Lune à l’esprit

These moments, like pearls on silver lips.
Gently spun and mouthed in wonder.
Consumed by the burning fire of solar saturation.
A golden treasure that I can sit beneath.
Counting coins and constellations.
Never equalling my love for you.
We are but pieces of a shattered moon.
That fell to earth when the world was sleeping.
They never knew how I kissed you, pioneered your love.
Discoverer. Sweet foreign terrain.
Unknown to them in the quietness above.
We are blank space and white noise in their muddled worlds.
Silent, like the dawn.
Tiptoe with me now, to the edge of the unknown.
These transparent moments.
Into the corner of god’s pocket.
Un-stitching fabric and time, eager to breathe the space of the infinite.
And air that sets my soul alight.
Burning the past and dancing on the surface.
Of a moon that those below can only howl at.

Advertisements

Indemnity

‘Stay’, was a word that hung in the air.
Everything else was torn down, packed and registered.
Brought out of the vault to tally up.
Staying meant deserting me.
It was something they could not understand.
The pieces of a life quietened.
Dormant dreams that may never awake.
‘I need a love that’s stronger.’
Was all that could be mustered.
From a breathe that was losing air and strength.
‘Then never think of me’, they said.
Closing their eyes to a mounting disaster.
One that came in with the rain.
That day I left.
Impossible words ringing in ears that had heard such sweetness before.
Closing doors that would never again be opened.
The price we pay to save ourselves, when our worth is so low.
Pales compared to the devil, who sits in the shadows.
Tallying up our souls.

 

 

Infractuated

This is where the call came in.
21.09 as the tables turned.
Nothing learned, and feeling fine.
It got a little cold out there baby.
Running the whole world on your lie.
Catching time, trying not to try.
But your control used to cover you.
Now it rolls you over, and you try to let go.
But no.
She wants a little more than you offered.
Coming now to pay the piper.
That pound of flesh you carrot dangled.
Creating such frenzied envy.
And now, here comes that awful feeling.
Smudged with eyeliner and regret.
And as your mouth rolls fables like marbles.
The truth with whisky garbles, like a politician camera posing.
I know you see her. I know you wonder how it will end.
In the end, you lose.

W/B – Sunshine and sadness

The sunshine beat down, making the dead still air hum like static. Nothing moved. Nothing stirred. The whole forest and world rested in the maddening heat of the day. She looked up into the sky where this giant tangerine sphere blazed away, and she mopped her brow. She was hot, and sweaty. Moving slowly back towards the sad little row of town houses where she called home. She heaved the panel of wood carefully and painfully slow to her house; the middle one. The brightest of all the little homes. It’s white paint glistening in the hot sun. She thought of her house as the last good tooth in a set of rotting teeth. Rubbish and filth marked the other buildings, faulted by the need for their owners to work long hours just to survive rather than to maintain a nice home.

But she did, and she worked harder than any.

She heaved the panel finally in through her door, propping it up for now in the hallway. She had gotten up early that day, putting her hours in early at the little shop in town where she worked so she could leave before five to get to the wood shop before it shut. She knew the owner well enough, and knew he never did business out of hours. And she wanted the wood today. She wanted to fix the door tonight, while she knew he would be out.

As she caught her breath in her little hallway, she sighed at the cliché of her life so far. Married when she just seventeen, to someone she never loved. Stuck, out of circumstance, to the man and the place for fear of having to start over with nothing. The money her parents had given her was swallowed up before she had even been married a year. Drinking and gambling away her inheritance it seemed was his favourite past time. And she let him; she knew she was indeed part of the problem. She allowed him to drink and stay out because it meant he wasn’t there, at home with her. Punching the walls and putting her down. Complaining and demanding things, and putting his foot through the back door.

She went now for a glass of water, fanning her arms to cool them down as best she could as she made her way to the tiny kitchen. Her house was cool, she made it that way the best she could, but in doing so it was dark and cave like, blocking out the scorching sunlight wherever she could. Their town; plagued by tropical heat and an unrelenting sunshine that cooked and boiled everything beneath it, was something she had come to despise.  She drank from a glass, looking now at the gaping hole in the door panel. An easy fix, and done before. This time she had made sure to get the gotten stronger wood, something that would not so easily be destroyed. But something had been different this time. A part of her heart had splintered and snared like the bits of wood that stuck out now like vicious thin teeth. Her heart, hardened over the years and placed under a cloud of criticisms and chaos, surprised her at making her feel something. Something where everything she thought was numb.

But what was it. Anger? Remorse?

She wasn’t too sure. Suffering so long in the dark, it’s painful to see the light after so long. She mistook the determination for her usual war-time mentality of getting things done, carrying on and making things right. Getting the wood panel for the door, fixing it so there was no longer the yawning reminder of the open wound that was her life. Letting the dank air in. Letting the light in.

Something within was screaming. Something determined to be heard and acted upon.

She filled her glass again from the tap, drinking down the cool water. Replenishing her fluids that had escaped in her long hike from the wood-shop, and the internal steam engine that was slowly gathering force to implore her to act.

And then she heard the door go.

