Archive | April, 2012

Bella Donna

30 Apr

Bella Donna

 

They say she is the most beautiful thing that has ever crawled out of the Sewers and yet no man seeks her bed. Some say she is only half a woman, the half that you see, while the other is something that slithers. Others whisper that her kiss will drain a man till there is nothing left to fill his boots not even dust.

The children say the worst of all but I know different. And what I know is truth because Bella Donna is my daughter.

Not that I call myself much of a mother. Didn’t I leave her to die as soon as I cut the cord? And didn’t I forget all about her until I heard the children’s tales drifting through the pipes.

Stories about a child covered in filth, barely old enough to crawl let alone climb out of the Sewers with a trail of rats dancing at her heels. Or better yet riding a great albino crocodile straight through the centre of  Down wearing nothing but a belt of bones.

I will admit the very idea of it gave me the shivering fits. How was it possible the babe was half dead when I left it? Too weak to even cry… Someone must have found her.  There are tens of thousands of us who live underground and not all of us are cannibals.

Of course I wanted to see for myself if this was indeed the burden I had carried three long seasons but the sun was too hot so I waited till the leaves fell only to find I had waited too long because the ground was deep with snow. And so it went until one day I knew that if I left it any longer it would be too late because the children were screaming for the Rite.

The Rite had not been performed since well before, even my mother’s birth, when the last of the Suits and Uniforms had all been turned to ash. There had been no need, no enemy so feared or hated until now. Perhaps I had not been such a bad mother after all for if she had died like I intended she would not now be facing a living hell that would last two maybe three weeks until her desiccated body cracked wide open for the wasps to nest in.

It was a long and painful climb from the Sewer to Down. And I had to stop many times along the way just to catch my breath. My joints are large knots that barely bend and my lungs… It is the same for all of us in our third decade some even sooner but I was so close now. I could see the brown light up ahead and knew I was almost there. Just a little way, just a little way…

All I had to do now was wedge my shoulder under the steel stopper that kept me from the surface. It was not as heavy as I had been led to believe and actually crumbled slightly as I pushed.

The streets were empty save for a few tending to whatever they could grow in the soil found under the disintegrating roadways. But even they seemed to be rushing in order to join the mass that swarmed like maggots on a corpse at the temple of the Justice Called Penney.

I wish I had been able to come charging in on the back of a giant white reptile but I had nothing save my two rotting feet so I crawled.

One of the farmers offered me a lift on his back so I was able to see her face before they doused her with the Enemy Fire which is wet like water but melts your flesh like the liquid rock that still runs in some parts of Nu. And I saw that it was true what they said that she was beautiful. That her scales swirled with colors like the pools that formed after the rain. Her eyes glowed red like the moon and I wept as her hair turned to acrid sludge.

I had wanted so much more for my daughter than I had. I had not wanted her to know hunger or thirst or the pain of being forced. I had thought only to end her life before she could have a chance to know suffering. But instead I had brought her to this.

By the time I reached the steps she was burning so brightly that the crowd could barely keep their eyes open from the pain of it. I raised myself up and clasped her to my breast. I should have been screaming but I felt nothing only my desperate, need to place my lips against hers until her breath was gone and she could go to the place that I had dreamed for her.

Advertisements

Press 15 Please

23 Apr

This is a repeat from an older blog but I am crunching a deadline on something and some of you may not have read this so…

Press 15 Please

 

The elevator was haunted. Everybody knew it but nobody ever discussed it. Except now that they had replaced the old car there were a couple of tenants who liked to joke about it looking like something out of a Chinese horror movie because of the mirrored surround and the blue cast from the led lighting.

Mary who watched a lot of Asian horror films kept expecting to see old withered legs dangling behind her or a chalk-white face with black eyes glaring malevolently into hers. It was always worse at night which never made any sense really because once the doors slid shut it could be the end of time and who would know. Unfortunately for Mary she was a bartender and usually got home around 2:30 in the morning. She would have taken the stairs but she lived on the 19th floor and she would have considered moving but with the exception of the haunting Mary loved this building.

Nobody knew for sure who the ghost was because there were so many potential candidates. Not that the place was a death trap but it was located right downtown where people tend to live at a much higher pace. The superintendent alone had buried two husbands in the half a decade since Mary had moved in. And in addition to that there were a handful of age, aids, traffic, and suicide related deaths.

Although no one had admitted to actually seeing the specter, everyone had experienced phenomena. The most common being the elevator door opening as if it had been expecting you all along as you walked towards it. There were also the stops for floors that no buttons had been pushed for and temperature fluctuations.

So far only Mary had heard the voice.

