Star of wonder

December 25, 2013 at 7:22 am | Posted in Poem | Leave a comment
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How did I get so lucky?

Lucky.

From the darkness

To the light,

I ain’t so good

At Silent night.

But in the void

A star appears:

Pure as diamond;

Bright and clear.

It is your heart.

You are my guide.

You have my life.

You’re on my side.

And though I dwell

Apart from most,

You are the one

Who brings me close.

Bride Sniping

November 22, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Posted in Short Story | 4 Comments
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Marty did not want to hand in his gun.

Marty cradled the Ruger Sportsman lovingly, Circassian walnut cool against his cheek. In the lush park below, a puff of earth appeared beside the carved fairy tree.

Deidre gathered his grimy jacket around her knees. ‘Jesus Marty, can we go now? You said “one shot” – that’s three! I’m cold, and we’re going to get caught if we stay any longer!’

Counting to ten in Latin, Marty laid his weapon with exaggerated care on its carry sheath and faced his girlfriend. She looked away as he stroked her bra strap, then put her hand over his. Marty slid his fingers around her throat, his voice quiet and measured.

‘You insisted on coming, remember? I explained to you in detail the importance of today’s exercise. You said you understood my pain and would support me during this difficult time. I’m almost finished. You can either stand by me…’

‘Or what?’ Deidre plucked at his iron grip, tears welling.

Marty stilled and his eyes clouded.

She shuddered. ‘OK baby, I’ll support you. I’ll wait. I’m sorry.’

He endorsed her capitulation with one look and returned to the business of the day. Taking a cloth from his bag, he carefully wiped his hands then pressed them to his face, exhaling slowly.

New laws would soon separate him from his beautiful machine. After agonising deliberation, he’d decided not to seal it in his bedroom wall. Though the risk was slim, discovery would mean jail and he wasn’t going back there for anything.

Settling face down into the travel rug, Marty clutched his rifle and peered past the air conditioning units. The barren roof of the office tower was deserted, as it had been since dawn. Deidre curled into a ball between his splayed legs, warming them pleasantly.

He breathed carefully: in while looking away and out with each return to the sight. Gradually his concentration returned, along with the sense of solemnity he desired.

**********

The Fitzroy Gardens are a paradise for brides: rolling meadows, mighty avenues, follies and ponds. Dozens marry there each year. Hundreds more come for photographs. As a consequence, the gardens have become Melbourne’s premier bride sniping ground.

It began during the recession. Intersections filled with menacing youths, smearing car windscreens with jagged rubber devices. Oblivious to protest, they extracted change from red-light maroons, then fled before two-minute tides.

With the traffic-light market quickly cornered, the poor had to seek alternatives. One Saturday, a dishevelled woman approached a regal bride at the end of her photo session.

‘I’ve just taken two dozen behind-the-scenes shots of your lovely party.’ The dishevelled woman produced a film from her battered Pentax.

The bride regarded her sternly. ‘Yes, I saw you. I wondered why you were creeping around in the bushes like that.’

‘They’re yours for twenty bucks.’

An excited bridesmaid scampered up. ‘What’d you get?’

‘Oh, the best man tripping over the Esky; you pinning the broken strap; the chauffeur pinching a champagne. That sort of thing.’

‘And you want twenty?’

‘Yeah.’

The bridesmaid fished a note from her purse and traded it for the roll, which she pressed into her sister’s gloved hand.

‘Present, babe; from me. Who knows? Some of them might be ace. And what’s twenty bucks on your wedding day?’

‘Too right,’ beamed Melbourne’s first bride sniper, before darting away.

The craze spread like wildfire. From Collins Place to the steps of Parliament, photo sessions were plagued. Canny snipers raided opportunity shops for frocks and morning coats. Thus camouflaged, they became the bane of professional photographers.

