The Villagers

The Villagers

 

Anton was restless 

it had been a boring week

it seemed like ages

since they had stormed the castle

to stop the brain surgeon

who had transplanted 

criminal brains into spiders

which wasn’t as much fun

as the time the villagers 

had tracked down

the radioactive slime centipedes

 

let loose by the deranged 

unmarried woman scientist

she had hoped the slime

would restore her youth

but instead turned flesh

into hair then eyeball eating centipedes

Anton longed for the days

when there was castle

worth storming 

when fools who would play God

with forces of nature

would be forced to face the wrath

of uneducated villagers

 

the last time they had lit their torches

was to storm

the local coffee shop to force it to add

pumpkin spice latte to the menu

but that wasn’t as satisfying  

as chasing the giant 

bone-marrow-sucking mutant leach

into the power lines

to electrocute it 

that smell lasted for weeks

Dragos stopped him

‘Anton did you know

that the abandoned meat factory

that was once the asylum mortuary

has been leased to a Doctor Mortise’

 

things were looking up

it would soon be time

to open the torch shop again

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Chapter XXV – Birk In The Mud

Coal Dusters 

Chapter XXV

Birk In The Mud

Birk and Clancy went into the back garden and Clancy sat on the bench, Birk sprawled on the ground leaning against it. He took off his work boots and socks.

“You see how she looked?” Clancy asked. “That weren’t no bump on anything.”

“Yep.” Birk knew Clancy meant Lillian. He had watched her on and off all night to see if there was some indication of who had struck her. “At the end there. When she come up into the light in front of all of us.”

“Oh yeah that look o’hers at the good man of the cloth, that uncle o’ her’s. I figure everyone there saw that and knew who she got beat by.”

Clancy began to push his boots off. Birk yanked them off for him and then his socks.

“Blue Lake smell still on’ em.” he laughed.

“It was good day fishin’?” Clancy said.

“Yeh. You pleased with what we caught?”

“I’m pretty happy with it, if you are?”

“Yeh. It’ll be a week or so ‘fore we can go up there again to there.” 

“Figured.” Clancy ruffling Birk’s hair. “It’s been a long day though. More tired now than when I raked behind you all day.”

“What’s that?” Birk stood. “Sounds like singin’.” He began to pull his boots and socks back on.

“Coming from the docks?” Clancy pulled his socks and boots back on. “Could it be those micks drunk and singing to the Holy Ghost?”

They walked to the lane that lead to the colliery and followed the singing to the dock. A group of the miners we’re sitting around a bonfire on the dirt road that lead to the pier.

“Join us lads?” Jim McKlusky came over to them with a bottle in his hand. “Someone has liberated some of the good father’s wine.”

Birk recognized some of the miners from the other collieries. They had just started a ragged verse of Rule Britannia with some of miners supplying their own words:

“Rule BritCan Co BritCan Co rules the coal

Miners ever ever ever shall be slaves

The miners not so blest with greed

Must take their turn in Hell

While you eat great meals for free

On the blood and sweat of all miners”

On the chorus all the miners joined in, adding their own bits to it. ‘Rule rule rule but never feed,’ ‘To Hell Hell Hell with their command.’ 

Different bottles made the rounds. Some with mild wine and others with potent home brews that sung Birk’s eyes and one that he spat out as fast as he could.

The miner with a squeeze box started in on Mademoiselle from Armenteires who you couldn’t kiss unless you’ve had forty beers. As they went through the verses and choruses locations changed, what the mademoiselle would do became more dirty and her body parts more detailed.

“You blushing?” Clancy grabbed Birk in a headlock and rubbed his hair. “Too much for your innocent ears?”

“Get off me!” Birk pushed him away and sent him reeling into a couple of miners swinging each other round in a step dance. This sent the dancers sprawling on the ground to great whoops and applause from the others. The shift signal whistle silenced them all.

“Well men,” the miner with his fiddle stopped. “Looks like its time to face the real music.”

 Birk helped Clancy up and dusted him off. 

Birk’s mother was sitting in her armchair by the stove when they went in. She took a deep breath as they splashed water on their faces at the sink.

“Someone’s been playing in the mud have they.” She said. “Mud and homemade by the stink.”

“I’m sorry Ma.” Birk couldn’t look her in the eyes.

“At’s okay son, your about a man now and it’s time you started to learn about some of those men things.”

