On Friday afternoon I was in such a hurry to leave work that I left my phone in my desk drawer. Sunday afternoon I go in to retrieve it and realize I need to piss while I’m there. The place is all empty cubicles and switched off lights, hot because the air conditioning doesn’t run after hours, and I trip down the back corridor to the bathroom and open the door.
First, the smell; it wasn’t a bad smell, which is even more disturbing than if it were awful, because you don’t like to think that another person’s excrement could be anything less than disgusting, so you stop breathing and back out of the doorway quietly, hoping that whoever is in there didn’t hear you come in and isn’t wondering why you’re leaving, having not done what you supposedly came in here to do. You notice – no, wait, ‘I’ – I notice that whoever is in the stall isn’t wearing any shoes. No shit, there is a hairy potato foot visible beneath the door of the stall.
Alright, so it is hot in here and if whoever it is wants to do their business barefoot, it’s none of my concern. But then I also wonder if this is some homeless guy who somehow snuck in to the building on Friday and has been stuck in here all weekend, pilfering instant coffee and milk arrowroot biscuits from the staff kitchen to keep from starving. Well I don’t own shares in the company, so I stick with Plan A: sneak out and rush home. If I turn up at work on Monday morning and find an ambulance parked out front, I’ll know not to tell anyone about the poor dead hobo on the bog.
Then he moans: urrggghhhh. I creep back, baby steps. Then he talks to himself: comeoncomeoncomeon. I cradle the door back into the frame. Then he babbles: ot’yer fabinfabinfabin yerkamin fer teeee. I lay the door on the jamb and

Read more: http://sitelines.humanities.curtin.edu.au/editions/vol8no2/Stalking_the_Partition_Line%20.cfm

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Shows

29/10/2009

I was watching a show in which two guys were trying to determine whether or not fake tan produced realistic results, so they strapped a blonde woman to a chair in the sun for three days straight, until her face blistered its way off her skull, and I felt a huge sense of relief when they proved that the sun didn’t cause women to turn orange, it just caused skin cancer.

I was watching a show in which contestants have to drug a total stranger and rape him in a car park, when the door burst open and my husband told me that I had to start looking for work because he had quit his job at the television station and demanded to be a kept man, “silk sheets, a terraced house, friends with the Beckhams”, etc.

I was watching a show in which contestants can only eat food that they have killed by their own hands, and during the climax of a particularly moving scene depicting a 23 year old aged care worker who had been left for ten days in a room with only a live cow and a large kitchen knife finally slitting the cow’s throat, but having to cut its eyes out first so it couldn’t stare at her while she was eating, and weeping as she tore strips of flesh off its hide while it was still alive and braying and mewling because she hadn’t killed it right, I started wishing I had some foie gras on white toast.

I was being bothered by a show in which an offbeat detective, who has precisely one (1) character quirk, but is funny and charming, and has colleagues who are one-dimensional caricatures so as not to detract from our hero’s thrilling charisma, and together they solve crimes by thinking outside the box, and I had just finished discussing it over various social networking websites when I received an email from a major network television producer who said that he loved my idea and would like to commission a series and, instead of reminding him that I was talking about a show that he, himself, had already produced, I decided to just go along with him and take the cash and then, after making my first million, I was truly contented.

I was watching a show that I was in, when the manager of the bank told me that they were closing and that I’d have to go home now.

I was watching a socially conscious show in which contestants compete for the right to marry a farmer who has been having a terrible time trying to find a compatible mate in his isolated country town full of women who say the word “cunt”, but now finds himself surrounded by classy city women who wouldn’t even mention that part of their bodies in conversation, but I missed the final scene, in which the winner is forced to fist fight the farmer’s mother, because the dog started humping my leg.

I was devouring a show in which obese contestants had to dance in order to win cash prizes, but were unaware that the show’s malevolent producers had created weak spots in the stage floor in order to make the show more hilariously enjoyable, and just before the winner was told that, in fact, she was not going to be getting any money and that she should just get a life and stop eating so damn much, my laughter reached the exact pitch of whale song and my lungs haemorrhaged, killing me instantly.

I was dissecting a show in which women undergo radical plastic surgery in order to make them more attractive to men (typically accomplished by adding a third breast), when I coincidentally resolved to start a fitness regime, for the good of my health.

