Monday, April 25, 2011

Stare

"What are you staring at?" A grizzled old frown glares at a 7 year old child mesmerised by the hair protruding from the old crone's chin. "Why was she mean to me?" the child asks, "Old people get that way sometimes." her mother reassures, "She's probably had a bad day and didn't mean to be rude." The crone winces with arthritic pain, unseen by a vibrant, self-centred child.

"What are you staring at?" He wears a flat cap and packs the ferrets into a hessian bag before skinning a brutally retrieved rabbit. "That's cruel" she says, "Nah. They're vermin and good eating. You want the foot?" She grimaces at the thought but takes the severed paw.

"What are you staring at?"  He's standing above her, high on a brick wall. She's actually admiring his pony, tethered on a spare lot of land because he can't afford agistment. "Your horse. What's his name?" The blue eyed boy replies, "Snoopy, wanna come for a ride." He jumps down from his lofty throne and friendship is found.

"What are you staring at?" The adolescent taking the third drag from a bubbling bong asks her at a psychedelically lit party, "Nothing." she says, embarrassed at her lack of worldliness and turns away. She really wanted to know what it was like and why he derived so much pleasure from the murky water and the breath-catching draught. She went to his funeral three years later. He'd crashed his motorbike under the influence at 19. Staring isn't life threatening.

"What are you staring at?" he said as she looked him up and down. This time with more confidence, "You actually - I like your shirt." His disdain disappearing like the tail lights of a speeding car, "Oh well that's alright then. What's your name?" She talked to him for hours until his boyfriend urged him home. "Well that was three hours out of my life I'll never get back" she thought. She remembers the stare she received from his lover.

"What are you staring at?" She averts a gaze once again. "God sorry, didn't mean to but this is beautiful." The artwork sang, struck a chord. The artist unknown to those outside the inner sanctum. A Knight, dead and dressed for burial with a dog lamenting the loss of his owner, mourning quietly at the foot of his master. Pathetic and loyal. "I love this."  He slides strong arms around her waist and she clasps his beautiful hands in hers. He doesn't understand the pathos of the painting, "I love you" he whispers and that makes it alright. She loves the way he stares at her, barely perceptible just within her peripheral vision.

"What are you staring at?" asks the child as his mother glances upwards into the branches of a towering eucalypt. "A koala" she says. "Where, where, I can't see it" she picks him up and guides his eyes with her hand, "See? Right up there in the fork of those two branches." He smiles and warms her heart, "Oh yeah! I see it" Life's lessons can be sweet.

"What are you staring at?" The child once at her breast now being embraced by another. "You darling. I made you. How did I make something so beautiful? Clever thing I am," The happiness in her daughter's eyes reward enough. The only thing she ever did right was to be a good parent.

"What are you staring at?" her father asked as they perused which trees needed clipping and trimming, "Dad, your skin's gone yellow overnight." He looks at the backs of his hands, "Yeh, I thought I looked a bit sallow when I was shaving." She touches him with a daughter's tenderness, "This isn't good, you need to get this checked out."  For weeks a much loved patriarch barely saw her stare as he wasted and finally let go.

"What are you staring at?" She makes excuses. "Just looking at the harbour in the reflection in the glass behind you. She's not, she's staring at him because she can't believe a once suicidal 19 year old would value her advice enough to travel 12,000 miles to visit. He now understands that the stare means she cares about him.

"Enough with the camera!" he's grumpy.  He's often grumpy, even violent. She knows she's dabbed make-up to hide the bruises, worn dark glasses to mask the tears. "You you look so angelic, so peaceful when you're asleep, so sweet, at peace." He moans abuse and turns away from her but doesn't delete the shot.  She keeps it in her wallet as a reminder of day's past, "A cat can look at a king . . ." she thinks.

"What are you staring at?" This time she doesn't flinch. "You. I told you I would.  Long and often. You're beautiful. Deal with it." He's puzzled, "But I'm nothing special, I'm a dick," she shakes her head.  "Yes you are. But you're an Emperor, a monarch, a leader. Mighty, unattainable, untouchable. I can't touch, but I can look. He kisses her forehead, tender but patronising. It heightens the awareness of their differences. But she still stares.

