living in aftermath

He leaps at it. Hungry. He ducks away from it – not scared but cautious. Where is he in his head? That is always more important than where he is in the sense of occupying a physical space.

He has joked that he is a zen master, but he is nothing of the sort. He is not the stoner supreme that he once, and he does not get his drunk on as much as he has been known for; in fact he barely drank. He claimed so many times that he was living in aftermath for most of his life and that this totally explained the failings he was guilty of.

His father beat his mother in front of him and his siblings. His eldest brother took great pleasure in screwing his girlfriends with in earshot of his younger family members. And the horror stories that Jack himself could tell about the bunny boiler girlfriends that he had somehow ended up with would curl your toes.

He wasn’t bitter and he didn’t feel that he was apathetic, but there was some part of him that was resigned to the idea that he was destined to always have a colourful love life, and therefore a colourful life.

He had been arrested once for having his penis out in a public place, which was funny, because it made it sound like he had been flashing. What had happened was that he had paid someone for a blowjob and they had managed to run away before the police could do anything. And so, they couldn’t make the solicitation of a prostitute rap stick, so they had gone for a lesser charge just so they could nail him.

He liked to tell these stories – like he was collecting scars. It did seem that he was living his life like he was in a car on a hill that he had just let the handbrake off in, and he was coasting down the gill not able to really steer. He kept claiming that at some point he would do something and that at some point the aftermath would be over, but the thing was he kept embracing new apocalypses ever chance he could get, so he was always stumbling through the nuclear wasteland of some dystopic future he kept arguing himself into. He was not a philosopher, he was a wind borne seed that would bed down in a place and grow for a while.

When the head got too high some arbitrary gardener would come and scythe him down. He smiled and shrugged – it was all useless, wasn’t it?

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You Are Beat

Some days you are beat. Jazz hangover, with a side order of the blues. What do you do? Do you peel down the skyline with a harmonica screaming like the sharp edge of a razor? Hell, if I know. All whiskey crazy and blank eye horny and leg hump desperate as the other people are starting wind down in louche and languid cigarette smoking hours of deshabillement.

It all gets so tragic, and you have to be Bukowski crude to wrestle a buck out of the Shylock’s hand. No Vonnegut wonderment is going to save the day here; no gentle Brautigan humour will coax them into a gentle laugh that blooms into Sunday morning bouquets.

There is a Marley congregation on the corner, and they are all talking about righteous Jah Rastafari, toking on huge blunts that throw out obnoxious and oppressive clouds of weed smoke.

A man sporting a baseball cap and carrying a map, looking very ill at ease threads through the middle of the crowd … he is Mr Joe Average, and he has come to steal your money, rape your daughter, and empty your fridge … in that order. Yes, it is always the innocent looking fuckers that you have to watch for. The ones that look like used car salesmen are usually beat up and really don’t have much go in them. The innocent ones get passed over for criticism and therefore have much more energy.

It gets all jukebox when you are walking the city, different beats for different feets. He has been able to Fred Astaire it for a long time, Gene Kelley it, Michael Jackson it. He is a cheeky bastard – always has been and always will be.

He has been trying to reach somewhere and make a difference, but he has never known or where or what he is looking for.

The city dictates movement, but cutting phrases or thoughts about being safe from his vocabulary have bettered his day. The city has its own dialogue, it’s own language¬†and it is about stopping. It is not about hearing music and dancing and being human. How can you handle humans if you acknowledge them as such? Have to dehumanise the lot of them.

On his headphones he pipes in his protection. Make your own song. Dance your own dance, and choreograph your own revolution.

He would build it for someone else to tear down. That was ok; He liked that idea, there was symmetry in it. He shuffled his feet, moonwalked, and then skipped around like it was the best day ever. Some people watching him smiled.

Cut It Out

He dragged his leg around like deadweight. His brother was not dissimilar. Surgeons and best friends had recommended that he cut them out of his life a long time ago, and had done so repeatedly since. His girlfriend was not so different – she drew the same kind of criticism.

All people offered him though was problems, and so he chose not to listen to them. He didn’t like the look of prosthetics, and he had heard that ghost limbs itched as much as this damned gimpy thing. His brother was a scrounging shit-heel, but he was blood, and he had his back if anyone else tried to encroach on the territory, and there were plenty of cockroaches scuttling around in the shadows angling for a way in. All the girls that approached him seemed to be angling for the same kind of deal – get a lot out of him without putting a lot in; at least the sex with his current girlfriend was good, so that had to count for something, didn’t it?

