Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I don’t remember her name. All I recall, that day, was my anger – a rolling orb in the pit of my gut. I just learned of my wife’s recent fuck-fest. News that saw me take refuge in every bar I could find. The booze worked its magic, anaesthetising my pain. My logic and reason crumbled like rock, landing in chunks at my feet. Driven by a wild and unavailing need for revenge, I took the first step – crossed over that initial jagged stone - the path became clear thereafter.
I spotted her in a bar in the late afternoon. She was young, clean, playing the game so when I asked her how much, she gave me a deal I couldn’t refuse. I slapped half the cash in her hand right then. I know a place, I told her. Not far away. I made a quick call and my life changed course.
We arrived at the place and I led her upstairs, to room number nine. I was oblivious to everything except the sun going down and her arse in my face as she climbed the stairs ahead of me. Just leave, I thought as I took her arm, wanting to say to her forget it but the flickering slide show of Ruth with another man undid me again. I regressed to the hateful revenge-seeking spouse. Paying for sex cheapened the act that would herald my sweetest revenge. So I had her – the clean young thing, for me and because of my wife.
After, I stared up at the blades of a slow spinning fan. Her scent clung to the sheets, her impression indelibly lodged in my own demise. We said nothing as I watched her walk out, closing the door behind her. Only then did I notice the door was red.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
She stood amid the peak hour rush, the crowd jostling about her, shoving and thrusting their way down the platform. She clutched an envelope in one hand, its edges jagged and torn from her eagerness to learn of the news. In her other hand was the letter. Her eyes scanned the page, flitting across the words; her breath trapped inside her, her life momentarily on hold.
A train roared through the tunnel, its approaching force whipping rubbish and dust high into the air around her. She stood oblivious; her eyes intent on finding the word that would finally allow her to breath once again. The crowd around her drained onto the train, the doors snapping shut, swallowing them whole. The train sped away and she stood alone on the platform with a pounding heart and fine tremor in her hands as she read. It was then her eye caught it – the word she had feared but longed for. She stifled a cry but tears still welled in her hazel eyes. A empty Styrofoam cup bounced along the platform before her, and she lifted her gaze from the letter she held. She released the breath that had been caged within, and replaced it with news that already ached to be told.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Noah opens his eyes and waits for his mind to catch up. The images come, jagged, erratic. He lies in a space where a stretcher should be, in the back of an ambulance. The comforting hiss of oxygen flows through a mask that is hugging his face. He struggles upward, ripping the mask away.
“Mate, take it easy there,” It’s the voice of his chief next to him. Noah turns and their eyes meet. “Where’s Jonah…where’s my wife… …is Lizzy…is she here…I saw Jonah…where are they…” Outside Noah hears the scream of a siren as another ambulance arrives at the scene. The siren warbles its way down into silence. The sound helps piece some of the fragments together as Noah remembers what is happening outside.
“This can’t be real, this isn’t happening,” he says, pressing his fingertips to his forehead, like they might rearrange the mess in his head; contain it until he can cope.
He looks through the yawning mouth of the ambulance, to the confusion outside and he is suddenly sick. He leans and vomits out the back of the truck. A long stringy bridge of saliva swings from his lip like a rescuers rope. He wipes it away with the back of his hand. He rambles, frustrated, as his garbled and fragmented thoughts form an incomprehensible dialogue.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It’s the cruel blinding light in her eyes that disturbs her. She rises up on one arm; the other arm shields the glare from her eyes. Confused, she tries to determine the shape but it’s smell rather than sight that informs her. The booze on his breath sends a chill through her and as she ascends through the mantle of sleep, she knows why he’s come.
"Thought you could hide from me, eh?” he sneers, tossing the torch down on the ground, causing his shadow to crawl up with wall. She attempts to escape, to scramble away but he lunges upon her, trapping her scream with his palm. She struggles but knows she can’t win. He’s too big, too frightening and the scene too familiar. This has happened before. His hand slides from her mouth as he pushes her back on the bed.
“Uncle Dave, please, no…” her voice croaks into the night. Her hands tremble under his merciless grip.
