There was a time when Paul could stand the smell of his wife’s feet. When the sight of her in the morning sent him wild with confusion, and not just simply confused. There was a time when their song would come on and they’d sing in unison, facing each other, laughing between breaths. There was a time when Paul didn’t have to list the reasons to stay. There was a time when their only suitcase was filled with both their clothes. And they’d both walk out the door together, one with the suitcase, one with the passports and Lonely Planet guide for the respective city. There was a time, and that time was not today.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
“Before I piss I turn on the hot water tap.”
“That’s a waste of water.”
“You’re annoying when you’re sober.”
James was annoying when he was sober. Nothing was dulled; he had morals, emotions and opinions. He’d all of a sudden care about advertising to minors, his mother’s welfare and the smoking tax. I didn’t particularly give a fuck about any of those things, except maybe the smoking tax, and even then, he was for it.
“Listen, Jeremy, I’m only sober because I have issues, you know. You just sit there and drink yourself stupid.”
He had issues, alright. The last time we went camping he didn’t shit for four days out of fear that a spider might crawl up his cake hole. Or pie hole. Whichever one is the ass. The other means the mouth. Or maybe they both meant the mouth?
“Listen, today I was thinking. I was thinking, you know that saying, I wish I could cross the road so I don’t have to see you?”
“I understand what you’re trying to say, yes.”
“Right, well, I was thinking, if my mind was a person, and I wanted to avoid thinking about Emily, I could say, I wish my mind could cross the road so I didn’t have to think of you.”
It’s one of the more profound things I’ve heard James say. There is something truly beautiful in there. It rouses something in me. I start thinking about all the thoughts that could cross the road. Get hit by cars. Bikes. Trams. Maybe even a train at a railway crossing or something. All these thoughts never reaching salvation. Perhaps a thought would get stuck in tram tracks and I had no arms to pull it out. It just festered in there, being railed over time and time again. Pounded and pounded until it finally died. My mind would have to live all that out.
It was a truly beautiful thought. But there’s no way I could encourage it.
“I hate when you’re sober.”
Friday, May 27, 2011
This is a note to tell you that I think brunettes suit me more. My pillow cases are only ever white and I think the brown complements them well. I’m also not a fan of large breasts. Huge sacks of fat in my face are merely distracting and I have to concentrate on too many things as it is. To be honest, I also find them mildly scary, but I haven’t thought through exactly why. Lastly, I never used to be into taller girls, but I think I am now. I want to be able to share the cleaning of the tops of doorways with someone. Selfish, I know, but let’s be honest, it’s gotten to that stage.
On a more emotional level I think we could work. While you don’t have any of the physical attributes I am after, you are aware of when I am happy and when I am sad. I suppose the drinking and laughing are give aways. The smiling and the crying, too. In fact, let’s scrap that. You’re not right on that level, either.
In terms of intelligence, you fit many of the criteria. You have wit, but it’s a kind of borrowed wit. It’s never, to quote a song I can’t name just at the moment, off the top of your dome. Same goes for your philosophies. I am sure I have seen them on bumper stickers before. And don’t get me started on your rote learning, it pisses me off more than people standing two across on escalators, holding hands. I’ll chop their arms off. Maybe a little harsh. I can tell you won’t be smiling now.
Finally, you’ve never ever been into coffee. It hurts your stomach.
So, that’s it. Those are my qualms. Happy to still pursue something with you, but unless you’re willing to change, we can’t do business anymore. Apologies. If you need another accountant I’d be happy to recommend one. In fact, my colleague Chris is fond of blondes, even stupid ones like you.
Robert Francis Coleman.
Ps: I know you’re a client, but taking me out for lunch some day wouldn’t hurt. Or get me a little trinket from overseas next time that I can put on my desk. Chris doesn’t like trinkets, so don’t bother if you decide to go with him. Cheers, RFC. (Why did I sign off again…? So silly. I am). x
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The contestants are cooking sponge on Masterchef and Jeremy has three girls on his mind. He needs to make a decision on one of them because of the old man he offered his seat to this morning on the tram. The old man clinging to his dignity in a pinstripe, soaked in Brut. This man, Alfred ended up being his name, shook his head when Jeremy offered his seat. Instead, he stood, weightless – shifting from side to side with the jumps of the tram. Just standing and shifting and crying. Alfred was on his way to the Alfred Hospital to see his dying wife in the suit she bought him in Rome on their third, and final, overseas trip together. She had worn an orange dress that day. Tanned and beautiful, Alfred said he wanted that image of her to be the lasting one. Happy, of sound mind, in an orange dress on a Roman street. “That moment, it hasn’t blurred at all”, he said.
