Shot, by an invisible bullet. Even so, it fizzed, like an angry hornet the size of a bird. Like a horizontal, corkscrewing waterspout, it raped the air before punching a hole in my chest as though I were made of paper.
I open my eyes and I’m on the motorway, in two lanes, cheeks itchy and scratchy from old tears.
In the service station toilet. Holding back the nausea. He didn’t like being sick. Worm.
Gun, automatic, dropped to the grimy floor from the cubicle next door. It spun there for a while, between my bundle of trouser and the door on its broken hinge . I thought about what it might mean if the barrel pointed at me.
In fact, it came to rest aiming right back where it had come from.
The voice was small, tiny. Indian probably. I was unsure as to whether advertising my occupancy was a particularly wise move. Until my turd broke, splosh-thudding the ceramic bitch ass mother fucking toilet.
“…yeah?” I asked, my words like little angel scouts, detecting malice wherever it may dwell, the dicks.
“… can I have my gun back please?… ”
I wasn’t going to start trusting now. Eyeballing the height of the partition. I pick up the gun in my left hand and the turd in the other. I started talking about how we were going to do the exchange, all the while I’ve unlocked the cubicle door.
I jam the gun in my jacket and toss the turd over to the little voice.
I might have saved a life tonight. And fleshed out my plan of snuffing a few out.
I spat at the ground hot with an ancient sun. Imagined how crazy things would be.
Wonders what Mexico’s like.
Passed out beside the train tracks. Occasionally, I will look up at all the faces. They seem asleep, not awake. And this sleepy expression, it’s more like catatonia. An apathy so deep that there’s an odd beauty to it. It’s basic. Not forced.
I dig my fingers into the sweating, cold mud. I feel some bendable, sharp objects. Fingernails. I had to laugh.
I found a selection of coffee, tea, soft drinks and hot and cold snacks. The rats had been at them. Now they assemble somewhere I can’t see and bide their time. It is obvious now…I’m breakfast.
Drearily, I open my eyes. The world is different. Many pieces have shifted upon the board. The scratches, some of rust, others of blood, fight for territory amongst the spattered pools of oxytocin rich milk.
The ghost of an old dog, my old dog, myself, perhaps, washes its genitals whilst blocking out the sun. As though a phantasm of Goya had spread his brushes out for the first time in one hundred and eighty-five years. The glow from his candle hat preserving the night as shelter against the bitter cold chimeras of a shattered mind.
Those salmon, Francisco…They are more real than the one I just ate; than the millions in the sea, than my own heart beat.
A sandstorm engulfs the dog, leaving his gigantic (the dead are one hundred times larger without life) head poking out of a fresh, mountainous sand dune; at the foot of which cigarette butts multiply with my consternation, like flies to a leaking cadaver.
My stomach gurgles and swirls with the storm. The heart attempts to gulp away the sickness. The sky is evil with tar and withered forgetmenots. A single, burst balloon bleeds into the bitumen. I smoke my forth, last cigarette. Stub it out on my wrists and pluck another from the pack. A page from an unwritten novel swings down from the heavens to the sound of Duke Ellington. My nails are bitten to the quick. But there is strength in my heart. Lao Tzu says that the vulnerable are really the strong. Perhaps then, we can sway with the emotional tempests, holding on to one another to keep our feet on the ground.
“In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.”
They picked the wrong man. Definitely picked the wrong man. They all seemed down to earth and kind. If a little nervous, understandably. They even joked about the idea of being picked out. The silence that fell, like a maimed colossus, was sickening. The D.I. was a disgusting human being. As soon as he walked into the room a gust of something foul and alien followed him. A bogey was smeared around one nostril. Some of it was caked in the unnaturally straight, black hairs of his moustache. He strode past us, glaring and snorting. With each snort, a droplet of snot appeared, before disappearing quickly when he inhaled, wheezily. The hatred that poured from him was enough to make anyone physicality ill. And he made sure we knew exactly how he felt about us. My heart lurched as he passed me without so much as a glance and fixed his rotten, yolky eyes upon a squat, portly gentleman dressed in tweed and wearing an immaculate pair of Oxfords. My temples throbbed. The words queued themselves up on the tip of my tongue; ready to take the plunge, had their owner not been such a gutless coward.
