Saturday, 10 December 2011


I. The Microphone

Timothy Johnson is fat and old. His skin ripples like freshly whipped cream across his calves and arms; it is tight across his navel and hangs loosely from his tits. It is so unfair, he bemoans to his obliging reflection in the mirror. He picks up his tits and squeezes them together. It disgusts him almost as much as his hard-on. But he can look into his eyes, naked, vulnerable, unchanging and beautiful; he stares back at himself, into the darkness that rests in his dilated pupils, filled with every colour.
It is odious, he thinks, that he spends his thoughts staring at himself, perving on himself, hating and loving and wasting any peripheral emotion on himself – that fucker, loser, deadbeat – he swells with pride and hate and satisfaction.
But his voice – as he stares at his corneas and smells the mucus lodged in his nose – his voice transcends him. It is full and free and swings up and down in perfect crescendo. It fills his mouth and lungs and ears until it chokes him and leaves him gasping for the simplicity of emptiness. “I am beautiful,” he tells the mirror and he can’t help but believe it.
He is there now. His gut is plated on the desktop and the pleats in his shirt fondling his nipples, but he can feel none of it. Nobody notices this except for you.
“Welcome back,” says his voice. In a severed moment he doubts whether anyone could feel welcomed by the simple greeting of a stranger talking to himself.
“It is a beautiful Saturday morning and you are listening to Timothy Johnson.” He wonders who you are. You, sitting or standing, caught in the same fragments of sunlight, young (still), quiet, attentive, interested, bored, naked, smooth, bald skin, soft as velveteen, big tits. He swings his voice high and low, a symphony with silence.
Give me a call and let me know what (the fuck) you are (fucking) doing on this perfect (shit fucking) weekend.”
He is encased in glass. Three glass walls look in and out at the darkness outside the studio. In the gloom, the technician’s cigarette glows, a distant astroid burning up. Closer. Summer night. In the courtyard with Angela. Two little lights drawing moths and mosquitoes and maybe fireflies if they sit here long enough talking in the darkness. About what? About nothing; of course. About hate and love and the perfect mundaneness of their lives, waiting for death or some other surprise. She is fucking beautiful, naked in darkness. Under her clothes she is invisible.
And the fourth wall? A window. The sunlight that you see now. In front of you, around you, a forest, a city, the sea.
“And on Line 1 we have Susan from Hoppers Crossing – Susan how are you on this fine morning?”
Susan. S – U – S – A – N. Su – San. Sun. Sand. A summer’s morning on the beach. St. Kilda. The sun cracking on the sharp point of the horizon over the swell. She is next to him and the sand is tipping into her cocktail dress, red and blue and yellow, yellow sand and sun and her shoes between her fingers and her tongue between his lips, salty. Salt on his skin and crackling in his hair and his eyes. Closed. Darkness. Three walls. The final star smoking in the sky. Oh, Angela.
“I am fine, Timothy. I am just fine.”
She knows his name! But who is he? A voice in her ear, in breathless whispers. But she called him. She wants him, to speak with him, to be with him and share this moment; moment of what?
“And what are you doing this morning, Susan?”
“I am having a smoke on my break from work.” But why does she call him? God bless; she needs someone to talk to. That little light in the darkness. A star millions of kilometres across.
“And where do you work?”
“At a supermarket, I’m afraid.”
“You are afraid? What are you afraid of?”
“That you will judge me.”
“I would never judge you.”
“Thankyou, Timothy; you are very kind.”
“Then where would you prefer to work?”
“I don’t know. I think radio would be fine.”
“Really? Well do you want to throw to our next song?”
He closes his eyes and she is beside him. And in a moment she will touch him, kiss, her skin is velveteen. In the darkness, beside him. Her skin is warm. A little red pinprick in the darkness.

