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Short Hiatus

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Circumstances

Do enough drugs and eventually you start to wonder about baseline. Back in the distant past unclouded and young there was a baseline level of energy that did not require maintenance. At some point almost forgotten creativity did not arise as a set of biomechanical complications associated with substance intake but existed on its own like a bright corporeal haze. Like a patch of unexpected sunlight magnified in contrast to a day of rain.

Live in enough places and eventually your sense of place is scratched and clouded. This for instance is a basement which has followed a living-room. Memories of other places can be recalled and examined but not trusted. Houses are interesting to observe from outside but they are no longer easily remembered. There are both windows and walls in a house, instead of one or the other.

There are tapping noises in these walls. The small windows are deep set into them and high up along them and very little sunlight makes it inside. When I am deprived of sunlight it is difficult to guess at where I am in relation to my baseline. My guess is far away.

A Dream I Had

I had this weird dream. I was somewhere and somewhere had moist peaty red ground and the atmosphere was throttled by heat. I was a hunter and always had been a hunter and I was armed with a bow. I notched my bow and crouched waiting by the salt-crusted shore of a lake which had been clarified by acid. The sun was nauseously bright, bouncing off the surface of the lake to strike me in the face.

Things came from the lake. They looked as if trees and elk and carnivorous dinosaurs had melted together or forgotten to separate and evolve individually. They had pineapple skin and antlers and long butcher-knife teeth which I saw as they opened their mouths towards me. There were no eyes; twitching feathered antennae grew from the sockets. Something stank powerfully of bleach and airplane glue. I let an arrow fly into the nearest Thing which buzzed electrically and twisted with its skin creaking in the killing sunlight. My head was splitting with the brightness and the afterimages of the glare clawed at my eyes. Avoiding a gout of pressurised blood which spat from the wounded Thing I notched another arrow and loosed it and it struck heavily into the soft flesh around an antennae and the Thing collapsed into the lake with a blast of pure white noise. Suddenly I found myself looking at a mirror; feathered antennae sprang from my eye sockets and explored the cool surface in gentle non-human motion. I woke up suddenly.

It wasn’t a very good dream.

A Dream I Had

I had this weird dream. I was a little green being in a daisy chain of other little green beings deep underwater. I was finely constructed like the motion of a watch and I glowed like a wintergreen spark in a dark room. Comforted by the warmth of the Ocean, I let the tide move me and watched as it turned my daisy chain into a bright green sine wave. All the people I know were part of the daisy chain as other little beings with their arms linked in mine.

“It’s dark,” I said to everybody. “I’m afraid of the dark.”

“We can’t help you with the dark,” they said back to me. “But we are here. We’re close by.” A bubble passed me on its way up to break surface.

“That helps more than you’d think,” I said to them.

“Funny how that is,” they said back to me.

Written by wholewheatwords

April 12, 2008 at 10:17 pm

Goodbye, Mr. Skinny

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“Femur. Say it with me.”

Feeeemur,” said the class. Mr. Sandison took his finger off of the skeleton’s plastic thigh, pointed at another leg-bone. The arm bones of the skeleton clacked against its ribcage, its feet swaying just off of the ground.

“This is the pelvis,” said Mr. Sandison.

Peeeelvis,” said the class. The lights were fluorescent, working brightly in water-damaged ceilings. They made the room seem yellow against the gloom of the day.

The kids, third graders, were restless, watching the clock, tapping pencils, closely examining the half-erased scrawl on the blackboard; doodles, ghostly math, and “Parts of the Skeleton,” in Mr. Sandison’s messy chalkboard hand. Lunch was impending, like fingers curled around a door.

A boy, Timmy-Jimmy-Billy-Zach-Wiley-Griffon-something, reached out and yanked a girl’s hair. The girl’s name was Martia.

“Stop that,” said Martia, without taking her eyes off the front of the class. She had a piece of paper in front of her, and was actually taking notes, which at first had made Mr. Sandison smile. He didn’t say anything to Timmy-Jimmy-Billy-Zach-Wiley-Griffon, because, he’d learned after six months of substitute teaching, showing emotions or purposes beyond I am here to teach you things you don’t understand or care about would be like throwing chum into the water.

