Sunday, November 08, 2009

Five A’s

Among the clothes of trees, tossed aside
All in heaps of brittle ingots,
A lone flower; petal sentinel.
A memory.
A scar.
A mark.

for Suzanne

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Sight Of Silence

Stop. Just listen. You may need to hold your breath, the walls here in this apartment are thicker than your average 8-year old (if you believe the tabloids). Did you hear it? Footsteps; slippers on carpet. I can discern the static click as the man shuffles - yes, it's definitely a man, perhaps five eleven in height, weighs 170lbs, I'd wager. He's at the door of his apartment now three floors above mine and to the right; number 16 it is, the apartment. It's the last one in the block, top floor. The door lock is sticking. I can hear him twisting the handle (probably brass and rounded like all the others in the block, but I can’t be sure) back and forth, pulling hard to budge the door from the jamb. Finally, it gives. I can hear him wrench it open in one swift movement, but it doesn't put off his visitor who, perhaps, was expecting such a vicious action.

That was the beginning.

After that it all went quiet for a split second, followed by a sharp intake of breath. There was a distinct thump; the sound of a man slumping to the floor, a man who is five eleven in height (approximate) and around 170lbs.

Then the elevator groaned into life, struggling to lift itself from its sitting position on the ground floor. It’s the visitor that had called it; I recall catching the soft click of a finger pressing the call button. But they didn’t wait for it. It was covering the visitor’s own footsteps. If I concentrated I could pick the footsteps out; they were not rushed, but measured and confident. Black slip-on shoes with a worn down heel on the left foot. There was a squeak as their hand gripped the handrail of the back stairs, which they took two at a time. But by then my ears were drawn to the spreading of the blood, the thickening and pooling of Mr Gates’ life on his carpet. If he weren’t dying he’d be really pissed that his new carpet (laid last week, a Thursday – that was the 20th, wasn’t it?) was being sullied in such a way.

I counted 12 minutes and 15 seconds before the alarm was raised. A scream, sudden and shocking, even though I was half expecting it; another 20 minutes before you knocked on my door and, well, that brings us bang up-to-date, to the right now.

Did you get it all down? I can go over it again, should you need me to. I’m always here, except Tuesdays when Mrs Fowler from number 6 takes me shopping. It’s hard for me to do it on my own; I get swamped easily by the cacophony in the supermarket, the tannoy announcements, the metallic clatter of the trolleys, and the endless babbling of the shoppers (talking to themselves or to ‘friends’ they’ve bumped into and need urgently to exchange gossip with).

Is there anything else?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

7 Things

This short piece is in response to a request from Caffeine Goddess whose blog you really should read. You can follow her on Twitter, too.

Some of this is fiction, the seven listed items are fact (with some fiction rolled in to keep the thread going). Enjoy.

"Okay, I admit there have been some inconsistencies. But it's nothing major, get over it!" I eyeballed the doc over the oak desk; his fingers are tapping the green leather blotter, glasses slipping halfway down his nose. He inhales deeply, the grey nostril hair quivering like a cell's flagellum, and then speaks in his deep baritone voice.

"That's okay, we just need to check a few facts, make sure we've covered all the bases. Once that's sorted out you're free to go. Hmmm?"

"Sure. Yeah, sure." I reply. "Let's get on with it." I sit back. I know it's time to fill in the gaps. I don't want to stay in this sterile place any longer than I have to. Doc's pen is poised above his jotter; it's almost as if he's about to perform a surgical procedure rather than take notes. I close my eyes and start.

The following is taken from the notes of Doctor Michael Slater, MD on January 31st, 2009.

1. Before I got into my present career - that's a copywriter in the world of advertising - I had a number of career choices. I did kind of fall into this job, but I'll come to that later. I trained as a baker and chef after school. I enjoyed it, it was creative and I've always loved to cook. However, the wages and hours of the job were not compatible with my life. Who, at 19, wants to start work at 2am and finish at 2pm, only to have to find time to sleep, eat and socialise? Not this one. I took myself off to University and got a degree in Environmental Management. After graduation I moved to Bournemouth, Dorset and shared a house with a graphic designer. Through her, I got a gig writing for an English Language School and Bournemouth University's first website. I ran a design business for four years and then hauled myself back to London to make it in advertising. 9 years on I'm currently on an extended break from work. What happens next is anyone's guess. I do still help friends out with concepts and ideas and do a number of email newsletters to give me some spending money. You can hire me too.

2. I once wrote a novel of 120,000 words. It sucked. My friends were too polite to tell me that, but I read it myself and thought it amateurish. I'd like to be able to write something that compels someone to pay money for a book, but I'm not sure it's in me right now.

3. Considering I've done work for almost every car manufacturer in the world (except VW - come on guys, ask me!) I used to be a 'road protester'. I have camped in a tree, stood in front of diggers and probably broke the law several times over. In spite of my own ideals, I realise that I can't stop people driving and that any money I spend from earnings is always spent on better causes. In the past 5 years I've had over 200 trees planted in Scotland to help rejuvenate the ancient forests, even digging some holes myself while on honeymoon in the Highlands.

4. I hadn't used a PC until 2000, when, at my first job in London they sat me at a PC. I'd ever used a Mac and, too embarrassed to admit it, spent a considerable time trying to get it to move from a blank desktop screen with no shortcuts on it. In frustration, I started pressing keys from the left-hand bottom corner; the second one was the Start key. I probably blushed at that point and felt a right idiot. I still prefer Mac, but I'm not a Fan Boi in any sense. It's just what I started on and what feels most comfortable. If you love PCs, good for you.

5. I don't suffer fools. Gladly or otherwise. Some people probably think this makes me an arrogant twat. They are probably right. [Doctor's handwriting is illegible, but a comment is made at this juncture. We can only surmise it's not a positive one judging by the number of exclamation marks.]

6. I'm allergic to bananas. And glucose sugar (such that you find in fondant icing). I can eat sugar, but my skin is allergic to it. [Doc notes that these allergies have been certified by medical professionals. Another illegible comment appears after. No exclamation marks this time.]

7. I've been blessed by the Pope. Even though I'm not interested in religion, I was visiting the Vatican in 1994 and couldn't get in because I was wearing shorts. However, a kind person informed me the then Pope, John Paul II, blessed all visitors on a Wednesday morning at 5am if they were in the basilica. So, I got up very early, went along and had my head patted and some Latin mumbled at me by an old guy in robes. [Doctor's notes suggest he believes this to be an hallucination of some sort or an expression of a deep-seated love for religion. We know the Pope did bless a large public congregation on Wednesday mornings and that the subject spent almost two weeks in Rome in 1994, so there is no reason to believe he has made this up.]

This concludes the interview with the subject. The full transcript of the conversation has been lost, but we still have the paper published by Dr. Slater in Clinical Psychology 2009, titled "Enquiring the Inquiring Mind". Copies are available in the College Library, please ask at the Reference Desk.


  • Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.

  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post.

  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.

  • Let them know they’ve been tagged

Sincerely, I don't have 7 people I know who haven't been sent this request, so buck stops here. Why? Well, it's taken me almost two months to actually get around to this and in that time I think everyone has been sent this. Repeats are just so cable television I can't bring myself to stoop that low. Apology over.