Digest

Sea XIII

Do you remember the story of the monk at the old church?  We took the bus on an icy evening and waited for hours until the moon was warm on our faces and our feet were wet with melted frost, tromping through long grass.  Don’t you remember?

That old church, where the chicken bones were trussed together into crosses, and that teenage lad fell from the tower and broke himself in half over the stone tomb of the priest who’d died in 1886.  We’d gone up there with torches and we heard a noise above, and you shone yours up at him, and he covered his eyes…

….and he came down screaming like a daemon.  And in the dark I thought he had sixteen arms and legs, and his mouth was wide open as though to consume me, and drag me to hell….

….but then he spun around midair as I dived out of the way.  Crack!  On his back, across the raised triangular stone.  Ribs bursting out, blossoming like flower petals opening.  You remember?  The boy gasping, his eyes wide, as we realised he was both alive and dead, until his two parts gently disconnected with a pop and slithered either side to the flagstone floor.

Anyway, I digress. The old monk.  We took that journey so many times.  We read all the books about the monk who flitted around the grounds.  Why do ghosts always flit?  Why don’t they mince or swagger?  That poor boy though.  That poor boy.

Drench

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She has a voice that shatters memory.  Every time I hear it, I forget another birthday.  Another past crush dies.  Relatives cease to be names or faces.  I cannot bring them back.  I can only focus on hips, knees and shoulders.  A tuft of hair above The Zone that I deliberately nibble on so I get a thread caught in my teeth.  It makes me feel like a teenager again.

I look for her car as I walk the streets; any time I see that model in that colour I push my chest out and lift my chin.  It might be her, and I don’t want to be slouching.  I have nightmares about tripping over my laces and falling at her feet, breaking my nose and bleeding all over her sandals.

She calls me Martin and she calls me a cunt.  I’m neither.  But I give up dignity and identity to cuddle her jacket when she gets too warm.  I rehearse conversations in my spare time, and then try to spring my ‘spontaneous’ one liners on her anecdotes.  They always fail.  I always stumble.

Perhaps I’m too weak to be adored.  Her on-off boyfriend, Taylor, is now off.  He was too weak to see a rival in the short grass when he focused all his attention in the trees.  That’s why he looked the other way when I lost control of my car, breaking his pelvis.

I see her, sitting in the park.  Chest out, chin up.  Hold that thought…

 

 

Merry

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I’m only comfortable when I’m sitting on the floor, pressed against a wall.  I stare into the blemishes of the concrete, my flesh airtight against the cold.  I push my forehead into the stone until it pains and then bleeds, and lukewarm red meanders down my cheeks.  Red rivulets run and saunter over my eyes until I cannot see beyond the scarlet.

I talk into the bricks, quietly but firmly, picking words that make my chest vibrate and my throat wobble.  Words like; melodious – intimidating – destruction – organ – obtuse – magnificent.  Nowhere to go, the vibrations bounce from the walls back into my chest cavity and suddenly I’m swimming with the words, arm-wrestling with them, pulling at their kicking legs and clamping around their waistlines.  I relish each syllable, running them through my cheeks and over my tongue like liquor mouthwash, until they burn my gums and I have to release them.

Meander.  Beautiful.  Uncontrollable.  I place my knee under the chin and allow my voicebox to tremble over my skin.  The vibrations dance over my bones, as though my tendons and ligaments are guitar strings.

Adam.  Brian.  Courtney.  When I leave the house, I threaten people.  Grabbing them by their lapels, I hold a cut-throat shaver to their eyes and ask them the usual.  Money.  Phone.  Unlock codes.  Never cards or pin numbers; it’s too easy to turn them into redundant plastic rectangles.  But I ask for their names.

Later, pressed against the wall, I give them a try.

Marmaduke.  Gary.

 

She Only Kisses On Thursdays

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She hides one eye behind a torrent of thick, globulous, dyed hair.  Teeth like an antique piano, I fantasise about their tune.  Lame, I know.  But then, I’m the guy who hovers around the beans, the peas and the tinned fish; with my squeaky trainers and leather trenchcoat; too big for my shoulders and too hot for a July afternoon.  All for a glimpse, or maybe for nothing.  The security guards follow me, pushing the products forward, making everything neat, making sure the labels match.  I put my hands in my pockets and pretend I am cocking a pistol.  I don’t know how; I just watch too many films, and I’ve practised the noise using the spit on my tongue.

