Cover created by Chris Madoch from his Fine Art Photograph of Bear Lee Decent aka Malcolm Grenfell: Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.
‘In order for the light to shine brightly
the dark must be present.’
‘I matter much less than the matter of my
several works of creative expression. Fact.
To allow any spurious interest in ‘me’ to cloud
any path to an appreciation of my work would be,
I believe, seriously misguided.
Misguided people constantly vilify me on
social networks- I must be writing it too right
I hope they read this introduction.
My hope is that they read the entire book
and find their disabling delusions reflected
in the many stark mirrors of it.
Let me say this- intros to books bore me
so I shall be brief:
I do not suffer from the disease of faith.
I have no faith in the Freudian and Jungian
unproven interpretations of either dreams
I share a belief, with a minority, in
father/mother NATURE, the power of
unconditional love and universal creative
collaborations. Without these things we would
not be here and without constantly exploring
the parameters of our understanding of such
things we run the risk of preparing our species
I share a belief in ‘truth’.
I am wired to be a truthist: the progenitor of
‘THE SHOCK OF THE TRUE’.
I do try my very best to trust.
This all makes ‘me’ immensely vulnerable
and an easy target in a sick society where
hypocrisy and lies have become a common
currency. But, I will by will alone constantly
make repeat attempts to be free to be me,
to allow myself the freedoms to create what I do,
to be free of all of the pain inflicted on me by you
and my countless experiences of you.
I have said enough, intimated a great deal.
My priority, as ever, is to let my work do the talking.
I find it hard to forget that these troubled times
we live in reflect the shameful lack of trouble we
purposely take to make them trouble-free.
Shooting ourselves in both feet we are
traveling nowhere fast.'
Chris Madoch. West Sussex. UK. 26th July 2013.
‘All of my many works of creative expression
are without question given freely to the person
I dedicate this volume to- my lover of 29 years,
the immensely gifted Fine Artist Dan-Paul Flores.
He understands like no-one else the true
timbre of unconditional love. We live a life
happily consumed by each other, our dogs, nature,
intense creativity and holistic honesty.
I am far from being sad or lonely.’
Chris Madoch. West Sussex. 26th July 2013
‘My many true friends are what I say-
true friends and as such they never expect
any thanks. I am constantly thankful for the
continuing vital parts that they play in my life.
To my many ‘frenemies’ I give immense thanks-
the grit of your very existing is a pretty witless
but marvelous spur for me to continue to achieve
things that you could not possibly do.
You irritate me greatly into being greatly creative.
In this respect, special thanks are due to
The Paraphilia Periodical and Books, Oneiros Books,
Epic Rites Press, Fibonacci Press, Barry Cunningham,
Phil Collins and all the other composers I have worked
with who have failed to keep their promises:-
the grave disappointments that you punctured me
with provided a necessary learning curve that
I would not be without.
I remain immensely grateful to the actress and
model Lily Collins and her art collector mother
Jill Tavelman-Collins. They have provided me
with much- a very great deal and it is deeply
appreciated. I could not be more happy sharing
your English paradise and your lives.
I must also say thank you to a profoundly sick
paranoid schizophrenic- without the educative taint
of your brief incursion beneath my radar I would
have missed the signpost that led me to make a
life-changing, life-saving decision.’
Chris Madoch. West Sussex. 26th July 2013
Cover created by Chris Madoch from his Fine Art Photograph of Bear Lee Decent aka Malcolm Grenfell: Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.
A great effort needed to be made with what she called her Dalek walking frame over rising and uncertain ground; over short orchard grass, like carpet, fitted right up to the French doors; on a shingle driveway; through longer park grass hiding rabbit runs and mole-hills: the expedition amounting to almost a quarter of a mile to the reward of the weathered wooden bench by a wooden floating jetty. See it.
Monet lilies bobbled on a two acre lake- she was always angered with her exhaustion at getting there, most times rewarded by the relief of the seat and the soothing view of forever farmland; Glenda, seventy-she-forgets, wretched with regrets, constantly sought compensations but seldom found them and today, she deduced glumly, did not have the look of a beautiful pattern breaker. The unusual stunner of a bummer. Feel it.
The normal informality of the sky made her groan with a familiar lightweight boredom.
It took a swift fly-by from her rescue taupe Greyhound bitch to make her smile.
Large common carp rippled the underbellies of the lily pads right in her eye-line where bright turquoise and black brilliantine brooches hovered- raw inspiration to art-nouveau jewellers, things troubling the warmed air. Short lived winged things desperate for sex.
It was then, exactly then, that she saw, as clear as day, she was fast approaching breathing her last. Imagine.
Not panic but joy washed over her- death crowned her wish-list in silver ink surrounded by starbursts of gold. How to celebrate the event. It deserved, at the very least, an intemperate bout of introspection and a lengthy talking out loud to herself. She always was the best of audiences for what she had to say.
There was no-one else to hear but Breeze, the lavender grey dog, and a myriad other living things with the ears if not the mind to, who could light the waiting fuse and, doubtless- let the end journey begin with a magnificent bang.
Breeze settled at her small feet. A Celtic knot of washed out purple constancy.
‘Fucking cunts. No proper manners.
They see 'old', a someone no stranger to mould, and service immediately turns to dust- never mind who’s calling the tune and paying the piper.
They charge over the odds for starters and then to finish there’s the VAT- tax, no wonder the bloody cats are fat; they milk it for far more than it’s worth and then they cream it like there’s no tomorrow. Balls. Butter balls. Cheesy jumped up thieves the lot of them.
If we were French they’d be dead. Long gone.
If we were French we’d smell of cheese, the potential to revolt- as is. Here it's shit, that’s as it is.
In every litre of air there are measurable degrees of faecal matter, arguably human and most likely foreign. How cosy are we with our cosmopolitan ways that, we not only ingest shit with every fusion meal- increasingly common in the mixed crucible cities, but we now breathe in the poop soup of our ghetto neighbours. I’m not sure I’m altogether ready for my lungs to be raped by rectal detritus from the colonies. I may have felt differently if I’d been intimate with a black man.
Having sex with someone you might as well breakfast on each other’s bowel movements. We’ve always prioritised pleasure before health.
Whatever happened to my Vietnamese pot-bellied pig? Oh yes.
Thank God for abattoirs and crematoriums still in the hands of the proper British. The Muslims hate pigs. The Muslims hate dogs. The Muslims hate all other non-Muslims. What's left to love that's worth loving unless black is your frame of mind, your temper and your cloth of choice. God! I can actually make an argument for pitying them.
God- I have so many issues with the concept of God it's quite beyond me why I ever mention the cunt. Of course one of my best decisions ever was giving up practice as a Consultant Psychiatrist- a Jungian practiced in sharp practice, I was quite given to self harm. Cutting. Odd God, the cunt, took me to the brink of the unthinkable.
I could do with an injection now.
I could do with being sixteen again, fired up by sexual urgency, spirited and fearless, veins flooding with dreams of giving birth. A hungry puppy. A pig struck by lightning- there’s a thing.
The squealing. It's always touched my inner Goddess. Gosh! How fucking gushing.’
Glenda quiet, counting heart-beats.
Glenda's first fuck-n-fumble was on Mykonos with the island in commercial adolescence- the bars and cars were there, cafes, restaurants but with no glut of disgusting modern jewellers or galleries that lay in wait as they do today for the American green-back or the plastic guts of those vast sky-scraping cruise liners that are disgorged as regularly as time and tide allow.
The wind would spin the sails of the windmills then.
Just European voices threaded through them.
To get there required trouble and resolve- there was no airport.
Glenda’s parents had the money and the grit to overcome most obstacles; modern or careless, a mix of both, they often left her to fend for herself so, frequently, there was no obstacle to her pursuing her flowering lusts while they followed theirs- an overbearing obsession with the arts, photography and trim nudism.
Occupying a four acre olive grove a mile off-road, the two substantial villas shared a pool and the 24hr services of the only neighbours- the cook, cleaner; her husband the gardener and handyman; Alex, their fourteen year old son, who was profoundly deaf. There was also a cloud of white hens bothered by an unreliable rooster.
The other villa had found favour with a family from Hampshire- an eleven year old girl and her eighteen year old brother never to be seen without his wheelchair.
'I had actually rid myself of my virginity with the help of a medium sized yellow zucchini. Well buttered. It was never a malignant issue- I was always prepared to be the cat killed by curiosity.
Already a lapsed Catholic I had, very young, moved into anti-theism. The mentally ill believers had always made sexual activity the Pink Elephant in every room.
I was never one to embrace such poisonous claustrophobia dressed up as piety and abeyance. I read absolutely everything I could about sex and erotica. That is how I knew then that some wit had once referred to a cunt as a cat with its throat cut.
Anaiis Ninn. De Sade. Lawrence. You should see my library. The higher shelves a dust trap now. London was on boil with endless eager queues of people wishing to purchase the Chatterley volume. Dirty Macs, as they call them now, were all the fashion then. All the delighted customers had their books popped into the requisite brown paper bag. The useless discretion of it made me laugh. I already had an early copy bought pre-trial. I used to sit on the London Tube with it, reading it in plain view. If you have no truck with deceit that is what you do and fuck the consequences.
As I remember, the contrast between the outside light and the inside dark of the double height barn could not have been more extreme and the small slit in the nearly closed doors was made doubly inviting. Of course I saw it as a gate between two worlds.
There were smells of nature and nurture in there mushrooming upwards at my every step.
Alex put his very private self inside me clumsily and rocked, and the handsome young man in the wheelchair watched, but it was his breathing that my passionate mind had properly connected to. We rapidly synchronised gasps.
On 'planet Alex' and ruled entirely by the thrumming in his frenum the boy had no idea that my orgasm had nothing whatsoever to do with him. He was just a tool- a mere fleshed out aspect of a complex spell, something part pagan part Catholic patriarchal I had actually dreamed of and now had brought to pass.
Losing my virginity like that, to a human sausage as opposed to a vegetable, I felt empowered with feminine guile and cruelly dismissed the lucky youth I'd used. He was still dripping as he zipped himself up just before he shot out of the barn like a freaked kitten.
Edmund in his wheelchair had not moved.
Going to him was the least I could do. I took his trembling hand and pressed it high between my thighs where his fingers could dabble in the mess of the still warm recent sex. Strange. He appeared to enjoy grooming my wet pubic hairs.
I went to explore his not unbuttoned shorts. He caught me swiftly with a look of profound loss- at least, I imagine I thought that's what it was. In any event it stopped me prying. He immediately withdrew his hand and lavished it upon his lips and nose. His tongue slavered at it. I had no idea whether to feel disgust or not. I just adjusted my clothing and walked away head high. I did look back- you always look back, it is unavoidable. I feel certain he was crying, softly sobbing; yes definitely crying.
I kept myself to myself for the rest of the stay. What was done was done. I'd grown suddenly bored with all of them. A trait of my mother's. There was nothing to say. I guess it might have been part of a coping mechanism- coping with the growing fear of a pregnancy.
A particular joy on the laborious journey home was the sudden need I had to borrow a sanitary towel from my very sanitary mother. She was all smiles and unforced empathy “Darling” she said to me, “From now on we shall be just the best of friends, confidantes.” My mother was finding it difficult to keep herself afloat in a whole lake full of slurry like that. I didn't believe her for a minute. She had always deliberately gone out of her way to ensure that sentimental love could never flourish.'
The greyhound's snout rubbed against the folds in her dropped left stocking. Chill thoughts had begun to hang around the edges of the view. They were not loafing so much as biding their time. You could sense their anticipation like an approaching shower of summer rain- they will have licked their lips, have greasy hair surrounded by flies, smell adolescent.
Even Death must have his apprentices, all much like plumber's mates eager to have the thread screwed the right way; at the finish of all that training the rewards were high. Ending a life is no easy task, it is highly skilled- anyone might be inclined to have it raised to an art. Not just anyone, that is very plain.
At the lake edge there were tall water grasses, their seeds packed tightly into cigar shaped packages. They wavered slightly just like the constant flow of lies from the White House.
Yes- why would arguably the most powerful man in the world put something he would much rather smoke inside the slippery vulva of a monstrously stupid intern? Did he crave some arcane mix of labial saliva and nicotine? If it was a Cuban cigar maybe he was sending a message to Castro. Maybe the cigar was bigger than his erect dick. Clinton was so showered with earthly gifts there had to be some witty setback he perceived of as a disability. That owl at the fucking Grove had all the answers to how the corruption in Presidents flourished without interruption. Bill dick-head. Genius IQ.
Glenda knew the glue that stuck women to such men.
'Oh Breeze, you never lose the taste or the aroma of your best. And you'd know better than me. He's with me every day. Yes. The best lovers can make a proper dog of you. See, my nose is twitching now. I can summon him up, just like that, in all his glorious incongruous beauty.
No- not classical.
Just sex on fatted calves and consummately creative.
Let's watch him swim to that jetty and haul his naked beastliness out. I wonder that the carp don't nibble between his thrashing legs. I would. In a flash I would. I have.
Dead now of course.
Long time- well you have to be mind blind or thoroughly stupid to expect life to be kind. Some say they've had it all- the liars. Well- what's the odds. We are neither gods or demi-gods; none of us managed to summon up the rain in times of drought.
Doubt. Yes, that is all there has ever been.
You can scream for certainty all you damn well like- the basis of all your mischievous prayer is no better than wishing over a rotting bowl of tripe. I had a psychic friend once- lost to alcohol; live on old enough and they all go before you: she never bothered with crystal balls and ceremonials. She used to read puddings, English Trifles- how very apt I always thought.
His rugby team-mates always called him Bill.
I made him feel special by using William in general and 'beast' when we were between the sheets, even when no sheets were involved whatsoever. He called his cock Jack- Jack, sack and crack. Sometimes I'd say let me watch- oh please beast let me see you jack Jack off.
I was far too addicted to his seminal outpourings to let it happen that often. But he was always quite the showman about it and afterwards he always ravaged me with his sticky fingers. They were such epileptic orgasms he needed to fill my mouth with his fist for my own safety.
The first day William changed into my beast I strolled into the guest-room quite expecting him to be there. I was wearing just a fine silk dressing gown, black background smothered with rust chrysanthemums- rather Chinese or Japanese. Either way I felt uneasy in its vulgar obsessiveness and could not wait to have it ripped off me by large hands.
Nothing beats the sheer elegance of nudity- both sexes, all races, every age, if your brains have not been beaten to a pulp by any prevailing yardstick of beauty: nothing could be more ludicrous than some contorted concoction of beauty. We are not robots.
Anyhow Breeze, who the fuck are these makers and shakers encouraging us constantly to deviate from the natural differences we should be glorying in and forcing some fashionable gravitation towards a sameness, a plain and plastic commonality? It has all the thrill of Lego.
Maybe that's what it means- fashion, to fit.
Besides- it fails miserably. Constantly fails. Vogue seems not to have noticed. The idiots.
It grieves me when women self-harm with such mediocrity- becoming sheeple is one thing, but to become mentally challenged sheeple is quite something else. I cannot abide it. It or the damp fuse of feminism. The rise and fall of feminazism. I've read their rise and the fall. Are any of them shamefaced? Not at all. Well- they are like large glass preserving jars with one uncracked walnut rattling around in it. Shit at most things because they have spread themselves far too thin and piss poor love-makers because they have taken Hollywood and particularly Hollywood porn as their template.
I have watched 'Housewives of Beverly Hills' and 'Housewives of Orange County' just for the fun of it. Ever curious, with voracious for the cheap and the spurious, we are still in the 18th century, visiting the local madhouse, for a spot of light relief, after church and Sunday lunch.
Well yes, I am rambling. Dear dear me, gambling with the few minutes I have left.
Haute Couture. Cordon Bleu. Ways with stuff with knob polishing and bells and whistles on to boot lucre from our bank into theirs. The jumped up thieves.
That Armani death said a lot- a scandalous way to jump ship, something I rather relished; then the Catholic family immediately at war behind locked rococo doors, preying on the spoils; the subsequent design decline into skinny and luminous glitzy 'gipsy' chic. The bog standard stupid rich still suckered into buying it.
I have always bucked the insidious trend of it and always somehow managed to have been labelled eccentric. Lobster and lime, more beads than they have in the Vatican City, ethnic and all possible twists on ethnic, healthy open crotch knickers.
Eccentric- the only tag, incidentally, that I can abide. Fashion and fashioning- the sheer, very near see-through utter cheek of it. It used to make my mood quite dark, noir, negrito, black shot of coffee, until I realised that it was only the wealthy who ever really set their clocks by it, put out and kept the whole charade afloat.
Fuck them, the unnecessary ones- just love watching them getting stung and having the blood and the piss extracted from them. Chumps Breeze, that's what they are, malefic chumps.
I'd sat myself on the edge of his double bed, my weight sculpting the fat eiderdown- its polished cotton cover the colour of dull copper, crisscrossed by ivy and white trailing columbines, bindweed in flower, all intertwined. Far too busy. I could watch him sniff the air.
He was perfectly aware that I was there and, I presumed, elected to be not in the least coy. Raising himself out of the bath-water I saw his biceps pump to labouring plump. This man had worked and he had work within him. Dripping wet but towelling his head, eyes properly hidden, he was there full square on to me, a thing I might examine from a distance with immense delight. I could read his glistening body, complete with all its special imperfections, like the blind do books.
I asked if I could dry him, take off every last bead of errant water from everywhere, and he thought about it then finally agreed. This would be an exciting and energetic prelude to my first Braille session with his unique skin. He'd been using vintage sandalwood soap. As I attended to between his toes I let my eyes get drunk on the breathtaking closeness of him, then knocked back shots of his auburn pubic hairs, his relaxed scrotal sac, his freckling, his ruffled foreskin. All these things moist and begging for my close attention.
He went to towel his own arse-crack but I stopped him. A deal was a deal I said- I would happily deal with that. And rubbing him there, where I could smell truffles, lit the smouldering fuse no blaze of tongues of flame could ever resist. He lifted me clean out of my gown- rag-doll limp at the sight of his sudden stiffness, threw me onto sacred space, the cotton cool, and splayed my legs. His face dipped well below my eye-line. I lost count of time. How long his beard and tongue fed upon my way-south lips I couldn't say.
Eventually I screamed it- FUCK ME: it was both an open invitation and a very prescient exclamation.
And being the gentleman that he was he did fuck me- every which way, though not anal, not that first time. That came later, following a private screening of Passolini's 'Salo'. Yes- I used Black Sambucca as a form of anaesthetic. He got shit on his freckled dick and would not let me lick it. That night was both painful and pathetic. It was the first night and the first night past our zenith.
You know these things.
It was that peculiar night that kept coming back to me, a cup of tea in my trembling hand, uniformed policeman in the sitting room, me being helped to understand the reality that William had died in a car accident. A shitty dick.
Crash- I kept correcting them, didn't they at least know that nothing was ever an accident.
They wanted me to identify the body. I said no. I said no, it wouldn't be him at all, not with any signs of life in it. They were quite insistent but I absolutely refused. I gave them the name of his dentist. Let them go to work at whatever it is policemen do- police work, detecting. At that time, in any event, regardless of the reality of the circumstances, he was still very much alive in my heart.
Indeed so Breeze, and much the same today, way too many lonely years on.'
Glenda retrieved a tin of fishy smelling fish food-pellets from her rope coloured Hessian bag, arced the lot across the lake surface, some bits hitting open water like hail stones, others grabbing a short lived ride on the lily pads; the coots or the most muscular carp would retrieve those.
The sheer effort of it made her clutch at her right breast and sink quickly back upon the bench gasping for air. The carp were there, doing much the same, tormenting the water with a rabid boil of fin and tail- their mouths like the hidden valves inside our body come to light, opening and closing with the stench of sex. Fish to fish.
Glenda, having survived a test run must now rest. She was in transition.
[Yes. He was her best. You meet the one and love consumes your allotted time together like a fire in a log shed. And then they are gone. It makes people lurch across the threshold of a barmy church whose stall is stacked with jam jars filled with balm, a salve for sorrows. None of it works. Vultures of delusion feed greedily on the corpse of your happiness, cheered on by congregations, priests and bishops. Glenda had been shunned by society at large for having batted off these evil birds with blasphemous words, umbrellas and walking sticks, anything that came to hand, her teeth, her fists, the most explicit obscenities.
Fuck the cunting villagers for their slurry of opaque piety.
Glenda never quaked in her bed in the dead of the night fearful of the truth.
She knew they did. And they knew she knew their fear. They kept a careless distance, mumbling she was a witch or at least a communist and coveting her acres.]
Swans had never nested here despite the island. No great loss. They were such irascible hissing things- could break human limbs with their ugly angelic wings. Glenda had had some experience of them.
In Winchester she'd walked the exact same walk that Keats had walked allegedly composing his famous 'Ode to Autumn'; the river bank at the back of Winchester Public School, a pre-historic conical hill dividing the distant view. That day the air was thick with omens. She had come across a freshly dead shrew, vastly pregnant, in the middle of the worn grass path. She touched it. It was not yet fully cold.
A half a mile later she saw a dead bird plummet from the sky and pierce the river. It seemed a great way to die- to not know the moment and to be still locked in full flight, already flying in defiance of the gravity of graves. It was not long before she was charged at by a livid swan, a frightful ordeal.
Returning home she passed a river weir. There was a panic of people there, helpless as what to do. Cygnets had been outwitted by the current and were being swept away from their parents. The parents seemed unruffled: preening as they sailed in oblivious elegance, part of an altogether happier painting, the pretty face that would not ever deem to attach itself to catastrophe.
Glenda made a long lasting mental note.
Religions deal with disasters in the most unnatural and self-serving ways- out of their shit God always rises smelling of the sickening rose that symbolises the cunt of Mary the Mother Of Jesus. Like a surprise and not so welcome guest- just like fresh fish, 'The Almighty He' goes off after three days.
On the tenth anniversary of William's passing on, Glenda drove to a bar in Wisborough Green and drank too much.
She had become rigid, immobilised for 11 seconds- too long to ignore. A lame mist of rain was mithering at her face but she was grateful of it.
'The day I chose to get drunk because I could not, any longer, hold tight to my not much addressed grief, the rain was light and drifting just like this. Yes.
Yes I am coming, but I have to get this off my near defunct chest. It lives nowhere else.
No note exists. It needs an airing.
Don't ever give a child a kite without giving them the wind to fly it. Yes.
We lived in Paris once- an apartment on the fourth floor. My parents bought me a model yacht- totally forgot the pond or a stretch of water safe from drowning, the clowns or paedophiles. Sh! Sh! Never mind all that.
In the local pub they stared at me as if I was a ghost.
Almost a total stranger, but also so strange being that familiar to them all, a topic of gossip, I was wearing chalk and dust but that's beside the point, my lipstick was the brightest red I had in my collection. Never used. Had I overdone the rouge? Perhaps. My hair was faux Monroe. Lavender high heels. It must have looked to everyone that I had somewhere to go.
Just. Just, just let me cough. That's it.
This cold is new, chilly. I am being told. Am I being told? And I am one of those who loathes being told. Wait. Wait will you. Just fucking wait. I absolutely demand it.
Oh William you beastly beast, at the very least hold back these busy bargemen's hands until I have discharged my fortunate disgrace. And, excuse me if you think it disgusting of me to smirk but, I really do believe that the rape was the making of me. All my reasons to employ the elements of femininity I called feyness and frailty just upped and went.
Ha. Every scripture I had ever read had intimated that all acts of violence were heaven sent.
Sh! Just sh!
Can you hear the evening closing in? It’s way too soon I'm telling you.
Too early by maybe two hours.
Why not. It's not like I have an earthly choice.'
Breeze, suddenly troubled in herself, began to signal it- she repeatedly made a figure of eight in and out of Glenda's legs, interrupted now and then by a brief visit to an outlying rock nearby where, once atop, she could look keenly through 360 degrees in search of any possible help. There never was any. Dog desperation is almost always slow in coming. When it arrives it eases every agitation and becomes chillingly placid. They know far better than us when the game is up.
Glenda gazed softly down at her canine companion with far more than love, something you would not dare describe. Never in her 86 years had she been without a dog. She'd always embraced their eminence over men without the slightest fear- it had been wholly communicated and brought a rich reward.
But then there were dog-men, near humans tagged by their history of violence; it was not considered right to have them collared and labelled, attached to leads and left tied up outside shops, whilst inside ugly babies shat and pissed their nappies with no regard for hygiene or screamed despite the health and safety laws. Where pregnant women broke their waters in the cereal aisle. Where men of the cloth attached to colostomy bags leaked gross aromas suited to their poisonous calling. No- don't shoot the dog-men, letting their remains find their way into the pig food-chain where they deserve to be, no, coddle them and screw their screwed victims twice over. Let them breed- their rubbish DNA is sacrosanct. Attach them almost permanently to the many tits of benefits- it works out cheaper than imprisoning them. And it is a part of what it is we believe makes us have a right to lay claim to being civilised. What would Glenda say?
With Breeze away on the rock again, Glenda attempted to hook her walking frame with her foot, to pull it towards her, she succeeded in achieving the opposite effect; the thing that looked like a TV aerial designed to pick up broadcasts from the Moon wilfully slid away from her and made a nest of the reeds at the lake edge where it glared at her like silver litter. Why try escaping when escape is impossible, it seemed to be saying.
'Well yes. There is no use screaming the rapists said. We will do what we intend to do and then be on our way. And the prick of the blade tip between my shoulder blades underpinned what they had said. Brothers. I knew them. And their Dad, a sifter of stolen goods, set-up as look-out, smoking under the one down light in the pub car-park. My car in the gloom already broken into- the back doors yawning as if bored by all the fuss.
The younger of the two disgusting pups needing blooding in the ways of cunts.
So. That was the stunt. It was his hand across my mouth. The debutante. It was trembling and smelled of warm plastic- probably a mobile phone. He wants to take you from behind. He doesn't want to have to see your face. Harsh, uncouth use of English, fresh now, as if it were hissed at me yesterday.
It was over almost as soon as it began.
The only good thing that could be said about it was that the dick on legs had worn a condom. I heard him zipper up. That and all the good-bye footsteps on the gravel. I lay there recouping in the all enveloping velvet dark. The bar still bright- brash with light. I knew the local police had joined a lock-in. Sifting through all of my options, doing nothing immediately seemed by far the best thing. The worst sex ever.
Yes. Maybe we have not all been raped. But we could all of us make lists of the worst sex ever.
There. And that I wanted to be pregnant by it was true.
A young fifty two- you never know do you. I remember looking at the cold residue in the unknotted rubber with some resentment. William may have reincarnated as my child. I could have put him to my breast again.
That final cry of alarm or recognition was quite half-hearted, a thing under rehearsed. It was her earthly last. Transition happening.
Breeze, a knot of sadness and dismay, curled at Glenda's still warm feet, still not quite admitting utter defeat. The dog's coat quickly lost its sheen and dressed itself in hopelessness. The small rain growing. The bench, a place of endings now, appeared to incorporate the body in a hug.
The clock inside the dog's body ran for two hours when, as night finally set in, it stopped painlessly.
A new beginning made brief, Breeze was gone in empathy, following her mistress in her guardian sleep.
THE NEWS FROM MY AREA
Shortly I'll be off to get the Sunday paper. The Sunday Mirror to be exact. Well, it gets me out of my high-rise low-life flat. The Sunday Mirror- it's intended to reflect our small lives back at us bigger, better. I've never been in it. But then, I'm not eighteen, a drop dead gorgeous dog with massive tits. Then again, I do have every intention of being newsworthy one day.
And that's an ominous promise.
This life is proper untreated shit, raw sewage like the Spanish farmers spray on salad crops in times of drought. You'd be amazed how many people have no idea what a farm looks like, smells like. Everything comes shrink wrapped or out of skips.
Mass ignorance. There is no escaping it- the abiding, overriding stench. No matter what the fuck you throw at it.
Now, they got what they call dirty nuclear bombs, well. Fuck me. That's all you need to know- bombs that blast disease willy nilly with consummate ease.
Cleanliness has no more relevance. Dirt up- it's the new black.
Sucking a peacock's cock in the considerably over romanticised Elizabethan age- imagine that; rolling back the grubby foreskin, liquid blue cheese.
I've read Patrick Suskind's book 'Perfume'. It was a journey of necessity. Forget the disappointing film.
Here. Listen. I heard this through the paper thin walls the council calls building a short while ago.
'You're wearing perfume. You smell rank girl and you want me to thank you for a shag with 100 quid. There were skid marks on your grey knickers- I'm deducting 20 for that. Cunt. Pull another stunt like that and you'll be off my books. You're losing your underage looks. Got a fear of soap and water have you? Or has Christ got to you and you've suddenly decided to go all retro hippie on me?
When I lick your kipper cunt, you cunt, I want those cunt lips clean and tasty- you listening to me. I like mopping on prawn pussy when I'm watching my gay porn.
Excuse me while I fart.
Ooh! Better out than in.
Beans. I been eating baked beans.
I have alternate meat and veg days. It was a veg day yesterday. Have a smell of that. Heinz. That's a proper smell that is. Can't you tell? Fuck me! It's a million times better than your street-market imitation Chanel muck. Muck. It sucks. Fucking sucks it does.'
Nice. Oh yes. Good memory me. Almost perfect recall.
Just a neighbourhood taster for ya.
Lived here for years on disability benefits- its not just the aftermath of Thalidomide, its the Major Depression Disorder caused by the aftermath of the Thalidomide- the bullying, the failing eyesight through all that repeat form filling. Small minded office workers love minutiae. I'm missing most of an upper left limb. Good thing it turned out I was right handed.
It has real feelings- my human squid. I flip out if anyone calls it my flipper.
It's Sid, Sid my squid.
Whenever I have a shower I give it a right soaping and, guess what,- it always gives me a stonking erection. Never fails. Like I said, bloody good thing I am right handed. Though, all this time on me own, I have developed a great and possibly unique technique for achieving full orgasm without hands.
The mind is a marvel innit- a fucking marvel.
I lie naked on the bed, curtains open, touching nothing, just flexing the glutinous maximus, pressing my coccyx hard against the mattress; my mind does the rest. Shooting your load like that is like stumbling into Nirvana- heavenly. Messy mind, but fucking heavenly. I fantasise that in an adjacent tower block some grunt bear, still deep in the closet, has got a telescope and his cock out; that his obese wife catches him catches his ejaculate in her peach tissues.
I'll take you with me if that's alright with you- invisible you may be but I'd worry leaving you alone up here. Fifteenth floor.
The last tenant flew. He was a tub of lard; how he squeezed himself through the window was quite the mystery. There wasn't much left of him. Had to be dealt with by a shovel of sorts. Did you ever see that series of images by Andy Warhol 'Purple Jumping Man'? He was jumping from much higher- you know, New York, so he was almost mush on landing. I always remember that curious cop in uniform standing over the dead lump, he had a spade in his hand. Andy see, he had an artist's eye for detail. What a wizard.
No. We won't hold hands. You're making me repeat myself. I only have the one and I usually tuck the paper under Sid the squid. Got it?
The long concrete landings give daily lessons in perspective and patience. There are estates in Paris much like this- the future made to inflict the facelessness of urban hell on an imprisoned underclass. Graffiti somehow gets to be self-defeating by being almost impossible to read but at least in this place it is sprayed in English of a sort.
In Paris it would be so street to cut in the odd English word but here the appearance of any French words would seem utterly absurd.
Yet I kinda hanker after seeing the word 'baguette' in brazen neon pink screaming on a linking footbridge, knowing as I do that that long bread stick is a lame French slang term for cock. Fresh from the bakers, who could stop themselves breaking the warm end off.
I survive here and, yes, I have the temerity to think.
Mind the flattened dog turd and the painterly trail of trainer prints.
We take a sharp right.
Sudden, ironic- black graffiti in support of the UK BNP, grass root fascists in a place where grass grows like comb-overs on bitter old bigots.
I am well inured to the blood red words 'nigga cunt'. That would seem to be the absolute limit of these guys' creative rage- it is exactly why I am not in the least frightened by them.
Yes, of course, I am on their lists.
I like the fact that I am on their extermination lists on three counts to date. In fact, I have made it part of my future life's work to create a fourth reason for them to have me oven baked in a state of the art stalag on the Isle-of-Wight.
I have watched a film of human bodies used as large candles- unsurprising, not gripping. You can buy wax candles as big as bodies at the shrine at Lourdes. The bigger the candle the better the chance of getting your petition answered by the Virgin Mary. Bollocks.
Indian families can be quite careless with the makeshift pyres of loved ones on the banks of the Ganges; often only half-burned they are kicked into the unclean depths and left: yes, left to be hooked out by a gang of cheap labour at the next dam employed specifically to snag the bloated bodies.
The 'holy river' is a thick and dangerous viral soup by any scientific measure.
I always remember this when I'm inclined to wince at the sight of used knotted condoms decorating the local swings- glossy grey Tibetan prayer rags hung from metal trees, seats varnished with the stain of children trying to deflect distress, the breeze carrying low-notes of their unscrubbed mess. And that's on the ground.
Yes, I'm on the BNP's fucking low-brow lists- Alex Biddens, Gatling Gun Tower: disfigured and disabled, half-caste, shirt-lifter.
The Front- that's a laugh, a lot of them are all front that's for sure.
I've had some- young guns wearing braces and number one heads; late teens and curious.
Clean as a whistle.
I don't do anal but I got plugs that switch the prostrate on.
I get these rabid heteros cumming and crying for joy at one and the same time. Then, mostly, they kick my head in- very half-heartedly mind, almost tenderly. The screwed lambs.
What they want is a real full blown war.
That's what they're waiting for.
What they desperately desire is the chance to participate in a life-size Xbox game, certificate eighteen. They wanna shoot the proper brown bollocks off of all living breathing fundamentalist darkie terrorists. Yeah! Just like most Americans do.
And they love Big Macs and pack banter about gang raping virgin apes on the rag; mugging Downs' boys, breaking into a mortuary and bumming dead bodies.
You picked a good day- the two man cesspit of a lift is working.
I let the rumblings of the Eastern Block mechanism do its unpleasant worst. Habit is such a cunt. I always stand here and let elevator disaster movies flood my mind then turn to take in the view such as it is.
Semi-industrial. A theme park for the uglier aspects of aspiration. Molehills of deconstructed cars and mountains of factory retail outlets. Tile wholesalers. A cramped garden centre.
It might be the last time I get to see it and, because it might be the last time I get to see it, I see it again for the first time, as if I were a recently housed refugee, maybe, from some distant desert war zone where 'sand' is so removed from being a chic colour of paint and 'blood' is real, caused by a nail bomb, not by something artfully distressed that costs a fucking bomb for those pillocks who live in clover on distant hills- utterly cushioned against the least of beastly ills.
They may have lost a wife in childbirth. The baby too. Gone home and drowned the poodle.
They may have sought a crumb of fame at the BBC and been interfered with for their trouble.
They may have been less than vigilant on holiday in the sun and lost their young teenage boy to someone grey, well able to drift away into the mists of Grecian history, his motor nondescript, his garage a shrine to gaffa tape and whatever else a predatory paedophile needs to effect the perfect rape in plain sight.
Sweets. Swish techno treats. Gags and chloroform.
Family, friends and the authorities eventually following a cold trail. A life-boat launched. Home tabloids screamed at. Ribbon campaigns routinely spread like rampant acne. Appeal spot on the TV- networked worldwide. How they cried.
When whoever [pick a number] is done to friction sores with a blonde kid like that, they make a snuff movie, saw him into bits and use him for shark bait.
I think so.
It is a little known fact that the Mediterranean is one of the breeding grounds of the Great White. Like to spread the news from my area.
Clatter. Shudder. Bang. A comic cock in permanent felt tip gets split in two as the lift doors open. Ugh. Disgusting.
I always gasp at this regular intrusion.
It is like being belched at by a chain-smoking Bukkake tart, freshly fuelled by a large measure of rum and a lamb kebab drowning in brown sauce; very strong undernotes of commercial bleach, defeated Febreeze, stale urine and obvious fecal matter; an overlay of something expensive and out of place, a hint of Chloe.
On the floor a discarded Ferraro Roche wrapper and a JLS condom carton.
Hell! I could be persuaded things are on the up.
We're going down.
Get in then.
Lift tragedies are extremely rare. So rare as to not be worth a second thought.
My insane dwelling on them and the joys of claustrophobia run into multiples of ten before we finally land- my small, implausible, invisible friend and me.
No dramatic jarring as the descent into this other hell ends; just a startling influx of light as the doors open.
There in the toughened glass stair-well stand two waiting Indian ladies wearing blinding saris and bindis, both laden with full carrier bags from the local pound shop. They do a wide range of food stuffs now.
Their eyes immediately spot Sid my flipper. I make it dance, fiddle, dance for them.
They giggle like dazzled UFO hunters, fans of Derren Brown- look through my peculiarity, the gods have special things in mind for me. Kiss my clothing.
I smile and mumble something vaguely ethnic. Its worth it to make the effort.
I love that acrid mix of sweat, sandalwood and patchouli. Think to myself- they must miss the burning of their relatives on pyres.
Maybe they keep them in large re-conditioned chest freezers and wait for the British 'Bonfire Night'- November the fifth. All the major bonfire sites have signs saying no fly tipping but they are always ignored- especially by peoples who only have English as a second language.
Habits are so hard to break. The casually lit candle bodies- how removed are they from hard drug addicts anyway? Not much.
We all burn out in our several ways.
In the gutter a litter of take-away Styrofoam containers stained with old curry and crushed hypodermics. A ragged, fearless, bird absurdly bathing in unclean dust.
We stopped at the eight foot high, rusting, wire-mesh fencing intended to keep kids at play safe from predatory pedos. I slumped against it like an orang-utan, one hand high and gripping the cold metal string, making it sing small urban anthems. There's that band Stomp. They hit dustbins with sticks. They hit anything tin with sticks. Is that hip or shit? And who is it decides?
No kids here today.
No teens sobbing, reading 'Dear Jane' letters over and over; not letters, texts.
Half of the fuckers have forgotten how to write. That's some way down the road to total illiteracy. The bleeders don't even read porn.
They're all for the easy life and total suckers for graphic pictures.
Now and then you see escaped porn pictures torn from very explicit porn magazines happy to ride the thermals between the tower blocks. They're right tearaways- these escaped kites launched by terrorists against political correctness and all things fluffy.
On a sunny day they loop the loop.
You get a sudden flash of a gaping cunt, tree high, followed by a stiffie pumping unlikely ejaculate. Some argue that that was what manna from heaven was- God's loving spoonfulls.
What a wanker.
On a day when the rain was light, I saw something similar attach itself to the monkey bars in the playground. You're not allowed to call them that anymore.
Beautiful black boys like to exercise their youthful muscle on that silver apparatus.
For all sorts of reasons you keep your banana in your lunch box with your Twix and stuff. That's what the powerless Community Police advise. I was told.
These witty young black boys, they've been known to chuck banana skins at them.
That brought a broad smile to my face. The twisted logic.
But why would you wheel a custom painted baby carriage in there? Because that's what's you do. You are fourteen and you have a baby and you have no idea who the father is.
You were taken to the fucking ground blindfold- not a peep out of you, and the whole gang had you. Spare me the penile details.
So you gets this half decent buggy from the social and in it is this thing in pink surrounded by a yellow stink and you think what it needs is fresh air.
Look at this place.
It is the u-bend in one of the many toilets of Greater London.
Did the kid shit before or after you left the flat that the authorities gave you for your troubles, you sad little cow? My bet is that you're a lazy bitch.
You sits your shitty nipper in the cage swing.
We can see her nappy off-loading unpleasant contents on both the ups and the downs. Why the fuck can't you?
That's right have a fag.
When you've finished you can stub it out on a used condom.
Nice shoes. Bought on the drip from your mother's catalogue. Lovely. Not much life in a suede pair though.
You're still not thinking as a survivor.
My first sighting of a paedo came when I was barely eleven.
I was in all white. It was the height of summer. White tee-shirt, white shorts. I was sat on top of a tennis umpire's ladder. Lads my own age, mates, were having a tournament on grass. All boys. Nobody gave a toss who was watching.
From my vantage point, between matches, I spotted the weird bastard.
He looked like, I imagined then, what an old gardener was supposed to appear to be- slightly stooped, baggy high-wasted brown corduroys. Short little fucker. Seemed old to me. He was clearly wanking through his right trouser pocket. And him noticing me noticing me brought him to a frenzied climax.
I watched him shuffle off with the gait of a lame spaniel. Maybe the war had ruined him. The word paedophile was not then in my lexicon or in many other peoples'.
But the grass courts were watered, green and pristine, and the clubhouse smelled of warm pine planks and roses. If we dropped litter it was purely accidental and we always picked it up.
Come on, ghoul, or there'll be no papers left to drool over.
The windows of our very convenient, all hours, sells everything Pakistani run Convenience Store, Post Office and Newsagent with a delicatessen counter are blinded, put out by steel planking, bolted on. It has to be very strong.
The whole building is surrounded by a henge of terrorist strength reinforced concrete bollards to fend off incursions by criminals in stolen vehicles.
I marvel at it.
Step inside the magic circle and I feel significantly more secure.
Step out with packages and I become a target for muggers.
Inside, the shop smells of a fresh baked chapatti crossed with a warm two day old sock. The rabid colour of its myriad contents makes everywhere you look seem like a Pollock canvass. This must be positively embraced or you would turn and run out screaming and the whole point of leaving the flat would be rendered utterly pointless.
Every other day I cross this Rubicon to dice with spices and speak with a welsh accent to a man with a brown face who does the same kind of thing back to me.
North west India the most likely root of all Europeans.
It's just the paper I'll be having for today, Mr Store. The usual yes. The Daily Mirror on a Sunday. Exactly. The Sunday Mirror. Love the pictures. They make my day they do. Can you see my friend. No of course you can't. You can't, Mr Store, because nobody can except me. Tarah then. No. Not The Star, never The Star my friend. Not that rag.
In comes an old dear with her wheelie shopper; she reeks of stale and fresh wee. I smile. It's a lie- a feeble attempt to cover up a grimace.
She's wearing Shar Pei tights and a coat that might have started life before the war. On a lapel she's got a real rabbit's foot brooch.
She'll have had that for years- for luck.
What fucking luck?
That wig's seen better days.
She always spots Sid my squid. I wave it a little and watch her morbidly shiver.
What a beauty she is.
The embittered and bigoted old blameless bitch. Navy-blue does nothing for her.
Come on ghosty, lets suck a holed, but perfectly round, Polo mint together on the polished concrete neighbourhood bench covered with solid, well weathered, lumps of bubble-gum, Basquait cocks and misshaped swastikas- most of them ironically invoking peace.
On the side of houses in Nepal you find them both side by side- colourful giant cocks with balls and wings and ancient signs of peace that only ding-bats would confuse with Nazi emblems.
China is there now, denigrating everything once considered holy and eating everything that breathes. Dipping barbecued spare-rib girl babies in chocolate like they do ants.
They've made such a cock and balls of communism- the neo-fascist capitalist cunts.
My cock and balls ache. Is it a sign?
I've got a migraine in my testicles.
The unmade bench, even if signed by Tracy Emmin, could not have got into the RA's Summer Exhibition where predictability holds sway most years because of the stalwart dears who grip tight to the cheque-books. They are very much still purple rinses halfway up the arses of the St Ive's School of discovering landscape in still-life and life in stilled landscapes and hybrids of the two.
To listen to these people you would think that originality had deserted the working classes completely.
There were painters groups among the hard working tin miners of Cornwall but they were never in the eye of the shaker maker glitteratti and, had they been, they would have been dismissed as 'primitives', 'naives'.
None of those cunts would have said no to having a Lowry or two stashed away in their lofts.
Signed by Tracy Emmin RA, the riveting bench might have helped her win a Turner Prize. [Kids had by local tradition lost their virginity on it at dusk] Filling a large glass crucifix with your own piss could work the same magic for your trophy entries on LinkedIn.
Now there's a thing- Tracy come full circle from the avant garde to a Royal Academician with little more than the drawing skills of an ape obsessed with body fluids. Menstrual discharge a constant favourite. Only women bleed. Women are the niggers of the world. Those old chestnuts. She had all the advantages of a proper education. Higher.
I read about her alleged conversion or epiphany from a traditional wild child to something way more tragic and infinitely more profitable- she had her own bonfire night in the small back garden of her East End flat, burned all her prior paintings in a smoke-free zone. The rebel.
Had she really seen the light or caught the bug of filthy lucre from Damien Hirst and his sycophantic crew. You do the maths. From that day on she never looked back.
I went to see her unmade bed.
Where was the novelty? Let me recall.
Back-page. That tosser bastard manager of Manchester United is spouting on about how he believes that no premiership referee would ever resort to such arcane behaviour in the middle of a match. The ego-maniacal plonker. I have Scottish friends deeply embarrassed by his fucking god-like strutting.
Let the fuckers separate from the British realm. They'll feel the cold without Trident.
I would build a giant wicker man and put the likes of him in it.
The horrid and inexplicable bagpipes would be more than welcome to drown their screaming.
Deep down in me an animal can still stir, make waves; indeed, it makes me no better than anyone else.
This recall. I often sit here on this bench and recall things. They sting.
You. Take a forensic look around us. The waste-bin cages at either end of the bench have no fucking waste bins in them. They were racing green. Someone with green finger's lifted them to pot up Mary-Jane plants for a south facing balcony.
Look. Is this ancient and modern litter art?
Tarts' flyers. Well, they demolished the telephone box. Only the base remains. The local kids painted that blue and play out their own version of Dr Who on it. You can't blame them.
You can't blame them. They've all been poisoned by Disney and reality TV. It's not a good mix. These kids want to click their fingers and be whisked away.
Now I know this, and I am, by no means, NOT the predatory paedophile that vile Sir Jimmy Saville was.
The knighthood was a papal honour by the way.
How apt is that, after the fact.
Predatory paedeophiles, the current buzz label, know that we have bred generations of 'lost' wannabe children who dream of entering a Tardis and fucking off to elsewhere; anywhere to get away from home.
Why don't their thick as shit parents know this.
Up the duff at thirteen, it does your head in, that's why. The fags, the booze, the looser tag.
Shit. I get so easily diverted.
A morning after the night before. Regret the elephant in the scummy room.
The first of three awake in a small double- me, a black one and a yellow one.
I do like my ethnics.
The South Korean boy had pubic hair as stiff as a nail brush. The Jamaican had wine stains and only one-eye working. The grey white sheets had been starched with spunk. Nothing at the windows but loud Hawaiian shirts.
The floor a rash of Muslim mats- probably jacked or a job lot. Assorted shitty rubbers. Mugs. Ashtrays. Fag-ends smoked by faggots getting their end sucked. Polaroids of an enthusiastic spit roasting.
I know what you're thinking- did I catch anything. No. Never did. Never got pregnant. Never ever did sport an unwanted kid.
That black guy had a small cock though. See myths can be proper shit.
There are black guys on YouTube complaining of the unfair expectation.
They make small BMW's now- hatchbacks.
But that bed bed there, the glee bed, we was all sixteen, that was altogether on another level from Tracy Emmin's pretentious heap of crumpled bed-linen, bras, knickers, and used tampons.
Come on! Alex Biddens, Thalidomide, fucking RA.
Hang on. Here's trouble coming our way. My arse is flexing.
Shall we go or shall we stay.
Great. That is the way with fucking fate.
Six of them stand in front of us, staring with malicious intent at me and my invisible familiar. I wave my Sid the squid at them. Not a flicker.
I've had two of them. Total recall.
It is Sunday. They're all bored and off their heads. Six bicycles. Two baseball bats.
Not what you'd call a social visit.
They call themselves The Cubans. None of them could place that island on a globe. Three whites. Two blacks. One in-betweeny. Eldest nineteen. Youngest sixteen.
My kind of party.
You looking for the football scores lads?
THE POLE INCIDENT
They hung St Sebastian in a tree, JC on a tree of sorts.
My ritual twig turned out to be a Bus Stop sign attacked by knock-off hammers and spray paint.
Some Green Party lesbo politician on the local council drove through this mad initiative to have hanging basket hooks put on all the Bus Stops in the council-tax catchment area. Being something of a pessimist I had always seen the dark side of this ill-thought move.
The very poor make plants a low priority- more so in the middle of a double-dip recession.
If the authorities saw fit to hang abundant baskets within the gift of all and sundry it was a given they'd be nicked. Free plants, compost and containers makes gardeners of the most hardened slags.