Posted for 10th Daughter of Memory "A Cat Can Look At A King"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mewsed

It was dinner time and the 'Meow' from behind the door was ear-piercingly annoying even though she couldn't be arsed getting out of her chair. She left the mangy grey cat, called 'Snow', sitting on an old box behind the front door and fiddled tirelessly, muselessly, with a letter that she'd folded into a badly formed paper aeroplane. The "Dear Jo" letter had been written in response to a phrase in a stupid fortune cookie, devoured the the night before with beef and black beans and a small bowl of special fried rice.

It was from her ex-lover, long, lithe, beautiful and all she could think about was that bikini'd body lounging on a lawn chair beside the pool last summer. She'd prayed that the relationship would hold up, "I have a friend in Jesus" kept running through her head but as an agnostic she held out little hope of reconciliation. The love of her life, the woman who's body she'd caressed, bore a scar, many scars; those indicative of one who punctures their skin with a hypodermic needle.  Her mood had turned black after imbibing on Afghan brown and her lovely body began to wilt. The once blissful and carnal affection they held for each other developed into a bitterness that rivalled WW2 but she stood by her friend, love is love after all.

The cat, still 'mewing' relentlessly outside the back door brings her back to the present as she remembers she has only dog food in the pantry.  She leaves the folded letter at the computer desk and dons her now barely worn yet greying tennis shoes, she'll have to walk up to the store and sate the cat's constant complaints.  Alone with her thoughts during the walk, she knows she should let it be, let sleeping dogs lie but the memory of her lover is imprinted and won't fade as it should.  She tries to distract herself from the tender sex they enjoyed by imagining something more kinky involving Pinocchio's nose and wild imaginings enter her head from the whining cat to fellatio she'd once performed with adeptness, before she admitted she was gay.   She brings herself to an abrupt halt at the curb with the realisation that her mental meanderings had been accomplished whilst picking her nose, she collects and focuses on the task at hand.

The small corner shop is covered in newsprint and buckets of sweet paper roses garnish the stone step as she wanders inside. A fat man, sitting astride a three legged stool as if the store were his kingdom, the chair his throne, deigned to glance at her. His eyes penetrating her as sharply as the teeth of a shark, he clearly notices her short hair and manly garb and has branded her a 'leso' before she even opens her mouth.  She's used to those looks, those stares as if she's being branded a pariah, a dropout but there's nothing like the look of a like-minded soul, one who knows where her head's at.  He mind meanders again as she lifts the bag of cat food and dreams of an Elfin life with an Elfin wife and an acceptance of all things different.

Tempted to bite back at the shark as she hands over $10, she pulls in her metaphorical retractable claws and retreats to the sanctity of home and the loneliness of life with a moaning cat.

Most that she's met since have been well meaning, but ships in the night, ghosts in the dark and never hung around long enough to really find out who she is.  If only like the Emperor's New Clothes they could see beyond her boyish demeanor and the woman desperately trying to break out. 

Such a person came into her life after she made that call for a refrigerator repair man. Imagine her surprise when the tradesman turned out to be a woman.  She knew they were right for each other when the manky cat in the corner coughed up hairballs and her new friend remained unfazed, "Hah, don't you hate how they do that," she'd said.  "Do you like the theatre," she'd asked with a sly smile and a twinkle in her eye, "Sure, Shakespeare particularly." she'd answered.  Unlike her previous lover with the cold lips of a dead woman, her new friend's were full and begging to be kissed. This was her beginning, each dog has it's day, and love finds a way.

Written for Tenth Daughter of Memory "A Cat Can Look at a King"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Good Morning Australia

Guy Linklater is confident. Four years of University journalism under his belt and now out in the big wide world, he dreams of his seductive voice being heard across the country on National Radio. Then (he has his future all mapped out), graduating to television as the nation's hottest Anchorman.  Shit yeah, why not. He's handsome, chiseled and ready to take on the world.