“Tibia, say it with me,” said Mr. Sandison. Tibia is part of the leg, right? He thought. Mr. Sandison had a master’s degree in English Literature.

Tiiiibia,” said the class, except for Martia. They wrapped their legs around their chairs or kicked at the front legs of their desks. The classroom smelled of dust and spilled juice, faintly of floor wax. Martia raised her hand.

“Yes?” asked Mr. Sandison.

“That’s not a tibia,” said Martia.

“Oh, er—”

“It’s a fibula.”

Fiiiibula,” said the class.

“Oh,” said Mr. Sandison. “Well, I—” the bell rang, and the kids rose with a singular force and ran loudly to the cloakroom. Martia followed, walking. Mr. Sandison stood up, a the familiar claw of pain in his side, like a slug of hot iron. It felt like being shot, he thought. He’d read about being shot. He mopped his brow, and opened his briefcase. Out of this, he took a bagged lunch and a bottle of useless Aspirin. Schedule appointment today, his brain told him. He took a sip of coffee from an orange impact-plastic thermal cup. Grimaced.

Furious cheese- and candy-related microeconomics began at top volume, kids hawking their wares like vendors in a Souk, running around to find the going rate of ham or apples. Martia opened a thermos and drank soup, looking at her page.

The bell rang again and Mr. Sandison dug a roll of butcher’s paper out of the corner of the class, brought out buckets of smelly markers and pencil crayons. He massaged his temples.

“Free time,” he said. Twenty-five pairs of hungry eyes locked onto the buckets, shining with ideas of ponies and gore and laser beams and tanks and hockey and dolphins and Master Chief. The sound and motion broke again. Christ Jesus, thought Mr. Sandison. He rummaged through his bag and found a battered copy of Canterbury Tales, picked it up, and opened it. The pain made his eyes swim, and he skimmed over the page, absorbing nothing. Kids fought over who would get the grape marker, debated on what green was supposed to smell like. Martia picked out two halves of a broken black pencil crayon and spread out a roll of brown paper in the farthest corner, by the book carousel.

She started drawing lines and curves, quickly, purposefully. Two boys lying beside the couch waged an elaborate artistic war, massed troops supported by dinosaur-cyborgs, death indicated through dotted lines and clouds of scribbles, pools of blood springing from above and below. Mr. Sandison toured the class, his hand on his side, sweating.

Some of the girls drew abstract shapes, coloured them in, moved on. Calls were made for more paper, and an hour and a half passed. Martia finished a front-view of the skeleton she was drawing and began to label it. The recess bell rang and kids slingshotted themselves outdoors, open coats trailing like wings.

“Mr. Sandison?”

“Yes, Martia?”

“Can I stay indoors to finish my drawing?” she asked, a pencil crayon in each hand. The head and shoulders of a 3/4 view were visible, half of each scapulae and the sternum sketched in, the ribs sweeping curved lines.

“Okay,” said Mr. Sandison. He put down Chaucer and limped to the staff bathroom, closing the classroom door behind him. The water in the urinal was pink when he finished. Make follow-up appointment with doctor, said his head. Today.

He paused at the door, his hand on the knob. Martia was standing inside, near the front of the class. She held the plastic hand of the skeleton in both hands. Her mouth was moving, pausing, smiling. The bell rang. Mr. Sandison opened the door.

“—like Griffin either, Mr. Skinny” she said, started, and looked up.

“Hi, Mr. Sandison,” she said.

“Hello, Martia,” said Mr. Sandison. He limped to his desk and sat down heavily. A tide of screaming children broke on the room, and he wrote small notes to himself, spun his pen on his fingertips, made attempts at Chaucer. Martia returned to her drawing, and had both views plus a detail on the right hand finished and fully labeled in another hour.

After final bell, she waited in her desk, taking a long time to pack up. Mr. Sandison arranged the desk, put his things back into his briefcase, and stood up. He felt like a pumpkin being carved, stringy bits scraped at, ripped out whole. There were long sweat stains under his arms. Martia made to leave, paused at his desk.

“Mr. Sandison?” she said.

“Yeah?”

She pointed at his stomach, around the kidneys.

