Sunday, October 31, 2010

304. Brain transplant and other BBQ stoppers

Jennie worried about Eve after Aidan’s birth. Eve was forever preoccupied. To Jennie it was not just the exponential nature of the physical workload of her sister, but more the change in the way that Eve now thought.

They still met for coffee once a week, but the time could no longer be mid-morning because that interrupted Aidan’s routine. The day had to be changed because that was play-group day. It was not as though Jennie had her nose out of joint, with a feeling of being relegated to a second-class citizen. She enjoyed the increased contact she now had with her sister, the asking for advice, the testing of new ideas. It was just that the baby crowded out all other topics of conversation.

Gone was the intellectual challenge of issues like a carbon tax, or equitable sharing of water resources - replaced by sleep patterns and breast feeding.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

303. Together in perfect harmony

When Arkie was three years old, his parents, who were living in Narooma at the time, decided to sail around the world. It wasn’t an instantaneous decision, they chatted about it over the weekend. When Arkie was 17, to his mother’s bewilderment, he jumped ship at Portsmouth.

Arkie is now back living in Narooma, renting the double garage on the block next to his Gran and working on the fisherman’s wharf as a general deck-hand. He’s a pretty laid-back sort of a bloke, never steps on people’s toes and always ready to listen to the other side of an argument. But every so often Arkie gets what he can only describe as a boiling in his blood.

He stands on the end of the pier with his toes over the edge of the plank, pleading with his legs not to dive in and head off into the wide, blue yonder.

Friday, October 29, 2010

302. Bringing up baby

To Grace it was as though her life had imploded, that circumstances were rotating until she yelled ‘Stop! I want to get off!’ And yet, she had entered this brave new reality freely, enthusiastically. What had she been thinking?

Clotilde was a challenge, but a challenge of Grace’s own making. At playgroup last week, the conversation had revolved around that hoary chestnut of ‘nature vs nurture’. Grace put time, thought and energy – and considerable love - into her time with Clotilde, and she was a bright little button. But, maybe she was always going to be thus. Tickling her daughter under the armpits, Grace rejoiced in the gurgle of laughter that erupted as the fragile head was thrown to the skies.

The analysis of potential market share for the start-up due on Monday would have to be completed in the early hours. Grace would eventually weather this paucity of time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

301. That sinking feeling

If anything, this entire wasted afternoon proved just one thing to Bernard. He saw with his brain, not with his eyes. His eyes were useless. They kept telling him that she was nowhere in sight, that the woman bouncing along with the raven tresses and cherry red handbag looked liked Tessa, but wasn’t Tessa. His eyes used obvious characteristics like walk, body shape, or height to eliminate each woman who broached the bridge. What an exercise in futility.

But, let his brain take over, and Bernard was happily wave-lengthed. The cherry red handbag reminded him of Tessa because of the raven tresses. The stunner with the FMBs reminded him of Tessa because her legs were all the way up to there. The vertically challenged blonde reminded him of Tessa because she wiggled when she walked, and giggled when she talked.

He soared with his brain, and plummeted with his eyes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

300. A big deal okay?

From the verandah, Paul’s mother watched the time immemorial struggle play out in her own flesh and blood. Eileen conjectured, as she rocked the chair to a steady thinking beat, that there are few times in a lifetime where one could be this carefree. It is a big thing to give that up, she mused. A wry smile crossed her face, as she realised that she was in the other carefree category. And yet, she was worrying and they were being lizards!

But Eileen has always been that way inclined: both worrier, and minder of other people’s business. She called it ‘ploughing the field’; others, less gracious, call it running interference. Where they lived, and worked and when they started a family were big decisions to make. And they had consequences, they crimped your lifestyle.

She called them in for lunch, but they did not move. They were sound asleep.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

299.Quickening the heart

As the evening air settles over the swaying park, red lamps flicker into life down to the illuminated fountain in its early spring dust of fine golden pollen. A gentle rhumba rhythm unwinds its spell from the quintet in the rotunda on the grassy verge.

A couple perch solemnly on the lip of the fountain, feeling the beat of the music. The young man, stands with his back erect, slowly clasping his palms together to capture the music’s allure. He turns to the woman and extends a proud arm toward her. With knees together, and heels already patting the marble tiles, she arches her supple back and cocks her head in the direction of the beat.

