Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In the Gadda Da Vida

Father Pierce sat back in the easy chair with the lack of difficulty usually associated with the name. A long Palm Sunday, and now that the aisles had been swept clear of the goddamn palm leaves, he had the whole damn building to himself. At his left side, a basket full of milk chocolate reserved for the Sunday school cherubs, which he groped pornographically, regularly shovelling bite-sized peeps of the purest cacao into his mouth, periodic ejaculations of molten chocolate erupting from every side of his mouth. At his right side, a good ounce-sized baggie of a particularly sought-after herb that wasn’t the common constituent of any good spice cupboard. The things that came out at confession! The guilt, the sorrow, the wriggling pleasure of spiritual exhibitionism! Lord, the shit was good.

“Lord,” he said, choking ever so slightly on grey vapours, attempting vainly to keep it in his lungs, “the shit is good.” On the seventh day, the Good Lord lit up one, and the shit was great. “Pfff-ucking-A.” he giggled, burping out a blue-white pillar.

The father’s lap held something more delightfully squeal-eliciting. A laptop and microphone, the laptop and the microphone, the bastion and periodic recipient of all the tearfully blurted-out sins and confessions of the past while, sat carefully just over his holiness’ groinal tenders. Thank Christ he’d manage to encourage his flock to loudly end off their admonitions with a good old “Lord hear my contrition”. Not only would He be able to finally turn down His hearing aid and get the goods on Mrs. O’Flaherty’s filthy fling of a Valentine’s Day picnic with Mr. Cassen and his lovely wife Judith so that the lot of them could get the Lord’s blessings as they went forth to sin some more-- but it also was a good signal for the good father to wake his weary head from rest, Amen.

The sauciest material (he had an iTunes library full of favourites, fun for the whole fan-damily) was carefully ferreted away from the prying eyes and ears of those gossips in habits, those penguins with their tight morals but loose lips, the nuns. Sister Serene, for one, kept a regular wiretap on all comings and goings in the church, usually looking to gloat over the pubescent boys’ notes that described in tumescent detail the structural perfection that was Sister S’s habit-forming bosom.

“Pride before the fall, Serene,” he muttered, pursing his lips for another toke, “pride before the fall.” Father Pierce looked up at the stained glass, and the wholly hellish expression that was his Christliness up on the sticks. “Cheers!” shouted Pierce, rocking back and forth in his robes, liberally belching out smoke now, “The father, th’son, and the holy toasted.”


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Loop de loop.

Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit.
I step out of the tube, the mist curling around my toes. Damn. Trying to remember just what happened. Brain fart, or something. Actually, 'something' is more likely. I feel like I just was on the verge of something miraculous. Intellectual-gasm. Yeah, that's it.
"Ach! Fuck!" The mist turns out to be the dry ice, which was probably bought just for dramatic effect. Maybe some machine calibrations or something--- Yes! Calibrations! Machines! Nonono- Machine, singular. Yeah, that's it. Damn it, what did I do?
I look over at the familiar blackboard, covered in the graffiti of un-familiar equations. Did I write these? It looks like my writing. It's also covered with eraser dust. Hmm-- corrections need to be made?
On instinct, my mental calculator kicks in. Carry the two, divide here-- And it doesn't give me the right answer as was on the board. I pick up the eraser, almost on instinct. Probably just choosing the wrong quadratic value. Yeah, that's it. There's only two choices, anyways. I substitute for the second value--
Well, that looks right, at least. Huh.
I step back, scratching at my chin for inspiration, memory. I could use a coffee-- Huh. My wristwatch bumps intrusively against my face. 11:52. I look over at the caesium atomic clock: 11:40. What?
What what? Impossible. My watch is set to that clock, always. I turn over to what I only now recognize as my workbench. There must be a problem with the watch. Well, even if there isn't, it's easier to fix than a damn atomic clock.
A few minutes with my jeweller's screwdriver, and the whole watch is disassembled in front of me. Hmm. Everything looks in order. Like clockwork, right? Strange. Maybe it's--Oh. There's a spare battery right here. Convenient, heh.
I set the time to that of the atomic clock, which now reads 11:49. Synchronized! To the second, probably.
But what was I doing? Urgh, mental block. I turn my back to the workbench, looking at the complicated machinery by the blackboard. Doodads and whatchamacallits that seem to ooze power cables from every conceivable outlet. And in the center, one single egg-like pod. Heh. It almost looks like that teleporter machine from The Fly---
Wait, what?
I step towards the thing, minding the twisted electrical tentacles- Did I make what I think I did?
Well, only one way to find out.
Keypad on the side, something pried off of a microwave door.
It dawns on me.
I punch 11:40 into the pad, and step into the pod. The door hisses closed. Misty dry ice surrounds me.
"Oh, my god-- I think I've made a time----"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No Rum, Please