So the contestants are cooking sponge on Masterchef and Jeremy is making the conscious decision to fall in love. To have a reason to cry on a tram in 40 years, just like Alfred.
Jeremy met Straw Girl at Prudence, where he meets most of the girls he thinks about. She drank her beer through a straw, hence the name. She’d seen him play a gig only a week beforehand. She said, with straw in mouth, that she was fascinated by him. The way he played his bass and closed his eyes and moved to the jumps of the music. “Sexually charged” was a phrase she used. This vexed Jeremy, but her breasts seemed supple, face largely beautiful and the straw represented something phallic which he liked. They slept together, no numbers were exchanged and she hasn’t been back in the bar since. In fact, the only piece of her Jeremy had left was the gnarled plastic on his bedside table. Unless he ran a match on her dental records, tracking her down seemed futile. A long shot.
Sarah 1 was the girl who held Jeremy’s gaze too long. Unsettling, but entirely beautiful (not just largely beautiful like Straw Girl). Sarah 1 knew a lot about pop culture. Citing lines from Cohen Brother movies in response to Jeremy’s comments about alcohol and fish and the wandering embers of a camp fire. Sarah 1 was someone Jeremy could fall in love with, maybe not tomorrow, but her endearing traits would eventually whittle away enough of his cynicism to make being around her sober palatable. Eventually.
Unlike Sarah 1, Sarah 2 knew a lot about war, particularly those of the 19th Century. She had peculiarly placed freckles, one on her cheek next to her left ear, and one on the tip of her nose. She was one Jeremy could take home to his mother for a roast, if it weren’t for the fact she were vegetarian. She’d never owned a fixed gear and had no desire to blog about fashion which was refreshing. But Jeremy wasn’t even sure if she’d ever had a crush on Jude Law. He knew he had, but wasn’t sure if she’d ever fallen victim to Law's English charm. Ultimately there wasn’t much Jeremy could do with Sarah 2. Their sex wasn’t mind-blowing and he wasn’t sure she’d ever achieve an orgasm with him. She didn’t put her hands above her head when she danced and she despised people who drank rum without a mixer. Jeremy wasn’t particularly fond of rum neat himself, but he was fond of girls who were. He'd known only four of these girls and one was a cousin.
After thinking about these three girls, Jeremy grew most disheartened. He went outside, to the porch of his share house, and lit a cigarette. In a clichéd moment, he smiled at the stars he hadn’t seen in the sky above Melbourne for too long. He recalled Alfred’s reaction when he offered a sympathetic I am so sorry you’re going through this. Alfred had looked at him, clocking his lack of empathy; not for lack of trying, just through a lack of life experience. The look said You don’t know yet. You don’t know the world of shit that you’ll go through yet. But you will, little fella, you will. And one day you'll own your own suit which you'll wear as the one you love slips away.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Almonds turned maroon, as whites were turned pink by portable heaters. Heaven fell heavy in sheets outside windows, running from the roof and washing away the junk food memories, before disappearing into sealed drains, to be stored away for another winter’s day.
From the warmth of two different bedrooms, two identical decisions were being made.
Their feet hit the road at rhythms not the same; one, the scuttle of a Terrier on floorboard, and the other with the purposeful bound of a Doberman. Birds of all ages fought against the elements to watch from above, as these two shadows crossed a bitumen maze below at great speed. The shadows’ silent calls thudding dull against the winter-hardened air, each breath exploding into a dusty cloud.
The birds stopped and stole positions on the gutter of a decaying roof. The shadows had collided, the two clouds now a spilling mess from a single chimney. The maroons turned to almond, and the pinks turned back to white. Their journey had ended and junk food memories had been washed away with the night.
And behind the one dusty cloud were two clear smiles. Smiles at the idea that no thought was as silly as rain falling like snow in summertime.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I found a note in a bar, atop the fireplace. I had to be quick to retrieve it, I hate fireplaces. The smell they stain to your clothes, it has always bothered me. I found this note and didn’t give it back. I read it over a pint; a pint that beaded with sweat, just like its temporary owner:
“Dear Mel, Melissa,
I remember what you said. About the blossoms in Japan, how you wanted to see them. I went to the florist today, to find the blossoms. It turns out you can’t just buy them anywhere, any time. I guess I didn’t probe you about this.