II. The Tomatoes

I am not the loving kind of person. This does not suggest I am incapable of love. I have had love and lost love and decided that love means nothing to me but a means to make others feel happy. But then I think that maybe I am lying. I honestly doubt the worth of love but an answer in some fantastical crossword. But then I am alone now. Alone with myself, my body, head and legs and arms and cunt. Alone with a pen and a sheet of ghostly white paper. Alone in the darkness of my sitting room at nightfall. Alone with the glow of a cigarette that illuminates two of my fingers on my left hand. And that is me. And I feel fucking free.
The last man to whom I said that I am in love is John Cassidy. Hairy. Gut hanging low slung. Hung. Snake’s tongue fused in the middle. But then I know I am lying. I mean, I loved him, didn’t I?
Today he came back to me, brushing my skin, against me, hating me, but he came back. I do not know the extent to which our meeting was preconceived. But I know this much: something, at least: he saw me, and then he came back to me. I have a trolley whose metal grate is filled with soup. High in delicious, creamy, low in flavoursome, tin cans in wrapping paper. I place another can on the shelf.
“Susan?” he says. I place another can on the shelf. My back faces him.
“John,” I say. And then we have depleted our conversation. I place another can on the shelf.
“I have been meaning to catch you,” he says. His breath reeks of passive smoke and mucus. I place a can on the shelf.
“Go away, John. I am at work.”
This is where he smiles his fat teeth and I am reminded of those hot sticky nights with the blankets knotted and twisted and kinked around our wrists and waists and ankles and you as you snored your lips blew away and those teeth! Luminescent and nipped with chicken scraps and stained with gravy. I place another can on the shelf.
“No, he says. I think I will stay right here if you don’t mind.” Teeth. Long. In a perfect line. I place another can on the shelf.
“Why did you leave me?” he asks with a mouthful of teeth.
I place another can on the shelf.
“John; please.”
“It is a simple question. It is one question. You know the fucking answer.”
“Watch your language in public.”
“Why did you leave me?”
I place another can on the shelf.
“Because I didn’t love you anymore.”
I place another can on the shelf.
I place another can on the shelf.
I place another can on the shelf.
I place another can on the shelf.
I place another can on the shelf.
“I don’t know.”
“Yes you fucking do.”
I feel the sweat from my palm against the tin. I turn to look at him. He is frowning his fat lips. I throw the can hard against the tiles. Right next to his fucking feet. It cracks in half right along the middle. Kinked. And the blood inside spatters against the business trousers I bought for him in New York and against my bare legs and across the cans and in a sappy pool in the tiles.
“What are you doing? Vandal!” I shout up and down and all around me, shout at his fat fucking lips.
Except that I am lying.
The can bounces off the tiles and rolls away down the aisle.
“What are you doing?” he asks. He is frowning. That part is true.
I reach right to the back of the shelf, as far back as I can reach, into the darkness, and then I run and listen to the cans on the tiles behind me. My eyes are closed. They are closed now. I do not know why.

III. The Pills

You have no reason to feel good, but you do. Maybe it is the thought of another cigarette. Maybe it is the porno mags splayed across your couch and the trousers that your girlfriend bought for you hanging off the back. Maybe it is the empty little plastic bottle caught in your fist. Maybe it is the thrill of spending an evening with the lights off. Simple. Stupid. Easy. But why? You have to know. Lonely fucker.
There is a knock at your door. Maybe. In the darkness.
“Mr. Cassidy?”
“This is Timothy Johnson, the landlord. Can I come in?”
He does not wait. He opens your door. Black grey white. Lights on. Everything is wrong. There is black gunk under your fingernails and grease perspiring from your scalp and little black hairs on the naked parts of your legs and your mouth smells like lost moments.
“Shit. It’s dark in here,” he tells you. Footsteps to the window. “And it is such a nice day outside!” He rips the tape from your curtains, outside is a red brick wall. As it always was. One day, you told yourself, you would lean across and paint something on there. But what? A forest? A park? A highway? A lady, naked changing at her bedroom window?
“Look at that. Look at that blue sky. Could you believe that it might ever rain again?”
“I don’t know,” you say. You are pulling your pants up and sweeping the magazines from your couch.
“Of course you don’t.” Of course you don’t. He lights up a cigarette. “Do you mind if I smoke in here?” And you smile back because you can’t help yourself. Slim white body, brown blob of hair, smoking from the mouth.
“So,” he says, “Show me around.”

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