Three Sides

This is the only big thing I have written in recent months. It is weird and post modern ish but I like it all the same

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Author’s Note.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

The Novel

In my mind, the landscape was black and white, like a gritty old film noir. The air crackled like super 8 film, but I was sure that was just the blood and adrenaline pounding through my head, rather than my grip on reality slipping. If the cigarette burns and the punched black of the soundtrack reel appear in my vision I should start to worry.

Even if the world was not in noir, the red on my hands stood out clearly enough. I should have worn gloves I think to myself, amidst the swarm of ideas floating around my head.

She was dead, Nicky was dead. As I ran through the dark city, hiding from the streetlights club lights and car lights, tears ran down my eyes blurring my vision as I stumbled through the night. These were not tears of sadness. Running down an alleyway, I tripped and fell on my face, giggling with glee.

She was gone, only girl who ever showed any interest in me. I wanted to push the boundaries. He wanted to show me that we are capable of anything, that we can achieve something amazing. I crossed a boundary, good reader; I killed. I am one of a select few. I am my own godhead, my own champion of morality, accountable to me and me alone. There exists no God, only Man.

Choice was sat at the table when I burst through the door, and was rather surprised when the bloody knife hit the kitchen table. Blood stained the tablecloth and scarlet scabs of congealed blood littered the knife. Never going to get this shit off the table I thought to myself.

Choice grinned at me.

I just stood there, staring at him, then back to the blade, and finally back at Choice, whose eyes were constantly changing colour. In the normal run of things, he chose to wear expensive sunglasses to cover this condition, but in the privacy of friends he tended not to. Fickle man that he was.

“Darling, what the hell is that?” knowing full well what it was, “would you like to explain to me why there is a bloody kitchen knife on my table?”

“YOU gave it to me, Choice” I screamed back.

“No dear, I gave you a kitchen knife. YOU are the one who has returned, with MY knife, which is now covered it in blood”

“I don’t care, I’ll wash it off later. You were right, though. I am capable of anything.”

“How does it feel?” he purrs at me with that voice as smooth as honey.

“How does it feel?” I reply, thinking of a way to convey the crowd of emotions that are flowing through me at that point in time, “I feel alive, Choice. You have shown me something beautiful.”

“Good boy,” he says, staring at me with pride.

Character’s Note.

He wrote a novel about me, his second, released to critical acclaim. Everything that happened in the book was a fraud. For months, years after its release, my actions were the subject of essays and talk. They called me immoral but in fact the burden never lay on me, or any of the other characters of the book. The writer was trying to make a point and in doing so, I was seen and made to do things I hated. He made me do those things. He made me speak in ways I would never speak. Like everybody else in the novel, I was playing a role. I am Character. Ever have the feeling you are not in control of your life? I know it all too well.

This is how I became the man who did nothing as the world around him fell apart. This is how by the end of the novel, I was an emaciated man with no prospects and no morals, save for my own ‘empowerment’. This is how I became the man who murdered the girl who loved him, all set up by a manifestation of choice, a symbol of a belief. This is how I escaped redemption, even in my own crushing guilt.

Somebody needs to know what actually happened during the making of that novel. I am a damned creature, immune from dying, unable to pass on my genes. The only things I can pass on are my ideas, my memes. There are three sides to this story: his side, my side and the truth. Hopefully the latter two are the same.

I remember walking into that audition room, though it looked more like a fitting room. He was at university at the time, and I think he was drunk. He sat there with a notepad, doodling away, seemingly oblivious to my presence. My plain white skin was suddenly Caucasian, my hair blonde. In a mirror I looked and saw that my eyes were blue. I looked at my beauty in a mirror, no longer a plain white mannequin, no longer Character. I was whoever he wanted me to be. I thanked him. It was he who gave me a name. He gave me everything. I reached out to him but he never reached back. I looked at him and just wanted to be loved. Soon those blue eyes he gave me would be tainted by red that made me look like a stoner or somebody who had not slept in several days. He kept me up, placed me in front of a computer screen for days on end without rest. Each time I tried to sleep, I would wake up. He told me this was my role.

