The Robbery

The brew was evil. And it left the breath smelling, no, tasting of ashtrays.
What had happened was that someone had stolen his ghost. Then another individual, presumably an accomplice, had taken his body to the grottiest club in town.
Who these creatures were is uncertain. They may have been downloaded from the congested ether. Whoever, or whatever, they were seems unimportant now.
He sits at his desk job and wonders if they have noticed the booze sweats, the way he staggers.
Vomiting in the sink, he becomes disoriented and faints.
The creatures steal his body and escort it back to the desk job. They get him sacked. He never knew how or why.
He awoke sat on a bar stool. An freshly emptied pint glass sits in front of him.
“Same again?” the barman asks.
And he says yes and wonders what it will be and what will happen next.


Springtime: Viewed from Space

His last 50p freed itself from his thumb and forefinger and hit the tarmac on its side, before cartwheeling into a storm drain. The drain smelled of old eggs. He laughed, poured the luke warm, soupy, sickly ale from its sticky jar into his guts and walked out of the beer garden, smashing his shoulder into the wall as he tried too hard to walk in a straight line.
An open top bus rumbled slowly past. It was filled with creatures dressed in pink. They screamed and cackled and he cackled back. Then he felt spots of spit land on his shoulders and head. Once, on the side of his cheek and in his eye. The spit smelled like wax and sugar.
The weather was black and white. Above the screen of nothing there was blue sky. How high did a person need to be to reach the fresh air, he thought…possibly aloud.
The sense that time’s bottleneck was fast approaching didn’t alarm him as it once had. He was not afraid, not sickened and had no regrets. Another bird splattered at his feet; a wing waving one last time.
Heavy bass boomed from the open windows of clubs.

*    *    *

In the park, he sat under a large tree. He was always bad at naming things. But this tree, this thing, was old. It was so old that it seemed to transcend the time in which it existed. Its limbs seemed as though they might move, all of a sudden, and scoop him up and devour him. This thought comforted him. Cans were jammed in the crevices, these he threw away as though cleaning house. Then, he settled into an accommodating nook cushioned with leaves and reached into his breast pocket.
He’d found a strip of pills in the library toilets, next to one of the sinks. He looked up their name in a book and found out that they were sleeping pills. The foil covering the pills was wrinkled and slightly damaged. And some of the pills showed through like bone from a severe wound. He pressed out two of the pills. Saved up saliva for a few moments and took them. They tasted sour.
Soon he began to feel drowsy. His brow softened and the world opened up like an orchid blooming. The soil released iridescent spectre’s from his past. His family, now long dead, shone in their once beautiful garden. They offered him something to eat and drink. “Sit here Russ,” his mother said.
And the bows of the tree moaned like a deserted battle-ship in a thick fog of cannon smoke.

Ping Bomb

Ping, goes the bathroom light from where it lives in the ceiling; as summoned, rudely, by a demeaning, and simple, cord or string with a small plastic bell on the end of it.
The circular mirror, the same one my Rene used to apply her make-up in front of, confronts me. It tell me the black, spiky truth. Three missing teeth in the front of my face; my smile is gruesome; I look like an aged baby; all stubble, bruises, dark-ringed, blood-shot eyes and dried tears. My lips swollen; the skin stretched, it seems, to breaking point.
And the worst thing is: I can’t remember how this happened.
For days now small, dark creatures have followed me around, hovered above my eyes whilst I’ve tried to sleep. When I do manage a few hours, they sing nightmare lull a-byes into my skull bone, into stopped up, yet evil porous, ear-holes. And the nightmares are nightmares because they convince me of the certainty of an horrific, soon to dawn, future. One with beautiful animals only represented in name, and only then because they are written in a menu, and only then because the menu was retrieved, as possible food, or token for food, by a rabble of matted, yelping, half burnt victims of a nuclear war, from the stiff corpse clutches of a man who refused to believe that nothing would grow for 500 years from this sick soil, this toxic womb. Dirty tears were petrified upon his dead mug. A few front teeth were missing. His dry eyes sunken into their dark sockets.
The rabble made of with the pamphlet. Some gnawed at the edges. Other slapped the gnawers away. Maybe they, in their turn, were gnawed. In turn. That or slapped. Or left to cry ’til they die, clutching a copy of a charred TV mag like it’s the Bible.

Side Effect III

Ash flickers across the street. A face forms in the particles. It wakes, suddenly, and takes in the world, as though for the first time.
The face could be described as:
A man in his early forties. His face is unsymmetrical. One side of his jaw protrudes more than the other side. His eyes, as far as you could tell were fairly straight. One, however, appeared to look beyond, where the other looked through. On the nose, near the tip, was a small, almost indistinguishable bump. The lips were full and moved as though to speak. The only sound created was that of dry leaves whipped up by cold wind.
Few witnessed the apparition. Their interpretations on what might have been said, or ‘mouthed’, varied, and included the following:
‘This is my future, not my past.’
‘Forget fear. The only fear is the last.’
‘I miss you. Where did you go?’
‘The water was still. It was.’
The ash fell to the ground. A radio switched itself on in a car. A few birds fell from the trees. Someone’s phone rang. And they walked away, gesturing with their hands.
A flurry of dandelion seeds caught the new light.
Then everyone went home.

