Barbershop Bubble Bonce Bounce

I watched small creatures, like smileys, blowing bubbles in a rainbow, or  conjoining rivers or ribbons of multi-coloured pop. I’d just opened my window. The wind slammed it onto my forehead. Bang. I was out for a second. Maybe. No one else was there so who knows. Maybe it was an entire day. And maybe I woke up at the same time, one minute later, the following day. Anyway, all these creatures; they all had something to say. Each, it seemed, had rehearsed a word. Bit like a barbershop quartet but with a healthy inhalation of helium. And each smiley had its own, little doppelganger which repeated this word but one octave higher. The little ditty they ‘sang’, if it can be called that, went: “HERE here COMES comes THE the CLUE cue FROM from YOUR your TWELVE twelve YEAR year OLD old SELF self…”
I woke up, broke open a carton of cards and dealt myself a hand. Bust. Another. Bust again.
Phone rang.
No, I’m not a dentists, I told the voice on the other end.


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.’

What Kind of Creature

Neon swirls upon the black water in the sink. Soon to be obliterated, archipelago’s of shaving foam circle around the final vortex.

No need to click on the mirror light; no need to alert the three shadowy figures in the alley, one of them, certainly with a blade, as to my whereabouts. All our ears, though, saturated with noise; haemoglobin hued, evil syrup running through the arteries of a dead, relentless heart; thudding, as if some rusty factory machine, abandoned after a split-second war, from the fairground, for who knows what kind of creatures enjoyment.

And I spin, spin, spin out. Yack up an additional, jabbering extensile jaw; rictus, grabbing from the flicker book of the subconscious. A split second; through the ages of my youth, to groundings, to first cigarettes (the aroma left on the fingers), to the smells of girls where I never knew before (the aroma left on the fingers), to the feel of my blood pumping, to the first sign of my blood in my shattered room; upturned and free-floating for three years, seven months, 1 week, six days, twenty-three hours and fuck knows how many seconds.

The photo of her on my cracked and creaked wall still smiles like a dried rose through neon spills and swirls; now cyan, now blue, now magenta; in my black, back room. The footsteps quicken, or is that the vibration of my heart, clacking in my ears?

I smell the blood before realising that I’ve cut myself.


As the first dying leaf fell from it’s beloved branch, beneath a sky still ringing with the echoes of festivals and smiles, the heavens dimmed and it seemed they would never brighten the world again. The sounds of shoes upon pavement transformed into a sombre, melancholic parade band. Life, it appeared, was leaving for other shores. And in its wake nothing. No singing. No sex. No celebration. No embrace. No colour. No and no and no. The atmosphere became pregnant with a sour and unforgiving judgement. Failure reigned. Neighbours looked the other way and left bombs for alarm clocks. Children’s eyes skinned over and their mouths all jagged teeth in greedy gums. Family divorced family. People connected themselves to one another over empty airwaves, and felt satisfied that love had been adequately expressed. There were men in small rooms with little light. There were women screaming to be loved. There was a new dawn of war and no room left to care. Dirty feathers mingled with the empty containers; vessels that promised happiness, contentment and a sense of worth. Yet treachery had infected the bowels of the world. The faeces left in the street to sour into unimaginable, perhaps psychic, disease. Trolls lurked in gaps between gasps. When the night was not enough time to rest. When the car skidded upon liquefying corpses. When the beacons were lit but, eventually, all eyes had skinned over and no one was equipped to see. When underwear, ripped by demons and soiled by worse, hung from vacant windows. When all we had to say to each other was ‘Morning’.

Busy Grass

After the flood the city became a place of quitude and alcoholism. Whatever it was that washed in left a stain. And that stain was not upon the pavements or buildings but upon the very souls of those runaways that occupieds its many tenements and row houses. It’s not uncommon to see faces at windows, bodies stood stock still in the street. Perhaps, as it was yesterday, a dove had, by means unknown, become embroiled in flame. Several hundred people looked on. Hours went by. And nothing was done about the dove. It did, however, finally, jerk, in a blackened and firey fashion, from the sky to fizz upon the busy grass.


