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.

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.

Hot Neck, Cloud Man and Dog Poo

Poppy said her neck was hot. So I blew on it. She glared at me like I’d slapped her in the puss.

A man stood about fifty feet away. He was staring at the clouds. He was chanting too. Chanting that he wanted to make the clouds change shape. A rhino? A girl? A hypothalamus?

Poppy undid the top buttons of her blouse and laid down upon the picnic mat. I raised my eyebrows and blinked out towards the boats. They are going to rebuild the Titanic, I thought, in conversation with myself. I thought about telling Poppy. Decided it was best not.

The man was still there, his hands clapping together, silently somehow. An little, old woman was walking her tiny dog. The little, old woman stared at the cloud man. She stared and wore an intense frown on her little, wrinkled face. Rather like how a cat arches its back when it thinks its going to be attacked. She had nothing to worry about though, the man was light years away.

Just then I heard what sounded like a single, muffled note from a trumpet in a mouse orchestra. Poppy cleared her throat.

The little, old woman walked past and mouthed the words “Morning.” I ignored her. I felt like standing up and chanting, just to wind her up.

The man began shaking his head around. If he’s not careful he’ll go over the cliff, I remember thinking. No more clouds.

The tiny dog coiled out a turd into an otherwise pleasant afternoon. The little, old woman picked it up through an inside-out bag. Then she pulled the bag out the right way and tied it off. The tiny dog trotted ahead, not wanting to be downwind, presumably.

“What is that smell.”  said Poppy. “Have you farted?” .

Wing

Feet dug securely into the earth. Out at sea, a barge shouldered its way through the brine. The sun sparkled indifference; the warmth, complete without poetry, without your new words. The air shuffled the birds into order. Bright and light in the empty air space that, at distance, convinces us that it is blue in colour. Where does the sparkle hide in the invisible blue? Must we mine for this precious element? Uranium, thermamin, beep street hues. You can see the pub. The street where the pub lives, anyway.
For the first time, the feathers pop through the skin; at least, the skin itches, puckers in anticipation. Feet burn and crawl with the sickness of the land underneath its feet. The evil stories written in foul, forgotten fluids.
An old man sits on a bench and shakes his head. His cheeks and nose are alive with large red and purple veins. They look like creatures in themselves. Ropy, pulsating, lined with the smell of alcohol. Skin tags hang from the eyelids and nose like tiny, sleeping bats.

Tired

It’s your eyes. You have such handsome eyes.

But the years later, those long, dragging, alcoholic years; those are the years that take away the handsome.

The other day, let’s say last weekend, a young barmaid said “You look tired”. It got me. I left the bar. Don’t cry for me. You are me. There’s a hole waiting for all of us. And my two peepers, they have sunk deep into puffed cushions; crimson veins spread across those handsome eyes. But still, there is nothing to complain about. There is never anything to complain about. You don’t need to live in a council flat to feel pain and pressure. It’s not necessary to receive physical punishment, day after day, to be a prize fighter. All you need is a heart. Something in common.

Maybe.

You tell me all I need to hear with your eyes.

And I have composed letters to her; many, many letters. None have been sent. I’d have sent them if I wanted to feel the rush again. The shudder from the past. Temporary, at best.

In its original incarnation, we were good. Now, it would be war. War every second, every minute etc.

So I went out and spent money. The cashiers, I avoided eye contact. Still haunted by the ‘tired’ comment. Not because I hated the author, but because I hated the truth. I was tired. I am tired. But still, there is nothing to complain about. There are noisy neighbours. There is a cheap life. There is nothing but the foulness of goodbyes and hello’s. What is in these hello’s and goodbye’s can only be gauged by asking the askers. To me, it’s just noise. A rumble in the air. Like rain. But not thunder. No thunder. Oh, for thunder. Sometimes I pray for storms. Between punches, I jab away the demons with white burgundy.

Through a time of fantasy and dreams, an anti-cynicism, we loved each other. Then the time arrived when we had to face reality. Sadly, tragically, we failed reality. Not the other way around.

Shadow boxing in front of the mirror, I notice my eyes. Tired.

