Finder of the New Day Without Himself Gone

This old man pranced around the heavy bag and tried to look like a boxer. He was breathing for three lungs. The coaches were stood around imploring him on, “Last minute Russ; come on mate, last minute!” Then one of the coaches said, “You’ve got a right hand too Russ!” and that did it. Though his arms were ready to fall off, his legs begged to die and his lungs burned like fire, it was the heart that bit down, saw red and bludgeoned that heavy bag with everything he had. That he was old didn’t bother him. In truth, he would have been happy to die with his gloves on. So he mixed it up with slick combinations; putting sting on his shots; moving in and out, side to side. He lunged in, threw an overhand right and the bag made a sound like a humpback hitting the water. And the old man skipped back like a ballet dancer, catching the bag with a sweet left hook as it swung back at him. He heard the beeps for the last ten seconds and felt it rise again in him. He refused to be beaten by his old body. And his old body was a wimp and he told it so. It just wanted to lie down. So the old man gave it an ultimatum: he said it could either help him fight these next ten seconds and leave a part of itself in the gym, or it could pack up and die and he was happy with either outcome. The body, his body, wasn’t even given time to answer. Russ, the old man, popped and thumped the bag with rapid combinations; jabs, backhands, hooks, uppercuts; darting around the bag, letting it swing by him…a centimetre from his nose; snapping jabs out, bouncing on his feet as though he weighed nothing. The body was so overheated that steam rose off it, like a racehorse. “You can die if you need to.” The old man said to his weak body, “I can’t give up.”

“Time!” said the coach.

Russ answered his arms call to hang by his sides, his legs to keep still and straight…his lungs gulped down more air than they could manage.

This was the thing…

For Russ, he faced Death. It had been grinning at him all day. In the darkness of his studio, when he was supposed to work, Death showed him pictures of all the people he loved dead or dying. It broke him down, tried to make him vulnerable; drunk on its blackness. Death wanted Russ to lay down and cry, to call for him, to desire him. Death was a lonely individual. And although Russ was lonely, he wasn’t going to start entertaining this dark hooded fucker. But he decided, as Death had been showing him so much attention, to invite him along to the gym. Death followed him, like a stray dog on the promise of a feed. And so Death, tails wagging, takes Russ to the heavy bag and goads him. And Death thrives on the fact that people fear him; he finds it very attractive in a prospective corpse. So Russ is training. And the old man needs to go all the way to the end, if that’s the way it’s going to be. Only thing is, Death doesn’t believe that Russ has the gonads for it. So he teases Russ. Sings his body a lullaby of fear; it responds, demanding that Russ slow down or, preferably, stop. But Russ has gone beyond the point of packing it in willingly. He is in a groove and, at the coaches comments, decides that a physical death would be much preferable to the one he’d certainly suffer from stopping. And, as the ten second beeps count down, Death’s cock shrinks smaller and smaller. Though he manages to steal six months from Russ, he does not take his life. And Russ knows that Death has disappeared, for now. There is no longer that smell in the air; the smell of the river, the storm, the fresh morning the day after you die. It has disappeared.

“Good last round,” the coach says.

And Russ tells himself, ‘Boy, you’re still here.’

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Paper Saver

Si was a rogue. Going from one relationship to another faster than a holiday. He drank his coffee and wondered whether the papers were ever going to be good for more than lining his canaries cage…”

And throw the pencil away if that’s all you’re going to do with it. Buy a packet of sweets and sit in the park with your boxing magazine. Watch the old men stare at you because you’re holding it upside down. Wait until the sun ducks under the horizon and see if there are any pages left. Greet the pigeons. Try to work out what that burning smell is and where it is coming from. Take your notebook and rip it into pieces. Feed it to the rats. Let it turn to manure. Stand up and face the cold. If your knees hurt, jog on the spot. There, better? Well, you should have bought gloves out with you. The lads want to spar with you because they see sport in drawing blood. And filming it on their phones. And putting it on faecbook. And as you hobble and stagger from one blow to the next, you probe your jacket pocket for a cigarette and a lighter. Robot boy getting his backside smashed in can only think of shortening his life even more with a tab. And when your head stops bouncing off fist, knee or pavement, you see stars.

And little, cartoon birds prance before your eyes.

“Say, this fellah looks like he could use a light,” one of them says. It turns around and produces a flame thrower from its bird behind, setting what is left of you aflame, clogging the already noxious air with smoke from your remains.

And he lived happily ever after the end thanks.

N+

He has this funny way about him. I don’t know. And what is going on between them anyway? You always see them together. I mean, there must be something going on between them, you know? I don’t know.

He ‘d been having problems with the phone for  three weeks now. He knew all about the neighbours vaginal discharge, that the husband stayed out too late and always came home drunk, that the neighbour, that was me, had funny ways and must have been having an affair with this woman she kept seeing him, or me, with.

His tee-shirt had ridden over his belly and he pulled at one of the hairs there while he listened to the neighbours. Better the devil you know, he thought.

Fried  up some eggs and took his tablets and looked out at the street, the garage, road signs, men, women, dogs and thought ‘fuck this’. He was desperate for a piece but feared that it might fall off. Some people have irrational fears about tsunamis, his was about spontaneously detaching genitals. The thought horrified him enough not to pursue the urge.

*    *    *

“What do you do without a teevee?” Someone at work once asked him and he felt the need to scream. It was as though the world had really turned into the hell feared by some it might become. Somehow, he thought, the ad men have convinced us – by using sinister techniques – to buy things we don’t need, in order to convince us that the world had not died. We were all mourning, alcoholic widows clutching the ad men’s bottle of gin; popping pills and wearing strained, awful smiles.

He imagined these men as a little mournful themselves. But it was their job to lie and make-believe everything was fine. What was the alternative?

The war of despair…a return to street massacre for no other reason than boredom and frustration…anarchy on a level to turn the stomachs of the anarchists…lawlessness…disease…malice…

So, instead, we gaze a our dream-boxes and pray to a god with fake tan and tippex white teeth for a fresh trinket to distract the brain from setting the sky alight with madness, sheer ‘I know that one day I shall die’ madness…

*    *    *

He checked his watch; two hours later; he popped another pill, sighed and went back to bed.

That Man

They said he spent the afternoon at the beach. He was peeling his skin away, carefully, sitting there on the salty sand.
Then he rested for a while. Ate whelks in vinegar with black pepper form a polystyrene cup. He lanced one whelk after another with his cocktail stick, pulled them off with his teeth them whilst staring out to sea.
He was seen later on in the towns backstreets. He was talking into a Dictaphone. Someone overheard him saying something about ‘blinding, chatterring teeth atop bright pink, fat necks’.
He was last spotted entering the local house of whores; presumably to visit one of their women of questionable repute.
I have heard though, that the women have the ability heal a weary soul.
Certain oils mixed with roots are used to restore strength to tired limbs; special herbs and exotic fruits are pureed and given to ease troubled minds.
None of the stevedores go there anymore. They say that the women use a strange magic. That they are witches, and that they kill the men or turn them into husks.
Sailors, knowing nothing of the stories, will visit the house often without a bother.
Some, however, don’t return to their vessels. They simply disappear.
I wonder about that man. The one from the beach. I wonder when he’ll leave our town.
They always do.
By boat, by cover of night, by light of day.