Saturday, 25 July 2015

Original Sin

Faith, yes I had faith: I believed in heaven and hell, I believed in good and evil, I believed in the Almighty and the Dark one, I still do. The only difference is, I don’t believe anymore, I know. The thing I liked best about my weekly trips to church, was the rousing antics of the choir. The way their voices soared in perfect harmony, their bodies swayed to a beat of their own making while they clapped in time to the hymn. There was something innately sanctified about the whole experience.

That day, when I stopped believing and started knowing, began like any other. I dropped my daughter, Ashley, to her swimming club while I went to K-Mart to do some shopping, it was our Saturday morning ritual. I was waiting in the parking-lot, as always, when a bundle of hysteria dashed across the expanse of concrete toward me. Her hair was still wet from the pool and flapped behind her as she ran. Ashley pulled the door open and dived across the back seat, while I started the engine.

“Dad, I beat Tracy Johnson!” she cried excitedly, as she pushed her head between the front seats.
“No Way! Tracy Johnson is unbeatable, you said so,” I teased, as I pulled out onto the highway.
“Not any more. I got my turn just right and beat her good.”
I turned my head, looking at the delighted cherub face beaming at me and wondered, not for the first time, what I had done to be so blessed. If I had been facing forward I would have seen the delivery truck stop, trying to take a turn he’d overshot. My foot would have automatically sought out the break, but I wasn’t looking. Instead, I drove straight into it doing over sixty-five. The last thing I remember is my little girl’s happy face, smiling up at me.

When I woke, I was alone. Nobody sat at my bed-side, waiting to welcome me back, so I swam into the darkness once more. I drifted in a world of half-seen shadows and disjointed voices until I heard my ex-wife calling me. I opened my eyes. Something was wrong, I couldn’t get my vision to focus. She told me there had been an accident, that I had rear-ended a truck. She told me that I had head injuries and then she told me I killed Ashley. Words cannot describe what I went through after that, but I deserved every second of it.

I got better, in every way but my sight. The fuzziness got worse and worse. The doctors said it may be connected to my brain injury, but I know better. I was starting to see people as they really are, I was looking into their souls. I know it’s true, because when I got home and took my first look in the mirror, what stared back was my true self. A blood drenched scull with black empty eye sockets, filled the mirror. Bloated white maggots wriggled in the empty nasal cavity and dead teeth stood like crooked headstones in my hanging jaw bone. It was the face of murder that I saw.

So now, I sit in this church, with my eyes closed, and listen to the wonderful voices reach up to the heavens. I know God can hear, because when I look at people, I see the sins they carry on their souls, not the skin on their bones. Yes, I know there is a heaven, but I also know that I’ll never see the inside.

I open my eyes, and stare at the collection of gowned gargoyles, clapping taloned appendages, as their horrific distended mouths, open and close in song.  

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sand, Sea and Sculptures

Hey…everyone needs a holiday from time to time. Me more than most. For a start, I'm thousands of years old, and only getting older by the second. Is it any wonder I get a bit cranky? I'd like to see you stand perfectly still for years, or even an hour. Go on, give it a go, and tell me that doesn't suck.

Here is a flash history course for you.

Pompeii was a Roman city. It was completely covered by a pyroclastic lava flow in the year 79AD. One-thousand-seven-hundred years later, someone found unusual air-spaces in the condensed lava. The spaces happened to be the only earthly remains of the unlucky Pompeian residents, who died when the lava hit. Some clever-clogs filled the spaces with plaster, and when it hardened, they produced near perfect replicas of people in the moments they perished.

Some of these casts are on show in the Garden of Fugitives, which is where you can find me. So, day after day, people shuffle past me, taking snaps of my nakedness to bring home to the kids. It pisses me off.

Today, I was standing around, like I do, when a bunch of day trippers appeared. Tagging on to the end of the line were two girls, (and I am being generous with that description), who looked like they’d just been thrown out of a night club.

"This is boring, Trish, can we go?" said the blonde one with the over-sized sunglasses and the undersized hot pants.