They whirl like dervishes , dangling from the strings of sounds filling the crisp evening. The folds of her scarlet skirt devour his pinstriped buttocks as their bodies come together.

Finally, they are one.

Monday, October 25, 2010

298. Just me and my gal

The morning started when Max rolled over and pinched Heather on the upper arm, nothing nasty, but one of those big, juicy chunks of pinch that convey ‘Geez, babe, can you believe, we are finally here, living the dream!’ After a roll in the crisp, white linen and a fit of giggles and whispers, they snuck naked-as across to the kitchen to kit up the espresso machine, they couldn’t even mosey on down to the patisserie without a coffee-starter.

Grabbing a random towel, Max pattered up the galley steps to survey his kingdom. The sun rose low in the sky behind the row of plane tree saplings, just tipping over the palate to autumnal. The water of the canal had settled during the night, showing the mill house frozen in its own beauty.

Showers and brekkie being dun’n’dusted, they untangled the bikes from the barge and were on their way.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

297.Neutral territory

They had agreed to meet in the forecourt of the museum, away from prying eyes and snooping ears. Just the two of them involved in this disintegrating marriage, trying to find mutual ground and just the smallest of salvageable item. Banish-ed are the mothers-who-know-for-best. Banish-ed are the fathers-disappointed-in-childish-choices. Just the two of them – husband and wife.

From the vantage point of the only table bathed in morning sunshine, Alice monitored the empty gateway, vaguely realising that she was setting Eric up to fail, and he still over a block away, in the shadows of the canyons that are modern cities. He would stride through the gateway, in that lanky, loose manner of his, his hands sunk deep into the pockets of his jeans. He would see her, then the judgement writ large upon her frowning face. She could see him pivot and walk away.

Alice turned to face the sun.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

296. Touchy feely

Kicking off her shoes, Emma wriggled her toes in the couch that flourished in her garden. With a single step, she was out into the sunlight, her toes coping now with buffalo. With a bunny rug tossed over her shoulder, she cradled Edward in her arms.

She tossed the rug upon the grass, pulling its corners with her toes. Kneeling down, she lay Edward on the rug, a bucket hat protecting his head. Chucking him under the chin, she chatted merrily to the burbling child as she removed his moist cloth nappy. The delicate skin on the backside was a bright shade of pink, and she had prescribed a dose of sun and air as remedy.

Edward rolled onto his tummy and dragged himself to the edge, his face recoiling in mild distaste as his fingers touched the buffalo, the bark, and the spiky needle of the towering Norfolk pine.

Friday, October 22, 2010

295. Howdy Neighbour

Robert lives alone in a second floor walk-up beside a park. He has a balcony but not a courtyard. The balcony is of the ‘juliet’ variety, meaning not sufficient room to swing a cat. Robert is not totally alone. He lives with Milly, the Maltese Terrier.

Milly had belonged to, Marianne, one of Robert’s many girl-friends through the years. However, she accepted a promotion to a bigger and better position within her financial services company which involved a transfer to Montreal. Hence, Robert and Milly were thrown together and eventually reached an accommodation on the new circumstances. It was not easy, as they both have a healthy opinion of their own attraction.

Each evening when Robert returned home, Milly was waiting, and looking at her lead. She adores the park, with its immense variety of other dogs. Robert enjoys the park, too, with its immense variety of young, attractive women.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

294.Putting his foot down

Richard liked things done just so, if there was an optimum method, that was his choice. He was a stickler for presentation. Of course, he scuffed the toes of his Julius Marlows just as often as any other Joe. However, religiously, every Sunday evening, Richard would get his cleaning box out from the bottom of the wardrobe, and go to work on his shoes for the coming week. Not just his Julius Marlows, but all his shoes.

He would lie a protective sheet on the carpet. He opened up a tin of black Kiwi boot polish, and a tin of brown. With one brush, he applied the polish evenly but thoroughly to the leather. He did this to each pair of shoes in turn. Then he changed to the other brush, and burnished each shoe until it shone.

Richard took pride in his appearance. He was of the old school.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

293. Better than a poke in the eye

Not just any old suburban backwater, but a prime corner position in usually bustling Paddington. Lenore lived in a gritty abandoned warehouse in nearby Darlington and valued the accessibility of this new wait job. ‘Valued’ is a tough concept for Lenore, who would run a mile rather than admit any dependence upon society’s coat-strings. She was caught betwixt and between at the moment.

