Pins and Needles

He is caught in a fog of undulating weirdness. There are stickers on his chest and shaved bits where they shaved him. His left arm is a pin cushion. His right arm is numb and the right side of his mouth hangs open. His tongue is dead.

The people in front of him move in and out of his blind spots. Now he sees them, now he doesn’t. When they move out of his blind spots he turns slightly to pull them back in. It’s better that they don’t exist.

He explains to the nurses that he isn’t always like this. Normally, he stutters, I can speak and everything. Normally, he continues, I am witty and clever.

He keeps his eyes closed when they scan his brain. He expects to be congratulated on the quality of his brain. We don’t see many like that: why are you wasting your life?

This, he tells his wife, is how it must feel to be ordinary. You know, without the sharp edges: dull and slow-witted.

They stand outside while he smokes and he can’t look at her. He realises that he hasn’t looked at anybody, straight on, since his collapse. He can’t bear to look at faces.

Can you imagine five seconds? asks the senior consultant. Yes, he replies, I can easily imagine five seconds because I’m not a fucking idiot.

They tell him to stay overnight. Yes, they say, it is noisy on the ward and you will be woken early. But still.

Sleep please.

I got your text but I don’t think you should have texted me. You should have texted your wife. Does she know you’re here? What if we’re seen together? What if I talk even louder? That way I can ensure that everyone on this ward wakes up. I’ll shout some things to the nurses. I won’t bother getting up and going over there and maybe whispering. Fuck that. Nurse, can he have some water? Nurse, can he have another pillow? Nurse, what time is breakfast? Nurse, can I stay a little longer? Here, move up a bit. Yes, I love you. Yes. I just said I did didn’t I?

How old are you Albert and how many fingers am I holding up? When did the First World War start? What year is it? Who is the Queen? I mean, who is on the throne at the moment? The throne. Throne. Who is the monarch of England? A king or a queen? How old are you? What year were you born? Can you remember your mother’s name? Your mother. She’s dead now, yes. Dead. A long time ago, yes. Can you remember her name? Your mother. Yes. Dead.

And so I said to him, ha ha, and he said to me, ha ha and we, you know, we went to that new place and, well, you know, I’ll let this phone continue to ring while I finish telling you all about my night out the other night.

We need to take your blood pressure.

That’s it, he says. I’m going home. I need to sleep.

You can’t go home.

I’m going home.

You can’t go home. You can’t go home. You can’t go home. Get back to bed. You can’t go home. You can’t go home without discharging yourself. You can’t go home.

Three security guards implicitly threaten him with violence. We will drag you back to your bed. We will get the police to drag you out of your bed at home and drag you back to this bed here.

I’m off, he says. The most malevolent security guard steps forward, mishearing I’m off for fuck off. Zero tolerance gives him an excuse. What did you say?

I’m off, he repeats. I’m off.

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Peeping in a Seafood Store

Before I had clear eyes I had unclear eyes. They sat, rooted deep within my skull, crossed and far too close together, like rabbit droppings sinking into a bowl of custard. Or a bowl of mustard. Something yellow.

They sat there, my eyes, etched with the scratches from lovers’ sharp fingernails:

The lady, and she was a lady, who resisted all of my attempts at seduction. Until diamonds softened her and mink stoles stole her.

The boy, over eighteen, with fingers like lollipop sticks, with a knob like a lollipop stick. Who fell into me, fell right into me.

The large woman, the BBW, who I stalked online, who wore razor-bladed gloves as protection from her stalkers. Ample but not ample enough protection from me.

The old gentleman, my gentleman caller, who hadn’t cut his fingernails in thirty years, who pushed them hard through all of my hairs.

The small horse with cat-like tendencies.


Between us, my eyes and I had seen some things. Some awful things, some terrible things. Through scratches we saw the world as an old film. Sepia. We looked at the world and wondered at our place within it. Those eyes, for a while, they liked to cry. Wet tears running through those scratches: salty canals where new life formed: bacteria and microbes and microscopic planets, each one teeming with its own teeming life.

No wonder I couldn’t see.

