Thursday, 19 May 2011
Pacing back and forth in his cell, Biff wondered when his conjugal visits with Lee-Anne had turned into connubial ones. In the beginning they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. They tore at each others clothes and rocked that trailer off its foundations. Now Lee-Anne nagged at him about dropping his socks on the floor and lectured him about his oral hygiene. Maybe she needed The Fear put back into her. A little reminder of what attracted her to him in the first place - the formidable thrill of fucking with a murderer.
Every day she goes to see them perform. She knows what is going to happen, it comforts her. The beautiful dress, the connubial bliss at the end sealed in a passionate kiss: it's like watching her dreams on stage. They're not making her pay anymore, she wouldn't be able to afford it anyway. They like having her around, she's always so enthusiastic. They won't be here for ever, but if she could manage to become useful to them, they might take her along.
Today is a special day. One of the older ladies told her she could come and watch them rehearse. She didn't sleep much the previous night, she was too busy picturing all the wonders hidden in their carriages. She's feeling dizzy with excitement and tiredness.
The older lady asks her if she can stitch. Yes, her mum taught her, she replies, she even knows how to count to fifty. It's very muddy behind the wooden stage, and flies are buzzing around the horses. Some familiar outfits are hanging from a clothesline between two carriages. It unsettles her to see them empty and lifeless. The woman tells her to sit on a stool by a table scattered with food leftovers and make up. She watches the woman searching for something at the back of one of the carriages, and when she turns around, she sees that she's holding the magnificent white dress. She drops it on her lap with a sewing kit. There's a hole that needs to be stitched, the woman says as she walks away.
She looks down on the dress. It's not as white as she thought it was. It used to be white, at some point. She doesn't know which hole to stitch, there are more than she can count. She feels like crying. Like the day she realised her mother told her lies like everybody else.
All of it was a lie. And there was nothing she could do to undo the truth.
Posted by Kelly at 20:39
In her work as a translator, Ginger had seen all manner of poorly chosen product names. Still, she couldn’t quite fathom what the marketing department at “Fungible Condoms” had in mind…
Everything is fungible. Even memories. Some of mine are actually yours.
Posted by Kelly at 20:36
A splenetic health message from your spleen:
STOP FEEDING ME SHITE! Every other thing that comes through that big gob of yours contains additives, preservatives, artificial colouring or all three. You think I can filter all that crap? Give me another hundred million years then, maybe. Is it so much to ask for a little brown rice? A few green vegetables? A dash of vinegar once and a while that isn’t slathered on some battered hunk of lard? CAN’T YOU SEE? I’M CRYING OUT FOR VITAMIN B! I’ve tried to warn you! Those swollen dents in the side of your tongue – you think those are normal? The insomnia? The obsessive worry? NO! I’M TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION! And what do you do to thank me? Eat sugar by the bucketful and wash it down with some high-fructose corn syrup. I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE! So, I’m only going to say this once: If I don’t see some R-E-S-P-E-C-T coming my way pretty damn quick I’m gonna R-U-P-T-U-R-E all over the place!
A sky of lead was stretching heavily over the country. People had stopped hoping for a storm that would never come. The static tension in the air was not making the inhabitants prone to anger; instead, it had numbed them to the point of being splenetic. It had been going on for so long they had to adapt and find joy in frustration. Melancholic people from all over the world were flocking to the island to find a sense of belonging.
I didn't even make it to the promised land. I choked on a mint as my plane dropped in altitude. I never felt so satisfyingly disappointed.
Posted by Kelly at 15:44
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
" Je t'aime " :
* * *
Bieber stepped through the doors of the new Future-Mart and seated himself in the chair of the next available trolley. He dropped his token into the slot and waited for the screen to boot.
*Welcome to Future-Mart. Please input your first item.*
*Please be more specific.*
*Please be more specific.*
Beiber sighed and remembered the days when customers were allowed to walk through the stores themselves. He knew from experience it was impossible to roam through Future-Mart on foot. The floors were fitted with sensors and alarmed – “For Your Own Safety”, apparently.
**I’m sorry. You did not input your item correctly. If you would like to see a list of brands please press here.**
Beiber’s trolley was shunted to the centre of the thoroughfare so the other trolleys could move to and fro unimpeded. He scanned the list of brands and chose ‘Future-Mart Fortified White Bread, Thick Sliced’
*Thank You. Please remain seated while I take you to – Future-Mart Fortified White Bread, Thick Sliced.*
The automated trolley whirred into action and trundled along the main thoroughfare before turning right at aisle 267. Three quarters of the way down it slowed to a halt.