“The doctor left the scissors in,” she said, and smiled, little white bones shining under the light. She walked toward the door, pausing at the skeleton.

“Goodbye, Mr. Skinny,” she said. “See you tomorrow.”

Written by wholewheatwords

November 26, 2007 at 6:39 pm

Posted in prose

Candy

with one comment

Editing in line breaks for this blog is boring, so I’ve posted this story as a word file. There you go!

Candy

Written by wholewheatwords

September 4, 2007 at 4:03 pm

Posted in prose

Saving Throw

with 3 comments

“C’mon, guys, have a little mercy here,” said John.

Gary laughed and took a drag of his cigarette.

“You failed your saving throw,” he said.

Brett swung his legs back and forth over the porch banister, kicking the peeling blue wood with his heels.

“Dude, I’ve been playing Logarth since we switched to Advanced,” said John. He squinted in the sun, ran the back of his arm across his forehead, wiped his arm on the side of his shirt.

Brett smiled absently. “Acid trap mashed you good, man,” he said. “Spike pit didn’t help much, either.” The smell of warm leaves and stagnant water leaked downwards from the eavestroughs.

“Who put that pit there, anyway?” asked John.

“Wizard,” said Gary.

“That’s bullshit. Fighters aren’t supposed to just open a box and die!” Said John. “Can’t you even give me a chance at death in battle?”

“Sorry, man. We agreed, remember? No resurrection,” said Gary. Grubber sauntered up, panting; pressed his nose into Gary’s hand. Gary took another drag and scratched the retriever’s head with long fingernails.

“I seem to remember a pretty specific quote,” said Brett, looking up from his sneakers. “After I had my run-in with that Beholder. What was it, again?”

John frowned, looked away. “Second chances are for pussies,” he said.

“It’s all fun and games until a trap sprays acid in your face and you fall down a pit and die,” said Brett, smiling.

Gary pitched the butt of his smoke over the railing, onto the driveway. It bounced a bit, sprayed sparks.

“Careful where you put those things,” said John. “You’ll set the lawn on fire, man.” John started a sweeping motion aimed at the close-cut scrub of yellow grass, aborted it. Birds chatted each other up drunkenly in the heat. Grubber padded off to poop somewhere.

“You guys hungry? Want to walk downtown?” asked Gary.

“I could eat,” said Brett, chipping at a flake of paint with his thumb.

“I don’t want to fill in another character sheet right now,” said John. “Hotdogs? There’s a stand. Just opened.”

“Barrie has a hotdog stand? We are catching up with the real world,” said Brett. Dominic opened up the screen door and stepped onto the porch.

“Took you long enough,” said John. “What the hell were you doing in there, anyway?”

“You want me to take a picture next time?” said Dom.

“We’re getting hotdogs,” said Gary. He slipped a hand into his pocket. “Lemme go find my wallet.” They followed him inside, into a warm fug of stale cigarette smoke and old cooking smells, and stayed on the threshold.

Brett looked through the kitchen into the living room. Gary’s mom was asleep on the couch, the TV turned down to a mumble. The news was on, a piece on China or Korea. The camera panned slowly over a huge blackened plain, lakes of ice-bright glass; curly rebar and concrete chunks in piles like golem vomit. The sky was navy, black, grey. Bruised. Not healing well.

Gary ran back up the basement steps in twos, prying his pocket open with one hand, cramming the wallet in with the other.

“Time for some animal parts,” he said. They left.

Saturday traffic windshields shot focused beams of nauseatingly bright late-June sunlight. The heat pressurised the air, squeezing their voices flat.

“So, long live Logarth,” said Dom.

“Shut up.”

“Bravely he fought, bravely he fell. Into a hole.”

“Shut up,” said John.

“You should play a girl next,” said Brett. “We could use a cleric, or something.” They passed a beat-up van idling by the curb. Its 8-track switched loudly, ka-chunk, krrr… chunk.

“Dudes can be clerics,” said John, kicking an empty Cplus can onto the road. A car passed, its wheels missing the can by a little.

“Yeah, but who’d you rather have applying a salve to your scorched groin?” asked Dominic.

They thought on this in meditative silence, turned the corner.