“Just co-operate, Cassie, just like you did last time. Be a good girl,”
She hears the disdain in his voice. Her heart is like a trapped bird in her chest - frantic, frenetic, ensnared. He presses her down and she struggles but still hears the zip of his fly, feels his fumbling grope but then in the half dark, she sees the cold flash of metal approaching his head, and hears the sound of a gun being cocked. “Get, the fuck off her,” someone says. He freezes, and then pisses his pants. She feels the warmth of his urine seeping between them. A welcome relief.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Cars spew over the crest of the hill in a smear of colour. The road is still wet and shiny from this afternoon’s rain. I drive up the road and I see the old dog amble out onto the busy main road. I hear screeching of brakes and car horns that howl into space as I pass. I hunch my shoulders up to my ears, waiting for the thud and the screams. Nothing comes. I turn at the next island and race back in the direction I have just come from. I see the dog, an old beagle milling about in the scrub by the road. There is nowhere to pull over so I turn again at the break in the road and circle back. I have no idea why I am so compelled –I just know that ignoring him is no longer an option.
I turn off the road and park my car and head back to the main road on foot. I run, waiting for the blood curdling yelps of bad timing to reach me. I get to the crest of the hill and I see him. He looks up and starts walking toward me.
“Wait!” I scream at him, holding a hand up from the other side of the road. Brakes screech once again and I am powerless. Despite good intentions, I can’t stop him from crossing. A car passes, the driver flinging abuse at me through the window,
“Put your dog on a fuckin’ leash,” he screams at me. I shriek back at him but my abuse is carried away on the wind. The traffic eases and I run, nabbing the dog by the collar. I know this dog and have rescued him once before. I have a lanyard attached to my car keys and I tie it around the dog’s collar. He wags his tail, sniffs my hand and then resumes his rooting about in the long grass. He is unimpressed by my efforts. I grapple for my phone in my bag and I call the mobile that is etched in his bone shaped nametag. An onlooker appears and helps me carry him away from the danger. His owner turns up in her car, moments after I have hung up. Giggly kid faces are squashed up against the back windows.
“I think he must have nine lives,” she says, equally as giggly as her children. I want to remind her that he hasn’t. He has one life and she is responsible for it. But I say nothing. I drive home with my groceries and the smell of damp beagle on my skin.
The thing that lingers is the scream of the man who passed by in his car. How easily he blamed and abused. A fist of anger forms in my chest and I am powerless to defend my act. I am innocent but already hung in his eyes. He had no clue. Still doesn’t. In the quiet of my home, as I remember the malice trapped in his voice, I realise he was more scared than me. I forgive. I forget.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The promenade glistens, awash with rain that has fallen under cover of darkness. The drunks and the punters have weaved their way out of their Friday night gamble - some loving their luck and finding their beds; others lucky in love and waking in sheets that belong to a stranger. The beach is empty, the surf pounded flat by a storm that had swept in from the north. A hint of light seeps through a heavy night blanket of grey, hoisting the dawn upwards toward the heavens like a cabaret curtain on opening night. The day lies in wait, full of promise and great expectation.
This morning the water is too cold for surfers. Even the diehards wont venture out at this hour. The summer walkers that paced themselves by the sea every day have dwindled away, no longer pounding the fear of an early death from their bodies, preferring instead the prescriptive warmth of their beds.
A girl on a bicycle appears as a small dollop of light in the grey morning hour. Her bicycle lamp weaves about on the road and she hunkers over the handlebars, protecting her face from the bitter cold. She misses the blurry black streak of a cat that flashes before her front tyre. But she feels the thud as the tyre bounces, throwing her balance and shooting her into the air. The animal screams but escapes unscathed and it zigs and zags in a frantic fashion, disappearing beneath a hedge in somebody’s yard.
