November 20, 2013

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By Catherine Howarth

Henry VIII is no ordinary king. He’s about to go into the history books. For being discovered to be one of the only surviving Plantagenetes. That is, a flesh eating hairy plant posing as a human.

Cursed with  a human face and hands he is unable to simply live in the forest. Instead he must face up to his responsibility and rule the Isle of Britain. Once a forest from shore to shore, his family have governed since before the dawn of time.  Struggling with his own identity, he is torn apart by two desires; planting his seed and eating humans.

Bereft by the recent death of his only confident, his brother the king, he is unexpectedly thrown into a position of power. Suddenly lacking his privacy, he only has widower Catherine to turn to. Aware that the gene is passed only through the male line, his greatest fear is that he dies before creating a male heir. The only problem is, he doesn’t know how to. Is it by mating with other humans? Other Plantagenetes? Other plants? Or simply by sowing his seed, literally in the forest?

Join us as we follow Henry VIII in discovering both the truth about him self, and primogenture.  Will he keep his secret safe? Will he sow his seed successfully? Will he eat his wife? What is that cod piece really for? To find out the answers to these questions and more I know you’ve always been asking yourself about the king with 6 wives, stay tuned.

June 18, 2013
The WRONG ONES WON


The children running behind railway terrace were broad and pink. Stumbling all along the length of the bank, where ferns grow green each spring and orange each autumn, their legs shunted back and forth, back and then forth, skipping. Intermittently. Disappearing, fitfully, behind chimney pots these pink legs raced across the brown allotments.

Fastened to the hillside by brambles alone, these six uneven rectangles of vegetable mess reflected their hides in the six brown wardrobe mirrors, which eventually rose up from the six stone doorsteps below. Meanwhile six washhouses performed a small terrace jig like the fat wives of Irish men, not fifteen feet from these very same doorsteps - their blue slate tiles slipping into shallow puddles waiting patiently below. Crowning it all lay the viaduct in the sky. Brown and staunch it gathered the allotments, the terraced houses and the brook beyond, into its bulk.  Even the slim grey road creaking slowly up the hill toward the village of Long Martin lay beneath the brown beast’s underbelly, carving out a tunnel up through it by determination alone.

Every noise in that valley was loud and slow no matter what the time of day. Trains with metal wheels on metal rails blundered overhead every twelve and thirty-two minutes; John Presscots on rollerskates, the heavy glass rectangles tremor-ring in their steel windowpanes rattling twice as fast when winds shouted.  The wheel’s noise always beat the chorus of mammal bleats, being carried on the wind down the steep hillsides, into the ears of anybody listening. On the soil children called one another names, threw sticks, bowled pebbles at heads and drowned minnows without mercy. The adults tried continuing their conversations and divorces within all of this. Then there were the sounds of guns too, firing as the army practices its practices on the moors above the village; a biscuit tin constantly opening and shutting just as when you’re sat upon the carpet, by the coffee table.

All of these sounds filled the shallow bowl of the valley bowl: the place where our soldier was born even though there is no war, save in the heads of those where battlefields are drawn by the absence of a kind birth. Appeasement treaties and barriers are inked out in the charters of capillaried maps of the mind, spanning across miles of brain; wars lain in waiting, ready to be read aloud and said, to be turned into writing displayed and splayed across the ground by human fingers. Upon occasion these battlefields are indeed ignited, but thankfully for the most part they exist simply as unspoken and unknown threats.  Rooms of battles, hidden within boxes of discord, secreted within wars strewn with other corridors of anxiety hidden between their seams; their possessors functioning both without and with yet more love.

Who knows the depth of any given war until it is embarked upon, and then it is too late to tell how far down it may reach.  Who knows how many vaults it holds, cells its floods – there’s no saying. There’s simply the threat of more, a human resource with no materials required. The anti-materialism of a materialistic history right here inside us. The threat of war alone leads to other tertiary wars proceeding. People watching the issue and not the verb accidentally stepping on each others toes as they creep over and around the wars that shine brightest.

It’s exactly this negative equity of form that drove Ben to be standing here, precisely now; behind the wall. Standing without shoes in the rain. Standing still as the wide pelts of rain water force warm dust into eyes. Standing with his hands dyed tan by the hillside winds. Standing with his father’s blood in a bucket, and not that of some slaughtered sheep as usual.  Standing short of breath as his mother shudders in some other person’s house. Standing in the cloud’s reflected night. Standing there ignorant of a fourteen year old girl he has never met, watching him. Ignorant that she has plotted fantasies of entwining their romantic fates together for many years. Ignorant that the soil she kisses when he flees that field is wet not with rain but blood. Ignorant that his father’s fingers peep as marble crocus heads from beneath the earth inches from her lips. Ignorant that he was indeed the child his mother had told him he was not.  All for the want of avoiding a series of conflicts. A series of conflicts we too shall proceed to skirt around, and hopefully never encounter in a head on collision. Not via this narration anyway.

Let us return to the idyll of this war’s childhood. We can travel to its adulthoods in many forms in later words using parched cities and thriving groves, but let us dig into it’s roots.  For here we can still enjoy it in its incubation period: alight yet unconscious.

As I was saying, the trains trampling their way along the viaduct were preposterously loud and slow. Each terraced cottage shook, disturbing young toddlers and old cats from their duets of repose. As rising sparrows’ flocks expanded and contracted under the gapping arches, children’s mouths opened and shut, opened, and then shut again. Black circles marked their faces appearing and disappearing as their mouths opened and shut, and opened and shut as we have just described. Squawks mingled with squawks into one single flurry, until neither boy nor bird could tell one from the other.

This was of course ignored by the adults wrapped within the terraced brick terrace tube, housing their plates, shoes and regrets so successfully.  Inside the cylinder itself, each room was painted a different pastel shade. Were you to see them when hiding on the riverbank at night – as often our young soldier would when that man stopped him returning home over the field - the rooms resembled a string of cheap plastic beads in co-ordinting pastel shades. As televisions performed, panes of glass stopped those invigorated winds who excitedly rushed down the mountains from entering the knackered homes hour upon long repeated hour. It was not invited in. Rain hit mud, children played, and at length the stunted mountains slowly turned purple.  These were the laws of the Railway Cottages.

To the north of this valley you will find the hills Cat-bell and Dufton pike. They are each of them iced in grey rock where the snow will not settle and the grass cannot grow. Further north there are yet more Duftons, Dufton-bell and Dufton-thor, and still further north are the hills that the children could see nor recite the names of. The viaduct lies to the right of the valley, and the shallow brook running under it feeds across from the left. On the western side stands Red Farm. Tall blunt bricks shed dust on the farmyard floor, and its mud shines as red the hay when the sheep are birthing. To the south sits the village, where ruffians play in abandoned buildings, mother’s see their lovers in tourists’ half forgotten caravans and buses deposit the valley’s weekly groceries.

Wood smoke arrives in that valley before you arrive, and leaves after you leave. The crows squawk with an almost religious devotion. Parasites, they feed off the solid air lingering under damp viaduct archways - gulping it down like Macdonald’s milkshake: a mix of pain, greed and overwhelming sweetnesses. The children assumed the ceiling of their valley was lower than it really was. Each time a fighter pilot waved from their cockpits those broad running pink animals screamed and threw their chests down, squashing beetles hiding under leaves. The clouds so were dark and thick that the children thought they reflected the color of the low lying mountain range that lay like sheaths of curdled blood. ‘Didn’t clouds reflect ocean’s of liquid?’ they sauntered to each other through half open mouths.

In the fields the eyes of the sheep were blank and black, their calls blank also. Young lambs were caught in the wire fences as they forgot the faces of their mothers. They starved to death as their mothers forgot their faces too. Some autumns the flood plains where the sheep lived filled with the river’s swell before the winter even arrived. The water logged palates of green lapped noisily at the children’s’ ankles as they clambered over stonewalls, marching towards the rabbit warrens past lambs strung up in wire mesh fences. These warrens were dug on high land, in the sandy red dirt, from whence Red Farm’s bricks were cut.

The children poked large sticks and metal rods down the black arteries of the steep riverbanks. Tapping at the ground they hoped rabbits would emerge. No animals appeared, but the children’s appetites were whetted and down into the river they would rush. Knee deep and fully dressed they would wade to the deepest depths and stand upon mobile pebbles, breast to neck covered, in the ice-cold phlegm of the mountains. Coughed up out of the saturated dirt, the water would fall off the ugly purple faces. Rejected by the soil, each droplet tumbled as an army gathering: stumbling over their own kindred as they raced for the blue mouth of the sea - somewhere out beyond the viaduct.

Black circles laughed as younger comrades cried, abandoned on small islands by their young elders. The game was played by every generation, and each child would remember how the fear had hurt and pricked at their eyes too. Regardless of their empathy, the little elders would let their younger siblings beg to be carried across the beck; provide transportation to some tree stump, fallen boulder or marsh island sat in the centre of a swollen aquatic arm. Their young height impeded efficient progress over the slippery moving pebbles and jumping cold waves, so they sang out for aid.

The elders would obey the little one’s decorous requests. Suddenly the elders would abandon their young charges and play on the other side of the the river. They picked their feet out of the river ,despite the young ones’ wailing pleas, and vanish into the boggy fields beyond.

The youngest ones did not know their elders were waiting; that the game was bigger. They did not know that elders had learnt to smell the on slaught of frozen clouds; the pride of the youngest ones had rendered them ignorant to this. They could not imagine their elders knew any more than they, that age was simply a quantity of time. Before snow flakes or hail rocks started to fall the elder ones made their retreat. It was the only time they smiled as the rock cold water sailed into their boots.