He's positive that good looks, debonair style and dulcet tones will see him grasp that elusive on air position at Radio 5AK where 'We Hit News First'. Youthful arrogance oozes from every pore. He's landed a decent junior reporter traineeship and has high hopes of boffing Sandra Kerney the traffic reporter. C'mon, she's hot! Even though she did swirl round and deck him on the face for stroking her arse by the water cooler.  The thought that she has a lover hadn't entered his arrogant little head and the cocky pissant hadn't even checked her hand for a wedding band. Insult to injury was added when the producers announced she could slide into sports for 2 hours on a Saturday even though she didn't know a bat from a ball. Ah the beauty of radio.   "Fuckit" he thinks. He might have actually articulated the curse before shutting his cake hole, "There goes any hope of another bonkable bimbo waxing lyrical over cumulonimbus and national rainfall averages."

Then there's always Tracy Ballard. They'd had a bit of a 'thing' at the Christmas party. At least in his own head. She'd planted wet lips on his. after six margaritas, and he took it as interest. His returning grope had missed her shoulder and planted fair and square on a pert-nippled boob which didn't offer any satisfaction, just a little one-way titillation (pardon the pun)  but he 'knows' she thinks he's a catch.  She's the co-host of the "Brekky show with Ballard and Bendix", all preened and prissy with an American smile and lash extensions, "Kind of a waste when nobody sees you," he'd thought but her tits are real. He's seen her working out in the company gym.  Just the right amount of wobble to the point that he can imagine her on top of him yelling "Ooh baby, yeh baby, fuck me hard! . ." He thinks "Do women actually say that during sex?" Then dismisses the thought because he really doesn't care what women think during sex as long as they're on top of him. Although none of the bimbos he's bonked said much at all. He'd like a screamer or at least a moaner.  But oh yeah, those puppies? They're worth the flirt. Although in all seriousness - he'd be like a collie chasing a car and not quite sure what to do with them if he ever laid hands on them.

He'd come from the burbs, wet behind the ears and eagerly wearing his 'Gen Y' badge on every occasion.  But sitting in his cubicle scrounging for stories about stranded cats and old people dying alone at home, the dream has shattered as he plods along in the job from Hell. Now there's a bitterness that leaves the taste of sick in his mouth. "Link, you're not a reporter. You've never been a reporter and you're not likely to ever be a reporter!" His editor had bellowed after the lad's last attempt to grab attention with a scoop. At the same time lamenting the young man's posturing because he has a voice like chocolate and would be perfect for the graveyard shift or 'lurve' dedications.

His downfall had come after conjuring up a story about a celebrity sperm bank and persuading 'the sound guy' to tape the rich and famous, even though the players had been carefully selected voice-over doubles. Each meticulously recorded entering the dubious 'facility' and their expressions of 'relief' as they ogled porn and wanked into a specimen jar. The tape was snapped up without thought by the sensationalist station for which he worked. "Joe public's gonna love this shit!" the same editor had enthusiastically spewed. "Awesome audio Linklater! Well done!"  It's the first time his superior had articulated his whole surname and he felt oh so important. The story made headlines on breakfast radio. Drivers queuing in the morning traffic choke on the M2 grimacing at the thought of being caught in such a personal moment. For many, wanking would never be the same. For some the sound byte was a turn on, to which morning commuters on the passing Hillsbus can testify as they gaze down on aroused drivers.  It would have carried too, if one of the doubles hadn't demanded more money and exposed him on a rival station's show.

Linklater had a small budget to buy over informants with which he'd paid his voice doubles, but this was way out of his league and the scam hit his credibility hard.  His little escapade led to a career smashing demotion. He was lucky really, only his voice potential prevented him from being fired. Now he's  little more than coffee boy with the auspicious title of 'Research Assistant'. Poor little mite is seething

"Yep mum, it's all going fine!" he chirps into his iPhone, "They've promoted me. Likely to be on morning radio before too long." His mother coos proudly in the background, her little lad on radio. Aww, that'll give the girls something to talk about at Tennis. Unaware of the lie in his voice. She's a happy camper as he ends the call and plots revenge.