Not all the criminal fraternity find it impossible to cry.
Gangsters in touch with their feminine side- it's by no means just a gay fantasy.
Ask any prison officer with an eye for detail, someone anal enough to religiously put entries into a five year diary and keep it locked.
Digression has some power to dissipate pain, but by no means enough.
They hung me up roughly by my fawn hoodie; the armholes cutting deep into my moist armpits.
They bound my booted feet.
They unbelted my kecks, laid bare my ginger decorated genitals; the sudden fresh air strange, chill in concert with a rush of fear. I orange pissed myself.
They laughed, whooped, jeered.
I brown crapped myself.
They all clapped at me, picked up the loose stool, smeared it on my Sid. God!
God forbids nothing much.
The old lady from the Convenience Store passes by, the wheels on her shopping trolly chirping like spring fledglings.
She sees me in grave peril, waves like the Queen and goes on, doing diddley squat.
She is God! Yes.
She is fucking God!
And SHE has just forsaken me.
The gang are shaking cans of gloss black spray paint. Cellulose. Up my shitty arse it goes, under my damp foreskin, EVERYWHERE genital.
That is me black-balled, made an untouchable.
No chance of those gracious Indian ladies saying prayers to me now, no gift of sacred saffron cake, no handmade necklaces of fresh marigolds.
I've always been an undiscovered deity on the back foot.
The point is, wraith, we are all of us, no exceptions, messiahs of something.
NEWS THE DAY BEFORE THEY DISCHARGED ME
There's a spare view from my fogged hospital window.
In the mid-distance, on mud recreation grounds, there's growing some social fungus- a phallic neo-pagan tower of hedge clippings, pruned spruce and broken pallets. Tomorrow they'll be dousing it in petrol and setting light.
Fireworks. Family familiar delights.
Who will go missing that night, under the cover of legitimate terrorist sound effects. All sorts of perverts revel in the magic lure of sparklers after dark.
I go on watching until the sky goes velvet blue.
They shaved me. Very sore I am from what they called a penetrating clean.
Look on the bright side, there is no STD known to science which could have survived that.
Of course I informed the police. The NHS make sure you do.
Still part of a community, I suffered convenient memory loss. I know my rule book.
The ward is all men. You'd think that was a plus. But no.
Across the ward from me, his face deeply acne scarred, a veteran of the Iraqi conflict has been having immense bowel troubles. No graces are being spared.
It is a war zone crossed with a porn movie. I am not turned on.
They've got him naked, on his knees, in a vast see-thru plastic balloon. It has the effect of distorting all his features. Something, with his challenges, he could have done without.
There are two male nurses wearing top to toe see-thru plastic coverings. I quickly get the gist.
Approximately ten minutes previous they'd shoved a large suppository up his bum.
The drug works fast. It's always used as a last resort and careful preparations need to be made.
The NHS guys are watching watches.
My eyes meet with my fellow patient's eyes. You can read his arriving realisation.
He is so right.
It was rapid, violent and not pretty.
The two men held the ex-gunner while he heaved and exploded shit in various arcs; bursts of arcs as his strong frame twisted on the bed.
You live to see such things, amazing things that verify life.
Like this new 'art-shit installation' thing, a lot of the other things verify that life is indeed unadulterated shit.
We foolishly sully it with our pretensions to being the least important.
Every day I tell myself- this truly is as bad as it gets.
I'm being discharged tomorrow.
My prostitute battering neighbour is driving me home. There's a turn up for the books. Turns out he really likes me.
Like- he REALLY likes me.
I got myself a right scary minder who loves it up the chuff.
I know I said earlier I never do anal but, when a relationship comes knocking, you've got to be prepared to be adaptable.
In the gay personal columns we say- versatile.
It's no news to me, a gay Thalidomide, that there's always going to be a game to played.
You've got to make yourself fit according to the cut of your communal circumstances.
If you don't do it or don't get out, one or the other, life will, too soon, be the death of you.
BITES FROM THE PANZRAM CUTTINGS
MY ALLOTTED PARKING SPACE
In the trunk of my car a change of clothes and food to cook and feed two. I might get lucky at around midnight. The fat file that's hardly left my side for four weeks now will be entering the building with me. I only ever get fat files now, fat files with fat leads to fat links sat in repositories that testify to mankind's unkindness to itself. The recently arrived package will play its part too.
My name, in barely weathered white gloss on black, stared back at me unmoved- titular ornament and qualifications, all the implied responsibilities of a forensic psychiatrist mocking my present obsession to ensnare a massive rush of endorphins, my understandable human hunger. Like I cared- this was the third date in ten days, the first on home turf, virtually home and dry. My riverside home in Putney is quite the aphrodisiac and always seals the deal. I was, as they say, feeling it.
The padded package from Toronto: now there was a ball from the left field- if it wasn't for Lyall Watson and a 'working' understanding of serendipity, my sanity and I would have parted company long ago. The book- a disintegrating copy of a biography of Carl Panzram complete with loose papers purported to have been written by him, had not come cheap. With it came a 'poem of sorts' and a long-winded suicide note from a Mr Dogrop Rancour- clearly the former owner of the book [his signature filled the small library plate] who was not in the least dead, far from it. He was no longer living in Canada in a semi-rural suburb north of the city where my niece lived and enjoyed rummaging in second-hand bookshops. He was, in quite surprising fact, my new case; today our first scheduled face to face- itself a curiosity and, in the circus of strange circumstances, a likely rubber stamping.
In my line of work there are always firsts- another original worst to quicken the blood flow.
The very idea- divorcing yourself from your own penis with a model-maker's battery driven circular saw, but to make a public spectacle of it. Over the years visitors to Brighton beach had become inured to various, increasingly lewd attractions, but this one had the tongues clacking like old football rattles. He was naked and had shaved back to the buff of a baby and on his his xxl chest he'd scrawled in red lipstick 'I am not a homosexual.'
Carl Panzram, serial killer in the making, age 7- awkward stiffies seeming all out of proportion.
Raised in small-holding poverty, his idiotic mother plagued by migraines and dizzy spells, he and his siblings were left in a living hell, by their father who never looked back ever in any shape or form. She was idiotic for having reproduced in the first place. [NOTE: She may well have been, to all intents and purposes, kept a virtual prisoner and regularly raped. There is no evidence of her ever being caring beyond the bare facts that her children did survive.]
Ma had the one remaining glass, she’d briefly stop sobbing and take a sip of well water we’d all brought her. Then she’d be off again, her greyhound body made animate by weird tremors. She was always the same after pa had kicked the fucking shit out of her. Stray tears on the kitchen table made small craters in the day’s latest layer of dust.
Today was already different from any other day ever. Earlier today we all watched him in his anger gather up anything of even the smallest value and dump the haul in the wrecked car along with our dog.
The oddly reliable machine was rust countries in oceans of faded blue paint, all held together with stolen fencing wire, sweat and swearing. The forbidden road south was the one he took- away from town. The south road is as straight as a railway track is and it disappears deep into the distant horizon. We stood watching him go- me, my two sisters and my brother, holding dirty linen to our dirty faces to avoid the choking dusts.
He soon became a black blob, then a dot, then nothing.
THE PREVIOUS DAY: SNATCHED TIME IN A CAFE
Do you ever switch off?
Oh. It has been known. Though I confess to twitching a little when the in-tray empties- thing is, in my line of work, it never stays empty for long.
[Long pause. The silence thick with gesture and sexual intimation.]
I'm writing a book.
Work? You see! My point exactly.
Well yes but it is not without its distractions. You ever heard of Carl Panzram?
No. But as an informed guess I'd bet he is a serial killer.
Was. Long dead. A sexually driven serial killer.
His name intrigued me. Well obviously far more than that. I'm calling it 'The Panzram Papers'- he had a certain gift for writing; wrote things out; left a legacy of sorts. The killings span a long timeline.
When was he born?
1891- the son of a German immigrant trying to eke out a living farming in Minnesota during the depression.
You and your soft spot for Germans.
Carl's first appearance in court was in 1899.
He was eight?
Correct. And the charge was drunkenness. There's a quarter of a book right there- a cruelly, often criminally abused childhood; a desperate need to be loved or noticed met with nothing more than violence and rejection. Yet here, taking the blows, was an evolving mind that would eventually be capable of tackling Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.
And how does this relate to your current case?
It doesn't. It would be odd if it did. And my telling you even that much is a serious breach of confidence.
Yes- seriously, really. You know how it is, sharing a bed is never a free pass to the secrets in my working head.
I can watch you give evidence in court and salivate.
Of course, but believe me, these days, what becomes a matter of public record is only the tip of vast icebergs. A massive database remains firmly under lock and key.
I remember you saying there is nothing more arousing than interacting with anything perceived of as forbidden.
Carl, serial killer in the making, age 8- massive little survivalist pissed off his face.
How come? I've dwelled long and hard as to the time shrouded context in which this unloved, attention seeking urchin was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. [All rug-rats are intentionally wired to be survivalist to the nth degree- utterly self-centric, magically manipulative, attention seeking aliens to empathy and any sense of community.] So. What did this brat trade or what was he forcibly made to exchange? Two cents worth of hooch for opening his gob to a turgid root? A smelly orifice? Life was cheap. The good thing about children then was that there were plenty of them going spare and alive they were warm to the touch, pliable. The trick was to make them receptive- dead easy to pull off in hard times.
You look like my missing pa.
How's that then pip-squeak?
He was a fucking knob.
Feisty little fart ain't he fellas? Not much meat on him.
I bet you're those guys who wank dogs for a laugh.
Sure are puppy- ever get that feeling that this was your lucky day?
SOMEWHERE NORTH OF TORONTO
With bare man's hands, scarred hands that could easily span a cadaver's arse, he'd always wished he could pick-up a pick-up, throw it across a black-top and abandon it in a ditch with all the other sweet incriminating bits. That's why he had taken to wearing a shorn beard and plaid shirts with quilted linings.
That's why he constantly played host to ghosts of what just may have been- pent up rage, no venting it, no preventing his constant enquiry as to from where it came. His childhood was idyllic. It was idyllic. Idyllic.
Dogrup Rancour's grass grew leaden grey most every day and he knew, God always told him such truths, that there were other fields of a better hue, places where there never were ties or tethers; no fucking inclement hate-fuelled emotional weather; no guilt-trips about needing to be grateful; no rules; no judgements.
Six foot one shoe-less, twenty stone naked weight, hirsute, his major problem was there was not one thing anyone had ever confirmed was exceptional or the least outstanding about him. He may as well have been a living, barely breathing John Doe. Most days he expected to wake up and spot the tell-tale tag tied to his big infected toe, the one with moulds discolouring the thick nail, the one responsible for making large potatoes in his hill-billy woodsman socks.
His passions- poetry and the life of Carl Panzram; arguably obsessions but lets not get ahead of ourselves.
This is it. Six months previous he left a devastating crime scene, everything, something as yet undiscovered and he travelled to the UK ostensibly to stay. Four weeks later, following a bizarre altercation on Brighton beach, he was arrested and sectioned under the mental health act- a clear danger both to himself and to the rest of us. Two days ago they found the inoperable brain tumour. Given the grim prognoses extradition seems highly unlikely.
Carl, a serial killer in the making, age 11, encounters full on institutional punishment.
He was forced to enter a 'reform' school- a total misnomer. The dreadful place deconstructed wayward boys with a barely disguised glee and was plainly a magnet for adult sadists in search of pleasurable work that paid well. A hell's theme park for demons; one with a constant stream of fresh hellions. What the guardians reconstructed there were cracked mirror images of their sick selves.
Cruelty births some truly twisted shit, all of which is totally unnecessary.
It was common for a naked boy to be watched as he languished at length in a tin bath of stone cold water. Then he would be laid-out, planked and have his back layered with salt. When the salt was dry the lashing with straps would begin. The straps were designed to maximise pain- they all had holes punched in them so that they easily raised blisters on the skin; as these blisters were repeatedly beaten they would burst and weep and the salt would seep in stinging horrendously. [A human being at the turn of the century, their mind focussed on child-reform, thought of that as proper practice.]
I have stopped myself imagining what else went on within the many rooms of that vast place but, please, feel free to endure your own explorations as clearly Dogrup did. There are no rules. There are no limitations.
In his pocket-book Dogrup Rancour had noted how easily what is perceived of as abnormal can be normalised- unfailing punishment, a faultless routine; the nature of anyone could be bent out of shape. Just a few words of love, lies disguised as love, and you were home and dry. Give me the child, he wrote, and I will deliver you the serial killer.
America was evolving into a seething hotbed of sexually driven serial killers. It was terrifying. He was filling himself up with fear.
My practice is never to have any pre-conceptions about how to trigger the normalisation process in anyone suffering from trauma and I'd never abandoned a case before but I was contemplating it. Yes, I am selfish. I have never professed to be good person. And, I confess to being pre-occupied with the prospect of getting my rocks off for the first time in six months in real as opposed to virtual dalliance.
Carl Panzram, a serial killer in the making, age 14, available plaything.
The unkempt boy was repeatedly gang-raped by four male unwashed hoboes in a box-car in a railway siding. Raw straw, stale cattle piss, knob-cheese, hot spunk, muffled sobbing; not the screams you might imagine, this was all part of his life apart from life; his sphincter had become an athlete due to penal reform, ratified by the smug, the holier than thou, the self-satisfied, the beloved pioneering mothers and fathers of modern America. The bleating of the sanctimonious sheep- you make your own life. You play to your own sparse strengths and exercise belligerent enterprise. Fly the flag. Whatever.
An alleged Panzram Paper: one of the inserts from the ravaged biography formerly owned by Dogrup Rancour. [It colours and seasons with some degree of relevance and is, in my opinion, by no means gratuitous.]
'To call it a farmhouse only made sense insofar as it was a house of sorts and it was situated on a farm of sorts. The farm was small- a small-holding bought with pa's immigrant assets. The hardest, constant labour wrenched a small living from it- it fed us, clothed us and paid the taxes; just that. The wooden house boasted two bedrooms and a main-room where we all ate, bathed and played; a stoop and steps as wide as the building; a rickety privy. There was a swing beneath a massive tree. A barn with a lean-to containing a still. A well.
The wall between the bedrooms was simple vertical planking, ill fitted, heavily knotted, a treasury of spy-holes. There were bigger things to care about. The nearest neighbours were a mile away- a distance where, even on a clear day, a child's scream reduced itself to a hawk's cry. I have been transfixed before by the terrifying utterance of a rabbit petrified by the gaze of a stoat- at night you could easily mistake that sound for the screeching of a whore being raped, a trusty cutter at her throat. Where we lived was a small place- not much room to move freely for the pressing everyday matters of life and death. And if you strayed you always got hit for it. The ways to stray were so complicated I never got to outwit the adult tricks of it. I always lost the game and they beat me for it. I remember no hugs but the chill embrace of being constantly counted as nothing but irritating.
The laws of life and death were just a matter of observation. We encouraged animals and plants to reproduce. We were in attendance as they gave birth. We wrung necks, shot brains out and generally butchered, harvesting as and when.
Through the knot holes we regularly watched our naked parents fuck. That was animal, loud, swift, slippery, plain as day and larger than I could exaggerate it. His...[Here the page was torn in two]...My elder bro would fill my pale ass crack with his spit, sisters giggling at brazen glimpses of his stiff twig. It only hurt the once. I promised him and myself that I wouldn't scream. Never did. The more you do a thing the easier it becomes. In the end, my bro oblivious to the loss of power, used me like a buttered glove yet it was me who really called the shots. I'd learned the control needed to determine when the hot stuff erupted unstoppably to kiss my shitty guts. It was just what happened- nothing more or less. Should've killed him but the circumstance never presented itself.'
Was this damaged document genuine? Maybe it remains the invention of a fan.
THE RANCOUR HOME NORTH OF TORONTO
[Inside a real hide east-coast Canadian Indian teepee a brother and sister talk in secret.]
Boy: Dad said gone-mum was as good as dead- dumb in the head. New-ma, she's the squaw now.
Girl: I hate him.
Girl: Yes. Of course. Bad-ass dad. I've seen him washing blood off knife blades.
Boy: He big heap hunter little prick.
Girl: Shit. He one massive cunt of a cunt.
Boy: He's gonna kill her isn't he?
Mrs Ann Rancour, second wife with the frame of a wren and bottle blonde hair had the air of a non-stop shrew and was a total stranger to sleep. The creature shrew has nothing more to do than constantly pursue the source of fuel to keep it fit enough to pursue more fuel- she'd read so in a Reader's Digest book. She was the one with the primary income. And the lion has a habit of staying in slumber for up to twenty-two hours a day. When he feeds, his swift and violent effort is rewarded by a short time gorging deeply on bleeding meat. They do say opposites attract.
Boy: Do unpublished poets go on killing sprees and eat their kids and stuff?
Girl: They sure do in the movies.
Boy: Aw. Stop yacking and suck my dick.
Girl: Money up front.
She'd struggled; she'd muffle-screamed into a pillow; finally he'd spewed a year's unfinished business into her bleeding rectum. Oh boy. Big dick. Man of the house- he finally got to stick his victory flag into the forbidden territory of his gobshite mouse of a spouse.
Now where was she?
Sat on the sanitary white lavatory seeping blood from her anus, tears from her eyes, colour from her chill skin; thinking of the children sleeping over at her ma's; thinking- so this is what it takes to stop us breaking up. What fucking next? Will he ever go the full hog and strap a-near-as-dammit-realistic prick to me.
Has he got the balls?
And do I get to screw him?
Now she was birthing turds across open wounds. Blood and shit- not a good mix. And was it true that she was going to cook her rapist husband breakfast?
Of course. She was in it to win it. No sonofabitch was going to sashay from hetero to bi to homo- not on her fucking watch, Sunday or not.
Triggers are totally unpredictable things- quite beyond the grasp of psychiatry. We are all blessed with an array of unique behaviour buttons- should any of the more 'exotic' ones ever be pressed by the requisite mechanism, its anyone's guess what we'll do. Prevention is good. In this area of thought death may have its place as a preventative measure. I wrote that.
'One day there was this half-full tram. Nobody on that tram knew that, on that day, this was not the tram to be on. Goddamn. How could they? All the survivors have since turned to prayer but the dead- well why the fuck should they care. Six headless victims- the machete was sharp as a wronged woman's tongue. The perpetrator boring to the point of invisibility with no previous. He said, somewhat predictably, Allah told him to sever the flight decks from the infidel machines. The tram driver, a survivor, deeply disturbed and in care fills notebook after notebook with his recollections of the blood splatters and the repeat screams.'
[Dogrup obviously lapped this up; even said he'd knocked one out because of it. Later took the spoiled newspaper page to the yard and burned it in a brazier full of chucked out poems and paintings and rejection slips.
His kids were giggling in the teepee and he wished through the new flames to be a kid again because when you are a kid you are never to blame- you are never to blame even if you do stick a banger up the arse of a cat and light the fuse and slowly walk back to a place of relative safety.
He remembered the smell of that singed fur. The kudos given him by imaginary friends.
Now he was unemployed- a househusband.
There was a rabbit stew slow cooking in a log-burning oven. Chop chop- there were dumplings yet to bake. Be quick about it there might be the time to sling together a surprise apple cake- deserving to be served warm with maple syrup and crumbed-cookie ice-cream. There might be a cursory marital screw in it for him- if not then it was another night ahead nowhere near that troubled bed, dreaming on the internet, burying all regret in a mixture of identities; the elastic possibilities of which were utterly epic.
There was also the demonic drink, the cruel temptations of the phallic pen and the black orgasmic ink.]
A GENUINE WRITING BY DOGRUP RANCOUR [It may have been plagiarised]
'FAME or 'shame' or 'infamy' [maybe- fuck me titles]
In the house cellar-
the coal-hole long gone, he dragged her dead weight
to the basement of his mind;
laid her on see-thru polythene sheets;
bit off her depilated clitoris, chewed it, spat it out
into a gleaming kidney dish
in the bloodied mirror shine of which
he dreamed that he could scry
his future demise- [mind tricks] the infamy,
the paper column yards,
the hours of dedicated TV
all the celebrated reality of being someone.
In such fantastic scenes
he always seemed so handsome-
fresh meat for Hollywood; filmic face
his voice soft like a lipstick lesbian's;
a thick coat of charisma cloaking rich deceit.
Warm gusset waiting to be cast adrift.
NOTE: This had first been posted in a SOCIAL NETWORKING Group called 'INTREPID TRIPE'. Rancour made no secret of the fact that he wanted to own a small press of the same name. He was crawling towards making major strides from obsession to perversion, profoundly confused, perceiving the use and abuse levelled at him by no more than average writers as nothing less than love. What he eventually created from the theft of an original idea was the lab-rat opportunity in which the worst cancers of self-publishing would mutate. And it did.
'It was another night ahead nowhere near that troubled bed, dreaming on the internet, burying all regret in a mixture of identities; the elastic possibilities of which were utterly epic.'
Worth repeating- 'It was another night ahead nowhere near that troubled bed, dreaming on the internet, burying all regret in a mixture of identities; the elastic possibilities of which were utterly epic.'
A HIGH SECURITY INSTITUTIONAL FACILITY IN THE UK
Due to a weather blamed computer glitch the whole damn compound went into a state of lock-down before I had even crossed the threshold. It takes 30 minutes to process a recovery through its normalisation cycle. Very aware of the CCTV, I took a deep breath and returned to my car and the illustrated documentation detailing the incident that had preceded Dogrup's flight to the UK.
Driving to work I'd been listening to a podcast concerning the recent but swiftly forgotten Bosnian conflict- they were referring to the mayhem that a reporter had become embroiled in as a village was attacked by the Serbian army. In front of him was a mother and her baby. The mother was growing increasingly distraught. Suddenly the reporter felt strangely wet and warm. The woman was screaming uncontrollably. Following a local explosion, her baby's head was missing.
Letting my eyes stroke the surface of the pictures from Toronto I sensed some utterly senseless connection between the two events. My expertise was increasingly in demand. Criminal killing was by no means in decline. Was it burgeoning because the supposedly good men have run out of steam to do anything about it? The impotence of my paymasters. If it was a virus I knew of no virologist working on a solution as easy as a jab in the arm.
Sonja, Dogrup's first wife, had been eased out of institutional care into a programme similar to our 'care-in-the-community' in the UK; electronically tagged and subject to curfew, she shared a house with four similarly challenged women and a full-time carer.
Rancour had never been the slightest suspect- he could not have been in possession of a more watertight alibi. On the day of the multiple deaths his wife Ann had been made redundant, cleared her desk and arrived to an empty home early. Dogrup was picking up the kids from school.
Ann fed her children- let them go their own way inside the house and told Dogrup to clear up the mess. At the sink, in his apron, she shoved an opened letter in his face, he could feel the tip of a substantial knife pricking his coccyx. 'You pathetic cunt!' she sneered at him, 'Exchanging love letters with a fucking shit shover now! What is this- full blown role reversal; method acting for masochists? Mmm- your kids already have an insane mother; good idea- add to their pain by becoming a gay dad.'
Dogrup admitted that he wanted to kill her at this point. He said it took immense self control not to touch her at all, though she was goading him to it- prodding him and slapping him. Instead he infuriated her by saying nothing whatsoever and collecting the few things he needed for a night out 'with the lads'.
Watched by his children from the first floor, he drove away at 4.30 pm, his right cheek bleeding, leaving bits of himself beneath his wife's fingernails. Three minutes into the journey he began to make mobile telephone calls.
At 5.30 pm Dogrup was picked up on CCTV entering a restaurant in an avant- garde quarter of Toronto. He spent two hours dining and drinking in the company of Sonja's brother- a detective in the city drug squad. The ugly tragedy that was to indelibly ink his life was, totally unknown to him, unfolding like the worst of pornographic centrefolds back at home. The police believe events started at around 6 pm.
So, much later, in the small hours, Sonja's brother after waking for a piss, checked his Ipad. The horrendous news sent him, in a naked rush, to the guest bedroom. Dogrup was still there, sleeping like a baby. Hard to break a sleep like that with information like that. Then there were the obvious bare truth implications- discarded condoms on the polished floorboards, shit splatters on the soft-grey cotton bed linen; the hard to figure fear he felt; man-tears forming in his eyes, the memories.
He didn't wake him just then. He showered, dressed for work and made the necessary call.
Driving the care-house car, which she had not signed for, Sonja had arrived at the Rancour household at sometime shortly before 6 pm. The police believe she found her children fucking each other in the teepee. She tidily dispatched both of them with single shots fired close to their heads. At this time they figure Ann had consumed half a bottle of Jim Beam. It seems she was in no position to put up a fight. Sonja shattered both her kneecaps with gunshots- she then tied her victim up. Forensics reports indicate that Ann's face was removed whilst she was still alive- all the material of it was buried inside her vagina. She bled to death slowly.
It is argued that Sonja then took a king-size sheet from the marital bed- it was a heavy duty Egyptian cotton, ideal as a noose for someone her weight. At some stage she despoiled the bed with her blood and piss and fecal matter.
When the police finally arrived, acting on a call from the nearest neighbour concerned at hearing the gunshots, their first picture was of Sonja hanging naked in the stairwell. Around her neck hung a small notice which read 'Dogrup Rancour did this to me. He steals people's lives. Ask my brother, the detective, who is his sodomite lover.'
Not being able to help myself, I stole more voyeuristic looks at the forensic photographs of Ann Rancour's head stripped completely of its surface face.
My mobile leapt into life. Re-entry to the building was go.
I suddenly realised one of the fascination's that drew Ridley Scott to direct a Hannibal Lecter movie- the removal of a face, in whatever circumstances, is at one and the same time utterly compelling and fascinatingly repelling. What was it that Inspector Pazzi was told by Dr Lecter- oh yes, I am of half a mind to have your wife for dinner; something close to that. And in the final frames of the film emulating flight from internment there was a fascinated boy who engaged him for a while, a kindred child who fancied a taste from a slab of cold pan-fried human brains in his luncheon box- because the great doctor had no regard whatsoever for airline food.
Top notch. Read all the Thomas Harris books, got all the DVDs. I closed the file, made sure it was with my essential effects as I locked my car and made my way to a late meeting. Of course, Dogrup may choose not to show. My money was on him not being able to resist his ego.
These bland and undemanding care in-camera rooms are always nondescript; I guess it is necessity that dictates their interior compromise. I can imagine the types that sit in fervent session deliberating over colours that might take the sting out of the nature of institutions- and they never do. These almost devout biscuit people are so deeply embroiled in their miserable failures that they must always, in the minutes of their meetings, register each one as a triumphant success of majorative ordinariness. Magnolia is a mighty smug hue wherever it is flung up- a neither one thing or another shade that has stuck to what we like to think of as 'normality' like the glue made from cow bones- they have pretentious siblings, beige, peach, eau-de-nil and taupe.
At my pay grade however I was allowed to choose my own room paint and selected a business-like shade of grey that the makers had named 'English Fog'. The name sealed the deal and proved to be the perfect backdrop for black and white artworks- all of which were associated with one or other of my books. That other, less lucrative career, a perfect antidote to hands-on criminology and forensic psychiatry. This was not that room; this was somewhere utterly secure- the few pieces of furniture were substantially rubberised and secured to the rubber floor.
I try not to expect anything but I was not exactly taken aback by how unexceptional Dogrup Rancour appeared to me. He leapt off the page of his file in diminished dimensions. But despite everything he could switch on a smile from his deep brown wolf-like eyes. I was not to be so easily invited to step onto the game board his expression had manufactured on the table between us.
I switched on the recording machines.
Are you in pain?
I hope they are looking after you. There are far worse places to be. It says here that you are post plastic-surgery and that the part is reattached- is that the case?
Yes. More's the pity.
The authorities have a duty of care. We have to get you well, on the road to full health before we can properly attend to the issue of your repatriation. You are a Canadian citizen and Canada being part of the commonwealth we share a variety of options for you.
I have nothing. I have no home. I have no family and I am not a homosexual.
Sonja's brother has written to you.
Yes. Frank's deluded. He's a good detective. Policemen are never homosexual.
I have read copies of your tender replies to him.
Have you sorted out which one of my many selves I was when I put stubby pencil to paper.
Frank's a good friend- he is standing by you.
I see. Good cop compared to what- bad me, sad me, banged up for insanity me? Eh? Eh? He would always feed me, get me drunk then shaft me up the ass. That's man-rape. Fuck! None of the charges ever stuck.
You never made any charges. You visited him voluntarily at least once, sometimes twice a week from a month after you married Ann.
She's dead. They said.
How did she die?
It wouldn't be appropriate at this stage..
Fuck! Let me tell you something..
My first wife used to collect the glossy magazine American Crime Monthly. She had these crazy notions. One of them mad ideas was that I bore a striking resemblance to Charles Panzram- the serial killer from way back. For one of my birthdays she even bought me the story of his life. That damned book changed me. I'd never been one for reading but I must have read that book twelve times. And then I took to writing. She thought I was good at it, said I had a natural gift. Then I discovered Thomas Harris and The Silence Of The Lambs. All his books. All the films. Ann wasn't right after the first child; she got more wrong after the second; finally entered a dark place and rarely returned, not even for Christmas. She took to believing cruel untruths- that I was a murderer in the making, that I was sexually molesting the kids. You've read this shit already.
You look the type to be always up to speed.
You and her brother Frank managed to get her sectioned.
Yes. Yes. Things came to a head. Lines needed to be drawn. All it was was the ending of one nightmare. She was still alive. That concerned me deeply.
You wanted her dead?
Yes. Of course. I wanted secure closure.
For you and you're children.
And for Ann. You were already dating Ann.
You're going to tell me that she looked like a man.
Dogrup clasped his mug of tea with both of his large hands overlapping, drawing some comfort from the warmth and at the same time seeming to enter a contemplative state. These silent moments allowed me the luxury to explore him as one would a painted portrait. On the recordings there would be shoe shuffling, sipping, the occasional rustle of paper, distant bird song, faint breathing.
He was more handsome than he'd first appeared- would scrub up, needed attention to an unruly beard; his nose was Roman; brown eyes, wide, deep set, masculine and animal. He was not a bear- if comparisons were to be made it was clear to me he was more lupine than ursine; a great lover of dogs, I was in danger of developing less than objective sympathies towards him.
Here was a man at deep unease with himself- unable to be himself for want of an itch he could not scratch. Dogrup's skin, the one he was the least happy in, was plagued by emotionally damaging fleas and he had never found a treatment for them. What were we to do- bathe him in cruel truth shampoo, then towel him dry as he cries unceasingly. I knew he was a closet crier.
I'd always had to live with the notion that mirrors hated me. This one was like all the rest; doing its level best to undermine my confidence with what I saw gazing back at me- always a questioning face, never at rest, forever testing my patience, demanding I do my very best. It goaded and often mocked and even though I knew for sure it was only a reflection I had often been belittled by it. This time it pleaded with me to look again, it was being of help.
As I dried my hands with crinkly cream paper towels I realised that I may have been on the point of being played for a kipper. All this was new to Rancour; it was, I was willing to bet, that a rare one-to-one, despite the ever present security, would seem to him to be far more fun than hiding behind his many aliases, all of which the police had discovered on the internet.
My patient could smell me, evaluate ever minute nuance in the flesh. Fuck it! He was enjoying himself. I had to ascertain if he was a grave danger to himself and to other people but it was hard to see him as a criminal. What was his crime- coinciding his interest in a long dead serial killer with mine; escaping from a horror that his mind could not cope with: how many of us would have wanted to do the same? Was he insane? Would he heal- be returned to society and finally enact his true purpose?
On the other side of the wall a toilet flush. Was that Dogrup's shit wending its slippery way to waltz in time with mine? I reminded myself that I had been in worse situations. That is the beauty of my job- just when you imagine you have actually covered all the bases of human perversity and deviousness something or someone comes along to send you back to the drawing board and reassess the magnificent mess that is the mind in turmoil.
Why the fuck had I put eyeliner on- it was subtle but Rancour will have noticed it, his wolf eyes were the gun-sights of a very expert sniper.
INTERVIEW ROOM: SECOND SESSION
Outside it was raining in rods which indicated a miserable drive home. The strong scent of institutional soap was wafting off of Dogrop's hands, nails bitten but clean as a whistle. I imagined him using the bristle brush in an habitual ritual of furiously attempting to scour away the hurt. He was far from being a stupid man- I knew he could write a passable essay on OCD with no preparation and not even break into a sweat. I noticed the smallest tip of his glistening tongue. Was that intentional? I elected to toss an invisible coin on that one. Then he smiled or maybe it would be better described as a grin.
I might have looked like a man back then but truth is I was still a boy- Rancour suddenly got engaged with an unmistakably honesty; hell I would have jumped through hoops for fanny then. Did I give a fuck for the fact that she seemed a bit of a dipstick, course not; I was walking on hot coals to get my end away and she gave out without much of a shout most every day. Besides, the allowances we always made in North America were, how shall I put it- very generous. We are still a rag-bag of all-sorts even today and hold no great store by what might be hiding in the shade. Not the smart people any road. Why should we dig deep- we still have no history worth a dime unless your interests stretch to the laundering of every kind of crime imaginable and retelling it as enterprise. The Americans are great at that- why, even a serial poisoner who drags herself up from the gutter to become a person of independent means on account of the many husbands she has killed is given a healthy respect for her pioneering spirit and them criminal Kennedys are re-branded as kiss-my-ass royalty.
I did try to get my kids help. The minute I figured out what they were up to with each other I tried to get my children all the help I thought they needed but immediately the suspicion of all the authorities fell on me. No-one looked at their witless mother and for one second imagined that there was the likely root cause. No-one, never. Men see, they've got fists and pricks- it makes them the prime suspect always. And yes, I did admit to hitting them- what man in his right mind wouldn't have done. I put padlocks on their doors. A fucking load of good telling the truth did me. The disadvantage that men face when protecting their children is countering the pre-conceptions of a whole army of social workers, the vast majority of whom are damaged women on a mission to repair a world which is dominated by men. From the start I was always the enemy. And the law in some pathetic attempt to emulate justice has every legality stacked against us why- because some klutz like Queen Victoria disbelieving that lesbians existed shaped the family legislation in a very unhealthy degree of ignorance of what women are capable of doing, even to their own.
It actually happens that their nutter of a mother had encouraged them to mutually masturbate when the youngest was only four. All of it kept secret from me. How would I know? Why would my manly mind go there? I was pre-occupied with stereotypically manly things. I was out all hours doing what men with families do- keeping a roof over their heads, putting clothes on all their backs, shoes on their feet and food on the table. It was me most weekends filling the log-shed. What time had I to finger my kids?
Do you want to take a break.
NO! He shouted at me, clearly angered that I'd interrupted his outpouring.
Listen to me, just listen to me- that's all the break I'm asking for. For now?
Well, no-one's charged me with anything. And this thing in my head is inoperable. I don't want to spend my last six months heavily medicated and hugged by cream walls.
You could possibly be released into a care-in-the community facility- a house with other patients and carers. That's largely down to me.
A man with the confidence to wear discreet eyeliner?
Carl Panzram had very little heterosexual sex. He caught gonorrhea from a whore and the disease so disgusted him he never went back there again. You'd know that.
I said you'd know that. I'm allowed books. They said the list that I'd requested put them in mind of you- that you were writing a book on the man. They said you even have a title- The Panzram Papers.
Well, yes. The staff here are not meant to divulge such things.
But they are people and people are always excited by coincidence- the slightest thing that's unexplained. That's why I think the religions have clung on for so long- they make the implausible believable in the minds of the temporarily confused or blind. They prey quite deliberately on the weak and the feeble-minded. And we have such a mystery here, don't we, you and me?
Human affairs are so unfathomably complex we should never be surprised, or raise to some pseudo spiritual significance the least coincidence.
Thick cunts do though. Millions of them.
Right. [Immediately, call it a sixth sense at play, I knew what he was going to say next- he was going to talk out about Panzram's perverse power over railroad men. Why was that so obvious? What more did he know about me?]
Do you get off on Panzram? He asked me.
Fuck that shit. Everybody does. Everyone loves a legend. People get off on anything odd- it quickens their rush to get close to whatever God they've chosen to lick the arse of. What trick-cyclist hasn't worked that one out? That's why The National Enquirer succeeds. There's always been a gutter press, more than likely underwritten by one major religion or another. Brother, when we have rubbed their noses sufficiently in hell, we can speak laughably of 72 virgins and that vast whore-house in the sky that Allah calls His heaven. You do the fucking maths.
Do you like women?
The truth is- not much, not so's I ever noticed. And there's not a man I know who can honestly say different.
They attract you in any way?
Sure do, but that's where it ends; with an animal, all too familiar shunt and a grunt. No way is a fertile woman and a potent man ever going to be close friends. There's just no trusting them. She'll use him and abuse him for her own ends. You must have read the research- one man to provide, another to milk for his gene pool. Those bitches are ruthless- passing off one man's child as another's is second nature to them. Cunts. Ever notice how they're always right. Ever figure out that they are always on some trick or another to get exactly what they want.
Do men attract you?
Hell no. Hell! You already know. I am no fucking homo that's a fact and neither was Carl Panzram.
I'm not so sure about Carl.
The air in the room seemed to have been suddenly captured by a localised black hole; the leaden weight of it was palpable we were both being sucked into an inescapable territory, a dark mass where sense implodes and reality fragments as deceitfully as sugar glass.
I asked him- in all your reading did you ever find one thing good that Panzram had to say about a woman, because I didn't.
That didn't mean he wasn't sexually driven though.
Guess so. But neither of us, you and me, we don't know what was illuminating his mind when he was pumping his prick up some guy's shitter. Maybe he saw titties and the piss flaps of lascivious women waving in his face. Maybe every time he came he believed he was screwing some tart real proper.
Maybe, but its only conjecture.
Carl Panzram was a man with a proper man's needs. It's perfectly normal for a man to want to toss himself off twice a day- there's nothing perverse in that. There's nothing perverse in wanting to engage sexually with another's living flesh. Through terrible experiences he figured women were diseased and yes, he did commit that to paper. For years he been raped up the rectum by all and sundry- what's wrong with a man wanting to right the wrong of that. He'd been buggered by those trusted members of the community into whose care he'd been placed for his own good. What fucking good? It left him little course but to do what he did. At least he wasn't in a Cardinal's gear getting all queer with a nice and dandy sweet as candy choirboy. Whenever he violated anyone- yes, often at gunpoint pressed against trees, they were men, grown men, and largely men who had abused their authority. Carl could not abide a jobsworth. You must remember that time he took a lippy ticket inspector back to the guards car and raped him, then told the three terrified hoboes lurking there to get their dicks out and do the same. Yes that was sexual release- but most importantly, to Carl, that was justice. Every time, whenever anyone suggested he might be homosexual he lost it big time. It was just a hole, nothing more or less. A hole. That what he had been for most of his childhood- someone's hole, more or less. Never as an adult did he suck dick ever. Never. Believe me I know where this man was coming from.
You've never sucked dick?
I want to end this.
Just one more thing.
Make it quick.
One of your many alias's on social network sites was Carlos P Ram?
You know it was.
You were also Dick Wolf.
I used to correspond regularly with a Dick Wolf on Facebook of all places. Not the best of sites for a psychiatrist to while away time.
What was your handle?
Oh my, now that would be telling. My rules Mr Rancour- this interview is terminated.
A WATERFRONT PROPERTY OVERLOOKING THE RIVER AT PUTNEY
Fuck that was good- the fuck and the repeat fucks. Mark had deliberately given me a shade more than he'd taken. Yes, the trunk of my tree had been shaken by that- fallen leaves littered my bedroom floor; already I was hankering after more: typical of me to tumble headlong into the maelstrom of love so easily- dedication to work, emotional thrift and a desert of people able to lift my spirits might have something to do with it. Grabbing life when you can is far easier said than done but, in the case of this one opportunity, my spontaneity had paid off good and proper. It was 5 am. First light was shrouding him along with grey sheeting. He was snoring sweetly like a baby pig when I got up- my mind flitting between joy and deep anxiety.
I sat on the lounge balcony with a double espresso in black china and water in a black glass; with black leather slippers and a large black velour dressing gown, I must have appeared an essay in black to the early movers on the grey Thames. If only it were that easy- but nothing is conveniently black and white; my white knight sleeping and a blackness seeping into all my pores to utterly defeat all hope of happiness. That spelled complex, very complicated. Dull as ditchwater shit is never brown; it may appear it to the untrained eye but to those who know forensics it is a shimmering rainbow of brightly coloured freebies. I was inwardly smirking at a pet hate- children's TV, Ceebeebies some bright spark without a single pubic hair called it; what a fucking unrestrained rainbow of unmitigated shit that was; pap from their mother's overworked tits replaced by crap from the powerful god-box in the corner of every room. Just like institutional schooling it is an abdication of parental or community responsibility it is, plain as day, child abuse. Send them to school or stick them in front of the TV and you might just as well be regularly using them as sex toys.
Eating away at my joy was this; before Mark had arrived for dinner, I'd ploughed through my archive of emails and made a new file of all the correspondence between myself and a certain Dick Wolf character on the internet- all the emails, the social networking messages and any Skype files. There was no way that any of this was unknown to the police unless there were multiple Dick Wolfs and they were snowed under eliminating those that were not Dogrup Rancour. They could know. They might be biding their time, waiting to see what would happen, wondering which way I would jump. Either way it took me less than twenty minutes of reading to realise that I was caught in the middle of something that I immediately wanted out of. This would be a first- never in the whole of my career had I abandoned a case.
My Dick Wolf was Rancour alright- the family history was barely disguised in the texts and he had drawn me in with a shared love of poetry and a mutual interest in Carl Panzram. When his second marriage reached a low ebb he had started writing me tentative love letters which every month grew more intense and sexually graphic. There was no mistaking what he imagined himself doing with me in virtual reality and there was the very clear intimation that he wanted to transfer these desires to real life. At that suggestion and with the letters reaching ever greater heights of perversity I abandoned the communication. He would still contact me intermittently- obviously something compelled him to but I largely ignored them. In any case, I had just found out that he had been playing the same sordid mind games with another internet friend of mine, a happily heterosexual Irish poet from Dublin. Nobody likes to be two-timed, even by a web troll meddling with insanity.
My mind was made up. I elected to take a shower and then phone in and inform the authorities that I was taking myself off the case- my impartiality was irredeemably compromised and I was quite prepared to proffer up all of the proof. They would still, of course, require some form of interim assessment of Dogrup from me. On that matter I would have to be careful, utterly professional, because I am angry, fucking furious with myself.
Carl Panzram hated labels. Dogrup Rancour hates labels. I loathe them, yet in some shape or form our sexualities share a commonality. Maybe the key is to concentrate not so much on what we are but on all those things that we most definitely are not. When Carl and Dogrup make all that public show and charade of what they are not, my instincts are to suspect that that behaviour is a major clue as to who they actually are.
Last year, [God knows I've struggled] last year I finally and for all time retreated from a transgender programme and accepted myself fully as a homosexual man. A man who is biologically set up to find other men far more sexually attractive to himself than a woman. I would go even further and say- this man, this me, does not have any sexual feelings for the laughably named fair-sex, none whatsoever; does not want to imitate her or adopt her role in society in any shape or form. I was not born to shop, ape motherliness or make a living out of marrying heterosexual men. I was not so on trend as to be a lesbian with balls and a dick. I have had no ambition to bang my head against glass ceilings until they crack. Mass concepts of 'beauty' and 'prettiness' make me want to chuck-up.
What Dogrup Rancour needs, it seems to me, is a reality check and a protective programme of counselling and if the authorities see fit to conduct that 'within the community' rather than in a secure place then so be it. I am not a parliamentarian, I don't make the laws. How is it ever going to become my problem again?
Power showers pretend to have the power to shower away it all, everything that corrupts and appals but they are just part of the countless human devices that promise much yet deliver considerably less. I have worked some cases where it has taken three showers before I felt fresh enough to slip into clean clothes- but then I have worked a few where I have had no other course but to incinerate everything I was wearing including shoes. One cost me my father's Rolex watch- you don't want to check the hour and every time you do be reminded of the worst crime ever, something way beyond the darkest imaginings of the greatest crime writers who are, incidentally, women. Put it this way- since the incident concerned I have been quite unable to look at any pregnant woman anywhere in the world without thinking why the fuck is she pregnant and what in hell is the unfortunate baby intended for?
That is what the various shit scared faiths loathed most about Darwin- his irrefutable evidence that we have evolved not much more than a spit from the jungle however you struggle with that word; urban jungle or third world jungle. Natural selection seems to have neglected to breed out of us shooting ourselves in our feet. Without question, it renders us far less progressive than the HIV virus. Hell, we still have no idea what 85% of our brain mass is intended for.
I open the upper window to let steam escape. It allows noise to enter. The bathroom is by the outside stairwell and I like to hear life come to and fro, I like it every bit as much as the high and low tides of the river. Then I get it- for the first time in my whole career I choose to share my fears with my new partner; I don't even know if he is a partner yet but, inside me, I am instinctively craving clarity and objectivity; no matter how hard you try that is something you never get to grips with on your own. Of course, if he's got any sense, he'll run a mile. With the shower off, I can hear and smell the magic of breakfast so my bet is that he won't. Dressed in a black T and black jogging bottoms I take a deep breath and venture to say good morning.
He says- is there an atheist alternative to that damned word good?
Good start Mark.
Toasted bagels, real butter, Marmite and a ginger preserve. Espresso.
My favourites. How could you possibly have known?
[Together they said.] It was all there was. [They laughed]
Are you always so alive in the morning Mark?
Oh no. I seldom have anything good or godly to celebrate.
I don't understand.
Last night. Last night was grand. Last night was way more than grand.
I knew I'd say too much too soon.
Oh no. Its not that. Fuck! I feel the same way too but..
I knew it.
Isn't there always a but.
Maybe. But this but is so far off your radar you are just not going to believe it. And I'm shit scared it might scupper our chances of taking our relationship further.
What? I mean, what was that word you said?
That's the one. Is that what you think this is- a relationship?
Yes. I thought it might be.
Oh. Well, so do I.
Thank fuck for that.
Well, best we get on with it then. Now what is this little problem of yours? You start telling me and I'll toast some more bagels.
SIX MONTHS LATER IN THE HOME AT PUTNEY
We leave habitually together at 8 am. I am always home first but never by much. I pick up both our mail and leave it on a large glass coffee table by a picture window for later sorting. I like to be in my scruffs to deal with the usual banalities of it. By 'scruffs' I mean clean casual clothes and that always demands that I shower the detritus of my day away. Today I sectioned three people and one will most certainly never see the light of true freedom ever again. The others were friends of sorts, thrown on the scrap heap, sex slaves of eastern European origin, certain they were possessed by demons and driven to do unspeakable things by the voices in their heads. Both coke users, tested HIV positive and had been caught stealing wallets in Oxford Street. As yet the 'unspeakable things' can only be seen as alleged because no-one has been able to decipher their many confessions. Give them chalk and a board and they instantly draw priests copulating with boys and the Pope blessing their fun. All very lack lustre yet they could be hiding truly vile crimes. We shall see. Evidence of pregnancy but the denial of the existence of babies was a great cause of worry.
In a hurry I neglected to open the top bathroom window. My total senses were quickly enthralled by a warm monsoon- stupid really, such an excess of steam has always distracted me, in fact irritated me. The mood forced me to rush, quite the opposite of what I'd intended. I was almost at the end of the final edit on my book 'The Panzram Papers'- one more session and it would all be behind me. There were some things that just screamed to be finished.
I opened the post wrapped in soft towelling warmed by radiators. Rubbish. Rubbish. Fuck! The finishing post to my book was staring me starkly in the face and here was an official letter concerning Dogrup Rancour aka Dick Wolf and who knows who else. The gist was simple- he had been finally transferred to an open care-in-the community care house in Camden Locks. Electronic tagging had been deemed inappropriate although he was subject to curfews. The transfer had taken place fourteen days previous and the process of re-settlement had gone smoothly. I was to report any contact with him however brief. Shit! Did the bastard ever have access to my private address? Think.
Where was Mark?
Did the same fuck-up staff who told him I shared a similar interest in Carl Panzram give him anymore nuggets- a vicinity, anything? Think.
I speed dressed into white jogging bottoms and a white T. Catching sight of myself in a mirror, I looked like death, breathless, cooking up a panic attack. Where was Mark? Phone Mark?
Straight to answerphone. Mark, where are you?
