ISSUE 20 February 2016 works of the young and talented to the whole world. An independent magazine aimed at bringing the
You WILL be rewarded a copy of Garde Magazine Anniversary Issue!
An independent magazine aimed at bringing the works of the young and talented to the whole world. Believing in ideas, thoughts and concepts, Garde Magazine follows the principle of simplicity and honesty.
Founders Cleo Tse Natasha Chan
Wong Wing Fung
Contributors David Madsen
Chan Kwan Lap Kalle Ă–stgĂĽrd ODKST Tammy Ha
Special thanks Maria Evrenos
Content Wong Wing Fung Fine Art To paint memories and emotions
Ankie Fok Sculpture Art goes first
Movie Review The Hateful Eight David Madsen
What is it... Ink Painting Chan Kwan Lap
Story teller ODKST Kuro Ex Machina - Chapter 8
Wong Wing Fung FINE ART
to paint memories and emotions Contributed by
hat is your creation about? My creation focuses on relationships. Some of them are community-based. The relationship between my work and the space, audience or between me and the audience, things happened, people or places take important roles in my works. My recent work The Cabinets of Memories explored the relation of memories and their storage.
hat do you usually use as your medium? It varies every time. I studied theatrical scenic painting under Applied Art. It can be understood that painting is my foundation but is affected quite largely by theatre settings. I care a lot about how the audience experiences my work, so medium matters a lot because it has different functions to present related relationships. Some installations works are site specific therefore the change of the location will lead to the change of the work.
here do you get your inspiration? There is nothing specific â€“ it probably is from different things happening around me. It could be a small thing in life such as a glass of cold water given by a stranger in summer or the dance of leaves in the wind; it could also be as big as a nuclear disaster. hy did you say In Praise of LIGHT: Homage to TAOHOâ€¨is a turning point of your creativity path? It combines space, natural light and observation of audience in the work, therefore the effect is difficult to predict. It is challenging to me as I could only go with the effect and make changes. Other than that, I have prepared some little booklets and a mailbox at the location to invite the audience to read and leave messages. Out of my expectation, I received over a hundred messages and most of them had solid content. Some people shared their thoughts after seeing the work. It made me realise that even though I was not at the site, my work could be a channel to communicate with an audience. This experience affected me when I created The Cabinets
Wong Wing Fung - The Cabinet of Memories (I): Wing Lee Street The Cabinet of Memories (I): Wing Lee Street regards memory and perception. The situation in Wing Lee Street begged for a reflection: When things cannot coexist, how do we make a choice? Is it more important to preserve the tangible form of a heritage building, than to document intangible memories and sentiments of the years? In the quest for answers, Wong began to review her knowledge and sentiment of Wing Lee Street. Though the collected objects appear small and ordinary, they each carry snippets of moving and authentic stories. Though Wong Wing Fung grew up and lived in the Central and Western District for twenty-odd years, she found her knowledge of the area limited to her immediate surroundings. In her work, the thirtytwo drawers of collected memories are anecdotal evidences shared by residents and shopkeepers alike; the act of sharing stories, apparently, is the recipe of thorough reflection and experience of the bygones. The artwork itself may not represent all of Wing Lee Streetâ€™s residents, but Wongâ€™s treasure chest preserves her pride for the neighborhood. In the 2015 exhibited version, Wong demonstrated hints of audience responses she embraced in the 2010 exhibition for greater possibilities of imagination and stimulation.
of Memories. I gave chances to the audience to leave messages and interact. The concept of story exchange also appears.
lease share an impressive creative experience. Actually my experience is always impressive when I create. There was a while when I worked on The Cabinets of Memories, where I had been spending a lot of time on the elderly and listening to their stories. It made me understand them, the society and Hong Kong better. These elderly people had fading memories and they did not necessarily remember me every time, but my feelings to them had increased. Each of them carried a lot of history and stories and they bring everything away when they leave the world. It is sad that our sense of conservation is weak and does not pay much attention to conserve them. Working on a project related to the elderly is my attempt to conserve heritage - I found that particularly meaningful.
hy are you particularly interested in the sense of touch? The school I studied in is a performing art school. Although my major isn’t performing that requires a lot of body or touching, I am very interested in the sense of touch. People usually ask “does it look nice” and then “does it sound good” but rarely ask “does it feel nice to the touch?” That makes me curious and actually sense of touch can be a very strong communication channel that deserves more attention.
