Sunday, 22 December 2013

Rudolph's last Christmas


"When the snow is whirling and the wind is thicker than your winter coat, when the moon is hiding and the darkness covers everything like a contract, when you can’t see your feet below you; that is when you want Rudolph." - Santa

Rudolph had led Santa’s sleigh for years.  He led from the front, a beacon to govern the bleakness that threatened his band.  He enjoyed a decorated career, leading a fabled team through a fabled time.  Dancer, Comet and Blitzen, all one in a generation type talents, all in the one harness, were a trick of fate and a force of nature.  A legend.  But nothing lasts forever.  A summer sun fades, a romance falters, a red nose flickers, flickers, flickers and quits.

Rudolph had never been the strongest runner or the best flier, his talent was spectacular but limited, a very impressive one trick pony.  He was adored by Father Christmas, Father Time treated him less kindly.  Each Christmas eve Rudolph would circumnavigate the globe in a furious clamour of belles and sweat, magic, vigour, gifts, milk and carrots.  Each Christmas morning he would return to the North Pole, his heart beaming brighter than before, at odds with a nose slowly, surely, sadly dimming.    

***

Rudolph knew it was his last Christmas in the harness.  They all did.  Santa strapped him in, scratched his nose and playfully cuffed him on the chin, playing along like it was any other day in the locker room.  Santa wasn’t into milestones, he hadn’t made a big deal of Rudolph’s 100th flight and he wouldn’t make a big deal of his final one either.  Christmas comes first, and no individual is bigger than the team and all that stuff Santa had stencilled onto the side of sleigh, he believed in it. 

The sleigh was packed, the team was strapped, Santa was saddled and so the shed door was opened.  An honour guard of the best elves lined the runway, cheering and singing and wishing them well.  Rudolph led the team through that wash of laughter and applause, confetti rained down like, well, confetti.  Rudolph drank every moment like thousand dollar champagne; his nose glowed like a two dollar knock-off.  Rudolph took to the sky as a legend, a veteran, a spent force.

***

The snow blustered, the wind was savage, everything was darkness, Santa needed Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, but that nose wouldn’t glow.  They’d been in tight spots before, even with Rudolph glowing like a sun, but this Christmas eve was particularly bad.  It was virtually invisible, the three top that clipped the sleigh and sent them hurtling into the frozen wood.  The crash was inevitable.  The crash was a disaster.

***

Opening his eyes, Rudolph lay still and focused on his breathing.  It hurt.  A smashed rib had torn a nasty little rip into his lung.  Concussion spun the silhouette trees over head in a slow lopsided circle, it took a few rotations before Rudolph clocked the fact he couldn’t hear Blitzen or Prancer (the two closest him in the harness) breathing.  In the deep ink darkness, everything somehow grew oddly darker, Rudolph laughed to himself and dripped into a sleeping pool.     

***

A familiar voice dragged him up and out of sleep.  Santa had lit a fire and was talking to him.  Rudolph opened his eyes and let them search Santa’s face; he’d been crying.  Blitzen and Prancer were dead, so too Dasher.  And Donna.  Each name stuck in Santa’s throat as he gave Rudolph the news.  They were all gone, all except Rudolph, Santa, and Taffy; a young reindeer making his first flight in the harness.  Taffy had miraculously landed in fairly good health.  He was cut and bruised, but he could function, he could fly. 

Santa looked sick, he took Rudolph’s front right hoof in his hand and tried on a sad smile.  “I hate to ask you this, my friend, but I must.”  Santa trembled; the lump in his throat was fatter than a tractor tyre.  “Rudolph, I need you to save Christmas one last time.”  Rudolph tried vainly to get to his feet, but Santa quickly, gently, placed a gloved hand on his nose and shook his head.  “No, old friend, broken legs aren’t much good for standing on.”  Just the effort of keeping his eyes open was taxing Rudolph now, and that whistle in his chest sounded loud and fake.  His body felt a long way away.  He knew he was dying.  Hooves crushing snow stole his attention from the old man’s face.  Rudolph looked across to young Taffy, tall and slender, a reindeer flying his first mission.  Santa’s request suddenly made sickening sense.  A bitter smile found it’s way into Rudolph’s mouth and slowly wriggled to the surface. 

Understand this - Rudolph could have let death take him gently, he could have died quick, calm and cosy.  Instead Rudolph stayed awake, alive, in bitter bloody agony for hours.  Rudolph lay still.  He forced his heart to keep pumping blood, his brain to keep screaming.  He did this all through thick, slow, hot sticking misery.  Santa sat with him, he spoke gently into his ear and stroked his neck.  He told Rudolph he loved him, he would miss him, he was grateful and he was sorry.  He told him most of all to stay awake, to allow the magic to transfer.  

For the magic to pass, Rudolph had to be alive.  He had to be conscious when Taffy sunk his teeth into the soft flesh of his stomach, and tear it.  He had to be aware of his steaming guts slipping out into the frosty forest night.  Rudolph had to be breathing as Taffy slurped down his entrails, his liver and most importantly his nose.  

