Categories
politics short fiction

A Moral Adoption

 

 

The route took you all over. You look at your reflection, mesmerised by the glittering nerves of activism in your eyes, stinking of lighter fluid and spray paint. It sits in your brain like temple incense.

 

You used white spray paint. It contrasted against the rich, dark wood they used. All the history of your enemies enshrined in materials which should have been your people’s by right.

 

You look around you, all the crumpled, exhausted people going about their lives. All their mundane concerns about the money they’re not making and the sex they’re not having.

 

You’ve been busy tonight, and they will continue to lose themselves in duties and distractions whilst you will go onto start the great conversation about power and its place of residence.

 

Its chosen people.

 

Not everyone will understand but in time, your actions will force dialogue and action.

 

As you walk out of the subway, a flash of alabaster cheekbone and a flip of a limp tangerine fringe makes your heart ache. He smiles at you with the arrogance of someone who collected broken hearts like lint in their coat pockets. This melancholic observation sinks fish hooks into your stomach and tugs hard enough to make you lean forward.

 

The dull rattle of the empty cans in your backpack is a musical cue. You stand up, push your shoulders back and raise your head.

 

One perfect, lubricated fuck would complicate things.

 

You recall a firm, callused hand on the small of your back. He smelled of liniment and cough drops. His breath was so sweet it bought tears to your eyes. There was an awful gravity to it if you could describe it. You do not. There are better battles, better ideas and they are your ideas and battles now.

 

He turns away and your nerves prickle with the reward of your denial.

 

Your building is quiet.

The Leins are asleep. Alex has gone to Vermont to visit her ex. The walk to your apartment has a dark, quiet quality to it which feels like fate.

 

Once you are inside, you empty everything into a garbage bag.

 

The spray paints.

The charcoal briquettes soaked in paraffin

Waterproof matches

Claw hammer

Roll of tape.

 

Your gloves go in last of all. Whilst you take the bag to the disposal, your phone rings.

 

‘Hi Justin.’

 

A twist of disdain starts in the back of your throat.

 

‘I don’t go by that name anymore, Rebecca.’

 

You tell her name like it is a splinter you’re trying to extract from the roof of your mouth.

 

‘David said. It’s Saul now, isn’t it?’

 

You correct her.

 

Saul Avishai Ali.

 

A name is a statement. A performance which requires immersion to be convincing. You must, as a prophet of your ideas, be complete in thought and deed.

 

You wrote out variations of different names until you found one which looked pleasing in print.

 

She sighs and you hear the polite weariness in her voice. Tolerance is a playful practice in the abstract but you relieved Rebecca   of trying to understand you.

 

These poisonous lessons were plentiful during the five years you lived with them.

 

‘Well, Saul, I hadn’t heard from you. I don’t want you to disappear.’

 

You bare your teeth, fight the urge to spit about your erasure.

 

Instead you toss the bag down the chute and go back to your apartment.

 

‘I won’t.’

 

‘Good, good. Are you still taking your medication?’

 

Your knowledge and purpose have eliminated the need for medication. Without shaking hands and sleep paralysis, there is a jangling, bold purpose to you which means the medicine slows you down. There is a shining, harsh purity to your world which needs nothing to mute its chorus of truth and primal, tribal wisdom.

 

There is liberation in knowing your enemies.

 

You tell her you are fine but go. It satisfies her but you tell her someone is at the door so she can end the conversation without straying from the clipped script you both read from when you speak.

 

It is important she believes people gravitate to you. You are the bright sun in someone’s sky, when you struggle with accepting love from people. It feels rehearsed and spoiled at the same time.

 

The callused hand, smelling of liniment, it burned out something inside you.

 

Your purpose is a way to assuage your loss.

 

Life has been a rehearsal for having a secret identity. Someone without a name but with actions to carry out.

 

When you lived with David and Rebecca, there was always the promise, vague and inconstant, of arranging something formal. Legal.

 

The novelty of you sounded like the seconds on a clock, growing louder as the time slipped away.

 

David found you somewhere to live.

 

A few blocks away, but it might as well have been the moon.

 

It was whilst in exile, you had time to process the personal through the filter of the political.

 

Rebecca does not know she spoke to a man who struck a blow against his enemies.

 

You heat a bowl of sprouts and rice noodles. Online, the photos appear faster than the television news can cover them.

 

No one mentions the fires.

 

Your handiwork is incidental. What matters is the reaction to it. There are statements from the synagogue officials and the actress who organised the event. Her flamboyant ugliness and arrogance offend you, and you put your opinions out there.

 

They label you many things and some of them are true, but like so many things, context matters. The opinions bloom like fireworks as your synapses sing with recognition and affirmation.