Police were disempowered after early arrests led to lawsuits from snap-happy relatives (whose only crime was poor dress). Composition went out the window, ruined by strangers in frayed formal clothing – leaping, grinning and holding ancient cameras aloft to capture every Special Moment.

**********

Martin Banff had been a bride sniper. An honours degree in arts had earned him only a brutal factory job. Desperate for a better life, he took a redundancy package and failed miserably in a lawn mowing franchise – flogging his recalcitrant ride-on to death in a hailstorm.

He next tried pizza delivery, only to be savaged by the wolfhound of an incautious pensioner.

Too proud for the dole, Martin decided to use his expensive Canon rather than pawn it. He targeted an early morning wedding in his best suit and was immediately arrested. He was the first victim of bridal party fight-back, in which family friends pointed out unfamiliar faces to hired guards (who checked identities before calling police).

Martin was given the option of prison or a fine. Too ashamed to contact anyone, he chose incarceration.

On his last morning, four assemblies of sweat, tattoos and missing teeth held him down while a fifth went sloppily last. Marty’s atrophied personality shattered. He returned to society with only mismatched shards. And the human immunovirus.

He secured a cleaning job and a paper round. He rented the cheapest flat. He saved. A disinterested member of his father’s shooting club for years, he started honing his skills with the weapon he’d received for his eighteenth birthday.

He grew to understand and respect it. Then he fell in love with its latent power and began polishing it behind bent venetians in a nightly ritual of obeisance.

He picked up a girl at an early opener pub and told her he was infected. She didn’t care. A fragment of his former self insisted on condoms. Each night Marty sat smoking in the shadow of his rusty balcony – watching tar-bound trees and car parts and vowing revenge on those responsible for his heinous prison experience.

But before his ideas could crystallise, Tasmania’s Port Arthur massacre triggered a revolution in gun laws.

Marty had neither the time nor the resources to identify his targets. Morose and irritable, he spent hours with his rifle, bitter that their brief affair was almost over. Like meeting the perfect girl on school holidays and knowing he’d never see her again, Marty decided to make the most of his remaining time.

The Ruger was beautiful. Sleek and compact, its oil sheen was a potent pheromone to the fluttering thing in Marty’s brain. Cool even in summer, the blued steel clove to his face whenever he sighted: at the television, the toaster, a neighbour’s silhouette or the pulsing temple of his sleeping girlfriend.

Each leapt large in the powerful scope, free from fetter and his to dandle without interference.

He did not want to hand in his gun.

**********

Marty took a sick day on the last Friday of the amnesty. Restless and depressed, he hired Lawrence of Arabia, again. For the seventh time he watched Peter O’Toole stagger from Turkish headquarters, beaten and raped almost to death.

Later came Marty’s favourite scene. Mounted on a white stallion, beneath the disapproving glare of Omar Sheriff, Lawrence regarded a fleeing enemy column and screamed with spittle-flecked mouth and wild eyes, ‘No prisoners! No prisoners!’ Unable to resist his passion and conviction, his entire army joined him in massacre.

Marty brooded in the gathering darkness. Lawrence’s tormentors hadn’t been part of the column. Yet his revenge had been absolute. Perhaps the death of any bride would grant Marty the catharsis he craved. One shot, one life – and goodbye to his lovely, lovely Ruger.

The following day was Saturday; the office building he cleaned nightly would be deserted. The roof overlooked the place where he’d been arrested.

**********

Marty pocketed his jeweller’s screwdriver. The scope had taken a knock during the fifteen-flight ascent. Nerves were doubtless interfering as well. After this last adjustment, however, he was confident of accuracy.

He panned to a grove of elms, far from grey suits and gay dresses. Pale leaflets trembled in a gentle breeze.

The possums lay curled together like caterpillars. Marty selected an old, grey male. With a harsh PFFFTT! the bullet rocketed from the Ruger’s silencer. Marty observed the distant impact and the insane scramble of bloodied, sunblind animals. The sight was fine.

