Ad Hoc

Restless Need  a work in progress

The voices are always worse inside. On long, summer days they literally scream at me to stay outside – but one of them is a trickster and tries to stop me from doing the Timings. The Timings are important to the order of everyday. Without them everything will fall apart. And I mean everything. It's not just a case of me and my flat, it's a situation that affects the whole world. The Timings keep everything running.

I have to go out on 7 separate occasions throughout the day. It starts from 9.30am and ends about 5.30pm. Like a job. When I come back from any one of the ambles I stay in for maybe 15 minutes then go out again. I have the same circuit walks each day; up to town and back through the public garden, down the alley to the sea and along the prom then back. Up to town and into the library or a shop – but not for long. Along the alley and back along the prom. And combinations of those walks.

Sometimes I wait for her. I know some of her times; she talked to me more at the beginning – so I know at least a few times when she has to leave the house to give a class, or whatever it is she does. I wait in the courtyard and when she comes down the steps she has to see me whether she likes it or not. On those days I feel brave and wonderful. But I also feel angry afterwards because she never stops to talk to me properly. Today I tried to talk to her about the things she has in her windows but she couldn't wait to get out of the gate.

When I know she's gone for sure sometimes I get my paradise keys and go into her flat. The landlady forgot she gave me those keys before the flat got re-rented and it was being repainted and workmen were in and out. When I go in I am very quiet because I want to feel her through every part of myself. Sometimes I sit on her sofa for just a moment and imagine she is sitting with me, laughing and talking as we relax after a busy day. I always do one thing when I am in her flat; one small thing to show a visit was made; today I moved one of the plants; one tiny change to how everything is.

To be continued..


A Certain Kind of Love – a short story on kitsch

She was crying onto the knitted doll toilet roll holder when Robin popped by. "Oh Robin, I'm so pleased to see you," she managed to staccato out between sobs. "He's left me."

It had all started out as a beautiful romance. They had met in the old people's home that Sandra visited, every now and then, to pick up the clothes of deceased clients. Her friends found her resourcefulness amazing; they contented themselves with rummages around markets and 2nd hand clothing shops but Sandra went straight to the source. They would marvel at her nylon A lines, her brown patent leather brogues, her flannalette nightwear. She had a pretty nifty sideline in severe spectacles on the go too; those e-bayers were mad for them.

So, Sandra was picking up dead womens' clothes when she met Trevor.

"It's so fantastic! He looks like a nerd and he's got this name; Trevor!" Yes, Sandra was beside herself with joy. She had waited her whole life to meet someone like Trevor. A guy that wore wing collars, mustard coloured tank tops and looked like he was an eternal 40. He even had a bit of a stutter and avoided direct eye contact. He liked geography, ice skating and reading groups; where the others would sit patiently and wait for him to finish a paragraph.

Trevor visited the home every week to see his Aunt Wilma; who would berate him at length for bringing stale Battenburg cake instead of French Fancies. As he was leaving on that fateful day he literally stumbled over Sandra as she was rooting through a bin liner out by the back of the home. Hot with excitement at her polyester finds, the sight of Trevor tripled her zing-a-zing and she pushed him against a wall, her hands all over his hand knitted top.

Trevor had never had a girlfriend before; not a real one. He had had a cartoon lady for a few years that he would draw into various situations of friendship and passion; always mindful of keeping an equilibrium of gender power but secretly wanting to be dominated. Trevor's lack of experience with the fairer sex had only added to Sandra's desire and when she at last had put him in the frame of her lemon formica kitchen, she knew she had found 'the one'. Maybe it was the way he praised her mini quiches, or the jigsaw puzzle he suggested they did, maybe it was the small brown plastic comb he kept in his top shirt pocket or his embroidered hankerchief; but whatever it was, Sandra was in love.

Then Aunt Wilma died.

"Trevor, lovebud, I noticed that your aunt had quite a few portraits of herself in that room at the home. I need them." The statement set the tone for the Grand Plan that Sandra had been concocting since Aunt Wilma's death had ecstatically co-incided with finding a heap of plastic flowers and flashing heart lights at the local Indian stall. Sandra was going to build shrines throughout her flat; shrines of wonder and beauty to the dear departed aunt.

