Thursday, 15 October 2015

Story 31 - Soup

Actually did make soup last night. Was going to get a tin of Campbell’s or maybe a box of sachets but Sarah gave me the idea of making my own. She reckoned it was easy enough, just get some vegetables, stick them in boiling water and there’s your soup. Bought a leek, a potato, a tomato and a carrot. Cut them up, boiled some water and threw the lot into it. Added salt, pepper and waited, waited for what seemed like forever for the thing to turn into soup but it never did become anything other than a load of vegetables in hot water. Still had it though, and I guess it was healthy enough, in spite of the fact I was up half the night pissing. (I go in the sink by the way. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but during the night I can’t be bothered to walk to the end of the corridor for a leak so I use the sink in my room. Kinda disgusting, but convenience outweighs all that.)

Off to a party at East Slope later. The weather’s nice at the moment. It’s like a beautiful summer’s evening outside.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Unfinished Story #2

I’ve sprawled out on the seat of the train, but I don’t know this yet.

There’s the sound of white noise. An intense, thunderous burst of hisses and booms - my eyes open and immediately I’m groping at the control panel in my wrist.

“F***ing thing,” I say.

Digging my nails further into the skin I manage to switch off the main circuit. A hush as my eyes adjust to the empty carriage.

Silver walls dully reflect the artificial light. The air is murky and damp. Strange, as these trains are usually air conditioned. It must be on the blink. That or a deliberate act of vandalism.

My hand moves to the holster under my coat, and my gun is still there. I take it out, checking the settings, then lay back, gazing up at the ceiling’s videoscreen to see an image of doves flying above. A moment later they morph into bats, then stars, then footballs, and then as the map of our progress is displayed in a brilliance of colour I see that we’ve just past Kowloon.


I sit up, look left and right to double check that I am alone. A humming from the train replaces the silence, and as I stand the humming becomes louder. My stress levels have increased and there’s the beginnings of a headache.

“What the hell?”

Instinctively I look to the control panel in my wrist to see how long I was out, but it’s off, because I switched it off, and when I painfully turn it back on using the manual lever the display reads four zeros, which blink at me stupidly.

I press the call button and a distorted image of Frank appears on screen for all but a few seconds before fading into nothingness.

“F***ing thing,” I say again. So what now?

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Unfinished Story #1

Nothing overly special going on in my last class. I write a couple of sentences on the board, then get them to repeat a few times in between throwing a ball at each other. They take out their books, write a few more similar sentences, do the spelling test, we read a story about a cat getting stuck up a tree, play a game of Marco Polo and then I’m outta there.

It’s Friday night and I’m in the mood to get wasted. Like there’s anything else to do? I hear myself thinking. Heading home amongst once so unfamiliar surroundings, I marvel at how quickly one adjusts to this new environment. Crowds of dark, smiling faces, side stools selling everything from fried intestines to confectionated chicken feet to mango and ice cream kebabs. I purchase a king sized plastic cup of tapioca milk tea; already immune to the stink of steaming, putrid drains, I happily sip at my beverage, dodging through the rush of scooters, taxis, bicycles and car horns. If you’ve ever been there you know the score. We’re in any Asian city so I may as well leave it at that. You’re far from home, and how quickly us foreigners fall into the expected stereotype of becoming alcoholics in a distant land. A niche we fit into so well. For those of us who are able to survive out here for more than a year of this weirdly addictive loneliness, it is but a necessity.

Beneath towering Skyscrapers, I continue my journey home. Attractively modern buildings mix with shorter, more hastily built concrete obscenities - and these in turn seem out of place next to the few remaining ancient temples that shine with a proud but humble determination amongst the glittering neon lights. Wading through this regular conglomerate of ancient and modern, of past, present and future, I’m making my way into a Seven-Eleven to grab a bottle of local medicine wine, a preheated chicken burger and packet of chocolate corn chips. For me the place is a whirl of incomprehensible language, both audible and visual, but being used to such an environment, I’ve found there’s something relaxing about it too. I stand apart, and mostly I’m ignored. I’m like a ghost, coming from a different world, another dimension, and due to my ignorance I’m able to remain in that world apart. I slide silently amongst the other customers, happily immune to the surrounding babble. This is the way it’s always been, and this is the way I like it.

