My bashful, scruffy eyes planted themselves upon a delicious pair of lips. Blood pulsed from one arm and into the oblivion of the laboratory. And for the first time, I didn’t care what they found. I was innocent. A gentle soul, my mother used to say as she sprayed hairspray in a sticky halo about her head.
Others have been less kind.
But time has been good to me. Inching forward, gentle as a whisper.
Animals know they ought to be afraid of me but they aren’t. Birds observe me with a perplexed curiosity, their heads tilted to one side. They chatter at me, as though trying to make me understand something. Or perhaps they are performing. Auditioning for my friendship. Like the birds of Papua New Guinea.
Like the stray, vibrant imaginings of my younger mind. Bright upon the air.
Mountains perform the part of enormous arms, hugging the island against the worst of the storm. So the music can continue to bathe the air in colour and spice.
In a dream, I watch my brothers and sisters dance. Once vibrantly coloured feathers decorate their heads and arms. The true brilliance of their hue died with the bird.
Flames dance; each aggressive tongue teasing the next with the promise of touch.
Circling the camp, between the fire and the stars, are pinches of air. Knots in the fabric of the universe. Not souls. Not meteorological anomalies either. They occupy the space where the songs of the birds used to live; along with their feathers, chirping beaks and bashful, scruffy eyes.
And they watch her lips, as I have; every second without words like a tiny death. An apocalypse of the heart.
The statue of the ghost stands livid and ferocious. Flames lick around its ankles. The letter I wrote to her sticks like papier mache to the large buttocks.
Rotting sand bags are stacked around the pedestal.
The wooden bench is sodden. It’s rained steadily, brutally, for several months now. My underwear is stuck to my backside.
The sun barely punctures the dense cloud. It’s like sitting under a blanket.
I aim my cigarette butt at her ass and flick. A respectable pile of dog-ends collects at her feet, close to the fire.
I notice a pool of watery blood running down one side of the plinth.
I gather the collar of my jacket around my neck and look up at the birds of prey circling above.
The dancers will arrive soon. The music to accompany my own slaughter.
So I return to the belly, all the while wishing to be devoured.
“Welcome to Motherboard Road Surgery. Please listen purposefully to the following fifteen options…”
My feet are hurting too much for fifteen options.
Started on each of my big toes as no more than a mild, achy chafe. After a few months (during which I hadn’t bothered to do a self checkup, or whatever it’s called) scaly patches had formed around the heels. Some with faint hairs sticking painfully through the cracks. Couple more days went by before I looked again. Wish I hadn’t.
The hairs had turned luminous orange.
My toes were in no better shape either. Protruding from the outer edge of each of my big toes were what appeared to be tiny, malformed fangs. The tips of which had curled downwards and began biting into the hard skin underneath.
Then the orange hair developed blue dandruff. Then the cat died. Then my sister shot at my house with a desert eagle. Then the newspapers went out of print. Then Brother Dewey drove himself and his wife and kids off the Silicone Ford Bridge.
And I wondered how the obituary would read before realising that there were no papers.
I sat with the little urn, crowned with an elaborate pewter lid and embossed, gold paw print, and picked strands of glowing, orange hair out of my socks.
Then I emptied my boots of the blue dandruff.
Then I tapped the WebCell on the wall next to me. Nothing.
What with everything, I’d forgotten that they’d shut down the Internet too.
I drew pictures in the cat litter with a piece of graphine wire.
Strange, tinny music buzzed from the fizzing post-box shaped orifice that, I imagine, was meant to be a mouth. A crackling electric cable spewed blue and orange sparks. They splashed off the side of its ‘head’. You’d have had to guess that it was thinking. Computing. As though in the presence of a corpse, I filled the empty, electronic entropy with emotions that didn’t exist.
It’s body made popping, coughing sounds. The solid, chipped red metal box of an abdomen rattled with miniature explosions. Tiny parts juddered, stuttered and backfired. The tiny, malformed fingers that poked out from the rubber nipples protruding from its sharp shoulder wiggled ineffectively. One of its flippers flickered, dumbly.
A ribbon of computer type purred from the post box mouth.
“I’m scared.” it read.
I picked up the nail gun, text the commanding officer to set the tactical device for t-minus 20 minutes and snapped a sharp rod of electrified metal into the metallic freaks’ mainframe.
I select a single, little, white tube from its small, cardboard coffin. The spark, the flame, ignites its soul and the smoke carries its memory to the ashtray in the sky.
Fresh brugmansia sang from the windowsill. Floral trumpets spicing the air with the endless possilities of the world.
* * *
He watches his cereal forming their novice symmetry in the gritty, pale pink milk. He spears one of the soggy hoops with the end of his biro, flattens out the pad and begins the letter. Milky, cheesy ink forms smeared words as quick as scissors. The countries leaders would take notice of him now. His voice would be heard. His ideas for the perfect state needed to be absorbed by the heads of government; who flailed, he thought, like a severed, angry cable setting light to the wilting, morally dehydrated population. His name would be remembered by the common folks. The men and women who toiled without adequate compensation, for decades, to provide for their children, before being lowered into their plots.
