After The Sun
4,000 words approx
THE FAT DANCER was beginning to get handled. And that thing in the sky wasn’t a sun, it was a mixture of all our DNA’s. Beating down crazed ideas. Jacques laid down on his front, sunbathing, hearing something going on a few hundred meters ahead in the park. Then looking up. The ant-men and ant-women were stepping towards the fella, carefully, he’d just had enough mate, and it was time to behave like a human, he was swinging around, no-one knew what had set him off, they were closing the circle with appeasing hands, hands on their pepper sprays, but the city worker was in the mood for it. He looked like some type of business man, and was still working the crowd.
He’d made it down to his chest, still dancing, having torn off his shirt and still going at it. And hell it was bleaching hot. Wailing and laughing randomly. They could all hear the tone of his voice, it was medium in tone, although not ferocious, as if he was learning how to sing, but was still just talking to someone in a meeting room. But, his dance career was taking off, and he moved his overburdened bones, wrapped in waves of flab, like a perfectly drunk ballerina. One of his limbs was grabbed by one of the police. He seemed to move it down and away, like he’d been caught off balance, and his weight was a thing that he didn’t know how to handle. It worked however, as he stumbled forwards, so he got to work on his flies and tried to take his trousers down at the same time, knowing that he was near the end of the show. At that point they rushed in. Jacques screamed, “Go on fella!” without knowing it, as the people of Hyde Park began to clap.
The fat man looked over to the audience, after elbowing two police away, tripping up with his pants around his ankles, but managing to stand again, bowing to the crowd this way and that, thanking everyone for the support. They had him this time. One of the drones pulling up his trousers, and several others finally restraining his arms at either side, as he screamed in the sun, as he spat thankyous, turning his massive gravity around, in a crowd of five or so.
Jacques wondered if this was what London was like.
A city that could crack people in the sun, anyone, but, a place where it normally didn’t happen. He stood up, naked from the waist up, smiling, still clapping a little in the sun, feeling an acclimatisation of types. He knew this. He knew being overpowered by police. He knew the savagery. He knew the dance. He knew the show. The times of your cheek in the gravel. The kicks coming in. The scrabbling back up, the wild strikes, the connections. The strange chimeric phrases he sang in French as he was finally overwhelmed, and then the next day. Jacques looked around in the park as the fat man was poked through the black metal gates at the far north edge, and was finally beyond sight.
He stood there for a while as everything settled down, lovers becoming calm again, and wiped his brow. It was hot. He still smiled, and felt like a beer. He should just blow his evening meal’s four quid on a few. He looked around and wondered who he would drink with, whilst asking his stomach what it was saying. It was saying: if you don’t feed me in a few hours you’re going to regret it, and, you don’t really know your way around that well. It took you several hours to get to the green place that you knew you needed, and, you may not make it back if you have a few. Jacques didn’t listen, looking up, just off from the sun, then agreed, as there was no-one here that seemed to remember the cheer of the fat man. No, it was as if the entire thing hadn’t happened. Such, such, a strange forgetting people. I wonder, if this is what everyone is like down here, he thought to himself.
Jacques laid back down, and continued his conversations with the sun.
It was all fine, he’d brought almost nothing down in his bag, and missed nothing.
So then when the day continued into night, he rose from a long sleep.
Jacques knew that women looked better down here. It wasn’t a comparison that he consciously thought of at twenty two, but a mood in the streets. He walked across Hyde Park silently, when a comet began to suck his attention to his left. He turned with ease, moving his shoulders back, instead of in (as most are trained), and took it full pelt, making it bounce off, as he waited until it drifted down, and kicked it back a few meters off from the ground. All automatic. The ball flew back up into the air, before dipping back into the game. Jacques said nothing and walked on. A shout came across “nice one mate”. Jacques looked across and gave a thumbs up.
He walked into a shop near Marble Arch, where a security guard held his hand out infront of him. “Put your top on mate.”
