concepts for a buntiful world
Tuesday, October 21
Why does my heart feel so bad
As the pan piped muzak drifted through my head, bringing images of braveheartian hillsides and dew soaked scottish glens I let my mind wander. It didn't wander far, tugged sharply back by the voice, "you have reached Uri Naor. I'm not here at the moment. Please leave a message after the tone." A final screech of pan pipes signalled the tone. I popped the button to disconnect me.
I slung the phone handpiece back into its cradle and mooched back to the bar. It was an old bar, with a low roof and a collection of tankards behind the bar. The bartop was suitably mutilated thick wood and the timber in the roof bore the solidity of age with more aplomb than the modern stick-on-beams pubs purchased by the metre these days. It was dark, because of the small mullioned windows, and smoky, because of me primarily. I lit another cigarette and pushed my empty wine glass at the barman. He creaked his way off the stool at the other end of the bar and, abandoning his paper with a rueful glance, obtained the white wine from the fridge cabinet and refilled my glass. He waved away my proffered note and grunted. "Pay when you finish the bottle" I smiled ruefully and tucked the note back inside my bra. I flicked out another cigarette, at which the barman wrinkled his nose. Smoking was increasingly frowned upon these days. I pulled the flame from my lighter into the end of the cigarette and felt the first slick of smoke hit my tongue. I inhaled deeply, feeling each smudge of smoke hit my lungs, and held it for a moment, enjoying the feel of the nicotine entering my bloodstream. I was in a bar for crying out loud. It was an old bar as well, designed to be loud and smoky. Anyone entering from the street positively expected to get hit in the face by a waft of second hand smoke and beery odours, anything else would be a disappointment equal to that which hit me this morning when I opened the door and saw that what had been a veritable den of vice and insalubriety last time I had been here had turned into some Ye Olde Gastro-Pubbe. I thought that gastro-pub sounded kind of like Delhi-belly in terms of its desirability. The matted carpet had been replaced by lino and the tables and stools, once so useful in bar fights, had been replaced with pool tables and fixed plastic chairs. Pretty much all that had remained the same was the shell of the building itself, which I imagine was listed, and the food, which was still crap. It was, to its credit as a gastro-pub, more hideously overpriced than it had been before, but it was still as bad as it had been when "dirty" Maurice had been the cook.
"Dirty" Maurice had scorned the title of Chef, claiming proudly that Chefs had training and that he had never been trained except by the army. I had come to the conclusion that the army had primarily trained him in cooking boil in the bag meals, that and killing people. Even a cheese sandwhich made by Maurice looked grubby, and his white sauce was named after the initial state of its ingredients. His battered Mars bar however was the stuff of legend, as was his trifle, which consisted of a bottle of sherry and a strawberry. I had introduced him to his second wife, which at the time was something he liked me for. Then she had taken the contents of his bank account, his son and his car and gone to Germany. He followed, and finally caught up with her pimping his son to middle-aged german businessmen. He is due out in twelve years. She should get out of hospital within a month or so, although they say she won't ever walk, speak or indeed leave her dialysis machine again.
I looked down at my drink. The wine was bad, although the white was better than the red. I had started on that and had to insist that the barman switch it for white. I had now been here for five hours and forty five minutes. I had arrived at midday on the button and since then had smoked nineteen cigarettes, drank two and a half bottles of wine, and spoken about seven words to the obnoxious student type who was minding the bar. I had forgotten to bring anything to read, and since the choice within the bar was either the menu or the paper which the youth had been reading since I had arrived I was unlikely to get anything to read very soon. I was perhaps going to have to leave to purchase some more cigarettes and could then supply myself with a paper of some sort, but; I reminded myself, I could then miss my date.
I smirked quietly to myself at the thought. I'm sure that Gerald would cringe at the thought of him being descibed as my date. He has a hatred for phrases that cheapen the ersatz but deeply held beliefs he holds about the romanticism of our relationship. He also hates Tony Blair, me smoking, gin, supermarkets, queuing and National Express coaches. He likes beer, football and having guacamole rubbed into his balls before sex. I dislike beer, football and guacamole in general. I have been known to eat guacamole but only in the most polite of society and only so as not to cause offence. I hasten to add that I have only ever eaten it off plates and with bread rolls.
Gerald is my lover. We despise each other and yet we still meet sporadically and fuck. He is two years younger than me and teaches english to deprived immigrants in South London. I am thirty eight and I am rich enough not to have to work. The money is from insurance. My husband is dead you see. I have dark brown hair, no signs of grey. I have no children. I drive a Lexus 8-20 and I drive it fast. I hate London traffic and collect at least one ticket every time I visit London for either parking or speeding. I have a thirty-a-day cigarette habit and drink far too much wine. I prefer red wine but often drink white because the cheap stuff is usually better. This stuff tastes like paint stripper.
I live in Worcester, in a large house in the middle of the countryside. I wrote articles for magazines and newspapers and occasionally did spells of Samaritan style phone work from home to salve my conscience. I was treading water, waiting for menopause. The house was really to big for me on my own. I had a woman who came in once a week to do some hoovering and ironing but I had locked up many of the old rooms and lived between the kitchen, the bedroom and my study. I had everything I needed, except perhaps for human contact, and my books and the occasional phone time I did sufficed. I enjoyed being able to walk along muddy country roads in wellies and sit in fields and smoke alone. I wasn't fond of people, that was really why I kept the house.
