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.

Sanctuary II

 

Sanctuary II is here.

As with Sanctuary, it is a combination of my pictures and my writing.  Please click here if you wish to purchase a copy.

Kneeling In Jumpers

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She told me; stop picking at my food.

Chomp, mutter, cough, clink, the exciting sounds of the restaurant.  Can’t relax next to the window.  Taxi cabs beaming across my face, the room flicking yellow as they indicate to go either or.  I drink too much wine, too quickly.  Not even at dessert and I’m glued to the chair.  I cannot move because that’ll give everything away.  I feel like the floor is rolling surf, and I am trying not to capsize.

She told me that God was like Apple, whilst flicking her phone.  Deliberately creating things that were inherently designed to be flawed and eventually fail, just so they can be replaced, and the users punished.  Hacking away at a piece of steak, a rhetorical question meanders over the candles; why create something just to be adored?

I tell her television careers have been built on less, and she doesn’t laugh.

*

It’s the black dress that does it.  Her little black dress drives me crazy.  When she is at work I remove it from the wardrobe and slash it to ribbons.  It’s a ritualistic execution, death by 1000 slices, just so the fucking thing knows how I feel.

*

One morning I can’t find her.  The bed is empty and colder than usual.  In a purple dawn I rush to the beach and find a trail of clothes – and a slashed dress – on the seawall, followed by her unique instep.  I follow.  The footprints end where the tide breaks on the sand.

Devil’s Whisper

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Her parents once told her she was an accident, and as the years tumbled by she grew into a catastrophe.  She told me; I’m gatecrashing a party here.  I have no rules.  I have no (finger quotes) dress – code.  I exist in a vacuum.  I am in the empty spaces.  I am life.

Or maybe the echo chambers.  I didn’t say that.  It came to me years later whilst going over our conversations again and again and again, trying to find a clue.  I realise now that my one-liner would’ve killed her.  She would’ve laughed, thrown her head back to show me those home-made fillings, those gaps where her brother forced her skull into a doorframe before violently closing it, the tongue chewed into ridges by dreams of murder and foxes eating people alive.  Of course, even if the reply had come to me in the moment, I wouldn’t have said it out loud.  Fuck no.  You don’t walk confidently into a tiger’s enclosure bollock naked, your genitals smeared with meat paste.

She was always a half-step ahead, and me a half-step behind, which created quite a division.  But, crucially, we still walked the same path.  We still tried to reach the same destination, just with different degrees of subtlety.  I drifted with my hands in my pockets, constantly scuffing the front of my shoes because I couldn’t walk with any confidence.  I couldn’t pick up my self esteem and I certainly couldn’t pick up my feet.  I looked down at weeds, dog shit and litter.  I very rarely looked into the sun.

She was a barrel roll of blood, sex and mayhem.  She once attempted to seduce a security guard at the old factory …just fifteen.  When the dirty old bastard finally caved in and planted a kiss on her cheek, as she sat in his lap in a state of disarray, we had him for life.  It was either us or Her Majesty’s Pleasure and he picked us.  We’d turn up at the front gates and leave with whatever we could squeeze into a shopping trolley.  Rugs, pots of glue, tinned beans and joggers.  Meanwhile he got wider, his hair grew thinner, and the bottle of whiskey under his desk got taller.  When she left on a summer holiday for two weeks, he drank an island of liquor and drove his van into the path of a freight train.

One summer, she invented the Firework Crossbow.  I’m not sure I need to explain any further, but I still have the scar on my thigh.  We owned our neighbourhood; a meek infant with plans and a mad bitch with questions.  Tyres got slashed,  houses burned, other people got jail time.  She’d cut the faces out of the local paper; all these confused looking mugshots of guilty men and women who were – for once in their miserable lives – innocent, and paste up a scrapbook.  The Book Of The Damned she smiled.

Wherever she went, they never found a trace.  Just her coat, hanging from a barbed wire fence at the cliff edge.  Her parents spoke, once again and tearfully this time, of ‘accidents’.  As though she had no free will of her own.  She was born a disaster and she lived like a sunrise.  I never visit her empty grave; a mount of earth with nothing in it and a stone with nothing to say.  I run my finger over the white scar on my thigh and I feel it tingle.  I know she is still out there somewhere.