Image for January short story

Down we go.

Heads faced sun-wards.

Animal.

We all have tattoos. Herod. Day.

Yet hey, we won’t last this one without wanting another one. Or, maybe we’re both gamblers.

I don’t go for it so much anyways these days.

Just every now and then.

*

There is not a sound or wording for this, but there was a man with a creeping growth in his neck, the heavy liquers brought it, and there were still some left in his throat. And yes, he had to bring them up. It was near the theatrical building, and he could either swallow or spit you know. So. It went against the stone.

Jackie walked passed the university library as one of the nuns walked towards him.

It was 2am/ish.

It was sharp weather to only be wearing a loin cloth, and it was beginning to rain, making some of the paint on his body drip down his flesh, in strange and distorted sweeps.

Some of his make-up went in his eye, making him squint as the nun walked passed him down the pavillion, and he walked towards the canteen.

And, just as if they passed each other forever- Jackie noticed that she was making the sign of the cross on herself, rapidly on her chest and forehead, as if she felt a deep foreboding at just the point when they passed each other. And, the man’s mind was too melted to know whether it was raining or Jesus had just spilled his beer, but, he knew that a woman was saying: no daemon here, no daemon here.

The night before had been just harlequinns, maybe all animal scent. A good night inside, a house where all knew which animals they were. Women dressed like doe’s, and scabby re-makes of each and every other dream one could imagine at short notice. Slide slicing gaps between doors creating future PA’s, at the mercy of sweaty by begone mariachi masks, and anyone who knew anything about literature staying away. Some too late. Even to lay down was a gamle. A caliban head’s tongue among open legs, and a cleopatra’s head devouring anything near. Meaning: many, many, many stocks down the line, or at least: the banter that would sway them, the night after the dusk, the banter after night.

That was a few parties and a few years ago, Jackie thought, nearing the canteen.

Inside there was a student from Miami, who Jackie was meant to be taking into the city, yet, there was more to be said about music and the places they had been, recalicitrant to the woes of duty and formal torture when covered in rain and obvious in last night’s paint. They all had nick names. This guy’s name was Kettamike. His name was Mike, and he liked to do a lot of kettamin: on a quiet day. One day he had been slamming away at some lass as she leaped off the couch and the door boomed. Kids back. The thing that he recalled in the canteen was that she went away to make grilled cheese for the kids, and told him to hit the street.

But the bitch didn’t even make me grilled cheese!” He said, forgetting, growling, and diving back into his breakfast. It was an ok place to be covered in paint, last night, dark ringlets around the eye, and arrange what would happen next. The breakfast cook was used to us. One of his work mates was my flat mate. Half of them were from Latvia and Eternia. And they all worked harder than us Brits. Better jokes, cheers, and drinking hearts.

We chowed and we chowed, no, we ate and we ate politely, saying nothing more about life. That guy went back to the states. Said more than half the dives of childlike lecturures and bitches Jackie saw in a burp, and hell, he just hoped he was still alive.

Although, it was the real tearing speed that that nun had been blessing herself with before, that startled Jackie more than anything, just at that point on the cobbled walkway, as they exchanged north and south positions, half a look, half a step.

Good fucking days, I can’t smell that bad- Jackie’s peripheral said.

It was one thing to look like a caveman, another to act like it, and after another and another beer the cavemen and cavewomen exchanged graces, did a waltz, their own way, and said shatter as shatter does to the soil, decided which teeth in the light best served their lust of vittalic grace, and maybe ordered a drink inbetween, then drank eloping to Pluto, where the stars are blue and ragged, and space always swaps between novae jokes in the dusk, and the last smoking chirps of angular dust beyond the horizon, since the week has been contorting, unlike life, and we all come together like lions alive, we choose each role as the music blossoms – some dance – some do not, some can only lean against the wall, yet, that opal feeling, that: damn the day, light my skin, comes with each swaying grace, shoulders and lights pulsing, in a room used normally as a canteen, that transforms, so suddenly.

And says to all those who have come, all delapitated speeds of life, hell, lets just dance the shit out of this one, then when it wakes, wake up the moon.

Make a coffee.

Then dance again.

Bitch.

*

Do I smell like the devil?” Jackie said allowed, sloped forwards, placing his hand on the cold glass of the canteen door.