I stared along the bar. The student stared back at me. He had finished his paper and put it in the bin. I would have asked to borrow it but he had immediately followed it with slopping wet steaming coffee grounds. I ground my last cigarette out in the ashtray in front of me and finished my wine. Why was Gerard late? I stood up, going to get more cancer and a paper. Little shit. I was worried about Gerard. I may not have liked the guy but his death or disappearance would put a hole in my life where I didn't need one at present. Shit. I brushed out of the bar quickly, there was a tobacconist just up the street so I wouldn't be long.
It was raining outside, it had been starting as I arrived and had not stopped since. The puddles were full and the gutters were already swirling the dark water down into various drains and gashes in the side of the pavement. I fished in my bag for the umbrella I carried and poked the button that automatically erected it. I was not prepared to get wet tights simply for the sake of speed. The tobacconists was about a dozen yards up the road, its windows pasted with advertisements for cheap phone calls and new energy drinks. "Twenty Marlboro and Ten Consulate. And this." I pushed a copy of the Independant across the counter. The bored woman behind the counter looked at me for a second and took my money. I slipped the cigarettes into my bag and the paper inside my coat and left the little shop. A bell pinged jauntily as I hauled the door open. It must drive whoever is behind the counter absolutely insane. I retraced my wet steps, ramming the bar door with my shoulder as I pulled and twisted the umbrella back into its small package. The bar was still empty except for the student.
"I might as well finish that bottle." Tearing the cellophane off both packets of cigarettes. I smoke a mixture, menthol to calm my throat after too many, marlboro for the nicotine. I reloaded my cigarette case. It had been a gift from my kate husband the day before he got on the plane to New York. Cocksucker had been found in the rubble of the WTC with his trousers round his ankles and a naked woman dead beside him. He had been fucking in the toilets, or in the fucking toilets, depending how you look at it.
I couldn't blame him. He hadn't touched me since the day my life went to shit. I knew he fucked around and I didn't care. It was good of him to stay with me. It did upset me to actually have it shoved in my face along with the fact of his death, but that was how life worked for me. If there was anyone up there they had a twisted sense of humour and a vindictive touch. I had been kicked in the teeth several times and was hoping that karma wise, now was my chance to shine.
So far, it wasn't looking up. Ever since my doctor had come out into the waiting room with that sad-but-brave look on his face and begun rambling on about CD4 cells I had known that my life was on the way down. I had left my once friendly family clinic on that day, the seventeenth of February nineteen ninety-nine and gone to the supermarket. There I had bought a case of vodka and a dozen boxes of painkillers. I still wonder what the checkout guy must have thought. Looking at my puffy eyes and streaked mascara and cheerfully serving up suicide with a smile. He even asked if I wanted somone to help carry the vodka to the car. I declined and struggled through on my own. I had driven to the middle of Dartmoor, to the end of a road, and then carried on going until the car stopped moving forward. I had sat in my car, with water creeping in through the doors and smoked cigarette after cigarette while drinking vodka. I had ripped open the packets of painkillers and created a small snowdrift of little white pills. Two hundred and eighty eight. It was only after three full litres of vodka and about a hundred and fifty of the pills that I realised I had managed to purchase antacid pills instead of painkillers. I finished them off anyway in the hope that they would still react badly with the vodka and finish me off.
People have no idea how difficult it is to eat that many pills, especially if you don't want to chew them. It is no use copying what they do in the movies and throwing handfuls of them into your mouth, then just chowing down. that will just get them stuck in your throat. The only way is to eat one or two at a time and persist. I must have got quite a few caught in my shirt as I missed my mouth but i ate most of them. Unfortunately all they did was give me wind. I kept smoking and drinking the vodka, hoping that I might accidentally set myself on fire. I didn't have the courage to deliberately do it. So I sat there, getting drunker and drunker and finally finishing my cigarettes by which time I was far gone enough to think that I could walk to somewhere I might be able to buy some more. I opened the door and fell face forward into the swamp. Luckily I wasn't far enough out of the car to submerge my face. It was in that posture that I fell asleep, and in that posture that a group of sixth form hill walkers found me, drunk and farting like a racehorse, face down and hanging half out of a partially submerged lexus.
I owe them not only my life but also my dignity. They called for an ambulance and allowed the paramedics to believe that I had been within the car and did not mention my wind. (I had died down by then) I had promised them the remains of the case of vodka, which they quickly stowed inside their voluminous rucksacks, grins written over their faces at the thought of the night ahead. I know none of their names and not even which school they hailed from. It was not information that I wanted. I kept the Lexus, after it had been dragged from the swamp and heeded the paramedics advice not to over indulge in antacid tablets again. The car I only really kept to remind me that suicide is ultimately embarrassing for all involved. I found out later that my husband had not recieved the message I had left on his mobile, mine having no reception in the middle of Dartmoor. For this I was profoundly thankful as it allowed me to sit him down and talk to him properly. I aborted the child I was carrying at the time, which had not, it seemed, been damaged by my escapade in the swamp.
The episode remains lodged in my memory like a nasty taste that creeps up the back of your throat into the back of your nose and permeates everything that follows it. My husband sent me to a shrink who diagnosed my episode as a cry for help, (well yeah) and suggested I talk to somone. After three sessions I gave up and started going to acupuncture in that hour each week. At least Miss Anode, the lady who spikes me, doesn't talk back when I feel the need to free associate. She occasionally tuts at some of the worse language I use and disapproves of me speaking ill of my husband, now he's dead, but as a rule she is silently supportive and also very good at acupuncture.