Being on an AUS-Study allowance limited the amount she could earn per week. However, she could not survive on that limited income. So she was paid ‘under the counter’. If she quit her studies, she could work full-time at this job and be able to live reasonably. But wait jobs don’t lead anywhere. She was half-way through a landscape-gardening course at TAFE, with work experience at Marrickville Council.

This is an age-old dilemma. Obtain satisfaction now, or do the hard yards and benefit more in the future.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

292. The riderless horse

Silently, the tear squeezed from her eye down her granite cheek. Janine saw Matt, not the football. She saw his agile leap high above his opponent, taking the mark. In her mind’s eye, she saw the play-on and the run-around into the open goal.

Then, into view swam his boot backwards in the stirrup, the rider-less horse following the casket, the ranks of fellow soldiers stepping, in line, behind. Her face cracked only when her mind replayed the arrival of the sombre Fairlane, and she watched her own black-shawled head step onto the carpet.

Her stony face dissolved, her fiercely erect backbone became as jelly. She collapsed onto the lawn, berating its perfection with her clenched fists. All she had was loss. He was lost to her. The Blackhawk was downed in the dark of night, in the muffle of battle. And he was lost to her.

And for what?

Monday, October 18, 2010

291. The stool

He had been at the bar all afternoon, and now the twilight was coming down. He did not appear to be drunk, melancholy yes. He had said little, other than to order his next drink. Red wine – a shiraz from the Coonawarra. He liked potato crisps, Salt and vinegar crisps. Mostly he just rocked back on a leg of his bar stool, tapping a coaster in his left hand. Contemplative.

Every so often, he would glance sideways to catch the big screen in the corner. A match between Manchester United and Aston-Villa. From his reaction, one could hardly say the outcome mattered to him. He paid scant attention to the barmaid, other than to grunt out his order. He did not spare as much as a glance to the woman on his right, eating fillet mignon with salad and fries.

Poking out of his breast pocket was a hand-written letter.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

290. The power of the elemental

Water had always held a fascination for Francine, it had a gravitational pull there was no escaping. Today it was beautifully crafted water, water at the behest of mankind in his built environment. However, just the slightest hint of that tinkle had the power to transport Francine way back; back to the rickety wooden bridge on that last curve before the farm.

In those immediate post-war years everything seemed instantly aged, and weary and in a state of dishabille. When her mother’s silent weeping threatened to overwhelm her, Francine would drift to this bridge and its stepped pathway to the meandering stream below. Lined with she-oaks, and littered with skimming rocks, this was a refuge, a shed in the great outdoors. As the wind set to its whistling, and the sun glinted and dappled on the slowly moving waters, Francine reached her own silent accommodation with emotions beyond her comprehension.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

289. Rapprochement

Whistling down the laneway, the wind encouraged Amelie to hug her jacket to her – as much a psychological reaction as it was physical. She felt in need of battening down the hatches, of indulging in self-preservation. It had been a difficult period of time, and it showed. The gulf between them was still apparent, but at least they were side-by-side, and heading in the same direction.

The cobblestones beneath her feet brought the immediacy of touch, an intense feeling of discord that she willed to continue. As they walked, in an uncomfortable silence, through the archway, Amelie was assaulted by intense aromas from the myriad of small kitchens attached to the outdoor markets. She took a deep breath, a precursor to a comment, but immediately thought better of it.

She glanced sideways, to catch Milly glancing sideways. Amelie could not contain a hesitant pucker at the edge of her mouth.

Friday, October 15, 2010

288. Two Terry stories

Fishy business goin’ down

He wiped his sweaty palms on the rear of his jeans. If he did it once, he did it a hundred times. This was the part of the operation that Terry knew would create the most angst. He was getting the hang of fishing, although he was hoping to reel in more than just the evening meal. It was all the other possibilities that put the wind up him.

They had told him again and again, that all he would have to do is pluck the containers from the water. None of his business how they got there. He could see his chain question his commitment the more he queried the process. There was no reason for the authorities to find him of interest. He had a clean slate. He had fished at this spot each Thursday for a year. He needed just this one shot at the big time.

