A story of obsession – 7th February 1995

The beginning.

Dan pulled a chair up to the window, sat down for the thousandth time and stared straight ahead, at the building directly across. The window was old fashioned, long, with an inside ledge it was possible to sit on. The window overlooked a large part of the town but not quite to the harbour.

Dan got up, cursing, knowing he’d forgotten something. He returned after a quick run downstairs to the kitchen and sat back down and cracked open his beer. He took a long slurp and made the noise of a thirst quenched, burped loudly and proudly and sat the beer on the chest of drawers next to him. With a swift motion of his arm, he picked up the binoculars, untangled the leather carrying strap and put them up to his eyes.

He felt. like he was some general on a hill surveying the battlefield below. As he looked around he read out instructions in his head, “mortar, no. 19 hill street.” He focused on that area with the binoculars and imagined it blowing up, killing the innocent family inside. “That’ll teach those bastards,” he thought, “for not accepting my quote.” “There’s a man walking his dog in the woods, I can see ya, you goddamn spy,” suddenly the woods were aflame with napalm and the man was dead in Dan’s eyes.

As the sun faded from the sky and grey clouds moved over the light began to fail. This was the time Dan liked best. Now the explosions of bombs were far more exciting and they lit up the night sky for brief moments like lightning flashes from a wild and vivid thunderstorm. Of course, as soon as he put the binoculars down everything was normal, but Dan enjoyed these couple of hours of using his imagination. Sometimes, though not very often, he would miss some TV to do this. Dan got most of his ideas from the tube. Tonight he got bored quite quickly and stopped his observations when he’d finished his second beer. He went downstairs feeling slightly disappointed, grabbed another beer from the fridge and sat down in his chair to watch TV for the rest of the night. Kelly knew not to say anything to him.

Kelly went into the kitchen wishing she had someone to talk to. She turned on the radio, it seemed like her only friend on nights Iike this. Sometimes the cheerful songs picked her up but tonight they had the opposite effect. She sensed Dan’s mood and kept the volume down, this simple little restriction frustrating her more. She felt like she was tip-toeing through a mine field. She pulled a chilled bottle of sweet white wine from the fridge and poured herself another glass. She could feel herself getting slowly drunk already.

Kelly looked through the kitchen window into the blackness of the night, pondering her situation for the thousandth time. She still loved Dan a hell of a lot despite the way he treated her. She did feel a barrier between them and wished for something to bring them together. She walked back through to the living room and sat down adjacent to Dan in front of the TV. She set the bottle of wine down beside her, now half empty and warming up. It was her only cure.

They barely passed polite conversation about the usual run of soaps but when it came to the news Dan became very vociferous in his opinions. He spoke in a tone that denied reply. Though he sat quietly through the images of war beamed into their living room from around the world he haboured a desire to be there. Not a secret desire either. Kelly would nod and agree with everything Dan said not wishing to cause any friction. It was easier that Dan’s opinion was her opinion and she ended up believing it.

Time passed slowly, Kelly now on her third bottle of wine. She was feeling very drunk despite her system being used to the intake. It wasn’t a happy drunk but morose and sombre, a blanking out of desire and feelings.

When they went to bed they slept in foetal positions, Kelly tucked up behind Dan, holding on. Alcohol assured them instant lapse into unconsciousness.

When day dawned the sun shone across the city. Dan woke alone, Kelly already in the kitchen making breakfast. He sat up and yawned then got up and stretched shaking off the night. He walked towards the window, moved in front of the chair and looked out like he was a god surveying his creation. Suddenly aware of his nakedness he backed away and pulled on some shorts returning for one more shot of sunshine glory he saw a figure in a window a couple of streets away. In the brief moment that he was looking he could tell it was a woman’s figure. He wondered if she might’ve seen him naked at the window and wasn’t sure whether to blush or be proud. He quickly forgot about the incident but did make a mental note to look there that evening.

Dan turned and picked up the empty beer cans and dropped them into the waste. He went downstairs where he could hear and smell cooking going on. As he entered the kitchen they exchanged pleasantries, the sun bringing out a subconscious optimism in them both. For the first time in a while, Dan noticed how pretty Kelly looked, the sun illuminating her hair like a halo, as it streamed in through the kitchen window. He made the effort to pass comment on this, which brought a big smile to Kelly’s face. Just that one simple comment made her feel a whole lot better about herself.