Taffy dutifully chewed and swallowed, and chewed and swallowed.  Santa cried.  Rudolph continued to breath.  Through the noisy crack of bones, through the sloppy gobbling of fatty flesh, Rudolph listened to that eulogy.  Rudolph the red nosed reindeer was giving one final Christmas gift.


***

That Christmas morning, as boys and girls across the globe ripped into presents and screamed with excitement, a bright red star flew toward the North Pole, swift and true.  Santa was heading home, on the back of a hero, on the back of a legend, on the back of Taffy the red nosed reindeer.  

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Badly Town - a hard hitting crime drama

“OK, Malone, we can do this the easy way...”  Silence, three footfalls slap thin thread carpet, a metallic switch, nostalgic crackling, Billie Holiday.  “...or the easy way.”

Malone squinted into the lamplight.  He was a hardened crook; chuck-steak, a real day old donut kinda guy, but he had a bad feeling his luck was fading fast.  He’d heard about the Jorganson-Stinkily Good Cop/Good Cop routine before, hell, who hadn’t?  These boys were mean.  They stood before him, silhouettes crowding just behind the white wash of the lamp.  Malone squinted hard and cocked his head, trying to focus on the massive outline of Stinkily, he was definitely shimmying. 

Stinkily shuffled quietly into his silk kimono.  He knew that Malone wouldn’t be able to see the costume change.  He wouldn’t register the fine silk, the intricate stitching, the erotic unicorns; but he’d feel it, perhaps kinetically?  Stinkily made a quiet note to ask someone what kinetically meant, because he liked the sound of it, the taste of if wriggling out of his mouth.  He thought he could maybe use it on dates, or when he was interviewing crooks.  The kimono was smooth and cool and rubbed against his groin the way a cat greats a warm leg.  His nostrils flared, he liked Good Cop/Good Cop.  He knew it.  He trusted it. 

In the dark someone groaned.  A long drawn out whimper that didn’t sound human, but definitely was.  Wiry hair stood up on the back of Malone’s neck, then back, then lower back, this pattern continued and sat him an inch taller in his chair.  “I hope you like strawberry and cinnamon, Malone.”  Jorganson’s mint fresh whisper grooved into his ear.  Malone flinched as a tray of muffins slowly swept beneath his nose, and then he heard that gurgling, squirming groan again.  “Well from the sound of his tummy, I’d say he does.”  Damn that Stinkily, he sounded as though he was wearing some sort of oriental robe, he was oozing comfort.  Malone was no rat, he punched himself hard in the stomach to silence snitching acid and contracting muscles.  “I ain’t no snitch you bunch of animals.  What are ya?  Huh?  A bunch of animals?  Yeah, that’s it, a bunch of wild animals!”  Malone was pretty happy with this burn, but his buoyancy faltered short seconds later, as a police issue photocopier was smashed across the back of his head. 

Malone landed hard on the ground, listening to the gentle shrapnel shower of shattered plastic and broken glass land on and around him.  Hot thick blood soaked his hair and spread a squishy patch on the carpet, where it met and mingled with black photo copy ink.  Two men stood above him; Jorganson a red headed lion, and Stinkily in a stunning sapphire green kimono.  Good Cop/Good Cop had it’s way, and Malone spilt the beans.  As his life drained away, Malone sold Handsome David for the murder of Jimmy the Whippet.  But his words went unheard.  Maybe because his voice was too weak?  Maybe because the two cops were preoccupied by the sweet interrogation muffins?  No one could really say for sure. 

“That’s our third photocopy related death this week, and the third crook who wouldn't talk. I think I’m ready to declare Jimmy the Whippet a Cold Case.  Let’s you and I get a beer, Stinkily, I’d say we’ve earned it.”  Jorganson, like any good partner, turned away as Stinkily wriggled out of his kimono and back into his Classic Cop Slacks.  Moments later Stinkily lit cigarette, Jorganson looked up at the sound of the match and he punched Stinkily’s outstretched fist.  He led him over the crumpled wreck of Malone and out towards the car.  The Chief was going to need to hear about this.


*Want more Badly Town?  Click here

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Photo: Luke Lennox


A skinny street.
Morning sun licks the high sides of pink and orange apartment buildings.
Some dog barks.
Parked cars stay parked.
A kid on his first bike leads his old man, balding and tucked-in.
Plants fill terracotta pots fill balconies leaning over the road, and through the thick still morning a man smokes and eases an aimless bike from then to there.
A creaking old couple; matching bags, shades and stride; a perfect cadence.
A well dressed woman stops mid crossing, she kneels and gathers three fresh nuggets; the dog looks away. 

You're tall here, not tall enough for vertigo, but tall enough.
It occurs to you that it hasn't occurred to you to lean over, let a breeze whistle in your ears till you land, laugh and melt away.
You sip cooling coffee and wonder how long it's been sat in your lap.
The chemicals settled overnight and the street is as quiet as it gets, this morning a coffee and a view are things that matter as much as anything could.