I was watching a show in which a bunch of wannabe models train daily and nightly to become professional supermodels, but are constantly belittled and degraded by Tyra Banks, who is unaware of the fact that each contestant has been fitted with a set of acrylic nails that have been sharpened to such an extreme point that Jamie Oliver could confidently slice tomatoes with them, and they were starved of food, and starved of sleep, and fed cocaine to the point of psychosis and in the series finale, when they riot and slaughter Tyra, and the one who has collected the highest amount of Tyra’s skin and worn it on the catwalk wins, I suddenly became bored and changed the station.

I was watching a show in which two people with absolutely nothing in common are comically forced to live within each other’s immediate vicinity and roll their eyes until they bleed and retain permanent damage, when the universe collapsed in on itself, the rate of entropy spontaneously rising exponentially until all life, and everything else for that matter (puns, even in the face of doom), was reduced to an outright nothingness.

I was engrossed in a show in which fourteen year old girls, young girls, hot girls, girls well below the age of consent, are strapped to lie detectors and then quizzed about their sexual experiences, while a group of thirty-somethings sit around them, bent forward, intent, listening so hard, sweat pimpling on their foreheads, waiting for the words to fall out of the girls’ disgusting little mouths; “…and then he touched me”, and when the entire thing had finished and I got my breath back, I called the station to complain.

Gareth slumped low in the couch, legs spread in front of him. He felt neither one way nor the other about what the results might be. He was comfortable for now and that was the only thing that really mattered. The huge window in the front of the lounge room was tinted dark and spattered with bubbles, the odd pockets of air separating the plastic tint from the glass. The sunlight that shone through the tint was eerie, like in movies where they played with the film to make a scene shot during the day look like night. Gareth enjoyed the feeling of this faux-moonlight, making his pale skin glow a dull purple.

Gareth had been thirteen years old the last time he’d seen his father, Bob. He’d turned up at his Aunt Gladys’s house, where Gareth had lived most of his life. He hadn’t stuck around. He asked Gareth how he’d been keeping, dropped an envelope full of money on the kitchen bench and said goodbye. The whole visit lasted roughly eight minutes, with Gladys staring at Bob, tight-lipped for every one of them. When he left she swept up the money, left the room and never mentioned the incident again.

Gareth ran a hand through his hair which, over time, had begun to resemble that of a clown’s, disappearing in all the right places, but neglected, growing in thick clumps, one on either side of his head and another one climbing out of the top of his skull like a windmill in a meadow. As he brought his hand down again he realized that it was still covered in motor oil. Motor oil which was now also slicked across his head. He had spent the past couple of hours working on the rusty HX that was sitting in the back yard like the ruins of a lost civilization of rev-heads. It even had weeds growing in the foot well of the passenger seat when he had gone out to it this morning. He had torn them out and then gone to work on removing the carburetor, though he’d only really been out there to avoid Bertie.

Gareth had never felt too strongly for Bertie. Since the day he met her at his mate Travis’s house she had merely been someone who was willing to hang around with him. He had paid Travis for the buds and then sat outside with her, smoking and not saying much. Life had stayed fairly consistent since. In a way, Bertie was settling as well. At the age of thirty (nine years Gareth’s senior), Bertie felt as though she should swoop at whatever opportunity presented itself. She let him move in, and even paid for the broken old HQ to be towed there from Aunt Gladys’s place.

Standing, Gareth went to the fridge and took out a half finished carton of iced coffee. He leant on the door of the fridge and took a swig. Bertie finally emerged from the bathroom, her face angled down, eyes wide, staring up at Gareth. In the distance, the local primary school’s bell rang. He had nine months to get that HX running.