 

You cruise until three a.m. The conversation tapers off and despite a last round of statements, there is nothing left to say.

 

It is whilst you are asleep they release the surveillance footage.

 

Sleep has a fullness like you’ve been fucked well and held afterwards. This idea which has possessed you, it is old and has the craft of lovers and prophets. Its kiss of purpose on your forehead has married you to action and it croons lullabies enough to keep memories at bay long enough to allow you some peace.

 

They knock on the door with enough force to make the door rattle in its frame.

 

You stand up, zip up the hooded sweatshirt you wore last night. Fire engine red.

 

You hope they captured your good side as you go to answer the door.

 

Categories
beauty character creative writing dark places desire fiction short fiction short stories Uncategorized writing

The Devil Went Down To Pensacola

What offended Lou most about the protest was it’s lack of taste.

The signs were written in black, bold fonts on neon and hot pink pieces of card glued to lengths of wood. Some earnest art project gone horribly wrong.  He stood and watched them with his forehead furrowed in amusement, smoking and smirking to himself.

He seldom took time off. Today though, he had outsourced the day to day affairs to a few ‘trusted’ subordinates and had found himself in Pensacola. The weather was something that he found entirely comfortable, even with the dark pinstripe and the cravat, his hair remained a perfect sculptured wave of white blonde hair and his face was a perfect study of milk poured atop ivory.

He tutted to himself, cast the cigarette to the ground and crushed it beneath the heel of his boots before walking to join the other mourners. He walked alongside a young couple, their eyes red with tears who kept looking to the small, vicious knot of people across the street. The elder of the two went to approach but his partner put a steadying hand out and shook his head.

‘They’re not worth it.’

The young man turned and looked into the perfect, violet eyes of the stranger.

‘Sorry, he hates those guys.’

He looked past them and narrowed his eyes.

‘On grounds of taste alone, I’d agree.’

He knew that the couple were Iain and Benjamin, that they had met in college and were at one point, experimenting with the deceased in a polyamorous relationship before primal notions of dominance asserted themselves and they did not speak for a while. He knew the worst in people, and that was why he loved them so much.

Looking at the church, he knew what would be said and what would be meant. Funerals were clumsy affairs and seldom captured a life, good or bad. They were for the living, and the dead oftentimes spoke of the self serving omissions and errors that irritated them. The event that marks your passing has all the depth and veracity of a celebrity autobiography.

So, seeking amusement, he walked across the street. He heard calls and ignored him, lit up another cigarette because it would irritate them and he smoked like a fiend. He was not afraid of cancer, cancer was afraid of him.

‘YOU’RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL, FAGGOT.’

They spoke in upper case, angry comments on the internet without the excuse of anonymity. He pitied how empty they looked, even he knew the fullness of existence. Even though it hated him.

‘I was actually coming to thank you, actually.’

His fringe had fallen into his eyes but he kept it in order to avoid having to look at them directly. He inhaled the cigarette smoke, enjoyed the tickle in his throat and how they had lapsed into silence.

One of them, with his dad bod, undulating chin waddle sparsely covered by a beard that resembled glued on pubic hair stared at him. Every instinct screaming to run, but self righteousness and hitherto undiagnosed fetal alcohol syndrome made him stand his ground.

‘For saving your immortal soul? I should think so.’

Lou chuckled, a dry, ugly sound like dessicated branches sweeping against a window pane. It was a laugh that once sounded chimes in the heart of creation, but time and circumstance had rendered it’s beauty into something practical and terrifying.

‘Oh you sorry little sac, you really have no idea how it works, do you?’

Lou managed something that had eluded the great and the good who encountered the group’s feverish infant protests.

Silence.

‘He doesn’t concern himself with hatred, neither does the boy. He pities your lack of understanding, if anything.’

He lit up another cigarette. It carried an unearthly scent, due to the fields it was grown in, fertilised with the eternal corpses of the damned. It made marijuana look like child vitamins and the crowd’s noses wrinkled collectively in response.

‘But why let the facts get in the way of the resolutely good time you all appear to be having, eh?’

Dadbod gripped the sign in his doughy hands and began to advice. Lou laughed and waved his finger in a mocking gesture.

‘Seriously, don’t.’

Dadbod, looked around, lost in a storm of primal panic and aggression, before committing to the worst possible decision and charging him. Huffing to accommodate his lack of experience with actual aggression and a cardiovascular system that would lose in a race with a sleepy dormouse, he charged and for a moment, imagined shoving this petulant asshole to the floor. In an instant, he saw the approval of his peers as a parade of hateful good feeling and was heartened by it.