A man in fresh blue jeans and a button down shirt picks his nose and wipes his find on a shop window.
This day is a good one.      





Friday, 13 September 2013

for the ghost that lives at my place

It’s ok. I’m awake. I must have had a silly dream, I’m wet with sweat and my heart is trying to escape. It’s ok. You’re all right. I’m so full of adrenalin I think I might be able to levitate. I try. Turns out adrenaline can’t make you levitate.
Save my hammering heart and wheezing chest, it’s very quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. You’re 29 years old, grow up. I reach up to flick on my lamp - nothing, the globe must be blown.
Something metallic scrapes something metallic. I can taste blood. No you can’t. I don’t like this. It’s ok. My eyes are adapting to the dark now. I can make out vague blurry shapes; everything looks as though it’s where it should be. I fumble out of tangled sweaty sheets and make a plan: I’m going to get up, drink some water, piss out some piss and hop back into bed. But as my left foot meets the floor I hear a throat clear. I freeze. 
Someone’s in my room. Words spill out of me, but not the ones I'd planned: Someone’s in my head. They hang in the stifled air like dazed party decorations, and then slowly recede back into my skull. I make a sound like a hungry baby and try the lamp again. It works. Light travels from my bedside table and fills the room. It’s ok. It’s ok. I’m ok. Gently, very gently I swing my right leg off the bed and lower my foot to the ground; nothing. I stand and try to laugh at myself; it comes out in a self conscious gurgle. Good, I can laugh at that.
Behind me a throat clears. My blood spreads winter. I lift my clenched fists like a movie poster tough guy and turn around, finding nothing but a stressed bed and three walls.

Silence.

My heart.

My breath.

The room's too thick, it stinks of sweat and the fish I fried for dinner.  Throwing open the curtains my blurry eyes settle on my blurry eyes.  My face floats before me in the glass, but it’s different.  It's wrong.  I blink hard, scrunching my eyes and cheeks together, squishy, heavy.  My nose.  My nose is big, it's different, it's huge, it's long and it's sloppy.  That smell; the trout I'd sizzled with lemon and pale ale as the sun set, that smell isn't just in my nose, it is my nose.  My nose is a fish.  A flopping, spotted fish.  This pale scaled slimy trout fused to my face between bone white cheeks. The tale splits at the end like wings and blends seamlessly from sloppy grey-white scales to human skin. Huge wet eyes sit limp in a skull dangling just before my chin.  Its gills open, the boney chest swells and I suck in fishy air.  Don't panic.  I shake my head to clear it, but nothing changes, I just turkey-slap my cheeks with the slimy swimmer protruding from the middle of my face.  You're panicking.  I shake my head harder, the fish slaps my cheek with such force a fish eye pops free from his fish face, fish blood and fish goo follow hot on its heals.  My room fills with a familiar sound, that dead man's laughter I don't believe in the daylight.  I slam my eyes shut tight.  I count to ten, but run out of patience and give up at seven.  I open my eyes, they settle again on my reflection.  It's ok. You're ok.  I'm ok.  I slow my breathing and study what the light bounces back: it's fine.  No fish, no fire, just a panicked idiot telling himself he doesn't believe in ghosts.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Lounge Room Confabulators

A story I built with Stuart Bowden in our new London factory -




You can have a peek at The Confabulators here: http://theloungeroomconfabulators.blogspot.co.uk/

Stuart has some really neat stuff here:  http://stuartdances.blogspot.co.uk/

Information regarding the Guinea Pig can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_pig

Friday, 2 August 2013

a bird with a good view of friday night

It’s 5:49 on a Friday arvo, it’s just under twenty degrees and the breeze is knocked off for the weekend.  Up high it’s the sort of bullshit blue you see in postcards, a sky that makes wankers nostalgic and dickheads thirsty.  The tallest thing on South Bridge Street is a gull, standing one webbed foot up on one of four orange chimneys, stacked together atop the old grey building across the street from my flat.  He’s been standing there for ages, aimlessly hassling his feathers with his beak the way you smoke waiting for a train.  I like him.    

Twenty minutes later and he’s still there.  I made and drained a cup of tea, and old mate is trusty as ever.  That bird, flicking his feathers and blinking for a hobby, could be anywhere.  There’s a beach, there’s mossy green bush, there’s some really decent places for a beer, and here he is standing alone on a chimney.  I mean I’m sure the view is pretty spectacular; this town rolls and rambles with a sweet smile and hacking cough that must look like something close to beauty when you see it all together, but birds get that like us middle class brats get soft beds.  Maybe he’s waiting for someone.  Maybe he’s waiting for his friends to turn up and bury the working week that took so long to die.  Or maybe there’s a lovely lady gull that sometimes haunts those chimneys on a Friday night, and he’s decided to just be in the neighbourhood.  Or maybe he’s hiding from them, from her, from the weekend.  Or maybe he’s just a bird with good view.  Either way I should have a shower, it’s Friday night, and I’m a thirsty dickhead. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

chopped liver (audio)

Perhaps you've already read this?  Well now you can read it with your eyes closed.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

before the birds

I woke up in time to see a good day break and wonder if it hurt.


