Category Archives: Jazz Passages

My Fiction Prose… & Stuff

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A Quote

“They continued on, falling into habit, neither one willing to let go of the dream, the image of the writer and his muse. And so on a small island in a half-rate guesthouse they find themselves, the mediocre writer, his failed muse, and disappointment, inextricably tangled in the bed sheets together.”

Between Bodies Lie

Savage Circus

savage 2Chapter 19

Shots. They’re good in a bar, but never in the street.

Things are looking up, the fortune cookie had said.

I was just out of Chin’s Restaurant and a few steps along the sidewalk when I heard the race of the engine and then, a split-second later, the jack-hammer roar of the tommy gun as it let rip.

I fell to the cold ground in a hail of glass splinters and chips of rock, as the machine gun ripped into the shop front, parked cars and even chewed up a government mailbox.

I was deaf and there was blood on the side of my face, but I pulled myself to my feet as soon as the hammering stopped, my .45 in my hand. The car pulled away leaving skidmarks and I levelled my arm behind it. The Thompson barrel was still wobbling out the window, but it was too far gone for a clean shot. I got the plates though.

I decided to stick around for a while. Chin’s place was pretty trashed and one of his customers was down with a grazed shoulder. Glass or something had sliced the top of my left ear pretty good, a clean cut through that would require stitches. I didn’t complain though because I felt somehow responsible for poor Chin’s losses.

I just sat there quietly and bled.

Everything was a dull moan as Chinamen ran around me in a frenzy. And in fact I didn’t hear much of anything, until the faint sound of the cop car’s wail pulled right up next to me.

The Last Year

New-Years-Party-hands-in-air 4

The ballroom is filled with black and white, glitter and red, like a star strewn sky bleeding silk scarves and paper planes. Partygoer’s faces beam, smiling moons circling in pairs along the dance floor. He makes his way through this galaxy of merriment, nudged by unseeing shoulders, his steps uneven to avoid the trampling of polished heels. It is not a night to be alone. Most nights aren’t. But tonight with the brass band blare, it makes it impossible to hear one’s own thoughts. It is a night for communicating with smiles and fingertips and perhaps silent tongues.

For now he is lost in the thick of a human asteroid belt. He has never been fond of crowds. He remembers standing on the subway platform waiting for her. It was early January, the air chill and the snow and year still fresh. But not for them. They knew they were near the end, but they knew too that they could stretch it on for a few more months, surrender to their apathy, to the fear of being alone. After all there was still comfort to be had. Things weren’t all bad. They could still make love, each lost in their own pleasure. It would no longer be about the other’s movements, the other’s touch, the other’s rise. He would hold on, try to wait for her out of ego, out of pride, and sometimes he would succeed and it would be one less thing she could hold against him, one less fault or failure in the long list that would be his.

Cone hats read “Happy New Year”, held with thin pink rubber bands that pinch lines in the cheeks of wearers. Cheap paper cones on expensively coiffed hairdos, a stampede of bourgeois corner dunces. He continues to plow his way through.

They held on until March. By then the lovemaking had ceased, conversations were dull and meaningless. They were co-workers in the white walls of their apartment. In the mornings, sitting and drinking their teas, the rustle of a paper was enough to grate the other. But they were beyond arguing, their contempt lived in the silences. They would stay out late to avoid each other. Whichever one of them arrived home first would feign sleep when the next arrived. They would take turns and it was an act of mercy.

He was a good man, she had told him, and others had told him too. He wondered if it was true though; a million transgressions of thought, the secrets behind small kisses. Was he a good man, or just discreet? Perhaps discretion was the better part of valour. Did valour mean anything anymore? His parting with Miriam was a formal one. He kissed her pale forehead on the sidewalk and it felt of wax. She simply looked at him. There was no attempt to smile, no notion to cry. He had left long ago, this was merely a symbolic act, but there was no emotion on her face. That face he could have read so well before was a mask to him.

Someone grabs his arm in the crowd and he turns. A man, just another smiling face, greets him, pumps his hand and shouts seasonal trivialities that are lost in the din but all so standard they are echoed from all around him, waves crashing upon waves of hen-clucked best wishes. The man introduces him to his party; a stout Mrs. Santa Claus, a gold-dyed cadaver of a woman who threatens to swallow him with her eyes, and the cadaver’s husband. He says his silent greetings and steels himself against a round of exchanges before excusing himself. He pushes back out into the crowd, a ship bereft of compass.

