Snapshot Story: One more kiss.

“To each his own.” She said. But she was already red in the face with exhaustion. Her lips were dry and, her throat rasping as though she had swallowed sand in her attempt to sate her contempt.

Someone protested at her indignation, a waif of a lad not two stalls across, glaring at her with open mouth and an estranged look in his eye, as if she had taken it upon herself to attack him personally.

“To each his own indeed.” Echoed another. A tall fellow dressed in smocks-and-black. Frock coat down to his knees, and raven tresses spilling from a three-point hat and, over his shoulders.

In a final fit of ire she cleared her throat and spat her sand at his feet. Giving him a look sharp enough to cut his throat.

“And that,” she said, “is for your good wife, and the lies she endures from you!” Her eyes snarled at him, her mouth full of judgement.

The gentleman in black wiped the spittle from his polished slipper on the back of his other stockinged leg, using the woman as temporary prop. Her face reddened further, and for an instant she felt as though flames might issue from her nostrils and venom  from her mouth. She hated this man with every fibre of her being, despising the very stench of his indifference.

“I curse you, old man!” She hissed through anchored teeth.

“You dare call yourself husband to me, you foul-smelling wretch! I have heard my final lie from your weathered tongue. Would that you would rot in the pits of the darkest hell!”  With a sharp movement she flung her heavy skirts in the direction of her will and, staggered off through the parting crowd that had now swarmed about the duelling pair. The air was thick with latent fury, like the charge of a storm before the thunder.

The man dressed in black adjusted his coat, straightened his hat and strode away in his wife’s wake. By morning she will have forgotten it all, and his lies would be as butterflies around her auburn tresses, feigning delights and kisses that she would collect like petals from a flower. She’d hold them close to her bosom like precious jewels, but that with time would temper and harden into razors edges, an arsenal of screaming shards. And although he knew he was to blame, that her contempt for him was valid and true, he could not bring himself to speak the truth because he feared that death would certainly follow. At least this way, he lived another day though his end was almost nigh. One more lie, that’s all, he thought. One more kiss goodnight.