Wong Wing Fung - The Fish I Tasted at Home (II) For many, a simple home-cooked meal comforts them the most. The salted fish business had commenced since the generation of Wong’s grandfather. Even so, Wong’s preference over fresh fish was never overwhelmed by salted fish. Living with her grandmother, arguments are inevitable, be it because of the generational gap, different ways of loving, or simply stubbornness; No matter what happens, grandmother always got Wong’s favorite steamed fish ready on table whenever Wong comes home for dinner. Inspired by her childhood trips to Southeast Asia where vendors used to print tourists’ photos on plates and sell as souvenirs, Wong opted to preserve her grandmother’s love in the artwork ‘The Fish I Tasted at Home’. The plates used in the project are either second-handed or interior goods from chain shops, signifying the imperfection of human beings. The Fish I Tasted at Home (II) explores struggle and reconciliation. Wong rejoined broken plates and adorns gold leafs upon the cracks; a process which does not hide flaws but highlights glaring scars and conflicts. With this work, Wong hopes to share the struggle and value of reconciliation, and the love within.
ow did you start your art life? Starting a creative life isnâ€™t difficult, but continuing it is the main point. When I was young, I thought about being the fashion designer of a DJ, which might have shown a bit of my creative side. I now have a series of work related to sound. I suppose I could be called a DJ? I was pretty bad at examinations and memorising and I started studying in performing art school after high school â€“ that should be the start of my creativity life.
ow does art affect your life? Creation requires observation of things and feelings given to the environment. Observation is training to me and makes me focus on society and people more. Starting from observation, I have been looking for answers. It does not mean that I can find it or when I found it there could be changes. Art is the process of looking for answers. The process of creating art is imagining, seeking, expressing, sharing, owning and disowning. Art taught me to face myself, others and then the world.
Wong Wing Fung - Grandma Grandpa Memory Boxes The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29 What do the memories of the elders – our cultural heritage – mean for us? In the past Wong Wing Fung has attended many elderly art workshops. Through casual bantering, Wong realized the elderlies’ recollections are as if living history textbooks, detailing the life and ideology of certain time and certain places. Wong is excited about every gathering with the elderly, for in what they say there is flesh and blood, laughter and tears, inspiration and intimacy; each memory unique in flavor. Strand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:32 Cabinet of Memories (IV) is an installation in the form of fragments, carrying Wong’s reflections regarding the elderly and family ethics. Many of the elderly at the workshops had dementia or were visually impaired. It is not rare to find them forgetting what they have done and whom they have met; nonetheless, they always hold your hands lovingly without fail; from their hands, Wong felt sincerity. Though the objects and narratives Wong collected are seemingly insignificant, each object, box, and frame hold important memories. If you are willing to open your heart, to listen, and to observe, then you too may be able to glean invaluable experiences. Wong longed for, through this artwork, a possibility of conversations between “this” generation and the “last”. She also presents this work to like-minded individuals who are dedicated to get along with their elderly at home.
Ankie FOk SCulpture
art goes first Contributed by Tammy Ha
nkie Fok is an artist.