I woke up in time to see the fledgling sun climbing its tree.


I woke up in time to feel like a cat burglar shivering around the house.


I woke up in time to smoke a cigarette before I knew it was dumb.


I woke up in time to hear the first flights over the city away to wherever they go.


I woke up in time to drink maybe the first coffee in my street.


I woke up in time to know it’s time to stop wondering about all those things I’m wondering about.


I woke up and it was dark, and now it's not, and that's not even amazing.  

Saturday, 13 July 2013

The girl on the tram

A short story about romance and a rattling commute.  This one is just for your ears, maybe give your peepers a break for a second?



Wednesday, 3 July 2013

chopped liver

Last night before I went to sleep, I threw myself trough a plate of glass and sliced my thumbs off with a butcher’s knife.  I don’t why.  Well I kind of know why.  I couldn’t sleep.  I tried a cold cup of tea with cat hair in it, but that didn’t do anything except taste delicious.  I wanted to wake up my handsome neighbour, Doug, and tell him about it, (he’s a bit of a foodie) but I crawled through his bathroom window to find him already wide awake.  He was actually in the middle of a particularly violent home invasion, and I found myself once again in a depressingly familiar situation.  Bare feet aching at the chill kiss from cold bathroom tiles, watching a better looking acquaintance, bound to the toilet, play dartboard for a balaclava clad psychopath with throwing knives. I stood there, hopping from numb foot to numb foot wondering what am I, chopped liver?  I mean I know for a fact that Doug both closes AND locks his front door precisely to prevent this sort of situation from recurring.  I don’t even have a front door, and do you know the last time I was tortured on the toilet?  June.  That’s when.  June.   I left Doug’s cup of tea next to the pliers and butane torch on the windowsill and saw myself out.


Back home, still wide awake, I pretended to be a ghost for a while.  I tip toed around the house, moaning and dragging my favourite chains, but my heart wasn’t really in it.  I gave up and thought maybe I would make another cup of tea but the cat wasn’t having any of it, so I climbed up onto the kitchen sink, crouched like a swimmer on the blocks, and waited.  When I heard the pistol crack from next door I dove strait through the kitchen window, landing laughing and bloody on the dewy AstroTurf of my backyard.  I lay back, head ringing happily, and smiled up at the stars projected by blurry eyes across the blotchy night sky.  As for my thumbs? Well, fuzzy heads and frosty mornings breed strange inspiration, we go with it, and sleep sweet dreamless ink.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

football helps

I sat high in the Southern Stand on a crisp Melbourne night.  My breath was fat with residual dim sim funk, a stinky ghost, that wispy white fog floating up to flavour the atmosphere.  My scarf hugged my neck and my arms hugged my me.  I sat alone, feet resting on the plastic back of the empty chair in front, and I watched the game I love like a brother, like my father, like my brother.  It was an honest contest.  No shirking, no sulking, forty-odd bodies crashing and sometimes crumpling, but always coming back up again, and again, and again.  The crowd was thin but focused, like the combatants’ breathing deep into each quarter.
 
I love the MCG under lights.  It smells cleaner, the way the cold air stings your lungs, it makes the dream taste clearer, closer. Now I know I’m sketchy at the moment, I’m moving to the other side of the planet very soon and my heart and my head are wobbling with the best of them, still, I’m not often this frail.  I frequent the football more than a grown man should, but never before has it moved me in such a way.  About eight minutes into the final quarter a tackle was shrugged, the ball carrier accelerated and then snapped deftly, truly.  She clenched her fists and shouted wordlessly at the crowd behind the goals and my eyes clouded and then clogged - almost.
    

It’s a sorry thing to say, but it's been some time since I felt proud of the place that grew me.  It’s been a long year, littered with shame and slack jawed disbelief, hot anger and numb stretching apathy. There’s a bitterness that ruins my dinners and fills notepads with scratchy inarticulate moaning.  Football helps.  It’s often a happy hollow escape where I slurp flat beer and talk rubbish with my brother over a stolen pie.  But last night at the MCG there was nothing hollow about it.  I was galvanised.  There was such a strong sense of pride in the women playing the game.  A prickling, almost tangible static energy that coursed through the stadium.  An unmistakable fuck you to anyone who says football, or anything, is a man’s game.  Those women were playing tough and skilful footy.  I looked up at the scoreboard, we were winning.   

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

when it gives me the creeps

i don’t want to do it i don’t want to do it i don’t want to do it i don’t want to do it i don’t want to do it i don’t want to do it anymore.
It’s a good one.  I’m squalling.  I’m dizzy.  I breathe.  I breathe.  I breathe.  I rap my knuckles across my scone, it sounds faint and looks spotty.
i don’t want to do it i don’t want to do it i don’t want to do it i don’t want to do it.
I work harder on breathing.  My wrists are buzzing with adrenaline; I’m so full of juice I feel like I shouldn’t be touching the ground, but I’m breathing.  I’m breathing.  
it’s ok it’s ok it’s ok it’s ok it’s ok it’s ok i don’t want to do it it’s ok it’s ok.