Jeromiah Windborne – Story excerpt – Part Two

Taking the slightly damp, stained paper napkin that had been sandwiched between his coffee cup and the plate-sized saucer beneath, he opened his book where his finger had been resting and appointed it to the position of replacement bookmark. Leaning his full weight on his feet he pushed the chair back upon which he’d been sitting, producing an awful discordance of wood on wood as the chair legs glided unceremoniously the short distance across the wooden floorboards of the coffee shop releasing him from the overhanging restriction of the square table he’d been sitting at. He smirked as he looked up peering around the room and noticed that this time no-one was paying him any attention, how well trained his afore willing audience were to coral their thoughts into familiar eddies, accepting that the sound of a chair moving noisily across a floor was more normal and acceptable than a mature man talking aloud to himself. How had they known he’d not been using a wireless device clipped to his ear and hidden beneath the steel-greyness of his foppish hair, he wondered?
One could witness people talking to themselves in such a fashion all the time, technology had made it so. But he was no Captain Piccard, well appropriated and in acceptable uniform. His uniform was one of learned dishevelment, as if he’d broken free from a 1970’s Open University television production, some forty years too late, in his muted browns and greys, corduroy trousers and checked shirt disguised beneath the manly comfort of a moth-eaten woollen jumper that had become a little too stretched to fit even his elongated form. His shoes were well worn and comfortable, and made of good old fashioned swine-skin, a strange adjustment he suddenly thought from his former expensive bespoke attire. But as quickly as the thought had appeared in his mind, he dismissed it again, relegating it to guard duty somewhere along the high fortifications of divorced memories.
He knew that the American had been responsible for triggering that particular strain of abandoned personal narratives, bringing them momentarily to the fore, reminding him of the man he had been but could not now reclaim, and that until recently had slipped his grasp almost completely. He had changed beyond all recognition in his own view, and all he could be now was the cynic with nothing more to lose, except for a few more hairs and the willingness to continue, frequently it seemed to him.
Tucking his book into his long-fingered grasp he extended his form until he was fully upright and standing tall above the entourage of his consciousness surrounding him. Those other unwitting manifestations of himself that were foolish and idealistic enough to believe that they were somehow separate from him, but were in fact extras in a dramatic production of his own life, of his erratic but seamlessly smooth psyche. He thought of the snake-oil salesman of the old Wild West that he’d grown up reading about as a young boy, masquerading now as the gate-keeper of his deviant mind. He knew without doubt that the people around him felt his pain and disappointment too, in a way that only they each could comprehend, but as needs must they would take their own paths, live their own versions to varying degrees of the life he now accepted as his. Not even Will Shakespeare would have made the story this complicated he conceded. He bade them all farewell in his thoughts and left through the wings of his stage-right, exiting the scene of the coffee shop to enter the set of Brighton Seafront, and the mild afternoon air bustling with the sound of eager and enthused day-trippers and locals entertaining a late liquid lunch. Until tomorrow, he thought.
He found himself wincing a little at that, a pained but momentary contemplation that tomorrow might just be too ambitious an aspiration. Knowing full well how events could turn on a sixpence and change one’s perceptions beyond measure. Things would change, and keep changing, but his tired head was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the implications of it all.
As he looked along the promenade to the west he spotted the American and the long-haired woman about twenty meters away engaged in heated conversation. She was petite and demure, but he recognised an intensity in her disposition that he had seen in few people. A character flaw, as he saw it, of a genius silenced by centuries of social convention. Of someone with so much self-awareness and potential to instigate change for the better by her sheer presence alone, but shackled by the lack of acceptance that her naïve and immature peers afforded her. He understood what that meant, and he understood that her American friend understood that too. Cut from the same bolt of fabric the three of them were, caught in a strange spiralling tornado of events that in their disparity would seem to any onlooker as nothing but the spin of Brownian Motion, a concordance of circumstances that were nothing more than a dance of chance encounters following rhythms beyond their control.
There was an orange glow about her like ethereal flames enveloping her and the space she occupied, deepening in tone and intensifying as it merged with the red fuge emanating from the American’s chest and head. Like a living depiction of Flaming June by the painter Frederick Leighton, brought to life by the obvious passion that the couple shared. It was entrancing to watch, for him at least, and ray of warmth touched his heart.

Jeromiah was a Synaesthete, and to him the world was a wash of sensory connections and experiences that rare few shared. To notice such things was ordinary fair for him. In fact he hadn’t even realised it was at all unusual until he was well into his adulthood and already beyond impressionable youth.

