This is just something I'm working on. Not sure where I'm going with it at the moment. Let me know what you think.HYPERBOLIC GLOSS:Ice cold, should sting but it doesn’t. Air clinging to my face in swirling clouds as I slow my pace. No real need to rush now, blinked off the radar ten minutes ago. Occasionally watch for echoes, so many in this part of the city. Fragments caught in a tar pit of forgotten history and villainous acts. The screeching stench of rape, murder and overdose is almost too loud to remain sane. Had to learn to drown it out back when they were dropping bombs. So much louder then. Decide to take a shortcut, suddenly get tense. Can’t get careless. No way back need to get to the road. Pick up speed but don’t run. That’s the rule. Spare a glance over my shoulder I see an echo. A pale refracted rainbow trapped in a milky grey mass of no discernable shape, like patterns in marble. No hint of its previous life: man, beast or ancient building torn down. History slaughtered for a supermarket. I reach the road soon enough, all takeaways and taverns. Not the best place to be blurred stories moving too fast, too fast, too fast. Going to make getting back on the radar difficult. Too many stories, too much life in the vein. I step off the curb, double yellows are where it’s safest. Turn to see the echo has fixed its specs on me, starts speeding towards. I’m taking too long to step into the foreground. Can’t panic or I’m done. Just as it’s on me it is replaced with a hen party cackling their way to the next gin soaked dive. I step back onto the pavement. Enough time wasted. I keep my head down and get home in good time. I let my jacket fall to the floor and take two bottles of stout from the fridge. Pour a bowl of brand name chocolate cereal. Sitting at the table I breathe in the first bottle before pausing to listen to the silence. Only reason I live here. Cold brick and rotten timbers make perfect barriers to the cannibalistic chatter outside. It wouldn’t look out of place in an art house picture, open kitchen, bathroom on one side, mattress on the floor of the other. Table and chair the half way point in a sanctuary of silent solemnity. I eat the cereal dry, there’s something sorrowful about milk I’ve never been able to explain. Finish the second stout, take out the notepad and pencil from my shirt pocket. Thumb through the pages and pages and pages of names and times: - Norton, A. / 7.16- Jones, C. / 9.32- Thomas, P. / 11.04- Morgan, H. / 11.45- Schwartz, J. / 13.58 I cross each name off, turn the page and cross more names off. Eventually I get to the blank page. I stand and walk over to the mattress, kick off my shoes and hesitate. Sleep is the worst bit but it’s part and parcel of the penance. Laying down I close my eyes trying to steady my breathing. Then I fall, deeper than any rabbit hole, no blue pills here. Falling through creation, weeping bites and mocking claws, a city full of narratives and each an iron spike to the groin. I try to focus on a single story, a housewife. Uneventful pages brought her this far. Stupid of me, should know better. Tried to catch a moment, suddenly the story unfolds a barbed subplot with the neighbour’s seventeen year old daughter. Hits me in the face like a cat and nine. I don’t stick around to see if it becomes part of the narrative, experience says is wont but what do I know? No narrative of my own, used it up. Self inflicted epilogue with no mention of a second volume or happily ever after. Just a pulp novel of mythologic non-fiction, tip toeing frame by frame between the pages of a single life. Too easy to get lost, impossible to fight. Can’t let go. I am me! I am me! I am me! Float helplessly in the void until the dawn birds chirp me awake. First rays peek through the sky light window. A citrus chocolate sky with charcoal pink clouds like ink in water. Good sign it’s going to snow. Shame I don’t own a scarf. Put on my shoes, size eleven shackles. Pick up the notepad, fresh names now. A decent days work to be done. Raise my jacket and I’m gone. I step cautiously, on the radar today. Easier to stay in the foreground. Smoother ride. Keep my head down. Submissive to the blood soaked wolves strolling home to their roost, exchanging ill gotten queens for a shot of wonderland in the arm or bruised imported flesh. Two viruses at twelve, hoods up. Faces of shadow. I make ready for grief but it never comes. Better meat than me to bleed down by the river I guess. Jump into the coach station and make for the café upstairs. Decent breakfast and slim signs of life. An hour to kill before the first name. I place my order. Margaret spits hollow dialogue, essence of pork pies on the breath. Bitter behind a toothy grin. I tuck myself in the corner and look out of the window. Wonder if I can change the channel. I’m too numb, stories used to be people but too many stale repeats and self serving anti-climaxes changed that. Themes of