Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Listing Again

Job interview. Room, oversized and occupied by a leather-bound desk, two men (both dressed in immaculate black pin-striped suits) and three chairs. Paintings – what look like museum pieces – litter the walls, hung in a higgledy-piggledy fashion. Clumsy. No one says a word.

I smile, nervously fiddle with my tie. They motion, both of them, with hands, fingers splayed towards the chair nearest to me. I notice the carpet then, a swirling pattern that, if placed on a paving slab by a pub could be mistaken for a pool of congealing vomit. No one says a word.

I sit, thankful to take the weight off my feet and to give the spinning world a chance to calm down and synchronise with my head. I breath, deeply. They smile, show teeth yellow and irregular. I return a dazzle at them, wondering if I have lettuce stuck in my teeth. Does my breath smell of coffee? Cigarettes? Last night's alcohol? No one says a word.

And they come, pouring forth like floodwaters, like molten lava over a village: the questions.

  1. Why did you apply?

  2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

  3. What aspects of your last job did you dislike and why?

  4. Three words to describe yourself

  5. What's the biggest team you've led to date?

I feel like I'm seeing things sideways. I'm listing. Panic sets in, stomach acid burns my throat and I struggle to speak. Epiglottis flapping, like I'm choking. I breath, calm. No one says a word.

I answer the questions. I answer them all, diligently.

It's now a case of waiting and seeing what comes of it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Part 5 - Final Resting Place

Part 1 can be found here

There's very little left now. Of the house. Small amounts of evidence: the shadows on the hill, demarcating the walls; the well-worn path leading from the spot that was once the back door; the wood pile over to the left. The grass in this area is thick. The sheep stay away. Everyone stays away now.

There are no others that I can take, infect. No Ellens, no Maureens.

There's very little left, but you can discern where it stood, once majestic - now dubbed a house of horrors. Media representation skewed. Schism; some residents in the town didn't want to believe, others could not refute the evidence mounting up. Responsibility was sought. Only twenty or so years had passed. Could people be traced that far back? Press conferences, questions. Constant. Like the rain. There were never any answers. Soon other news took over, became more important. Missing dogs, burglaries. Local school threatened with closure.

There were no complaints when the bulldozers droned into town. It happened so quickly. Even with the rain, it was a speedy demolition. In the morning there was a house, by evening this space. Back to as it had been twenty-three years ago; bare and naked. Lorries piled high with the bones of the house, the red brick skeleton broken into pieces. Over a week they toiled. Then, there was very little left. It had taken that long to remove my body, too.

Things have been laid to rest. Not forgotten. That can't happen now. This story will remain, this evidence of what occurred. There's very little left now. Tiny traces of confirmation, substantiation. The wood pile, rotting. The shadows, defining where walls once stood. A single pink rose, placed in the middle of those shadows. The final resting place.

I have that now.

The rain starts to thin. The clouds separate, disconnect. The sun licks at the open wound of blue sky. I am at peace.

My ghost, quiet. I accept.

The End

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Part 4 - The Discovery

Part 1 can be found here

Mysterious deaths. Font bold, 36 point. Times New Roman. Hard to ignore. Mysterious. Deaths. Richard folded the newspaper open, ripped pages out. Twisted mouth. Glaring, a focus in his eyes. He fed each page to the fire. Flames and emotions roared. Only the fire died quickly. Wracked by sobs, back pumping, heaving uncontrollably. Maureen had been number three.

The rain continued to piss down.
How quickly the early summer had filled with heat. Moving day, faint scent of honeysuckle at the gate. The breeze nuzzled, but was not enough to cool the temperature . Air as thick as cold custard; as stifling as parents.

Removal men remarked on nothing. Lifted, carried, lifted. Carried. Sweat, blue veins standing out at the temples and arms of each man as he struggled. A grunt, call for rest, a reassessment of gaps and weight distribution. They did the job they were being paid for admirably and without complaint. Later, on the drive to the new house they would bitch about Richard. Hated his lack of help, loathed his offers of tea he then forgot to make. All very convenient, they would say to their boss.