The bride was tall with sharp cheekbones and almost horsy teeth. She was handsome rather than beautiful; features to last long after pretty faces had gone to pot. Marty watched her laugh and converse with her entourage.

The rotunda ceremony had been brief; now champagne sparkled. The solid groom stood next to his wife, arm round her waist as if to stop her growing any taller.

Licking his lips, Marty settled his crosshairs over the woman’s heart. Her décolletage rose and fell. Abruptly, she stooped to kiss an elderly man – the father-in-law, if size ran. Marty switched aim to the back of her head. Annoyingly, she then left the rotunda to embrace a knot of friends.

Marty regarded his gun and suppressed a choke of sorrow. Behind him, Deidre snored softly. Sunshine streamed onto his unruly hair, the effect mildly intoxicating. First it heightened his sense of loss. Then, as he basked, it made him feel light-headed; even reckless.

The week had been serious and depressing. Now he was safe in his hiding place. His would be the first crime of its kind in Australia. Surprise guaranteed escape. Could he not have a little fun before consigning the Sportsman to destruction?

With mounting excitement, Marty targeted the groom’s champagne glass. How tempting to take it out first, just to spice things up. He grinned, then gasped as the flute exploded into a cloud of particles. His mouth fell open.

‘What the F*CK?’

He checked the safety, which he’d applied automatically on taking out the possum. He looked at the crowd. There was consternation, but not panic; the groom was uninjured. Had he gripped the glass that tightly? Marty shook his head at the coincidence then rose to his knees and stretched – scanning the horizon to refresh his eye.

Deidre murmured a sleepy protest and pulled a corner of the rug over herself. To his right, Marty noticed a breath of steam drifting from a pipe in the neighbouring roof’s air conditioner. Eyes wide with disbelief, he crouched back into cover and levelled his binoculars at the pipe, just in time to see it withdraw.

He wrenched his gaze back to the wedding party. The bride lay among bent heads, carmine blooming rapidly on her breast.

Stunned, Marty turned to see a dark figure sprinting to the stairwell. Through blinding rage he brought his weapon to bear on the fleeing assassin who had stolen his idea and ruined his revenge. Leading slightly and allowing for the breeze, Marty fired.

And missed.

The round smashed into a louvered window, echoing loudly. The figure dropped, rolled and came up scanning for the source of attack. Marty froze, monitoring his target’s fervent search. From St Vincent’s Hospital came the wail of ambulances.

Concentrating on his opponent’s next move, Marty tried to ignore a strange flicker of light playing over the opposite roof. Then the sun dazzled him and the penny dropped. The scope! Its caps were off! Marty lowered his weapon in panic and the reflection flicked over the face of Bruno De Souza, who immediately fired at the sparkling source.

The bullet slammed into Marty’s cover, releasing a vicious jet of coolant. Deidre sprang in terror from the screaming plume. Bruno saw her vault and was surprised at her sex. Without hesitation he drilled three rounds into her body, cocked his head toward the sirens and reached for the door to safety.

Marty stared aghast at Deidre’s broken form, then took fresh aim. Bruno’s headless corpse tumbled heavily down two flights before slithering to a halt.

The police helicopter descended, wheeling angrily at Marty’s pot shots. Marty knew that Special Operations would be along shortly. He snapped in a fresh clip of ammunition and looked back at the gardens.

A brace of gleaming limousines had just arrived for a shoot.

The Farting Biting Cat

September 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Fluffy. The Farting Biting Cat.

Fluffy. The Farting Biting Cat.

Deep in the hold of the airliner, the Farting Biting Cat bit angrily at the slim bars of its cage. Then, it farted. Growls of protest sounded from the other pets. These multiplied and crescendoed to shrieks of outrage as noxious gas filled the chamber and hung, like swamp moss, in the dank air.

Unperturbed, the Farting Biting Cat resumed its methodical shredding of the thick newspaper lining its cage. Sharp claws ejected from fat, furry paws, noisily slitting layers of typescript.