She is a visual artist who designs and creates modern wood sculptures. Her work has been exhibited multiple times in her home city, Hong Kong, as well as in Macau and Taiwan. She was a finalist of the New Art Wave International Artist Award in 2015 - an award that celebrates emerging artists. Ankie managed to achieve all this through learning the technical craft on her own for the majority of her career— or at the very least, the beginning of it. It would not be an understatement to say that Ankie’s wood crafting career started from humble beginnings. It was 2010 when Ankie began her journey as a wood sculptor simply out of her strong sense of connection with, well, wood. “It’s a straightforward and simple kind of passion,” she tells us. It is simply the texture of wood itself that draws Ankie to the material. “To me, the beauty of wood grains is simply irresistible. [Wood] contains warmth when you touch it. It’s enduring yet it is in harmony with our human body temperature. Just like human beings, every type of wood possesses its own unique set of temper and characteristic. While some are harder, with darker colours and have a nice and natural aroma, others are lighter in weight and in colour and they are more porous. You simply can’t just treat nor use all kinds of wood in the same manner. Therefore, for each time before you start creating any works, you have to judge and consider what to use and how to use it first, which is a process I enjoy very much and which keeps me motivated in gaining more knowledge in this area.” So Ankie got to work. She bought herself some simple hand tools, a few wooden blocks and laid them out on the dining table of her home, where she spent hours … bleeding her fingers out and making a
Ankie Fok - Persistence Rocking Chair Teak Wood, 26cm(L) x 14cm(W) x 24cm(H), 2014 This is a pair of miniature rocking chairs that are made of teak wood. On the chair backs, it is the Chinese word for “Persistence”. With Persistence, one will never fall – this is the creative rationale underneath.
Ankie Fok - Tea Time Mango Wood, 38cm(L) x 20cm(W) x 70cm(H), 2014 This is a pair of miniature rocking chairs that are made of teak wood. On the chair backs, it is the Chinese word for “Persistence”. With Persistence, one will never fall – this is the creative rationale underneath.
mess of her home with wood scraps and dust. Ankie then realised it was probably better to educate herself about the craft with books. Shortly after, in 2011, Ankie started her own studio One Fine Day Productions and finally decided to join wood classes and learn from experienced veterans. If self-teaching the craft of wood sculpting through blood and dust doesn’t show you Ankie’s dedication to her work, then investing in a studio after only a year of starting out in the craft may. Opening her own studio was a decision that was merely practical to Ankie at the beginning: the sound, the dust and the dirt that woodworking creates were simply unbearable for the cramped living environment of Hong Kong. It was in fact what Ankie, who is also a cultural worker, describes to be the “number one challenge” for local artists in Hong Kong, if not for every other resident. “[The] crazy high rent and high economic pressure in Hong Kong [means that] quite a large number of artists here need to spend a great proportion
of their time doing different kinds of day jobs and [only] immerse themselves into the world of arts during spare time, so as to earn the necessary amount of money to sustain their studios and/ or their daily lives. In other words, not too many local artists can have the luxury to be full-time ones, which in turn reduces the time that many of them can spend on focusing on their art practices.” Tracing back the creative roots In a speech given by acclaimed American public radio personality/ storyteller, Ira Glass, on honing one’s craft and overcoming frustrations of creators starting out, he said, “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.” Ankie’s taste as an artist (and her commitment to art itself) can be proved or at the very least endorsed by her bachelor’s degree in comparative literature
Ankie Fok - Homage to Qi Baishi Wood, 55cm(L) x 10cm(W) x 90cm(H), 2015 This sculpture serves as an homage to legendary Chinese painter, Qi Baishi, and his well-known lively painting of shrimps.
at the University of Hong Kong, as well as her further studies in Art Direction in Film before becoming an artist herself. She accredits her education in these areas as crucial to the development of her as a human being to begin with and in terms of forming the core values underlying her wood art. An artist’s observations towards life, rather than the material he/she uses, be it wood, stainless steel or ceramic are what Ankie considers the ultimate asset to his/ her art. As an artist, it is important to Ankie to safeguard “sensitivity, curiosity and innocence as an artist, towards the surroundings that I’m living in or I’ve noticed” - qualities which were enhanced throughout her university years in the Faculty of Arts, during which her belief that an open heart and an open mind as the essential mindset for an artist was reinforced. Ankie’s further studies in Art Direction in Film, where she learned how to design and create movie sets, props and costumes for actors,
delivered her from the scholarly side of art appreciation and critique to the creative side of making tangible art. “That period was helpful for me in getting familiar with the practice of creating physical objects step by step from mere concepts in my mind in early stages.” The future As she continues to establish herself as a visual artist in modern wood sculpting, Ankie, is not one to merely stay on one side of the island of the art industry. Once stood on sidelines, appreciating and observing; now an artist, creating—Ankie also wants to invite people to the island as well, to appreciate and observe and to create. “I would like to be involved in more art projects or create more artworks that promote social good and social equality… I want to spend more time on arts education in the coming future. For example, I’ll be co-presenting a wood class with another experienced sculptor from May to June 2016.”