The cart was silver, with a grimy red-and-yellow umbrella. “Stavropoulos” was printed in black lettering on the side. Stavropoulos fiddled with the grill and mopped the sweat off of his sunburned forehead with a tea towel.

“Hot dogs, fifty cents. What you want?” He said. They dug for quarters, farted mustard and ketchup from garishly crusted pumps.

“Kev Mason says they’re getting a new game in at Happy Man this week. From Japan, really strange spacey stuff,” said Dom, ladling relish.

“Kev Mason is a total jerk-off and he’d better give me back all of the books I lent him,” said Gary.

“What’s it called?” asked John.

“I don’t even know, I haven’t seen them for forever. Err, I Will Fear No Evil, Stranger In A Strange Land, and Vonnegut’s Slapstick, I think. That’s his newest, isn’t—”

“The game, I meant. What’s the game called?” asked John.

“Don’t remember,” said Dominic. “Invader- something. You play as a Shrike, shoot down Soviets.”

“Wanna go check it out?” asked John, looking down the street to the arcade. Grunts of assent pushed their way through bread and meat.

They made their way into the cathode twilight. It was busy and hot. The owner eyeballed them momentarily and went back to watching baseball on the portable TV behind his desk. The machines were in attract mode, and a free-jazz/musique concrete beep medley was blasting from a legion of Tournament Tables, Avalanches, Western-Guns, Breakouts, Dark Flights, and Spacewar!s, accompanied by sharp pinball percussion. Except for a few diehards slapping paddles along the walls, all the attention was focused on a single cabinet.

Space Invaders. Right,” said Dominic. “I knew ‘invader’ was in there somewhere.”

Not much was visible through the crowd of jostling shoulders. John and Dominic elbowed closer. A young kid in a striped shirt was at the controls, mashing the forward and back buttons, sweating, unfamiliar with the game. A crash of synthesized noise, and the crowd broke into short cheers or heckling. Gary lit a cigarette, inhaled.

A K-4 Shrike, rough hewn in pixels but recognizable, slid through the starless vacuum, ducking behind a set of rapidly disintegrating shields. Above it, crude Soviet craft jerked downward in regiments; four lines of MiG 278s and 444s with a line of Sukhoi Su-90HBs at the top. A strip of coloured film was pasted to the display, giving the Shrike a greenish cast. The music, or whatever it was, thudded loudly.

Some Soviet satellite, an LPlat or something—whichever one the UN had made such a big stink about—appeared at the top of the screen, whizzed left and right, sprayed missiles downwards. A missile raced through a corridor in a damaged shield, hit the Shrike on the nose, popped it like a soap bubble.

“Game Over,” said the machine in bright lettering.

Fuck!” said the kid at the controls, drumming buttons in post-death nervous spasm. He fumbled for a quarter.

“C’mon, man, let someone else have a turn!” said a voice from the crowd.

“Fuck off! I’ve only been on for like five minutes!” the kid said. He plugged a coin into the slot, tapped nervously. The heckling grew louder.

The cycle began again, the mass of Russian spaceships teleporting from nowhere, beginning their lurch to the bottom of the screen like shuttles on a loom. The Shrike lanced out with thin white missiles, tore openings through shuffling MiGs, stirred the rest up like kicked hornets. They swooped fast toward the bottom of the screen. Brett and Gary leaned against the counter, talked swords, monsters, girls, dice.

Bowie from the radio, suddenly, muddied and filthy from the ambient crash. Something from Stars…, maybe. The owner changed the channel.

“Faggy keyboard shit,” he said.

An explosion from the game; another from the kid. He moved from foot to foot, rolled his shoulders, stretched his neck. The crowd jeered, pushed closer.

On the TV, the baseball game was interrupted by some kind of news-preamble. Lloyd Robertson focused on his hands and tapped papers at his desk, adjusted his glasses. Fatherly lips flapped mutely. The owner lit a cigarette, unfolded a paper, clipped coupons with bent scissors.

GAME OVER. The action paused, a MiG in coitus with the bottom of the screen, then everything dissolved in a single-line shockwave, flashed white, flashed black. A scream of pure noise cut over the din and made everyone jump. Hands from the crowd pried the kid away from the stick.