He looked at himself in the glass as he slowly pushed it open. It was too wet and windy to see a reflection, and his guts were ready for breakfast, or, bed, or maybe he’d leap again into the opposing fraternity’s garden, and take a leak. He looked around just before he stepped in and saw the nun as she turned around. It was a crappy morning to stop and call out to people with such questions.

The nun looked up at Jackie, as the rain made the blues of her habit darker and darker blue.

Her face was twisted in the wetness, and displeased at being called out to. She was still busy

arranging the knot in her scalf, as her right hand passed rapidly to the left, then lifted up and down, and her left hand tried to pull it down. Jackie wasn’t sure if she had heard what he had meant to say to himself, and he looked on for a moment embarrassed, as she lifted up a palm in the rain to say hello, and good day, before turning and continuing on her way.

Jackie returned the gesture, and wanted to say, sorry, I’ve been out for an amount of time between dusk and day, too many, and, I need some food, sorry about shouting that, it wasn’t at you!

She’d been fixing her scalf you damn fool.

She’d been fixing her scalf you damn fool.

He said to himself from time to time.

**

It was dismaying to return home after university.

There are open prisons, and there are closed, Jackie thought as the train ran over The River Birlhem, before another three hour journey by coach to his village.

Back down in Giyashame, it was hailing again. And a shadow was sent back from the future to say that no rolling wheels at the base of two suite cases could bring any joy. Jackie had brought everything important. His desktop. Heavy as hell. Old school. And unwashed clothes. Maybe £20 in a pocket he couldn’t find. Sweating boars unhappy in his shoulders, having to walk downhill and up, like Sisyphus dragging along a second rock, although, two hands this time, drunk, knuckles, no where knuckles, moon coming, sun coming, no waltztes left for the last rogues but sweat, and more sweat. And the gods saying I have one more thing teared from your veins to make you laugh – – –

He’d worked his arse off up until chucking out day in the student dorms. Each day was made to be made from painting. And the church of his heart had a few hundred saved in an old bank account safe away from his normal blood. The train pushed over the bridge, glided. Made almost no sound brother. And below and around you could almost see what the city had been before, although, he had no care for it, having been bred more closely to the greens and moors of his village. Drunk again, the train jogging in low shakes, by pen by pen.

The only things that his pen had managed in the ride back to the north were two savage poems about his lover, and a short script that he’d ripped off from Rancine’s Phèdre, and like all young men more acustumed to writing like an actor than a poet, they all failed, like so many adverts saying-kiss me-quick to the sun on a cheap holiday. The first place to go wild would be an office job. That’s what adults do, Jackie said over the phone to his lass, kicking back in his bedroom, staring at his last £5 and change on his desk. Then the office jobs came, with a difference. Jackie had worked like cerberus for ten years before he attended univeristy. He wasn’t new to the dour times, the high times, or the lower times in the gutter singing like Rigoletto, but he was aware that these three years were very much unlikey life. Today was a particularly bad day. And Jackie smiled at the computer screen in February, happy in the fact that he at least realised earlier, that when you are bored at university, that you have no idea what boredom is. Try painting yourself up like Rasputin one day, on a rogue planet called canvas, or, try knocking on a friends door and saying hey, what’s the music?

Jackie was diligent in his aptitude for swaying away from stupidity. He did this with a cheer to the street, and all that he knew. It meant many jobs and many different days, more than 365, as this was just the number of seconds inside laughter. He came back home each night, sometimes nearer the south, and sometimes elsewhere in the country, and did what came. The years passed like butterflies on fire. A few years on, a heavy man stared him back in the mirror. Not a sprinter, anymore. A boxer still, maybe, but a heavy one. About a stone over weight. Jackie clenched his fist after shaving, for no reason.

It was near a Wednesday and Friday parade, and the photcopier said ugly things. Smooth. Like a droning voice, no tenor or barritone. Americans call it – going postal – a phrase which Jackie loved. It said everything, under and under the best terms of their humour. Then tomorrow it’ll be time to shoot this place up with so many bullets from the potato shooter I shot the sunflowers with in my grandparent’s garden.

Still… The papers shoot out from the bottom of this thing, and there’s a girl that stares at me like Hylas. And we all know how he ended up.