Like the Clappers

He lived by the sea in the middle of a thunder cloud. On a shelf there sat a skull, some old fish and chips and a copy of an old, mysterious novel. On the front of the novel a gold sketch of a butterfly was embossed. The book was hard for him to read. Every day he picked it up, with open mind and heart, and tried to see if it would reveal something to him. And every day he closed it with a heavy feeling inside. When he went to bed he was visited by ghosts who appeared at the sound of a clapping hand. A dog was heard whimpering, though he never saw the dog. Perhaps it was something else. He would lie in his hard bed at an awkward angle. He appeared to be frowning. In the dim light, occasionally brightened by passing cars, there were what appeared to be tears rolling down his cheeks. In the man’s mind, phantoms walked the streets; they appeared through blinding bright keyholes from houses in his childhood street. A vicars face would approach him, bodiless, and sneer evil incantations into his head. The whimpering would turn to a bark. The bark would become louder and louder until, finally, the man woke up, sweating and shaking through to his bones. And for a split second, he thought he saw an animal at the foot of his bed, teeth bared, grinning back at him. The thunder never stopped. And the book became harder and harder to decipher. So he left. He ran away from the sea. To the man, it was as if the waves were fanning the badness into his life. And, who knew, if he’d never found the book, things might have been simpler.
He moved to the city in the middle of winter. On the bar there sat a pint of beer and a whiskey chaser. He sipped the beer, dumped the whiskey in and waited for it to mix. A packet of pork scratchings sat, half empty like a destroyed animal next to the drinks on top of a book called ‘how to write’. On the front of the book there was a picture of an old mans face. The book was hard to read. Every day he opened it at a random page and yet the same information presented itself to him. “In the old days, those of storms and no heating; when my wife was pregnant with the kid, I’d sit down and think of those first, immortal lines. Of course, they never came. All I could hear was that fevered applause that was so dear to me. The congratulations from peers, the proposals from beautiful women who’d read my work and want me for my words. The waterfall of success. I was damned from the beginning…” And he would go to bed except there was no bed. And he would phone his loved ones but there were no loved ones. They’d all died in his own, personal tragedy. A nail comes loose on his finger. He peels it off and hopes no one can see. Then he dabs another finger in the whiskey dregs and smears it on the weeping finger. It stings and aches at the same time. The lights of a police car flash through the window of the bar. The siren comes and goes, trailing off as though losing its intonation.
A butterfly lands on his pork scratchings. He hammers it hard with a closed fist, mingling soft, radiant colours with dead, grey fat. The wings of the butterfly move slowly and then stop forever.

Portait of a You

Slammed, into a wall there to brew their no-child sadness, easy burial, quiet thoughts…or none at all. The animals would be waiting at home, indifferent gazes behind net curtains. Knowing full well that Sparrow and Maude will be home tonight, before it’s too late, and will feed them happily. Donations sent to cancer trust. Both families have suffered much. Though the disease had torn them all to pieces, Sparrow and Maude were saved this fate. They were caught on the A361, to lose control at 75 miles per hour, just outside of Knowstone. A local cabbie saw them careen, both seemed to hunch their shoulders shortly before being thrown clear through the windscreen. But no one wants to think about the pain, and whether or not one lived longer, by seconds, than the other. Whether or not it was Maude, perhaps even Sparrow, that screamed the others name.

And they will lick their paws, these fluffy two, each reminding itself that they had known food. And soon, when the big ones return, their stomachs will be full once again. Each briefly casts a glance, indifferent but minutely concerned, to see if the other is having the same, troubled thoughts.

And the weeks rolled away, the cat flap made its last noise, trapping brother and sister out in the cold, to fend for themselves; mice, birds, stolen scraps.

They were so upset, both of the little ones, that the cats had left the house. Their uncle and aunt were dead and gone and so was the dream of cuddles and games with the cats. And as they cried, each looking at the other to see if they are both having the same, troubled thoughts, the future reached inside the room, claiming their joy for another time.

The memories that faded long before your letter, are opened more like wound than paper. So I ask now whether you might have thought before drawing blood.

I kept the paper in a tin, with trinkets that brought her closer than no funeral. And never sent the reply, not proper, no, but the painless horizon picks out no silhouette from the past, obstructing the road to the sun.

Tick Tock V.39

I dropped orange paint on my jeans. The paint smeared by the right pocket. So now if I need to get my keys I end up with paint on my hand. And on my keys. Or my lighter. Or my snot tissue. And then I end up with tangy cadmium paint on my snot tissue, which ends up on my nose. I scratch my forehead in consternation and smear more paint on my face.

Sat in my comfy chair after work. After dinner. Eyelids heavy; thoughts of the past. Mental slideshow of fun times and a few horrors. Struggle to move in the chair. Blinking takes up the remaining energy I have left. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about expending too much on the painting, not having that great facility for declaring the world my own brushstroke. No, the world isn’t mine. When I sleep, the world will still be beautiful. And when I die, the view of Earth from the moon will be little changed. After people, the sky will busy with wildlife again. And paradise will return.