The American was a good head taller than the long-haired woman, and the age gap apparent, but they were well matched he thought. Something about them made him smile, something he did with lacking frequency these days. Anyway, it wasn’t really any of his business, he thought, and he fumbled around in his trouser pocket for the long paper bus-ticket that would serve as his return journey to Hove, and home. Often he would walk back, but today he didn’t feel up to it. His head hurt from all the recent stress, and the growing desolation he felt on receiving news that all of his assets had finally dwindled to nothing, having paid for exorbitant medical trials and treatments that had ensured his slow but not quite full recovery. He often wondered if he would have been able to engineer his own recovery without all the medical intervention, through will power alone, that knowing what he knew he might have prevented not only the financial cost he would incur, but also the stigma that he would encounter to his utter surprise and deep dismay. He understood that he was missing a vital piece of the puzzle in his estimations, that somehow he had sold himself short, curtailing his more than adequate beliefs in favour of accepted ‘convention’. A nervous breakdown was never an acceptable way of bowing out of a prestigious career, and despite there being no evidence of underlying causes, he knew that his time was short. There were things that were obvious to Jeromiah Windborne that barely scratched the surface of awareness in others, of that he knew. He could sense the direction of the winds of consciousness before they had even decided to blow, and the sand of his egg-timer was about to pass its final grains. The thought depressed him, made his face itch more, and saddened him beyond recompense. Though his demise, his departure from this plane of existence was the least of his concerns. He didn’t fear death, but the life that lead up to that moment, and the disappointment he knew he would feel at having made such a hash of his time here. It left a bitterness in his mouth that no strength of his favourite brand of Italian coffee could mask.
He rubbed the back of his neck, bus-ticket in hand, suddenly feeling flushed, his lower limbs heavy. He found his way to a nearby bollard and perched himself atop trying to breathe through the laboured palpitations in his chest, his throat tightening with the exertion. His head swam, and for a moment he feared that gravity would claim him, pulling his great lumbering form to the glass speckled ground, decorated by umpteen shattered glasses having slipped from careful grasps. He knew that if he sat still for a moment his vision would come back into focus and that this would pass, he needed to tell himself that it would pass, and repeat it until it did so. It had always seemed to work before.
“My reality is mine to create and this will pass, this will pass.” He muttered repeatedly under his shortened breath like a mantra.
He could feel people’s eyes burning into him as they passed him, too afraid or indifferent to stop, but he didn’t care, they were all just part of the winds of change. He was still gripping his book and his bus-ticket in either hand, as if somehow they helped maintain the illusion of his composure, if only to him. How ludicrous he thought that at the moment of his potential demise he should be worried about his composure. As if it mattered!
Suddenly he felt a tightening around his left arm the colour of deepest indigo, and for a moment his body became heavy. Colours flashed within his mind and he could smell the acrid aroma of burning paper, and the sharp clear resonant yellow of a voice tinged with red. He was certain that the burning he could smell was from his brain cells being singed one by one as his brain short-circuited, due to the strain his heart was under.

“Hey” Said the voice repeatedly and gently. The voice seemed to be attached to a strong hand that gripped his left arm, apparently having stopped him from falling.
Jeromiah lifted his head enough to see warm brown eyes staring at him intently and with concern.
“Will…” He found himself saying. Up until that moment he hadn’t been able to remember the tall American’s name, even though his face was as familiar as his own. Another piece of his memory that had been packed away for safe-keeping it would seem, until his private internal storm had passed. He was as surprised to see him, as the tall American’s furrowed brow now disclosed.
“Are you well?”
Slide and glide, Jeromiah said to himself, elongating the vowels to imitate the other man’s familiar accent.
He took a moment to catch his breath and find the words he was looking for.
“Yes.” He said nodding vigorously, “I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine.” The American answered. “Do you need me to call and ambulance?”
This time shaking his head vigorously from side to side Jeromiah responded, “No. I’m… I was just… uh… having a moment.” He continued gesticulating with his right hand as if he were beating an egg in mid air. Except his head felt like the invisible egg he was trying scramble.
“Okay. You’re sure?” Said the American looking down the length of his nose, eyes wide and questioning.
Jeromiah feigned a smile and nodded again.
“Okay. If you’re sure.” He hesitated a moment, “Uh, how is it you know my name, do we know each other?”
“We knew each other. Unfortunately there are things that I still don’t um…” This was proving to be more difficult than he’d anticipated. Not because he couldn’t recall the circumstance of their acquaintance, indeed friendship, but because the man he was now was new to him. He’d had an answer for everything before, he was confident and assertive, and had a sense of self that now evaded him. He was feeling things now that he had managed to suppress as the suited entrepreneur that he had been not so long ago. For some reason he found that he was unable to speak, believing that he was about to have another attack, but the silence that issued from his open mouth was underpinned, he realised, by the dark earthy colours of emotional loss, the sadness of having lost a friend that no longer recognised him. His heart sank back into its cage, calmer now, but deflated.
“Where is your friend?” He found himself asking. Not because he was avoiding the American’s question, but because he was abruptly aware that the orange was missing from his internal vision.
“She went to fetch some water for you.” Said the American gesturing with his head in the direction of the coffee shop.
“Well she needn’t have gone so far” Jeromiah mused dryly waving the hand with his book still clasped between its fingers behind him toward the waves lapping against the pebbled shore.