apathetic apostasy are the norm. no gripping set up or protagonist to cheer for. Sometimes I try to remember, empathize. I see a woman once a week. Seven portraits of Smith for the full package. Twisted in each others bones yet I watch from the doorway. Leave with only an illusion of purchase on a world that I don’t truly belong in. breakfast is served and devoured. Nothing to report. Work to be done. Fist name on the list - Harries, S. / 7.27 - stroll along the river, trespass through a tundra of shadows. A whirlwind of history swells up as I step into the background. Off the radar and out of sight. There’s a bench by the book stall outside the restaurant under the bridge. Few people at this hour. Sit on the bench and wait. Dig into my jacket and take out the pocket watch. Three minutes. Reflex kicks in, check for echoes. Not that they come this close to the water, too many bad memories looking to feast on unsettled scores. Two minutes. Blurred story opens up on the bench next to me. Contents sharpen in and out. Rhythmic pattern to the focusing. Thirty seconds. Less blur now. Loosening a tie, chest clutched. The final stream of fictive subplots and alternative endings flow. Entire chapters of missed dialogue and stage directions never taken signal the final sentence. Story in sharp focus now. An honest tale of economics and stamp collecting, laying on the floor. Face skywards a calm final bow. I kneel down and gently reach in, pulling out the jellied mass. Various shades of waxy blue and tentacles of starlight green. I say something comforting. Developed quite the repertoire over the years. Thumbs stroking I tell him not to worry. New chapters and other encouraging clichés. Calmed it begins to sing. Subtle hums at first but building, building, building. A crescendo of light and sound. Lifting out of my hands for a second before leaving the universe. Job done. Don’t reflect anymore. Time wasted. Next name. The river leads me to the market end of town. On the radar here. Echoes stir where best buy junk and trendy curios reside. Stains of life probably. I head to the indoors, remember when it was stables. All fetish wear and music now. Pass photos of the comedians and the goddess. Tin posters for stout. Thumb and finger through books older than most people. Printed yesterday for me. Avoid the city history books. All blind recountings and prophylactic sentimentality. Blocking out an infected narrative that doesn’t pay reverence to their deified concrete ocean and islands of tortured green. I stick to poetry. Honey words pack more punch than second hand rumours. Josie sidles up along side. Unsure script with practiced action. Points out a cheaper edition of the book I’m holding. Just lost herself fifty pence. Strange vibrations grow out of her eyes. A calm day in a storm of ancient rage and postmodern angst. Unsettling the cynic within. Battered comatose with a smile. I dig out the coin. She lifts it off my palm with prolonged contact. Shifting glances and self conscious knife to the gut. BAIL OUT! Not my scene. Unauthorised quill on a page already written. No more frames available. Couldn’t re-shoot the movie even if I wanted too. Try to run. Half a step. Gunned down in a hale of pleasant suggestion and friendly enquiry. Turn to face the shooter, all nervous smiles. ‘Coffee?’ Grin, grin, grin. ‘Maybe a movie?’ divine intervention not throwing lightning. I see those eyes. A fairytale weaves chaos. Spits harsh invective, goading sweet dreams. Shelter in the suburbs. Rush hour joys on a nine to five clock. Cheering junior league soccer on weekends. Won’t happen. Can’t. if it’s not on the page it’s not on the stage. Twin super novas fixed on me, wishful. Headlights going to run us all down. Guilt makes me pliant. Why fight the inevitable. Shameful taunt really. Another link to the chain. Arrangements are made. Plenty of time, three names to collect. Parting grins. Surprised mine is real. Uncharted space. Back to work time wasted. Suck down a gulp of cold air. Danced with echoes all the way. Top floor destination, light is on. Through the door like television glow through virgina gold fog. Background perks. All access pass. Stairway stained with more than leaked fluids and fermented dog produce. Tune it out. Trying not to drown waist deep in a circus of soap operas without a ringmaster. Wade up to the door. Inside. I’m late. Story freshly printed ready to read. Presented at the end of a belt. Reach inside; liberate an untold story not mass-produced for tabloid serialisation. Find only desert and a vacuum of blinding darkness. No flight recorder recovered. Some are just born lacking. Look around the cage. Spit filled socks huddle in the corner. Dating sites and trans-fem predilections on the computer. Latino hung. Story will still be told in hyperbolic whispers. Loveless. Lacking context. Shame. Step out into the chill. Names to collect.
Submitted by E. S. Constantine on