John was a head taller than anyone else in line, maybe a year or two older. He pushed his way to the front, wedged himself between Space Invaders and a grasping hopeful.

“Lemme have a turn, man,” he said.

“Hey! Don’t butt in line!”

“Just lemme try it for five minutes. Just for five minutes,” he said, not looking away from the screen. His hands magnetised themselves to the controls, wrists bent at uncomfortable angles.

“Hey! Hey!” the kid said, and was sucked back into the crowd. Dom leaned in, both elbows on the console. The Russians rallied for another charge.

The footage on the TV was monochrome and blurry, the action unclear, the cuts and pans nauseous. The camera seemed unhinged, scanning pointlessly through blackness, white lines streaking quick in all directions like sun-trails behind eyelids. Something triangular flickered momentarily at a corner, burnt in for a second.

The shot changed; a cramped cockpit. A helmet bumped against a seat, shadows growing and shrinking in a wide circle as the light moved. Earth above the pilot’s head, moving fast, then gone.

John died, swore, began again.

A clear shot, for a moment. A fighter outlined against the Indian Ocean, fingers of shadow on the wings, recoiling from a point of light. The two intersected, exploded. Then back to Lloyd Robertson, swallowing visibly.

John died, swore, began again. The owner put down his paper.

A picture of the Hammer and Sickle, then a MiG. Lloyd removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. More footage, unedited, too fast and blurred to follow.

Then, a steady shot. Earth rotated in a slow circle around the corners of the screen, followed by a satellite. Something poked a pinprick of light into the centre of the screen, then tore the darkness violently open. The footage jerked, went grey, ended.

“Everyone out,” mouthed the owner. Brett and Gary stared at the screen. The owner’s voice rose. “Everyone out! Everyone out! We’re closed!” He flicked a switch, and the screens went dark. A sudden bomb of silence.

Complaints started out from the crowd, rising in pitch and volume. The owner pointed a finger at the television.

WAR, it said. Lloyd spoke softly.

–condition 1, and a State of Emergency has been declared. No announcement has been made from behind the Iron Curtain. The government has advised Canadians to stay indoors or at home until further information is available. All of our regular programming has been suspended, and we’ll be bringing you updates as soon–

He finished his speech and slumped in his chair before the station cut to standby.

They left, and walked back to Gary’s house in the deepening sun. There was no car in the driveway, and the doors were unlocked. Gary’s mom had gone. A cold pan of half-cooked onions was on the stove, surrounded by little points of thrown oil. The television was on, an American channel. Reagan was sweating in a choke of lights and flashbulbs. The blue curtains behind him did not move.

–a firm hand–

–cannot allow–

–are prepared, we are trained, we have–

–if not now, then inevitably in the–

Gary lit a cigarette, sat down on the couch. Brett and Dom fell into chairs. John stood, mouth open slightly.

–even now, the brave–

–limited exchange–

Grubber barked from the back door.

–all costs–

–of the shadow of death, I fear no–

–bless America.

The presenter afterward had nothing to say. He smoothed his desk out, straightened things. The footage came back, colour on the ground and from the air; marching, crawling, flying in crowds and regiments and squadrons. Black and white footage from space, abrupt and grainy and crowded, filled with flashes and sudden blanks.

“I’m going to let the dog in,” said John, walking from the room. Gary finished his cigarette, lit another.

Maps arrayed and discussed in babble, pundit eyes glassed over and staring, fumbling with teleprompted lines. Numbers rattled off without meaning, minor skirmishes.

“Shouldn’t we be in the basement or something?” asked Dom. No-one looked away from the TV.

John cracked the back door, and tried to coax Grubber inside. The dog whined, shied away from his hands. He stepped outside, into evening. The east was dark, the stars visible there.

Grubber snarled and jumped off the porch, his tail between his legs.

“C’mon, boy. C’mon back inside.” Grubber barked loudly, ran towards the end of the yard, and dipped under the fence. John saw him vignetted momentarily between two houses across the street, then he was gone. The streetlamps had turned on, buzzing against a carless void of summer silence. John sat down on the deck, flakes of blue paint scratching against his bare legs.