I went to see a specialist who sneered at my suicide attempt and prescribed something called Amprenavir, which I have to take twice a day with some supplement called ritavir. It doesn't make me feel good but apprently my condition has not deteriorated. This is a point at which Gerald and I fundamentally disagree. He abhors smoking and keeps himself pretty fit because he thinks that one day he will get better. He attends scores of counselling groups and tries every new type of therapy in the hope that one day he will go for his monthly and the doctor will turn to him in amazement and say something to the effect of "My God Mr Johnson, you're cured...completely." He disapproves of my pessimistic outlook on the whole thing. The way I see it, he feels as if each day he doesn't get to live that he might, in another life have lived will be a day that has been stolen away from him by this CD4 Conspiracy. The way I see it, we have both been dealt a pretty shitty hand of cards and every round we can bluff our way through is a bonus. I reckon I'm playing the game the way the big guy meant it , whereas Gerald is quibbling over whether the whole thing is really fair. Still, I wouldn't want it any other way.
I'm going to have to pee soon, plus perhaps I should freshen my lipstick. I have been here six hours or so.
"Did anyone come in while I was at the newsagents?" The student looks at me blankly for a second, then shakes his head. "Well can I have another glass of wine, and do you have any crisps?" He takes the glass and offers me either cheese and onion or salt and vinegar. I know they are both going to taste of feet, the only difference is the stage of decomposition the feet were at when they were used to flavour the potato. I shrug and he hands me the salt and vinegar. I stand and head for the loos. As I wipe the eat and sit down I flip open my mobile phone and try Geralds number again. I know it is most probably a waste of time becasue if he is anywhere nearby he will be in the underground, and if he is dead or otherwise crucially detained then his phone will be off and thus provide me the same message. His mobile is turned off or otherwise not working. Again. It must be the seventh or eighth time today I have tried and while we are still on the established format of me turning up two hours early and Gerald being late by at leats the same amount he has never before reached his level of tardiness. I complete my ablutions and pull the door back to the bar open, hoping to hear his voice or see his scruffy hair as he orders a drink from the barman. No such luck.
It occurs to me that I am thinking of Gerald in terms which might be construed as affectionate. Quickly my mind reruns mental references to him during the day and assures me that although I am anxious to see him it is not because I feel any different towards him, but rather that I feel particularly tense at the moment and am desirous of some company other than that of the spotty runt behind the bar. My wine is wating for me.
Gerald and I came to our arrangement precisely two years ago today. It is one reason why I believe he would not be as late as this. While I meet him about once a month during the year we always put this day aside and bring each other sad little gifts to celebrate one more year of not giving in. I have for him, inside my bag a rather battered maquette of the stage set of the first ever production of Phantom of the Opera. Aside from football he also likes that particular musical. I am pleased with my purchase, and desirous of seeing his face when I give it to him. It cost a little more than I would usually spend, but I have more money than I am going to use in the next few years. I found it at an auction, and thought of him as the Royal Mail adverts went. Gerard only likes that musical, and for reasons I confess not to understand, but I think he identifies with the powerfully tragic character of the phantom himself. Gerard also always wears only black. I can vouch for the fact that even his boxer shorts are always black, at least, whenever he meets me they are. He has short cut black hair that I suspect is dyed, for the colour not to hide grey, and a weak chin, which is more than compensated for by a craggily roman nose. He is not ugly, on the outside anyway, although I don't find him very attractive either, but he is a decent enough sort...and he is fucking late. I am quite worried now. The barman changes to a better looking, but gay older man. He smiles a little more, and the student scowls as he quickly drinks his end-of-shift pint and leaves the bar.
The new barman tries to make conversation, and comes round the bar to bum a cigarette from me. I think I like him less than the student.
"So, Bunny tells me you have been here all day. " It is my turn to scowl. Quite aside from that miserable little student scumbag having such a stupid name, it's none of his business. I bite my tongue. "The only customer...could I have a refill?" I tap my glass on the side. It clunks, the glass quality is not high enough to produce a tone. I scramble in my bag for a pen while the barman refills the glass and make like I'm doing the crossword when he turns round. I can hear his little sigh of "Fine!" and I allow myself a satisfied smile when I lok up to light another cigarette.
I had never been very much of a people person, then, after the incident on the moor my shrink started trying to convince me of the importance of a support network. The collection of friends, relatives and felow sufferers I could call upon. Bullshit. I didn't like people to begin with, and their fucking attitude once they heard was worse. I had my husband, and after a while I had Gerard. He and I were bound by our mutual need, and our surprise that nobody had thought of this before, a sort of twisted escort system.. We had joked that you could make a lot of money. Then my husband had died, and my support network fell in half, which says a lot for the amount of support he gave me, or not much about how much I got from Gerard. he and I suported each other, kind of like flying buttresses against each other, without the one, the other would fall. Where was he? I got the feeling he had parents and family though. Mine didn't want to know, my mother had made damn sure of that. I'm not convinced most of my family even knew of my existence. Fuckers. Sipport bullshit support fuckoff...in the end I had volunteered for the Phone-aids course and started doing some of that part time. I was cynical enough only to be passed the ones that they felt were despairingly cynical too. I think they thought that if I had been let loose on the more sensitive ones they would be jumping off bridges will nilly. They knew about my episode too, although only the abridged version. The only ones who knew about the rest were the hikers.