Richard and Maureen rounded up the cats; two of them, both grey, both fat - contentment and old age joining forces to broaden stomachs. Mewling in arms, pusheunceremoniouslyly and somewhat ignominiously into cages, in full view of the patient removal men.

All packed up. Done. A quick spring clean around the house. One last look around. Forgotten nothing. Removal van hummed, shaking from side-to-side as engine ticked over. They want to get on, want time for lunch. Shot arrows of hate from their eyes at Richard, as if he were the dog owner who'd allowed his pet to shit on the path just so they would step in it.

The first spots of the rain that would mark the day they moved began to fall.
Richard howled, the pain so intense. Loss was a burden, the terrain it created difficult to traverse. He slammed fists into walls, feet at doors; ripping the house apart. Selling it was the wrong thing to do. It needed to be gone. Razed to the ground. Extinction. The rain got harder, stinging shots against glass, the sound like a million buzzing flies. The fire dead in the grate.

Plaster fell, soft in his hands. Digging at walls. A keening cry, mouth emitting between weeping. Face: snot tears anger. Hands smashing, pushing out hatred for what was once a place to call home, a shelter from the bad things.

There had been another death, years back. Almost twenty years ago. Not long after the house had been erected, settled in to the earth. No memory of those days now, only available at the local library. Mr Abbot; he was never a buyer. Previous owner. Yes, he'd fled, run, the proverbial wind behind him. He knew about the disease that had riddled Maureen, seen it. First-hand. He'd fled. Out, into the blasted rain. Constant.

Loose bricks shifted, collapsed. Richard didn't stop. Clawed. Finger nails plugged with dust. Caked. The rain continued to piss down . Hands blindly pulling. Catching on something, not brick. Richard pauses, listening; neck kinked and eyebrow raised. He wants to hear what his fingers grasp. To hear the voice, the story. Deeper, excavating, hands pulling at bricks. There she was, held with brittle hessian. There was the reason for the deaths.

The rain continued to piss down. A steady stream.

Concludes here

Part 3 - Walls Have Secrets

Part 1 can be found here

A muffled scream. Snatched. Bundled with sack shielding eyes painful and wide, wet with unknown horrors, with fear. Large hands, how many pairs? Unsure. Difficult to tell. A muffled scream. The smell of oil, musty cloths stained with brake fluid. Sharp edges from toolboxes stab, rough knots of rope chafe. It's dark beneath the makeshift hood.

I lie still. Little Lisa. Everyone wishing me a Happy Birthday, just this morning. There's a party later. Friends visiting. Balloons, jelly and ice cream. Party games. I'll be the centre of attention - where I belong. Defined: precocious, cocky, sassy. Yes, I've got attitude. Mother refers to it as advanced, bright, developed. I use the term mature, prefer it. Suits me best. I imagine my mother later: running in a panic about the neighbourhood. My little girl. Crying out. Bringing people out from their homes, away from their TV dinners, their soap operas; it would give their meaningless lives some purpose. They could feel thankful it wasn't their daughter. Their son. Thankful.

A muffled scream. Snatched. I'm 10-years old. I'm every parents' worst nightmare.

I lie still, my breathing shallow. A sour tang of petrol fills my lungs. Vibrations shake, stir me from shock. A vehicle. A muffled scream. Realisation hits home. Snatched. I've read about girls - girls just like me - and what happens. They never come back. Ever. Only the shells that hold them return, dead or alive. The most popular way to return is dead. The thought causes my bladder to fail.