He looked out over the pines at the stationary stars, and waited for something– a saving throw, a Game Over.

 

Written by wholewheatwords

June 19, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Posted in prose

Tang

with one comment

So, the other day, this lady came by the bookstore. She handed me a leather package and said,

“This is the nicest shop I’ve been in all day. Do you want this typewriter? For display, I mean. It doesn’t work.”

“Er, sure,” I said, and took the package.

Someone should tell her that she doesn’t know how to use a typewriter– thing works perfectly. It’s an Olivetti-Underwood “Lettera 31,” fairly rare, and something about it makes me want to write. So, I did.

All spelling mistakes are the fault of this keyboard, which hates me and was made out of Nazi plastic or something.

———-

-This needs to be thrown out. Now.

-Dude, don’t touch that, that’s my Tang. That cost me like a buck fifty.

Frank waved a drunken, accusatory finger at me.

-The government uses this stuff to keep you happy and complacent. It’s all poison and sugar and preservatives. Do you know what preservatives are made of?

-No, Frank. What are preservatives made of.

-Ask the fucking FBI. And tell me before you do, so I have some time to write up the “missing” posters. It’s an experiment in mind control. Why else would there be a chimp on the label?

-That’s the Tangutan. He’s not a chimp. He’s a Tangutan.

-Bullshit. That’s what they want you to think. They want you to wonder about the genus of the chimp, so that they can continue to fuck with your head! He’s a diversion. Out he goes.

-Hey, don’t throw out my fucking Tang, man!

-Down the drain, said Frank, looking around. Down the drain, just like your standard of living.

Mr. Roach wandered out from under the stove slowly, stoned on Raid.

-See what I mean? Dropping out was the worst idea you ever had.

You dropped out.

-I had my reasons for dropping out. As for you, I mean come on— you thought your band was going places? With a name like The Sniveling Pukes? And anyway, I’m doing fine– you don’t see me drinking mind-control serum, do you? No sir.

-I’m glad you felt obligated to come to my house drunk at one in the morning to tell me that– thanks for breaking my door-chain, by the way.

-What are you, some kind of paranoid schizophrenic? Chain on the door, you’re like my fucking grandmother.

-And thanks for puking in my wastebasket, man. That’s really helping me cope. Was it gratis?

-I did not.

-You fucking did too, though I guess you mostly missed. My shoes are bleached. I can see fumes.

-Serves you right, fascist ape-slave, said Frank. Hey, man, now that I think of it– you wouldn’t have anything to drink in here, would you?

And that was when I hit him.

———

So, I’ve got a REAL short story to write by Tuesday, and when I’m done it, I’ll post it up. I dunno if everyone’s bored of in medias res and single-scene vignettes, but I really have to work on my structure.

Written by wholewheatwords

June 16, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Posted in prose

(Always) On The Bus

with 6 comments

I keep a folder (boringly marked “today”) of all the things that I write on the bus to and from school. It’s smaller than I thought it would be when I started it.

———-

I’m writing from the bus station again, which is pretty close to “like usual.” I’ve decided that I’ll make it a habit, writing about my day, unless this creaking bus throws a camshaft and kills me. For that, there’s my will, freshly written in my backpack. As long as there’s no fire or water or an excessive amount of blood, I think I’ll be good.

Maybe I should get a small copy in plexiglass, just in case.

There’s no “overall” for today; today wasn’t a sweeping sort of day.

I see some ticket stubs, stuck to the ground. A young smoker with heavy sideburns takes a swig of grapefruit juice.

For the first time in my entire life, my seat on the bus fits my legs. I can use the footrest– I guess this is what normal feels like.

I’ve been reading Bukowski.

I am surrounded by the beautiful, busy, and vapid.

We’re taking a detour, this bus and I. We’re passing through the Don Valley Parkway, next to what must be the most beautiful bus station in the world. I remember this from a long, long time ago. I like it. It fits. It was time for a detour.

It is time for a detour.

Now we’re in Yorkdale. I can’t get over the beauty of that station. I’d want to live there, if I were homeless. I could look up, convulsed with nostalgia or delirium tremens, see the triangle lights and the concrete pillars, and wallow in the innocence of the structure. Imagine it being built around me in the era of guiltless cigarettes, enormous moustaches, disco. The era when the city still slept.

