The Rejected

DeSpayer was a thin Count, mucky, but on the outside top line black waist-coat and bow tie. Only the nose (shaped like an arrow head), gave any indication of irregularity. This quiet statesman kept his poly amorous souls buried in the thickest soil. Deep beneath the villa, golden rays warmed the mountain top and at it’s bottom, Atlantic rapids blanked the rocks to ice the prison boundaries.

Chad and Martin III, the poor Easygate: so young and hard and lost, the richer sibling Grace, Waldo (of gardens), each withered away one by one. In turn, in that carved out hollow, they passed around their stories of who they were before. They passed on their skills. They held each other strongly. After the first month, the captor was only spoken of indirectly: Valiantisha wth the spike in her chest, and Harry, who called himself The Battered, were the last remaining. Raw worm and accidental fish were not enough to keep the scourges gone. Waldo would not last long.

She bound and grabbed Grace’s legs and dug days and nights. Likewise with Harry. Using Easygate’s shoulders, he knocked rocks from out of the way. Valiantisha barely knew Chad, the first architect of their space then and once again as his body held up the fortifications they had hard won. It was Autumn when their white forms emerged from one dangerous side of the cliff. Waldo was first, his lifeless head a shovel. As the way became clearer, Harry emerged but blocked the hole for a while before the situation dawned on Valiantisha. She tossed his body over to the unforgiving expanse below. As ordered she had stripped the shoes from his feet first and marched them towards DeSpayer’s bedroom were she put an elbow bone through the Count’s skull.

The Count’s living room was sofas built of clean sponge parts, baige loungers in an open planned suite, with minimalist features. The glass was open to the sun, wine red shag curtains remote controlled for days of torrential assault. Between the oriental rugs, in the centre a jewel was embedded. When the time suited DeSpayer, the subterranean victims appeared there in hologram. They screamed in dental anguish, dirt leaked from the curtains. Cut open, wounds appeared as the rejected scrabbled against wooden dividers. Over time as the show was uglier, ivy grew, and Valiantisha drew nearer. Her money was enough to buy new cameras and commission a new show, called The Rainbow of Damage Control. DeSpayer’s former business colleagues were murdered in a manner much like the great purges. Assets were seized: it’s okay to call it pest control if pests are culled.

The Rainbow of Damage Control Show featured planes in emergency evacuation missions. Thousands of people airlifted in a 24 hour challenge. Flat pack transformer fortress were dropped for those unable to leave. Valiantisha died an old woman in a happier world.

The Rat Files

Stormont was an iconic parliament building, three levels of ten windows along either side of six columns out front. After the War, the removable paint never really removed, and the building lost the ‘white house’ look. Despite that, the hill added to it’s stature and Stormont was visible from various parts around Belfast. No parliament could sit in the long low intensity conflict, so there was no heavy security installation. Instead the building had a heritage house feel, albeit closed, though the acres around were publicly open. Our family moved to the area in 83, and my brother and I would take the ball ten minutes for a kick about the grounds, which were green and wide.

One day while watching the Roland Rat Show, Roland announced he and Kevin would tour the UK. This was sort of big. Roland was the fore-runner to the grunge movement, a brash, outrageous knit. He didn’t care for pleasing the typical lot with demand for primary colours. He was grey and animatedly pushed boundaries. He was arrogant, translated as, self-confident for a reason. Kevin the Gerbil by contrast was so pink, so welcoming, that his straight-ness was bent, gay iconic with an unassuming air. And maybe, Kevin was Roland’s beard. Jokes were made of his subservience, but his agenda of conformity opened up not just the Marxist dialogue, but also that of social interactionism. For conformity had it’s reasons. The biggest news.

The biggest news in all this was that Northern Ireland was recognised as the fourth region of the UK. Roland Rat Superstar was to ignore the Irish sea, fuck a two fingers to the war of the Troubles, he was coming. Blue Peter didn’t bother, ITV’s many paranormal productions never filmed here, John Craven treated us with the same black-out mentality as Police Six, which was supposed to be local! So, Graeme and I made our plans. One Friday morning, after London, Roland announced they were coming. We got mum to make sandwiches, and packed an apple, and a biscuit from the biscuit barrel, into a green plastic (Tupperware) container. By mid-day we were at the gates of Stormont. We kicked the ball diagonally, broad strokes, hoping that it might be intercepted by a film crew.

