Friday, January 30, 2009
FATHER: Yes son?
CHILD: What does "regret" mean?
FATHER: Well son, a funny thing about regret is, that it's better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven't done. And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, be sure and tell her SATAN SATAN SATAN SATAN SATAN SATAN SATAN SATAN--
I've made a resolution type thing to run 1,000 km by the end of the year.
So far I've run... uh... 104. I think.
I just checked and it's 104.
Monday, January 19, 2009
This was in 1997, I think.
We’d arrived in Philadelphia three hours earlier, we’d only just escaped from this con we got tangled up in at the train station, it was sort of a kidnapping thing. We had effectively been kidnapped for ten to fifteen minutes. But as Michael Ende says: “that is another story, and will be told at another time”.
All you need to know is that we were shaken up, scared, but also very relieved. Glad to be alive. We checked into this place, a university dorm that was empty over the summer and being used as a youth hostel.
Nat said: “Do you want to… I dunno, I mean it’s okay if you just want to stay in.”
I said: “No, I'm okay. Let’s go check out that music store.”
There was this music store in Philadelphia that Nat had heard about from his room-mate. It was supposed to be really big, with a good range of different stuff.
It was getting dark. Possibly in light of our experience that afternoon, Philadelphia looked like a cold, mean, dirty city. It looked like it meant us harm. Also it was hard to navigate. The music shop was in a “bohemian” part of town. It took us a couple of tries to find, but then there it was. It was closed, but opening again in an hour or so.
There was a bag lady standing near the door. When we got close she hobbled into our path and pointed at me. She said: “Hey. Hey you know who you look like?”
We didn’t really want to talk to her, but she was right there, so out of a sense of politeness I said: “What?”
She said: “You look like Eric Clapton.”
We laughed. I really didn’t look anything like Eric Clapton. My brother and I both had long hair, and I guess Clapton had long hair in the 60s or 70s, but the resemblance ended there.
Nat said: “Way to go.”
The old woman turned her finger to point at my brother.
She said: “You look like… Alice.” Her voice had a menacing tone.
I think Nat was losing patience with her, because he said: “Uh-huh. Who the hell is Alice, man?”
I thought she meant Alice Cooper, like maybe she was on a rock-star thing. (Note that this was years before the "Who the Fuck is Alice?" song.)
But the bag lady said: “Alice died this morning.” Then she burst into a peal of witch-laughter, exactly like creepy old women do in horror movies.Nat was pretty shaken up. We both were. And off the back of the thing at the train station, we both arrived at the same decision: fuck Philadelphia. We left first thing in the morning and spent the extra time in Boston instead.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
HERCULES: Father! I have defeated the Gorgonites!
ZEUS: Well done, Hercules. Your wrestling skills have saved Olympus.
But there is one more task you must fulfil. Remember the prophecy.
You must suplex each of us.
HERCULES: But… father! If I suplex you, you will die!
ZEUS: It is the prophecy.
HERCULES: No, father. I don’t care about the prophecy. I believe we choose our own destiny. In the Oracle’s pool I saw a vision of the future. Of a great man people called “Washington”…
(swell of heart-warming music)
…a man who showed his people the way to freedom, to become the greatest of nations!
(moment of awestruck silence)
(then an animal roar, a burst of drum and bass music)
ATHENA: Herc, look out! Behind you!
HERCULES: What the -!?
(roaring continues, with fighting sounds)HERCULES: Aaaa-tomm-iiic dropp!!!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This was late last week, or maybe the weekend. I’ve been having trouble sleeping but on this morning I slept in, woke up for a minute, then slept another hour.
Over breakfast I said: “I had the weirdest dream this morning.”
Staying with my parents, some kind of pre-Christmas celebration, and I’d given them a present: really expensive modelling clay. It came in bright colours and had special properties.