Then the doorbell rang.
Mark! You idiot! Why are you always losing your keys.
Relieved, I opened the door. There was Dogrup Rancour- soft, scrubbed up, sweet as a lamb. Not something to immediately scream at.
Pushing me in gently and quietly closing and locking the door behind him, he said- I think you and me should talk ladyboy. We've got a fucking lot of left over fat to chew.
Ever the professional, I knew straightaway I was a dead man or something far worse; besides, Mark, the man I loved, was well overdue. And, even though I had never in my whole life believed a word of it, I found myself saying to myself- there is hope, ye dope among so many countless dopes there is still fucking hope. The Gods of all the faiths say so, and they never ever lie, they never ever let so much as one of us down do they mama? Mama?
Dogrup said that if I made any sound whatsoever or spoke without being spoken to that he would shoot me between the eyes: he showed me what I took to be a real gun with a silencer fitted. I believed him. He was power-tripping in the skin of Panzram. It was a bite from history. [Please. Please don't bite me.]
How is the book coming on, he asked, ripping out the phone-lines and slipping my mobile into a bowl full of washing-up water. Must be finished by now.
Oh it is, bar the very last bit of the final edit.
He took me into the bedroom I shared with my lover and enquired, where do you keep your sex toys, the lube, that kind of thing. They were not well hidden and when he'd made a selection he took me back to the lounge.
Get undressed, he told me. In the long run, compliance buys time, so there was no argument.
If you had tits, he said, I might even say you were pretty. But don't you get carried away, I ain't going to suck your dick even though it does look like a nipple in its present state. [The fear was working then- no danger of me belittling him in these circumstances.] Out of his bag he pulled knives and laid them on the glass coffee table.
The scar tissue on my cock, he said, gives me an L-shaped stiffie, impossible to shag or wank with. This magic mushroom in my head, my black truffle- well, give us a month or less and I'll be dead. You can see my position. You've got to respect a dying man's last wishes. Do you hear me?
Well I haven't climaxed in over a year? I figure that with a bit of prostrate massage from the inside you can put that sorry position right for me.
You want me to fuck you?
No you cunt, I want you to fuck me with this. [He was waving a large but pliable black dildo]. How many fucking times do I have to tell you that I'm not a queer. BUT, not being a queer does not mean that I am required to be a stranger to the pleasures that you gays fucking get to enjoy. Why should you have all the fun. Look at this, [He took off his clothes and he was hairless.] I even got it tattooed on my chest 'I AM NOT A HOMOSEXUAL'. Now, fucking lube me up and shag the living daylights out of me. I think given the circumstances its the very least you can do.
Do I have a choice? He waved the gun at me by way of answer.
Gun in hand he bent over the glass coffee table. He was licking his knives before whispering 'begin'.
I did what I had to do. And it was practiced and deep and repeated and eventually Rancour came like a train- his climactic spunk flowing across the sharp blades he had laid out on the table like blobs of wallpaper paste. He was breathless with joy and pain and sheer exertion and he was crying real tears. But the tears did not tally with his sudden sneering.
The real climax was yet to come.
Hey you British poof, he leered at me, drunk on endorphins, ever been an active party to a patient's suicide by psychiatrist. He picked up the cum smeared knifes and started slashing violently at his own neck; he head-butted the glass table shattering it; he thrust his head and neck through the picture window and rolled his vulnerable flesh around the great shards of glass until he could move no more.
I have never screamed so loudly in all my life.
In an upmarket residential area of Putney London, cascading glass followed by screams like that invariably work better than dialling the emergency services.
TWO YEARS LATER IN A PRIVATE MENTAL FACILITY IN GUILDFORD UK
You have a visitor.
It's Mark, you know Mark?
Who are you?
Sweetheart its Mark, your boyfriend.
Always late Mark?
Always loses his keys Mark?
What have you been up to.
Yes. Its a very very big book. Look- hundreds of volumes.
The room contained approximately 30 orange shelves the majority of which were stuffed with shining black notebooks, all of them used, every page covered.
Can I see your latest addition?
Of course- here it is. New. Different.
Mark opened up the notebook and, as always on these occasions, his heart sank a little; there it was again, the very same phrase repeated over and over, exactly the same as in all the hundreds of other notebooks, in capitals:-
'I wrote the book 'The Panzram Papers' and it took bites out of me.'
Excellent, Mark said, would you like some tea.
Yes I would. Yes I jolly well would. Who did you say you were?
Mark went to the multi-dispenser and began the often repeated process.
The nurse/carer came to him and offered him some assistance saying- much more of this sort of thing and people will be calling you a saint.
Mark let out a great sigh, a combination of relief and irritation. Then he replied- I have no truck with saints and, even if I did, I would fall way short of qualifying; ha, like most of them did probably. Everything about mankind is a scam. And 'this sort of thing' as you put it, the weekly visits, they've got to come to an end. In fact this will be the last one. My last one ever. You see, life is never as the eternally happy-clappy and as all the deluded would want it to be- a thornless bed of sweet smelling roses. It is a sewerage plant, a shit processing farm attempting to divest our miserable inventions of lives of all the necessary natural harm. Besides, I'm cheating on him. Fucking cheating as life bids us to. And, fed up with lying through my teeth, I'm moving on. Not that he will ever know any different.
Yes, right. That is the bare bones right of it. We should have a lot more of that in my opinion. And, for good measure, your boss has been informed; and I have no doubt whatsoever that I'll be replaced soon enough by an equal stranger, a sincere volunteer, some deluded evangelist believing that they have God on their side and that prayer works miracles. The system talks about empathy but they won't be gay. There's no money worries here, the tax-payer is paying the bill.
The Unites States of America executed Carl Panzram by public hanging. It was his passionately, often spoken of, wish. The man loathed with venomous hatred every word of 'the too much too late', hideously righteous and indulgent campaign to have his chosen punishment reduced to life imprisonment. On more than a few occasions he'd spat in great arcs of spittle in the faces of all those who suggested it- the 'Godly' ones come to gawp at the monster with a limp; the awesome creature that their poisonous 'goodness' had created. He knew death intimately. Death was his university and his master's degree.
Death was his only constant friend. In the end-game, Death and him, they did whatever they did with each other by mutual consent. Romantics would write that they dated for a while before finally giving out.
A LAST LETTER FROM LYNDHURST
New Forest ferns glazed by New Forest rain, lit ginger and steaming in a rush of late January sun. A small boy spilling from the green bus, I’d breathe in deep this natural familiarity, hold tight to a navy blue gloved hand and wait to cross the main road to a safer haven.
Lyndhurst- the blacked out by war village, with recent living memories of Southampton under fire. The skies crowned by flame. The hot bricks on the dockside screaming.
And near, this was. So near the fear was vivid.
Now driven by peace to dead normality, its Game Butchers dressed with pheasant and hare, blaze with blood and lights. The saddlers bright as polished conkers.
Familiar sounding soft tracks underfoot, a meld of New Forest mast and mulch that hushes the crunch of ancient gravel. And there, amongst the trees, a chucked up, gravel coated house, detached and friendless, moated by lawns and picket fencing. Jane’s new place. Her spoils.
We’re at the longest hour of careless scones and jam tarts.
My quiet Welsh mother visiting her loud Welsh friend at friendships end. All the shared memories of war too sticky to escape, they decide. Too tricky to sidestep.
Reconciliation out of the question. Broad backed smiles masking bitter tears.
The mocking house a victory for self promotion. A grave place.
The building of it all begun before I was born.
Early August. The sun a piper leading all of the southern counties a dance.
Two school age children at play in allotments. Marion in short sleeves and a flowered pinafore, at a gate with dry washing and a newly delivered letter, the postman whistling further west. A love letter, or at least, what would pass as one.
At a pinch.
The terraced neighbours nosy, too knowing, English, too eager to be read to. News see. But the privacy of it would not be shared. Marion swiftly slipping from sunlight into shadow, shifting from one sensibility to another, planning tea for only one.
Inside her own terrace the treasures singing. Sacred spaces, buffed and spotless. A cave of bleached bedding and lavendered wood. The radio off.
The war newly waned.
In deep shade and quiet, she’s letting things brew.
The small but potent envelope waiting to be opened.
She stirs her tea. Sips.
And then attacks. The ripping of the paper loud as gossip.
‘My dearest Doll….’ The pet name more powerful now than head pain. The heart glowing. The tear ducts near to overflowing.
Sudden, sharp focussed remembrances of love making with the light off, muscle to velvet in silence and dark. Finding pleasure hard to take.
In tear soaked, emotional fingers the lovelorn note reduced to a rag.
The gist of it being he’d be home tomorrow. Da. Gone again come Monday. Hardly time to kiss the children. No wounds to talk of, but less than half a husband on account of the war.
A husband’s fighting for Queen and Country happening differently from most. His particular mining skills weighing in at a higher premium than the mere spilling of foreign lives in foreign killing fields. He was bussed to the midlands to make mining coal safe in the hands of conscientious objectors.
No romance there.
No cap and badge. No uniform. No wings. Just toil.
The long days darker than the shorter nights. No manly moments empowered by savagery. No joy to mention.
His Welsh letters home, blunt and bloodless.
Doll broody and now excited, in spite of everything.
She shares the good news with Jane. A friend.
Jane next door- the local whore.
‘You’ll be sorted girl. I fancy. Good and proper. Come tomorrow night he’ll have those eyes alight like it was Christmas. Dick isn’t it? That’s Dick by name and Dick by nature- put my life on it.’
Marion, taken aback ‘Well. It has been six months.’
‘There’s eager. Don’t expect he’ll be sleeping much. You got nylons love? I’m groaning in them as you know. You only got to ask.’
Marion, demure ‘I don’t think so. But thanks. Fresh cotton, that’s more us.’
Back on her own patch, Marion holding tight to her understanding that simple pleasures deliver the most satisfaction. You could ache for complication and be tortured by the consequences. You could dream of sophistication and die of fright in your sleep. Simple pleasures. Anything manageable. That was the company she intended to keep. He’d ease himself inside her and she’d steal his seed.
Plain and simple.
All night she lay awake- made party to the sex action beyond the party wall.
Jane’s husband still stuck in Dieppe, up to his neck in soiled bandages, none the wiser. And, in any case, said to be of the opinion that things will happen as collateral to war, that there’s no escaping the inevitable breaking down of law and order. That it’s everyone for themselves and no mistake.
There was no mistaking the animal noises emanating from next door.
Marion had counted three male voices. American accents, no surprise there. There were American service men based not far from Ringwood.
Jane always said she wanted jam on her chocolate. She was succeeding. Jane was getting chocolate on her jam. How entrepreneurial was she? Jane was making a tidy and substantial profit out of a conflict that had already brought the mighty Bank Of England to the brink of ruin.
America, like some reluctant lover, finally coming to the rescue.
Besides, what do three men get to do with one woman?
Marion listened out for clues in the whole cacophony of slap and tickle but slipped into deep sleep the matter unresolved. And in her lonely sleep she dreamed the sexually unimaginable. And in her dreams she finally let loose and reached an understanding. There’s reproduction. And then there’s sexual eruption. There’s anything to trigger this profound shuddering. This bliss. The sound of suppressed screaming. The outpouring. The men spent and the woman solvent.
She understood it but knew that she could never do it.
The homecoming daylight cruel to her semi-nudity.
The mirror kinder, reflecting her dead mother. Skin like ivory. Eyes of coal.
The hair brush fierce through her sleep filled hair.
She’d be the gwraig ty, the wife and mother.
She’d oil the workings of his primitive machine with shepherd’s pie, rice pudding and damson wine. She’d stain her lips with strawberries and offer up no sign of protest.
The sound of Jane re-energised, off early on her pilfered bike. Thighs lively. Panniers and basket full to bursting. A black market beckoning. Her ill gotten cornucopia certain to dissolve into cash.
Bricks and mortar, that’s what she was really after.
‘You heard me right the first time darlin’ girl. I’ve been on my back so bleedin’ much I reckon I deserve a house, post war, nothing chucked up. Nothing prefabricated. No way. I’ve set me heart on a brick built bugger, see. A real house with no attachments.’
‘What does John say?’
‘Oh. You know my old man. A canny bitch, that’s what he calls me. We got plans though. Have you got plans?’
‘No. Well, we didn’t think, what with the war. The uncertainty.’
‘There, see. You watch me. You’ll be visiting me in five years time, jealous as hell.’
Dick’s hair was thinning so he’d taken to caps, flat caps. This tweed one still in place as he delights his offspring with newness and whole chunks of a shared past fondly recalled. The huggy man returned. The tickly man revisiting. The man who reads a worn book well, before he tucks you in. The thin man rolling thin cigarettes. The man who smells of tar and brilliantine and strangeness. The man from some strange town afar. The Da.
‘We love you Da.’
Da with the coal bits swimming like tadpoles inside him- in thin arms; on knotted hands; there, at the side of his head.
Da with the fingers to animate your spine.
Da with a voice to sail a Welsh hymn upon.
His Marion just now warming to the way he steals her space.
His Doll still coy at the way he steals a look at her- cotton fresh, violet breath, a mother’s eyes with lover’s lashes. Breasts like plumped pillows.
Large eyes with heavy lids, his futures tiring and retiring up the wooden hill.
His naked body bright in the tin bath. Her hands a cure for all things wrecked and overstretched. The towels vast. Harsh and warm. His nightshirt cool and striped like candy, ‘I’ve missed you.’
‘Oh. Me too.’
‘I’ve missed your breathing when the nightmares break.’
‘I’ve missed your strength. Such strength in one so small.’
‘You know. You know.’
‘Oh Doll, what is to become of us?’
Dark in the bedroom. The gloom like raw silk dyed a purple first, then black. The softness of it like a secret, loosed and fondling. His body awkward, geared to bite, goes licking first, then kissing every bit that he’s been missing- lips, lips, tits and nipples. She starts arching as his thumb meddles, mingles, menaces. And then she’s on him like he’s never known. The outline of her lighting up as her hips bear down. His gasp a sound she’d only dreamed. The gasp a found thing caught and cared for like a broken bird. His bull’s blood now too rigid to be lost. Flying they are. He meets her every rhythm with a crunch of pubic bone. The white stuff coming. Thrilling. Spitting. Hitting home.
And in the otherworldly aftermath a trace of Welsh laughter.
Her hand at his soft and hard parts, wondering and wandering.
Never was it ever this.
And then, again. Seconds. On a mission. He’s at her once more, like a gentle Saint. Ordinary and wonderful. Complete.
She says she felt me be within the hour. Within the hour. And I believe her. Within the hour my whole division’s up and on the march, and there’s nature’s birth angels waiting in the wings to guarantee the spark. The womb of choice trembling.
The silky wetness of her holistic bulb being triggered, undamaged and nurturing.
Then, also within the hour, he floods the room with unromantic light. Richard giving her a wrapped box the size of his second case. A surprise gift in brown paper, plain and simple.
‘I hope you like it.’
It’s a gift she’ll hate. Oh Da.
‘What is it?’
‘Open it and see.’
The complete tea set was not at all to her liking. Not the shape. Not the colour. Not the pattern. Never in the history of things that somehow pass between husbands and wives was there anything more inappropriate. It was not a thing of beauty. It would grace nowhere. And it was, by any measure, not a ring or anything that might be construed as personal, intimate, for her eyes only. It was immediately unwanted and no more referred to until the hour following his departure whereupon Marion let fly. Each sorry piece being shied at the backyard wall until the box was empty. The resulting detritus being straight away returned to the box, and the box being finally consigned to the morning’s dustcart.
It was good riddance to bad rubbish and nothing more was to be said about it ever. Not a peep.
All the neighbours tight lipped.
But Jane, curious ‘How was it?’
Marion caught organising the abused dustbin, ‘Oh. You know.’
‘Well. Did he give you anything?’
‘No! How can you be sure.’
‘Did he give you anything else?’
‘Men! What do they know? For years I’ve wanted my gwr, my old man to bring me home a tea set. Proper china- you know the sort of thing, dinky.
‘Yellow roses on a white background. A flash of gold. Eighteen carat.’
Marion making her excuses, ‘Got to go. I got sheets on the boil.’
‘You lucky mare. I said he would didn’t I. Lit you up like Christmas lights I bet.’
She was. He did. But she wasn’t letting slip the details.
Tuesday. 8pm. The kids abed but restless.
Marion in a brown dressing gown and rag rollers, her head an explosion of unmatched bits. Feet in big slippers with zips and pom poms. She’s curled like a cat in the pool of a side lamp, reading. It’s a newspaper from up north, something to shed a little light on elsewhere. Dandelion soup and a dried egg recipe for caraway cake. Sale items. Missing persons. An arms factory setting up to manufacture cars.
The kind of quiet no-one trusts.
Then sudden loud knocking at the front door. Twice. Crisp knocks with muffled voices.
She rushes to the bottom of the stairs. Children at the top, awake and curious. With one gesture she bids them stay and be quiet. They sit.
A third knock, ringing with insistence.
A final gesture and she’s off, automatically moistening her lips and grooming her eyebrows. Two bolts and a key.
Four American men, all swank and thank you mam. They smile ear to ear with big teeth. Four hats leaving full heads of hair in some attempt at manners. She is almost smiling back and knows at once that she is blushing.
‘Good evening mam. We’re the party.’
‘Hell! Well, you sure do look like you forgot.’
Marion more self conscious than she can ever remember being, ‘You’ve got the wrong door.’
‘Is that so little missy?’
‘Yes. Try the next left.’
‘You sure are cute though.’ Accompanied by sounds of collective approval.
‘I’m going to close this door now. I have children inside.’
‘Little lady you could have me inside and a lot more besides. We got chocolate. We got nylons. We got condoms. We got jam.’
She slams the door so hard it shudders. Bolts top and bottom, loud as gunshots. Turns the key like a bayonet on breastbone.
Then through the letter box, chanting, taunting, ‘We know where you live. We know where you live.’
Marion, a worried back stiff against the door, breathless. Children at the foot of the stairs. They run to her shaking legs like anticipating dogs.
‘Well?’ Her hands in their puppy hair, firm, caring.
‘Did you get the chocolate ma?’
‘No, sweethearts. No. Mummy didn’t get the chocolate.’
Clean sheets on the marital bed. Marion has her husband’s soiled vest to bury her face in. Almost midnight and it is business as usual- music and mayhem seeping through the adjoining wall. God alive! Skin on skin times five.
I want her to sleep for the sake of my foetal development, but she can’t. She resorts to remembrance.
His body awkward, geared to bite, goes licking first then kissing every bit that he’s been missing- lips, lips, tits and nipples. She starts arching as his thumb meddles, mingles, menaces. And then she’s on him like he’s never known. The outline of her lighting up as her hips bear down. His gasp a sound she’d only dreamed. The gasp a found thing caught and cared for like a broken bird. His bull’s blood too rigid to be lost.
And what it was to give birth. Duw, Duw!
This same room, in her history’s small hours filled up with doctor and midwife. A mixture of wood polish and disinfectant and pipe tobacco. The hedge proof jacket moist with night rain and perspiration. The pocket watch and chain a constellation of refracting stars. Hope at the crossroads of life, death, love and hate. Nowhere to run to. Breaths short and shortening. No mam to cling to. No lucky cat. No man to shy expletives at. A small mixed choir of pain. The basses cruel and the sopranos merciless. No God now but the need to push. The almighty need to push. The unbelievable need to push.
And then, what it was, with stitches in, to bury someone small.
The ivy glossy green on the cemetery wall.
Richard’s pit worn hands cupping her tear speckled cheeks.
His valley kisses pure and cleansing like the summer rills of childhood.
A scream then. High pitched. Lowering. Long as a howl.
In a sudden, the party hushed like a snuffed candle. Jane’s alto keening coming through the wall. A mournful song. Her sad complaint.
Eight feet on the stairs. The big door open and shut. The running sounds diminishing. Distance swallowing the empty men up.
Marion tasting ghost chocolate, then drifting into troubled sleep.
The next day, early, summer fertile with delight, her children racing in from the backyard, mischief and curiosity animating their faces.
‘Look. Quick. Come. See.’ they yell.
‘Oh, I will. I will you bright, rapscallion pair.’
‘Mummy. Mummy. Follow me.’
The yard is where the clothes lines hang. An arrangement not unlike a guitar, its strings taut between porch and outhouse. And if the wind blows right the whole thing sings, a little bit eerie, a little bit wild.
The yard is where the children track down fun and wonder.
The living breath knocked out of her. Hands suddenly disabled, flapping, fumbling for bucket and cloth. Finally screeching like some deranged elfin creature, sending the confused offspring in, on the instant.
What to do?
What to do with six used condoms pegged to the wires? Big. Translucent. Wrinkled. All the knob ends full. American spawn like over boiled oat meal, grey and glutinous and loud with over kill.
Six spoons full?
Six wet exclamation marks.
Bad marks. Bad marks exclaiming her good reluctance. Hot and hostile retorts. A careless punishment. A violation in the slough of war.
Damaged Jane moved house before I was born, left to her dream without attachments. Something I would later find was chucked up and gravelled over.
I was four before we really met.
In black, head to toe, she visited our terrace. A lady bluebottle fly. Stayed in the rarely used front room. The fire there lit especially. Tea and sympathy it was. Fat slices of seed cake and thin explanations.
She had the look of someone suddenly aged, the look of someone robbed of treasure. John had gone, in a matter of days. A bleed in the brain the size of a florin. No chance of another husband half as obliging.
What to do?
Marion enquiring, ‘Have you made any friends in Lyndhurst.’
‘Only the thought of you being so isolated..’
‘Yes. And no family to speak of. What of it?’
‘..well. It wouldn’t suit me.’
‘I have clients, as you know.’
‘Yes. No. I never assumed.’
‘Less than I’d like.’
‘It’s hard to make a proper friend of a client.’
‘I see. Maybe I could visit.’
‘Give me some time. Then you bring your youngest. He looks like he might like a bit of chocolate.’
That winter, the weather unseasonably mild, my brain and bones advancing at an astonishing rate to the very large age of five, a letter arrived bearing a Lyndhurst postmark. It precipitated a white knuckle ride on a green double decker through the lungs of the forest, like I’ve already said. To..
Familiar sounding soft tracks underfoot, a meld of New Forest mast and mulch that hushes the crunch of ancient gravel. And there, amongst the trees, a chucked up, gravel coated house, detached and friendless, moated by lawns and picket fencing. Jane’s new place. Her spoils.
We’re at the longest hour of careless scones and jam tarts.
They talked disease in the breasts and uneasy tests. Incurable. The word repeated and cried through- incurable.
Jane, cowed by her sexual history, certain she was done for. And she railed unreasonably at my mother for what she saw as piety. Why? Because she had a family. Because she had me. The two of them alternating bitter tears and schoolgirl tantrums with strained laughter and surreal calm.
Jane gave me broken chocolate. Old chocolate. Chocolate from America. Sent me out in the garden. I wasn’t hungry.
Instead I watched them spar through a sparkling French window. Circumstantial friends at the end of an ailing friendship, sipping tea out of white china, thick with painted roses- yellow with a splash of gold. Welsh ducks dancing lightly. Easing out the many woven threads. Undoing the doomed entanglement.
Jane strange, and visibly depleting.
Jane crying once more. Isolated and unstoppable.
Then, Jane suddenly shying her brittle tea cup at the window wall. My blue eyes dodging tea cup shards as sharp as splintered glass.
And in the following stillness, the smashed cup silence, charged with pain and pointlessness, I swear I could see the angel of death kissing Jane’s cheek. He was stealing her scent. He was sampling her breath.
And on the miserable ride home, the evening sky dull and overcast, I finally squeezed the navy blue glove to find an answer. She knew before I asked, ‘Did you see him mum?’
‘Oh yes. Yes.’
‘And will she..?’
‘Yes. Oh yes.’
‘And how will we really know?’
‘There’ll be a last letter from Lyndhurst.’
AN ESSAY IN RED MIST
She had him where she’d always planned to have him- stark naked, utterly vulnerable, on the brink of a coma. Men were easy prey though the disappointments of the hunt could be cleverly compensated for if you knew how. Val’s skills were well honed, as adept at making perfect sushi as seducing cutting-edge art from living flesh.
There would be no mistakes. She never made mistakes. Every machine and instrument of necessity was in its place.
The place in Dulwich London UK is extraordinary- an inherited Edwardian pile, cuboid with deep dry basements lit by stunning light wells. On this under level she has her photo lab and a computer room, a prison and an operating theatre. Immediately above there are studios. Higher still there are en-suite bedrooms. In the attics are artist’s garrets fit for poets or whores.
Val is a successful photographer, voyeur and entrepreneur- she is never short of cash. As an artist she is never short of subjects- the river Thames draws them like crane flies to bright lights, they drink too much and she becomes their guiding angel.
She preserves their cocks in formaldehyde in glass jars in her walk-in safe- that is her holy of holies. She may not be the most beautiful of bitches but she has a fabulous collection of dick- what riveting memories.
The next is on the runway. No need to glove up, there will be no detectable forensic traces.
Val’s large operating theatre is stark- light-proof, sound-proof; floors walls and ceiling carpeted in mid-blue tufted Wilton, a cocoon of considerable comfort. Suspended at its centre is an inner room, a bubble of heavy duty see-thru plastic with a slight tint of blue and this brilliant facility is well lit and equipped with everything- adaptable table, machines, a gleaming array of precision instruments. If he or any of the victims should ever wake up mid-procedure they would think that they had drowned. To that end she played whale music throughout.
Val had swum with dolphins and survived a shark attack. Without her clothes this was all too plain.
She always sat on their faces first. No exception today- except she’d pulled his tongue out and clamped it tight between his teeth. His beard and hers comingling adequately as her cunt wept tears. His chest hair made a path of glory past his button hole and to his groin. Gingers were her best, her most favourite. His was a freckled cock. She got the cameras firing in sequences of bursts of ten.
Flaccid dicks like this- they always needed injecting.
Big boy, big boy, she chanted, please don’t let me down.
Big boy was fat, five inches, a bell end like a fly algaric mushroom- spotted with infection. She screamed. Saw the pustules creaming live excrescences. Cut the fucking sea music.
In psychotic rage and dumb silence she decided only wire brushes would do, electric driven wire brushes. Brush every single spoiled thing away.
She whispered in his freckled ear- you might still be alive sunshine but hear this, I fucking loathe you for ruining my day and boy am I going to make you pay.
In the bath at last Val tuned to Local Radio- nobody reported lost as yet.
She cast her mind over the latest photographs- an essay in red mist of a someone who no longer exists. She took a new nylon nailbrush to her fingertips and scrubbed absentmindedly until they began to bleed.
All that effort and nothing to show for it. And her phobia for doctors up and walking the dark corridors of her mind- making her fart underwater and follow through. Everyone is shit scared of something.
No snow. Hobb House, Llandeilo, Carmarthen, coldly announces itself with calculated understatement.
No name. No number. No point.
Its overbearing being everything, it is an abiding presence- the power manifest in a multiplicity of frosted roofs and wind-swept chimneys. After the cattle grid, the half mile approach draws its crescent on landscaped acres with poplars at the carriageway edge, trees grown into sentinels, always tall and always at attention. The mid-winter light here low and sliced as if by a giant mandolin.
Hot foot from the M4, a stretched BMW has the returning master suitably cosseted. It might as well have been a hearse, stuffed with floristry, so certain was it in his troubled mind that he would never have the need to travel in it again.
Home at last.
No sign of Christmas, none whatsoever. By his design.
And in this home, his hard seat in Wales, he senses no charity. By design.
In a salubrious suburb, its pavements littered by fallen leaves. No litter to speak of.
The windows of detached houses lit by white tree lights. Nothing flash. Nothing flashing. Nothing vulgar.
An argument persists.
There is almost always one in this street. Couples mostly. Doing well. This is December, consumer hell.
She is at him in the Shaker kitchen diner. Her car keys close to gouging his handsome eyes out.
‘Don’t come then. Don’t. Well, I might not be back before Christmas Eve. Maybe I’ll need to stay ‘till the New year. How the hell do I know before I get there?’
He doesn’t respond quickly enough.
‘Oh. I get it. You’re glad you are. Aren’t you? You are fucking glad! Christ almighty! She’s had a heart attack she has, and you’ve spotted an opportunity. You bastard. Have you no imagination? And do they know that at the BBC?’
‘She’s had six foot firemen, paramedics and a crash team, filling her damaged little flat in Cardiff. Allsorts they were. The police! She must have been frightened. Terrified.’
‘Imagine the pain when your heart crashes?’
She goes to look at the view above the sink and drainer. A hard, low maintenance garden, full of planters, a pond and a pergola. Something her mother had lovingly designed. Yellows with red hot flashes at the height of summer. A colour bite taken from snapshots of a holiday in the Dominican Republic. Bare now, save for some evergreenery.
She turns on him again. ‘I imagined, in here, in my imagination, I might be in need of your support. It’s what wives expect in a crisis. But, as usual, I go to the cupboard of our mutual admiration and find the shelves bare. There’s nothing there for me Ben. When did you last consider doing some emotional shopping for us?’
‘We need time, Ben. We need playtime. We need comforting.’
Even more silence.
‘Are you struck dumb by this or what? You were never close I know, but this takes some beating. Or has the cat got your lying tongue?’
Then she screams at him, ‘We need fucking sex we do. I do! Oh! Fuck you! You’re screwing me, one way or the other, Ben Howard, and it’s not in a nice way.’
Ben, ever the professional actor, calm but pointed, breaks his silence ‘Angie, this is not about us. This is about your mother.’
‘You’ll take your mobile- and the charger?’
‘Right. Where are you going?’
Then Ben finishes with, ‘I’ll make sure the house is secure. Switch off the tree lights, that sort of thing. You drive safely on the M4 now. I’ll call you.’
Angie says nothing. Reaches for her Burberry bags, then leaves.
Ben waits for the sound of her Fiat negotiating the street, hears the anger fuelled acceleration, then immediately reaches for his mobile.
It’s set for voice commands.
He shouts at it- ‘Petra. Petra.’ A broad smile lighting on his face as the dialling dances in his ear.
Disappointment wipes away his smile as the connection switches to an answer service. ‘Shit!’
He’ll go anyway.
Chelsea, a semi-precious stone’s throw away from some of the best shopping in the world. An average white fronted terrace with small walled garden and no parking place will set you back a tidy sum. The real estate value of a whole street could put a considerable dent in third world debt.
Chic. Discreet. Vulnerable.
Petra Hobb is in the spa bathroom of her father’s London guest house, the much larger Victorian property in Knightsbridge being subject to extensive renovations. She is scrubbing away the afternoon’s dalliance with a lesbian acquaintance. The cleansing over rough. Punishing. Obsessive.
It’s not the first time her bi-curiosity has got the better of her. Now she feels regret, post-masturbational regret. And she believes she reeks of strawberry scented rubber and fresh sardines.
Her vagina still singing cracked lullabies.
Her fingers still tingling with memories of that cervical caress.
Time, constant hot water and cologne, are on her side. Ben’s journey rarely taking under three hours. Besides, the visit was only half promised.
Forced spontaneity. Things grabbed in a crisis.
She thought, that is my life in a nutshell.
In the sitting room her blue jeans and blue cashmere top disturb the glamorous uniformity of flesh coloured walls, carpet and sofas. The bland European theme continuing with the occasional furniture and the fireplace being pale elm, the lighting integral and dimmed. The four heavy gilt framed pictures offering peach and café latte toned views of something else they owned somewhere in Provence.
She puts the Chinese lacquered box on a glass topped coffee table. The intention in that small act sending her mind immediately elsewhere.
She’d shared the last packet with no-one. Had too much. She’d woken up in custody, backwash vomit having dried to a crust in her much abused nose.
Daddy had the slate swiped clean. The powerful daddy that is, not the flawed daddy. Not the daddy still gripped by grief for her long dead mother, scared to fucking death he’s losing touch, gambling too much.
And now the drugs box is empty save for dregs and the platinum essentials.
She wets her forefinger, runs it around the inside of the box, then returns it to her lips, remembering the girl’s insistent kissing, how it made her thrill, almost as much as snorting cocaine.
She feels the addict’s need attack her, take her swiftly by the throat and squeeze real tears from her sleep starved eyes. Ben will have a new supply, she tells herself, here soon if the M4 behaves.
He’d promised her a white Christmas, coke fuelled.
Elsewhere, Henry Hobb positioned his leather desk chair in such a way that he supposed there would be no contamination of his treasured first editions.
The large, floor to ceiling, French windows seemed accommodating enough. He drew the heavy moss green curtains back as far as they would go. The extra light immediately exposing the surprised spines of great literature.
In the middle distance there was a gardener still at work, thinning the fallen oak mast to let the coming crocuses breathe. He instantly recalled an early photograph of Petra sat there, amongst the spring blooms. Her face alive with simply being so young. She would have been four or thereabouts. Ten years before her mother was taken from them.
He could feel his dead wife’s ghostly censure on him.
Janet would never have buckled. Janet would always have struggled on. She had said as much to her weakening bones and diseased blood but they some of the few things in her foreshortened life that never listened.
He wouldn’t listen either. He’d decided.
The swivel chair inviting him to be final, to lay all troubling things to rest.
There it shone, like Satan’s grin, plumb in the middle of his tidied desk, the chosen instrument. Small. Metallic black. A phallic virgin.
Time to pick him up. Time to bang out a sexy tune to shatter the quiet.
If you’ve seen one Intensive Care Unit you’ve seen them all.
Angie had seen her share.
You bury one parent, then care part-time for the other and that ambience, never really captured by films or the TV, presses your buttons like nothing else.
The fear button. The boredom button. The button of disgust.
Angie sat in the hospital café idly stirring her tea in some symbolic reflection of the way she could feel her life being stirred, slow, deliberate, until all traces of sweetness in it had been dissolved.
She’d given Ben a stir, as if it ever made any difference.
She’d always known there would have to be sacrifices. No-one marries a leading light in the Royal Shakespeare Company without anticipating having to make sacrifices.
Charismatic, perpetually handsome, he was a constant target.
Listen to me, she’s telling herself, where’s your confidence gone, you sad cow. It was you targeting him with a vengeance, you scoring a bull’s-eye on three consecutive dates, you getting him to swear oaths before God, family, friends, enemies and the media.
She bit deep into the brittle biscotti. The bastard.
The look on her mother’s face. Pain and confusion leeching it of colour. The eyes, dimmed by an opiate, still managing to plead at her daughter- her only child, from the far side of the chemical den where wraiths swim wildly.
Death seeming hungry for her last morsel from the feast of life.
It’s this memory jolting Angie into uncoordinated life, making her career through tables and chairs, driven by guilt and the suspicion that time may have cheated her. She moves into a run, choosing stairs instead of lifts.
Pairs of people parting at her obvious panic.
Less than sensible shoes threatening to turn an ankle.
In her heart she’s already screaming louder than she’s ever screamed, ‘Mummy!’
Then, near the ICU, she experiences the slow motion of a world in crisis. All the sounds made baritone and bass. She’s swimming in a sea of gel. Hell already at her mother’s bruised breast with new paddles and a large syringe.
Breasts where she had been suckled after birth. Where she had often slept. Where she had wept too often, when her own heart had been broken.
A brief moment then, like the time between spotting a basking butterfly and its erratic flight to freedom.
Time when you won’t believe your own eyes. The green line staying straight and never wavering. The blip not blipping. And the alarm piercing, begging to be switched off.
Switch. Then resignation.
The crash team’s bodies speaking in silence the language of defeat.
Angie breaking through the mire of her disbelief, being shrill, ‘Mummy!’ Then crashing backwards into childhood mumbling, ‘No. Don’t go. Don’t you dare leave me. Don’t you know? Mummies never go, Mam. No. Not ever.’
Angie closing her weary eyes to the wretched poster of Santa being jolly above the green metal death bed.
Ben as ever addicted to Radio Three- classical music and the arts, has the cabin of his Jaguar filled with carols. Melodious stereo, loud and expensively magnificent. Every now and then he’s been joining in, mindlessly singing phrases like ‘In the bleak mid-winter..’ and ‘In heaven the bells are ringing..’. It’s hell’s bells he told himself. It’s always been hells bells.
He shrugged. Mulled it through. Then decided, pleased with himself, that heaven and hell must be, predictably, one and the same.
He was not going to mock any further- it was, after all, a school nativity play that had set him on the long road to where he was now. I was a pernickety Joseph, he remembered, demanding both a hammer and a saw to hang from a heavy leather belt. And I cried and cried until they got my whiskers right.
Where the M25 gyratory makes love to the M4 motorway is where he is now, clean shaven, all tooled up for an evening of rich totty. Petra goes the final mile more than most. Just the thought of her cunt’s moistness and warmth making him twitch, rectal flex.
The traffic slowing, tail lights thickening, forming a swarm of glow bugs.
Don’t look left or right, you might be recognised.
Global fame had touched him. He regretted his part in the re-make of Last Tango In Paris. Shots of his half erect cock had never kissed the cutting room floor. Now gay guys gazed at him, their minds set on lip smacking satisfaction, and red blooded heteros always hollered at him ‘Go on my son! Give ‘er one!’. They’d want to watch. Leer. They’d want to cheer him on.
Either way it chilled him, seeing how easily something as precious as privacy could be eroded by the wind and rain of media heat.
Petra had a phobia about the paparazzi.
She was fourteen and knocked unconscious by the crush at her mother’s funeral. Her pink and black Chanel muddied. Her cheek blooded. The front page fame of it fucking her teens up good and proper.
The radio carols ended abruptly, being replaced by a penetrating newscast… ‘The breaking story tonight concerns the financial health of the global giant Hobb International. News of an imminent crash has led to an unprecedented run on its stock. Investors have jammed switchboards across the world.’
Ben immediately killed the sound.
The silence thick as drifted snow but black as coal.
Petra mustn’t know.
Angie sits in her smart Italian hatchback in the hospital car park, exhausted, finally resigned to the fact that she has lost her mobile phone. Vandals have struck fatal blows to the public facility. Without involving the police, communication this time of night is not possible. Well, it’s not impossible, but in truth, she isn’t inclined to do any more to enlighten her errant husband as to the turn of events. Besides she is freshly bereaved, if not exactly grieving yet. Her mind being otherwise occupied contemplating its response to the shock. Her brain remembering the vodka minis in the glove compartment.
On the passenger seat a bundle of greeting cards all set to be gorged by a post box, and an extra tree present she’d bought for Ben, something that had triggered her wicked sense of humour at the time- a head to toe health check by Britain’s finest. ‘I shouldn’t laugh.’ she’d told the sales assistant, ‘But I can’t help it. He’s going to hate this. He’s going to absolutely loathe it.’
Hot tears then, mad, sad, mad, and as clear as vodka.
‘Mam. Oh god! Where in heaven have you gone? I’ve bought you new slippers too. Fleecy on the inside. Wrap round style with Velcro. Just as you like them. That and a new dressing gown. Marks and Spencers. Maroon with a pink ribbon edging. No need to be cold now. No. No need at all. Oh! And this is a big surprise, but you might as well know. There’s a hamper coming to you. Fortnum and Masons. All the way from London. And I got us tickets for the Christmas Show at the new Millennium Arts Centre. Cinderella it is. With Ruth Madoc. You like her don’t you mam? You bloody love her.’
With all the phones in suspended animation, the house was silent, the animal of it lay flat on its back and purring.
You could still hear London thrumming, the dab hands at night revelling still keeping the spinning top humming. In between their physical jerks the lovers lay together, lulled by it, almost to the point of sleep.
Petra’s hands would have none of it.
At the first sign of any limpness she would stiffen him up and let her tongue speak to his frenum, talking thrill, thrill to the point of spill again. And then she’d quickly overstretch his scrotal sac- the pain a pleasure.
The mounting spillage thwarted.
She’d take his clenched hand to her wet labia and beg to be fisted. And with his hand inside her, she’d find his aching anus and get expert with her thumb, making him remember buried memories of life and lust at stage school. Making him cum in gun shots, an assassin blowing holes in her bronzed cleavage.
Making him disturb the house with sounds in the bathroom, then with more sounds in the kitchen. Sounds of making up a tray of coffee, cake and coke.
In the small hours they sat and talked. Not as couples do- exchanging words with the same empathy as sharing body fluids.
Petra spoke and Ben listened. The actor content to be the audience for once.
Petra, constantly crashing, still aching for the therapeutic benefit of organising her mind’s files. Not enough water under the bridge yet between the satiated now and her recent hospitalisation. There was no satisfaction then.
She’d been bereft of pleasures, her confidence murdered by the stones of ordinariness, her love of self destroyed by mirrors and newspaper photographs.
She’d been dejected, repeatedly rejected.
The creative products of her essential being all came winging back with opaque notes of lied about interest.
The deceitful art world cruelly painting her out, forever pushing her back beneath the surface of a blank canvass. It must be so abhorrent to the Chelsea Art Club, the very idea of God the dog allowing the marriage of wealth and talent in one so eminently fuckable.
She was talked of as the personification of sin, the next Madonna, and record labels courted her until they discovered that she couldn’t sing, a factor in itself not insurmountable. But the truth is she wouldn’t sing.
As she tells it, in her psychiatric defence against the charge of terminal uselessness, it is a fact that her father had fucked her on her sixteenth birthday, which may or may not be true. Since then, and this is true, she has never sung another note.
According to Petra, he’d sent everyone home prematurely, all the guests, the caterers, the welsh band, and the karaoke DJ. That much is true. And then he’d allegedly raped her in his library, surrounded by the massed thoughts of scholars and self-made men. The black Bakelite phone ringing only once by way of interruption- a civil servant from the Prime Minister’s office leaving a coded message. A verifiable truth. Henry Hobb grunting with supreme satisfaction, his wasted seed insinuating itself in the deep pile of the Chinese silk carpeting. The great man with the little dick- a legendary Tom Thumb, two inches when erect, knowing right away that his hereditary title was in the bag. True.
Global money spreading favours like honey on the shit bread of life.
Angie is nearing a crossroads full of booze and bitterness, to her left a stopover in a motel, straight on down the M4, home. Finally she decides to give way to caution. She veers left at the very last minute, comes very close to shitting her jewelled thong, the nimble Fiat finding grip and sanity without scaring her wits any further.
She woozily negotiates the facility’s friendless maze with slow deliberation, reading signs out loud, just like someone without English as a first language. Eventually she’s almost there. Only the one feature roundabout left to negotiate.
They’ve made something of an effort with the decorations.
The shrubs on the roundabout scream like drunken drag artists ablaze with fairy lights. In the all glass reception there’s a modernist, metalwork, life-size nativity, flanked by screens of electric blue tinsel and crowned by a chandelier of matching candles and baubles.
The precise forensic reason for what happened next is still a secret part of the Bristol Police’s ongoing enquiries.
What journalists know from an amalgam of eye witness reports and leaked information is that a new Fiat hatchback driven by the deceased, name as yet unknown, mounted the walkway adjacent to the motel’s reception at speed. It proceeded through the glass fascia and came to rest destroying the tableaux of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, elements of which penetrated the windscreen of the crashed vehicle. The driver and sole occupant received extensive head injuries and was further impaled through the sternum by a short metal rod, the support, we believe, to a blue, glitter covered halo. She was found to be dead when paramedics first reached the scene.
The usual scale of investigation is underway.
Foul play is not suspected.
Closing their battered, end of year notepads, two hardened scene of crime reporters, no longer shocked by what life or death offers, look comically at each other, knowing they are sharing the exact same, cynical thought- Drive home safely now, and a merry Christmas to you all.
It takes not so much as a millisecond to seed a news story.
Within the hour an advance party has it potted up and on its way to bearing fruit. Sooner rather than later, thanks to the M4, the prime pickers arrive complete with their high tech factory vans and satellite links. Despite the law, that’s how the private and the forbidden is harvested in our free society, processed and canned as a commodity to reach our homes fresh and inviting, tantalising our taste buds with the fate of the celebrated, the rich and the famous. Tabloid readers and indiscriminate TV audiences alike, are addicted to this juice of life in crisis. They consume gallons of the stuff, the fruitier the better.
Dedicated live-in staff at Hobb House have never seen the like.
The full moon of exquisite lawn that once appeared to float in the pale gravel at the front of the main entrance has been horribly violated. It’s been cratered, criss-crossed by the wheels of space wagons made intemperate by deadlines and stark carelessness.
Gardeners, despite the early morning hour, are fearful for their future and have come to clear debris and to make amends.
The youngest one, the one who abandoned the waking crocuses to break through the windows following the shot, to raise the alarm, he seems slower than them all, his movements leaden, practically useless. His team know why.
Only Owen, carries the ugly burden of reality in his mind.
Of all the staff, only this apprentice plantsman, knows the spread, the height and width of brains and bone and blood arrayed in such a sudden death.
He’s seen the lot.
He’d drawn the moss green drapes, denying the view from outside.
He’d locked the study door from the inside, then telephoned the police.
He’d kept the warm corpse company until the sirens arrived.
Of anyone, anywhere, who may have had feelings for the dead man, Owen was the first to spot the gun, the first to read the precision of those final words condemning the world economy to a crash of unmanageable proportion.
Still dreaming of marriage, kids and a mortgage- a life he’d spent years buying into, the desperate torment generated by this inside information was killing the lad; it would be knocking him for six, were it not for the valium courtesy of the local MD.
Cook was busy.
It made a change to have so many mouths to feed. Faces were quick to smile and compliment her on her welsh fare- toast and butter, biscuits, scones. The tea brewed thick and strong and sweet.
‘It’s the least I can do. We’ve never been mean with the catering, not here.’ she kept telling everyone, ‘He really was a generous man, a very generous man. Surprises some. And, in these circumstances, these very tragic circumstances, well, it’s the least I can do.’
‘Shall we switch all the phones back on?’
‘No. Not yet.’
‘What will you tell her?’
‘I’ll think of something. I’ll say something like I needed to visit a director. That we drank too much. That I couldn’t drive. That I made the sensible decision of crashing out on his elegant sofa.’
‘And the mobile. Explain away the mobile phone.’
‘I was late for the meeting. In the rush I left it in the car.’
A Chelsea breakfast- coffee, orange juice, freezer croissants- fresh baked, warm and moist. Their happiness the cherry jam in a Christmas chicklit novel.
Petra pouting, set on getting her own way, ‘I bet I’ve got text messages.’
‘Oh, go on then.’
After the fusion dance track intro, the text alerts bounce in like happy Playboy bunnies. The first of the known sources is her personal trainer- gorgeous, gay, a rock solid friend, ‘Your dad is all over morning TV. I am so sorry. I’m here for you babe. Love Matt. xx.’
She throws the mobile clear out of the dining room into the hall, where it lays, dumb and disassembled.
Maybe it’s hot- malfunctioned.
Maybe he’s been hit.
She’s screaming ‘Switch on the TV Ben! Switch on the fucking TV!’
Ben switches on the small TV. Sixty seconds in and he’s racing for the bathroom. He returns with emergency pills. She takes them on auto pilot.
Ben finds the Chinese lacquer box and prepares a line of coke for her.
Left nostril, right nostril, she snorts it like a zombie.
Behaving very strangely, breathing evenly, not making a sound, her tears are cold, laying glistening ski runs down her frozen expression.
Ben drifts a deliberate hand in front of her eyes. No change. No blink.
She is actually crashing.
He races to the Telecoms box, makes all the network live.
Immediately phones ring in painful competition all over the house. It is the sudden cruel cacophony of media hounds scenting blood.
He silences them all at a stroke.
He needs to reach her therapist. Now!
He powers up his mobile.
He’s got just the one answer-phone message. He dials the service expecting a venomous tirade from Angela. Great. He’ll delete her and move on.
The ridiculous female phone-bot speaks- ‘You have one voice message, message received today at two a.m.. First voice message..’.
A man’s voice.
A serious sounding man.
‘Mr Howard, my name is Superintendent Murray from the Bristol North Police. I would be obliged if you could contact me as a matter of urgency. It concerns your wife.’
The message ends like a sick beheading, the guillotine efficient. Ben saves it. A dull thud hitting the heart as he imagines a head kiss the basket.
Petra has still not moved a muscle.
A rant of difficult images and equally difficult commentary continues to roll on the TV.
Then, in an advertising break, Ben makes his call. The one he senses might destroy his plans for Christmas.
On the small screen it is snowing on a picture perfect postcard but pretend family, paid kids, paid mum and dad. Accompanied by ‘Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly’, they’re in a packed supermarket car-park happily filling their boot space with cut price seasonal goodies.