I kick my legs, a scream muffled as my arms flail. Survival instincts. The car stops, engine cut. I'm hoisted, removed. Voices, conversation, decisions made. Dragged, stones tearing cloth, my flesh. I feel blood trickle down my calves, over my foot. I try to count them. Two, three men at most. They laugh, poke at me, their fingers cast from steel. Baiting me, their prey. I'm dropped. Through a small rip in the sack, I espy my resting place. A house, so red, so vivid. The sun is bright. Framed with green hills dotted with bleating sheep. I glance at wheelbarrows, scaffold, bricks in piles. Then, dragged into gloom.

Oh God, I think. Instincts scream: No. Please. Begging. A muffled scream. No, please. Don't. Hands, pulling, wrenching me out from beneath the sack. My eyes painful and wide, wet with unknown horrors, with fear. Little Lisa. Me. I'm precocious, but even my imagination can't predict the terrors that await. Stinging urine on chapped thighs. I've lost a sock, my foot is cold. I wonder. I wonder what is coming. Dread fills me, drips from pores. They can smell it. They laugh at me. And then it begins.

It is dark when the men are finished, spent. It's done. Without discussion they begin work. Quickly, methodically. It takes no time to cover the body, to hide it. Secreted away. They work under moonlit sky, the roof not yet completed. Hard drops of rain fall. Splitching sounds on the cement floor, doinks on the metal wheelbarrow. Tuneless; the rain tone deaf.

Conveniently, tracks are erased. Every thing disappears. Eventually. Even little Lisa. Twenty years from now, she'll be forgotten. Little Lisa won't like that.

Continued here...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Part 2 - The Photo

Part 1 can be found here

Ellen, laughing. The sound gurgling. Like the stream behind the house. She looked so beautiful, the way the sun glinted off her auburn hair. She was with me. How lucky could I get? Was I taking chances beyond what was fair in this world? At that moment in my life I hadn't a care in the world.

Abby, she called. Said my nickname as if it were honey on her lips. Never used my given name: Gregory. Abbot. Held my hand as if it were the most precious thing she would ever touch. We were in love. This was to be our home. Setting: a scattering of undulating hills - nature's grassy breasts suckled by sheep - set back, framing the house. Blue abyss: sky. Clouds like a reflection of the sheep. Russet bricks, bright red roof. The house had seemed to sparkle that day.

A flash. A laugh, the sound gurgling. Look, look! A cry, she came running to me, camera dangling, bumping against hip. Left arm flapping at the wrist. Mouth, wide in a smile. Eyes as bright as the sunshine. Abby: look! There it was, held as if it were fragile: our child; a photo of the house.

Somehow, she'd managed to capture the essence of the day on celluloid. It's the snapshot I bring to mind when I hear her name. It's the only memory I can rely on no. I miss the house. I miss Ellen. One day I will return. Maybe.

It was difficult to pinpoint the exact moment, the nanosecond it happened. At first nothing seemed to change. We fell into an easy life, together. Dreamed of children, bigger houses, better lives earning more money. We did what was expected of us, of people in our day. We lived for those dreams. Laughing, the sound gurgling. Like the stream behind the house.

And then, there it was, impossible to ignore. Had it been waiting, biding its time? Picking its moment to maximum impact? Even now the doctors are unsure. They gave it a name: Invasive ductal carcinoma, layman's terms: breast cancer. We had a name for it, too: death.

Seemed everyone we met said the same: there can't always be a reason, evidence, conviction. These things just happen. Empty words, meaningless. Fluff. That autumn, when the rain came. It seemed to mark the beginning of the end.

It continued to piss with rain. Gurgling like the stream behind the house. Like Ellen's laugh.

I took up smoking when she passed away. Months I'd watched her waste away, drift on an ocean of pain. I was as helpless as she. I wanted to die, to be with her. Smoking seemed to be the best way, I wanted to be stained. Suicide had never been a consideration for me. For Ellen it just never occurred. Her body was killing her. Death was coming. Inevitable, we both knew. Knowledge didn't make it any easier. It felt as if we were the only people experiencing this. How selfish of us.

