Sunday, June 19, 2011

Luis Buñuel is an atheist… and thank God for that.

This interim post is dedicated to all the bearded, rosy-cheeked, Christmas Elves who work fastidiously hard each month of the year - year in, year out - to make sure the toys in Santa’s Workshop are ready by Christmas.


Pick up a twenty-cent piece. On one side; assign fundamental Christians. The other: atheists.

Toss the coin a couple of times. Now, without cheating, tell me if you can recall which is which.

(Credit where it’s due:
"There is only the slightest movement of the fingers that makes the v-sign different from the Nazi salute. Always watch that."
- Don Van Vliet, Music Echo, 1972.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

At this time of night, the clocks stop working.

A snapshot of what I did last night. I banged this out over an hour or two, so I'm sure there's errors of syntax and grammar and understanding to be found upon reading. Don't worry, I'll sneak back and fix 'em. Like I do everything else posted. 


At this time of night, the clocks stop working.

The band was packing up when they arrived at the Herdman’s Lake Tavern. Amber and Sean were amazed when the bouncer asked them for ID.
“Haven’t been asked that for a while!” she told the nervous young Indian.
A drunken tradesman in a fluoro green jacket welcomed Sean to the tavern when they entered. His clothes were stained in stale sweat and he obviously hadn’t showered for the day.
Asian Frank was there playing pool. He knew all the spots in Perth that offered free tables. Frank waved from across the room while they ordered at the bar.

The Irishman was close to five foot tall. He was slightly built, with slumped shoulders, a noticeable beer gut and his head was shaved in a number one to hide his male pattern baldness. Amber towered over him. The man was from Cork and stood close to her, giving the cold shoulder to Sean.
“I’m good at history, like. I love that shite.”
Amber nodded. Sean looked around at the people outside smoking. He had never seen the Tavern so busy late at night.
“What’s going on with the Aboridgines? At the hostel I stay at, with this girl, there was one outside the door. He had a bottle and was sniffing gasoline from it.”
The Irishman touched her on the elbow.
“Yeah, that happens. They’ve had so much to deal with over the years.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know that. Forty years ago, yeah, when they were being put up against the wall, and being executed, like. And their babies were being stolen. That fucking shite.”
“No, it wasn’t forty.”
“Try sixty, seventy.”
“Get this!” The man from Cork clicked his fingers in Sean’s face. “Where I come from, that was like what the English tried to do.”
“But we fort `em!” He held out his clenched fists, triumphant.
Sean declined to asked him how that had worked out.
“And, you know, it’s like over here, right,” he went very quiet. “Because, well, youse were brought over here as convicts, like. Australia was a convict colony.”
Amber couldn’t help but look down on the midget, such was the difference in their height.
“But, yeah, like, ninety-nine percent of the Aboridgines over here are like that. Sniffing petrol from water bottles.”
“Nah, they’re not all like that. How can you blame them? All the shit that went on, no wonder so many are lost.”
“It’s terrible like, putting people against a wall. ‘I’m going to take your picture.’ And then, bang!” He held his arms like an imaginary rifle.
“Yeah, it is terrible. For that to happen, when Aborigines were part of our society, fighting as Anzacs, participating – ”
“What, they were soldiers?”
“Yeah, during World War I, World War – ”
“Get this!” He clicked both fingers now, his hands underneath her chin. “Where I come from, Ireland is a small country. The English fort all these big wars, and they have lots of people, like. But they couldn’t beat us when they fort us!”
“Yeah!” He touched her on the shoulder. “I told you I was good at history, like.”

One of the pool tables was out of order. Frank practiced with the black ball and a yellow, playing long cushion shots down the rails. Sean watched the other two tables. A game of singles played on one table. A man he hadn’t seen before, a baseball cap pulled low down over his eyes, took on all comers. There was a long line of coins on the table, challenges from people who wanted to play next. In the other game, a man and a young woman disinterestedly played shots as they very seriously flirted.
The man was obviously fluffing pots to give her a chance.
In the corner, the man in a cap stood with two other men, along with the Irish midget.
Amber was ordering at the bar. From his vantage point, he could see an empty shot glass in front of her on the counter. His waved to get her attention. She looked at him and he pointed at his empty pint glass. She nodded and spoke to the barmaid.
A girl with blonde hair, wearing a grubby blue jacket, the hood turned down, sidled up to Amber. One of her Peruvian slippers had fallen off her foot and was jammed underneath the footrest of the bar.
Sean made his way over to retrieve his beer. The blonde was very drunk. Her eyes were half shut in liquid stupor. Sean waited at Amber’s shoulder.
“Hello, I’m Suze!”
“What’s your name?”
She extended a hand.
“Sean,” he replied.
They shook.
“It’s good to meet you.”
“Yes, it is very good to meet me.”
Amber stifled a laugh and looked away. Suze recoiled and waved Amber to her.
“Is this guy giving you a hard time?”
“No, he’s my boyfriend.”

“Can we get a game?”
“Do you want to play?”
“Ok, let’s challenge that cou –”
He pointed over to the far table. The couple had left and three young men had started a game.
“We can play them. There are too many coins on that table in the corner.”
Frank was again unsuccessfully trying to beat the man in the baseball cap.
“Did you drink another tequila shooter?”
“Yeah,” she grinned, not embarrassed in the slightest.

Outside, next to the windows, a fight was taking place. A different  bouncer had tackled the tradesman, in the fluoro green jacket, to the ground. The bouncer was also an Indian, but broad-shouldered and barrel-chested.
He lay on top of the tradesman and clutched the man’s throat. The man tried to pry away his hands but it was of no use. A small crowd gathered to watch.
The man’s eyes closed and his movements became sluggish. His hands stopped prising as he was choked out. The bouncer carefully raised himself off the man.
As he did so, the tradesman leapt to his feet, staggering and uncertain, nearly falling back down. People in the crowd stepped between the men. The tradesman was apoplectic. Some of the girls who worked at the tavern throughout the week – off-duty for the night – obviously knew the man as a regular customer and pushed him away from the bouncer. The man screamed and shouted as the girls tried to persuade him to go home.