Waiting to be put through, Ben is idly watching this cheap charade- filmed, he decides, in early September with fake snow, when he notices the car in the advert. NO. Really notices it. It looks very familiar, and so it should.
The car is identical, except for the number plate, to the new Fiat hatchback, in Midnight Black metallic, full leather interior, alloy wheels, the one he bought to keep his wife quiet, less than a month ago.
How odd, he tells himself, superstition teasing the thespian in him, a primitive response he dislikes and distrusts. Suddenly he’s put through, and he’s been spooked into assertiveness, showing no caution whatsoever, ‘Yes. Yes, that’s right. I’m Mr Howard, Mr Ben Howard, the actor. My wife, she does this frequently you know. So bloody frequently it’s got to be a crashing bore. Now, Superintendent, what fresh and fantastic lies has my wife been spreading about me?’
DEATH OR TRANSPORTATION AS A PREFERABLE WAY OF LIFE
TIMECURVE: 2040. Old heretical calendar. 20 New calendar.
FACTBUZZ: In 2021 it was finally shown that the sum 1+1=2 was indeed arguable and could not be taken as a given. Additionally it was proven by what was then perceived of as the greatest experiment since the beginning of humanity, that the great Darwin, whilst on the right track, had gravely underestimated the rate that evolution could proceed in the right conditions.
SENSOID: Another night of a dark Moon. The Sun more visible than yesterday. Swarrots- patrolling in squads of six, each with a potential 12 foot wing-span, animated the air between the home-towers. Each flight seemed to have an intimate knowledge of the drawings of Escher. Chatter via patterns. Tick tickings. A multiplicity of clicks. Various levels of droning on. Earth in 20 sang a novel song.
THE HOLDING BAY VISIT ONE
There were now so many of them in essential employ that the infernal chatter of the insects was quite impossible to shut off without ear plugs. Even the memory foam ones only partly worked. Besides, the irritating and counter productive idea that you could listen-in on bug banter was compelling.
Learning the several languages was one of the great modern challenges.
As with Welsh they had absorbed directly absurdities from American-English and Mandarin so there were barbs of familiarity to hook deep into your lips and tongue. Everyone got caught.
The Sects, as we now called them, were credited with complex ethics but very little emotion or anything approximating to it. They just got the job done. Nathan had always suspected this was not quite true- he had often interpreted laughter, sniggering and sometimes what could pass as sorrow. It would be dangerous for him to share this with anyone.
He'd been in the End-Cell for four of his five final-final End-Days now- time enough to lay awake and hear in the darkness how wrong we had eventually become.
He was certain now that we should never have escaped our total annihilation.
It was rare to sight a Sect informally these days but they were there, their numbers in the millions of billions. You'd see them on net-screens doing their version of suited and booted- most of them in authority seem to have fleshed out like anorexic North Koreans. The winged ones were almost always cloaked- the last thing they ever wanted to be associated with were fairies or nonsensical angels. The Slugs and all the other mucousoids, essential as they were, still seemed a bridge too far. Crossing it was diplomatically slippery.
None of it mattered. He was so happy to be leaving it all behind.
Without the Bees it would never have been possible.
And even the Bumble Bees were quick to concede that without the nuclear disaster of 2019, the planet and everything living on it would have been beyond saving. Fast-track evolution quicker, slicker than the speed of bullet trains had transformed the eco-sphere into what some insanely and indelicately referred to as a state of salvation. To talk unguardedly of grace was outlawed. Getting listed might follow.
Nathan had done far worse, got away it for years. Then.
A mistake too far is all it ever needs. He had taken Melissa's remains to the eleventh level- the roof-top, the fake but functioning forest canopy, and laid them on the legal feeding place of the flying Piranhas. This time, maybe it was a suicidal act, he'd taken a tea-light with him and lit it. The flying Piranha took immense offence at the stench of fire. Their ire crafted consequences.
[Nate was old enough to recall the old water closets of 2013- then, even the highest end u-bends needed some degree of H2O, thrust or suction. Thoughtless.
Nobody gave two shits about automatic toilet-seat heating. Your arse with its glutinous maximus and its vast reserves of fat could do a good enough job on its own with minimum carbon emissions. How comfortable was it necessary to be to take a crap?
Anyway, Nate hated being in those usually cramped places- they almost always made him question if he was in fact alive, properly alive that is. There had to be more to being than just the fair input, the routine through-put and the foul output.
How close we were to worms in fact thrilled the pants off him; and were we that much more sophisticated. These were the questions of a boy with four pubic hairs, and no interest whatsoever in girls or anything much more than himself.
His mother was dead. Old fashioned dead.
His sister also absolutely died in the old fashioned way in the same tragic accident.
They were both blown off a cliff-top into deep water at Porthtowan, Cornwall, 2010.
Severe skull fractures from first head-butting the rocks; it had been decided that they had both been unconscious before drowning or dead in the old fashioned way before entering the sea.
It had been blowing a skittish gale that day.
The sea, some said, had grown fat lips and was hungry, was of a mind to seek out human hits.
A different form of a strange lifelessness hurriedly clothed Nate and his father, the last remnants of the family, with more questions than answers.
Why was the electric wheelchair still there? Nathan's sister rarely left it out of doors.
Not a tear dropped between the two of them, he remembered, they seemed just not possible, as impossible as the feminine being suddenly missing from their lives. Yet both phenomena haunted them with a drab truth.
At that time his dad owned an Audi TT- reliably German engineered, in blue with a light caramel leather interior; it's efficient emissions still high enough to attract a punitive tax. But the seats were heated- brilliant in winter. Here's the point.
They were fine: however, until you got used to the effect, the first impression of their warmth, was that you had pissed yourself. Absolutely true. Unforgettable.
Twenty seven years on, Nate still hated evacuating his bowels or his bladder. Ever. This near phobia rendered him subject to an annual psychiatric assessment. It irritated the fuck out of him and he'd had enough.
Shitting and pissing when it happened, happened in what most people referred to as the 'Out-Room' now- water was far too precious a thing to waste on the mere disposal of waste, indeed what water there was in the waste, needed to be extracted from the waste, made biologically safe, then re-cycled. The technology to accomplish this feat had fortunately kept pace with the growing need.
Insects and microscopic bugs had finally come to our aid big time.
Yes. It was just like that had been the plan all along. And that sort of neo-religious thought had no business in the mid-life crisis of a creative thinker like Nathan Shadbolt- one of the few that had been granted Enduring Indispensable Status. A form of virtual divisional kingship.
It put him above the new rule books.
Mankind had moved on.
Yes. Yes. There was the good and the bad in everything, that much had not changed one jot.]
SENSOID: Seeing the Swarrots- a hybrid of Australian Black Swans and Amazonian Parrots, patrolling the streets in the hope of netting vagrant life-forms was one of the few joys of ever returning to ground level. Nothing could outwit them. As they soared into the heights, with their catch, parasites and other symbiotics would attempt to jump ship. The sight would almost always trigger memories of leaves leaving trees in old Autumn. Specialised Swarrots always swooped and scooped them up- the variety of frantic noises emanating from the whole affair sounding quite orchestral. Nathan had only seen this operation from ground level once. Most days he would be entertained by an overview of it obtained through the glass walls of his Hash Platform.
With the status, the coveted E.I.S, came a prime living-space and matching annual credits suggestive that it was all worth the hassle. There were many hassles. Life is always full of catches. Not the least of these was having to attend the weekly Elimination Boards where he was one of three who decided if someone on the death-list got reprieved from it and, if so, for how long the reprieve would stand and what conditions would apply.
Case practice was that the breaking of any reprieve conditions would result in automatic execution. Of course a remarkable number of people, finding themselves in this situation, triggered the process as a form of assisted suicide. Of its kind, it was the cheapest form available on the planet; nothing much gets cheaper than free. The hidden costs- there are always those, meant that you had no say whatsoever in the consequent farming of your organs or any body tissue.
Wait until I tell you how you get your name attached to the death-list in the first place and how the waiting has begun to be seen as such a life-transforming thing.
First we do the tour.
Dr Melissa Ormond 294682 has just arrived.
FROM MELISSA'S PERSPECTIVE
Nate takes me to his loathed Out-Room. 'Here' he tells me 'This is what you must see.'
Ah! I am playing the plumber. The blunt end of his nimble wit. But, in reality, [if there still is such a thing] and he knows it, I am his annual assessing psychiatrist. There is nothing in this new world of ours without conditions. I only hope for his sake that he hasn't gone all retro on me and 'found' religion.
The Out-Room is blood red. Everything. It raises a flag. He spots it fluttering.
'Yes' he said, 'Three weeks ago I had the decorators in.'
I noticed his smirk. 'What was their brief?' I asked.
'Anything that didn't say feminine and something guaranteed to strangle thought.' He was still discomforted by the former paradigms of women, still plagued by that gnawing need to explain existence which always arose in the proximity of crap.
'They nailed it.' I said.
I'd not been to his 'stately' home before.
I got the distinct impression that maybe nobody had unless they'd been contracted to.
Nate was a natural at being the tour-guide. Yawn.
'As you can see the finish everywhere is akin to what a high fingernail gloss used to be, 'Raging Cherry' they called it. Impec. Wonderfully responsive to high tech suction cleaning. The door can be made air tight from the outside where you can start the process. Part of which is a lock-down of the pan itself to protect the bio-mechanisms living within. I'll tell you the truth. I've never got used to it and I don't think I ever will.
Benign organisms and other symbiotic life forms happy to live in one's shitter, eager to drink, feed, to please with their cleansing lips. The auto blow dryer. Bummer- just saying.
I know the principle.
If ever I produce a bead of sweat I would regret missing it- feel a lesser citizen. I hope I always find them and lap them up.
These benign living things make everything that I excrete either palatable- liquid or solid, or combustible in industrial furnaces constructed to contain and recycle their emissions. Sweet.
Melissa, my suspicions are this was possible as early as just after the second world war but there was no profit in it then. The Rothschilds when asked had said no. I know it.
The thing is, should I give these creatures who dutifully attend to my arse-crack and prepuce names. Well, they deserve some form of respect for the vital role they play in water and protein supply to say nothing of personal hygiene. I wouldn't want it it to be my role in life. Though I am familiar with the fact that Henry VIII had a Master of The Stools- an arse wiper, a very elevated position in the kingdom. No-one has ever suggested that any licking was involved.
That inference got abroad and applied suitably to 21st century politics.
I do sometimes have the odd nightmare where rogue versions of these lavatory species have been bred, maverick grubs that view my arse as a portal, a star-gate or a black-hole. I rather like the nightmares, they remind me just how human I still am, in part.
Come with me and see the Hash Platform. We may sight a Swarrot catching.'
I knew I looked disinterested. There was not a fuck in any of this for my restless cunt. Shit. This Nathan Shadbolt hid his base cravings as deep as the Atlantic Trench. There was not one clue for me to hang any lewd suspicions on. Damn.
Routine. Mental health hygiene- I was not much more than a Jungian dustpan and brush.
I was in mental health prior to the commencing of the new calendar. The new regimes saw no point in putting square pegs into round holes. They had a valid case.
I was put where I fitted best for all concerned. Immediately all delusional ambitions to be anything else dissipated. I stopped writing poetry:-
Today’s torture Bible is as large as Gods- a brick
Of equally sickening convolution: every trick
From water-boards to repeat electrocution.
That it exists is not in question
Nor is the fact that it is constantly referred to,
Preferred to The New Testament and acted upon
By greedy angels in their twisted element
Of widening the heavenly divide between rich and poor.
That’s when our biology least guarded
Admits the drilled retarded beasts
Skilled in rote
Who come cleaving our dreaming
Heavy hammered harsh of throat
To bag our heads
Then play us loops of lupine screaming
Whilst we are stripped of more than dignity
Taken raped- each word the other apes;
The darkness and the noise blurs meaning-
Meaning crimes are always easily erased
As almighty Mammon gets openly praised.
[The ‘removed’ in Indonesia
Inconveniently blocked the shipping lanes
With their ‘lost’ bodies.
Argentina, Chile and Brazil-
They are accounting for the ‘disappeared’ still.
Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq-
These are not forever darknesses
Where marks of blame will stay hid by the march
Of sameness and fast-food outlets.]
Where is there any semblance of regret
As you orgy on your next HD flat-screen TV set
Oblivious to the fate of us
As you drool on the priorities of your gene pool-
The experimental mutants only you perceive as beautiful.
Yes. Best laid to rest. Fuck! Those insane Neanderthals built all those arrogant churches in the midst of wide-spread poverty when there were millions of homeless waiting to be housed. It could not have sent a more disgusting message. Yet they were loved and trusted for it. Believe that; and you have no choice but to believe it because it is fact- then you are well primed to believe anything that takes your fancy.
I was housed, watered, nourished and kept comfortably rich in credits. It was a fair exchange.
Trade. That old staple.
In return they batted off any chance of my suffering any mutation.
My life- and that is all that mattered to me, continued where tens of millions perished one way or the other.
And now I have the executive power to order death or transportation or both. Quite the kick.
The whole scheme was dreamed up by Sects- most particularly a hybrid of bees and ants, The Beants. What else would they be.
It was strictly forbidden for anyone to refer to them as God's work.
At last, transparency the like of clear glass- every creature in its place or fucking else; find them another place in another galaxy and get rid, or instigate absolute death, the total recycling of all their constituent parts. It was a win win situation.
Indeed. A human being, in any case, remains mostly water- pure mega-ultra-credits on the open market.
The lesson was already there in 2013, in India, waste not want not, but we all ignored it. Never again. The Beants insist on it.
All the new urban sprawls took nature, as was, as an architectural inspiration- to call them sprawls is unfair. They are webs, intricacies and structural intelligences. Nothing higher than eleven floors as yet though buildings reaching to thirty three are envisaged.
Were they buildings or were they simply replacements for the missing trees? The debate still rages. We have them working much like rain-forests used to.
They interface with space and exercise some control over climate.
The first and the eleventh floor of every 'tree' is purely functional. Between there are nine living levels which are inhabited according to status.
I live on level eight. The unit I occupy is smaller than Nathan's.
He is immensely privileged, dwelling on level nine- not with a Hash Window Box, not with just a Hash Balcony but a whole Hash Platform where four people could dine in comfort- two could sleep, suspended above the gap between his tree and the next. The slight sway perceptible.
His hash plants are many and lush- could not be in better condition. They scream of immense wealth and position. He is wearing a black synthetic second skin, a real silk waistband in sulphur yellow. It suits him. The belt must be an historical artifact, allowed to people in power.
He asks me take a seat. The unassuming seat self-regulates to snug my butt.
He offers me a refreshment- see-through fluid rendered to taste like fresh spring water used to.
I am so bored.
I really want to tick all the requisite boxes, get him to sign the official document and go home. There could be nothing more routine-routine than this.
'How do you use your plants?' I ask him.
'I press them to extract their juice without damaging their unique medicinal qualities. Cold, they give no psychotropic effects whatsoever, but they constantly repair and service the immune system among other things.'
'What a waste.' I knew immediately I should not have said that.
'I could bake them in protein mix. Effectively a combination of our recycled piss and shit and the pulverised bodies of farmed grubs but once heat gets to the hash it releases volatile drugs that have always made me projectile vomit. Not very pleasant.'
'Yes. It is very disagreeable. We should not be talking about it.'
'Well. Firstly smoking is forbidden. You should know that. The rules are very clear. Secondly the plant may only be used for medicinal purposes. It has been proven that proper juicing is by far the best way to achieve that end. That is why any other process is outlawed.'
'So you did know. The question is did you comply?'
'Yes. What are you implying?'
'It did rather seem to me that you were implying a knowledge of its use for recreational purposes.'
'Of course. I am a psychiatrist.'
'No. I meant for your own personal recreational purposes.'
'That is absurd. I absolutely deny making such an inference.'
'Everything here is recorded as you know. In all the ways know to the Collecting Services.'
He was not joking.
I rapidly ticked all the requisite boxes and gave him the form to sign which he did immediately. He was going to have me investigated. I was sure of it.
'You're desperate aren't you?' he asked, 'I can sniff it.'
He was right.
I offered him sex.
He said, 'Wait there.'
He got on his coms, did the deal and we both waited for the coms to blink again. I should have left but something told me I would be dead before leaving the building.
His strange associate shortly arrived. Very shortly. He could even have been living just across the common hallway. Yes, I was terrified but I was not in the least surprised.
Brad, a level nine credit trader, is a Beant and Human first-cross. At least one third humanoid, the rest more bee than ant.
Nathan Shadbolt had come clean at last, he was a watcher, a bleeding OCD deviant.
I was just about to be sexually abused for vicarious entertainment by a very high ranking hybrid and there was nothing I could do about it. Even now there were kow-towing citizens spiking my personal abode with the necessary convincing evidence to my trumped up crimes.
This must have happened a hundred times previous, maybe thousands- to all genders.
I observed lamely as Nathan calmly scanned-in my report on him and pressed proceed.
I was a dead woman.
Brad started wanking close to my hair. Nathan's eyes were fixed on the ugly creature's cock.
Fuck me! Nathan Shadbolt was in love.
There were high pitched clicks and a much lower buzz.
Maybe the spunk would taste of honey. But flowers had gotten so rare. My mind drifted to the possibility of human tissue honey- liquid sweet-cure bacon.
AS IT WAS
Slavery always was. It never ended ever. It proliferates both on and off the planet today. It should come as no surprise. Read on.
People disappearing has been a feature of mankind's existence from the very beginning and despite the many restarts of human civilisations it remains a seminal part of what happens to us.
In the well thumbed part of the archive you get such things as 'A Dingo Stole My Baby!' and 'My Wife Was Abducted By Aliens!' no body or body parts to say otherwise has always been welcomed by conspiracy theorists, the clinically stupid and those inclined to start cults or invent evermore delusional religions.
The sheer madness of not ever bending to reason must be integral to what it is to be human.
And we were always expressly forbidden to breed such insanity out of our own species even though we proved adept at such things when it came to the domestication of animals for our farming and hunting needs or for the sheer delight of exciting ourselves with the circular and self-serving conceit that what we called beauty we could promptly apply to as many aspects of nature that we could lay our God-abiding interfering fingers on.
Rational- not in the least.
We became the beast without in the least suspecting that it was the self-same beast of our own making that broke our sleep and made our nightmares unbearable and lingered well into the cold light of day.
Meanwhile all the knowing insects were populating- biding their insectoidal time.
Each to its own.
To every living thing a purpose about which, being human, we should always have been very careful not to presume a thing.
And in this one sphere alone all religions brought general and specific destructions on us.
Millions of people were disappearing without trace in 2013.
Without trace meant that no-body anywhere could be bothered to care much. And yes, some of those chose to perform the magic of constructing new lives.
It has never been that difficult to do that in fact. The biggest hurdle to its perfect accomplishment has not been just the true wishing of it but the proper doing of it.
You could actually do it.
Yes. Wherever you chose to go there would be pain, sweat, reality and regret.
Back from where you left, and with those whom you left, there would only be residues of you, diminishing memories, invasive questions and the passage of time. We have this enduring facility to be that care less.
We have an utterly brilliant brain and mind which, in concert, can bleach back to virgin white anything black that threatens to stand in our way or spoil our day.
People really ate people. That is true. Bits of people may well have entered the food chain. If you have dined on pork then you have formed a taste for your fellow man. Yes, as with pigs, the females taste no sweeter.
The corporate capitalist machinery involving human tissue and body parts grew to be so ravenous that natural deaths with the requisite permissions could not provide sufficient food to whet its appetites for vast profit.
Solution- buy the raw product in.
Employ the necessary companies- robotic grunts returning from Iraq and Afghanistan needed the work and, for that kind of salary and job security, no-one was ever going to blow the whistle.
So the story goes.
I spin these like spiders spin laceate webs that light up white on frosty mornings.
Give yourself the time to reflect on the history of what mankind has found itself capable of doing. We are habituated. Don't imagine for one second that we have outgrown those traits.
We have become magicians at creating vast networks of screens for the masses to see something funny, something dumb, something mind-numbingly engaging to disguise the horrors that we execute in such perfunctory ways.
And, I know, your eyes- all three of them, have partly glazed over already.
We still use personal screen memory.
When Nathan has done with his masturbatory sessions, his repeated gratuitous recalls of the appalling deeds committed by his love obsession on his dead assessor, he will most likely close the file. In its place he will erect a screen of delusion on which he will project an inconsequential memory of innocence plucked from elsewhere in his vast repository.
Fire key words at him related to the unseemly incident, whose use has finally run its course, and they will merely refer him to one of the last strolls he had with his late father, through a summer meadow vivid with flowers and butterflies.
He will not even recall killing his own father- albeit as an act of kindness in 2019.
Don't judge him.
These are things you'd just as easily do yourself- the construction of a self-defence mechanism and, given the same circumstances, such an act of kindness.
The day following the nuclear holocaust of 2019 Nathan's father shot the family dog in the garden shed and then attempted to do the same to himself. The bullet entered his mouth and exited close to his ear. The damage was massive but it did not kill him.
Nate debated what to do. He was cross about the dog. There were ants revelling in his father's wounds.
The dog deserved more respect and some recompense.
He picked up the dead dog's still warm body and suffocated his father with it. Elsewhere there were paedophiles running wild, taking their pick. The doomed were doing the doomed with dripping bang sticks.
In less than a day the magnificent experiment was totally underway.
In the Summer of 2019 the Rothschild's, who always betted on and financed both sides of everything, because the could, said yes to the commencement of global hostilities. They thought it was time to literally let their sheeple play with nuclear mayhem.
Populations were no longer as sustainable as they were, less of them were inclined to work, substantially less stuff was being purchased. The books were beginning to look like they would not balance.
The social manipulation in Greece had failed miserably. Greeks, pushed ever further into submission by austerity measures, finally chose passivity instead of revolution. The combined effects of media propaganda and controlled pharmaceuticals had produced an utterly malleable populous. Check-mate. But the stupid cunts were still breeding.
The same conclusion was drawn about Spain and Portugal.
The Arab Springs proved to be no more than blips in the progress of Global Islamification.
Iran's space programme had given it an array of orbiting spy satellites.
In the bible belt of America it rained more than cats and dogs. It rained more than fish or frogs. It rained discarded body parts, specific body parts- cocks, cunts, toes and eyeballs.
Israel had been in illegal occupation of one fifth of Syria for four tense years.
Palestine had succeeded in becoming a full member of the United Nations.
China was on the point of suing America for bankruptcy. The case was watertight.
The full extent of the North Korean cloning and inter species breeding had been finally exposed. All their rocket activity had been a mere diversion. Clever. While the west was railing at them about the prospect of war they had brilliantly kick-started fast-track evolutionary processes in vast laboratories twenty floors beneath the Earth's surface. Yes they'd been sparking it with nuclear fission. But now, because of the greed of the west, the whole programme was set to go global at approximately the speed of sound.
In the archives there is a much treasured record engraved on titanium which argues that the wealthiest family in the world, so wealthy it could buy those multi-billionaires nearest to it four times over, saw there was no option but to proceed to all out war. Let nuclear fission do the long overdue housekeeping, as it had been long foreseen.
Their fall back position was indubitably tainted by echoes of Fascism but for the first time in the history of mankind it was a collaborative inter-species plan and one that they ironically termed bomb-proof. Those who could afford it were.
THE HOLDING BAY VISIT TWO
Nathan, because of his rank, was given a choice. It was either ceremonial death followed by absolute death or transportation as a preferable way of life.
The ceremonial death involved the military- half men, half roaches. Not his cup of tea. Besides it had reminded him of a holiday in what was formerly Spain and the excitement that a boy has in being a god and stamping on cockroaches he finds scuttling to safety in the lavatory.
That was possibly it- the shitter, the uncommon heat, the rattle of insects on cold tiles; maybe they had been terrifying codes of great import, things he found unintelligible and so turned into a phobia. Blasts from the past like that can be so clarifying, such awful pains in the arse.
He'd also, would you believe, used the Sun's rays and a magnifying glass to fry red ants, because they had bit him and because he could. At no time had he pulled the wings off flies.
Give him some credit.
He elected for transportation as a preferable way of life. There were two kinds and the courts would decide his fate.
The first kind involved flight to another galaxy, to another Earth type planet where he would be left to take his chances.
The second kind meant a short hop to the Moon bases and him being sold into slavery to the highest bidder. All manner of inter-galactic vastly advanced life-forms attended the monthly auctions there. Someone of such high rank would fetch a high price in any combination of anything that the Earth needed.
Nathan's thinking about either outcome was quite immaterial.
We have his mind-com record for you:-
'From the start I was plagued by not believing I possessed an adequate penis. I had no confidence in it, none whatsoever. The fact of it being almost as small as the average clitoris was not really the point. It made my balls look gigantic.
When I could, I opted for total body hair depilation and skin re-pigmentation.
At least I could be smooth and black.
I could have afforded a penis transplant but I did not want to deal with the memories still resident in its tissues. Yes I could have been very choosy. I could even have picked a live one after first giving it a trial run.
The donor would consequently be paid royally and given free gender re-assignment. Enforced.
I would even be offered the opportunity of owning 'her' but ever since my mother died I'd failed to see the point in forming any sort of relationships.
I rather like the idea of time-travelling in a Beant Star-Ship.
They are spherical. Huge.
You see them hanging in what passes for sky whilst they conduct whatever business they are engaged in. Look away for a second and they are gone. In a blink of your eye they have thought themselves a thousand light years distant. I read a scientific paper only the other day arguing how slow in fact that is.
The Moon-Bus is far less glamorous. You get to travel with all sorts- one class. The journey only lasts twenty minutes but it seems interminable. If they give me that then I shall opt to power nap.
I would hope to be sold to an Arcturan- they adore us much the same as we love dogs. And there is a planet in that star system very Earthlike, a paradise like ours must have been before we thought we'd found God and began to be disassociated with everything but ourselves and finally lost the plot.
Oh yes. Those lists of the waiting dead.
I've already said they were my bread and butter. Having achieved the vague appearance of an ant it was perceived that my behaviour in some ways resembled that of an ant. Advancement followed. Then more advancement until no more advancement was possible. Imagine the shockwaves when I finally elected to go wayward.
I have a head for the logic in patterns, the numeric, a memory for the minutiae, a passion for the rule books. All of the old scriptures had been got rid of and replaced by a vast library full of volumes detailing how to be, the transgressions and the punishments. I was either there, in court or at home or attending a function stuffed with dignitaries from all species.
To be 'listed' began to be twisted in the minds of those who were listed as a staircase to heaven. Certainly there was a process, sometimes a lengthy one. And during that time you were kept safe and in good health which, for some, was life transforming. Many reported that they felt saved.
If any of the listed were reprieved there was always a time restriction and strict conditions the breaking of which would result in their execution via absolute death.
Citizens began deliberately violating their reprieve conditions and effectively committing suicide by the state. At first we didn't mind this trend in the least. It added to the supply chain of recycled human remains. But in many sub-cultures we found that such people were being given martyr status. And in some strictly outlawed groups they were even considered saintly. Nothing could be more abhorrent.
What to do about it?
I tried to find a solution short of genocide but couldn't. I found the dilemma crucifying. It made me rediscover loneliness.
The decree is decided at last. My fate. Something else writ on a titanium plate.
I see. That's it. The far distant inter-galactic option has been chosen for me. Less kindly.
The bastards. Fuck!
Oh shit! Wherever will I fit into the food chain there.
Hell! I feel a chill and a virus of a prayer coming on. Do I kneel?'
TIMECURVE: 2041. Old heretical calendar. 21 New calendar. The days are shorter now.
FACTBUZZ: In 2041 A state witch-hunt against emerging faiths was instigated by the World Council. They also instructed the scientists to triple the population of flying Piranhas whose shit was such a valuable commodity.
SENSOID: Melissa Ormond's sister watched as Nathan was taken from the Holding Bay to the waiting sphere. She was transfixed, rigid with rage. Just could not wait for the pale grey moon of it to inexplicably disappear. Gone. Yes, gone. It was over. That afternoon she had a long court session ahead of her dealing with the pathetic protestations of religious zealots. The fools were even saying he was messianic. Absolute death for them and no delays.
Nathan Shadbolt has left this Earth- as we say. There is no way back for him, ever. No resurrection, never.
D FOR DANGEROUS
He is certain the Picasso behind her is real. Small but genuine.
A bronze lap-dog paperweight- Paris circa 1950. A Papillon.
A non committal albino arrangement of white flowers in a white vase.
The wrong side of fifty, she is small, her black stockings in black shoes; small feet swinging like dead crows beneath the seat of her chair. A swivel high-back that threatens to engulf her. A black vinyl hole. A junkyard of Jungian therapy.
The simple dress is vintage Jean Muir, charcoal grey. She may have bought it new. It might have been a fond find, second time around. Frameless spectacles, a ghost against her neutral face. Pale green eyes.
‘You were very young.’ she says, her small voice direct but expertly measured so as not to be immediately intimidating. She smiles- ‘Minors, in the legal sense.’
A reflex movement starts the clock. Counting and accounting.
‘Yes. Yes. Underage.’ How could he have said otherwise. ‘We were new to it, youthful.’ His eyes closing. His hands rising to touch his pained face. An inner blackness aching to swallow him.
Youth had left him now.
‘Maybe you were altogether too young.’ she adds, a fresh note of encouragement vivid in her voice. An ink pen poised over Madonna blue paper.
She imagines his infected phlegm rising then falling. Instantly craves a cigarette. She knows that she can’t have one. Not yet. Instead, pours water from a glass carafe into a whisky tumbler.
She sips. Watches. Sees his unhappiness unfurl like a winged thing nested inside him. A vulture restless in the wild wood of him. She shudders. Beak and talons.
‘Yes. We were fresh at it. Vulnerable. Tender as jailbait.’ A small trace of glee.
She pounces, ‘Go on. Go on then.’ Purrs. One claw already in the thing’s wing, her fangs sensing blood. ‘Go on from ‘Its danger’.
He attempts a grin. A loser’s grin. It is his defeated champion, mascot of an old army of sadness, his eternal backing off from confrontation.
‘Right.’ says Connor, his present jetting into his past without so much as a bye or leave, ‘We sensed its danger. We smelled it. Its danger was tangible. Unwashed. Fear sodden. You could slice it and serve it between unbleached hands of bread with rough cut ploughman’s pickle. We were dangerously young. God! We were young and we were dangerously hungry to be old.’
Reaches for the crystal water, gulps some.
Spit to spit, he quickly thinks, we must be inexorably joined, this bitch and me, our DNA mingling in a specimen dish.
She reads his sudden wanting, his need, his fragile stability. The waste of space.
‘Take your time.’ she tells him, her tone stroking, ‘It’s your time Connor. Remember. Your time. It’s your investment in yourself.’
Connor Cloud, the notable documentary film-maker- Glue Boys In Guildford, 1987, Gay Men In The Fens, 1998. Forty nine, mena-porche-al. Twenty eight regrettable pounds to the bad. Gap clothes. CK underwear. Handmade shoes. Expensive scent. Close to breaking down. Bestride two horses- the then and the now. Bound. Certain to fall, to eat dung.
‘We were schoolboys, fifteen, green as envy. Brackenwood it was, one of the old grammar schools. Traditional. It looked backwards for it’s inspiration. Winchester, that was the benchmark, the masters’ intellectual champagne, magnums of demi-sec. We were white, we were bubbly, but we were unforgivably sweet. The sprouts of proles, all scrubbed up, hard boiled, served with a sprinkling of sugar. And we were only ever Asti Spumante. Cheap, low alcohol fizz with preposterous delusions of grandeur.
Homosexuality was understood, pigeon-holed and seldom referred to.
I remember being dizzied by a first glimpse of the PE master’s pubic hair. Mike Hutchins, an Australian on an exchange. Bronzed. Blonde. Above his tied towel, a tan line, and there, slap bang in the hot spot of my field of vision, a damp curl, flat against the whiteness of his lower abdomen. A damp curl making a question mark and, therefore, questioning.
There were thirty of us, wet. Hot foot from the showers, twelve year olds or thereabouts, skin pale, spotty, groins promising, our voices neither here nor there. Erectile tissue threatening.
He saw me.
He watched me, how I was trapped. And he smirked. Smiled softly before turning and leaving to leave me be.
An eerie erotic image on a loop of video tape. I’ve used that smile again and again.
In the dark, whacking off, he’d endlessly leave, leaving slowly to leave me be, over and over.
Nine months after, I was sharing a library study table with Leo Bax. A close friend. His mother dead. A dead dancer. His father owned a company that installed swimming pools. He was short, Leo, stocky, half-caste. His skin the colour of café latte. We did everything together, homework, play, oral sex. He had a fat cock, thick enough to make me gag. Boy’s cum that smelled boy sour but tasted sweet, like tired milk.
‘Look’, he said, his amber eyes alive with devilment, his eager hands unfolding the newspaper cutting. Toronto. A month out of date. ‘A blast from our past.’
He was right and I felt blasted by it.
Mike Hutchins Suicide. Mike Hutchins the youngest of a group of seven men accused of operating a paedophile porn ring was today found dead in his prison cell where he was being held on remand pending trial etc.
It was an odd photograph.
He looked relieved, winded, grounded, like an aberrant angel caught by God.
I was instantly twelve again, open mouthed, towelling my armpits dry. It was instantly twelve midnight again, a boy between the sheets, hard as rock, my mind on his questioning curl, answering yes, yes, over and over.
Leo, older than me, had had him. That’s what he said. He told me.
Thirteen, and in a stock cupboard in the Drama block. Hutchins went to fuck him, bracing the boy against forty copies of Macbeth and a stack of Alan Bennetts. But his erection left him so he leaned down and sucked on Leo ‘till he came, the boy’s peepers fixed on Becket’s Waiting For Godot and a programme from the previous year’s pantomime.
‘Was it good?’ I begged him.
‘Yes!’ he said, his eyes gone glassy as the dangerous memory kicked in, ‘It was fucking fab! Fantastic!’
As much as anything else, its dangerousness excited us.
Animated, Connor stared at her sufficiently long to cause a measure of social discomfort.
She sensed his ascendancy and was immediately in two minds- cautious but curious. But her knowledge of the strict guidelines had her reaching for the panic phone. Connor raised both his hands in a gesture conveying astonishment and disbelief. He straightaway withdrew. She understood. Left the receiver untroubled in it’s cradle. But the door opened loudly.
The yawning door space filled with the bulk of a suited man.
‘Yes?’ Her voice made no attempt to hide her irritation.
‘We thought you might be in need of assistance?’ the apologetic question delivered in a fawning monotone that Connor immediately recognised from hours spent listening to extras getting to grips with single lines of script.
‘It is fine. And we are fine.’ That was enough to make the stranger leave and have the door re-closed with pointed gentleness.
She caught Connor’s eye then, then pointed to the security cameras at ceiling height in four corners of the room. Connor shrugged. So what, he thought. Everything railing against him was already on film.
She moves the glass of water.
‘Its dangerousness excited us..?’ she said, almost carelessly. A cover for the new hint of urgency which she knew had crept into her voice.
Connor coughs, starts again.
‘Leo was always very frank about what he wanted. He’d say fish and chips and I’d say alright. He’d say sex in the woodshed and I’d say yes, I don’t mind. It was always that matter of fact. Boys, see- beautifully uncomplicated.
No room for artificial intricacies and emotional melodrama. Easily half the worry of girls. We did it once with his dad mowing the back lawn, the noisy Qualcast inching nearer as we flew to orgasm. Body fluids moist in the dry sawdust, caught like spilled candle wax. The green machine suddenly silent. My legs shaking. The evidence urgently rubbed out by Leo’s tennis plimsolls. His dad calling that he was getting us lads a drink of cold milk. Me relieved. Leo, close to a fit of the giggles, shoving my damp shirt-tails in his mouth. Leo composed, whispering to me, it’s the danger, the danger, it’s the danger that does it for me! Me instantly agreeing. Me agreeing with him, not because I always seemed to agree with him but because I felt it too. I thought it thrilling didn’t I. I filed it away in my memory as unforgettable- the danger.
After that we made a game of it- cocks out on the back seats of buses, cocks out as we cycled into town. That sort of thing.
Only what happens is, and after a surprisingly short time, really, shorter than you’d ever think, you jade the appetite for it, create another boredom threshold. Go off the boil. Lose your wood. We sussed it soon enough. In the end, nothing short of a suicidal sixty-nine in full view of the massed kop at Anfield would have done the trick.
We never went there. I’m so glad.
What we did was worse, infinitely worse. Oh yes. We chose another avenue to hell.’
Connor loathed the smile. It was too small. A fake.
Beyond the flowers the view through the sixties window was unobstructed, semi-rural, planted out with perennials, and privilege. Connor saw it was a sight denied the common herd. And he suspected the existence of a ha-ha somewhere in the mid distance, where the clipped lawns ended and the grazing began with it’s cow pats and buttercups.
And close to the horizon a spire, as might be expected, it’s great lingam thrust into disinterested space. A flaccid flag of St George wrapped around a pole. And, nearby, a strange crop of media masts. A wind-sock and a helicopter pad.
‘Go on.’ she said, again conscious of her own agenda, and less inclined to hide it. ‘You were walking that last mile down an avenue to hell.’
‘Yes. But at times it felt like we were running. Running cross country. Ice in the puddles. Light rain making our kit transparent. Gorse bushes biting at our flying calves. The masters belting out abuse or encouragement. Some of it mewling. Most of it lewd. Move your arse Cloud! You would son! You fucking would if it had my fist up it!
It was my idea.
And, in all fairness, it was my turn. And Leo fell in with it. That was a surprise. Then he took the whole thing over and what I’d always intended as a fantasy found it’s own peculiar momentum. It ran away with itself, rattling on to merge with life and finally form it’s own hideous reality.
I always thought it was fiction. Always believed we made the whole thing up. To this day I can still kid myself on that I read about it, on some wet Sunday, in one of the tabloids.’
An alarm starts. The sudden screaming bird of it jangles her nerves. She stares at the telephone. Waiting. Nothing. The car alarm stops. She imagines the bliss of seeing damaged feathers floating above the car park. She visibly relaxes. Signals with a finger that he should continue.
‘The Reverend Allan Flude was new to the parish. Young. On probation. Hiding. We saw it at once- a trail of social baggage that he thought he’d got well shot of. A past he was still escaping from. It hampered him, haunting his freedom of thought and movement. Most people took to his style, took to his measured carefulness in good part- the product of an eager Christian consideration and creative sensibilities, so it was generally agreed.
Leo and me, well, we believed otherwise.
I resolved to prove my theory right. And, somewhere along the line, I formed the extraordinary idea that I could make this creature wholly mine. I could know him. I could have knowledge of him.
Not a child. Not seventeen. Not kind. No. Not kind at all. Not bound by anything.’
Connor suddenly shouting, ‘We were boundless!’
She is scared, triggered.
Sweat has collected in glassy beads along his hairline. He raises both hands to comb through his tired hair with splayed fingers. Body fluid moistens them. He rubs his anxious hands against his flexing thighs. Dry again. Connor thinks he might be involuntarily leaking. Begins to rock slowly.
Immediately, she reaches beneath her and brings out a chromium dish, the shine of it reflecting shards of collected light. A primed hypodermic. The extreme needle sanitary. Nothing sharper, it’s tip glinting. Balls of bright white cotton wool, soft, blunt. Skin coloured sticky plasters. Her manicured hands twitching.
Knows the score.
Stops rocking. Dreams of dreaming.
The door suddenly opens.
He does not struggle. It would be pointless.
Later. His limbs seem familiarly leaden. Through the naked window he can see how time has flown. Rooks punctuate the evening sky with marks and exclamation. The distant trees have taken on the pallor of spilled ink.
Her hands are highlit by a desk top halogen.
His hands are tied.
‘Allan Flude.’ she reminds him, her tone emotionless, perfunctory, ‘The preacher. Remind me of the bent preacher again.’
Flude came to Connor’s mind immediately, as easily as switching on the TV.
As always it’s the same brief show composed of edited highlights. Always in the same place- the green painted residential caravan sited in the Rectory orchard where they watched amateur films, where, later on, they made films and watched them too. Where Flude was finally found bollock naked, his heart stopped, the TV showing snow, the video ejecting gay hardcore. A small brown bottle of butyl nitrate open on the green Wilton, the bleaching effect of it widespread as if it were the ghost of spilled blood.
‘I wanted sex with a grown man.’
‘Yes. It’s always about what you fucking want.’
Her reply surprises him. ‘Why.’ she asks, feeling increasingly cruel, ‘What could you possibly find so repulsive about female genitalia?’
The question stuns him.
She’s the cunt, he told himself. As if butter wouldn’t melt inside the covered furnace of her, her pudenda breathing like a separate animal, it’s gums stimulated by blood-flow, it’s teeth bared, longing to snatch at his puny inches. She could chew him to the bone, spit him out and move on.
He wasn’t fooled.
This one could sell her unborn foetus to laboratories. Oh yes. This one is all heart!
‘The smell!’ he says, finally, his tone derisory, ‘The god awful stench!’
Fuck the rules, she tells herself.
She lights a Marlborough Lights cigarette, revelling in the mild anarchy of it. She’ll flick it’s ash into the chrome tray. Stub it out on a cotton wool ball.
‘The preacher. Let’s get back to the damned perverted preacher.’ she says, re-focussing, deliberately moving things on.
‘Well, we ingratiated ourselves. It was easy- servility with intent. He knew what we meant from the start. He had to have known. It’s never an easy thing to conceal the game you’re playing. And we were far from being expert at it. Then we contrived to be found by him, in flagrante. Gobs full. Lost in that world of boy to boyness.
Flude watched us for a while, just as we suspected he would, rustling himself.
Then he picked up our discarded shorts and coughed discreetly. No fuss. No flap. No lecture. Simple as that.
In less than a week we had our first threesome.
Me intoxicated by his masculinity, punch drunk on his genitalia. Me near to sleeping in the crucible of his hairy chest, my arse sore and singing lullabies. Leo close to coming for the third time, kissing him alternately- soft and hard then soft, then hard. You could untie me, you bitch.’
She does not respond.
She is stood at the window, staring out at nothing. Letting the nothing of it lubricate her journey inward. Days, weeks, crying on the phone, clutching at straws, burying the truth like a cat buries it’s shit.
‘He introduced me to film. Film making. Film developing. Film editing. It was his creative seed. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be who I am today.’
She turns to watch his fears being soothed by his remembered ego, sees him clothe himself in calmness knowing for certain who he is.
‘Allan Flude, deceased. He introduced me to it all.’
She’s heard it before. The predictable all of it.
He always gets this far down the line and reverts. His misunderstood genius failed and failing. Increasingly impotent. Overweight and gaining. Starts to ramble on excitedly about his significance, his contribution to the genre.
It gets in her way, deeply irritates her.
He was there when the sick preacher died. So what!
She walks towards him.
Connor is deep into a purple performance of his romanticised CV.
Out of the blue and without thinking, she strikes his face harder than she remembers ever striking anybody.
He screams like a burning child.
The door opens. ‘Fucking get out!’ she screams, her fist on it’s way for the second massive strike.
Connor screams again.
The door closes.
Hot blood leaving Connor’s damaged nose like truth through a crack in the plaster of lies.
Blood and spittle leaking from Connor’s mouth.
Her mouth opening. ‘I had a son.’
The agent starts again, ‘I had a son. He disappeared three days after his fifteenth birthday. He was gay. Fresh out. He’d told me and I didn’t mind. I didn’t mind at all, not in the least. But I minded him being missing. Oh yes. I minded that very much. And even all the resources of this all knowing place have not been able to help me stop the minding. But you, you sad apology for a human being. You might just hold the key. So I tolerate your excursions into self-aggrandisement. That key might unlock a whole new area of investigation for me.’
Connor is disinterested.
Connor is self-interested, coughing, spraying droplets of blood at the breastline of her Jean Muir. It disgusts her.
She hits him again. The white flowers spilling.
Connor screams. Involuntarily urinates. The ministry floor no stranger to piss.
In the sudden mess of everything she screams another demand at him ‘So tell me you evil bastard! The production company, D4 Dangerous, tell me about that! Tell me everything you fucking know about the snuff movies.’
FULL LENGTH PIECE
Less is always more, John mouths to himself, his trim nakedness reflecting in a full length mirror- nineteenth century, original gilding, chosen for its innate flattery as much as the obvious antique value.
There was no escaping his given stature- lesser endowed. A subconscious bane.
But, thirty two and well provided for he is, and so rich his accounts read like hardcore porn. A rich white cunt. A bare fact.
To be fair, at five foot four, he’s beautifully proportioned. Sun kissed in all his creases. Everything being as it should be. Worthy of a passing glance but nothing exceptional standing out.
Not so his most memorable sex partner. The icon that escaped.
In John’s memory, Paul is six foot three, a manipulator of heavy goods vehicles. A myth in hardhat and dungarees. Not that the job was immediately recognisable in the gloom of Manbars’ backroom. A place lit only by mobile phones and cigarette lighters. A crowded space impossible to negotiate without some genital intimacy.
In Manbars’ backroom, John had let his nose guide him. Paul was wearing a retro Aramis- its woody pungency key to the remembrance of past exploits. Paul was wearing fresh sweated denim- a short sleeved shirt and belted jeans. Paul was lashed into heavy duty boots, boot blacked and glossy. John’s probing fingers found them all. Following the workaday seam stitching.
Flicking the tough leather laces.
Fondling the bulk of the smooth metal buckle.
Faint smell of stale piss and coconut.
Paul’s great knob end was an unexpected mouthful- bulbous, pulsing, uncut, clean tasting. Wonderful and scary.
As it goes- very cock-sucking scary.
That scary because the full length of its shaft remained unconquered- more than a handful, stiff with a vivid blood, its life force throbbing, rapidly pumping, then more rapid, almost robbing John of breath. John’s lips moist and trembling, nowhere near the desired target of enveloping this stranger whole. And the same-sex danger constant, thrillingly incognito, multiplying the spinal excitement.
John thinking fast, how to stop himself coming right now, and how to get this fit fucker into bed.
John gently abandoning the anonymous blow job. And, like a real gentleman, putting the saved package away. Re-zipping him, slick, practised.
‘Gee. Thanks buddy.’ the politeness intended, creamy, brown as caramel.
John whispering in the big man’s ear, ‘Incest in Cinemascope. How does that grab you?’ And the rest.
A home theatre, geared to screening porn in four times life-size, is a facility that almost always pulls.
The old ploy delivered again. And, in no time at all, John got Paul back to his eye popping estate in the hills, interrogated, laced with Sambucca and down to his snow white Calvin Kline’s, spread eagled in the green plush of the mansion’s basement stalls. Paul, a real man, married with teenage children, willing, able and at his immediate disposal.
On screen and flickering, some ‘twin’ eighteens smile, got up as farm boys and their so proud ‘father’ in a corn hat and not much besides. The action horny. The worn soundtrack full of silk skin on sacking skin. Panting. Squelching. Bum fun in surround sound. The smooth boys enjoying their less conditioned bear of a dad, his hoary cock a baby’s arm of veined flesh and saliva. His thick thumbs teasing in his sons’ pert rectums. Their Twinkie erections leaking eager pre-cum. Young guns on the brink of finally exploding gallons.
Rural joy- the blurb said.
Bi-curious Paul excited, oblivious, wanking himself faster and faster in the film’s limelight. John awe-struck, letting his perfectly proportioned penis dance on the trucker’s lips like a half hot-dog. Fast food.
John leaning forward, as close to the foreskin action as he can be, sensing a profound quivering, knowing the way of unleashed flesh, letting his gleeful face catch the first massive spurtings.
Big man. Big dick. Big climax.
Warm liquid male sliding down John’s cheek, insinuating its sweet and sourness into his grateful mouth. Cum dripping off his jaw line, dropping onto his stiff nipple, swiftly picked up by a grateful finger then slipped, juicy as a squeezed berry, in-between his so addicted lips.
The big man, lost in glorious after toss, glowing, groaning low and long. His package still fat, wearing ampoules of gissum, raw as quarried moonstones. The neck of his crossover manhood curled like a content creature in his ample lap.
The film ending over. Its climax gone unnoticed. It grinds on in credit sequence. The sexually charged silence thick with wonder, spunk wiping and utter breathlessness.
That was then.
That was before. A thing consigned to history.
