A Bit…You Know? (Draws an ‘O’ Around Temple with Index Finger)

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.

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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.

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.

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.

2011 – So What? – Part I

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.

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.

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.

Frozen in Hell

He lived on a combination of grass, chocolate bars and maize based, pea flavoured snacks. Instead of water, he drank sarsaparilla – and by the gallon. His main past time was taking himself on tours of the town that he grew up in. In a strange, regressive ritual he liked to bludgeon his psyche with scenes of his greatest failures. It was in this town that he met with the shadows of a past that was filled with regret, inadequacy and despair.

He parked his car in a country road and prayed that there were no people around. He opened the boot of the car and took out his rucksack, undid the zip and pulled out the wash bag. There were the sounds of birds and, in the distance, what were probably Sunday walkers with bellies full of beer and roast dinner. He got a strong feeling that he wasn’t being watched. Then he sprayed himself with aftershave to give the illusion that he was washed and groomed. His hair, though, betrayed the fact that he’d obviously risen early; startled by some event or other that he could neither explain nor recall.

The world is swelling with a sort of psychic pollution, he thought. This pollution fights for space in my head. Even the seemingly empty air feels crammed with a high level of tension; as though it’s stretched tight and ready to tear, allowing goodness knows what kinds of demons and chimera to step through and reek havoc. War is on the lips of the Gods.

He wanted to say that he’d put in a good showing. She was pretty and her heart sang softly through her battle dress. He wanted to be there, in the second, by the rivers of time unfolding. But his phone kept beeping with news from the front. And the news was bad. The heart was taking a severe beating and it looked as though sanity had had to retreat to less open terrain.

And he drove her home.

I’ll tell the kids you said hello and that you’ll see them soon, she said smiling.

And he nodded, eyes lost in the night. Just before she closed the car door the phone went off again.

He wondered whether she’d heard it and looked through the rear view mirror to see if he could get a glimpse of her face.

But there was nothing there except exhaust fumes, freezing rain and smears of orange and red light; fire, frozen in hell.