I wouldn't change that. It kept us sane.

I still have the photo; it still looks as fresh now as it did all those years ago, the day we moved in. The happiest day of my life. The sun has eclipsed now, there is only rain. My thoughts wander to the house, to what it would be like now, in the present. Bricks, pitted with age, hail, water. Eroded like my memories. Much replaced, no doubt. It may even have been demolished. No one could afford houses that big now, not in that area. Run down through economic slumps, unemployment, crime. Only the countryside kept the region popular. In the summer months. Would the photo betray what I held in my mind?

I'd soon find out. I was to visit. A call came, my lawyer. The house was for sale, was I interested? Some things had changed: a new porch (he called it a monstrosity); the gardens were smaller; the house had aged and needed repairs. I think he said TLC. I had to look the abbreviation up. Only then did I understand it was only just repairable. Lawyers=sarcastic about sentimentality.

I accepted the offer, wanted to go back. Wanted to see it again. Just once. That would be enough. Enough to recall her laugh, recall the gurgling sound, see the stream behind the back of the house. I wanted to remember her beauty, the flash of her auburn hair. I wanted to remember back when I felt lucky. Back when I didn't have a care in the world. It was as lucky as I was ever going to get.

I wondered - what other ghosts would need to be laid to rest? I'd been informed of one thing: the rain continues to piss down.

Continued here...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Part 1 - Home Sweet Home

There it is. On the left. The house. Cowering beneath slate grey skies, the red brick blush of the roof set stark against the colourless backdrop of hills. The photo held tightly by nicotine yellow fingers shows the hills to be green. It was taken on another day. Taken long ago when the sun last shone. The rain continued to piss down, a steady stream. He would have to get drenched if he was to get a closer look at it.

Fuck: that he'd left his umbrella on the train; that his hat was still lying on the bench outside that cafe. He'd left abruptly as the rain swept in on the broom of a twisting eddy. Hadn't paid his bill. Embarrassment preventing the retrieval.

Meter's running mate. A voice, rough with age and cigarettes. Hand - callus, knotted - held out. Waiting.

Seven. Just a number. No denominations, no naming of the currency. Just a number. Fumbling for coins, notes, all spilling on the back seat. Tutting from the front. Fuck again. The rain continued to piss down.

Minutes later he was sheltering beneath the bulbous porch - a damned monstrosity, his lawyer had called it. But it was exactly what he wanted, had been looking for far and wide for years, decades. For ever. He breathed easy, turned to knock on the solid oak door. Patterns weaved through the grain, like lives through history. It reminded him of the taxi driver's hand. Spellbound, he stared at the door.

Stepped back, surprised, as the door opened, even though he'd known it would be. He was expected. His knock would not have come as a shock. The house was on the market, after all. The owner was in, the estate agent had said so. Assured him. The rain continued to piss down. A stream of water cascaded from a broken gutter clattered on the metal lid of the bin nestled against the house to the right-hand side of the front porch. That would have to be fixed. Another entry on the mental list he was making.

I'm Richard. Hand extended, offered. Taken and shook, Richard with some vigour. You must be Mr Abbot? Head, nod; lips, smile. Richard suggests a drink - so's we can start in the kitchen, it's the best room in the house. Richard is the guide. This way, this door, that passageway. Arms directing flow. The house seemed to be deeper than it looked from the outside. It loomed even more so. Despite the cracks in the plaster, despite the brown patches on the ceiling from the water damage. Despite everything, he thought. He: Mr Abbot, prospective buyer. That's what he was to Richard Franklin.

Richard. Franklin. He thought the names suited, so much better than his own: Gregory. Abbot. He sounded religious, pious even. At best he was agnostic, at worst heretical.

He caught a glimpse, mirror displaying profile: slack hair matted to tight, high forehead; patchy coat, dripping puddles, shivering against body; pale lips and sallow skin splashed liberally with raindrops. A slight growth of beard. This way. He was brought out of his trance. The mirror reflecting doorway again.

