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Biannual Magazine of Literature & the Arts Issue 14 December 2008

Welcome! Welcome to Issue 14 of Gold Dust magazine! We have our usual weird and wonderful lineup for you this issue, including

7 short stories, 9 poems and 4 flash fiction pieces. We’ve

got mystery, comedy and a whole lot of drama. Our Cover Story features an interview with

award-winning author China Miéville, who lets us in on his influences for Un Lun Dun and general thoughts on Young Adult fiction (p12). This winter, we have your reading sorted - you can take your pick from all our carefully chosen book reviews! We have an in-depth review of the beautiful yet heart-twisting book Draw What You See by Helga Weissová, the

Holocaust survivor who painted what she saw in the concentration camps Thereisenstadt and Auschwitz (p20), a peek at the anthology of poetry and short stories, The Clam before the Storm, from John Griffiths (p39), as well as 4 short and snappy book reviews (p6). And, for the the writers among you, we have some insightful writing advice from author Cas Peace in Can Write Will Write, as she tells us all about her own publishers. Our best prose pick is The Candlesticks by Jim Meirose (p8) and our best poem pick is It is not moved by me by Tendai Mwanaka (p46). We are very happy to welcome new features writer, Alan Kelly, to our team, also a talented short story writer (see One’s Elf, our mystery short story on p4), as well as new

illustrator Steve Cartwright, whose

work you can see throughout this issue, alongside that of Owen Pomery. That’s it from me until next issue - enjoy! Omma Velada (Founder)

Gold Dust www.golddustmagazine.co.uk mailtallulah@googlemail.com Prose Editor & Cover Designer David Gardiner Poetry Editor Claire Tyne

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Artwork

UK-based readers can now subscribe at www.golddustmagazine.co.uk for the following rates: Colour: £21.50 per year (2 issues) B&W: £13.80 per year (2 issues) Single issues can be purchased from: www.lulu.com/golddustmagazine

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Features Writer Alan Kelly

Mailing list: www.golddustmagazine.co.uk/MailingList.htm

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Cover photograph Stephanie McKendrick Cover design David Gardiner Illustrations Owen Pomery Steve Cartwright


Contents Short stories

4

One’s Elf by Alan Kelly Mystery

8

The Candlesticks by Jim Meirose BEST PROSE Thriller

14

Bus no.7 by Robert Edward Sullivan Drama

26

December by Christopher J Dwyer Drama

30

Vertigo Unbalanced by Caleb Ross Drama

34

Redemption by Richard Thomas Drama

40

You Know How It Goes by Ben Nardolilli Drama

Interview p12

2

Flash fiction

16

The Last Tribute by V Ulea Drama

18

The Things That He Gave Me by Sam Szanto Drama

22

The Mourning is the Dawn of our Love by Nik Korpon Drama

48

Something Shocking by Robert Dando Drama

Poems

17

the solace of seasons Joseph Reich

24

Cukoo Florence Joseph

25

Mint On A Pillow Paul Handley

33

The Synaethete’s Feast Elizabeth Waddington

37

There is a light Isobel Renton

38

Winter Nights Joseph Brady

43

Silver Bullets Joseph Brady

46

It is not moved by me BEST POEM Tendai R Mwanaka


Features

6

Reviews: Old Devil Moon/For the love of Daisy/ Christophe’s Story/The Sun on the Hill

12

Interview: China Miéville COVER STORY Alan Kelly

20

Review: Zeichne was Du siehst by Helga Weissová David Gardiner

39

Review: The Clam before the Storm by John Griffiths David Gardiner

48

Can Write Will Write Cas Peace reviews the publishing house

Review p20 Regulars

1

Editorial Omma Velada welcomes you to this issue

49

Gold Dust magazine About us

50

Contributors Get to know our talented writers

52

Submission guidelines Writers’ information

Song lyrics

47 Issue 14

The Other Side of the Moon Laura Swain

December 2008

www.golddustmagazine.co.uk

Review p6 3


One’s Elf

Alan Kelly

A man literally confronted with himself... wonder if it’s just a mark of our youth that everything changes in the blink of an eye and then changes back again before you open them… He could break his life up in small bits, without beginnings or ends. Men would arrive and leave; a constant string of unattachments. He would hold his arse in the air on his dirty mattress in his basement flat and rest his head on his hands, watching naked prisoners on silver screens while a bear spat and heaved behind him. Afterwards he would shower in the bathroom he shared with six other people he’d never seen and run his fingers over the scribbles on the wall. When he read, he felt something approaching happiness. So he would sit on the floor in the cold yellow light, absorbed, ignoring his hunger. He once left his flat and walked down Portobello Bridge, stopping to watch a water hen, two filthy swans, some noisy ducks. On the other side of the canal he saw a boy sitting alone on a bench. He was a gauche youth in a curiously grey old-fashioned suit. He walked over the bridge, stopped to get a better glimpse and was startled by who he saw. The boy looked exactly like him. He turned on his heel and fled back to the flat. He took off his clothes and got into bed and soon a dream pulled him under. He dreamt that he was on the ledge of an unfinished high-rise building. He couldn’t get down – he shouted, he cried out for himself to come – he did – When he woke up his phone was ringing. “Hello” 4

“Hello, David, this is Matthew, I’m calling from Eircom. Your brother said that it is urgent that you take a call from him”. He doesn’t have a brother. Confused, he said, “I don’t have a brother.” “The caller is somewhat distressed, David. I think it advisable that you take the call,” Matthew replied, matter-of-factly. Puzzled, David asked, “what does he sound like?” “Sound like, well, David, he sounds a lot like you.” At a loss to understand what was happening, David accepted the call. “Hello, David” “Who is this?” David asked. “David, I am stuck…” the caller replied and was about to say something more when David slammed the phone down. David got dressed and went to the bus stop. He opened the paper he had with him. Bored after five minutes he tossed it in a bin and boarded the bus. Relieved that the bus was practically empty he went upstairs and sat at the front. The only other passenger there was a young man who sat across the aisle from him. The city changed as the bus moved through it, a series of jump-cut montages. David glanced at the boy sitting on the other seat. An older man had got on. Strange, the bus hadn’t even stopped. David looked at them. Something, what was it? The two men didn’t seem to notice each other and they both wore grey. On closer inspection David could see that both men had identical profiles, one

young, the other old. David fled down the stairs and pressed the stop button, getting off the bus before the doors had fully opened. David looked at the sky. Alone on the street, he felt like he was contemplating the universe from a shallow grave. He stood there watching night with stars in her hair.


