~magazine paper, Winsor&Newton ink
~magazine paper, Winsor&Newton ink
A song like the smell of fresh blacktop
Comes from an ancient source
To interrupt my machinations
And prove the project of life
A harmless mistake
Fortnightly overdoses and falling asleep in the bath
Ridiculous wine descriptions and tattooed knuckles
Antiseptic and anticipation
Disappearing acts and swapping house keys
Superglue and frozen teeth
A stolen bottle of mustard and an Irish funeral
Forgetting and failing and faking and Fuck Forever-ing
Rusty kisses and missing the last bus
Betting slips and 56 missed calls
Vanilla vodka and the First Casualty of War
Coffin shopping and cryptic crosswords
LSD and the ghost of Keats on Hampstead Heath
Tampon strings and sewing machines
Vape sticks and scaffolding
Tinned peaches and bascule bridges
Hugo Boss shirts and serial killers
A shelf-less bookshelf and ignoring aeroplane safety demos
Swimming to Mexico and believing in angels
3-day stubble, you’re bang in trouble, double up for £1
Pinching each other because we aren’t entirely convinced that we’re alive
Marriage proposals and morphine dreams
Rhetorical questions and infinite eggshells
Spying on the neighbours and eating jam doughnuts with a knife and fork
Lordship Lane and waking up with two black eyes
The United States of Shock and Dismay
Blonde on Blonde and asphyxiation
A pint of daffodils and the view from the bell tower
Blood tests and a ouija board
Perjury and the 4 hour Happy Hour
Grey hairs and burnt toast and wondering what the hell it’s all about
I started teaching A Wrinkle in Time to one of my students. I thought it would be appropriate for his level since I’d never read it.
Around half way through the first chapter, he stops me.
“High school?” he asks.
I nod. I point at him. “Elementary school,” I say. “Then, Middle school,” I continue, laying my hand flat and rising it a little.
“And University?” he asks.
“After high school.”
He nods. I smile. I ladder my hands as I repeat.
“Elementary, Middle school, high school, then, university.”
“Ah,” he says, he mimics my motions.
“Elementary school, Middle School, High School, then, work?”
“Then,” he screws up his face, “death?”
He drags his finger across his throat and his tongue falls out of his mouth. His head falls to his chest. He tries not to smile.
“I suppose so,” I say. He laughs, I laugh.
He makes the dead motion again, killing the joke.
“Well, you know, there is retirement,” I say, awkwardly.
He frowns, “like, before death?”
“Like my grandma?”
I shrug, “Probably.”
He looks thoughtful for a moment.
“She’s dying,” he decides, looking sad.
“Oh,” I try to look empathetic, “sorry.”
He nods his head.
“But, so, yeah, that’s what high school is,” I say. “Should we continue?”
He nods, picking up the book, and continuing to read.
There’s a car down the street with a guy in it been there a long time. Guy been in there a long time, long as the car, far as I know, I didn’t check on him every hour.
Wife said she’d be home by three. I said you’ll be home late and she laughed about that and didn’t say anything else and we had some bread and cheese.
I been asleep since then, had a dream about that man in the car and he came over and terrorized my wife. I was angry and I told him to hit the road. Hit the road, I told him, just like that and he laughed and sang a song about well I can’t remember.
Me I wasn’t even scared of him in the dream but my wife was screaming about it and throwing things at him. She picked dumb things to throw at him. She threw a glass jar of sugar at him and spread all over the floor, the floor was all sticky and dangerous.
Been there a long time, that car with the sleeping man, though and if you ask me the man in there is dead. I walked by yesterday afternoon, was buying a bag of coffee because my wife said we needed to save money and stop going out for coffee all the time and I said to hell with that I’d rather die what was the point of working if you couldn’t even afford to go out for coffee but she was listening to some program on the radio about financial what’s-it and anyways the man in there looked dead and cold.
I figured they’d move the car, some tow truck would come or something, I don’t know, police or put a boot on that car at least but you know maybe if the guy is in there it’s ok to park for that long. But I wonder if anyone else is noticing how long that guy has been in there and if he’s not getting in and out and if after all he’s dead. My wife said to stop worrying about it said she didn’t even see that car there earlier, and anyway she said the guy was breathing and I said to her how can you tell? She said she saw him breathing but she wasn’t looking at him she was checking her email or her instagram I don’t know.
Sometime I feel bad in the afternoon and anyway every morning I don’t know what to say over breakfast. We usually eat different things. I don’t eat anything usually just drink some water and clear my throat a lot. Not that I don’t like silence.
I think that man knew he was going to die and he just pulled there in front of that dollar store. Probably thought someone would help him or I don’t know, probably not. Anyway I was thinking about calling the police but what would I say. My wife said that was a stupid idea. She’s right, anyway, I’m not any good in those situations.
If I could do anything I would help that guy, sure. But I guess I’ll be eating breakfast alone soon enough, too, and maybe whenever he’s gone from there if he goes maybe when I go to the dollar store once in a while I’ll think of him.
Do you remember that strange night we spent in purgatory, our faces torn between the heaven of tipsy candlelight and the hell of gaudy neon signs?
That curious liminal state in which we existed, somewhere between the safety of our private candlelit sanctuary, the warmth and comfort afforded by the melting pillar that stood coyly between us as we sat in quiet contentment, bellies full of steak and rioja, and the rhythmic blinking of those electric signs on the other side of the window, the crackling letters in brash colours screaming 18+, touting Soho’s finest mags + dvds + toys + girls girls girls, and MASSAGE with a short-circuited M.
In that late-night limbo known only by the lost, we were faced with the age-old conundrum of deciding what to do next. The world was our oyster. The best city in the world was under our feet. We could have gone anywhere, everywhere. And instead we chose nowhere.
Retreating from ideas of excitement and excess, under the dim glances of tired streetlights on a silent faraway road we questioned our uncharacteristic decision to “be boring.” We discovered that waking up on a Sunday morning without a hangover would be a new experience in itself. And the money we didn’t spend could be used on our next adventure. And anyway, the golf ball in the sky told me that I was right to choose home instead of psychedelic liquid light shows – at least this time.