For months I stayed there on my own, and nobody joined me. I passed the time by talking to myself. What started as an inner monologue turned into a soliloquy and each night I delivered my thoughts to the empty audience. When you are alone, words can be warming friends. Eventually he remembered me, opened the page and gave me somebody else to talk to, as Adam had been given Eve. You remember her as Nicky, but originally her name was Hazel. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. For hours we talked and did little else. I stared into her eyes, back when they were a shade of brown. But one day, everything changed. We fell asleep in each other’s arms, and in the morning she had no idea who I was. It was then that she became Nicky. She had no idea who I was, he had rewritten her. She was now a different person, but she loved me unconditionally. That was her role.

Nicky was the girlfriend I had to pretend not to care about, the girl I could show neither kindness nor warmth to. She was the girl who would hopelessly vie for my affections, who I could not turn to. God knows I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to tell her I loved her but the words never came. My mouth opened, but nothing ever came out. The only words that came out where not mine. The way I am written in the book is not the way I talk. The style was too fancy. Nobody speaks in the clichés that I was made to speak in. I spoke with a voice thick and gravelly from cigarettes and whiskey. He wrote a first person narrative voice and attributed it to me, but these are words I never would have said, some I did not even understand.

From time to time he would sit down with me, ask me what I would do in a situation. It felt like an awkward first date, with sparse conversation. I told him I wanted to love her, that I wanted to be with her, but he told me I could not. Our lack of affection was key to the message of the novel. I returned to my home, powerless. On my kitchen table was a box covered in wrapping paper. He had given me the knife, and with it was a note. It told me I knew what to do. In the novel, this was attributed to Choice, the allegorical figure who spoke in riddles, who wanted me to show me the boundaries of what I was capable of. In reality, it was the writer that gave me the knife. And it was he that really killed her, not I.

I tried to wash her blood off my hands, but it never came off. I tried to convince myself that it was not my fault, that I was coerced and forced into it, but at the end of the day, it was me who drove the knife into her chest over and over again. He said I cried tears of joy, that I revelled in the moment, but those tears were not of joy. Afterwards, I tried to hang myself, but the rope never held. I would throw myself off a building, but the ground turned to rubber beneath me and I gently sunk in, safe. This was a maze I was trapped in.

Eventually they made a film about us. Suddenly I was not the character. The studio ignored the writer’s description of me, and suddenly people envisioned me the way the goodlooking young actor who played me looked. Full of despair, as he looked at the camera with a thousand yard stare, and spoke his lines with such melodrama. They changed the ending; he did not kill Nicky. Before the credits rolled, they drove off together into the sunset with the promise of a life together, one that I would never know, one I have dreamt of.

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By Your Own Blade.

This is a short story I have been working on for a while. The full thing is going to have three narrative strands, woven into one another, but for the time being this is the only complete one. Enjoy!

EDIT: This is the amended version now. Muchos better. Hopefully.

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Only a small percentage of people know what it is like to be truly hated. This is a privilege kept only for those special few people who are completely despicable and outwardly immoral. From the government to oil companies, bankers, drunk celebrities falling out of clubs, we do like a good witch-hunt.

For Max Req it was a day much like any other. The only difference was he had woken up this morning with a conscience. It was a shocking development in his life, and one he was not entirely ready for. Of course, it was an awkward scene: waking up in his Chelsea flat next to a prostitute he had hired for a large sum of money. After twenty years of marriage and three kids, the sex became less and less existent. A man has needs, and the night before they had been fulfilled the way only a high price call girl knows how. Dinner at a fancy restaurant, then ferried in a swish looking BMW limo back to his flat where she called him King as he fucked her. It was the sensation of power that got him off, not the sensation of a beautiful girl all over him.