Mounting the sliding mud torn bank without any ease, they refused to glance back. Only once they were safely ensconsed on the river’s verge would they turn back to look their lesser biological comrade in the eye. The young ones had to ask; have to beg. Their hair sodden with sleet, ears stinging from injury of pride, they had to beg to be rescued. The elders were reluctant, refusing to carry the little youngsters. Turning their backs they would leave. The little ones eyes would widen, faces pall and fingers curl with a sudden fear of the cold that had always been present.

Some hours later the elders would emerge from not a few feet away, behind a tree or a mound. Wade in to the deep water? They would. Hold their hands? They would. Lift their arms above the water so their cuffs wouldn’t get wet? They would do that too. But they would only carry their little charges if they made a point of asking really nicely. Only then would they obey the little ones.

Shivering, sobbing and cold the little ones’ soft fat throats trembled as their elders lifted them on to their backs, returning them to their mother’s televisions.


June 18, 2013
THE VOX

As people all across Chelsea sat upon low slung concrete steps telling one another in hushed tones of what they had done and who they had been before coming here, before being washed up against the roots of this tall place where the staunch brown colonels of Central Park’s horizon reminded onlookers of what they had failed to achieve and neglected to become, Kenic listened in.

These mutterings, trapped not so deep beneath the rolling waves of stagnant motor roars, took their bone-idle time to hit the 54th floor of 612 42nd street, and then the 72nd beyond. Pouring through an open window, tipping gurgle by singular gurgle across the 29th floor, he remembered that his last shift had started half an hour ago. Scratching that unreachable stretch of itch behind his elbow he launched across the room muttering threats to Isa, Pav, the lovely Alejandro and a dozen others he had not yet smelt, while the sweat oozing from his hot life bag stuck him to the floor - one floor paddle at a time.

Tripping with rapidity into the ceramic cove he flushed on the water’s tap gushing away last night and —- that water, —— yes that water —- that water’s flow, a trickle of bars sounding off the enamel stretch as though in memory of the Tambourine’s time honored song, water’s song that sings the same lyrics for the length and breadth of the world and human time; each droplet splayed a chorus replayed as the bulk of water’s form lurks beneath the streets and hills and iron ore infested ground. Ringing and ringing, ringing and ringing, and singing and ringing, singing like the birds in the grove, the children’s laughter in the bushes, the hidden lotus that soft-quietly crofts the next night of bay, the next night of thought and then on, on to the Vox; the unseen shadows made between the tree’s leaves and the soapy sky beneath when the world is tilted upside down by the air. Yes, just before it hits the cornea, flowing over the synapse; and then on into the brain: the indelible recorder of Past.

Pawing over the sink, his arms were arrested by the sensation of a lawn. The lawn - that lawn – somewhere in his mind’s eye was now rendered as a ceiling with trees’ green mop heads hanging down attached to wooden handles buried furiously into the air above. Yes and human heads too hanging down too, sweeping an ocean of blue carpeting sky. Heads that once swayed with intention to move appeared now only as captives of Winds’ collective wall of Push: still and steady as a tree battered into lithe curvatures on a coastal shore. That lawn of Mayland. So far and locked away - locked beneath the day he filled his denim pockets with only a Salinger and the memory of Laurie Lee’s biography: the day he’d sauntered past the plains of His familiar wide blue sky and elected for a sect of walls and banks, marmalades and schisms he’d never heard of nor thought of nor shat before.

His family were still there. In That Mayland. That was the joy of being far enough away to let the Vox live true. They are still there, just as he’d had them and held them and seen them and let them, and then left them. Just as he’d first forgotten them right there, stood like that, on the grass, by the door, the red door with the palm print from who God knows whom, and the baby and the mom - his mom - and the dad with his bowing stoop and closed elbow resting on the mower, but silently; yes silently because its no longer Christmas of ’77 and the engine stopped it’s whirring years before he even thought to think of this moment. The baby is now old with babies of its own, some that that have smiled and some that have died, while the plates in the kitchen, by the window on the ledge once painted white but now peeling in yellow light, yes they’ve smashed or simply just turned and turned in their little wire wall sockets like little spinning wheels that men and woman love to touch at least three times a day – sometimes four – just for the sake of consistency until someone crashes them into a skip.

Typical to all Irish men roaming the earth, Kenic was simultaneously beautiful and broken hearted from the moment he saw his mother shortly after slewsing out of her red funnel. Born inside the woman of his dreams he would never be able to draw the curtains of her heart around himself so tight again.  At least there was the Vox to give him some comfort. Some tender moments of repast. For there is the moment when the lines are not yet set, when the image is strung out to dry.  Some images never make it past the Vox and into the pack; the deck of sights marking the past. For some, such as Kenic, too many remain in the brain’s cornea, upside down and alone with no dawn of perspective to settle them still. For some never find cause to retire simply because they have not yet served their duty; that is, tether down the past as an immutable source of the future. For there lies the secret of Vox, should you choose to find it.

Before the present is passed through the squid’s inky black soul which hides within our eyes until it can retrieve its form from the sunken oceans bellow, yes just before it is innocuously passed forward by the ocular there is a moment of disbelief.  A small, slight, window -a moment when the symbolic imagery denoting facts looses it’s grip of the two synapses. It is brief but it does happen, though for perhaps only a milli-milli second. It is all alone, upside down, free from morality and exposed only to the will and whims of the mind that might not yet wish to recommit it to the brain. Not as it is. Not as it stands – or more accurately, hangs upside down in the vault of the Vox with the black liquid squid’s soul pressing against it, some gapping vast open haze as petrifying to the memory as it is to you.  What happens to it while no one is looking is entirely up to you.  Like a small child alone in a room, it is as vulnerable as you choose to make it.

What are the odds, what are the chances? You gamble on a future by gambling on a past. Gambling on whether a future will occur by gambling on whether a past occurred. Gambling on whether a past occurred by gambling on whether a future will occur. An addict’s game for sure, one with unlimited waves of horses’ rolling legs churning the damp green while knuckle bound knees jumble as shuffling cards flutter a floor or table, yes they as a wave of brain, hair and matter rage over and over and over the jumps, each hedge set to the task of suicide and injury while the passing horses that have since forgotten them now stumble grunting not one by one but all as a gather and all as a matter trailing whole across the staggered finishing line, while your single pale face repeats itself all along the white rail gracing the green numero zero peering at the sun embedded in the sky.  Some races are long, years and decades. Others are three second flutters. Their length does not reflect their importance or relevance to you.  More often than not the outcome has nothing to do with you, but rather anyone else who wishes to press their nose and cheek against the glass panel you erected to lock them out of your life. Will it?  Will it? Might it will it win? Did they bet right?  Starting block upon starting block, race upon race – but without need of a television stapled high to a city in a shop. Without need of men in caps and coats scrunching paper in their knuckles, without need of society and mother knowing of your addiction. For she has it too. Though she knows it not. Betting. The thrill of betting causing the ultimate thill of Histories not yet written. What will benefit you most, bring you closer to that which you hold in regard or simply ache for?  Cast your chips, and so too your version of events in your mind.

Flinging a dead newspaper down on the bed Kenic flopped back with a lung full of air and took deliberate delight in squeezing it out slowly, like a large nitrogen pustule beached upon an eiderdown. It hadn’t hurt as much as he feared it would. The article was certainly flattering. Then again the review was for a prestigious gallery so why shouldn’t it be. What must he have done to get there, wondered Kenic slowly.  Fighting for space in the dark room for three years, vying for one another’s approval, they had both once loathed one another for they had the same dream; for they were the same person. Pretty classic stuff. Despite the wish that Lew would consistently fail, Kenic felt something close to a wave of pride upon seeing those familiar narrowed eyes basking in orange sunlight on his bed. Those same narrow eyes that had coxed him on when his heart said no. When he knew she would scream. When he knew the child was watching his mother and the carry on before him from the buggy, and not forget this for the rest of his life; Kenic himself no more than a child. Lew started him young, and here he was again but with a thousand full stops of dust snowing heavily across his skin to create a fuzzed bed reception TV viewing of a trans-Atlantic’s rotting photograph.  A brother in hate, at least someone associated to him had made it – whoever they were. The experience was, overwhelmingly. Unsettling.  Seeing one’s favourite nemesis glaring at you from a national newspaper does give you a ‘grim innards’ though. It just does. “It’s one of nature’s rules” spoke Kenic.

Twenty two Lew’d been when he first sucked at the world, hoping for a flavour of his own. All the way from Canada to Europe - some backwater apparently, a dead simulacra that had yet to be brought back to life where parents were bikers, kids played on rooftops and all collectively dreamt of TV screens filled with some other police force’s lurid taste in haircuts. By contrast, Mayland was a place of hospitals, schools, and bread pedestrianized thoroughfares.  Two very different backgrounds. Two very similar anxieties, two very similar talents and two very similar states of self awareness. Well, only of one another. 

Perhaps Lew had left his family in the state of Vox all these years too; sacrificed the past for a state of control?  “Unlikely though” spoke Kenic. Lew had never really found the Vox. More, it had called to him from time to time; and he had responded.  Some would have just called Lew an out right out and out pathological liar with an unwillingness to harbour any degree of fact in a bid to promote himself above all else. Those who entertain feats of vision pertaining to the projected enlightenment of the self are generally forced to shroud even the present in the past tense. That is, remove it from the possibility of the future by rendering it docile and unharming to the unknown present looming just beyond the – just beyond the – just beyond this pres – no this prese – they moved so fucking fast it drove Kenic mad enough to split his sides and want the consequent stitches directly here and now – looming just beyond the future as the very next future is inclined to reveal itself only once the past has truly revealed itself, at least until some other person enters the room; and in doing so gives enough of a hint so as to let us place and hedge our bets as to where the past will fall.  But, only once it knows what is coming. It didn’t have to be this way though. Not with the Vox.