One’s Elf by Alan Kelly Walking the rest of the way into the city David noticed a second-hand bookshop open, so decided to go in and look around for something interesting to read. A curmudgeon stacking dusty old tomes looked David up and down. A smile appeared. “That book you wanted is here,” the curmudgeon said to him. “What book?” David was confused again. The man ducked behind the counter, resurfacing with a small yellow book. He handed it to David; One’s Elf was the title. “I didn’t order this,” said David, turning the book over in his hands. He opened it and read a few lines on Changelings. There were other chapters on Time, a foreword about Goethe and some metaphysical jargon David couldn’t digest. David

bought the book and left the shop. David unlocked his door and went into his flat. He read the better part of the book sitting on the edge of his bed. The television flickered on. On the screen a boy sat on the edge of a bed in a small basement flat he shared with six strangers reading a book he didn’t remember ordering from a second-hand bookshop. A prisoner on a silver screen. The David on the television turned round. He was wearing a hideous grin and began to wave. David ripped the plug from the wall, killing the television. David dreamt that night he was back at the unfinished building site, but this time he was looking up. Someone was calling out for him and he went to him.

David woke up early. Dawn was approaching. It was so still he could almost feel the first stirrings in the last hours. He dressed in grey slacks and a blazer, then made his way down to Portobello Bridge where he sat on a bench and looked at the water. He sat there a long time. Then he felt someone watching him. On the bridge a boy stood by himself, a frightened look on his face. David tried to call out to him, but he ran away. When David tried to move he realised he was stuck. I wonder if it’s just a mark of our youth that everything changes in the blink of an eye and then changes back again before you open them...

Source: stock.xchng

Issue 14

December 2008

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Review

Old Devil Moon by Christopher Fowler (Serpent’s Tail, 2007) £7.99 Paperback

For the Love of Daisy by Cas Peace (Can Write Will Write, 2008) £25.00 Paperback

Review

Reviewed by Daffni Percival Reviewed by Alan Kelly

hristopher Fowler’s new anthology of short stories Old Devil Moon takes the reader along on a wild, wicked ride through urban unease. A collection of short stories that is thoughtful, creepy and outlandish. Fowler has an uncanny knack of showing you the horror that stalks through the everyday, the monstrous intruding on the mundane. In Threads, a condescending British couple get far more than they bargained for in an African village. When they plan on conning the locals out of an expensive artefact, the locals exact a kind of awful revenge by infecting the husband with flesh-eating parasites. All Packed is a poignant story of a gay man’s enslavement to his material possessions, refusing to leave even the most insignificant objects behind, even though he is somewhere between life and death. Close in form and style to Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Twilight Express is a cool, calculated tale of a boy plotting murder as casually as one might consider purchasing candy floss. In Red Torch, a boy watches an usherette admiringly from a distance, only realising when he gets too close the extent of her (perfectly human) grotesquery. Stars has, at its centre, an abusive husband, who uses the London underground bombings as a way of disappearing from his humdrum existence. Fowler tackles the topical with a fierce originality and a baroque flair without ever descending into hack horror. His characters are deeply flawed people, sometimes dangerously so, but he never succumbs to the quirkiness that is often rife in literary fantasy fiction. His stories always feel close by, which makes for sleepless nights. Not a single story feels derivative, each is told with a duplicitous voice, reeling you in and never quite taking you where you expected to go. 6

C

n a way this is really two stories: on the one hand, a fairly detailed account of family problems and, on the other, an account of the author’s relationship with her two dogs. While reading the first half of the book I felt that it would be better as the one or the other, especially since it was presented mainly as the story of the treatment of one dog for a serious bone complaint and this doesn’t arise until about half way through the book. However, as I read on, I could see that the difficulties involved in the tremendous efforts made by Daisy’s owners were inextricably intertwined with the family’s problems. The author’s husband, Dave, is as concerned as she is for the canine patient, although most of the treatment falls to the author. His parents, although in-laws, are often referred to as Mum and Dad. Mum has chronic depression, which she battles with all the time. She is an interesting and intelligent lady. Dad is a vicar, who at one point, overcome by family difficulties, simply disappears. Later he is rediscovered and remains an integral part of the story until his death. The author's own parents appear less often as they do not live near, but they are clearly important and play their part in the story of a close-knit family. The dogs, of course, are centre stage. Pepper the spaniel is the light relief and Daisy the Dalmatian comes over as an amazingly patient patient. There are some excellent photographs, including happy ones of Daisy that reassure the reader of the rightness of persevering with her long and arduous treatment. Even the in-laws’ Cairn gets a look in as a bit of a non-house trained hooligan. The author is clearly someone who takes responsibility for all living beings that come her way, animal or human. The long process of trying to save the dog is heartrending but also uplifting. I finished it in tears.