“I’ll keep an eye on him Mrs. N.” Clancy said.

“So what’s the word on the strike boys?”

“Strike Mrs. N.” 

“Pa’s gone to check the boilers. He’ll be back soon.” Birk leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.

Is was raining heavily in the morning. Birk couldn’t see past the back fence. The lane in front of the house was muddy.

“Better wait till we get to the main lane before you put yer boots and socks on Clancy. Yer about to find out why this is called Mudtown.” Birk said as they were getting ready to set out. “After a heavy rain last year Billy McLean lost a kid. Wanted to cross over to play with cousins across the way there. Got caught in the mud and couldn’t get out and got pulled under somehow.”
“Yer joking.”

“Not a bit of it. No matter how much of the slag gets dumped on the road it sinks to somewhere when the rains fall.”

The rain slickers they wore kept them dry but all the laneways had all become rivers of mud. Thick, cold mud. They sank up to their knees at some points as they struggled to the colliery gates. Even the main lane was pitted with bogs of mud.

There were several other miners there when they arrived. A couple of them had trimmed some thick branches they intended to use as weapons if need be.

“Ya think the company will try anything?”

“Maybbe not.” one of them said “But best be prepared. If we show them we mean business right off we already have the upper hand.”

The rain didn’t let up. At different times during the day other miners would show up, some would go home. The union rep visited with them for an hour or so bringing hot tea with him. Then Reverend Brown came by with a roast chicken for them to share.

The men were too cold and wet to joke amongst themselves or talk for long. They stood on either side of the gate glaring into the rain, looking into the mine yard to see who they might see. 

Two of the managers showed up. The miners crowded around the gate to impede them from going in but didn’t do anything to directly hold them back either.

“It’s all fer show these first couple of days.” Jake told them. 

It pointless to Birk. He’d rather have been going underground to work than wallow around in this cold wet muck. Although he knew that the unions helped make sure that the men had some benefits from their jobs – the wash-up rooms, a doctor, that sort of thing; he didn’t feel they did much for him in the long run. They got his dues right off his pay every week but never saw them active in the lives of the miners.

At least Father Pat or Reverend Brown came into their homes when they were sick or hurt, but they only saw the union rep when there was need for more money for the union.

The rep hadn’t even told them what the strike fund was going to do for them. They’d been paying something into for the last three years since the last strike. Was there going to be enough between him and Clancy to keep food on the table? Blackie would still get his full pay to tend the boilers but the most of that would go for the house and that wouldn’t leave enough for their needs.

Maybe they’d have to go fishing sooner than they planned. That idea pleased him. He hadn’t dwelt on what he and Clancy did sliding on each other. Now the memory made him happy.

“You got something to smile about?” one of the men asked him.

“Yeh getting home and into dry clothes.” He said.

“Sure it isn’t that priest’s gal.” Clancy asked.

“Not a bit.” He hoped they wouldn’t see his cheeks burning as they questioned him.

“Sure wish she’d come by with that tea trolly now.”

“She’s need a dory to get through to us here ya know.” Birk said.

“Maybbe she can walk on mud as Jesus did on the water.” One of them said.

“Time you two went home.” Jim McKlusky appeared out of the rain. “Before yer house gets washed away.”

“Right, Thanks Jim. See ya in the morning.” Clancy said.

“If we find a place to dock the house, that is.” Birk said.

They set off to the house and stopped at the rise at the top of the laneway, leaned against the fence, pulled off their boots and socks and slogged down the lane.

“You think much about what we did t’other day up at the lake?” Clancy asked. 

“When we was fishin’ ya mean?”

“Yeh then.”

“Not as if I forgot it b’y but there’s a lot goin’ on too. Why?”

“Just wondering. I didn’t mind it.”

“Me neither.” Birk shook rain off his shoulders.

“Ya think that Lillian might …”

“Get those evil thoughts outta yer head Clancy.”

“Only thing keeps me warm in this rain.” Clancy wiped the rain off his face.

“I’d warm the arse of whoever done that hurt to her.”

“Me too, but if’n I found out who did harm her and I did him a harm, she might be very grateful.”

“How many time’s do we have tell ya she’s not going look twice at some orange arse.”

“I’d convert.” Clancy laughed.

“No doubt you would. What would yer ma think though?”