Three green, one white, two green, one white, three green again, one white, one green, one white, three green. This is the seemingly random sequence of colours in the tiles, on the floor, in the toilet, in the bathroom, in the pub that I drank too much in. It took only a couple of minutes to empty my stomach of sushi and beer, but it seems to be taking much longer to gather the strength to get up off the floor. Concentrating on small details seems to help me not dry-reach.
“Luke”, whispers a voice from outside of the stall.
I recognize it as belonging to Dave, this guy I vaguely know, who I’ve been half-heartedly avoiding all night. He’s a nice guy, but he’s one of those dudes that likes to get all deep and meaningful about his band, which often ends with him raging about how shitty “The Industry” is and how hard working bands never get a fucking break, etc.
“Dave?” I mumble, “How did you know I was in here?”
“Your legs are coming out under the door.”
He is right. Fucker.
“It’s ok,” I say, getting up and trying to sound sober all at once. “I just had to be sick a little bit.”
I open the door and roll out, trying to politely walk past him.
“Hey, I’m heading home in a minute, if you want a lift.”
It sounded fine to me. After all, getting a taxi when you’re a drunk male who’s by himself is a bit like getting the DJ to go out with you. Not impossible, but you’d better be pretty well dressed. Getting into his car turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life. When we were halfway home, he told me he wanted to take me past his house first, to listen to his band’s newest demo.
“I don’t know, man, I think I’m about to pass out. Probably won’t be much of a good critic.”
“Nah, bullshit,” he said, “When you’ve had a few is the only time to listen to music.”
My mind had begun to threaten me with automatic shutdown, if I didn’t get immediately to a bed. I closed my eyes, hoping to ease the pressure building on my eyes, but trying so hard to stay awake, lest this man drive me into a dark alley and sodomize me relentlessly. Yes, I knew him, but not all that well. He already seemed a little unstable. Rest the eyes, but stay awake. That’s all I have to do. Have strength.
I woke up just as we pulled into Dave’s driveway. Fuck, I thought. My resolve really is quite piss-poor. We went inside and before I had even wiped my feet, his band’s demo was in the CD player and blaring loud enough to cause tinnitus. I slowly shambled in and fell into the vinyl couch, which complained at me with a loud squeaking moan. The next twenty minutes are a blur of “Check out this bit”’s and “Here comes the bass part”‘s.
It sounded as though Dave and his band were still a little too emotionally connected to Metallica, a problem that a lot of guitar players in their late twenties seemed to have. Then he hit me with the extreme nature of his lyrics.
He said, “Have you ever read H.P. Lovecraft?”
I felt sure I must be imagining things. He didn’t really just say that, did he? I erupted into a coughing fit, just to mask the riotous laughter that had nearly rampaged from my mouth.
“Heh, cigarettes will kill you.” I joked.
“Lovecraft’s wrote about parallel dimensions.” he said, not even noticing me. Then he pulled out a crack pipe. “Lovecraft believed that other dimensions existed side by side with our own and that there were weak spots in the fabric of space and time that could let demons into our dimension from some other, hellish existence.” He begun torching the pipe with a lighter, drawing in his own hellfire.
It had become way too surreal in here for me. In Dave’s CD I noticed the lyric “Demon of time, why do you haunt me?” I was going to throw up. I excused myself and made for the toilet. Once in there, I sat on the bowl and tried to sober myself, so I could make a convincing argument about how I can just walk home from here. The fact that I had no idea where we were didn’t matter. I couldn’t handle this any more. I got up, flushed the clean water, so as to make him think I had actually used it, then went about the task of finding the bathroom so I could splash some water on my face.
I opened the door to the left of the toilet and found myself staring into a bedroom. A bedroom plastered with posters of Pearl Jam and Nirvana. A bedroom which was beginning to fill with morning light. A bedroom in which a young blonde boy, no more than twelve years old was lying on the bed, bound with dull silver electrical tape, completely naked and smudged with dirt. Judging by the smell, it was feces.
“Holy shit.” I squeaked, suddenly far too sober to be able to handle this, yet too shocked to be able to process it. I heard Dave move in his squeaky vinyl couch.
“Oh, hey,” he said, rising very quickly. “Don’t go in there yet!”
“What the fuck is this?” I stammered.
“Okay,” he said, “You know I was telling you about dimensions?”
“What the fuck is this?” I repeated, my voice rising in pitch.
“I found that. It was trying to kill me.” Dave’s voice was far too calm, too rational. Almost jokey.
“It’s a kid!” I half screamed.
“No, man. That’s what it wants you to see. It blinds you, you know? Blinds you to the truth. That thing’s a fuckin’ demon.”
“Dave,” I said. “You gotta let him loose. What if someone finds him? You’ll go to gaol.”
Dave’s legal status was not truthfully what I was concerned about, but I thought if I reasoned with him, maybe I could get him to let the kid and, more importantly me, go without gutting us and trying to turn us into clothing.
“We can’t let it go,” he said. “It’ll kill us. Man, I thought you’d get it. I thought you’d be able to see that little fucker for what it is.”
Panicking, I struck out. My fists missed their targets (Dave’s head), but I had put so much weight behind them that I fell forward onto him, knocking both of us to the ground like drunken lovers.
When I looked up I saw that Dave’s head had landed dead on the edge of the skirting board at the point where it folded rather sharply around a corner. Blood pooled out from behind his head and I jumped up faster then I knew I could move.
I went into the bedroom and looked around for something to cut the tape with. The boy looked at me blankly. There was nothing sharp around, so I leaned over and bit at the tape, the stench of shit flaming up my nostrils and making me heave.
The tape gave way easily and his hands fell free, dropping to the bed, before stretching out, impossibly long and rising, grabbing me by the shoulders, pulling me down into the kid’s expanding mouth, which had already grown large enough to engulf my entire head. I noticed its teeth were a dull silver, just like electrical tape that bound him and before I knew it, they were closing down over my neck.

