Saturday, May 22, 2010

24 Hours In a Tin Can

Twenty four hours in a tin can! He unbuttons the side-knee pocket of his cargo pants and fumbles for his ‘cell’ and a pack of smokes before feeling in his back pocket for his lighter. “Remember to call it a mobile phone.” He thinks aloud.
Never mind fresh air, he was in need courage and a nicotine hit! A last reprieve before he faced the firing squad.

He felt the warmth emanate from the constantly sliding automatic doors long before it hit him hard in the face. Weird, it was so cold when he left and now he’s stepping into a furnace on the other side of the planet.  He emerged from air conditioned comfort into the Antipodean sun which rendered him momentarily blind. “Man it’s bright down here!” he thought aloud again, while shading his brow with one hand and wiping watery tears from his sunstained eyes with the other. He again speaks his thoughts,  “Wonder where I packed my sunnies?”.  A porter standing on the footpath glances sideways.

“G’day mate, need a taxi?”  he drones in that nasal accent that marks him as an Aussie despite his middle eastern looks.

Our intrepid traveller squints towards the man. A smile curls but doesn’t unfold at the corner of his mouth as he scopes the quasi-military dress uniform. “Nah, thanks,  just need a minute!”

A minute! A minute! Fuck that shit, he needed hours, days maybe a week!  What had he done? Thrown caution to the wind? Decided to live like there’s no tomorrow?  Oh yeah! This is some crazy shit. A WTF moment if ever there was one. Spontaneously flying half way across the world to connect with someone he’d never met and one who had no idea he was in the country was arguably one of the silliest things he’d done in a while. He definitely was a kangaroo short in the back paddock. He snuffles aloud at the prospect of actually seeing one.

Twenty four hours in a tin can was a long time and he thought he’d sleep. He always sleeps when in motion, cars, trucks, boats, planes just have that effect. The engine noise, the fumes, the vibration and in this case a goodly amount of wine always combine to produce a soporific effect - not this time!

Normally laconic by nature, cool by design, he was rattled. The flight had him on edge with his own sense of anticipation and anxiety. It disturbed him because he kept his head under pressure. He was calculating, informed, capable of risk without fear. Nothing fazed him. Indeed, rarely did anything excite him any more.

He’d mentally rehearsed introductory scenarios between the plethora of plastic meals and Cloud Street. Good to be prepared.

“Hi, great to see you finally! Guess you didn’t expect this?”  . . . Nerdy
“G’day, Gday . how ya goin’?”  . . and a giggle. Too naff
“Well hello . . “  . . . Too confident
 “Surprise, guess who?”  . .  close but no doughnut!

Each greeting just sounded corny, lame, dumb, b-o-r-i-n-g. He would just send an SMS with that familiar online greeting that she hates. She’d respond with one that’s similarly stupid not realising where he is.

Twenty four hours in a tin can wasn’t that long by the time he’d worked through his script. Played out his moves within his own head. It would be fine. She’d be charmed.  He took a long, hard drag on the remainder of his last cigarette before dutifully extinguishing it in the sand-filled receptacle provided.

His eyes are now adjusted to the searing white morning light. Beads of sweat appear on his upper lip and brow and stain his underarms. A slight damp ‘v’ emerges on his chest.  “Shouldn’t have worn the grey marle” he again verbalises his thoughts as the porter looks sideways with a slightly confused glance. He hadn’t expected 30 degrees in Spring.

He took off his pack and laid it gently on the footpath. Phone in hand, he stared alternately at it and the stream of disembarking passengers both coming home and starting out.

Taxi after taxi pulls in, packs up, pulls out. Hi vis vested porters ensure they don’t linger. Tattooed Maoris touch noses with cousins in a delightfully intimate display of affection and reunion. Suits shake hands a little too vigorously, each alpha male establishing their quarter through a tight grasp of the hand.  Tour guides stand with their plaquards held skyward to attract their blue rinse bus riders. Backpackers pour over their maps and try to work out where the shuttle departs for the nearest hostel. Tired toddlers slump over shoulders while parents rally the remaining ambulatory troops like shepherds without sheepdogs.

They move past him oblivious to his presence as if he’s the only one standing still in a time-lapse film. He contemplates the thought for future reference before snapping back into the here and now.

Enough of this procrastination, he’d better ring soon. She heads to work at 7am. He stared at his phone, steeling himself for the call.