Which was when Lou stepped neatly to the left and watched him tumble, using his face as a brake. Pink and scarlet shreds of skin laid in streaks against the asphalt, like abandoned gum, devoid of flavour but not colour. Dadbod screamed, clutching his face and Lou walked over to him.

‘This, Gary, is a perfect metaphor for your approach.’

His smile uncoiled, a bright and terrible beauty that made it’s mark on this world and he continued.

‘I have no time for lectures, but I encourage you to really pray. Listen to that small voice, the one that you actually struggle with but you pretend is dyspepsia, and follow that.’

He stood up, bowed formally from the waist and went about his day with a wink that made the nascent libidos of many of the protestors and crowd flutter like a newborn butterfly. There was a woman at the tent hire place he wanted to look at, and a plate of chicken parmesan to enjoy.

 

 

Categories
book reviews books politics Uncategorized

The Establishment by Owen Jones

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Synopsis:

Behind our democracy lurks a powerful but unaccountable network of people who wield massive power and reap huge profits in the process. In exposing this shadowy and complex system that dominates our lives, Owen Jones sets out on a journey into the heart of our Establishment, from the lobbies of Westminster to the newsrooms, boardrooms and trading rooms of Fleet Street and the City. Exposing the revolving doors that link these worlds, and the vested interests that bind them together, Jones shows how, in claiming to work on our behalf, the people at the top are doing precisely the opposite. In fact, they represent the biggest threat to our democracy today – and it is time they were challenged.

The most tragic thing I took away from this book was that none of it surprised me. Not a single thing was a revelation to me. If you’re honest, and have any sense of awareness then you won’t be surprised either. Labour, Conservative, Republican, Democrat the political class, their ideas come from the same think tanks, reported warmly or negatively by the journalists, editors and owners that they go to weddings, parties and holiday with and if you attempt to protest, then you’ll be clubbed like a baby seal by the police force who look out for them rather than us.

The other tragedy is that no one really cares anymore.

Sure, there’s passion but it’s directed at gender and racial politics, which are important but the real forces of inequality are class and wealth.  If you’re looking for a good primer on how these things work, I would recommend the Establishment as a solid introduction but it doesn’t have the spark, there’s nothing to aspire to here, no clarion call instead it’s the literary equivalent of letting the Ark of the Covenant go to Germany at the end of Raiders of The Lost Ark. All that build up and in the conclusion, there’s perhaps two groups and one political party. A bit of a squib, if I’m honest.

There’s none of the same analysis applied to the left and how it’s focus on racial and gender politics has neutered any real democratic voices that are not speaking for and about ordinary people anymore. Frankie Boyle did a better job and he had jokes too, it’s well written, impeccably researched and shocking in it’s details but it lacks fire, it lacks rage and it’s a perfect representative of what is wrong with modern political activism, sure it’s right but it needs to talk to ordinary people.

An aside, one of the things that made the U.S Civil Rights appealing was that the young men and women dressed smartly. People at home saw the kinds of young people that they had as sons and daughters, aspirational people getting hosed and beaten by police. What do you get now? Crusty jugglers who look like they’d use a pig on a string as an air freshener, fucking up the parks for people. There’s no imagination, there’s just children grown older and meanwhile people stay at home, too scared and worn down to question anymore. If you wanted to fuck the banks, get people to apply for stupid loans, pay in pennies. I guarantee not a member of BLM has read The Art of War or The Prince, it’s all so bloody wide eyed and earnest, and nothing, nothing gets done.

Anyway, it’s a good interesting book but it’s not, sadly for the layman and it should be.

Categories
creative writing poetry

Walled Gardens Of The Internet

I used to be on social media.

Twitter and Facebook, a Tumblr too.

I considered

that my politics

removed the need for civility,

I adopted an abrasive

Demeanour

Chose to be offended

By the opinions

Of others

And to dismiss

Theirs

I carried disdain

Until I found myself

Inflamed by anger

Boring story, I know

But I came away.

Realised that

I wasn’t making art

And I was trapped

In a walled garden

That I had built for myself

ii.

No one in particular

Saved me

But anger burns bright

But short and

I wasn’t making my

Art and when I did

It was distracted

Less than the efforts

I could put in.

iii.

Climbing the wall

I saw a series of them

Walled gardens

Fat with screams

Hollers,

Pretty asylums of distraction.

I climbed over

The spaces inbetween

iii.

Here,

This has a door built in

I read

I have interest and passion

Again and above all

The sense of relief

That I don’t have to

Pretend to be angry

Anymore.

iv

If I could

I would apologise

But I will be better

And as time casts a veil

I see less of that person

As I seek to be

Better

Kinder

More accepting.