I was pissed now, I had worked my way through three bottles of wine throughout the day and I felt like a game of darts. I can't play darts, but hey. I kicked off my shoes and fumbled the darts out of the jam jar in which they stood. The barman shot me a glance of trepidation and disappeared into the kitchen. The carpet was almost sticky underneath my tights, and I stepped quickly to avoid anything soaking through. The carpet slowly oozed back into shape, my trail of size five footprints gently disappearing. The darts board was inside a cupboard, the wall around pocked with holes, gradually getting fewer and fewer further away from the board. I could even up the imbalance I was sure. I found the strip screwed to the floor and curled my toes over the edge, squinting for the twenty. My first dart hit the board, which surprised me, but the second and third took the expected route and lodged themselves in the wall below the board. I giggled and tottered forward to retrieve them. Before I continued I made my way back to the bar and lit a cigarette, a menthol this time. I thought menthol smoke was less likely to distract from the throwing aspect of the game. Gerard was as bad as me at darts. We usually whiled away an hour or so of time in the bar before our assignation playing 501. Whoever was nearer to the total after an hour was the winner. He still wasn't here. I tried the phone again, this time leaving all the darts lodged in the wall.
I tried the phone again. My fingers wavered over the digits as my mind fuzzily picked them out of my memory. This time Uri Naor picked up the phone. Uri was the unofficial father of our crisis group. He knew Gerard and I and it was to him we went each time one of our number passed away. He had the unenviable job of letting us know each time someone let go of the game and slipped under. I was checking in on Gerald. Uri didn't really like me, but only because he knew that I only gave a shit about Gerald, and that for my own reasons. "It's Susan." I could hear his intake of breath. "Gerald?" I heard his gentle exhalation. "Sorry Sue." I hate it when he calls me Sue, "He died yesterday. We couldn't find your number." That was a reproach. I had refused to leave it with them. I put the phone down.
[NO MORE TO COME]
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/21/2003 01:36:00 pm
Monday, October 20
Spice is Dead
I see that the forces of defeatism have annexed the varsity site. It is sad, as we stand here today, that Ms Spice's life has ended. There are eulogies both famous and profound, but neither such a thing will be found here. The life of Spice has gone, and so with it the peppering of comments and digressions found flavouring the primeval soup of text that once was curry, but now is bland and salty.
Spice is dead; long live mk II, mkIII and mkIV
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/20/2003 12:36:00 pm
Thursday, October 16
the death penalty
I don't think we should really think of it like that. Depending on your belief, lets take Bush's belief for example as he is a great proponent. The death penalty should not be thought of as an end to life, more as a shifting on of responsibilities. When we send toxic chemicals through someones veins to end their life we are prematurely shifting the responsibility that our society holds for their actions onto another society somewhen else.
Bush believes that they will go to heaven or hell, depending on whether they repent I guess, so in essence, if we assume that he is right (he is so often normally) then he is basically ejectiong someone from our society, and presuming that whoever it is repents (cos you might as well, given the choice between burning and paradise) then from our society we send the killers to heaven. So it isn't so much a penalty as a free goal. (Assuming that peoples goal, however misguidedly they act, is to find their paradise.
I can't be bothered to write any more, but you get my point.
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/16/2003 11:33:00 am
Friday, October 10
It was a good day. Simon could feel the carpet between his toes and the blade of sun piercing the drapes on his face. The coffee was drifting its smell from the kitchen towards him and he was ready for the day ahead.
He looked towards the bed, where the crumpled form of his girlfriend lay under the duvet, grumbling in her sleep and smiled. It was a Friday and he was taking the day off. He had already turned his mobile off in anticipation of the irritated calls from the office and glowed with that inner teenage joy of breaking the rules.
He pulled on his shirt and strode from the room, the coffee was calling and the post had ruffled through the door. Simon gathered up the envelopes, humming Crash Test Dummies, he had recently discovered the joys of his prepubescent music collection and was working his way through his old compact discs.
The coffee was ready, espresso, columbian. Simon poured himself a cup and took himself, the coffee and the post through to his study. He sat at his desk and fired up the computer, took a sip of coffee, burning his tongue, and discarded the mail for the previous occupants. It was three months since they had moved out, and the estate agents were still addressing bills to them. Simon fed them into the shredder.
The study wasn't strictly his, it was his girlfriends. She was a production outsourcer and as such got things done from home. The office was more hi tech than he could have afforded, but it was his until she got up, and he was usually gone by then. He scanned the morning webpages, nothing new above the below, very little happening in his neck of the world, no transport crises that would eat his morning and a dragon had been released into his Utopian kingdom. The coffee was by now cool enough to drink, and Simon took this opportunity to roll the blind up on the window and gaze across the bustling morning street while he sipped at the bitter earthy flavours that kick started the neurons each morning.
He finished the coffee and rolled the blind back down, then threw fifteen hundred men at the dragon, who ate them all without blinking and continued rampaging. Simon left a rude note to the rest of his kingdom, who seemed to be under the impression that it wasn't their problem. Then he got up, got dressed and left the flat.
Despite the sun the day was chilly. Simon could feel the warmth leaching from his fingers and he pushed them into his pockets in an effort to remain reasonably comfortable on his short walk. He had a bag with him, containing his personal stereo, cigarettes and a small stuffed bear. He needed to get rid of the bear, but always seemed to forget to take it out. Perhaps he had subconscious needs. He shook his head, he didn't think so.