Our ‘protagonist’ saw himself as a radical, in a time where radicals were desperately needed. To others, he was avoided. His family and friends had long ago severed contact.
His only companion was an old mare. Her name was Daisy.
He wrote about her once, after waking from a bout with the night terrors.
“Strumming the air, gutterscotch; girl ghost. Not the fairies that flitter around the bedside, all tit’s an’ ass. Homely souls, these bar barrel, fuller, meaner women. Bellies full of eggs. Goose fat ass, butterblind.
Echoes from the death of love. Who is this new aparition? Mother, I failed. The horse, dragging herself towards the barrels of my gun. Scotch in your purse. I lifted it, lowered the barrel, channelled the cartridges, kissed her brain with shot and walked away, the stable ringing with silence.
Dribbling tears, snot and whiskey, the stable stands stock still in the dead of night. Huddled in the corner, I curried some eggs I’d fetched from the squeaky coop. The recipie from the cookbook of Lucifer himself, whose smile doesn’t comfort me, nor leave me self-assured in my slaughterhouse hour.”
He rubbed the paper, finally with fresh prawns. Sealed the envelope and addressed it, big.
* * *
On his way back from the post box, he saw a water spout form above the channel. A whirling, vaporous proboscis. Certainly, he thought, to suck the sea into outer space.
My heart does not know what is happening to it, since it can’t speak the lingo. But, nevertheless, it jolts with greif as I, and it, speed out of London. That’s its language; the beat, the heavy thudding of the heels of reality, of death. Our death. And a good thing it can’t speak, or it would be screaming “Phone her, phone her, phone her!”; relentlessly, and with no regard for its own sense of finality. It doesn’t understand the space between the beats. All it knows is now, now, now!
And I wish I didn’t agree with it. Because all I want is to be laying down next to her as we pour smiles and love into one another.
You’re watching me write this. And although I’m not saying anything remotely interesting, the words, as they pop out, in the wake of the viral cursor, are fascinating. But this has nothing to do with the writing and everything to do how your mind works. Who knows where this will go? Me? I’m not the expert. The scimatic of your brain is not something I could ever understand. My own psychic offal is a complete mystery to me. I’m hopelessly in love one minute, falling out of it the next and without a pause for breath. So, we’re on this train. And we’re all surrounded by darkness and stars, to the accompaniment of the spherical music of the soaring ether. Of course, I’d think about her. If I could. But it’s easier to tap words out on a screen. And if you’re looking on, that’s neither here nor there. But you’re out there somewhere. Whoever you are.
The stitching in the seams if my fly have come away. You can see my pants through them. And I forgot my hat, yes that green ski one. The one that makes me look 12. So the rain has been plopping on my head, which, itself, hangs heavy under the wanky weather. And the hair on my head, it’s overgrown. Wild. Looks like the owner doesn’t give a monkeys. Or maybe is a monkey. Which is partly true, after all.
They rewound the tape from the previous evening. There he was, laying on hay in the corner of the enclosure. He couldn’t keep still. Kept tossing this way and that. A little, red dot appeared at the back of his head, then went off. The message at the bottom of the screen read: DECEASE SUBJECT IF NOT ASLEEP AFTER 48 HOURS.
The creature looked towards the camera. It was errie. A cold, phantasmagorical hand crept into my chest and began squeezing at the mush.
Then it tossed it’s feces at us. It hits the lens, pancaking. We couldn’t see anything.
* * *
A few weeks pass. We’ve been receiving postcards, mostly unidentifiable locations, from Russell the chimp. Some of them show the primate with various of the lab workers wives in the midst of indescribable acts of depravity.
There have been a number of stress related sicknesses reported. In truth, we are running on a skeleton crew. And without our test subject, we’re at a loss to see how the project will be funded again.
* * *
I haven’t slept in nearly 2 days. So much to do. The Russell case has built up tremendous momentum in the press. There are animal rights activists all around the perimeter of the compound.
I’ve decided to make use of the old, hay cot since there’s almost no chance I’ll be leaving here any time soon.
I watched the news. Some of the activists are wearing t shirts with Russell performing indescribable acts of depravity with my wife.
* * *
I try to sleep. But I’m restless. The hay pokes through my sleeping bag.
I try to read.
A red dot appears in the middle of the page.
My blood pumps candy apple red under the old Grandfather star, ringing snuggly in his blue blanket.
I check my watch. Realise this is pointless. Come to recall how I’ve checked my watch only a few minutes ago and with exactly the same conclusion.
Where was time for it to be watched.
Kicking my melting boots in the sand, I cannot imagine that such things as were in the world (lint, promiscuity, cobalt blue embedded quilts, towers of animal faces in oak, an invisible means of announcing lateness, money, hog hair brushes, paracetamol, kites, javelin tipped gazes, glazed globes, ear lobes, panty hose) were in it.
I’m sure I’d need someone to describe these things to me.
As though my name wasn’t Russell. And I’d have to be convinced of this fact, beyond, and despite, the years of Russell-ness.