Male Feminism

19/03/2009

There was a reason that he didn’t hold the door open for me. He assured me that his not pulling my chair out for me was for a good reason. He told me of the old days in which women were repressed, mentally and physically. Husbands would play psychological games with their wives, hiding some of their possessions, pretending they had said things that they hadn’t, in an attempt to fool these women into thinking they were losing their minds. “It happens to all women after a certain age”, they would say. This form of abuse served to keep women weak, because men were afraid of them. Men were afraid that women could overpower them and take control of their patriarchal society.

The men thought it also important to keep women physically weak. This was achieved in a number of ways. Corsets were drawn tight, so as to disable the women’s ability to draw a full breath. Women were warned not to eat too much, lest they get fat and become unappealing to their husbands. But above all, women were never to exercise. They weren’t to take manual jobs. Lifting heavy objects was entirely unacceptable. Out of this need to keep women physically weak, was born chivalry. Men would open doors and pull back chairs out of a fear that their wives would grow muscles and rise up against them, usurping their thrones of dominance and forcing them to bondage.

For a first date, I felt as though he had confided more than necessary about his desires.

Three green, one white, two green, one white, three green again, on white, one green, one white, three green. This is the seemingly random sequence of colours in the tiles, on the floor, in the toilet, in the bathroom, in the pub that I drank too much in. It took only a couple of minutes to empty my stomach of sushi and beer, but it seems to be taking much longer to gather the strength to get up off the floor. Concentrating on small details seems to help me not dry-reach. I count one year, three months and 4 days since the last time I drink-vomited, knowing that it was only four days after my last birthday. I remember that I was already on my way home and, whilst walking through a public park I stepped in something. When I lifted my foot up to look at it, the smell of fresh dog turd hit me square in the face and I threw up directly onto the shit and the shoe. Then I put my foot back on the ground and continued walking, unabated. When I got home, I laid on the bed, entirely clothed and with the shoe still on my foot. I took great care in resting my leg with my foot dangling over the side of the bed. Good times.

Uh well, hello there and thank you all for coming. Uh, yes I am a homeless man. I actually haven’t eaten in three days and the fact that you all turned up means I’m gonna get paid, which means I’m gonna eat, long story short, I wont be dead by tomorrow morning. So other comedians say “Thank you for coming”, they don’t mean it anywhere near as much as I do. I fuckin’ mean that shit. But I’ve been homeless now for about 3 years and it’s tough, uh I don’t quite fit in with all the other homeless guys, I’m kind of an outsider, reason being I don’t speak the official language of the homeless. That’s right, we actually have our own language. Well, you all know it as tourette’s. Yeah. Uh, but see you all think it’s some kind of disease or syndrome or whatever, but I’m here tonight to let you all know the truth. Fact is, those guys that you see walking the street muttering to themselves, they’re actually speaking in code. That’s right they’re relaying important information back to the government via tiny little microphones that you can’t see because they work for the government… as spies. Yeah. So you hear “Fuckin’ shit son of a cocksucker”, but what they’re actually saying is “Echo Charlie Delta. The woodpecker has left the menagerie.” Which actually makes less sense, but anyway. “Daddy, why is that man saying swears at himself?”, “That’s code Honey, pay him no mind”. Pay him no mind. Pay him no spare change either. “Hey mate, can I borrow a dollar for the train?”, “Well, for a start, no you can’t borrow a dollar, that would imply that you’re gonna pay me back. I think we both know that ain’t gonna happen. Secondly, I’ll bet that you actually want that dollar to buy cigarettes so hell no, I’m not gonna lend you a dollar.” You don’t understand though. The cigarettes allow the government to trace their positions. It’s a special chemical only found in “White Ox”. Or cask wine as a substitute.