Outside the early commuters were starting their journeys. Simon was up earlier than most and hoped to beat the traffic, he hated standing nose to nose with fat businessmen, especially on his day off. He pondered the dragon, it was a nuisance, but nothing more. Simon still hadn't quite got the hang of it, but he was expanding slowly but surely. Soon he would have an army worthy of Mordor. The train was on time, a plusher one than turned up later. Simon settled himself into the fuzzy seats and put his headphones on.
Forty five minutes later, the train disgorged Simon onto a sad and bedraggled little station, surrounded by greenery and suburban streetlets. He turned off his music and drew in a deep breath, first, a coffee, then the hardware store. He sautered through the barriers and down to the local cafe, which had horrible coffee served by beautiful girls. Sitting inside the glass looking out into the sun, Simon smoked, drinking milky espresso and watching the girl behind the counter in the reflection. He looked at his watch. Plenty of time, Jonno wouldn't have left home yet. Jonno had one of those jobs that started later than civilised usual jobs. Simon smoked another cigarette and thought about his sister. Sadie was eighteen months younger than he was, but was turning nineteen in two months. She was in a secure ward of a hospital in Somerset, turning nineteen in a cell. He stubbed out his cigarette viciously and lit another.
Sadie had been sectioned six months ago. She had been arrested a year ago holding a knife to the throat of Jonno's baby brother. She was messed up. She had been dating Jonno for about a year before that date, and had moved in with him. She then came home one evening to find him in bed with another girl. Having thrown the girl out of the building, she then found Jonno towering over her. He proceeded to beat her unconscious and lock her in the bedroom. She was in their for three days and it was only when she escaped that she found he had shut her cat in the bathroom, where it had managed to get stuck down the lavatory and drowned. She had taken to brooding and finally wound herself up to kidnapping Jonno's baby brother and threatening to kill both herself and him. She had been arrested, no harm had come to the baby.
Jonno had recently been offered money by a paper for the inside story. The media had latched onto the story and were trying to outdo themselves with inside scoops as the date of Sadie's birthday approached. Jonno had eagerly supplied details of his and Sadie's sex life, with such relish that the paper had begun a photo Kama Sutra based on Jonno's tales. Simon was angry about this.
He took out his shopping list and left the cafe. He needed soundproofing, and a nailgun, and some of those plastic zip-ties. He had spotted a palette in the back yard of Jonno's house the other day, and could use that for a frame. He set off, humming gently, B&Q was just opening, and Jonno should be setting off for work.
Jonno sold advertising, and Simon knew for a fact today that he planned to take the afternoon off and return home to watch Liverpool play AC Milan in the European cup. Simon didn't like football. He completed his purchases at B&Q with a couple of additions and carried the equipment round to Jonno's house. The house itself was at the end of a terrace and had a small garden at the back. Simon threw his recent purchases over the wall and then climbed over himself. It was still a beautiful day, and Simon was happy to find the kitchen window open. Jonno's motorbike was gone from the lean to in the garden and so Simon lost no time in shinning through the window and bringing the kit in through the newly opened back door.
Simon laid his purchases out on the kitchen table. Gaffer tape, soundproofing rolls, spraypaint and an angle grinder. He had been unable to find a nail gun. He also had a pair of overalls, a breathing filter and some protective glasses. He smiled and pulled on the the overalls. It was going to be a long day.
The upper floor of the house he spraypainted yellow. He had purchased an entire case of yellow spraypaint and did not stint in its use, lifting every moveable object to spray its base, and even removing all the clothes from the wardrobe and closet in order to spray the insides. The clothes he removed to the downstairs lounge. Jonno had a case of Stella chilling in the fridge, so Simon drank a few while he worked. It took until one o'clock in the afternoon before he was happy that he had not missed any patches upstairs. Everything was a green-banana yellow, including Simon's shoes, which he swapped for a pair of Jonno's Doc Martins, left inside the front door. This finished, Simon sat down for lunch. He raided the fridge and found that Jonno ate very little aside from Sainsbury's microwave meals. Simon ate two, with three beers, and began work on the down stairs. In the lounge he closed the curtains and soundproofed the room, using clothes from upstairs to block the chimney and thicken the insulation. He was lucky in that the lounge was against the non-terraced wall of the building.
He rested, and had a cigarette and a beer in the garden, then dragged in the palette and kicked it to pieces. He taped it into a rough crucifix and reinforced it with struts from the sofa, which he had torn apart after he had finished soundrproofing. Jonno should be home within the hour, he noted, looking at his watch. He snorted with satisfaction.
The lounge, once chintzy with page three pin-ups, was now a den. A dull glow penetrated the window through the layers of cloth, and the air had a sluggish feeling to it, it only moved when the doors were open. Simon dragged the television out of its corner and watched some daytime television. The angle grinder he left in the kitchen. It was nearing three when he heard the roar of Jonno's bike. Jonno was one of that particular breed of male who thinks that a motorcycle goes faster if it is really loud, and had removed the silencer to this end. Simon finished the beer he was drinking and stood up, removing himself to behind the kitchen door. The yard door opened and Jonno pushed the heavy bike into the lean to. Simon heard it thud to the ground as Jonno noticed the open door.
Jonno appeared in the door way breathing hard and looking for signs of a forced entry. Nothing. He shouldered his way past the door and rushed into the lounge. Simon could hear his moan of despair as he saw what had happened. A dull incomprehension began to dawn in Jonno's prefrontal cortex. He thundered upstairs. Simon was opening another beer as he heard Jonno wail.
"Yellow." Simon murmured to himself, and chuckled. He could hear Jonno coming back downstairs, and he readied himself with the cricket bat he had found earlier. Jonno paused again in the lounge, probably looking for the phone, Simon thought, then decided to have a beer and came into the kitchen.