“Are you ready to die?”
“Are you ready to die for pool?”
“Not in the slightest. Are you ready to die for pool.”
The Englishman was annoyingly drunk. His accent was that of a London geezer and he wore a The Mighty Boosh t-shirt.
Sean racked up the balls and Amber introduced them both. The Mighty Boosh boy scrutinised Sean.
“Your hairstyle is from 1973.”
“Excuse me?”
“Your hairstyle is from 1973.”
“You should play in a band!” he slurred.
“I should play in a band.” Sean nodded at Amber.
“I’m really into music!” bragged The Mighty Boosh.
“So what’s your favourite band from 1973?” asked Amber.
 The pissed boy’s demeanour became deadly serious. He clutched his face, deep in thought.
“Hall and Oates!”
One of the bargirls walked around the pub and told every customer the breaking news.
“Last drinks! Last drinks!”
“Last drinks! Do you want a drink?”
Sean looked down at his half-full pint. “Aw yeah.”
“Last drinks!” The bar girl said to them.
A paddy wagon had pulled up outside the front of the public bar. The skinny bouncer was frantic and confronted each customer with the news.
“Last drinks! Drink up, we’re closing!”
Outside, policemen in green vests liased with the staff on duty.
Amber came back with two middy glasses of beer.
“They wouldn’t sell me pints?”
“The police are here.”
There was now a second police vehicle: a cruiser.
“My God, is that guy getting arrested?”
“Not sure.”
She set the middy glasses on the knee high coffee table.
“Are you still playing?” asked The Mighty Boosh.
“Yeah, it’s her shot.”
Sean handed her the cue and when she took it, the butt clipped one of the middies. The glass pitched over the edge and entire contents spilt over the carpet in a white, frothing puddle.
“Shit! No, no!”
Thinking quick before anyone noticed the accident, Amber grabbed a chair and dragged it so that the furniture was over the spill. It didn’t take long for the beer to soak into the floor.
The skinny bouncer rushed to the jukebox and, in one fluid motion, knelt down beside it and pulled the power cable out of its socket. David Guetta’s “Memories” died instantly, replaced with the dull roar of the half dozen people left in the bar.
“My song!” cried Amber.

On the side of the road, a familiar looking girl in a blue hoodie jacket staggered along with two men.
“It’s Suze. She lives around here.”
They drove past. The group appeared to be in high spirits.
“I think she’s a bit of a drinker.”
“Oh yeah,” he agreed. “So, what do you want to do now?”
“I don’t want to go home.”
“Me neither.” 
He turned the car left, away from the apartment and into the night. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A quick thought.

Something terrible that I wrote back in the bad old days. It's overwrought and trying too hard to make some sort of meaning. I tried hard (haha!) to edit it so that it's sensible. It's pretty rough and ready. I apologise in advance.

I dedicate this story to Anita, who was so lost in her own life that she had to live in the thoughts of others. 

Who's Ursula and Alex? Who cares!


A Quick Thought

In an empty room is any sound created? In a silent bedroom, blinds half drawn, the sunlight’s intensity slowly building through the cracks of glass glinting through black canvass, does any noise penetrate dusty, heavy ears? If a mind is momentarily disabled from last night’s intake of a shared carafe of the house white wine, six half litre bottles of Becks, and several assorted shooters, containing a mixture of spirits, the ingredients not entirely including baileys, kahlua, sambuca, grenadine, tequila and three types of whisky, then does anything exist outside of that, at this moment, very incapacitated brain? The only points of reference computed are sensations; several zones of pressure pushing into the skull, a dryness of the mouth so real that one can taste sand, and, an uneasy weight slowly and gradually building inside the bladder. The floor and walls moved uneasily, as the formerly immobile body shifted from its resting place and sat on the edge of the bed. Tiny silver lines blazed and swam in the corners of its sight, as it opened its eyes, and realised its sweaty nakedness and very sticky fingers. It searched for a point of reference, but couldn’t find any clothes, not on the floor, or the end of the bed, or anywhere else in the room. The body stayed very still and tried to let any sort of thought bubble up to the surface of perception. This was surely the worst hangover it had ever encountered.

Slowly, ever so torturously slowly, a giant rumble pealed into the body’s consciousness from outside the window hanging overhead. The drawstring of the blind was fumbled for and then finally found, the blind allowed to drop with a crash, one disproportionate to the noise roaring outside, and then hoisted upward to reveal a yellow crane, at least twice the size of the bedroom, swinging straight at the inquisitive and aching and perspiring person now watching agog at the quickly unfolding proceeding.

Perceptions and angles are a funny thing: the crane, never aimed at the bedroom in the first instance, seemingly lifted away from the room at the very last moment and swung into the construction site next to the apartment complex, its true destination, as the reluctant waker found their feet, as they madly dashed for the bedroom door, and a source of exit, before their legs, surprisingly not the stable platform they normally, reliably are, gave way and involuntarily spilled the waker into a spiralling swan dive, down onto the hard, unyielding floor. The empty bottles dislodged from their congealed residue made a tinny, loud clunk as they bounced and rolled about the pine wood landing pad; a sound that, to the less perceptive, distracted mind, would seem to be the chaotic din appropriate for the ultimate end of existence, created courtesy of an oversized piece of industry-standard construction equipment.

The body began to move after a minute had expired, after concluding it was not dead, and very much alive, and newly aching in its body from point of contact with the floor, along with the existing soreness that it had been dealing with since awakening, and still very, very nude, in a room it, it had absolutely no real idea where the room was located. It carefully lifted itself off the pine-wood floor, making sure not to step on one of the Becks’ beer bottles caught in a groove in the wooden boards and rolling back and forth, and as it did so decided that the apartment was somewhere in a city; the city.