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Fragments of the Moon

What yonder?
It lights the waves and, depending on your point of view, is either a portal to the past or a ride into the future. Bats fly in front of it.

The Twilight Zone
While I was captive on the moon I at least had the good fortune to be part of sexual experiments that gained me delicious access to moon maidens possessed of gravity-defying bazoombas.

The thing that grew on the moon
It were high rise and it conquered. It were formed from leaves of grass. Delicate to the eye yet deadly to the touch. It would smash you. Smash you good.

It formed from brick dust and the threads from old flags. It looked like melted cheese but was neither cheese nor melted. It were rock-like to touch when it smashed you. It had a burrowing nose. It peered down craters. Modules and stuff landed on it.

It began – as many things begin – in a petri dish. Next to a pestle and mortar and bubbling test tubes and stuff. Green vapour clouds clouding our view. A hiss growing louder.

Observatory fun
The telescope. Ink on the viewfinder.

It goes with your hair
Soft velvet night and the moon as big as the moon. Of course. An expert in mimicry, he whispered soft velvet delicates into the ear of this girl who, here in the dark (set beneath perfect, dazzling teeth), seemed even more milky white and even more of an invitation to touch. The moon, naturally, egging him on. Hypnotise her or something, sing her the sweetest of your lunar songs.

It’s bound to take your life
Lycanthropes of particular bent are fast this night. Out with the witches, they are mercied to the full moon, gnashing and dribbling, milky white throats fuelling their wolfish imaginations. Schoolgirls preferably: skinny virgins. A dormitory of schoolgirls, only sealed windows and silver-bulleted headmistresses ‘tween them.

June and spoon
I’ll sneak into your head to steal your happiness.

A sense of gravity
Danst-X1, a lowly planet from somewhere beyond the nether regions, has submitted a request to replace the moon who, it claims, has: “Compromised its mystery by allowing the silvery footprints of man to stomp all over its pockmarked face.” The Committee of Interplanetary Rocks and Associated Debris has refused to officially comment on Danst-X1’s submission. But off the record, a CIRAD spokesman said: “While the moon is indeed no longer a gasping thrall to the gawpers below, its familiar presence is unlikely to be troubled by the self-serving grubbings of a minor planet that, let’s face it, would struggle to cut a dash in my attic, let alone within the majesty of the earth’s night sky. Furthermore, it should be noted that Danst-X1 isn’t even from round these parts, which leads me to wonder what the fuck it would know about anything going on in our solar system.”

Wolves of memory
Neat and half-moonish cuticles are the splash of the hit parade where Joe Meek (noted as England’s Phil Spector, sucidalist and landlady murderer) records “a picture in music of what could be up there in outer space” via his Blue Men and the wobbly SF pre-electronica epic I Hear A New World that goes beyond the moon and settles into the nearby clusters of pulpish melodrama and curious self-loathing characterised by a longing for the unknown that is rooted firmly within the known: chipmunk voices and all.

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An Implication of Standards

No assault of hands or tongue:
I see spots, bobbing gently, on broken walls. To the left of the room, just left of centre, the fireplace behind which I keep my treasures. Above, the mantelpiece, where I keep the secret lever (in the form of a candlestick or a black marble falcon) that leads me to those treasures. Those treasures do not contain my heart. This is not poetry. This is banal description. See there the rise of the carpet. Over there the tugged corner of wallpaper. The stain of hands, the pressure of tongue.

Build the falling castle:
It crumbles like rice. Like the rice castle I tried to make once, years ago, at the dinner table, emulating, of course, the potato spaceship or whatever it was in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The rice, though sticky and coagulated, was not enough to stand firm. It fell. Toppled. Leaned for a moment then toppled. It was an insignificant moment which I’d forgotten until now.

The blue smoke rising:
I am, she said, sailing away. For the south. Where riches of golden and many things of bounteous wonder await me. Where everything abounds. I am taking, she said, my green eyes with me. My emerald eyes which I know you have noticed but which you have so far failed to comment on. My emerald eyes, she said, like the sweet green sea. They are sailing with me for they help me to see.