Every now and then, the Farting Biting Cat scooped up a clutch of tapers. Eyeing them with hatred, it opened its horrible mouth and bit with piebald gums and worn teeth – teeth worn from biting. Then, closing its eyes in an ecstasy of vengeance, the Farting Biting Cat farted.

By the time the ground crew arrived, the hold reeked of methane and was littered with moist, masticated fragments of paper. When a gloved finger protruded into the cage of the Farting Biting Cat, it drove its good fang through the stout canvas.

The sudden savagery of the attack tensed its muscles, causing it to emit a loud fart. The baggage handler recoiled in pain and surprise, leaving behind the tip of his glove and a morsel of flesh. This the Farting Biting Cat devoured with relish, and with a sturdy, contented, fart.

**********

Roger eyed Stephanie with anxiety as she released the Farting Biting Cat into their new home. She cooed and murmured to her pet, as it ambled from the cage and flashed its red eyes at Roger. Then, with a force astonishing for something so revoltingly obese and orange, it sprang and fastened itself to Roger’s chest.

Spread-eagled on his heavy jumper, the Farting Biting Cat bit his collar bone ferociously, its corrupt breath hot on his skin. Roger leapt back, smashing into the front door, his frantic thumbs digging into the folds of fat under the Farting Biting Cat’s forelegs.

With all his strength, he flung the animal to the ground and kicked it. The Farting Biting Cat spun across the polished floorboards, farting profusely with rage.

Stephanie shot Roger an angry look and stalked down the corridor with muttered recriminations. Roger slumped to the floor, bloody and unconscious.

**********

When Roger woke, Stephanie had already left for work. A note pinned to his sleeve detailed his chores for the day. He saw with dread that Chore One was to feed the Farting Biting Cat. A cloth bag at his feet held the ingredients for the Farting Biting Cat’s breakfast.

Swearing into the warm draught of the stove, Roger stirred a vile goulash. Eggs, beans, cheese and sauerkraut vied for supremacy over bubbling lard. His stomach recoiled at the stench.

From the end of the house, Roger heard a low fart and a disturbing crunching sound. The Farting Biting Cat was awake. He glared through the door and stabbed at the goop, which plopped sullenly and slithered around the sides of the battered fondue pot.

With a final stir, Roger turned off the gas and carried the pot to the Farting Biting Cat’s terra cotta feeding bowl. Hoping to deposit the meal before its owner arrived, Roger scooped recalcitrant gobs of the heinous matter and flung them earthward.

Before he had finished, however, the Farting Biting Cat entered the lounge, and farted.

Eyeing his nemesis warily, Roger steeled himself, filled the feeding bowl and stepped back.

The Farting Biting Cat advanced, regarding Roger through hooded slits. Roger retreated to the kitchen, took down a carving knife and clutched it to his breast.

The Farting Biting Cat glanced disdainfully into its bowl. Lowering its heavy, whiskered head it began to eat. For seven minutes the Farting Biting Cat feasted, not once taking its eyes from Roger.

Every time its drool-drenched jaws closed on a chunk of unmelted cheese, The Farting Biting cat emitted a long, low growl and a hideous, breathy fart. Nauseous and dizzy, Roger began to sway in the doorway.

The Farting Biting Cat straightened, having expanded to twice its size. Unable to stretch, it farted, then bit languidly at a flea. Roger exhaled with relief. Stephanie’s pet always slept after dining. He began to think about coffee and a shower. He was jet-lagged and let his eyelids close in a long blink.

When he reopened them, the Farting Biting Cat was gone.

Roger shook his head. The lounge was tiny, the coffee table glass-topped; no place to hide for something as large and smelly as a catcher of grass from a poo-ridden nature strip. He assumed the Farting Biting Cat had returned to the front room and stepped out of the kitchen.