At such a period of recognition the décor of the room will inevitably start to impose itself. The walls were a blinding white and made the silver lines in the body’s sight momentarily reappear. Several ornately framed posters, styled in expensive, Roman Baroque motif, featuring scenes from vintage foreign films of the 70s, courtesy of the auspices of the Italian, French, and Swedish film industries, hung off invisible hooks, and a long, sleek table, made out of what appeared to be pine, stained dark, which shared space with a slim, flat screen monitor, of the latest model of Macintosh computer system, in an aluminium and glass case, surrounded by more beer bottles with the labels peeled off, lied in the corner. A large wooden cupboard, made out of Jarrah, with tiny carvings of children populating its dual panels and posing overtly, was in front of the hangover elect. The blinds, light fixtures – and their respective switches –, door handles and hinges, all shared a clever, minimal, stainless steel motif.

The awoken, but not exactly fresh, body was momentarily impressed by what they saw; not just anyone would outfit the room in such a refined, carefully cultivated taste. It looked closer at the children carvings, first realised that the portraits were no older than two, and secondly, completely, absolutely naked, before the matter of its own nudity came back to the fore. They opened the cupboard doors, only to reveal an impressive selection of clothing that hung from tastefully chosen, black and silver hooks.

When flicking through the first clothes at hand, it is not important to note what the details are, as more important is a quick solution for correcting the current aberration of nakedness, so a dusty mind can bring its full attention towards solving the mystery of where it currently finds itself. The body stopped at a fluffy green bathrobe and removed the garment and respective coat hanger, and paused to discover a piece of cursive embroidery on the front of the garment, that which read: “Alex”. It stared at this name for what was a long time, before slipping the bathrobe over its shoulders and tying up the front; the name seemed very, very familiar to its perception. Not only are perceptions and angles a funny thing, so too the mind can be as well, when under the duress of a head ache, and confused, and not storing properly the short term memory recently created of the crane swinging by the window, that same crane now making a return journey, and appearing as though the construction equipment was looming over, and threatening to crush, the bedroom a second time, a threat that was duly noted and instantly reacted to as the hangover elect let out a stifled scream through cracked and dry lips and dove under the bed it had only just woken up from, before the true reality of the situation could sink in and the crane once again swung away from the apartment and into the lot next door.

After a body has taken in all the information it is able to gather about its immediate surroundings, and finds itself no less the wiser, it is key for that body to take itself, with head throbbing and skin crawling up and down its back, to a new location to try distell further insight into its predicament. It is also important for this body, when given the proposition of a full bladder with no let up in burning pressure of urine, to try not to wet itself and instead empty its bladder at a commonly accepted toilet of the day.

Surprisingly, the hangover elect seemed to know exactly where it was going, in an instinctual sense, as if its state of mind when languishing in sobriety would know what it was to face, when it opened the door to the apartment and stepped out into the hallway adorned with more Roman Baroque-clad posters and black wood and aluminium bookcase stuffed with modern classics of the day – not entirely including, Orwell, Greene, Tolkien, Kafka, Hegel, Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Wittgenstein – and what, alarmingly, appeared to be the entire collection of every novel ever penned by Patricia Cornwell, of which was featured on an entire self. It knew with no undue certainty that the door perpendicular to the bedroom entrance would contain a bathroom.

It contemplated this epiphany as it sat down on the toilet bowl and relieved itself with great satisfaction, as it rest its head against the washing basin and felt the cold porcelain ease its sore and hot forehead.

As it washed its hands, and duly realised that the impossible and ineffable stickiness of its fingers was not receding but instead seemed to be growing stronger with each scrub, the slow, slow body took note of its red, flushed cheeks, and closely cropped bob of black, dyed hair, with tiny, faint blonde roots showing at the crown, of which was a widow’s peak, and reconsidered the cursive, backwards “xelA” on its left breast. Can a place be remembered from a past life inhabitation, a new place one has never been to before? The body clenched its fists, and felt the way the skin pulled against skin as the fingers loosened and let go. Can one experience an event and yet not be there when it happened? As it rubbed its index finger and thumb together, which only further made the stickiness of skin even more adhesive, and as looked into the mirror again – a neo-gothic abomination encircled in spires, barbed wire and, in every corner, dual snakes spiralling around each other and touching forked tongues – it decided that it could quite possibly be a seminal approximation of the first and last person to ever walk upon the face of the earth. In true gothic style; the iconography of the mirror’s frame was made to seem identical and matching and symmetrical on first inspection and yet, when looked at and carefully studied, it revealed inconsistencies and flaws and peculiarities particular to each individual element: one of the snakes winked at the audience as it lunged in for a kiss, another had the anachronistic head of Rasputin (the time period was all wrong) and a third was missing its eyes.

As tired, and distracted, and unsteady of mind as an intransient in time, lacking in sleep, and disorientated as to their exact position in the greater overall scheme of physical placement and memory loss was, the engravings around the mirror were still enough to make the said intransient step back in a reaction of shock and dismay. It took in the neo-gothic aberration further and knew that it would replace the monstrosity if it were the one to be living in this apartment. Eyes flicked back to the embroidery, and the last thought, that only seconds before entered the dusty brain connected to them, was computed, “if it were the one to be living”. To the right a distant, pealing rumble sounded through the bathroom’s black and white tiled wall.

“Alex” didn’t have to check to know that there was construction taking place in the empty building lot next to the apartment complex, didn’t have to think too hard to conjure up the image of a kitchen and connected lounge room behind the other shut door it hadn’t opened yet, or remember the scene of chaos in the bedroom, even if it didn’t understand the true reason for the empty bottles, regardless of the sureness that it drank some, if not all of them, or that behind the final shut door in the hallway lied, lied a room, a room that, that contained, contained certain artefacts of living, and incontestable objects of worth, objects that proved, proved that, that in relation to – “Alex” clutched its head and decided that the sink’s basin was as good a steadying device as any to deny the body’s wish to lose balance and fall over. 

