The sun never really comes out. They, the rich, have stolen it and stored in their castles.
Watching the buzz, from the work house, from the gutter. High hats totter and heels clack into the elite drinking holes, kicking up the odd gutter oyster (a rats liver, half chewed, something discarded from the paupers doctor, a piece of root vegetation). A scene of hoarse-drawn carriages, each with it’s own, lush cabin, inside which virginal beauties dream of star fruits, Turkish delight, tigers, peacock feathers, fountains of wine with rubber duckies boobing upon the semillon skin. The candle light cuts through the curtains. Someone throws blue mud at red wine velvet curtain. They are shot immediately; a crack of smoke. A posturing guard. A faint smile upon his young lips. His master pats his wig.
A fight broke out over some peelings. They spilled from the kitchens. Another shot from the flintlock pistol scatters the crowd. An old man is trampled to death.
By morning, his body had disappeared, leaving only the rags he wore. A phone rang. The kettle boiled. You read this to me. I commented that I hated it. Everything about it.
The sky remained stubbornly sombre but that was exciting somehow. Better than mass hysteria, than making jam, than walks by the sea, than you and me.
The sky remained stubbornly sombre but that was exciting somehow. Better than mass hysteria, than making jam, than walks by the sea, than you and me
Slamming my head into the desk repeatedly. Ears ringing from every cracking impact. Though it’s soothing, almost. Exhilarating, definitely. Like the tickle from a dandelion upon the arch of my foot before stomping down upon an animal trap.
The scooters whinge up and down the road. The seagulls whine in the dead day sky.
They wait around a table, eager to tear apart the next creature that walks in. Toss in a steak before me lads, I smell death in there.
The blushed sky crept up without warning this morning. The river ran like it would never end. Like, in the blackness of space, it would still babble on, carrying its underwater carnival off to a cosmic vanishing point, where, who knows, all the reeds, swans and fish might be reborn as fireworks, astral music, birds of prey, songs of the spheres.
The dust sat snugly in the slithers of air in between the well-thumbed pages of a book once treasured, now forgotten.
Wind whistles through the open windows, smashing one shut, yanking one open. Rain hammers down. The music of phantom Taiko drummers surges through the walls of the room, reigniting the beat in the old, grey heart of the masonry. A jam session takes place between the invisible percussionists and the air pressure above this feral offspring of an island.
Half a cashew nut shell. Inside, the wing of an insect. Outside, light floods everything.
Imagine holding such a light. Every molecule in your soul, pulverized instantly. And the dog, the poor sod, would cover eyes with paws at the silent explosion, the pearl blue flash.
Soon, though, its stomach would squeal in harmony with its whining and it would clamber out of the rubble and look for food. The only remaining evidence of life will be a burning photograph of a young man wearing a graduation costume. The frame is in flames and the day, now six hours and forty-nine minutes long, bides its time. Waits for the sound of traffic to die away. For the gentle trickling sound of the river to return before taking flight to the regions of space where old radio signals lay in heaps. Where rivers curl around bonfires.
A small stream of excrement. A totem of turpitude. Without gears, the machine judders and fits. Rum and coke. Lean and mean. Your rancid tit. Statues ablaze. My city, your city. Wiggle. Ten times ten equals one whatever.
Have you tasted the air after an animal has fitted? Convulsed and vomited sounds that have come back to you via de ja vu?
The sourness gathers and rises.
You, my friend.
Do my gong a bong and close the door. Make sure the air is closed; womb-like, unlike the scratch, the nub, the death of everything.
Blip. Thonk. Wheeze. Deep fried fish and good, mouldy cheese. Let the bile rise and gargle it; never allow the smile to slide from your mug. Just nod and blink slowly, once, to confirm that, yes, you agree. Honk. Hon-hon-Honk. Beep, beep, beep, beep…and on and on…a splintered flock of seagulls pretend to be made of paper. A mobile phone whips past your nose. Remember? The sound of the voice, screaming from the receiver; “Eeeee”. And he, whoever he was, stomping off down the street, his hand raised in apology. And the dumb brute, in cave language, “Soy Love”. And then you get it. You told me…on a landline…you said you realised that the buildings were peeling away…you could see people crying into their cans…and when your head became too heavy from sticky, cheap lager and you looked into the drain, you noticed the drains clogged with faces; grey, mottled and with soggy cigs stuffed in their bloated lips…Then, it was probably those ruddy chemicals they put in the lagers that you were chucking down yourself…your mascara…you’d walk to me with loaded lenses…two…welling…but ah…time to stop.
She passed me the thin plastic bottle of cider. I kept looking at her, expecting something else, I didn’t know what. Mistake. “Don’t cut me up…tosser!” she said. Then she nodded to the bottle. I poured some down. She looked back to the pier, then the sea and whatever else was out there. The drink was evil. The smell of sugar, gas and cheap aftershave was overwhelming. Some of it came back up. I drank more to push it back down. Somehow it worked. I passed the bottle back. The plastic clicked and popped. She clasped it with both hands, like she was holding a baby she didn’t want and wiped the bubbly, green mouth with the grubby sleeve of her purple puffer jacket.
The metal joists moaned under the weight of fairground rides, cafe’s, candy-floss, toilets, 248 shoes, teddy bears, brightly coloured plastic balls, hot dogs, goldfish, a karaoke bar, 85 tonnes of timber, arcades, doughnuts, little rifles and whatever else…
“This is rubbish. Let’s go and flob at the sea.” She said.