She doesn’t recognise the number when the mobile rings. She’s barely stepped out of the shower  and leaves drips on the black slate floor and carpet as she races towards the phone that her mother’s left behind on the kitchen bench. She always forgets her phone.

All the clever lines evaporate when she answers. Before she can speak he’s blurting out

 . . “Hi, it’s me . . I’m in Sydney!”

She’s not sure who it is and gasps more in frustration as the towel drops damply to the floor, as if the caller can spy her naked body revealed over the ether and scrambles to re establish a modicum of modesty .

“ . . Hello? You there? Can you pick me up at the airport?”

Ah! . . . The penny drops, she recognises the voice from his Skype calls to her mother. She knows of him, she knows who he is, in fact she knows all about him but she’s not the intended recipient of his call.

 “Ok no worries but . . only if I can do a drive-by to check you out first . . .!”

The curl unfolds into a flashing smile. For the first time, he believes in fate.  She doesn’t know it yet but it’s really her he’s come to visit. As he bids goodbye and turns towards the bemused porter,  
"Twenty four hours in a tin can bro?  . . Oh shit yeah! O fuck yeah! So worth it!"  
"I hope she is!" smirks the porter, doffs his cap and moves along.


There was a time when they enjoyed each other’s company. Just in short bouts but in a good mood, he was fun, happy, hilarious even but lately he’d become sour and dour, rude and unempathic. Difficult and obstinate, uncommunicative and down right mean spirited.
They’d never been really close, she the confident  eldest and he the ‘third’ child with a chip on his shoulder. Just a small chink in his armour that rose and fell with his varying moods but not enough to be obvious. Like an old cup, you’d still take a drink from it and hardly notice the missing shard. 

The chip grew into a fracture. The cup began to break. There was no repairing this now. Nothing she did was right. Her attitude was wrong, her kids were a pain. Financially she was a moron, emotionally she was unstable. She was bolshy and argumentative. Useless. He resented every part of her for one reason or another.

Something happened. She never knew why he was bitter but his angle became childish, he refused to talk, wouldn't discuss his agenda was undisclosed but bitter and she never understood.

At first it didn’t bother her but then . . after words were said. Sharp little syllables that pierced her heart and can never be taken back. Blood it seems is not thicker than water and bitter blows and great untruths were spread flashing forward like a phosphorous incendiary piercing and damaging the softness of her core. She was a good person, a kind person an awesome mother. A bad judge. How dare he strip her self respect. She was all too aware of her failings an didn't need him to remind her of her naivity.

She takes the largest blade from the block. It’s strong. Good German design. Solid, sharp. It glimmers as it catches the rays of downlight streaming behind her neck.  She gives a feathery flick of her thumb, perpendicular to its raw edge. It nicks but doesn’t draw blood. She pulls an aloe tissue from the box, the same box, she draws tissues from to wipe her nightly tears. The tears he never sees nor would care about if he did.

He often slept, inebriated and clutching a glass of red wine. It would be nothing to slip through the sliding door and glide the slippery blade across his throat. Quiet. Messy but quiet.  She’d watch him gurgle and shake and look at her quizzically "WHY?" Because he’s so stupid, so unintuitive, so blind to all but himself that he has no idea how she feels. She’d like to make his wife feel the way she feels. Betrayed and bullied, widowed and miserable, poor and distant, alienated, unappreciated and alone.

She sighs the sigh of sighs, audible to the dog lying on the kitchen floor. He raises his head in abject empathy and support and she smiles. She checks herself, reins herself in. Feels a wash of shame sweep over coinciding with  another hormonal flush. She fears her folly and wonders from where these dark thoughts spring.

She averts her gaze and pays fatal attention to the plump and red tomato awaiting its demise on the board before her . . like madam guillotine she slices . . pretending it's his  . . .
 . . . .if only she could live as if there were no tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Like Being Kissed by God

Once she was lifted from the abyss and kissed by God. . or that's how she remembers it.
Mary picks the scabs that litter her forearms like tiny mites.

Popping makes the brown last longer by injecting just under the skin. Precious cargo this smack and needs to be strung out in order to string out. It's a quick fix when her veins collapse but these days, only profers a lift, no longer a high. It's been a long time since she was brushed by the lips of God . . . a very long time. There's no more buzz, just craving, needing, a hankering she can't deny, can't live without. It has its mistress and is an unforgiving master. She is enslaved, entrapped, endangered.