A newly formed brain can always, regardless of the seemingly sure-fire effectiveness of indoctrination, register and develop incorrectly a portion of the details to its existence, and live with incongruent memories that it doesn’t realise the inaccuracy of. The remaining closed doors, now open, didn’t reveal what “Alex” had expected them to. Firstly, the open-living, joint kitchen and lounge room were behind the wrong door and were a mirror image of the mental floor plan that it had envisioned. Secondly, the other room was completely, absolutely, empty, with the only signs of anyone having lived there being several pieces of dry, yellow, adhesive tape stuck to the wall, and some scratches and a dark stain, apparently from a hot liquid spill, on the wooden floor. It is hard to say whether “Alex” noticed the faint, yet still there regardless, odour, which was nothing unpleasant, or even that remarkable, but was certainly of a different stench from the room that it had woken up in, and particular to this empty space. Even if it didn’t notice this anomaly, “Alex” was however positive that the room, which felt like a blank on the mind, wasn’t a coincidence and had a very real meaning to it, as the hangover elect hovered at the entryway to the room, and something deep and unconscious inside its body tried to find a reason otherwise for it to be concerned about the emptiness before it.

The hangover elect, faced with an unshifting headache and very palpable uneasiness in the stomach, that was starting to rise to the chest in the form of either tremendous heartburn or something else much more insidious, possibly the remnants of last night’s activities, prised itself away from the mystery of the missing room, that it was sure the contents of which hadn’t actually disappeared but were displaced within its mind, a thought which seemed to be the cause of a deep seated concern, and turned its attention, all in an attempt at distraction from the hot burn in its now frowning brow, onto the final room it hadn’t given any more than the most perfunctory of examinations so far.

But instead of being impressed by the lavish, open-living plan kitchen and lounge room area, and massive, 72 Sony brand, black plasma screen hanging off the wall, faux Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and Claude Monet prints in styled, minimal, polished bronze frames, collapsible three piece dinner table sculpted out of jarrah, covered in even more empty green beer bottles, some of them peeled, others untouched, formal, yet comfortable looking, studded leather Chesterfield couch, dish washer and oven in stainless steel finish, and kitchen counter tops decked in a very, very real marble, “Alex”, on the contrary, felt a surprising sense of pride, as it held its hot, and dehydrated, and throbbing head over the kitchen sink, and coughed and barked up a piece of violet coloured phlegm, not dissimilar in appearance to that of a small piece of coral.

The body has deep-seated urges, ones that rise up and are only marginally controllable at best. Not many of the people inhabiting the Earth are able to enforce the strict regime of self-denial and sacrifice that is a requirement for any chance of conquering these inner, subconscious, reptilian desires. The body hung over the sink, as the silver lines wavered up and down the walls in diametric poles, almost like they were pulling apart, by the corners, the portrait of vision that they belonged to, the sudden unsteadiness of the room complemented by the sure immobility of the thin sliver of counter top that enjoined the aluminium sink, and now rested underneath “Alex”’s hands, as the body experienced a great, faint-worthy emptiness and a roaring ocean of bile rose from its stomach and up to its throat, to meet and greet and burn the reflux valve at the back of its mouth.

Gracefully, the vomit subsided almost as quickly as it had arrived, and while the hot liquid receded back into the chest cavity on route to the stomach, “Alex” convinced itself that it was the one to choose not to perform the act of emesis, when, in reality, it was the body’s internal processes, as it brushed away the loose black hairs hanging down into its eyes, and noticed, for the first time, riding out from underneath the cuff of the bathrobe, a Bvlgari bracelet around its wrist, a broad banded, 18carat, white gold, Bvlgari cup bracelet with pavé set diamonds, tightly bound around its left wrist, wrapped so tight, like one half to a set of handcuffs, and that the piece of jewellery had not moved during the entire time the body had been awake.

“Alex” stared at the bracelet, the foreign object cut so tight into the skin that the jewellery was almost fused to its very real flesh, and all the unanswered questions that had been pushed into the background of the mind returned to the fore, in the form of nagging, inquisitive, unfolding arguments exhibiting a train of logic alarming to “Alex”’s currently fragile mental and physical state. Such as: why was everything so familiar and yet nothing would strike inside its mind to fill in the information missing, information that could inform the body further and alleviate the confusion? If “Alex” lived here, then why couldn’t it be certain of such a fact, and why were there no pictures of itself in this space, if it lived here then surely it would keep mementos of its existence, and, precisely, whose bracelet was this?

It dawned on “Alex” that not all of the items in the apartment it liked, such as the mirror, and the television, and the computer, and the cupboard with its very, very problematic child pornography, it could do without these items, however, the books and paintings were so familiar it could recite and remember and recall their pictures and words without any prompting, and surely that in itself didn’t make any sense if it truly were the resident, experiencing different feelings toward what it owned, wouldn’t it just get rid of what it didn’t care for? The bracelet was something that the hangover elect, now very confused, and still aching, and exhibiting symptoms of sweaty queasiness, felt mixed reactions toward. It liked the jewellery, but the bracelet on its wrist didn’t feel like it was completely its own.

And how could someone’s fingers be so sticky? “Alex” tried in vain to loosen the bracelet, but the catch would not be set free, like the hangover elect didn’t really have absolute full control over what was in its possession, the unknown residue, that was stuck to the finite skin cells on the exterior of its fingers, was only making the effort even more futile. Inevitably, the bracelet dislodged and painfully twisted around the soft points of flesh on the body’s petite wrist, all at the same exact constricting diameter. “Alex” winced and angrily rapped the bracelet against the marble counter edge in three measured, forceful, blows. With not some insignificant, malicious glee, it took note of the ever so slight chip, which it could now spot, newly scratched, in the marble.