I’m making funny sounds, all farty and wet and there’s snot on my sleeve and I’m pressing my left eye into my knee cap and it feels better.  I don’t know how I got here.  I’m crouching next to my bed, and only now do I register the knob from my sock drawer pressing hard into a fatty cushion in my lower back.  It hurts.  It’s good.  It’s a boring dull grounding ache. I breathe.  I breathe.  I venture a laugh. It’s pretty speculative, the sort of Coo-Wee! you hope finds a friend and not a bear in the bush. The spots are slipping back to sleep, I’m sinking back into the drawer and I’m laughing.  I’m laughing and wiping snot from my face onto my already damp sleave and filling my belly with stupid hacking laughter.  It’s ok.  I’m ok.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

a funny little voice

I think I was on my fourth beer, don’t worry, I got em cheap.  I was sat in the kitchen with my girl and a friend of ours.  Sarah was talking about how her partner was heading to Tassie to study stone crafted tools at the museum.  She says he’s hopeful of tracing their journey across the coast, he suspects they may have been made for trade.  I started to ask Sarah how he was going to do this, and then stopped.  She could tell me, but what’s the point?  I don’t get science.  I’ve watched docos, read articles and even been lucky enough to speak to real live archaeologists (without the hats, but they still count) who have patiently explained what they do when they dig and study and grow our world.  I listen, fascinated and faltering, grasping what I can and waving in the rear view mirror at the facets and facts I can’t retain, watching them bob away in the wake of a story on an ocean of things I will never really understand.

My phone rang.  This phone, it’s what the kids are using these days.  It’s a mobile.  No cords, no wires, no worries - It’s a smart phone.  I answered, and then heard my little sister’s voice in my ear.  She was calling from the country, sitting in a room I couldn’t see, talking into a little piece of plastic that turned her voice into binary and sent it to the little piece of plastic smushed up against my cheek.  The data (Meg’s voice) I think bounces off satellites before it gets to me.  It might also travel through some cables along the way maybe, I’m not sure.  I know it works, I’m not sure how, but it’s science, it’s ok.

Meg sounded light.  She was tired, but beaming.  I didn’t know people did that on the phone.  A voice gets scrambled up into numbers, shot from a cannon and then put back together a split second later, usually things come out in the wash.  But last night, on the phone my little sister beamed, she was as happy as an idiot in a sunshower.  She laughed, and then I heard another voice, a smaller, higher, funnier one.  It was my nephew, a tiny little human I have never seen.  His funny little voice a new toy, his dad a mountain no monster could scale, his mum an answer for everything.  I pressed my smart phone up to my stupid head and drank my ear full to the brim.

Later I hung up and walked back into the kitchen to open a fresh beer.  I had an eyelash in my eye; the girls didn’t believe me.        

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

eyeballing the everything


Harry was thick skinned, that’s not a turn of phrase.  To be fair he was thin skinned where it counted, but his wrists?  Thick.  He’d been digging away with a bone saw for twenty minutes before he saw a single drop of blood.  Thankfully his persistence paid off, and bleed he did - finally.

It was time to celebrate.  He made himself a toasted cheese sandwich and sat on an upturned bucket in the backyard.  The morning sun shone warm and easy on the back of his neck and rolled down beneath his shirt like honey.  Above him the sky sat still, open and honest.  Harry crunched into his sandwich.  A warm oily glob of gooey cheese greased through corner of his mouth and landed on his shoe, man, it was a really good sandwich. 

As he sat there soaking up the sun, eyeballing the everything, chewing, slurping and bleeding, Harry realised he had it all.  Every little bit, and then some.  Harry started to sing.  He didn’t bother with words; he just set loose the sounds in his head, in his fingers and balls, blistering and free to the wobbly cadence of his tin can heart.  A spittley crumb peppered mist painted his song as his joy rang up and out into the May morning sky, a disgusting, blood pounding, dream-weaving warble.

A magpie fell from the sky and stuck like a javelin in the grass, stone dead.  Its bird beak in the earth and its bird bum mooning the heavens, a mere foot from Harry’s mere foot.  Amazing.  Harry kept singing.  A seagull landed on its side, stiff as a board.  Harry bit deeper into his sandwich and pushed his song out harder, and higher.  Another bird fell, and another, and another.  They kept on coming, thicker and faster.  The heavy thump of stiff bird on crisp cut grass played beautifully with Harry’s song.  A jumbo jet crushed the house next door, and then seconds later the burning screaming rubble was subsequently body slammed by a police helicopter.  Harry’s heart opened up and he sang and sang and chewed and sang.  Meteors came crashing around him, and satellites, then stars, a shitty old space station and the moon.  It all fell at his feet, begging forgiveness. 

Harry finished his sandwich.  Harry finished his song.  He went inside and did the dishes, wondering if his friends would believe him.           