Terry’s shed

Shifting his weight from leg to leg, Terry attempted to clear the pins-and-needles from his right leg. He had reloaded his hook with a fleshy morsel of white-bait, enough to temp the entire school of yellow bream Terry knew to be attracted to this bay by the World War 2 ferry scuttled not long after the bombing of the Kuttabul.

Not being a diver, Terry had to take his neighbour’s opinion as gospel on this point. Roy had been scuba diving various locations in the harbour and just outside the heads for over a decade now. Roy was a great bloke to have as a neighbour, the sort to give you the shirt off his back. He would have been here today had it not been for the unfortunate episode of the bottle neck.

Terry was jerked back into the here-and-the-now by a sharp series of tugs on his line.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

287. Slow fade to black

As she went down, this was the last scene that Marie-Louise registered. Her head, streaming with blood from the bullet that grazed her right temple, in perceptively missed the corner of the concrete planter. However, as she executed her death roll, her right arm cracked the edge, fracturing her wrist and dislodging the diamond necklace clasped in the palm of her hand. The broken wrist was the least of her troubles.

By the time she hit the gravel, her eyes were glassy, and her breathing non-existent. A thick, red ooze of blood puddled beneath her from the second bullet which lodged deep within her chest, creating mayhem upon entry, disintegrating her chest plate and tearing her renown bosoms to shreds. Her beige, silk ensemble purchased only last month from a grand magasin on the Champs Elysées, was of use to no-one.

The beauty of the planting was lost on her.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

286. Window shopping

Some people dream dreams secure enough to move into. Not every person, for dreams are difficult imaginings to contain. They run and jump, they change shape depending on the angle of light. A dream can evaporate suddenly and no matter how high you jump, you cannot grab hold of its string. It eludes you.

Annie held down a solid job in the city. A job that afforded the luxury of a modest two-bedder in an inner-suburb, should she so dream.

Annie wasn’t a dreamer in the Women’s Weekly sense, where dreams are there to taunt rather than touch. Nor were her dreams in the faux-inspirational vein of a Kennedy eulogy where they ‘dream things that never were and say why not’. Oh no, Annie’s dreams were tinged with a refreshing streak of pragmatism. Annie was a grounded person who balanced her rights with her responsibilities; her dreaming with her achieving.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

285. They do things differently nowadays

Heloise and Paul did not aspire to a mcmansion in the ‘burbs. Indeed, they did not aspire. They were not acquisitive, but, along with many of their generation, were of the experiential classes. And the chattering classes, that endless commentariat on other people’s lives.

They worked hard during the week, long hours at a job that paid them well and gave them personal satisfaction. They well invested the aspirations of their parents, although said parents were hard pressed to concur with the trajectory. Heloise and Paul were appreciative, but refused to duplicate a life-style that had run its course. They plotted by different stars.

They were content with a modest bungalow, or small walk-up apartment deep within the chaos of multicultural urbanity. Hence, we find them here, at Five-Ways, taking brunch on a Sunday early in Spring, their table laden with Bircher Muesli, couscous and snippets of green, coffee steaming.

Monday, October 11, 2010

284. Last steps

As her cane beat out a rhythmical tap upon the footpath between the Eglise Saint Etienne and the Bibliotheque Saint Genevieve, Camille did not see the shape lurking in the shadow of the Pantheon. As she did most Sunday mornings on her path back from the boulangerie, she wove her way between the tourists, many of them with no more than a ‘pardon’ or a ‘merci, madam’.

Camille made her way along Rue Clovis to where it intersected with Rue Descartes. Inexplicably, she turned to her left instead of to her right, and was immediately engulfed with confusion.

She had not noticed the lithe shape behind her, nor heard his soft padding. He was onto her, knocking her cane out from beneath her and rudely tugging her satchel from her shoulder. The croissants, still warm from the ovens, tumbled onto the cobblestones, joining the scarlet drops of still warm blood.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Actions speak louder than words

How do you chat about
the wilful ending of human life?
Not the murder of another
for who would want to chat about that?
But the sort of ending where
enough is simply enough.
One’s own end.

Being a burden is not
a prospect that pleases.
Nor is living out one’s life
swathed in the nauseating
aroma d’institution.
I reserve the right to call
‘Time gentlemen, please’.