He lost his way after Miriam – before really. He wouldn’t get trapped again. The idea of commitment to one woman was equivalent to suffocation. To think of that slow death, the life slowly stifled from caring, absorption. For several months there were only one night stands. He would fall in love for one night at a time. The girls changed, the love affair was between him and the female form, the feminine spirit and he celebrated the different forms it took. He could convince himself  that he loved each and every one of them, even transiently. It was a selfish love and yet it was also selfless, since he took so little, did not need to be loved in return but only desired.

It changed when he met Lena. He would like to be able to say that he knew it at once, that he recognized in her something different, but it wasn’t that way. He was drawn to her only as another representation of that feminine beauty. She was something of a pixie, with her short brown hair and sharp-cornered smile. She was what he would call “charming.”

He seeks her out now in the crowd, somewhere lost amid the faces, the bodies swaying and rocking around him. He thinks he makes her out, the short brown hair and thin form in a red dress and he fights his way forward. But as he reaches a few feet away he recognizes his mistake and scans the crowd again for her.

It was late September when he had arrived with a friend, a girl, one of the few he had made an exception for; he had slept with her twice and was here with her tonight in anticipation of a final rendezvous. Already on the lookout, he found himself talking to Lena all night. She was smart, perceptive. His date had showed signs of annoyance, but it didn’t faze him. Lena treated him with a streak of disdain, but was unable to hide their chemistry, her interest in him. They sparred in their conversation. He said things purely to antagonize her and though she knew it was his intention, she could not resist the urge to defend her points, to engage him further and challenge him in return.

It was this challenge that drew him in. It wasn’t that other girls had not challenged him, but there was something in the full presence of her curiosity, without invitation in her eyes, that made him feel studied and suddenly aware of himself. It dawned on him only in time; whereas with the other’s he wanted to know them intimately (drawn on by their intellects and ways), with Lena there grew the desire for her to know him as well, to not only know him but to approve of him and who he was.

It wasn’t until November that he was able to get her to agree to meet him. Each occasion they had gone out was on a pretext because she would not initially agree to go on a date with him. They became ‘friends’. Her term, though she knew he wanted more and was not resistant to his flirtations though she wouldn’t allow anything further. But she was softening to him over time, even as he softened, found himself thinking of her in ways he had not thought of a woman in some time; wondering how she would look in the morning waking beside him. His thoughts did not focus on the act of love making but the small acts of intimacy which would surround it, picturing conversations over a morning cup of coffee.

Things changed when she invited him to her family’s for Christmas. The invitation he knew was partly because she felt sorry for him. She was disarmed there and disarming. Hugging her knees on the couch, she smiled at him as he opened his present. Looking up he caught her and she didn’t hide, she was soft and open. He wanted to kiss her as he departed but restrained himself, settling for a press of his lips against her tousled crown. She pressed her cheek to his shoulder as they embraced.

He spots her back at a distance as the crowd’s drone rises to a pitch. Certain this time when he sees her profile, he begins an eager push forward. The music fades and he is about to call out to her when the voice blares on the speaker and then the crowd conspires in unison.

“Ten! Nine! …”

He had asked her to accompany him for New Years, to be his date. She had hesitated. Their friends were all going, she assured him she would see him here. She had. She had brought no other date. His old flame was there and eyed him disdainfully. “He’s with me,” Lena had stated, taking his arm, in what amounted to a challenge. No more was said.

He is baring closer but the crowd seems to squeeze tighter around him.

“Six! Five!”

They danced. He held her and she rested lightly in his arms saying nothing. It was comfort, it felt natural. A head shorter than him, she rested her cheek against his chest but he could not see her face turned out towards the crowd. Afterwards he had gone to the bar and savoured the intense internal stir.

She laughs, so close now, but still unaware of him two bodies deep behind her.

“Two! … One! …”

He reaches out, his fingers pass an inch from her hand, but miss the grasp.

“Happy New Year!!!”

Size Matters

“It’s sooo long,” she said in awe.

“I know,” I responded.

“What am I supposed to do with that?” she asked exasperated.

“What?”

“I mean, I don’t have time for that. I mean, I hardly think I have the time to spend on that, and it’s not like I’m sure that I’ll even like it when I’m done.”

It was not the response I was looking for.