You see: Mr Req held a high position at a leading bank, which cannot be named for legal reasons, of course. You have probably used their services though, just saying. And like most bankers, he was universally hated right now, and rightly so this humble narrator thinks. So it goes without saying that his ‘servicing’ required a fair degree of hush-hush.

Not that anybody would be surprised should this little truth come out. Public opinion of bankers was so low that eight out of ten people would not piss on them if they were on fire.

Like so many mornings, he lets the lady out, and tells her something like “I have an early business meeting, I hope to see you soon” (one of these things is true). A wave of guilt comes over him and he thinks of this wife. But today, tears come, then the spasms that accompany them and he sobs into Egyptian cotton bed sheets soiled by adultery. The feeling is strange, cathartic. With the feeling of unimaginable guilt, comes a moment of clarity.

He showers, dresses, has breakfast, leaves and says good morning to the doorman, who lets him out onto the street where a car is already waiting for him, his regular driver sat at the wheel. The driver knows the route, taking back alleys and shortcuts to avoid traffic. Better than getting a taxi or pubic transport like those plebs, Max normally thinks to himself, normally sipping on an Old Fashioned to help him start his day.

Today, however, he sits there in stony, sobering silence, reflecting on his life of late. He flicks through the paper. More wars, more murders, England still has not won anything worthwhile in international football championships and politicians are still lying.

“Stop here, please,” Max instructs the driver through the glass in between servant and businessman.

The black Mercedes stops outside a branch of his bank. Mr Req leaves the car and walks through the doors, moments after they have opened and strides with pride across the marble floor to the cashier.

“My dear, I would like to make a withdrawal,” he instructs the young lady behind the desk, with what he thinks is a nice balance of charm and authority. In reality, he sounds a little perverted and a little top heavy (if you know what I mean).

“Of course, sir. How much?”

“I would to withdraw £1 million if you would be so kind.”

The cashier is stunned by this request, as any body would be. She says she needs to check with her supervisor, but Mr Req insists it is okay. He more or less runs this company.

“One more request. I would like to have this partially in coins, partially in notes.

Mr Req left the building with three quarter of a million pounds in bank notes and the remaining quarter of a million in pound coins. As one can imagine, this is a large sum and took two large duffel bags full of £50 notes. His car then took him over to Trafalgar Square, where he stood there handing out the £50 notes to passers by. Anybody who would care to approach him was showered with money. Pigeons stood nervously around him, approaching him and he would shoo them away, making way for more Regular Joes like you and I.

Several phone calls asking why he was not in the office. Several reporters approaching through the crowd like sharks at the smell of blood. He runs to his car to escape them, but the London traffic stops them. The driver bolts the door as the flash of cameras surrounds the car. “MR REQ, WHY YOUR RECENT DISPLAY OF GENEROSITY MR REQ, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO ALLEGATIONS OF YOUR BANK INVESTING WITH OIL BARONS AND THE ARMS INDUSTRY” still ringing in his ears, in spite of the thick, dark glass.

“Going for some publicity, are we sir?” the driver sarcastically asks.

“Just keep on driving,” Max instructs, sweating heavily and biting his lip, “to London Bridge, please.”

This was all that remained of Mr Req’s bonus from the fiscal year 2010-2011 was this half million in pound coins. London Bridge approached and Mr Req started to cry. He stuffed the money into his pockets, His jacket pockets, his suit pockets, his trouser pockets. The car pulled to a stop at the start of the bridge, pulling to the side of the road amidst a symphony of car horns.

“Some help here, please.” The driver comes round and sees what Mr Req is doing. “Here,” Max says, holding a wodge of £20 notes. Twenty of them, in total, “do me this one favour.”

Next to him sits a roll of black gaffer tape, which he straps around his ankles, closing up the ends of the trousers. Then, he fills the legs of his (ridiculously expensive) trousers with more pound coins. By the time he has filled his trousers, the stitching is straining against the sheer volume of metal. Unsurprisingly, a quarter of a million pound in coins is quite bulky it turns out.

