Offering, with Cartoon Rabbits Ears

Caught in the long grass, a few sticks wrapped in ribbon at your feet. The channel, as always, unfathomable…an orchestra accompanying the weight of the late afternoon…and looms, without the chirping, without the sounds of the festival, as a nameless monster, home to countless other, anonymous beasts. Drunk lines of smoke point away from here, high and away. Your toes dig in to the waterlogged hill; mud, the green, green grass is made of stoic stuff. Mash toenails into the cold, gritty sludge. One toe twitches, dumbly and for no obvious purpose. Useless.
They are propping up scaffold around nature. The tourists aren’t allowed to see the trees hug or the animals frolic. Partitions everywhere. And signs. Worthless signs.
‘Yes you.’ Reads one.
‘Again, just because.’ Reads another.
A bird of prey hovers above. It’s quite when you focus upon it, though the sea crashes below the cliff edge.
Cars shuffle themselves around upon the pier. The noise is like an overweight, prehistoric, animal; a cross between a wild dog, a bear and a hog slumbering amid the battle.
You untie the ribbon and throw it in the air with the sticks. For a second, you believe that it will be the ribbon that falls fastest. The air is quiet and boggy with distant activity. Ghosts of movement, conversation, promise and anticipation.
A rabbit’s ears poke above the grass, twenty or so meters away. You draw them in your expensive sketchbook. In the middle of drawing, you realise that the rabbit has disappeared. You rub out the drawing with a clod of  grass. Smears of mud and grit create a painting or sorts. And not a bad one either.
Later, you impose some cartoon rabbit ears using paint then marker pen.
The soup of the past few hours condenses into a druggy, thick pip in the centre of your skull. A small animal appears upon your window sill. It taps furiously with its furry paw on the double glazing. You point at it and laugh as it continues to pat the window, noiselessly.
The mobile beeps.
‘Ok. Fine.’ It reads.

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Grasping Flame, as Ever

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.
Terrifying.
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.

Waste Water

Brace yourself. When the fire starts we all look for the water with which to put it out. He sits there, with his glass of water and wonders at the progress of the ash. Brendel plays Schubert in the background. The man listens to Brendel. He feels like a dwarf. The music is so mesmerizing. The floorboards click. No one is knocking. The water grins up at him. I’ve got you, it says. Maybe so, he says, maybe so. A cigar shape lights up the sky, briefly. He raises his eyebrow. Farts.
The day passed too much like its many predecessors. Uneasily. Like wading through treacle. Flimsy thoughts of flight copulate with Spanish dreams. The pavements of the Paseo Del Prado. The clubs containing the piano players, the guitars, the singers, the dark-skinned beauties who no one can touch without fire eating them alive.
He takes another sip of his water and ponders the journey. Wonders if he’ll see her. Wonders, indeed, who SHE is. A fragment of rock chipped from the cliffs. An old book containing the last words of a forgotten, yet brilliant, author. The thunder starts. The crackling lightning rods.
No crest fallen hero’s here folks. Just a small, old gentleman. Still baffled at the world. And in contempt at his own, forced part in it. Keep the headlines. Keep the winds, the tides, the turning of the moon and whatever lurks upon its inky backside. Keep the words away. Turn the page like a printer, a proofreader. Soak in as much as you can before wetted fingers snuff out your candle. Work like a dog and sniff at a stray crotch.
Try for more.
Leaning against a wooden post, an old man watches his young self doing press-ups. His phantom heart nearly bursts in an imitation of an ectoplasmic supernova.
Like the sun, crying itself to sleep.

Hel, or the ‘G’ Button

Hel just text me.

“Save me, Russ. Save…me.”