Dan kissed Kelly on the cheek as he left, feeling rejuvenated, feeling like something good was going to happen to them. Kelly too felt a whole lot better and decided to spend a few hours walking in the park, thinking of ways of improving her relationship with Dan.

Dan was a painter and decorator by profession, he wasn’t a particularly good one but there was enough work to keep them going. It paid the bills and paid the mortgage and gave them a roof over their heads. That morning he was painting the hallway of some middle-class suburban house, not too dissimilar to their own. His mind wasn’t on his work, he was thinking about his wife and his future. He decided that he would take some flowers home that evening, foregoing his usual lunchtime drinks in the pub. He did still feel some attachment to his wife despite the loss of their baby.

The married couple
The spied couple

Character one. The married man. Dan.

Dark, broody, well built, slightly unbalanced (have to demonstrate this in some way) macho but developing toward feminism i.e., not a total asshole, short hair not meticulous in appearance though can be when trying, enjoys rough things like slight interest in guns and knives, patriotic, believes what the papers say, hard-working, painter and decorator (enjoys his ability to go into other people houses, feels like spying), age 28, likes packet food or traditional food, interested in more extravagant food, kind of scared of trying new things, hobbies, not much, though did enjoy making rabbit hutch for sister’s son, has to be asked to do things like that, not much get up and go, a lot of time spent watching tv and videos, enjoys suspense thrillers, gets a kick out of people being frightened by a killer etc in a film.

Character two. The married woman. Ke11y.

Rather quiet, not opinionated though would like to be sometimes, overwhelmed by Dan’s loudness sometimes, medium height and build, dark. hair, pretty on occasion though bland otherwise, average dress though well dressed when going out, only goes out with Dan, most friends are mutual though Dan takes control most of the time (could possibly introduce one of their friends into the story too), she likes to drink fairly often more so than Dan, she likes to keep Dan happy, she had a distraught childhood, parents divorcing, stepdad nasty, somewhat insecure, she is presently unemployed.

Their situation.

Got married after she found she was pregnant but lost baby soon afterwards, he has held it against her secretly, he promises to start a family but keeps her hanging on cos he doesn’t actually want to at all, in some ways he feels trapped, he wanted to get married for the child’s sake and now would prefer to be single again, they bought a house in a residential area, on a slight hill, overlooking other houses but some wooded areas close by, he always wanted his own home so is quite happy with that, though not wealthy they can afford to live comfortably.

3rd Apr 2021 – I’m guessing I wrote this sometime in early 1995. I think I had some more ideas about where this story might go but obviously never got back to it. Dan and Kelly are lightly based on a couple that Bronwyn and I lived with. Even though this part of the story ends quite upbeat it still feels really dark to me – I know it wasn’t going to end happily and it brings back immediate visions of English streets for me. Feel free to have a go at continuing the story in the comments!

Spinning on that dizzy edge – 29th December 1994

Cathy and Libby bring little Reg and tall Gough up and they run around tearing the place apart much to Broni’s dismay so we take them to the beach where Reg’s two-year-old mind had difficulty coping with the prospect of water rushing around his feet and when the wave broke and rushed up the beach engulfing those tiny fleshy toes his eyes looked left at me and a curious look sat on his face – wow, what was that? I’m not sure if I like that or not….. it’s pretty scary…. “Mamee, Mamee!” – that kid will knock all the girls dead, just you wait and see.

They leave even-time and Broni rests exhausted with all the running around and she dreams up ways of making the house child-safe/childproof and of course, we can’t afford anything like that.

A huge thunderstorm breaks slowly, building over the mountains to the west and in the distance flashes radiate in the heavens. Soon strikes head for the ground and more and more frequently (we later discover something like 5000 strikes over about two hours, luckily we are away from it and have the pleasure of being able to watch it and it’s like a movie screen looking out through our window. A spectacular flash starts at one edge of the sky and heads out across the sky seemingly following a cobweb, lasts several seconds as it travels across the web to the other side of the sky, a maze of conductors in the clouds. Unreal!

