Wednesday, November 26, 2008

C’est à rire: Just one of those days


“Engine won’t start.”
“Spring open the bonnet, I’ll have a look. Try the ignition again.”
Seconds later the TAOMPV’s motor comes to life.
“Thanks, mate.”
“Not a problem,” says the mechanic, pulling his hands away, letting the bonnet clang shut.

Cruising down the motorway at a smooth 70 kph, Ian Stoddard notices a faint vibration coming from the van.
The bonnet is quivering.
“Uh--”
**BANG**
The bonnet explodes open, locking vertically, completely obscuring the windscreen.
Stoddard swears under his breath.
Time dilation kicks in.

Plant foot solidly on brake pedal without slamming it. Press it down firmly until it touches the floor. As you do that, pull over to the centre turning lane. There’s less of a chance of collision there than crossing over the two lanes to reach the hard shoulder.
The van comes to a full stop in the centre lane. Stoddard puffs out his cheeks and exhales sharply.
Time elapsed: eight seconds.

“My own fault,” surmises Ian. “Should have checked the bonnet myself to see that it had latched.”

As the van pulls up to the TAO offices, a greenish splatter of goo nails Ian’s arm.
“Jeez, that’s a first. Isn’t getting hit with bird dreck good luck in Italy or somewhere? Could’ve used the luck earlier. Or maybe I did.”

“That was the last job for today, Ian. You can take the rest of the day off,” said Miss Wood, the receptionist. “What’s wrong? You look shaken up,” she asked, cocking her head with a crease in her brow. She was the closest thing to a confidant at the office, but Stoddard wasn’t up to regaling her with white-knuckle tales of terror.
“Oh... nothing. Got bombed by a pigeon. Thanks, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

The house was quiet when Ian walked in. He took in a deep breath, paused, and blew it out slowly.
‘Wonder how the rabbits are doing,’ he thought as he opened the back door.
Two dogs spun around, caught unawares. The bottom of the hutch was ripped apart.
“What the--”
The mutts made a beeline for a gap in the hedges. Gone.
Left behind was the lifeless, mangled body of the white rabbit, pink eyes staring blankly up at the blue sky. Stoddard uttered a dry, point-blank curse. No sign of the brown rabbit.
“Maybe he got away. I hope.”
He found a shovel and carved a shallow grave in the back corner of the yard.
‘Rabbits scare easily, right? Hope it was over and quick for her.’
Filling the hole, he was struck by the contrast of the soft, white fur, bit by bit, vanishing under the rich, dark soil. He finished the burial, leaving it unmarked, and walked back inside.
The sun was dipping below the trees but he didn’t feel like turning on the lights just yet. He stood before the picture window, hands on hips, and drew another deep breath through his nose.
Across the street stood Professor Hubert’s bunker atelier. Some movement in the shrubbery caught Ian’s eye. A shabbily dressed fellow was trying to squeeze in through the loosely secured rolling doors.
“What next?” he muttered as he rung the authorities.
Coppers pull up scant seconds later, cautiously entering the same way. In no time they emerge holding the perp by his collar like some naughty cat caught with his paws in the fish tank.
“Dumb hobo, doesn’t even know what he’s looking for.”

Stoddard collapsed on the lounge, stretching his arms out, letting his head roll back upon the cushion. The weight of a boulder off the shoulders.
Silence.
*RING-RING*
*RING-RING*

Pupils edge to the eye’s corners shooting daggers at the phone. Another breath and he answered:
“Hello?”
“Ian Stoddard? This is Ms. Pierce from the Heritageville Courant-Ledger. How are you?”
“Getting by, thanks. You?”
“Great. I wanted to do an interview with you for an upcoming music edition this month.”
“Regarding which band? I’m in four or five at the current moment.”
“Oh, it’s not about your bands; it’s about you, the musician, being in all those bands.”
Humility kicks in with a waft of bland paranoia.
‘After today’s events, does one really need an ego trip?’ Stoddard grills himself.
‘Maybe. But all that has transpired is happenstance. How one deals with it is freewill.’
Complaints? Curses? Bewailment? An ego-soothing appearance on Oprah?
It is to laugh.

“No, but thank you, Ms. Pierce. I do appreciate the thought. Good day.”
Stoddard pushed himself back into the cushions, smiled wryly, and watched through the window as the sky turned from indigo to violet, and finally to black.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Terre des Nuages: A First Time for Everything

(In the spirit of Engrish, apologies for the translation.)

Le salon dans le manoir, d’ordinaire brillant et confortable, les positions a assourdi maintenant et un peu fade. Cinq ou six flânent environ dans les procès et les robes, prévoyant silencieusement le voyage de 3 heures. Les sonneries de téléphone, ponctuant encore les ombres. Venir par le récepteur, l’un peut entendre d’à travers la pièce le Turc qui plaide -- les sanglots hystériques, presque comme un animal. Etre seulement une connaissance récente, elle est doucement dite qu’elle devrait les restes derrière. Le pleurer continue à verser en avant, comme le téléphone est doucement abaissé dans son berceau. Le voyage lui-même est subjugué.
Le long du voyage le blanc de flammes de soleil dans un ciel silencieux qui sent glacé dans son bleu, même pour mars. Le tordre et tourner de la route par les contreforts de l’Alpes-Maritimes rampent vers l’haut par les arbres épais. Sur une pente herbeuse repose un signe en bois, une lettres taillées expliquant sèchement ‹ la Source d’Eau Musicale de Montagne ›. En haut de la colline les forces de Citroën augmentent par un écart dans les arbres, où tient une chapelle en pierre rustique à côté d’un cimetière modeste.