What coins he could not fit into his trousers remain in the duffel bag, now slung over his back as he struggles down the bridge. His trousers bulge out from his calves to his ankles like Aladdin’s trousers. Under the weight of the metal, he is struggling to move. His driver helps him along, one of Mr Req’s arms wrapped around the driver’s shoulder as the driver tries not to wretch from the smell of body odour coming from Max’s armpit. Exertion is something Mr Req is not exactly used to.

Pedestrians recognise him, one way or another. From either news headlines damning him and his profession for the cuts they took, from the companies they work for who were supported by the taxes of the people, or from the hour old headlines of him handing out £50 notes at a central London tourist hot spot.

He finally reaches the middle of the bridge, looking over to the deep of the Thames. With great ardour, he clambers up onto the railing, sweating, jangling and straining as he does so. And in a moment he is gone.

It was not as elegant as he planned. With one leg stepped off the edge, weighed down with metal, and he quickly plummeted downwards. It was 12:02 when he hit the grey-sky water. It was around 12:05 when he died.

He passed out from a lack of oxygen to the brain after about twenty seconds and died after a minute or two of struggle, as the money anchored him to the bottom of the river and water filling his lungs. A crowd gathered to see if he came back up.

A passerby claims to have heard his last words, but he refuses to tell the press for anything less than £100, 000. There have been reports of people planning to dive down to retrieve his fortune.

No Place

So this is a piece I have written for Cardiff Act One’s ‘Staging a Coup’ competition. Those taking part have to write a maximum fifteen minute long play, with fifteen seconds either side to clear and set up the stage. This is the second draft of said play, and feedback is greatly required. Once I have it in its final form, I am planning on turning it into a short play-novel type thing. Think A Streetcar Named Desire style, where a lot of information is given in the stage directions and such. In the mean time, enjoy!

Concept

No Place is set in a world after an event colloquially known as ‘The Revelation’ or’The Last Day’ roughly a year before the events of the play. This is when scientists unravel the last secret in the universe. While this is not an entirely realistic concept, it is left open to interpretation what they actually discover. In other words, it doesn’t matter. All I wanted to explore was the dichotomy between faith and science. Like a story such as The Road, I want to at least give a hint as to what happened without explaining it fully. Through the Radio broadcast at the start and Helen’s dialogue, we are treated to a hint of what has happened to the world. At the end of the day, it does not matter. The concept of the play is a simple philosophical debate between faith and science.

In terms of set, all I would need is a block for a bed side table, a radio (not hooked up to anything, just for dressing) and two chairs. All these can be brought on by the actors themselves.

Characters

Sheridan 
He is a hopeless romantic, someone who was truly happy living in blissful ignorance. The Revelation didn’t really affect him: only when Helen left him. Since then he has been searching for her, all across the country. He still lives in a world where concepts like love mean something. He is a man of faith, someone who is self reliant. He trusts his feelings and intuitions over empirical facts.

Helen
She is a bit of a mess, but all the same is a deep thinker. Is spontaneous, passionate but since the Last Day she has been troubled by what it meant for humanity. After leaving Sheridan, she wandered around the country for a while, taking in this new world in which she find herself. Always a free spirit who acts before thinking usually, she is unusually troubled by the Last Day.

Radio
This will just be a CD player hooked up to a set of speakers. One track will play the intro monologue which helps to set the scene of the play, while another will play “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix briefly at the end.

The Play

Stage is black. In the fifteen seconds while preparation of the stage is underway, the RADIO plays.

RADIO:

And now the news. Riots broke out again today across the nation as the remaining police forces went round houses across the UK rounding up eligible workers to man the abandoned factories that dot the country. This strike is not the first in the year since what we have come to know as ‘The Revelation’, when scientists in [STATIC] discovered the secrets to [STATIC]. There has been much talk about the effects of this on mankind, now that human science has mastery over nature. Since, apathy has swept the world. So, the Revelation…Call in with your thoughts. Where were you?

