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?
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.
She stood before the children. She wrung her hands continually. Her heart fluttered with fear, not of the children but of God. She was afraid of God. Her children never knew what it was she wrung her hands about so much. Sometimes it was as though she’d been crying for hours, her glasses seemed to be made of tears. We watched her and were afraid ourselves. Afraid of what would terrorise us as adults, of what was waiting for us. At least, that’s how it seems looking back.
And of those that are still around the old town, those that did not escape, are postmen, butchers, builders, grocers, single mothers, check out girls, convicts.
And of those who shone like supernovae, there was a terror. A terror big enough to put out the brightness. And it come in the form of television, newspapers, alcohol, women, men, the ‘real’ world, stepfathers, operations, accidents, medication, breakdowns, muddy scars in the front lawn where the daughters boyfriend parks his saxo, a ‘quick’ bottle of wine before breakfast and the doctor who couldn’t; save you, save me, save anyone, the damp walls, the cold shoulder, the clattering fencepost, the dead grey days, the season of murder garnished with tinsel.
What we saw in her eyes was perhaps a fear of the truth. The realisation of deception. An uncaring, all powerful being.
Looking back now it’s easy. It’s easy to see what was going on. Back then we were just children. They made us sing their funny songs about God and how great He was and how lucky we are that He loved us.
We were too fragile to be told the truth. But we would, all of us, find out sooner than we expected.
None of us were astronauts, firemen, prime ministers, doctors.
And none of us had a chance in the beginning anyway.
Intermission. Interfere; you little…No, no. No. I’m-not-listening-to-another-sodding-WORD.
She went off to shower he little pinky self and I stayed by the window, puffing on a dirty roll up and flicking green bread to skinny sparrows. I listen to a sort of high-pitched rumble in their diddy chests. Was one going to popp off its perchless?
And Pinky? I can hear water slapping the bath. Still cleaning herself up. Bubbles around her feathers; tears upon the redbreast; steamboats in there.
And the chair squeals under my backside. My trousers pucker with the light rain that fans in through the yellow netcurtains. The sparrows pickin holes bigger and bigger; that little one (there is always one bolder than the rest (a leader, if you like)), you’d think it was I that was in his house. Here he is, little fleshy twigs for feet tickling my forearms. The smoke stroking its beak. I could swear it inhaled just then. I laugh.
‘What?’ hollers Pinky, annoyed.
Then Top Sparrow zipped out the hole in the yellow net curtains faster that my eyes could catch. At least, he wasn’t there anymore, and I heard its wings tickle, flutter a short spurt of energy to take him away. Perhaps he was never there.
I tap off the ash from the dirty roll up and hold the tip close to where the Leader Sparrow may or may not have been.
‘Ow!’ Pinky turns on the hot water too much.