Now John, the almost new John, entirely lost in recollection, presses his warm body against the cool glass of his mirror, his already busied cock oozing in self lubrication.
No other big dicked nigger fucker since.
No other trucker so amusingly endowed. None came close. The largesse of its remembered full length still a living proof in his grey matter, giving him needs, wet dreams and strange ambitions.
Fuck me, fuck me, he is mouthing to himself, his cute balls obliging with a few jerks worth. The measured bun clenching thrill. A meagre spoonful skating down the mirror’s kind face.
Spunk potent in its natural overkill.
John all but reiterating to himself- less is not always more, his trim nakedness reflecting in the full length piece- nineteenth century, original gilding, chosen for its innate flattery as much as the obvious antique value.
There was no escaping his given stature.
Thirty two and well provided for he is. He could well afford the ‘platinum class’ penis enhancement, as locally advertised. He would, because he could, buy the quintessential cutting edge surgery and the very best of private aftercare. Essential aftercare. His wounds may infect. He may suffer depression in the aftermath of the drugs. He will need niche physiotherapy.
None of the above.
Advertise. Yes. Place an Ad.
A short almost pornographic advertisement is all that was needed. How convenient to be so literary-
‘Highly Qualified Male Nurse required. Must be single and of African extraction. Six foot minimum. Some lifting. Applicants should be 40yrs plus, broad backed, broad minded and very well hung.’
Wall to wall and ceiling to floor, the surprising room of drawers is all clear glass overlaid on glossy black metal. Smooth, no smudges. I am in thin gloves.
Where shall we start?
My querulous uncle never married, unless you’d be prepared to argue a lifelong commitment to an unswerving line of work as being as good as. He remains bound, enslaved, as good as espoused to his self-made position of overlord to the moderately sized empire known to the international elite as Bancrofts- respected auction houses in New York, London, Munich and Tokyo. The union is not without progeny. His children, and some commentators pointedly refer to them as his heirs, are his transplant charities and favoured dogs, the best of which, he has said, are dog re-homing charities.
I have heard my own father, his remote brother-in-law, refer to him uncharitably on a number of occasions as the Pink Fuhrer of priceless things, and then go on to suggest, darkly, that the glittering ring of city centre real estates amounted to not much more than the tip of a giant global iceberg. Black ice, he called it, deadly without the essential chains on the wheels of the requisite Maybach or Lincoln.
I’ve met the great man only once- West Sussex, then almost in Munich.
We did lay plans to make that thrice- Hampstead Village, the house with pre-Raphaelites and Tibetan Spaniels.
My tenth birthday was made notable by the furore it generated.
By then we lived in a considerable gift- an eight suite manor in Pulborough, replete with all the barns, bells and whistles that went with the position. We spread out during the week then endured being intolerably cramped on a fourth floor open plan in Covent Garden, there for the habitual weekends of theatre and live music.
Under quite regular stress, my parents would resort to praying that they’d be more than well provided for in the will, with certain essential provisos. The usual being that my mother’s sole sibling, Bernard Bancroft, the esteemed bachelor benefactor, had the good fiscal sense not to toy with death for at least another seven years.
Anything untoward or untimely, and the death duties that may become owing to The Treasury on a property worth in excess of six million could mean them suffering the indignity of having to sell. It would be hell- the necessity to be downwardly mobile.
Social shame on such a scale was not an option.
When I was nine- everyone still ignorant of CJD, I’d happily gorged makeshift meat in a Macdonald’s with eight other boys, my agitated mother and a play leader I loathed on sight, a creep in his late teens called Colin. We moved on to a bowling alley dedicated to Elvis. Followed that with Star Wars at the cinema. Colin always keeping too close a watch. Colin never succeeding in ingratiating himself to any of us, despite his curious and utterly unforgettable display in the gents’ toilets.
I confess I was quite looking forward to a repeat performance, but when I was almost ten the stable yard filled up with muscled men and smart lorries packed with ropes and poles and canvass. No trace of Colin whatsoever.
We had a virtual tented city built in next to no time. Covered walkways. Duck boards. Fitted floors. Wall linings. Air conditioning. A band stage and sound system. Lights. A vast dining room and industrial sized kitchen. The whole school came- all of my friends and all of my enemies. I was to learn that all this local ebullience was by way of saying goodbye to all that.
Bernard had bought an altogether different education for me.
I instantly liked him. Very much. Much more than I judged was proper. He smelled like home- some other place that I had never known. Vetiver it was.
Within the year my distressed mother contracted cervical cancer. Her post surgical letters to me arriving in Switzerland like English evensong. The paper pale blue and the script melodic. Sad folk tunes sent on chilly air, bemoaning the bare facts. There would be no brothers or sisters. No rivals.
I was the only Bancroft future to speak of.
Past twenty and already graduated with an honoured first in Art History, I got the invite to Munich.
I deliberately made the trip overland, by rail, from Venice.
Black waters moving like molten mirrors,
reflecting mankind genuflecting to God,
and birds ablaze at sunset, winging in reverse.
This is the kingdom of hate made palatable.
In the intervening decade, it would have been easy to have changed worlds, to have moved seamlessly from the mundane to the near ethereal and remained aloof, but that was a process that instinct made me stubbornly resist at every turn. I kept an increasing number of ordinary scrapbooks devoted to ordinary things.
I collected not just any ordinariness but any ordinariness that attached itself by dint of fact or fiction to the Bancroft name. Some of it, I have to say, remains obscured by its own obscurity. But some, particularly some of the more tenuous and least probable, still tempt me to think of my father’s alluding to a global berg of black ice.
Anything whose worth can only be generalised in the billions is like a bitch on heat to the dogs of crime.
I stayed faithful to two of the old Junior School gang- their unfolding lives keeping me grounded as the episodes were transmitted to me. The villagers’ defence of the two duck ponds. The missing boy who was never found. The attachments remain. It is because of them that I am, besides my lover, surrounded by only security and acquaintances. But I have never minded. They are the brothers that I never had.
Martin, despite an ordinary passage through pre-college education, graduated from Oxford and is presently engaged in doctorate research at Southampton University- Archaeological Forensics. He is one of the few who have actually touched the Turin Shroud.
Sam is the proprietor of a small antiquarian and second-hand bookshop in Ely- poetry and silent films a speciality. The flat above it barely big enough for his wife Dawn and daughter Beth. Dawn paints. He writes.
Martin sent Sam and I a recent clipping concerning creepy Colin. But, due to Martin’s diligence, there was more than just the cutting in the envelope. Colin Parsons’ partially clothed body had been recovered in the early hours of the morning from the beach at Brighton. He’d been arrayed with tent pegs and florescent yellow nylon rope beneath the charred remains of the old pier.
What the more detailed police report said was that his penis had been severed at the pubic bone, post mortem, and placed wound first in his mouth.
We’d last seen the dead man do this trick, as near as makes no difference, in a bowling alley gents in Guildford.
We were nine or thereabouts.
He was stood beside a smiling Elvis cut-out, his erection kissing his lips like it was the most natural thing in the world. We tried on subsequent occasions, all three of us, but failed miserably. The man was unspeakably vile, we decided, but his flexibility and length were legendary.
But the memory remains- a psycho-sexual stain that increasingly becomes a part of the pattern on the magic carpet.
Other things have stuck, things from the crime scene’s inventory of possessions: a small bronze, machine made token of no commercial value stamped on both sides with the same design- a spread eagle carrying a dead lamb, and an auction house Lot label, Bancroft’s of London, number two three nine. And the Coutts bank communication which puts the dead man in credit in excess of ten million on one account and five million on another. It was lucrative, whatever it was he did to accumulate such sums.
After Munich, I remember promising myself, I will phone home and arrange a schedule of visits.
It was never physical between Martin and me.
Sam and I have kissed once, on the lips, the tongue tip contact long enough to drive an unspoken wedge between us.
It established a pattern. I would dream of him and wake to damp sheets. The next day, almost buoyant with sexual release, I would rent a body and rediscover disappointment.
There are still things then, that money cannot buy.
German rain, it seemed to me, attacked the grey Mercedes with some deliberate malevolence. The grey weather obliterating the grey view inclining me to think I might be anywhere. I felt light-headed, slightly drugged, as if I had been kidnapped. Was this Munich?
His pale skin reflects like moonlight.
The ginger glow of five cigars.
Ten scrubbed hands offering payment
to the young turns behind the bar.
Five cocks crowing crude songs.
Old souls knowing where boys belong.
Then anywhere soon gave way to the gravity of place- grey suited doormen and porters reminding me of my importance, my particular importance. Eager voices with American accents speaking clipped English, ushering me to a private lift.
I remember that a penthouse tops off all the auction houses.
When the humming motors cease, I am met in a golden hallway by an aide, a Masai in black Versace- his smile is perfection.
Plump down filled cushions, silk the colour of pale mushrooms. Sleek things- virtually minimalist, dark oak on dark oak and an acre of skyline and sky. A red and resonant Bacon, then behind me a vast Monet its soft yellows frothing like summer. On the coffee table, the day’s London Times.
The fuckable Masai suggests tea and I immediately agree.
His name is Ed. Edward Ortanguru.
Two hours pass quietly.
The delicious Ed finally returns with a gang of three crows, head honchos from legal and financial and public relations. Something’s up, these grey men have blue lips. They give me two first class air tickets to London, both singles- one for me and one for the Masai.
It seems I may have acquired a Bancroft’s slave.
I follow the trio to a discreet study- blue spined books and two glass walls and ghost furniture. Four Picasso drawings. My worry melts and is replaced by low grade fear. I can smell the recent wing beats of death.
They nod at me, these powerful bearers of ill tidings, the self serving ministers of catastrophe. Their faces flickering from rehearsed remorse to ego-driven expectancy. They have jobs to keep, mortgages, wives and teenagers.
If only I had flown from Venice.
I pre-empt them with a sudden question concerning the bottom line. Unfazed, they affirm what I already know. Without a stutter, I read the pertinent documentation. Rain on the mass of glass, making me view the future through a fake Niagara.
There is no question.
There is no question.
In a matter of paragraphs, I have the lot.
The crows kiss me like courtiers and leave. They leave me with a large attaché case and Ed.
Ed’s job is to make everything work for me, everything, no exclusions. This he does with aplomb, with an invisibility that is above commendable. We are in the air when I begin to unravel.
Ed sorts me with a pill.
Ed sorts me with a pill and understanding.
They’re going to put me on the front page of Time magazine.
Am I really rich enough to dream things into being?
A sea of black limousines and silk umbrellas, where will the funeral be?
A Lincoln town car cossets us from Heathrow. Forty minutes to Hampstead. I have the soundproof, bombproof cabin to myself. I can see Ed animated, chatting to our driver.
I try to play reality.
It’s not as easy as ‘I-spy’.
I spy trouble beginning with T- tricky.
Mum and dad get to keep the house. No downshifting there. No social disgrace.
No money either. The money’s going to be down to me. Tricky.
I’ll offer Martin and Sam dream jobs, jobs no-one can refuse. Tricky.
I suddenly feel immensely lonely.
A red brick Victorian edifice, Arts&Crafts movement, in mint condition, worth a cool twenty million pounds, it welcomes me with open fires and turned down feather beds. We meet the staff, the pre-Raphaelites and two blonde Tibetan spaniels.
Discreet as ever, Ed leaves me to my fate and contemplations.
In the attaché case I find a small bronze token- a spread eagle carrying a dead lamb. I remember creepy Colin, dead now, and a Lot- Lot 239. There’s a detailed map of this fabulous but complicated house and there are keys of infinite security, like credit cards.
Why should I be intimidated?
I fondle the spaniels then finish off my brandy in boyish gulps.
It is well hidden.
Impossible to find without the means.
Wall to wall and ceiling to floor, the surprising room of drawers is all clear glass overlaid on glossy black metal. Smooth, no smudges. I am in thin gloves.
There is only one place to start.
In drawer 239 I find a desiccated heart.
It is small. I smell a trace of Vetiver.
There’s a short note declaring- ‘Boy aged eight. The soul of an angel. Priceless.’
Shocked, I drop everything and go to scream but Ed’s protective hands have me by the mouth and throat.
His soul has me by the balls.
How time flies. We are almost in the throes of preparing for my thirtieth birthday. Just a small affair- Mum and Dad, Martin and Sam’s family filling the guest house. They are all rich and happy to know nothing.
Ed is beside me.
The three crows are nesting in the Connaught Hotel. They know everything.
I’m very traditional me, that’s why I’ve made the Hampstead house my home.
Every morning that I can, I wake naked beside a naked Ed, a late breakfast laid beside our love strewn bed.
Spaniels at our feet. I have never been happier.
For almost ten years now the hurried arrangement has held good. It might as well be a double anniversary.
I am only human.
How could I refuse
all the tunes in his bible
of brown skin blues?
Martin, Sam and I handle what I call the visibles which constitute eighty percent of the world-wide business. Ed does the rest, all the esoterics, anything I deem less than palatable. My academic strengths have never ventured much beyond the third dimension.
I will sell surrealism to interiors driven Californians but the whole world knows I loathe it. In this business however, I have learned that everything has its price.
Everything has its fucking price!
Everything imaginable and unimaginable that is, and then some.
The beautiful Ed, by contrast, is utterly fearless, not at all squeamish. Profits continue to rocket in his sector. I’m not surprised. He really knows his stuff.
Ed is a lesson, a revelation.
He is quite unmoved by the chosen one’s extreme screaming or the massive loss of blood that goes with the territory.
..the journals are in black and white. Hidden. His. He had thought ..ebony and ivory but rather disliked Paul McCartney for his overt ..mass appeal Jesus consciousness. Jealousy maybe.
..This entry: Idylls are dead. Last night I fought off watching porn. ..It made me remember once wanking so much that my foreskin ..bled. I don’t think for one moment God was there to see it scab.
Near to heaven.
The view from the cathedral bell tower thrills the senses.
In the middle distance, rural activity as old as the hills.
The giving. The taking. The belly aching.
The living true.
A fatherly shepherd is at his sheep, driving them from pasture to pasture, with musical whistles and calls. The beautiful creatures show no signs of stress. He freshens their bedding, fills their water trough. And in the leaning shelter he offers them food and the human touch.
Its getting rare to see a man who cares to care as much.
As if in a painting to celebrate Christ, he cradles an abandoned lamb, fits him on the skin of one stillborn.
The dead lamb’s mother, on the edge of madness, comes calling to her mangod. Awash with milk and wonder, she takes the strange lamb on.
Marcus Boscombe, 44, is frequently troubled by his mercurial ascent to power and responsibility, even though it makes enormous sense to others.
He has made all the right moves, walked through a chequered hallway and found the right doors open.
Even the final rung of this ladder to the summit might be within his reach.
At six foot two the man is never belittled by costume or props.
His film star looks, mellifluous voice and a natural gift for communication that bridges all class and cultural divides, these are the things that have repeatedly catapulted him, head and shoulders, above less able aspirants. The Oxford University network has played its part- a double first class honours in Economics and Divinity is always florescent on the CV, regardless of the way it is word processed. A timeline of magical work placements and spotless references complete the picture. Being a white European, adept at chess, has proved no handicap.
..This entry: The church is stuffed with psychotic cunts.
His detractors, and in any institution there will always be detractors, have slyly labelled him a highly competitive strategist. And enemies there are, types who loathe board games.
But nothing of consequence has ever appeared in the debit column.
No wonder he worries.
Wren gave the city what remains of the present palace. One weathered end wall evidence of an early amputation. Three fifths of this fine stone residence, currently set up as administrative offices, the residue being a mixture of public and private space. The privacy itself being medieval, as it suits the various servants, all areas remaining liable to be infringed upon at any given moment.
This is an historical seat.
It could never be a home.
The apartment that Marcus now occupies is by any measure princely- cubed rooms with high ceilings, tall windows and inherited art. The décor leaden with gold and green highlights, something drummed up by a pupil of Pugin.
In the double cubed reception he has French windows opening onto a balcony of blood red geraniums that overlooks a vast lawn fringed by intensively nursed rose beds and the water meadows beyond.
The invisible ley lines are strikingly evident- the cathedral to conical hill, and in between the burial mounds of ancients. And like radii, the ancient trackways, their flattened grass blushed by under chalk.
..This entry: I cannot help but believe in alien intercourse with ..mankind throughout our true timeline.
Mists most mornings, giving mystery to the waterways.
Walks with swans and the ghosts of poetry.
Time to find words of reflection.
Boscombe is haunted in his study by stale books and fresh ideas. And the eyes of former incumbents taunt his youth and difference.
The ambience accuses.
There is conflict in Iraq.
Habituated soldiers killing as intended.
A centrist administration paying only lip service to spiritual concerns.
The roar of the established church reduced to a mewing.
Women in the churches skirts crying hallelujah. Their fans, a tribe of local pawns in twin sets and sensible shoes examining his ministry through hysterical myopia. Nouveau clerics drowning in a detritus of syringes, weaponry and racial abuse. Ethical investments.
The African fundamentalists ascendant.
The wealth of Mugabe versus the health of Zimbabwe. Aids an epidemic on the treacle continent.
The age of self, painting by numbers a delusional landscape.
Order being magicked out of hats by media bites.
The family being reinvented, cited as refuge.
Prostitution peddled as a hedge against poverty.
Child sex traded in the school yards, common as sweets.
America dominant, its rampant knights fucking the arse off a passive world.
..This entry: When Nietzsche said ‘God is Dead’ did he do so from a ..position of knowing what is was for there ever having been a God ..alive? The word fuck has grown more powerful than the word God ..and it is useful and describes something far more pleasurable.
The white phone, the phone of least priority rings, breaking his bleak chain of thought. It is a brusque secretary with advance warning of an approaching assistant. A dull prospect until she imparts a name.
As a spontaneous antidote to bleakness, a profound happiness awakes, a smile suddenly decorating his face. This is no ghost of a negligent philosophy. It is the day’s true expectation realised, the long awaited return of someone dear.
The black queen, back in play.
Someone who missed the ritual enthronement.
Henry Washington Simbele will want to know all the gory details.
For starters, Marcus has repetitive strain injury in his right hand.
‘You talk.’ Henry offers, his travel weary self being swallowed by a green leather chesterfield, ‘I’ll listen without interrupting.’
‘Right.’ Marcus chooses the black phone to ring out. The black phone being the vehicle of formal and official communications. ‘No calls, Rhiannon, and no visitations, not for an hour. Absolutely. Absolutely.’
‘Should I lock the door?’ he asks Henry.
‘No. You must learn to trust your minions Marcus.’
‘Yes. Of course. And Rhiannon is super, really. Devoted. She’s a super minion, the Rottweiler of Cathedral Close.’
‘There’s an album in preparation, a video being edited. I’ve never shaken so many eager hands. If they had asked me to record a single of ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd.’ I would not have been surprised. Anyway, look on the bright side, I’ll be able to endlessly repeat myself far more than usual. And, as usual there was the press call. Unusual in point of fact, in that it preceded, on the schedule, time set aside for my devotions. That made me think how modern we had all become. There were too many of them there for my liking. And of course I was prepared for the usual bone of contention. The bone in question having been beefed up, made considerably meatier by recent events in North America. When will they ever learn. I have not changed my answer in twenty years so why expect me to change now. Still, I can see how difficult it must be for them. To be confronted, in the twenty first century, by celibacy in action, so to speak. To hear it spoken of in glowing terms as something cherished, something fulfilling. It must do their heads in. These guys, Henry, they are all serial wankers. They moved on from nocturnal emissions the minute they had one. As far as sexual matters go we lock horns like alien species. They will not, in a month of Sundays, believe I don’t get off on the likes of Jordan or Robbie Williams or any of the many supposed genders in between. I am not gay, so far as I know. I am forty four, Henry, a virgin, still intacta, true. Yes it is true. And still it won’t compute for them. Not for them. And not for the world. Most people seem to enjoy seeing me as some freak of nature got up in gold and jewels. They don’t read newspapers, they read comics. They hear me preach on poverty and fairness and they miss the relevance- that I’m largely preaching to them about them. Then their sad minds wander from my mitre to my loins. They wonder how I deflect desires. How I deal with loneliness and longing.’
And so it went on, the painful unravelling of the great day’s pyramid, until the polished pinnacle of it met the Aubusson carpet that graced the study floor. Bishop Boscombe brought himself to mother earth with a very human sigh, a sound that suggested he’d already had his fill of pre-eminence and ceremony.
One month into any job and the honeymoon is over.
The red telephone phone rang.
Calls of the highest priority only.
It was the County’s senior policeman.
The authorities had a cathedral deacon in custody, on suicide watch. His wife hospitalised- not expected to live through the night. Two children, twelve year old twins, a boy and a girl, separated and in care. The girl four months pregnant. The boy showing clear signs of cigarette burns and rectal abuse.
‘Who else knows?’
‘There’s a media circus setting up camp as we speak. From where I am standing, your Grace, I can see a forest of satellite facilities.’
..This entry: Shit happens and the Almighty doesn’t give a fuck.
After two years of studious discretion, the first ever images of Marcus and Henry together were shot as they negotiated the high tech gauntlet between their car and the police station. The bishop and his assistant in tandem, on an errand of mercy.
Offices no stranger to testosterone. Loud talk. Signs and secrets.
All the serendipity of law. Lock and key.
Safe seating. Poisonous coffee in extruded plastic.
Strange, the vision of John Braine got up in white- a one piece paper suit covering his nakedness. His presence blinding in a small room, uniformly grey. His blue eyes first fast and fearless, then slow and melancholy, then still and dead.
‘John. This is my assistant Henry Simbele, a lawyer amongst other things.’
‘A church lawyer?’
‘Well. The church of Christ can’t help me now.’
‘No!’ he screams, hands raised, terminating the audience, ‘I am lost. And in a place where prayer and platitudes hold no sway.’
The twins’ tutor, a small and balding man usually immersed in music, brought the problem to their head of year. It was a matter of private and public health. The headmaster, a mathematics specialist, brought the tale to an extraordinary meeting of the governing body. The governors followed the required procedure as far as was possible, there being no sub-section to the page on psycho-sexual disorders that fitted exactly.
No-one involved, from the fur collared do-gooders to the world weary politicos, would ever forget the steps needing to be taken when pupils are discovered collecting their faeces in paper parcels and storing them in their desks like lunch packs.
And later, deeper into the inquiry, those same pillars of the local community, whose prior concerns had been whether or not eleven year olds understood place settings at table or the importance of being polite to the elderly, would need to offload cherished prejudices and rewire their outdated preconceptions- first year pupils at their comprehensive could very well be sexually active, drug taking, smoking, drinkers.
They could be parents.
They could be thieves.
They might even be blackmailers.
More than a few of them had already starred in more than a few pornographic films alongside various shameless adults including a twenty four stone policeman, a Pakistani social worker, a teacher from the local Catholic primary and a New Labour magistrate.
Following an express visit by the senior under-secretary from the Home office- chauffeur driven Rover, skirt suit, Mary Quant bob, the governing body and the whole of the staff including ancillary workers such as dinner ladies, cleaners and caretakers, were sworn to silence, made signatories to the State Secrets Act.
An immediate press blackout was put into place.
And, in a clinical damage limitation exercise, there would be a swathe of sackings and a show trial involving the Braine family.
Antiquity paving the way.
Truth moulded and piped like royal white icing on a cake of shit.
Deacon John Braine was elected the scapegoat, beloved of Azazel- the leader of the rebel angels, and after twenty four hours of protesting his innocence to the temple elders he was cast into the wilderness of internment, naked, in a paper suit, his skin full to bursting with the insinuating sins of the many.
Janet, John Braine’s wife, was elected the goat of the Lord. And, as the Lord’s goat she was first favoured then sacrificed.
She is said to have slashed her forearms, wrist to elbow. How knowledgeable she was. Her pale goat body in red bra and panties, found soaking in blood in a magnolia corner bath. Her pink slippers and housecoat tidy and to one side. The short, but razor sharp knife, out of place in the fat pig soap dish.
The stark picture etched in acid on the mind of the new Bishop.
One of many visuals.
..This entry: Beyond me. I have it in me to me free.
Marcus took himself off to the crown of the conical hill, let the circle of oaks surround him like cohorts. And in the dappled light he sat alone, being energised by the oneness of things, the pollen on his sleeve like sorrows yet to be addressed. His boots thick with fingers of mud, as if he’d stamped hard upon the pleading hands of those in need. And he was sure his heart weighed heavier than ever. Its beating dull and songless in the dark prison of his breast.
There was much to see at this world’s edge, a green and pleasant counterpane of civilisation spread before him, comfortable, cosy, making a good job of hiding the vast bed of nails. And in the miniaturisation of perspective, the realisation that church and state and education are linked by ancient bridges, if not genuinely old then fake. The kind of compliment that makes tame architects a favourite with small minds.
If those links constitute a chain, where was freedom figuring? Or was that something else needing to be stolen?
A Celtic mismaze cut into the chalk hillside mocking our loss.
History twisting and contorting in the pay of ugliness.
Marcus bereft, his breathing less than beneficial. A panic attack beckoning like feral love on a plate. What would Christ do? Would he masturbate, like other men, then drift into a post orgasmic sleep, his body curled in on itself like a foetus, then later wake a changed man, his whole aura alive with light?
How odd to be the promised one, expected. So desired that you were finally engineered, devised by fanatics, an amalgam of man and God. A doll to play with. A dummy for the mouths of babies.
Satan pleased. Listening to the Catholics teaching- suck on this.
His thought pattern scattered by the rabid birdsong of a mobile phone.
Just a text-
‘Your move. White bishop to black queen. HSx.’
The walk back making pea green crickets fly from the fat grass.
Marcus tingling, thrilling to the chatter of his flesh.
A thrush in flight, dies, stops, then drops like a stone, its dead weight writing rings on the still tributary.
And a small mother shrew, fat with babies, casts him a look from the path ahead.
The tears come, kissing his linen handkerchief like clear blood.
But by the iron stile he manages a grin.
And, thinking fondly of him, it breaks into a smile.
In poets’ footsteps.
He switches off the wasting lights as he moves through the palace, almost silent. His serenity born of hot decision not of princely cool. Once through the doors of his apartment he does what he’s never done before, he turns, turning to turn the key, turning to shoot the bolts and pray, ‘God help me.’
Henry is leaving the small kitchen, the wine open and the glasses full.
Henry whose colour has more allure than black tulips.
Henry whose litheness never injures the air.
Henry whose African eyes claim him.
The chessboard is in action. There’s an opportunity for a diagonal line of attack. Or is it defence? Or is it something else?
Marcus visits a window, the view of his great cathedral being eaten by sudden inclement weather. There would seem to be unseasonal sleet thickening the squall. He watches while the edifice dissolves before his eyes.
Then, when he finally turns to accept some red wine from his friend, there is no question.
There is no answer that he needs to hear.
You could imagine the city’s bakers mumbling that, as much as anything, the freak snow made the night memorable.
God on the remote control had cut the volume.
Marcus saw and heard.
His awake self, wrapped in blankets on the stone balcony, marvelling at the expanse of white lawn. And here and there, the tell-tale tracks of creatures, just like him, who knew what it was to be alive.
Life, complete and unexpurgated, had arrived at last.
But, as if in payment or a fit of jealousy, God had gone.
He’d heard the last of the Almighty’s carriages crushing the gravel just before dawn. They’ll not be missed, all those imaginary belongings, the esoteric personal effects. The incense and the glint of things that sparkle will prompt remembrances. And then, in time, when even they dim to nothing, they’ll not be missed also.
He was crying quietly, but ignorant of it, his both hands culling petals from the cold geraniums. He was casting them like drops of blood on the chill air. And down to the slight snow they fell, the imaginary trail of a wounded angel. A fantastic being shot by fanatics, cruelly winged in the act of making love.
Then there was Henry, naked and magnificent at the French windows, being brave and fearless, offering breakfast and a way out.
The way out proved uncomplicated, almost ridiculously so.
One medium length call on the red telephone.
Rhiannon taken to one side.
Two remarkably short letters on diocesan headed notepaper.
The summit beckons.
Marcus has unwittingly made it to a higher rung.
Bright Mediterranean light wakes him. The hotel bed too firm for indolence. Henry is already on the phone, finalising the purchase of an old villa in the mountains. When he finishes, the two men sit beside each other, the die cast, committed lovers already deep into their long future together. A double six thrown repeatedly.
Marcus’ book deal in the bag.
Henry’s immigration service up and running.
‘I had another broken sleep.’
‘Yes.’ Henry said, his face rich with concern.
‘I keep seeing their peeling faces.’
‘Children’s faces, like before. I dream children’s faces. Not just John and Janet’s. Any children’s faces, just when they are about to change. I was a shepherd once, and now I dream the peeling faces of children who are losing their innocence. Innocence is ripped away from them. Raped. And all their lost innocence is like lambs being wrenched from the warmth of their mothers. Never again will they suckle milk and know immunity and sheep love, the woolly warmth of the comfortable sheep community. All they have left is the endless bleating, over and over. They know only endless bleating then death. Metal death. Death as and when. Death sent according to market forces. No wonder I lost my faith.’
‘And I found you, and you are beautiful.’ Henry Simbele tells him, softly, tenderly, certain, without a shadow of a doubt that it is true.
..They burned the journals. Pagan. The herding of mental cattle ..through the smoke to ward off disease. The pestilence of the past ..got rid of by a pile of cinders smouldering on an altar to the sun ..beneath the midday holocaust. Another life within a life begun as ..it can when freewill is released.
The fresh splatter pattern on the already coppered creeper suggests an early strike at a major vessel. Perhaps as the victim was attempting a thwarted escape.
In blind panic.
Losing their footing.
An axe type blade, sharp as a razor, aimed at the back of the neck, full of forward momentum then veering left. A glinting arc of metal death, blue in the west coast moonlight. One master swipe reclaiming all the power. Welcome to America and God bless her. What an unholy self-obsessed crock of shit.
Where does the almost headless body belong?
There’s a distinct trail rich with remnants of screamings and flailings that will take them collecting across the backs of disturbed properties- split shoes, shards of clothing, slivers of skin, a finger tip.
Blood can be mistaken- paint, tainted water, but not for long. Homicide detectives develop an almost magical instinct for its origin. The humanity extant in human blood shines in a spectrum that suits their sensibilities. They very rarely waste their valuable time on the exsanguinations of dead animals.
Some scenes will still make them retch.
This site is particularly wretched.
How safe can anyone really be?
The young couple had debated the possibilities before.
The terrifying possibilities.
Rubin, her boyfriend, is the chief executive of PACT, a personal protection company; her father, wealthy and retired, once flew high in the friggin’ fingers in every pie FBI; her split level home is in a small gated community adjacent to Beverly Hills, some of the most intensely policed acres on the planet.
Rubin knows that security is always a matter of reducing the odds.
Life itself is a gamble. And the odds never completely reduce to nothing. And the next time, late at night, whenever her complex key sinks into her locked front door, it will occur to her how vulnerable she is. Bound to.
Even as the red lights on the intruder cameras pulse, Crimson wonders what the black to ruby velvet shadows hide?
Who or what could be waiting patiently inside her home, brooding in comfort, hungry and armed?
An American psycho, a Neanderthal nutter.
Crimson Cardinale seldom had a whole weekend entirely to herself. What an exceptional time lay ahead- late breakfasts; slow baths instead of sprint through showers; hours at play with the remote control, exploring the pornography of daytime TV; sessions being a victim of plush sofas; days of generally slumming it and relaxing her guard.
Solferino, the Californian Ragdoll cat needs loving, emotional rewiring.
The small patio and designer yard, whose trailing greens have rusted into red, needs major surgery- a body lift and blood transfusions.
She could write a whole list of ten ‘must dos’ and her father would scrape on to it, just. She knows that isn’t fair.
Poor Cardinale- the too long year has not been kind to him. Crimson’s mother Poppy had been hospitalised following a bungled raid on the Cardinale gallery. It was a short hop from Melrose to the hospital. That night, in bed, coincidental with a change of shifts, she’d developed an overlooked complication. Under a build up of pressure an internal rupture had finally given way. The result being a monstrous internal bleed. She then leaked red like she intended it. Painting her bright surprise on the bare canvass of the room.
Rothko meets Pollock.
As she had indicated in her private papers, the funeral was to be Armani black with strictly red highlights.
Red flowers in tribute to her love of passion.
Red showers thudding on her ebonised box.
Crimson’s father- a lifetime spent perfecting duplicity, subsequently became more difficult. And, as understandable as this may be, the situation remains unchanged. An Archangel within the community, he is as tetchy as anyone could possibly imagine within the family. An American of Italian descent, the roots profound and criminally underground, he’s the proverbial charmer wired to explode, his danger as discreet as Semtex.
How good of Rubin to have finally persuaded the old patriarch to go. And how brave. But there are luxurious cabañas north east of San Francisco. And the beloved Sardinian rifles have never been fired. Maybe Rubin has an important question to ask of him. Something concerning Crimson’s hand. It’s the season to invent reasons to celebrate.
Now was the time to collect trophies, to make work for the taxidermist. Now was the time to put striations on the guts of all four barrels. Now’s the time to heal, not to forget- never, but to begin to remember less.
The very profitable gallery is closed for four days and under frenzied attack by creative refurbishers. A new look. Flexible division. Space making by illusion. White being the new black on account of the re-opening of the Museum Of Modern Art in New York.
Crimson knew all this as she waved goodbye to the Lexus, feeling youthful and determined to act the perfect truant. She felt a little light headed as if someone had deliberately injected her with pharmaceutical droplets of laughter. How good this was going to be, renewing her acquaintance with irresponsibility again.
For the third night alone- freedom breeding abject listlessness, Crimson arranged for the cat sitter to stay over. Lucy Gruber- someone often taken for her younger sister. And, feeling in need of incognito people swaying and sweating in mass interaction, she planned a late night out, with a taxi to the venue on Venice Beach and another booked for the return. Her plan broke all the PACT rules- no guard, no named drivers, no hand gun, no necessity.
‘See ya for brunch.’ was her passing shot, life lines electric between the two women. Friends for years.
Guardians of mutual secrets.
Curators of common tears.
The cab’s familiar imitation of a sailing dinghy lulled her into semi-consciousness on the short voyage to the ocean at Santa Monica. She disembarked at Annattos, a former warehouse reborn as a dance arena- all senses sucked-up to in low light, raw sounds at mega watts.
The ambience, hot, moist, sexy.
In obligatory red, Crimson immediately disappeared- the interior design being inspired by post mortem examinations and splayed genitalia. Maroon wets. Not cutting edge. But very popular.
In a spleen of an alcove she bought substances and smokes, strolled to the bar and ordered vodka with cranberry. Pairs of eyes had already lit up for her.
Who was she going to pretend to be- Sandy Summers, fun and games on her fiery agenda? There were bound to be takers, playmates aplenty, loins full, hearts empty.
Annattos’ has a utilitarian backroom.
It is black and soft and sanitary.
Padded and quilted satinised vinyl.
Liquid proof. Hoseable.
The first call hit the sleepy LAPD at twenty three past midnight. A short call from a callbox on La Cienega. A man’s voice sporting a distinctive New York twang with an Italian accent, it cited the crime and the place almost morosely, ending the message with an upbeat ‘Bye. Bye. Cardinale.’
The contrast chilling and strangely final.
The second call, a radio communication, came from a police cruiser parked on Melrose. Twenty seven past midnight.
‘Could it be an artwork?’
It triggered a well rehearsed frenzy of immediate response.
In strawberry dotted pyjamas, Lucy Gruber is on the newly clipped patio rattling a red enamel food dish, beginning to lose her patience with Solferino. The Ragdoll has a mind of his own and has often been labelled a dirty red-necked stop out.
Why tonight, she is asking herself, eager to return to the comedy spilling aimlessly from the abandoned TV.
Then behind her, the glass doors slide open.
A drawn out swish, that seems to be saying hush your mouth.
It makes no sense, so she spins around to determine why.
Lucy Gruber drops the empty dish. It clatters like canned laughter. Pointless.
Her throat, gripped instantly by hands of fear, will not respond.
Solferino, thrown by a freak, lands at her bare feet, lifeless, his innocent inner sanctums violated and exposed. His corpse a college lesson in anatomy. His pet blood warm between her red painted toes.
She suddenly races to scale the plant clad walls.
In the adjoining yard she loses a trailing finger tip.
Lucy Gruber screams into the next yard, unaware that Death sits there, his sand-timer dribbling through the final grains. And in the moonlight she is cut deep. Rendered powerless.
Made quiet for all the wrong reasons.
Then she is fashioned for maximum effect.
A dedicated arrogance is loose, fused with patience and passion and artistry.
The wrong girl’s fondly held secrets being laid bare in rich Technicolour.
Her nipples and her lips taken.
The Galleria Cardinale is awash with photo floods.
Forensics jockeys are at the evidence like large white corpuscles at a giant wound, tagging and bagging, their meticulous fingering dispersing the horror.
A mirror image horror.
Lit by shop spots, facing the street, Rubin and his intended father-in-law hang naked, side by side, crucified against the newly decorated wall.
Both life size figures show immense attention to detail. Glistening guts. Profound nudity. Art intended to shock.
Fluids continue to collect then seep from the arches of the four feet.
Detectives are at the parked Lexus off roader, words like ritual and vendetta burning their tongues and soft palates. The crime scene wretched. A long night beckoning.
More human blood.
And blooded rope. And the victims’ expensive clothing neatly folded.
Virgin guns. Unopened ammunition. An array of holdalls, briefcases and wallets apparently intact. In the two handheld computers the family names and numbers are highlight, hollering to be addressed.
Love contacts pressing their case.
Business associates waiting to be accused.
Nothing taken then, except the two sets of testes.
Crimson, not entirely in control, manages to pay her cabby. She stands at the kerb, mindlessly watching the tail lights as they slowly kiss the remnants of the night. She turns to face the short stroll to her door and that delicious divan- cool, comforting, vast and yielding, the bedding luxurious, courtesy of Carmine Dreams.
And she’s half-heartedly searching for Solferino in the squat shrubbery when the icy voice reaches her. She looks up.
‘Miss Cardinale? Miss Crimson Cardinale?’ asks the woman in uniform, who appears a shade too sombre for this early in the morning, too weaponed up, too alert.
‘Yes. Yes. What is it?’
‘It's bad news.’
Crimson’s Italian screaming- operatic, drug driven, touched by alcohol; was sung regardless of the facts she’d yet to learn.
Straightaway she knew her desperate aloneness.
Sensed it like the insecurity of a child given the nod and the wink.
Her heart was AWOL, gone like a battered red kite penetrating the dawn sky, attempting its hopeless escape, flying high above the brilliance of her alien pain.
In her dreams would she be escaping from the sudden freedom! Freedom forced on her by a rapist reality.
In her dreams would she be escaping from the ugly and unexpected responsibility!
In her dreams, really, when sleep finally claims her, she’ll find her ghost mother being busy, writing exquisite invites, organising private views again- the funerals are to be Armani black with strictly red highlights.
Red flowers only, in tribute to her family’s love of passion and revenge.
Red showers of American Italiano kitsch thudding on the ebonised boxes. Epidemically wasteful. Characteristically tasteless. God bless everywhere else other than here.
All tears unsuitably restrained- trained on the East Coast, uber Kennedy style, ice salt water hiding vast reservoirs of power-soaked sin.
It was, I knew, bordering on psychotic- folding the letter yet again and re-inserting it into its creamy envelope. OCD. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. This repeat activity, the reading and the re-reading had emptied the coffee pot. It would be a rare thing indeed to live a rich life without a bomb never having been dropped randomly through your post-box. This explosion had been anticipated, long awaited. Here it was, albeit somewhat overdue. Hot. A new brew of liquor strength emotion whose smell alone seduced the naughty past from slumber.
I watched the awful pleasure of it wake utterly regardless of my flat’s harsh light and gleaming surfaces. The blue film would have to be re-run before suitable arrangements could be made. A small phone call. A place to meet. Starbucks I thought- safe, neutral, other women with offspring in breeder’s buggies, machines hissing, mobile songs.
I was ten back then, one of absolutely identical twins besides the gender. My wanton sister never minded my almost hairless disproportionate dick. A thing that made me significantly sick. A tool she loved to fool around with, loved to lick and loved to stick inside her beautiful secret. We habitually did it ‘till the torrid afternoon we were first and last discovered. Lou’s chin was covered in my cum. I was finger fucking her from behind when the bedroom door was violently flung open and the air was blown apart with my name shouted louder than I’d ever heard it before ‘Zoo!’
They re-homed us separately. I never saw her after that- except in mirrors as I daily shaved or regularly dealt with whiteheads.
I tried homosexuality but it always hurt- apparently I have a gristly sphincter peculiarly resistant to stretching. Men quite happily sat on my large prick but I always felt some sense of ennui and the notion that something crucial was missing. A cock in my mouth was neither north or south to me. I stuck with it for years because on some subliminal level I recognised my growing addiction to the various flavours of body warm gissum. I actually had a boyfriend who memorialised my member in the best latex. Imagine that in my various effects post mortem. He inevitably went. I never could keep any of them. Well, in truth, I missed her. I missed my stolen sister. None of the gay interlopers knew there was a competitor, a very heavy hitter, hiding in my closets.
Eventually I tired of it. It. I’d known for years. The source of all my inner sorrow lay between my legs. A psychiatrist concurred- for the sake of my sanity it had to go. You know the process- lengthy and stuffed with drugs and self obsession, pre-op, depilation, boob-job, plastic-surgery, then the final coup-de-grace. In recovery I laughed- told the surgeon to feed it to his dog.
Funny. I suddenly had a painfully re-formed fanny I had to prod with a prosthetic to prevent it from closing, healing over. I had a button clitoris created from the meat of my bell-end. I remember when I was mended I saw myself in a full length mirror and it was not me who I saw but her- a perfect, kindly, sympathetic caricature of her. Lou, Zoo, two peas in the pod.
It didn’t strike me as being at all odd. In fact I felt awesome, transcendentally complete. Because we are identical twins we have the same size hands. Brilliant. Because we are identical twins we have the same size feet. Fucking fantastic.
Now, after all this time, she wants to meet me. Fuck a cunt. She doesn’t know. What if she wants a cunt fucking? I’ll take along the latex me, the virginal best of latex strapadictomes. Tubes of tingle linger lube. The transgender diaries. Photographs. Book a hotel room. Cream trouser suit. Nothing flash. Black hair slicked back. Minimal slap. Rather demure. Vintage Jean Muir.
She was there before me. Par for the course.
I should not have been astonished. Lou was in a cream trouser suit. Black hair slicked back. We mirrored each other as we kissed. Cheek. Cheek. No tongues.
You never fall in love so fast as when you fall in love with the perfect representation of yourself. Shit. This was it. I was ten again, pumping her pussy with my long lost cock. She was shouting don’t stop Zoo, Zoo don’t ever stop. I was delirious with pre-pubescent exposure to endorphins. Screwings. Doings.
Lou collected the low fat latte caramel grandes. I was plotting the route to the queen-sized bed, imagining my bendy model disappearing deep into her velvet secret purse- curse or no curse. Of course we had a lot to talk about, years to catch up with. It could fucking wait. It is so post coital, pillow whispers between incestuous sisters.
I had not felt such holistic quickening excitement for two decades.
Lou took my shaking hands quite firmly, almost disturbingly firmly. She told me then, straight out, cold, clinical- she’d followed my whole journey, was fascinated, incredibly well-informed, hideously researched as if it really mattered, which of course it did. Cunt.
Her journey is very different, opposite, travelling in fact totally the other way. She’d been in close contact with my former boyfriend, learned about the perfect latex artefact. She asked me for a loan of it to take to her brilliantly creative surgeon in Holland. He’s a wizard with inner thigh tissue. Her thinking was, if she was going to have one at all, she might as well have one like mine.
Of course I let her have it. I always had given her things. We were always close. She/he was my very close sister. It’s not been returned. No loss.
Where is he now? How? Why? Shit! I have absolutely no idea.
Like most long-term post-operative transgender creatures I am constantly battling phenomenal suicidal inclinations, looking in mirrors, popping pills, getting drunk, turning tricks and waiting for the belligerently straight postman to bring me a letter that will change my life like a nail bomb would a meeting of mothers in Starbucks.
A PART APART
He was at it again- bitterly obsessively regretting being christened with such a burdensome name, a name that bit at both his ganglia and prostrate, a name never meant for greatness: Godfried Dick. He knew of Phillip Dick, Bladerunner, the sheep, the weeping of the lambs. He got there, fair and square in Thomas Harris territory, in a flash. Lately he was prone to do this, the domestic circumstances predisposing him to introspection and morbid depression.
It was early afternoon, a Friday, and he was watch-watching whilst eyeing inbred pigeons with an intense envy.
He’d ended the working week early with a sense of glee, boyishly exercising his freedom to virtually come and go when he pleased where he was prized and also demonised by a junior partnership. Law firms ran in the family as did truncated marriages to doctors and unseemly divorces.
He picked at the brie and rocket sandwich he’d purchased from Starbucks, scattered crumbs exciting the sky rats, felt in a blink like some demi-god. Odd as a peg with no hole at all.
London’s many smaller, mostly walk-thru parks, were active pockets of intrigue, places of consequence where stories, indeed films, either began or ended or, in the case of some European directors, both. Shit, all of life’s detritus, sifted through them in a giant cycle of glory, boredom and regret.
This particular bench, the one marked in dedication to Sybil Fort- a maverick female banker was, he knew, to be his first fresh benchmark, the start of a new life without a cunt of a surgeon wife when the bells eventually chime four. It was ironically apt. On this bench he’d get the call to say the deal was done- his substantial assets duly raped; the West Sussex Manor and the Colombian gardener gone along with two million in pristine sterling. He kept telling himself how liberating it was.
It was an obvious loss. Even whenever he’d been a phenomenal success he’d thought himself a loser. Well, with a name like that, a name that defied a halfway decent nick-name. No-one was going to call him God. Dick was obvious and consequently ubiquitous even at a Public school- Winchester. Winchester, followed by a first in Law at Oxford. Fried Dick always hurt him the most. She who was noted for her heart bypass technique had persistently called him Dickie- the one trifle that had always made him feel rather sick. The scalpel adept bitch.
At least he had the de rigueur bachelor pad in Covent Garden- with garage, a state of the art Audi and a legitimate million. Not exactly a setback to anyone fresh out of the closet about to embark on a new life as a gay man. The head of his firm was a very understanding old queen with a wicked glint in his eye that spoke of tit for tat and prospective promotion. So fuck Ms bleached skin and her endless theses on the refinements of suturing.
His Blackberry played Elgar, cutting the ambient silence like he’d seen MP’s from The Treasury slice the end off of fat Cuban cigars.
A DONE DEAL.
Free. But he was suddenly at a loss as how to feel.
Three albino pigeons chopping the sunlight like ‘copter wings, the vision slabs of white and black, not unlike the precursor of a migraine attack. The arms of The Isle Of Man. He covered his blue eyes with both hands, began sobbing like a much bullied boy.
Traffic police found the abandoned Audi, doors agape, keys in the ignition, the engine purring. Blood at jam set stage, sticky, viscous, mocked the custard yellow hide of the driver’s and the passenger side. No sign of structural damage. No theft. An SLR digital and a Macbook had been left along with all of the vehicle’s accreditation. Nearby a major hospital- a great white toad with NHS blue eyes held ghastly court across the urban sprawl where anything of any possible predilection might actually breathe air and reside.
All he has said over and over is ‘The bag. The bag. The [expletive] plastic bag.’
No-one is surprised.
THE A&E RECEPTIONIST
“I was fresh on. He was my first. You always remember them. Dead on ten pm he was. Never late me. We were pretty slack- just a broken foot and a suspected heart attack I knew full well was dyspepsia. No medical qualifications just years of experience. You see it all the time. He was a walk-in. Well, I say a walk-in. Two, in uniform, door security men helped him stagger to a seat. They’re plastic. The Accident and Emergency seating. Totally washable and bolted to the floor. His face was as white as a sheet. His hands and his lower half were covered with blood, totally covered, and he was shouting out about this bag he was holding. Very unpleasant. Major. I immediately pressed the emergency triage bell as per our pocket training manual. I couldn’t look at him. He was smart though. Nice shoes. Probably tailored I surmised. Bespoke. You can always tell a lot about a man by the gib of his shoes.”