Is there something to be learnt
from seeing the dreary process
through to the bitter end?
Is a life-lesson for my child
sufficient reason to put them through it?
The routine visits, the crushing burden of guilt
borne by the sandwiched generation.

People spend years trying to give life meaning.
Reason evaporates quickly from the vantage point
Of a wheel-chair driven by a nurses-aide.
Direction is difficult to uncover
waiting hours in the dining room for the midday meal.
Purpose is elusive when a day
is stolen by endless hours of blessed sleep.

Would a one-way flight to Switzerland
do the trick, or be an administrative nightmare?
If I stockpile pills, will my stash be uncovered?
A gun or a knife shows a lack of imagination.
Falling under a bus is taking the driver
hostage to one’s own sense of entitlement.
So much for the profound angles.

How far ahead should I give warning?
As no one else can be involved,
I must have the mental and physical capacity.
Which involves going early.
So it is a matter of picking the apogee of
the ride of one’s life, having a bag packed
and remembering to cancel the morning paper.

Written in response to a prompt ('Softy-spoken bullets; Hardly-spoken lips') from the Tenth Daughter of Memory, a writers' collective

283. The purple leash

I had a purple leash, when I was a child. I had a purple leash. My purple leash clipped to a bridle, a pale pink bridle. I pawed the ground as I was strapped into my harness, my pink bridle with its purple leash.

There were buckles in my bridle, my pretty pale pink bridle. Shiny buckles. Tiny straps went through the shiny buckles. Tiny straps that curled at the ends. They waved on my chest.

The leash jerked me to a stop. I could pummel my legs, but could not move - except in an arc, an arc around my paranoid mother. I think it lucky my bridle had no bit.

Come here, little girl; this way, not that. You can run, but you cannot hide beneath that car. Be careful of that strange man. Don’t pick that up; you don’t know where it has been. Stay close by.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Reading the signs

I chalk the sums for the lesson across the black-board. I am momentarily interrupted by a flash of reflection in the long bank of windows to my left. It is not until the next occurrence that my brain unscrambles the reversed, silent, slow-motion image. A sandshoed boy leaps up the rear wall of the class-room. My back stands frozen. I know not what to do. Turning around is not an option. An intelligent response is required, not barked discipline.

A new vibe had filled the air. Although 34 backs were bent, and nearly the same number of black-leads were working the sums, a hum of expectation infused the room. To buy time, I continue to add the next long-division to the morning's list. Mesmerised, my eye registers the shower of powder as it cascades from the moving stick of chalk. Flash. And again, flash. The boy silently leaps. This is an initiation. There is an aim, I realise. As I scratch the final digit for the tenth long-division, I voice my intention to turn.

'Okay, Year 4, you now have twenty minutes to complete this exercise. Show all working.'

The vibe turns to barely audible groan, their arched backs slump. My perambulate of the room, takes me past a pair of newly whitened sandshoes, tucked around the leg of a chair. I guessed who was calling the shots here, and it wasn't Robbie. I turned, leaning against the rough brick courses of the rear wall. My eyes were trained on young Mr Englund, second from the front, left. When he cast a furtive glance, as I knew he could not resist, I eased the white chalk through the mortar groove about ten courses high. His sight tracked from my eye, to the thin line of white, then back to my eye. Exposed, he retreated to the set task. Checkmate? I should be so lucky. No point setting him double the work-load, as even one was beyond his ken.

'Doris, what is the drum with Robbie Jones at the moment?'

Even I thought Mrs Shirley to be a bit of a tartar, and did not enjoy her tug on my sleeve as I entered the staff-room for elevenses. She regaled me with a litany of infractions, some downright humourous, others of a more substantial gravity. I had learnt, as term eased into term, to listen and to nod, hearing her out, acknowledging her experience, if not her wisdom. I realised Robbie was becoming a handful, getting a reputation. I figured this to be his aim. Why else be at Glen Englund's beck and call? Why else do his bidding? Englund was loading the gun and, like desperate outsiders before him, Robbie was pulling the trigger.