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.

Passing

Blip. Thonk. Wheeze. Deep fried fish and good, mouldy cheese. Let the bile rise and gargle it; never allow the smile to slide from your mug. Just nod and blink slowly, once, to confirm that, yes, you agree. Honk. Hon-hon-Honk. Beep, beep, beep, beep…and on and on…a splintered flock of seagulls pretend to be made of paper. A mobile phone whips past your nose. Remember? The sound of the voice, screaming from the receiver; “Eeeee”. And he, whoever he was, stomping off down the street, his hand raised in apology. And the dumb brute, in cave language, “Soy Love”. And then you get it. You told me…on a landline…you said you realised that the buildings were peeling away…you could see people crying into their cans…and when your head became too heavy from sticky, cheap lager and you looked into the drain, you noticed the drains clogged with faces; grey, mottled and with soggy cigs stuffed in their bloated lips…Then, it was probably those ruddy chemicals they put in the lagers that you were chucking down yourself…your mascara…you’d walk to me with  loaded lenses…two…welling…but ah…time to stop.

WE ARE YOUR FRENDS!

(Shocking day. Only three, drab colours outside: flesh tint – bauble – cadaver. Snuggle down on the knife edge…make yourself look presentable…think of her, he says to himself. Inhale the smoke, let it waft over the hole where the tooth used to be. Feel the deep sting. If it says 24 hours on the pamphlet, then 24 hours it is. This pain is normal. After all, they say so and they have qualifications.)

Gorgeous George lick his lips before diving into the pool of dreams. He frolics there until delirious. His dripping body brings down buildings. From the outer ionosphere, the planet is heard to crack. The kind of sound that seems to slice between the two halves of the brain. ‘Chocolate milk, chocolate milk, drink it all away with the chocolate milk.’ Then spend mystery currency on a neon whore. Rain the notes over her body. When she blinks, so does the light in the room. Small vehicles beep each other. The smell of the market is picking up. Men and women try on costumes. He stares down at himself: mostly charity shop clothes, mostly charity shop thoughts; platitudes that gouge out his soul. The light fabrics draped across the many, unknown surfaces begin to undulate in the breeze. Her tummy draws in as she takes a deep breath. The ribs emerge starkly beneath the neon. ‘Want me to close a window babe?’ She asks. ‘You’re the one whose cold…’ he says, putting out the cigarette on his hand. ‘Oh, god! Doesn’t that hurt?’ He folds more of the notes into paper aeroplanes and aims them between her legs. She lays there, bored, while he does this. Voices rise up from the street. ‘No, just leave it there.’ ‘Okay, yeah. But no more of the other ones, we can’t take them. It’s not up to me.’ ‘Ham and fries and pineapple smoothies, come one ladies, come on gents.’ ‘Just look it up in doodle…’ He wonders doesn’t it annoy her, all the empty babble. No, it doesn’t, she says. ‘Do you want to do it or not?’ she says. ‘We are doing it.’ he says. He says he doesn’t want to be alone. Funny, she says, funny how our desires can be so different. The is a mirror opposite him. The reds and oranges inside the room manage to make him look healthy. Though he sees that he has shaved badly. He reached into his pocket and gave her a few more of the bills. She looked up at him not knowing exactly what that meant. Then he walked out.

On his way down the grimy, black stairs he slipped a couple of times on something. Then he walked around the market. Young men and women were dressed as each other and were shrieking with delight. A young girl grabbed him, shouted a name. Then almost threw him away upon realising her mistake. Then she saw the money bulging from his pocket. ‘Only joking,’  she says.

The whore flew her jet pack in a beautiful evening dress. She watched below as they devoured the man and took his money. she laughed. Poor soul, she thought. And, still tingling from a night’s toil, sought the empty plains outside the city. The heliotrope hued sky clawed into the black rock beneath. A few dots moved at speed towards a vehicle. From the east, a mountainous simoom devoured the desert.

She was found weeks later. Her body leathern and twisted around devastated metal and splintered rock. Next to her was a large sign made of fibreboard.

‘WE ARE YOUR FRENDS!’ It said.

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.