But the most alarming thought of all, was, indeed, if it didn’t live in this luxurious apartment, then, well, how had it come to be here? And who did live here?

The door to the mind will not open, it is stuck, and requires a forceful push, from the other side, the silent room began to spin, and the hangover elect felt like a fly trapped inside an upturned glass. If one is imprisoned inside an escape proof cell, and the walls of the said cell were translucent, would one want to look outside, even if one knew there was no way of ever being on the other side, before the jail sentence had expired?

“Alex” uneasily plodded over to the long window, which overlooked a park, a large pine tree partly blocked the view, but still it could make out the feet and legs of a sunbather lying on a towel, and a pathway which led to a lime green bridge that lied over a cobblestone canal, trickling with water, that split the grass at the section of the park. “Alex” followed the lie of the land and paused at a main road, that lay parallel to a row of low rose bushes running along the outside perimeter of the grass, as a white and red tram shot past, letting out a loud ring to go with the metallic scratching and rumbling of its steel wheels on the stained red-brown tracks digging into the bitumen. It was no later than three o’clock in the afternoon, judging from the shadows of the trees, cast from the sun.

The current information displayed before the body was of no help, there were numerous parks in the city, the tableaux could belong to any one of them, and the hangover elect absent-mindedly picked up an empty beer bottle, lying flat on the seat of the couch, the label unpicked, it could feel something rough and sand-like caked to the glass, and walked back over to the sink, turned on the cold water faucet, washed away the coral shaped spit it had just hocked up, and placed the bottle on the kitchen counter to go with the rest of the rubbish earmarked for recycling. As the body did so the front door in the living room creaked and clicked, and the handle turned ninety degrees and swung inward.

Alex, the owner of the bathrobe, and the other clothes in the cupboard, along with most of the items in the apartment, that “Alex”, the hangover elect, the slow, sweaty body, had discovered and considered for the last half hour, stepped over the threshold, and into the apartment, and took in the body with no little surprise:
“Ursula, you’re still here?”
Alex stopped dead for a tangible second, smirked, and hung his keys on one of the tiny metal hooks next to the door, and then took a step closer to “Alex”, as he hooked his thumbs into the waistband of his shorts. 
“Well, fancy that.”
Alex was styled in a white polo shirt with blue, thin horizontal stripes, a matching fluffy, white, sweat band, with excited tick, on his left wrist, high cut camouflage shorts, thick black saddle-stitching ran up the sides, wide Italian leather loathers and white sockettes, the entire look topped off by an audacious red rubber band, worn for awareness of World Aids Day, worn two weeks past the date, on his other wrist.

When an unintentional doppleganger comes face to face with the real article that it has, unbeknownst, to the body, been filling in for, an instant, sobering, hangover wiping, information ripe, and metaphysical reaction, inside the body is affected. Unfortunately for Ursula, learning her real name was not quite enough to end her confusion. She stared hard at Alex; he had bags under his bloodshot eyes, the polo shirt was completely unbuttoned at the neck, beads of sweat hung off the tip of his nose, and his hair had not been moused like usual. It was obvious to her, he was nursing a hangover as well; she hadn’t drunk all of those empty bottles in the apartment, that much was certain.