'Get his parents in for a chat, sooner rather than later, please' and with that she vacated the small room, leaving her staff to their boorish whinges and eternal regrets. As she glided out to the verandah, however, talk moved from Gestetner ink and psychological testing, to football ladders and last night's tellie. I'd never had to do this before - confront a parent. With Robbie being newer to the school than me, I had never set eyes on his family. Something told me that neither had Mrs Shirley. A sense of dread lodged in the pit of my stomach.

'Robbie, would you get your Mum or Dad to pop in for a chat on Thursday afternoon, please?'

A deathly hush enveloped the room. I was caught by surprise. I had not expected this reaction. To be frank, I had not expected any reaction. Thirty three pairs of eyes were trained on me. I shifted my buttock where it perched on the front of the wobbly table. Just one tousle of knotted hair was bent over an exercise book, pencil frozen. Cutting through the silence from stage left, Glen's ten year-old nasal rasp took control.

'They're spazoids, Miss. Never leave the 'ouse.'

A suppressed giggle of culpability dominoed around the room. The harsh clatter of a lunch bell reverberated against a corrugated iron hoarding. Saved. They were off. Brown paper bags clutched in grubby hands. Tupper-ware containers tucked under smelly armpits. A waft of Vegemite and squashed banana trailed in their wake. A lone red-faced boy remained exposed at his desk. He uttered no sound. He cried no tears. Urine dripped down the chair leg, and puddled on the cracked linoleum.

Dryly clad in faded King-Gees from the storeroom, Robbie pushed the gate. Flakes of rusted iron fluttered down. We stood in front of an unkempt fibro house. The grass had gone to seed. A lank Easter Daisy splayed across the path. As Robbie led the way, I caught the flutter of net curtain. Splattered on the door, caked egg yolk was encrusted with shards of shell. Robbie turned the iron key. His shape filled the door frame.

My eyes took time to adjust to the gloom. A television screen spluttered in a far corner, a cascade of static. Two shapes stood beside a laminated kitchen table. Their eyes welded to Robbie's hands.The hands told who I was. The hands told why I was there. Patient. Eloquent. Robbie's hands responded to each guttural utterance; to each body jerk. They crafted the silence with tenderness, with respect. The hands conveyed understanding. The hands, in turn, were understood.

'Me Mum wants to know if you'd like a cuppa, Miss.'

Blood pounded through my inner ear, deafening the language for which I was desperate. In comparison with the hands, I was reduced to monosyllables.

Written in response to a prompt ('Softy-spoken bullets; Hardly-spoken lips') from the Tenth Daughter of Memory, a writers' collective

282. Morning has broken

There is a pleasure to fried eggs. Fried eggs over easy. Take a fork and plunge the tines into the heart of the yolk, the rich golden yolk in its curved sac. There is a piquant ooze. The golden yolk oozes over the smudged white of the albumen, and leaks into the crispy edge of sourdough, its heart open to the morning.

The rising sun wonders where to go, where to seep next, what now needs warmth and light in this little cafe clinging to the edge of Heeley Street. Just as these hands stand frozen, contemplating missed opportunity, contemplating a lost plan. Where to now for these hands, stranded in the morning sun? The yolk is but a golden smear, devoid of white. The mushrooms remain as they began, in their little huddle splattered with parsley, curly green shards of parsley.

A way through will be found, perhaps. Enjoy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

281. Home-cooked meals

Looking back, Mike cannot recall when he stopped having meals at home. Being single for longer than the average, it was easier to eat at the pub or the local Maccas. That food was as good as Mike could rustle up in his own lame excuse for a kitchen.

When Lucille came into his life - inexplicably, suddenly – Mike found himself waking up with the same old song on the gramophone. Cooking is a calling, a skill, a passion. If you aint got it, then leave the kitchen.

He and Lucille would shower and wander down to ‘the precinct’ to see what was open. Not for them Bircher Muesli or Couscous with roast potato and stringed English spinach. Not for them roasted beans from Toby’s Estate or Campos. They were simple folk, Mike and Lucille. Hamburger with the lot, folk.

And when Raelene came along, she fitted like a glove.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hardly softly

Without so much
as a by-your-leave
it lodged in her brain.
Bent over the washing-up
before the Big Brother final
she didn't hear it knock -
the lodger.

facilitating unauthorised usage -
a trojan horse
by MI5
out of Mossad.
Dressed to kill
a geek bearing
the gift of death.

