Friday, September 08, 2006

The Accountant

Ten years! It had been ten years since that life changing day. Life had taken a new course; from poverty to riches, from unpredictable to comfortable.

Brian remembered the lead up to the day clearly.

The artwork had taken almost two years to prepare. Intricate geometric patterns, fine lines, shapes and numbers, covered every inch of each massive canvas. The harmony of symbols and images was quite astounding.

It had taken three months to convince the prestigious Schwartz-Brakeman gallery to display his work. In the end they grudgingly gave him one night - a Monday.

He spent his last dollars buying champagne and imported beer. His then girlfriend, Mary, had agreed to waitress and his best mate had lent him a suit.

The night of the big event arrived at last.

Brian stood anxiously watching as people walked past his creations. He had poured his heart into this work; his passion was in every brush stroke. He longed to hear what people were saying as they walked quietly around the room.

One of the guests, a well dressed man in his late 40’s, seemed particularly excited by what he was seeing. This man noticed Brian watching him and introduced himself as Simon.

“You’re the artist?”

“Yes. Brian Brown – pleased to meet you.”

They shook hands.

“The symmetry of your work is astounding Brian. Your attention to detail is like nothing I’ve seen before.”

“Thank-you”, said Brian, hopping that this man’s enthusiasm might lead to a sale.

“Brian, I’m a partner in a downtown accountancy firm. I think your talents are wasted in art and I want to offer you a study scholarship with a guaranteed desk job at the end of it.”

The accountant handed Brian a business card saying. “You don’t have to decide right away, call me when you’ve made up your mind.”

Ten years! And now, as he sat looking over a complicated spreadsheet, Brian smiled.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Safe

A long line of noisy traffic winds its way through the delicate beauty of a crisp midwinter evening.

The sun is leaving the sky; the sky is fading. Dusk.

As I drive my radio tells me of brutal wars in far away lands and petty arguments close to home.

I am struck by an idea; it is human memory that strings time together. Memory takes this present moment, the smallest thing in the universe, and binds it with an infinity of other moments to make a war, or an argument, or...

Soon I will arrive at my lovers house and I will rap on the door - brass on brass. I will barely have time to observe the first star I’ve seen that night when out will come a kiss, and an embrace, and a warm breathing in the ear. And there will be no war in the world.

There will be no war in my world.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Open Hand

I have subjected the colourful soap bubble of life to the scalpel of analytical thought. My experiments led me to conclude that any colour in life was only illusion. My experiments led me to the deepest despair.

I have clung too tightly to people I loved; grieved the loss of them while they were still with me. How will I cope when life takes them away from me? I fear I will not be strong enough to do what is required.

For many nights I stood on top of the world and watched as cities slept. And on some cold mornings I would swim in the empty sea. Yes, it was beautiful, but I was only there because I wanted to avoid loss by hiding in open spaces. I grieved for things I didn’t have; love I was afraid to hope for.

A wise man once told me that you have to face life’s hard stuff on your own. I agree with that man. But you should know this, when life seems to be asking more of you than you’re equipped to give, look around you. I’ll be standing there, facing it alone, right next to you.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Prince of Ten

They reached an agreement over fifth-date-coffee; they would separate before the magic faded - while there was still some passion left in the relationship. They would separate in two years.

At six months they found a house they both loved and signed a one and a half year lease. They lived together happily enjoying each others company. They lived together passionately enjoying each other physically.

They had been together 22 months when a letter arrived from the estate agent reminding them that their lease was due to expire. After the letter things got a bit awkward; tensions were high and they would argue for no good reason.

The day arrived. He closed the lid of his suitcase and pushed the latches shut. Click. Click.

He reached across the bed to shake her hand. She placed her hand in his. A familiar hand. A soft and strong hand. A hand that had touched and caressed him.

Her eyes were red and he felt like he was about to cry too. This wasn't meant to be hard!

“Well,” he said to himself, “it’s better to have loved and lost than -”

Loved?

He was still holding her hand, still looking into her eyes when he said. “Listen, how do you feel about ten years?”

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Mighty Arms of Madness

I’m not really reading the newspaper. I’m not really focusing on what I’m eating or what I’m doing. I’m watching them. I can only just see them out of the corner of my eye. I’m dying to turn my head and watch them properly.