The slow creeping in of night time is accompanied by ominous bulging dark clouds, blotting out the sun, as they rise over the hill on our horizon. Seemingly engulfing the sky, black shadows billowing, dark eyes sinking low and roll, roll on the night.

The ever-present cicada cacophony crescendoes across the humid valley and suddenly it’s set alight by a blaze of lightning, the flashlights of the gods and we sit and wait and here it comes the rumble.

Just a slow mover tonight as we sit in the still night air, in anticipation, eyes ready and expectant.

The low clouds are near touchable if only we could climb. They fly past, like ghostly apparitions, out to sea, speeding to their fate.

Here on earth it is still though, as flashes become more frequent and rumbles come that quicker. And then, as at a switch is hit, the cool wind arrives from the south and you know, then you know it’s only a matter of time.

Sure enough, big globs of water slowly descend and bounce on the dry ground. And more, until a downpour which disappears as quick as it started and its traces a mere dampness and a smell fresher than mountain air.

The storm continues over – ever brighter and spectacular to its gazers.

Cobwebs of bolts, like battling swordsmen, steel and scrape the skies.

Once again we are wowed by nature and it’s many wonders. We are also humbled and consider our place in this world.

13th Apr 2021 – I really did marvel at the scale of storms in Australia. The whole sky just seemed bigger than in England and was a blue I’d rarely seen before. Why the sky seems bigger I’m not sure, perhaps the lack of hedgerows and maybe the knowledge that in Australia, over the hill in the distance are just more hills yet in England, over the hill is likely to be another town. Maybe the unfamiliarity with the stars. I remember having to relearn my understanding of direction as the sun now sat in a different part of the sky than I was used to. I got lost often whenever I was driving around at first. That’s fine though – I love being lost.

Just a fly (Outwardly we’re lying, inwardly we’re crying) – 24th November 1994

Sorry if this seems just a bit disjointed to you. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything like this. It must be experienced. It is not something that you can plan. It just happens, flows. The experience is quiet now. Try not to induce the experience with drugs. Drugs can cloud the memory, therefore disposing part of the experience. Drugs can increase the awareness of the experience as it is happening, please be careful.

So she read on the side of the bottle of small green and purple capsules. Shit, maybe she ought to take them, looks like dust had been gathering on the bottle for a few weeks at least. What did she need them for? He walked into the room, sat down and collected his thoughts. ‘Fuck!’

He started eating the toast. Imagining he was a fly in the room watching himself, envious, eating the toast. The radio breaks his concentration. Something about people dead. But he’s heard that one.

Walking towards the window, toast in hand, the fly bangs his head. Slowly he lifts the net curtain. The sky is blue and white and black. People get on the waiting bus. ‘Two to town please.’ ‘£1.50.’

Sat down in the sideways seats, the vicar and the whore talking about world domination. Falling up the stairs stupidly, a blind man, two boys with hands in his pockets. The coat a sort of grey/green checked affair, made of that weird shit material you ‘normally’ associate with old people. Use the word normally carefully. Use the word carefully normally.

The boys laugh at the girls for liking flowers because they just like their guns. The boys laugh even harder at boys liking flowers. Well it’s just not natural is it? Fucking laugh. Ha ha ha ha ha. Can’t fathom the feelings you’re feeling. Really screwing with my head. Don’t want to take no shit but keep in touch with sense because of love, because something feels right and in them thar bones. Can’t talk to you sometimes but I’m glad I haven’t got a diary. I finally get off the bus. Wonder what the vicar was saying? Only heard the whore’s side of the story. Can’t imagine it was all true.

Walking to the shopping centre being chased by chip wrapping paper tapping my ankles in the wind. Black girl on opposite side of road looks happy. Don’t see many round here, especially not happy. But you mustn’t cry. Something will happen to make you laugh, so just be happy waiting for it. This feeling is so intense. It is encompassing the whole of my brain. When I am away from you, I try to see through your eyes without having any idea of what you might be looking at. I want to be inside your head.

Pass the record shop, kicked the habit years ago. That’s a lie – I just keep it a secret now. I know, I know – no secrets. So I shall have no secrets in the search for trust and truth. But when I get to heavens gates will they refuse me entry? Whose decision is it and why? My feelings are from the heart – my emotions are often stupid and derelict – please try to ignore them, for they are not important. I have violence in my hands but restrained. Prefer to do constructive things.