Lank hair, unkempt and unwashed, has replaced her toussled locks. Her ample mouth, long since indulged in tender kisses is cracked, parched and sore. Her bright and optimistic eyes are empty and forlorn. There is no beauty for them to scope round here. Her words are slurred and slow, even when she isn't using. Her friends long gone, her family cautious. She can't remember when she last ate but whatever she eats only has flavour when she's high.

Her lovers have given way to paying punters. No difference, pay them no mind. It's a commodity like any other cool and calculated but it pays the rent, feeds the beast, and she feels no sensation anyway. There's no pleasure, no pain except at the end of a needle. Today, that's only little prick that satisfies.

The sub oozed its first dull thuds from under the gap in the doorway above the stairwell then exploded into a technoswirl of light and a cacophany of sweet sound. The bass vibrations swept through her body accelerating every particle, providing its own kind of rush.

She strolled into the mele, her arm entwined in his. Breathing in his intoxicating scent and idolising his every move. He was self-assured, handsome, talkative, persuasive. What he saw in a plain girl like her amazed and flattered her but he saw something. He loved her . . . or so he said. He'd take care of her . . or so he said . . .she was his life . . or so he said. She'd do anything for him, with him, to him. Besotted didn't cut it, she was in love, deeply, permanently irrevocably.

 The bourbon and cokes she’d imbibed earlier were warming her skin, loosening her tendons, relaxing her form. 

She was woozy and euphoric rather than inebriated but in that place between suggestion and sleep, hypnotic and happy.

She didn't know anyone there other than him and clung like a limpit waiting for introductions. The introduction she received was not one she expected.

A rapid and secretive exchange for a small foil pack and 'gear'. A dark corner and a tiny table. A candle, a spoon, a rubber tourniquet. "C'mon baby, you'll love it . . " he cajoled. She resisted, just slightly. Sure she'd dropped the odd pill, snorted the odd line but never envisaged more than a short dance with the devil. Her perfect unpierced, body was unaccustomed to external abuse. She found it hard to contemplate the violation of a needle let alone its insidious contents but the bourbon worked its wicked way and made her swoon and submit to suggestion. 

She had become compliant and soft and easy. "Just once . . " he whispered. His warm sweet breath covering her in lust and longing, " . . live like there's no tomorrow!"

. . and she does.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pristine Green Nylon Rope

He bought a length of pristine, green, nylon rope.
He hadn’t tied this type of knot before. He hadn’t tied any complex knots beyond securing the tarp over the back of the ute. It took a couple of goes before it looked just right and slipped well tight.

The pristine green nylon rope was still stiff with lack of use but it would be used today. Oh shit yeah! He’d get right on up ‘er for her insolence. He’d ‘pay her out good and proper’ for her constant hounding and complaining. He’d teach her a lesson she’ll never forget. This would hit it’s mark!

Clearly he’d missed his mark when he hit her cheekbone with his knuckle-dusting Irish mitts. But this little trick, this little 'beaudy', tucked beneath his flannelette clad arm, would definitely connect. He’d show her and her apron-clinging brats who has the upper hand. His grip tightened, he let out a blow and gritted his teeth.

He was a working man, a simple man. Not the sharpest tool in the shed but he’d provided well. He’d kept them clothed and fed and a roof over their heads. He’d given her a few bucks each week. He’d not been too demanding other than wanting to watch the Crows play on Sundays and have control over the remote. If push came to shove, he could swipe the Victor over the front lawn. Shit, he even let her have the window side of the bed the stupid cow, because she liked the way the light played on the wall in the early mornings. Sentimental bitch, he’d wipe that look right off her face and in a heartbeat, now that he has his pristine green nylon rope.

She hated the company he kept but a man needs his mates and a coldie after a hard day’s yakka! The local drew him in more often than it should. What could be more Aussie than a beer with your mates? The barmaid wasn’t half easy on the eye to boot!

He liked the barmaid. He'd daydream and gaze into the amber draught and drift off, unaware of surrounding conversations about big donks and shithouse foremen. “If only the ‘little woman’ showed a bit of tit and arse.” He’d bet anyone who could pull a beer as well as her would be good in bed. Oh yeah, she’d be a wriggler, a screamer. He sipped away at the froth of his schooner imagining what he’d do to a pretty thing like her, or better still what that pink and pouty perfect mouth could to for him . . how that tongue would lash and curl, how those polished nails would feel gliding along his hersuit spine . . Someone yells “Your shout arsehole!” and his fantasy pops before he does.