“Oh fuck aye, sorry.” He replied. He walked in and grabbed his normal evening BLT, before walking directly back towards to the security guard and apologising, the guard said it was ok as Jacques walked towards the counter in full line of sight. He placed the BLT under his arm as he spoke to a shop assistant repricing some beers. I think I’ll grab one of them, he said allowed, “Oh here you go,” the assistant said handing him a four pack.
Jacques took the sandwich out and said thank you, taking the BLT in his right hand and his beers in his left. A quick casual look forwards towards the till showed him what he had hoped. Just one person on. He placed the sandwich back under his right wing, clenched tight, so you couldn’t see much, and placed the beers down on the counter when it was his turn. No, they know that move, merde! “Do you have any Samson tobacco?”, he asked immediately when being served, before the cashier had time to think. “Err no mate, sorry bruv.”
“Ar it’s cool like, just them then.” He said with a smile. “And, I’m sorry to be a pain, but do you know if these sandwiches are alright? I know it says the 25th, but you know what I mean?”, “Oh they’re fine bruvva, I scoff em down most days myself,” the man replied, “Oh, two for one though you know?”, “Oh right… I’ll go and get anther pack then,” Jacques said, looking surprised, having noticed how they ordered the security guard around making him fetch things in this case.
“Oi, Damfa, grab another one of these will you?” The young attendant said holding the BLT up, “Yes boss,” the big man replied. “I’m gonna go and have a look aye?”, Jacques said, taking his receipt for the four pack. Out of date as well. “Yeah yeah, no bova, next-” The boy said handing Jacques his receipt.
He followed the security guard to the place where the re-priced food was and said, “You know what, I’m just going to go for the one. I’ve been eating these bloody things for about a week now…” He said laughing. “Oi mate, I hear you!” The guard replied in a deep west African accident. “Sound night aye,” Jacques said turning, and walking out of the shop, “You too boss.”
Jacques held his nerve until he turned the corner at the entrance. He always did. Then fucking legged it.
He just began to run. And plus, no-one knows why people are running in London. You see a black fella running with a shopping bag, and you don’t think anything of it. Jacques ran, and he ran hard. On a bad day, back north, when he really couldn’t be arsed, he’d walk for at least two hours per day. On the better days he’d run for about an hour, when the red in the moors was still dark, and there was nothing to do apart from keep yourself fit. It wasn’t an auto-i-must-do-this, or else I’ll look like crap type thing, it was: lets go and see what the foxes are saying, lets go and see what the dew is saying on the mossy hills. A place very much departing from the mechanics of it all, and more of a prayer in the wilderness.
He slowed down nearing Oxford Circus, knowing that no-one was coming. Then crossed the road. The buses, black cabs, and Londoners had no dance he felt. As he walked across the road not knowing that the systems were stricter down here. He was nearly ran over by a cab who swore something he couldn’t hear, as he stood still in the middle of the road, let a few buses go by, then run across, seeking a park that an old friend had told him about.
The place was green and black and swarming everywhere outside with the noise of the populace. He’d walked up Bilgram street drinking. Knocking back the first since he was thirsty, then taking his time. Knowing that this was all he had. The changing people had started to spew around Soho and he felt less alone. It didn’t matter about going home just yet. He had fed himself and there was no reason not to dance. Humanity was out in their wild dusk uniforms. It was different to the moors here, and the same.
Every corner was a flesh display of banter, and Jacques knew, this was London. There were men walking down the street dressed only in three leather belts.
Two belts across the shoulders making an X, and down to the waist, just about covering the nipples, but not when they suddenly danced around, and passed kisses between each other. Then a wider belt covering their crotch. Not quite. There was still a black bulbous leather pouch holding it all in. And yet, the whole group of them was dressed like this, as the streetlamps lit the street in darkness.
He felt unnoticed as he walked towards the private park his friend had recommended. He wanted to call him and say hey, since he had only met him once via a friend of a friend. But the extravagance of art must be mixed with the etiquette of the mundane, in this universe.
The reason Jacques got the job was that the guy who said there was no work fucked the girl from down the road. So he said no in the interview, but called Jacques back a few days later, saying that there was a job. But the storm was like it was, a personable thing, that was linked by sex and decay, in a rapid way, and if you were left hoping for a rest from the ride you were on the wrong one.