My girl went away a few years ago.

I still slam the bag at the weekend, like a nutter on fire, and find a holy merit in training until I pass out.

And this song says that, this song says that.

***

Jackie was biting at the flesh of his knuckles nearer forty.

He sat on a wall at the edge of his garden. Kids had been spray painting the side of his was wall.

And the days drifted away like the mortal chimes and wounds of an awful limb, and numb flute.

His hands shook, danced, and sometimes spread waterfalls over the savage wine that he found in the morning.

The owls had began to swear many things.

And some days he looked back to when he had been dressed as a true caveman, for an answer, and some days they came.

****

And inbetween being on and off benefits, healing from the fights he had with neighbours about their picasso kids, Jackie managed to make some money.

Fuck it. Lets call it: Picasso money.

The shape of a long dreary moon, that has no original shape, but bends arounds time and bone, like a sweating scarecrow, pumping away at a worthless street, face down, face up, teeth burnt from onyx, and all those nasty things left out of marriages, but awakened on the first night, if done with full mirth.

*****

And nearer fifty, he didn’t fit in the offices so much, and it’s true, that the only thing to do in offices is to talk about why you are there, and where you would like be next- if that even exists in the deceased dreams of the person trying to burble.

So freelancing became the game. Alongside pumping out one or two vulgar canvases each month. Maybe some short stoties. It wasn’t a decadent thing, like a Morchelăime being too drunk to paint the the beauty of his concubine for fear of his own lust, as the Tzar pondering about the colours he wishes to see his refelction’s dream inside.

No. It was just because the only paint that Jackie could afford to paint with, in the amount that he used, which at times was a centimetre high on the canvas, surrounded by a vesuvian swarm of other colours and lives, killing under a soft clay of filthy charcoal, red red red and rouger opaque- bringing the crooked blue over with the lightening in the crooked evenings, and hashing the earlier mires of the hours in the beauty of colour, tearing a skin yellow into optimum moave, mixing her with obsidian green, among and alight with white hot Pluto blue, was that kind.

*******

It was a few years on when Jackie began to talk to his paintings.

He managed the odd article on the colour of gravity, which made no sense, and brought no money, and some articles about popular things, which did. And spent the rest of his time writing and painting about the sun, when the moon was trying to pull its normal joke near the edge of all planets, or a Monday, or upon a ghost that becomes flesh inside a pub on a Friday.

He tried throughout his Monday’s and 2020’s to return home.

His home was a city called Poem.

Her teeth were a blood called jobs.

North District Zero.

Just under the armpit of true love and on the thigh of new love.

And it was strange. The beard was growing. It was a Tuesday. All the owls are away, swearing at another ghost, yet mine is locked with yours, your hair inside my teeth, my grizzly jaw inside your breasts, and the weather man says it’s nearly summer. No low hums allowed. We age with emotion more than time. Some of my friends were aged too young. Slapped senseless by the hands of adults, inside the back rooms of school rooms, where only knowledge is meant to be allowed, although, so we could all see it happening.

And perhaps we all slap each other with memories, instead of art. And when the art comes, it collides the wrong way. Still keep on playing bad guitar to the neighbours, and howling at all hours. I said this once to a shadow in my room. She was dribbling down from a puprle pashmina that I bought for you, even though the market was closed, and I bought it in summer, when I was on a three dayer once, and forgot that you were no lnger with me. Shame how love keeps on twitching. Then you’re with me. Then you’re not. Then we go poaching those loose bones of the devil and his servants, or good jesus and his men- forgetting his girl, Mary Magdalene, yup, she needs a beer a too, she’ll come along and swear with us. Swear at the fire being let down to die! Swear at the damn sun! Oh! Jesus picked a good girl! She knows the jokes! And good heaven and hell, when we collect, surmise our close ideas and macro ideas, there are none, so funnily.

The day after I quit my last job pours through you. I can’t displace whether you’re the light in my small rented room, purple and illuminous, and whether I’m awake or dead.

Then the sun pours in clearly through the punch holes

where i had to smash the glass

the night before

since i forgot my key

Yet, i wonder where your body is, i say to the shadow

and she moves like a dancer in the sun

in the wind

all dice rolling.

*******

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