"I paid twenty-five euro for this bloody trip, there had better be a wine bar soon," said her friend, who was clearly hung-over and having difficulty walking in her cheap flip-flops.

"Trish, would you look at that one," said Blondie, pointing directly at me.

"Ugly little fucker, ain't he," said Flip-flop, chewing gum like a ruminating cow.

“He looks like he’s taking a hard dump," said flip-flop, who clearly thought she was hilarious. The blonde one snorted a laugh, saying, "Hard dump, good one Trish."

What a pair of geniuses, NOT!!

By this time, the rest of the group had moved on, leaving just Blondie and Flip-flop in the garden. Flip-flop searched her handbag, pulling out a phone. "Jump over the rope and I’ll take a picture."

Please, no!

"It says, Do not cross,” said Blondie, pointing at the sign hanging from the guard chain.

It’s amazing. She actually could read.

"Feck it, go on," said Flip-flop.

Faced with such blinding logic, who could argue? Clearly not Blondie, who stepped over the chain, nearly splitting the seat of her hot pants in the process. She bent down and put her arm around my shoulder, the smell of vanilla perfume would have knocked me over if I weren’t made out of stone. Flip-flop snapped off a few shots.

"Grab him by the micky, Sarah."

"Jesus, I can't," said Blondie, in mock horror.

You better not.

"Go on Sarah, you've played with mickys older than that one before."

"Mucky cow!" countered Blondie, but shockingly her head vanished between my legs.

Seriously, get away from my penis!

"It's bloody tiny," said Blondie, grabbing a handful of my crotch.

"Give it a rub and see what happens," laughed Flip-flop. Then, with a snorting laugh, the blonde moron started to vigorously rub my ding-ding. 

Flip-flop nearly dropped the camera she was laughing so hard, but I didn't find it one bit funny.

I warned you!

"It's starting to get hot." said Blondie, not laughing now.

"Are you surprised, Sarah? You could start a fire rubbing it that hard. No wonder you can’t keep a boyfriend for more than five minutes.” Blondie pulled her hand away from my crotch but kept the other one on my back.

"No, I mean it's getting really hot, have a feel," she said, and then did the exact thing she shouldn't. She grabbed my penis again.

When I caught her hand and pulled it away from my nether regions, she screamed. When I spoke, her eyes rolled back in her head, and Flip-flop fell on her ass. Seeing as I'd started, I did what a demon does best, and flash fried the two of them. The smell of charred skin hung over Pompeii once more and I was forced to scuttle back to the underworld.

So, there you have it, the story of how my holiday was ruined. The boss has actually barred me from going back to Italy anytime this millennium, and there's not that many places a little stone demon like myself can go unnoticed. Bloody tourists.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Party's Over.

The weak light of dawn creeps into my eyes, chasing monsters from the shadows of my dreams. The smell of corrupted earth fills my nostrils, and silence lays heavily on my ear. My head feels swollen, straining at the inside of my skull, while something rotten slithers through my guts. I wish for sleep to take me once more, but it too has betrayed me. I lift one heavy eyelid and regard the world through a bloodshot iris.

Tiny dust devils are born, only to die in an instant. Nothing else moves in this wasteland of excess. I am alone, the last of my kind. From sky’s edge, to sky’s edge, the earth has been ripped apart, and now its bones lie bleaching in the sun. I blink painfully and feel guilt and desolation, in equal measure.

I’d known this place as a rolling sea of green, vibrant with life and goodness. That was until, the lust filled heart of man had focused on it. At first, they came gently, bearing plans and dreams. Then came more, each adding their own portion of want, to the demand already placed on this delicate oasis.

The riggers, the builders, the gaffers and crew. The stage men, the roadies’, the teckies came too.

From all corners they arrived, erecting an altar, from which the Gods, of a modern era, could speak to the masses. When the monument was complete, the lush valley was scared, but still it survived. Nature adapted to its new appendage with practiced ease. Sadly, that was when the flood began, a flood of the most toxic substance ever know.