The Stewardess, still patient, leans over her semi-sleeping passenger. Asleep enough not to notice the low cut of her uniform, certainly.
"Did you want something to drink, sir?"
She's noticed the drink tickets stacked neatly on the fold-down tray. He mumbles himself awake, pulling the sleep from his eyes.
"Rum, straight." he says, on instinct. "No- fuck- sorry. Not rum."
"I do make a very good mojito." She says, attempting to be helpful. "The mint is still fresh."
"That's still a rum drink-- shit, yes please, rum." He ruffles his hair absently. "Sorry."
She doesn't even bother to wink. With an ass like hers, there's not at all a razor's edge to walk in keeping the customers satisfied-- nobody's complained yet, nobody. And since nobody's working for tippable service...

The mint is not fresh, and the lime juice tastes distinctly soda-like in its quality, and all he can taste is shitty thoughts that rum brings thoughts--

Always drinking, but never drunk, toes making grooves in powder-white sand made blue as curacao in the moonlight. Thoughts of her- always on his mind, and never off it. Peals of laughter that erupt as naked in their pleasure as those intwined bodies making them. Looking at her, seeing white crescents of teeth on black velvet, plump breasts coated in sand and sweat, legs that clench so easily around the small of his back. An embossed bottle- 'Republica De Cuba, Directo Desde el Barril', not wasted.
She crushes a sprig between bare lips, and trickles the spirit downwards. They embrace. They laugh. Fools with everything they need.

The wave of rum washes over it all, and he's thankful he can smile at the memories. Good memories, the best. He signals for another...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The quality's grainy enough, and you can barely make sense of who's speaking and who's just there to get a word in edgewise after thoroughly condemning whatever's just been proven wrong; typical is the appeal to emotion that sends ripples through the audience of housewives who've nothing better to watch.
The Auteur sits comfortably in a leather chair across from some faggot with a suit so tight that you'd swear it was a second skin. Interviewer, we'd call him. The kind of man who uses the word 'jejune' at least twice a day, and still comes no closer to knowing what it actually means. The Auteur, on the other hand, has sandalled feet up on the glass table, with unclipped toenails hanging like yellowed scimitars over the soft rubber. He scratches his crotch through the blue jeans and complacently states: "Yes, I'd love to respond to my critics who think my work is derivative. Of course it is, shitwits [this latter word is bleeped half-way through the first syllable; gasps from the audience, who are now fully distracted from folding their laundry]. My publication is the complete realization that art is simply the masturbation of culture. I've written a piece that will be forever remembered as literary smegma- you can say it's bothersome and it stinks, but fuck [this too is belatedly bleeped], it's fun as all hell to make excuses about 'washing it off'. What's produced? Again: Art."
Interviewer leans forward in his chair, and unlike the Auteur, you can almost make out his face from the grainy picture quality. He sniffs daintily at the crass mouthings of his guest, and picks an invisible hair from his suit.
"How very post-modern." he sneers. The Auteur un-ironically lights a bedraggled-looking cigarette with a disposable lighter, and is met with a visible face-wrinkling from the Interviewer. Plumes of smoke waft around the studio, and the Auteur's features are further masked (not that you'd be able to get much from his appearance apart from his gender).
"Post-post-modern." jokes the Auteur, flicking ash. "It's a turn-around on all those dumbasses who think that art is whatever crap [unbleeped, surprisingly] you can jam into a square foot of canvas. Art is meant to be not just an idea that falls into your lap when you're getting high on the paint fumes- it's meant to convey something sublimely infectious about it: provocative imagery, emotion, experience. We didn't get real art by putting sunglasses on the Michaelangelo's David. We got it from appreciating some more exquisite level of beauty: the human form, the perfect aesthetics of a so-called 'divine' sculptor with Michaelangelo as his proxy, even some of us just enjoy the piece because poor Davy-Boy is pathetically endowed."
The interviewer shifts in his chair, uncomfortable both by the direction the conversation is going in, and by the constant outpouring of nicotine cloud.
The Auteur begins jabbing motions with his cigarette for punctuation. "And so, I've created the ultimate in viralcy: the art that isn't merely personalized in its impact, but rather that it is self-adjusting, self-replicating, and extensively designed towards creating exactly that level of appreciation from each and every person. It's Rick Astley meets Escher meets Turing meets Van Gogh."
"Well-- We've certainly seen something here today, ladies and gentlemen." The Interviewer turns to the camera, unsubtly mouthing 'cut the feed'.
The rest is unwatchable.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wrong again

