I’m not even sure what a writer is. I sit here at this desk and decide what seems real and what appears to be unreal. The here is Manchester, England. The here is a suburban house surrounded on four sides and in the presence of former lives and memories.
In an attempt to make some semblance of sense of everything I construct snapshots of reality that, in a way, go some way to prove that two and two does equal five, that the smallest of gestures, the tiniest of inflections can mean something or everything or equally, nothing. I want to show that insanity can be embraced, that no thought is too mad, that staring at a brick wall should be celebrated, that smashing your arms against hammers could be an Olympic event.
Nothing is disregarded.
(I recently released a book ‘ A Strange Pressure ‘ a collection of short stories)
‘…mainly distorted, like a fish, like, er, you know, side on..’ she stopped lazily, exhaling mid-way through the sentence, she had a habit of doing this, of becoming bored with her own words and her own thoughts it seemed at times, she turned away from me and looked gloomily at the view, although curiously her hands still moved, expressing the rest of the hidden sentence, describing some symphony of violence. I watched them move, tracing their wavelengths softly into the air and then falling angrily onto the side of the car door. With my free hand I patted her gently on the shoulder but became very aware that there was no reason to, at all, she merely shrugged it away like bees, I started to a speak to hide my discomfort ,
‘.. do you think the moon seems violent sometimes?..’
I looked quickly into the noon sky, looking for its milky pupil, my head crooked as I stared upwards( it’s there somewhere plotting some tidal pleasure) I thought suspiciously, I had always suspected the moon of indiscriminate roundness, its vivid paleness an obvious signal, I turned to her, I needed some response, I needed clarification, ‘..Kate’ I waited ‘..well?, the moon? Kate?..’ but she was already lost in some other zone, her hands seemed silicon in the sunlight.
The sun beat down on the metallic skin of the car making the interior almost unbearable even with the windows open, her pale naked legs moved irritably on the faux leather seat, skin sticking on plastic, she seemed to be sleeping, but you could never tell. I pulled over to the silent roadside. I wiped my hands on my sodden shirt. I’m not sure why but the anxiety of childhood had returned.
‘..can we stop?’ her voice rang out like a stray bullet in the silence of the car, it was the first noise either of us had made for hours, and ‘we have stopped’ I reminded her impatiently,’ I’m actually doubting if we’ve moved at all, this…we….’ I cut myself short with a sigh, losing the will and the meaning of what I was about to say, we had stopped, although I couldn’t remember doing it, we were on a deserted stretch of road on a slight hill, the landscape seemed Andalusian somehow, the light brown hills shimmering in the near and far distance, patches of yellow changing colour as the sun swept over the terrain, I paused and thought about those words confused as to where they had come from, ‘…probably from a guide book I never read..’ I spoke these words to test their reaction on the air around me as the slightest of breezes drifted languidly through the dried grass at my feet.
Kate climbed from the car and looked at me, a cigarette lit in her mouth, just burning, she never actually inhaled on them I noticed, she just liked act of smoking, the façade of reality, I looked into the sky and the separated clouds seemed so desperately lonely to me I pointed to them, counting them, ‘..hey Kate look at the clouds, that one looks like a scene from M*A*S*H, that’s an egg, that’s a clown, that’s a clown, that one’s a cerebellum, that’s a clown, that one looks like a whore eating a fish, that’s a clown..’ I finished this with a sweep of my brow, the sweat drizzling off me like a torrent of ugly rain, Kate had wandered over to a fence post and seemed to be trying to wrench it from the ground in apparent anger, but it could have been boredom at the sound of my voice.
‘…when did we stop? I don’t remember you stopping the car..’ she said in a slightly anxious voice looking into the distance, I decided not to reply to this and climbed back in to the car and started the engine, I felt affronted for some vague reason I couldn’t express, her words had implied we hadn’t stopped at all, or even worse that we had never started in the first place, I felt adamant that she shouldn’t deny the journey we were on, I gripped the wheel tightly imagining the journey ahead, the movements and slight curves ‘…Kate, get in the car, I’m not having you suggest we haven’t even moved at all yet, that’s ridiculous, YOUR ridiculous, get in the car because your ridiculous..’ I started to fiddle pointlessly with the wing mirror, with my ridiculous face reflected and distorted in it as I pushed it up, down, up, down, down down down down, down we spiralled, we gyrated like moods on an ocean liner, down like a bullet in the air, down like a dying Labrador, down, down like nothing at all, down like a hand held aloft for no reason.
I snapped out of this reverie as Kate climbed into the car and we drove on in silence.
Various hills rolled past us like movie sets further creating the illusion that all of this was unreal and staged, birds seemed to hover mid-flight as we passed and a curious silence had descended around us, but I pressed on, the car juddered in the heat as we passed tiny burgh after onset village with no idea really of where I was driving to, ‘have we got anything to eat?’ she suddenly asked, shattering the silence with her jagged crystal voice, ‘have we got any fish? I want a fish..’ she looked at me sidelong not quite sure if the words she spoke where real, or a solitary noise from some sunken depth, she suddenly seemed like a horse underwater to me, not struggling but submitting to the environment, ‘..of course there isn’t any food..’ I replied, somewhat astonished by the question.
The vast panorama that stretched before us unfurled itself like a roll of wallpaper, I felt like I had steam on the inside of my eyes and the road seemed to stretch literally to the end of the world, an undulating strait of nothingness, eyes close slightly and fingers twitch.
‘..then the stuff fell from out my pocket and the woman gawped at my face, proper close, you know, and I thought, what the fuck do I do now?, I was sweating, on the spine, you know, like that book you read to me, 1984, dripply spine sweat, my thigh felt thick and I thought, fuck it, I’ll leg it!, but you don’t do you?, it never happens, your feet stick to the floor, and I felt properly tires suddenly, really sleepy, and I could of gone to sleep right there in the shop, are you listening? Fucking listen will you!, you’re not even looking at my face, look at my face!, anyway, I just dropped the stuff I’d nicked and she smiled at me like this, one of these smiles….’
I had a strange feeling we were in America.
When she stood naked in front of me she seemed to be eclipsed by the light around her, I had to shade my eyes her skin seemed so bright at times, the mundanity of our nudity was a sensual assurance, her shoulder blades and hips battled constantly in some intense geometry, suggestive of dali-esque landscapes, I watched her dress and undress with the same effortless motions, her clothes just a thin mask covering her powerful musculature, sinews in rest, sinews in twisting pollination, her strong arms a lineation of shadow.
Darkly bleakly came the night, we had abandoned the car and for some obscure reason had set it alight using flints and fuel, it burned quickly, then slowly, then steadily. We sat apart from it, warming ourselves involuntarily, our clothes oil stained. I could hear the ocean somewhere to my left, its rhythm a lullaby, lullaby, lullaby, a number of times I started speaking, even making the appropriate gestures but each time something stopped me. Her face was illuminated by the burning carcass of the car, its flickering chassis, and in the orange-red light she seemed to be silently mouthing a series of commands or pleading without emotion to me.
I reached the ocean at dawn. The negative blank landscape formed strange integers against my own perspectives. The water acidly touched my red stained feet, washing or absolving me. I sat down in the sand, sinking slightly and dug my hands and arms deeply into the flesh of the beach, an anchor for me as the sea climbed higher.