Lights fade on after fifteen seconds are up. The stage is a bare hotel room. One matress at the stage left, a chair at the foot of it, and a bedside table next to it, to the right, with a radio on. A chair sits next to the table. A girl, Helen lies on the floor (bed) staring at the ceiling and reading. Once the radio stops, she leans over to turn it down. There is a knock at the door, then another. She gets up and walks to stage right.

HELEN:

Who is it?

She looks through the lens and seems shocked, opening the door. Enter SHERIDAN.

Sheridan…how the….how did you find me?

He leans in to hug her, but she backs away.

SHERIDAN:

You know. Ways and means. Took me long enough though, Helen. Can I come in?

HELEN:

Yes..yes..of course. (In shock)

Helen goes and sits on one chair. Sheridan pulls out another chair from next to the bed side table and sits opposite her.

HELEN:

So how have you been?

SHERIDAN:

Worried. How the hell do you think I have been?

HELEN:

Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked

SHERIDAN:

You could have called. Something. We thought you were dead. Thrown yourself into the river or something. Was by chance someone I knew saw you around here. I’ve looked in every hotel and here I find you, holed up in this shit hole.

HELEN:

I can explain…

SHERIDAN:

Go on then. Enlighten me.

HELEN:

You remember the day I left?

SHERIDAN:

Like it was yesterday. Like it was so long ago.

HELEN:

It was a week after the Last Day.

SHERIDAN:

So? The world has gone to shit, but some of us stuck together. Was only the religious types that couldn’t handle the news and moved away. And they’re a minority now anyways. So very few true believers about now it would seem. (He says this offhandedly)

HELEN:

(interrupting him) Will you just shut up for a second? I left you because I knew truly what the Last Day meant. I knew we live in a world of science now. Of statistics, of chemicals of hormones. People aren’t people now, they are collections of data. Nature is dead, we killed it. We weren’t happy with not knowing, so we destroyed it.

SHERIDAN:

I don’t follow….

HELEN:

Don’t you see? The world we were born in has gone. Now there is only science. There is no place of art, no place for imagination. And most importantly, no place for love. Love. What even is that?

SHERIDAN:

What? What do you mean?

HELEN:

It bugged me for the longest time. But what we felt. What we both felt..it’s nothing more than hormones and chemicals, Sheridan. Delusions given to us by stories and advertising.

SHERIDAN:

No, no, no…it is more than that.

HELEN:

How then? How is love any different to God or any of the other things that we have disproved? Love and God are words from a world that is dead, and is never coming back.

SHERIDAN:

Then why am I here?

HELEN:

Delusion. Because you still think there is such a thing as love. You do not want to be alone, so you cling to those old world values for support.

SHERIDAN:

I know what I feel. You used to feel it too.

HELEN:

Don’t…

Sheridan pulls out his wallet and produces a very scuffed up envelope. From it slips out a folded up letter.
Sheridan, why are you doing this?

SHERIDAN:

He reads

“Dear Sheridan, I cannot wait to see you next. I can’t believe it’s been three months already! I’ll be waiting for you at the airport. Hopefully I’ll be able to take your mind off that jet lag. I miss you. I love you. (He pauses) When you’re gone, it’s like a pain in my chest. I close my eyes and see you. You’re always there, somehow. Let me know what you’ve been up to. Yours with love, Helen.

Helen is crying, her head in her hands. There is a moment of silence as Sheridan moves towards her and hugs her, kneeling beside her.

HELEN:

Sheridan

SHERIDAN:

Yeah?

HELEN:

Those words don’t mean anything now. That letter is a fossil from a time long gone.

SHERIDAN:

It’s only been a few years…

She stands up, walking away from him to stage right.

HELEN:

And everything has changed. I can’t…(she sobs) I can’t go back.

He follows her across the stage

SHERIDAN:

Sure you can

She pushes him away.

HELEN:

No, I can’t. Sheridan, when I left I had just found out I…I was late. I was pregnant.