At night I stepped into the garage to take off my shoes. In the lamp light I saw the place was crawling with big insects. An orange beetle, a lime green praying mantis, a bright yellow butterfly. It was the modelling clay, of course. I called my parents to come and look. No-one had shaped it that way, it had come alive and shaped itself. I’m always nervous around big insects, but I had to admit it was a special moment.
One thing bothered me - later on, when I went to bed, I thought about the black clay. I remembered someone taking it upstairs. I almost went upstairs to check, but I was too tired, I couldn’t rouse myself.
I slept and slept. When I woke up it was afternoon and the house around me was silent, everyone else had left.
I went upstairs – in my parent’s house the bedrooms are on the ground floor, the kitchen and lounge upstairs – and stopped at the landing. Someone had cut Monty, my parents’ bichon freise, in half. Monty’s rear half had been stitched onto the rear half of a pit bull, and this hideous creature with four legs, two asses and no head was trying to cross the landing towards me. It was growling, but it couldn't walk properly, both sets of its knees facing inwards.
I found a spade downstairs, ran back up and lopped it in half, right along the stitches. It fell apart into its two pieces. The empty cavities inside (its bowels were missing) let out puffs of humidity. It was dead. It smelt like a butcher’s.
I found Monty’s front half in the next room – pieces of glass or crystal had been studded into his body in a precise grid. His face was an expression of anguish and death. No sign of the pit bull's front half.
The black clay. I looked around the room, but it had either hidden itself or fled. I knew it wasn’t safe to stick around, so I took the car and drove off.
My plans for the afternoon were to attend a concert in the Hutt. Some of my friends were going to be in the concert. I met up with everyone outside the auditorium, and we hung out in the sun while we waited.
“You were there,” I told Quincey. She likes it when she pops up in my dreams.
But all the while I was worrying about the situation at home. I’d fled the scene, I hadn’t called anyone. It would look like I’d gone crazy and killed my parents’ dog. I loved that dog! I couldn’t get it out of my head, but on the other hand I couldn’t bring myself to get home before my parents. I had a child’s trust that they'd sort everything out when they got home: bury the dog, find the black clay and destroy it.
Quincey listened through the whole thing. Afterwards she said: “You have some pretty disturbing stress dreams.”Stress dreams, I thought. Yeah. It’s stressful being in a new country, no job, no friends, dwindling financial resources. Maybe when I find work I’ll go back to having regular dreams.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
There was a paved square dominated by a huge tree and an old stone church. There were some great little streets and alleys, and there was also this one long and very ugly street running along the train tracks. There were shops on this street, but most of them were closed or abandoned.
There was one shop, at least I assume it was a shop, standing on its own at the end of the road. It had a yellow facade. There was no sign or advertising. Nothing was written on the door, which was windowless and closed.
It had a window display, though. The window display was this: a teddy bear dancing on an empty grey stage. The teddy bear was missing one of its button eyes, and stuffing had pushed out through the socket. One of its arms was much longer than the other. “Dancing” isn't quite right – it was jerking and twitching. It was the most loathsome and horrifying thing I had seen for months.I watched it for a while. Whatever mechanism was making the thing move was hidden from view. I thought: maybe I’m dreaming this.
I left. Later that day I was walking with a friend, returning to my house by another route. I said to my friend: “Wait, you have to come see this.”
It was a 10 minute detour, and I almost couldn’t find my way, but there was the shop and there was the bear. My friend had an instant and violent reaction to it. He said: “Why did you bring me here? This place is evil.”
I said: “I thought you’d want to see it.”
“Why did you think I’d want to see it? This place is dangerous, especially to someone like me.” I should explain: my friend claimed to have psychic powers, and he’d told me that this made him particularly vulnerable to supernatural forces.
Then he said: “Look.” He pointed to the ground, to where the corpses of two pigeons lay just in front of the shop. I watched the bear for a moment longer, and began to wonder whether my friend might have had a point about all of the psychic business after all.
“Sorry,” I said.I walked out there again a week later, but the window had been covered with newspaper.