“She wouldn’t care. She was a mick herself, you see. When she married me paw her family turned their back on her. When m’pa died they wouldn’t forgive her till she went to confession and the priest said she was penitent. She only did that so we’d have a place to live.”

“So you think this one would be different, eh? Not as if she’s your regular mick either. The priest’s niece. She’s almost a nun.”

“Never thought of her that way.” Clancy laughed tipping water out of his boots.

Clancy lost his footing the the muck and staggered into Birk and they both fell into one of the deeper ruts. Birk’s work boots went flying.

“So much for trying to spare them.” 

Clancy crawled over the mud and got the boots then pushed himself to his feet. He turned to help Birk up.

“What a pair we make!” Birk laughed. “Can’t even walk home in the rain.”

“Yeh. All we are is a couple of dirty, filthy Mudtown mine rats.”

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Childhood’s Swirl


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

Childhood’s Swirl 

my childhood was such a swirl 

of legends superstitions and secrets

I was never sure what was real

and what was allegory

like sifting through the red bible

to find out if there was a truth 

or merely a moral

 

the village thrived on these stories

on things that would shift from fact to fancy

as if that sift was to teach 

us children something valuable

mostly it taught us fear and anxiety

 

the leaping men of the Whistling Woods

the hiding places of the traitor robins

how the moose came from the moon

all these things would haunt us as children

then amuse us as adults

 

even what we experienced

would be called in to doubt so quickly

we couldn’t trust our senses

the Bishop would try to teach us

what he was taught

when he could remember it

the choir would sing without knowing the notes

 

it did teach me

that with the grace of the moose

one could experience doubt and survive

one could sing without knowing the notes

and become a multimillionaire pop star

just because some talk show host

saw your video on line

and thought your hair looked terrific

When you realized Santa Claus wasn’t real did you think: I’m growing up – or: what else have my parents been lying to me about? This the sort of swirl my hero is reflecting on as he reflects on his village past. The secret of Santa was that this legend oils the wheels of commerce. One of those secrets that some people never realize. It was also a way of manipulating children with guilt.

Fairy tales that were to entertain us as children were ways of teaching us that all old women were witches and not to trusted. That gallant men would always save us if, in the case of girls, they were pretty enough. Those tales showed boys that only through over coming the giant could we be victorious. Winning was proof of masculinity, being rescued was proof of being femininity.

“even what we experienced/would be called in to doubt.”  I can’t imagine the uncertainty children grow up in today when a politician can blithely deny saying something that he said in an interview. People with ‘truth’ are accused of being unfair for insisting on that truth. Making someone accountable  for their actions turns them into victims. To correct someone’s spelling is now elitist.

 

It ends with our hero being more than a little bitter about the nature of fame and how to acquire it. In a world were working hard is supposed to be the road to success it often is merely the road to working hard. In reality there are no multimillionaire pop star who can’t sing, who rely on their great hair to as the ladder to success. A sly nod to yet another myth – Rapunzel. 

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The Violet Moon


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

The Violet Moon

see how the full moon 

is wrapped by red cloud

in our village 

we call that the Violet Moon

this the one night

when the one beast

which the Denizen fears

walks the earth

a shape shifter

that usually lives as human

as you or I

humans who forget 

what rests coiled inside

till the violet moon appears

to nudge a latent beast to wakefulness

none who have this curse

can resist its call

can remember what has happened

those who have met the beast

have been struck dumb

speechless with fear

 

I mean the weremoose

don’t laugh

because your derision is the one thing

that can invite it to occupy your body

you will awake

feeling cold breath shivering

your feet   your hands

toes will start to point

fingers will become stiff

your bones will crack

your neck will thicken

you will scream as your hips rent apart

backbone snapped reshaped

each moment of the change

is an agony

any who hear will fear

your family will hide

but you will hunt them down

 

there is no escape the weremoose

you can recognize one

if you have time

because the antlers seem slightly askew

like the roof of a house not quite right

or the colour of the fur

that never stays the same brown

when you try to focus on it

a mist of violet hue

flows behind it

scarring any tree that it caresses

the cloven hooves

can crush skulls

the jagged teeth

can rip a throat in one bite

the same teeth

can crack a man’s ribs

to pull out your heart

and eat it

while the last of your blood

spurts through your veins

you are alive

long enough to see your own blood 

oozing from the satisfied maw

of the weremoose

This is a ‘new’ village piece thatI  wrote specifically for Camp Pinebow. It harkens back to Moose-mare https://wp.me/p1RtxU-1Vv as I extend moose myth into a darker territory – this one even more cinematic. Moose-mare echoed Jacob wrestling the with angel – here we get sense that perhaps many men of the village have a beast within them that is affected by the moon – which is were according village legends the moose came from.