I


Review

Christophe’s Story by Nicki Cornwell (Frances Lincon, 2006) £4.99 Paperback

The Sun on the Hill by Daffni Percival (Merilang Press, 2007) £5.00 Paperback

Review

Reviewed by Omma Velada Reviewed by David Gardiner

his novella, aimed at the 8-12 age group, is told from the point of view of the son of a family of asylum seekers, fleeing the civil war in Rwanda. Anyone who remembers those events in the mid-1990s will wonder how they could even be touched on in a novel for children and, in fact, my initial reaction was that Cornwell had chickened out by presenting a middle-class Rwandan family in which the father had been taken prisoner, presumably by the Tutsi, yet not murdered, rather than describing ordinary civilians rising up and cutting neighbouring families to pieces with machetes. It seemed that the events had been sanitised, like an account of Autschwitz that failed to mention the gas chambers. However, as I read on, I realised that this was not a story about African genocide after all, but about the bullying and isolation faced by children of asylum seekers and, interestingly, how an oral tradition becomes a written one as a society moves into literacy. Christophe's grandfather is the village storyteller, the human vessel for all the history and culture of his people, bearing the heavy responsibility of passing it on. In the course of the story the old man dies and so Christophe must reluctantly become a communicator in a new medium, the written word. Cornwell avoids sentimentality, but manages to leave a lump in the throat nevertheless. Christophe and his doctor father, and even the unseen characters from back home, come to life exceptionally well. The author is unobtrusive and never patronises or talks down to her readers. There is more than enough in this short well-crafted volume to satisfy readers of all ages. To expect it also to offer an insight into why neighbour should decide to wield machete against neighbour is perhaps asking too much. Issue 14 December 2008 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk

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rather bland title belies this exciting new collection of poetry. Daffni Percival writes with tenderness and emotion. She evokes a blissful, if not always idyllic, picture of life in rural Wales, surrounded by animals and the rawness of nature when neighbours are few and far between. The language is familiar, with tongue-incheek asides to ‘put on your wellies’ (yes, it’s raining again, welcome to Wales!) and simple, often repetitive, rhymes (‘hill’, ‘will’, ‘still’), plus a nice sprinkling of Welsh words. Many of the poems are odes to the landscape and weather, particularly the starkness of winter, or animals’ attempts to survive within it, not without a nod to humankind’s own attempts to make its way in the world. The loneliness of the human condition is best evoked in No Man Is An Island, with the desperately evocative final line, ‘Signalling, or not, as best we can’. My favourite piece was I lift my Eyes to the Hills, a lengthier poem that gives a real sense of ancestry, history, time and space, and this godless world we must live in, where humankind is all alone. The theme of freedom and the desire to achieve such a state runs through the collection and is nowhere better evoked than in The Nature of the Beast, in which a cat ‘on the side of teeth and claws’ finally flees. Other kinds of freedom are also delved into - a woman’s freedom from chauvinism in To Robert Graves , a soldier’s freedom from war in The Black Chair and, rather wittily, an employee’s freedom from work in Language Teaching Blues. Percival clearly loves her surroundings and all its inhabitants, from the humble robin to wild horses tearing through the night, from ducks and sheep to the domestic cat, all are paid homage to in this endearing collection.

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The Candlesticks

By Jim Meirose First prize winner

April has so much money, she won’t miss five hundred dollars, surely...

‘A

pril!’

‘Christina!’ Christina's cousin April came to stay the weekend and while April was showering Christina went to clean April's room and April's well-worn brown leather bag lay on the table in the corner. The bag leaned to one side with the top partly open. Christina's dustrag swept around the tabletop and shifted the bag and the bag fell over and the money came out. It came rolling out quickly as if pushed. Christina let the rag lay to the side. She touched a finger to the money. It looked like a lot of money. A big fat roll of money. Christina had to put the money back in the bag so it seemed natural to count the money while putting it back in the bag because it had to pass through her hands anyway. Counting was something you did with money. It was natural. There was time to count the money. April had just gone in the shower. The water flowed noisily. There was time. Unfold. One hundred dollar bills! Unfold. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Twenty. Thirty. Forty. Faster. Forty-five. Four thousand, five hundred dollars were gripped in Christina's hand. Her face grew warm. The money 8

moistened in her hot palms. Five. She won't miss five. Even as a big part of herself was saying it was wrong, Christina took five of the hundred dollar bills and folded them into the pocket of her jeans. She folded the other forty and tucked them into the now upright bag down just out of sight, rolled up as she imagined they'd been before. The five hundred dollar bills melted away to nothing in Christina's pocket and she had no idea what had become of the money, if anyone asked her she would tell the truth, that she knew nothing about the money, she didn't even know the money was there where could the five hundred dollars have gone I don't know April I can't imagine what happened to your five hundred dollars, I‘Hi Christina,’ said April, sweeping in from the shower room, with a towel wrapped around her. Christina stood at the dresser table wiping the top with the dustrag. ‘Hello April. I hope you slept well last night.’ ‘Oh yes.’ She went to her bag and thrust her hands down in it and moved the hands around in the bag and pulled the hands out and zippered shut the top of the bag. ‘Should we go shopping this afternoon?’ asked April, as she went in her suitcase and took out fresh clothes. ‘Oh yes, sure,’ said Christina. What is this lump in my hip pocket, what is this lump‘We'll go down to Wally's place.

They've got nice things down there. Expensive though.’ ‘Well,’ said April, dressing. ‘Money's no problem.’ Four thousand, five hundred dollars Four thousand dollars— ‘Well now, listen to this, will you?’ said Christina. ‘Money's no problemmoney's always a problem, April.’ it doesn't sound like much of a difference She dusted her way across the headboard and to the other side of the bed and suddenly, she was finished dusting. She'd been around the entire room. April stood in front of the mirror, brushing her hair. ‘I brought enough money with me,’ said April. I think I'll buy myself something nice. You too, Chrissie - I'll buy you something nice too. My treat today.’ Five hundred dollars ‘Oh, you don't have to do that, April.’ ‘But I want to. And so I will. I always do what I want to.’ She grinned from the mirror. ‘Okay then,’ said Christina. ‘Are you ready?’ said April, turning from the mirror. We can go right now. ‘Why – sure.’ ‘Okay. Let's go.’ Christina balled the dustrag up in her hand and slipped out of the room. She pushed her hand down in her pocket crumpling up the folded stiff money in the darkness. Her hand came out of her pocket and April quickly followed her out. They


