Yolk in the Eye

One corner bleached by the sun. A small face grins or smiles back out. There between the trees in the far distance are the winged witches. One of them has distended labia, which she uses to pick up the insects that scurry wherever there are new souls searching the Earth. There is something about a jam sandwich. It has been dropped upon the rough, gritty  floor, where there are new empires being put together by folk with exoskeletons that care. Look at those tiny socks too. Why would you bother, what with all the mud? Maybe, a voice offers, he’s just wearing them for the photo? A quick slap in the twat puts a stop to that. Ah, a rainbow. What an empty-headed, refreshing, pretentious, heart-warming, gut-wrenching, luminous, protracted (oh yeah), gruesome, sublime (remember that one?), refined, clandestine, whatever…listen, do not fall asleep. If the sun, or sin, doesn’t rise tomorrow remember I told you nothing. What we do know is there are dinosaurs that walk the earth. They wear fish-nets and have distended labia’s. They squawk and shrink people with their laser beam smart phone app’s. Caesar, how did you manage to crow-bar that word into your work? Hey, leave it to the experts, eh Caesar?
The birds were busy pecking away the flesh from the skin of my brain.
That’s terrible. When are you going anyway?
What I heard today:
He said he had it good but he didn’t.
I haven’t had my coffee.
He was photographed with Toney.
No, that’s not right.
Oh, right.
Bye.
Ok mate. Bye.
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.
What does this mean?
I am in the ground in all but body.

Merry Christmas giblet lips.

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Finder of the New Day Without Himself Gone

This old man pranced around the heavy bag and tried to look like a boxer. He was breathing for three lungs. The coaches were stood around imploring him on, “Last minute Russ; come on mate, last minute!” Then one of the coaches said, “You’ve got a right hand too Russ!” and that did it. Though his arms were ready to fall off, his legs begged to die and his lungs burned like fire, it was the heart that bit down, saw red and bludgeoned that heavy bag with everything he had. That he was old didn’t bother him. In truth, he would have been happy to die with his gloves on. So he mixed it up with slick combinations; putting sting on his shots; moving in and out, side to side. He lunged in, threw an overhand right and the bag made a sound like a humpback hitting the water. And the old man skipped back like a ballet dancer, catching the bag with a sweet left hook as it swung back at him. He heard the beeps for the last ten seconds and felt it rise again in him. He refused to be beaten by his old body. And his old body was a wimp and he told it so. It just wanted to lie down. So the old man gave it an ultimatum: he said it could either help him fight these next ten seconds and leave a part of itself in the gym, or it could pack up and die and he was happy with either outcome. The body, his body, wasn’t even given time to answer. Russ, the old man, popped and thumped the bag with rapid combinations; jabs, backhands, hooks, uppercuts; darting around the bag, letting it swing by him…a centimetre from his nose; snapping jabs out, bouncing on his feet as though he weighed nothing. The body was so overheated that steam rose off it, like a racehorse. “You can die if you need to.” The old man said to his weak body, “I can’t give up.”

“Time!” said the coach.

Russ answered his arms call to hang by his sides, his legs to keep still and straight…his lungs gulped down more air than they could manage.

This was the thing…

For Russ, he faced Death. It had been grinning at him all day. In the darkness of his studio, when he was supposed to work, Death showed him pictures of all the people he loved dead or dying. It broke him down, tried to make him vulnerable; drunk on its blackness. Death wanted Russ to lay down and cry, to call for him, to desire him. Death was a lonely individual. And although Russ was lonely, he wasn’t going to start entertaining this dark hooded fucker. But he decided, as Death had been showing him so much attention, to invite him along to the gym. Death followed him, like a stray dog on the promise of a feed. And so Death, tails wagging, takes Russ to the heavy bag and goads him. And Death thrives on the fact that people fear him; he finds it very attractive in a prospective corpse. So Russ is training. And the old man needs to go all the way to the end, if that’s the way it’s going to be. Only thing is, Death doesn’t believe that Russ has the gonads for it. So he teases Russ. Sings his body a lullaby of fear; it responds, demanding that Russ slow down or, preferably, stop. But Russ has gone beyond the point of packing it in willingly. He is in a groove and, at the coaches comments, decides that a physical death would be much preferable to the one he’d certainly suffer from stopping. And, as the ten second beeps count down, Death’s cock shrinks smaller and smaller. Though he manages to steal six months from Russ, he does not take his life. And Russ knows that Death has disappeared, for now. There is no longer that smell in the air; the smell of the river, the storm, the fresh morning the day after you die. It has disappeared.

“Good last round,” the coach says.

And Russ tells himself, ‘Boy, you’re still here.’

Old Fashioned

He passed ghosts in the street. Some leered at him whilst others glanced briefly, then grinned at themselves at some inside joke. The day was in full swing but he felt as though there were an enormous veil across the sky, blanketing the universe from influencing the comings and goings of misery, substance abuse and commerce. He saw spectres, like him, with shocked expressions, as though they knew what they were but would not, or could not, acknowledge it. There were abandoned prams outside pubs.
Someone had painted frowning eyes on the back window of their car. He thought, ‘everything wears an angry expression, unless it’s defeated, dead, or dying.’
It had been months since he’d, disbelieving, seen the further degradation of the animal he once loved. Now collapsed, its legs atrophied beyond recognition, wheezing its final breaths, it was on the threashold of devastating the world at the same time that it left it.
‘She’s been like that since you left,’ said his friend. ‘I thought you’d want to see her before…’ and his friend looked away. And he knew that his friend was crying.
‘Ok.’
As he shut the car door he heard the shot. For a second he imagined it was the car door. In the pit of his stomach, though, he knew that it wasn’t the car door.

*    *    *

The town reached up to the sky like a forest of dying hands. The stubbornness inspired him, in a sick way.

