fiction

STRANGERS

Chris R--10 Illustration by Christine Renney

Only a brief description of the Apartment Block will be necessary. How it is perceived by the Townspeople is far more interesting. By those who pass it each day to and from work and the shops, by those who walk in the park and feel they are imposing, trespassing even, within the grounds of some stately mansion. For it is here when they come to escape at lunchtime or on a summer’s evening; here when families gather at the weekend to picnic and play – this is when the Apartment Block antagonises them the most. From its vantage point at the edge of the park, with its black windows like hoodless eyes, it is all seeing and impossible to ignore.

The Townspeople are proud of their park and all have contributed to the restoration of its centrepiece, the Bandstand, now fully restored to its former glory, is a testament to their perseverance and dedication. To their hard work. But now, when they come here to bask in the sunshine, the Apartment Block casts its shadow from above, spoiling it for them. Its residents are constantly changing, an array of Young Professionals. It is rare that anyone stays here for more than a year but, to the Townspeople, they are indistinguishable in their fine clothes, with their impractical cars and well paid jobs in the City. Their lives are without commitment and seem, from afar, frivolous and their home is akin to the most modern of hotels. Its gardens, lovingly tended and painstakingly maintained are the Town’s parkland. The Bandstand is merely a trifle, a folly within the Apartment Block’s playground.

The Townspeople have not been colluding but all are moving in the same direction so of course it is inevitable they will converge. They gather in the bushes and watch the Apartment Block. Occasionally someone will emerge and each time the Townspeople become more agitated, moving involuntarily, eventually lurching forward, revealing themselves. An exiting couple, alarmed by the presence of the now all but motionless individuals littering the grass in front of them, move hastily along the path. They fail to notice the first of the Townspeople who, reaching the doors before they close behind them, slip into the building.

The Townspeople begin edging slowly forward and the couple, unaware of what has triggered this ungainly procession, are brought to an abrupt halt. Stranded on the path they cling to each other but are forgotten. The Townspeople, intent on the Apartment Block, keep on coming from out of the undergrowth, a veritable hoard moving toward and beyond the couple, who perhaps recklessly rush against the tide toward the exit.

Huddled beneath the Bandstand the young couple look back toward the Apartment Block. The crowd gathered, in front of the main entrance doors, appears as a leaden and lumpen mass. But it is thinning. Slowly the Townspeople are forcing their way through the doors and into the building.
‘Who are they?’ she asked.
Shaking his head he said nothing.
‘Where did they come from? What do they want?’ she shrieked.
Reaching out he placed his hands on her shoulders in an effort to still her.
‘I don’t know’ he said softly. ‘I have no idea.’

They began to pace, their footsteps beating against the shiny hardwood floor of the Bandstand. He began to wonder about their neighbours – how many of them were still at home, still in their apartments? Readying, as they had been just a few minutes before, for the day ahead?
They watched as the Strangers pushed across the threshold and the doors swung to behind them. Mesmerised, the young couple continued to watch and seemingly everything had returned to normal.
The Apartment Block glared back at them but the Park again was quiet, picture postcard perfect, until the faces began to appear at the windows. Everything then wasn’t so beautiful or quite so serene.

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poetry

China doll

love-doll-sex-orient-japan-silicone-4

To the man who is not going to get what you want

surgically enhanced tiny Asian girl with inflated breasts and pout

who will never desire

your greying belly flopping over uncool tweed

which you half realize when you consider

the absurdity of your haggard reflection

what you don’t envision, the harm of your penchant for fantasy

and how

you may be married but whilst you stray in your mind and locked bathroom

you are only half inhabiting the woman who promised

for better or worse

it is she who really wanted you

the one you now, judge with diffidence and boredom

while you build a private world for what you can never have

if you had money you could possess

but it still wouldn’t be real

only you wouldn’t care a damn

so long as she let you worship

you’re not fussy about emotion

an ” exotic” is worth more than loyalty or devotion

you’d trade your wife in without hesitation for

a new model with adjustable thighs

you can stuff her where she hasn’t yet been stuffed

have your dark-eyed children bound for Harvard

mount her on your wall, the eastern trophy of your success

who cares if she used you more?

despised your flacidity and milky sour breath

did you never catch her revulsion of you?

or was that half the fun?

now you’re on the wrong side of sixty

clawing for something bigger than yourself

every Sunday you proclaim it is God

then whack off in the bathroom thinking

of her glossy head bowed in prayer and what you’d do

given half a chance

you have lost your shame believing nobody can see the machinations of your lust

only they are visible and nothing else

not even the veal of your fatty heart

and she who would be your prize would laugh

chooses a younger man and gets a Masters in Economics

now you only have images of her to grope on-screen

hiding the stains on your underwear behind the heater

inwardly your ache becomes a boil ready to burst

infecting all that could have been good

at night, digging in disappointment

turning to your wife who opens her arms

feeling none of her love

touch you

this is the way of your modern

marriage

three to a bed

you, she and in-between

pornographic fantasy

her almond eyes and lithe legs

begging you to pierce your foundation

for playthings and illusion

the china doll

your fantasized upgrade

on faded obsessions with youth

and the grandure of coveting

empty images of passion

 

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