The D.I. spun around on his heels and smiled at himself in the one way mirror behind which the victim stood, presumably. As he left, his two henchmen, both carrying powerful automatic weapons, growled at us.
You hear the words ‘deafening silence’ but until you’ve experienced it for real you can’t possibly know what they mean.
Each man’s fate started him coldly in his eyes. Death, with long teeth and deep, dark, empty cavities from which the promise of nothingness blares.
* * *
In a nauseating display of cruelty, they beat the portly gentleman in front of the citizens of his home town. Then they vaporised him, followed by a fireworks display and dancing girls.
* * *
I sat on the end of my bunk in a run down capsule hotel and listened to the crowd drowning out my tired copy of ‘Now 1561’. I’d been saving up my tablets for a number of months and was able to aquire some bootleg moonshine. The marriage of the two would get me through. Through this night and into a longer one. One where I hope to meet a man dressed in tweed. That I might beg him to forgive me. My tears splashing upon his mirror shine Oxfords. And I’ll thank him as he pulls the lever, opening up the bowels of Hades; in readiness to receive my corrupted, blackened soul.
Second time year it’s rained in my bedroom. Woke up swampy and confused to the sound of frogs chirruping.
Mosquitoes sat on my toes, mumbling whines. Conspiratorial. Seemed they were having a meeting. Deciding whether or not to drain me right there and then.
I said nothing about the fact that I was empty of blood.
Colleagues made snide remarks about me when I turned up for my first day after the procedure. Of course, I was eventually called into the office. Took them less than three minutes to dismiss me. They claimed I was inattentive. Slothful. Disobedient.
One of the mosquitoes (maybe the scout), flew away out of the window. It looked clumsy. Stupid. Stupid, fucking insect.
The bed began to vibrate. I smiled. This was a dream. Certain of it, I was.
Then the sky went black. The room became a hive of fizzing needles with wings. Each skin cell lanced by a pinprick of electricity.
That was last week.
I’m down to bones nearly. But I haven’t got the heart to tell them they’re on to a dud.
Thoroughbreds in fairy lights, head to toe. My little black heart reads from a tome it barely recognises. Fondness and fortune spread far and wide; beyond the trees, potent river songs whistle upon the rippling sky. Honey glass, steamed with cinnamon nylon synaptic spasms. All the hours of the world wrapped in the now. Giants play footsie with grass snakes. My friend, the Tarantula, kicks its legs into the face of death. Twisted guitars snap back straight. The final year of the pennywhistle. The drawings of emotional friction. Glistening, in dew, and with the universe pulsing through, my eyes unlock the marvel of space.
There’s a plane sat at a terminal. Inside this plane there is a wide, comfy seat. And gentle, sexy women asking me if I’m comfortable. Would I like anything to drink? Tomato juice. Please. Why always tomato juice.
This plane, it’s taking me to the desert. My dog is there, laying on his side, breathing slowly. If at all. I’m sorry Duke. I’m a douche. Dried food, once spongy meat in jelly, the odd pea or carrot, now welded to the side of his tin bowl. The smell of him licking my rough face. The sound of his claws upon the linoleum as he runs in circles, his bladder close to bursting.
I’m sorry Duke.
This plane, it’s due to take off any second. And I’m here.
So tired that it seems like a good idea to injure myself just so I can go to bed. Dose myself up on painkillers and sleep. And it’ll take me between eight months to a year to catch up.
You can see the lines under my eyes. Face puffed up. Hair growing in places it never used to grow. And life not keeping still enough for me to gain on it.
And my body breaking down.
Pulled a muscle in my right shoulder three days ago. Shortly after that, while running, my left knee. I’m all twisted up with stupid injuries. And none of them justify taking time off.
Not that I can, anyway.
I have a meeting to discuss my attendance. They’re talking about how I’m ruining the chance of a ‘stable future’ and what a ‘great opportunity’ is on the table here.
Give me the mountains. The desert. Hammer down with crows.
Send lightening up my garden path.
I carry my passport everywhere I go.