Most people barely even felt the Vox’s presence. They thought of the past as a True past, an unerring point of fact whose legitimacy to the throne of doctrine was to be debated, scored and pitted against the experience of others. Yes, the True past: an ode to be spoken about and around, discussed dismembered and bedraggled by any listener who believed it had happened. Happened. Yes happened. There was always the fault line in the logic of their thinking. They thought around it. The assumption that a word Could correctly summarise what had actually occured. There was this possibility to their thinking. Thankfully for Kenic the phrase “What is is?” had opened his brain like silver chisel slicing a grapefruit in two with the ringing shimmer of tones associated only with the pitch of a diamond slicing in two, its eternal ring paying homage to the thousands of years and atoms that had brought it to this place in space and time.  Yes, rendering the present in the past in a wave of future applied hindsight made it far easier to sell ones self with a confidence rivaling conceit.  Kenic rocked and flicked his toes a while before dismissing any notions concerning that Lew had nothing to do with the Vox anymore. He was probably just a liar now. There was no need to worry.

Seeing as there were no ironed shirts resting in the formidable heap of cotton straddling his room, he pinched a sweater from his chair in one simple move so smooth and swift so as to make bankers cum and thieves light cigarettes in high salute to one another. The only bit of thieving Kenic had been any good at; the fag afterwards. Not unlike his attempts at sex. The last one he’d done commented on his curtains when she was upside down. It wasn’t his fault this had put him off – he wasn’t a machine.  Just because he tipped cherry sloe gin down her throat and led her bare back here against the quilted quilt against her muted will didn’t mean he the act didn’t still require sensitivity. A bit of mood lighting. Rapists gave malevolent manhandlers like him a bad name. There was nothing forced or over eccentric in his dealings with the fairer sex. That was reserved for the better sex.  He just made sure the vessel types were drugged up and suppressed in spirit before he’d even clapped eyes on their grey-soft-brown-hard-pink-rubber nipples. Rhitnol hadn’t done him much good either. Only he had insisted on doing it his way, which had typically led to disaster. Once he’d found the house and doled out the old ‘Hitty, saying it was liquid acid to every fucker in the miserable building. He just waited.  A whole fucking shoal of them. Men, women, boys, ignorant plebs, rich cunts, disarmingly sharpwitted lovies. All there sprawled and abandoned by their consciousnesses. Apart from that one Bint who wouldn’t fall asleep. Yes. A veritable orgie could have been had. Apart from the one who wouldn’t sleep. Beyond thumping her with the baseball bat he was at a loss what to do. He wasn’t a violent man. Kenic even considered just doing her, just pinning her down and doing her there so it wasn’t a complete waste of $45. Real rape just wasn’t up his street though. He didn’t fancy bothering with her noise, being the squeaky Ivy League type that she was. She got wind of it anyway, worked out for herself that it was just the two of them and a bunch of potential bacon slices sitting in the mouldy apartment. He never been eyeballed by a silent victim waiting so placidly before. It made him nervous to even scratch his conjoined scrotum – and that was his trademark - while those two white-eyeballs puckered by the brown watermarks of her father watched him. He hadn’t liked it when she kicked him there either. It was a party for fucks sake, no need for violence.  Some people just didn’t know the etiquette. ‘But then, they never get very far in life anyway so there’s no need to be angry’. There was some solace to be found in that. Yeah, there was a symmetry about the anti-Hitty strategy that appealed to his sense of humour. Yeah. Rehitnoling all but one for the ultimate power rape as she screamed and squealed while her little piglets slept by her side as her arms flailed up and down by and by, their eyelashes gummed shut by greed for new visions: that would be good. But not yet. It was one worth saving for a night so boring you could pull down a navy tit from the great starry sky and milk ennuie  straight into a bucket.  Well, a night when he had more nerve and a steel cock cap.

He knew though. He knew she’d think the experience had made her grow up. That it was part of her development, in some unfortunate way. She’d be singing about it in a few years. In some down town cellar ex-Irish bar where the women you met had long hippy hair but didn’t masturbate. Yeah she’d be there, wailing away like Fiona Apple. Claiming it’d altered her. That it had changed her. Or provoked change, somehow. “Morons” spoke Kenic. Change! All victims did - according to them. Kenic looked at all the faces of them, that he could remember, and sighing flicked through his Mother’s old wallet. It had sat on his dresser all morning with that photo peeping out. Whisking the paper square under the tent of his palm, he stamped it’s poxed surface against his sweaty palm before throwing it out the window. Sideways, it fluttered, before he turned back to the wall putting its falling form out of his mind. He was not desirous of catching the coloured side’s attention.

“Change -” thought Kenic leaning back against the cool wall, his ribs warmed by the soft lumberjack shirt he had stolen from some other man’s back last night. How long before he’d noticed there was nothing to cover the sweat of some other man’s skin on his angular back blades? How long before those white hand sized wings compressed down under skin got cold, and he noticed the absence of an as yet unnamed Kenic?  Kenic put that white sweating upper lip away, somewhere behind a library with bricks the same colour as his hair and that drawing of a shepard - which looked nothing like him. But the grey sea behind the lonely sheep keeper some how, did. The man with the snow face who had asked Kenic if-  no, Kenic had asked him if – no that tall girl had stubbled past that’s right, and asked him to lift – well no, the guy with the brogues had– or the other guy with the accent from Spain, or maybe it was Mexico, which was it first?

Kenic’s mind wandered back to Lew though, as always. No. No he wasn’t anything approaching even envy towards Lew. He thought about New York v. London; about Lew lounging around somewhere holding a girl’s pale hand, pouring orange liquid into his mouth. Another city. No. No he couldn’t make it in another city. This one was just right for him here. In this city, people wash over it in tides. Sure, they’re all tides drawn by the same gravitational force of ambition – regardless of the sources of their ambition? Well it’s probably the same the world over isn’t it: people suffering, people hungry, people wanting because they’ve been denied - or in a state of complacency assuming a denial; a denial denied to them. Yet they move. As their ambitions move them up, so they move forward, so they move building, block, and landscape. All around this little island they churn. A great modulation of an atmosphere, little droplets rising capitulated by the heat, and dropping great feats of height as the tallest airs cool. Up five floors, down ten floors, left two blocks, south nine blocks down three floors, west six blocks up twelve stories.  As they churn they turn up the earth, soldiers of the past are reunited with yellow beaks of daffodil tips chirping from undergrowth; spring and autumn all at once. And all trying to avoid being crushed between the hard grey earth and the concrete blue sky. It’s a narrow place to live, in that short little divide where the two plains of earth and sky touch, where ever in the world you are. All this movement didn’t equate to change though; not the kind of change Kenic was looking for. The type of freedom he knew about. This ‘New York’ was static and writ in fact by the communal agreement of too many participants.  But people were aware, vaguely. Its what allowed him to get away with it, here. Playing into the city folks’ main insecurity – that they didn’t know what they wanted to have happened because, largely, they didn’t know who they wanted to be. They didn’t know what they wanted to think happened. Ravenous ambition causing total confusion. What story did they want to tell in five years time when interviewed by the New York Times supplement? The beast of opportunism was too great in this city of possibility. Hunger starved them all of direction. Their weakness was their unfocused greed for anything to become their future accomplishment. 

The late afternoon air so thick and milky grey, and the question itself, held soperiphic qualities Kenic could not fight. He knew he was now bound to miss that last shift however fast across town he ran. Perhaps the smeared grey turnpikes on the subway would get caught in his trouser pocket dragging him back, making him miss his ride. Perhaps he’d be even later than he didn’t already want to be when he marched into the saloon to be berated by Maxi. Perhaps she would frown at him with that dated black fringe. Perhaps it would be parted as the red sea across that strapping plain of a raw forehead. Perhaps she’d sack him. Perhaps she’d ignore him. It was his last shift but she was never one to let go of the past.

Noticing the traffic starting up again outside, he decided to lie back on his bed whole listening to the fumes rising. His mother’s old Kodak unpacked from the fresh postal delivery sat watching him from the dresser; its inky eye pouring fret into his face.  As portrait artists go, he wasn’t bad. It was just a shame he loathed now not Lew, but the process of communicating fact to print – indelible rendering both on paper and grey matter. Yes anything at all cementing the past in the past. For how else can you then lie about it with conviction? He curled his knees up into his arms on the bed, tracing the circular wall motifs.  Kenic knew full well, it wasn’t like he could tell the truth. Not about what happened. What he did. Or more precisely, what he didn’t do and the hand he didn’t hold as the breathing body swung from the roof only seconds before the unbreathing body lay on the ground bellow. On that green lawn, while she laughed.

April 16, 2013
THE RUSSIAN DREAM: (46,000 words)

mymorbidnovella:


PREFACE

It all started on the same day. He dumped me and of course we found her dead, although I wasn’t to see the connection until after it was all over. The two events were entirely separate in my eyes, and neither had anything to do with my actions. These two eyes have since…

April 15, 2013
FAN FICTION: DR WHO KNEW?

I have decided that I do not care for this most recent series of Dr Who. So I’m taking matters back into my own hands. 

Remember last week when they downloaded all the trapped souls and returned them to their bodies?

Well revisit this scene in your memory, The Dr and his lovely lady Clara are standing on a roof terrace finishing their breakfast when the doctor collapses….

 ________________________________________________________


 

DR WHO KNEW? 

Without warning or explanation, or even a clunky plot device, the Dr turned white as a sheet and dropped to the ground. Collapsing to the floor like a heavy squirming slug, the Dr writhed around screaming. His eyeballs ready to pop out of his skull and his tongue stretching as far as it could like a pink pencil, Clara wondered if she really did fancy him after all?