I followed. Of course I followed.
You wake up. Miniscule flocks of strange birds are pecking your insides out. You go ‘Yah!’
Then you wake up.
And you feel detached. At peace. Part of another, more fluid, supernatural world. This can’t last, you tell yourself. This can’t last. Your nose starts to run. You blow it into some kitchen roll. It runs again. ‘See?’ you shake your head sadly.
The cat stands at the window, barely acknowledging the hundreds of small birds feeding on the seeds scattered across the frozen mud.
‘Puss…puss!’ You go.
And the cat propels itself into a bounce. You brush it with the hard, wire brush that it loves. You don’t understand how it can enjoy the little needles across its back but it does. Its purr resonates through its body, up into the brush handle and tickles your palm.
You look at the clock and it says something shit.
Then you drink your fifth cup of tea and slice the top of an itchy insect bite.
The cat sits at your feet, staring up at you. You notice how its eyes are not centered normally, with one seeming to want to look away from the other.
‘Stop giving me the psycho.’ you say.
‘Meeeeeoow!’ it booms back.
(A dark hallway. The radio is on. No words exchanged in several hours. The dog yawns on the welcome mat, looks up at the letterbox, then at its owners and lays back down. The news pumps misery all over the carpet.)
Ruth: How was it today?
(She asks but doesn’t care. She scratches her belly and squeezes her eyes shut and yawns. Then she looks around for the light switch.)
Ian: No, don’t.
(Ian is in the cack. He has sort of fallen in love with this new woman who’s started at work. This new woman likes one of the younger men. Ian hates the younger man. And he hates the new woman. He loves her though.)
Ian: I’m just saying.
News: …several occasions this year and the rift that has been created is expected to worsen in the coming months…
(She puts the remote control down and stares through the walls. The flowers lose a few more petals onto the window sill above their heads.)
Ruth: I’m off to bed.
Ian: I’ll be up in a minute.
(He staggers down to the basement and finds his old notebooks. They are filled with love letters he never sent. He wonders where they are now, these women he loved but could never say. Darts of light flutter around the shadowy walls.)
Ruth (from upstairs): Can you switch off the lights?
Ian (to himself): They’re already off.
The final hours, the complicated ones, those which corrode the sense of who we might be; who tell us who we are, for better or worse. Each tick of the clock sends shivers down the spine. And as they eyelids grow more and more heavy, the air thickens like a dense soup. One drop of which could knock a man out in seconds. Falling to the floor as though he were made of metal and the world was a tremendous magnet. Having the time to do what we want is a luxury. Having work to do, whether it’s sorting out paperwork, clearing a space for dinner or writing letters to people who have disappeared from view, is a necessity. The wine bottle was filled with dead flies. The clock counted the number of times he thought about her. Plans were made for the escape. The mind was set to the task. An open landscape, the sky a beautiful gradient of cerulean blue into salmon pink. An expansive desert with jagged rocks protruding in what look like deliberate patterns. And a swarm of spheres oscillating above them. The air resonates with a symphony dedicated to morning, noon and night. The sounds disappear when the mind is aware of them, then quickly they snap back once it treats them as a part of the great play. The sand is a brilliant white, made purple by the mixture of colours in the azure. The hours do not carve their certainty here. The mantle of knowledge has no place in the zone of emptiness. That it exists is uncertain. Though the mind is tired, it treads confidently upon the pulverized sand made of ancient sea shells. Small grains of sand, whipped up a faint breeze, a thought, a panic, fizz against the rough shafts of the rock. Tick, tock, tick, tock. The pan boils; as each bubble explodes, small droplets of the soup fall into the vortex. The pen nib snaps. Ink sprays across the page. The smell of old meat, fresh flowers and blind panic fill the nostrils. With the blunt end of the pen, pouring with oily, black liquid, he writes:
“mouthwash – paracetamol – smoothie”
There have been a few moments in 2011 that have made me want to shit my life through a straw at the heavens. Many times when I have seen the phantom plane ticket. Times when my feet have been constantly restless. Embarrassingly so. But as a year, it’s been fairly pffft as far as I’m concerned. Fine. The previous one reared it head like a twenty-foot monster in the shape of a demonic three-year-old. And fucking terrifying that was. Destroyed everything including a special temple I had built to commemorate the life of an excellent, but unknown, poet. No matter. One dusts ones self down and carries on, doesn’t one? And so, as 2010 hit its declivity, it was with a profound sense of unease that I bobbed upon the waters of the late December down time. You could find me stationed at the local. My weapons: a pint of strong, continental lager and, when there was minimal risk of losing my seat, a packet of full-flavoured cigs. Occasionally I’d see some shifty figure lope past the window and convince myself that it was a scout. Yes, 2011 had employed scouts and was sending them out into the world to scan, tag and retrieve the data on every poor sod who hadn’t had the sense to lock themselves in their flats. In the far reaches of my noodle, I felt sure that, if it was going to happen there was nothing I could do about it. Hiding would only prolong the panto of persecution. Out in the open, at least I could see their face. Inevitably, though, I’d end up chatting up some girl or be part of a group of lager laughs. If 2011 had busted through the door in front of strobe lighting and dry ice, I’d have been none the wiser. Imagine being sat in a pub, bladder too full, an uncomfortable build of beer bubbles in your colon, and they announce the four-minute warning. That new year’s, like this one, I’m sat behind my curtains armed with this typer and watching to see what unfolds.
And I’ve not ruled out the stay puft marshmallow man.