By Sunday gate closing we were worried. It was the summer holidays and come half eight the next morning we set off for what we were sure would be a live show. Roland never came. We heard it in the air that yes, indeed, he was in Northern Ireland. So why hadn’t he come? On Tuesday with lunches, no Roland, no Kevin. Not even Errol the hamster. We ate everything we had and stayed on two hours after the show ended. I told Graeme we might see the crew set up for the next day, but it was probably desperation on my part, I could see he had given up. On Wednesday I left the ball behind and when it became clear he wasn’t showing up I ran home. Graeme confirmed Rat On The Road had reached Northern Ireland, in some place called Ballycastle. One of the Ballys, one of the Castles. It didn’t sound too impressive.

On Thursday I stayed in the living room and watched as the TV-AM cameras tried to show the hexagonal stepping stones known as Giants Causeway and the wild exposing ocean. The two slithers of sock puppets traversed these inter-locking columns, their missing feet skipping the playfulness. A sixty million year old rock formation, it was suggested comedy happened, as Roland and Kevin’s wires were blown across the wide open landscape. There was no rain and I was unconvinced. I can’t care what happened on Friday. By Monday, he and Kevin were in Wales. There were no people there. I didn’t care about that either, how he’d much rather follow an isolationist agenda. By Tuesday he met people, were he hoarded cheese, and lorded it over them. Wales was the birthplace of Errol the hamster, but The Rat made quite clear Errol was only in the band to suit his prerogatives. By Wednesday, Roland had the people of Wales by the balls. Errol was a lost figure, Kevin was a dithering sycophant, the puppet government was in place.

Tenement Tao

The cleverest things in the world are the toughest to speak of concisely. Our marriage had hit a rut and the only way for it not to die, to not slip through grass to a ravine, was to talk. It wasn’t about always telling the truth, sometimes I lies so she would follow, and sometimes I’d not talk, and she’d sing. Caught inside one another, watching each other smile. Electrack Street, Garbage City was behind us for Sublime, a small village were people emitted pink love hearts as they passed. I recall unpacking one box and wondering at what point we’d thrown out the stereo. The Flaming Lips, under a thick sheet of dust. Well, that couldn’t go in Jonas’ nursery.

Marry-Jane and I listened: every bawl, every wail, every boo-oo-aa. We were glad we’d traded Electrack Street for him; every moment, though, he was so tiny, like a little sausage cartoon clone of me, every moment was not not precious. There was noise, and noise and ringing scorching headache. When sleepy, he was a doorway to a world of New Age delivery, of de-cluttered living. We basked in him like he was the Tahiti sun, our perfectly put together boy. He walked and said, “Air”.

He stopped screaming and the night reminded me of my own parents. At the dock, after hours waiting for the boat to come in with Dad getting a sleep behind the wheel and Mum making us juice from the caravan behind. The other children, between the still cars, and the lorries. It was something deep black and spiritual, a promise of pioneering as harboured boats chimed in the wind. It was going to be okay.

There was no acid then, no wrong vinegar. Sure, he got into trouble, but nothing too off. Just like any other boy, except I got the feeling he was improving the curve. He had a paper round which he took some pride in. That Christmas his mum and I gave money for choice. That was the moment when we let One Direction into our home with their wonderful song-writing skills, their catchy tunes and refreshing perspectives teaching the three of us the way of the world.

Exactly a year later, Jonas burned tied to the basement table, while Mary-Jane and I wrapped wheels through LA streets, boiling petrol towards our new lives in Alaska.

Bloody Templates

Stick

I can see in the dark. It’s not deadly. There’s layers, and things we bring. Memories, grins, carrots and hummus, shades of sun, different colours. (I have a lot of white) Some memories are very strong, I’ve lived here for years. No music plays now, but I remember Blake Leyh’s closing credits to The Wire which sound like the marina car park, the Flaming Lips Yoshimi rock opera of holiness. When the electric increases it’s range I’ll feel comforted, but sometimes I like the risk. Crossing to the far end without knocking anything over is my own private talent show. Somewhere in those late hours I’ll let a mess grow. I’m going to step away from the screen now. I can see what’s at the other end, although it’s dark.