She held the gun in her hand, polished to a mirror sheen. The man, of course, could stare at nothing else but the reflection of his teeth and nostrils all along the barrel. It poked at his tonsils, making him gag and choke- a poor choice, even on reflex. Tears and snot streamed down his face, muddying the cold metal.
"Eat it, you fucking monster. Choke it down and burn in hell." She felt she was crying too. Only her upper lip trembled. She pulled the trigger.
Her head shot up from the pillow, shouting hoarsely. Allan came running into the room, bathrobe and slippers.
"Brenda! Are you alright?"
He knelt down onto the bed beside her, and she melted into his arms, bursting into tears.
"Oh Allan, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I got you into all of this."
He held her tightly, desperately feeling her warmth. "It's okay. It's going to be okay."
"We did the right thing, didn't we?" She asked, turning up to look at him. He didn't respond. Another burst of tears. "I'm so sorry, God."
Allan rose, helping her into a sitting position. "Brenda, I--"
"I really got you in deep, didn't I? You're a true friend, Allan." She tried to smile, but her face sagged all at once. "Oh, Christ. Oh God."
"You collapsed just outside the warehouse, Brenda. I left him there. But his effects--"
"Things? You mean it's still--" her eyes popped open again. Not Allan's apartment. Hers. Not Allan's bed. Hers. Not her leather jacket lying on the end of the bed. Not Allan's, either. She withdrew her feet underneath the sheets, moaning, "Oh, goddammit, get that monster's things away from me."
"That's what I'm trying to say, Brenda. I went through them. We... we got the wrong one."
"What?! No! That was him! That was the man that killed my son! That fucking monster, that bastard!"
Allan pulled a white envelope from his bathrobe pocket, mournful eyes apparent even through the thick glasses. "It's a credit card statement for that night. He was over 250 miles away, Brenda. In a hotel, paying for escort services."
"It... no..." she said, meekly. "It fit. You said it yourself. When the police gave up, and you offered to help, you found the pieces that fit. You did. You."
"We did, Brenda. And we were wrong."
"No, no, no, no..." She fell forward, clutching her temples. "Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa! Three boys, all the same age, all with single mothers. We got him before there could be a fifth. It has to be him."
"We didn't check the evidence over again."
"WE TRIPLE-CHECKED IT!" She roared, smacking the glass of water from the bedside table.
"Brenda, please." He handed her the paper. "There's something else. I made some calls while you were sleeping. I did some searching. Ajax and Whitby both killed themselves. Oshawa's serving a first-degree murder charge."
"They... they may have made the same mistake we did. In fact, I'm positive they did." He burbled, pushing his thick spectacles up his slippery nose. There was silence for unbearable minutes before Brenda spoke again.
"It's not possible."
"Brenda- look at the statements. It's airt--"
He looked helplessly down at her.
"I'm sorry, Allan. I need some rest. I'm so tired."
Allan fidgeted for a moment. "I still have my Halcion in the drawer to your right. It should help."
"Yes," she nodded, "Halcion will help."
"I'll sleep on the couch, then." He said, and headed for the bedroom door.
"Allan?" She called. He stopped, hand on the doorknob.
"Yes, Brenda?"
"Thank-you. Whatever happens, thank-you. I know we did the right thing. I know it was him."
Allan looked over. She looked like a pale gelatin mould of herself, with dark and streaky eyes where the tears had run out the mascara. He sighed, and shook his head. It wasn't. It just wasn't.