Walking onwards I could see it coming.

Hey. Wait. Don’t. Step. Out. Oh. Shit. Too. Late. The. Lady. Hit. The. Bumper. Now. Her. Blood. Decorates the road. Pollock style. Single colour. Walk away. Try to see through the crowds eyes. No need to watch in horror in person. Like a prison inside their minds. So easy to get in but so hard to let out. No imagination.

Long, long green fields on a warm day with a sprinkling of clouds to add a bit of variety. I can imagine it and I know I’ve never been to that particular place although there are certain places it could be. The mind is a wonderful thing. Use it. It’s Friday lunchtime. Free from all forms of addiction for nearly a week now. Constant barrages of noise infest the brain – self-inflicted though. A change in patterns and waveform varies the mundanity. A true eternal worrier. Don’t get pissed off with it for me. See it through and I’ll be as good as I can. Sometimes it would be nice to talk without laughing. Sometimes the laughter seems like riddles. But I don’t know if it’s just me imagining me imagining me imagining things, if you can sort of understand?

The skies turn blue, pink, purple and white. So vivid he thought. The street lights at night though seems so cold. I seem depressing. Walking back from work onto the housing estate, everything quiet, he gets so depressed. Just sits down, eats his tea, watches telly. Lost. No stimulus on the nerve endings in the brain. Dead to the world. Seems like a government plan to me. Gentle, subtle persuasion. The fucking mind games seems so obvious sometimes but it just can’t be real. Which leads to doubt. Complicated stuff.

Focus your thoughts on one particular subject. Little, minute, stupid – any subject, no matter how irrelevant. Work your mind around it totally. Examine its structure, how it formed, its purpose. If it has none to be seen, invent a purpose. Wrap yourself in your thoughts, become the subject. See from the inside. New perspectives. New concepts. New beginnings. One day you will die. Do you wish to spend from now till then with me? Or is there something you would like to do? Don’t laugh at me because I may feel hurt. Laugh with me and we can rock together. There is nothing sinister in my urges.

Trapped inside his own bubble. His own space. Pushing against the sides. They stretch forever. Never near a breaking point. Sits down quietly and contemplates a strategy. Wait. People stare at you in the avenue. What could they want? What could they see? What makes them think they’re so great?

So the story continues although it was never a story. More of a gut feeling. An explanation of intent. There is no flow at the moment. Something close to me as interrupted the patterns in my mind. So easily distracted sometimes. But I can rest assured the thoughts shall return. Life is usually stranger than the drugs you can use to help you find your reality. Could we be addicted to life? How can we give it up? Some people look at you like you’re a freak. They suck and I won’t let them get me down. The people in the minority are the survivors.

“Head colds are bad for the memory, darling” she whispered sweetly in his ear. What was his name? Not darling for sure. “You lay there and I’ll get you a cup of refreshing tea. Maybe that will revitalise your energy. It won’t clear this stinking headache. Substitute the word ‘fuck’ with ‘freak’.

She rolled out of bed. It seemed empty and cold now. Lacking security, as the monsters gather. Whimpering cowardly. Ain’t it good to be alive? Here is a box marked confidence. It isn’t a trick. Open and see. The world and his wife rushed out like a Spielberg special effect. All over the goddamn room.

He finally woke up and got up. Scaly teeth – brushed clean. Someone died on the pavement. Someone is happy. Someone is making love in the flats opposite. Someone is pouring milk on their Weetabix. Someone is racing in an ambulance to hospital. Someone else is driving the ambulance. Someone is on telly. I don’t wish I was someone else. I am someone else.

6th May 2021 – Not sure of exact date of writing. Pages were stuck in the 1994 diary. The title “Just a Fly” got me thinking about the Thatcher on Acid song ‘Fly’ but I couldn’t find any lyrics from it to use as a title here but whilst searching I found this other ToA song title which seemed to suit perfectly.