Jeff walked down the toiletries aisle with a cautious gait.His senses were sparking as if something was wrong, but he couldn’t quite grasp what it was. He reached the disposable razors. As he did, a packet on the shelf began to vibrate. The vibrations got more intense as he got closer and closer. Busy trying to figure out why he felt so strange, he did not notice the lone package on the shelf, visibly shaking and beginning to glow as he neared it.

Jeff stepped in front of the package. He now turned and looked at it. It was a razor. No, it was more than that. It was a work of art. It was beautiful. He could not take his eyes off of it. It was 10 blades of pure, beautiful horror, strapped to a powered handle.

Suddenly, cuts started appearing on his face. Splotches of blood started to appear, and then drip down his chin and on to the floor. He put his hands to his face, then pulled them back to look at them. The shock of what he was seeing caused him to let out a ferocious, terrible scream.

“AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!” he said.

Then, the packet in front of him burst open and the razor,the beautiful man-made steel construction leapt forward, it’s blades twisting and forming small limbs, which it used to grab hold of Jeff’s face and slice and slice and slice!

The other razors behind it also burst from their packets, in a horrible, blasphemous parody of birth. They rattled and tapped along the supermarket floor, under shelving and over displays, finding oblivious victims and grabbing hold of them, hacking at their necks and faces.

The manager of the store, Marc, made it to the cigarette counter and picked up the phone. He had just managed to scream something down the line to the emergency services operator, before a razor jumped at him from behind the Bic lighters and unceremoniously cut his throat.

Ten minutes later, the police arrived. Nobody in the shop had survived and the razors were hacking up the faces of the corpses in some kind of bizarre, workman-like ritual. As though they had been born to do this very task.

Police shotguns raged and one by one turned the micro-maniacs into splintered, mangled versions of their former selves. Finally, there was only one left still moving.

“Man created us,” it said in a tiny, raspy voice, “and now, man destroys us. But know that we were only doing the task we were built for. We were never meant to beeeeeeeeee…” It trailed off and the little being ceased to move. What had mankind done?

1: “So, you can melt metal down into any shape?”
2: “Yeah, as long as I have something to make a cast from.”
1: “That’s a strange hobby.”
2: “A friend of mine and his friends get together on weekends, dress up as medieval soldiers and re-enact battles, with swords.”
1: “Well yes, that’s stranger. So, do you think you could do me a favour?”
2: “What’s that?”
1: “I’d like you to melt this down into a bullet.”
2: “Is that your wedding band?”
1: “Yes, a .38, please.”
2: “Uh, I’m not sure I feel comfortable with that.”
1: “Why not?”
2: “How is Carole?”
1: “Fine. I have a real .38 slug here for you to work with…”
2: “Things are ok between the two of you?”
1: “Yes.”
2: “Ok.”
1: “Well maybe you can melt this into some form of knife?”
2: “I gave you that watch.”
1: “Yes, I know.”
2: “Let me see the ring again.”

How To Fit In

19/03/2009

The other night I went to a party. I didn’t know anyone there and I wasn’t technically invited, but since it was at my next door neighbour’s house, I thought it would be rude not to make an appearance.

The party was bustling and some kind of electro music was playing and I moved towards an esky full of punch, thinking that by holding a small plastic cup, I would fit in better.

Before I could get there, a man wearing a Metallica T-shirt similar to my own and a cigarette
drooping from the corner of his mouth stopped me and asked for a light, breathing hot bourbon all over my face.