The Farting Biting Cat launched itself from the bookcase, thudding into Roger’s neck and piloting him through the coffee table. Roger struggled from the glass-sharded confines and lurched back into the kitchen. The Farting Biting Cat rode shotgun, seeking his eyes, farting continuously and biting murderously into his scalp.

In the ensuing struggle, Roger dropped his knife. Sensing victory, The Farting Biting Cat tightened its hold and slashed open his forehead.

Blinded with blood, Roger’s desperate fingers sought a new weapon. Glass and crockery crashed to the floor. At last his hand closed around something smooth, which dovetailed into his palm with familiarity.

It was his old Junkers oven ignition pistol.

The Farting Biting Cat continued its attack. The pain made Roger’s hands twitch spasmodically and the oven pistol crackled with sparks. In preparation for the coup de grace, the Farting Biting Cat released a cruel, voluminous fart.

Instantly the pistol kindled it, sending a jet of blue flame into the body of its author.

The explosion was deafening. Billowing acrid smoke, the Farting Biting Cat rocketed from Roger’s shoulder, slammed into the lounge room wall, plummeted to the floor and died – farting and biting uncontrollably.

Nursing his ravaged face, Roger fumbled for the telephone.

Chasing Fon

September 2, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Posted in Song | Leave a comment
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I got her!

I got her!

‘Feisty, come and play with us!’

My blokey best mate said.

‘We’re going out to drink and smoke –

We haven’t been to bed.

Come right now, or if you like,

Join us later on.

‘No way,’ I thought, with secret smiles,

‘I’m busy chasing Fon.’

 

‘How old is she?’ my father asked,

‘This girl of which you speak.

Your Mum and I are quite concerned;

You’ve not been home all week.

A warning, boy, before you go:

Walk before you run,’

‘I’m sorry, Dad, all due respect,

but this girl’s name is Fon.’

 

We ate and drank and smoked and kissed

And talked and loved and slept

And woke and dressed and drove and strolled

And bought and watched and wept.

It’s Sunday night and I’m still here

The weekend’s almost gone.

And though we’ve covered lots of ground,

The chase has just begun.

 

I seem on track, I’ve not f*cked up

We’ve done some groovy things.

But I must take it easy, for

A boy waits in the wings.

She is so grand, I’m so beset

The pull is so damn strong

But caution is the watchword

If I’m to stay a long

 

Time with the lovely Fon.

Fon is Strong

September 2, 2009 at 11:07 am | Posted in Song | 2 Comments
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Fon is strong!

Fon is strong!

Fon is strong,

You’d be surprised;

The power in

Those gorgeous eyes.

 

Her life force brims,

Soon to spill,

As she prepares

To drink her fill.

 

Woebetide

You greedy ones

Who drag her down

And spoil her fun.

 

She will exult

And triumph yet,

And dance on high

Without a net.

Imagine Day

August 29, 2009 at 1:07 am | Posted in Short Story | Leave a comment
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Imagine Day Title Small

Feisty gripped Fon’s shoulder excitedly.
‘Choose a day!’

Feisty and Fon were power walking along Melbourne’s Yarra River. It was a hot summer Saturday, nearly lunchtime. Having trekked from Armadale, Fon was feeling they’d bitten off more than they could chew. Fitzroy was still five tortuous kilometres away.

Feisty decided to distract Fon from her cruel blisters and protesting calves. He pointed at a tall poplar tree.

‘Look, Fonnie; see how that branch is dying off?’

Fon raised her sweat-soaked brow and squinted into the blinding sun. ‘Yeah.’

‘Imagine being a leaf on that branch, watching the dieback heading toward you. Chances are, you’d forget all about the view and how groovy it was to be a leaf. You’d be consumed with the fear of death. Paralysed. Unable to think of anything else.’

‘I guess so,’ replied Fon wearily.