SHERIDAN:

(Shocked) What did you mean ‘was’ pregnant?

HELEN:

(sobbing) I couldn’t bring a child into this world, Sheridan, I couldn’t.

SHERIDAN:

How could you? This is not the end!

Helen:

Easily. I’ve wandered, Sheridan. After I left you I drifted across the land and you know what I saw?

A pause

The worst. I saw a nation covered by the skeletons of buildings burnt to the ground. Abandoned houses, factories. I saw men and women drunk in the street in reckless abandon. I saw the riots in the streets as people were denied entry to churches, and the blood lust of people, no longer curbed by notions such as love, or compassion.

SHERIDAN:

I know. I saw on the news.

HELEN:

The world has ended, Sheridan, the fuse has finally burnt to its end and we are in the last days. Ever since we unlocked the human genome, or dropped the bomb, we’ve been on a slippery slope. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry. But I had to. Can you imagine bringing a new life into this world? Drunks and murderers on the street, ash and fire on the horizon.

SHERIDAN:

For hope. For hope of a better tomorrow. We will rebuild. We’ll adapt to this new era we are in. That isn’t choice, that’s the hand we have.

HELEN:

(She laughs) It’s funny really.

SHERIDAN:

What is?

HELEN:

For so long, this curiosity drove us. We strove so long to get to this point, and for what? Now there is nothing else to be curious about, and we have totally reverted to our primal roots. We now have no grand illusion of enlightenment. There is nothing left to look for, because we have it all. And now we just want something to lose.

SHERIDAN:

If you don’t feel anything, then why did you cry when I read the letter?

HELEN:

I don’t know. A rush of hormones,

SHERIDAN:

No, it’s nostalgia. A pain in your stomach, in your heart. It’s a reminder of a place you can’t go back to. It doesn’t exist anymore. You can’t put that down to any combination of hormones or chemicals.

HELEN:

Why are you saying this? You say you still believe?

SHERIDAN:

I believe there is still mystery to life. Things to discover, things to see. There’s still some magic.

HELEN:

No! What is here isn’t love.

SHERIDAN:

Then what is it? Love? This is a new world now. Let’s make a new word for it.

HELEN:

What?

SHERIDAN:

I reject their notions of fact, I reject it all. I know what I feel and I know that it can’t be explained by science, not wholly. Models of things, numerical values attached to hints of real life, of the real world. Systems that repeat over and over again. You ever heard of the law of large numbers?

HELEN:

No?

SHERIDAN:

It says that a complex mathematical system can repeat itself over and over, thousands of times, but in the long run, something startling, something different might happen. All processes lead towards decay and distortion.

HELEN:

What are you trying to say?

SHERIDAN:

That I don’t care for it all. I know what I feel. Scientific systems fall apart. They aren’t right, they can’t be. Numbers don’t represent humans. Numbers can’t! They can’t see what goes on inside the heart, inside the head.

HELEN:

What do we do then?

SHERIDAN:

Like I said before. We make a new name for it all. We start again.

HELEN:

I’m scared, Sheridan

SHERIDAN:

My dear, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

He embraces her, and leans in to kiss her. She hugs him deeply, unsure as to what to do, before she slowly but tenderly kisses him. The radio starts up again.

RADIO:

And now time for an old one. This is ‘All Along the Watchtower’ by Jimi Hendrix.

The song plays as the stage fades to black, before itself fading after after “said the Joker to the Thief”

The End

End of Line

Something about a con-artist. This needs editing I think.

————————–

In a town far away from home, you can be anyone you want to be, anyone you please.

I stretch my legs as we queue for immigration. The flight into JFK took six hour, from when it took off. Five hours of bad films and plastic food, another hour of ascent and descent. I am yet to meet anyone that actually likes flying. The usual question-answer dull conversation occurs at immigration, asking mundane questions in the hope I slip up and start to exhibit guilt. All the same, I feel the guiltiest man alive. Stamp stamp and I am in. “Have a good day, sir” in that overly polite, crystal clear American tone.