No-one had yet died in her own family; well, no-one of any significance and Sandra was beside herself with a burning need for quasi religious devotional practise. She already had bottles of holy water and statues of the Virgin Mary dotted around between the chintz sofa and the blow up plastic armchair (that Trevor was made to sit in "because you look so natural in that chair Trevor, it's incredible!" and he would fidget and sweat and squeak and consider taking up smoking so he could pop the monstrosity). Sandra had even got 'dot to dot' religious drawings up on the wall that she'd managed to swipe off her friend's four year old that attended Sunday School. Her absolute source of pride was the 'painting by numbers' Jesus on the Cross that she had done herself and even though some of it had evidently gone wrong and the Crown of Thorns was nowhere near Jesus' head; she still felt a real happiness everytime she looked at it. All the Icons put together couldn't surpass the beatification of that Lord of the dance; not even Elvis in his GI era, not even Ricky Martin (that strictly speaking wasn't of the right 'circa' but bloody hell; his La Vida Loca was HOT).

Trevor tried to explain that his aunt had fiercely spoken out against dogmatic religions and if anything had leanings towards socialism. "Cool!", exclaimed Sandra, "I'll place her altar next to Che!" So it was that the kidnap of Trevor's aunt's soul took place and after a lifetime of attending political meetings and reading existential material Aunt Wilma ended up with a large fluffy pink heart around her, the lights winking almost in jest, the plastic of the flowers smirking at the vulgar faux.

"Then he just...he just...he...", Sandra was almost hyper ventilating with sorrow, "What? What did he do Sandra?" asked Robin who was a Virgo and couldn't bear unfinished information or for that matter to be in the garishness of Sandra's flat for more than five minutes. "He said...he said..that..", "For fuck's sake Sandra! Quit the drama and tell me!". Sandra inhaled so deeply that Robin worried she'd have to do some medical manoveure, "He said that he hated everything about me and...and...he wanted his cartoon girlfriend again...and...that she...she was much more understanding of him...and ... and that I was as horrendous as my embossed flock wall paper..and I..I only got that wallpaper to go behind his chair because...because...the orange contrasted so crazily with his skin". Robin looked over to the blow up plastic chair that had been Trevor's seat for three months and then behind to the embossed orange flock wallpaper, "Well, I can see his point, I mean not many people suit orange Sandra, you know you have to be so careful with those citrus tones". Sandra looked over and clearing her sobs she said, "Well I suppose I could change it for a flowery print?" and with that she took a breath in, straightened her hair, got out the ceramic country house teapot, the wartime tin mugs, the tupperware plates set with paper doilies and started to prepare high tea.


The Chicken

He had a thing about faces, he wanted to watch her as he fucked her, see her mouth gasp, sometimes when he turned her round he would hold her head so he could watch her face sideways as he rammed from behind. She wondered if he knew this about himself, if he was aware of his signature moves – she doubted it. She knew it wasn't love yet she somehow wished for it, he knew it wasn't love and hoped she wouldn't want it. It was all easy enough – playing out the roles. His lines didn't seem like lines; because he believed them. She found the diversion welcome and thought naively that choosing a man for his lack of creativity would amount to a simple and honest character.

What neither of them had reckoned on was the chicken arriving on the balcony one day.

OK, scratch that, there was no chicken

Damn, now I've blocked myself with the chicken thing

The truth is he just stopped seeing her. Or he saw her for 40 minutes on two occasions in 7 days. She knew it was 40 minutes because she noted the time on his watch when he checked it at his arrival and then a few moments before his departure. He phoned each day and told her to phone if she went out and phone when she got back but he had no time to see her, he said. When she asked about when they might meet and go to all the places he had enthused about in the first weeks he said she was being controlling.

I lost my principles in this city
some type of corrupted honesty
my skin shed to become so smooth
yet my hair became as wool

I have been a wild animal
because of the abandoning
a childhood of nightmares and ghosts


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