Littered with remembered kisses:
I was out one night, roaming the parks, looking for love. I found swings and trees and rusty disused water fountains. I found dustbins and benches and paths that led to gates: the gates I also found. I found love hidden deep within the bushes.

We ask and waste the question:
Low bass rumbles as the buses pass. We stand beneath Thurland Bridge. The buses pass above and I mention how years ago we used to cast our fishing lines over the bridge which caught cars and passers by. I remark upon the quick drop of the fog and how if she stood two steps back I wouldn’t be able to see her. She takes two steps back and I pretend I can’t see her. But I can see you, she says. Yes, I reply, because the fog is facing your way.

With shadows of the poor:
They are with us, the poor. They huddle in doorways and scurry along the gutters. Their rags are home to children, mice and lice.

Model ourselves upon the enemy:
The enemy is rich with confidence. He is rich with riches. He is dressed, today, in a grey, all-in-one figure hugging leather outfit that accentuates his muscles. He wears a black cape. On his head a mask that is much like a balaclava though decorated with yellow stars. On his forehead the letter V which stands for villainy. He wears, as you will have noticed from this letter V, his villainy with pride. Kill him good.

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From Where I Carry You A Feather

I would take away your eyes if it meant you would stay with me. I would keep your satchel in brine, keep it full of flood, if it meant you wouldn’t fill your satchel in an attempt to remove yourself from me. I would slit your heels to prevent you running, to stop you walking. I would bolt your knees and tether your arms. I would tether you overall, now that I think of it, to my bed. I would keep your eyes in my bed, close to my pillow. I would keep your eyes, don’t you worry, safely inside your head. I would keep your head securely strapped to your body. I would do you no harm. Only some harm.

Yesterday, while you were out, I pissed in your socks and then dried your socks. Do you recall the smell when you returned? Have you, you asked, been pissing in my socks?

I would take you outside and defend you to the death from those who would mock you. They would, those mockers, pour scorn on your potato flecked hair. You recall how I threw the dinner plate at the wall, screaming about the lack of salt? I weep now when I think of how you wept.

Your wrist resting on the edge of the wall. Your elbow resting on the other edge of the wall. I batted your elbow so that you fell, rapidly, down and towards the wall, your face cracking on to the top of the wall.

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The Life That Lasts a Little Longer

There is a castle, a monster, a scientist. There are peasants outside, at the bottom of the castle rock, marching through the village. The burgomeister leads them. In a house in the distance lies a swooned and fallen bride. The silly mare. This is a pure story. It begins, it middles, it ends. Sterotypes are reached. Not stereotypes, archetypes. There is a hero. And a dwarf. A hunchbacked dwarf who stole the wrong brain.

At some point in the story, towards the end, the monster reaches out – stretches out – to grab the bride. Before he can reach her, before he can tug at her gossamer bra, he receives a face full of kerosene lamp. Thrown by the hero. Aaagh, my face! my face! the monster expresses. Expresses, of course, because he has no voice. He staggers through the patio doors, falls quickly through the night, to the woods, his head and face still aflame.

Patio doors? Of course. And a conservatory.

Scientist: What happened to your face?
The monster gesticulates wildly.
Scientist: Someone threw a parafin lamp at you? Who?
The monster gesticulates again. Wilder this time.
Scientist: Oh, a kerosene lamp. Right. So who…
The monster gesticulates.
Scientist: The hero? What hero?
The monster gesticulates.
Scientist: I don’t understand. You are saying ‘hero’ right?
The monster nods.
Scientist: Hero? What, you mean he’s your hero?
The monster gesticulates.
Scientist: A hero? Just a hero?
The monster nods.
Scientist: Don’t be daft. You don’t just call someone a hero.
The monster gesticulates angrily, wildly.
Scientist: All right, all right. Calm down. Fucking hell.
The monster sits down.
Scientist: Here, let me put your face out.

Earlier in the story, an old woman walks in on the monster as he’s strangling the man she keeps house for. She screams and stays screaming while the monster lurches slowly towards her. As his fingertips touch her throat she pulls away and runs down the stairs, arms flailing, screaming hysterically. We stay with the monster as he watches her through the window running towards the village, still screaming hysterically. She is, in a few ways, comic relief.