I also remember that you liked my socks – the ones with the stripes and the polka dots on the toes. How you wanted some. I went in search of these too, then I realised I never took notice of your feet. How big they were. I didn’t want to get it wrong, so I didn’t buy you any of these socks.
Lastly, I remember how you said you liked notes. That there was nothing more ‘real’ than an honest note or letter. So I am writing this to you.
I thought about you tonight as I was putting together my mum’s new lamp. Fitting together slender poles. Ripping them out of their plastic covers. Twisting them. Bending them. Pushing them into each other. My mum was watching me closely. Completely unaware that you were being put together in her living room. We both smiled when you were plugged in and you lit the room.
There’s a bit of my chest still on your back, and a bit of your saliva still somewhere in my throat. I’ll try not to cough it up. In fact, I’ll drink it down and make sure it is buried in me. So that my stomach can’t forget. Maybe that’s why, as I write this note, and I’m thinking of you, my stomach gets queasy. Perhaps you’re not meant to be in there. Your saliva I mean.
Jeremy Steven Rockdale.”
I let my pint sweat. And wondered why this guy, Jeremy, just left this note, for this girl, Melissa. Why she never got it? Or maybe she did, and she left it here?
I ask at the bar if they know a Jeremy. They say they do. He’s a writer. He was in here tonight. He was crying. And smiling. And drinking, but not quickly. He was writing too. Did you see what he was writing? No, they didn’t see what he was writing, but when they asked, he said it was something for a new film. A sad film. He hadn’t been working on it long, but it was near completion. Oh, and have you ever seen any of his films before? The bartender had. Only one. It was about a girl he couldn’t forget, so he drank her away.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The apocalypse is coming on Saturday and I’m in the supermarket and I’m thinking about the apocalypse coming on Saturday. The barber just told me it was coming, so here I am, with a shave I didn’t need and a list of ten items on a lined A4 sheet. My list reads as follows:
- - Washing powder. Well, I’m not going to be doing much washing after Friday and I’ve got enough clean pairs of underwear to last me until Saturday
- - Pasta. I’ve had my fair share over these 24 years and I never use a full packet. I’ll replace them with two-minute noodles. If there’s not long left then I need to be economical with my time
- - Toilet Paper. It’s not my turn, but my housemates are lazy. Fuck buying a big clumsy roll and walking down Errol St like a dildo who doesn’t know the apocalypse is coming; or worse, like a dildo who is shitting his pants that it’s coming. So I buy a four roll pack and hope my flat mates don’t take a roll each to masturbate with, not knowing of their imminent deaths
- - Milk. Despite the fact there’s only 36 hours to live, I want to drink at least three Milo. So I buy the plush glass-bottle style milk and can already see myself throwing it at a passerby on Saturday morning. Trying desperately to do some damage to them. I’ve never given anyone a hemorrhage and now seems the most appropriate time
- - Cereal. Fuck it
- - Tampons (for Stef, my female flat mate). Let her bleed. I’m sure she’s got a couple under her bed somewhere to tide her over
- - Toothpaste. Who am I kidding? I don’t care if she hates my breath, if anyone does complain they’ll be sucking the vile dick of Satan in 48 hours anyhow
- - Tuna. Someone snuck that on my list. Not my handwriting. Fuck them.
I scrap tea, soda water, rubber gloves and batteries. Instead I buy a two-part Milky Way, a slab of Coopers and a bottle of whiskey. May as well go out drunk and satisfied.
With the slab on my shoulder and one lonely plastic bag clapping into my knee, I walk home. I walk home and I’m thinking about her and if she knows that the apocalypse is coming. If maybe she’ll have a change of heart and call me on the way home. Tell me, in her beautiful, linear way, that she loves me, even though she doesn’t really know me. That I can borrow her jumper for the apocalypse and that she doesn’t mind if I sweat in it. That we should put together a picnic and sit in Flagstaff Gardens and watch as the world collapses around us. Uncharacteristically smoking a joint and staring into each other’s faces. We wouldn’t bother kissing, we’d just straight up make love. With everyone watching. Parents on their mobiles to the police, covering the eyes of their children, hurrying along their defecating dogs. Watching, disgusted, but incapable of averting their eyes. As two people make love on a blanket, next to a half empty jar of hummus and ten empty stubbies of Coopers. The only two people in the Gardens who know that the apocalypse is coming and that they need to make the most of it. After all, we’re not complete strangers. We know each other’s middle names. I hope she calls tonight.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
In my life, there have been very few moments I’ve stood still - bewildered in some bushes as a snake roared past, terrified as my grandma slithered away, and confused as a car drifted at incredible speed into my knees. And recently, I stood still again, watching green pants disappear past a park.