They came in their thousands, an unstoppable tide of greed, and I came too. A beer, a burger, a song, a band, a lover- one is just never enough. We gorged ourselves on all, and consumed until we were bloated. The party raged, and no matter how much we had, we cried out for more. Nothing could satisfy our desire. That was, until we ran out completely.
We ran out of hours, and alcohol, we ran out of bands, and songs, while the ground beneath us ran out of life.

I rise from my dusty bed and look at what I’ve left behind. Not a blade of grass, not a leaf on a tree, has survived our madness. A toxic lake of piss, which will never see a fishing line, a land, pummelled to oblivion by a million stomping feet. Was it all worth it? How dull the vast steel stage looks, now it’s lost its magical coat of light.

I guess the party’s over, and I’m the last of my kind.

Soon, I too will be no more. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Choo-Choo

“We’re going up to Dublin on the choo-choo!” he said to himself, in a sing song way, which sounded like the tune, “I do like to be beside the seaside.” It was amazing the way a train journey changed his personality. Firstly, he would never say train, it was always the choo-choo, and second, all his words seemed to come out in melody.

He danced from one foot to the other, in his highly polished shoes, while waiting for the platform steward to open the gate. He always insist on being right at the front of the queue, so he could get the exact right seat.

The steward, in bright orange bib, swung the gate open with a squeak, and Bernard thrust his ticket forward excitedly, before rushing down the platform, leaving me racing to keep up. He bobbed up and down as he skipped along the train, counting the carriages. He always wanted to be seven from the back, because that was the one which was the perfect distance from the engine, apparently. He also insisted on sitting in the seat, exactly half way between the wheels. I once asked him why it had to be the middle seat, and he informed me the reason was simple, sitting over the wheels rattled his bum.

When Bernard had selected exactly where the middle of the carriage was, I had to stand outside on the platform while he went in and took the seat at the window where I was standing. Once he was in just the right place, I was allowed get on.

As I walked up the carriage, I could see Bernard’s bum, wiggling in the air, while he performed the last of his excited rituals, checking the underside of the table for gum. I was about to slide into the seat opposite him when he frowned at me. I'd forgotten to check my side of the table. I ducked my head under, and scanned for sticky lumps of masticated confectionery.
“Nothing there,” I said, finally taking my seat.
“Good. No chew-chew on the choo-choo,” he said, smiling at his own joke.

Soon the train jolted forward and the wheels squealed, as we inched along the rails, beginning our journey. Bernard turned to me, and said in a more normal tone of voice, “we’d better go over the monthly figures one more time before the briefing.” 

I retrieved the sheaf of printed figures from my briefcase and wondered, not for the first time, how he'd ever become the Managing Director of a multinational company. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Thirty Pieces of Silver

Thirty Pieces of Silver.


“Go on, let me have just one. You know I’m good for it.”

“Get out of my face, Scobi,” said Dave, elbowing the greasy haired scumbag out of his way. He had just gone to the bar for a beer and the little shit had latched on to him like a limpet. Dave pushed through the crowds of drinkers, making sure he had a firm grip on the neck of his bottle. It was bloody wild in here tonight. The music was pounding, and the place was packed with students, just the way Dave liked it. He bobbed his head in time with the driving base, as he made his way to a ledge overlooking the dance floor. He’d a nice mellow buzz going after doing a couple of lines earlier, after all, he was working.

“Please, Dave,” said Scobi, still following him, begging like a hungry dog would beg for scraps.

“Not a chance. You still owe me for the last lot, and I got my arse kicked for giving you that,” said Dave, knowing that there was no point in looking for any money right now. What ever Scobi had was already shot up. Tomorrow, he’d pay Scobi a visit tomorrow and remind him properly about the money he owed.

“Come on Dave, you can’t leave me hanging, brother.”

Dave turned on the little dark haired guy, watching as he danced the junky shake, his body being torn apart by the hunger flooding his veins.
“I’m not your brother! Get the fuck out of my face before I do something I shouldn’t,” Dave snarled. Scobi knew when to cut and run, which is exactly what he did.