Flee Street

Do you wanna publish? Do you wanna publish? Let’s go. It’s periodicals. Drive the barons of the papers out of business. And you’ve got a team of writers ploughing through human rights periodicals. We’re communicating. Periodicals, easy cheap. Permanent type is so 18th century dear. Not 1,000 per vendor – five in every shop. Committee hyperfiction. And we’re in the exhibition about exhibitions now exhibiting our own exhibition journals and A4e bomb planes bastardise the flesh of forty year old language teachers who were once little children.

And that teachers a terrorist, and you’re a terrorist: Monica, Colin, Tracey, Hugh, Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha the headline. Christopher in Serial Naplaming Shock, Ha Ha Ha, and now we can all sleep, because it’s 11 a.m.

Aren’t they ready to learn? Rosaleen? Can’t we teach these painters of crap? Learn. It’s fun. Next person. Shh. Learn. Ha ha ha Headline.

But My Finger

There, the most floatiest macaroon lemur Todd rode midday. Cantaloupe no surprise raffles canyon feathers back back and give security. Wax scaffold fun ordered Molly Coddles’ barber flying, now I’m on line. Boaters’ Margarette was the cake – commercial yet co-operate, social animal.
“I know you meant Battenburg”, said Paul.
“It’s time you woke up and learned the truth”, spoke the megaphone, but my finger pointed up to improvised paradox dream laid manifesto to save the macaroon lemur.

Doodles Writer in September

Faith sketches, they might have been called. A long-backed rhomboise mounting a flap-bad owl spectra ship. The other had a butterfly’s look but also French Toast marked by black ink outlines repeated. The antennae might have been twigs, or cherries, and were accompanied by a commercial witch’s broomstick. Flow lines.

Travelblog : Ballycastle

I’d managed to book Rathlin for Monday sailing and an overnight, miscalculating that I’d three nights before that was happening. The Backpackers Hostel on the Promenade looked tacky outside but Ann-Marie kept a homely comfortable place that felt like mine. Sophie’s advice about hosteling with private rooms was bang on. (German pyro-eejit, out of sight) Realising I might be exceeding reasonable chips and ice cream cone portions, it was time to move on. I booked a night twenty minutes along the coast, in Ballintoy before Rathlin, and thirty minutes along the coast in Portrush after. Here’s a short story I wrote before leaving….

Ballycastle

 

The outdoor gym is crawling with weans; the age abandoned allocated play park. Besides them, striped shirt hairy man writes, pound-saver bargain book resting on a round grey granite table. So smoothly sculpted from the rock, his fingernails are left with no scratch as they move under the pen. The people saunter. It’s a holiday and he wouldn’t mind some sex. Under 500 words ought to allow him the quickie he desires, but no. He wants time with the reader, the return of communications. He doesn’t know, despite experience, if the book will reach multitudes. He sensually caresses hyper-narrative.

From the park’s edge, Andy looks out over the final green hump. The two ginger boys are still playing, now joined by a man. They’re in matching navy coats, they could be twins. Sand trivia chucks have become a mound, brittle sticks waving battlement’s pains. The man with them doesn’t get involved, merely contemplates, his body stretching light. After a while he walks to the sea and the boys follow him. There’s a log he is sitting at, like a storyteller with the boys on the camel grains at his read. The footprints of book woman are blown across now by a wind, niggling, really niggling we are to see it. It’s barely traced. It’s there, in the vast expanse of the Irish sea. Invisible everywhere, down to the sliding breakers, roars hugging, turning over, to a loopy line shape, curtains drawing on the shore. Man, boy, skimmer stone.

Forty yards and the shore curves to an inlet; lagoon’s edge: eleven children air sail rocks. They’re back and forward but not enough for me to know their stories. A woman eyes me as she walks past. I wonder if she thinks I’m a paedo. Someone needs to do a survey about that psychic terror shit. Her partner looks back as well. Most people are over forty here. There’s no sun in the sky and I notice on the way to telling you it’s warm, that there hasn’t been all day.