Snapshot Stories: The Incorrigible Mr. Andrews (Part three)

The connection is lost…beep…beep…beep, CLUNK!

If I said everything I needed to say I might not need to say it ever again, and that to me would be a loss. I have gained over the weeks a sense of composure that I had before lacked.

The artifice of my stereotypical ambivalence has caged me into retreat. I cannot think if I cannot speak, but I don’t want to speak if it means closure.

I hate this, not knowing what I might do to maintain this strange unidentifiable contact with a woman who for all I know has no compunction to be seen with the likes of me, let alone listen to all that I have to say.

If I tell her that I’m in love with her mind, she might think I’m mocking her, and refuse to talk to me any further.

If I tell her that I think she is the most infuriatingly yet brilliant beauty I’ve ever come across, she may just think I’m nuts.

If I tell her that she makes me feel whole and divine inside, she may think that I have gone soft in the head and decide that I’m no longer worth challenging.

Am I falling in love with her?

What do I know…

Love is a dirty word around these parts. Spoken too loudly and people give you odd looks, like you’ve suddenly grown an extra head!

The longer I leave it, the more I’ll want to just drop everything, catch a plane and go to wherever she bloody well is! For weeks she has been at my fingertips, in front of me, there on tap… if I need her. Actually whether I need her or not!

She’s there and I like it. I like it too much.

Now though, she is distant, not real, an illusion of my overactive mind and my congenitally suppressed ego.

The propaganda of my amphibious heart is calling out for resuscitation. “SOMEBODY FETCH THE BELLOWS AND THE PIPE TOBACCO!”

Why did anybody think that would ever work?!

“Quick I’m drowning, blow smoke up my arse!”

Stupid Victorians!

They certainly didn’t have this issue with technological expediency like we do now. The telegraph system, that was their equivalent internet.

If you were going to have a conversation with someone you were damned well going to be in the same room. Face to face, mano a mano!

When I talk to her, she is in the same room as me, but I can’t look into her eyes. I can’t touch her radiant skin, or kiss her clever lips. I can’t do anything, but masticate my gum and dream.

Dream of how I would hold her up close so that she could feel my intent thumping away inside my chest; savouring that moment like it was a pause in the space-time continuum. Prickles of sweat glistening on her brow and her upper lip; her mouth slightly open as if catching her breath, expectant of my next move. A move closer still, so that separation becomes a memory of another time, another space.

Am I in love with this ridiculous woman?

Yes I fucking well am!

Do I wish she was here right now?

What do you think?

She’s got me by the balls, and has no idea how much I like that!

Yeah, that’s it… now my ire is up.

No more piddle-arsing about. I’m going to tell her everything, and to hell with how she might react.

She might just say the complete opposite. She might just love it all!

She might just love me back….

Snapshot Stories – The Ineffable Mr. Andrews – Part Two

I see you here and I’m counting the minutes, tick-tock, tick-tock. I know I’ve got you in the palm of my hand as always, but I never know which way you’re going to go.

I want to talk to you about stuff, but I never know how to approach you without making it sound like I’m chatting you up, or something.

I’m a bit sheepish and dog-eared like that.

I’m busy but I want to stop and chat, find out what you’ve been doing with your day. Married people do that, but we’re not married!

I don’t even really know what you look like. Sure I’ve seen your cropped photo, but that’s just an impression. Anyway, who’s to say that you actually look that way at all!

I mean, you could be a real ugly beast…you might not even be female!

There’s a thought…

You have an allure about you, an attraction that I find hard to place and hard to ignore. I know it’s you in the photo; if I know anything in the time that I’ve known you, it’s that you don’t mince words, and I’m guessing you don’t mince pictures either!

Do I continue with mind-numbing work, or do I try and talk to you?

I have this theory, that all women that seek the pleasure of a man seek only one thing, honesty. Pure unadulterated honesty.