Sunday, 24 March 2013

He woke before the sun


He woke before the sun.  He stretched.  He got out of bed and stubbed his toe.  He swore.  He stubbed his other toe.  He swore and cried a little bit.  He put his shoes and socks on, realised his error and put his socks and shoes on, this was still all before the sun.  He ran a shower; he stood beneath the jets and stared at cream tiles four inches from his face.  He sopped out of the shower.  He swore, wriggled out of his soaking soapy clothes, dried himself off, and before the sun he tumbled back into bed. 

The sun peeped pretty over the hill and into his street, casting pointy shadows for bins lined up by a dewy nature strip.  His slack jawed slow breathing stayed true.  The sun pressed its hands on the earth and pushed itself higher to get a better look.  Shadows shrunk and cars started with coughs and slammed doors.  He rolled over into damp dribble, startled, swore, turned the pillow over and slipped back to sleep.  The sun dazzled self-consciously, it beamed and grinned and waited for him to look up with a smiling yawn.  His housemate sung in the shower, he put his damp pillow over his head and squeezed his eyes shut tight.  The sun beamed and blushed and worried.  Bins went belly up as a garbage truck stopped and started and burped and farted up and down street.  The sun hid behind a low hanging cloud and puzzled over the last time they spoke.   

The phone rang and rang and rang and died.  He stumbled out of bed, stubbed his toe and swore like before.  He showered and dressed.  He stomped down stairs with a stone in his guts.  He ground his coffee and looked out the kitchen window to see a day withering with rainless clouds.  He sipped his coffee but didn’t taste it.  He slipped out the back door and saw a sky sick and wasted, weak blue grey, with thin clouds in shrouds dampening light.  He couldn't see the sun, but he spied its milky glow feeding into some surly stratus.  He felt sick.  He thought he should say something, but he didn't know how.     
   

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Really good puddles

I hope you ignored the insult and accepted the offering.
I hope you smiled, and squinted, and looked up into emptying clouds.
I hope you stomped some really good puddles.
I hope you noticed beads suspended in spider-webs while businessmen shuffled past.
I hope the rain smelled sweet, and in the grey street old oil spots woke to bleed bright orange and blue, all for you, on a wet walk to work.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Pinky hold


I went on a date last night.  She was pretty, with blue hair and Colgate commercial chompers playing hide and seek behind really smoochy lips.  Red ones.  (Her lips, not her chompers.)  She took my hand and we strolled through this park, one of those big botanical ones.  The trees were huge and lovely and had nametags nailed to their tummies.  There were half-hearted hills covered in good grass, little flowerbeds and lots of native plants.  Giving shape was a slinky slow river that meandered between lazy oaks and ghost gums to fill up a fat bellied lake.  Some oil painting ducks were chatting in the middle, and at the edges, near the boardwalk, there were reeds and things that smelt like long gone school camps, good ones.

It was a still night, big coloured light bulbs were strung along the path, and our footsteps crunched softly while crickets told jokes to each other.  We had nothing to say, but plenty to look at.  We held hands, not whole hands, it was just a pinky hold – like when you let go of someone’s hand and then you both change your mind at the last minute, and just hold pinkies.  It’s this tenuous link, like a loose tooth, nature or gravity or some other bully should break it, but it holds.  Your pinkies stay there, linked, not locked, that wouldn’t be sweet - linked.  After a while we let go, only it felt like we didn’t.  Because we had hummed and buzzed through that link so brightly, when the connection broke it felt like hanging up the phone only to discover the person you were talking to was in the same room. 
   
After ten fairy lit minutes our path crested a hill, and we stumbled into a hullabloo, a shindig, a sort of medieval hoo-ha.  The bbq area was overflowing with costumed locals - you know, Knights and lords and peasants in green stockings.  They were having a ball; there was sword fighting, dwarf tossing and a sausage sizzle.

I spent my last three bucks buying her a sausage in bread.  It was burnt and I couldn’t afford onion, but she got the last smoke in the pack gesture and offered to share. 

We sat on this hay bail made out old TVs strapped together with shoelaces.  We finished our snack and sat there quietly, not really knowing what to say or do.  She looked at me and said my pants were a bit grubby.  I got really embarrassed, but then she grinned and dusted some faint traces of dirt off my knees.  I made a stupid chuckling sound in my throat; she’d just wanted to touch me.  She laughed at my laugh and the night suddenly seemed deeper, a lightning shift from foot spa to diving pool. 

My laugh died just after hers, I looked at her, she wasn’t going to speak.  I told her she had some burnt sausage crumbs on her cheek and I brushed them off with my thumb.  She blushed.  I did that stupid laugh again, but she just pushed my hand away.  She looked hurt.  I tried my best eye hug but she looked away.  I told her it was ok, she didn’t really have sausage on her cheek, that I just made it up.  She asked me why.  I told her I didn’t know, “because I’m an idiot?” 

She screwed the sauce-stained napkin into a ball and shoved it up my left nostril, then she whistled to a passing peasant who immediately ran over and started beating me with his homemade stick.