The piece clearly uses werewolf legend as well. One is powerless to stop the transformation or even it initiate it. I also call on that horror trope that disbelief invariably turns the scoffer into the next victim. I enjoy the description of the change. I was probably thinking of Seth Green as Oz on Buffy during his werewolf changes – though he looked like & moved more like an orangutang with a wolf’s head than a wolf.

 

I dwell on how the weremoose kills because this was originally meant as a scary campfire story. Those stories call for a certain amount of visceral gore to make them effective. Do moose have cloven hooves? I’m not sure but we do know who the Cloven One is, right 🙂

Some of details are invented – the acidic mist that scars tree bark is my own addition to the cannon. Violet comes up a few times as the host of the show where I first performed this was Lizzie Violet – it never hurts to pay tribute to your host in a way that isn’t too overt. Violet is also a nice change for the colourless mists that appear in horror most of time. They are either murky blacks or, for some reason, lime green.

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Simplicity

Simplicity

I can’t remember

the last time I owned

just one of anything

such simplicity 

was never allowed me

 

I try as best I can

to possess less

to be less owned by what I own

when something new comes in

something old must leave

by leave I mean

must be gone

not merely stored away

but donated shared given away

thrown away

reduced slowly

 

but becoming less attached to things

isn’t the way of this world

even though we’re told

things don’t matter

we get judged

by things we acquire

told that if the house burns 

be grateful to be alive

you can’t take it with you

but

you might as well enjoy it while you can

We live in a wasteful culture in which to say you have enough is admitting defeat. Not to want more means one is settling for less than they deserve. This constant seeking is so subtly supported one often doesn’t know where the messages are coming from.

 

Watch any TV show & notice how often the same outfit is worn? In some shows the leads never wear the same clothing from episode to episode. Yet we rarely see the characters shopping for clothes. I recently saw a headline to the effect that so-and-so big-name-star was seen wearing the same outfit they had on last week. Clearly someone’s career is down the tubes.

One of the things that runs through the 227 Rules is a strong anti-capitalistic stance. The perfection of a spiritual path lies in not allowing things to control one but allowing for the need for things i.e. the robe. The push isn’t to transcend but to limit how things constrain us. Sounds easy in theory but in practice it isn’t so easy.

If it weren’t for these 227 prompts some of these thoughts would probably enter my head. I am, like most people, numbed by the constant urging for more to even notice the constant urging for more. Worse yet numb to the consequences, to the fear of being judged, left behind, in the wake of those spending their way to identity & satisfaction. My consumerism is controlled by my finances. I can’t pretend that when I win Lotto Max I won’t indulge in some mindless, foolish, spending. Sometimes Daddy likes a new pair of shoes.

 

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Terra Cotta

samprules2

Working through the  227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. This another of the 92 pācittiyas.

Terra Cotta

he insisted

on terra cotta flower pots

not pots

planters

you know the kind big enough

for a

oh you’ve heard this story

you know where it’s going

unlike the men

meeting him

they didn’t know where they were going

just that he promised

to take them somewhere 

offered –

well I’m not sure what he offered

it’s hard to call that something sex

I guess I’m old fashioned that way

 

terra cotta is better for the plants

for the roots

it breathes properly

allows water to filter through

plastic containers trap the water

traps insects

plastic absorbs heat

the soil doesn’t breathe

 

neither do the men

Selim Esen, 44

Abdulbasir Faizi, 44 

Majeed Kayhan, 58 

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37  

Andrew Kinsman, 49

Dean Lisowick, 47

Soroush Mahmudi, 50

Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40

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Sal Mineo & The Grass Roots

The Grass Roots: All Time Greatest Hits starts off a mp3 collection of wide ranging bands mostly from the mid to late 60’s. Grass Roots was corporate packaged to produce hits, slick, well produced, solid pop that is nearly interchangeable with top ten hits from The Archies or The Monkees or Three Dog Night. The hits bring back eat coast memories. The band itself wasn’t that well through of though thanks to their popularity. But musically better than say 1910 Fruitgum Company.