*You are now at – Future-Mart Fortified White Bread, Thick Sliced.*
A mechanical arm attached to the shelf extended a tin of ‘Future-Mart Baked Beans’ towards his basket.
*Please confirm your selection. Add to trolley / Remove item*
*Please input your next item.*
‘Future-Mart Fortified White Bread, Thick Sliced’
*Thank you. You are now at – Future-Mart Fortified White Bread, Thick Sliced.*
The mechanical arm extended the tin of Baked Beans back towards the trolley.
Beiber was nonplussed.
The nuns at the orphanage had christened him Désiré. What a misnomer for an abandoned child. They had told him they picked this name because even if his genitors had rejected him, God had desired him to be alive. What a load of bollocks. It had not taken him long to realise there was no such thing as a God. At the age of 5, as he was playing Chinese checkers on his own on Christmas day, spinning the board with his hands covered with mince pie to play the next turn, it dawned on him: there was no God. He just knew. Nothing in particular had triggered the thought. It was his own call to Faith. He remembered walking to the green blackboard at the back of the playroom and writing: there is no god. And today, as his crying wife wouldn't let go of the body of their stillborn child, he believed it more than ever: there is no god.
* * *
I would like to argue – no, wait. That would be impolite – I would like to put forward that it is a complete misnomer to say Canadians are irenic negotiators. We can do bad stuff too! We have an Army and we’re not afraid – what? They’ve all been replaced by Peace Keepers? Are you sure? – I still think it’s a misnomer. All in favour of continuing the debate over a large box of Timbits say ‘Eh?’
She was obsessed with learning. A day where she didn't teach herself something was a day wasted. Last week, she learnt everything there is to know about Alaska; and today she worked really hard at improving her German by painfully translating a poem by Rilke. There was only one thing that the autodidact liked as much as learning: it was teaching. Unfortunately, she could only teach things she didn't know herself: the more she learnt, the less she could teach.
* * *
I’m an autodidact. I am self-taught in the art of self teaching. I alone was able to break down my defences and teach myself new ways of teaching myself. For instance, once I had learned that I could teach myself to be self-taught it was as though the world unfolded itself to me. I could now teach myself to teach myself anything my heart desired. When I found out that to be self-taught was to be an autodidact I knew that there were others who had mastered this skill but few had capitalised on it’s true potential. So I decided to become a guru of self teaching, imparting my self taught knowledge of self teaching to the masses on the self-help seminar circuit. I now rake in a small fortune. God bless America!
The five men were scattered on the plane. From where he stood, behind the flight attendant pushing the trolley, he could see all of them. It couldn't be a coincidence, could it? Five men, wearing the exact same outfit as him, right to his yellow framed glasses. How could it be possible? He had his suit designed by a friend in Bologna, he remembered its conception around a glass of cheap chianti: lime green corduroy, a ladybird for luck on the left lapel, the word "Gestalt" crudely stitched in red on the breast pocket. He couldn't make out what was written on the jacket of the man closest to him, but there was definitely a word there, in red. The man met his gaze. For a moment, he thought he was staring at a mirror. He had to talk to that man. To all of them.
They met by the lavatory. In the windows, the cotton-wool sea had an orange hue in the setting sun. One of the men was German, two of them were French, and the fourth one was Irish, like him. It almost sounded like a joke. They were all as disconcerted as he was. They had all come up with the design themselves, independently. "Peut-être est-ce dans l'air du temps?" said one of the French men to the other. "Zeitgeist", translated the German man.
* * *
Their thoughts had followed her all the way back to her room. They were getting closer each time. A monstrous callithump of freaks parading down the high street of her mind, casting her own weakening thoughts to the side, bullying them into oppressed silence.
She closed her eyes and focused on him. A shy smile began to stretch across her pale and worried face. As long as they didn't know about him, her sanity was safe. She just had to invoke a mental image of him to clear a side street in the crowded maze of her mind. She was always expecting to find him when she was getting to her hideaway. It was the craving to be cradled in his arms again that was keeping her alive. But all she was ever greeted by was white noise and static snow.
* * *
cling, clang, clack,
tappa, rap, snap -
rattle, bang, clunk,
ting, tang, tunk -
rattle, boom, plonk,
plink, ting, tonk -
zing, zhang, zump,Enjoy the Callithump!