He came in again in the morning, wordlessly sitting down at the end of the bed. Brenda's hand was still firmly wrapped around the now-empty pill bottle. She wasn't breathing. She wasn't even warm. Of course, she hadn't checked the label to see the prescription wasn't in Allan's name. She hadn't even bothered to look at the statement to see that it wasn't the man's name on the visa statement. Allan pulled on his coat, leaving the dead man's at the end of the bed. He walked out into the apartment he'd spent all night cleaning. The train ticket to Brampton nudged him from inside his breast pocket, along with the stubs for Whitby and Oshawa. "Nobody ever checks," he muttered.
Walking down the street, he began to whistle.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chipped paint is all

Not even a cigarette hangs from his lips; it's a mere column of ash that sags impotently, slowly collapsing into his lap. He stared on oblivious to his environment, but it could hardly be said he'd be at all keen to dismiss it. Keen-ness, after all, implies some willed effort.
Back when his vocal cords made some movement in his throat, he had already sunk into reproduction of his newly-discovered (but entirely familiar) mantra.
There was regret, and remorse, but in both a recognition of the forces of external events that inevitably led to them. "I'm sorry I didn't" was well indistinguishable from "I'm sorry I couldn't". Whatever it was, it had left countless marks on his form. Deep canals of strain covered every inch of his skin, giving him the appearance of a man many times his true age. Skin clung nervously to every available bone, as if fearing it would be next. Dry organs rustled inside him with every movement he made, each motion a strong gale on autumn branches; less could be said of the trunk itself. He felt like a giant cataract, a cirrhotic liver, a congested heart, and like every joint that could still bend had long since worn through the bone.
Was he still breathing? Still drawing breath, or was it the collective escape attempts of what little remained inside of him? He couldn't tell.
You could shatter him, if you tried. Blow him over with a stiff wind. Break him into a million pieces with whatever push you gave. When reduced to a single word, what can a man do but be damned?
He closed his eyes with the sudden revelation of appraisal. Thin fingers moved to pluck the naked filter from his mouth. A reedy throat bobbed as he downed his wine. Cheekbones, for the first time in a while, had tugged skin dragged over them: a smile. Damn good smile.
Oh, he was a brittle man- there was no denying.
But still not broken.
He pulled himself from the ground, and walked into the sun that dappled the green around him.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More of the same