I can feel the heat they’re generating. I can smell the warm intensity of their lust. I can hear their lips, their tongues, their mouths.

I want to know if his hand is on her leg, on her waist. I want to know if his hand is in her hair. I want to know, does he bite her lip? I want to know, does she bite his? I want to know if there is blood, the taste of blood and saliva mixed together.

I hear them stop. I hear her give a small laugh – a laugh thick, almost drunk. I hear her laugh and it says “Gee that was full on. And in a café!”

I can’t resist - I turn my head. I turn my head and I see his face. I see his eyes clouded with passion. I see that he is not looking at her; he is looking at her hair, her throat. I see his eyes move to her breasts and stay there.

I return to not reading the newspaper.

I hear him say her name. I hear her laugh at him. I hear that she is gently trying to calm him down. I hear her talk of work and of weekends and walks in the park.

I hear him whisper her name.

I hear her say “Perhaps we should go?”

I sense that he may have gone too far.

I see her stand and walk to the door. I see him struggle to keep up with her.

I want to know.

Summer May Yet Come

Someone told me once that pretending to laugh has the same affect on your brain as actually really laughing. I test this theory out in the car.

“ha”

A half hearted attempt by all accounts. No effect.

“ha ha”

Still miserable. Grey clouds, grey hills in distance, emptiness of existence.

“Hahaha!”

Hey – I think something happened. Yes, definitely a little less gloomy.

Some green grass appears.

My next attempt at fake laughter starts me really laughing. Instead of seeing a gloomy and cold day there is a stoic and mysterious day before my eyes.

Problem is though; I’d expected the experiment to fail. I was rather enjoying being in the miserable / emptiness paradigm. I had to change the CD I was listening to. I had to go to the pool instead of catching up on sleep.

Worst of all I was starting to think about the upside. The upside I tell you! And then I realised I was wrong about some things, and I hate being wrong.

So, if you’re feeling a little blue, take my advice – steer clear of laughter. Focus on the pot of dirt at the end of the rainbow.

It’s just easier.

Still Music

I just thought I’d lie down for a while - have a quick snooze before I went to the supermarket. When I woke-up it was night and nothing was as it should be.

Drifting into sleep a sweet female voice had whispered in my ear.

“Do you want to come with me?”

Yes.

The path before us quickly curved away – there was no way of seeing what lay ahead. It turned out that we were at the start of a complicated maze. Our first steps were slow, hesitant, tentative and we were right to be uncertain. The path was blocked by a string of terrifying monsters and complicated traps. And yet as we approached these things they vanished as if they had been mere illusion.

Eventually we reached the centre of the labyrinth; a forest glade. The area was filled with light, dark green and gold, and soft warm air wrapped itself around us. A brook ran through the centre of the scene, gentle and strong. It told of its journeys in the ancient language of the water spirits.

My companion sat down on soft grass and beckoned for me to join her. As I sat she started to sing to me, a tune full of joy and peace. I listened and felt completely happy and safe.

How long she sang for, I really don’t know - at least a day maybe more. I do know there was a point where I did not exist apart from the bliss of that song.

A time arrived when I knew I must return. I was scared. I thought I would have to face the labyrinth alone. But there was no return journey in dream-time. I awoke.

I awoke to the deepest loneliness, loneliness that comes through having and then not having.

And yet, oh and yet! Despair, yes, but still music.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Gangster

Driving along with the windows wound down and my stereo turned up loud. I’m singing along to the music 'Come on everybody. Put your hands up in the air. Just move to the rhythm. Join in people everywhere’. I entertain myself with the idea that the band is advocating armed robbery.

I imagine myself walking in to a bank dressed in tight black clothes with a big bag in one hand and a sawn-off pump-action shotgun in the other. After I had gained everyone’s attention by shouting ‘Come on everybody. Put your hands up in the air’ I would ask a teller to hand over all his notes. Then I would lean against the counter, rest the shotgun on my shoulder and eat an apple. Eating an apple is cooler and healthier than lighting a cigarette.

My black Diablo would be waiting outside and I would drive off in to the desert.

But then I remember the bank robbery victim impact statement I heard once. Suddenly the whole thing doesn’t seem like fun any more.

That’s the thing about rock musicians - they don’t think about the consequences.