But it wears me out, all these people wanting a piece of me, wanting me to do stuff  for them that I don’t really want to do.

Honesty is a hard thing to come by these days. When you’re up to your eyeballs in paperwork, even if it’s of the virtual kind, there’s no respite from the grab of those greedy little mitts wanting a piece of my arse!

She’s probably gone now, missed my moment.

I feel like I owe her something. I don’t want to say we ‘share a connection’, it just sounds too trite. I look forward to ‘seeing’ her though; she makes me sit up a little straighter in my chair, and lean into the screen like she’s sitting in front of me over a coffee. I know she likes coffee. A special blend… I can’t remember the name of it now.

I wonder if she’d want to have a coffee with me…?

Nope! Keep my mind on the job. Stuff to do… I could just send her an e-mail… nah too personal. Would she mind?

An honest cup of coffee…

Maybe she’d like a Hob-Knob too… to go with her coffee I mean!

EYES ON THE JOB! EYES FRONT!

Do we see eye to eye?

Yeah… I think we do… most of the time… sometimes. But she’s so damned smart!

I mean there’s no getting anything past her. It’s like a game to her; like a cat with a mouse; batting words around like they were insects. She can tie you in knots if you’re not watching your step; like someone tying your shoe laces together when you’re not looking. Good thing I don’t have shoe-laces, or else she’d probably garotte me with them too!

Nah… she’s too nice…

I feel bad now… I should’ve just talked to her. What an idiot!

 

Snapshot Stories – The Infallible Mr. Andrews

As I have picked up my pen again recently in an attempt to write fiction, I thought as I have reshuffled my blogs lately that I would begin posting my collection of Snapshot Stories originally published on IshaiyaFreshlySqueezed. I like these pieces of flash-fiction because they are often very spontaneous and require little editing. This particular piece is the first of a collection of three stories, which I shall be publishing in succession. I like this little series because it was based on a real person, or at least my interpretation of that person, and great fun to write. I hope you enjoy!


 

 

If I could measure my life against the worth of your wisdom, I would indeed be saved from all this pain.

Leading me away as you do upon a merry path, I am apt to forget what I came here for. You are not the cause, and I know that you mean well. You are but the instigator of the charge that leads me else-where when I should be here and present with the life that I know I have.

But I don’t want you to leave. I don’t want to go knowing that I have wronged you in some way. I wish us to be friends. Except I know that will not suffice.

It is a quandary I find myself in.

When did I become so afraid?

When did I stop listening to the voice that kept me still and calm?

I feel a sense of guilt, like I should have made a better decision before. Before I became so entrenched in my own self-doubt.

There are things that happened in the past that bother me still, and I just can’t find the words to express how I feel.

Now you come charging in and upset the balance. You change it all around and turn my little world on its head.

I want to talk to you, but I can’t. I can’t open that door. The flood that waits behind it might just pour in and swallow me whole. And I don’t know if I could take it. Not like before. I strayed and I paid.

“Knit one, pearl one, off with his head!”

You should have seen the crowd cheer when his chin hit the deck and bounced!

But no-one was laughing, not really. I joke about it now, but it really wasn’t funny. The thought of it makes me sick to my stomach, turning around my insides like a fucking great serpent!

And you…you just stand there and watch from your distant perch! You can smell my fear, and you act as if nothing touches you, as if it’s all par-for-the-course!

You had me for a moment, I slipped and let my guard down and you leapt on it like a …like a… a rabid dog….ARGH! This is frustrating!!!

YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO… what I’d like to do…

I guess in some ways you’ve opened my eyes, you’ve made me see what I might have been had I not vanished beneath my disguise. But I can’t turn back the clock. No matter how much I want to. It’s just not in me. You understand? Don’t you?

I think of you.

Often you know.

I know you can hear every word I say to myself. I’m not really that bothered, I mean I quite like the thought of it, of not being the only one who is aware of my life, my shit.

I want to talk to you. I want to connect with you. But to torment myself with that?

Why put myself through the gut-wrenching anguish of not being able to have what I crave?