There is the usual hustle in Arrivals funnelling people through into the outside world. People book cabs, renting cars or shuttles, the lot. On a far end there stands a line of men holding signs with names on in large, clear letters. I choose one at random.

Today, ladies and gentleman, I am Donald Sawyer. Sorry, Mister Donald Sawyer. I throw away my passport, my only tie to my earlier life.

So it turns out I own a nice attic flat on the East Side. How convenient. Better than all of those fake grand hotels with bellhops and porters constantly demanding tips. The driver was kind enough to remind me where my spare keys were kept. Kind man. I top him fifty bucks and tip the doorman of my building the same.

To a lot of people, money never lies.

I pour myself a scotch on the rocks and start to find out whom I am. Even though this apartment is not mine, I cannot help but feel at home. Seems I am a well of advertising director for a pretty reputable firm. Not quite as low key as I had hoped. Pays the bills, and them some. No debt. No enemies. My journal says clients buy me lunch and dinner regularly, that I rarely go into work and I seem to spend most of my time convincing clients that my agency is the one for them. I do not have a wife or fiancé, which means slightly less baggage, though I am seeing a beautiful girl who may or may not be a model. Either way, the pictures on my desktop suggest she has not much dignity.

The phone rings an hour or two after I arrive. “Mr Sawyer, there is a man here claiming to be you. Of course, this is ridiculous. Do you want me to inform the police?” the receptionist speaks down the phone, her phone smooth as sweetener. The police are called. I watch from my window on the fifth floor as he is dragged away. Should buy some more time. I find myself fascinated by the window, caught between staring through the glass to the cold city outside, and trying to catch the half reflection of myself. I do not even know what to look for anymore. Even I cannot see myself clearly.

She drops by, the model, and we fuck. Through out she tells me she loves me, and after she asks me for four hundred dollars for a taxi home. I get the score, hand her the bills and send her on her way. Some taxi fare. I am no fool. I leave the flat in the morning into the monster that is a rainy New York City, into a crowd of black umbrellas, and disappear into the day. Perhaps never to return. At least for a time I am away from all the drama on the far side of the Pond, blood on my hands and a noose of lies around my neck.

I was always told I could be anything I wanted to be.

Turn on the Bright Lights

The stage lights up like a slab of white crystal, protruding far into the centre of the crowd. The crowd has disappeared into darkness as the lights fade to black, accentuating the flashes of photojournalists and kids with their smart phones taking snaps. The air was filled with the snap-snap and blink-blink, nearly saturated with excitement, filled with the excited screams and cheers of the audience. Tonight the world would be seeing the new collection from Valerie Glamour for the very first time.

The music starts, a low and mystic sound, setting the scene as the back stage is lit up light blue. The first model hits the stage and the music picks up, a beautiful soundscape. She walks in time with the bass, as if every step she takes shakes the earth. The exquisite black dress hugs her luscious curves, showing them off in the way only a pro would know how. Strutting to the centre of the stage, she poses, the cameras crowding around her. She stares blindly into the distance, the Never does an expression touch her face. Like a work of art, she stands there, petrified so that she might live forever in photo. The lights reflect off the silver jewellery around, blinding some members of the crowd. Turning off, she returns backstage, and another female model takes her place. Then another male model, dressed in this year’s style. He looks like a drag queen.

And then the final exhibit, the man called the modern day Adonis. Perfection. Daniel Green takes to the stage. The crowd goes wild. Cameras and flashes capture the exception sight of him in just jeans and a crisp white shirt. He reached the end of the stage, and as a final stage piece, ripped off his shirt, , showing off his carved and oiled chest . The flashes and subsequent shadows serve to emphasis the already well-defined shape of his body, and shine his white teeth as he grinned into the crowd.