The girl, not so lucky, lies bleeding and bruised on the road, the tyres of her bike feet away are still spinning. She pushes herself up, dabs at a knee – at the mash of skin and bright oozing blood that appears through the hole in her lycra skin. She climbs back on the bike, and is grateful the road is deserted. No one has seen her fall. She wobbles a little and building momentum, she cycles away as the cat emerges from under the bush, and cleans itself as though nothing has happened. It watches the girl disappear down the street. Her run of bad luck has only begun.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
She sits alone at the restaurant table. She has chosen a table close to the wall, with a window view that enables her to look out more than others can see in. The waiter sweeps by, neat as a pin, and he tops up her Perrier without her consent. She avoids his dutiful smile and looks down at a slender wrist. She is early and already beginning to fill with regret.
She has worn a high collared dress. It is black and seemingly matches her mood, though she chose it because she knows it is his favourite colour. Shouldn’t that alone say something of his nature? She taps a long painted nail against her glass and then traces the journey of a bubble to the rim. A wayward strand of hair falls loose and she tucks it behind her ear – perfecting her stylish black bob once again. Bubbles dance in her glass and she longs for a long slow sip. She will delay the pleasure. It may ruin the perfect application of Chanel on her lips.
Her back is ramrod straight, a familial affliction from years of deportment and excessive expense. She nurses a manicured hand in her lap. The other hand toys with the weight of the cutlery already set for the meal. The restaurant is filling around her. She is drowning among the crowd. Soon it will be impossible for him to locate her.
“Would you care to order, M’am?” asks the waiter, his accent annoying her slightly.
“No, thank you. I’m waiting for someone,” she explains, frantically scanning the hordes out on the street. The lunchtime crowds come and go, their ravenous bellies filled with pomp and ceremony only the rich can afford.
She waits long into the afternoon, until shadows form on the streets outside and invite themselves in to dine at her table. A waiter hovers in an awkward moment.
“Will you be dining today? We are about to close for the afternoon, Mademoiselle,” he informs her.
She glances about at the empty room. Glances back down at her watch. Looks at her untouched glass of water and notices that even the bubbles have left for the day.
“No, nothing today,” she smiles weakly. She leans and collects her clutch bag from under the table and then opens her purse to pay for the water she has yet to taste.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
It began as a simple writing exercise, in September 2008. I was at the Brisbane Writers Festival. Yann Martel stood at the front of the class and said…
“I remember when…”. Our job was to finish his sentence. To write our hearts out with whatever sprung forth from the depths of our mind. In a flash, out of the blue, there you were, waiting in limbo, on a wet afternoon after school.
I trudge down the road, my stockings and shoes soaked through to my skin, my hair long and blonde and matted from rain. I see you as I turn the corner, sitting across from Martin thingamy's house. He was well known in those days. The first kid in the street to get a colour T.V. I would sneak down to the corner at night just to spy through the slats of his blinds into his colour bound world.
This particular day, you sit next to some guy, shorter than you. He is ugly beside you –a small gargoyle protecting his master from evil. He doesn’t say much as I pass but then neither do you. We glance at each other, mumble hello. Pretend we don’t know what’s going on. I want to stop but don’t know what to say so instead, I keep walking, wishing away the immensity of my fear. My heart aches for another day til I see you again.
We officially meet at a party. You are going out with someone at that stage and I wish for what seems a lifetime that I could be her. Sometime around Christmas we hook up. You and her are feuding. You search elsewhere for comfort. It comes in the form of me. I hop in your little blue car and we drive through the Christmassy streets of Sylvania. It’s late and my parents have no idea where I am. I sit in the dark beside you, snatch glimpses of your profile as you drive. The street lights flicker across your beautiful face and I feel like a princess on her way to the ball. We pull up at your house and go in. You have no idea where your parents are – away…somewhere, you think, and we end up in your room, of course, and are guided by a light that filters in from another place. Robert Palmer sings to us all of the night. You peel off your shirt. Simply irresistible.