They were in the kitchen now. He sat at the breakfast bar while Richard pottered about, preparing tea for two. Biscuits? Sugar? Milk? He said no to them all. No thank you. Manners mattered most.

The rain continued to piss down. Coat steamed on radiator. Shivered. The tea welcome, the perfect introduction to warmth.

As Abbot had expected from looking at the decaying exterior, the house required extensive work. Plaster crumbled, ghostly white powder covering the floor; dawdling motes only disturbed by movement and breath. It gave many rooms a winter wonderland feeling. It made him feel sick. Coughed. Sneezed. They came back down the grandiose staircase; sweeping, cantilevered wooden architectural beauty. The only thing worth rescuing, he thought.

Tour complete, back in the kitchen. Time for Richard to answer some questions. Abbot needed to know certain things. He licked his lips, eyes diverting to the floor, hands in and out of pockets. He found these scenarios difficult. After all, there had been stories circulating. The taxi driver clammed up when he discovered that he hadn't known all the facts. Not my place to say. Head, shook; mouth, turned down.

Simple enough. Ask. Why are you leaving? Just that one question. He'll be honest, he'll explain. Perhaps it's a scandal, village gossips pointing, whispering, snickering? Perhaps perhaps perhaps. It comes out, blurted. Uncontrollable, the floodgates open, pouring, gushing. He felt embarrassment, he felt the shock. The question reverberated, struggled as it hung.

And then it came out, Richard spilled his secret. His reason. For there is only one reason he can't wait to move. Abbot needed to know certain things; in the end they all would.

The door, flung open. The rain continued to piss down. Umbrella, hat, embarrassment, all forgotten. He won't be buying. No money exchanged. The colour of the kitchen tiles had been too red. He'd known, suspected at the very least. It's why the taxi driver had stopped talking, become reticent to engage in conversation. It answered a lot of questions for Mr Abbot.

Richard watched him rush down the road. Another one. He knew the agent would call and offer to do the viewings. He couldn't be trusted to keep his mouth shut, to keep quiet. Maybe someone was trying to tell him something? Was he meant to stay? Was that his punishment?

Continued here...

Friday, February 17, 2006


I know you've been there, out back beyond the lake. I saw you, watched you.

I was sitting in the thicket. Over to the left. Remember looking over? I thought I'd been discovered. Had you noticed me, I wouldn't be here now, retelling this story again for the benefit of those nice people in suits. You'd have killed me, too.

[Keep the story, ma'am]

...beyond the lake, where the sun sets. Deep reds bleed into the blue, wisps of cloud sponging up the colour as if they were balls of cotton wool. That's where you'll find the hut.

I was sitting in the thicket, hiding, secreting myself. Over to the left. He saw me (points finger at accused), but he must've thought I was a dog or some other animal. He stared. I held my breath. The thicket was enough to prevent me being seen. He turned away, I sucked in some air.

I stayed sitting there in the dust, just breathing deeply. The door on that hut was no match for a boot from Mr Cartwright. He's a big man. I was scared. I stayed where I was. He was cursing, too. Loudly.

I can't repeat what he said

[For the rest of the court, the statement reads use of the f-word and the c-word, I'm sure you good people don't need no other details? You may continue, ma'am]

He was cursing and kicking up some dust. The sun was getting low, shadows longer than you are tall, sir. I was blinded for a moment, 'til that sun dipped below the pitch. That's when I knew he'd done something bad. He was dragging out a sack. It looked mighty heavy, real tough to move. I estimate that it had a weight of a hundred fifty pound, at least. Big, it was. I was sitting in dust, hiding in that thicket. I was scared.

And that's when I ran. Course, he must've saw me. He was shouting - not cursing, mind, but calling out to me. But I didn't stop. No way. I seen what he did.

[And is that when you went to the police, ma'am?]