The cameras did not quite capture the missing or cracked teeth, or the stain of brown. They failed to see the stretch marks and the lose skin that hung off the skeleton of a man, or the cuts all over his face from shaving drunk that morning. Neither did the cameras catch the shape of his matted hair that he tried to hard to style every morning. The next issues of the world’s fashion magazines will feature him on the cover, and overnight bloggers will upload pictures and articles before breakfast. None will capture the depravity and emptiness of the man. The pictures do not see the needle marks, or the hole where the bridge of his nose used to be, worn away from drug use. On his arm was an infected needle wound, right out of that film, all purple and black. He looked in pain, moving the arm awkwardly.

Turning to walk back and return backstage, his leg gave way, bone snapping as he falls down. The audience see him posing on his side, pandering to the cameras by the stage, one leg bent up, as he lies looking seductively into the eyes of the cameras.The stage had met his face with considerable force, the Perspex that formed the surface breaking leading his face to crash into the strip lights beneath. He was barely conscience by this point, his mind recoiling at the horror of his situation, blood dripping into his eye from his forehead, the smell of burning flesh permeated the air as the hot strip light burnt away at his cheek. Tears rolled down this scarred cheek, dripping down on to the light, evaporating with a sizzling sound and diffusing into the air. T

he neon stage snaps off, as stage hands come to pick up left clothes, and give the stage a quick clean before the next batch of models hit the stage. They lift Green off stage. “Good show” they says, “nice improv, the press loved that posing at the end. Some great shots!”

They do not know whose blood is on the stage. He had never imagined it would be like this.

This and That

Credit cards, debit cards, crinkled receipts kept in case of dissatisfaction and returns, one play slip, donor card, good brand of condom, drivers license, library card, an unflattering black and white passport photo an unhappy look, all enclosed in brown leather, complete with that distinct smell of authenticity, all under an embossed metal logo, where the real monetary value of this simple object lies.

Now I sit on my bed, the contents spread over the red covers as I scan from object to object and I wonder what the kind of person owns this. A personality, a series of snapshots, bank details, and phone numbers, bric-a-brac, all scattered on my bed. I sit there waiting for the imminent collapse of my personality, waiting for someone to break me down into pieces of plastic, Internet histories, credit card bills, the food and things I buy.

I found the wallet on the pavement; smack bang next to a large puddle with some spilt and wet chips floating in the dirty water. This was not normally the way I walk home but on a whim I decided to live the life less ordinary. Fate. That is what some people would call this. I was drawn to this wallet. This all happened for a reason. Now the wallet is dry, and the leather feels smooth and warm under my cold hands. The window blows through the curtains, knocking the wind chime hanging from the curtain rail. My one bedroom flat is cool this time of year. I find myself wondering what fine specimen of a person owns this, what pinnacle of evolution and genetics, filled this with themselves, then lost it. Did they lose themselves? Was their life forever changed? How many phone calls? Police, credit cards companies…

Their picture stares up at me and I find myself slowly imagining their lips on mine after a nigh in a fine restaurant, all paid for by one of these fine pieces of plastic. I imagine slipping the condom on, I imagine me imagining the moment of release. I imagine taking a drag on a shared cigarette between their seductive lips and mine. Find this person, I am thinking, first date in a small café I’m thinking, together forever with no wedding I am thinking. That is how I am meant to react isn’t it? You find attributes of someone attractive and your mind wanders. Thoughts snowball but sometimes mine feel like tumbleweed, and fuck me this desert is lonely.

Slowly I put everything back in the wallet, feeling a little dirty, a little strange at that timeline in my mind, formed from fragments of someone I do not really know. Someone who I feel I want to know. A set of cards, trinkets and a phone number. Maybe someone I can love. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe I repeat to myself until the word starts to sound strange.

A few seconds suspense before the phone begins to dial. One, two, three tones, along with the fragmented sound of my own breathing. “Hello” a gruff voice, “who’s speaking?” He sounds like a drinker, a smoker. He sounds older than I expected. But hey, a girl can dream.