The Hateful Eight (2015), Double Feature Films. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Ew.com
movie review the hateful eight by david madsen
“Far from the revenge films of his past filmography, Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, The Hateful Eight, is challenging, bloody and bold.”
hether it’s a mother punishing the men and women who took away her maternal right to nurture her child in Kill Bill or a freed slave blowing up Mississippi plantation owners in Django: Unchained, Tarantino’s tales of bloody revenge has given us some of the most entertaining and starkly original films through the aught and into the new decade. It is with this in mind that The Hateful Eight feels like something completely different from his previous body of work in some key ways. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, this isn’t an epic revenge film, it’s a mystery thriller framed as a stage play. The film takes place a few years after the American Civil War and has eight strangers bunkered up in a small tavern, Minnie’s Haberdashery, in the mountains of Wyoming during a deadly blizzard. All of them have different
stories to tell, some of them true - most of them lies, and as Kurt Russel’s character, John Ruth mentions “one of them fellas, is not what he says he is.” The film then plays out as a Werewolf-like game, in which the characters take turns to hash out differences, threaten one another and try to figure out who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. The tension escalates a good two thirds of the way through the movie as people quickly go from suspicious to murderous, bodies pile up and the floor of Minnie’s Haberdashery becomes slippery with blood and brain bits. The bar for violence has steadily been raised in Tarantino’s recent films and The Hateful Eight somehow finds new ways to up this ante even further. Secondly, the big difference is the overall dark nature of the film. Tarantino’s films have
in the past first and foremost been rather jovial and fun genre thrill rides. However, as I left the theater for The Hateful Eight, I felt downright queasy, unsure whether what I’d just seen was cruel and nihilistic, a result of an auteur given one too many chances at carte blanche filmmaking or the boldest film Tarantino has made in his more than twenty years of filmmaking. What I mean by this is that unlike his previous batches of natural born killers, there’s nothing righteous or just about any of the characters in The Hateful Eight. The title implies as much, I know, but still even the people you would count as being the main players of the film are often the most despicable ones. Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Mayor Marquis Warren, would in particular seem
to be the most righteous in his bitter violence, him being a former slave and all, yet his sadistic behavior ultimately reduces him to a complete psychopath. It makes for an at times almost unbearably, uneasy experience. Especially as the group finally lets go of any illusions of civility and enacts all the hatred, all the tension and all the vile bitterness that stands between black and white men, Union and Confederate veterans, immigrants and Americans, men and women and Europeans and Americans. It means that there aren’t any bad guys to root against or good guys who are justified in their actions. Just vile characters doing horrid actions which the audience is forced to reflect upon.
The Hateful Eight (2015), Double Feature Films. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Whatnotfilms.com
Regardless of these differences this is still very much a ‘Tarantino’ film given the way we have come to know his particular idiosyncrasies. It’s mainly structured around scenes of longwinded conversations between colourful characters which are characterised by Tarantino’s talent for writing off-the-cuff, loose dialogue. In The Hateful Eight’s instance, this dialogue does at times come off as being too expository as characters spend large chunks of the film giving monologues about themselves or another character. However, there are plenty of fantastic conflicts and confrontations that reach the same heights as some of Tarantino’s best-written work such as the bar scene from Inglorious Basterds.