Another corporate package was Sal Mineo! I have The Complete Epic Recordings. I say packaged because there was an attempt to make teen movie or TV stars into pop stars (& vice-versa). George Maharis, Chris Connelly also experienced this same corporate attempt to capitalize on their stardom. I love Sal. His life is tragic, his on screen presence is magnetic & he was hot. His singing is ordinary, perhaps even mediocre. His material belies his open homosexuality with absurd songs of teenage boy girl love. Hearing his sing songs like “My Bride” is more sad thn campy. 

Another TV star was Don Grady (My Three Sons) his band The Yellow Balloon – released one lp of sunshine pop – think Beach Boys, in fact Beach Boys make an appearance. This is a something I came across rather than searched out. An artifact as opposed to a neglected treasure. Diverting but no compelling.

Also here are some one-hit wonders: first up is Rare Earth with: One World, Willie Remembers, Ma – three solid lps full of cover versions of things like What’d I Say & original songs. The hit was I Just Want to Celebrate. All solid music. Sugarloaf had one hit Green-Eyed Lady which is not on their  Spaceship Earth: album. The music is competent but it could be Grass Roots for it’s lack of identity. Both bands successfully try their hand at long form: i.e. pieces that run over ten minutes.

Ides of March had one big hit: Vehicle & a couple of lps including Common Bond. When Vehicle hit the charts many though: oh a new single from Blood, Sweat & Tears. lead vocalist is a ringer for David Clayton Thomas & the horns have the same smooth jazz brass sound. It seemed only natural to include Ten Wheel Drive’s Brief Replies to finish off this collection. Another big brassy jazzy-pop band but edgier than BS&T but no one would mistake dynamic lead singer Genya Ravan for Thomas. I have more Ten Wheel tucked away on other compilations.

Interest

‘You coming Judy?’

‘Not right away.’

Safti had usually walked with her from the bus to the school. Fifteen, he had failed a year and was in same the grade her, but not the same class.

‘Don’t want to be late, do you?’

‘It’s okay. First period is an easy one for me. You get going though. I’ll see you at lunch.’

‘Okay. Thanks for helping me with the History stuff. You are such a brain.’

‘Thanks. Too bad Sal was more like me, right?’

‘Whatever. See you.’

He ran across the parking lot and into the side door. Only the boys could use that door. She peeped around the front to see if those girls where there. They weren’t. She hurried up the steps. They were just inside the front door.

‘Oh! Look who’s trying to sneak past,’ Jen grabbed Judy by the hair and yanked her back hard.

Judy began to cry. ‘Leave me alone.’

‘Yeah in a minute.’ Jane unzipped Judy’s backpack and twisted it so books began to fall out. ‘Oh you are such a clumsy girl.’

The three of them laughed at her. Jane shoved a note into the backpack. ‘This is your death sentence.’

A boy who saw what they were doing looked the other way and rushed by.

‘You are going to get what’s coming to you soon. Very soon. Sooner if you tell anyone about this. You understand.’ Jen backed her hard against the wall. ‘You understand?’

‘Yes.’

‘That’s a good girl.’ Laurie kicked Judy’s pens across the hall floor. ‘Be glad we take an interest in you.’

The three laughed again. The bell rang.

‘Shit we better get a move on.’

‘If we’re late because of you, shit face, it’ll be even sooner than you think.’

Judy stooped to pick up her scattered books & pens.

‘Having some trouble are we?’

Judy looked up. It was Mrs. Glasgow, the Math teacher.

‘Oh no, nothing I just dropped my backpack trying to get my … to get a …’ she could see the three girls at the end of the hall glaring at her. ‘Get my favourite pen.’

She stood up. Telling wouldn’t do her any good. Not now. Not ever. She’d be a snitch, a rat and no one would ever like her. Not that they did like her much now, but to rat on those girls would only make things worse for her. Much worse.

‘Get a move on then Judy.’

‘Yes Mrs G. I mean, Mrs. Glasgow.’

She scurried up the stairs, stopped to read the note. ‘Want to die faster? Do us a favour & save us the trouble.’ 

She got into her class just as the door closed.

‘Cutting it close again Judy? I don’t know what’s gotten into you.’