Oh yes, no hesitation.

[Thank you, ma'am. No further questions]

Can I get down now?

[No, Mr. Charleson here would like to ask you some questions, if you don't mind?]


[That's rhetorical, Miss, Miss...]

Fairbright, sir. I told the police everything I saw, what I just repeated here for the court.

[Yes. However, I would like to know a little bit more about how you came to be in that thicket. You've admitted yourself that it's a strange place to find someone, but yet there you are. Sitting, as you say, in the, er, dust. Hmm?]


[Not only that, you seem to be able to assess weight almost perfectly, as if you'd read the report, or perhaps you're clairvoyant? On the other hand, perhaps you know how much effort it takes to move a body weighting (checks paperwork) approximately 150lbs? Can you enlighten us, ma'am?]

I often go out there, to sit. That hut used to belong to my father, 'fore his farm was taken away from him, 'fore he was forced to beg for food. 'Fore he died. I like to go sit there, remember old times, good times. Ain't no law against it.

I don't know nothing about that weight thing. I was just lucky in guessing that amount, I suppose. It was him that done it (points finger at accused again, thrusting out finger in jabbing motion).

[Then, Miss Fairbright, perhaps you can tell us why your fingerprints are on (turns around, reaches for plastic bag) Exhibit 437. A six-inch kitchen knife. The blood matches the victim. Well, Miss Fairbright, what do you say?]

Miss Guided

I bite down on my hand to quell the shrieks congregating in my throat, like teenage girls out shopping on a Saturday afternoon. Bile burns, cough hacks. Tears tumble out, my only drink for hours now. How much longer?

I bite down hard on my hand to stop the shakes that flash through my body. I can see the camera, mounted on the wall. It's recording me, this event. Will I live to watch it back?

Hands clasp my shoulders, nails digging. Flesh, the slapping of his movements. I concentrate on the swirls in the carpet. I put together the details of my surroundings: the red and ochre cloth of the makeshift curtains; the peach colour of the wood inlay on the wardrobe; the flecks of green dotted through the bedspread - the one I chose from that department store in town.

I bite down hard on my hand. I feel the scarf wrap around my neck. It tickles as it spreads, like tendrils of a plant. Tight in an instant, breath imprisoned in my lungs. I concentrate on the swirls in the carpet. Flesh slaps, bile burns. Cough hacks.

I bite down hard on my hand and suddenly it's over. I break down, weeping. My tears mixing with the blood snaking down my arm. My teeth are red. My look, horror. And then the cloth, warm water trickles to the small of my back, showering over my quivering hips and the crevice between my cheeks. Soothing. A hand runs over me, gently washing away the brutality of earlier.

I turn, kiss the lips of Oliver, murmur words of love.

I hold out my hand, bandages securing my blood beneath my skin. I kiss the lips of Oliver, let him wash me, clean me.

We've been together four years, for years. Years, we've been together. So long it seems like for ever. I love him.

Oliver stops the video. Speaks: something for the archives.

I kiss the lips of Oliver. I love him.

He says he loves me.



Piece by piece
the strands snap and we're left to
out of control
destination unknown.

The Shackles
are removed, but an
anchor is

on the deck
to stop us from drifting
where the waters are


four letters
three words


there was a time today where I felt like crawling inside my skin, rooting out

the endless


for someone to be near me
just that simple thing:

touching my skin

and then it passed.


too few words to say how I feel
not enough time to show it

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Waking Me Up

My arms windmill, like earth turning
but still I fall

I feel my ideas melt, butter-on-toast thoughts drip-feeding

Today started early and I felt time squeeze itself into the backseat, baggage and all. I flicked open the ashtray, stared like the rays of sun through snowstorms and coughed as if my life depended on it. Lungs sounded identical to car turning over

and it went back to sleep three times [some thing I dream of every morning]

that’s the cold

bitter like lemon juice. Thank fuck it’s not raining. Again.