She stood up, jumped on the back of the horse this tinfoil knight was riding and trotted away.  It was painful and humiliating, and not just for me.  As I lay there getting wailed on by some DIY peasant in stockings, my heart went out to the Blue Kelpie, painted white, being ridden like a horse. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

A crab named Sebastian




I was having a bad night last night.  The kind of bad night that makes you walk.  It was late when I wandered along Queen Street toward the docks.  I passed four bible bashers, two had microphones, and one of those was a music theatrey headset.  Pretty flash.

The street was predictably pissy for a Friday night, but also kind of relaxed.  I made it to the docks and ambled along the waterfront, past snazzy couples on dates until I found a bench all to myself.  The sound of Friday night jarred against the water, gulls, creaking boats and groaning ropes.  I sat and sulked and wondered why I was so far from home.  I was in real danger of writing poetry, shit poetry, so I reached into my bag for my sodoku book instead.  I stared at the blocks and numbers and chewed my biro.  In the corner of the page I drew a picture of a worm, he was trying to light his fart with the sun.  It wasn’t very good.  

Putting the book back in my bag I noticed the card I had stashed in there, bright yellow and orange and completely hand made.  On the front was a detailed pen drawing of a crab, with the ‘gonopod’, ‘carpus’ and other bits of anatomy labelled in red texta.

Inside the card sat ten cut out shells and a pop-up crab, with moving claws and eyes.  The note, written by a lovely girl, told me the pop-up crab was named Sebastian.  She thanked me for my show, and wished me luck for the rest of the season.  The card was signed with a smiley face and the author’s name.

I didn’t cry.  I wasn’t even close.  But I felt warm and shaky, still lonely, but the isolation and shame you wear following failure was lifting like morning mist meeting the sun.

I walked back up Queen Street, past the amplified creeps towards the theatre.  There was a small crowd at the edge of Aotea square watching some Latin drummers.  I stopped for maybe five minutes and listened.  I stood in this little crowd, a random gaggle of strangers, laughing and clapping, and I felt myself filling up.

I stopped back in at the theatre, the crash site, and found myself with good company and cold beer.  I was having a good night.


Honest


Dear Patron of The Arts,

Thank you for coming to my silly little show.  I know you're busy, and I’m sorry you couldn’t catch the whole thing, but I do hope you enjoyed the twenty minutes of Fringe Theatre you were able to sneak into your evening.  What a hoot, hey?

I hope you got home safe.  I hope you didn’t scratch the paint parking, or forget to turn the headlights off.  I hope you weren't too put out when you mixed up your toothpaste and haemorrhoid cream.  I hope the bedbugs didn’t bite.  I hope no possum wriggled through the cat flap to piddle on your sofa.  I hope the expensive wine you drank wont keep charging in the morning.  I hope the call that drags you out of bed isn’t a telemarketer.  I hope there’s no screaming kids in your favourite café.  I hope no one spits in your coffee.  I hope they don’t fart on your eggs.  Honest.    

Wil.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

It's easy to be happy


There’s mint in your drink, ice clinks the sweating glass.  You sit lit by fairy lights, a thick still Sunday night that’s too hot to sleep.  Someone else’s party floats over the back fence and you reach into your top pocket for that pouch of tobacco you threw away four years ago.  She sees you slip and smiles a question.  You tell her it's nothing, “just a nice night”, and it is. 

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Peepers telling porkies

I finished my joke about the cat that eats unborn babies and waited, patiently, for recognition of my ability to hold an audience.  It didn’t come.  Fucking hicks in this town.

I pushed my fringe out of my eyes and tried to focus on the girl behind the bar.  She was showing teeth, but I wasn’t sure what they meant.  I was mid swig when I saw you.  I almost choked, and then spat a gobful of foamy beer in her face.  She called me a name.  Who cares?  I didn’t. 

I stood up, knocking over my barstool and rushed towards you, arms flailing like I was waving down a rescue plane.  What the fuck are you doing here?  I was about to ask, but then I stopped when I noticed your haircut, I thought it would be rude not to mention that first.  You were also wearing a new dress, the kind of green that fills the middle of those peppermint Cadbury Roses.

People made affected huffing sounds as I sweatily shoved them aside, but fuck them, it was you.  I was so excited and surprised to see you that my heart was hummingbirding just like a hummungbird.  “Aren’t you in Melbourne?!”  It was lucky I spat the words out so fast, because I had only just finished speaking when my face crashed into the concrete floor.  This fancy pants Vietnam vet tripped me with his diamante studded, sequined wooden leg.  Bubbles of blood burst and gurgled in my throat as I smugly laughed and told the old codger the joke was on him, my face broke the fall, so the phone in my shirt pocket was fine.  Vince stumped out of the bar and I revelled in my victory.

I tried to look up and speak to you directly, but first I had to wrench my incisor free from the floor.  My third savage attempt to yank my face backwards worked, I was free.  The floor kept my tooth, but I called it a draw, it was going black anyway.  My eyes crawled up from your blood soaked shoes to your face, but you weren’t you.  Not even a little bit.  I mean you were pretty, and wearing a lovely green dress, but you weren’t really you.  This you was just some disgusted, pretty New Zealander with my blood on her shoes.  You were still in Melbourne. 