The film is an audiovisual delight as well. A lot of the marketing of the film has boasted its use of 70mm celluloid film instead of digital video and the wider format is used to great effect. It captures both the isolation and harshness of the outdoor mountain ranges and allows for some fantastic cinematography in the indoor scenes with the camera being able to frame multiple character interactions at once. The soundtrack is equally impressive with legendary Ennio Morricone as its composer, a guest song from Jack White and even a remixed version of a track from John Carpenters masterclass horror/mystery film The Thing from 1982. It’s used rather sporadically and especially as the film moves to Minnie’s Haberdashery, it becomes almost
absent, leaving behind the sounds of the howling blizzard and the equally chilling conversations the group shares with one another. Lastly, the films’ brilliant cast is a great all-star roundup of Tarantino regulars such as Tim Roth, Zoe Bell, Samuel L. Jackson (of course) and returning actors like Kurt Russel and Waltor Goggins. Except for Michael Madsen’s rather miniscule and flat character as the cowboy Joe Gage, there isn’t a weak link among the characters and a couple of them stand out as some of the best performances these respective actors have ever made. Tarantino newcomer Jennifer Jason-Leigh especially is downright haunting as the criminal Daisy Domergue and manages to bring tons of nuances to her character as the plot slowly unravels. Samuel L. Jackson brings a level of gravitas and manic glee to the role of Major Warren that is needed for that character to work. In a group of angry men, he is the one who consistently has the upper hand and Jackson completely owns that role. And by god does Tim Roth clearly have so much
fun with his role as the snooty little shit of an Englishman, Oswaldo Mobray. In a cast of amazing actors he steals every scene he’s in without breaking a sweat and easily replaces Christoph Waltz as this films soft-spoken European. The Hateful Eight may prove to be the most divisive film Tarantino has made since Death Proof but a lot of that has to do with how god damn challenging a film it is to watch. Keeping this in mind, this film has the potential to grow on people over time. Through brilliant statements like Mayor Warren mentioning that black men can’t be safe in a room with white men as long as they’re armed and the constant verbal and physical abuse the one woman in the film has to endure from the many angry men she is surrounded by, it feels incredibly contemporary to the racial and gender issues of today. These are issues that the film exposes through use of such intense violence and characters, they are ultimately impossible to ignore. Hence, The Hateful Eight may not be Tarantino’s best film, but it sure as hell is his most powerful one.
The Hateful Eight (2015), Double Feature Films. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Screenrant.com
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What is it...
ink painting by CHAN kwan lap
ther than being one of the most prominent mediums used in Chinese art history, ink paintings have gained increasing importance and popularity in the current art world. We have invited Chan Kwan Lap, an ink painting master of landscapes to tell us more about it. How would you define ink painting? (What is ink painting to you?) Ink painting consists of two main categories: one completely relies on the brush work in order to get the whole piece of work finally finished, while the other one treats the brush as one of the tools used to have the final image done. As I am now doing Modern Chinese Ink Painting, I use different tools and techniques besides using the Chinese brush in my work. So ink painting to me should be the work keeping abreast with our present era. We should have our own method of approach to show our unique style different from those traditional ones. As what is now new will be the tradition in the future. What is the difference between traditional ink painting and modern ink painting? Traditional ink painting is more or less confined and affected by the style and the brush strokes of our former artists, while modern ink painting will not be restricted by the examples and rules of our former generations. Artists can freely apply various methods and techniques to explore whatever they want to express in creating their artwork.
Chan Kwan Lap - Spiritual Voice Of Mountain Lake No.1, 138 x 69 cm, 2014 (left) Chan Kwan Lap - Spiritual Voice Of Mountain Lake No.2, 138 x 69 cm, 2014 (right)
Basic steps of creating an ink painting The basic steps of making an ink painting vary from one artist to another. There are also different steps that go together with each different technique applied. For Chan, his steps are: 1. Spray the water-resistant table top with water, then spread plastic sheet on the table, as there is water underneath the plastic sheet which may stick on the table top firmly. 2. Apply water-base ink on the plastic sheet freely according to my desire. 3. Roll up a piece of rice paper, then unroll the paper and spray water on it at the same time until the paper is completely soaked with water. 4. The paper will expand when it is wet and many little channels are formed. This allows the ink to flow freely underneath the paper. 5. Now I may put another one or two pieces of paper on top of the wet one. 6. Do not lift the paper up, because ink staining marks only form when the paper is completely and naturally dry. It takes several hours to get the rice paper fully dry. Now I can see a rough image on the paper. 7. Finally I may hang the rough image on the wall to think about the composition of it. Then I will put the necessary shadings here and there to get the painting finished.