This man went into the town. He didn’t meet anyone there and nobody said hello to him. One man asked him for change. Lot’s of women pulled the collars of their jackets tightly around their necks. If they didn’t have collars, they scowled into the drizzle. It was Monday when this happened. And the man continued walking and, as he did he noticed that there were these small flies made of light zipping into peoples bodies and out the other side. Sometimes they went into their heads and out the other side. And the man looked closer. The people, it seemed, did not know that the flies were there. It looked like that they were attacked the people. The man wondered if he should do something but then he noticed something else. One woman walked over a drain in the street and a dark, ghostly shape slithered out of it and snatched at the woman. The woman grabbed onto her collar and seemed to frown heavily. The hand snapped back with something in its grasp, though the man could not tell what. The man wondered if he should do something and, moreover, wondered why these creatures were not attacking him.

* * *

He sat in the waiting room. He could not remember why he was there. His body had carried him here. There was a date and time and address written down on a piece of paper. So here he was, confused and flicking through a magazine and not really reading it. There was a small elderly lady and a large African man. The elderly woman had her hands folded and seemed to be talking to herself. The large African man was looking at his phone and humming. In the mid distance, he saw small, brilliant specks darting around in front of his eyes in, what looked like, a coordinated manner. The specks took on greater detail the more he looked at them. He felt a hand in his trouser pocket. He couldn’t move. The chair he was sat on rose into the air. The magazine began to feel like jelly. He was carried over the heads of the elderly woman talking to herself and the large African man humming to his phone. They did not notice him. Past the receptionists and out into the street. Higher and higher into the air on the waiting room chair. He dropped the jelly magazine in the cold breeze. It landed on a dog. The town became smaller and smaller beneath him. His pockets were a frenzy of knuckles and fingers. Two hands grabbed his ankles and held him upside down. Out plopped his cheap phone, then his keys, his dirty hanky and, finally, his wallet.

* * *

A man sat in the street watching another man watching people. The man followed a women who was walking across a road. When the truck hit him, he was in the middle of calling out to her. Nobody heard what it was he had said though.

Contract – Part 2

A large, chipped china bowl sat on the floor by the side of the bed. It contained a rag soaking in bloody water. There were shadows. There were odd sounds. He was now writing down what he wanted them to know. And, of them all, she was the one he felt best with. The others, he didn’t know. And, though he didn’t know her, he felt that she would not try to kill him. Now that he was blind, he felt sure that, of them all, she would be least likely to smother him in the night. He took to pointing in the direction of her voice. He heard murmuring, questions whispered. Later, a piece of paper was placed on his chest. Then a pencil. Then, to his left he heard a voice. Her voice. ‘Okay’, it said. His writing must have been large. They went through lots of paper. Sometimes she had to move his hand to the correct position on the page; to start a new paragraph, for instance. As for food, his instructions were, as he wrote, ‘you prepare it for me please, I would but I’m blind and, anyway, I could never cook’. And so she did, over months it seemed. She must have been of a slight build; he couldn’t remember ever seeing her and, even if he did, he was likely out of his mind on drugs when he did; yet it seemed as though he could hear her feet, tapping on the stone floor. Yes, the floor is made of stone, he remembered. And he would feel small, delicate fingers touch his forearm, skilfully avoiding the cuts, when she was at his bedside. Piece by piece, he was assembling his guardian. As she spoke he imagined her teeth, even, strong, pretty. Her lips, he felt sure, were beautifully formed. There were things they kept between themselves and, as she spoke to him, her voice took on a wispy, fleeting quality that made him want to listen. Made him want to talk to her. He felt, though, that if he spoke, the world would stop in an instant. So, in his fear, he continued to write down what had happened and she, patiently, would move his hand when it was required. Once, feeling as though others were in the room watching, he spat to when he thought they were stood and tried to scream. His terror held his voice and only a tiny, pinched screech wheezed from him. A small hand touched his forehead and he lay back down. A voice called up from the gardens outside the place where the breeze came. They were alone.

The Revenge of the Customer Service Attendants

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.

It’s Alive

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.