings, and at the weekend. Damn it, it's too much. He phones his editor for a deadline. I want a deadline, he explains. I need something to aim towards. He's accomplished little enough so far, he explains. He's done little enough. Just give me a deadline.
Ivan Brunetti wants to die. He's tired of living, because living means work. He hasn't got it in him to work. He takes it so seriously! He takes it more seriously than anything else, working. His whole life is full of work. There's the day job - and the job at night. Drawing, writing, inking in. And there's his anthology work. And the teaching he does for the university. Jesus, it's too much.
So he writes about dying. He endlessly rehearses his own death. He draws pictures of suicides, suiciding. He draws himself with limbs chopped away and his face trampled away, stabbed and shot and kicked and beaten, Ivan Brunetti at the bottom of the world, Ivan Brunetti still alive, God help him.
Ivan Brunetti's got a death-drive, there's no question of that. It's the most obvious thing in the world! But it went wrong somewhere, it took a wrong turning, and now like Kafka's Gracchus, he's lost his death, he cannot keep his appointment. It took a wrong turn for Ivan Brunetti. Death led him elsewhere.
It's the promise at the end of the page. At the end of the page, at the end of the issue: the promise of cessation. But then it begins again, the old engine putters back into life, the propellor's turning, off he has to go, a shaky old plane on the runway. Up to the skies, off he goes again, when he wants only to lie down like a dead man, the sky passing over him. When he wants only peace, peace and death like a cool flannel on his forehead.
Ivan Brunetti's lost his death and doesn't know where to find it. It's gone off without him, and taken his life with it. Off it's gone with his life, with his sense of the limits of life and the limits of work. Off it's gone, the end, the clear dark line at the end, the eternal horizon he would sail towards.
But it'll never come closer, not now. Ivan Brunetti's off in his deathship. There it is, the eternal mirage: the final line, the place where he can lie down and die, the sky streaming above him. But meanwhile - the eternal meanwhile - there's a page to draw, to write, and then another page, and then another ...