Two, grumbling gargoyles sat like lizards in the damp, dark basement. Meanwhile, someone tries to sleep. They lay in bed, half in and half out of conciousness. And the little creatures hissing, mumbling nonsense did nothing to iron out the psychic creases of an evil early monday morning. The sky, though still semi-dark, promised to fade into hopeless daylight. Sweat poured from the pores of the man on the camp bed. The noise of the springs echo around the mostly empty flat. A few crumbs scattered across the formica worktop. The little mean devils turn their heads. There is a sound of the lid of a tomb being pushed away. They waddle into the house. Finding their entrance through the cat-flap. Though the cats had died years ago. As had everyone else. That, or they’d moved away, changed numbers, locks. The gargoyles plop upstairs and crawl onto the bed, noisily. One sits upon the mans chest, the other whispers in a dark tongue. Inside the mind of the man, two garden gnomes with zig zag mouths pour concrete into the mans lungs. The man stopped breathing only breifly. And woke up the following morning with a new sense of doom and despair. And had he written the letter, he knew it would make no difference. He threw the letter into the post-box. Laughed. Coughed. Kicked at the gravel with his tatty shoes and waited for it to grow dark.
When the brittle soul man dreams, it dreams of empty service stations; endless isles of junk food, cigarettes, change for the arcades. As he snores, the rest of the world snores with him, perhaps even in harmony. Perhaps not. Tribes of alligator skinned nightmares queue up in a special, spongy part of his future. A lizard eyed, long-legged woman pries open his chest like a tin can; jagged flesh, a small, bulging heart coughing black ink shrinks at her grin. ‘He he,’ she prods, with her talon. Carves the word ‘smile’ upon his rib-cage which expands with the force of his still functioning lungs.
Betty, pray for me. The formica table top was strewn with dead cigarettes and many bottles. The air was alive with shagging insects. Betty opened the window. ‘Shoo!’ she went.
I flicked the dead butts at her peachy backside and watched her jump. ‘Oh!’ she cried, ‘Oh! They’re on me, they’re ON me!’
The sun never really comes out. They, the rich, have stolen it and stored in their castles.
Watching the buzz, from the work house, from the gutter. High hats totter and heels clack into the elite drinking holes, kicking up the odd gutter oyster (a rats liver, half chewed, something discarded from the paupers doctor, a piece of root vegetation). A scene of hoarse-drawn carriages, each with it’s own, lush cabin, inside which virginal beauties dream of star fruits, Turkish delight, tigers, peacock feathers, fountains of wine with rubber duckies boobing upon the semillon skin. The candle light cuts through the curtains. Someone throws blue mud at red wine velvet curtain. They are shot immediately; a crack of smoke. A posturing guard. A faint smile upon his young lips. His master pats his wig.
A fight broke out over some peelings. They spilled from the kitchens. Another shot from the flintlock pistol scatters the crowd. An old man is trampled to death.
By morning, his body had disappeared, leaving only the rags he wore. A phone rang. The kettle boiled. You read this to me. I commented that I hated it. Everything about it.
The sky remained stubbornly sombre but that was exciting somehow. Better than mass hysteria, than making jam, than walks by the sea, than you and me.
The sky remained stubbornly sombre but that was exciting somehow. Better than mass hysteria, than making jam, than walks by the sea, than you and me
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.
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.
Thames mud, calcification, my old blood, The Gunhouse pub. We never asked for direction in them days. One says. We just knew where we was. She was old, beautiful; tatty, reading the glossy, dirty, gossip rags.
A little river of bile flowed towards the shops, past the pub. There was another, surrounded in a swarm of singing wasps. He was batty as a stick of charcoal drawing a stick of charcoal with a stick of charcoal. He waved his hands, like a conductor, and smiled as he was bitten. They were his friends, he went on, until unable to form the words properly for bites.
Old love, silt and dirty legged birds. Windows exhibiting rotten, dried then rotten again curtains; browned and quartered. A small parking space. A shared place. Forgotten key. That was the weekend you took off your mask and the bugs crawled from your eyes and ears.
A book of birds, a scarred-up knee; the talking clock chittering like robo-wren. The ham on the boil. No bread. The corner, outside, waiting to be turned. An object thrown by one object at another object for some reason.
Tributes to the Thames.
8 minute countdown. Flames melting the draught excluder. A moth, dead-eyed, waiting for death. One wrong turn. It’s life snuffed out by a kitchen light. Potato and leek soup. Sleeping pills.
Late for work. Sacked. Walk the streets. Empty headed. Compose letter to landlord, ‘Due to unforeseen circumstances…’
The family will worry.
Pinch off a scab. Blow nose. Make a list of things to do. Know that something is missing. The moth stuck to the cheaply painted walls.
Open window. Conversations. Other, weird dinners. Presents from old lovers spill out of the cardboard box. One had a card tied with a red ribbon. Read the card. The card begins… ‘darling’.
Ping, goes the bathroom light from where it lives in the ceiling; as summoned, rudely, by a demeaning, and simple, cord or string with a small plastic bell on the end of it.
The circular mirror, the same one my Rene used to apply her make-up in front of, confronts me. It tell me the black, spiky truth. Three missing teeth in the front of my face; my smile is gruesome; I look like an aged baby; all stubble, bruises, dark-ringed, blood-shot eyes and dried tears. My lips swollen; the skin stretched, it seems, to breaking point.
And the worst thing is: I can’t remember how this happened.
For days now small, dark creatures have followed me around, hovered above my eyes whilst I’ve tried to sleep. When I do manage a few hours, they sing nightmare lull a-byes into my skull bone, into stopped up, yet evil porous, ear-holes. And the nightmares are nightmares because they convince me of the certainty of an horrific, soon to dawn, future. One with beautiful animals only represented in name, and only then because they are written in a menu, and only then because the menu was retrieved, as possible food, or token for food, by a rabble of matted, yelping, half burnt victims of a nuclear war, from the stiff corpse clutches of a man who refused to believe that nothing would grow for 500 years from this sick soil, this toxic womb. Dirty tears were petrified upon his dead mug. A few front teeth were missing. His dry eyes sunken into their dark sockets.
The rabble made of with the pamphlet. Some gnawed at the edges. Other slapped the gnawers away. Maybe they, in their turn, were gnawed. In turn. That or slapped. Or left to cry ’til they die, clutching a copy of a charred TV mag like it’s the Bible.
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.
A small stream of excrement. A totem of turpitude. Without gears, the machine judders and fits. Rum and coke. Lean and mean. Your rancid tit. Statues ablaze. My city, your city. Wiggle. Ten times ten equals one whatever.
Have you tasted the air after an animal has fitted? Convulsed and vomited sounds that have come back to you via de ja vu?
The sourness gathers and rises.
You, my friend.
Do my gong a bong and close the door. Make sure the air is closed; womb-like, unlike the scratch, the nub, the death of everything.