Carlos hated advice, because advice always seemed so self-serving. Self-help books was where it was at – why? Because the person was putting this out there for the world. He knew that they were getting money from it, but they didn’t know him from Adam, so screwing him over wasn’t on the agenda.

Fate has a funny way of taking over sometimes – if you believe in that shit, and Carlos did. He read his horoscopes, and he had a little cloth bag full of all the fortune cookie fortunes he had ever received.

The car accident was something that was not scheduled, but it was something that did what having a choice never managed to do for him – it freed him from the three things that were anchoring him down. He got hit head on by one car and t-boned by another. His girlfriend smashed head first through the windscreen, and the car that hit him in the side dealt a double blow by crushing his leg to pulp, and do something very similar to his brother.

Sitting in the hospital afterwards he wondered what in the hell he was going to do. They fixed him up with a wonderful artificial limb, he made good friends with one of the male nurses called Barry, and one of the female nurses called June wanted a date. From here on out he would have to start making decisions to keep things this way. Chance disguised itself well, but the failure he had known before was easy to see. Cut the dead weight from you.

jeff, you are gifted

Story over; deal done; dead as a doornail. That was what they wanted everyone to believe, and to a man that was the reaction that they got. He was such a good storyteller – so convincing.

The children cried in their beds until the water seeped over the edge and a great sea rose up and carried them away on the oceans of their grief. The mother’s wombs dried up and they became stone testaments to the magnitude of their loss and grief.

An angel was said to have walked the streets in those days – he hand single letters to some and took the blade to the necks of others. It seemed random but it was not. Those that survived and had letters, able to arrange themselves by the dates that they had received the communications, found that they were able to decipher a communication. The message was not one of hope, and many people fled to the hills.

A baker who baked huge record breaking loaves, and who loved to tinker away for hours on special machnes that aided in the baking of weird confectionaries, made a said to be lethal to God, because it was so perfect, and caused him to become a compressed paradox.

I heard this behind the bike sheds while I was snogging my girlfriend, I had my hand in her pants and was fingering her, and she had her tongue in my mouth and tasted of cinnamon chewing gum. I ran home and I told my mum what I had heard, and my evil stepfather – aren’t they always? – stepped out of the wardrobe in a gimp suit and laid me out for being facetious.

I came too much later, in a new land I had dreamed up whilst being molested by an anime nymphette who my father had been paying to tail me and protect me, and I decided to write all this down.

I cannot speak to my therapist anymore since he had the sex change, and refuses to answer any calls for Steven, and says all my problems stem from being a delusional woman trapped in a man’s body. I don’t think I agree, but some days when the medication I take reacts with the drugs I shouldn’t take, I can tell you that I am not quite sure.

We built a church which is supposed to act as an amplifier for the sacred harmonic I have been humming ever since the angel Gabriel told me, Jeff, you are gifted. I used to say life was a peanut butter sandwich, but I think it is tuna salad.

Tough Cookie

It looks like a fortune cookie, but it is a tesseract. He felt like he was travelling in time as he tried to explain to a Chinese man the difference, as he perceived it, between Occidental and Oriental thought. It is funny how the most liberal and open minded person can stumble upon a pitfall of racism in a language built to seed confusion since Babel fell.

The place is full of mixed messages – at the front door Ganesh greets you. At the back door Janus sits there with a figure eight in his hand. On the wall a figure that is somewhere between the Tarot hanged man and Odin hangs the right way up on the wall, and is winking at everyone that passes, a dictionary in one hand, and the scattering runes in the other. Both shoulders ar perceives for Ravens – an attempted murder? He laughs uncomfortably.

‘Welcome back, Ozzy,’ says the little old man who now speaks perfect English. He catches a fly out of the air with chopsticks. Floats as if on wires as he runs across the boxes of eggs, and then punches a concrete block into dust.

‘Where am I?’

‘This is transition matrix one, also known as dream of life; the 49 days; Bardo; whatever you wish.’

‘And you are?’

‘Translation Avatar Prime. I am running many of these kinds of experiences simultaneously so as to avoid collective consciousness collapse. Only happened once before, but it was horrible.’

‘Wow.’

‘Wow, indeed, do you know what a production like this costs to put on? No, I am sure you don’t; and we do this every damned time. It’s tiresome, and would be totally unnecessary if they just installed the correct mental software to allow you fragile little beings to gearshift at the rate these existential speed changes happen.’