From your perspective, what are the advantages of ink painting? I think the advantage of ink painting (especially modern Chinese ink painting) is close to my interest and needs. It is a unique and oriental system of art. It needs high technique to control whatever marks are put on rice paper. Once a mark is made on the paper, unlike oil painting on canvas, it cannot be corrected easily. So a good piece of work is worthy of appreciation. How can we appreciate a piece of ink painting artwork? In my opinion, I think the appreciation of an ink painting artwork is better by the first sight of impression which will guide us and cause probing into the different aspects of attractiveness including the creativity, personal style, connotation, colour , tone and composition etc, of the artwork. For you, what are the most beautiful elements of Chinese ink painting? The most beautiful elements of Chinese ink painting are that it possesses the unique conceptual idea in the system of aesthetics. Embodiment is an important spiritual factor in Chinese tradition. When we are appreciating a piece of creative work we should first of all understand the concealed background meaning of the artwork. Moreover, the artistic and infinite imagination as well as consonance inspired by the Chinese ink painting are far beyond words can express.
Chan Kwan Lap - Spiritual Mindset-Mountain Wilderness No.6, 138 x 69 cm, 2014
Why are ink paintings mostly themed with landscape and nature? Each individual artist has freedom to choose what subject matter he/she likes to paint. Maybe the changeable images of landscapes and nature are so tremendous that it can provide the artist with a sense of open minded feeling so as allowing them to acquire the vast breadth of mind for their creative work. So that their subject images will not be confined in the small scope of animals, birds, flowers and insects etc.
Chan Kwan Lap - The Psalm Of Tree No.5, 96 x 179 cm, 2014
As an ink-painting specialist, what are the most important qualities for creators who would like to develop themselves on that path? One should have to go through with oneâ€™s belief and strong interest in art and not easily give up no matter how difficult the situation ahead is. Moreover, one should believe what one has done can definitely make a contribution and add treasure for the study, research as well as development in art.
Chan Kwan Lap - Widespread Silver White Layering Mountain River No.5, 94 x 178 cm, 2009
KURO EX MACHINA by ODKST
CHAPTER 8 PURPLE DAWN
I drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep. When I came to, the bedroom was softly lit by the grey autumn light falling in through my venetian blinds. Dawn was gone. I left the bed and got dressed. Squinting in the morning grey, I tried to gather my thoughts, but couldnâ€™t seem to concentrate. A ravenous hunger pounded against my mind like a sledgehammer. Feeling confused and empty, I left the bedroom and headed for the kitchen. The apartment was silent, bathed in the same noncommittal, drowsy grey light. I could hear traffic outside. There was no trace of my sister. Her bedroom was empty, but the lights were still on. Taking another look at the poster on her wall but still not recognizing the man on it, I shut off the lights and continued to the kitchen. Once there, I opened the fridge and looked at the items inside, but couldnâ€™t seem to find any of them appealing, despite my aching hunger. I groaned and closed the fridge. Over by the espresso machine, our fruit bowl was almost empty, but a small, perfectly green apple lay at its bottom. I grabbed it and took a bite. It was sour and more harsh than refreshing, but I ate it with satisfaction, even its core. As I stood there in the empty kitchen, eating the green, shrunken apple, something I had previously only barely registered started to attract my attention. I turned back towards the fridge, stepping closer to its large, silver door. On it, someone had attached a piece of paper with three colorful magnets the shape of letters: a yellow A, a bright green E and a purple Y. I examined the piece of paper, the only thing up on the fridge. It was covered in scribbles, row