 

'Dr, Dr what is it?!' she asked alarmed. Kneeling by his side she patted his brow with a coffee moistened napkin, 'Are you allergic to almonds in the croissants? Or wheat? Gluten?' Helpless, she looked around but the cafe was deserted for all the waiters had woken only to find themselves working in the service industry and not earning a living wage. Alone on the city rooftop terrace, with only cold coffee to hand, there was nothing she could do but watch her master squirm: and wriggle he did. Like a girl he screamed as his handsome angular thin legs popped out in to broad hairy muscular calves. His gut belched out snapping his leather belt, his hands fattened faster than a blow-fish, and all the hairs tumbled from his head. Within seconds he was an old, grizzly, grey haired man with more warts than fingers, nostrils wider than a Nissan car, and knees shakier than a schoolgirl after her first can of lager. He had renewed; ahead of time, ahead of BBC schedule, and against the whims and will of the scriptwriters.

 

Staring at him with the wide eyes of a doll, Clara looked at him aghast. He couldn’t be a day under 50. Make that 60! she decided. ‘Urg!’. She preferred hanging out with school kids younger than her and lost boys who gave her constant attention. Peering at the crusty waxen ears of her new companion she reached for the magic, sonic, screwdriver and pointed it at him.

'Who are you?' she cried

'Who are you?' he queried, like  mole poking his head above ground.

'Don't put that one on me. You’re not the Dr who are you?’

‘Am too.’

‘Are not!’

‘Am too.’

‘You’re not handsome, or dashing, or anything. You’re an imposter. For all I know you could have hijacked the Dr’s body and renewable body scheme to sneak onto the earth without getting discovered as an alien. It’s the perfect cover plan, admit it! Or I’ll hide your Tardis’

'Where is it by the way?'

'Oh so now you're pretending you don't know ANYTHING because you've been…been renewed or whatever they call it?'

'No dear I, I can't see you. You are a dear aren't you? Not some annoying school boy?' The Dr coughed the rattling cough of a man who’s smoked 60 a day when it was still economically viable.

'I want my lovely Dr back!'  A small tear welled up in her lashes, for she had already imagined her wedding dress, their first kiss and him whisking her away to dinner in the Bahamas after proposing to her on the moon. The new Dr’s rattling phlegm drew her back to earth.

'Now, where is my screwdriver?' he muttered, patting his ratty old coat down.

'I'm pointing it at you – you stupid old man!!' she shouted frustratedly.

'Are you?'

'Yes look!'

The Dr shuffled over until his nose was nearly touching it’s blue it end.

'Oh there it is!’

‘No way are you my new Dr!’

'There’s no need to be rude dear. I’m perfectly fine. Give me an hour or so to settle in. Now, there are lots of adventures to be found. We’ll sit down and have a nice chat and you can tell me all about everything. Now first things first, how do we get out?’

‘Sorry, I should have thought you wouldn’t know how we got up here seeing as you’re rejuvinated’ Clara smiled sweetly, happy to start afresh. After all, nothing was more pleasing to Clara than having someone listen to her chatter inconsequentially about nothing until an adventure was plucked out of her dialogue by the Dr. 

‘Why don’t we find a better café and I can update you on everything Dr - even where the Tardis is. How does that sound?’ she simpered.

‘Good idea dear. Now let’s start at the beginning.  Where is the door?’

'Over there! she yelled pointing behind her at the big black double door, surrounded by brilliant red door frame, a neon door handle and a sign that said EXIT.

'Don't shout, I'm not deaf dear'

'You're not the new Dr! You're a body thief!  You must be an evil alien who's taken him over, I'm going to vapourise you before you can do any damage!'

'I am the Dr, I am!'

'You can't be - you're not handsome enough!'

'Why are you very pretty?'

'Of course I am! Why do you keep asking such daft questions? 

'I haven't had my cateracts fixed in time, the NHS waiting list was too long. They were supposed to fix them before I came to take over.’

‘Then why didn’t you wait!’ she raged.

‘They cut my housing benefit. I had to start work so here I am. I did feel guilty about kick starting the rejuvenation a bit soon but that other fellow had been taking ages to –‘

‘But! But!’

‘What dear –‘

Her tears and voice quivered. ‘We were going to have babies!’

‘We still can dear!’

‘Urg! You’re disgusting disgusting disgusting!’

The Dr looked shocked, and placing his finger tips upon his face discovered all 29 warts. His hands slid over his waxy bald head, and then down over his large hairy ears to his scurf coated collar. Bending the fabric to his nose the word ‘wiffy!’ escaped his mouth thorugh waves of laughter.

‘It’s not funny!’ Clara stamped her foot.

‘But I’m the same age underneath.’

‘Urg I never thought of it like that. Gross. No. I can get paid as a carer for this, I’m not doing it for free!’

‘But I’ve still got the Tardis, can’t you love me for my fortune?’

‘You’ll probably drive it really slowly it your age! Look I’ve loved hanging out with you, but I think you’re going to need a companion your own age. I could go an pick someone out at the old folks home for you?’

‘I’m only 57!’

‘Sorry but I’ve got to go. Loads to do, you know?’

‘Well can you at least show me to the Tardis?’

‘Fine but that’s the best I can do.’ Clara smiled as sweetly as she could again, gently patting his arm as she let him down. Despite his poor sight she still fluttered her lashes as if 3 million teenage boys were watching her.

‘Oh do I?’ the Dr asked with a wry tone and a sprightly hop. Zinging off in entirely the wrong direction, Clara swung him back round so he was actually heading towards the door.

‘Of course you! All Dr’s need an assistant. 

‘Hmmm perhaps you’re right. I have an idea!’

 

*

 

The Tardis was very lonely left all alone for lone stretches in the bleak grey fog of London town. There was something cold and half hearted about it that made the Tardis wish for the warmer climates of Mars, the ice cold winds of a rushing black hole, even the burning blaze of the diamond ocean they once visited somewhere or other. The Tardis could barely remember. Oh the days spent with the Dr were the best of his life, he only wished he could tell him so; for he could talk.  The Tardis was a fully conscious animal, absorbing every detail of his encounters and he had made the mistake of falling hopelessly in love with the Timelord. But it had got too late to say anything, the moment had passed. On their first outing he had been about to introduce himself , when the Dr stripped to the ground and started wanking into one of his machines. He wasn’t sure if the Dr was aware of what this meant to him. Should he confess he was there, with him all the way? Now it would just be embarrassing. One thing the Tardis loved about the Dr was how he stayed truthful to his inner core and drive despite his varying human forms. His soul was alive and intact, just as with any inanimate object like itself. 

So when the Dr sauntered out of the mist, the Tardis was neither surprised or alarmed to see him take the form of an old crusty man. However, he was not so keen on who was following him.

‘Come on Daisy!’ he called jubilantly fisting the air with his hand.

Blond, wide eyed and jumping with enthusiasm, ‘Woof!’ was Daisy’s first expression.

‘Come on Daisy, where is it?’

‘Fuck me’ thought the Tardis. ‘He’s fucking blind’.

‘Where’s the Tardis Daisy? Show me!’

‘Fuck me’ thought the Tardis, ‘he’s only gone a got a fucking blind dog. Is it too late to shout out? Maybe this is my chance?’

‘Woof!’

‘Ah great work Daisy. I can see you and I are going to be a great team. My new assistant eh!’

‘Woof!’

‘Ah the open road of possibility, just me and a human’s best friend. Love, who needs love!?’

Surrendering himself a moment to sob, the Tardis swallowed his pride and pretended he had never been in love with the Dr. ‘There was never anything really between us. I’ll always love him, like a brother. I just got confused.’

Shutting his mind’s eye, the Tardis concentrated on the task at hand; flying the Dr wherever he wanted free of charge.

 

Inside the tardis Daisy was having a brilliant time. All the bleeping buttons and lights made her bark bark bark with excitement!

‘Yes Daisy I know. It’s all terribly exciting isn’t it? Now, can you bark when I get to 7,000 light years per hour?’

‘Bark!’ yelped Daisy with positive enthusiasm.

‘Goodo. Here we go, and I’m going to confess something to you Daisy…’

Daisy jumped up so her two front legs were resting on the dashboard next to the Dr massive shovel sized hands. “Wroff?’ she barked, her big tongue drooling on his sleeve. ‘I hope you know where we’re going… because I don’t know!’

SUPER: THEME TUNE & CREDITS OPEN

 

To be continued…  

 

April 6, 2013

April 3, 2013
THE DENTIST
"Can ay have another one doc? Can’ay?”
"Prescription only Mrs Miers."
“Eey but can aye jost wun more?” 
He looked at her, steady between the eyes.
“Go on?” 
“Mrs.Miers.”
“Denying a muther? Thas’ own muther?”
“Mrs.Miers! You are clearly not my mother.”
“Ay, a muthea o’th’ state that is. Eey, tha’ should be
swillin’ w’gratitude t’me. Disrespect, that’s all thy
tempestuous face ‘as ever shown me Doc.” 
Mrs.Miers coughed, shifting her bowels further up her
thorax in the process.
“Just one!” she wined, “ay can’e-a shift wha’s
lodged, up there like, in me bowels. Born on the Pennines,
die on the Pennines. Until that day cooms ay’ll ‘av me nicoteen.
Jus’ one, in th’night, before ay lies down, and it gets all
lodge op in me bowels again. There’s an age before
t’morrow cooms again and there’s no nurse and no bed pan?
Eh? Go on Doc!”