‘I am sorry.’

‘I am sure you are, but you see, it is quite useless getting upset about something you have absolutely no control over. May as well berate a dolphin for being a smiley tuna eating sisterfucker, eh?

‘Erm, I suppose. Ok, so if this is a transition, where am I transitioning to?’

‘You think I know? I am a simple diagnostic program tasked with peeling the layers of artifice away so that we can see where you are suited for?’

‘And you do that how?’

‘By interacting, of course.’

At that point he stopped talking. It wasn’t unusual, but it was also no use: interaction wasn’t merely verbal. If hell was your lot then you would decide it here, regardless of personal preference. The old man laughed, he slept.

getting older

Blisters on the feet that he slits with a penknife so that they leak and heal. Blackheads he squeezes to rid himself of. Zits he does the same to. Cold sores he dabs with apple cider vinegar. Ulcers he gargles salt water for. In-grown whiskers he plucks. He isn’t vain – this shit hurts and it looks ugly.

He couldn’t hack being a metrosexual, being a straight up dude is hard enough. Fuck this body and its lack of cooperation. He eats good, he showers, and still he has to put up with this shabby treatment.

He watches her and her beauty regime and he is mesmerised. He is so used to just seeing the end result that all this preparation is something he has devoted very little time to thinking about. He just thinks of her as being hot, and that is it. Sure, he knows he has to wait if they are going anywhere, but he has excused this as just a thing that women do, and he hasn’t probed into it any further than that. Why would he? It always seemed answer enough.

He is getting older, and everything seems to be harder to pull off. The shit he eats demands of him that he do some kind of exercise, or the weight piles on. It annoys him. Why should time hold such a sway over him and this material body he is doomed to walk around in?

He takes a cigarette from the case he carries around in his inside jacket pocket and he lights up. Kid yourself that you are a rock star and you will stay forever young; be soulless vampire and you will be frozen in time. The price is too high.

He sees a young guy and his girl pass, sees them getting frisky with each other; start to feel the stirring of a jealousy boner, and then wonders what use that is? Sometimes the body doesn’t know when it is best to give up. Lust like a death rattle.

It was his birthday a few days ago. Hard to blow out all the candles and catch his breath. This shit makes him miserable, but what are you going to do? It could always be worse … he knows this; he sees it every day.

He goes home and he sees his wife. He looks at her and it all melts away – all the worry; it is like magic. Miserable bastard that he is sometimes, she makes him happy. He is, and has always been, and will always be in love with her. It transforms him; always will.

Fishing In An Empty Mirror

Fly fishing: a cast of thousands. The lake spread out before him, and he knows that it is a mirror that totally reflects him. Nothing swims here, and he will catch nothing.

The hotel earlier: lips wrapped around him, she is trying to say something sweet so he slaps her. He is not paying for a hooker with a heart of gold; no, he wants to throw her away at the end of every transaction and for her not to think of him as someone that cares for her humanity. It makes him feel dirty, but it is something he needs. He wants her to understand this. He doesn’t hate her, but if she is more than an object to him he cannot do what he needs to do. When he felt himself getting too close to her before he engineered something fucked up to happen to her and it fixed the problem.

She is damaged: he didn’t start it, but he perpetuates it. Not without considerations, but a conscience not acted on is not worth a damned sight. He flips her over and fucks her from behind in the place she doesn’t like him to put himself. He thinks he is debasing her, but only later will he realise it is himself he is breaking.

He sits in the bar. She comes in. He ignores her. She looks smacked out … he wonders briefly if she does this to cope with what he does to her, but then he returns to the business in hand: selling the barman on buying the latest equipment for his bar.

She is sore. He doesn’t want to play tonight. Time to find a different revenue stream. She is looking a little worse for wear, but she knows she is still fuckable and she can earn her keep.

She butters up her new man right in front of him, and she knows new guy picks up on the frisson of energy between them. She doesn’t know why she is surprised when it turns violent, she looks like she is rough trade, and that is what she gets.

Fishing in the morning, casting out that line, testing his new fly, he doesn’t count on catching something so substantial. He doesn’t recognise her at first – she spins lazily in the water. His stomach pancake flips. Is it guilt or just bile that rises up in the back of his throat?

From talking to her he knew she was a nice girl. He didn’t want to know. That fact was an inconvenience. He wonders if there are traces of him in her.