Disembarking meets with the stewardess meting out the usual- "Thanks for flying with us. See you soon!", noticeably absent when the lanky bastard stumbles down the aisle with a pair of carry-ons slung haphazardly over his shoulder. But maybe he's just paranoid and she dispenses cheerful platitudes to every other passenger only. In either case, nobody's sad to see anyone go, and he gives her his best impression of a natural smile before turning and rapping his head on the portside cabin door. Nobody help comes beyond the obvious- "Ouch, that must have hurt."
Out in the terminal, he stands dumbly before the glass wall separating him from a milling crowd of sharp-suited aero-commuters, visiting families coated in grabbing and mewling children, alongside the middle-aged singles with their Hawaiian shirts and sandals. Small crowds gather around the stands for their shot at some discount perfume, or last-minute Canadian memorabilia: moose dolls, ice wines, and maple syrup, alongside CN Tower snowglobes, decorative Inuit (or is it Eskimo?) inukshuks assuring they've been hand-crafted by sled teams in the Northern provinces or something.
He presses his face against the glass, comforted by its cold, its firmness, and by the separation it provides from himself and those who have yet to come to terms with their own general disaffectation. He breathes out, and a gentle fog covers his view of the crowd. A small child on the other side stares with wide eyes before bursting out into laughter and pointing. The child's mother boredly responds by pulling the kid towards their gate.
A sigh. He feels things collapse inside of him for the uncounted time that day, and moves along with the slow river of travellers to customs.
Still, there's chance for a brief refresher. Hanging a right and breaking from the crowd, he pulls into the well-lit bathroom. After looking in the mirror, it becomes clear that the whole place is in fact too well-lit.
"It's over when you look like your passport photo," he murmurs, "and when you look worse, well, fuck." Ice-cold water to the face, and brief deoderant is applied to the problem areas of smell. He pulls at his shirttails, attempting to smooth out the stress wrinkles in the fabric. His hair is finger-flattened into a more presentable mess. He cracks a wan smile, "Presentable hobos always fly Oceanic Airlines". His reflection gives him a wink and a thumbs-up. It could be worse. Picking up his luggage, he mutters, "Who the hell still calls them 'hobos', anyway".
Too late in the line for bilingual travellers, he realizes he's long forgotten whatever French he had, and pulls himself into another 10-minute customs line. With a flash, one very important expression returns to him- "Et merde."
The customs officer is young, pretty, and remarkably soft-featured for a woman of her workline. She raises an eyebrow at his appearance, but it's clear that she's more entertained than anything else.
"When you look like your passport photo," he starts, trying for humor--
"Yup, I've heard that one a million times today, and I can honestly say seen it twice as often." She looks down at his passport. "Ah, don't worry, you've still got some wiggle room, I think."
"These things on my face? Yeah, they're more wrinkles than wiggles."
She laughs, though doesn't look up from the passport. "Curse of the twenty-somethings."
"Anything to declare? Any drugs, alcohol, tobacco, firearms...?"
"Nada. I've got some items I bought back over there, but they're not controlled, and are well below the purchase limit." Mostly, anyways.
"You were in St. Lucia , Mr. Donnelly?" She asks, using the French pronounciation of 'Saint'. Her accentless English betrays no real hint of maternal language, but she isn't in the Bilingual customs box, so...
"Yes, for five years."
"Hell of a vacation?"
He decides on honesty, probably the best policy for getting back into the country, "Medical school, actually."
"Well!" She sounds impressed, and smiles at him. "Welcome back to Canada, doctor."
"I--" dropped out, he thinks, but the impetus for honesty fails him. "Thanks. Wish me luck on the boards."
She brings her full face to bear on him, and he's suddenly struck by how beautiful she is. Brown eyes, and short-but-stylish black hair top a freckled nose and lips that seem to default to a side-smile. "Best of luck, Jason". That kind of warmth would be seldom seen, much less expected from a security-type in a black flak jacket. Thankfully, his obvious arousal was unnoticeable from her seat. He did his best to hide the just-as-overt ache. Jason now is entirely occupied with the thoughts of just what was under the protective vest she has on.
"Thank-youuuu," he replies, looking at her name tag, going through with humorously stiff formality, "Officer L Shaver."
She tilts her head in deference. "Take the signed declaration slip to the officer on your right. Next!"
He moves on, and is at the luggage carousel before his mind clicks: L. Shaver? Laurie? No, it couldn't be. It probably wasn't anyways. A coincidence, maybe, but the age still fit. Funny.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And Back Again