The Candlesticks by Jim Meirose stopped outside the door. ‘Just let me go in back in and get my keys,’ said April. ‘I forgot them. How silly of me.’ ‘I've got to do something in my room too, April. Just give me a minute. I need to go freshen up. I'm a bit sweaty from dusting.’ ‘Oh sure,’ said April, nestling her bag in her arms. Christina went and once in her room she sat on the edge of the bed and pulled the five one hundred dollar bills out of her pocket and held them in her hand. Should I give these back or should I keep them? She's such a nice person I really should, but— How can I give them back, how would I explain I got hold of it— No. She rose. No question; since there was no graceful way of giving them back, she had to keep them. But only temporarily, only temporarily. She went to the dresser and pulled a drawer and put the money under the underwear. Then she turned and went to the door and gave the drawer one last look before clicking off the light stepping outside and shutting the door with a snap. I know nothing, she told herself. Money? What money? I know nothing, she believed. And since she knew nothing, there was nothing to forget. She started down the stairs with a light step and motioned April to follow. ‘Come on, let's go,’ she said - I just needed to do something in my room - needed to freshen up, that's right, but now that it's done, let's go.’ Why did I go up there? she tried to remember. Layers of dark blankness lay over it in her mind. She knew nothing. They went down and got in April's small silver car and April smoothly backed the car down the Issue 14

December 2008

driveway and wheeled it around and off the gravel driveway on to the road. ‘I hope I remember the way to Wally's,’ said April. ‘I haven't visited you in how long now - how much time?’ ‘Three or four years,’ said Christina. ‘This whole area is changed. Its been so long.’ ‘I know.’ April's handbag fell against Christina's hip and she pushed it off again. The bag. I know nothing of what's in the bag. Four thousand dollars— Four thousand, five hundred dollars— ‘Which turn is it to Wally's?’ asked April, ‘you have to help me.’ She peered over the wheel.

Christina took five of the hundred dollar bills and folded them into the pocket of her jeans. She folded the other forty and tucked them into the now upright bag... ‘Oh, it’s a ways up,’ answered Christina. ‘By route 11.’ ‘Past that old wrecked barn?’ ‘Yes – but that's gone now. Burnt down.’ Christina remembered the day the barn had burned and that it was a thirty degree below zero day and the fireman's water hung from the eaves of the burning barn in stubby sharp icicles. It was so cold that day, so cold; she imagined that it was cold enough that the fire could be frozen into solid ice shaped like fire that you could come close to and see and touch, but of course it didn't work that way. Below zero or not, the fire was hot. The flames licked upward freely, licking at the icicles, feeling nothing. Hot and cold.’ Four thousand dollars— Four thousand, five hundred dol-

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lars‘I see where it was,’ said April. ‘Right up there.’ Some charred timbers jutted from the ground, leaning crazily. All that was left of the barn. Christina watched the timbers go by before speaking abruptly. ‘Here,’ said Christina. ‘Turn here.’ ‘Right or left—’ ‘Route 11 said the sign.’ ‘Right.’ The car took the road to the right and in moment a sign appeared saying WALLYS and a driveway and parking lot came up beside a great red barn-like structure. This was Wally's everything store. That was what everybody called it. Wally had everything. They pulled up in the large lot and got out and headed for the wide front door. Once inside the high-ceilinged brightly lit building, as far as the eyes could see were racks and tables and shelves of multi-colored merchandise and here and there large pieces of furniture set among the racks and these were for sale too. The building was so large, it was though there was a haze in the distance. April charged down the center aisle, looking at all the things. There were toys and games and books and clothing in the back and April got a shopping cart and began to fill it with items so quickly it seemed to Christina she couldn't be thinking of what she wants – she's just taking one of everything, it seemed. Christina just calmly followed April down the aisles, but was stopped short by something sitting on top of an intricately carved antique dresser whose price tag was one thousand, five hundred dollars. Three golden candlesticks stood there, gleaming; and they were the exact same candlesticks that had stood on the dining-room table when she was growing up at her parents' farm back east. They took her back into the dining room in the overstuffed captain's 9


The Candlesticks by Jim Meirose chair her father sat in. She called out to April who had moved ahead in the aisle, still flinging items into her cart. ‘April,’ called out Christina. ‘What?’ said April, looking back. ‘Look. These candlesticks. They're exactly the same as what my parents had when I was growing up. Lord I'd like to have them—’ The smell of the dining room lay about the candlesticks. She fingered a pricetag hung from one. Five hundred dollars, it said, handwritten. ‘It says five hundred dollars,’ said Christina. April came back down the aisle, eyeing the candlesticks. ‘Apiece?’ she said ‘or five hundred for all three?’ ‘Let me find out.’ In three minutes the squat housedressed proprietor stood there with them and April asked, pointing. ‘Are those candlesticks five hundred each or five hundred for the set?’ ‘Five hundred for the set,’ said the small, balding woman, fingering her beads. ‘We'll take them,’ said April. ‘What?’ said Christina. April shook the handle of the shopping cart. ‘I said we'll take them. For you. You ‘want them, don't you?’ she grinned. ‘Yes, but I can't spare five hundred dollars right now—’ April raised a hand and smiled. ‘Well, I can. Call it a couple years' worth of Christmas presents rolled up into one.’ Christina frowned as she suddenly remembered. But five hundred dollars had been stolen Five hundred of four thousand, five hundred dollars— ‘No,’ said Christina. ‘Don't tell me no. Here—’ April came around and took the candlesticks and put them in the shopping cart atop a pile of clothing 10

she was buying. ‘There. They're yours now. I can afford it.’ Christina walked beside April, who continued to put things in the cart – small kick-knacks, items of clothing, packages of underwear and socks. ‘You're buying an awful lot,’ said Christina. ‘I know. I always do.’ But I've got the money, so why not?’ They proceeded up and down the aisles with Christina's brain forming the outlines of a plan. Five hundred dollars— —of four thousand, five hundred dollarsWait, this is a way for me to give back the money – let's see – she buys me those for five hundred, or at least she wants to, and I refuse. That's right, I flat-out refuse. Then after she's gone, next week maybe, I come down here and buy the candlesticks with the five hundred dollars I took from her. And she'd be right where she would have been if I hadn't taken the five hundred from her and if I had let her buy me the candlesticks now. And I wouldn't really have stolen anything she needed because if she needed it she wouldn't offer to buy the candlesticks for five hundred dollars now. There. A graceful way out of this. Somewhat. Something's missing— ‘April,’ said Christina. ‘What?’ she said, turning. ‘I don't want you to buy these candlesticks for me. I think that's way too much money.’ The cart wheels rattled, rolling along. ‘What? No, I've decided, I'm buying them.’ April gripped the handle hard. ‘No, I can't let you,’ said Christina, following closely. ‘But I am,’ said April, stamping a foot as she walked. ‘No you're not – April, here—’