after row of almost unreadable ciphers: the unmistakable handwriting of my sister. I tore the paper off the fridge, sat down by the kitchen table and began to read. Dear brother. I had to write this quickly because I was feeling the strongest of urges to get out of the apartment. I don’t know where I will go so I will not tell you for fear of unwittingly feeding you lies. I don’t like lies, do you? Remember when we were little? You told me that we should never lie to each other. Do you rememb Because it scares me when I cannot trust. But nothing good can ever happen when I trust people. This is not even about Alex, he is nothing to me now, he means nothing and as far as we are concerned he doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t know what this is about. The obvious answer would be that it is about what happened yesterday. But it is only when I self-consciously observe the events of last night that they strike me as something bad. I don’t feel as if we have committed a crime. Do you? Remember the party last February? Do you remember that time? You tried to get me to taste rum for the first time and I protested, but meekly; in retrospect it seems that you could have gotten me to try anything, maybe it is in your voice, brother, maybe that is why you have such a strange command over me in every situation, maybe your voice But I’m probably wrong, but whether I am wrong or not, whether my mind is just spaceing out again or not is irrelevant; I did try the rum. But do you remember when we were sitting at that table? Do you remember that Uncle approached us, wearing that brownish-red cape, laughing that horrible laugh he has? He was already very drunk, although it was still early in the night. Do you remember that he asked me if I wanted to dance? You were talking to Samuel by then and I do not know if this would’ve been something you’d notice. But although I didn’t really want to, I went and danced with Uncle and it was around this time that the rum started to take hold. Uncle was quite the gentleman, leading me gracefully across the dancefloor, although he was very drunk he did not make any mistakes in his dance, as far as I could tell. I was even starting to enjoy it at first, although I could
tell that many were watching which made me want to die. You know how the stars go out sometimes? They can’t burn for ever. Anyway, I don’t want to bore you so I will try not to lose track of what I’m trying to say. My mind is just a thunderstorm today, or maybe not a thunderstorm but the inside of a hurricane, it is hard to really hold on to any thoughts, it is like a blasting wind, tearing the trees out of the ground. I remember trying to find you as I danced, but when I looked back at the table you were no longer there. Maybe you had gone with Samuel to get some air. It made me feel cold on the inside to see that you had gone. I wanted to stop dancing, but by now Uncle was pressing me closer, telling me what a good dancer I was. I said ‘thank you’ but he wouldn’t let go of my hands, just kept pressing me to his chest and telling me what a good dancer I was. He smelled terrible. I looked around the room for you, but you must have left for the time being. Finally I managed to slip my fingers out of Uncle’s grasp; he just laughed and said that I was a rare breed of woman. I turned around to leave but then he ran his hands over my butt and legs, it was as if a tarantula had trapped me, I didn’t say anything, just laughed at first because it was so bizarre, I did not think Uncle would do such a thing. Then I looked at him to see if he would apologize, but he just kept laughing before he turned away and headed for the bar. I looked around to see if anyone had noticed or would say anything, but no one did. And because I was a bit drunk from the rum you’d given me and because no one else said anything, I didn’t say anything either. It makes me feel dirty to think that he rubbed his clammy hands on my butt and legs like that. But when I think about how no one at the party said anything, it transforms me into a statue, and I need to stand still for a while just to be able to catch my breath again. I haven’t seen Uncle or talked to him since. It makes me cold and stiff like a corpse when I recall him. Do you remember the speech that Dad held? Do you remember when he spoke of all the times he and Uncle went hunting together? That’s when I somehow felt that the rifles they were carrying were not pointed at the animals in the forest but at our heads, your head and mine, yes, you can call me crazy, but that is what I gathered from his speech. Their rifles were pointed at the back of our heads, and this was obviously the subtext of