The front door slammed shut, not caught in any breeze that the deadened air around them could muster. He was home early. Must have been a bad day. She heard the yelling in the hall, incoherent cries like the nightjars she passed on her way to work, gathering and chorusing in the trees above. Soon he was there, in front of her, gesturing to the hall way, no doubt the wood panel caught in his way. He looked hot and red, his skin crumpled and dirty; burnt by the sun after the long day in the fields and the alcohol that dehydrated him. His hollowed cheeks, gaunt by a wicked life and bad teeth, threw shadows on his face making him look like an angry red skeleton fresh from the grave. He banged and blamed, flailing his arms around. Knocking things off the kitchen shelves. She would have to fix things, she always did. Clearing up his mess while she slept off his mood.

She ducked more than once, mindful not to be the target of his rage and waited for the storm to die. But she did something then she had never done before. The steam engine in her had reached its peak and burst, empting out years of frustrating and hatred in a single event. She launched the glass she held in her hand out into the air, and watched it sail over the kitchen and smash on the stone wall. She screamed loudly, like one would into a pillow, so loud it sounded like an air raid siren. Momentarily it confused him. He stopped dead, unsure of what was happening. She was usually so passive. So subservient. Afraid to rock the boat which would lead to her to drown in a deep sea of chaos.

But the mouse had roared.

He acted fast, waiting for her screaming to subside. The chemicals inside kicking into gear to save his self-preservation of a life he had constructed. A life where he was the boss. Her grabbed her roughly by the hair, spinning her around and pulling her backwards. He wasn’t a big man, or even strong. But fuelled by fury and drink, he handled her like that of a ragdoll, pulling her free of the safety of her little home. Their little home.

Kicking free the remains of the broken door, and out into the scorching heat. Though the day was heavy, the sun drew up on them, an oppressive spectator in the unfolding drama. She didn’t cry out, too shocked and stunned into what was occurring. She was dragged out to the center of the garden they had, and roughly shoved into the middle, finally free of his hands from her hair. He grabbed a chair that was propped up by the fence, unfolding the deckchair style and placing it on the grass that had shrivelled into a horrible rug of dirt and dry leaves.

He pushed her into the seat. The silence signalling she had gone too far with the glass. Too far, and too brave to have even begun a journey on him. She sat, motionless; waiting and watching to what was to happen. She watched him find some garden trellis string, some she had bought last year to help keep the cucumber plants steady and vertical.

He was quick tying her to the chair, binding her hands and then her legs to it. She began to protest, pleading half-heartedly that she wouldn’t do it again. A lie, she knew she would. She knew then that if there were ever a next time, she would smash the glass on his skull and be rid of him forever. But he was fast, and tied a rag in and around her mouth, keeping it in place with the string. The string, which she felt now digging into her wrists.

When he was done, without a word, he stood back and quickly went back inside. She was left there, in the garden with the sun burning done on her, tied to the lawn chair. But his return was swift, and carrying a bag of rubbish which he emptied all around her and over her. Foul bits of food and muck covered her, lapped at her feet like a garbage tide. He returned two more times, fresh trash spirited from their neighbours houses, to be emptied on and around her. Crowning her as the queen this new tragic kingdom. He threw the last empty bag away and came close, his eyes piercing hers as he bent low. Grabbing her cheeks between her fingers, pressing his dirty nails into her skin, he hissed at her.

“If you ever do that again, I will kill you.”

And he realised his grip, and stalked back inside the house. A diminishing monster, back to the depths.

The humiliation was as bad as the smell, but it was the flies and the sun which were the real torture. She was out there hours, cooking in a putrid heap as the flies nibbled and pecked at her like tiny vicious birds. The sun radiated an intensity that nearly caused her to faint, pushing down like a fiery hand from god.

But she survived.

Woken out of the delirious dreamscape her survival mind had slipped her into by a bucket of cold water thrown over her once the sun had set. He loosened her from the chair, not saying a word. Not able to look her in the eye. Before disappearing out, off to drink and spend more money.

In the aftermath, she collected herself best she could. She cleaned herself off, and tidied the garden to keep the rats from overrunning the place. Despite her nausea she had some bread, to fend off the intense hunger and disgust that brewed and bubbled in her stomach. And then she went to her bedroom, and began to pack. She did not want revenge, no good could come of that. But something had snapped within her, the spun sugar strand of patience had fractured.

She collected only what she needed, throwing it all into a bag and bringing the walls down to this part of her life. She cleared out the little box under the floorboards where he kept money, the one he thought she didn’t know about. She put it back, empty, sealing the box to a grave of solitariness. She stripped the house of her, of the things she needed to go on with. Cutting the cord to an unhappy life here. She stood in the front room, wondering if all her life could really lie crumpled and stuffed in the small bag she held in her hand. And then she saw it, the snow globe up on the shelf. Twinkling away through the dust at the higher realms of display. She had bought it herself, years ago. A winter market in one of the neighbouring towns had brought it into her life. She had been transfixed with the winter scene at the time, like bubbles of snow dancing in a small sea like dust in the wind. It was small, no bigger than her fist. And she had remembered placing it up on the higher shelf to give it a better chance in her life there, out of the danger zone of fists and fits.

She took it down now, unsettling the snow that had gathered in the bottom like pebbles in an aquarium. Should couldn’t help herself, she shook it; making it and herself one with the disjointed feeling of a world in flux. How long she stood there, she didn’t know. No happy memories were there to be collected. Only dark shadows of the past that she wanted to put into the grave.

And then, she left.

The rest was a blur. She left the house, the street and the town. Traveling far on the little she allowed herself to spend. Finally settling in the little cottage she lives now. Currently entertaining the girl from Europa. Unknowing, in part, of the little eyes who watched it all unfold, and the man of the boxes who skulked around her house.