It was time to learn a little more however, and Jacques was sick of selling other people’s junk.
He knew he could write better, and there was no place for it.
He said there was.
And then there was.
He was cleared for three years of cheap beers, women, and subjects that he cared he about like- writing flesh. Jacques met Richard, Josum, and a few others in a house. It was good. He’d already been living in London for a year. He had a few tattoos, and if honest, was a little battered from the city. The country in him wasn’t however. Since that never really goes. He was tired of being a merchant of ideas, as in not the creator, and just the pimp.
Jacques was Hemmingway without the practice, Richard was Kerouac without the drugs, and Josum was Josum. They fit together like that for about a year, Jacques having already met them when he was a year on at university, and the two other fellas dealing out their last two years of what they would do. One was completing his time, moving on to do an MA, and the other decided not to.
Then a rubricant girl named luce.
The passion was different to anything else that he had known.
They met and twisted like two shadows that could never depart.
It was clear who the animal was, no matter which way they went at it, although, in time, they were one.
Then a few lives passed.
It took a long growl and a burp to wake him up. Jacques didn’t know where he was.
Somehow, he had made it back to his accommodation. He roomed in a place, where by law, he shouldn’t be. It was a fire fighter’s dormitory. He bunked with Dave. One of the fellas he had moved down with.
It was easy, he’d seen a picture on the front of a prospectus when sober, and he demanded that she stay with him, so she departed. Jacques continued however, and worked more bum jobs after. Alone.
He’d had enough. He sat down whilst still vitalic on a stone, and took out his gun.
It wasn’t hard finding one back in the village.
The times mixed. And spoke like stars.
The outsiders were insiders.
He sat between two birch tress, and the smell of wild garlic calmed him.
He made no sound.
There would be no screams.
The village lights were still awake about a mile down the hill, and he muttered to death.
Death heard him alright, that shadow of infinite voices, and listened.
Listening to what he said.
Already knowing each and every of the man’s loves.
It appeared, as it does before everyone if they speak with it when young.
To Jacques, knowing that he was going to follow through, it appeared as Otto Gross, the Austrian genius, but was forgotten, because his mind was too forward. He walked towards Jacques in the moors, grunting, and his scent cut the harsh wind, letting him know he’d just had sex but hadn’t washed for years. He was exactly like Jacques thought he would be, although, he wished that he’d been there when his marriage broke up.The ghost was dressed in a brown suit. It fitted well. Everything apart from the trousers, which were several inches too short, exposing the man’s red flesh ankles, tucked into scruffy old school brogues. The man sat down beside Jacques and began “Why, I think it might be a good idea if we just sat a while. You are too grateful of tomorrow, and too eagre for today.” He said, kicking a dust clump behind his heel, amused by something.
“Death. Don’t try to sass me. I’m ready. And I know how you look in the moon light. But I know that you’re actually a disgraceful fuck.” Jacques said moodily, smiling to his side, as they linked eyes.
“I’ll see you in the next room.” A man said sitting on an earth mound, somewhere in the moors, placing a gun inside his mouth, and pulling the trigger.
Gross put his finger infront in front of his, and laughed. “Ok ok wild laddy… As you lot say.” The ghost said, “Lets see what else there is…” You’re the first one to see me like you do, Otto said, laughing beside Jacques, as they looked down at the dead man’s body.
“So, you’ve really done it now mate. And. You know that there’s nothing else don’t you?”, Gross said, laughing. “What do you mean?” Jacques said feeling a sudden peace in the moors, as the gale became stronger, and the trees leant over saying hello and goodbye, twisting like awaking marionettes, their black bark flesh, their mouths yawning, teeth chattering, nudging small animals out with their root legs, rabbits hopping out, hedgehogs wiggling their noses and creeping out from the crevices, all asking the trees the same questions, and walking, waltzing, and dancing over to their new visitor. It would take Jacques many eons to understand what they sang. Although, it didn’t matter. A stampede began in the distance, and it was the deer, covered by a ceiling of owls, random herons, even some adders creating slick shadows at the sides, and moles carried on the backs of foxes, a random family of scottish wild-cats running, the clowning dove birds, animals with slit and snared throats coming back, even the ticks given a place, in the deep fleshy hands of their master, a terrible thing to see, a mile high sillouette that walked slowly, but meant no harm to anyone.