Fine,” I said, knowing I was sulking, “don’t read my blog post.

THE END

????????

The Pool

In an attempt to commit to the blogging thing (as a means of keeping the writing muscles limber) I’ve decided to attempt one of the Daily Post’s Weekly Challenges ( http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/gonzo-writing-challenge/ ) … So here it is:

THE POOL

I arrive at the pool.

She lies stretched out like an offering on a white deckchair in the blazing sun – her blacked-out eyes,  long black hair, arms at her sides like something yet to be taken out of the box. Her olive skin is glistening. I wonder what sunblock she uses, what the SPF is. I wonder what SPF means and how many poor bastards had to sizzle to a crisp for them to figure out just the right formula. Or how many translucent pale bodies were driven mad in ghostly frustration before they realized that the formula was too much, that they were better off  using it as a cake frosting.

The pool is a mesmeric blue. My thoughts on sunscreen are thrust aside once again by how she lies there now, her body more like a lean meat cooking, a sleek sausage in a skillet. She has that slight glisten of bacon grease or maybe syrup. Syrup can be sexy. She looks covered in syrup. She is a syrup covered flapjack from one of those upper-scale breakfast houses…

I realize I haven’t had breakfast yet.

I take off my shirt and feel the grumble in my belly. It’s the price one pays,  I think, lowering myself all fish-belly pale into the cold blue. If I ate I’d have to wait two hours to swim. Those were the rules. Universal rules Moses brought down from The Mountain (where he must have swam in God’s Malibu villa) and then handed down from parent to parent, like how a crumb before dinner would spoil your appetite or how masturbation would send you blind.

I silently thank the Lord now for the tip – because nothing would be more embarrassing than cramping up here, sinking below these crystal chlorinated ripples to be found drowned in 3 feet 6 inches of water.  It just wouldn’t do. Not with a girl that beautiful sitting just a few feet away.

Stepping in, the water is so cold I feel my gravitational centre retreat. It knows better. I sink in and my system goes into some kind of shock. I can’t breathe for a second, but I pretend otherwise. Who needs to breathe on a beautiful day like this; a powdery sky overhead, sunlight glinting diamonds off of the water, blazing sun lashing my scalp while I freeze from the shoulders down, feet going numb, while sweat runs along my temples into my eyes, stinging them… My neck’s fine though. My neck’s happy as a clam.

I begin a slow breast stroke back and forth. The Girl doesn’t move. Maybe her eyes do, behind those big lenses, but I can’t tell. Maybe she’s blind. It’s romantic, I think. Blind, like my love is now, something pure for a stranger who can be anyone, anyone I can imagine. Because it’s all in my mind now. My body has no part in reacting to the girl on display. My body has bigger concerns – right now my body’s thinking about hypothermia, about survival. My body knows that a girl like that is no use to you if you’re stuck in a bed, running a fever while you’ve got chill, a shivering snot-filled mess. No, brother, if that’s your plan, may as well have a hearty breakfast and let it all end at the bottom of a shallow pool.

I go back and forth a few times. The view doesn’t change much. I’m like a goldfish, “Oh look, a horizon! … Oh look, a horizon!” Then I climb out slowly, casually, the oh so subtle tug of the swimsuit crotch which is scared of the temperature change and so clings to my privates for comfort. The Girl doesn’t seem to notice. She hasn’t moved the whole time. Maybe she’s dead, I think. Someone could have just left her here, murdered, neck snapped. We won’t know until she’s overdone, starts to cook in the sun, starts to burn. If the SPF is just right maybe she’ll incinerate, just burst into flame… Not a bad way to get away with murder.

Drying off is probably the best part. I feel invigorated. I should rub myself all over with a towel more often… in public… Well it’s probably the sun that makes the difference. I enjoy the fact that I can take full breaths again. I crave a cigarette. I dolls up, fixing my hair and donning my flipflops. I look back once more at the pool and it tries to seduce me back in, “Forget how cold I am… See how I glitter in the sun? … See how I sway so gently back and forth? … I could rock you like a baby…”

I won’t fall for that again. Not today anyway. I take a last glance at the beautiful corpse. Such a tragedy. I head inside thinking about breakfast.

Caskel’s Angel

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My story “Caskel’s Angel” was serialized in The New Local…. find the full thing here:

http://www.thenewlocalmag.com/tag/caskels-angel/

(and be sure to check the site for some great Caribbean writers)