You may be asking yourself why she never used magic to save herself from a life so fraught at the beginning. Or why she never turned her husband fittingly to a bug to squash underfoot. That too is an interesting story. For you see, once she was married, she was taken away from her family, and where she had grown up. The choking rights of marriage had labelled her practically property, and her husband had concluded that she needn’t have many things in their new home. His own were suffice. What her family didn’t know, and neither did she until later once she had left, was that he had used a bit of magic himself in the first place; to marry the lady of the jars who at the time was the girl with the glass like beauty.

This may sound all too convenient and easily explained away, but yes; sometimes life is that clichéd. He hoodwinked them all, sloppily in the end, but had struck lucky one night gambling and had acquired what he needed to enchant her. It wore off of course, but by then she was cut off from her family, and of the aged magic her own mother knew and possessed. Her mind had silenced all she had learned from her book growing up; and that’s the thing about the book itself, it needs to be with the owner. It needs to have a connection in order to tap that power and manifest. More importantly, it needs to come from a place of positivity. A submissive mind is not the soil in which miracles to grow.

But magic, and good magic, finds a way. Which is why the book came to her; posted by her mother when she knew she was safe and free. Knowing the how, or the why or the ways this magic helped find its way back to her, is inconsequential. What we do know is that once she was in possession again to such wonders, she did all she could to block out the sickening heat that reminded her of that horrible day. Which is why it snows constantly there, and why she always feels happier cold and by herself, than hot and suffering, surrounded by those flies.

….to be continued.

To read the full story, click here

As the city sleeps

Still waiting for the big revelation.
Be prepared for anything, but do you still believe?
Dreaming of big distractions and carbon copied lives.
Left with diamond headaches and pills to make you sleep.
Don’t sleep, dream. Let it in.
Kick start that desire that you are just as good as God.
Good as gold even. Counting zeros on a monthly slide.
They call you the king of commodity.
Hanging on the end of the line.
Hanging onto anything.
Smear the sugar on your lips and catch the bees.
Be prepared for the sting.
Close your eyes as your tongue lolls over.
Cityscapes and supernovas.
Mercury swinging in to shift the traffic.
Allowing you to arrive more easily.
Sleeping another day away.
Swimming in medicated decay.

Jesus jam (Satan’s saliva)

That Octopus, that alligator.
On heaven’s brow, god’s travelator.
Tipping the scales, licking honey.
Bring all of us such milk and money.
Sipping on sweet lemonade.
Cherry wine and razor blades.
Who’s in danger?
Who’s in hell?
Count those cell phones with tortoise shells.
This computer says we’re many things.
In need of love, and diamond rings.
Error. Escape, with all the wrong friends.
Beatnik bars and downward trends.
Smile if you think we’re happy.
Laugh if you think it’s trending.
Gatorade, work alarms. Good times never ending.
Pack your life now in a suitcase.
Sadness in sardonic typeface.
Wash away those bruises with beer.
Turpentine and celebrity gear.
A neon fog to dull the senses.
Lowered expectations and all defenses.

Building bridges

The devils in the details, and the details try to lead.
But we are not for turning, and we are not for folding.
Gather the threads of hate and weave a patchwork of love.
From all the crazy chaos of our minds.
The rambling mess of the world defined.
Build the bridge, each stone in time.
Though the devils are easy targets, with a burning fire and arrogance.
We are the same behind our eyes.
We all bleed the same.
There’s no money on the other side but there’s sharks underneath.
So we stay stable with my brother, each sister now complete.
Building, fighting and freewheeling in our shared world.
A planet like a ball of string, kicked by the kitten of god.
Who isn’t inclined anymore to fix it!
In this together. Holding on.
Building bridges with those I hate, to get to a better place.

Park West and Bethany

Say yes to all.
Fade and fall, mistaken only by the river.
Washed through like summer rain and the thoughts told to make you go away.
Cashing and catching the lights of the big city.
Money in your pocket with children’s teeth.
Rattling.
Looking for a god you needed then, but not now.
Built up your good intentions like the skyscrapers around you.
Spires into your sky, piercing the blue heaven you stuck there with hope and sticky tape.
See this soul, from Jacksonville. Holding out their hand and cup for dollars and sense.
Shiver into those thoughts of home. Idaho Falls and the sound of honey.
Yellow spaceships that hover and take the scenic route back.
If you lived there, you’d be home soon.
Circling the city and the moon.
Transfiguring the trauma to trees to breathe a new air into your lungs.
Lungs holding on, yet crumbling into a Moses dream.
A body holding out for a prophecy.
Killing the kings and setting the soul aflame.
Wait now to be alone once more with god;
to sip from their coffee cup and slip into the copper lake of content.
Bronzed into eternity, never losing your shine.