She unconsciously tightened the drawstring of the bathrobe and crossed her arms over her small breasts. Why was it he didn’t really seem like he was expecting her, and yet he was amused all the same by her appearance? She made sure to pay careful attention to his reply as she asked:
“What am I doing here?”
Alex straightened up at this question and walked around her, distracted by the bottles on the jarrah table and tried to hold as many as possible in his hands.
“Standing there. You could have cleaned up when I was out.”
He looked at her, still completely stone faced, but she could see the eyebrows arch ever so slightly, in a bemused way, as a bottle slipped from his thumb and forefinger, which he barely noticed in time to stop it from dropping. It was an old trick to stir her up, she could remember that much.
“Oh, fuck off!”
“You’re always so quick to turn personal.”
“That’s ‘cause I don’t suffer fools – ”
“Didn’t seem like that last night.”
Alex smiled, the trick had legs: she paused, confused, Ursula didn’t want to be in this state, as she stood before him, feeling dumb, and tried to make some sense of her predicament, at a loss for sense, and confused, as Alex deiced to play the trickster, and act out a game with her, not answering any of her questions with a straight reply, which wasn’t what she needed at all in this period of time, which could have been, and almost certainly was, anywhere, such was the degree of her distress. He placed the beer bottles on the kitchen counter – they clinked together as one fell over and made a dull, echoed sound as it spiralled across the marble. Ursula couldn’t remember if Alex still peeled the labels off bottles like he used to, or if that was a trick she had picked up off someone else. Alex coming back home didn’t really help Ursula at all.
“Look, what am I fucking doing here?”
He rubbed the back of his neck, his hand ran around to his adam’s apple and brushed against a necklace, the silver half of a broken love heart, a cheap looking necklace, spilt out from behind the unbuttoned polo V, and then disappeared from where it had come from. He leant against the marble counter top, folded his arms, mimicked her posture, hunched his shoulders and pretended to look concerned.
“You’re starting to get a bit strange.”
Ursula knew that he didn’t own a racquet, but didn’t know why he was dressed like a tennis player would. She broke the mimicry and scratched at the Bvlgari bracelet digging into her skin.
“Did I stay here? I mean, am I –“
Alex let out a melodramatic sigh and straightened up, broke eye contact and started searching the apartment for something.
“No, you’re not living here. Not any more, remember?”
He looked at the jarrah table, then the couch, next the counter top, craning his neck, and, as he did so, over Ursula’s shoulder, she tried to draw his attention to ask him:
“So, what happened?”
He scratched his nose, looked back at the couch again, arched his back and leant over the cushion and dug between cushion and the backing of the seat.
“Do we have to go through that again?”
“But if I’m not here, living here, then where are my clothes, how did I get to be here? And what do you mean by that; ‘Do we have to’ – ”
He produced a remote control and pointed and flicked a button, in the same precise motion, which caused the Sony plasma screen to flare up and display to a channel that blared out a special news report that seemed to discuss, in detail, the pros and cons of a falling stock market.
 “I must have thought you up.” Alex nonchalantly remarked.
She knew he had to be kidding again. But what if he wasn’t, what if there was some truth to what he said, if she wasn’t real, and wasn’t actually in the apartment, in which case where would that leave her exactly? She looked back outside the window as Alex grinned.
“You’re a quick little thought I had last night. One that hasn’t gone away.”
“But– ” Ursula took two quick steps over to him. “Stop fucking with me! I’m real, I’m here!”
Alex hooked a thumb into the waistband of his shorts, and hung his other arm over his head, let it rest there in the crook of his elbow, his arm swinging loose, as the polo short rode up and a patch of blonde pubic hair peeked out from between the bottom of his shirt and the top of his shorts.
Ursula stopped dead in her tracks, and tried not to stare at his stomach, and his pubes, and his dick, and tried not to react to him as he came closer, closer to her, a shit eating smirk on his face, close as a couple of inches, now centimetres, and now almost brushing against her.
“Hey, here’s another quick thought: how about you sling off that ‘robe and we fuck again?”
“We had sex last night?”
Her robe was loose and slipped down past the breastbone of her chest. Had it been like that the entire time he was in the apartment? Did they have sex last night? That Alex said it didn’t really reveal any new information inside her mind, he might have said it just to mess with her. He grabbed her drawstring and tried to pull it free.
“No Alex, I’m too sick and hungover.”
Ursula stepped away but made sure not to turn her back to him. She might have felt unwell but she was too quick to know what he wanted to do.
“I don’t see what – ”
“I need to figure out what’s going on.”
“What’s to figure out, you’re still here.”
Ursula scratched her scalp furiously, and her hair wildly puffed out. The television seemed like it had become louder; had he turned up the volume with the remote control? A bald man in a pinstripe suit – representing the Bank of Deutschland –
droned on, without using any commonly accepted words of the day, and the noise invaded the tightly constricted skull she was the owner of.
“But how?”
“It’s too late, now you’re definitely strange.”
Ursula felt desperate, she stared hard at him, and waited, and didn’t make a sound.
“Yes, you are real. Yes, you are in the apartment.” Alex stressed these two points with his hands outstretched, like he always did when he was annoyed, or short on patience. Some of her tricks still worked as well. 
“But how am I here?”
“I guess you came in through the front door, like I did moments ago?” Alex shrugged and tried not to smile.
It was no good; it didn’t add up, the situation, and his appearance, and her being in the apartment.
“Where are my fucking clothes?!”
“Dunno. Did you bring any?”
He didn’t even try to hide his grin, a devilish light took over his eyes, he adopted the look of a faux brainwave hitting him, and the sarcasm positively dripped as he posited:
“It makes perfect sense! You’re not here, you’re a figment of my imagination!”
It was her turn to invade his space. If he didn’t have the room to manoeuvre, he couldn’t avoid her and turn the question inside out, she’d force him to answer straight, and feel awkward if he tried to talk his way out of the situation.
“But… I’m here! I’m real! You’re talking to me!”
Ursula stood close to him, right underneath his nose, her foot, the underside stained black from walking over the wooden boards, brushed against his bare shin as it stamped down hard on the floor, but for some reason Alex held the smirk on his face.
“So where are your ‘fucking clothes’ again?”
Her head felt rotten and every bone in her body ached. She was a puzzle set, one where the manufacture of the game, back in the toy factory, had been lacking, and there were gaps between the pieces, the entire picture threatened to fall apart, even though technically it was correct.
She knew he was ready for her reply, and had an answer for whatever she was going to say next, the conversation would go back and forth like this for hours, the answer never forthcoming, as they cleaned the apartment, and succumbed to their hangovers, as the shadows grew long, and finally, by careful and clever scheming, Alex would open the stainless steel of the fridge, the fridge that together they had bought last summer from the Ewe white goods store, and hand her a Becks, and crack the top to his bottle and, with a smirk, toast to something irreverent, such as ‘the hair of the dog’, or ‘harmless drinking’, or the old, deadpan, satirical favourite: “Here’s to you and me’.
She stood away from him.
“Fuck this. I’m going.”
She pushed past Alex and stomped to the front door, he didn’t follow, but, instead, called after in a high whine.
“Don’t take my bathrobe!”
Ursula paused and considered the garment she had on, with its cursive ‘Alex’, the soft, green fabric, and the drawstring that hung loose, and then shrugged. 

The bathrobe is stripped off, scrunched into a ball and thrown at Alex’s head, as the hangover elect opened the front door and, without a backward look, leapt over the door’s threshold and slammed the frame shut, slamming it loudly, the wall of the lounge-room shaking violently.

Alex wiped the sweat off his face with the bathrobe and tossed it on top of the table, walked over to the chesterfield couch, sat down and, using the remote, switched off the plasma screen. He wondered whether he should switch on the computer and start work on the new design project that had to be finished by next week, or keep on cleaning away the empty bottles and sweep the floor, or go back to bed and get some more sleep, but the alcohol induced fog in his brain was too thick to be pierced by thoughts proactive and wouldn’t let up, as the silence of the room slowly took on a loud din, which was broken by a light, invasive knocking on the front door. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Extract from chapter 5. broken condom

An extract from earlier chapter. This is the introduction to the start of chapter 5. Maybe it's more raw than the style I've been slowly cultivating. Hopefully it's interesting to read. Yes, I am fully aware that each extract mostly doesn't contain the reference in the chapter's title. Once the novel is finished, in twenty-five years time, I will almost certainly remove the epithets. If anything, I use 'em as signposts for when I'm writing; almost like a mini thesis, something to keep me on track. Broom broom, vroom vroom, and all that.