He looked her straight in the eye. Mrs.Miers sniffled,
kicking a leg out of the bed and twisting her thorax so that
a long, whimpering funnel of air was excreted from her
concealed intestines. The scent was as noxious to the doc’s
nostrils as her chintz curtains were to his eyes. They had
not been washed since before the dawning of The New-Old
Age. However, the curtains had not been neglected, for it
was obvious that they had been used to clean other things
during that time. Other bodily things. From their location
on the height of the window hangings in relation to the
height of the bed and it’s occupant’s location upon it, the
collective ‘dung’ palette proclaimed that without need of
annotation. Looking towards the door and the freedom of
the old folks institution that lay beyond, the doc saw her
lean frame quivering in expectation. Watching her eyes
widen in anticipation, he realized it was satiate this wish, or
be forced to satiate something more alarming.

"Alright Mrs.Miers, for medicinal purposes". Scribbling on
a torn parchment saved from the days before it had all been
burnt to cinders and the forests saved from their general
day to day pillagings, the doc twisted his head towards the
door listening for spies and potential intruders. He heard
nothing. He saw nothing.

Opening his medical bag slowly, removing all the rusting
paraphernalia within it onto the floor, he ran a finger along
the camel satin lining and clutched at a bent safety pin
hidden within its folds, drawing it high in to the air. The
floor of the bag followed - revealing a sunken red
compartment.

Craning her neck up from the damp pillow Mrs.Miers at
first assumed it was a velvet lining, or some other fabric
particular suitable to the task of addict smuggling. Upon peering
closer she saw it was peppered with short broken hairs, fragments
of bone and fingernails alongside grey slivers of what she
could only presume to be skin. Through his thick grey eyelashes
he saw her looking – and snapped the bag shut.  “There’s
nothing wrong with being denied access to cleaning tokens
Mrs. Miers. I-“
"Fair enough doc fair enough. I don’t ask questions where
I’m not asked, and I don’t ask where there’s questions I don’t
want answers to. ” Pointing to the curtain she grimaced.
Nodding, he conceded and focused on his work. Out came the
green stick, a column of desire. Slowly he lifted it to her lips. As 
she suckled so he lit the tawdry orange flame squatting beneath a 
heap of tobacco. Sadly for Mrs.Miers in the era of the
New-Old-Age one’s tongue stuck to one’s teeth when the 
Smoke’s green die particles covered your mouth bones.
That was the problem with black market gas nicotine
feeders. The government had stained them to stop their
wholesale resale and woe-betide you should one make it in
to your thirsty little lung funnel, the mouth. After all, the
NHS didn’t ‘Fix’ people anymore – it ensured people had
no need of being ‘Fixed’.

Watching her digital clock the Doc felt a wave of irritation
sweep up his neck. He scratched at his shirt collar. The
Cassio didn’t’ show the seconds churning by, it simply
announced the minuet with a new symbol-combo. You had no 
idea how far through the minute you were. His eyeballs
twitched as he caught sight of something moving in the
corner of his eye. With horror, and a disinclination to
believe, he saw her pores expanding in the sunlight as her
thoughts lapped up the tides of nicotine. Milky light and
parched sun-bed skin - what an awful combination. 

A generation of purple perms had been replaced by a
generation of orange fiberglass limbs; pink rinses and
purple washes replaced by day-glow hands with walnut
knuckles and the need for plastic rain caps replaced by
short skirts with which to bare the burnt flesh. But heavy
days, heavy heavy days had passed since the Formation
Day had sung. How eagerly they had all saluted to the new
way. Dead was ‘the third way and only way’, as it had been
called back ten.

“The dawning of the ‘New-Old-Age” had been the only phrase
simple enough to capture the hearts and imaginations of an 
electorate who’s average age was 77.  All they wanted was to be 
young again. Slavishly, they followed the trends of the young – 
albeit a few years later. They pretended to be unimaginative and 
naïve, reading twitter feeds, spouting positivity and buying 
clothes  off Asos. 

Indeed the election had launched it’s own fashion line, for
added online interactive behavioural engagement. Of course it
was dowdy stuff, they were after the OAP vote after all they
were an easy target with all those savings to fret over. No one 
else had any. 

After Tescos Corp.s had introduced a written manifesto
identifying every citizen as a responsible participant 
of the fate of the state, and then solved the insolvency 
of the economic quadruple dip by selling our
rights and worth as workers to the EU, it all slipped into a
shaded mess.   A series of oddities occurred within the past 5
short years since the last Conservative defeat of 2015. That’s
how the doc remembered it.

Yet every day life looked the same. The same streets were still 
there, just as before, the pubs had the same names, soap still
cleaned people, plates still held food, and coffee was still
what chic Italian twats drank. However, children were
taken immediately into state care on the premise that one
could not assert a parent did not have the capacity to be a
bad parent, or demonstrate bad parenting skills. This had
changed everything for the doc. Made him sad. Feel
alone. 

Other people had disagreed with him. His brothers
called him a fool, said he believed in what he’d been taught
to believe; by the totalitarian Democratists; the ones who
wanted us to believe in democracy so they could go on
doing what ever they wanted without being questioned
because the mob thought getting the vote once every five
years was democracy; because we had been taught that the
mob was other people; that the mob was people you didn’t
know; that a mob couldn’t be controlled. Not in the news.
No we saw that they couldn’t be controlled in the news.

'Surely you can’t ignore that Al?' his brothers pleaded.
Surely the Doc could not ignore the documentaries proving
how news channels had traded in propaganda footage,
making them believe in this thing called ‘the Mob’ and that this,
this wild riotous thing, this body of men,  was not you: film clips
with angry dog-men biting and spitting and bleeding and crying
into cameras even when the police battered them with wood and 
steel and ran their jaws and shoulders down into the tarmac while 
Alsatians looked on; barking, officers looked on; counting,
politicians looked on; yawning and all the unending
swarms of middle class people with pensions stood on the
kerb behind their TV screens and nodded, calmly judging as
the tides of anger sank by and past and down into the
repertoires of caves and cells built to convince us that the
mob are indeed animals; for how else could they cope
living in those white grope holes? The mob, here they are
on repeat and re-edit until the cows come home and you
forget that they’re your brothers’ and cousins’ brothers and
cousins. The threat of the mob, the uprising, was the tool of
Democracy. So it had been for many years.

Then the new government changed things, told us this, admitted
this; liberated us from this; liberated us from The Liberty.
The cruel Liberty. The false liberty that had been promoted
since the day they tore the heads off the French and
Russian kings and queens in satin gowns. For the liberty
we knew was false … a method, a facility to keep us happy.
Bread and circuses, that’s what Circero told us, and that’s
what we were given; booze and democracy, to amuse us
while the real men got on with the real job at hand. While
they got on with running the country, the world’s populace.
Let the laymen believe they had a hand in running the
country, and even better; let them feel guilty for cocking up
the world. Let them take the blame and let the real men of
power do what they have always done; rule as dictators.
The Revolution promised an end to this false history, an end
to promises, thus an end to lies. They couldn’t give us
democracy, no one could, because it doesn’t exist. Some
one will always be hurt. If the majority win, then the
minority suffers. If the minority are allowed to get their
way, then even greater injustice is committed, for the
majority will suffer, and there are more of them. So its
worse. The Revolution promised something new; not to
promise and not to lie. They told how they couldn’t
promise us a democracy, but they could promise us truth.
Why pretend? They said. Why lie? They said. Tell it as it
is, let us see what’s going on and see what will happen. And
maybe we can make a bad situation better. All this
democracy, all these lies, look what they have brought us:
Cohesion? Happiness? Peace? World affluence?
Environmental sustainability? Or corruption, oppression,
war, conflict, poverty. Altruism? Empathy and hope? Or
greed, egoism, fear. “Go the New-Old-Age way. Don’t even
vote for us. Just tell everyone its what’s going to happen.”
It had meant that schools started performing a different
role. They upheld the values of the ‘civic homes’ where the
young lived until 14 or 15, depending on their IQ. Then
there was a year in confinement, in a previous era known as
'imprisonment'. But as the young were being kept only as a
means of demonstrating how awful it would be if you
broke the law, it was now turned as ‘confinement’. There
were those who broke the law and lived in ‘Permenant
Confinement’, and those who had the potential to break the
law, who lived in ‘Periodic Confinement’.

Of course, the NHS had changed too. Rather than wait for
things to gowrong and mis-informed, although well meaning,
‘Parentals’ to bring children to the medics, medics now co-
existed with the young, able to spot any issues. It was hoped that 
over the next twenty years the education system would evolve to
a stage whereby people could self diagnose themselves and
friends, with out the need for government expenditure for
medics. This was all well and good for the future, thought
doc, but what about me? What of me? What happened to
me? Which Dr. had signed the policy contracting all the
medics to this? All several thousand of the medical
profession? Reducing them all to this? 