The past is often my trope. I put too much faith in it. Things have sucked as much for ever as they have for today. We’re gliding along the highway now.

I’ve passed a lovely street. Here are its contents:
McDonalds
Tim Hortons
The Saddest Holiday Inn In The World™
Assorted Garbage
Church With Neon Cross

You could be born and die there. Some people have been, I’m sure.

I’m on a bit of a kick about seeing the world around me as if I were a child; the things this child sees make me wonder where its parents are.

Now he and I and the bus are all on the Night-time Dandelion Road, which smells of ruptured skunk.

The rest stops and gas stations look frighteningly like toys. We pass a commuter parking lot where my father and I once stopped to sleep; he had said “you can’t go to university on a bus ticket.” I guess I’m proving him wrong.

My infatuations turn to dust. They are becoming increasingly embarrassing. It’ll happen until I find the girl. The spark.

I’m writing this, I realise, to her.

That’s a good idea.

Hello, my love. The countryside is dark.

———-

Caveat: written while drunk.

You asked me earlier why I cried. I know now. I’ve known for a while.

I saw a sweetness and vulnerability that broke my heart. I realised, through you, that I was just another vulnerable shmuck in this often cruel world. I realised that, though you might never reciprocate the feelings I hold or once held for you, we were comrades. Equal in misfortune, two human beings just trying to get by.

Through a haze, I saw my childhood, as I often do. Myself fresh-faced and devoid of self-consciousness, running across the frosted summer mornings of the prairie. I remembered dreams forgotten for a decade, shapes and colours of nostalgia, sounds of significance, scenes from a distant heart.

I wondered where you were, the morning I learned to ride a bike, the days I moved to Ontario in the back of an old Jeep. I imagined you moving through a whirlwind of your own creation: the chemical smell of watermelon lip gloss, lessons learned from watching older girls. The taste of tears, the feel of pressing a hand against a hot car on a summer day hidden from expectation and parents. Lemonade, dirt roads in unexpected places, freedom and the blinding glint of glass caught in the sun. All the things you’ve seen. All the personal history.

I remember when school was far away, across a field. Books and songs, couch forts, the toys in my backyard, picking chives for supper in the cool of evening. The flowers and the time I used to spend smelling them.

Where were you when I tended the single rose in my garden? What dreams of concrete or secret fences and forbidden backyards awaited you as I made my first steps across the bridge, out of the river valley, into the conservatory? As I marveled at bones millions of years old, where were you? What did you see, and feel, and learn?

I wish I knew the past of others. Creating characters, tending their pasts, fabricating their loves, imagining their lives, cannot compare. The smallest things are revelations, confidences I am honoured to share.

As I built my mind in the libraries of 1974, as I smelled poplar on the summer wind, as I created and destroyed and lived and breathed, I know you did the same. You, too, created yourself, with ghosts and report cards and photographs.

———-

I had seen flashes of it in the peripheral vision of my mind.

At first, I couldn’t find my friends. They disappeared. They didn’t exist. That’s how it started.

I don’t know how long ago that was. It’s hard to tell.

Hot outside today. The white concrete walls of the corpse city bleed moisture. Afternoon sunlight comes in slices through the blinds. It’s very, very quiet here.

When I arrived, when I started living in this building, there were other tenants. I don’t know how many– I never saw them. I heard their footsteps as they clacked across the scuffed tile in the hall outside my door, or smelled cigarette smoke as it crept in through holes in the caulking around the windows. By the time that I rushed into the hall or to the window to see them, they’d be gone.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I’d wake up and it’d be bright outside, the sun high in the sky. I’d hear snatches of muted conversation. I’d want to stay awake, to look outside, but when the thought entered my mind, I’d become aware of a buzzing noise. Then I’d fall asleep.

———-

I think my bus driver is going crazy. He’s dancing around in his seat, throwing his arms out like a member of a rapper’s entourage. People are asking him to stop it and concentrate on his driving.

I think he’s also singing.

———-

The morning was ensconced in a metal tube which juddered and shook as it crawled across the half-melted land. He passed into the sickness of the city under a layer of low clouds quick with smog and the back of his throat tasted of aluminum and gasoline.

