Driplets

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I inhale the smoke and gasp under the lights in this jet black room.  Sweating bodies and dead flesh grind and bump around me, so much cadaverous globules.  The first pill hasn’t kicked in yet – I can still taste dry ice and hairspray – so I pop another and dream of my future.

Above me on the stage, the party is just getting started.  But I don’t party.  I’m looking for sensation, real feeling.  I see empty men and indifferent women, just so many appendages and openings, no more atuned to love as the assembly instructions for furniture.  I’ve already seen a Princess, but the low bass throb is reacting badly with my shoes and I’m struggling to move more than five yards a minute.

It doesn’t matter.  She comes over to me, just as the second pill kicks in, and her eyes turn into a pair of gold coins ringed with black.  Leaning on a table, my opening line isn’t brilliant.  Are you blind?  Can you see?  It’s fine if you can’t…. I’m not prejudiced.  She’s sympathetic but confused.  I’m confused but sympathetic.  With firm hands and long nails pinching under my armpits, she hauls me out of the bonfire before the strobe dilutes my memory.

Dragged across the floor, I can see the artifice of this place.  No ceilings, just vents.  No lights, just effects.  My trousers are sticky with beer and other questionable things.  I have a flashback memory; fourteen years old, first time getting loaded on beer stolen from my parent’s fridge, listening to music on my headphones whilst lying on my bed and feeling as though I were floating into the song… like melody could be fluid, and something one could swim around.  I felt my immature quilt cover melting around my arms and legs, the pillow swallowing my head, falling into the rabbit hole of a greater sensation of feeling.  I’ve never felt better than that teenage drunk.

She drags me into the Gents and rams two fingers down my throat, her long nails lacerating the roof of my mouth.  I instantly throw up foam and blood, as a concerned man with aftershave and soaps for sale looks on.  She rubs my back, tells me Everything Will Be Okay, and buys some wipes from the dude.  He won’t accept her money, but she has a way of making things happen.

What’s that Smiths lyric?  Under the iron bridge, we kissed.  This isn’t an iron bridge and we don’t kiss.  She drags me outside and we meander, supporting me as best she can, until we sit under the ruined arch of an ancient church.  The fresh air ploughs into my senses and I feel like I am drowning.  Even the stars in a cloudless sky move too fast.  She sits with me, holding my hand, and asks me questions.  I try and answer them all flirtatiously, but she just laughts.  She wants to know who I am.  When I sit still the echoes of the bass still pinball around my head and send me off-balance.  Her arm around my shoulder isn’t affection… it’s protection.

At some point, I ask her for her number and she hands me a card with a wink.  I go for a kiss, and she darts away from my lips and plants a wet one on my cheek, grabbing a handful of my expanding groin in the process.  I look up and mumble something about the moonlight.  I can barely focus on the damn thing, glowing and bulbous above us.  She looks up and points, tells me about footprints that will never be erased and flags that will never stop fluttering, if we can just believe in the impossible…. something something.  Something something?  Why can’t I remember….?  Fucking hell.  Why can’t I remember?

I woke up in the gardens, not far from the arch.  I opened my eyes to a dogwalker, crouching nearby to pick up some shit and eyeing me pathologically, trying to assess whether I was still alive.  Underneath the crook of a low shrub, dry from the morning dew and still wrapped in her denim jacket, I rolled out from my little grave and surveyed the morning with a thumping headache and slime on my lips.  I felt something sharp in my pocket and I remembered, the card she’d given me.

It was blank except for a lipstick kiss and words scrawled in biro; TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. 

 

Countered

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I’m so tired.  I shamble over the ridge, looking down at the town below – faded pink and yellow lights, and the distant shrieks and cries of people passing through an hour’s worth of inebriated contentment with the world.  Heels, frocks and stockings.  I knew them all once, threw them aside with abandon, fishnets simmering and smoking over a naked lamp.  I knew cherry lipstick, greasy hair and morning breath that tasted so sweet to a loser.  Now, the words weigh heavy on my eyelids.  There’s too many to say and not enough to write.  So I turn my back on the town and stumble under a black sea.