There are facets of me that I think you don’t see. I’d rather you didn’t. There are things that I’ve done, said, that I know would hurt you if you knew. Yet I can’t help wonder if you know anyway, and you just choose to say nothing?

I don’t know… maybe I’ve got you all wrong. Maybe you don’t judge me at all. Maybe you accept all the scary stuff as much as the good and the benevolent. Maybe I’m just too much of an idiot and a coward to admit that I might be wrong; that I’ve been hiding under the wrong palm-tree all this time. That my oath to do good is nothing but an escape, an excuse not to face my demons.

I may have chosen a different path, one where you hadn’t appeared, to sell me your wares. To show me what I’ve been missing out on for all these years. Your face just reminds me that I’m no good at what I do anymore. That any love I had for anything in my life is gone. And it rains down heavily upon me, like the thunderous storm that carries the monsoon.

So go away. Leave me alone.

Uh! Except that’s not what I want! Again you frustrate me! My inability to reconcile myself with all of this, with YOU is stifling!

I want you to be right here, right now so that I can show you what I mean…

And there it is… that feeling of intoxication that I love, that YOU stir within me. You confuse the hell out of me, but I love how you make me feel. Like breathing in the heat of the night after a storm; full of the smells of the damp earth, and the fresh green tang of the trees and plants with their roots dug deep into the ground, clinging to the bare flesh of the land.

I close my eyes and imagine you right there before me, and I’m undone. I can do nothing but submit to you. Not in defeat, but because I want to.

Jeromiah get a call from Maria

Jeromiah Windborne – Short story excerpt.

 

This is from a short story I’ve been writing recently. Exercising my fiction-writing limbs once again, and rather enjoying it. I’m not sure where this story is going just yet, but I see potential. I hope you take the time to read and enjoy, also let me know what you think.

Thanks!
M

*

“Stranger things have happened. Although far less strange things happen with more frequency.” Jeromiah wasn’t sure that anyone had heard what he’d said, but then he wasn’t addressing anyone in particular except for the wind, hoping that it would carry his words to some place useful and worthy of their intent. This despite being ensconced in his favourite coffee shop where the air was still and full of the smog of public exhalations, which for him was full of vivid imagery and abstract patterns that assaulted his senses, although it served as a distraction to his own lack of participation.
His face had grown stubble, a grey sandpaper-like affair that furnished his angular jaw-line with a countenance of age that he was becoming accustomed to with painful disdain. His bathroom mirror complained daily at the lack of exposure afforded by the razor he used to use in order to keep the skin on his face looking bare, and well groomed. The complaint was one of affectation and cynicism, by a suddenly aged face that would stare back at him with blank expression, and dark rings around each eye that enhanced the evening shadow that now eclipsed its lower half.

The beauty of the mind, he thought, was that it wasn’t detectable within the brain. Electrical impulses could be read and thus attributed the qualities of the ‘mind’, but who in fact knew what the ‘mind’ was, and to what extent it was contained in any part of the body? The word itself was an abstract concept that was created so that it could explain an unknowable, immeasurable resource of human capacity. The stuff of metaphysical science, philosophy, indeed the cornerstone of intelligence and genius.
He discovered that he was fervently chewing his bottom lip as if that last thought had been substantial enough to warrant actual consumption and digestion. Aware that people around him had stopped to look at him, poised in mid-sentences, coffee cups half cocked, eyes squinted in confusion, the thought occurred that perhaps his mouth had been operating without his knowledge and that his internal dialogue had been quite audible. The left corner of his mouth twitched nervously, a half smile that flickered like a faulty light in lieu of his embarrassment. But he knew it was merely a subconscious twitch that the other half of his mouth was more truthfully indifferent to, unresponsive like the victim of a psychological stroke that had made it lose motor control when it came to expressing emotion. He didn’t care.