There seemed an ever-present stench of sour garbage in our apartment, the likes of which I’d only smelt out the rear of suburban Vietnamese restaurants. Broken glass glistened on the kitchen floor, but in my melancholy, I merely drew a deep breath and walked barefoot to my desk. I wrote here for several hours about my disbelief at a life without the green pant wearer, until I again made the journey across the kitchen to fetch a banana. The subsequent fifteen minutes was spent removing shards with thumb and forefinger and remembering stories of heartache from books and movies and the Rose St market flyer distributor.
The last few days have been spent standing still, again, and considering the flight of empathy with a cigarette between cut fingers and a fedora pulled well over my brow.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Licking the sides of my credit card, a stomach digestive advertising slogan beyond the checkpoint catches my attention: “Life has no boundaries.”
Rattle in my brain.
Replace ‘has’ with ‘knows’. Makes it more eloquent, doesn’t it? Less harsh, perhaps more clichéd, but less harsh and more eloquent. Now - Life knows no boundaries. Life, no, snow boundaries. No, snow has no boundaries. Well, maybe the snow fields. I’ve never been skiing. Stay on track. Nearly there. God, my stomach hurts, I definitely need to shit before I get on this plane. Speaking of which, I wouldn’t mind one final cigarette. Wait, you’ve nearly got it, don’t digress. There, digress, yes! And sir, here is the campaign I’ve been working on. I think the strategy speaks for itself. ‘I digest, therefore I am’… That’s better, Robbie, nice and original.
‘Excuse me, sir, do you have a laptop in here?’ The man was tall. The uniform and strong jaw spoke of authority. He towered, legs slightly more than shoulder width apart. Boarding school had trained me in identifying weakness in types like this, particularly in moments of confrontation. Go for the groin.
“Sir –“ This time his voice held some slight irritation.
What does he think I have in here? A bomb? You don’t have a bomb, don’t make out like you do. If you did they’d probably extradite you to Turkey on request, a nice looking boy like you, just to live out that wonderful scene from the Midnight Express where…
‘Sir’, this time sternly. Any minute he would reach for his side arm. ‘Do you have a laptop in here?’
“I certainly do. And love letters”. I removed the laptop, the lid of which I’d been racking lines of cocaine off only hours earlier. We had made them like snail trails, just to change it up a bit. “I won’t show you the love letters”, I continued, offering him a chance. Offering a way in. The capped head nodded with gratitude – gratitude for the offer, or for finally answering him, I wasn’t quite sure. I wanted to continue the banter, probe him about his love life. We were engaged in something. He would have understood my anxiety about smell and terrible fear of purgatory. I would have asked him at what age he started shaving and if he was scarred by the first time he lost control of his bowels as an adult, or if he had at all.
“You wouldn’t understand them anyhow, because Clare is odd. You wouldn’t understand the letters, I mean.”
Our conversation was cut short when I was shoved on by a hulking businessman clearly adamant on purchasing a bottle of perfume for his venereal disease ridden mistress. Enjoy, I smiled as he passed the billboard I’d just amended. Perhaps I’d write him into the next advertising campaign, changing the slogan to include the words ‘bastard’ and ‘liar’. Maybe his wife would walk past the billboard, the bespoke message I’d written for her leaking into her sub-conscious until, in a fleeting frenzy of pent anger, she’d wake in the middle of the night and cut off his genitals, or at least segments of his genitals.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Justin knew all too well that if the bitumen he was cycling on were a living, breathing thing, it would need to sleep on wooden boards. He knew that if the park bench he was riding to could talk, it would forever complain about bearing the weight and flatulence.
He often thought about what would be different if various things were living. If bar glasses could shout, would they scream about bad breath and having to wear the tacky lipstick of their temporary owner? Jeremy had, of course, seen the movie ‘Cars’ and this confused him even more.
When he arrived at the bench he saw a young couple. They were kissing. He couldn’t help but wonder that, if they grew old together, would they start to look the same? He’d seen couples, on their silver anniversary, look the same, particularly in the face, and he’d heard of dogs growing old with their owner and striking a baffling resemblance. What Jeremy couldn’t work out was how evolution made the Pumpkin Head man.