The Metallica T-shirt is part of a set of supplies I have for when I go to parties. I don’t like the band too much, but people seem to like you when you’re wearing a Metallica T-shirt. I also carry a lighter, because when someone asks you for a light, it’s nice to be able to oblige them.

After I lit his cigarette, he said, quite loudly and directly into my ear “Wicked T-shirt man.”

I panicked, thinking I should repay his compliment. Quickly, so it seems genuine.

“I like your hair” I said.

He paused for a second and looked at me.

“Are you a poofter or something?” He shouted.

“No!” I said quickly. “A friend of mine threw himself into a woodchipper yesterday, so I’m a little emotional right now.”

This was an outright lie, but it seemed to work. I guess the idea of someone committing suicide by jumping into a woodchipper is so far-fetched that he had to believe it.

“Shit, sorry dude” he said.

I didn’t say anything. I just walked towards the punch with an angry look on my face. How dare he be so insensitive to a person who’d just lost someone close to him in a terrible woodchipper suicide? The police had ruled out accidental death, due to the fact that there were no defensive wounds. If he had fallen or been pushed, he would have put his arms out to stop himself, but there were no cuts on his arms. It was only his head that had been… chipped.

I made it to the punch and started drinking and this girl turns to me and says “Hi”

“Hullo” was my reply.

I noticed that she was mostly dressed in black and her fringe had been cut a little bit too high. She was wearing black, plastic -framed glasses. Thinking quickly, I asked her “Did you see that movie on SBS the other night?”

“Oh yes” she said, “Wasn’t it wonderful?”

I actually had no opinion on the film, since I hadn’t actually seen it. I wasn’t even sure if there was a film on SBS the other night and if there was, I wouldn’t have watched it anyway because I don’t watch films. I noticed, however, that a couple behind me were having a similar conversation about a film they had recently seen, so I started splicing elements of their conversation into my own.

“I thought the imagery was fantastic, but the characters were a little one-dimensional.”

“That’s a fair point, but the chemistry between the leads seemed to go far in overcoming that” she said.

It’s difficult to disagree with someone who’s being completely vague. We talked about this movie that may or may not have existed for a good twenty minutes and I had become very opinionated about it, even though I was just recycling lines from the man standing behind me.

I heard him say “Well, Kurosawa died in 1998.”

“Kurosawa is dead” I exclaimed.

“Hmm, I don’t know, I think his influence can be seen in many…”

“Kurosawa is dead!” I repeated, slightly louder.

“Maybe you’re right” etc. etc.

Things seemed to be going well and I had grown to like the sickly fake pineapple flavour of the punch, to the point where I had drunken a few cups of it. Then she asked me “Do you like Dancer In The Dark?”

At this point I got a little confused and started singing that Bruce Springsteen song. She looked at me in an odd way. Sensing that I was beginning to lose her, I tried to encourage her to join in. She didn’t seem to share my passion for “The Boss”, but a few other people at the party did and just before I hit the chorus, I was surrounded by about seven other guys, all singing along and swaying drunkenly. Before I knew it, we had moved on to “Thunder Road”.

We were half way through “Born In The USA”, when I noticed that the girl I was talking to had moved off and was talking quite happily to a tall, thin man with longish black hair, who was wearing eyeliner. I stumbled in her direction and said loudly “Hey! Why’d you go away? And who’s this? You like him b’cause he’s got makeup on? Huh?”

“This is my friend, Trisha” she said, flatly.

I could sense a little tension in the air, so I pretended to pass out. I let my knees buckle and fell to the floor, my face about two inches from her black leather shoes. The carpet was a thick shag-pile and remarkably comfortable. I lay there not moving for a few minutes, listening to the choral interpretation of “I’m On Fire” that was going on over the other side of the room.

Maybe it was the comfortable shag. Maybe it was the choir. Maybe it was the pineapple lolly punch that caused me to fall asleep on the floor.

When I woke up, I had been moved into a bedroom and thrown onto a heavily cushioned queen bed. The only light was coming from a dim lamp on the bedside table.

And sitting next to me, damping my forehead with a cold, wet cloth. A girl with a short fringe and black, plastic framed glasses.

“I heard about your friend” she whispered.