I ignored the tedious, digital, mega-gig bastard. Things to do, you know? I’d just lit an incense stick and was watching the city grow. The UFO’s zipping between buildings, grabbing what they could while the portal remained open. Intergalactic scavengers, that’s all they are. And who would have thought, after all this time, that all they were after was lager, cigs and porn? Believe me, I ‘wanted to believe’ too. But, it seems, we aren’t the only colossal disappointment the galaxy has to offer. In fact, next to these almond eyed freaks, we’re almost palatable. Never thought I’d hear myself thinking that…must be something in the incense.

When I was a baby, I mean a kid, I mean naïve, I mean stupid, I mean a young man led by his dick, I ended up, with some woman, in Singapore. We, that is the woman and I, were staying on a high floor of a very good hotel. We had a room on the sixty somethingth storey. You could see right out over this tropical city. Clouds, the size of whole islands, would rumble across drenching everything. You could: watch the people, like ants, running from the storm: watch the ground change from matte to gloss in one, tremendous sweep. And yet it happened everyday, like clockwork. At the time I remember wondering whether we are so gripped by our needs, obligations and preoccupations that, even when we know what’s ahead, still we test our luck. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why we are extraordinary…

…damned incense.

Today, a building with a sixtieth floor wouldn’t seem that remarkable. It would appear, in this dense megapolis, a mere pimple. It’s ridiculous. And yet, like the storm, we saw it coming.

I’m dying. I know it. My doctors know it. My wife knew it (she left post-diagnosis). I sit here drinking well made cocktails. Retirement complexes are like a long haul flights; they feed ya, water ya, dim the lights and lull you to sleep by bombarding your senses with titillating nothingness.

Sitting here in my cheap, fold out chair looking out at the rusty air with its faint strip of blue before giving up to space, the universe and whatever else, I watch the blue neon headlights of the pimped UFO’s taken on long joy-rides by the wired retired.

I’m happy to watch. And to wait.

The light show and my balcony. The timbre of my pulse carrying cocktail to grey matter. My pet mouse, Miki, at my feet, nibbling the dried flesh off a cuttlefish. Curious creature.

As for Hel, he’s probably sat in his room worrying about me, which is really his way of making sure he’s okay. I wrote him. He’s my monster. And he’s a bore. If he were here, which is impossible, he’d just stare at me and blink anxiously. All fake though. That bastard doesn’t have a caring bone in his body. He’s just a tiresome projection of pixellated neurosis.

Another two UFO’s, probably each welded down the middle, have just crashed about, oooh, three miles away. A halo around a white ball of light, sparks cascading off it, followed by a limp smoky, dead octopus with growing tentacles. Those poor fuckers on the ground.

Been years since I’ve been brave enough to press the ‘G’ button in the lift.

Or stupid enough, truth be told.

Buy Shovel

He drew himself back on his wobbly spine, fizzing brain; if not with intelligence, then beer, and threw the punch. His eyes did not follow the swing, though he felt the slight tap as the knuckles, his knuckles, lightly brushed the outer, leathery edge of the bag. It creaked backwards and clacked back into its mechanised housing…almost tiresomely. He recovered his balance and, with his brain spinning in confusion, humiliation, then a building, white hot self-hatred, he watched the clock add up his score.

215. A child would have hit more powerfully.

Within a few laps of the clock, the ‘pugilist’ drank away his sorrows surrounded by gaudy, dusty photos; drying his tears on memories he might as well have invented from scratch. From deep within this musty grave lined with bunting and fairy lights, worms reached out for a single swing at his jaw, confident they might be able to floor him. Perhaps they’d heard the news. Perhaps they just wanted to kiss him, then bore into his soft, dainty flesh and remove him from the gene pool for to provide valuable fertilizer.
Perhaps. But the grave, the worms and the photographs waving in the layers of muck in a whirlwind, were phenomena that existed in the mind, and the mind only, of the failed pugilist. The grey destroyer. The punk with the clip-on nose ring. The man of the world, as seen through the comfort of the first class cabin window.
He took his precious moleskin note-book from his blazer and wrote the following instruction:
“To do – Monday: Buy shovel”.