The music was dead and there was lots of gleeful whispering zipping around the room.  I looked over at the girl behind the bar, I was going to ask if I could maybe get a tab or something, but she was wiping beer off her face and signalling for the bouncer to punch me in the kidneys.  What a shit night.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Basement




Dear The Basement,

You are very lovely.  Super lovely.  I’d like to tell you how I feel about you but it’s tricky, you’re too big and tingly to squish down onto a silly little page.  When I first met you, to be honest, I was nervous.  I was also very smelly, with a runny nose and bloodshot eyes – I came strait from the airport.  But you didn’t seem to mind, I guess you were feeling a little self-conscious about your appearance too.  It was about six hours before you reopened with all your wiz bang renovations, and you had lots of dust and paint and bins on and around you.  You looked worried, but you needn’t have, you were beautiful, even then. 

The past couple of weeks have been very special to me, every night you pick me up and dust off the loneliness that catches in my beard during the day.  Your beer is always very cold, and who ever happens to be standing behind the bar smiles when they see me stump up the steps.  I smile too, and my air balloon heart fills with fossil fuel and lifts, while the tiny couple in the basket spit over the edge and open a bottle of bubbles.

I have a handful of shows left, then I’m left leaving you here, far too far from me.  I’ll miss you when I’m gone, and think about you often.  I’ll tell my friends all about you and the times we shared.  They’ll tell me to shut up and talk about something else, and I will, but secretly I’ll still be thinking of you.

I love you, The Basement,

Love Wil.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Krumpet


It’s dark.  Krumpet is lost and lonely.  It’s dark all the time.  It’s dark all the time because Krumpet is lost and lonely in Antarctica, in the middle of winter, which means there has been no sunlight for the past three months.  Krumpet isn’t exclusively lost and lonely however, he is also stuck.  Krumpet, or more specifically his left kneecap, is wedged between the big rusty teeth of a bear trap.  So Krumpet is lost, and lonely, and stuck, and cold and bleeding. 

Krumpet has spent months in the snow, watching the blood go from a gush to a flow to a trickle.  He watched the snow change colour, and taste.  He turned the plain white snow into copper-flavoured deep red crystals.  Krumpet understands, he knows, Krumpet is an alchemist.  He knows he can turn empty things into living things, frozen things into melted things, and sad things into jokes.  He knows this.  

Krumpet likes the moon, but he’d like it better if it was the sun.  With the waistband from his trousers, and the bones of whatever occupied the trap before him, Krumpet has built a very powerful slingshot.  The Chucker can fire capsules of blood up and into the moon.  Krumpet started off by collecting toenail clippings from his two smallest toes.  Then fingernail clippings.  Then hair trimmings.  Then ear wax.  Then he backtracked and collected those rugged, thick, rust coloured wedges of toenail from his two big toes.  Then he picked a scab off his knee, it was shaped like a duck, he put that scab in a bottle and labelled it “Duck Shaped Left Knee Scabs”, and when the bottle was full he fired it up at the moon.  He fires it all up there. 

On a clear night, when it isn’t too windy or too snowy, when the gulls cries abate, when the waves whisper, when Krumpet’s relentless sobbing is stuck in his throat, when his shrill laughter takes a walk for the other side of the island, when the night is just like that and all you can hear is nothing, when all you can hear is a waiting sound, a waiting to be filled up with noises, well on these nights Krumpet fires The Chucker.  Krumpet fires a capsule of blood or skin or elbow scab up into space, he watches the tiny capsule whirl and twirl and zoom strait toward the moon.  While that little rocket ship flies he lies back in the snow and watches it go.  Krumpet strains his ears and holds his breath so that he can hear the capsule ‘plump’ into the soft sandy face of the moon. 

He isn’t sure what he’s trying to do, not exactly, he figures he’s an alchemist.  Maybe I’ll make the man in the moon wake up?  Maybe all he needs is some bits?  Some crawlies to creep around his sandy veins and shake the old boy back to life?  Maybe.  That’s alchemy for you.






Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Making Shapes




You can see the Southern Cross from my place in Coburg, and through the smudgy tram window.  You can see it on the calf of the woman jogging past the café, and on the nylon flag attached to my neighbours ute.  You can see it from my mum and dads old place in the country.  There's wattle in the front yard and a couple of gums out the back, and you can see big dry paddocks stretching out towards old blue mountains that drink the sunset.

You can see plenty of dead roos on the drive between my place and theirs.
You can see a bunch of flowers rotting on a sun-bleached marker by the roadside.  And another one.  And another one.  There’s a bounty of beauty and waste and simple silence.

At night, when the day is dead and the stars show up, all spit polished and distant for the funeral, if you tilt your head you can make shapes.
A saucepan.
A goat.
A cross - five floating freckles.
You can scratch them on your arm, or stick them on your bumper, or piss them into the sand.  You can do whatever you like, but you can’t own them, they’re stars.  You might have been born beneath them, but so what?