Then I remember the paint on my jeans and get really annoyed and burst onto the street all rage and hatred and fight and pull out a cigarette and smoke it because that’s what fucking writers do isn’t it?

Fibre Match

Hula hula. Sound the horn. Chaser lights in gravy. Tweed suits and serious issues. Young animals with death in their bellies. The attic creaks with secrets. Two people, far apart, think of a world without each other. Harmonica’s dangle from the rear view mirror. Speculation on coming catastrophe’s. Lightening left-right combinations. How to knock a person out from across the room. Drowning in fizzy piss and tears. Writing poetry in blood. A scarecrow cackling at your prostrate form, fingers clawing the wet mud, rain washing everything but the memory into the crop. Soon, sprouting misery, a last hurrah, celebration of the cheap-shot. Scratch your name into a beautiful wooden table top, you wimp. The building hums with spirits of all shapes and persuasions. Hymns ring out for the lost, the dead and the dying. We trundle on through piercing rain in the general direction of hell. Once, I dreamed of drinking a vase of wine. When I came to, the sheets were sodden and I vomited into the toilet. Floating in the acidic mess were pasta shapes spelling the name of a hard forgotten lover. Seventeen dictaphones placed in strategic positions record the comings and goings of this naked ape. This spasm of flesh and nerves. A trail of sonic evidence that this person did something ritualistic, perhaps obsessive, in this location, at this time and on their own. There were a second set of footsteps recorded however. These were more graceful, less easy to pick up at first listening. In lipstick, the words seemed slashing; red, violent and despairing. Deep in the pigment, there was suspended a memory of him. Though no fine tuned detection would or could pick up the subtlety of the trace. A thin cord attached them but for how long, who knew. It seemed as though it might break at any time.

Wait, what’s this; a new sun? No. Someone with their headlights on full beam while I try to sleep. On the boards, under the sea, halfway between you, halfway between me.


Bowl of Noodles

Cabinets filled with dead foetuses. A gigantic skeleton watching over the chipper congregation. The living spectators to the devastated dead. And yours truly counted amongst their vital number. The cathedral like building, surrounded by clouds of genius, standing still through the lifetimes of our grandparents and great-grandparents, is a chamber of human antiquity. Old. Serious. Dimly lit, inside and out.

The walls dripped with endeavour. Oil paintings of old heads hung upon the walls. One depicted twins joined at the hip. Never separated, through choice, until they died, within hours of each other. Sections of organs, sliced open to show the growth of some disease or cancer. With colour rinsed out, these chunks of fleshy mechanics lie eerily still in their chemical coffins.

In another room was a video. It demonstrated the astonishing dexterity and skill of the surgeon. The fingers so still it was as though everything else in the world moved around them. The floor, for a minute, seemed to shift underneath my feet.

The film continued.

Bore-holes were made in a skull. An oval section was cut away and removed.  A bony bowl. The brain beneath pulsated with the dreams of the patient.

Then a gorgeous girl stood next to me. But I didn’t exist. She simply wanted to watch the film. Inevitably, my attention was soon drawn away from the miracle of modern medicine and, instead, fixed upon the smoothness and incredible symmetry of her face; her dark, mysterious and utterly beautiful eyes. Now preoccupied with ideas of making an introduction, the video was reduced to a background arrangement of colours and sounds. More of an annoyance. A wall separating us. Indeed, it was getting all the attention.

Eventually, surrounded by such beauty, horror and gore, I lost my nerve and strode off purposefully.

And, anyway, what sort of man flirts with a woman in a place filled with tumours, dead babies and drilled heads? Surely, some kind of psychopath.

But before I knew it, I was outside, hating myself with some of the last, remaining calories in my tank.

And, feeling a fresh surge of hunger, made my way to Chinatown for a bowl of noodles.

Under the Spark Machine

Sticks in piles. Did you see that? Wine drips from sleeves and shelves laden with pickled things: books, limbs, vegetables, badges, certificates, eyes. Yes, indeed. I imitate and burn. Flay off the skin, there is nothing underneath maybe. Who knows? If you pick up a lighter, no, let’s make sure, a blowtorch. Like so. And turn on the gas. A simple spark. Aiming the bright end at the flesh. Yow, it pops and fizzles. I’ll try it out. See how I get on. Fly it upon the next warm eddy. Catch a bird of prey on a Sunday. Trap it in a room made of mirrors. Create the perfect weapon. A spiritual scream through decades. Three. A dead church surrounded by a cloud of birds. Speakers poking through clouds. Piped music from the ionosphere. Sounds reflections of good and vile dreams. When I didn’t want to wake. The chill ram-rodding the temples, cooling the blood. Brain frozen and unable to leap at the thought of the morning.

But the night. All blood-red and weeping eyes. Fascination rumbles in the balls. She has you. That faceless, formless bitch. Light the stove. We’ll eat then head to bed.