Please note: there is some mild sex talk in this extract. Don't blush. 


It was the start to his second week of working with the Reference Librarian. He had to construct a bibliographic list on the sub-genre of Mockumentary. It was purely an exercise in definition. The Reference Librarian was swamped with work and had passed the task onto Sean, so as to give him something to do during his stay at the library. As much as he enjoyed the distraction of the token work, his thoughts strayed back to Rachel. He focused on the excessive spending of the weekend and felt angry with himself for being tricked and used by a girl who wanted his money. He purely put it down to an expensive experiment that was now over with and a chapter in his life to learn from.

He made sure to leave his phone switched off during the day, partly so that he could focus on the work matter at hand but mainly to avoid her if she did ring. With no little anxiety he powered up the device at lunchtime but there were no messages waiting when he did, neither were there any voicemails for him with he finished at five o’clock. Sean had long given up on Sydney’s public transport at peak hour and made the long walk home. When he arrived in Darlinghurst he stopped at the bottle shop at the corner of the tributary road that led to where he lived. Sean was unaware of any of the name brands of wine in NSW and therefore settled for a six-pack of the flagship drink produced by a local whisky distillery. It wasn’t cheap in a fiscal sense, only in the matter of taste. Sean swung the heavy plastic bag from his side and slowly made the descent to the hotel.

From his vantage point he could sight her, sitting outside the Frisco Hotel on the corner of the block, two addresses down from the Woolloomooloo Waters. Rachel was smoking a cigarette and sitting at a table with a group of men. He wished for the earth to swallow him up and hide him. Rachel saw him immediately, and with no goodbyes walked over to him at a quick pace. She was still wearing the same dress he had purchased for her on Saturday. He considered whether she was homeless. He knew that to be a false thought, he had been to her apartment the first time they had met. Sean wondered why she would be wearing the same clothes for three days straight and whether she had been back to her house since the Friday. He held himself from sighing.
“Hello,” he replied, in measured breaths.
She smiled at him with unwashed, yellow teeth. Her unkempt hair hung loose, down to her hips. After small talk she followed him upstairs. He didn’t know why he found it so hard to tell her to leave.
“Let’s have sex.”
“I’ve just finished work,” he whined. “Let me sit down for a half hour and relax.”
“Is that beer?”
“No, it’s bourbon and coke.”
She didn’t ask for a bottle and he didn’t offer. She grabbed the bedding and stripped off her dress, socks and shoes, and then spread out on the couch naked.
“Take my picture.”
He grudgingly took a snap of her. She covered her breasts with her crossed arms. After clicking a single shot her arms fell away and she continued watching the television, pacified. Sean had a long pull from his drink and tried to think. He unbuttoned his blue business shirt, feeling self conscious in the presence of her slim, white body. She didn’t acknowledge his actions.
“You know what I think we should do?”
Sean looked at her.
“We should, like go to Club 77 and listen to our own music on a music player. And we can dance to different music to what everyone else is hearing.”
“Bit early in the week for that.” Sean raised his eyebrows.
“I didn’t mean tonight.”
“That’s good.”
“When we do it we can use your iPod.”
“I don’t have one,” he paused and thought as to whether she had been searching the apartment.
“I thought that was a charger for one.”
On the table was the battery apparel for his laptop.
“That isn’t for an iPod, it’s for a laptop.”
Her face was blank to the lies he was telling her.
“Do you have your laptop here?”
“No.” He thought fast. “I leave it at work, they have a charger. I don’t want to drag it there and back every day.”
“Oh, right.”
He had assumed that Rachel hadn’t been paying attention to anything other than herself. They sat on opposite ends of the couch and pretended not to look at each other.
“Let’s have sex.”
“You’re not even hard.”
“That’ll change in a moment.”
Sean was glad for the change of topic.
She was hypnotised by her own image in the mirror. She always grinned at herself and made her eyes large and alluring, like an actor practicing their look for a role in an upcoming film. But to Sean, watching her dance in front of the nude figure in the reflected glass, admiring this figure’s body, it sometimes struck him how her obsession went beyond pure narcissism. He would often get the distinct impression that she was reacting to a new person who had only just entered the room. Rachel would sometimes spend upwards of twenty minutes just looking at her face, slowly turning her head left and right with a practiced expression. Tonight, what she saw disappointed her and she flopped over on the bed.
“I am so fat. I must be pregnant.”
“You’re not fat.”
Rachel stared into a distance deep within her mind. Sean lay next to her and stroked her hair.
“You’re worrying about nothing.”
“I am fat,” she looked into his eyes and didn’t blink.
“No, you’re worrying about nothing,” he repeated as a statement of intent. “And this worry about nothing is turning it into something,” Sean continued.
“This means you’re thinking about something, which is nothing, and that isn’t a good thing to do. Because by doing that you’re creating dead space inside your mind. A space that could used on thinking about something which really is there, instead of nothing which is not, and not good, and not something that you should worry about.”
As he breathed his spiel into her ear, he wondered if she realised what rubbish he was talking.
“I’m going to tell you I’m pregnant, so you’ll run away.”
“Yeah, I will.” He smiled at her joke.
“I told my good Jewish boyfriend I was pregnant and he left me. Boys are scared of pregnant girls.”
“You’re not pregnant.”
After they stopped kissing and he had laid on top of her and pushed his cock into her pussy, right before they started fucking in earnest, she moaned out at him with complete sincerity: “I’ve been gagging for this!” 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Extract from chapter 19. Two little piggys

A special treat for a special day: Saturday! Quite possibly - if you're a special bee - I will do the "you-know-me" and update the zippity-zoopity-zee with some more free free free. Yes, it's a teaser, all out of context, designed to wet your lips, and make an attempt to add the missing pieces together to form the entire whole. "Where to get these pieces?" The pieces exist; I got 'em, all written down, all ready to be connected. 