The final descent comes with his head and weary eyes held in the hand that doesn't nurse the dwindling drink in its glass. Rubbing his temples, wiping his nose, he leans against the little plastic window to see what he dreaded-
Toronto. Home again, home again, and not for the best.
Table tray going up, the stewardess looks impatiently at the shoddy excuse for a mojito he clutches like a favoured child. No fresh mint on-board, and the lime juice is stale, but the rum still burns clean through the distaste.
"Almost done." He says in a feigned smile, which is returned with visible irritation. He doesn't want to have to chug it back, but it's certainly coming to that. This was his last drink ticket, and almost the last of the currency left in a wallet thinning faster than his hair. She marches off in a huff, reminding other passengers to secure their seatbelts and secure their luggage. He almost wants to peer out luridly into the isle to watch those stocking'ed high heels smoke down the length of the cabin, but he's too damn exhausted.
Without strength or will, he collapses again back into his seat, possessing only balance enough to keep the drink from spilling on a rumpled shirt. Hell of a thing to explain to customs, passport or not. As if being the only passenger on a red-eye flight to fit the flight's description. Shit, too many drink tickets and not enough altitude to keep the drunk out.
And now, back to the city that spawned him. Up-river, up-stream, and down the throat of the waiting bear. It'd be all too much to handle.
Well, it was.
His fingers tremble at still lips, wishing for a cigarette even after realizing he never smoked before. There had been cigars, back in the time before. Cigars, rum, and sunshine. Now, it would be LCBOs and pretend-spring with sleet on the side. He hadn't even gotten a tan to remember the place with.
Toronto, Toronto. Goddammit.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A strange diet..

Ash wakes up with a grimace and a cough. She winces even in the feeblest rays of sun. Her hand goes to cover her eyes while the other fishes blindly for the packet of Belmonts. Fingers probe out the sleep dust, the remains of a multi-course dinner of bourbon and codeine, piercing the sockets. The sudden image of prodding a fork into an electrical socket becomes the apt comparison. Sparks fly in her mind, tinfoil in the microwave.
The kind of hangover that would cause any lesser person to wake up screaming, followed by screaming at the sound of screaming, and so forth. She clenches her teeth and scowls. Cigarette face on, she plants one between yielding jaws, and is half-way through sucking back before she realizes it hasn't been lit.
Tattoos on her forearm are mixed around enough that you might miss the lettering entirely- 'You're damn straight it is', reads her left; 'Deadline', reads her right. Her silver lighter reads 'Bitch'. These are the things that put her morning in perspective: Facts, function, and fuckin'-A attitude. She smiles whenever she has her little trinity.
The hair is gone again, victim of charity. A non-cigarette-duty hand brushes over the stubbly memory. It's a nice feeling, sign of the new cycle.
Same as the old cycle. Ash pulls her laptop up onto her stomach and whips up the screen.
The editor's paunchy emails dot her inbox. Ash's right arm flares up, 'Deadline'. Of course it would be this morning. Fuck. Irritation mixes with a sudden burst of hangover, and she almost bites clean through the filter. Cold coffee is gargled as an afterthought, shotgunned in pursuit of a caffeine rush to keep the pain at bay. The butt is tossed into the empty mug, and the Bitch lighter sparks the morning's second course of exhaust. Tasty, but not enough...
Her writing cap is slipped over her brow. Classic brown fedora, inexplicably spotless after years of ravenous nicotine abuse. She flexes her typing tendons, clearly in her element, Queen Bitch of the Broadcast. 6000 words need to be put together, and she's been given a cap as to the frequency use of the word 'fuck' and its derivatives. Narrative pulls at her fingertips impatiently, urging them to produce. Ash grins as she yields to it. Bourbon, codeine, nicotine, caffeine-- journalism. Dessert.
"You're damn straight it is. Goddamn straight."