Keep it together (Extract)

Taken from the novel ‘Keep it together’. Follow the peacocks…..

ki

untitled

Geluk (Fortune)

Despite what you may read or be told by some, the truth is, we all expect something in life. Fundamentals such as good health, family or even a nice home; we are always searching for what we believe to be ours. Digging in the dirt for diamonds we’ve been told are there. Few of us ever really see that expectations lead to disappointments. Many more of us search for riches and rewards that are never really ours, or are even obtainable. Money, it is said, is the route to all evil and yet its influences have corrupted many a heart, strong and weak alike over the space of time. Golden paths of good intentions. It is not only openly intoxicating and hypnotic, but maintains a more insidious nature, that of which; like a frost that settles while you sleep, lays itself down within the hearts and minds of those honest souls that are so busy surviving. If money then was the sole reason for the tragedies that afflict the wealthy, if not complicated, Van-Black family on a sweltering hot weekend in July 1977, then it would be all too easy to see the reasons for the events that took place, and perhaps easier to sympathise if your moral compass is set to that degree. However, as with many stories, this is not the simple black and white of it all, and money; although forever the Devil’s dally, plays only a slight role in all this treachery. As it may just be the whisper in the ear of a malign-able heart, or the tiny drop of poison in the cocktail of life. For someone once said ‘The less we deserve good fortune, the more we hope for it’.

It was a series of events that led to that dark sweltering, yet stormy weekend. Seeds that were sown years before the Independence Day flags were stuck up in store windows welcoming the two hundred and one years of freedom. As if a twist in the fabric of fate, an independence of their own had begun, borne out of a revolution of complacency. Wheels in motion that start, not at the beginning, but in a good place nevertheless to watch it all unfold. It begins with three invitations on their way, to three different couples who live in the greater Boston area in a place called Rosemount.

untitled

Rosemount

Rosemount Heights would never be known as anything other than a snobby neighbourhood, and some would argue it had every right to be. Of course these would be the same people who inhabited this affluent area of Boston. The apartments and houses were a little less imposing than many other grandiose dwellings that occupy money driven cities in America. Nor could they claim to be of any particular architectural interest, indeed some have suggested many of the properties should be condemned due to their crumbling facades and foundations lodged so far in the past, the slightest disturbance could bring the whole lot crashing down. However, the lawns were always manicured upon much scrutiny, the dogs walked were always cleaned up after; and the rambling nature of the older properties were accepted due to the wealth they concealed. For you see, to obtain an address in Rosemount heights was not only a status of money, but also that of social standing and in a city where that meant everything; this was coveted most ferociously. It was the week before Independence Day weekend, and all along the tree lined avenues of The Heights, as was commonly deferred by the locals; people were smartening their already immaculate properties as if Washington himself were to trundle down the leafy streets. The flags never looked crisper in the sun which burned down as one of the hottest summers of the past few years, cooking everything and everyone to a summer bronze.

Brahmin court was an oasis address to the well-travelled feet of the local mail man. At some point in recent history, planning officials were able to somehow, and illicitly no doubt, put through plans of an apartment complex situated within the realms of the wealthy estates. This led to a short lived venture of a few other apartments being built within Rosemount heights, though small in scale than to more centralised neighbourhoods. This phase quickly passed, and the apartment blocks that were built were forced to conform to the strict, somewhat militant, upkeep of their surroundings. Brahmin court served as an opportunity for each mail man to offload a greater number of letters in one go, and without the stretching driveways of the surrounding properties, was much preferred. It was true that a surge in patriotic spirit had seized many of the locals recently, and in these summer days of scorching weather; it was not unknown for a mailman to be offered refreshments such as lemonade or iced-tea by the occupants of the many houses they delivered to. There was also a chance to gossip about gasoline prices and plans for Independence festivities. However, this was not to be the case in Brahmin court, where you were more likely to be commented on your poor attire and lateness of delivery than you were about the weather.

This was true on Monday the 27th June, 1977 when Christine Mason accosted the mail man outside her apartment, who it seems was delivering her a letter in a manner most disagreeable to her.

‘’What time do you call this?’’ She exclaimed, exploding from the entrance of her building to the man clearly fatigued from the hot sun. She wore a large grey cardigan that she kept taught around her with one hand, while the other gestured hysterically.

‘’Sorry mam’?’’ he enquired.

‘’It’s eleven O’ five…’’ she informed him, not bothering to ask him again ‘’…and I’ve been waiting for my mail since at least ten this morning. Which is when you usually deliver it by.’’ She held out her hand expectantly for the large bundle of mail she saw he had ready to deliver at the apartment building. The hot sun was reflecting off the windows and the glare was getting in his eyes, yet the scornful look upon her face could not mistake her mood or impatience.

‘’I’m terribly sorry mam’, we were late getting the delivery this morning which led to a delayed start.’’ He explained, somewhat affronted by her attitude, but nevertheless holding on to his professionalism.

‘’Always a reason isn’t there, the man last week was late delivering too and he came up with some bull-shit excuse to me then; and I see you’re no different.’’ With that, she snatched the letters from his hands before he had time to hand them over or offer an expanded apology.

‘’Again, I’m sorry mammmm’.’’ He said, letting the last word drag out and hang in the air to imply that he thought her anything but. She turned on her heals and marched up back to her apartment. As he departed, he smiled to himself knowing she had grabbed the entire complex’s mail.

Back inside her air conditioned apartment Christine Mason caught a look at herself in the mirror as she entered the hallway. A thirty year woman stared back, yet she did not look her age. Sunken eyes on a small bird like face reflected back. Her dark auburn hair, her mother’s only inherited physical trait, hung loosely and lifeless down past her shoulders. She had become more and more pale recently, as if in an effort to sub-consciously fight the sunshine. She deeply welcomed a paler complexion, a sign of a more aristocratic lineage. This she needn’t have accentuated, having come from perhaps the most well to do stock in the area, and now this waning merely heightened her contempt for the outside world. She would never be a towering imposing figure like her mother, she had stopped growing by the time she was seventeen and fate had concluded she would have to suffice at just over five foot. Her best feature, as she believed it, were her high cheek bones which to some gave the impression of a small sparrow. She thought this defined her and hoped it would help distinguish herself more from the working class. That’s not to say she despised any class, least of all her own which she felt firmly planted in. Christine had a very specific outlook on life, her life, and all the little universes that spiralled freely within it. All under her jurisdiction. At least as she believed them to be.