———-

I’d never been more tired than I was then.

“Just a little further,” it said. I’m going to call it Cabbage Roll. That’s what it reminded me of. I didn’t have the energy to reply.

The rough asphalt tore at my socks and the rain fell equally on all things.

Cabbage Roll adjusted its scarf, working out a knot that it had made through nervous fiddling. It padded across the parking lot on tiny feet, always a few steps ahead.

“You’re a good person,” it said, bobbing its head emphatically. “I’m glad it was you and not somebody else.” It looked back over its shoulder, brushing a few wet leaves out of its face. I limped onward.

The streetlights reflected dimly upon the windows of the bus station. Nothing stirred. I pushed the door open, entered cautiously.

“You know this place, right?” asked Cabbage Roll.

“I’ve… passed it.” Don’t faint.

“You know what it’s called? What we call it, I mean?” There was special emphasis on the word “we.” I was not part of “we.” Cabbage Roll unslung the yellow plastic No Frills bag from its shoulder, took out a cucumber slice, examined it.

“No.” Don’t faint.

“A Garden of Nobody,” it said, and popped the cucumber slice into its beak.

“Oh.”

Cabbage Roll started to explore the station, mincing around quickly, examining the trashcans and newspapers and ticket stubs. Every few seconds it would stop and press down on the tiles with a foot, testing something. My legs gave in a fluid motion, and I lowered myself to my hands and knees.

“Sorry about this,” it said. “Has to be done.”

“S’fine.” Don’t faint.

“I wish we could solve this ourselves,” it said. It kicked at the litter, clearing a small circle around us. “But I don’t think that’s possible now.”

“Sorry.”

“Oh, no! It’s not your fault. At least, not directly,” it said, kicking tabloids. Finally, the circle seemed to be satisfactory. “Okay. I have to go.”

“Huh?”

“Garden of Nobody,” it said, nervously, adjusted its scarf again. “Nobody around but you, right?”

“Oh.”

Cabbage Roll reached into the plastic bag and pulled out a knife in a brown leather sheath. It placed the knife on the ground, between my hands.

“Okay, this part is important,” said Cabbage Roll, and swallowed hard. “Anyone says they work for the Hotel and that they’d like to talk to you about a job, you take this and fucking stab them in the eyes. I’m not kidding. I don’t care what they look like. Just do it. Then run. Please.”

It looked around the abandoned bus station nervously.

“See you soon. Good luck,” it said, then saluted. It struggled with the door behind me, and left. The bus station was quiet.

I fainted.

———-

And that’s that.

Written by wholewheatwords

April 2, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Posted in prose

Swear Words

with 5 comments

This was ten minutes, coffee, and the desire to start and end a little story with the word “fuck.” You’ve noticed that I like to swear? I used to tell other kids on the schoolyard to wash out their mouths with soap. Oh yes. I was that kid.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

fuck no i didn’t
mean to do it when i put it up
i just put it up you don’t fuckin think
about shit down the line
when you paste you
just fuckin do it
don’t think anything
i don’t think anything
i’m like a fuckin samurai
just me and wheatpaste and paper
and concrete and some time and cops pressing
on the back of my mind like a fuckin pressure
wall some guys get off on that
they think it’s a fuckin
thrill to be chased and put down and
to live dangerously but i don’t think i don’t think
i don’t think about it when i’m there and when
they all started dancing and
singing and marching
in the fuckin streets i didn’t think i just
kept going pasting it on every wall and phone pole and
dodging cops and running
away
through trash streets and neon crosses the bass
through everything in my ears like lights on the bottom of
the ocean it’s fuckin beautiful
on dark nights when the steam rises off the ground you
can get a lot of work done
on nights like that and when
everything collapsed and all the statues got torn
down and the rioting was bad i just kept pasting
pasting pasting and then after
the colonel stepped down after the shootings
after the americans stepped in i was still pasting
and they talked about it in the newspapers they
called it art art they said it was revolutionary art

bullshit.

motherfuckers.

Written by wholewheatwords

February 21, 2007 at 2:01 am

Posted in prose