‘The thing is,’ continued Feisty with mounting enthusiasm, ‘poplars are deciduous. That leaf is going to fall off months before the dieback gets to it. When it goes, it’ll have spent its whole life worrying about something that never posed a true threat.’

Fon concentrated on the baking asphalt of the bicycle path. ‘Uh-huh.’

Feisty beamed at the blue sky, pleased with his keen eye for nature and powers of philosophical interpretation. The couple walked in silence for a time.

‘Fonnie.’

‘Yes, Feisty.’

‘This is a great walk, isn’t it?’

‘It’s a bit longer than I thought it would be.’

‘Sure, but it’s great to be out, isn’t it?’

‘Yes. It is.’

‘Imagine if that whole freeway were covered in those dimpled concrete tiles they use in car parks.’

‘What?’

‘You know, the ones that have little recesses, like egg cartons. You lay them down and cover them with topsoil. Then you sow grass. When the grass grows, the concrete foundation stops cars from sinking into the earth or tearing it up. Beats the sh*t out of a normal car park surface.’

‘Oh, yeah. I know the ones.’

‘Well, imagine if the whole South Eastern Freeway were paved with them. Imagine the extra oxygen. It’d look great. Man, it’d be fantastic, don’t you think? Fonnie? Why don’t they do that? What’s your theory?’

Fon regarded the noisy freeway. Her poorly fitting sandshoes squelched with perspiration. A relentless trio of flies strafed her face, effortlessly evading the angry swish of her arms. Her armpits chafed and her head throbbed. She drew a deep breath.

‘Feisty.’

‘Yes baby?’

‘Can we please stop imagining things until we get home?’

Feisty looked at her, surprised and hurt. His brow furrowed. ‘Why?’

‘I’m really hot and tired. I find it hard picturing all the things you describe. Especially since you’ve had me doing it all week.’

‘I have?’

‘Yes. On Monday we had the farting biting cat, as well as bride-sniping from that penthouse next to the Fitzroy Gardens. On Tuesday, it was the slate tiles from Mars and the clothing that hurts people if they don’t look good in it. On Wednesday I had dinner with Debbie, but as soon as I got home, you told me all about the piano-wire banana lounge that slices people into bits if they don’t lie on it properly. Then, on Thursday, Steven came over, and both of you went on for ages about camouflage bean bags getting lost in the garden. Finally, yesterday, after a really sh*tty week at work, I came home to your idea for a dining table with a built in hologram unit that can record and replay the events that occur around it.’

‘I see,’ said Feisty, crushed. He was easily crushed.

‘It’s not that I don’t enjoy your ideas, baby,’ explained Fon carefully. ‘It’s just that it’s easier for you to invent them than it is for me to picture them. And when, like today, I’m hot and tired and thirsty and uncomfortable, I don’t really enjoy the experience as much as you obviously do. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?’

‘Yes,’ mumbled Feisty, sulking.

Please don’t think I want you to stop imagining stuff. I don’t. I just need a breather now and then.’

‘So you don’t want me to stop completely?’

‘No, baby. Of course not. I love your ideas. I wish I could think of them myself. Well, not all of them; some of the stuff you come out with is pretty weird. All I’m saying is that I can only handle your imagination in small doses.’

‘I see,’ said Feisty, recovering. ‘What if we had one day per week when I could tell you all my sh*t? I could save everything up and hit you with it on the weekend, when you’re relaxed.’

‘That could work.’

‘Yeah? You wouldn’t mind?’

‘No, not at all. I’m just too tired during the week. If you gave me a break for six days, I’m sure I’d be fine on the seventh.’

Feisty gripped Fon’s shoulder excitedly. ‘Choose a day!’

Fon thought carefully. ‘What about Saturday?’

‘Does that include today?’

‘No. I’m too hot. We’ll start from next Saturday, OK?’

Feisty was momentarily disappointed. They were approaching a pontoon bridge. He’d already invented the troll who lived beneath it and was bursting to tell.

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

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