She was a snob, she was first to admit it, however she did not hold disdain for any class like many of her ilk. Indeed her family in general had a somewhat malleable nature in regards to social environments. When she was younger, she remembered running down the great stairs that dominated her house at boarding school. She hated the creaky giant stairs which were arduous on her bones, and was always in a rush to get down or up them. This particular decent she was running a bit too fast and tripped, tumbling to the bottom like a twig from a tree. Her fall resulted in a broken ankle followed by a period in bed and a cast adorning her left foot. In her decline, she had knocked one of the cleaners with her, causing the fifty year old soul to topple to the foot of the stairs with her. She can still remember yelling to the nurse, who appeared in much haste, to treat the older lady first whose injuries matched her own. She may be rich, but she was much younger; and in her mind should wait her turn. This was the conflict ever present with Christine. What is right is how it should be. True though, some of her thought processes weren’t politically correct, she was a paradox of right and wrong that only her cat like mind could ever untangled. She was also outspoken, perhaps a result of her stunted frame, and she believed in telling people what was wrong with them. She was just as likely to yell at the mail man for being late, as to the Mayor of the city for increasing taxes for those of higher incomes.

Some people who knew her could be known to have said that with the birth of her son Anderson, Christine softened somewhat. These were few however. It was more like that of a snake shedding its skin that the transformation of Christine occurred, if at all it did. It was more believable that she channelled her efforts into her son’s future, care and wellbeing. There was an order to her world and everything had its right place. If you were a bank teller, do you job and do it right. If you’re running for election, then the best candidate, and preferably a Republican, should win. If you were a husband, better yet her husband, you should be able to support her and their son to the best of you masculine abilities. Or so help you……

Victor had been sleeping when he heard the front door go, shaking him from his convalescent slumber. For weeks he had stared blankly at the same four walls in the bedroom of their apartment. That was not to say he was bed bound, but that his cast on his foot did not offer much in the way of mobility. Victor was tall and lean, he wore thin spectacles which rubbed into his nose, and could often be seen taking them off to rub the bridge which was usually red. Though well-educated and with an extensive vocabulary, he was very down to earth and spoke very friendly and warmly most of the time. This morning his short black hair was sticking up on top of his head and he hadn’t yet shaved.   He had not heard any of yelling outside from the kitchen, and was just in the process of making some coffee, tightening his dressing gown’s belt around himself, when Christine’s post-mail man fury swept back into the apartment.

“Can you believe it, over an hour late today.” she proclaimed spotting the coffee bubbling away. “Thanks, I’d love a cup.” she said. She went over to her husband and kissed him on the cheek, dumping the letters on the table as she went.

“Well it is holiday weekend coming up, maybe they’re short staffed down at the depot? Or in the holiday mood already!” he replied. She glared at him.

“Really, I couldn’t give a fuck if they are short staffed. People expect their mail on time! And especially today, I need that letter as soon as possible Victor, it needs to be returned by the first of the month.” She sat down as he poured her some coffee and she started to sift through the mail.

“You had any breakfast yet?” he asked her, looking up at the clock which hung on the wall. It was nestled between two water colours of terrier dogs Christine had painted last year; that he had never mentioned, but didn’t care for.

“I should think so, it’s gone eleven. We can’t all lounge around in bed all day.” She saw his face fall and added quickly “…no, I’ve been up since eight going over the application. I had some cereal when I woke.” She now looked at the clock on the wall. “How’s your leg today?” She knew it would be the same as yesterday, but she asked anyway. What was affecting him more recently were the headaches that usual came on in the afternoons.

‘”It’s much better today, the cast is itching less. I think the itchy feet have become more metaphoric than literal now.” he said, sipping his coffee from the patterned bone china his wife had so carefully chosen before their wedding.

“I know it must be frustrating, but it will be off soon enough.” she replied. She knew he longed to be busy, his work kept him in his element and this self-induced seclusion, under the surface; must be driving him mad.

“But at least you’re getting to spend more time with me and Anderson.” she said. As if hearing his name, in walked their son, his mouth full of croissant of the chocolate variety, patches of it sticking to the swing door of the kitchen from his mucky hands. “Anderson honey, is that the extent of your breakfast? I thought I set out a bowl of oatmeal for you?” Christine chimed, fixing the parting of his blonde hair which always fell in front of his eyes. It wasn’t that Anderson was a bad child, he listened to what was told to him most of the time and he kept himself out of trouble like most children try to do in the back of their minds. He followed instructions well and showed definite signs of intelligence for his age. He did however possess a quality that was only apparent to an outsider. It would have to be said there was definitely something about him, and not something to shout about. His parents, some-what stricken with rose coloured glasses, would indeed state that the boy had been cast out of perfection and that he could achieve anything he wished to.