Simon swung the bat up into Jonno's balls, then brough it down across the back of his neck. Jonno collapsed onto the floor. Simon smiled.
When Jonno came to he was strapped to the makeshift crucifix with gaffer tape. Simon was tuning the television into the football, and turning the volume up loud, and the angle grinder was plugged in next to the television. Simon turned to Jonno and smiled, he was a little more inebriated than he had thought he would be, but it was going to be fun nevertheless.
"Do you think Liverpool has a chance then?" Simon asked casually. Jonno couldn't reply. Simon had found a use for the teddy bear in his bag, which now protruded from Jonno's mouth through strands of gaffer. Jonno couldn't even nod or shake his head, so tight was the gaffer tape holding him to the frame. Simon shrugged, "I was always more of a rugby fan myself." He stepped towards the crucifix, picking up the angle grinder.
It was getting dark when Simon let himself out of the back of the house and exited the garden gate. He had showered before he left, thankfully the bathroom with the shower had been downstairs. He had stripped off the overalls and the doc martins and stepped into the hot stream. It had been necessary to wash his hair twice, and to find a knife with which to score under his nails. He thanked the instincts which had suggested to him that he might need safety glasses. His clothes had been remarkably clean underneath the thick overalls, but it had been necessary to borrow a white shirt of Jonno's which had been in the washing machine. It was uncomfortably damp, but the clothes in the lounge were ruined.
Simon lit a cigarette and looked back over his shoulder. The sun was setting with a pale glow in the distance. He humped his rucksack up onto his shoulder and wound his way through the suburbs towards the station.
[No more to come]
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/10/2003 03:57:00 pm
Thursday, October 9
oh, it must be Bob Monkhouse
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/09/2003 02:18:00 pm
Wednesday, October 8
what rough beast is this, that slouches toward bethlehem to be born?
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/08/2003 06:01:00 pm
oh...it's me...it's me
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/08/2003 10:35:00 am
Tuesday, October 7
You owe it to yourself.
Whenever this particular phrase crops up I get a little upset, especially when it is directed at me. Primarily because it is spoken in situations when Myself really doesn't want to do something. Secondly it is usually spoken by someone I don't get along with, and thirdly because I don't think I owe myself anything.
What have I ever done for myself? Why should I care? And should I really feel indebted to myself. I don't think I should. Who knows what agreement I came to with myself mentally, what waivers I may have made myself sign. I don't owe myself anything, in fact I think that it is a lot more likely that somebody else owes me. Big time. I think the relationship between me and myself is such that debts can be written off, and that I tend to do as much for myself as myself does for me. What me and I do for one another is much more complex, sordid and grammatical and shall not be further investigated today.
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/07/2003 09:46:00 am
Friday, October 3
The woman opposite me on the bus was a vision in cream and pink. Even the faux leather cowboy boots had abominably pink strawberries adorning the sides of their ultra clean magnolia tint. She dripped with jewellery, unpleasant strings of gold studded pearls around her neck, and precious rings circling her chubby fingers. She had four bracelets on, each heavier and uglier than the last, and a watch that looked Inca. She must have been rich, someone close to her must have been. I wondered how people like this survived, people whose first instinct when presented with money was to go out and buy the most expensive jewellery they could find. I supposed it could be compared with the male desire to buy the most expensive car on the market, whether or not it is actually pleasant. What bothered me most about this woman though, was the fact that her clothes loooked as if they were seconds from Gap. She was fat, common in rich people, and the clothes did not hang as well as they would have done in the shop, but I knew full well that money could buy clothes to make anyone look good. Elton John managed to distract attention away from his lack of talent for decades by wearing stupid clothes, but this woman had clearly spent all the money she had in the jewellery store and then popped down to C&A to pick up some left overs from the sale rack.
I sighed and looked out of the window, London passed me by with a dull growl, underpass, overpass, pause to let more people onto the bus. Nobody ever gets off the bus until its your stop, have you noticed? Then it is necessary to queue for fifteen minutes while people file off, always pausing to check their hair or their mobile as soon as they are off the bus. I fumed slightly. I didn't like other people, and big cities always made me feel psychotic. The stop sign pinged and the bus began to pull over. More people got on. I'm sure that people waiting for buses imagine these Tardis-like hulks, as the bus draws up they must look in the windows and say to themselves, "Great, everyone is pressing against the windows, there must be heaps of room in the middle." before launching themselves through the doors and into the mass of people already on the bus.
I wondered if there was something psychological in the act of pressing oneself up against a mass of other people one doesn't know in the quest to arrive at a place most people don't really want to be anyway. I scowled at the man elbowing me in the temple and looked out of the window. The man started elbowing me in the back of the head. I scowled out of the window, the pounding against my head in time with the swaying of the bus. The wet streets hissed past outside, sprays thrown up from the passing cars splashing the window in front of my face. It was almost my stop, I recognised the rancid smell of the Macdonalds morning burger cooking. I squirmed one arm free and stabbed at the button. It pinged. The bus began to slow. I exhaled and hugged my bag closer to me. The man elbowed me in the forehead and scowled at me. I stood up, banging my head against the intelligently placed bar directly above my seat and ducked, taking an elbow in the nose. The man scowled at me.The bus stopped and everyone disembarked. I deliberately trod on the instep of someone who paused directly outside the bus to light a cigarette. He scowled at me, I coughed and spat on his shoe, then continued on my way to my place of employment.