I dream of being fondled inappropriately, because I’m too shy to make the first move, and too male to ever find the experience distressing.  Sweat runs down my arms and tickles my fingers.  The air fills with fresh bread and sweet donuts.  My high-necked roll collar itches against shaving rash.

She always smiles.  Looking down into the glass cabinet, then looking up.  Curling that clotted curtain of hair over one ear.  She’s always happy to see me.

Like today.

The Girl On The Bakery opens a gusher, without any warning.  I stand powerless.  The same smile, the same look, and then a plunge into her own arm with scissors from her pocket.  Two of the staff immediately rush to her aid.  The rest are sprinting to save the daily bread.

Grasp

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I walk across grass fields, my hands deep in my pockets, boots filling with water.  No moon tonight, just stars peeking from behind the pollution of a dismal town.  This bare space of green darkens in the glare of the sprawl nearby; a shy lover shrinking away from foul breath.  I look around and realise I am invisible, but I can see everything.

The woods loom up ahead, uncertain, so I sit on a nearby dead tree and don’t disturb further.  Sticks snap and trunks creak, in the background the static hum of a pointless conveyor belt – cars and drunks.  I’m shivering.  I wrap my scarf tighter to my neck and carry on.

I climb the hill and look over my shoulder as the town glows fetid below.  I never really felt a connection to it and now I never shall.  I’ll forever be Other.  I’ll always be Something Else.  The footpath tiptoes out between tall concrete walls.  I find a dark gap, and wait.

The Man approaches, humming a song to himself.  He’s wearing headphones, the white cord glowing.  As he approaches the gap I emerge calmly from the shadows, jamming the knife under his ribs, pushing him against the wall.  We scratch our boots across loose gravel.  He threatens to cry out, but doesn’t.

I look into his eyes as they throb and pulse, pulling the hilt up to cut deeper.  My wrist is warm.  He will never hurt you anymore.  Like a dying candle, his eyes fade.

 

White Path

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We burst through the ruined doors and run into the church, cackling and whooping and damning all gods – all idols are false to us – and we lift the wine bottles inches from our mouths so the liquid tumbles carefree over our lips, our teeth, our jaws and necks.  Sprinting down the nave, I smash one over the pews and slash at an itch on my thigh.  The leg spasms and tries to collapse.  I feel warm gloves creeping down past my knee.

She leaps onto the altar and skids on the cloth, sending a golden crucifix flying, her ankle poised millimetres from disaster.  I’m hobbling along, even as the pain is beginning to creep.  She leaps down and finds the spiral staircase to the organ keys, whilst I lay myself prostrate on the cold stone altar like a living tomb.

L____ hammers the keys in a sing-song symphony.  All the turrets and columns around me are trembling to this cacophony of deep burbles and rasps.  I squint in the darkness and can see them dancing, pogoing in unison.

We knew there were hours left.  Then we heard it was minutes.  Everyone chose their way to die.  We smashed up a shop and stole a crate of wine.  The church grows darker.  She rushes to my side, kisses my forehead and gasps you’re bleeding!  Laughing.  We embrace.

The bomb has already been dropped.  Above us, the organs pipes begin to groan in unison as the shockwave rushes through them.

 

I love….

Singe

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We’d – well – she‘d frightened off the workers.  Two kids against two tonnes of round men, who knew?  She did.

Find me a branch she’d barked at me.  When I found something on the floor, she slapped my face.  A BRANCH.  Not a FUCKING TWIG.  Oh.  Okay.  Something else then.  My cheeks were red, one with cold and the other with the slap.  I found a thick length, taller than me, and I held it to her apologetically.

She looked it up and down.  Yeah, it’ll do. 

I held it whilst she squirted the lower half with lighter fluid.  When she stood back and lit a cigarette, I didn’t realise what you’ve already guessed.  With a flick of the wrist, the smouldering dog end left her fingers, and the wood flared into life.

We stormed the building site.  She flashed that flaming torch in the faces of the confused workers, shouting that we were both covered in petrol.  Then she sat down on an oil drum, her heels clanging against it.  They backed off.

The plan was to bring out the site foreman.  My biological father.  Who’d left me as an infant but who’d named me after him, so I could become him, and continue his miserable line.  The selfish cunt.  It worked.  Out from a portacabin slammed a door and I saw my face but decades older.

She pressed a knife against my palm, her sticky lips to my ear, whispering… Cry Havok!  And Let Slip The Dogs Of War…