For the purposes of prior sense making - the snow globe contains a facade of the film institute building. A spoiler, I know!

[Update: Sean has a bag filled with presents from the company he was working with.]


By the time he had walked back up the hill and onto Oxford Street, the thunderstorm had stopped as quickly as it had begun.  The shower had not washed the grit away from the gutters. Steam rose from the road. Shell-shocked and unaccustomed to the humidity, Sean turned down a side street that seemed to lead to Woolloomooloo. The descent overlooked the suburb in general. He refused to look into the bag hanging limply from his side and focused his attention on the surrounding proceedings. The homeless had disappeared to a locale unknown. On tired feet he staggered along the broken cobblestones. When the road flattened out he realised where he was. He redirected himself in the direction of the hotel. Cars blasted by on the Eastern distributor.

For wont of nothing else to do he looked around. On the corner there was a terrace house. On the balcony a door opened.
Out of vague interest he watched. A girl in frilly green lingerie, replete with belt and garter, followed by a second in black, exited the door. The first was sweating profusely and waved the air under her chin. The girl in black was covered in dark tattoos, a butterfly on back and matching sparrows on biceps. Sean slowed his step. Another girl – in pink, similarly dressed – joined them, followed by a young lady in white. He strained to look, trying to discern their individual features. The inside of the house was dark. Men’s voices sounded. Strains of music, too quiet to discern as any one band, floated out of the door when it opened. The girls hung back, all pretty young blondes and brunettes, and chatted amongst themselves, fanning their bodies from the heat inside. The girl in green sucked in a breath and composed herself. The door opened and she walked inside. The other ladies followed in order, in a line. The building gave the impression that heat rose off it. Sean slowed on his way down the street and stopped by the entrance. Outside, a sign advertised that he was passing by the Twin Peeks Restaurant. Seats were by booking only. 

He was surprised at how late it was in the afternoon when he arrived at the Woolloomooloo Waters. That Rachel should not be there was another matter entirely.
He kicked off his sodden shoes and laid the bag on the writing table. He unbuttoned the top three buttons of his shirt. He removed the AFTRS book. The white hard cover was finely misted in condensation. The pages were untouched.
There were no missed calls or text messages when he checked his phone. He dialled her number. He wasn’t sure if her phone would have any charge. She answered regardless.
“Hi. How are you?”
“Hey. I’m good. How are you?”
“I’ve got so many people in Woolloomooloo who want to be nice to me.”
He paused and stared at his reflection in the mirror as he forced out the words.
“Where are you?”
“I’m at a friend’s.”
“Right. Well, I’m back at the hotel.”
He pulled at the wet shirt that clung to his back.
“So, I’m back. Are you coming over?”
“I’ll be ten minutes. I’m really close.”
“Ok,” he snapped, “See you.”
“Bye. Bye!”
He couldn’t think of what he should use to dry the book. He ran a hot shower instead.

Sean waited on the front steps of the Waters, dry and in fresh clothes, and searched for a sign of her. The time was long past the ten minutes she had told him. Her absence was closer to an hour. The grey clouds hung overhead the drably coloured buildings and patchy rain splattered the paving bricks underneath. He chose not to step into the street so as to avoid the drizzle.
He was unimpressed with the old jeans and plain black shirt he wore and jerked at the frayed pants. The long trip home, with its resulting poor weather, had ruined his chosen attire for the pool competition and possible winnings to come. He imagined how many players would be there tonight. He knew he could beat them all. He was unsure as to whether he would make it to the Jackson’s on George entertainment complex that evening. Her nonappearance was a source of annoyance to his plans. It was his last few days in the city. He didn’t want to spend the time inside, waiting.
A figure appeared in the distance. He peered through the murky precipitation.
The woman in question wore her raver gear: pink jeans, black and white striped shirt, and dyed blonde hair cut into a trendy bob. She slowly slunk with a beige handbag slung over her shoulder.
He hung at the steps and made a move towards Rachel. She grinned at him, oblivious. Out of pure impulse he reached for her shoulder. The fabric of her clothes was soaked to the bone. Her grin grew wider, exposing her full smile: all white teeth stained yellow and a colour not dissimilar to that of tobacco. Her hair was slicked flat. He motioned to the hotel’s foyer doors and she led him inside.

She told him a story as he unpacked the rest of the gifts on the table.
‘Someone’ had been stalking her. They waited outside her apartment. They called out her name from the street below when she was with other boys. She could hear them over the noise of the traffic that kept her awake. She loathed sleeping there. The tires and engine were so loud that she never slept at home. She would have to stay at other houses, in other beds. The best way to sleep would be to stay awake for two or three nights in a row. That way the slumber would be so deep that she wouldn’t hear anything. Sometimes, ‘Someone’ followed her in the streets of Surry Hills, shouting out to her. All the people close-by would hear ‘Someone’ and look at her.
While she recounted this anecdote to Sean, Rachel’s voice was unmoved by emotion but he could sense that there was an underlying annoyance in what she said.
He paused whilst listening, his arm inside the bag hidden up to his wrist. When she had finished, he played the slow reveal. He turned his hand and exposed the film institute’s promotional snow globe to her.
She seized the item off him. She looked at the fake snow flakes, freshly shaken and floating around the cardboard building in an ersatz storm. Assuming that the gift was for her, she opened her knapsack and the globe disappeared.
From inside her ‘sack she produced the tiny tube of tooth paste, the same one that had been on the edge of her bed sit sink. The tube had been strategically left on top of her bag’s contents and she held it out for him.
“You didn’t need to bring your toothpaste. I was going to buy some this afternoon.”
She frowned at him, taken aback.
“You keep it.”
The toothpaste went to live with the snow globe.