And.

He laced on the gloves and examined his opponent. And he realised, had realised all along, like a bad ending (a bad ending) that the opponent was his unborn child. And that it, he, was in for a good, old-fashioned arse-kicking.

A Scrape

You can see my fag ends all over the car park. White tipped. Menthol. Little, dead things. Sort of cute, in a twisted sense.

The winds blow in off the Bristol channel but there is not much else in the way of action.

Apart, perhaps, for one of my little menthol fag ends blowing around the car park.

A swift darts through the air right in front of me. I watch it change direction in a heartbeat, mildly annoyed at its talents. It makes another pass. It gains in confidence and fly’s closer. I find myself smiling. And I’m annoyed that I’m smiling. It zips towards me in diagonal aerobatics and stops, hovering in mid flight, close to my shoulder, to have a better look at me. I hold my breath.

Finally, and in a supreme act of defiance, it settles close to my feet. It seems to be studying me, or playing.

I keep still, but the bird doesn’t appear to be that bothered about me. More, that is has its own reasons for being there and can be out of there, if needs be, in a split second.

I try to imagine what is going on in its little skull. Does this tiny thing consider anything other than survival? Is it possible, for instance, for it to agonise over passing the time? Might it not, in fact, be flying out of fun but due to of a screaming fit of boredom? Is it, just say, aware of the torture of 13:28 on a Tuesday afternoon, wondering how to fill the rest of the day without submitting to the safety and comfort of drink? Perhaps its twisting and turning in the air is a response to the withdrawal from fermented berries, or the result of the intoxication from them. That would explain its cockiness.

No, it’s more likely that they regard me as a curiosity; a thing requiring investigation to eliminate the possibility of whether or not it’s food. Better that than the maddening meanderings of the self-aware; dulling life, or the knowledge of its certain end, with booze. No, better, much better, to fly. It’s the booze that clips away the wings like dry, dead branches from a once glorious rose-bush.

I scrape my brogues into the gravel to stop myself thinking of drink and the swift fly’s away.

Contract – Part 2

A large, chipped china bowl sat on the floor by the side of the bed. It contained a rag soaking in bloody water. There were shadows. There were odd sounds. He was now writing down what he wanted them to know. And, of them all, she was the one he felt best with. The others, he didn’t know. And, though he didn’t know her, he felt that she would not try to kill him. Now that he was blind, he felt sure that, of them all, she would be least likely to smother him in the night. He took to pointing in the direction of her voice. He heard murmuring, questions whispered. Later, a piece of paper was placed on his chest. Then a pencil. Then, to his left he heard a voice. Her voice. ‘Okay’, it said. His writing must have been large. They went through lots of paper. Sometimes she had to move his hand to the correct position on the page; to start a new paragraph, for instance. As for food, his instructions were, as he wrote, ‘you prepare it for me please, I would but I’m blind and, anyway, I could never cook’. And so she did, over months it seemed. She must have been of a slight build; he couldn’t remember ever seeing her and, even if he did, he was likely out of his mind on drugs when he did; yet it seemed as though he could hear her feet, tapping on the stone floor. Yes, the floor is made of stone, he remembered. And he would feel small, delicate fingers touch his forearm, skilfully avoiding the cuts, when she was at his bedside. Piece by piece, he was assembling his guardian. As she spoke he imagined her teeth, even, strong, pretty. Her lips, he felt sure, were beautifully formed. There were things they kept between themselves and, as she spoke to him, her voice took on a wispy, fleeting quality that made him want to listen. Made him want to talk to her. He felt, though, that if he spoke, the world would stop in an instant. So, in his fear, he continued to write down what had happened and she, patiently, would move his hand when it was required. Once, feeling as though others were in the room watching, he spat to when he thought they were stood and tried to scream. His terror held his voice and only a tiny, pinched screech wheezed from him. A small hand touched his forehead and he lay back down. A voice called up from the gardens outside the place where the breeze came. They were alone.

The Revenge of the Customer Service Attendants

The big woman yapped on at her colleague in the petrol station and reached out for my items. It was lunch. Then she burped and, under her breath, said sorry; not directly to me but to someone, or something else; perhaps as a force of habit. It was lunchtime. I had been hungry.
* * *
Have lunch in my car again. On the menu was reformed foam is the shape of crisps, sushi and apple juice. And it all tasted the same just looked different. And when it was eaten there was neither the feeling of contentment or satisfaction. Rather, that my body was part of a larger experiment. Maybe the experiment could be called, ‘What Can we Pass as Food?’
* * *
All the time we spend in queues at petrol stations is less time in nature, more in hell.
* * *
I’ve never seen anyone smile in these. Not, at least, the customers anyway.
In my mind the day has already arrived; we each of us have our heads clamped between to iron bars in long rows. We kneel on all fours and are grazed and our own shit stings, and infects, the gashes. And here they come; the customer services attendants, grinning, with slop buckets in hand. And they are burping and enormous, waddling towards us. They eat chocolate bars and dump a pinkish porridge on the floor in front of us.
And though we know the contents, we are hopelessly programmed to eat it anyway.
Our necks strain at the bars to finish every last morsel.

Our Friend is Dead

His mouth tries to carve the words into the air between us. Though mute, I still understand him. He pushes a peanut around. It looks like a tiny, shiny distorted skull. Salt crystals gather at the end of his fingers; some fall upon the wooden table top.
Behind his eyes, a process of decoding. Working out what has happened.
I take his hand and close my fingers around it. He looks up at me, startled; lost in space and just barely able to recognise my face.
Then, a smile.
Out on the bay, a few boats return from the channel with empty nets.
He covers his eyes with his free hand, and cries quietly and steadily.
The sun doesn’t know. The sea is indifferent.
Our friend is dead.