I sit down on a lump of stone and look across at a sepia photograph of a landscape I once knew, where wingless birds flitted and buzzed over our heads and you got grass stains on the knees of your tights.  My suit is in tatters – holes in the thighs and fraying at the ankles, the shoulder straps tied into knots to compensate my shrinking waist.  The soles of my boots flap like gossip.  My face doesn’t feel water anymore and any kind of emotion cracks the skin like underfired clay.

I haven’t slept since 1991 and I refuse to as long as your face keeps appearing.  Sometimes you approach me in a street where the pavement is lit from below; the road is covered in glass over deep pits that cars carefully drive over.  Sometimes I am standing in a park playing with my daughter as my love takes pictures of us both smiling and giggling and I see you standing in between two trees; silent and faintly reverberating so the trunks shimmer like in a heat mirage.  Sometimes you’re on a billboard as I’m driving along the highway as a rancid little seventeen year old with slicked back hair and a leather jacket twelve years too big for me, usually adveristing chewing gum or hairspray.  Sometimes you’re just a rumour –  a pair of familiar initials carved into a tree that bleeds red, and a forest that suddenly erases all the paths and leaves me suffocated under a dark canopy, easy prey for the wolves.

Let he who casts the first stone…. well, fuck it.  I have nothing to lose.  I’m casting it.  So I pick up a fragment of the lump I’m sitting on and I hurl it into the black landscape, hoping to shatter the pane that stands between me and my freedom.  I want to see the light beyond.  I throw it so hard I feel my back click out of place.  I throw it so hard a nerve pinches from the back of my head down to my knee.  I throw it and let out a scream that rips the dry skin at the corners of my mouth as the invisible crowd below me in their soft, candy floss ocean, let’s out a roar in tandem with an event they will never see…. never understand.

The rock falls unseen into the void below.  As if in response a brisk wind whips around my legs and I stretch my arms out waiting to fly.  But nothing happens.  Something is trickling onto my jawbone.

Time to try and sleep again.  The grass looks soft here and the night is warm.  No one will disturb me so I don’t bother trying to find shelter.  Eventually the lights of the town will go out.  The wailing voices will go silent one by one like hypothermia victims after a shipwreck.

I sit back down; just a silly man in a bad suit.

Metallic

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We roll up, the tyres cracking and complaining under the broken ground, into the skeletal husk.  In the shell of the old factory the slabs of mottled concrete rise like broken teeth, or gravestones, testaments to mothers, fathers, daughters and sons.  Every surface is tattooed with fallen graffiti artists, leaving their tags in blood red as the light dimmed from their eyes.

Trespass is the least of our crimes, and our crimes are the least of anyone’s around here.  I look across to a vibrant bundle of scarlet hair and anger.  Aged fourteen she found her brother kneeling peacefully in the street with a knife hilt buried in his chest.  She ran over to hug him as he rose his head to the sky, closed his eyes and a single tear ran from the corner down his cheek.  He whispered into her ear; this really hurts, and I need to sleep… if I don’t wake up, know that I love you. 

She broke my ribs last week.  As I crouched, doubled up and breathless, she pointedly remarked; if it makes you feel better, I can feel it too… and it hurts.  She was dangling upside down from a tree at the time.

Now we sit in front of a jagged, arrow shaped monolith, casting a shadow over the car.  Five stories of naked, pointless brick holed five times down the centre by glassless windows and kept up by a few flimsy pieces of tape and warning signs that the whole thing could come down at any moment.  We’re underneath it, and for good measure, I turn the key to shut the engine down.  The stand-off begins.  If it decides to fall today, we won’t have time to react.  I pass the can to her and she passes it back.

Tears regularly form on her eyelashes like icicles.  She tells me; I’m finding it harder and harder to keep breathing forwards.  Then, with a deep sigh that raised her chest to the heavens, she turned her head to face me…. See? 

When I walk down the street with her at night, the streetlights flicker and dim as she walks past them.  I used to think it was her energy fucking with the wiring, but now I realise it is the shadows of her thoughts that swim and dance around her head, blocking out the light, selfishly hogging her soul.

Sucking on the can, she leans back and stares out of the window.  Her voice is half panicked and half relieved when she says; I think I’m dying… I can see angels coming to collect me… I never thought I’d be one of the saved. 