A mother with nice books takes a pink kart to the far end of the park. They have a motor fountain, eight jets shooting from the ground, and kiddies scream in the middle. Jogger runs past them. Tribes of pram pushers stroll far. An aunt sits middle on the wall. Little bastard! There was a wasp in my bag, okay? Just when the black and white bounder dog pissed on a seat and the woman twirled like no-one saw. A kid plays nearby, a jack-o-lantern smile, freckles, bush hair in front of big teeth. The wasp might still be circling. Why are we culling badgers when we could slay wasps? Scientist may testify.

The stream of people are less, but it’s not dawning time. They’re behind me, a family of about twenty. The jogger is nowhere to be seen. There’s not a ginger around. I have a remarkable view but time were left to someone else. Passing, I smile.

The Ten Minutes Ballad

Following is the poem composed on the TitanCon coach tour. It was written about chairperson Phil Lowles, though also a thank-you to tour planner Doreen/Silverjaine, the courageous Ian Lawther, Jackie, Lis and all the volunteers too.

1. They took us down
To the end of a long and narrow road
That’s as far as it would go
The coach, it would stay
And don’t worry, said Phil,
It’s only ten minutes away

2. We were walkin’, ten minutes,
Along the stony grounds of the ‘wold
The wall, it came between us
And kingdom’s grass, wet and cold

3. And the sun did set, and the sun did rise
And we lifted berries to survive,
From the road-side
The little ones yearned for caffeine
Ten minutes of moors, valleys, rivers
Ten minute miles of mountainside

4. We were getting skeptical
And we feared it was a trap
Phil The Second by the gate said,
“No it’s only ten minutes
I can prove it with this map.”

5. We’d gone too far away from The Wellie
My beard had grown to my belly

6As we climbed our great height
We could see horizon to horizon
And our coach was not in sight.

7. And our fathers and our mothers
Told us tales of a picnic spot
Crippl’d we buried them by cow-piles
Oh, they dreamed of Westeros props

8. Struggles, slouching uphill
Visions – of those past
Telling us to look for dragons
We were good for plaster cast

9. And we reached a ruined abbey
Ten hundred years on
Manuscripts, they spoke of Sat’erday
Ancestral memories, something called
TitanCon

10. Don’t worry, said Phil
I can still save the day
We can go back to the bus
It’s only ten minutes
Away

c. 2013 by Andy Luke, Cat Jones and Stephen de Meulemeester

Thanks all the con goers for sharing the love, and a reminder I’m trying to create something new each day here. Don’t be a stranger!

THE BILL ARE HOSTAGES AT XMAS

(Synopsis not a review, I hate those uh-rr!)

The Bill was on last night. At first thought t’was Eastenders because black couple yelling, “That’s bullshit!” There was a big man like Dara O’ Brien sneaking around The Bill under gun seige but he turned out to be a baddy when captured by Crazy Weasel Cheese Face who shot the kid and got two guns. The Other Bill were watching on camera – Skegness Bowie and Desk Lady Face. They had lots of cameras – it was The Bill with swears. Big budget. SWAT teams. The Other Bill were watching lots of screens from their Xmas Party in a pub.
Meanwhile, Dara O’Brien kneed an officer a punch. Weasel Cheese let him go get more blue towels (Weasel Cheese loved blue towels), but Dara covered them in 3×5 litre vegetable oil and set them on fire. Then I sat down to write this plot synopsis. When I looked up, all the hostages were outside in the smoke. Leather jacketed Dara punched Weasel Cheese against a car. A car! He punched him against a car.

Next: A car is spinning, and a young un has his hands up in the air. A girl is yelling at a cop. She’s like a bad un from Eastenders, but not a Jeremy Kyle bad un; only is some.

End credits: A car driving round. Different streets. Could be a taxi? Car. Driving. A Street. Drives. Pales by comparison with THE FEET.

Don’t cross-reference this, remember it like I do.

Little green box

Little green box with a screwed in blade
for running by blunted pencil.
Well, the pencil runs around it,
around and around,
the cylindrical shaft.
I’m really fucked off,
The noise outside
I don’t care

I don’t care
Can you not discipline your child
Without instructing the whole street?