All he’s left with is her, the cow, the ball and chain, the trouble and strife and the memory of her underneath him like a dead fish waiting for the filleting knife while he satiated his needs and grunted his relief. Yeh, that sheila was crap between the sheets.

It was all her fault they weren’t together. The bitch had done the dirty. She'd picked up sticks and left him. Scarpered with that trumped up tosser without so much as a note . . . he'd give her a fuckin' note!

He reached upward and pulled tight, the pristine green nylon rope threaded easily through the exposed aluminium rafters. His grip softened slightly as the hint of a tear welled momentarily teetering on the brink of his bloodshot eyes but not quite taking the plunge down his cheek. He took in a deep and raspy breath, collected himself and reminded himself of his ghastly purpose . . . he slipped the makeshift noose around his neck and kicked the stool from beneath.

The letter fell from his unclenched, swollen, fingers and floated feathery to the oil-stained garage floor.

It would be over a week before his son found it, and its vitriolic contents. Its accusatory verbage blaming his mother and his sister and him for all the woes that caused their father grief. It spat the venom of a cut snake and pointed the bone at them all.
They’d never flaunt their happiness in his embittered face again. Yeh, that skank would pay!

He'd shown her a thing or two. . . he and his tight pristine green nylon rope.
Posted for Theme Thursday 15/10/2010 "Knot"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Between the Sheets

Shards of sunlight filter through the sweetly fragranced orange jasmine before powering through the flyscreened window, creating a living mural on the wall behind the bed. I love this time of the morning.
One of those in-between times when the dawn chorus has settled and before the sporadic cacophony of cicadas assaults the ear. It's the opposite of twilight, golden and lackadaisical.
He's sleeping there, almost naked swathed in little more than a classic fold of Egyptian cotton. I have a fetish for fine linen and he perfectly decorates my blank canvas, nestled closely between the crumples in relaxed carelessness.

He remains oblivious to my presence as I stare at his perfect form and wonder at this perfect creation. A right arm folded at the elbow, his open hand invisible behind his head, lost amid a mass of cherubim curls. I love that silken, creamy skin on his smooth inner arm and trace the triangular form without touching, just close enough to imagine the macro of tiny hairs which sensually rise and fall through static emanating from my fingertip. I pause momentarily at his hairline and gently flick an errant curl from his brow. I should cut his hair, it's just a little too long but so soft, so lustrous, so tactile as it frames his sleeping face.

His right arm is lazily posed across a tanned and hairless chest that rises and falls with the whisper of the breeze and the slightly agitated rhythm of REM sleep. I love his hands, small and clean and manicured with so much unrealised potential in their dormant state.

I adore this time with him, this early morning glimmering glow of a time when he sleeps. Despite the hour it's balmy and tiny beads of perspiration form beneath his lower lashes perhaps owing to some nocturnal spice and this the only evidence of pre-slumber heat.

I move a little closer and can feel his warmth. I breathe in the musk of his beautiful skin. I prop myself up, hand on head, fingers opened and covered in dark cascading curls. I call it ‘bedhead’ but he doesn’t care. He never judges my looks. He is comfortable with my body, adores my breasts and my nakedness is barely noticed. He doesn’t object to morning breath or notice my changing shape. I am his life, he depends on me and I love his dependence. Everyone wants to be needed. He loves me truly, innocently and unconditionally. He's openly emotional and I with him. I wipe his tears and heal his wounds, he holds me close and rewards me with heart-wrenching smiles and sweet kisses. For now, we are inextricably entwined physically and emotionally.

I blow a zephyr kiss gently towards his pursed and sleeping lips until he twitches but he doesn’t wake. He'll rise soon enough and this halcyon moment will be lost. He'll fracture the calm with chatter and demands and the gossamer threads of this momentary serenity will break loose.
I draw imaginary along the line of his perfect eyebrows and trace his aquiline nose. I delicately colour his closed lids with invisible hue and draw a tender bow across his Cupid lips. I finger his perfect shell-like ears, squeezing lightly at the lobe . . enough to make him stir. He wakes sleepily and smiles . . . I profer a soft and quiet kiss and tickle his bare chest.

The opposite of twilight is now over, my baby boy is roused, the peace is interrupted. Gone now is that moment of moments, the day begins and he is no longer the subject of a mother's gaze, no longer quiet and cherub-like, asleep between the sheets.

Another hack attempt at the 10th Daughter of Memory. For far more competent and this time round, more 'sensual' efforts, go visit. They're good . .go on . . . they're really good

Posted on 23 June 2010 for Magpie Tales 24