Doesn’t make the alarm clock bearable.

Doesn’t stop my limbs from twisting in agony, frozen animation, numb.


The day flows away from me, blood flows around me once more.

Always On My Mind

Elvis, I’m your conscience. Yes, really. Now, you and I really need to sit down and start debating some of these things you’re doing. Not just the things you do to others, but things you do to yourself.

I don’t want to nag, but – no, I do want to nag. I’ve got to live with the consequences. I’m plagued on a daily basis with rhetorical questions and a (seemingly) never-ending run of what-ifs. All you need to do is get up and live life as if things didn’t happen. Sing a few songs, swing those hips, etc. And that would be easy, except for me: your conscience.

Hey, don’t try to get smart with me! I know your innermost thoughts and feelings better than you do and no amount of drug-taking or bingeing is going to change that, so get used to it.

Oh, did I mention you can’t shut me off? Yeah, and you think you’ve got the shit end of the stick. It’s hard being hard done by; don’t I know it.

The first thing we need to get sorted is your intake of alcohol. Now, I like a tipple – red wine’s more my thing, but if it simply must be lager – but not in quantities that could fill an ocean. Every night. You seem to think that I have the power to stop you. I don’t. All I can do is make you say things like:

I promise I’ll never drink again
Alcohol is for fools
My head hurts
I think I’m going to be sick

I can’t do anything else. I’m not hard-coded for willpower, that’s frontal lobes over there you need to speak to about that one. You might find him hard to wake because he was up most of the night on a coke binge.

You’ve only yourself to blame. Hey, don’t start telling me I’m like your Mum! You’re the one that put down these patterns. It’s just my job to remind you of them every now and again.

Secondly, speeding cars and stationary humans don’t mix. Okay, you’ve probably worked that one out for yourself. Pain has a way of bringing things into perspective, fairly acutely I might add.

Whoa! No, that’s not… hang on a minute…

Not that switch! No, that will shut me up, but it has the unfortunate effect of shutting everything off. There ain’t no going back if you flick that switch. No more beer, no more girls, no more nothing.

It’s your choice. All I can do is give you advi…

Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Around Here

I watch the girls congregating on the pavement outside the working men's club. Paint peeling smiles under overcast skies and even more overcast eyes. Many of them scratch at their arms, a sign of them being a user. Not that they'd want anything to do with me, even if I had the inclination and money. I don't blame them, I'm damaged goods. They can be cleaned up, made respectable.

The diseases offered on this street menu didn't stop a steady stream of cars from stopping, returning within ten minutes. Each man believing he was the first she'd had that day, had cleaned herself up just for him. That's what counts for romance around here.

One of them points at the painted sign of the club and says they should change it to working girls club. They giggle, the gaggle. Spit on the floor, walk away towards the disused factories where the lads hang out and sniff glue. It's Bob's turn to buy.

I kick my beaten shoes through leaves, the ripped hems of my jeans floating out like the arms of anenomes sitting on the sea floor, strands of hope; like heart strings. My presence scatters the residents from their manicured lawns, content to watch me pass from behind the safety of twitching curtains. Only when my progress could be accounted for by a friend from further down the road did they stop hiding, did they let their children out to play, resume life as they knew it. They recognise the death I carry around, as if I've made cancer and carry it around in my pocket, ready to fling it at innocent passers-by. Some of them weren't here when it happened; perhaps they read it on the microfiche at the library, perhaps neighbourly people set them straight, made sure I was pointed out. Whatever the reason, they're doing me a favour.

The rain stops. I stop. The world appears to stop with me. Time stands still for a moment, as if the sky took a photograph, settled on a memory. Then I carry on walking.

I decide to cut through the centre of town, to maybe take in a burger bar that doesn't have a queue. That was my mistake. Two of them, waiting. I don't bother to run, it makes no difference; if not today then another day is sure to come around. As sure as death and taxes.