Turning silently away from the basking lump, he hunched
his way to the room’s exit hole.
"Anything else Mrs.Miers?" dripped from his
mouth as slowly and quietly as dew descends and then
departs a spider’s leg.
"Don’t you be running away now docy! I’m the one who gives
you your appraisal – I get to say if you get sacked or not.”
He stepped back from the doorway.
“Now, sit down here. On my bed love.”
She patted the flannel bed skin. He stood by the door.
“Come on love. There there. Didn’t mean to threaten you
like. There there, harmless old me eh?”
“Time is of the essence Mrs. Miers!”, his leg edging
towards the door.
“Who’s to say a couple of old and, intimate, friends can’t
pass the time of day together?”
“Really, I’m frightfully behind Mrs.Mie-“ 
“I’ll be wanting the usual servicing Doc and that’s that!
None of your faffing today.”
‘Oh what happened to me?’ he cried inside his head.
“Mrs.Miers its for reserved patients only”
“Reserved patients! You’ve been attending to me for five
years now and well you know it!”
“Government orders. It’s for certified patients only. You’re not!”
"… look I’ve got them papers just here Doc…”
She waddled across to an old dresser stuffed with civic
documents. He stood watching the carpet in the hallway.
He heard the secret hours hidden inside minutes clunk by; a
rate of time that only the terrified, guilty and slightly
mental were privy to.
"Dentist" he whispered.
"What’s that luv?"
"Dentist. I’m qualified as a dentist Mrs.Miers."
"Oo-er! What a pity eh? All those years studying at college
eh? Which one was you at?”
‘Oh how long ago that was!’ he cried inside his head.
Now, well now it was all different. He was sentenced.
Abstracted. Camouflaged now by a series of unappetizing
entrepreneurial gestures. He would not recognise himself.
Hair white and matted, eyes punched into his skull like a
couple of canons shot by some Scoucer bird’s goby mouth
into a bypass cess pit and then shat on by a dog with
dihorrea, teeth bleached to an irreversible shade of the
iridescent some sixty odd years ago, and ears bigger than
his balls - and now a trades man to boot. ‘Bloody wicked.
Bloody fagging marvelous. I thought I’d be rich enough
not to be doing this at my age. Black markets one thing,
easy to do with my old patient lists, but this? Being forced
by the government to do this ‘fixing mothers’ as part of my basic 
pay? Ha!’

He knew all about ‘Fixing Mothers’. He was forced to by the 
institutional forces. Yes all the mothers left behind to mangle in a sloth of gin once their children were put into care needed 
attention. After all they were in those big empty ‘habitation
wards’ living communally for comfort. No men folk were allowed 
into prevent from rape and other minor acts of misogyny.  
Yes ‘Fixing’ them before they broke down was a new and large 
part of the NHS. The ‘physical therapy’ wasn’t just limited to the 
years immediately after saying goodbye to their children. No it 
went on indefinitely. 

This was the bit Doc wouldn’t swallow. It was too much. The Doc 
had even started a  campaign awareness group, pointing out that 
the policy was  simply ‘Fixing’ the damage done by mothers 
robbed of children,  not ‘preFixing’ females before they cracked. 
No one had joined.  They said he was just shirking his 
responsibilities to the state… and to get on with it. 

Mrs Miers’s hacking cough brought the Doc sharply back into 
focus, in the foul smelling room. She laughed to herself, 
tumbling upon her breath.
"All that studying for nothing love? Just for this eh? Oooh! How 
times change us eh love?” her lungs tickling her tongue as
licks of glee caused her to choke.
Stubbing the green furnace stick out on a clod of mud
which she hid underneath her bed months ago, now
resembling road kill after some psychotic teenager has not
only tried to draw it and sculpt it but also post it through
their ex’s letter box hole, she hobbled towards her sofa.
"Well now Mrs.Miers" said the Doc, looking at the door,
"why don’t I come back, say on the 27th? Two weeks’ll
give you a good solid week to adapt to the new dosage an-“
"Not so fast sweetheart, come here", said she, patting at the
pink cushions.
"Mrs.Miers I really have to go I -" dripping gulps of sweat
down the ridge of his back, the Doc felt his corns pulsing in
his brogues.
Her thong fell to the floor as she did a line of the old
Government certified coke-soak (a artificial attempt at
synthetic high doomed to failure by the 100% organic
ingredients bill that had been passed the same year as the
legalization of all substances prone to abuse. It had
knocked the market right out from under them.)
"Mrs.Miers! The - the nurses might come in -"
He fumbled towards the old folks home boudoir exit, 
" -the…the cleaner!"
"They won’t mind…"
She grabbed his arm and he looked up at her walls,
concentrating on the pictures and patterns.
"Mrs Miers no! Cover yourself please! Oh put it away!"
Her pictures included peaceful green antique pastures
and vast gilt frame protecting a poster of the
culturally celebrated ‘X-Men II 2D’. 
“Come along Doc” summoned Mrs Miers. 
Dragging her pelvis to the edge of her bed she called out,
"Don’t be daft love, hop to! Saves time if you hop now
ehh?” excreting methane all the while and swinging her
ankles up high.
Creaking his knees he eased him self into the green tongued
mistress’s innards.
"Ooh you are a good doctor -"
Rising slowly up upon the air like a tangled mess of heavy
hounds cantering exhausted up a half deserted street, his
breath sounded like the chaos that is occurring at all times
and all around the globe in unwatched corners.
"Dentist.” He spluttered. “But I’m a - I’m a - - - - a –I’m a
Den-tist-ah”
"Oohh yes I’m su - su – su – su- u - u - - - - sure you are
deeeear.”
"I am a qualified," he was out of breath now, barely audible
above a whisper ” …qualified….”, hoarse and quiet,
"….dentist" he gasped. The Doc was so quiet he couldn’t
even hear his own sobs.
"Shh -"
"I’m a qualified dentist."
"Shhhh - "
"I-"
"Shh-"
"I -"
"Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh."
"But I was a Dentist!" he hiccuped. 
"Shh, shh, course you are love."
The sound of his knees creaking drowned out the swallows
singing in the courtyard bellow.

THE DENTIST

"Can ay have another one doc? Can’ay?”

"Prescription only Mrs Miers."

“Eey but can aye jost wun more?” 

He looked at her, steady between the eyes.

“Go on?” 

“Mrs.Miers.”

“Denying a muther? Thas’ own muther?”

“Mrs.Miers! You are clearly not my mother.”

“Ay, a muthea o’th’ state that is. Eey, tha’ should be

swillin’ w’gratitude t’me. Disrespect, that’s all thy

tempestuous face ‘as ever shown me Doc.” 

Mrs.Miers coughed, shifting her bowels further up her

thorax in the process.

“Just one!” she wined, “ay can’e-a shift wha’s

lodged, up there like, in me bowels. Born on the Pennines,

die on the Pennines. Until that day cooms ay’ll ‘av me nicoteen.

Jus’ one, in th’night, before ay lies down, and it gets all

lodge op in me bowels again. There’s an age before

t’morrow cooms again and there’s no nurse and no bed pan?

Eh? Go on Doc!”


He looked her straight in the eye. Mrs.Miers sniffled,

kicking a leg out of the bed and twisting her thorax so that

a long, whimpering funnel of air was excreted from her

concealed intestines. The scent was as noxious to the doc’s

nostrils as her chintz curtains were to his eyes. They had

not been washed since before the dawning of The New-Old

Age. However, the curtains had not been neglected, for it

was obvious that they had been used to clean other things

during that time. Other bodily things. From their location

on the height of the window hangings in relation to the

height of the bed and it’s occupant’s location upon it, the

collective ‘dung’ palette proclaimed that without need of

annotation. Looking towards the door and the freedom of

the old folks institution that lay beyond, the doc saw her

lean frame quivering in expectation. Watching her eyes

widen in anticipation, he realized it was satiate this wish, or

be forced to satiate something more alarming.


"Alright Mrs.Miers, for medicinal purposes". Scribbling on

a torn parchment saved from the days before it had all been

burnt to cinders and the forests saved from their general

day to day pillagings, the doc twisted his head towards the

door listening for spies and potential intruders. He heard

nothing. He saw nothing.


Opening his medical bag slowly, removing all the rusting

paraphernalia within it onto the floor, he ran a finger along

the camel satin lining and clutched at a bent safety pin

hidden within its folds, drawing it high in to the air. The

floor of the bag followed - revealing a sunken red

compartment.


Craning her neck up from the damp pillow Mrs.Miers at

first assumed it was a velvet lining, or some other fabric

particular suitable to the task of addict smuggling. Upon peering

closer she saw it was peppered with short broken hairs, fragments

of bone and fingernails alongside grey slivers of what she

could only presume to be skin. Through his thick grey eyelashes

he saw her looking – and snapped the bag shut.  “There’s

nothing wrong with being denied access to cleaning tokens

Mrs. Miers. I-“

"Fair enough doc fair enough. I don’t ask questions where

I’m not asked, and I don’t ask where there’s questions I don’t

want answers to. ” Pointing to the curtain she grimaced.

Nodding, he conceded and focused on his work. Out came the

green stick, a column of desire. Slowly he lifted it to her lips. As

she suckled so he lit the tawdry orange flame squatting beneath a

heap of tobacco. Sadly for Mrs.Miers in the era of the

New-Old-Age one’s tongue stuck to one’s teeth when the

Smoke’s green die particles covered your mouth bones.

That was the problem with black market gas nicotine

feeders. The government had stained them to stop their

wholesale resale and woe-betide you should one make it in

to your thirsty little lung funnel, the mouth. After all, the

NHS didn’t ‘Fix’ people anymore – it ensured people had

no need of being ‘Fixed’.


Watching her digital clock the Doc felt a wave of irritation

sweep up his neck. He scratched at his shirt collar. The

Cassio didn’t’ show the seconds churning by, it simply

announced the minuet with a new symbol-combo. You had no

idea how far through the minute you were. His eyeballs

twitched as he caught sight of something moving in the

corner of his eye. With horror, and a disinclination to

believe, he saw her pores expanding in the sunlight as her

thoughts lapped up the tides of nicotine. Milky light and

parched sun-bed skin - what an awful combination.


generation of purple perms had been replaced by a

generation of orange fiberglass limbs; pink rinses and

purple washes replaced by day-glow hands with walnut

knuckles and the need for plastic rain caps replaced by

short skirts with which to bare the burnt flesh. But heavy

days, heavy heavy days had passed since the Formation

Day had sung. How eagerly they had all saluted to the new

way. Dead was ‘the third way and only way’, as it had been

called back ten.


“The dawning of the ‘New-Old-Age” had been the only phrase

simple enough to capture the hearts and imaginations of an

electorate who’s average age was 77.  All they wanted was to be

young again. Slavishly, they followed the trends of the young –

albeit a few years later. They pretended to be unimaginative and

naïve, reading twitter feeds, spouting positivity and buying

clothes  off Asos.