Christina came around the cart and began to gather up the candlesticks from the cart meaning to take them back to the dresser they'd been sitting on, but April stopped the cart and put a hand on Christina's wrist. She squeezed the wrist hard as she spoke. ‘No! Don't take them back. I'll tell you what. I'm buying them for myself.’ ‘For yourself?’ ‘Yes,’ said April, pressing Christina's hand down. No, you can't let her buy them she can't buy them don't let her‘No,’ said Christina, pulling her hand away. ‘You don't want those. Let me put them back.’ She picked up the candlesticks again. ‘No!’ said April, gripping Christina's wrist again. ‘Now listen. I want them.’ ‘No!’ said Christina - and she grabbed the candlesticks out of the shopping cart, pulled away from April and hustled back down to the fifteen hundred dollar dresser and put them back up. She turned around. She blocked April's way to the candlesticks. April stared open-mouthed. ‘God, what's the matter with you?’ Suddenly they were two strangers, staring each other down. Five hundred dollars needs to turn to zero dollars‘April – believe me,’ said Christina after a moment, coming slowly up the aisle. They weren't worth five hundred dollars. I couldn't let you waste your money that way.’ Zero dollars– April glared. ‘I was going to give them to you,’ she said. ‘No. That won't be necessary.’ They stared into each other's eyes. Each could tell there were thoughts behind the other's eyes, but God, what could those thoughts be? And how have I acted? thought Christina. How have I acted? Toward my


The Candlesticks by Jim Meirose friend. April wordlessly turned and abruptly pushed her rattling cart away down the aisle toward the checkout line. Without looking up and while biting her lip she stopped the cart in the line and started putting her goods up on the rubber belt, slapping the items down briskly and Christina came up with her hands trembling. ‘I hope you're not mad at me, April. It looks like you're mad at me-’ ‘Nonsense,’ snapped April. The items flew on to the belt. ‘Why would I be mad?’ ‘You saved me five hundred dollars.’ Christina bit her lip, while pressing her tongue against the back of her front teeth. No, I didn't I didn't save you anything. You're out five hundred dollars, but its all going to end up the way you wanted it, it’s all set, so don't be mad at me, don't be mad— Christina stared at April's sharp profile and the cart stood empty and the same squat house-dressed woman who'd been fingering the beads checked the items through and put them into big brown bags. April stood leaning against a candy rack to the side. Christina continued running her eye down April's profile. This will blow over, she thought. I'll be able to do what I've planned to do. And she really wanted to spend that money. She's so mad about not having been able to spend it. That makes it even better. She really, really wanted to be out five hundred dollars – see, I've done nothing to her taking her money, just made it be like she wants it to be— Pray in secret, says the Lord— Pray in secret— April unzipped her bag and brought out two hundred-dollar bills and handed them to the checkout woman who quickly and smoothly punched the rattling cash register and the cash drawer slid open with a clang and she handed April her Issue 14

December 2008

change. Without a word and without looking back at Christina, April pushed the noisy rattling cart of bagged goods toward the door as though she were alone, with no thought of making sure that Christina was following. She's mad, thought Christina. Four thousand, five hundred dollars-Five hundred dollars— Four thousand dollars— The packages went in the back of April's silver car and they got in and April started the engine and gunned the engine slightly and pulled out of the lot and soon they were going down the road between wide fields of newgrown sod. ‘It's beautiful here,’ said Christina. ‘Look how green the grass is.’ April said nothing, never took her eyes off the road. She's mad, thought Christine. Got to clear the air must clear the air it’s bad enough I've got her five hundred dollars up in my room I want things like they were before the candlesticks before the money I want things to be all right— Why did I take the money to begin with why did I— ‘April,’ said Christina. I'm sorry— ‘Yes?’ I'm so sorry— ‘I'm really sorry I acted childish back there—’ I really, really am— ‘Think nothing of it,’ snapped April. The car moved quickly down the road toward home, sending clouds of dust out on either side from the unpaved road. Christina bit her lip. Snap you don't snap like that unless you're mad she's mad at me I can't change that but at least I'll be able to spend the five hundred dollars like she wanted to and I'll have the candlesticks like she wants me to so see I'm doing everything right I'm

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doing what's right to make her happy and though she doesn't know that that's all right that's the best way pray in secret said the Lord, remember that saying you thought of that saying just before, this is the kind of thing that saying means, she thinks she didn't get her way but yes she has by God she has— And she won't even know it. Pray in secret. ‘I think when we get back to the house I'm going to pack to leave,’ said April. Christina glanced at her. ‘What? Leave so soon? Why? I was going to make us dinner.’ ‘No, I think I just want to go home now,’ said April. She's mad, thought Christina. ‘Are you sure—’ ‘Yes, I think I just want to go home.’ She's mad. It's no good she's mad. April left with few words and with an icy silence surrounding her. After April was gone, that night Christina sat on the edge of the bed holding the five hundred dollars. The green paper felt brittle in her hands. She'd get the candlesticks tomorrowGod, how strongly April must have wanted to buy them for her, she got so mad and left so coldly – but she'll get what she wanted tomorrow when I go to the store and see I really didn't steal this money I didn't no— Christina swallowed hard. She'll get what she wanted and never know it. With that, she bent backward and lay on the bed and it seemed suddenly cold as once more the image of the barn fire came into her mind, the fire that was hot and cold all at once, the fire that had fascinated her so much, that had burnt a long time ago, but that was extinguished now.