Curled in a ball, waiting, biding my time. I feel them yank me to my feet, march me to their car. The bruises from the truncheons are beginning to show. One moves the CCTV camera back round, gets on the radio, makes adjustments. I'm handcuffed. Roughly pushed into the back of a vehicle. Lying, twisted. Agony. Humiliation. It's warm in the car, something I'm grateful for. I don't let on, though.

We drive. I can't see where we are going, my face pushed into the seat and my body collapsing into the footwell. I only listen.

The conversation is the same: who is he then? what's he done? Is it the one so-and-so told me about?

The answers come quickly, out with them like bitter foods as soon as they touch tongue. He's the one what killed them little kids, he's the one that's a bit soft in the head - a cackle of laughter, a cough...

that why we need to keep kicking it? we need to toughen it up.

Another cough - yes, he's scum.

But they don't get the dreams, the visions. They don't hear the screams, the pleading. They don't smell, they don't smell...

You know how it happened, Bob? One asks.

I wasn't there, but Joey told me it was horrible. Burning bodies, everywhere. The smell he said was like a barbecue. He said it made him both hungry and nauseous at the same time. They paid him thousands in sick pay. Man was off for months, haunted he said. Said this fucker in the back was responsible, admitted to it immediately. Held up his hands and told Joey to take him away. Well, we did. State said he wasn't fit to be tried, let him go into a fucking hospital.

Jeez, they really do that? What'd the parents say?

That's just it, they agreed, said it was some kind of accident. Nothing malicious. Well, we don't believe that, which is why we often take our friend here for a ride, remind him that we know he's guilty.

Murderer. They scream it at me as they rain blows down on my back. I'm unable to protect myself.

It's not true. I was a witness. The bus, too fast. It's a blur, now. I was in a car, as a passenger. My friend was taking me back to my school. A school for special people. I was special. Next I know I'm in the road, holding up my arms, looking for help. They cuffed me. I thought I must be in the wrong. That's what the dreams say.

Some times I wonder if I'm wrong. Occasionally, I think I deserve it. The punishment.

They take me back to the wasteland. I hear the girls calling, whistling.

The car stops. Doors open, slam. I hear suckling sounds, groans. I try to blot it out. Seconds last for a long time. I feel sick.

And then the door nearest my head is wrenched open, I'm dragged by my hair out onto the ground. I'm left on the floor as the car pulls away. Stiletto heels kick at me,

fuck off, you're ruining our business

did you smell him? Ugh, stunk worse than the sweat on that cop's cock.

They giggle, the gaggle.

I crawl away and watch them. I watch the girls congregating on the pavement outside the working men's club. I wish they'd like me. I wish I could be one of their friends. I wish I could be someone's friend.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Readers of this Weblog will be shocked by the news that the author has recently been arrested. Details at this time are sketchy and more particulars will be released as news comes in.

At this time, all we know is that police caught the author at a local supermarket, where sniffer dogs have recently been employed to cut down on the number of drug-related incidences occurring on the premises.

Legal counsel for the accused provided the following statement earlier today:

“As you will no doubt have heard, our client was arrested in a routine stop and search at his local supermarket. Officers approached our client after being alerted by sniffer dogs.

“Following a search of our client’s clothing, a small amount of narcotics was found secreted on his person, although we are unable to confirm the nature of these substances at this time.”

A police spokesperson said: “I cannot possibly comment on individual cases, but we can confirm we are holding a suspect, pending further investigation.”


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Counting on Fear

I start counting backwards from 100
In steps of 3.


It doesn’t take me long and still the fear is there, palpable.
From there I use the alphabet to control things.
Thinking of a number, finding its corresponding letter.
It’s a test.


I feel my pulse fall to normal levels, my heart slows and the heat in my head dissipates.

I can do these tricks in seconds now; I’ve used them for so many years.

Only once they are complete am I able to step out of bed.