Indeed the election had launched it’s own fashion line, for

added online interactive behavioural engagement. Of course it

was dowdy stuff, they were after the OAP vote after all they

were an easy target with all those savings to fret over. No one

else had any. 


After Tescos Corp.s had introduced a written manifesto

identifying every citizen as a responsible participant

of the fate of the state, and then solved the insolvency

of the economic quadruple dip by selling our

rights and worth as workers to the EU, it all slipped into a

shaded mess.   A series of oddities occurred within the past 5

short years since the last Conservative defeat of 2015. That’s

how the doc remembered it.


Yet every day life looked the same. The same streets were still

there, just as before, the pubs had the same names, soap still

cleaned people, plates still held food, and coffee was still

what chic Italian twats drank. However, children were

taken immediately into state care on the premise that one

could not assert a parent did not have the capacity to be a

bad parent, or demonstrate bad parenting skills. This had

changed everything for the doc. Made him sad. Feel

alone.


Other people had disagreed with him. His brothers

called him a fool, said he believed in what he’d been taught

to believe; by the totalitarian Democratists; the ones who

wanted us to believe in democracy so they could go on

doing what ever they wanted without being questioned

because the mob thought getting the vote once every five

years was democracy; because we had been taught that the

mob was other people; that the mob was people you didn’t

know; that a mob couldn’t be controlled. Not in the news.

No we saw that they couldn’t be controlled in the news.


'Surely you can’t ignore that Al?' his brothers pleaded.

Surely the Doc could not ignore the documentaries proving

how news channels had traded in propaganda footage,

making them believe in this thing called ‘the Mob’ and that this,

this wild riotous thing, this body of men,  was not you: film clips

with angry dog-men biting and spitting and bleeding and crying

into cameras even when the police battered them with wood and

steel and ran their jaws and shoulders down into the tarmac while

Alsatians looked on; barking, officers looked on; counting,

politicians looked on; yawning and all the unending

swarms of middle class people with pensions stood on the

kerb behind their TV screens and nodded, calmly judging as

the tides of anger sank by and past and down into the

repertoires of caves and cells built to convince us that the

mob are indeed animals; for how else could they cope

living in those white grope holes? The mob, here they are

on repeat and re-edit until the cows come home and you

forget that they’re your brothers’ and cousins’ brothers and

cousins. The threat of the mob, the uprising, was the tool of

Democracy. So it had been for many years.


Then the new government changed things, told us this, admitted

this; liberated us from this; liberated us from The Liberty.

The cruel Liberty. The false liberty that had been promoted

since the day they tore the heads off the French and

Russian kings and queens in satin gowns. For the liberty

we knew was false … a method, a facility to keep us happy.

Bread and circuses, that’s what Circero told us, and that’s

what we were given; booze and democracy, to amuse us

while the real men got on with the real job at hand. While

they got on with running the country, the world’s populace.

Let the laymen believe they had a hand in running the

country, and even better; let them feel guilty for cocking up

the world. Let them take the blame and let the real men of

power do what they have always done; rule as dictators.

The Revolution promised an end to this false history, an end

to promises, thus an end to lies. They couldn’t give us

democracy, no one could, because it doesn’t exist. Some

one will always be hurt. If the majority win, then the

minority suffers. If the minority are allowed to get their

way, then even greater injustice is committed, for the

majority will suffer, and there are more of them. So its

worse. The Revolution promised something new; not to

promise and not to lie. They told how they couldn’t

promise us a democracy, but they could promise us truth.

Why pretend? They said. Why lie? They said. Tell it as it

is, let us see what’s going on and see what will happen. And

maybe we can make a bad situation better. All this

democracy, all these lies, look what they have brought us:

Cohesion? Happiness? Peace? World affluence?

Environmental sustainability? Or corruption, oppression,

war, conflict, poverty. Altruism? Empathy and hope? Or

greed, egoism, fear. “Go the New-Old-Age way. Don’t even

vote for us. Just tell everyone its what’s going to happen.”

It had meant that schools started performing a different

role. They upheld the values of the ‘civic homes’ where the

young lived until 14 or 15, depending on their IQ. Then

there was a year in confinement, in a previous era known as

'imprisonment'. But as the young were being kept only as a

means of demonstrating how awful it would be if you

broke the law, it was now turned as ‘confinement’. There

were those who broke the law and lived in ‘Permenant

Confinement’, and those who had the potential to break the

law, who lived in ‘Periodic Confinement’.


Of course, the NHS had changed too. Rather than wait for

things to gowrong and mis-informed, although well meaning,

‘Parentals’ to bring children to the medics, medics now co-

existed with the young, able to spot any issues. It was hoped that

over the next twenty years the education system would evolve to

a stage whereby people could self diagnose themselves and

friends, with out the need for government expenditure for

medics. This was all well and good for the future, thought

doc, but what about me? What of me? What happened to

me? Which Dr. had signed the policy contracting all the

medics to this? All several thousand of the medical

profession? Reducing them all to this?


Turning silently away from the basking lump, he hunched

his way to the room’s exit hole.

"Anything else Mrs.Miers?" dripped from his

mouth as slowly and quietly as dew descends and then

departs a spider’s leg.

"Don’t you be running away now docy! I’m the one who gives

you your appraisal – I get to say if you get sacked or not.”

He stepped back from the doorway.

“Now, sit down here. On my bed love.”

She patted the flannel bed skin. He stood by the door.

“Come on love. There there. Didn’t mean to threaten you

like. There there, harmless old me eh?”

“Time is of the essence Mrs. Miers!”, his leg edging

towards the door.

“Who’s to say a couple of old and, intimate, friends can’t

pass the time of day together?”

“Really, I’m frightfully behind Mrs.Mie-“

“I’ll be wanting the usual servicing Doc and that’s that!

None of your faffing today.”

‘Oh what happened to me?’ he cried inside his head.

“Mrs.Miers its for reserved patients only”

“Reserved patients! You’ve been attending to me for five

years now and well you know it!”

“Government orders. It’s for certified patients only. You’re not!”

"… look I’ve got them papers just here Doc…”

She waddled across to an old dresser stuffed with civic

documents. He stood watching the carpet in the hallway.

He heard the secret hours hidden inside minutes clunk by; a

rate of time that only the terrified, guilty and slightly

mental were privy to.

"Dentist" he whispered.

"What’s that luv?"

"Dentist. I’m qualified as a dentist Mrs.Miers."

"Oo-er! What a pity eh? All those years studying at college

eh? Which one was you at?”

‘Oh how long ago that was!’ he cried inside his head.

Now, well now it was all different. He was sentenced.

Abstracted. Camouflaged now by a series of unappetizing

entrepreneurial gestures. He would not recognise himself.

Hair white and matted, eyes punched into his skull like a

couple of canons shot by some Scoucer bird’s goby mouth

into a bypass cess pit and then shat on by a dog with

dihorrea, teeth bleached to an irreversible shade of the

iridescent some sixty odd years ago, and ears bigger than

his balls - and now a trades man to boot. ‘Bloody wicked.

Bloody fagging marvelous. I thought I’d be rich enough

not to be doing this at my age. Black markets one thing,

easy to do with my old patient lists, but this? Being forced

by the government to do this ‘fixing mothers’ as part of my basic

pay? Ha!’


He knew all about ‘Fixing Mothers’. He was forced to by the

institutional forces. Yes all the mothers left behind to mangle in a sloth of gin once their children were put into care needed

attention. After all they were in those big empty ‘habitation

wards’ living communally for comfort. No men folk were allowed

into prevent from rape and other minor acts of misogyny. 

Yes ‘Fixing’ them before they broke down was a new and large

part of the NHS. The ‘physical therapy’ wasn’t just limited to the

years immediately after saying goodbye to their children. No it

went on indefinitely.


This was the bit Doc wouldn’t swallow. It was too much. The Doc

had even started a  campaign awareness group, pointing out that

the policy was  simply ‘Fixing’ the damage done by mothers

robbed of children,  not ‘preFixing’ females before they cracked.

No one had joined.  They said he was just shirking his

responsibilities to the state… and to get on with it.


Mrs Miers’s hacking cough brought the Doc sharply back into

focus, in the foul smelling room. She laughed to herself,

tumbling upon her breath.

"All that studying for nothing love? Just for this eh? Oooh! How

times change us eh love?” her lungs tickling her tongue as

licks of glee caused her to choke.

Stubbing the green furnace stick out on a clod of mud

which she hid underneath her bed months ago, now

resembling road kill after some psychotic teenager has not

only tried to draw it and sculpt it but also post it through

their ex’s letter box hole, she hobbled towards her sofa.

"Well now Mrs.Miers" said the Doc, looking at the door,

"why don’t I come back, say on the 27th? Two weeks’ll

give you a good solid week to adapt to the new dosage an-“

"Not so fast sweetheart, come here", said she, patting at the

pink cushions.

"Mrs.Miers I really have to go I -" dripping gulps of sweat

down the ridge of his back, the Doc felt his corns pulsing in

his brogues.

Her thong fell to the floor as she did a line of the old

Government certified coke-soak (a artificial attempt at

synthetic high doomed to failure by the 100% organic

ingredients bill that had been passed the same year as the

legalization of all substances prone to abuse. It had

knocked the market right out from under them.)

"Mrs.Miers! The - the nurses might come in -"

He fumbled towards the old folks home boudoir exit, 

" -the…the cleaner!"

"They won’t mind…"

She grabbed his arm and he looked up at her walls,

concentrating on the pictures and patterns.

"Mrs Miers no! Cover yourself please! Oh put it away!"

Her pictures included peaceful green antique pastures

and vast gilt frame protecting a poster of the

culturally celebrated ‘X-Men II 2D’. 