True, this was smart advice; but in this particular case somewhat misguided. It was like saying a haunted house will be interesting in that Anderson was unusual. For a child his age, Anderson was a little too quiet sometimes, not in a withdrawn self-deprecating fashion, but more of an eternal studying way. He was like the underground trains that ran through the night, ferrying the more peculiar passengers with more sinister deeds. Before he had time to answer she had spotted his empty bowl by the sink and moved towards it to wash it up. Victor stood surveying the kitchen, sipping further on his coffee. As she talked he watched his wife, and then to his son; although pained by his recent predicament he had to agree with Christine, that he had the opportunity here to spend more time with those important to him. He moved towards Anderson and ruffled his recently tidied hair while Christine lamented further on the state of the mail service and the country.

After tidying up in the breakfast things, Christine re-attacked the mail while Victor took Anderson to clear the chocolate stains from his face. She made a separate pile for the other people on her floor whose mail she had taken by mistake. She would dispense herself later, as for now she wanted that letter that was her reason for going out in the first place. It was perhaps this letter that was the reason for outburst to the mailman shortly before. Though she spoke her mind nearly all the time, Christine usually handled herself better, clearly her frustration waiting had gotten the better of her. So much rode on this particular letter. They were in the process of getting Anderson into St. Mansfield School whose elementary education was second to none. It was expensive too, and had waiting lists as long as it’s tuition bills. However, Christine had decided that it was the best, and the best was what Anderson would have. She had filled in the first part of the application they had received when they had first been to visit the school back in May. Set in extensive grounds, it was a boarding school which began as early as the elementary level. She would not be sending him to board, but the education system offered at St. Mansfield was renowned to turn out notables of many of the prestigious Bostonians; despite many of them having I high dependency on drugs; a fact Christine seemed to overlook.  She came upon an envelope addressed to her and her husband, which made her stop thinking about the school letter entirely. An ivory envelope which on the reverse bore a family seal she recognised almost immediately.

Two peacocks, whose heads intertwined were set in the centre of the seal. She knew them to be white peacocks, she had seen the symbol a thousand times before, but embossed on the ivory envelope here, they were just birds, bleached of distinction. Below them they rested upon giant jewels. Above the peacocks were the words ‘Hvem har set en påfugl dans i skoven’. It was her family crest, which she had always hated. The words meant ‘Who sees a peacock dance in the woods’. It had always been obscure and strange to her. Her family, the Van-Blacks, were descended from Dutch immigrants who had come to America around the turbulent time of the civil war. They had been involved in shipping and had investments in the Dutch-India trading company. As such, generations of her family had been influenced by the exotic offerings of the east and had been prominent in the spice and trade routes from the Netherlands to India, trading in gems, tea, opium and minerals. When they came to America, they moved into the mining industry and built up a business in what they considered to be what they already knew about. Her family owned many mining centres in the Appalachian which were once, and continued to be, very profitable for her family. Their considerable fortune lay under the ground, as she liked to think of it. Securely tucked away in places that required digging to get to.

She was reluctant at first to open the letter, seeing the family crest which had crashed into her Monday morning. Her connections with her family had become so tangled and so chaotic, and she hated anything that led to drama and messiness. What she really disliked was not being in control, and that is what her family constantly made her, impotent. She hated them for that. With fresh annoyance she slit open the letter with a letter opener that had once been her father’s. Unfolding the card within she found it was an invitation of sorts. Inside there was also hand a written note.

In honour of the birth of our great United States, we request the company of
___Christine & Victor Mason____
in celebrating Independence weekend at our home: Nova-Manor.
Please arrive on Friday the 1st July at 7pm.

We hope to see you then. Yours Sincerely
Mr & Mrs Van-Black

She read the accompanying note, done in a much less formal hand:

Darling, I do hope you and the family are well. Your father has some news which he wishes to share with you all. This is very important for him, and hopes you will attend. I know things may not be perfect with all of us, but these are the steps he is taking to hopefully resolve them. Please come, if not because of your father, but for me.

Yours, Mother

She re-read it, just to be sure. Such mixed emotions began to swirl around within her. The one thing that leapt out immediately was the absence of any invitation to include Anderson. What could the news be? She wondered just as Victor came back into the kitchen. ‘

’Clean as a whistle.’’ he said, motioning to a much cleaner version of their son she had seen moments ago. ‘’Honey, what’s wrong?’’ he asked, noticing the change in her. He looked at his wife, then at the letter in her hand. ‘’Is it from the school’’. She snapped back suddenly to where she was, having drifted away into her thoughts momentarily.

‘’Huh? No no, it’s not the school.’’ She said. The school she thought, it had been pushed out of her head. She smiled at him, she didn’t know why but she decided not to mention the invite to Victor just yet. She would soon, she actually wanted his opinion on the subject, but for now she wanted to let the information settle a bit. She sifted through the rest of the mail and came across the letter she had originally been waiting for. Victor began tidying things up in the kitchen and Anderson had gone to play in the other room. All was in order with the application and she went about filling in the form that had arrived, rounding it off with a photo of Anderson she’d had especially taken for the occasion. ‘’There!’’ she said aloud. After getting changed and kissing Victor and her son goodbye, she left her apartment announcing she was off to the post office to see the letter off securely and promptly. True to her word, she made sure the other mail for their apartment block found their rightful homes.