The assessment nurse arrived. An obese flap of youth, badges and an upside down watch, sensibly shod. She called out almost immediately. The back-up arrived in double time, seeming like too many chefs spoiling the buffet of flesh and flannel, but the froth of chrome and green was altogether necessary. God was whisked away to a semi-intensive surgical bay, the curtains cerulean blue with not a cloud to suggest rain in their softly pleated sky. Sharp scissors attacked his Paul Smith jeans. Quick fingers sought a wallet, diary, any form of identity. Godfried Dick, Queens Counsel. Forty two. Next of kin- Mrs Priscilla Dick, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon. It suddenly seemed he was one of theirs.
In went a multi-valve for a variety of lines- saline, morphine. Swabs. Machine bots all singing and all dancing mountain ranges. Shocked eyes locked then criss-crossing, asking, no-one answering, doing the routine on injuries anything but routine. The whole team breathy and agog. Their silence much louder than when encountering the usual run-of-the-mill proximity to death, to infant burns victims, to nuns miscarrying. In that profession you do become inured to the topography of tragedy until a new volcano suddenly erupts as if to deliberately trip you out of auto-pilot. Sandra threw up in a recycled paper dish, adding to the scent of shitted Calvin Kleins and tissue damage. Leanne fainted, qualified for her own bay, a cold sponge to the forehead and regularly tapped hands. Eventually done with the humdrum, a junior doctor turned to the transparent bag whose contents, at that stage, needed no medical judgement and offered no surprise tangents of thought- half melted ice-cubes, blood, meat, a pathetic human piece, a part apart.
A&E SENIOR NURSE
“I’d seen him before. Lovely couple. We have a Cardiac Suite, the fifth floor- all of it. Very handsome. I shouldn’t say it but everyone remarked on it- his good looks. Televisual I think they call it these days. Yes. Of course. The hospital ant’s nest being the hotbed of rumours that it is we all had an inkling of the impending divorce. Minutes after we laid hands on him he lost all consciousness. Swift blood matching. Transfusion. Rigorous monitoring. Transfer to theatre and the safe hands of a plastic surgeon who was fortuitously available. No. He never uttered a word other than was sufficient to draw our attention to the bag he brought in with him. Speed is crucial in these cases. He’s in intensive care now drifting in and out of sleep supported by a raft of drugs. I wouldn’t expect him to be reliably lucid for at least 48hrs. Yes. With severe subcutaneous injury there is always danger of infection and yes, some of those infections can be life-threatening. Mrs Dick. No. No, I can’t say that I have.”
Still sobbing, he stopped when a young man tapped him on the shoulder and gave him the Blackberry he’d just dropped. God was taken aback. The lad loped off- lank blonde hair, thread worn street threads, careless and awash with honesty. A miracle.
It was four thirty.
A whole half an hour of freedom wasted.
A new cycle of self chastisement began keeping him pre-occupied as he sauntered from the City to Covent Garden. The gate porter smiled. Then, as he entered his G&Q domain- the home she hated, he discovered a scrap of paper in his pocket; unfolding it he read the rather cryptic ‘www.squirt.org’ and decided to investigate the site later, after his long bath.
Physical nakedness often begets more denuding. Immersion in warm water with all its residual references to the womb where sound and motion both seduced, produces an inclination in us to undress our beasts of lies, to lay bare their reality as unkempt rent or sloppy trollops; at least God thought as much. He’d lied enough and often blamed the legal bar- the greatest liars always made the best defence briefs. They could turn the theft of a Blackberry into the mere ‘oversight’ much beloved by fraudulent members of The Commons. The Lords too he quickly remembered- how sweet the unsavoury relationship between The Crown and honesty. The joy in that impossibly honest boy. Maybe he was gay too, felt it on his radar. He was showing empathy.
A London blonde boy glowing empathy. That was real, not the prejudicial preconception that he was bound to steal
Why the fuck speak posh.
God’s cock was soft, moist moleskin; sac relaxed. Best wash Priscilla fully off with oils alive with vetiver. Never. How clever the mind. No more the torture of that ever present question- is this a geezer’s cunt or a front arse passing itself off as a fucking rose, a blood red origami rose with thorns that prick your swollen bell-end into spending millions for the dubious pleasure of an overblown wank. Men, God thought, are fuckwits to put up with it. Maybe their wedlocked totty learn. Maybe they come to yearn, to long to have their man shove it up their next to kitty shitter.
‘Oh! Come back, loping boy and soft soap me into aping raping you. Lick me dry. I wish. I wish.’
He screamed but soundlessly. The overhead lights seemed stolen from a set by Spielberg- crafty the Germans, spinning, always going back to a beginning, being dazzling, dizzying. His movement on the pillow rang a bell. It came- opaque with hands outstretched and spoke in tongues. It flapped fabric, switched switches, checked both wrists. It twists, spiralling like smoke, a much sucked curly-wurly chew bar. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Rub it. There, I told you, Fried Dick, isn’t cock divine. ‘Mother’ he whispers and she turns- a face with vast almond eyes staring intently as he drifts back into fretful sleep. He’s chalking in white chalk on a black blackboard ‘YOU FOOLS. THERE ARE NO RULES’. It spots a drift of spittle and gently cleanses his pale cheek. Dickbrain- ever had poppers, d’you know what Crisco is, fancy a bit of felching, fuck a bit more go for second helpings. Get your kit off. Blimey, that’s a beauty. Take a gander at this one son, bloody lovely. It’s your lucky night tonight. Tonight I’m gonna let ya shoot right into me mouth.
Mummy wouldn’t like it. Mummy didn’t ever like what daddy did. She slept with nanny.
It was then God wet the hospital bed.
In intensive care wetting the bed makes a discreet light glow at the nearby nurse’s station.
Now why would the psychotherapist have made quite such a pointed point about the fact that he was a happy heterosexual. It is a huge fucking leap from side-effect bonding to random buggery- how insecure was he in his sexuality, his Marks & Spencer’s off the rail suit, his no tie casualness and his Next loafers? God guessed he was the Positive Obsessive type who regularly looked in the hall mirror on the way out and told it, Hey shiny guy! If ever I were a lady I’d go moist for you. Please! What was that aftershave. Oh yes. NHS.
And you’re British, God thought, not a fucking American mime artist.
It was not a good start. The door was deliberately left ajar. The utilitarian room was beige and institutionally stuffy and even the succulent plants were in dire need of a crash team. God could hear them whimpering on a higher frequency.
So. How is the healing coming along. I mean the physical healing.
Oh. Healing. Healing to the point of being pretty much healed. But there are scars and it is not a pretty sight. Would you like to see?
No. That won’t be necessary.
There are residual non-palpable scars. PTSD. MDD. Frequent suicidal tendencies. Would you like to see?
I beg your pardon?
It was a joke. You’re being so frosty.
I understand that you own a small boutique hotel in..
..London by the sea- very cosmopolitan, gulls, immigrants, a gay ghetto, rock candy in the shape of cocks, drag bars, drugs, drop-outs, loads of homeless, Big Issue sellers on every corner, a shop where you can buy grow-your-own magic mushrooms and every conceivable variety of skunk seeds. Very high incidence of drink related, sex related violence and disease. It’s breezy. It’s the seaside. There are lairs for bears, bars for men with beefy bellies and gents with a bent for the hairy likes of them. Rent boys, prostitutes, gangsters, mobsters, big time crime. Any of that lot take your fancy? Crystal meth for the weekend?
This is not about me.
God was totally crap at mind games, wonderfully good at writing, writing and prodigiously remembering. On the day that he was meant to he created a word file and began divulging the unforgettable.
He was still rather afraid of the dark so, unlike God Almighty, he began by first creating light. He lit a ludicrously expensive scented candle in a cut crystal jar- it glowed whilst diffusing the lily rich aroma of ‘Giorgio Of Beverly Hills’. He was rich but didn’t give a shit that he was burning money. Besides, that scent, plus a couple of blue diamond meds, and a raging hard-on was a virtual certainty. God bless restorative British surgery.
THE END FILE
....there are 350 prior pages to this one but I’m cutting to the chase purely in the interest of the short story genre.
I was coked up and cocky as fuck strutting through Old Compton Street. Nothing worth mentioning but a few casual bum fumbles in the usual dives. I was hungry for action, simple as that. The sign was full on but the sissy fish weren’t biting. Wankers. All talk and no fucking walk- ball-breaking spoil sports. You’re supposed to be queers. Well then, start acting it dear. It was all beer and bleeding braces with not one geezer at the jump races.
I kept hearing two things, just the two over and over. The first was- go home, put porn on the HD widescreen TV, butt plug, lube, wank in a hanky, no sweat; sleep like a baby. The other said- that destination west, the cottage in a lay-by you got off the internet, give it a look see. Glory holes that site said. I liked that. I liked the semantics of the juxtaposition of the words glory and hole. It thrilled me, made me feel proper queer, dirty, clean, wonderfully obscene, free to be- fingered by a mystery, sucked by a nobody, a mouth for the most part, a mouth attached to a nobody. Anonymous. Sex with strangers. No poncing about with dates. No apologising for being late. Just a place, somewhere soft and warm to jettison my load, drive home alive with endorphins, dreaming of a hot shower, a scotch and a late night movie. Sexy Beast. Yeah Sexy Beast with Ray Winstone that would do it for me. So I gets to the car and educates the sat nav.
This was my first time. True. That’s what life is for- breaking the hymen of all them screaming first times.
It was easy. Fulham East.
The door’s locked. I was sat on the pottery lavatory pan wanking a stonker. Something in me yearning for home. To my left there’s this hole in the dividing wall, a drilled hole filled with an active eye. The more I rub myself the more it bleeding winks. A hazel eye- not old, not young. Through this prick sized hole comes a glistening tongue. I let it lick my prepuce and frenum. It withdraws. My turn to spy. My! He’s Latino, Cuban maybe, well hung. Yum. He beckons and I reckon why not. This is hot. This is the action that Soho so is not. I stick my throbbing bang stick through the hole and he envelops it with wet lips and spit and gives it deep throat kisses stoked with bliss.
I come spasms into him a back-up of frustrating stress-filled months and then he jumps.
And then the lights blow.
I feel something cold slide onto me, hand-cuffs, cock-cuffs, what the fuck.
This is where I get a little confused. Damn. Now, how was it really, did the sound of the cut come before the pain set in or was it the other way around? I don’t remember and, in truth, it don’t matter much.
It was pitch dark. Velveteen. And in the pitch black, hearing me scream, he had the grace to push my severed part back through to me.
I heard him unlock his door. He washed and dried his hands.
It’s taken years to put together what came next. I heard the rip of cellophane. I heard what I now believe to be the sound of a fat cigar cutter. It cut through a cigar. He struck a match. I understand. I know I smelled that.
I have a long-time lover now. Life partner. Business partner. He is holistically enormously kind. We have a relationship I had never dared to dream possible. I think I’ve told him everything. The whole. And the whole does seem glorious. But, most importantly, I don’t want one small part of my past life to cause us to be apart ever.
Equally we lay no wilful traps for each other. We’re queer and constantly err on the side of queerness.
I’m part of the judiciary now. Part-time. Soft on the young
OK. I still reason, albeit insanely- if that is at all possible, that the vindictive bitch paid to have this happen to me. A part of me wants it to be plausible but it just doesn’t stack up.
And yes. I still shudder and feel sick at the smell of cigars.
A PROPER PICTURE POSTCARD
They’ve launched the old marquee on Tisborough Green. This Saturday we’ll discover, besides the massed kids, corduroys and pleats, the biggest edible onions I have ever seen along with the most miniature floral arrangements in heirloom thimbles, hallmarked, precious; all of it come round again, the drinks- fruited Pimms and double Gins; the eats- crustless cucumber widges with Tex-Mex potato skins; the brass band plus- the plus being a vast feminine tuba who unfortunately sings.
Do you understand this very English sort of thing: the Wellington boot throwing, the bowling for a rare breeds’ pig, the showing off of your shaggy wagging mutt, the growing of another nagged at gut on iced fairy cakes and warm Guinness?
Yes. I’ll buy a book of gum pink raffle tickets for a sit-on mower or a case of Moet. I’ll even watch the women’s cricket for a bit of underskirt distraction. Because its funny. But, it’ll be the middle classes in their waxed Barbours and field glasses who’ll finally do the fucking trick- making me action my 'invisible' things, there, by the cat-shitted sandpit and the rubberised kid proof swings; my magic invisible poetic things like watching the English being very English, and more scholarly anthropological things like clocking the alleged cock action in the nearby cottage stroke WC where men infected by the incureable English disease come to ease their symptoms and summon post ejaculation sleep of a limp afternoon amidst the reek of urine and Dettol.
I wonder, do the Lemon Curd-n-Cheese judges know exactly that the local gents is a trysting place, famous even online for its networking, its low-lit wristing, its larded fisting, its group groping? One so hopes so. Four stars on squirt.org. Do your own probing.
And fancy, all that frenzied jerking off going on but a stone’s throw from the Village Fete- its bunting and Union Jacks shot through with boredom and envy; our decorative summer fayre, where some obvious social climbing fascisterly disgrace has her thin taupe lips twisting on the axis of another convoluted platitude- just listen: ‘My husband says, being new gentry, it’s rather shrewd of us to come. He calls it his charm offensive. Villages like ours are dying. They desperately need the support. It would be rude to not show willing. Besides, we were the main contributors to The Disabled Toilet. It was in the paper. One does what one possibly can.’
Then, yet again the losers’ feral attitudes make a proper picture postcard as red rosettes are pinned
on the blowfly breasts of the usual winning toffs, and the battered silver cups are held aloft to the faint praise of damnation, a few brave jeers- a sparse and hollow applause often heard in community halls.
The canvass longhouse starts clapping side flaps because the hot air and the wind bags freshen. I decide again, I love West Sussex time- for not just Horsham and Chichester but for all the Arun valley hamlets in decline. Several spent men on oak benches, all of them allegedly straight as a die, snore for Queen and Country as the band from Worthing-on-Sea marches by.
Fifty two and on his large lonesome, he is bath pink and bath naked.
He has some forty minutes.
He could easily spank the living daylights out of his ageing monkey.
The deceitful shit- Frank. Husband. Father. Stephen’s lover.
He’s sunk into a welcome wedge of spare time as if the seconds were, in themselves, something to be bathed in. Let him wallow there at length.
Frank is forever rushing baths.
There are, the far too rapid bathtimes squeezed between his many secret journeys, and there are, the swift baths snatched between his two distinct lives, all too hurried. Now though, here to hand, like an ominous miracle, is some quality time, time enough to dwell upon the soil and trouble of the two lives threatening to bemuse, muddle or commingle.
Less than forty minutes.
Time out Frank, for quality mind cleansing- the therapeutic mudpacks, the psycho enemas et al.
At home, for once.
In his befuddlement, in this life with wife, the frontline life, the frontline jumble of his suburban home, Frank finds neutral space. No-one’s in. It is strangely silent, even soothing. He has rich seams of family stuff going on here. And their rare collective quiet seduces him, collars the raging wuss in him, inducing in his awkward demeanour a certain poisonous notion of safety.
He relaxes, certain that danger stalks elsewhere.
And, never far from some gay antidote, he begins day dreaming of the other home, his other place- the backline with Stephen, visualising its loud lack of clutter, its cool urbaneness with its pale minks and dusty greens, its punctuating blacks, the striking fashionable accents.
The Ginger Sand.
There are Spartan shelves there. There are glass bricks and stainless steel there, all of it spotless, thick with understated camp. The wide wall-spaces sprout new art..there.
Art drawn from life.
Life drawn from the dole queue.
Six foot two.
ACTDF. [A cock to die for.]
ALAWP. [All letters answered with photograph.]
Too much, he thinks. You can have too much openness. You can easily become overstimulated. Denuded.
Here, and now, and laid bare in the first place, there really is no more room, he decides. There is simply no more space to place another single thing. It is a hetero hell of shells and beach combings.
In the smallest room in the larger of the two houses there is no room to manoeuvre. Restriction. It bodes badly. Mum. Dad. Daughter. We three, he concludes to himself, are completely stuffed. Filled to phobic.
Changing thoughts. Changing rooms.
There, through open doors, the immense double bed appears to be a blighted acre, its fresh but unironed whiteness free of everything but haphazard hairline creases.
Out of the bath, and barely dry, he falls upon it with a sense of falling in lust, his eyes shut, the jumble fading, his touch ravenous, the cool cotton threatening to envelope him, its great flat fingers already at his buttocks, feeling, sucking at the moisture that he’s missed or forgotten. Marriage. His hetero marriage.
A threadbare farrago.
He’s still damp in parts. Like an unrubbed child.
That’s what he is. Always was.
Rushed like some rash kid, too hurried in his head. Rushed and careless of the folds of skin, the backs of his knees, the backs of his ears, his concave belly button, his hairy groin. He then remembers how he would smell boy damp, how this might then evolve into something less inviting for his relatives- something fusty, just as if he’d taken on an adult taint.
His mother’s smile would wane.
Cleanliness, so her dictum went, was next to Godliness. Coal tar soap was the poison in her armoury.
Cold water rinsing away the tarry suds.
Rough terry towelling. Yum.
Frank props himself against the ample pillows, sinking. Sinking then re-propping. He opens his brown eyes. Sighs. Privately squeezes himself. Privates on alert.
Lilac, he idly notices. Lilac blush.
It was her choice. The lilac and the lilac-white, a calm scheme from some mainstream magazine. Mothers in their mumsie hell, tortured by the concept of vivid careers. Mums worried by the new wealth of thinly qualified counsellors. Mums tempted by dream kitchens and interior makeovers.
He raises himself again. Half erect.
Lavender, he decides it is.
It is lavender as near as makes no difference. Lavender, a colour loved by sexual politicians. Lavender selected by her uncanny subconscious.
She would have been on something, doubtless.
Sober enough to grasp the basic guidelines- lavender walls and ceiling, lavender-white woodwork.
Hitting the hard stuff after the afternoon school-run. Neighbourly.
Happy to be out of touch but still in vogue.
And there, flounced in Victorian lace, the deep sill of their bedroom window is filled with an imposing Asparagus Fern, its green fronds behaving like great gills filtering the flood of afternoon light. The uncanny effect shaping him with subtle shade, dappling his hide as if he were a wild child and in dire need of camouflage. Even the smallest movement changing him, making him fluid.
A shape-shifter. A shirt lifter.
He is changing.
Frank, stirring, stiffening, putting his well-beloved skiff out upon the open sea.
Gosh! The wife. She has such womanly things here.
All the stuff and all the womanly nonsense.
Old ribbons. Ballet shoes.
Pictures of children.
Things with wings.
his very last pick-up comes fully to mind.
Not so much a thinker but an out and out doer, he’d thought Frank rather manly, overwhelming almost, almost to the point of overpowering. Thick-set. Hairy. Frank, the scrum stalwart. Well endowed. Bingo!
I have been a naughty boy.
Oh! Sweet Jesus, hurt me.
He was pale, as it happens, Frank’s antithesis, slender, post adolescent. Traces of juvenile skin imperfections marking his brittle neck and characterless chin. The designer stubble almost downy. His doe eyes hungry and already worn.
They were in a tired park, coupled after dark, away from the abused urinals, hard in each other’s hands, fake father and son, the act hidden by gathered Elms and a slab of dense blackness thrown by a derelict football stand.
Frank recalls the lad’s keynote smell, a mix of jeans’ sweat and spearmint gum. And something else besides, sharp, poignant. Something lost. The trace of Wild Garlic, heavy in the warm moonlight.
Now. Inside his mind forever. A re-hearing of the boy’s loud spasms, long and vicious, shrill as slashed guitar chords.
A silent aftermath rich with reverb and soul regret.
The nameless boy’s slim shadow long and lengthening as he headed home to posters of Kylie and Britney.
The, never to be deleted, song of him. Never. Never.
She’d die if she knew. The wife and mother.
Lindsay. A Gemini.
She’d lie. She’d fucking squawk like she was a total stranger to the raw mechanics of it all. She’d spit fire and brimstone, claim asylum, prejudice the whole wide faggot loathing world against him. She’d wear a tortured heart on her sleeve and model re-born motherhood like a veil. She might even become a Catholic and aspire to some form of saintliness or martyrdom. Worst of all, and without fail, she’d never miss an opportunity to cry on cue. Madonna the diva.
He’ll buy her something major, that’s what.
That’s what he’ll do.
He’ll bite deep into his plastic, get her the wonder stuff. Stylish presents from the one life posted to the cluttered other.
The duplicity of them both is long consummate.
He’d met Stephen in a café bar in St James Street, Brighton. It was the second summer. The one where he’d settled superficial differences with Lindsay. They were almost bound then.
Poised now- just.
Balancing things but only perilously reconciled. The decorating of their shit so slap dash that it was plain as day the cracks would, sooner rather than later, split the lining paper with it’s Laura Ashley wash of non-committal grey and pink. Smart. Over brushed. Distressed. Hung out with Victorian reproductions.
Ugly. Bound to break.
She’d been tearless in her praise of his enormous efforts, buoyed up with a fiancée delusion, convinced by the packaged magic of her sad, crotchless knickers.
But Frank knew. Frank felt he’d been outflanked by female guile.
Then he’d driven with the roof down, out to find sea air, determined to find someone, anyone, in fact Stephen- the other love of his life.
On the way, there were distractions. There were half-naked line painters dividing the road, their red backs glistening with sweat, their waistbands soggy, slipped to their hips.
Fronts with stomach muscles criss-crossed with moist hair.
The napes of their necks like river estuaries.
Through violet eyes, the psychic headlights of a pornographic mind, Frank saw. And Frank rode the wave of it, his skiffy stiffening.
This, something raw.
This, something mutual.
He imagined the man’s ejaculate, immaculate, off-white against a work stained thigh. His leer a fulcrum- fight or flee. The tense fist a hint of what may come. The eyes moist from a sudden realisation. This is sex, pure lusting, gloriously loveless, nothing more.
The stop/go lollypop spinning from red to green, it’s borstal boy a grin of dead teeth hissing ‘Wanker!’
Here and now, drying on the marriage bed, Frank’s bathed fingers closing round himself and going for it slowly. Fucking his own fist.
Stephen had led him to a garden flat in Hove. French doors and stone steps to an Eden without grass, the Welsh slate dusty in the heat, the Tree Ferns casting delicate shadows. Not his. No. He would be moving on. Thinking about a return to re-born Cardiff Bay.
ASAP. [As soon as possible.]
SWGM [Single white gay male.] Again.
Frank swanned indoors determined to own a necklace of moments. He slotted porn into this stranger’s video and relaxed. Unbuttoned. This Stephen, growing less strange by the moment. Bringing him lemon tea and a small bottle of chilled aromas.
Their tryst would not be disturbed.
Done. This deed.
He was good, this miner’s son.
It was the kind of good that only ‘things that truly fit’ could know. His intricate key a perfect match, turning in the intricate lock like uncut Heroin, the connection, once made, fixed and indelible, addictive. Frank floored, sore and palpitating, yielding and yielding until his needing to yield so fucking much abated.
Another addict asserting his addiction.
The fantasy sail flaccid.
Frank waking inside an erotic photograph. The immaculate Stephen showering under a blue sky. The waste water blackening the slate to a high gloss. The music so un-English. And the art edgy. Fresh Cuban coffee bubbling out of shot. And, in a flash, Frank knows, truly knows, that this sexual expression means everything.
As might have been expected, Frank’s blunt confession blighted the engagement.
Lindsay made him wait six wintry months.
Giving him only Cheltenham head- no more than a kiss on the tip of his pecker. An immediate moist one pressed against her mouth, it’s slight antibacterial action instantly allaying the worst of her fears. Frank constantly protesting- ‘But I’m a rectal virgin. I told you. Stephen and me, we don’t do that.’
Lindsay incredulous, totally unmoved- ‘You’re fucking half gay, Frank. In my book, all men who trim their pubic hair have to be extremely happy bunnies in the bottom department.’
Frank lobotomised- ‘Fuck!’
Two months later they were married.
A shades of white wedding in a grey Registry Office. A Giorgio Of Beverly Hills marquee on the in-laws’ velvet lawn. Broad lemon and white brush strokes cast against manicured shades of green.
The works. The gay half only half buried.
And they knew, they truly knew, when the fruit cake was cut, that it meant not very much. Not really. Portions of poison.
Stephen’s perfect, uncut penis.
Sunshine speckles Stephen’s skin, encourages the freckled child in him to sing. High valley summers spent naked in chill streams, his sex shrivelled, his grin broad. A jam jar full of gasping minnows.
The innocence brief.
He’d had to leave Wales. He’d have been gang-plundered, tarred and feathered.
Outrage and claustrophobia.
Straight men seldom do it more than once. Frank remembered.
But, two fags.
Two filterless Woodbines in the woodshed flicking through Men Only and you’re hooked, cottaged. Addicted. A hostage to secrecy for the rest of your life.
The kind that shone like spun gold in the corner of your eye. A cock like a short sword, broad, sharp. That would prick you Frankie! That would make you fucking bleed!
A swimmer’s arms, like a cloak of blue.
He healed things, Stephen. This Stephen made the madness go away.
Now Frank. Now.
Urgent now. A cricketer’s nightmare- there, in a blue sky, rain clouds scudding ‘cross the sun.
The tantric moment came and went. Frustration.
The moment coming again and finally going. Frustration revisiting.
It is as if he’d slept through the end of his own movie. Cheated, he lights a cigarette, the one he’d never meant to light.
This house grows emptier, he mouths. The house grows childless. Like a nest in winter. Why stay and watch this life’s dust kiss yesterday’s dolls?
And then the full length mirror winks, it’s invite unmistakable. Something else too good to resist. Vanity. Self touched up pictures. Instant feedback.
Frank goes for it, the duvet sighing. Fifty two and rising. The hair thinning, the breadth broadening. Crows feet and grey highlights. His chest mown to a number one, soft stubble brushing against a warm palm. Long fingers at his brown nipples. Twiddling.
Still a waist. The tummy soft like unbaked bread. Tufts of course hair in a downward echelon. Wow! French bread. Une baton. A feminine penis, warm and firm. Smoked salmon and cream cheese. His balls like firm shallots in a string bag. Skin. Nibble. Skin.
Is this really him, pressed hard against his dead reflection? Big? Exaggerated?
God! Now Frank. And now.
He feels it in his raised heels and in his load bearing toes, the grip of tension, coming, going. Going, coming.
Frank breathes quicker. Frank in the mirror, Frank’s cock thicker.
Shallow panting breaths. God! And, God! And- bang, on the verge of bang.
Frank suddenly falling backwards.
Time standing still.
Time suddenly moving.
His bare back, bare arse, thwacking white cotton. Slap.
The whiplash of his hard head soft against the duck filled pillow. Eyes closing.
In super slow motion, an almost perfect arc of it.
Splash and spit.
Its in the crash zone, warm as blood, a pattern to make sense of.
Stickle, trickle. Treat.
One huge out-breath and squeeze.
And sigh. And squeeze.
And sigh. And sigh.
The last bead milky as a cabochon moon.
A tear of addictive power exuding from his poppy’s pride.
Frank lay in this drug’s aftermath, the way we lie in full baths. Quiet. His flesh floating. Mind floating. Warm. Washed. Being still alive and then more alive.
And any noises-off he made impotent.
The noises-on sounding like small waves, wet cloths slapping at a beached whale.
He could lie here for eternity. Whacked out. Grounded.
Truly he could.
He could even dream of dying soon.
But, he hears a near and far door close.
Sudden breeze of guilt. The sound was suburban, ordinary, no more than circumstantial. Next door’s distant door? Where the fuck was he?
And filing things less pleasing.
Old bruises haunting.
Old wounds taunting.
Rhodes Town, Rhodes.
In crisis, cruising the Venetian end of the harbour. Stephen sleeping in a nearby villa, his cock peeling from a surfeit of sun. Frank voracious, intent on something young for lunch. Calamari followed by Greek chicken, brown skinned in Daz white Y-fronts, speaking in broken English and smelling of olive oil. The first pressing.
Something sinful beckoning.
Yes mate. Here was furtive headway- bitten nails like stars in the night sky. Girl’s lips. Hipster shorts. A damned button fly.
Hands on. Hands off. Hands of God.
Then the unexpected. Horribly odd.
Sharp blows to his susceptible temple, artful, practised.
Frank waking in pain and donkey piss, several miles away.
His shallots screaming. The wallet gone.
Back in the real world.
It is cold, his cum. In the lilac room. Cold cream on his bare belly.
Shafts of sunlight kissing his spoiled nakedness, licking at his body fluid, jellied. Rude. Crude.
He went, then, to cover himself as if he were suddenly clairvoyantly informed.
He meant to, but the will to do so went.
Silence, as near as.
Perhaps it was the room that was leering. Maybe it was fate, this near, and nearing.
Then, sharp laughter, plain fact, young, rapid, sexy. What?
Too fucking rapid. Certain.
The door opens.
The door opens.
Frank in the first phase of screaming his guts up.
She with the pert tits completely out. Lilac bra.
The boyfriend, familiar, cock out, rock solid. Kylie bomber jacket.
Girlfriend explosive, turning to run. A blind panic.
The boy fixed, petrified, still hard, knowing. Slender, post adolescent. Traces of juvenile skin imperfections marking his brittle neck and characterless chin. The designer stubble almost downy. His doe eyes hungry and already worn.
It is, it is, it fucking is the park boy, re-inventing himself, remembering everything.
They were in a tired park, coupled after dark, away from the abused urinals, hard in each other’s hands, fake father and son, the act hidden by gathered Elms and a slab of dense blackness thrown by a derelict football stand. Just sex.
Frank thinking, this is no way to greet a daughter.
Frank thinking, this is no way to greet a daughter.
Frank thinking, I’ve had him. I have. We. Yes. Just the once.
Found out now.
The deafening sound of a young man flying, making short work of the stairs, testing the hinges of the front door. Reverberating slam.
Left to cope. A seventeen year old. An only child. Sobbing. Letting her cheap mascara run.
At last the father inside Frank moves- he’s moving to the upper hall.
Frank, decent in a white towelling robe, finding his daughter crashing on the landing, thrashing madly, pulling new video film from her mind and attacking it with very sharp but imaginary scissors.
‘Why?’ she suddenly asks, accusingly, vicious, ‘Why? Yeah. Why? Fucking why?’
He thinks, because I am a gay man. Not good enough.
He says, as best he can, ‘It was not something you were meant to see. I am so very sorry.’
A long silence. Dreadfully long.
Finally, Frank with his flawed arm around her shoulders, caring, being modern, ‘Tell me, was it just sex babe, or were you really close?’
still contemplating patricide,
‘Dad! How could you?
You could see, right. Alright! You could fucking see it. We are so fucking addicted to each other. Boy girl. Normal shit. This close. Addicted. That’s what we are, dad, utterly, totally, normally addicted to each other.
Don’t you know anything?’
DOWNSIZING IS MURDER
Crackers. Baby J in the hay. Santa hats.
Folding on the many fruitful options to possess evermore needless things, Will descends instead into a debtlessness- a numb de dum delirium where all the unsung weeds become exuberant: edible creatures swan about his body jubilant; his alien recklessness all the while being covertly overseen with some vigorous precision by clever machines click clicking on the sky-line; plus the nearer-by rigorous net twitchers all watching his home-front, escalating, trench war with its political leafleting, its trend-setting organic deliveries and arguably neo ‘fascist’ green and clean emission cars toing and froing. New enemy. Outcast.
Rooted fir tree. Baked, iced decorations. Garlands of hemp string. In fact dispiriting and physically exhausting.
Finally, passing on the western world, Will decides to give all his redundant possessions away.
A new year front garden garage sale event followed, an occasion plundered by hundreds of nitwits willing to part with bank paper for items he’d at last labelled worthless. Though, in haste, he’d forgotten their mass distaste for the word ‘FREE’ which, in western democracies, always did rate far worse a cursive cry in public than a blunt ‘cock my arse’ or ‘cunt the fucker’. Money eventually changed hands.
The melee’s hive answer was to compete, to donate. Unwittingly they bought wax colouring crayons for the black children of an overdrawn Sudan; oven-gloves for the Indian detritus sifters; lip-salve for the bruises that blossom in frightened crowds, saintly succour for the sex-slave bomb-makers. Bibles.
Then, giving away his hearing to the wind, he wrote in his five year diary, the one with a lock and key, ‘Today I have done with listening.’ It was the start of his parting with all of his rendered useless senses. He’d earlier written to ‘The Times’ newspaper proposing that the government started a scheme for sponsored suicides- giving £10,000 to each of the deceased’s estates; a voluntary culling order to mull over at lunch or for when the numbers of those in employment refused to crunch. With this suggestion he also sent the sheet music and an mp3 of his lifelong misanthropic song that tells of the killing off of demonstrably dim people.
Now he sits, still, rattling shit lungs, fatally ill, being unfeeling, on the day’s hill of human waste- a small ball of brittle bones and rotting flesh whose inner dark deepens with the gnawing thought that, even with biologically adapted rats attacking at his embattled, poorly shod toes, no one self-absorbed person that he knows loves him or loathes him enough to kill him- the mark of the supreme loser. God knows.
Where bins barf empty tins and knotted condoms, tinsel that’s seen better days.
Suddenly junk hung Pat approaches his bare neck with her meat axe singing like Bonnie Rait, but his boyfriend comes interfering, intervening, rifling metal bullets through the fetid air. The bitch’s body’s soon spread, her red blood spatters like gnats nattering at the white wall, hits it like itty bitty hieroglyphic script. Very festive. The message of her death is quite unreadable, and the swag from her life left to bag up amounts to nothing, nowt, shit, damn it, fuck all. Rank disappointment. He still lives. That’s normal.
Will’s diligent lover has finished building their magic cardboard lodge, triple layers, candlelit. Bedroom and lounge, no en-suite. Piss in the ditch. Shit in the abandoned skip. Downsizing to save the Earth is murder. The reliable wind-up radio predicts a low of minus four. They button up each other’s outer coats, kiss, then snuff the light, wrap on wool mufflers and, like erotic puzzle pieces in the dark, softly interlock.
What will tomorrow bring? By rights a fresh God.
THE WELLNESS OF MISTER SIC
The NHS blue screen demands of him PICK ONE- ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ [No other alternative]: he sets aside the momentary temptation to screw the system by changing sex on the whim of a trembling index finger. D.O.B. Dab, dab, dab.
Mr Neville Sic.
Indeed I am.
You have an appointment with Dr Campion at 10.45.
I do believe I have.
Please take a seat.
[Well- robot. Ever been fucked up the arse by a remote controlled Dyson dust sucker. No. Thought not robot.]
There are many empty seats- which one to choose. Not the plaid one with a stale residue of menstruation overlaid with the heavy scent of Elizabeth Taylor’s ‘White Diamonds’. The plastic one, bang opposite the fish tank. Selected, he sprays it with a pocket-sized bottle of germ killer, cleans it with a handy wet-wipe then sits without fidgeting.
Neville Sic- he’s always hated that name but loved it just enough to hold on to it. It’s relatively easy to get rid; would do if he’d been christened a blighted Colin or a pathetic Roger. His parents were both common and garden mean with far too little wit to have lumbered him with those. Instead he’d been given exceptionally malicious genes. Doctor Colin Roger Campion, on the other hand, was an untroubled cunt who really needed to change his stupid name. A Campion is a flower whose pink is particularly horrid- dog's dick pink. He needed proper telling. In any case, all he was good for was rubber-stamping repeat prescriptions- private prescriptions. Pen pusher. Pen pusher on ninety grand per annum. No wonder he was untroubled- the cunt.
The navy blue plastic seat was a good choice- a cough's spray distant from the deeply annoying and ageing beige people; opposite the tank of largely languid fish dedicated to the memory of another wealthy unhealthy health-centre patron who had passed through the semi erotic automatic doors like Senna-pod aided shit and slid into oblivion after the final fatal visit. His name had no association with fish or water of any kind. Pity. Sir Petrov Serpent- long-time servant of The Crown, survived by a well known local ginger ‘queen’ who collects golliwogs to which he assigns a gender and then hand stitches on the appropriate parts. A double billionaire at thirty five- whatever must that be like with a tortured mind bent all out of shape, desires to match and a very private patch on which to hatch them with all sorts of social climbing toadies and sycophants whoring what sparse talent they possessed with the drives and obsessions of religious terrorists or crack addicts? Neville knew the answer. Neville smiled smugly to himself, his heartbeat remaining as even as ever.
THE BEIGE PEOPLE
The village was terrifically thick with rich old folks- a buoyant segment of that hideous congregation who regularly worship at the retail shrines of John Lewis and Marks and Spencer’s. They all share that revolting homogenous air of early retired well provided for twats- a very self satisfied beige, a somewhat stronger smelling and sharper tasting aged magnolia. The false blonde of middle Britain gone orf. However much these bastards bathed or showered, dry cleaned their expensive clothes or doused themselves in high-end scent or after-shave they just couldn’t hide from Neville the odour of their dried and re-dampened urine pads, their discreet colostomy bags full of processed sherry, beef consommé and walnuts, their out of reach toe cheese, the souring sweat behind their buggered knees, old moulds multiplying furiously in the health-hazard folds of their over stretching or relaxed skin.
Sometimes the bunny-hugging feverish hobbyists amongst them took to blatantly suggestive unisex knitting groups as a change from tea-dances. Neville could always spot their horrid outcomes. His least favourites were anything wrought in biscuit and mauve stripes. If he saw any old miserable cunt wearing anything in wool or acrylic in biscuit and mauve stripes his first instinct, always, was to eviscerate them aive. Besides- he knew for absolute certain they took a great pleasure in making unnecessary queues, surfing internet porn in the library and wide-angle cam sex in the comfort of their fitted bedrooms. What the fuck are they for, is the question that he very often let himself be bothered with.
The Inuit have a tradition of leaving elders of the tribe who have outlived their usefulness out alone on the pack ice until they succumb to death by exposure- this Wikipedia fact had pleased him so much that, upon discovering it, he’d proceeded to engage in everything humanly possible for one man to assist the advance of climate change. Bring on the new ice-age. It was not too dramatic. Things deliberately placed in the wrong recycling bins. Burning piles of tractor tyres. But still the beige people repeatedly reported him to the parish council for very non-green behaviour. Lately his culling thoughts had turned to the purchase of a black-market Kalashnikov and special ammunition that would explode inside fucking useless spent flesh like theirs. Starting point- an uninviting Egyptian cafe at the bleak end of Tottenham Court Rd, London. He'd get the turkey neckers.
DING. The dim forty-watt receptionist was calling him.
Mister Neville Sic?
Yes. [Dim lit woman with a perm and slipped lipstick. Tits to rest a tray upon. A gauze scarfette knotted at her neck- stylishly slid to the side with comic-strip flair. Bell’s Palsy in the offing or a mini-stroke.]
Doctor Campion has scheduled some blood tests for you Mister Neville Sic. The phlebotomist will come and fetch you in a short while. [Smile like that of a bleached Pekingese in training to say ‘sausages’.]
She’s not even a qualified nurse and you’re calling her something with four syllables- is that proper?
The phone rings. [She grasps the shrill plastic priority with twirling gratitude.]
Neville returned to his seat- to another predatory thought wank in line with the fish tank.
THE FISH TANK
The large watery penitentiary is virtually empty- four rank neons on the glass run-around and a solitary brown snail being snail still; uninteresting plants waving against a fake tropical panorama and two brownish bottom feeding fish trying to bluff the waiting patients that they are rocks, which they are so not. Rocks, as a general rule, do not have fins, breathe or shit long strings of floaty excrement from an appropriate place. Neville smiles- getting a faint buzz from the bizarre parallel that he has just perceived with Facebook.
Utterly dustless, the tank shimmers like a scryer’s glass. Much like the glowing embers in a winter fire or the clouds in a summer sky it pretends to have the power to tell a story- to mean something, and that that something might hold some significance. Neville always delighted more in the esoteric of the mundane than in the mysteries of the hot-house exotic. Always at war- he told himself, with roses and slipper orchids; the colour of engorged labia pleading so bloody obviously for their petals to be trampled on; with all the subsequent predictable feyness struggling to reconstruct innocence.
Women- why do they make so much bloody wasted effort.
He’d always held what he considered to be a truly objective view of women- that they were all ruthless manipulative sociopaths. Fuck them! Yes, odd for a queer, he did so regularly. But without exception he’d always found his male conquests far more appreciative. Releasing the pent up anxieties in the under-used base chakras of men was altogether far more productive. Men were designed for mutual pleasure; women for breeding and infant feeding; undesirable babies were created to provide mouth-watering delicacies for the most discreet supper tables in the home counties. Just to appal people he'd often say he'd got the taste for human flesh by first eating the freshly detached foreskin of a Jewish baby- deep fried in a light batter with a side of pork scratchings.
WOMEN obviously cleaned the tank, fussed, refreshed the shit stuffed filter. It shone. There is no denying that it shines on today- a glossy but still perfunctory aide memoire to their lost elbow grease. Shame these ‘do-good’ women only did good within their mumsy pink comfort zone. Shame that, for charity, they never broke sweat. A real shame they’d not had a ruddy good rodgering by their buff DILF Colin at home- had love juice mixed with endorphins and fish eggs release some shred of fucking imagination so that this bland tank had magically exploded with life- vivid, necessary life in this place of near death 'Health Centre' where irritating kids might overhear a harsh whisper and want to turn to clown fish and guppies for a shred of evil Disney comfort.
A fucking great fucking shame that these crimes of women got pats on their self-satisfied backs; invites to the Christmas ‘do’ and preferential appointment times. Cunts. The insinuating oleaginous cunts.
DING. There was the nurse or worse. [Morbidly obese. Red Leicester cheesy grin.]
Mister Neville Sic? [The half-broken voice of a teenage boy.]
Yes. [I could easily fit into her clothes.]
Come through would you. [Triple chins trembling. Waft of ovulating and a chaffing cleavage.]
THE NURSE’S STATION
At the nurse’s station Neville was fast-tracked past a waiting queue of jaw-dropped cotton-tops wearing the worst biscuit and mauve. He almost froze at the thrill of his sudden compulsion to kill, cull, lullaby wastes of space to death, to ease the pressure on the NHS. But, Bev, as she was badged, dragged him very mistressy through, placed him in the leatherette cockpit chair and slammed the door shut with her plump foot. Neville caught a flash of short beige sock and floral pump and almost chucked up.
There, Mister Sic- not a name I’ve come across before. Would you prefer me to call you Neville. I would. Good. Now. I’ve got this note from your Doctor. He’s nice isn’t he. Capital N. Very caring. Emergency bloods. Sounds ominous. I’ll just bring your notes up on the screen.
Are you sure you’re qualified to do that. Skills thresholds. Doctor patient confidentiality. I'm private. Black credit cards. BUPA. There are matters in my files that I’d rather not have...
Understood Neville or is it Nev. See rhymes with me- Bev. Bev Nev. Love a bit of synchronicity me. Nev- do rest assured I am a fully trained and certificated phlebotomist and have, as good as, signed the official secrets act. Besides I am 22 stone, naked weight, and nothing gets past these zipped lips without my consent. Good of you to wear a short sleeve. Now, give us a bare arm just below the elbow.
As she tightened the band around his wasting bicep, Neville felt the first indications of a pending erection.
Oh, Bev said, screen watching and jumping out of automatic pilot, oh.
Oh, it’s just that your physical presence doesn’t seem to match your notes.
Superficiality can be so deceptive.
Yes. You’re right of course. It can. And I’m so very sorry.
Don’t be. I’m rather glad. Experiences like this reinforce that viewpoint.
Better get on.
In the extremely noisy helicopter on the way to London City Airport Neville was at pains to shout in explanation to his companion that his 'under pressure' brain increasingly seemed to be playing cruel games with him, a type of Tourettes. They were so certain at the village Health Centre that he had fainted in the nurse’s station, convinced, and yet his memory of the event was that he had stupidly imagined it all. Out cold for almost five minutes the medics said. When I came around the bland normality that confronted me was one of the most frightening experiences I have ever suffered. And I know- I know I have had many of those lately. There were pale shades of polluted or bastardised white wherever I looked. Wrinkled faces smiling pityingly at me. Me! A whole fucking fawn zoo. Yes. OK! Yes I’d obviously pissed myself. And yes, there was still comparatively luminous rivers of blood seeping from this split lip. Streams. Drips. It was then it hit me- I had this large brown paper bag of prescription drugs and dressings; it was you who took it from me; it was you who held my punctured arm and led me to the safety of the waiting Cayenne. Christ! You know how fucking disappointed I get. Well this was major- deeply troubling disappointment. I thought I had actually acted- pressed a previously banned red button, thrust myself into a significant direct action I had always denied myself. Shit. Shit. Shit. I loathe my default imagination. Janus, I’ve just not got the time for anymore rehearsals.
Like a small marsupial hideously compromised in a shoe-box along with an over-fed Russian Blue kitty, Neville began to feel pretty faint at the business end of the nurse’s station.
This may hurt.
There was something seriously overblown about Bev. How big were her knickers? There was a certain budgie appeal about her face- though it seemed to be looming and ballooning. Already far bigger than a pigeon she was morphing into a blue and white dirigible. Neville thought he could smell gas. Had the fat bird farted? The bitch. He noted the yeasty fresh baked breadiness of her pressing paps. Giant unbuttered baps waiting for the primrose yellow stuff, smoked salmon cream cheese and cucumber slices. He was plaiting her profuse pubic hair into an itsy bitsy basket to carry dwarf passengers and ballast. He was tugging at her clitoris to blast hot air into the vast belly of her curvaceousness. It was exactly then that he imagined himself swooning, struggling for breath, as she squatted full flat on his resisting face, her arse-fat limp as a goose down duvet. No way-out now but to burrow furiously with his moist tongue spitting feathers.
That’s the moment when the lights crashed and he lost all consciousness:-
[1. Neville had chosen the largest hypodermic, the longest and the thickest, and he was very deft and extremely quick with it. Deflated Bev barely uttered a peep. He’d learned the technique from the BBC TV drama series Spooks- firm jab through the eardrum into the lower brain. It works. He’d held his nerve, kept his hand steady and the needle had not snapped. She’d instantly collapsed. He immediately locked the door. Pausing for breath he thrilled as his adrenaline rush kicked in. Stripped to his underwear he set about denuding the body. Lucien Freud, Goya and Picasso would have loved the picture she presented; Fragonard much less so; the flappable village amateur art-class, not in the least, not on the face of it. Now, if the parish priest were here, they might enjoy a spot of mutual wanking over the body. Splash of holy spermatozoa. Not to be. Neville had other plans for the still warm and very flexible Bev. First he dressed himself in her crap uniform, made his face up with her cheap make-up, glued on false eye-lashes then winked at himself in the sparkling mirror. He would leave the corpse impaled with every hypodermic to hand- each bobbing shaft filled with her extracted blood. Bev the pin-cushion- a stark naked phlebotomist attacked by wingless plastic tics. 2. Nurse Nev unlocks the door- automatic pistol with silencer cocked. Action. The subsequent ten dead clutterers-up-of-the-planet wearing biscuit and mauve lay all higgledy piggledy, like frozen swingers, their faces caught somewhere between shock and joy. No time to eviscerate them. Pity. Shit happens. 3. Dr Campion’s patient, troubled with repeat kidney stones, got it in the mid-neck at the back of the brain. Cured in an instant, she will not know pain again. Too quick to pick, Neville is at once at his doctor’s throat. Common sense prevails. There is to be no manly man-on-man struggle. No shouts of testosterone fuelled bravado. Colin Campion GP is ex-military, not virginal or silly. Neville bends the doc forwards over his black fake leather examining table and binds his hands behind his back with unforgiving bell-end pink sticking plaster on a roll. He locks the consulting room door. My oh my, he mutters to his prisoner, giggling like a silly girl become suddenly aware of her indiscreet lewdness, lets break out the NHS KY Jelly shall we. Nurse Nev unwraps ‘her’ buzz charged erection, bares ‘his’ doctor’s clean as a new pin arse and goes, hell for leather, about the unnecessary without a Durex mac. Now that was unsafe, mean and not exactly clean. 4. After his tremendous orgasm, Neville continues to piss into the surprisingly practiced orifice. There’s a first. The worst thing was he suddenly couldn’t see a thing. FUCK. He couldn’t be going blind could he. The light was uber bright. The light was so bright it was dazzling. He could hear faint voices and the villagey voices were growing louder as the light grew brighter. OMG! He knew what this was. He knew exactly what this was. This was evidence of a very dull choir of angels gathering at the celebration of another of his great disappointments. Bugger. His instantly angry head ached beyond description.]