“Come along Doc” summoned Mrs Miers. 

Dragging her pelvis to the edge of her bed she called out,

"Don’t be daft love, hop to! Saves time if you hop now

ehh?” excreting methane all the while and swinging her

ankles up high.

Creaking his knees he eased him self into the green tongued

mistress’s innards.

"Ooh you are a good doctor -"

Rising slowly up upon the air like a tangled mess of heavy

hounds cantering exhausted up a half deserted street, his

breath sounded like the chaos that is occurring at all times

and all around the globe in unwatched corners.

"Dentist.” He spluttered. “But I’m a - I’m a - - - - a –I’m a

Den-tist-ah”

"Oohh yes I’m su - su – su – su- u - u - - - - sure you are

deeeear.”

"I am a qualified," he was out of breath now, barely audible

above a whisper ” …qualified….”, hoarse and quiet,

"….dentist" he gasped. The Doc was so quiet he couldn’t

even hear his own sobs.

"Shh -"

"I’m a qualified dentist."

"Shhhh - "

"I-"

"Shh-"

"I -"

"Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh."

"But I was a Dentist!" he hiccuped. 

"Shh, shh, course you are love."

The sound of his knees creaking drowned out the swallows

singing in the courtyard bellow.

March 29, 2013
sigh with delight….

sigh with delight….

(Source: hoodoothatvoodoo)

March 14, 2013
FROGMAN

A morbid tale written in sentences of five words or less. You’ll see why soon….


Prologue

Some cities never sleep.  For they are never awake. They do not notice anything. Nor would they care anyway. These cities perceive no goodness. Nor can they detect evil. 

We scurry between concrete heels. Run under stone claws. Saunter into vast marble mouths. We, as a body, move. We skid, slide, laugh and die. Sometimes we succeed in life. Mostly we fail. The city sits there, unaware. It is cold and heartless.  Much like ‘the Frogman’.

“He lurks!”  Oh the papers cry so. And why shouldn’t they? He’s lurking right now. Up there, third rooftop along. Turn your head left slightly. You see? Yes I know seems dark. It isn’t  - squint a little. Night skies are brightly lit. Look at that turquoise skyline. See how purple it grows? Shining green along railroad tracks? And yellow just above Kensington? Orange behind the Shard? How colourful for ‘the dark’. See that broken TV aerial? Now follow the horizon along. Focus on the chimney pots. Look above the silhouette ridges.  See that big frog squatting? Right there, on the edge. It’s huge, look its enormous! Must be two meters long? Great bulging eyes, how disgusting! Probably slimy and wet too. Ha! It’s smoking!  The papers were right. So they didn’t lie? What gruesome eyes it has. Easily the size of footballs.I wonder who its after?Well it can’t be us.We’re too far away.It looks ready to jump. How big are those legs?Two meters long?  Three? Come on, let’s go. It hasn’t seen us yet. We’ll be safer inside. Pubs are very safe apparently. Lots of light. ‘The Frogman’ wouldn’t dare. But hurry dear, hurry incase.

March 8, 2013
ERIC SWIFT’S MOTHER

A story by Catherine Howarth 

Eric Swift’s mother had never regretted her decision to bring Eric up without his father. She wondered if Eric had ever wanted to find ‘The Dad’. That’s what she called Eric’s biological father, ‘The Dad’. She made sure Eric knew where ‘The Dad’ had lived. Oh thirty years, thirty years to the day she had explained. She had explained it all to him in her low Lancashire accent, which ebbed and flowed under her breath. ‘Yes, I explained everything to him!’ she puffed as she tackled the staircase in her loose slippers that were at least two sizes too big. Yes she had explained everything to him, and to Eric Swift alone.

She had divulged into Eric’s thin pink ears how ‘the Dad’ wasn’t fit to raise a child. How she had seen him tie his dog up outside the betting shop, and leave it in the rain. How she had seen ‘the Dad’ sitting in the park for hours with a can of beer without ever doing his coat up, even at night. How she had heard, and seen, him hurling abuse at her own dear friend Molly Sugdon, simply because she drove slower than he walked. ‘Really’ tutted Eric Swift’s mother, it was too much. He stamped on tin cans, littered everywhere, threw things at bushes and ran home singing on Friday nights at least two hours after she’d gone to bed at nine o’clock to preserve her health. ‘What was the point going to be earlier if neighbours are wild savages?’ she murmured to herself in the bath one morning. Indeed it had been that very morning as she heard ‘the Dad’ thunder up the stairs next door that the fretting really set in.  She couldn’t imagine a child learning to speak listening only to that man’s abstract vowels.  Nor had she wanted to think of Eric’s soft adolescent face smashed against a wall when ‘the Dad’ fell home from the pub. She told him everything, explained it all to Eric. She told Eric that too; that she had explained everything to him.

Eric didn’t eat his pink wafer biscuit the day he died. It just sat there on the green bone-china plate. That’s how Eric Swift’s Mother had realised something was amiss.   “Before dying he would have managed a sign if he’d really wanted to contact ‘the Dad’!” That’s what Eric Swift’s mother told herself, and herself alone.  She recounted the tale for Eric of how she had adopted him, “saved you!” She told him that his biological mother would not have minded, not once she knew how safe he was. They’d tell her once they all arrived in Heaven together. She’d understand she really would, Eric Swift’s Mother said as she washed the bathroom window clean. Wiping the soap suds downwards, she considered how she had always made it easy for him. Right from the start she had made it clear that ‘the Dad’s’ phone number was in her address book on the hall table. He was next door if needs really must, well for a while he was. Of course the mother had left, gone on to better things; “and quite right!” said Eric Swift’s mother, sipping her tea by the window ledge.  It was such a nice place to sit.

‘After all’, she told herself, ‘if Eric had really wanted it then he would have asked. Or motioned for it. Or blinked, or, something’ she told her self, fishing some lint out of the tea. ‘True he couldn’t move much, no not in that condition, but he could have blinked: at least looked like he was making an effort.’

“Of course your biological mother would have been worried about her baby son at first. Well, of course! Any mother would be distraught if her baby boy were taken from her like that. There were articles in the papers for weeks - and rightly so!” So muttered Maud Swift as she hovered around her son Eric Swift.  The articles in the papers traced the events of that day: how Eric’s biological mother had attended church with the baby, attended the doctor’s surgery with the baby, and then left the baby in her car as she attended to her other boyfriend behind the wall. 

Oh it was all there, said Eric’s mother, all in grizzly detail. Eric’s biological father had beaten the living daylights out of Eric’s biological mother when he found out about the wall, and the boyfriend; and that she had lost her baby somewhere in the car park.  

Maud had read it out line by line to Eric Swift. Pausing to consider, she found herself resolute. “I”, said Maud, “am mightily glad that I took little baby Eric out of harms way. That’s you!” She had always known that couple were no good to anyone. She had heard them rowing at the till in Asda, rowing in the street, the whole neighbourhood knew what they were like. “And here! Proof; look proof for everyone to read!”

 She had told Eric this story daily, singing into that cot. Yes yes, he had always had his own cot, right up until his death he always had his own cot. Maud had made sure he never went without any of the maternal details. Maud did sometimes wondered if she should have called the doctor that day. “When was it, oh sometime ago, maybe before Delia’s face came on the TV? Or maybe it was before, no later, no. Or-. Well. Perhaps there might have been something that the hospitals could have done. Even twenty-nine years ago, perhaps they could have helped?” mumbled Maud.

‘Perhaps?’ she asked herself.

‘No’, she replied to herself. ‘For if they had fixed him then they would have given him back to The-Dad and that, that-that whore. It’s a shame,’ she thought, ‘that he couldn’t move - but it wasn’t my fault he fell out. No, no. Wasn’t my fault,’ sighed Maud. ‘He should have said, or at least given a clue, a hint, that it was too big for him. I wasn’t to know that he was thirsty’, she said to herself. “I wasn’t to know!” echoed down the hallway.

She wasn’t allowed to ring the doctor when it happened either, no. No. As  they would surely give Eric back, not see beyond the superficial nature of these arrangements. Not see that she was better than a Nun. Not see at all. They wouldn’t think of her in the same way that she thought of herself; like in that painting of the Nun rising out of the sea, with the green glow of the Glory of God shielding her from the rough waves beyond. It was hanging against a whitewashed wall above a wooden staircase, somewhere on the way to the ladies at a tearoom in Staffordshire. ‘No’, she thought, ‘they would not see what I’ve done for the poor boy’.

 ‘It was a shame he never learnt to talk much, or walk’ she mused, rocking his narrow bed. ‘Babies normally did that themselves’, thought Maud to herself. She didn’t regret her decision to bring him up herself though. Looking back, its true she found it hard telling the years apart. The memories stuck to one another in the wrong order. ‘If only I had repainted the walls from time to time she would be able to prize the years apart, and remember token details. His cot had always been under the window’ - she knew that for sure. It had grown because his legs had grown longer over the first half of his thirty years. Each year she had had to shove another chest or chair under his protruding feet. Each year she had had to knit him longer smocks. There were many memories to be had from that though. Different sized feet, and different coloured wools – the burgundy, the orange, even the azure blue on sale at Aylesbury market. Oh there was much joy to be had in that. Although each year she wondered why she had not trained him to use the toilet himself. Each year she had started to wonder if she had kept his spine tied to the floor board for too long, a little bit more. It had been strangely liquid after he fell from the pram. Maybe tying him to the plank for a whole year had been too long after all.

He lived to a good age though. “Yes thirty was a good age”, she said to his pink ears; and to his ears alone. “I could rescue another one, I have enough smocks now to rescue another one and still never have to knit again!” she said to him; to Eric Swift, alone.

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