The bellowing editor might have stripped his pride, but he forgot to liberate the young pup of his 24 hour security access. Reporters slip into the office at all hours to post stories or access their research. This little faux pas provides Linklater with an opportunity.

Purchasing the gas is a doddle. It's readily available and the size of the soundproof room so diminutive that not much is needed. The studio's a mess and hiding the canisters behind the desk no problem.  The trigger mechanism? Now that's slightly harder. How does he release the stuff without actually being in the room?

Inside the studio is a Myriad audio desk, three screens and overhead microphones. There's space behind the ISDN unit. The soundproof room has a shelf along three walls which cast an even shadow.  But to be realistic, the DJ's are going to be so absorbed with their equipment and egos, they won't even notice the grey metallic container. He smirks a little because basically, people don't notice what they don't expect to see. Slight of hand. Magicians rule by it and DJ's are talking heads, not towering intellects. The rest of the office will be bustling with activity. Jesus, he could put a naked woman in the corner and the idiot's wouldn't notice.

All that's left is the trigger. Thank God for Google. And the 'Automatic Remote Gas Calibrator Instruction Manual' integrated with knowledge already learned during lazy summer holidays on his Grandfather's farm. He'd become familiar with the gas guns, operated remotely to frighten cockatoos from the citrus crop.

The trigger mechanism can be operated from his keyboard on command simply by bridging the trigger input terminals together. It's an inricate set-up but he's done it before. By placing a switch that has normally open contacts in the appropriate position, he can ensure that when the studio door opens the gas will escape. Shutting the door won't interrupt the flow, only reopening will halt the process.  If the switch contacts remain closed, the gas will keep firing until the switch contact is activated again. All that's reaquired is the studio door is open, then shut. "Oh shit yeah", he's almost having a wet dream over the prospect.  The timer is set and he can activate the thing whenever he wants from his cubicle. They'll have their headphones on and won't hear the hiss.  They'll be listening to callers talking about the traffic and whining about the new carbon tax.

Tracey Ballard and Alan Bendix arrive early, unaware of the Gen Y saboteur hidden by the ergonomic workstation. They look like shit. Good thing about radio, you can look like shit and everyone remembers how you look in your press photos. "Fuck it Ballard, this wine night thing on Thursdays. . ." She glares at him, "Shut up, just 'cos you can't hold your booze you fucking moaner." They aren't the best of friends and they aren't in the best of moods. "My fucking head's gonna explode you cheap shit!" She glares again, "Who are you calling cheap! Cork sniffer?" The aggro banter continues as  they move into the studio, take position, review the run sheet, don their cans and crank up the units. "Fuck me to Friday I just wanna be in bed," Bendix complains, "Alan, if you don't stop friggin' whinging I'm gonna out your royal gayness on national radio!"  He lowers his head in sheepish submission and goes quiet. They take their places. Bendix downs a Barocca and feigns  his "Good morning Australia" smile. Stupid, because nobody sees it, although there are those who swear they can tell you're smiling by the tone of your voice.

Linklater is at his desk, the red light above the studio door goes on and he raps out instructions on his keyboard. Silent but frantic. He carouses over to the studio door, opens it, puts two fingers to his lips with one hand and waves submission with the other in a "Shh . . . God I'm sorry" motion and clicks the door shut. The gas begins to flow.

"What the fuck was that!" The editor is fuming to the point where the tiny broken veins on a nose which has obviously been affected by years of imbibing, turn purple. "What?" A myriad of heads bob above the partitions in the office. "Turn on the fucking loudspeakers and listen to this shit!"

The room explodes in rambunctious laughter. Bendix and Ballard, vocal chords relaxed by the escaping helium are sounding like cartoon characters. Clearly their headphones on, unaware of their staccato and elevated voices for just a few seconds until the shame of it all sinks in. They're, sounding like Pinky and the Brain, discussing the shock waves of the Libyan invasion and no 90 second delay will save them.

Millions of commuters stuck in the bumper-to-bumper on the M2 are smiling.

Linklater, sits quietly, researching stories about cats stuck in trees and old people dying alone. His career prospects are looking up.