It was still raining that annoying kind of rain which is light enough to make you look like an idiot if you put up an umbrella, but heavy enough to ensure that you will spend the morning uncomfortably damp if you don't. I didn't, secure in the knowledge that my morning was going to be uncomfortable enough anyway. I didn't enjoy my work, and I didn't particularly enjoy my colleagues either. One or two were passable enough but the rest were not really my type of people. It was an improvement on my last job though. That time I had been under the impression that I was working with low level droids until someone let me in on the secret that actually they were human beings, they had just been working at the council for years and that the body shuts down bits of itself that are not in use after three or four years. Their entire forebrains had been shut down by the body years ago. Appropriate for council workers, but frustrating for conversations, the most complex systems they were capable of dealing with were the premiership football clubs.
I was early, as usual, some people took it for keenness, others were wise to the fact that this way, I could get stuck into ignoring what I was supposed to be doing earlier and was therefore more difficult to displace from my chosen path of not doing very much. I was a data processor for Ambient Plc, which meant I took hundreds of sheets of numbers, and entered them into a computer. There should have been machines to do this for us, especially now, in the age of wireless internet and cybernetic homuncular adjustments, but the numbers had been written on these sheets of papers many years ago and the ink had faded and in some places run under the coffee cups of disinterested office workers and the recognition software was just not up to the job. It was probable that it was simply a case of the software that was capable of doing this being too expensive for the company to bother, but either way, they paid me to do mindless labour, and I lent my mind to other labours.
Now when my mind wanders it often turns to labours of love, as male minds do so we are told, but I had found getting boners in the office to be mentally unnerving. I didn't want to be feeling aroused while I was doing work, it could set up unsavoury associations in my unconscious mind. I had horrible visions of not being able to get off unless I was screwing on top of a huge pile of dusty paperwork, my mind shuddered. My head stayed absolutely still. I had heard a sound, a sound that meant I had to at least get some semblance of work going on my computer screen, Serena's voice.
Serena Peacedreamer was superior to me in the company. She was a woman straight out of the nineteen eighties, shoulder pads and pale foundation supplemented by dashings of green blusher and a gothic blood coloured lipstick. She gave me the shivers, mainly because I figured if I did start having those fantasies, it was going to be her I was on top of. I could hear her come closer, my brain stem squirming in my neck, already frightened, now trying to hit the flight button that was being held out of reach by the frontal lobes who were trying to remain calm. I knew that if I could be sufficiently engrossed in my work when she hit my personal space then she might leave me be. The computer displayed its monochromatic entry display and my fingers started ploddng their way across the keyboard. I tried to look interested in what I was doing. I didn't lay it on too thick because I wasn't sure how interested in this stuff it was possible to get. I didn't want her to think I was taking the piss. She rounded the corner and smiled at me. I could smell the smile on the back of my neck, she smiled like a chimp. For a woman with so much poise she had a problem not dribbling when she opened her mouth in a smile. She didn't, however, say anything, and passed on to find someone else to hassle.
My monitor beeped and I looked down to see that I had a message. Over the head of Janey, the girl who sat opposite me, I could see Serena gurning at me. The email was from her, she wanted a meeting in ten minutes. I winced, looked up at her and nodded. Janey looked at me through her fringe. I had never exchanged so much as one word with her. She had a built in digital clock in her left eye tuned to the atomic clock in Belgium, she really did, and she left at five and arrived at nine every morning. Someone had left her a note complaining about her punctuality for a joke. She had gone absolutely mental, broken four mugs and overturned a water cooler. The carpet was still soggy in the corner of the building near the kitchen. She was quite pretty, but I had only seen expression on her face that one time, she looked like a plasticene animation that somone had forgotten about. I could swear that sometimes I could see expression fighting to get out behind her eyes, but it never escaped onto her face. She drank coffee, black, and had an artificial leg. Her false leg was electronic, run off the residual current generated by her muscle ends and looked pretty good. She wore bizarrely short skirts to work and on her good leg would wear one fuck-me sock. I had never seen someone so pretty who had failed so completely to stir any kind of lust in me. I don't think she liked me, she had overheard me last office party replying to someone's query about how she managed to put so much booze away and keep standing up. I had made some comment about having a hollow leg.
I put my computer onto hold and made my way towards Serena's office. As I passed all the beige boxes with the little grey people behind them I wondered why the company still used these outsize lumps of crap. It was probably cost, but I knew peop
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/03/2003 10:42:00 am
Wednesday, October 1
Immanentising my personal Eschaton
John crouched on the ledge, smoking another cigarette. The wind whipped the smoke away and made his eyes water. He was enjoying the view, London was really quite pretty from ten storeys. He could see the people hurrying their way along the pavement below and the coffee man next to his tiny stall. It was cold though, the wind was also cutting through his fine suit jacket. His ankles, exposed through his unorthodox position on the ledge were also becoming a trifle chippy. He clutched hard at the butt of his cigarette and ignored the cold. The ash from the tip of the cigarette was stripped away, flake by flake, as he inhaled. John considered giving up smoking, then decided against it.
It had taken three days for John to decide to come out here, three hours for him to pluck up courage to actually open his office window and climb out here and only three minutes for him to start wishing he had brought some sandwiches or a thermos of coffee. He could just smell the coffee from the stall below, if he craned his nose and added a dollop of wishful thinking. It wasn't going to be an easy job getting back through the window and he was bound to be interrupted during the act, which would spoil the impact of his surprise. Trust Ms Perryweather to be late on his big day.