I lie beside you in the dark and I touch you, for hours, all over. We talk of all kinds of things – none of which now I can recall. There are records strewn over the floor and the light of the stereo guides my hands across your well-defined curves – into spaces I wish to inhabit. In the dim light I raise myself up, lean on one elbow and look through the night, into your eyes. Shallow seas of green that drown me again and again. I study the cleft of your chin, the curve of your lip that rolls back like a lazy wave when you smile. You move, shrug me off, get up and change the music, and then you come and sit back beside me and smile. Your teeth are perfectly even and white, and we smoke a joint and you lay back down, eyes closed and grinning while I keep on exploring. We sing along to the words of Matt Moffit, as he leaves a key inside and no matter how hard I reach for you – he’s right. There’s no one home tonight – but I come in anyway. I lock myself in, and become comfortably lost.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The well-heeled crowd crammed on the deck, their Waterford flutes filled and chilled, their shoulders rubbing with as many as time would permit. The ladies had donned their finery for the event and the men looked dashingly handsome in tux n tails. The Krug flowed, but so far had the crippling effect of hands falling short in deep pockets – quite the opposite result the host of the evening had longed for. Though the night was still young.
Down on the street, expensive rooftops of foreign cars that were valet parked by the river, glinted up at the high society crowd, reminding them of their well earned success and importance. Money was everywhere, and this made Chantelle Duvalle very happy.
She glided through the crowd, dripping fake diamonds and wearing a smile to match. Her quest was to raise an extortionate amount of money for a small Cambodian orphanage. She knew if enough liquor flowed over these noble lips that surrounded her, she was sure to meet target. She wound her way through the sheep-like crowd all ooohing and arrrhing and out-bleating each other over who had the latest and greatest, and biggest. She slipped past the Governor, nodding and smiling in all the right places, giggling dizzily the way she knew that he loved.
“Fabulous do. You’ve done it again, Chanters…” he smiled, flashing a golden crowned tooth, and raising his near empty glass as she passed.
“Dig, deep…Duddles,” she smiled back at him, winking and then chinking her glass to his and then disappearing through the French doors that led to her lounge. Some stragglers mingled about inside – the majority preferring the coolness of her generous deck with the endless view of the river. It paid to be seen on Chatelle's generous deck.
She set her glass down on a sideboard and continued down a long passage, the sound of her skirt swishing as she moved away from the noise. She slipped a key from her bodice as she came to a door, and glancing once down the corridor to make certain she was alone, she unlocked the door. She flicked on the light and closed the door behind her, snipping the lock. In her bedroom, far from the mad bling crowd, she relaxed, dropping the pretence she knew she could barely sustain.
She moved to the bed and sat, lowering her head into her hands. She was tired of this make believe world full of money and fat empty promise. She lifted her head and stared at a photo frame that sat by her bed. It hugged the faces of three small children, their almond shaped eyes looking out at her. She picked up the frame and studied them, a pang of longing tugging her memory. She could picture the stump of each child’s missing limb, the calling card of the land mines that still tortured their life. She remembered their stark empty world. The day-to-day grind of doing your best with nothing. She compared it to the world of those who carried on without her outside – all doing nothing, day to day with the best that money could buy.
She drew a deep breath and mouthed a silent promise toward the children as she set them beside her bed once again. She stood and brushed at her layers of skirt and inspired by this moment’s silent retreat, she left the room in search of the waiters. With her spirit renewed and her focus in tact, she rejoined her guests. It was time to charge glasses. It was time to start fleecing the sheep.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
A year after his death little had changed though her sorrow had wound itself down to a dull throbbing ache. She would walk home each day after work and think of him as she passed by the basil bush that grew opposite the swimming pool gate. That was the point in the day where she’d come unstitched and would slowly unravel all the way home. She kept his memory tautly wrapped by thin threads of sorrow but like clockwork each day, she would snag on a memory too raw and too close. And her tears would fall as she passed by the Basil bush. She read some time later that in Persia and Malaysia, Basil is often planted on graves.
It lasted just over a year, this strange herbal process of grieving. And one day she happened to notice she had made it all the way home and forgotten to cry. A week later a water pipe burst near the pool and a maintenance crew dug its way to a quick resolution, Ocymum minumum sacrificed on the way. The crew left behind a deep earthy hole where the roots of the bush had once been - a hole that eventually fell in on itself, and then disappeared. Her grief vanished in much the same way.