But short-lived comic relief as the monster goes back into the room, the door swinging slowly shut behind him, giving us just enough time to see him tugging at the corpse’s belt buckle. The implication being, of course, that he’s going to indulge in a bit of necrophilia. Made all the more distasteful by the fact of the monster being made up largely of dead tissue.

Expectations overturned: later we see the monster wearing the strangled man’s distinctive checked trousers. And now that we recall, the monster did tear his old trousers. That’s right.

Just to be clear, the monster doesn’t look like Boris Karloff. You can’t have everything. Ours looks more like Charles Ogle. Look him up.

So the bride’s there, mooning at the window, hoping her monster-hunting fiance is safe. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that she would hide somewhere? After all, we’ve already seen that the monster has intentions towards her. She had never seen an erect penis that big before. Nor as disgusting. Stitched together from the cocks of five dead men. A monster indeed. And no, really, she wasn’t intrigued by it. It didn’t open up her repressed sexual yearnings. None of that crap. She was disgusted by it. Five dead men’s cocks. Imagine.

Anyway, so there she is mooning at the window and because she’s mooning at the window she fails to see the enormous shadow that darkens the room. The tension. His hand into frame, gently stroking her hair before she freezes and slowly turns. Of course, she faints. Into his arms. And just above that enormous throbbing, rotten penis.

Expectations met: In the sequel the bride gives birth to a monster child. Or maybe we just see her later: walking funny, grimacing.

The resolution is that the monster is trapped within the burning castle which collapses into the rock below. Everyone cheers. Except for the hero.

Who doesn’t cheer because, obviously, his heroness is defined solely by his relationship to the monster. Without the monster, the hero isn’t a hero. He’s just a man.

It all ends with happiness. With a hint of unhappiness.

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City of Crime, City of Magic

I am as close, perhaps, as it is possible to be to the Batman. I am, to get to the point, a nocturnal crime fighter cum detective who dresses up as a bat. I am not, however, a billionaire, a handsome bachelor or an orphan. Nor do I own a cave, a fancy car or a trusty retainer. With me it’s all in the bat bit.

I have throughout the city cultivated many enemies. Low-lifes mainly of the pimp cum drug dealer variety. There is, however, an impressive threat in the form of a kingpin of crime who I would liken to Moriarty. Or to the Kingpin, one of Spider-Man’s foes. It is a shame, I think, that despite his formidableness and tricksiness, my kingpin of crime enemy is not a little more in the mould of some of the Batman’s nemeses: The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler.

I have fashioned for myself a number of gadgets and weapons. Some are copies of the Batman’s gadgets and weapons: a steel boomerang, a grappling hook and a can of debilitating spray. I also have gadgets and weapons that cannot, I believe, be found within the vicinity of the Batman: smoke bombs, webs, an enchanted hammer, jet thrusters, fireballs, an indestructible adamantium shield, stingers, X-ray vision and ice breath.

We play, my kingpin of crime nemesis and myself, a game of cat and mouse. We have mulled it over, privately to ourselves and publicly to each other, that perhaps we need each other in order to survive. That perhaps we are two sides of the same coin. This is, of course, text book superhero/supervillain stuff.

I live by a certain code that is somewhat similar to the Batman’s code: I want to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers but I don’t want to kill them. So there’s this dichotomy thing where I am both liberal and fascist. I dress, of course, like a fascist.

I am not, unlike the Batman, a friend to the police. My relationship with the police is more akin to Spider-Man’s relationship with the police: they regard me as a menace. They seek me here, they seek me there.

I have been doing the superhero thing for almost three years now. In that time I have smashed six drug rings and two paedophile rings. I have rescued two kidnapped children. I have saved hundreds of women from violence and sexual assault. I have foiled seven bank robberies, eighteen shop robberies and ninety-seven burglaries. I have caught twenty-three murderers, seventeen rapists and seven blackmailers. It is, even if I say so myself, a fairly good record.

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