As she walked down the block her thoughts travelled, surprisingly not to the future she was hopefully securing for her son, but to her other family. It had been a long time since she had seen them and years since they’d all been together. That isn’t to say they had no contact. Her mother never forgot to send Anderson birthday and Christmas cards along with gifts, dutifully signed from both her parents. Yet ever since she was married, she had all but cut ties with her father. Odd really she thought in hindsight, it was always her father whom she’d gotten on with better with. She crossed the street to avoid the man walking his dog, and looked up to the sky. This weather was quite insufferable, but she couldn’t abide driving in this heat. She walked on further, stopping only once to admire the view at the top of Peabody road, which looked out over to the harbour where she could see Nahant Bay sprawling out into the ocean. She continued to think about her family. Her father was now, what; fifty seven years old, and the last conversation they had had was at Anderson’s christening.

If she’d had it her way, she never would have invited them. But, for the sake of show and society, she could not have excluded them from their own, and only, grandchild’s christening. After she’d been married to Victor, her father had warned her about their match. It’s not that he didn’t approve of her getting married, under any other circumstances he would have welcomed it. He just detested Victor, which had always struck her as odd, as being objective, she could comfortably say Victor was very agreeable. They were just too different to ever get on or see eye to eye, that was the problem. Victor came from old money as well, but he was definitely a forward thinker and felt the new wave of women’s liberation was a good thing. Her father viewed the marriage as more of an ‘offloading’, or so it seemed to her. He made it clear then his views on inheritance, and seeing as Victor was from a well to do background, he removed any financial responsibilities from himself.

To Christine, this was justly unfair. Why should she not be entitled to anything just because she now had a husband? She had concluded that she had been the model child, never causing stirs or headlines like other society girls her age had. And they had frequently, the stories she would hear at school! She had been educated in boarding school, and although excelled in her classes, never pursued a career or entry into college. Instead she set about to be married and to raise a family. Her father, Milton Van-Black, was known to be a ‘man’s man’ and upheld, what she thought, were sexist notions about the roles of men and woman. As she had found herself a husband, and despite being the first child, he had resolved that the company and vast inheritance would now fall to her brother Jacob who, at only four years her junior, was the youngest of the family.

She clenched her teeth as she thought all this over again. It had been awhile since the original issue with her family had come up, as over the years more benign issues had taken precedence. She had married Victor nonetheless, and done a pretty good job up to now she thought in regards to marriage and motherhood. So, she had decided to play him at his own game, and when she fell pregnant she practically willed herself to have a boy. Anderson was born just under a year after they had wed in 1973. If her father was so worried about the male line, then his grandchild, his grandson would have to be due some claim to the estate or company. To an outsider it may seem calculated and materialistic, but to Christine, she merely felt this was what was due to her. She had been shipped off to boarding school at a young age and did everything she could toe the family line. So, when she learned at her son’s christening that her father had no plans to make allowance for Anderson, she snapped and disassociated herself from them all. Her mother had tried to quell the situation, saying who knows what was to happen in the future, and she was sure there would be something for everyone when the sad day of her husband’s passing came.

She had privately told Christine she would see to it that the will would include her, though she would have to let go of any notions of control in the family business. It had been a tangled and gruelling situation. Anderson now only knew of his grandparents through cards and presents. They were always signed from them both, but she knew it was her mother’s way of trying to smooth things over.  Her relationship with her brother was strained anyway, due to his stance of inheriting the money. Which he naturally did not have a problem with. He did have his own reservations, though Christine was unaware of these. Her father justified this all by the same reason for her own oversight.

‘’I’ve told you, you and Victor have enough money. For god’s sake he’s due to inherit half of fucking Massachusetts when his father rolls into the grave.’’ She vividly remembers her father saying, not far out of reach of the reverend’s ear. She hadn’t told her family of Victor’s own family troubles which could lead to his own disinheritance. One storm at a time.

So, she figured she could not rely on her family to help her out and had set about making Anderson have the best of everything she could provide. When the cards and presents came pouring in at birthdays and Christmas, from his grandparents, aunt and uncle who never did forget, she did not lie to him. However, she said that they were from his family, for reasons that will become apparent as he gets older, that they no longer saw regularly. This line had been upheld now for going on nearly four years, as his fourth birthday was coming up in September. Victor it seemed shared his wife’s beliefs as he did not challenge this approach to their son. He had no particular quarrel with any other member of her family, aside her father. He did keep a quiet uncertainty for her mother however, as she seemed to him to be snide and two faced, and he knew too the reasons why he and her father would never get along. There seemed to be a mutual loathing between them.

However, he did not openly fight with any of them. Which, in her own way Christine respected him for. Of course, the same could not be said for her, who refused to have anything to do with his sister after the comments she had made about Anderson on his first birthday.

She arrived at the post office with her family’s entanglements still spinning in her brain. She waited in line, nearly fifteen minutes while the elderly talked the ear off the poor man at the desk. When the letter was finally sorted, she popped into the Dunkin Doughnuts across the street to get a coffee and some doughnuts for them all. As she walked back, her thoughts now came upon the invitation that currently sat on her kitchen table. Sipping her coffee she wondered what the announcement that was mentioned could be. Maybe she thought, the old man had decided that he was getting on a bit now, and it was time to relent and share out some of the money he had hoarded away. Her family were rich, no denying it, but how rich was dependant on who you talked to. Her mother would always clam up when it came to talking about money, saying it was “your father’s concern’’. HA! She thought to herself, I bet it wasn’t just his concern when she was getting her foot in the door. Her mother and father had one of those strange arrangements where they’d had a somewhat arranged marriage, but then fallen in love with each other.