Friday, March 31, 2006

So Far Down

There had been no fire fights raging through the universe. There had been no death, no prisoners, no destruction. And yet this war had rocked the foundations of reality.

Satan stood before God about to become an outcast. Cast out of the only place he had ever known.

“My Lord, I never meant to harm.”

“And yet you have harmed child.”

“What will I be without you?”

“You will be without me.”

With these words Satan, shining pure white like a fiery star, was thrown in to the air.

He was pursued through the dark years of space; a white horse thundering through a dark night.

The angels of heaven watched as Satan fell though the atmosphere of planet Earth. They saw his whiteness burnt to red and his body broken and distorted.

On Earth a great explosion filled the air and a bright light, ten summer days in an instant, scorched the sky. All animals saw it and felt the deepest dread and fear.

Satan fell at an unbelievable speed smashing deep in to the rocky substructures of the earth. Earthquakes ricocheted around the world, volcanos erupted and tsunamis enveloped the land.

The cataclysm wiped out almost all of the larger animals, those that survived struggled to find food and slowly starved to death.

It was a small humanoid that found Satan’s ruined body. That humanoid, thinking it had found food, drank the blood that flowed freely from the wounds of the fallen one.

But Satan was not dead. He looked at the man who stood over him and laughed a frail and feeble laugh.

“We are one now, you and I."

And so it was that God made man.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Storm Cloud Racer

It was the night before the first Storm Cloud race of the year. Indigo and her father were in the garage of their Cloud Kingdom home making some final adjustments to their Storm Cloud.

Indigo’s father was watching his daughter. She had been cleaning the same spot for ten minutes and scowling as she worked.

“Perhaps you should go to bed sweetie? I can finish up here.”

“Oh Dad, what’s the use? We both know I’m going to lose.”

Indigo’s father put down a tray of precision hailstones and looked up.

“Only one person can win Indy.”

“You’re no use Dad. Aren’t you meant to tell me I will win? If I believe I will win I can win!?”

He takes a deep breath and looks up at the ceiling for a while. When he looks back Indigo is glowering at him. “Get in the Cloud”, he says.

“I don’t need another lesson Dad.” But she gets in anyway.

As soon as she gets in the Storm Cloud jumps forward, straining against its holding tether. Indigo’s father smiles when he sees this – there is no problem with her determination.

“What’s the first thing I taught you Indy?”

“Dad, do we have to do this?”

Dad gives her a stern look with the hint of a smile in his eyes.

“Your desire gives you speed and the lightness of your heart gives you height”. Indigo recites this in a monotone – it’s the first lesson all fathers give their children.

“And what is the Storm Cloud Racers motto?”

“The higher the faster!”

“Very good Indy. So, lets keep going with lesson one. Make the cloud go down a bit.”

The Cloud lowers a bit.

“What were you thinking about?”

“Tomorrows stupid race!”

“Okay, we’ll leave that for now. Now make the Cloud float a bit higher”

The Cloud goes up very slowly.

“What were you thinking about then?”

“Playing in red sunset clouds.”

“I think you’re ready for an advanced lesson.”

“I already know all that Dad.”

“No Indigo, you were too young to understand what I’m about to tell you but now I think you’re ready.

It’s not your thoughts that give you a light heart.”

“What? You always told me that it was”

“I told you that your thoughts can affect how you feel. I never told you that your thoughts make your feelings.”

“You’ve lost me Dad. You always speak gibberish.”

“Imagine this then Indy. You’re standing on a high cloud looking down on a great city. Below you are a million lights twinkling away. It’s night. In front of you is a really, really high powered telescope. You look through the telescope and what do you see? You see a little girl crying, she doesn’t want to go to bed. You move the telescope a bit and you see two people holding hands and talking to each other.”

“Gross”

“And you move the telescope again and you see a terrible accident and lots off suffering. And the next time you look you see people singing and being happy.

You have hundreds off emotions all at the same time. When you think a certain thought it’s like turning the telescope to focus on one area of that great city.”

“Okay Dad, so what do you think I should do?”

“Listen Indigo, it’s all very well thinking happy thoughts to make yourself feel happy feelings but that’s not what a light heart is. To be a true Storm Cloud Racer you have to be able to look at all your feelings at once and see how they fit together. A light heart can only happen when all your feelings get a chance to be seen. "

“I sort of see what you’re saying.”