« La révélation d’une mort de l'ami toujours décontenance, inutile de dire. Peut-être ils sont morts de circonstances tragiques ; peut-être c’était le simplement vieil âge. Nous avons de la peine brièvement et nous nous déplaçons sur avec les mâchoires moitié-empoignés, rappelant les vies ils ont mené au lieu de la façon qu’ils sont partis ».

En entrant la chapelle, l’un est rappelé d’est dans une grande loge, avec sa maçonnerie de granit et son bois en chêne. C’est-à-dire, jusqu’à ce que l’un remarque les bancs d’église et le cercueil fermé. Les détails exacts commencent à palîr dans la brume de porter le deuil. La famille et les amis semblent promener de, offrant des condoléances. Les hymnes lointains résonnent par les chevrons. Un registre de quelque genre est signé avec les mots déjà oublié.
Quelques-uns errent hors de retour pour un souffle frais. Sous les arbres l’humeur est un peu moins formelle mais non moins douloureux. Les amis tirent avec effort sur leurs Gauloises. Les mains dans les poches. Les pieds tiennent à placer le sol. L’air mord pendant que le soleil d’après-midi dernier coule derrière les grands pins.
Un homme se tient stoïquement toujours, pourtant dans il est consterné : il a perdu juste son petit frère. Deux soeurs, inconsolables, et une mère cachée parmi un cercle de beaucoup bien-aimé. Et dominant sur tout le monde est le patriarche : craché de portrait du de la décédé, plus grand que vie, une épine raide et la crinière blanche d’un abbé de Provence. Son visage, travaillé dans l’agonie gelée, rendant compte son plus jeune fils, un autre homme plus grand que vie qui saisirait n’importe quel moment... allé.
Il y a homme que qui jamais a fixé sur les visages d’hommes et de femmes qui a survécu leurs enfants ? Un homme qui ne ceci a jamais vu tient maintenant ruminer, rendre compte qu’il voit pour la première fois. Il se traîne loin de la foule, le passé la dispersion humble de tombes qui est être le lieu de Benoit reposant, et les promenades dans la forêt. Plus lent il piétine, la brosse croque sous les pieds, jusqu’à ce qu’il vient à un grand rocher de granit. L’homme redresse son manteau et sa cravate et assied languissamment, engourdiment, seul dans les bois, où tout est fait conscient, et il peut commencer à pleurer.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Secret Star of Sunday’s Grill-Out

Icon upon cardboard
perched on a utility room shelf,
for years you sit there
making an impression
quasi-Dobbsian
a bulldada visage to be
affixed to future communiqués...

...Exemplum gratia:

“Challenge Accepted.”

One good thing that should come out of critical analysis is that people will wake up and take charge of their destiny.
Of course, there is a downside to knowledge. Many people do not have the courage nor the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what is right.
At the Grill-Out, this fact was pointed out very well. Sure, the easy way out is to celebrate in the dark behind walls. Many people are thrilled to death because they think that our demise is going to be a real benefit to them. Despite what appears to be true, will it really be? When they fail, the rest could fail as well.

The sanctity of the Grill-Out was upheld. The pursuit... the victory... the coup de maître of Slack was reaffirmed. The challenge was accepted with vigour, as the rich smoke billowed upward from the green.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Mystery Device at Pilastro Terrasport


“I wonder what the ‘Hell/Hole’ was?” Grandmum quipped while frying eggs one summer morning. Junior blanched at mention of the ‘H-word,’ but silently he wondered too about the attractions he wasn’t privy to in Madeira Selváge the previous night.
There was the Palace of Crystal -- what appeared to be a revolving maze of mirrors. And that strange building with the balconies -- was that Frankenstein chasing that shrieking teenager? And the aforementioned Hell/Hole -- an imposing black façade with a hideous winged demon lording over the glowing red portal.
“Can we go in there?!” Junior had pleaded, pointing.
“No, you’re too young,” the adults muttered back.
Denied.

—————

For years the enigma of the Hell/Hole lurked in the back of Junior’s imagination. What was it? Dungeon? Fright Haus? Prototype Pungeonary?
Eventually, documents came to light revealing to Junior the curious lair and its fate.
His eyes pored over the ledger and accompanying photos. His brow knit and his shoulders slunk forward.
“That’s what the Hell/Hole was?!”
The grainy picture showed an old vertical cylinder with a walkway around the top. Junior recognised it immediately.
It was one of those glorified centrifugal force chambers with the dropaway floor bit. Just like at the Third Kingdom, the cylinder would spin, people would stick to the walls, and vomitus would spew laterally, arcing rivulets around the chamber, much to the horror of the other occupants.
Hell/Hole, indeed.
“Hmph. This is more silly than scary,” Junior reflected. “Imagination let down by reality yet again.”
Yes, Junior, reality will do that to ya.
But it doesn’t hurt to imagine.