Her mother adored her father and tried desperately to keep the peace. Though there was more too it she thought. Her mother, as much as she had wanted the peace to be kept, and to be left out of the drama, was always right in the middle of anything that occurred, either as a go-between or final-sayer. She wore two faces, one of the merry little housewife, and the other of the power behind the throne. It was a foolish person who underestimated Veronica Van-Black she thought. She would tell Victor about the invite when she got back, and ask his opinion. She stopped along the way to pick up some fallen leaves that had dried in the sun, she would use these is one of her table decorations. When she got back the doughnuts were still warm in the bag.

untitled

For more books, click here

SHORT – ‘雨降って地固まる’ (PT IV–Sinister deeds)

Part IV – ‘Sinister deeds’
(Full story here)

Although the snow that fell made the town look beautiful, it was really an added torture for many. The freezing cold and blanket of toil left many desperate in Hirani. Enko was lucky, she hard worked her way up to be a popular geisha, earning a lot of money for her Okiya which took care of her. She was outgoing and a lot of fun to those who booked her services. Though many closer to her would say she was somewhat reckless, she was known for being eager to try new things and was usually where the most spirited events were in the town.

It wasn’t that she had a particular grudge against Tomoryō. She, like many, were really in awe of her and her beauty. They had studied together growing up, and had known one another for a long time; jumped through the same hoops and mastered the arts as two sisters might. But inside of Enko, there was always fresh seeds ready to sprout, and jealousy was one that was easily watered. It wasn’t just her beauty or success, or even the reverence Tomoryō received. It was that she had something that was far more lacking within Enko. Self-respect.

People called her a witch because Tomoryō didn’t do all the things that were asked of her, especially from men. She had bucked the system and carved her own living through being a Geisha, which she clearly found some happiness within. A circumstance really more than a calling. Enko had been thrust into this life, and though she messily navigated her way through with bad decisions, she was angry that she herself could not be as strong willed as Tomoryō.

To see Tomoryō brought down to everyone else’s level, would give Enko the satisfaction that being where she was, doing what she is told to do, is how it should be.

But it was more than that.

And it was more than that that she had suggested to Unoko. Did she really mean to have Tomoryō killed? Well, it would remove her completely, destroy the beacon of individuality that she had cultivated, which really had no place in the world of Geisha. There had not been much back and forth in her mind whether it was wrong to have Tomoryō murdered. Enko, reckless as ever, had launched to that conclusion by the time she had left Unoko’s. Guilt was not something Enko dwelled too much on, and it was a lot cleaner than merely teaching her a lesson. It was this sinister side within her that had grown when she was a child. Competing with the other children to have the best toys, the most attention. It was this side of her that had tricked the little girl when she was only five years old herself to go down the well near her childhood home, and to leave her there for two days. It was always there really, ready to spring to action like a crouching mantis. Enko could be a lot of fun, but she was also very conniving.

She had dispensed with the moral debate in her mind by the time she had reached the small house. Mindful of the time, as she did not want to be late for her appointment with the businessman, so she knocked hastily on the door. She had come to one of the more shabby areas of Hirani, with the small line houses squeezed up against one another like crooked teeth. Enko, in her Kimono looked out of place in the bleakness of her surroundings, like a lotus flower on a sea of mud. She knocked again sharply, louder this time until the door slid open. A small woman stood there, her eyes narrowed on a face that snarled back at her.

“You’re far from the garden little flower.” The older woman said. She held a pipe in her hand, and puffed the smoke towards Enko.

“Oh knock it off Madoka, and let me in.” Enko said, barging her way into the small entrance room. The room smelled of fish that was likely bubbling away on a stove nearby. But she didn’t plan to stay too long, so she endured it.

“What do you want?” Madoka asked her, looking her up and down.

“I want you to do what you’re best at.” Enko said, retrieving some money from the inside of her sleeve. She handed it over to her, mindful not to touch Madoka’s hands which were stained with black and ash from her pipe.

“And who’s the lucky soul this time? Some fisherman who couldn’t keep his mouth shut?” Madoka said, enjoying the moment. She liked to antagonise her. Her own defence against being bought by some silly geisha with more style than brains. But bought she was, for very specific services.

“Oh, someone you know pretty well. That’s only half of what you’ll get you see, the rest will come when the job is complete.” Enko said, wiping the smirk off her face. Madoka looked again at the money, realising now how much she’d been given.

“Who?” she said, faintly now with unease.

“Tomoryō.” Enko said, eager to see her eyes when she understood who it was.

“Keep it.” She said, throwing the money back towards her where it landed on the floor. Enko’s smile waivered slightly, she stared at the money now on the dirty floor. She nudge some of it with her foot, looking at the ground she said.

“You’ll do it Madoka, and you’ll do it quickly and quietly. Unless you want me to lead everyone to your other misdemeanours.” She said sweetly. Most people knew how much of unsavoury character Madoka was, it was not a huge secret that she was not to be trusted. But there were many things they didn’t know, things that were a lot more serious than petty theft; and Enko knew them, she knew all of them.

And Madoka knew she knew.

She lowered her eyes as if in shame, but it was merely to look again at the money on the floor. She bent down to pick it up.

“Any requests?” She said, putting the money in her pocket and puffing again on her pipe.

“Make it look like she did it herself, and do something about that pretty face of hers.” Enko said, turning around and kicking the money that lay on the floor. She slid the door open and disappeared off into the snow, a walking plum on a sea of white rice.

Madoka watched her depart up the road, cursing having let her in today, and fearing what she had to do.