Black Cigarette

(Draws deep on the black cigarette. There are animals (unidentified) squawking, barking and moaning in the darkness. Wonders if he could join them. Complete the chorus, so to speak. The gold tip of the cig is  designed to hint at great quality. Status. He kills himself in style. Yet, still, there is nothing to drink. And ornate bottles promise, goad and bully from the fragments of memory buried low in private, murky recesses. The night is still, aside from the chatter or prayer of the animals. Though an inexplicable and exotic tremor underlies the torpor; as though poised to burst from the tepid trunk of this mortal drudgery from an incomprehensibly preternatural dimension. The fantasy curls with the smoke out into the damp, forgettable evening and dies without a beat, interrupted only by the glow of dead stars.)

He – this man, whoever he is – drops the cigarette onto the grass. He can’t see the grass for the dark but he knows it’s there, humming with a thousand, ancient secrets. And he can’t see the cigarette either. Just its burning tip. He watches it fade; so slowly, as though it is his eyes that are failing. The glow fades until, finally, it disappears altogether. The cigarette, he knows, is still there, somewhere, where he knows the grass must be.

Deadbeat Haircut, Sofa, TV, Death, The End of Hope…Hip-Hip!

Same old.

But.

New. But mouldering and off. Sad skin. And flesh of powder. Run for the hills. Don’t look back. They will forget about you quicker than the changing of the seasons. It was not you they wanted anyway. And if they are reading this then they shouldn’t be. They should be getting on with their fucking life.
Just.

Like I.

Am.

Mash Up Myself

If you cracked open my abdomen, you’d find an assortment of tired organs; a heart barely beating; more glugging than anything else, and probably a small rodent seeking shelter.
And all this while I’m driving. The car wasn’t in much better shape either.
One or twice, I could swear I heard her cough. But it was the weeping and wailing which I was less prepared for.
My sympathy vehicle and I had the appearance of having been dragged through electrical wire after being slapped around with sides of beef.
The things we have to do.
So when I parked the car and shut off the engine I could smell the fear. Then the heart leapt into life, presuming upon the advent of fight or  flight.
In the end, it was a little of both…regrettably.
And I left her with tears in her eyes whilst I got out of there, not knowing what else to do. Instinct told me to run. Like a rat’s must.
Idiotically, I expected to feel as though a weight had been lifted. But as I drove back to the destroyed city, my heart hung in my chest like it was a lead bowling ball.
Only the warm, tickling sensation on my face gave me any clue at all that I was in floods of tears.
Though…
Guilt put in the best performance of the day by a mile. Robed in sequins and neon, it strode onto centre stage with murder in its eyes. Blinding light spewed from every pore of its poisonous form like space worms with razor teeth attaching to my flesh at the speed of light. And its tirade hissed through an iron grimace; flesh still attached to its teeth. Like a hot knife, it stabbed into me again and again.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk…leaving people in the gutter like so much throw away detritus?…loathsome…all you do is rampage over people who care…no thought for their feelings…then act all surprised when it KA-BOOM’S in a shower of shit…your fault…forever…an ever…it will always be your fault…you are worthless…why can’t you just get on with it like everyone else anyway?…just go with the flow?…do you think you are BETTER than everyone else?…is that it?…hahaha, one thing I’ll give you is that you’re a funny specimen…no, not funny, you’re fucking hilarious…and I mean that; you are so funny that I’m giddy with it…look at you and your gut…and what is going on with your face?…I mean it’s all lop-sided, like a livid corpse…maybe that explains the smell that blares off you…you’re dead…DEAD…because only a dead thing would behave as you do and fail to realise how thoroughly disgusting it is…you’re a putrid, little nothing…you might as well be nothing…no guts….no substance…no balls…yeah, you heard, you’ve got no BALLS…you’re a eunuch; emotionless, compassionless, pointless…a hard, unfeeling husk…”
And you take these beatings because there is nothing else to do. You know it’s coming. The fight posters are glued up all over town. The tickets sold out within minutes. The audience members are composed of ghosts: old friends, lovers, acquaintances, those I was rude to for no reason, those I was rude to with good reason. They all watch the walk-in. Some throw urine in open top bottles. Others just throw abuse. The noise recipe included large quantities of malevolence and retribution. When the crowd favourite makes its appearance, all decked out in black sequins and laser beam red eyes, the stadium erupts. Women scream lustily at the mere thought of your downfall. Men have fantasies of being the one dealing it out; just to watch your body reduced to mashed flesh, burst blood vessels and splintered bone. And when we stand opposite each other to hear the referee’s instructions, they laugh. The monster opposite towers over me. I can feel cold air hitting me rhythmically with grief’s sub-sonic glee.
After 12 rounds of brutal punishment, the creature puts me out of my misery.
And they’re right. The one that knocks you out you don’t even see.