She tried to talk to one of them. And she failed, again. They don't know how to listen. Instead of silent understanding she faced unnecessary advice. She wanted to scream at that face, a long, continuous sound so powerful the skin on the face would ripple. She's not one to thrive on self-proclaimed irenic words. They're an insult to her. They make her feel small and angry. As the patronising suggestions were gradually belittling and replacing her heartbroken disclosure, she felt like she was outgrowing her own body, her strength stretching beyond the boundaries of her flesh, her fury escaping the cage of her mind. Where she was expecting comfort she only found shrouded antagonism. The longer the face was wearing that phony benevolent smile, the faster the shadows in the corner of her eyes were moving. She made the decision on the spot. She had to leave, go as far away as possible from the bars of the others' thoughts.
* * *
Canadians pride themselves on their grasp of, and use of, irony. They think this sets them apart from their American neighbours and defines them as a nation. I would like to argue – no, wait. That would be impolite – I would like to put forward the notion that it is not a well developed sense of irony that makes Canadians distinct but their tendency towards irenic negotiations. (Now that’s ironic, eh?)
He placed the pebble of amber under the microscope.
- Is it the thing shaped like a trumpet? she asked.
He briefly looked her in the eye before staring back at the fossil.
- How on earth could such a thing exist? It doesn't make any sense. It would negate life. If it were activated, it would be the end of the world. It's beyond my understanding: if this animalcule really could do what you claim it can do, we wouldn't even be here to ponder about it. It would have eradicated life on earth. Or at least life as we know it. We would have evolved in a different way.
He grabbed it and watched it roll in his hand.
- You should destroy it, she said.
The small ball settled in his palm. He closed his fist on it. He took her hand and placed the future of the human race in it, pushed her fingers over it as if to nestle it, then covered her fist with his hands.
She didn't say no to the question he never asked.
* * *
His clock was still ringing in his ears by the time he reached the turnstile. He caught his jacket pocket in it, and it ripped, sending all his loose change jingling off the floor. He awkwardly bent over, intending to pick the copper coins up, but changed his mind: it would congest the flow of morning travellers if he did so, and he wasn't the type of man who disrupts the way of the world.
He quickly took his place back in the stream, a little flushed by the embarrassment, and made it just in time for the sliding doors to close on his satchel. He freed it as he imagined all the passengers' eyes looking at him disapprovingly. The turnstile incident must have put him out of sync with his own rhythm, making him skip a beat in the repetitive and monotonous score of his life.
When he got to his workplace, the revolving doors looked threatening to him; he even thought of waiting until he would be the only person wanting to get in, but it would have meant being late for work, and he didn't like being late for work. He followed the accountant from the third floor as she stepped in and got unfortunately stuck in the same partition as her. She laughed; he didn't.
He slowed down as she dashed to the paternoster lift: he didn't want to be stuck with her in one of its compartments. He hated that thing. He kept fearing he was going to be caught in its drive chain some day.
But more than the paternoster, he feared the cleaning woman. And there she was, in the staircase, her matronal figure hammering a mop in a bucket. The rest of the staff seemed to see her as a benevolent materfamilias; to him, she was the combined embodiment of all the women who had persecuted him during his life. It was the way she looked at him. She despised him. He was despised by a cleaning woman.
He stared at the marble floor. He felt even more trapped than usual. He thought of killing the cleaning woman. He pictured himself hammering the mop in her face again and again and again. He pictured himself being jailed for it. He wiped these thoughts away and pictured himself leaving the building, jumping on a train to anywhere but here, building himself a new life where nobody would know him so he could become the person he thought he was meant to have become by now.
Instead, he entered the paternoster, as usual, because he just wasn't that type of man.
* * *
bread, dead, release, pursuit, serial, solicitor, haircut, pursuit, expression, haircut, developing, metric
To whom it may concern,
I, the undersigned, Reginald Bread, appointed solicitor to the Vital Baboon's trust fund, would like to ask for the permission to release Mr Baboon's ashes over his beloved duck pond on the behalf of the family of my dead employer. After a lifetime spent in the pursuit of developing a type of haircut that improved hair growth with substantial metric records, I believe it is a reasonable last wish coming from a man without whom baldness wouldn't have been eradicated. Mr Baboon's family see it as an expression of respect towards our nation's capillary saviour. You may find the serial number of Mr Baboon's urn attached to this request.
Very Truly Yours,
* * *
birth, frighten, sugar, blinis, cold, riverfront, cage, swinging, yew, Hermes.
TULIP of DESTINY
TULIP of DESTINY
The shape of a hand pushes against the film of a shower curtain, grabs hold of it and pulls it aside with a theatrical flourish. Tonight’s dress rehearsal had already created quite a buzz in creative circles for its swinging new style. Hermes (the owner of the shower curtain hand) came late to ballet. He was twenty one before he took his first lesson. Being chosen from the dozens of others who auditioned for the show was a testament to his determination and tireless training, as well as his natural ability. He must have had it since birth. He has no idea where it came from as his parents lacked the rhythm to clap their hands in unison, let alone the inclination to dance.