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Saying Too Many Names

At the end of 2017 there was no proof of a Toronto serial killer – the lgbtq community was merely being theatrical – it was just a bunch of swishy, disgruntled attention seekers who didn’t feel getting the right to marriage was enough to keep their fucking mouths shut. They weren’t professionals whose duty it was to protect the public. 

Four months later we have an alleged serial killer with, so far, eight murder charges against him. Apparently these guys start young so the case has been extended back to the 70’s! The disgruntled, attention seeking police are now even more disgruntled at being denied the opportunity to march in the Pride Parade. So this is how we show our gratitude for all they do for the community. I just hope evidence doesn’t end up ‘compromised’ as the case advances. That sort of mishandling never happens

As I see the photos and information about these men, who are all dead (& that is incontestable) I am sadden to see that some of them had never been reported missing in the first place. Such as Kanagaratnam who was probably murdered in 2015. Did families figure ‘oh he’s gone to work in Calgary & will get in touch when he is successful enough?’ Were the families so fearful of the police thanks to their experiences in their troubled home countries? Or where they like Dean Lisowick, men no one really cared what happened to? 

 

These are the identified victims (so far) Selim Esen, 44,; Abdulbasir Faizi, 44; Majeed Kayhan, 58; Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37;  Andrew Kinsman, 49; Dean Lisowick, 47; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40. I’ll repeat their names. His will probably never be forgotten so there’s no need for me to mention it.

La Mer

What I miss most about the sea

is the sound of waves

                              Not

The waves themselves

With their deeply melodic cold

Or their careless foam caps

But their thunder

as they blast the kelpy rocks

   Lightning in a hail of night

 

What I miss most about the night

is the black of waves

                             Not

The dark itself

With its ungiving distance

Or its depth of stars

But its moon

As it unfurls unwilling waves

   Flags in triumphant passage

 

What I miss most about the passage

Is the motion of waves

                                Not

The heave itself

With its unbreathing breath

Or its reflections of the moon

But its tongue

As it rolls pebbles into sand

   Raindrops calming the sea with kisses

 

What I miss most about kisses

Is the waves of sleep

                             Not

The sleep itself

With its endless silver bed

Or its too soon morning yawn

But its caress

As it nudges my fathomless ache

Sirenes tugging me to the sea of you

What I miss most about the sea

Is you

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Lazarus Kiss.59

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others

and a love within recall that alters you.

Lazarus Kiss.59

“I apologize for disturbing you.” The woman’s voice became a whisper as she collapsed into his apartment.

“My God. Are you alright?” He’d never seen anyone faint before. He shut the door. “I’ll … get you a glass of water.” He started towards the kitchen. “Or should I call for help. Security will know what to do.” He reached for his phone.

“Don’t bother asshole.”

A sharp blow to his shoulder sent Harris tumbling over his couch. One of his arms whacked his coffee table as he landed.

“What the fuck?” He looked up at the cloaked figure standing over him.

The figure lifted the hem and placed one booted foot under Harris’s chin, not quite on his throat. The woman quickly pulled off the veiled hood of the chador.

“Listen you fat fuck I’m not here to play games with you.” The face was covered by a tight black ski mask the mouth bulged out awkwardly. Only the eyes showed and they were outlined in a mottled black and green.

The voice was female.

“Becky?” Harris couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to do this.

“Shut the fuck up.” The woman pulled off the rest of the chador. She wore a dark blue jumpsuit. From a pocket she pulled a length of thin rope.

“Sit up.” She took her foot off his chest.

He reached to rub where she had been grinding into his collar bone.

“Don’t bother. You aren’t pretty enough to worry.” she gabbed his hands and began to tie them behind his back. “Your pictures in the paper make you look a lot handsomer than you are.”

“Miss …”

“Oh don’t you Miss me.”

The face leaned into his. “I’m sorry to disappoint you.” As she spoke the voice changed, deepened before it became distorted. “I’m all man. You got that fat ass Harris.” He looped the rope around Harris left wrist and pulled that arm behind Harris’s back.

Harris lurched forward, stood up and knocked the guy off balance. The man was not much bigger than Andy. Before he could move he felt a searing shock on his right thigh. He fell back to the couch dazed.

“Hurts doesn’t it.” The man reached under his mask and extracted the speaker of the voice distorter. “Amazing what science can do.”

The man waved a cellphone in Harris face. “Looks like a cellphone but hurts like hell.” He touched Harris lightly on the shoulder.