Side Effect I

It was like sleep but infested with pastel-coloured corpses and the smell of freshly cut metal. And soon the ‘sleep’ will lay in on my brain again and the hours will be lost. The number of minutes that are squandered is more than alarming. And the sound of the mammoth bell sends a shiver down the spine. Sow low as to be almost sub-aquatic; bigger than the moon and embracing all molecules bound in its course and beyond. You can dream a city. One with enough space and friends and even a place to stay. We used to live in a wonderful, late 19th century apartment building. High ceilings, tall windows providing an abundance of light. We’d wake naturally, with the sun. Our feet would grip the beautifully polished wood floors. A pot of tea. Pancakes. After lunch, a few friends would visit. They would bring a bottle of wine. We’d break out the cheese and crackers. All this time the bombs would be falling. Without fear, with much laughter and love, we held hands and counted the bomber planes as they darkened the sky.
When I woke, she was gone. She had never been. The world was gray. I was alone. I grieved for the loss of a woman I had never met. And I decided I was lucky even only to have dreamed such a life. When I shut my eyes I will hope to return. But I know that I will end up in an invented computer game, jumping from pixellated lily pads and not questioning it; at the mercy of my whimsical brain. And when I awake tomorrow, she will have gone. And in a few years time she will return, as deja vu, to break my heart again.

Money Shot

It all started with two white chocolate coins. It’s the time of year and you think to yourself ‘why not?’ and you eat them because that’s what normal people do and then the trouble starts. Like I’d been shot in the jaw in super slow motion, the pain started as an ache. One of those aches that, if left without supervision, will eventually penetrate to the soles of your feet. And I’m being all outgoing and chatty and then I realise it’s hurting to talk. Then it hurts to breathe. The air in my mouth whistles past the point of pain and turns up the volume. Then, after a while you just sit there staring into mid-space as the gaps in the conversation widen and laughter becomes more awkward. I mde my excuses and left, mumbling through the agony.
How deep does the root of the tooth go? Because, totally by a sort of terrifying suprise, I find that my right eye starts to hurt as does the right sinus. Like an unsheathed electric cable pulsing through the side of my head, the pain snakes through my skull like a rusty saw. I lick as far back as my tongue will go and rub across the nub of enamal and the shock is so bad that I laugh. Then I think to myself, ‘I’m going mad.’ As I drive home the throbbing seems to grow into the surrounding environment, as though the side of the car is expanding and contracting. I buy some cigarettes and pay on my card. Each beep of my pin number sends a current of screeching pain through my ear. I bust through my own door, trip on the loose carpet and grab the codeine as I fall to the floor. On my back, I pop two pills into my mouth. I squish spit together and make enough to swallow the bitter, little beauties. I lay still and wait. Seagulls scream outside. Cars fizz past. A few voices twitter . After a while, I can hear the theme tune to Ghostbusters in another flat.

And the codeine writes the final line, punctuating the pain with a delightful full stop.