He closed his eyes and meditated on the theme of air. He was feeling very close to air and wind today. He could feel his fingers going gently numb. The brickwork he was holding was rough and afforded grip, but John had been out here for forty five minutes and it was looking like he might be out here longer. He remembered his phone. Perhaps he could text to find out when she was going to be in. He fumbled in his pocket and drew out his phone. It was a pretty little Nokia, colour screen and everything, and as it tumbled away from John he cursed and swore. It had cost him several hundred quid too. This morning was turning out to be worse than he had bargained for. He shuffled backwards further onto the ledge and peered out round the corner. She still wasn't in. Her office was tidier than his, but it ws larger too. She had two visitors chairs. John had only one. She also had a pot plant in the other corner of the window. John had been planning to try that corner, it was nearer his office window, but had been forced to perilously make his way across the front of her office window to get to the other corner.
John peered back over the ledge, realising that he had not heard any commotion due to his falling phone and saw, with some satisfaction, that it had landed on the canvas roof of the coffee van undetected and looked to be in one piece. He would reclaim it later he decided, with a large latte.
He closed his eyes and wished that he had brought his trousers, even if he wasn't wearing them he could have wrapped them round his legs to keep them warm. He now had goosebumps on his legs and a very cold penis. John wasn't wearing underclothes either. He had decided against them this morning as he dressed in the half light of his bedroom, they would only slow his exit from his office window. His leg hair waved in the wind, his genitalia, such as they were in this temperature, dangled. He lit another cigarette.
He had come up with this plan the night before last, clutching his letter of dismissal and his final paycheque. It had her name upon the letter and he knew that she would have been pleased that he was going. She had never liked him, he had been here sixteen years, she only three months. She had packed sixteen years of vitriol into those three months. BITCH. How could they hire someone like her and then fire him. He didn't have tits like hers, he bitterly reflected, his were more saggy and he didn't parade his around in some laced up black brassiere.
He spat over the ledge, and pulled himself sharply back as it hit the coffee man. He didn't want to attract any attention to himself before she got here. He could hear a muffled curse and an exclamation. He could imagine people craning their necks to see where it came from, and probably cursing the building's occupants. He could sympathise, the building's occupants were, in general complete fuckheads as far as he was concerned. Except for Jenni (with an i) from accounting, she was a sweetheart, and he hoped that his children would grow up to be as hardworking and pleasant as she was. John found himself disturbed by his occasional lust period for Jenni, as he was old enough to be her father, probably biologically able to be her grandfather, given how young girls of today seemed to be able to have children. He liked her, and occasionally wanted to bend her over his desk and give her a good paddling before doing things best not thought about while ten floors up on the outside of a building. His genitalia twitched. "Shit" thought John, and started concentrating on Formula One racing and Christina Aguilera, he didn't want anything to distract him from his purpose.
He heard a dim click and his heart whupped a couple of beats in anticipation. He peeked around the corner and saw the light come on. He squinted a little further and could clearly see her face. His heart dropped, Jenni was there as well, she was sitting down and preparing to chat. They had coffee...his mind wailed. He couldn't traumatise the young girl like that. He would have to wait...longer. He withdrew around the corner and began to grind his teeth.
A pigeon landed on the ledge next to John, it cocked its head and looked at his balls. He shuddered and flapped a hand at it. It fluttered into the air and re-perched itself on the windowsill of her office. John muttered at it and looked over the buildings at St Pauls. He would be lucky to keep his dignity intact he realised, but didn't really care. He heard the door slam next door and sighed with relief.
John muttered a prayer to someone and rearranged his balls with his free hand. He stood upright and girding his loins, swung around the corner and into action.
Inside Ms Perryweather's office Jenni had just jumped at the slamming door. Ms Perryweather had been annoyed and upset at the disappearance of John Hawkes from next door. She seemed vaguely worried at the news that the pair of trousers he had been wearing had been found on his desk. Ms Perryweather strode back to her desk, swung round and cleared her throat. She had been lecturing Jenni on the evils of wearing too much make up to work. Jenni thought she could see the foundation flaking where Ms Perryweather's face had wrinkles.
At that moment John Hawkes appeared round the corner ledge outside Ms Perryweather's office. He was wearing socks and shoes but no trousers, and his shirt tails flapped at his buttocks flippantly. Jenni's eyes widened in shock. So did John's. "Ohhhh Fuck." was all that went through his mind. Ms Perryweathers back was firmly turned and Jenni sat there, looking innocent and horrified. John tried to cover his genitalia. With both hands.
Jenni coughed and opened her mouth, preparing to inform Ms Perryweather of the scene unfolding outside her window, it turned into a scream as she saw John let go of the wall, grab his balls and shout "BOLLOCKS" as he fell off the ledge. Ms Perryweather stopped mid-sentence and looked at her. She gestured to the window. Ms Perryweather spun suspiciously. A pigeon now occupied the window ledge. She tutted, "Filthy creatures. Rats with wings." It became obvious that she had not heard John's shout. "No need for alarm my dear, these windows are secure." Jenni thought she heard a patronising note in her tone.
Jenni stood. "Sit" commanded Ms Perryweather. "But.." Jenni attempted gesturing to the window. "SIT" hissed Ms Perryweather, "We will not give in to them." Jenni sat. "Now dear, "Ms Perryweather continued, "Would you like another coffee?"
- posted by Buntifer @ 10/01/2003 09:15:00 am