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This piece is about 5 printed pages long.
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Just do it. It was a cold beholden Tuesday, green in taste and smell. The afternoon embered toward the night — Michael sat on the window sill. The day had no texture, not one he could put his fingers to. He hoped one day he would feel it, green like the open fields dissected by little men, shiny shoes, graphs and maps – sewn together again by arcade workers with cement, tarmac or asphalt (Coin slot — Coin operated). Michael squirmed in the denim of his Levis. James Dean denim. Baggy ankle boy, relaxed cut loose phat-pant denim. Niuzaiku — vaqueros like John Mallory or William Bonney, like Billy and Wyatt like Fonda and Hopper, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Sid Vicious (torn but still worn), like Siouxsie Sioux, Marr and Cobain. All the posters, memories to permanent pin-holes, were now binned. Michael’s shoes had shed their shine. Once white, made by sport-minded technologies from countries living the machine aesthetic – [that only exist in this narrator’s imagination], they now were tainted with an off shade of gobshite brown. He looked through the grill window, the confused sky, dark green tree (would that branch hold: all the secrets of a joyful heart; a motionless world), the stern welcoming tiles might as well be seven thousand feet below. Michael had read that felines survive from up to thirty-two. Terminal velocity, as the fur rustles, like the wind on the branches. Sat on his ledge, Michael was far from any of this. He hated cats – and the grill covered the window. Michael sat, buried up to the chest in sand like a conclusion. [A door, just out of picture, opens. Michael moves.]
Walk a mile for a Camel. The night that followed a day of door-to-door, went like this: (1.) green carpet black by spilt lager, ale and dirt from drinker’s shoes, vapid smiles — an arid air; the perfect condiment, the orange of a bandit flashing behind them, the football field TV-set (2.) next door distorted similarities, wipe clean, no music, voices like a library, like sneaking through gardens, like gossip, floor now plastic bare-boards; the same ‘wood’ as the table, as the chairs, the menus for meal-deals with the fingerprints of, news 24 on the wall, special offers to encourage more (3.) puddle, street-light pools were other worlds he might escape, where forward operated men’s- laid chartered streets, the flow - Mike, immune to the humming (he now only heard when the bloodthirsty passed) moved toward the city (4.) between charcoal clouds and the bruised black of the night sky, his saturnine head looking down, didn’t see; Canis Major, Canis Minor, the belt, the Sirius star, bright light on glass, roundabouts, words on walls, until all polished functional buildings, no ornament, no distractions, (Ernő Goldfinger and Mies van der Rohe were stereotype villains, mouths hidden, head covered, clothed in their turquoise smocks, they had accents — bad accents, muffled by a surgical mask, taking every mole and blemish with the scalpel, smoothing every inch of the skyline, filling the city lips of every shop front, with collagen; for the sake of functionalism), (5.) Chanel No. 5, every mouth like Marilyn, the Great American Nude #57, barmaids in tight costumes, painted like music, throbbing like a headache — with a white mat for every drink (just in case it embarrass itself over the polished abdomiplastal bar), as one of a group Mike submerged a sea of beating bodies, all blind, all desperate to consume.
Good to the last drop. Down in the brine, the underwater world, paintbrush wash pot piss-hole, the Capillaria that was the club, Mike and all the bulpops gathered, tusks, whiskers, – here it would seem, … , there is a clear lack of clarity, chalky popping chuckles, searchlights, flashes, Michael taking this narrative to places it shouldn’t go. Mermaids in tight nothing. He is too concerned; with texture, flashes, with the meanings behind and beneath, the reassuringly expensive world of his pint pot, amber, the costumes, tribal markings, gang colours, mirrors – all around the rushing vile bodies, bubbles- escaping and rising to the surface.
Snap! Crackle! Pop! All that business carried off by bees and other insects, there is no certainty about how an atmosphere of other worldly drama arose — across those puddles, flashes and other worlds, entrances and exits smoke and. There were all these stairways, alleyways balconies and canopies – all under one dome, all beating with loops, samples, little lyrics, snatches of dialogue, fur and gold. Flashes. Michael was inside — overhead a roof, no stars, no much poked carbon paper — So, he was Mike, looming out of the hermetic shadows following the seductive voice; intoxicating, addictive, it was her, the almost Brechtian ‘I’ll be arriving’ making him a roman circus. The bulpops chuckle (chalk, pop, chortle) the memories of a dangerous pearl, plastic bottles and broken cups underfoot, they moved back; suffering from a surfeit of personality – Imagine luring sailors onto rocks, or the spaced-out razor moon Which tips its hat to Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Billie Holliday. The bulpops backwards and Mike forward, Here the popular perception of him, an almost archetypal lonely adolescence, altered. Her fibres held the scent of, fibromyalgia, mildew, moss, heather, grahams — golden, fields of wheat like the advert, a floral parade when he leant toward her ear, filling the streets like a celebration on another continent, his nostrils in carnival. She is unexpected, her head, her mouth, her strut — held the occult beats and textures of Brooklyn rather than the chest-beatingly patriotic, she smiles a learnt smile, her mouth spoke a second, third, language without moving or opening, scent sent summer, with bright cartoon flowers on a breeze, through alleyways they walked, somewhere quieter, surprising, the brine, filling his mind making any ear any eye unreceptive, uninterested.