I look ahead; flecks of snow are settling on the car windscreen.

 

Saturn

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Flashback One

I straddle the dead log, keeping my dress down towards my knees and my spirits up.  He flicks his cigarette lighter endlessly, over and over again.  The Marlboro remains in his mouth, unlit, as he stares into the floor.  I realise how little he looks like James Dean.  Everything is there… the white stick, the leather, the brow… but he looks like a little boy in his father’s suit pretending to work at the office.  This is the end.  So I pick a thin stone out from the small bag over my shoulder and carve some initials into the fallen log.  I can tell from his sudden interest that he thinks these are our initials.

‘T’

‘H’

‘I’?

I write; THIS IS THE END…. and whip the stone at him hard, cutting to the bone just above his eye.

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Flashback Two

On the alley stairs, the girl is begging.  She’s crying hard as her clumpy heels crumple and fall and she slides down a damp wall.  Sitting on one of the steps, looking up at me… she pleads I don’t want to fight you. 

Too bad.

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Flashback Three

T_____ once told me; I’m not lost.  I don’t have a destination.  How can I be lost if I don’t know where I’m supposed to go?  There’s a logic there somewhere.

Towards the end, I said; if you love me as you say, why does so much have to change?  She didn’t answer.  Her chin wrinkled like an orange, and she took a deep gulp of air down her throat.  At the time, I thought she was sad at our inevitable demise.  Now I realise she was sad that I’d only just realised.

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Flashback Four

I watched T_____ stand over the girl, begging on the steps, not wanting to fight.  I probably should’ve said or done something but she didn’t need any help.  She drew a fist back – not a slap but a full on closed fist – and demanded the weeping girl get up.  I’d forgotten how big her arms were flexed.  Looking at those four knuckles must’ve been like facing a firing squad without a blindfold.  Eventually, after much pleading, the girl was allowed to leave intact.  I watched as T_____ brushed past me, still full of blood and thunder, out of the alley and into the street beyond.  As the rain began to fall, I found myself torn between following the fury or comforting the wreck.

In the end I sat down on the damp floor.  T_____ was long gone and wouldn’t be back.  I sat listening to the desperate, choking sobs of the girl on the steps.

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Flashback Five

My shot got him good.  Blood poured from his eye socket, down his cheek, over the eyeball.  I leapt off the log and brushed myself clean.  He just stood and looked at me; hands down by his sides, his cigarette now polka-dotted with red.  I walked up to him, embraced him for a kiss and then ate the Marlboro out of his mouth, spitting the flakes and paper into his face with a smile.

Perhaps his destiny was to lie under a train and let it happen.  Perhaps his destination was the sea with a pocket full of rocks.  I walked away across the fields, away from the fallen log.  When I finally turned back, two hundred yards later, he still remained where I had left him, like a dead tree only with less sentience, awaiting instructions on how to fail…. again.

Creased

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We are such delinquents, and what a joy it is to swill that word around our mouths like bad bourbon.  So what if we’ve started a few fires?  You can walk on water and I can follow in your footsteps.  You tread the waves flat and I aim for the shoeprint.  It’s easy.  It’s so easy.

Because this is what we do.  This isn’t an affectation or a hobby or a cry for help.  This is why we breathe.  Surfing clouds is easy, swimming in a blue sky is easy.  Opening our eyes to the rain and letting it drip on our cornea’s without blinking is easy.  We run our fingertips through the concrete of a subway and carve our names into the dust and disappointment, and it is easy. 

Time to soar, time to beg for more.  A handful of hair and a crease on the hip, we collide and disperse, atoms flirting through space and dancing around our charges.  I inhale the scents of activity – cheap ass perfume covering the seven days since you last saw a shower, the rich iron of your recent cycle and dry sand in your armpits, in the folds under your knees.

I whip off your dress in one motion, drive a stake through the shoulder hoops, and plant it firmly in the ground, in the name of…. something.  Flapping in the breeze we get down to the basic instincts, as the stars revolve above us like voyeurs, trying to appear indifferent but unable to stop staring.  I finish too soon – and isn’t that a well told story without a decent ending – but for once you don’t seem to mind.  Lying on the beach, our only contact is your ankle crossed over mine.  I’m breathing deeply, sticky with all manner of things, but you lie still, absorbing the constellations into your eyes.  When I look across I can see them glittering like sunlight on fresh snow, changing with every blink, and every languid puff of your awful smelling cigarettes.