Hermes was the type of child who was always fidgeting and getting in trouble for it. He found it impossible to sit still and was labelled as a trouble maker for his constant twitching and wiggling. His behaviour frightened the teachers. Naturally, they assumed he was high on sugar. They locked him in a cage and implored him to choose a respectable career, like flipping blinis at the local diner or weaving baskets out of yew. The trouble was, although these jobs were extremely well paid, they left him feeling cold. Hermes knew this wasn’t the type of work he was destined for.
After school he took a job as a Postman. He enjoyed the physical aspects of his job: walking a route, running up and down stairs in blocks of flats, carrying the heavy sacks and packages. But Hermes knew being a Postie was not his calling. It was a temporary stop gap between that and his real career. One morning while walking his favourite route along the riverfront, he saw a ballerina poised on a rock just a little ways out from the shore. She stood balanced on the tip of one toe with her back leg extended high behind her and her arms reaching up to the sky. He thought she looked like a tulip with it's petals bent towards the sun.
* * *
The water is swinging as he stares at his own reflection, shifting from flat to concave as if it had a pulse. It's just his heart pumping his blood so fast in excitement affecting his eye sight; but he doesn't know that. He's so beautiful. He stands by the riverfront, naked, overpowering himself. He's captured by the gaze of this familiar stranger in the water. Nobody has looked at him like that before. It frightens him a bit; he feels challenged, it turns him on. And, to him, it turns the stranger on too. He's never wanted to touch a body more than that stranger's body. It seems that every moves he thinks, the other man does, as if he could read his mind. He tries to think of a move without doing it: the man stays still and keeps staring him in the eye.
He stands back and looks around him. Stones, yew, trees. He licks his lips and tastes the tangible sugar of honey.
He's drawn back to the man. He is as aroused as he is. He runs his hand to his groin, hoping the stranger would do the same, and, as expected, he does. He touches himself the way he would want to touch the man. The feeling of communion is overwhelming. Complicity and rapture draw a smile so pure on their faces. They trip as they peak, and fall towards each other, becoming one for ever in a cold christening. The sun sets in mourning, then rises in remembrance, gilding the delicate petals of a flower born out of ecstatic dew.
The woman closes her notebook and cages it in her Hermes bag. She looks at the plate of untouched blinis, and feels thankful for the inspiration they provided.
Posted by Kelly at 12:04
“Listen now and listen clear for I only gonna to premonish if you is prepared. If you is hearing as well as listening. For hear me now, this is for true, these are the End Days. Times like these a vision can be glimpse and vanish. Forgotten. And then ain’t no use to nobody. Secret ‘pon secret get filed away in a teeny tiny space, like a capsule waiting for a drop of water to expand into scandal and gossip. Times like these memories clutch together to keep warm as age forget them. Right now a memory crawling along the wall of this here room. It twitching round the edges like some nocturnal creature waiting for dark so it be protect from prying eyes. It like a cat hiding, wedge between the sofa and the wall. Or it like some rat lookin’ for a gap to squeeze through. It just goin’ along like anything that don’t want nobody to be seein’ it before it ready –”
Interrupted. Train of thought derailed and thoughts jumble into blankness. Clean as the unwritten page and as unsullied as an idea before it is spoken. The room vibrates with the weight of expectation and anxiety. Everything has been stirred up into a cloud of anticipation and nothing is clear. The walls change colour as thoughts bounce off the surface at high velocity: green, red, blue and orange; each one leaving behind a faint impression, like a map drawn in the sand. The floor starts to tremble and falls away into a pile of dust and ashes.
* * *
She premonishes them. She knows it's pointless, they never believe her. They can't believe her. And all that comes out of her mouth is premonition. All she does is foretelling. She can't talk about the past or the present: she's stuck in the future. Everything bores her, she never gets surprised: she already knows the outcome of every single thing that's going to happen. It's so frustrating. She knows how and when people are going to die when she meets them, and there's nothing she can do to stop it. Her words have no effect. She finds no pleasure in life anymore: there's no anticipation, no yearning, no craving. Her existence is just a never ending parade of spoilers. The only thing she doesn't know is when the hell that she calls her life is going to end. Maybe it's because the bastards who granted her wish of precognition made her immortal. That's the kind of crap these in-breds would find amusing.
Posted by Kelly at 11:50