“If you focus in on the feelings that make you feel afraid of losing tomorrows race your mind will see how unhappy those feelings make you and try and fix the problem for you. And the way it chooses to fix it might be by telling you to just give up.

If you admit that you’re a little bit scared then you might be able to see that you’re also a little bit hopeful that maybe you will win and glad that you’ll be racing again and looking forward to seeing some of the other racers.”

“Alright, Dad you’ve made your point. Can I go to bed now?”

“Yes sweetie, I’ll see you in the morning. Be carefully getting out of that thing – you’re higher up than you think.”


If you ever get a chance to visit the Storm Cloud Racers of Cloud Kingdom then go – it’s a sight to behold!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Executioner

Tomorrow is blind-date day.

I told a friend of mine “It might hurt too much if things don’t go well”

My friend replied “It will be her loss!”

“And mine too” I counter.

To which my friend is silent.

So I face death by lethal extraction, the extraction of my hopes and dreams, and I face this alone.

Across the table from me will be an attractive girl, confident, positive, a person who has seen her fair share of life and of suffering. This is a person who left behind childish fears long ago and sees the idea of a blind-date as fun and exciting and a great way to meet new people.

And of course it’s not as if I have much to lose. But from he who had nothing even the little he had was taken away.

I think I might start by saying to her “Excuse me if I seem a little nervous”. I don’t think I’ll say “Excuse me if I seem terrified, if everything I say seems rehearsed and it appears I want to be anywhere but with you; face-to-face with my doom”.

But that is only how I feel – I can still be brave. I will meet my destroyer in clothes that are clean and ironed. I will be washed and clean shaven. I will smile and be generous and listen to what she has to say about herself. And when the moment of my annihilation arrives I will not plead for mercy. No, even if my insides turn to water and I shake with fear, I will be strong.

Then again, it might all go okay.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Metal

The phone rang five times before it was answered by a woman’s voice – a no nonsense voice.

“City Surgery, Jan speaking”.

“Hi, ah, this is Matthew Dalton. I had some tests done the other week and I was just wondering if the –“

“One moment”

Several long moments later. “Mr Dalton?”

I detect a change in the voice - a note of suspicion?

“We need you to come down to the surgery.”

“Was there something wrong with my tests?”

“You can discuss that with Doctor Nivan when you come in. How is Thursday at 1:15pm?”

It’s pretty inconvenient – but I’m assuming this is the soonest I can get in. I say I’ll be there and hang up.

At 1.20pm on Thursday I’m waiting to see my doctor. The knitting pattern I’ve been reading has a picture of an attractive woman wearing the most awful sweater.

Dr Nivan shows up at this point and asks me to follow him. He closes the door to his office and asks me to have a seat by his desk. He sits, taps a few keys on his computer and then looks at me over the top of glasses he’s not wearing.

“Matthew, I have your test results.”

“Right.” That is why I’m here after all.

“You remember we tested your iron levels.”

“Yes, was there a problem?”

“No – your iron levels are just fine, bang on the median for someone your age.”

“Right – that’s, ah, good.”

“Yes – there is a problem though. I ran another test while you were here and we got some disturbing results back.”

“What sort of tests?”, I say, feeling a bit worried.

“Well, when you came in to see me you said you were feeling as if you were removed from things around you in some way.”

“Am I dying?” I blurt this out in a rather idiotic fashion - the suspense is making me feel anxious.

“No - not exactly. We have a new piece of equipment that allows us to take a picture of you 1 trillionth of a second in to the future and one trillionth of a second in to the past. The results suggest that you don’t actually exist.”

“Arrrm, doesn’t that sort of apply to everyone?” I don’t want to tell the doctor his job but this seems a little odd to me.

“You would think so wouldn’t you?”, the doctor chuckles. “Let me show you something on my computer here”. He tilts his computer screen around so I can get a clearer view.

“Here are some photos of a normal person.” I dislike the use of the word ‘normal’ but nod my head to indicate I’m with him so far.

“This first photo is shot one trillionth of a second in to the future.”

The photo looks over-exposed. Everything is light and I can only just make out the form of a person sitting in a chair with an expectant look on his face. The person appears to be my good doctor.

“The next photo is taken one trillionth of a second in the past”, the doctor continues.