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Interview China Miéville Science fiction & Fantasy author Interview: Alan Kelly

Author and illustrator China Miéville is a strange fish, a strange fish in fantasy literature or speculative fiction or the ‘New Weird’ literary movement, but nowadays isn’t bothered referring to his work this way ‘It was a term that cropped up at a certain moment, a few years ago,’ says Miéville ‘that I think was useful to point at something happening at the time, and that after a while, without repudiating in any way, I decided was not particularly helpful for me to talk about any more (I was being a bore and kitsch about it). All literary moments are arguments, and I think it was a useful argument.’ Un Lun Dun is Miéville’s first foray in Young Adult fiction and one of the most splendid children’s books to have appeared post-Harry Potter. ‘I'd always wanted to write a book for younger readers, because I remember very vividly how it felt to read, at that age, that kind of abandon and totality.’ Miéville’s intention with Un Lun Dun was in part an homage to the many books that he loved and grew up on, ‘particularly the Alice books, but by no means confined to them. I would love to write another.’ Miéville hopes to write more children’s books throughout his life, interspersing them with his other work. The story is not unlike Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, but other than placing characters in an alternative unseen London, there is much difference in content and narrative ‘I'm an enormous fan of Neil Gaiman and his stuff is swilling around inside me like the stuff of all the writers I admire and love.’ Miéville hadn't read Neverwhere when he started work on Un Lun Dun, ‘but I read it early on and the overlap of ideas is clear, though, as you say, I don't think they are fundamentally structurally similar.’ Miéville points out that the idea of a London phantasmagoria is one that has a long and rich tradition, ‘of which Gaiman's book is an indispensable part.’ In Un Lun Dun giraffes stalk a spectral borough, craving human flesh, milk cartons make a good substitute for kittens, Halfling boys are ostracized because they are the offspring hybrid of humans and ghosts and a large 12

cloud stalks The Schwazzy. The Schwazzy is what the prophets of Un Lun Dun have been waiting for to liberate them from The Smog and takes the form of a young girl. Un Lun Dun is a rollicking adventure of a story. Unsurprisingly Miéville has won a number of awards, including the prestigious Arthur C Clarke award for Perdido Street Station and The British Fantasy Award for The Scar. So what does The Smog represent? ‘I think it's not terribly helpful a lot of the time to think in terms of what things “represent” in fiction - it’s fiction, it is what it is. Of course that's not to suggest that fiction doesn't use all kinds and all levels of metaphors and insinuations, everything in fiction spins off all sorts of meanings, that's part of what makes it interesting.’ The Smog is a giant cloud of predatory pollution, the only obstacle against it being broken Umbrellas (a scheme between The Smog and one of its dubious allies), ‘but if it simply “represents” one or other thing, then it does make you wonder what's the point telling the story. I also think writers are often not best placed to discuss their own ideas, as they're so often wrong about them, in my opinion.’ Miéville goes on to say that having The Smog as a villain in his book might imply things about ‘pollution’ or ‘garbage-culture’ and ‘so on’, ‘and I'm not saying those aren't helpful things to consider if you think about the book, but not at the expense of thinking about the Smog as a giant sentient cloud of predatory pollution. We can have our cake and eat it.’ The writer gives me the usual list of names when discussing influence – Lovecraft, M John Harrison, Michael Moorcock, Dambudzo Marechera, Charlotte Bronte, Max Ernst, ‘et many al’ – but does feel there's something a bit unsatifactory about that. ‘The question of influence is complicated. I think in many cases writers are the last people to be aware of what influences them. Also, you don't have to like a book to be influenced by it (though, to be clear, I do like Gaiman's stuff, a lot). You can spend a lot of your time unaware of an influence, or being influenced by arguing with something.” He cites Lewis's Nar-


Interview: China Miéville nia books as influential on his work, “but I don't like them much. Then there are books you love, but that for some reason it would be hard to pin down, don't resonate in your own writing as much as books that you may not like as much. It's a stew.’ So what does he think of Young Adult fiction now? ‘I think this is an exceptional time for Young Adult fiction. Some of my favourite books of the last several years - by David Almond and Philip Reeve among others - have been in this age group, and they're easily the equal and more of most of the “adult” books around.’ Miéville says, and I won’t argue with him, ‘This is a great time for the field.’ Un Lun Dun is a book all young children should have on their bookshelves for Christmas.

Find out more China Miéville’s webpage at PanMacmillan is at: www.chinamieville.co.uk Fantastic Fiction also has a page dedicated to the author at: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/china-mieville Novels King Rat (1998) Perdido Street Station (2000) - Winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award The Scar (2002) - Winner of the British Fantasy Award Iron Council (2004) - Winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award Un Lun Dun (2007) The City & the City (due for release: 15 May 2009) Issue 14

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Bus No.7

Robert Edward Sullivan

What are your fellow passengers really thinking, as they sit beside you on the bus..? he was real. That much I was sure of - just as sure that I was real. This idea, among others, consumed me while I stood there waiting for that damn bus. They were running late due to a snowstorm, and I was pacing around the icy slush at the bus hub. She was standing alone in the middle, her face hidden. Some of us that were waiting were shambling about, some were able to leave on the buses that weren't late, most were waiting for the seven bus - the late one. The storm was slapping me. It gave strangers reasons to communicate with each other as we were literally all in this together. She was probably ten or eleven. I thought of Scout or Hermione, or some other literary character that was around the same age so I could instantly attribute characteristics to her. I don’t know why really, other than I wanted to know her story. What the hell was she doing out here? Who was she? Why was she alone? Why was she wearing that huge Philadelphia Eagles jacket, instead of Green Bay one, or a Bears one, or, God forbid, even a Vikings one? Questions. What else can you do when you’re standing there, getting slapped by some storm, staring at strangers, slushing about in the snow and…slush. I became distracted and my observations of the girl faded into the back corner of the back part of my mind. I was pondering the lateness of the bus, the cold, wondering why there were no backup buses, why all the other buses were running fine,