This sharpener will rescue me
I shake lose the broken lead:
It was to be expected,
It was only the top.
It falls onto the floor, I turn again
I’ve got this horse and it’s body is a mosaic
And I suppose the ears are like flowers
Crack

Remove pencil, check
And another piece of lead falls
The bridge over the cylindrical shaft is broke..
Oh, don’t let me down!

I suppose this only costs 19p
I try again and hold it firmer.
Turns the blade, turns the blade
And the lead breaks again.
I take the pencil out
And hold it forward
And twirls around and
Damn!
It hit’s the
bin perfectly.

Compased as part of Monica Cornish’s Creative Writing Workshop at the Bounce! festival 2013.

The Code is This (Expanded)

I’ve gotten my back in knots of fucking sadness trying to find something inspiring to write today, so I’m getting out the expanded version of an old favourite. You can read the ‘first part’ at https://andy-luke.com/2013/07/18/the-code-is-this/

“Aeroplanes aren’t yellow granny. That’s an old tree, and I love old, old trees.”

There is breeze.

As I sit and write this to you, another kid plays among the small birds on land. A goose is staring at me. He has been staring through the railings with another who only has one eye fixed on me. Standing like monarchs. I turn my gaze to  a fuzzy little duckling, a yellow child.  Suddenly, the kid gets too near it and the geese turn their heads from him and hiss. The kid cries and runs off and away, happier and his mother feeds them all from a bag of bread. Several of the shit-heads find their way out and it only takes one four claps to send them all away, but later they return to the mother with the bread bag: the monarch geese, the mallards and  self-respecting lapwings.

The birds trust me now: the little grey and white flecked lapwings looks like a pigeons  with manners and self-respect. There is another bag of bread. She has gone to. That was GEC08 just disappearing over the bird island.

This is all on your phone as you walk and walk to who knows where. It started with happy solitude at the bank were a fish-like bird dived and you followed the trail. Into green green paths through trees, cool serene airing until you were wrapped in them and their oxygens got inside you and your knots are snapped. This is the time you escaped to England, this is the time you escaped to Wales, this is Northern Ireland, this is patriotism. This is a song and a flag and worth getting the skin out for your chums. This is the best thing about religion and people looking at one another, and strangers. The code is this.

The Pub That Richard Forgot

“I think Andrew dreamt it”, said Stephen. Ten times we’d talked it to the dead end and my claws screamed at the blanked memories. Sure it was dark, it was a pub, its light darkened by lodge brown venetian blins. The tables and the bar were a deep hue. It was Richard took me there: another pint with Adam, here’s to sloshed Lee. Someone’s away for agess: with a girl, a cigarette machine that spun off into a mini-series? Or the bar? The only other area lit.

Richard looks at me and I wonder do these memories even provide these lights. It’s been washed off the map in a flash flood of lager.

“I’m not imagining it!” I plead. “It’s up the Crescent or Botanic…Yeah, I was talking to Dawn and she knew where I meant. The Courtyard or The Vineyard or something.”
Richard integrates the new data, searching, acquiring…”Hmm, I wonder.” In my opinion, he’s getting nowhere.
“Look!” I claim the pen.
“On the outside, it’s a small building..” I scrawl a rectangle for a cottage and the trees on each side. Then a wall in front. The gap for the path is very small, only one to two persons can get through at a time.
“AND IT’S INDEPENDENTLY OWNED TOO!” I assure.
“I can’t say I recall”, says he who has clearly been there four times. “It’s not Garfields is it?”, and in writing I think he knows now were I mean. Garfield’s was a public toilet.
“I think he means a place inside his head. If we were miniaturised and piloted a capsule in there we’d find it.”
“Right! I say we got up to Botanic now!” I have raised my voice. “I can get us there”
“I don’t know that we’d have time.”
All the way across the Corn Market cascade, with the people that zip and shuffle and line shop fronts, the kettled cattle. The cars of Chichester Street, Royal Avenue, traffic lights in front of crossings. There are Cafe Neros and Starbucks in this city. Its a grid, no diagonal cuts: grid, grid, grid between us and the bus station that is only halfway to Botanic’s maybe place.

“We’ll do it another day” we agree and Stephen remains with the book, Richard is out the door, and I’m looking at you.