It’s hard knowing someone who only comes out at night.  I walk alleyways and shopping centres, fields and forests, trying to find the point of it all, waiting for the sun to die and my hope to rise.  But every now and then, under the unforgiving and judgemental glare of daylight, I hear a familiar noise and look up.  I see the kite’s flying above, swooping in circles, wings hooked like your shoulderblades, and all is well in this garish, vulgar, unsubtle world.

 

Weave

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In the dream, she walks behind me as I stand in front of something impossible, trying to find my way around it.  She wraps her tentacles around my waist with a squeeze and I feel her breath on the back of my neck.  My hair, and everything else, stands to immediate and obediant attention.  When did I get so submissive?  I feel her breasts pressing into my ribcage and her heartbeat thumps against my spine, playing the bones like a xylophone.  I can feel the nerves dancing in my heels.

Nothing is impossible inside your forcefield.  Wearing you like a rucksack, with your arms wrapped around my neck and your legs hooked under my arms we flatten mountains and part seas.  We stomp across suspension bridges, leaving rippling waves that send cars and coaches flying into the air and over the edge.  We reduce cathedrals into dust and snort an ecclesiastical line or two from our forearms.  Your long scarlett red hair hisses like serpents and cuts like a molten whip, slicing through the forearms and necks of any fool who steps in our way.  We collect limbs like pennies in a casino flattened by a tornado.

I offer impossible things, because I like it when you bite my ear in irritation.  One day, we walk into the sea with our pockets full of rocks, to see the shipwrecks and pickpocket the dead.  I know that this is an impossibility too far, and as the cold water curls around my ankles and then my knees, I realise that I’m feeling for the first time.  We go under into a deep blue and I cannot breathe.  I stumble along, in the vague direction of the skeletons of ships, seaweed waving us away, until your heel nudges me in the hip.  You’re pointing in the direction of a metal husk, with eyeless sockets where the Captain’s bridge used to be, and a broken bow like a dislocated jaw.

I trudge over, but my feet are getting heavier, or you are getting heavier, or the tide is pushing us back.  I turn my head to meet yours and we kiss, but I realise as our lips meet that you are struggling as well.  I taste your tongue, mingling with sea water, and we break apart, our lungs convulsing as you hold me tighter than you have ever done before.  Arms around my neck, my ribcage compressed and your heartbeat now beating tribally against my back.

I wake up face down.  My pillows have been violently tossed out from under my head and are resting on my back where your breasts once were.  There’s blood on the sheets from chewing my lips apart.  I’ve gripped the sheets so hard, my fingers have pushed through.  Every muscle is locked tight.  I roll over with some effort and stare at the ceiling until I can escape impossibility and return to a safety I don’t want anymore.

 

Unkempt

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I remember the first time I saw my schoolteacher naked.  I’d returned from lunch early to avoid being alone in a crowd; I preferred to be alone whilst alone.  I opened the door and found Miss Kempt, laying back in her chair with her eyes closed.  Both ankles were resting on the desk as she reclined, knuckle deep inside herself, with a sanitary towel clinging on to the gusset of her panties which itself hung from one knee.  For some reason, it reminded me of the pathetic bunting we’d put around the corridors with messages of learning and wisdom, quotes from dead cunts we didn’t care about telling us to learn stuff we didn’t care about so we could grow up and get jobs we didn’t care about, and meet partners we didn’t care about and have children…. well, you get the idea.

I snuck out before she could notice I was there and took my boner into the boy’s bathroom.  I showed it to the weird kid in the class next to ours in exchange for three sticks of gum and four packets of stickers.  He just stared at it for a while, breathed on it, tried to touch it but then flinched away like it was an exposed electrical socket.  With a last wheeze from his stuffed nose, he gulped hard and ran into a cubicle, slamming the door behind him.  I zipped myself up and left, my head feeling light and without blood.

When we all finally returned to class, Miss Kempt was on her knees sponging the floor, next to a bucket of pale, pink water.