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and how many times I could say ‘buses’ before it lost all meaning. I was revelling in the stirring caustic words I was forming against the city, the buses, and maybe even the weather…against someone. Someone had to be responsible for this. I imagined writing a scornful letter being read by the bus commissioner. I saw him cringe and bite his fist at my complaint. I could see the scene: "Oh, we should've had backup buses! We should've been more prepared!" the bus commissioner would say, as he frantically tried to clean his office before the mayor came in. “Sir,” his secretary would say, “the mayor is on his way and he sounded very upset.” "How could we've known we would get such a scornful letter?" And then he would scream as he held my complaint to the ceiling - shaking it. The mayor would burst into the office. He too would have a copy of this letter - my powerful collection of words and phrases, ripe with pithy sarcastic genius, detailing the idiocy of the city and its paltry attempts at transporting the public. “Listen, Bus Commissioner Guy, do you know how much flak we’re getting?” the mayor would shout, perhaps a cigar would hang loosely from his mouth. “I know, I know, Sir. I had no idea. Had I known there was some sharp witty writer down there, we would've made sure we had a backup bus." "You don't think writers ride the bus?"

"Sir, I assumed only poor people rode the bus." "Do you think writers are anything but poor?” “Um…um,” he would stammer. “You’re fired.” Or something like that. The no.7 bus eventually did show up. Its arrival immediately washed away the angst of waiting. And even though I was still warming myself in the idea of someone getting fired, I soon forgot about its lateness and I went for my usual seat near the rear side door. I hadn't noticed that I was sitting next to the girl until the bus was moving. I nodded and then re-examined my observations about her from just a few moments prior. She had been standing alone in the midst of all the people waiting for the buses. The hood of her large coat covered much of her face. I saw bright, intelligent eyes that had sought out the number and destinations of each passing bus - just as I had been doing - looking for the same bus. The late one. If she was cursing the city government, or the bus system, or envisioning brilliant plans of retribution and revenge, she didn't show it. I adjusted myself in my seat. "Looks like I wore the wrong shoes today…it seems," I said, pointing to my holey shoes that were soaked (and nearly frozen) from my frantic pacing through the slush. Though I’m not the Guy Who Always Talks On the Bus, some days I can’t stand the silence.


Bus No.7 by Robert Edward Sullivan I'm just saying if some nut sits next to you and starts talking about his shoes or something, just ignore him. Just pretend he doesn’t exist. Like he’s someone from a book - a character.

had no plans on being one, I imagined how one would view the situation. So I saw the scene; her and her father right before she came to the bus hub: "Now, while you're waiting for the bus, stay out in the open. Maybe in the middle," he would say to her, buttoning her coat, trying to conceal the worry a father must get when he knows his ten-year-old daughter was going to have to take the city bus later that day. Alone. He would conjure up the ugly phrase in his mind, Public Transportation, and he would shiver like it was a curse word - an incantation to summon horrid demons. "Don't talk to strangers," he would continue. Perhaps she would say, "I know dad, I know. No-one talks to anyone anyway. I'll be fine." Then the father would smile and look at her, knowing she knew the routine. He would then give her a look that only a father watching his daughter grow up could give. "There's a lot of crazies down there," he would still continue, "and

Just ignore them." Perhaps he is reflecting on the situations of life that brought him to that moment, to the point of having to give a speech to his daughter about riding the bus. "I'm sure your mother would've come up with a better plan than this, but… She had the brains-” "And you had the looks. I know, Daddy," she would finish the joke for him. The saying would be from long before her mother died, and was now used for comfort. He would look at her again, trying to hide his worry behind a warm smile, and he would curse himself for not having a better plan. He would watch her go while he whispered silent prayers to his wife to watch over their daughter whilst braving the horrors of the public world. All this nonsense flashed through my head just as I heard myself saying something about my shoes to the girl. In a moment of panic, I uttered something about the weather and the late buses… I said this mostly to myself, to reassure her that I'm just talk-

Owen Pomery

She didn't respond. I wanted her to know that I was real, yet at the same time I looked at her with what had to be a father’s eye. Though I wasn't a father, and

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ing... I'm just sayin'. I didn’t want her to think I was some demented bus guy who talks about his shoes all damn day. I quickly (but not too quickly) pulled out some school books to read, as if to say, “Hey, relax, I'm a student - just like you’re a student. I won't say another word. I understand. We don't exist.” I did understand. I would tell my daughter, if I had one, the same thing her father probably told her. I’d tell her to ignore anyone pretending to be nice, or just trying to make conversation. Because that’s what we do. We ignore. I would remind her, in so many words, that the world is a dangerous place, and she needed to be careful. And she too would reassure me - she would know my speeches. "No-one really talks to anyone anyway," she would say. Yet I felt flustered and sad, angry even. Yes, angry. I wanted her to know, as I wish everyone knew, that I was real. I have a name, a life, a list of things I like and don’t like (I really love Dijon mustard), I have made good decisions, mistakes, connections, I have a multitude of feelings about this, that, or the other… I exist, just as those around me exist. I have a name. I’m not just some fucking background character, some moving scenery, something to ignore, or pretend wasn’t there. Weren’t we were all just trudging through the same damn slush, bitching about the same cold, wading through the same storm, waiting for the same goddamn bus? We were real. Weren’t we? I got off at my stop and looked at the girl as the seven bus sped away, knowing I would never see her again, knowing I wouldn't even remember what she looked like if I did, knowing that she would fade from my memory just as I would from hers, and perhaps reality set in, as the both of us would become just background, just characters. 15


The Last Tribute

V Ulea Flash fiction

A queen faces her subjects... veryone’s waiting, your Majesty…’ he said in a muffled voice. The queen opened her eyes. All night she struggled with bad premonitions and dozed only at daybreak. It was a short but heavy slumber, stifling and gloomy, and it didn’t bode well. ‘Your Majesty,’ he repeated, in the same muffled voice. Her heart sank. She knew they came to pay a tribute. Her last meeting with her grandmother flashed before her eyes. She remembered how pale her grandmother became when the chancellor had appeared in the door. ‘They’ve come to pay me a tribute, haven’t they?’ the old queen had whispered. He had quietly nodded his head. She took off her crown, kissed her granddaughter, and went away.