the speech, and neither Dad nor Uncle missed this subtext, and they laughed heartily at the stories. I sat there frozen solid, dying, my heart pounding like crazy, just wishing to be anywhere, anywhere but there. It makes me nauseous to even write about it. Come to think about it, most of everything makes me nauseous. I’m going to go drink some water. Ahh, that’s better. Wow, this became an entire novella. I didn’t mean for it to go on for so long. Hope you enjoy it. Heading out now. Thank you for yesterday. It was nice. It was just – what word am I searching for? Maybe it was bad. Maybe it was evil. Maybe we are evil. I don’t know. All I know is, yesterday I wasn’t nauseous. Not ever since you found me in my room with that tie around my neck. It was as if you had exorcised the sickness. Haha. Listen to that. ‘Exorcised the sickness.’ I really am crazy. OK, going now. Not sure where. Don’t try to find me. Dawn PS. OK, just one more thing. I have a feeling about that letter you received tonight. Don’t know if the feeling is good or bad, but it’s something out of the ordinary. Just sayin’. Stay out of trouble. OK, really going this time. Bye. PPS. Do you think we’re evil? I’ve been up all night just thinking about that word: ‘evil’. I can’t get it out of my head. Maybe we are evil and that’s just what we are. Think of all the travels we’ve made, all the things we’ve seen, all the good things we’ve experienced at the expense of the rest of the world. That’s evil, isn’t it? But it got me thinking. Maybe that’s just who we are. Maybe we’re not supposed to be anything else. I know most people would think what we did tonight was evil, and wrong, and disgusting. And maybe they’re right. But I don’t think we shouldn’t have done what we did. Do you? So, anyway. Evil. Maybe that’s what we are. I don’t know. I’ll think about it. God, I haven’t slept one bit. I don’t know how you could sleep so well. You were snoring. I watched you for a while, I like watching you sleep. Your stomach moves in a very peaceful manner.
Need some air now. Bye. ***
I read through the letter twice. When I was done with it, I left the kitchen table and headed for the living room. I slumped onto the sofa, stretched out and watched the dull light fall in through the panorama windows. So, she had decided to run away from home, like some child. She would sometimes do silly things such as that. The letter had said that it had nothing to do with Alex – that was one of the boys from her school. Had she had a crush on him? It sounded familiar. Samuel was our cousin. Had I been talking to him at the party? I couldn’t remember. She was probably right. Somehow it seemed that my sister was the more perceptive one, at least these days. Everything was a fog. I blinked against the light. My eyes felt weary, as if they wanted to protest by shutting down for good. I squinted. Faintly, a searing discontent started in my stomach. I should probably eat something more. Something realer. The couch didn’t feel welcoming at all. I was restless; my left leg kept twitching. Almost automatically, my head turned to my left, allowing the mysterious letter from yesterday to slide into view. It was resting patiently on the sofa table, right next to the ice cream and the two empty cups. I stared at it, and it struck me that I wanted it to disappear as I lay there, just disappear without a trace as I was watching it. I would have forgiven the impossibility of such an event, only for the letter with the dark blue insignia to be out of my sight.
The letter remained in place.
The unpleasant feeling in my stomach grew as I got up again, returning to the kitchen. I searched the drawers for the letter opener. It was in the second one, underneath a cluster of kitchenware. I pulled it out and went back to the living room. I sat on the edge of the sofa and grabbed the strange envelope. For a while I just held the letter opener in my left hand, weighing it in my palm, not particularly eager to continue. It was a lovely letter opener, black and gold, with stylish markings around the handle. Where had we gotten it from? I didnâ€™t know, but I had always liked it. Finally I cut open the envelope, put the letter opener down and produced the letter. It was a lot more concise than my sisterâ€™s endless digressions. The small text seemed to have been written on an old-school typewriter. I held the firm piece of paper a bit closer, squinting to see what it said. David! Please continue your inquiries which are perfectly valid, and consider these words a prime encouragement. I hope, for both our sakes, that this will awaken a desire to know more. You can find me at The Logical Room, Berenstraat 17, by 19:17 tonight. I know that you have many questions, and hope my answers will suffice. Sincerely, Mr. Murasaki.
To be continued.
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Published on Feb 18, 2016
With local creators and traditional Chinese ink painting and The Hateful Eight review plus serialisation of ODKST. An issue not to be missed...