The kind of self-consciousness that he attributed to himself was different to that normally associated to individuals who were concerned with being unfairly judged by others. He did not feel judged by those surrounding him at this moment, but he was acutely aware that what had piqued his interest had also piqued theirs, with his inner revelation sending out a mini-shockwave of comprehension within his immediate environs, despite the clouds of consternation that brewed amongst them, and that he knew was merely a superficial rouse. The mask of the ego filtering out valuable understanding of the true nature of reality, dumbing it down for the ordinary brain or Brian he thought. There was little difference betwixt either according to him, a man who saw language as something that was designed to be as pliable as putty, but who was as staunch a grammarian as the Victorians who predicated over the English verb as if it were the word of God, rather than the social aberration that it was. Pompous and hypocritical he was, but only within reason, and only if it suited his momentary temperament, which he understood was merely fleeting at the best of times. Dust between time’s grains of sand, invisible to the naked eye, and to the dull thump of the brain or Brian inside the cranial cavity of the average human specimen. What he thought, and how he expressed himself were aberrations, just like the words that tumbled from his mouth in a clutter of well-clipped sounds, that if discerned by the appropriately trained ear were meaningful and possibly useful, but that in actuality were just clumsy noises being issued by an overgrown wind-box that was too inept to realise that it was more than the sum of its parts, and more than capable of keeping its mouth shut.

Thus, he did not care, because he knew that this momentary expression of interest from his willing audience was an illusion. A trick of the light that seemed to spark murmurings of life and excitement as if by magic, a deviation from the normal rebuttal of daily events and social convention. But like all illusions, that spark of interest was just a convenient deception, a subversion of the true underlying intent, that being the desire to be approved of, and he did not need the approval of others to know what he knew, and to know that they knew it too without having to utter a sound. They sought his approval. They were the ones who wanted confirmation that they were not the gibbering idiots that he possibly saw them as. With a dismissive but unremarkable sigh of resignation, he returned to his tepid coffee and the paperback that he’d bookmarked with his finger.

Indeed, Jeromiah accepted that his body was just the incumbent technician of a highly active consciousness that his ego struggled to reconcile itself with, and that it had always been that way. He was socially awkward, given to retreat and solitude, more in order to keep the others out, than from a sense of not fitting in. Yes he’d had his successes, and those successes had eventually turned to failure, returning him to the mental wilderness of his former incarnation as pauper and philosophical dreamer. His cheeks itched. The fine sharp needles of silver piercing his skin were becoming an irritant, a sensation that was beginning to characterise his internal feelings of unrest.

A tall dark skinned man wearing a white baseball cap and opaque black sunglasses had returned to the table where a young woman with long dark hair and a sad looking face had just been sitting. He had a cell-phone in one hand which was thrown up in the air along with the other hand when he realised that his companion had left without him.
“Fuck!”, the man exclaimed, his black goatee framing the word with as much elegance and cool as the word was perhaps course and inappropriate in confines such as these. The young woman had broken her frown and smiled at him, a gesture that Jeromiah considered worthy of a nod in the right direction to the rejected gentleman.
Still seated he leaned toward the man with the hat and glasses and said almost in a whisper, “She would have your babies if you let her.”

“What?!” the tall man responded, clearly both perplexed and irritated at Jeromiah’s intervention.

“Your girl, she went that way” Jeromiah conceded, tilting his head and pointing his left index finger in the direction of the exit just behind him.