Neville was determined to lodge a complaint- call the police.
Come on. We have a plane to catch.
They are nothing but knobs- all of them. The fucking lot of them are no better than knobs and arseholes.
We need to get you changed.
In fact arseholes and knobs are too good for them. I bloody love knobs and arseholes.
Plans, meticulous plans, important fucking plans, only really make sense when the people they involve have a total understanding of the preciousness of time. Neville knew that one of the many unfortunate things about the human condition was that such plans were only ever properly subscribed to when a ‘for certain’ mortality was having to be faced. That, he thought, was not altogether too late, but too late to have any bearing on the mass of mankind ever escaping from a stultifying apathy which they had dressed up in a myriad of superficial ways and labelled ‘life’.
....busy busy. Dizzy. Fuck! Where is the...
That is exactly why Neville had always loathed any kind of magic acts- they were staged deceptions, all smoke and mirrors and sleights of hand; a perfect paradigm for this ‘life’, the model that so many believe is worth fighting and dying for.
....speed spray. Sniff and sniff.
Life is unarguably shit, and somewhere, buried deep within us, we know it is steaming liquid shit. So Neville thinks. But then, his life is irreversibly on the fucking blink. The stark facts of mortality have thoroughly shaken his Baobab tree. The branches are no longer dressed in the leaves of designer deceit. It is December in the life of this man disgusted by Christmas.
....Wet-wipes a godsend in a godless age.
That is why Neville and his long-time lover Janus Serpent, the ginger billionaire, have made a very precise plan. It is, of course, not everyone’s cup of tea.
But then, everyone who thinks it is their business, when it is patently not, can go and fuck themselves or face the consequences. No-one who knew Neville and Janus would ever choose the heinous consequences. These highly creative elective sociopaths have immense amounts of money, power and purpose. You would be like an inconsequential ant at war with a Chieftain tank. They would not even notice the soundless crushing of you.
We go to the health centre for the repeat prescription.
They may want to check your bloods.
OK. I may faint.
Everything is packed. We drive home and change. We ‘copter to the City.
We private jet to Malmo, Sweden.
The live concert with Anthony and The Johnsons.
The Cripple and The Starfish.
Then Amsterdam- for ‘the event’.
Is everything in place.
Of course it is. I didn’t mean to..
After the event is concluded we ‘escape’ to Geneva.
No, Nev, we do. We escape to Geneva.
We have some blissful hours together.
Then you buy me loads of sweets.
I don’t have a sweet tooth but they told me..
I know. The Swiss make good sweets. Chocolates.
Yes. And watches. Rolex time pieces. Stop watches. Toblerone.
Stop it Nev. Concentrate on the concert and the event.
What good is a fucking clock. Every timeline has been tampered with.
There is no such thing as honest time.
You could be right. But I can tell you we’re not going to be late.
Nothing has ever been significantly late except God.
In the closing chapter of his life, Neville had found a raised level of praiseworthy diversity in the musical expressionism of Anthony and The Johnsons- he’d let hues of a moody sonorous blue and the melody of malady touch his peccadilloes; at times bemusing him; at others threatening to abuse the very order he had finally accomplished in his world. True artists do that- they can throw open your neat filing cabinets of whatever, wherever, and rearrange everything as if by elfin psychokinesis.
....a cunt may be called a wizard's sleeve.
It can be maddening if it involves threads, collections of dead things, belief paradigms writ on rice paper, fragile skeletal remains or a lifetime’s collection of media clippings cut out by an obsessed self. Gilbert and George had finally managed to shatter Neville’s uniquely absorbing museum of personal foibles- though, to be fair, large cracks should be attributed to Tracy Emmin and Edmund White. With the onset of the illness came a coachload of cleansing habits to fill the vacuum that had been left- disinfectant spraymists, skin-tone disposable rubber gloves. That kind of thing. Just so. Yes. Everything was just so now. Anthony was good, utterly singular, but no-way genius enough to persuade Neville from abandoning the event.
On the short flight to Amsterdam, the hired crew drew the usual trite conclusions about a wealthy male couple travelling alone between Sweden and Holland.
Insert your favourite piece of homophobic shit HERE bitch!
See, how patronising can it be- the recycled air rich with such obsequious platitudes as fudge packer; shirt lifter; sausage jockey? Neville deliberately unleashed from his green snakeskin briefcase a printout of three small downloads from Wikipedia- the free encyclopaedia:-
‘Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian and gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behaviour although these are usually covered under biphobia and transphobia. Intersex and asexual people are also sometimes included. Definitions refer variably to antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, and irrational fear. Homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as discrimination and violence on the basis of a perceived homosexual or in some cases any non-heterosexual orientation. [In Neville's own scribble- THE CUNTING BIGOTS.] In a 1998 address, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King stated that "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."
Bukkake (English boo-kak-ee) is a group sex act portrayed in pornographic films, in which several men take turns ejaculating on a man or woman. Bukkake videos are a relatively prevalent niche in contemporary pornographic films. Originating in Japan in the 1980s, the genre subsequently spread to North America and Europe, and crossed over into gay pornography.
Some authors have argued that bukkake involves the implied or overt humiliation of the person ejaculated upon; the women performing in bukkake scenes are not generally brought to orgasm.’
[In Neville's scribble CREAMY PIE. MY OH MY.]
‘A vigilante is a private individual who legally or illegally punishes an alleged lawbreaker, or participates in a group which metes out extralegal punishment to an alleged lawbreaker. "Vigilante justice" is spurred on that criminal punishment is either nonexistent or insufficient for the crime. Those who believe this see their governments as ineffective in enforcing the law; thus, such individuals fulfil the like-minded wishes of the community. In other instances, a person may choose a role of vigilante as a result of personal experience as opposed to a social demand.
Persons seen as "escaping from the law" or "above the law" are sometimes the targets of vigilantism. It may target persons or organizations involved in illegal activities in general or it may be aimed against a specific group or type of activity, e.g. police corruption. Other times, governmental corruption is the prime target of vigilante freedom fighters.
Vigilante behavior may differ in degree of violence. In some cases vigilantes may assault targets verbally, physically attack them or vandalize their property. Anyone who defies the law to further justice is a vigilante, and thus violence is not a necessary criterion. On the more extreme end of the scale, groups such as People Against Gangsterism And Drugs, (PAGAD), have resorted to tactics that have had them blacklisted as terrorist organisations.’
He, straight away, asked the hoveringly attentive closet chief steward who, in any case, had been reading over his shoulder, to organise five photocopies of the document and to be sure that all the staff received a copy including the flying officers.
That was a little high-handed.
I know. But I feel so much better for it. Can I sleep awhile?
The illness allowed Neville to cat-nap and reach rem depths in a surprisingly short time. Dreaming in short bursts had become an addiction. The only downside was that every now and then he could not be awakened for approximately twenty fours- during which time he needed to be cared for like a baby. Bed-rest, nappy-change, drip. And he had this way of talking very clearly and precisely in his sleep- always the same four words, 'cunt', 'cheesy', 'fucking' and 'nigga' often in the most effective/offensive order. He was not a racist- quite the opposite. Blacks were an erotic preference. Whenever the pair rang for some home-visit rent they were invariably black and versatile. A white-hate case could be made for Neville and Janus being very ill-disposed towards Caucasians. At this juncture Neville would always intercede with his best BBC voice- there are, of course, other races available.
Bye bye Neville: Neville go bye byes.
[Neville got there by imagining that the two stewardesses were sporting unconventional skin beneath their flight gear; more than enough reason to have them both disrobe. It was costing him very little in the scheme of things. The interior shot of the plane immediately dissolved into a peeping-tom's eye view of a porn mogul's discreet honey-trap in the Hollywood Hills. With dextrous fingers and the right materials you could construct a paper jet and fly it from here to land on Reagan's old pad- the astrology page from The National Enquirer might just have the legs.
Brushed purple velveteen drapes and quilted gilt leather day-beds or positioners softened the harshness of the dated eighties mirror-glass cube. Enough obscene scene setting.
The naked girls were furry creatures, designer cats escaped from the mind of Phillip Dick, vaguely Siamese moggies with faces that resembled an anorexic Sophia Loren or a humanoid mantis which is much the same. Their thrashing tails terminated in distinct veiny bang-sticks which swished in and out of every orifice to hand- the main ports of call being their startling cunts which looked like vast front arses dripping with a glistening rouge-rust: wizard sleeves that pouted, begged and sung for their suppers of deep penetration. Neville sensed that they were very doctored west-coast Americans, escapee very fucked-up nuns with tongues of fleshy self-lubricating Velcro..so born to do porn. Thank you sweet Jesus.
Disengaging from themselves, they squished apart to reveal the steward buck naked- a very bespoke angel, his tattooed pecs and biceps quivering in an oiled menace. (In the jet- on another plane, he'd been a bit of a mincing pain in the neck, always the girlfriend constantly checking the hemline of the drapes, walking with a tad too much hip and wrist, twisting on a sixpence with a tray of drinks and never spilling a precious drop. Neville's transition from asexual to bisexual to terminally ill homosexual would have been easier without the proliferation of that type of poof- exaggerated affectation in all shades of sexuality usually led to one thing, suicidal loneliness; but there is no convincing these disturbed and determined souls otherwise. Besides, he'd taken an instant dislike to the silly man who smelled of cucumber, the grovelling git.) Now though, he was majorly transformed, a veritable lesson in how not to judge a book by its cover.
Colin, queen of the private-hire passenger cabin, sported a trim beard: the ripped body hirsute with appropriate topiary, he sat, half lounging back, his body sculpted tree-trunks of legs crossed, the cat-women at his side slithering and nibbling, dick-tails hovering on his moist lips like dark pink dragonflies. Neville waited for the inevitable reveal- a significant part of that which made the best performance art persist.
Bated breath. A masturbational precipice.
Quick before I seep or drip. Cheesy cunt.
The last thing Neville had expected was that Colin- Antwerp's Mr Pride Muscle, would possess a cavernous clunge or yawning donkey but, there it was, wriggling like Tigger from the parting of the thighs, a bald aggressive minge behaving like a ravenous baby. Neville was transfixed- the word biblical had begun to taunt him; maybe this pulsating hole was the gateway to hell.
The kitties started mewing and the sound unleashed a beast.
Machine pistols are fab. Imagine dozens of them at your command.
Through Colin's straining meaty flaps squeezed the glistening multi-heads of an all singing and dancing gatekeeper, smiling, melodious, each of them salivating and eager to suck. Neville needed no further encouragement- it was not every day you had the opportunity to be blown by an entire boy-band whilst at the same time being sodomised by two runaways from your least favourite one tune musical.
Match that reality. Neville, dreadfully fucked by reality, knew full well it would have more than done so in Shanghai or Rio at the very least- the Chinese at home and abroad unendingly pride themselves on a limitless concierge service.
Grunting audibly as he climaxed in his dream, he was faintly conscious of a triple thwump- tires kissing tarmacadam, his seat rocking gently like a doting mother's arms. Neville's mother's great first love had always been Diazepam.
Out of nowhere Mrs Jane Doe, the woman in the boulevard, intrudes with “What is it with these freaks? I don't want their existence polluting the air my precious family breathes. After decades of intolerable tolerance which has failed miserably we should seriously consider a reverse tactic- segregation and systematic culling. Us Christian heterosexuals would sleep a lot easier at night. Praise the Lord!” Neville quite believed that if one of her own brood turned out to be a queer she'd have no trouble in putting a gun to his head and letting God pull the trigger.
The glorious thing about dreams is that they're said not to be real. Conversely, maybe their true glory lies in the fact of their forbidden extra-sensory verity.
Fucking nigga. Cheesy cunt.]
Via the services of a discreet private ambulance transfer they were at last decamped in considerable comfort in Amsterdam. Janus had an expensive loft view of one of the many modern towers of Babylon. If insects feel anything approximate to decadent joy you just know that the tastes of the butterfly differ from those of the dung beetle. Mankind shares an important sociopathic trait with rats- both species drown their habitat in obvious and insidious shit then move elsewhere rather than deal with it.
Neville still comatose, filling his adult disposable nappies.
By the many measures of how one defines an international city Amsterdam is small which belies its vast repute for freedom of expression, safe passage, the degree to which it wholeheartedly embraces all forms of diversity and its legendary tolerance of lifestyles including those of the drug and sexually obsessed- those creatures lured into the night by bright lights and excess. It has a globally famous red-light district and gay quarter and the most universally respected Rembrandt Gallery.
The whole area is historic, postcard picturesque, known for windmills, cheese, clogs, tulips. All tourists to it are tarred with the same brush- perverse and voyeuristic. Qualities without which, Neville had always argued to him, the theatre, opera and film could never have existed. Indeed. How dull the arts would be, made tame by some fascistic dry cleaning of all things perverse and voyeuristic.
Nobody from the greater mass invests in a book these days unless there is a guarantee of graphic sex at approximately page twelve. Neville had never taken issue with wankers so long as they honestly persisted spanking their bishop or feathering their meat curtains on a pretty much general basis. Sexual frustrations, he reasoned, were always much better out than in; in fact we had a duty to the community at large to be very much up to speed with our orgasms.
The irony was that, despite what was expected of it, Amsterdam had been trading on the seat of its pants for two decades; had grown somewhat tired of vigilantly policing its high degree of tolerance; had ceased to clean the lenses of the magnifying glasses through which it examined the intolerant.
The increasingly powerful born-again anal middle classes were lobbying for change. Green issues suggested not only a clean-up of the air, the streets and the canals, but also a removal of undesirables which everyone had been at great pains not to properly define. This insinuating spark of dark anti-matter gave rise to spontaneous firework displays all over the city; pretty poor attempts at ethnic cleansing, gang rapes, gay bashings and a spate of nasty unsolved gender murders.
The Dutch police declared that they saw no investigable pattern in any of these crimes. Janus and his love thought otherwise and, as a consequence, Neville’s death wish was quite complex. What wish worth anything is simple. Neville was seeking a grand gesture of justice in a world where the word justice had become synonymous with corruption.
Asleep for twenty-two hours, Neville was slowly surfacing. Illogically, and with no basis in science, at these times Janus always concerned himself with Neville either drowning or getting a bad case of the bends. The glass of fridge chilled spring water has a straw in it. The male nurses have been coming and going in eight hour shifts. The latest gently lifts Neville's head as, blinking continuously, he takes a long sip and asks “Where am I?” He is fifteen floors above the dross of the hotel lobby's profit and loss obsessions. Janus is smiling at him.
The plotters wait for the nurse to leave and then the bedroom door is closed.
Neville lifts the bedding and sniffs- all done and dusted, the smell of Johnson's talcum powder; his mother's knicker drawer always smelled of that and neatness; sanitary towels laid like white muslin bricks, a tube of Germolene which was gum pink and a jar of Vic. He saw them as archaeological finds and took great liberties of the mind with them like hunters of alien artefacts do- the much maligned von Daniken syndrome, if it doesn't fit feel free to make up anything that does fit. Neville always believe she penetrated herself with the bricks and that their size approximated to the inner dimensions of her clunge. This would, more often than not, make him fantasise about the whopper size of his father's wand when pumped.
This nappy thing doesn't turn you on then.
No. Desensitised nipples.
They go hard but as we both know appearances can be deceptive.
Did you have a wank last night.
Shall we have breakfast?
It is half past four in the afternoon- the event schedule commences in two and a half hours.
Breakfast with cake then? Croque monsieur followed by Dutch apple-cake.
Let me deal with the nurse and I'll ring room service. We are checking out at seven.
I'll take a swift shower.
The en-suite wet-room provided two separate downpours- setting one to fairly hot and the other to cooler made for a stimulating walk through an ancient Greek indulgence which the large tiles helped to emulate. The rhythms of all moving water lend themselves to shallow hypnosis but Neville was not to be seduced. Knowing that they would be soon be checking out, he was clearing his head with the needle sharp rain, focussing on fine details. The bulk of their luggage would already have been transferred to their residence five miles west of the city. Only suits and the necessary accoutrements and matching black attaché cases remained. Their own security company ran the warehouse complex they owned to the east of the city- within 48hrs it would be dissolved and the property sold. The film would have been made and tucked safe in their pocket as they were driven to Geneva in the full knowledge that everything had been forensically swept, anything incriminating destroyed, bodies set in concrete and dumped at sea. You get a higher than diamond service when you have the wherewithal to pay the piper in diamonds. Amsterdam was a very old hand at dealing with diamonds.
The stand-in body dryer was bliss but deafening- Neville could not have heard his lover return, change, lay out Neville's clothes on the bed, then deal with the delivery of afternoon tea. [The busman was young, black and beautiful but there was just not the time to find out what else.]
Neville dressed, was an essay in total noir- a mafia cliché, a deliberate nod to Tarrantino; an outfit that may possibly make him appear almost invisible in an all midnight Mercedes van. Janus matching him exactly, sat in the lounge, stirring his china cup of Earl Grey somewhat absent-mindedly, his long freckled fingers ending in perfectly manicured nails.
Do we look like criminals- he asked Neville.
We look better than criminals or gangsters, we look like people who could rule this world if only for a short time.
What do long time rulers look like.
I have no idea. Nobody has. I rather think that's the point.
Neville had to ask- are we all set.
Of course- this late in the day it would have to be.
Their security company Serpsic Corps was to all intents and purposes a small private army recruited from a very niche line of job-seekers- ex-military special forces, straight acting homosexual men over the age of thirty with few or no family ties and a burning desire to set up a new life for themselves under a new name in a new country; no nonsense paperwork, ease of passage, payment of all legal fees plus a £100,000 lump sum in exchange for one month's employment. The work description was brief and would only be thoroughly understood by those intended to understand it- to act on all orders without question during the period of contract. These were dangerous gay bears- as close to bearded XXL human weaponry as could be bought and amongst them were distributed all the media skills necessary to create a movie of subversive substance; an altogether untraceable missile of an artwork intended for the editor's desks at Heat Magazine, Advocate, Gay Times and The Guardian Newspaper and more.
Neville had quite naturally elected for death as his outcome. Janus was as yet undecided- would it be that final step to inhale his last breath or would it be his new life waiting on a golden plate of sun-dried dates in Marrakesh. There was never any question of their passion for 'the cause' dying- the increasing incidents of grievous bodily harm inflicted on gay men in known gay districts by activist homophobes was a matter of public record and that was never going to lie down. Moles will seek out the best kept tennis courts and croquet lawns and persist in their disturbance of proverbial green and pleasant lands. Just like shit, soil disturbance happens. All sorts of bent-out-of-shape reactions are known to be likely to occur.
It will happen- the head of a major faith opposed to Catholicism will be assassinated by a midget nun wired as a human bomb, the man caught off-guard whilst in the throws of a profoundly unethical act with his obligingly flexible nephew. The history of human activity is full of precedents, most of them buried deep but not always beyond reach within the archives. Then there is our own instinctive knowledge of what we understand we might be capable of. The nagging unbearable truth.
The Soho Nail Bomber held a view that he believed was worthy of direct action. Kill gays.
It was not exactly a singular opinion.
His lamentable main event is still celebrated today, with some brave irony, by a unique chandelier hanging in the pub The Admiral Duncan in Compton Street London; it is constructed from remnants garnered from the previously exploded interior; bent nails can be seen. A gay friendly heterosexual couple who had married earlier lost their lives in that place on that terrible day; a day that drifted away from the front pages too soon, twice as fast as any child suspected of being snatched would have. True. And rough justice was arbitrarily meted out to these newlyweds who had showed the humanitarian courage to embrace diversity. Neville remembered no lovingly hand-stitched blanket heterosexual regret- no. Never. God was, yet again, in absentia, probably saving recidivist paedophiles from a forest fire in the belly button of the American bible belt. Praise the ludicrous Lord who, conveniently for some, distributes wealth as irrationally as rain.
What do you think of the cake.
I would have preferred it to be more apple than Dutch.
One more notch in the proof that God doesn't exist.
Let's get on with it.
We wouldn't want to disappoint our special guests.
Neville's 'event site' sported a line of twenty secure porta-cabins and two interconnected industrial warehouses, one a half acre oblong and the other a one acre square- the industrial architecture was drawn deliberately inside out; the whole lot was surrounded by a perimeter road and brick wall, beyond that was a defensive loop of canal further defined by fifteen foot high chain-link fencing. Nothing on the market could have been more suited to purpose. They quickly cut short the paper trail for it- paid in uncut diamonds.
The site had lain quiet for twelve months- just a few contractors doing the necessary; no complaints from the owners of bordering properties; no planning applications; a progressive face-lift; a slow introduction of sophisticated facilities; during the previous three weeks a steady arrival of uniformed and plain-clothed staff; the introduction of a certain residency; 24hr lighting; management tight as a duck's arse.
All the cabins were transformed into identical steam-cleanable holding cells- soundproofed, no windows, no corners, no angles; god-pods, spaces with minimal forensic liability. And this essential interior theme was extended to the larger of the two warehouses- a massive undertaking. The smaller one had an island directorial and editorial suite installed- state of the art; its multiple umbilicals threaded through flexible ducting to its greater mate where a mute chorus of floods, boom mics and cameras waited for their first cue. The hired mercenaries and others enjoyed very temporary accommodation, a designer tented village; aluminium duck boards, solar powered lighting and black canvass. It went up in 24hrs and could be gone without a trace in very much less.
There was a small fleet of black Mercedes vans- too obvious to be noticeable.
When the future has been stripped of all delusion, and you have a spare small fortune to play with, it really is possible to blink-blink outside the box and make a mark that renders any headstone utterly inconsequential.
Did we round up all the prime targets.
They will be naked.
Well. I have been disorientated, more or less, for most of my waking life. For starters my parents believed they owned me, held dominion over me. Yes. I was possessed by their peculiarities, their obsessions and their possessiveness.
It would have been better if they'd fucked me, starved me or broken my bones. That would have been proper wrong, rescued me from their fawn hell.
No-one seems to think there's anything wrong in children being forced to belong to their flawed parents.
I would quite often kill them slowly in my sleep- the cheesy niggas.
There was a commonality amongst the prisoners who comprised sixteen men and four women aged between twenty and thirty six; none of them were native Dutch; it was a rag bag of European immigrant labour- drifters from abandonment; they all held faith with Catholicism- Greek Orthodoxy in particular; none of them had a clean record- crimes varying from petty theft to robbery with violence; they created home churches and met consistently in the same cafes and bars; they had been filmed marching against profane liberalism; all claimed to be unblemished heterosexuals following a strict moral code. Their laudable ethics did not exclude direct action- the organised rape, maiming and murder of ninety two homosexual men prior to their arrest and summary theft from their nests by Serpsic Corps, an operation that had lasted no longer than one hour and fifteen minutes. Each of them confessed on camera with an appalling sense of pride.
The Dutch police- for so long negligent in their defence of the gay community for political reasons, were currently being kept inordinately busy with a plethora of false trails, dead ends and leads to Belgium coastal resorts, Marseilles, Dallas Texas and the Channel Islands.
The phone rang.
That will be reception informing us the transport is here.
Not long now before you're back in the saddle.
How many years since the last porn movie?
You know what they say about bicycles.
Yes. I really dislike that aspect of Amsterdam- huge flocks of bicycles.
All those men stimulating that little ridge between their anus and the ball sac.
All those women knowingly moistening their knickers.
All those oblivious kids.
Yes. I've become quite the kid for oblivion.
They planned to start filming on the soundproofed set at 10pm. And, as planned, it would be a lock-in. Janus idolised the work of the Italian Poet and Director Passollini- particularly Salo- a profoundly obscene and savage swipe at a corrupt society, loved the films of Derek Jarman, any movie that ripped great holes in the fabric of an overbearing and imprisoning faith. He loathed American porn. He hoped, with all the pretension of those born with gold spoons in their mouths, that he could significantly add to the genre. His film 'The Beautiful but Inevitable Gross Consequence of Faith' would be immediately banned of course, but not before the efficient distribution of millions of DVD copies was well under-way world-wide. The carefully chosen list of recipients- all of them fearless activists embedded in the higher echelons of a corrupt media, would ensure it had a raucous, roaring fire of a life.
[As to the screen artwork itself- given all the elements and an average imagination it should be sufficient for most people to develop a moving colour dream-scape that could keep their wrists in action for years; vast numbers might develop carpel tunnel syndrome; the sales of lube will never dip.]
These notes from Jonas' Ipad make interesting reading, they are often interspersed with the odd comment from Neville:-
1 Of the 20 hired gun-toting heavies I shall require at least ten for film-work and execution duties- no acting skills necessary though we should prioritise a feast for the eyes. Choose the soldiers with the biggest pricks. [My job, bagsy my job, I'm the one with a terminal illness- Neville] They should be fitted for very similar costumes, the generic of which is as follows- head to toe black spandex with a peep-hole groin area. [Should I measure scientifically or go by feel alone- Neville] Skin tight head gear with black mesh eye-holes and mouth openings. Black boots, black gun belts and 'second-skin' rubber gloves. Variances will include peep-hole nipple and butt areas and clear openings on the face. Guards with clear openings on the face will wear black lipstick, black eye-shadow and eye-liner.
2 The four female detainees will have their heads shaved. [Closet dykes in holy orders- Neville] The make-up department will give each of them a false trimmed beard. Two of them will be totally blacked up with white lips and harnessed to black dildoes. The other two will be given scarlet lips, a multitude of fake tattoos and harnessed to Caucasian dildoes. All of them will be dressed from their necks to their waists as Catholic Cardinals. [All of the captives will be injected with the agreed cocktail of drugs intended to maximise their lusts, their susceptibility and obedience- tick, triple tick, Neville]
3 The four eldest male prisoners will be dressed in no more than sheer red stockings and matching suspenders. [Its a theme isn't it- Moulin Rouge meets Mrs Doubtfire on Ketamine, Neville] Each will be wearing black satin ballet slippers and a black satin blindfold. The men will be handcuffed to a central bollard.
4 The remaining twelve vigilantes will have their heads covered in black Hessian sacks; their least useful hand will be amputated; [Relax big-boy, its just a little axe dear. You should see my whopper of a chopper!- Neville] they will be told that in the event that they ever stop masturbating then the other hand will go also. Then the feet.
5 I want vivid footage of all these preparations- as a general rule no hired help should ever be in shot without full costume, a weapon and a hard-on. [I will be on hand to fluff peripatetically if needed- Neville]
6 In sequence then, the four Cardinals sodomise the transvestite guys chained to this stubby maypole in the road. The guys subsequently fuck the Cardinals up their arses NOT their minges. The guys are then forced at gun point to fuck each other. The eight are then handcuffed to each other and the phallic post. The partial amputees, all wanking furiously, are marched in. They form a circle around their handcuffed compatriots- an armed guard at each of their backs. The guards cut eyeholes in half of the sacking headdresses. They remove the others and apply bright red lipstick roughly to the men's faces. The heavies hiss into every man's ears- the last one to ejaculate over your mates will be shot. And all the drug crazed masturbating men move forward until their toes connect with the toes of the people on the floor. One by one the orgasms come. When the last loving spoonful is spilled the carnage begins. [Bullets up bum-holes! OH- how often in any lifetime do you get the chance. Its got to done- Neville]
As a truly epic epilogue the gay executioners behave like rabid orgiasts on top of the pile of heterosexual bodies and we don't stop filming until the last of the them is thoroughly spent and limp.
7 All of it to be shot against blue screen/green screen- we know exactly what we have in mind for compromising backgrounds and the CGI inserts are complete and ready to go. [Ratzinger shitting on an ivory effigy of Christ, my idea, my idea- Neville] That is as they say a wrap.
Not much of a plot.
Its art not Miss Marple.
Can I be the one who shouts ACTION.
If you must.
I'd love to be able to see the global impact.
You'll miss it.
You'll be dead. Assisted suicide. As we BOTH planned.
Ouija board me. Promise.
Well why not- we do a pretty good yes and no, you and me.
There is nothing quite like that- the sudden impact of knowing that there is no going back. Commitment- Neville reflected, suddenly bereft of anything to say, now there's an abused word of certainty that has been driven back by repeat legal muggings to a realm of total absurdity. Yet it was often bandied about by political types who conformed to every spin doctor's dream. Commitment- it has now efectively been rendered meaningless.
In anticipation of the next move on their planner's board, Janus had booked them a hotel suite called The Marrakesh but, as it turned out, it had proven to be far too kitsch to bear so he had settled for a simple double room with ensuite facilities; suitably Spartan, they both agreed. And they were quite early to bed, exhausted from the road-trip which had included a number of stops to various banks and solicitors and other purveyors of discreet essential services. Neville was already asleep- breathing deep and even with no fluttering of the eyelids and no vocals whatsoever.
That was odd though not indicatively odd.
Janus shut down the DVD player after the tenth viewing of his finely edited film- the version already in the postal system. It had taken him all that repeat exposure to feel the first, barely noticeable, pangs of deep regret. This was ot much, just the merest hint of some element of guilt, a whiff of moral menace, but it had surprised him. He shared everything with Neville, every mortal thing- he decided he would not be sharing this. Even with the lights out he could not sleep.
The next day Janus rose early leaving his lover to rest on- there were life and death arrangements needing to be meticulously cross-checked. This he did over the phone- ticking all the perfect boxes in their ordered stairway to heaven. They had to be at the assigned place of departure in an hour.
Time to wake Neville, dress him for the last time, then join him on a short walk across the city buying sweets and chocolates along the way. Bitterness tinged the morbid anticipation. This was no moment to choke.
Determined to wake him, Janus Serpent bent to kiss the still Neville Sic squarely on the lips and realised at once that he had jumped the gun, he had already gone; flown in peace, entirely without fuss. Gone without fucking saying so much as a fucking good-bye like they had both fucking planned it. What was the fucking point of making all those fucking notes.
Then there was the full-blown Technicolor, 3D, surround-sound shock; the uncontrollable deluge of tears; the numbness in which a torrent of phone-calls needed to be made.
Then there were what remained.
There was just his husk; an expressionless face.
There was Derek Jarman's soundless flickering blue space.
I am told that Janus made the private flight to Marrakesh.
His is a great fortune albeit one that can be nudged into the shade by some. In the oasis surroundings of that North African city of a billion secrets a small fortune can buy you the court and life of a king. He would never be short of any imaginable form of stimulation to while away his many hours of endless recreation. At the other end of the scale, for the right bribe, baksheesh, you can get the informed locals to say that attached to his palace he has the most fabulous gardens attended to by the most beautiful gardeners- dark-skinned boys [reminiscent of the extras from Passollini's Arabian Nights] prepared to grant his every mortal wish; that he is protected by a small army of dangerous bearded Caucasian men; that he can never sleep without a machine pistol in his bed; that in his sleep he repeats the same four words; that he can sometimes be seen on his balcony in the small hours, crying in abject loneliness beneath the vast canopy of an imprisoning foreign sky; that within the fortress palace there is an advanced medical facility, a windowless soundproofed film studio and a state of the art cinema.
His services are much sought for but can only be actually bought by the inordinately wealthy who share two important traits- they are immensely, incomprehensibly powerful and capable of shielding themselves from the world to the point of invisibility. For now, it is their unanimous assessment that it is in their best interests, particularly in respect of their hunger for sensory diversions, for Janus Serpent and his intuitive genius for twisted erotica to be kept alive and well.
When the platinum ghosts of the true moguls come calling, he has no choice but to deliver.
EXPOSED IN PRINT
At the onset of the Yuletide semester a stunning new poppy crop of over spun educators, still naive, wet behind the ears, burning with a passion and a stash of coke, have begun to teach the deaf to hear sense, the unsighted to see through jokes at the blind’s expense, the mute to shout, spit it out in rage against machines, all sick-n-sorry religious regimes, those get rich quick ‘The Secret’ schemes with their slick moral means to that neat trick of a desired ending- befriending then what virgin opportunity comes out of near illiterate mums’ front bums and dads’ repeat pint glass expectation.
I saw Cate Blanchett play the exact part alongside Dench in ‘Notes On A Scandal’ with its bracketing bench scenes set in stone.
All of it before one half-remembered view of hell that I still think may well have been Herne Hill where I first turned the other way, went gay, bent as a nine bob tenner. [Shock, horror, backs to the walls cupping hands over dick and balls.] Yes. In front of multo phallic tower blocks being rubbed by midget window monkeys.
My point is, proper prole schooling, not this drooling over pubescent boys; merit where it’s due, that kind of joyless, gold star or crescent thing invented by Oxbridge civil servants nursed on quail’s eggs and Pooh Bear, obsessed with stats and ethnicity maps.
[You want it? Now sir! How sir? Wow- soirée! Unzip. Hunger. Kecks away! Fifteen and so up for it.]
Carnality in the English cupboard. Afternoon break, he has me over a virtual barrel. His fuck buddy, Head Of Drama, his very own imitation of the Michael Farrell, whose genital smell is OMG.
[It beggars belief, but there are, today, 16th Nov 2007, 10408 books below criticism, for sale items, pleading their case on Lulu.com’ poetry with a small ‘p’ self-publishing browser. Indulge me please.
And these vain poets are who? Young men, maybe, believing their torrid love boasts are the first, the horrid original worst and, as a consequence of ‘rarity’, MUST FUCKING BE of some interest to the reading world at large. They could not be more wrong. Sadly there are other types. They could be, perhaps, the older woman seeking thrills from late-onset clitoral criticism and other ills like gissum in their avant garde ‘There’s Something About Mary?’ hair. They wear their hirsute shirt of creative expression, being fashionably struck, just now, with the poetic pathology of Plath, the dark muse of Hughes who did refuse her more meritorious rogering. Now, this creature’s really not in step or, in any way, on song. She’s not satisfied, not entirely satyrised, Not yet fully satiated. Oh my golly gosh God!]
Too many teenage cocks so little time, Cate sucking it to him as if his cum were vintage wine. Well, it is an ageless well of Chablis shot in lovers’ glee; the night grass flat between the stationary trains, a mead for their idyllic recumbence. She flattered, he hard again, bare seconds later, pale rump a blur, at its antithesis once more, then changing, in mid-act, to stuttering a smooth chin into her rejuvenated guttering.
Homework for French GCSE. The oral exam.
[Mais oui. And may we say there always is another way. Get real. Reveal your pink elastic, veiled self, lady; give the lucky lad a right rustic feel wrist deep. Miss, you are so bad, exposing yourself in print and now, in my gang, fucking famous.]
I’m declining all offers to go there ever in haste, fearsome of the raw omelette you’d make of my happy slap-me out-there face: the vainglory of it plain as day, the taint of which will stick like a crude tattoo and never, in this ever foreshortening lifetime, fade away.
So many piss poor poems hare the half-life of pernicious plastic carrier bags- 500yrs of unwarranted over-processed oil of westernised Arabian presence, stuck in the landfills of our tame acquiescence where the lame words lost in a sea of condoms quietly amuse the sentient sky rattling gulls and other such literate shit sifters.
FRAGMENTS OF WHAT'S HARD TO TAKE:
EXTRACTED FROM ‘THE BRIGHTON HORN’
‘Far from shrinking from parties we do go, enjoy ourselves, getting ambiently high- sans alcohol or drugs. We don’t wear martyr’s clothes nor are we activists against the consumption of drink or fun-times but we do believe that- had alcohol not been invented and made profligate as such a tax earner and thus rendered socially viable, and had appeared out of the blue yesterday, today it would be immediately made a Class A drug. Users of it would become vilified overnight as crack addicts are. Alcoholics would become some of the most reviled members of society alongside paedophiles. However, for the sake of the treasury, that will never be the case. People will continue to imbibe, in open and scandalous hypocrisy, their legal ‘Class A’ drug of choice, whilst expressing their inebriated opinions about any target in society they choose. And when they go too far which is almost always, their fallback position is to, without fail, blame it on the booze. The excuse goes that they are not bigots, racists or whatever; it was just the booze talking. Seriously- how fucking lame is that on every level. If only there were a disinfectant for it.’
IS THIS FICTION?
I had just finished sorting the interfering drink driving Tory bitch who insisted on delivering The Parish Magazine against our wishes. Time for a walk. No more talk of church or politics in West Sussex, UK.
It seemed utterly incredible to me that I had been the first to see Dieter wobble like a mad cow, not like the drunk he usually is- is everyone so self-interested, I asked myself, lovers; relatives; a son in-situ; that they missed his symptomatic instability, left it to be spotted by a not entirely committed friend living so far south it might as well have been a foreign country. I broke his fall, helped him back to comfort as if he were a man twice his age- his dead father taken by a stroke in a hen-house, the trick gone into rictus, she needing to be surgically separated from the corpse. A famous night that was in Bourneville’s ER. Once more in an armchair his face arranged itself like that of a baby’s. Dieter was frightened or manipulative or both.
I insisted the medical investigations began the next day, immediately upon their return home. You do. You do that- you never skimp on urgency. It was either a vigorous brain tumour or undiagnosed HIV morphing into full blown AIDS. Ugly survivalism kicked in- it made us clinically evaluate every contact, the ones we could remember that is. Responsible gays we have germ killing wet-wipes and other guns in our armoury.
Ramon’s last ejaculation was six days previous into the bearded mouth of his EFL tutor. Since then he’d rigorously saved himself for this night- no sense in catching a one way ticket to the ‘true community’ without an adequate expression of thanks. Plus he was eighteen at last- finally democratised, deemed by society to be able to make an adult choice. Yes. He understood that the choices you make can help define you. Did he choose these six complicit men and their dicks- not exactly.
He answers his vibrating mobile- the six were now five; a heavy cold; he wouldn’t want to catch a heavy cold. That was close- he loathes colds, everybody who was old had colds. He owns multiple hand-size germ killing sprays- sani-misters.
Ramon smells of pink pepper, sunshine, fresh washed denim and white cotton. It is mid-afternoon when he rings the bell. A breeze from the nearby sea shifts his black gloss locks, carries an abandoned page from The Parish Magazine down the car-lined street.
One quarter of a Valium- 1.25 mgs, it always eases the pain of getting the little blighter out of the car and into the lift; she has carried him all four flights before; six and prematurely sprouting puppy fat screaming no; the thought of his price for an afternoon blotting out all vestige of mothering; that kind of cash buys a week’s worth of crack.
Gregory made the exchange at the flat door. Sweet. She had to wait while he finished constructing a roach- a freebie for her; she watched him tear a strip from The Parish Magazine, make a tube then slip it in.
On the landing Gillian stops to take in the view and listen out for Tom’s screaming. She wet-wipes her face and hands- the scent medicinal and reassuring. In a sudden burst she hears loud Reggae from the nearest flat to her- an altercation between adults then silence. The scenery is illuminated concrete ground-hugging blocks overlapping then intercut by towers- blink and it might seem to be the inside street map of a star-ship. Wicked.
The supplier was conveniently on the first floor. Again the exchange was made over the threshold. Part of her sufferance was the routine quips about how useful her boy was to her; how she needed to forward think to counteract his ageing: she needed getting up the duff and he had just the tool for the job. Knobhead.
Agnes Groom was relatively new to abject loneliness- never been without a cat before. November the 5th- twelve months to the day; the same arguments about British Legion Poppies clogging the airwaves. Since growing old and alone one of the best presents she had ever received was a rubber brick to lob at the offending radio or television; Mary, the plump Warden of the small close of sheltered bungalows gave her that. April Fools- it was well before midday.
There’s no mistaking a missing white moggy being thrown onto a bonfire. Agnes had clawed at her nets screaming. It turned her into someone who’d complain at shadows- Millie, her home-help, a stickler for deodorisers and bleach, had to be an illegal immigrant and that boyfriend of hers an obvious drugs dealer; the smell from the drains was Eastern European. She developed aggravated agoraphobia and signs of dementia- crying at the sight of The Parish Magazine on the doormat.
Determined to go through with it Alice rose at 5am, showered with infection prohibiting deep cleansing agents, chose exercise clothes and an anorak and jogged to the station, rousing the dogs in every other household on her leaf strewn route. She sat on a blue bench in fog quiet, reading The Parish Magazine, waiting for the 5.43. There would be four other commuters- five tops, all of them men dressed in suits and secrets. She lived with this obsessive thought- the numbers of men that get away with bad things are massively greater than those who are ever caught. Part of page seven was missing- must have been an advert someone had cut out, it amused her wondering what; life skills or a life class maybe, something to do with life, how it might be enhanced with attention to the scriptures, hot massage stones and scented oils that told the mind to find the pain more bearable. Distrust and then disgust overwhelmed her- they were familiars.
No identification. Gypsy jewellery. Thirteen- a stab at age. Nurses scissoring damp clothing off the dying girl, fresh in from a TA in the half-cock rain, blood loss extreme. High end bug defence swabs. In her mustard yellow knickers they find five Parish Magazines soaked with menstrual blood or a miscarriage. Makeshift. She was caught short or poverty stricken. The flatness of the green line final on the third time.
Heartbeats in single figures close to death, sleeping Robert Wrench was unaware his social worker had entered the property, that corduroy TV chair of his and him as one- an art installation of creatures and body fluids, making Moira catch her breath as she struggled not to retch. A bony right hand wrapped around a flaccid penis ripe with smegma. On the floor a lost remote amongst a scattering of DVDs. Eighty three and his ennui with sex had travelled him to skat and even more unmentionable themes.
A cross between a sigh and a cough and he is gone- both bladder and lower bowel howling his predicament in unison. Moira used to nurse though never could get used to it. She curses loudly. A small rat leaves the chair and finds the open door.
In the lavatory there is no loo roll- just Parish Magazines hung on string. In the pan, evidence of the previous evacuation- a smeared line drawing of a church spire. Moira flushes it away and waits for the cistern to silence itself before phoning the authorities. In her mind a bucket, mop and Dettol.
The essential thing about the 5.43 is that it does not stop. The 5.55 does. The Tag watch that Alice stole from a TA says 5.40- beautifully crafted it is as exact as it gets. She flights the paper airplane that she’s folded from the Parish Magazine. It works a treat, gliding then neatly dipping into a waste-bin. Cool. Everything is in its place, as it should be.
As planned, Alice throws herself in front of the 5.43 through train; no more lifeless exams. Bits of her red mist stick to the skin and flannel of four grey suits- their occupants screaming like annoyed gulls.
Dieter’s diagnosis harboured no surprises- the emergence of Kaposi’s Sarcoma had dented that. He lived because the drugs they have now mugged it. His mug of a husband proved to be a proper match- what is mine is yours in sickness and in health. They continued to lie to each other incessantly- nothing will separate them from it. What I know, sworn to secrecy, told by one that the other does not know, and vice versa, could be itself a sack of self-spun fantasies. I am no longer in that web.
This week a friend of a friend of a friend, as is often the way in an oppressed minority, managed to let me know that the two of them had been pronounced dead at the scene of a road traffic accident. They had swerved to avoid two girls and run over one. She died in hospital. The police are seeking the other girl as a crucial witness.
Agnes’ sorrow was so great it would not let her sob. There was no cure for the sadness of having a granddaughter robbed from you by the likes of furiously trafficked tar macadam- a step-granddaughter even, not blood kin. The genuine grieving rendered her careless almost reckless. She forgot to lock the doors and hit the gin.
Millie’s boyfriend entered her premises at 1am. Agnes was asleep. It took one blow to make that state of affairs permanent. The killer ransacked, ate and drank then wanked on the old woman’s face. He crumpled the Parish Magazine into a doughnut size ball then stuffed her mouth with it. With his phone camera he took a short vid of her dry vagina- parting the labia with the pencil she used to do word-searches with. He was seventy eight quid richer plus a small haul of Romany earrings.
Moira saw Millie’s boyfriend leaving Agnes’ premises in the small hours. Millie’s boyfriend saw that he had been seen but he was making good his escape and did his best to ignore the fact. That was not going to happen. That Moira was a god-botherer- she cared for his adopted mum’s dad, manned the all night soup kitchen. Her daughter Alice was a right swat- had the gall to tell him that his dick was puny. He figured rape had been too good for her.
Ramon was proper fucked and rectally bleeding. Smiles all round. Twice throughout he had experienced regret. Once at the very start being invited in by middle-age in a string vest and Primark jogging bottoms; secondly on the fourth unique entry when sensation left him and he became a rag doll in the hands of puppet masters. His landlady should not have raged on about his gayness. Moira could be a bitch like that- kidding him on she had his best interest at heart. Now, positive he was positive, he was convinced her attitude would soften. There was that dreadful rift between her and her eldest daughter Gillian- maybe he could mend that. Funny what crosses your mind with your wounded behind stuffed with the diseased ejaculate of four men munching tuna sandwiches and downing pear cider. Like all foreigners to the English language our words thrilled him; he was quizzing himself as to whether or not there was any real difference between a deliberate act and an accident. The English tabloid millions generally pour hostile scorn on such philosophical concerns. They love a good fat fact.
Sick of the sight of the police station and wary of being alone, Moira instructed the driver to drop her at the vicarage; the lesbian incumbent was an old friend who would counsel and cosset then ferry her home. That happened but not without Moira agreeing to deliver the new edition of the Parish Magazine- the garrulous Tory whose usual job it was, was incapacitated, due to being hospitalised for a liver transplant. Moira said- better that than the usual drink driving, so many TAs have alcohol at the heart of them. Years in ERs made her view inarguable.
It often only takes the one bullet.
Ramon- miserable with a head cold, and Gillian between fixes, found Moira dead on a little used pavement a limp, half-empty bag of Parish Magazines trying desperately to escape her neck. The work of God proving to be no defence whatsoever.
In an unexpected turn of events Gillian cried over her estranged mother’s body as Ramon iphoned the police.
They collected at the base of the concrete high-rise. One small group had instructions to deal with the criminal occupant of a flat on the first floor. Gillian went three floors higher with the rest of the policemen who were senior and weaponed up.
When Gregory opened the door and saw her, his first thought was that he had missed a date in his meticulous diary, his second thought was the proximity of massed policemen- every paedophile ring’s worst nightmare. Swift and experienced hands prevented him reaching his goodbye capsule. There were ten hard drives in the flat; a room lined with polythene; multiples of thousands of print images
The rest is every bit as nightmarish as you dare to imagine it. Though that precisely is the point- to what degree is it that any of us are prepared to care.
CONVERSATION IN A CAFE
‘I threw away all sorts of the perverse product that claims to kill all known germs. What authority are they using to say what germs are known and, more importantly, what of unknown germs? Are we not one ourselves? How well do you know the one person closest to you? How well do you know yourself?’
‘My thoughts exactly.’
‘I wrote to the lesbian vicar and protested the routine letter-box dropping of religious propaganda describing it as a virulent infection. She did not reply.’
‘If anyone knows the game is up she does. Her lover Mary- the warden of that old people’s close of bungalows; the Agnes Groom horror; she’s in bits, fast losing her wits. Can you wonder at it.’
‘Our very handsome gay foreigner is over his cold- a minor irritation in the scheme of things. No more sore and unsightly nostrils. Unbelievably, Ramon believes finally he belongs and is very positive about his future amongst the HIV Positive Club- Brighton, West Sussex, UK- so I am told by a friend of a friend.’
‘Very London-by-the sea. Not! Brighton calls itself so worldly wise and cosmopolitan and is in fact as clubby as fuck. The gay scene makes strangers feel like cockroaches carrying the bubonic plague- unless of course they conform at first sight to the model of prime steak and vulnerability.’
‘Quite so. Addicted and conflicted Gillian believes she is embracing rehabilitation as if it offers salvation. In our guts we feel the truth of that dissembling, don’t we. We had all those buts about religious salvation and they’ve not ever been countered.’
‘Never. God is such a lying cunt.’
‘Much buggered young Tom is now in local authority care of course, learning to shit without crying. Let us trust warily in the brittle hope that he is totally safe there. Unfortunately there exists a catalogue of well documented recent events that have shredded all such guarantees. Advertisers beware. Do not expect human life to be safe or deliver in any way like it promises on the label.’
‘Tell me about it- this lemon frappacino seems never to have kissed a lemon least of all properly sucked the living daylights out of it. It doesn’t help that this floor has been recently mopped with dilute Jeyes Fluid.’
My love’s keynote smell is locked within my pores, his scent exploring way beneath the skin where, there, like patient doggers, wait my wild neural highways empty but for his high performance bike.
Inside my mind’s hide he’s riding at the speed of light, sensation, just to find, with every touch and thrust, the inspiration for my loving him and liking what he does well once then does again. Dear God.