The doctor is clearly visible in this picture. In fact, everything is clearly visible; the photo looks like it was taken on a golden afternoon in autumn. The expression on the doctors’ face is one of peaceful calm.

“Okay, so now here are your pictures.”

Suffice it to say – I don’t actually appear in my pictures.

“Normally everyone is travelling along at the same speed”, the doctor explains. “In your case it appears you’ve speed up and, well, you simply don’t exist."

I struggle to keep my voice level as I speak. “But you can see me well enough now. How do you explain that."

“That’s quite simple really we’re seeing a pre-shadow of you from a different time line. Here’s a brochure for you to read, it explains everything."

The Doctor hands me a booklet titled ‘Coping with non-existence'.

“I’ll write you a prescription for some lead weights. Carry these with you at all times – they’ll slow you down and stop you slipping any further out of time."

I walk out of the surgery feeling shell shocked holding my script.

The nurse at the front desk says. “That will be $70 thank-you Mr Dalton."

Apparently you still have to pay the doctor - even if you don’t exist.

Friday, February 10, 2006

In My Time of Dying

The photo was taken that night – the night the young man died. The photo of the crash was taken before the truck came and carried that mangled wreck of steel away. The photo was taken before the glass and plastic were swept up and the oil, the water and blood were hosed down the drain. By morning the whole scene had changed, no one driving past the site knew what had happened there that night.

Inexperience played a part, and speed of course. The music was too loud; he didn’t hear the road noise change as he hit gravel. When he finally realised he was off the road it was too late. He touched the breaks, lost traction and ended up going sideways. Sideways towards a power pole

The power pole was 30 meters away when he saw it through the driver’s side window.

If vehicle ‘A’ is travelling at 27.7 meters per second towards object ‘B’ how long before the two objects meet?

In that second and a bit before his car slammed side on in to the power pole, instantly breaking his neck, most of his ribs and pulverising his right arm, before this happened he thought, “I’m going to hit it.”

The impact destroyed the cars drive train but the engine, the headlights and the loud music kept going. His last thoughts were, “This can’t happen to me, Dad is going to kill me, am I going to die here, will anyone remember me, will I remember me”.

He died in the darkness just as the flashing lights and the photographer arrived.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Alone

I wake from a night of unusual dreams in which a parade of family and friends tell me what I want to hear, and what I fear. It’s nine o’clock. I lie in bed for a while listening to Saturday sounds. Pop music and lawn mowers are mixed with the more distant whoosh of cars taking kids to sporting events.

My prayer beads are almost hidden under a T-shirt, a book on body language and a movie titled ‘Fearless’. The wooden beads rub against each other making a reassuring whizzing sound as I lift them into my lap. Being Saturday I decide to meditate until my crossed legs get too sore. My back relaxes and realigns itself my mind slowly settles and I feel happy.

45 minutes later I lift my numb legs out of bed and while I wait for blood to flow back in to them I indulge a melancholy thought about couples heading to cafes for brunch.

After Yoga, breakfast and with my laundry swaying lazily on the washing line it’s time to think about the day. I rub the palm of my hand across my cheek as I mull over my limited options. Immediately I’m reminded of two things. Firstly, that I had my first swimming injury yesterday – I scrapped a small amount of skin off my hand lifting myself out of the pool. Secondly, I need a shave.

It’s 1:30pm when I finally back my car out of the garage. The sun is shinning brightly overhead and I open the windows to let in some cooler air. Tall gum trees line the sides of the road and the scene makes me smile – I’m in Australia.

There is a fair amount of traffic today; most of it seems to be heading in the same direction as me – the plaza. People wander mindlessly from shop to shop and I’m happy to join them for a while but soon get bored of it. It’s still hot so I decide the pool is a better place to be.

Kids splash each other and invent complicated games. Teenagers lounge on pool toys and find excuses to touch their friends of the opposite sex. I swim somewhat lethargically backwards and forwards stopping after each lap to watch all the goings on.

By the time I’m home and have my laundry back in the basket it’s time for dinner. The juice extractor gets fired up and I raid the fridge for some other bits and pieces.

The dishwasher is still whirring as I lie down on my bed with my notebook computer, a drink and that movie titled ‘Fearless’.

The movie is about a man who survives a plane crash and loses his fear of death in the process. I’m tired as the movie ends and I go to sleep with its last words still in my mind.

I’m alive.