The young couple stop kissing. The girl says something. He wonders if her voice changed, would the boy still be attracted to her? If her smell disappeared and her facial attributes become interchangeable like a Mr Potato head, would they still be with each other? He decided they wouldn’t, finished his sandwich, and made for work.
Riding to work he became aware of the tram tracks. Chance had always troubled Jeremy. The chance of being hit by a car, slipping in between the tracks, falling off a cliff, being struck by lightening, winning the lottery, falling in love, moving overseas. Jeremy dismounted his bike, vowing never to buy a scratchy or to approach girls or stand underneath trees in a storm ever again.
When Jeremy arrived at work, 15 minutes late because he had to walk, he put on his apron and took position behind the register. His nametag read ‘J’ – it was the little bit of colour he could add to his mundane, but wholly enjoyable vocation. He liked the simplicity of ‘J’, much as he liked the simplicity of his job.
The schoolgirl did not reply. She placed a packet of tampons, condoms and some lubricant on the tiny conveyer belt and avoided eye contact. Jeremy’s brain melted. He wondered how she could be having sex with a tampon in. Wouldn’t it get in the way? It would be like sucking a highlighter up a vacuum, then trying to pick up a piece of lint with its suction. Not that he thought a penis was like a piece of lint, it was just the first thing to come to mind.
“And a packet of Malboro lights, thanks”, mumbled the voice in the uniform.
“Aren’t you a bit too young to be having sex?” Jeremy asked as he passed over the cigarettes without checking ID.
“Aren’t you a bit too old to be working as a cashier?”
Jeremy was too old to be working as a cashier. A virgin cashier at that.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
If I hadn’t fallen over I could be writing a novel in Paris with a crooked and nicotine darkened smile. I’d follow small dogs home to their owner, who would inevitably be Audrey Tatou, or a Brazilian counterpart, and cook them courgette and pea soup. They’d grimace at the way my head tilted when their dog scratched themselves on the floor; I’d laugh awkwardly, unaware that an imperfect smile was the thing that got me there.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
“This is my art.”
That’s funny, I was positive it was some sort of Rorschach inkblot test.
“What’s it supposed to be? I mean – that’s an animal obviously. A snake. And the other thing is its lair. Do snakes have lairs?”
“I am not sure they are called lairs.”
Perhaps snakes didn’t have lairs. Oh God, I’m on thin ice. Babbling. This ‘art’ is definitely going to stitch me up. I’m already teetering on the edge of celibacy and have no interest in religion. I desperately need something to resurrect our sex life, and my erection doesn’t have the best track record. I need to solve this inkblot puzzle. Absolve her of any doubt that I understand what she was thinking. Not that anyone should ever understand what anyone else is thinking – where would be the intrigue in that? I’d never say anything wrong. There’d never be a fight. There’d never be anxiety. I’d know the correct time to pop the question, and when to pre-emptively break up.
“So, do you know what it is at all?” Her face was screwed up on one side as if looking through a telescope.
“Well it’s quite obvious. It’s a snake being forced into a hole or lair or whatever, because a boulder is chasing it.”
“We need to break up.”
“What!? That’s honestly what I think it is.”
“You have no idea.”
“It’s a whole heap of ink.”
“It’s someone giving someone else a blow job. A blow job that the other someone is not going to get, especially not now.”
Was I that someone?
“Am I that someone?”
“And let me guess, this thing is post-modern, interpretive? I am meant to know what it really means though, because I am meant to be in your head. And if I really knew what was is in your head, I’d solve the puzzle and resurrect our sex life?”
“Well, then. Thank you for having the foresight to call it off. It shortcut the whole ordeal by five minutes. Now get the fuck out of my garage.”
Monday, May 9, 2011
“Why do you ask me such questions?”
“To find out if you know.”
“Know which hand to choose.”
“What’s in the right one?”
“Just - choose.”
She motioned for the left, so I pulled it closer to my torso, just to keep her guessing, Her hand hesitated in mid-air like a helicopter caught in the wind. The wind died down, and her hand hovered over, and then fell on, the three middle knuckles of my right.
I opened my palm. Inside was a rock. One I’d thrifted from the Luxembourg Gardens on our trip there together two years earlier. She smiled, her irreverent and irrelevant smile. I already knew she’d be happy.
“Why did you make me question?”
“Why would you want the answer? You know which hand I hold things in, even foreign rocks.”
Saturday, May 7, 2011
The week I took off was much the same as any other week. I still ordered coffee off girls that call me Rob, and still wrote strange notes to unsuspecting innocents at Prudence.
It's not my fault.
See you Monday,