Whilst queuing up to pay, I’m therefore disturbed and rather put out when I receive a tap on the shoulder from a girl standing behind me who’s keen to ask where I’m from.

“Where are you from?” she blurts, in a twangy accent. High spirited, false friendliness; it’s

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Story 30 - The Wooden Bicycle

There was this one time years ago when I saw a bicycle that was made completely of wood. The pedals, chain, handle bars and everything. Even this wooden bicycle bell which sort of rattled when I used it.

I was outside my friend’s house, who wasn’t my best friend, although he lived across the street. There was an alleyway and if you walked up about halfway you’d find a house on your right whose garden was overgrown with weeds and the gate was all rotten, with a distinctive smell I can still remember now. A nice fragrance that came from all the plants I suppose. The whole alley smelt like this and it all, the scent, definitely adds to my memory of the bicycle.

I was in the garden outside his front door one day, calling on him to see if he wanted to go out to play.

It was before I’d even rung the bell that I was looking all over this strange creation. The same size as a normal bike; at least as any normal bike was to me at the time – now I have no idea. Brown, wooden, not shiny or anything…

My friend came to the door and I asked about it as soon as he answered and he said it was his brother’s. I knew at once he meant the brother who’d died but being a child I didn’t feel any need to move away from the subject so I carried on talking and asking if it was ok to ride, if he’d ever ridden it and how come I hadn’t seen it before. In spite of my enthusiasm though, he simply replied that his dad was using it for something without answering any of my questions. I still don’t know if anyone ever rode the thing.

I’d been in my friend’s house sitting in his front room when he’d first told me about his brother. Can’t remember exactly what we were doing in there ‘cause he was much more of a playing outside on the street or in the woods kind of friend so it was unusual in a way for me to be in his front room on this or any occasion. There was this picture of a guy standing next to a motorbike looking like some kind of hero or film star and it might’ve even been black and white. When I’d asked my friend who it was in the picture he’d said that it was his older brother and that he’d died in a motorbike accident.

So anyway, my friend called back to his mum that it was me at the door and he was going out and then we were sort of back in the alleyway walking to the end into the park with the swings and slide and we hung around there for a while before going to call on another of our friends called Wayne Stevens who had a younger brother we also played with from time to time. We went round their house for a bit and played with toy cars in their front room; their mum made us a sandwich each. After that I remember us, the four of us were playing cricket in their driveway.

It was a nice day actually. And I never saw the bicycle again until about three or four years later when my friend was having a kind of garden sale which would’ve been a garage sale if they’d had a garage but they didn’t. They were moving to another place up the other side of London and getting rid of some of the crap they didn’t need. I’d forgotten all about the bicycle but there it was lying under their apple tree next to an old rocking horse and as soon as it caught my eye the memory of seeing it a few years before came flooding back to me. Suddenly I could feel myself standing there knocking at my friend’s door and playing in the park, woods or round each other’s houses, playing with Star Wars toys and Transformers, watching cartoons and all those things we used to do.

Things were different then of course. Like, I was still mates with almost all of the same people (in fact I think his garden sale was the beginning of my first experience saying goodbye to any of my friends) but the stuff we did was… well I must’ve been about twelve or thirteen by then.

I think at that time a typical social experience so to speak would have been football after school, computer games at youth club, with the odd night of cigarettes and cider on the way home.

Before even announcing my presence to my friend or his family I’d already picked up the bicycle from the grass and was looking at it remembering stuff about my friend’s brother, how he’d died and everything in a road accident.

The bike was still in a fairly new sort of condition. A polished wooden seat, wooden spokes, and instead of tyres the rims of the wheels were thick with a darker coloured wood.

A bicycle once belonging to a boy, who somewhere had long ago rotted in his grave, was still here in the house where he’d lived. Like, here it still was, surrounded by neighbours slowly drifting around the garden, hunting through boxes of household items, possessions spread across the grass.

And the way the bike was now patiently sitting there propped up on its wooden stand, avoiding, not partaking in all the commotion surrounding it, it seemed sort of beautiful; but lonely too in a funny sort of way. And I remember it seemed weird, a little wrong how they were selling the thing. In some ways it was like someone’s heart or his soul which was being forgotten, neglected and discarded.

To be honest the whole thing made me feel a bit sick.