The jolt wasn’t as strong as the first one.

“Don’t worry this is non-lethal unless you have a pacemaker but packs enough to punch to keep you pacified. People drop like flies. I sneak up behind them. A little touch and down they go.”

“You’re the Stalker?”

“Clever man.” he grabbed Harris by the chin and give his head a sharp twist. “Now what did the bitch Detective tell you about me?”

“Nothing.”

“Lets dial this up just a bit.” he tapped a key and shocked Harris again.

This time the shock singed his tee-shirt.

“Nothing.” He rubbed his shoulder where had been shocked. “She played that recording of you. That’s all and told me to be careful.”

“Ooo to be afraid of little me. Let’s get this out of the way.” He yanked Harris’s tee shirt off, pulled the rope from under him and this time tied his hands behind his back.

“Ow.”

“Did she tell you anything about the case. About me.”

“No. Just that the guy I … who I stopped at the park … wasn’t you.”

“True. He didn’t have one of these, did he?”

He took a battery pack out of his back pocket.

“On its own it just jolts.” He plugged the battery pack into the taser. “With a power boost it will do more. Even kill. You have been the nearest connection to me the police have.”

“Connection?” He pulled at the ropes. “You took the risk to get those pictures of me. Great way to stay out of the way of the police.”

“Pictures of you and your famous movie star friends. You a Nobody, getting noticed.”

“Right, I am a nobody. I didn’t ask to ….”

“I know. No one asks. Like those poor assholes on their way home from work, from school. So innocent and bam I get them. They’ll never forget me. Even if they never know I am.”

“Play time.” Harris called to Andy.

“This’ll be fun.” Andy replied.

“What the fuck!” the man was stunned. “Who is that?” He looked around the apartment and noticed Andy for the first time. “Get over here.”

Andy remained silent.

Harris racked his brain for what order to give next. If only Andy could walk? If only Andy could make phone calls he could get a message to Rick.

“I said get over here. You little friend seems scared or something. You want me to hurt you?”

“Yeah I’d like that?” Andy giggled.

The man walked over to Andy and smacked him.

“Is that the best you can do. I can take it a lot harder than that.”

“What the fuck.” he punched Andy in the stomach.

“You like to play rough do you.”

Those had to be the pre-programmed phrases for s and m play he’d seen listed in the manual.

“Fuck it’s a goddamn doll.” The man gave Andy a dismissive shove.

The shove unbalanced Andy and the elf topped forward knocking the man over and landing on top of him

Harris stood while tugging at the rope around his wrists.

The man struggled under Andy. Turning over but not able to get Andy off him.

“Harder Andy.” Andy’s face was at the man’s chin. His hands began to open and close to pinch the man under him.

“You like that don’t you.” Andy said.

“Time to bite.” Harris’s wrists were getting looser. “Squeeze me.”

The doll’s mouth opened and closed on the man’s chin. The man twisted his head away. His mask was pulled off. ‘Squeeze me’ brought Andy’s arms closer together. The man’s face was covered with camouflage make up.

“Let’s jack.” This command jerked Andy’s forearms up and down rapidly about an inch.

“Optimus Prime.” Harris said. Those were the words he’d programmed for Andy to get an erection.

“Fuck me.” The man struggled trying to push the doll off him. Andy’s hips began to thrust.

With a grunt the man heaved Andy off him, and rammed the doll against the wall. He held the doll with one hand and tasered it it repeated with the other till Andy’s arms stopped moving. His fingers continued to twitch.

While he was occupied Harris dashed to the door. He had it partially opened before the guy grabbed him. Harris hit at his face with his elbow. Connected with a punch to the face. The man’s head was slippery with the camouflage paint.

The guy swung him back into the room and on to his stomach, shocking him on the back each time he tried to get up. Harris could smell his flesh burning.

He grabbed Harris by the hair.

“You like to play it rough. Well, I’m no wind up doll.”

Out of breath Harris sagged to the floor.

“That’s more like it. Get up.”

He pulled Harris to his feet.

“Let’s get out a breath of fresh air.” He pushed him the balcony. “That’s a fair drop I’d say.”

Harris nodded. If he appeared dazed by the taser he might lull the guy into a careless move.

The guy kicked the lounge to the balcony wall.

“Up you go.”

Harris stood on the chaise. He glanced over the edge.