I drive a clear way free from traffic, a black top from my hot head to my gay heart and, halfway home, a Welsh lay-by waits. Now, moving his shift stick into park, there’s handy, well it’s a promising place to start.
Will the bushes find their feet and move to watch us?
God! Her pearl pink fishy sheen is omnipresent. Now, manifest again as the queen superbeing, she creates a memorable ballsy buzz.
All of us dick-centric dads, in thrall to her sting, would fuck her silly to high heaven, willy nilly. Twenty four seven. Cliché ridden.
‘Tuck in your teenage tongue my rabid son, the devious, manipulative female of the species has your testicular reason on the run.’
Adolescently complex, he mutters vows in rut to the ancient goddess of sex and lust- ‘Let me then explore the butts of sacrificial whores whose clitoral pricks are buttons blood engorged.’
So. The frantic tease is on, the boy’s wanting warm. Choice is winged, unhinged and set to swarm. Cock. Shop. Drop a pre-term bastard clone. Dead. Give the lad a rubber glove to wrap round his bone.
In the end, he’ll settle for the palest of pastiche, well within his league, a proper niche mismatched to wed, to hatch, to first support and then divorce whenever the pen in him returns to fill his head
with Absinthian verse and wizard words of course- shaman words of pure escapism from this worthling world where almost everything is indubitably hers but still, to spite him, it is, as per market forces, just not enough; unlike the bits of garnered string, the scratched red lacquered Swiss army knife, the sheer audacity of sleeping rough talking tough and smelling, getting yourself a life.
PROMPTED BY MATHEWS
James Mann smiles his I'm ok smile.
He's quite cute for a man’s man and is cutest by far when he smiles ambivalently.
When James Mann smiles his large eyes twinkle. He is mouse haired, blue eyed, of average height and overweight.
It doesn't matter a jot that he's fat.
Big can be alluring. Large, with the distinctive elegance of the large, he is attractive in the way that all aliens are. Strangely imposing.
He definitely has something about him. Nothing quite focuses, there is no certainty to put one's finger on, nothing definite. The ‘g’ word having been posted on him endlessly has somehow never stuck.
James is finished with the outside for the night.
The outside can do what it wants, be what the hell it wants to be, he's out of it.
The car is garaged.
James Mann's overcoat is off.
The German electric kettle is on.
James is successful. Jim has a right-on life. He has a job, a house, a car. He has a warm overcoat and an automatic, hands free, mirror chrome electric kettle.
James has a means of shutting the dark night out, a facility for putting the cloying reach of the outside firmly behind him.
Jim is so clever. He is so adept at survival in this age of capitalist acme that the kitchen table is laden with overflowing carrier bags. Rewards.
Spilling their entrails these guts applaud him.
That was good, that last hunting trip, stimulating.
He'd parked the car hurriedly, stealthily he thought, his mind on the thrill of the chase. About to exit the car, his head filled with the unravelling routine of coin, trolley and revolving door, he'd heard an
shouted, followed by an
shouted even louder.
He'd looked up then, furtive at first, and then with increasing fear, like an unarmed native parting tall grasses and being surprised by a Panther.
Advancing towards him at that time, shouting, snarling, waving black polished boots and a smart clip board was a neo Security Guard wearing a black uniform and a black peaked cap that inanely announced his provenance with both the name of the supermarket and its logo. You know precisely the type.
I say neo because nobody in their right minds believes that these are true Security Guards. These fucking neos are not what it says on the fucking packet, they are Mickey Mousers.
Everybody knows that true Security Guards, have been anally raped, carry real guns and emotional scars from extremely violent mercenary service in West Africa.
You know the sort of service, service where Landrovers are decorated with victims’ limbs, where heads are decapitated and stuck on poles at village boundaries, service where white mercenaries appear on camera blacked out, their voices sounding like they are on triple x Prozac.
They are, all of them, sick as dicks-on-sticks fuckers!
Everybody knows that true Security Guards have real criminal records other than ones for petty thieving and parking violations and pissing in public places. Everybody knows that true Security Guards are proper psychotic cunts.
This particular fucking pants Panther with designs on ripping into James Mann's face was someone he'd vaguely remembered from his teaching days. Or somewhere else. Or both.
This was not a proper kippered cunt.
This was a young man whose baby features used to shine on Friday afternoons in a remove class double-plus designed as a dustbin for bored fifteen year old illiterates, wasted kids too thick to see the sense in bunking off.
These were giggling kids still excited by the underwear pages of Home Shopping Catalogues, wankers not yet graduated to real fucking or crime or shooting up.
Mathews always was a clean boy.
You could always rely on Mathews to have a clean handkerchief [spunk-rag] in his trousers’ pocket. Mathews was the kind of boy that really did wash his hands after using the urinal.
'Sir.' Mathews had said to his ex-teacher, the dim light of recognition barely registering, 'Sir.' he'd repeated. He was pointing to the yellow lettering that filled the adjoining parking bay.
'Disabled Parking only!' Mathews had spouted, his voice a mite too high on account of his excitement. He'd cleared his throat. Checked his fly. 'Are you disabled now?'
Now this was a glorious question because Jim very often felt disabled. He would regularly look at his monthly bank statements and feel uncommonly fucking disabled. He would try weaving his way up the high street through a minefield of pushchairs and shopping trolleys and lovers arm in arm or down each other's throats and he would feel overwhelmingly enfeebled. And there had been vast tracts of his life to date through which he had not walked or run but very definitely limped quite definitely impaired. But, at that moment, faced with Mathews in a fancy dress uniform and heavens knows how many old schooldays’ axes waiting to grind, he knew he'd appeared rather too well, rosy almost, indeed a touch over perky.
'No.' he'd said, enjoying the authoritative brevity of his reply.
There was one of those silences.
Anything could have happened.
It was then he remembered the awkward occasion he had stumbled upon him, left school and on dangerous ground, and had exacted a little more than lip service.
Mathews could have been an evolving serial killer, at the very least a severely disturbed person.
This minor contretemps with an ex teacher might well have been the secret subconscious trigger to have unleashed a knife attack of startling ferocity.
James could have been eviscerated, spread all over the car park and the following days’ tabloids.
It was not to be.
James saw that it was not to be and James Mann saw that the game was up. He wanted to scream fuck off at the little upstart but he opted to be charismatically pleasant.
'Don't I know you?' he'd asked, locking the car and turning on his accuser, 'Yes. I know now. You're Mathews. Well. Well. Haven't we done well. A uniform. Delicious. You always said you wanted one of those.'
Mathews had at once backed off, confusion finally giving way to recognition. The two men then walked towards a tangle of silvery trolleys lost in mutual reminiscence, a long jump injury on Sports Day, a 'B' for First Aid. An unpleasant cheap zip-fly entrapment.
There was a snug Security Guards’ Station- a hut providing more than sufficient privacy.
Jim smiles to himself, content that he got so fluidly out of it and the rest. He sets about moving the kills from his plastic hunting pouches to his stashing places; dead chocolate covered digestive biscuits, comatose pre-prepared vegetables, tins of dead things, cans of dead things, cartons of dead things.
Jim switches on the portable TV.
More dead things.
That Mathews, he's thinking to himself, that too clean, too kind, far too neat and ironed Mathews, he was cleared of aggravated rape of a fellow scout at sixteen.
He was up for rape and his nickname was Spam on account of the sparsity of his pubic hair.
Hadn't it been evident for all to see that the boy was not biologically prepared for extreme penetration?
The police never knew though, did they? They never knew what had gone on in the April of his fifteenth year. Few people knew the truth of that.
Jim then catches the tail of a broadcast, a public information insert between the national and the local news. It is a new concept, the two minute feature, something developed from the runaway success of music videos and advertising, something for the promotion of community awareness.
It is blatant propaganda.
There is a doorway in the film and animated in the doorway are three persons determined to prevent the entry of a fourth. They are screaming, these three, washed but dowdy, one of them a man who keeps touching his crotch with one hand and waving a wooden crucifix with the other.
'Don't wake him! Don't bloody wake him!' they scream.
'Pray for him to come. Yes. Pray for him to come again.
But don't wake him! No. Never, never wake him.
This is good here, as it is.
Whatever gave you the idea that we want to be saved?
Bugger off! Go on. Get the fuck out of it!'
Mann watches as the one who was turned away goes, she has not lost her smiling face. She is not sloping away. She has not lost her dignity.
There is a caption. It reads- One person's Jesus is another person's Satan.
He switches the telly off.
Another dead thing fit only for transmitting shit.
James finds it much more difficult to switch off his memory of the spurned but dignified woman with the constantly smiling face. But that's the whole point of it. Then, in a sudden rush of what he perceives to be insight, he announces to himself- perpetual benevolence!
Constant benevolence, he decides- that's it!
She has usurped her natural fear of fucking death with the entirely unnatural monster of constant fucking benevolence.
He confirms it, yes, she was a woman of constant benevolence, retaining her dignity but nevertheless electing to be spurned.
The question stumped him.
She wore a plaid skirt, pleated, and a bland cardigan beneath a fawn plastic mac. She appeared childless. She was fiftyish and her hair was mousy and her tights were thick and she had held aloft her good book against the rain of abuse.
She deserved her spurning.
She'd bloody earned it.
She had gone, unarmed, protected with nothing more than her beliefs and her plainness, out there amongst the perils of the heathen outside world to win a fucking good spurning.
It did her proud.
It did her proud and home knitted back a deal of good to be lashed raw by mass insult. Abused repeatedly as a child I shouldn't wonder, he told himself.
Marvellous, isn't it, that you almost never hear of anyone who was abused just the once.
Yes. Abused and abused again she was, because of her bully of a faith? We've all met the type, a mouse in the supermarket, a lion on the doorstep.
And, repeatedly abused she becomes the abuser flogging the dead horse of unquestionably dead remedies.
Well, there was her personal war Lord hidden in her fucked up head versus their opposing war Lord hiding behind the closed door.
It was always going to be an impasse, the one faith cancelling out the other and the resulting void inviting faithlessness, lawlessness, mayhem.
How fucking stupid the whole thing was.
The sick god botherer fucks.
Didn't they know it was little more than an ancient drug culture designed to ease the pain of knowing that we're going to die?
She's on sleepers and Sherry.
Spiritual ecstasies, that’s what it is.
Medieval 'Es' to guard against nature's old heave ho!
Hadn't they noticed how forever had died?
Didn't they know that time is always running out?
But it was only on film.
The film was only part of the celluloid dream that James refused to dream. The dream goes- if it moves, shoot it to fuck on video. If it sells, celebrate by throwing a party. If it doesn't, stay at home and call it fucking art.
James made Assam tea for himself.
He is very domestic.
He likes his creature comforts.
His surroundings say as much.
The small house is spacious, airy. Afraid to lose this feeling of space James has let it remain sparsely furnished. Minimalist. A sofa. A lamp. Some art.
You get the picture.
This style has many benefits to recommend it.
What you would spend on more, you spend on less, so you can afford quality. James liked that.
Guests seldom stay long. You pays your money and you generally get what you pay for. No more complicated than that. Rent a body.
There is much less to dust.
Decorative objects have to be chosen with great care. The western world is already overstuffed with carelessly chosen decorative objects. It is a sickness. A wasting disease. A disease of wasting valuable resources.
Invading sick as fuck products appealing to sick as fuck minds or sheep or white trash with money to incinerate, floods the shopping malls like so much effluent.
Turds disguised as pottery figures.
Things to sit on the telly.
James has a lacquered brass Buddha.
With such comfortable starkness colour becomes increasingly significant. A Parchment as distinct from A Cream. A Magenta. A Delphinium. A Violet. It can become quite a worry.
Eau de nil is extraordinarily good for stress.
Monotone is as good a solution as any.
James likes black leather. Waistcoats. Chaps.
He took the black tea and the chocolate covered digestives into the lounging space. Putting the tray on the polished floorboards, he sat on the black leather sofa. Leaned back. Thought about some music.
The hunt was good today.
It had turned up anysexual Mathews, Mathews and rabid Caroline Pikenard. Both of them carrying a juggernaut's worth of secrets and lies.
There was always a certain in the pants frisson to meeting Carrie Pike, even fleetingly. This was because Carrie Pikenard was openly false, which was refreshingly erotic in itself, but also because she was generally credited with putting synthetic finger nails into the pornographic film industry.
Carrie went through life wearing a noticeable signature taint, the scent, almost, of having been there during the shooting, when the big guns swung over well oiled abdomens and shot their implausible load creating gobsmacking strings of pearls.
How we envied her balls!
She really was the bollocks. She'd done everything there was to do in the sex industry. We reckoned she'd even shagged Alsatians. Donkeys.
How we gossiped about her Californian Silicone. How we surfed the late night cable channels for her old movies.
We all saw her tits.
We saw her pleasured raw wet bits.
We were there!
James saw her fearlessness.
Of all of the people he had met on his journey she was the one most able to live in the moment and bugger all the consequences.
She was not a child, though she was capable of wilful childishness. She was an adult who could forget, for most of the time, her own mortality. Her inevitable death rarely if ever got a look in.
Not even in the rush hour.
Not even in a crack house.
Consequently, for almost all of the time, she had no use for religion or belief systems or rules and regulations of any kind.
James thought her impossible, easily the gentlest of all possible sociopaths. In debt to a degree that you just would not believe and a fine cook, she took to throwing lavish dinner parties on supplementary benefit. She was the first full blown spiritual anarchist he had ever met.
He had, of course, and quite ridiculously, fallen in love with the idea of the circus of her at once. The Big Top. The tumbling intercourse. Trapeze sex. Tightrope cunnilingus. But, for some unfathomable reason he had never quite managed to be the ringmaster and fuck the arse off her.
Was he liable to become unbalanced?
Without a catch net, would he ultimately break his neck?
The act of holding her in awe, he had decided, was the most likely culprit. For men at least, there is nothing less like an aphrodisiac than the phenomenon of holding a woman in awe.
Carrie suspected he was gay anyway.
As yet undecided, although it was all a matter of linguistic juggling, James Mann, was almost there. Almost ready to agree as much about himself, at least in part. That is to say in respect of the only part that matters to a man.
His head was arguably hetero but his dick was decidedly homo. It happens. Mathews knew.
This situation was a magnet for farcical relationships and made reciprocal oral sex a very hit and miss affair.
She was unreal, a wraith, after all. Disembodied flesh displayed splayed, widescreen, open crotch in macro close-up, the very epitome of a cat with its throat cut.
Caroline Pikenard was nothing much more than prettily arranged ectoplasm.
And suddenly there she had been, the huntress in mid-hunt, hovering like an angel between gondolas of cat food and dogwood, visibly debating the diet of her furry familiars. She had swamped him in smiles and heady perfume and she'd printed Revlon lips in lipstick on his hunter's cheek and he had asked her something, probing in that incorrigibly gossipy way of his.
'Are you still with your cameraman?'
She'd looked a little sulky when she told him 'Yes.'
Crumbs from the crumbling biscuits littered the pale grey floor boarding. He was undecided about the music. He was unhappy about the thought of a book. He was out of sorts with the home cinema.
Thought. Still caught.
On still days, he was remembering, you could follow the pale smoke sky-writing as it rose silent from the crematorium, its chimney stacks hidden from the playing fields by a long line of tall Poplars. This wall of trees would usually funnel up and away all of that unwelcome breath of the burning dead with its reek of urine soaked winceyette and cigarette singed moustache.
On warm, Spring days with just a light breeze it was different. On days like that James could sit there, on his school lunch break, marking pitiful essays and breathing the dead in, poetically ingesting an air soup composed of the various remains from the local hospices and the bagged up offal from the ER morgue. He once wrote a poem about it.
When this poem was written he ripped it into tiny pieces and floated them on the beck that was the boundary between two Counties.
And on Sundays these fun-for-the-community acres, adjacent to the Crem' rails, would come alive with boot and ball, with screaming profanities and steaming wind.
There was always a battle of the colours.
The blue army with the yellow feathers would attack the goal to the right. The red army with beads and shells would oppose them.
In the middle, on the centre spot there would sit a head, its hair matted and its eye sockets empty. Some mercenary's memento from Angola I shouldn't wonder.
It was The Security Guards First Eleven versus The Surrey Clerks Of Court Eleven.
They will cancel each other out, James had said to himself once, and into the void will thunder cunting madness.
One such Sunday, at what would have been half-time, though the pitches were empty of anything but crows, James was on a recreational across the war zone to the farmland beyond.
There was a small coppice beside the beck, a deep shelterbelt of Hawthorn, Bramble and Silver Birch through which a Celtic knot of pathways had been driven by both Deer and determined boys on bicycles.
You stepped out of the jaundiced, urban light and into the mossy illumination of leafworld, a place of mystery and magic where dwelt the greater and the lesser hidden forces such as elfin folk and higher selves.
Two strides in, James stopped in the dank doorway, his dark jacket mottled by the dust of catkins, his nose assailed with the scents of moist soil and rotting leaf.
This was not a new place.
Oh fuck! Mighty fuck. He had been here before.
He had been here before and the memory of it was mounting an attack on him. He felt an old shame make a sudden attempt to swamp him, it was like a moist cloth pressing against his face, at once blinding then, at the same time, stifling.
He knew this sensation.
It was weakness.
Weakness, with its sudden sneering presence always had him fumbling for his Asthma inhaler, always had him feeling that he shouldn't be discovered with the pump in his mouth, his breath held and his eyes as wide as a creature who's just smelled the slaughter house.
What he wanted was to be away from that place. It’s a cinch in virtual reality.
What he wanted was to be at home, alone, safe in his bed, his hand at his groin, hislength stiffening and his eyes closing, the daylight beautifully dulled by the pale curtaining.
You get what you want in virtual reality.
How good it always was to be in isolation, with God, and doing something with your genitals that feels that good.
Carrie...now what was the TV channel that your legs were once wide open on?
They could have been great friends, the alien messiah and the celluloid whore. Indeed there was no one else more capable of hearing his confession.
She never heard this confession.
How, one day, when the chalk and talk had finally dried up, nothing came. That was the day when nothing had come out to play in a very big way.
How, one day, when a great improbable chasm opened where a class of thirty two disinterested faces had just been, he- to all intents and purposes, calmly downed his pencil and walked away never to return.
He'd remembered a distant friend, a city desk journalist, who'd been on his way home on the five fifteen out of Waterloo when, shortly before Woking, he had looked down to discover what was itching his feet, only to find that everything below his knees, trousers, socks, shoes, the lot, had disappeared, vanished from view.
It was a stress induced illusion.
But it was fucking convincing!
He had stifled the scream and broken out into a sweat so great that people in his vicinity began showing signs of urgent self-interest.
Shortly before arriving at Winchester, the tips of his brogues had reappeared.
He walked home. Sober. Legless.
You see, it is true, some of us have it in us to be very brave, even artists. And not so very long after this bravery, he had the courage to quit his job in the city. No more prostitution. Just exquisitely attractive art for art's sake- spiritual riches homelessness and bankruptcy.
James had remembered that.
That day, in that moment he had remembered the in-therapy look on the man's face when he'd told him the story.
It was one of those looks that said- what happened was tragic but also very funny but please don't laugh because that's what everybody wants to do and I want you to be exceptional. I want you to be the one person that I know who is not afraid.
Well, James was not afraid.
James knew how playful the mind could be, whimsical even. There seemed to be no limit to its creative potential.
The fledgling Mathews was flying.
Mother Carrie was fearless.
James, the son of God, was not afraid of the fucking school anymore.
He watched the school pencil roll- HB, blank, HB, blank, HB, bloody blank. It rolled extremely slowly as if there was all the time in the world for it to travel across the grey Formica. There was nothing to impede its painful progress. No apple. No gum. No string. James was not an obsessive confiscator.
Eventually it reached the sharp edge of the grey Formica then stopped. It stopped as if commanded by some cosmic intelligence that had suddenly shown mercy.
That grey Formica extremity is, more often than not, as far as any of us are prepared to go. That is to say- we will do it, we'll embrace the drama of it up to the precipice, right up to the very lip and then lie still, going absolutely no farther.
We generally cop out.
We mostly opt in to seven days of psychiatric care- sleepers, drugs, waitress service.
Most of us, in any case, are pretty much summed up by the legend- All talk and no action.
He looked at the class. They were unmoved or unmoving, though he couldn't decide which, and they were very definitely silent. No talk. No action. It didn't compute.
As you might imagine, the pervasive silence of a roomful of adolescents was very strange. It disturbed his equilibrium.
I am unsteady, he told himself, I am unsteady and unsure of whether or not I am ready. There was nothing for him to hold on to.
This was not life. This was not death.
This was a prelude to real change.
This was the last and the first breath.
He left the room in the way one leaves a cinema halfway through an unsatisfactory offering from Hollywood, the brain-dead tutting, the swing doors clapping. James imagined it was applause, the kind of welcome that a star receives even before they've done anything.
He passed the Deputy Head's office with its door wide open so as to suggest an invitation or that nothing untoward could ever happen there.
That was crap. He'd told him as much.
Teaching is not a skill. He'd said so.
Teaching is not a science. He'd gone on, once.
It is an art.
The best teachers are gifted artists.
They have the artistry to nourish the natural gifts of children.
At best this school was a disgraceful farm, a bloody disgraceful production line of sheep that all looked suspiciously the same.
At worst it was a fucking abattoir.
How fucking neat it was to engineer a liberal open door policy as a smokescreen for a whole shopping basket of child abuse. That was how it was.
Fabulous masks of benevolence masking faces of persisting fascism.
Are we really surprised? It always was in our nature to be something other than what we seem.
Like one boy whose smell was like a cry for help.
There was this one boy whose odour fell on deaf ears. He collected his faeces and kept them in his desk- it always raised a laugh amongst the staff.
I mean you've got to be congenitally daft haven't you to be buggered by your blind father? We'd run away, they said, anyone with half a brain would. We'd hear the tapping of that fucking stick and leg it!
Like one boy whose genitals had waved goodbye to childhood.
This coal black fifth former was an eye opener.
'God!' they'd exclaim, the men with Toy Town degrees in Physical Education, 'Some poor girl's going to be injured by that.
One look at that and wham, it's enough to make lesbians of the lot of them. It's wicked man. A real life- Welcome to Barbados I hope you enjoy your stay. I mean, truly massive. Majorly memorable.'
A bookies book was opened and bets were duly laid. James remembered. Eleven inches was odds on. How could you possibly forget.
Sir- that is Mr Mann, English and Art, he always believed that he was firmly in the front line. He was.
He believed he was the last true teacher to be given a full contract in the whole of the United Kingdom. This was, very likely, true.
Almost immediately he'd been heavily under fire from right wing revisionists. They were led by balding cunts in tweed jackets with leather patched elbows. They were pipe smoking vegetable growers of bloody straight rows of spring greens and bloody straight canes of string beans.
What was there fucking problem?
Fear of prostrate cancer, that's what their fucking problem was. That and jealousy. Fucking prostrate cancer, jealousy and loneliness.
It's the truth.
Like all of the boys spared by peace, Mann was at war, allied and marked.
And the unarmed boys were hit by anything to hand.
It was like a drug.
They were pure white.
They were like cartridge paper before the point of the pencil kissed it.
Then the pencil kissed them, covering the blank canvas of their faces in a scribble of lies that went by the name of Christian moral responsibility.
And they were hit by hands engorged by rage and loathing and middle-aged frustration. They were routinely beaten, bended and upended into a shape that somehow resembled conscripts.
These were boys who'd never volunteer.
These were boys who'd never pass exams no matter how many times you moved the goal posts.
These were boys expecting to be unemployed for years.
These were candidates needing to be raped.
These were children trapped by a system eager to unzip its flies and do the fucking lewd business.
Once upon a time, Mathews, who now knows all there is to know about disabled parking, had it in for Kipper Clarkson. Kipper, two years his junior, had the kind of urchin face that did well in advertisements for charities. He had freckles and wiry unkempt hair and River Phoenix eyes. It meant that he did less well in the school playground than he did in the classroom.
Kipper Clarkson had put it about that Mathews was a girl, a freak of nature. This was not altogether surprising since at the end of the Christmas term of Mathews' fourth year he played a dame in the school pantomime- cast largely because of his paleness and the fact that his voice had not yet broken.
Meanwhile, his various winter excursions into the school showers had earned him the nickname Spam on account of the hairlessness of the puppy fat that covered his pubic bone and the distinctive, luncheon meat pinkness of the diminutive features that hung there for all to see.
These bare facts, five whispers distant and downloaded into the cavity of Kipper's second year's skull, resulted in the ball-game that was to lead to both boy's demise. The teasing little rhyme went- Mathews is a girlie, no girlfriend of mine, he sticks 'is curly wurly where the sun don't shine.This ditty was, as you can imagine, accompanied by obscene gestures. Then there was that later occurrence- the police never knew though, did they? They never knew what had gone on in the April of his fifteenth year. Few people knew the truth of that.
That poor fat sap.
It's not difficult to get very pissed off.
What do we expect to find at every turn?
Apologetics? Saints? Fair-minded folk? Women in scarves with gloves and a glut of homespun goodness? These days it's relatively easy to get very very pissed off. It's a breeze. But Mathews in a half-baked uniform- there’s a queer thing. Prompting.
Jim suddenly started one of his little spasms- in fact a full blown attack.
He could smell death lurking in the room- an uncommonly enticing cocktail of skat, spunk and fermented urine. He confidently smirked. James was blessed with miracle tablets for these life-threatening occasions and they usually worked.
IN THE BELLY OF MUNICIPAL LAUREL BUSHES
Laurel is poisonous in all its parts, deadly.
Few would believe that pruning this ubiquitous hedging shrubby tree could be so dangerous. Disbelieve me. Google and see. It makes a great metaphor for all religions.
Stuff the back of a small van full with the clippings, keep the windows closed; drive for four miles, maybe even less, and you will become unconscious could easily leave the road and strike an old oak.
It's all part of God's plan- that is what many people will say.
But death is a black Santa with a sack filled with answers. If you were on a promise from some faith or other don't hold your breath- your after death breath, part of the afterlife.
Laurel, let grow large, is rife in the municipal parks of Bournemouth, that seaside conference town where the river Bourne spreads its legs for a final open crutch shot at the insurgent tides of the salty sea. The sad, shagged to death, estuary is small, fucked by pollutants and trapped by patriarchal piping like a catheterised old crone grown small as a wren who has even had her flight feathers cut by men whose names have qualifications queuing up after them. Club and clansmen who collectively have raped the town for their own endless pleasure and vast profit.
I am already in danger of writing something other than I intended to.
Laurel forms an evergreen carapace of glossy leaves, seemingly impenetrable. Not so. You can part branches and pass through these overlapping ovals of foliage into a hidden world of bare wood forming a skeletal roof over inner space. Such pockets of privacy are known to boys. They are quiet, rain-proof worlds, warm and uterine. Once in there you can have sex with a stranger or strangers with impunity.
They get straight to it with no exchange of names.
Unwrapping that which you have been told is forbidden has a touch of Christmas about it. In this event you are never forced to save the paper or send thank you cards.
I swear every bush of pubic hair is subtly different from the next. The smell of spunk almost always like the scent of horse-chestnut tree blossoms. The taste varies.
To be spent and way removed from sexually innocent is so Godly.
I'd always shudder in my tail-bone and feel utterly alien.
Fifteen minutes later I'd be in a queue waiting for a bus home.
On the bus I would have time to put my face in my unwashed hands and remember things. Such memories served to underline a growing sense of separateness that would never leave me.
In my late eighties now, I sometimes look at pictures of buff young men. In fact, they disgust me with their vivid health and sanitary glow. I know for sure they would smell of something horribly inhuman.
The rugged gardeners are here today. They are removing Laurel from around a small building that needs re-roofing. From where I sit, writing this, I can see that they are real men; they have worked up a head of sweat in all their pits and cracks and creases. I day-dream of them poisoning me with their ripe male energy.
They all have wives, normal lives. I know that counts for nothing.
A VERY QUEER STAND-UP
Fantasy sprays, ladies and gentlemen they’re a new hit with the deluded consumerist- the leader in this field being NICEMIST. NICEMIST. [It comes in pocket and household sizes] see or hear anything nasty that may spoil your day- no problem, just blast it away with three short bursts of NICEMIST. Works well on fannies that haven’t kissed a soapy sponge for three days.
I’ve got a sudden unwanted whiff of it. Yes. Definitely fish.
A lesbian activist wrote and told me, scolding me in fact, saying it was an urban myth that twats smelled of rotting sprats. I told her- girl, I was married for 13yrs- have survived many an enforced muff dive and what I do know is that minges never taste of cock which is what I very much prefer to slaver on these days.
I think we should split the difference and agree on prawns- a delicate little pink stink, shelled prawns of course.
But guys be very wary, at the first hint of a crunch get the fuck hell out of there- it’s probably crabs.
Oooh itchy. Too scary. STD's. Great topic for a chat show on the BBC. GUM Clinic- trust me, I thought it was the NHS Dentists. Naive. Wrong end young man.
I'm turning a new leaf. I'm putting the shit wayward gay bits of myself back into the closet. All the camp nick-knacks. Naff weren’t they. Yeah. At last. Bye bye to My Little Pony. And Sailor Billy- he's a lifelike doll with a fairy-tale willy. They're all going. And not before time. Hoo-fucking-ray! Lock the blasted closet door- throw the stinky pinky key away. Ching. Ker-fucking-ching.
Oh I hated it me- everything. Had to grow a full beard- oh yes. Yes. I do have the testosterone, madam. Abundant pubic hair around a pork pie hole- that's me. I’m a sucker for a pork-sword me. Well- all that prat twat tat, man-bags, make-up for men, what the fuck were they but a mere chiffon veil. They were conveniently fey- that’s what,
a vile disguise for those pretend guys, benders in Eastenders in deep denial.
It’s fucking true, they were just ruched ruses, nets in swanky swathes, conspired for by relentless liars. And you loved it. The public loved it. YOU did, that’s the point; all the wanky shit it’s your fault you twisted twats. You, you motherfucker. You lapped it up. You and all the greedy het capitalists eager to get their sweaty mits on the pink euro, pound, dollar or yen. They don’t miss a tossing trick do they- do what the fuck you like, that’s what they say, so long as there’s a fat profit in it.
Well, I don’t lie. I don’t. I don’t lie. And I'm not just half bent, not at all. I am totally 100% bent. 'ere. AND I’m utterly honest AND, what’s more, that makes me a proper QUEER that does, a right proper QUEER AND I am fearlessly proud of it. Never do anything by halves me BUT I have to say- I’ve never been fisted. Never. No.
Never. Never have been fisted. Not even half-way fisted.Not me. Fisting’s just not my thing. Fisting’s a thing that makes me wince. A lot. I've seen a video. Oh! Well. Think. I’ve got big hands- these fists, look, they give me terrible nightmares. Fuck me! AND I’m a fat bugger. Imagine me as a sex lollypop- it’s not a picture for the front room wall Mike Knowles.
I was once told- AND this is true, by a self-obsessed literary editor from the precious east coast of America that every time I used the word QUEER I was deeply insulting all the gay men in The United States- all of the shirt lifting fuckers, that's right, and there really are quite a lot of them, millions: well, what a pussy footing lesbo prat HE was. Is this wayward academic in the real world- his compatriots under the rainbow flag are routinely shoving shit uphill, fudge packing, stool fooling, felching. Does he not know this? The limp prick. Does he really think that they really give a fuck what anyone from the UK calls ‘em? Oh get a life, or at the very least organise getting a dick shoved right up your tight arse. Go on. Free up your blocked Kundalini. Rid yourself of OCD. I just can’t be fucking arsed arguing with him. The maggot brained PC shit. The New World faggot. Get real. Call yourself a man?
Do you call yourself a man madam? Only I see you shave. Just an observation. I do. Yes. I do actually. I do actually call myself a man. I’m a proper man with all me bits. No tits. Hairy chest. Hairy nose. Hairy arse crack. Oh yes. And I have sex with proper hirsute men. It gives me enormous pleasure- an awful lot of pleasure if I get lucky that is.
'ere. Last week one of my friends struck very lucky, ooh fuck me, bloody enormous he said it was- enormous he said, eyes like a fisherman, he said there was more than enough for him, more than enough for him and his boyfriend, YES, and enough spare for ALL the neighbours. A famous swimmer he was. Breast-stroke. Laugh. Go on. We’re ALL subliminal sizeists. We are. At least I admit it. I'm proud of it. All you hissy fit shits of any gender- fucking get over it. I fucking admit it. And YES, sweetheart, another useful inch wouldn’t go amiss.
Oh! Look at you handling a sudden involuntary spasm of your anal sphincter. She is. She is you know. I know the signs. Been there done that got the thong. NOW- all of you hissy fit hypocrites sit tight and just fucking get over it.
It is a pleasure. I admit it. I'm proud of it. And I'll say it again. All you hissy fit shits of any gender- fucking get over it. Sexually repressed queers [yeah, you know who I mean, and there are frigging billions of them] they reduce me to fucking tears- how very anal big boy: inhibited and up their own arses are they, all of the fucking time wearing pure as the driven snow monogamy as a shroud to their denied inclinations. OH PLEASE what a wanking bind of mocking heterosexuality you're fucking stuck in.
Guys, guys, do us a favour and wise up. This is what you do, this is what you do if you’ve got any real balls and any real native sense left- 'make love' beautifully to your chosen one, go on, they are after all your soul partner. Ah!
always consider having meaningless SEX consensually with others.
Now you’re all fucking sorted. No need to lie no more dear- or doesn’t sex with strangers in a grubby little shrubbery off the A3 count? Dogging? No it’s not dogging you clever little shit it’s chocolate logging and I know you fucking love it: Vanilla and sea salt, yum bum scrummy- Swiss, very swish, Fair Trade if you like. If you like knitting logs and hugging Huskies. There. Now you're sorted. No need to lie no more..or doesn't
it do, this 'sex with strangers'. Oh! It doesn't sit comfortably with your homage to purity.
Oh! That's a crock of shit. AND you know it.
Well. You've probably been psychologically freaked by porn: see, some of those men do have massive weapons OMG, born to it they are, in the genes, whopper cocks, but don't you fret pet, it's never been easier to get a penis extension. And them Plastic Surgery clinics they all have a massive recession sale on. Listen. They suck the excess fat from your buttocks and you can work out the rest for yourself. You can fuck the wife up her arse with bits of your own arse. That's the wife's xmas prezzie sorted then.
Listen, no-one ever talks about vagina size do they- though, as I recall, in the ancient Kama Sutra the pairing of a large dick and a small fanny is considered not ideal and visa versa. Yes madam. I do get the drift. Thinking about it, it does make great sense. See, if I had a small driveway- fancy frilly gates and clipped privet, I’d hate to have a juggernaut
try and park in it uninvited.
Now, just think, just think about it, is there such a thing as vagina envy? I don’t think so.
I don't think so. Cunts are such an inside job ain't they. In my limited experience they’re generally not visible- they're generally not visible without a staple through the middle of them or pixilated on Facebook. Mmm. BUT seriously, if I was truly having a run in with a total cunt, me, I would very much prefer that they were smaller rather than larger.
My former friend and erstwhile FB mate, the utter twat Dave sent me this gem- priceless, a natural pearl from a pearl necklace. ‘The importance of the size of the organ is proportional, of course, to the dimensions of the cathedral in which it is being played’- thank you delusional Dave, it makes you sound like a pissed atheist struggling to compose love songs. Well. On occasions that’s exactly what he is, the Lager God, femme obsessed fool, bless him.
The Japanese who’ve never suffered cock envy, and consequently seem to deify anything ridiculously small, invented minute digital keyboards with pretentions to be as mighty as Wurlitzer organs. Almost limitless erectile potential there- from inside jacket pocket size
to something capable of filling the Albert Hall. Just imagine the spunk you’d get from that- it’d drown all those pretentious twats standing in the pit at the last night of the proms singing Land Of Hope And Glory. A foam party with real gizzum and only a fiver to get in.
Talking of pretentious twats, I was called an arrogant cunt the other day. It got me thinking- great, even at aged sixty something I can still get some young pup of a poet to insult me royally, ineptly, and it got me imagining exactly what exactly an arrogant cunt might look like: well, it’s obviously on show in some way, has had an expensive make over, labia lipstick, lip-gloss, the bloody lot. Come on. Use your imagination. It’s maybe pouting with attitude from a designer cutaway patch in tight leather trousers, it’s maybe even singing at you like Cheryl Cole. Fuck! Now I am proper insulted. But thank you Mr M coz your small scrotal sac attack on me proved highly entertaining. Throbbing.
I have to say though there have been exhortations for me to be NICE.
NICE. Me. Well. All fine and dandy. BUT what is NICE? Is nice coating total shit in sprinkles and sugar candy? Is it giving each and every one of you rose tinted contact lenses on the fucking state? What? Come on. Is it me personally persuading the new Pope Francis to publish a Papal Bull stating it is not a sin to masturbate? Oh please, pretty please God, if indeed you do exist, let the twice risen Christ be an activist gay socialist. Bring it on. The Christians will crucify him for it and have no-one but themselves to blame. The Jews will be off the hook. Result. What a hoot!! Well. How fucking dare the Almighty HE be anything other than NICE. Proper sorted.
To rant or not to rant, that is the question. Fuck me! Why have I gone all Shakespearian? I must have an actor stuck in me. Shut up! Now. I am not a natural born ranter but this twisted world inhabited by bullshitters has shaped me into one. Why let the people who sweetly seep crap into the universe go unchallenged. Yes. Ooh political young sir. Yes. I do know how to Google. I might look it but I am not a bleating sheep. I rambustiously challenge it. AND if that is perceived by the large flocks of timid Facebookers as ranting then so be it. In any case the spineless swines are dead from the neck up and have no intimation of it. I mean, for fuck’s sake, what do you do when everything's wall-to-wall poo- submit to the risible shit and frantically vomit? FUCK IT! FUCK IT!
Can you hear me at the back? I'm roaring like a revolutionary mouse here, roaring at the elephant's paw that's about to splat me flat- Nelly, you smelly sizeist cunt, am I that fucking invisible? Society's licking celebrity arse in the belief, one supposes, that their talentless jacksies smell of roses. POETRY. There. At last we have it- a farce is a farce is a farce. Do us all a favour- pull your head out of your daft farmed arses.
BBBBBed said Fred leading his well hung lover Ned to the promised land of a queen size bed and a cabinet of lugubrious latex sex toys. Oh the under sung joy of Durex tingle lube and playing flesh torpedoes first inside then out of D&G Speedos, nude, rude. Best sex yet. Unrepressed. We got cum coloured velvet guest towels. How thoughtful is that.
OY! YOU. Can you not read madam? There is a prominent notice that forbids photography in the auditorium. Some fucking people!
SEX WITH STRANGERS: list of contents
1 GLENDA'S TRANSITION
2 THE NEWS FROM MY AREA
3 BITES FROM THE PANZRAM PAPERS
4 A LAST LETTER FROM LYNDHURST
5 AN ESSAY IN RED MIST
6 CRASHING CHRISTMAS
7 DEATH OR TRANSPORTAION AS A PREFERABLE
WAY OF LIFE
8 D4 DANGEROUS
9 FULL LENGTH PIECE
10 THE LOT
11 WHITE BLACK
12 VERMILLION ACCENTS
14 A PART APART
15 A PROPER PICTURE POSTCARD
17 DOWNSIZING IS MURDER
18 THE WELLNESS OF MR SIC
19 EXPOSED IN PRINT
20 FRAGMENTS OF WHAT'S HARD TO TAKE
21 GAY LAY-BY
22 WORTHLING WORLD
23 PROMPTED BY MATHEWS
24 IN THE BELLY OF MUNICIPAL LAUREL BUSHES
25 A VERY QUEER STAND-UP
QUOTES ON MADOCH'S WORK
'At first sight, our friendship seems unusual. The highbrow writer, artist and poet, Chris Madoch and me. Comics scriptwriter and erstwhile gag writer. A man who never lost his schoolboy humour and who finds it difficult to take anything seriously. But we discovered that we inspired each other. Spurring one another on to reach new heights. It resulted in our collaboration with Chris’s partner, the talented artist Dan-Paul Flores, in Queer Messiah Media Incorporated.
But this is not about me or QMM. This is about Chris’s latest work. And I could have filled this introduction with superlatives and glowing opinions about Chris’ genius and about the contents of this book. Because they’re certainly well deserved. Genius? Yes. But we must be specific. Sadly, these days the word “genius” has been tarnished by hyperbole. Suddenly even the most mediocre can be labelled the work of a genius. In Chris’ case I use the word the way the Oxford Dictionary meant it to be used: “An exceptionally intelligent person or one with exceptional skill in a particular area of activity.” But I've decided that his talents are strong enough to stand on their own feet. So I’ll let his work speak for itself. Read it and see. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, I’ll paraphrase a remark Eric Morecambe made about Tommy Cooper. If you don’t like Chris Madoch’s work you don’t like good literature. End of story.'
Mike Knowles: Writer and Satirist. Associate Editor GWIR Publications and QMM INC. Macclesfield. UK.
'Chris Madoch envisages a great anti-hero in his 'The News from my Area'. He is handicapped, thanks to thalidomide, but has a strong spirit within and a sense for survival. Madoch´s strength is his uninhibited lack of political correctness. Something that is refreshing in this day and age.'
Fiona Pitt-kethley: Poet. Cartagena. Spain.
'His fictions are not fictitious, not even at their philosophical height. If the readers open their minds they will wrap around his words. Once he wrote, “At the end, in the ensuing silence- What would it take for you to believe That you have listened to the same story twice?” Indeed, but after an intense reading of his stories we find the second time is always different.'
Kushal Poddar: Poet and Lawyer. Calcutta. India.
'Chris Madoch is that rarest of storytellers who imparts even the most unpleasant of truths with an elegance that is refined as its intent is brutal, making the ugliness he describes simply far too seductive to turn away from. Encoded within each of his short pieces is an impassioned moral petition for sincerity and justice in a drably hypocritical world. Despite appearances, a generous heart beats with unpretentious humanity in the barbed mesh of Madoch’s prose, instilling his poetic critique of twenty-first century living with an integrity that renders the neurotic banquets of Palahniuk, Franzen et al as nutritionless as packet soup.'
Craig Woods: Author. UK. Contributing Editor at Paraphilia Magazine and Books.
'Chris Madoch's uncompromising vision is a world where we can face the many human truths. His prose lives in the cognitive gap between our public and private selves; his skill, rare in modernity, is not to reconcile those poles, but to accord each its hour, and each its complement of meticulous attention.'
Petra Davis: Queer Activist and Journalist [Guardian, Diva, New Statesman] Brighton. UK.
'Existence, while you may believe it to be subjective, is wholly based on how much you matter to the Universe. Not for a moment do we dent the great womb of life; the most we can hope for is a scratch in the grubby fingernail of our small, self-created societies. Give up now perhaps? No, carry on, but drop the delusory picket fence one-upmanship, the denial that we excrete anything other than Chanel No. 5 and the self-congratulatory Friday night vodka train to oblivion. All humans are attracted to oblivion; stand on the edge of a cliff and stare steadily at the horizon and you will feel yourself lean forward, how far forward is a matter for you.
Chris Madoch is many and He is few. He is everywhere and yet nowhere; omnipresent in a creative firmament where the judgement is unblinking and the pronouncement unnervingly visceral. His low, muttering poetry holds the brave transfixed and the ordinary outraged. There is no in-between, why would He do that? Chris’s short fiction allows Him to give yet more breadth to satiate His need to hold up a wider mirror and here, for this writer, is where He finds his weight. Unrestricted by the stab of the stubby stanza, He luxuriates as the glass is turned and He draws out every morsel of the protagonists. You hear the blood rushing in their ears and the morals falling around their ankles. He grubs around in the dirt and fashions such exquisite truth that it shocks and leaves us all fools. In His short story, “Last Letter from Lyndhurst”, the prosaic tableau is electrified by Chris’s masterly nuance and utter refusal to draw a veil over a single moment. There is no innuendo, Chris makes you look this story straight in the face and He holds your chin while doing it. Consider your purchase of Chris Madoch an act of truth; ditch your paperback existence and remember that the little voice in your head is Him.'
Victoria Fotios: NeoPoiesis Press. UK.
'Once in a while, we have the pleasure of meeting work which examines the harsher sides of humanity with beautiful language. Chris Madoch is the creator of work such as this. He injects a melancholic tenderness for humanity into stories which demand the reader’s acknowledgement of the grittier and unpleasant realities of not only the human species, but themselves personally. This is not the work of an exhibitionist or of one striving to be "edgy", this is the work of a mind adept at pointed political braising and social autopsy. Mr. Madoch’s writing is unapologetic, challenging, strikingly musical and honed to near perfection.'
Dale Winslow: Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, NeoPoiesis Press. UK.
When first tripping across Chris Madoch in a buzzing hive of Bukowski and Ginsberg wannabes, I found myself making the assumption that I had stumbled over yet another flawed mold of writers tirelessly glorified to the state of literary sainthood. I’d become jaded, having been inundated with caricatures of beat and so-called modern day writing “geniuses” and frankly, I was expecting no surprise when coming across Madoch in the same stomping grounds as the rest of the clones. However, surprise comes in many forms; mine did appear, and it appeared to me in the form of a sharp realization biting me in the ass of the assumption I had so smugly been sitting on, advising me in no uncertain terms, that here was no mock literary wizard, but in fact, the real deal.
Like many writers of this generation who have risen from unknown waters, Madoch addresses events and topics once hush-hush untouchable; now garishly unavoidable. Yet unlike his peers, Madoch takes on these topical hot potatoes with a grace, and dare I say it? class sorely lacking in so much of the writing populating the bookshelves of today.
Madoch is outrageous. Madoch is shocking. In his mind, nothing is sacred. Nor should it be. In a world of back room hacks, Chris is a literary surgeon tooled in pen, mind and tongue so accurate, so sharp, that wherein a lesser writer might leave behind in their musings and speculations a bloody convolution difficult to absorb, he holds the ability to slice through the foulest of hypocrisies. And slice he does; quickly, cleanly and bloodlessly, leaving exposed the arteries and nerves of the political, social, sexual and/or religious corpses he’s dissected, giving his spectators no time or room to look away in avoidance.
While one might think that a writer this ruthless in his observations would be cold and course, he is not. Stylistically, he maintains elegance even while wallowing with the muddied swine (think the elocution of an Olivier as he mouths ‘Fuck’). The words Chris wields with such microscopic precision are compelling reflections of a society unaccepting of its frailties, fragilities, cruelties and hypocrisies. However, behind this brutal force peeling away thick layers cocooning harsh truths is a warmth, a question, a humility and compassion keeping his readers with him, even as he plunges into depths so few are bold enough to explore.
What Madoch offers us with his craft might very well be, on the surface, repulsive and ugly, but between the lines read a powerful truth. Within the grim reflections this militant holds up to aversion are compelling beauty and light, neither of which can be overlooked, dimmed or denied. And they will not be. Not as long as the force of this messiah is sustained. It simply will not be … allowed. And that is the power of Chris Madoch.
Alicia Winski: Author, Editor and Publisher at Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House
'SEX WITH STRANGERS is all mindblowingly beautiful
and wonderful. Thank you.
Please believe that neither Dire nor I have any doubts
as to your sincerity and honesty,
so please knock that one on the head.
We both love you and everything you do.
I do look forward to seeing the book finished.
We'll get it out as soon as you're totally happy
with it and not a moment before.
[The illustrations] They are wonderful.
I love them.
[The short story DEATH OR TRANSPORTATION AS
A PREFERABLE WAY OF LIFE] That is about as
perfect as a piece of writing could be.
You have made me very happy.
Dave Mitchell: Editor in Chief at Oneiros Books
[The short story A LAST LETTER FROM LYNDHURST]
'Ahh, it's a(nother) beauty! We love you!
[The short story THE WELLNESS OF MISTER SIC]
Dire McCain: Editor in Chief
at Paraphilia Periodical and Books.
THE NEWS FROM MY AREA is a masterfully crafted piece of Erotica.
It is both bold and brazen which is essential.
I was captivated by the descriptive nature in which orgasm
was achieved through the mind.
Through Chris Madoch's masterpiece pictures were
painted as I followed the character's journey through
words unspoken, not minced or hidden from view.
Honest, Raw, Erotic.
Author of Myths and Other Misdemeanours
published by Writing Kights Press
and The Menagerie.