“15 please.” was all it said. And it always waited till the elevator was full. It took almost a year for Mary to realize that no one else heard the request. An entire year of her fellow passengers giving her the filthiest looks as the elevator stopped at 15 and Mary once again failed to get out.

But it wasn’t until Mrs. Bapst, a diminutive octogenarian slapped her hand before it could press the button that Mary knew the request had come from the grave. Unfortunately this revelation did not stop the voice. In fact it grew more and more insistent now that Mary refused to play along till one day Mary found herself screaming in an elevator full of exuberant gay men “Press the fucking button yourself.”

That night Mary almost took the stairs, all 19 flights of them. But her aching feet won the fight over her pounding heart and so she entered the already open doors. Once inside she felt a shiver run down the back of her neck and she positioned herself as far from the mirrored surround as possible. Mary pressed 19. The light flickered on and then went dark. It was as if she had not pressed the button at all. And then right before her eyes she saw button for the 15th floor depress and light. Mary pressed 19 again. And again the light behind the numbers flickered briefly and then became dark. Mary pushed all the buttons as fast as she could with both hands and still the only floor that remained lit was 15.

She watched as the floors sank below her 6, 7, 8… 11, 12… 14, 15. The elevator ground to a halt but the doors refused to open. From behind the door Mary heard a scratching and a whimper. At first she thought it was a dog that was waiting on the other side of the door with its human companion impatient for its walk. Mary pounded on the door to let whoever it was know that the doors were stuck and the whimpering increased till it sounded more like muffled screams. Mary rang the alarm until she heard someone yell from below her that they had called the super. She wondered if whoever it was that yelled could hear what was going on outside on this floor. The screams had built till they were shrill like a siren and in between the screams were the sounds of a body being hit over and over again and then nothing.

‘This is what it must sound like in a vacuum.’ Mary thought, her eyes fixed on the crack below the elevator doors. Was that someone being dragged? Is that what was causing the flickering light in the space between the door and the floor?

Mary got down on her hands and knees, pressing her eye as close to the crack as she could get it. But whatever it was had vanished.

When the doors opened Mary discovered that she was not on the 15th floor at all but the 19th. The Super and her too burly sons were standing outside waiting to help her out because the elevator was a couple of feet short of the actual floor.

But try as they might they could not get Mary out until they promised to walk down to the 15th floor with her. Mary had no idea what she would find once she got there but she knew that no matter what she had to go there. Mary was moving so fast that she got there several minutes before the rest of them.

Without even stopping to catch her breath Mary ran to the elevator and just stood there listening. Was that someone crying? Mary put her ear to the door of apartment 1503 which was directly across from the elevator. She knocked on the door and heard heavy steps approaching from deep in the apartment. So focused was Mary on the door opening that she didn’t know or care that her back up had arrived. She pushed past the man in the flannel bathrobe.

“Where is she?” Mary said.

“What the fuck!!” The man said.

The two burly sons grabbed Mary and walked her out into the hall as the superintendent smoothed things over with the angry and bewildered tenant of 1503 who fully understood how being stuck in an elevator for a couple of hours could definitely make you anxious. He even smiled and said he hoped that Mary felt better once she’d had a chance to calm down.

And once she’s had a chance to calm down he thought, he would pay her a little visit and ask her how she knew about the dead prostitute he had wrapped in 2 pound packages like hamburger beside his ice tray in the freezer.

This Cat

16 Apr

This Cat

 

 

This cat runs free. Never again to be trapped in mediocrity; never again to be a victim of mendacity. This cat leaps high above the mainstream, bathing her in the warmth of unconditional fascination. She stretches her leg to the full moon and salutes Isis with her five spread toes. Her fur, shining like patent leather or the blackest crude reflects the dreamer’s eye. Never has this cat felt more alive. Her past is a distant thirst; her future an explosion of shooting stars.

This cat is a Coltrane ballad, a Nina Simone cry for justice. She is the absence of and the inclusion of every color. She wants to dance on the tip of the crescent moon and peer through cut eye so sharp it splits hair.

This cat wants to be caressed until she is so stimulated she must sink her teeth into the hand that feeds her.

This cat runs free into the world, into shadow lands, into a state of bliss. This cat runs free. This cat runs free.

Pigeon

8 Apr

This is a story from my old blog but since I am still writing about this world, I thought I would share it.

Pigeon

Nobody knew who she was or much of anything about her except for what they saw. Some people are just natural-born secrets. While others like myself are, pretty much an open book. You see me on the street first thing you say to yourself is “drunk”.

Pigeon on the other hand didn’t need any mood altering substances to help her leave the misery of this world far behind. All she needed were her wings which she made of chewing gum and feathers. It took her nearly three years to collect enough gum from the undersides of park benches and patio tables. The feathers took longer since she only used those that she plucked from the wind or from birds who no longer needed their bodies to soar high in the heavens.