Some cats are fat cats, what we gonna do? – 28th August 1994

Short Story

The fat evil cat ate the little timid mouse, except for the tail, said “yum yum.” The cat was too fat and on proceeding to walk, fell over – dead. Mrs Smith-Jones (interesting name) buried her poor pussy in a quiet patch under the apple tree. But unfortunately she got her foot stuck in the hole she had dug. There she grows now. Blossoming in beauty. The children climb her branches to collect the best apples in the orchard. But Farmer Giles (interesting name) often shoots them out of the trees for target practice. The moral of this story is don’t eat mice.

See, nobody loves me, not like I do – 26th August 1994

3 shorts

Clean the baby heads, oil the machine. Drowning in a sea of sick ain’t my idea of a party. They just wanna party on your face and when the morning comes they’ll say goodbye, for another year. And that’s it. Bye.

I could really use some company now. The company of a cigarette. Goddamn stuff’s killing me and I’m pretending it’s the only thing that keeps me alive. Where’s the lighter?

The dream entailed myself and a friend on a night out and soon my friend disappeared into the mists of the night. Disappeared with someone else, some other character with more charm than myself. More interesting. More fun to be with.

My friends pretend to be my friends because they pity me. But now that pity doesn’t count. I can stand on my own two feet tonight and I don’t need my friends pitying me anymore. I pity them for the selfish, arrogant, pretentious bastards that they are.

Tonight, I’m gonna party.

The twentieth century foxes slut around in their topless leather skirts. Parading their wares along the grotty streets of each town’s ghetto. The shit and the rain slides along the gutter and down into the bottomless pit. Customer’s come and go.

Business booms when the misery descends on the town in the shape of grey clouds. They hang above everybody’s head. As visible as the money in their pockets. Effective relief from the trappings of modern society. It’s difficult to imagine these people belong to the same human race as myself. I need some relief.

Your private matters need looking after, it’s way too late, though – 24th July 1994

The girl obviously had a strange upbringing. Dragged naked from the burning barn. Certain things left emotional scars and for a lifetime.

She ran, pinny wrapped around her undignified body, down through the field, tripping on tree stumps he had left there last summer. She ran as though searching for something, turning at strange angles, here and there, in her misguided direction.

The road below thronged with tourists, keen to see the local attractions. This certainly wasn’t one of them.

Soon she stood naked, unknowing of anything around her. Of course, they just drove past. The men in the cars smugly thought they understood. Drugs – huh! The women cringed away disguising their disgust with tourist talk – ‘Oh – look at that hill.’ He laughed, ‘Look at those hills.’

They drove past – into another universe.

We’ll talk about life and what is right – 16th July 1994

This is the little brown blob calling. Blob comes and goes with various rocking motions, similar to that of a pendulum, back and forth behind the decorative glass of the grandfather clock.

Sat in the chair, blob examines the needlelike lines of ink across his A4. Symmetry can be.

Yellow may burst into a flowing red-breasted robin as the whale took up the soot and the ash from the dirty cigarette hand. Just a flick of the switch. The red and the black jelly ladies danced inside their plastic hall while the greens stood waiting for partners. Too self-conscious to go and ask. The little red riding hood spilt forth the liquid paper across my chest and the rats nibbled away at the knotted hairs.

The squares keep following me around the room unable to take their eyes from my blobular body. Die, servant, die. They cry.

Unable to stand the intensity of the stares, I light another cigarette and take the comfy chair, folding it quietly under my left arm. The golden wonder of it all.

The shepherds rounded up the crowd and they did surely follow like sheep.

I thought of the clever people and their 18 seater jets carry them about until they crash into the ground. And the train of thought revolves into spirals. Spiralling away to it’s happy oblivion. And when the oblivion descends it starts all over again.

Different place, different time, different people on a different line all descending and to ascend you must reach the highest order of psychological power.

Fruit Salad – 2nd June 1993

The real banana said “You’re an imposter” – she was the apple of his eye. The yellow skinned imposter smiled. His face twisted like he’d just sucked a lemon.

“No I’m not” he objected. It was their first date. He had sucked her dry. Once a grape, now a raisin.

The man with the pineapple haircut interjected “Excuse me. I don’t think the cream and cottage cheese were necessary in such large amounts.” He thought the imposter was a pervert. He wasn’t wrong. The cream was whipped.

The imposter slipped on the banana. He fell – it was a peach! Caught in the act. Plum-dumb.

Still life isn’t a bowl of cherries.