Apologetically, the man with the baseball cap and sunglasses pulled his lips into a pursed smile of resignation and said, “Thanks” before running after her presumably. He was an American. Jeromiah pondered the man’s intonation of the ‘a’ in thanks that had revealed this particular thread of his identity, that the ‘u’ in his previous utterance of the word ‘fuck’ had obscured. The only thing that made an American and American he concluded was the use of long vowel sounds that sang with a gliding pride in comparison to the Southern-English abrupt stab of the shortened vowel sounds in the same words. He felt suddenly anxious for these two star-crossed lovers, funny that they should make him think of Romeo and Juliet just then, as his finger wedged a place in his copy of Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Irony he wondered? Yes, possibly. Coincidence? Certainly not. For Jeromiah coincidence was a dirty word, an affectation of mistrust of the bleeding obvious exercised by the unbelieving and irrational majority. Granted his own affairs weren’t exactly painting a picture of perfection, but to suggest that he was a victim of chance circumstance was a denial of responsibility that he just could not accept. He, like the American and his girl were a tragedy waiting to happen due to errant communication. Due to inhospitable thoughts of failure and self-destruction, not irreversible or irreparable, but it was a slippery slope he knew that he would have to alight from, as would they if any resolution was to be found and indeed created.
He was aware that in some way they were versions of him, projections almost of his own inner machinations right now, as if he were watching a stage-play, his ‘Brian’ his own personal Shakespearian Globe; both people like both halves of his brain slightly out of synch. Victims of miscommunication, each with their own agendas, yet sailing toward the same destination.
That was the problem with shared consciousness, it gave leverage to the old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth. It was true, and there was little one could do about it except ride the currents, and trust that sooner or later the tributary would lead out to the open seas and provide resolution, if not release. Those two would find their way he thought, which gave him a small measure of comfort that he too would rediscover the inner quietude that he had misplaced during the past three weeks, indeed his life.
He knew that his presence in this coffee shop at this moment in time was colouring the lives of those around him, and that in some way they too were colouring his.
His left ear burned. A sensation that made him think of having an old transistor radio pressed up against it, eavesdropping on a conversation as it crackled over the air-waves, just like he and his cousin Jonas used to do with the police band-widths when they were kids. He wondered who was talking about him, perhaps the American had recognised him. He certainly recognised the American, but the girl was new, and a breath of fresh air to his greying brain-cells.

Red white and Blue House

Snapshot Stories – The Sad House

Red white and Blue House

The red, white, and blue house stood naked in the sunlight. It had been abandoned for years, once home to a doting pair who had for some reason decided one day that they had to move as far away as they could possibly bear. The house, uncared for had begun to fall into disrepair, until the day came when nobody even glanced in its direction to see if life had returned to its hinges, if laughter kept its paint fresh and the leaves swept from its porch.
Its paint had begun to crack and peel, and its timbers had become home to wood worm and rot. The world was no longer focused through the cracked glass of its windows, or composed by their once sturdy frames. The tiles on the roof were no longer sufficient to protect it from the judgement of the heavens, or to afford it the respect it had once known in the eyes of those passing by.
Nature had embraced its latticed boards and claimed its straight lines and simple angles, filling its gaps and its cracks with a verdant language too explicit and complex for such a humble house.
A tree grew from its centre, a synaptic structure that did not quite reach the sky it was purporting to connect with, but that with each passing year asserted its presence that without doubt now gave the house a structure and a firm foundation that it had not known for many stormy summers, snow shrouded winters and, pollen-filled springs.
The Fall was always kind to the house, gilding its beams and raised profiles in the low evening light with a richness that would make its colours sing with melodic pride, if but for a moment that would soon fade back to silent grey as the night hid its pleasure, and the moon grasped it in cold silver.

The hum of a passing bee whispered, “What a sad looking house”. The swaying grasses by the edge of the road hissed gently, “What a sad looking house”. The gentle touch of the breeze blowing through its eaves and tree leaves lamented, “What a sad looking house”. But all of its ducts had long since run dry; not a tear to be shed in its honour. Its life-force cut off by the power company, and the over-zealous mice that had gnawed through its venous web of cables, ensuring that the house could not be reborn from the spark of the lighting bolts that occasionally surged through its wooded spine.
Its heart a great open hearth no longer gave heat to the now empty chambers that were once furnished with love and treasured memories, whose defences had been breached and overtaken in absence of care, by alien species, and who now gathered spiders and bugs like they gathered dust, and dried up feces.

Poor sad red, white, and blue house, standing naked in the sunlight. Would that someone would acknowledge its plight, forgiving its shame, and at least say a prayer for its passing.