I was never able to ascertain whether Pigeon thought of herself as an angel or if she really believed she was a bird. And this was not for any lack of trying on my part. Pigeon never spoke. Not one word in all the years that she lived on the street had any of us ever heard her utter a sound. Not even when she swooped down from the eaves of St. Mikes to sink her toenails into the back of some hapless rat did she scream in triumph. Not even when Silk tried to force her with the broken bottle held close to her eye, but Silk screamed when she drove the blade through his guts.

I often wondered how she saw herself. If as she soared by the huge mirrored windows she saw beauty or if like us she saw a grotesque. Because the truth is, no matter how much the people living in houses like to romanticize it in their books, movies and photographs, there is nothing beautiful out here on the streets, nothing, not even in our dreams, not even when I’m loaded.

And if you are not bad to look at when you get here, you’ll be nothing to write home about by the time they roll you into a body bag and throw you in a pit with the rest of us unknown soldiers.

Pigeon at least was unique covered in her filth and feathers. Eventually that’s all she was. No clothes just feathers. Talons sprouted from the ends of her toes and fingers which she now used instead of a blade. Now she spent all of her time in the air or on rooftops. We would see her circling the park, messing on cop cars. Soon she had a whole flock of pigeons flapping their wings beside her across the night sky. And then she was gone. And we never saw her again. Some people figured it was Silk who finally got his revenge, others thought she probably ate some of the poison the city puts down to keep the pigeon population from getting too out of hand. Me, I think she got caught in one of those traps that those bird freaks set on their roofs. You know those guys that have the coops and all those birds in cages. I think Pigeon is in one of them coops being trained. And one day we’re going to look up and see her streaking across the sky with one of those bands on her legs, wings flapping faster than a hummingbird trying to beat some record. She’d beat it too. I’d bet money on it. Pigeon would break that fucking record.

The Climb

2 Apr

The Climb

 

Winnie flexed the toes on her right hand. With her left she clamped down on the misaligned brick and pulled herself up. She was almost at the top now, almost at the end of her journey. She threw her head back and let her neck extend so that she could see just how far she’d come. Down below the streetcars looked like caterpillars. She wondered what would happen if she wept. Would the frenzied specks be washed away? Would panic ensue? Did it really matter? It was no longer her world. She belonged to the sky.

Climbers usually left the ground once puberty hit and they had enjoyed their right. Climbers bore only one offspring. Once that baby was born and all twenty toes were counted. The parent was free to seek the homeland.

Winnie had been terrified that she would bear more than one child like Davinia. Climbers did not consider multiple births to be a blessing like the Swimmers or even the Creepers. It was the mother’s duty to choose the strongest of all her babies to be raised by the governing body and then throw the remainders into the subways to be crushed underfoot by the commuters.

Winnie would never forget that day. Never. It was carved into her memory like the Roman numbers on the side of the building she climbed. Davinia had made her choice and the governing body had looked in the holy scrips for a name. They chose Florence to be forever known as she who eats Prozac and carried the child into the great Lilly Hall.

Davinia waited until not even the scent of them remained and then she tore her birthing robe into wide strips and bound her two remaining babies to her breast. Taking long strides that built in momentum until she was almost flying Davinia hit the wall and began scrabbling as fast as she could. Winnie could not believe her eyes. Davinia was committing sacrilege. Not only was she making the journey skyward with the unblessed but she was contaminating the very clouds themselves with the living dead.

Even though Winnie knew in her toes that Davinia was committing blasphemy there was a part of her that prayed that somehow, someway she would triumph and cross the line to sky before the Disciplinarians could shoot her with their strength drainers.

‘Faster’ Winnie screamed to herself as watched Davinia desperately searching for a toehold. Davinia was almost there now. She just had another story to go. Winnie felt her hearts exploding in her chests. ‘Safe.’ Davinia was safe. The Disciplinarians had finally arrived but it was too late. Davinia was over the line and could not be touched. Winnie turned away. She would think of Davinia safe with her two babies all the way home.

A sound like buildings collapsing almost burst Winnie’s eardrums and then nothing, not even the low drone of the billions of pigeons nesting wherever there was a merest hint of space. Winnie did not need to turn around. She knew then that the great book of Pharmaceuticals lied.

Winnie preferred to remember Davinia safe and skyward rather than broken on the ground and she made a promise to herself, a promise that she was keeping now.

Winnie sat with her legs dangling over the edge of the gleaming silver building. She could feel her baby moving inside her. Baby? Perhaps there were more. It didn’t matter now because even if there were a dozen little climbers inside of her they were all safe and she would name them after the clouds.