Cut it out.
Zap it out.
Nuke it out.
Before it oozes -
Before it multiplies -
into the folds of the cerebellum.

Dull eyes staring.
Dry eyes crying.

Younger than Christ.
Trust me -
there is no god.

Written in response to aprompt from the Tenth Daughter of Memory, a writers' collective
To M and JD - with respect

280. The red bike

For his eight birthday, Jason was given a shiny red bike by his grandparents. Jason had always wanted a bike, not necessarily a shiny red one, any old bike would do. Then he could go down the park with Cecile and Leon.

They had bikes already, did Cecile and Leon. Their bikes were not red, and they were no longer shiny. They rode them everywhere, up the track beside the stream, over the bridge to the shop for a chocolate paddle pop when the sun rose strong and mighty. Jason liked Cecile and Leon.

They let him join in, even before he had a bike. They taught him how to balance and how to steer. He learned to stand on the pedals going up a hill. He learned how not to cry when he came a buster.

Jason could not wait to take the shine off his new red bike.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

279. Clarrie's living room

Clarrie was the third youngest of nine. His mother loved him very much. He was short and stocky with a shock of blonde curls. But he slipped through the cracks, did Clarrie. That can sometimes happen when there are nine and there are limited resources to stop up the cracks. So Clarrie slipped through early, and was well gone by the time he should have gone into high school.

Clarrie wandered along beneath the floor boards for a long time, he was a ‘borrower’ before Mary Norton ever created them, and besides, Clarrie grew up. He was dragged up really, along the rough edges of the street. Until he got to this place, this living room.

Clarrie’s living room is on the concourse outside Central Station. Many people share Clarrie’s living room, both as borrowers and lenders. The lenders have a van with hot soup. Clarrie is a life-long borrower.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

278. Miss Scarlet in the Billiard Room with a Candlestick

Stealthily, Miss Scarlet picked her way down the rickety stair-case. In a reprobate kind of way, she was looking forward to this. Visions swayed before her of the heavy metal object coming into contact with the shining skull of her dull-witted, but terribly wealthy, father-in-law. Her heart fluttered, as her resolve strengthened.

Oh, to have done with it. To have him out of the way. To watch as tiny sprays of dark red blood, fanned across the alabaster plaster of his stuffy wood-panelled Billiard Room. In her haste, the terribly vain Miss Scarlet failed to remember the third stair from the bottom. A loud crack resounded up the stairwell and along the tiled foyer. Miss Scarlet froze, her heart pounding, her stomach heaving.

Flattened along the wall, she heard footsteps approach the heavily embossed door.

“Who’s there?’

With one mighty heave, Miss Scarlet laid the candlestick into his gleaming skull.

Monday, October 4, 2010

277. Hanging out his shingle

It was all the down time that annoyed Quentin. It was not like he was a road-worker with a shovel that needed propping, nor a bureaucrat with paperwork that needed shuffling. He was a Private Investigator and he demanded a murder that needed solving, a missing person that needed finding, a buxom blonde that needed seducing.

He took another drag on his no-name cigarette, downed the dregs of his whiskey sour, patted his rear pocket and took off, down the colonnade, behind the 378 just pulling into the Eddie Avenue stop and over to his serviced room.

As he spun his hat onto the stand, he noted the flashing red light on his landline. With a deft flick, as he eased himself out of his leather jacket,he started the tape.
‘Quentin, come quickly. I need ... aarrrgggghhhhh ... ‘

Yes, finally! A smile cleft Quentin’s face in two. Success beckons.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

276. Here we go round the mulberry bush

The camera sweeps down low over the stationary man. He stands with coffee in hand. Beside him, dog waits patiently. He continues a gentle rocking of the stroller. Inside the stroller, one male child is refusing to respond appropriately. The camera backs off to observe this figure in context.

The afternoon eases into evening. But there is a problem here. Our camera is confused. It sees only men. Young men striding purposefully. Why are these young men in this suburban intersection, unaccompanied by young women? Where are all the mothers, and sisters, and aunts?

We zoom in searching for evidence to the contrary. The attentive whippet is accompanied by a small kelpie. Our eye is attracted by the red chairs in the background. Ah, two humans of the female variety and another child. Our eagle eye notes the beagle cleaning up scraps from the table.

God is in his heaven.