“I don’t wish to be difficult…” Otto said, digging around inside his coat for his pipe. Then taking it out, “Oh fuck that whore of a merchant I gave that last nip to,” He said almost spasming in rage.
“Oh tobacco, here man-” Jacques said taking out his pouch.
Otto’s eyes opened and accepted the pouch.
“What is this?”, “It’s tobacco,” Jacques said. “You. You… Why aren’t you…”, He said opening the thing, unfamiliar with the wrapping, and investigating it with close dark eyes, “Afraid?”
“Hey. I guess I’m insane.” Jacques said, as the wind of the fields blew through them side by side. And the animals and insects began to gather around them. Wondering what they were talking about.
“OOOOhhhhh oooooooooooo Olo, maaaahhh nyaaaaahh taaaa.” The Lord of ticks said. Unsentient as always, ready to flip over his palm and let it rain.
“Jehnatcha… Can you just behaive yourself? We’ve been over this. Ticks scare most people. Ok?”
“OOOOooohhh ohhhh olo olo maaaaaaah, eeeeeeeeeh seeeeyorrrrr.” The giant replied.
“It’s alright my good man, we’re talking. Sorry to be sharp. How is the family?” Otto asked looking up.
“Hoo Hoo hohohohhohohohohoho nya solomano , ingregreeeeegideh, teeyol.” The God replied.
“Did she do that thing I suggested with the neighbours, the earwigs can be really troublsome in the Autumn.”
“Saynesh pioutoooooo!” The Shadow said looking around for a place to sit down.
“Oh fantastic!” Otto said, as the circle of mixed elements, animals, gods, and hybrid dreams began to settle down around them. Jacques looked at Otto and said, “You command all these? I nearly shat myself! Who’s-”, “Jacques dear man, settle down. “What’s that, what the fu-.” All of the rings blazed, standing up and down, finding red in their eyes, becoming agitated, some of the moles diving back into the ground and even old Jehnatcha beginning to howl, letting a few of his kin jump into their fur, an otter slapped a dear, a stag began to charge at a cow, a bull raised from the ground to defend his flock, the Scottish wild cats darted this way and that and began to gather into ranks, showing their teeth, mewing low low low, jumping onto each other’s back, and creating one large wild cat, paws and fur bouncing out from the midst, backing up, but ready to pounce, the herons left, and the ghosts of maltreated dogs stayed, too insane with broken rage, and too ronin to care if they died infinite times, slobbering, barking, foaming, rouge shadow anger, blood in the arteries pumping, dislocated and disorganised in the amphitheatre.
Jacques began to push himself backwards, falling back over the wall. He turned around as one of the rabid dogs shot towards him, its fur wild in a flame of insects. Otto sighed.
“You had better say something boyo…”
“What?” Jacques replied, as a storm of teeth and fleas flew towards his face.
Otto turned around on the wall, and opened his palm to the animal. It froze.
“You’ve got four seconds bud. I’d suggest you make it good.”
“When Autumn Cellar dogs are returned, and you need not fear us any longer. I apologise for the brutality of my race. And I understand your rage. Many of us are backwards. I see you as kin. I am not from here, but I ask that I may remove your plight, since,” and Jacques faltered, “I have no idea what to say. But, we are on you side.” He added.
Otto let his hand flow down, chuckling, as Cerberus landed.
“Just messing about with you boy,” The dog said looking up, “heh heh heh who are you anyways? You have a wife?” Cerberus asked, his tail beginning to wag, “I don’t, they’re all whores, and I make them so,” He added. It was strange. He wasn’t the leader. He couldn’t be. But an old moley popped his head up under his paw.
“Oh sorry, were you gentleman talking about something?”
“Nough,” Cerberus said, scratching away a bit of soil from the mole’s face.