Obey your thirst. In a half world painted red with shelves and bottle bins, the reflection of a flash, and people squeezing past, Mike met Angela. ‘Mike,’ he said. Wet socks, wet jeans – because jeans take a while to dry, and you should probably wash them inside-out. Every movement made a splash. His relationship with his father (an intense Freudian fairytale that indicates rare artistic daring) written across the walls, it could be heard in the brine that filled their shoes. He spoke to distract her, bought drinks, made jokes. She leaned into him; he felt numbers, flowers, colours on a breeze, and her gloss pink lips against his cold dank. That same water fills the club. Michael’s world is as clear as an Andalusian dog – It isn’t clear if Mike knows he is the type to notice a punctured bicycle, a hillside, we can’t be sure of his control, Angela breaking her surroundings, her kiss like sticky like caramel like poison on his anthropomorphic grin. No tongue, their mouths uninvaded caves, sound now muffled by the brine, hot gloss against- Mike’s eyes shut, the world completely submerged, his form completely altered. [This is boring!] from flashes we see Angela in perfect shapes, clever cloth, the authority of truth of perfection of cold knee-jerk reaction.
Every little helps. She had a dream; in it she was very old. She knew straight away, looking at her hands, the deep rooted veins came up to the surface, through the earth at the base of the apple tree, from a branch- a rope that had hung, her brother’s rope, rope swing, rope pulling his body back and forward, her mother, her father — her whole family had been here once, the multi-coloured Fisher Price play-oven, discoloured by rain, inhabited by swarming ants, dead leaves, down at the bottom — there were daisies that she used to pick. It couldn’t be that garden, the rough places plain and the crooked places straight, maybe some years had passed; maybe she – the reflection in the window showed grey hair cropped – was lost. Old; tracing skin thin, liver-spots like old thread — a sad sag — so she imagines‘Portrait of Gabrielle’, ‘The Medical Inspection’, the television on every-night, what to eat, cookery programmes with details at the end. In her dream she had children, four little children, their jangling discords forgotten to the garden, red-roof beauty home, patio doors and French windows. The last stone of hope gone, her dream was empty. She was alone on the landscape with memories of missing ones cruelly remembered by the symphony of an Aeolian chime. Her memories were; (1.) his lips dripping with words of home and security (2.) those four little ones, flat on a photograph, a sound bite of each voice and each emotion, maybe a small video clip, how they moved, endlessly played out in a cell of memory (3.) the garden as it had been, when this had been her house, because she knew this wasn’t right – but even that– everything else was somehow forgotten, what was her brother’s name? Had her husband been fat or short? And what about her father, surely she had one? These questions were unanswered by the empty green. She woke up and it had all been a dream. She was twenty-one again and her hair; copper brown, her body- soul texture clinging [this narrator happy to see:] mornings stretch of grey cotton, the depression of stomach from the predominant curve of her chest, soft skin tanned terracotta, broken.
Come hungry. Leave happy. Mike purred as he rose and fell, as ripples of soft white bed-spread covered the blind moon, the un-pulled curtain window, it was her room — and she didn’t care- the door ajar, flashes. Inside their warm warren of quilt, the scent of; faint sweat, perfume, incense. All the animals and acrobats began to tumble away, jeans on the floor, crumpled, replaced — Obelisco Flaminio stood between them, alive, moving. The air was thick. Angela felt she had missed her moment to be unbuttoned jeans, bored of an hedonistic history, from bar to bar, from new life to new life, job to job, freckle to freckle [when was this?] the dip of his chest, her mouth a mound of hair, eyes looking up at him, her knees between thighs, no shame, she climbed to true light. The two kissed spit all over the yards of flesh, traced obstinate fingers over hidden bones. His holy hand cupped, struggled like claws under a door, like the scratching, spawning endless ants, her breasts, her bum; the hills and valleys he’d never seen. The two stroked, struggled, crawled about the mattress. She wanted to be an animal, primal, without an agenda, a ticket; she wanted to be an oven of ants, crowded life. [I couldn’t tell you when this was, if it follows or returns] Angela and Michael, the glistening cliff edge of soft supple, teeth teased across an undulating shoulder, climbing to ephemeral ecstasy. Eyes widen, one first then the other, a cataclysmic shift, toppling towers, where glass and plastic snap and crack, a whole world destroyed, floods, natural disasters, Angela’s eyes shut, her chewed lips making a perfect circle, pulse of the earth, of the world, as a body shuddered, a white mat below them – the couple made eye contact.
Because I’m Worth It! He would unbutton her seven thousand times, so this really isn’t vulgar at all, the two lovers coupled with washing to be done and toast burning. Angela and Michael told each other the punch-line, the key, what X equals, they whispered, with pillows and quilts, kept each other warm, arms and mouths, looked into eyes, but still they saw; (1.) billboards selling; clothing, make up, perfume, polish and sponges- the brutalist towers, never crushed, never reduced (2.) bulpops pulling pianos (3.) the cobwebs and stains that built up in their tabernacle, their warren. (4.) that the days moved on without revolution, that the other half’s ignition was a small pleasure, that happiness and love are calm like a dumb calf waiting.
Jamie Lord was born and grew up in Sheffield. He went to university in Hull where he studied English literature and creative writing. He currently lives in Prague teaching English as a foreign language.