His apartment door flew open. It was Detective Alverez and Agent Devros followed by apartment security.

“Hold it right there.” The man barked. “Or he’ll go over.”

“That’s what you think.” Harris leaned against the retaining wall and the chaise slid, knocking the man over. Harris clambered over him and into the living room.

“You’ll never get me.” The man shouted.

Harris turned around and the man was balanced on the balcony railing. Harris lurched forward and caught him by the calf as the man launched himself into the air.

They fell back. Harris hit his head. He lay still while his heart slowed and he caught his breath. An officer helped him to lie on the couch.

“Where is he?” He shook his head to clear it.

“Sir, it’s all under control. Please keep still.” A medic shone a light into his eyes. “You’ll be fine. Let me help you sit up. You’ve got bad electrical burns on your back.”

The police had his attacker handcuffed nearby. He was glaring at Harris as they started to take him to the door.

“Can you get me paper to write on and pen.” Harris asked Detective Alverez.

She took a pad out of her purse, tore off a page and handed it to Harris with her pen.

Harris wrote down the words of the curse as best as he could remember them. He trusted that intent was more important than accuracy. He rubbed blood from his head wound on it when.

“Can I talk to him?” He called to the policemen with his assailant.

They brought the man closer to him.

“Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.” Harris said as he tucked the curse into the man’s pocket. As he spoke he began to tremble. Pain shot across his chest. A strong cinnamon scent made him gasp for air.

“What the fuck.” The guy looked around. “The faggot is giving me his phone number.” His face paled and he grabbed his stomach. “I think I’m going to throw up.”

“I hope the number does you good where you’re going.” Harris’s trembling increased. The pain in his chest was worse as he gasped for breath.

“He’s going into shock.” One of the medic shouted. He fit an oxygen mask over Harris face. “Relax. Take deep breaths. That’s better. Now rest on your side while we tend these burns.”

Harris nodded yes. He let himself be laid on his side. His body relaxed as he breathed in the oxygen.

The police took his assailant out. He felt safe.

“You’re a lucky man Mr. Stevens.” Detective Alverez stood where he could see her. “How did you get that signal into the building’s security system?”

“Signal?” Harris took the oxygen mask away.

“I was keeping my eye on the feed from your floor Mr. Stevens.” The building security explained. “I noticed that Muslim lady get on the elevator. She was alone. I thought that was mighty odd to begin with. They’re always in two or threes. She didn’t get off her at floor either but yours. When you asked her in I thought that’s odd but …. anyway a little while later the system burped and all the monitors were showing this fight scene. I thought maybe cable system had broken into our feed because the images was a lot clearer than ours. Anyway I recognized you and called the police.”

 

kiss

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Offence Free

Offence Free

feel free to take offence

take all you want

particularly when it is not

my intention to give it

particularly

when I’m not aware of it

when I can’t even feel

you taking anything from me

strip it away

 

hoard all that offence

to yourself

I won’t miss it

once it’s gone

and you take it so eagerly

it must mean more to you

than it does to me

in fact

I won’t sully what you chose

to take without asking

by explaining

by putting it into any context

even by apologizing

for making it available for you to take

 

it was like a pie set to cool

you couldn’t resist a slice

but you can’t blame the pie

for being so desirable

you felt compelled to take a piece of it

to eat all of it

until it made you sick

 

so if I make you sick

feel free

to take your leave

One of AA’s steps suggests that amends be made when we give offence to someone – maybe I’m spitting hairs but to be there is a difference between giving offence and someone taking offence when none is intended. There are still people offended by homosexuality or anyone on the non-cis-heterosexual spectrum. There are people offended by someone else’s taste in music, in political parties. I suspect they are looking for the opportunity to say ‘how dare they …’

At one time I felt it was necessary for me to over-compensate for my sexuality – acting super-nice – going out of my way to prove that there were good queers in the world. But that’s a pointless exercise in futility. Alan Turing was instrumental in the defeat of the Nazi’s & that wasn’t enough to keep him from being hunted down punished for being gay.

This piece is about stepping away from the need to placate, please or even educate people who decide that being who you is offensive to them. I think it sad that people still find this need to hate in order to give themselves some sense of self – they define themselves by their fears while justifying them as deeply held religious beliefs or whatever jingoistic justification is trending.

I am powerless over homophobia, transphobia, racism but I don’t let those phobias steal my sleep anymore.

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