Dave rested his elbow on the ledge and took a swig of his beer. He watched the dancers go wild to the music. He could see some of his regular customers already covered in a lather of sweat, eyes closed, ripping up the dance floor. Glow sticks made magic arks in the dark, and the night club lights pulsed in time with the music. Another bottle landed on the ledge alongside Dave’s and he looked around. A shifty looking guy had moved in beside him and was watching the floor with a smile, just like Dave.

Dave knew the guy had not ended up there by accident. This was his spot, and everyone here knew where to go if they were looking for a little something to get a buzz on. Dave kept a watch from the corner of his eye. Dave said nothing, he just waited. He didn’t recognise this guy, and Dave knew just about everyone. The guy caught Dave watching him and he gave him a grin.

“Alright, Buddy?” the man said.

“Alright,” answered Dave. The man nodded and smiled like Dave had just told him a joke and leaned in.

“Have you see Charlie around the place tonight?” the man asked, with a knowing look.

“Charlie?” said Dave, playing dumb, but knowing exactly what the man was looking for.

“Yea, Charlie. My buddy over there said you would know where he was, if he was about.” Dave looked at the guy closer. He didn’t look like a copper, and he didn’t talk like one either. Even though he had a few deals of heroin in his sock he was not going to deal class A to a complete stranger.

“Na man, Charlie stayed home tonight, too many Love Doves out and about.” Love Doves were a type of ecstasy tablet popular at the minute. They were white with a little dove printed on them.

“Too bad, but I guess if doves is all that’s out, doves it will have to be. How much for a couple?”

“Twenty,” said Dave turning away from the dance floor so his back was to the ledge. He crossed his hands so his palm was hidden behind his arm. The guy nodded his head, and also turned so he was shoulder to shoulder with Dave. Dave felt a folded note slip into his hand, which he quickly made vanish. From a hidden pocket inside his jacket, Dave fished out two tabs, by feel, and slipped them into the guy's hand still folded behind his arm. The whole transaction took less than ten seconds. The man winked, and popped one of the tablets in his mouth, before vanishing into the crowd. Dave watched the guy go but soon lost him in the throng. He didn’t like selling to people he didn’t know, it was risky, but hell, drug-dealing was a risky business.

At the end of the night, the street outside Zoe’s was littered with drunks and spaced out teenagers. Dave nodded to the security as he walked away from the building, they all knew him but pretended they didn’t. The envelope he passed to the head of security once a month assured his business would not be disturbed, as long as he was discreet. Dave had drank a half a dozen beers and taken about four lines during the night, he wasn’t drunk, but far from sober. His stomach was screaming for a Kebab, so he was wandering towards the top of the street when he spotted the guy from earlier. He was leaning against a wall chewing on a burger.  The guy smiled and waved to Dave.

“Hey, man, got any more of them little birdies?” he said, through a mouthful of chewed beef.
“Sure buddy,” said Dave, walking over to the man. “How many do you want?” he asked unzipping his jacket. That was as far as Dave got, before two big guys rushed around the corner, grabbing Dave and dragging him down the alleyway. 

Dave tried to shout, but one of the guys drove a fist into his solar plexus, knocking the wind, and the noise, out of him.  The guy that had bought the drugs earlier followed along behind, still eating his burger. He nodded, and they went to work on Dave. By the time the pickaxe handle appeared, Dave couldn’t feel much of anything. He was starting to black out when the guy finished his burger and stopped the beating with a quiet word. He hunched down so that Dave could see him using the one eye that was still in his head.

“You tell Jimmy that he’s not keeping us out of this patch any more. You got that?” the guy said. Dave tried to nod his head but was not sure if it actually moved at all, instead he blinked his remaining eye.

“Good,” said the man, but something made him come back. He rifled through Dave’s jacket and found the hidden pocket and emptied it of tablets, as well as taking his wallet and the deals of heroin he had stuffed inside his sock.

“Oh, and tell him to keep a leash on Pit-bull Byrne, or we’ll put that doggy down, for good,” said the guy, pocketing the drugs and money before walking away, like he hadn’t a care in the world.