“Oh thanks old man. Anything new?” He asked.
“Nough. This one’s a fahggot, ugh.” Cerberus replied.
“Sorry, hugh hugh ughhhh.” The red dog replied. He leant over and licked a few grains of dirt away from moley’s face.
“Oh thanks old man.”
Cerberus was calmed in the moors. And old mole dived back down into his hole. The room sized staffordshire terrier turned around, and began to trot away, gowling something to himself that no-one could ever know. Barking a little bit from left to right at the circle of animals. As a herd of deer didn’t fear him, but respected him, and parted where the lonely dog walked back in the wilderness.
The two ghosts on the hill’s summit, Jacques and Otto, spoke. Exchanging gestures. You could see them if you looked from your window. They looked like tree branches dancing with each other, infinite hands, all the things that interest no-one.
“Hm. You’re all the same. Balls and all. You know, my current form lets me say many things. I find it so odd, that your regulatory factors of emotion don’t inhibit your actions more fully- actually, where are we?” Otto said cutting off sharply, turning towards Jacques. “We’re in fields mate, it’s cool. This is where I walk,” he replied.
“Shit. You really don’t get anything do you!” Death replied, finding cheer as he lit his pipe, as he searched for some matches. Half sucking in then having to let it go laughing, where he struck a small wooden book, “Good good god sss hehehe, pfff…”
He allowed Jacques to open his coat to stop the wind from blowing out the match he was trying to light.
It lit inside there. And Death looked at him.
“Christ I hate you guys, why can’t you be-”, Death said sucking in and blowing out fumes in his pipe.
Where a light lit as someone was doing their dishes in the distance below, and they smiled at something flickering on top of the moors.
“Steve. You seen that?” The lassy asked.
“What?”, the fella replied from the living room.
“Ah nowt like, I guess old Tom is out late.”
“Thanks.” Death said, Turning towards Jacques, trying his normal things on, transforming into his normal things, transforming all the way from paleontological to future forms, darker than onyx, darker than love, darker than the deepest depressions, then back into forms of his love in the ghosts of shadows and silhouettes, of dreams, of flesh, of misdemeanours, of swimming things, of mites, of current lovers fucking, of hookworms in the soil that lived inside of him.
“How comes… Ha! You know, I know you know all his. I just, you know, I get bored,” Death said, returning to the form of a 1909’s man.
They just stood there for a while exchanging the pipe, where, even Death needs a day off, and finds peace with only those who are not afraid of him. Then, after a while, Otto looked across at Jacques, in the moors, asking him “Have you ever flown?”
“No, only in dreams, and in a short part of my life when I was with Luce. And we danced.” Jacques said.
Which made Death laugh.
He tried to hold it under his breath, but couldn’t.
He held a hand up to the night, fingers spread, and called upon thunder, his ex lass.
Thunder shook on the hills, and knew of Death’s jokes, remembering their love, nudging lightening, her husband, to laugh too, and sent down violent strikes of white.
“Ah! Yes, your flesh, your scent, your musk without soap, oh… How I know of your flight hummingbird!” Death screamed as they stood on the hill, in the torrent, the weather slaughtering them.
“You what?” Jacques said, only hearing mumbles from Otto Gross, that began to make the soil around them lift up.
“Good under Christ… You really know nothing do you?” Death said, beginning to roar, expanding himself within the lightening and thunder, fighting each one like an obsequious marionette against the sky. The grass moved around Jacques’ feet. Small limbs appeared in the green, trying to grip his ankles, appendages. Death was already lifting up, and was disinterested what those below were saying. Jacques rose with him. Two uncrucified lights flowing up. Several stars. A bang of freedom in the eternal dust.
“Well what are you waiting for boy! We go!” Death said looking down.
“What? I don’t know!” Jacques replied flying up.
“Oh! You will dear man… Let us go. Let me show you how the sun was made! Then. You will.” He said.
The wind tore their faces apart, but left their hearts alone, Otto having known how to fly from birth, and Jacques learning, a few miles behind. It was black. The rain tried to shatter their eyes. But could not.