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and retinue as if trying to recognize their faces. Her head was swimming, she couldn’t discern a feature. All of a sudden she turned her head and peered into someone in the first row. He shivered, but remained still. It can’t be him, it can’t be! She looked again. Yes, it was him, her favorite, her great lover, the love of her life… He gave a signal and they began to cluster her tightly. ‘You too, Dronus!’ she uttered. These were the last and only words of the queen bee.

The heat pierced her with thousands of stings. She made a step back, almost unconsciously, and the crowd swiftly clustered around her. She’ll die from overheat as all her predecessors did, she knew...

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Source: stock.xchng)

Now it’s my turn, the queen thought, glancing at the chancellor. She got up from her bed and slowly proceeded to the door, rustling with her thick velvet garments. The throne room was overcrowded. She could sense that even at a distance. The sultry flow of air pushed through the door and filled the corridors with miasma. They probably began to arrive at night, she thought, carried by the thick air. The haze devoured all sounds and even the rustle of her garments was subdued. She moved as if she had suddenly lost her material properties and became bodiless. She entered the throne room. The crowd stood still like a monolith, emanating a deadly energy. Only once in a queen’s life the entire kingdom gathers to pay a tribute. The heat pierced her with thousands of stings. She made a step back, almost unconsciously, and the crowd swiftly clustered around her. She’ll die from overheat as all her predecessors did, she knew. She raked the heating-wall formed by her attendants


the solace of seasons - growing up/down-in-the-dumps in america I.

(always getting mixed up

waiting for the corn

to which one was abbott & which one was costello)

II. being chased through ancient pyramids on the acorns as we were all able to connect to feel III.

for frightened minds hearts & souls

every sunday morn VII. it used to be abbott (they say hitchcock's father & costello & tarzan in real life was a bit sadistic IV.

and used to take him to prison to visit

with a dagger between jaw

and lock him up and not pick him up)

in loin cloth leaping off the VIII. back of the boat to wrestle then it was the graduate some underwater monster joe buck V. IX. to protect his family kerouac on the backcover to save the free world with that innocent glazed running away from man look gazing off to the stars running towards the jungle of which we all fell in love VI.

eventually to be engulfed

then abbott & costello

swallowed whole by both

great tragic comedians

teeny-bopper and intellectual alike when he just wanted to be like a regular joe X. Source: stock.xchng)

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every man for him self...

Joseph Reich 17


The Things That He Gave Me

Sam Szanto

Kiss goodbye to your childhood... e gave me a necklace of love bites. As if that wasn’t romantic enough, he let me keep the khaki shirt that he’d worn on each of the four days of the festival. It lingered in my wardrobe for two years, the smell sighing away, as leopardskin miniskirts replaced Grunge Tshirts. Tom wore the khaki shirt when we met, outside the tent that he shared with his friends. They were a gang of eight boys and three girls, impossibly glamorous East Londoners, the name of the place evoking sepiatinged images of East 17 and Grant Mitchell-esque criminals in my 16year-old mind, addled by single sex school. At 17, with a year of A’ Levels

H

behind them, they were worlds away from my friends and me, but they accepted us. The shirt, bought for pennies from a stall, didn’t fit his stringy frame. It felt scratchy beneath my fingers when my hands trembled across his back. We’d talk for two minutes, kiss for ten - my first kiss, but no one knew. Tom was a wet kisser, his flopping and foraging tongue over-enthusiastic as an eel on E, and soon my mouth was ringed in saliva, but to me it was romance, weekends in Paris, marriage, kids and joint burial plots. He was the first boy who had wanted me: this was Love. Years later, I can still smell, feel and taste the acrid assault of burning wood and plastic, as over-elated

Owen Pomery

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drunken teenagers and drugged accountants built up night-time campfires with empty cider bottles and sprays of Java Lynx and Wild Love Impulse. Sparks from these fires jumped and bit, smouldering two round holes in the khaki shirt, gaps through with Tom’s milk-pale skin glowed. I wanted to poke my fingers through the holes, but what would have happened if I had? I might have journeyed to somewhere I could never get back from, like the kids stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. Instead, I stroked his face, as soft as one of the toys waiting patiently for my childhood to return, on my bed at home. We spent an almost-silent night in a stultifyingly hot tent that reeked of sexual possibility. I moaned encouragingly, hopefully, with closed eyes. At 7am, I fumbled into sleep but my sandpaper-eyes opened within half an hour to hear one of his friends, who (unknown to me) had passed out in the tent much earlier, crawling out like a hungover slug. “Mate!” my best friend Kamini squealed excitedly when I left Tom asleep and crawled back through dew-ridden grass into our tent, last night’s make-up glued into my face. “You old slag! Didja get a shag?” That day was spent lying on the ground outside the tent, self-consciously snorting poppers, which made my head feel as if a crowd were moshing in it, and smoking Wicked Weed from the Legal Highs Tent, which felt like being strangled by someone with long, pointed nails.


The Things That He Gave Me by Sam Szanto Tom and his friends passed us on their way to their tent, but as it was the day-time we pretended not to see each other; my heart flickered, my tongue thickened and I talked wildly, laughing uproariously at anything and nothing and in my hilarity falling backwards on to the dessicated grass,

edge of how these things can end. “He’s…nice,” I said.

showing my knickers to everyone, embarrassment painted red inside my eyelids. “Like him then?” Kamini asked, as we tucked white plastic forks into mushy jacket potatoes that cost more than the khaki shirt. I tried to separate the cheese, which I hated, from the potato, but it clung on as though it

with regrettable desperation. We gripped each other’s hands and whispered promises – he’d come to Eastbourne, where I lived, for a weekend. I knew my parents would agree to go away for the weekend if I promised to get all As in every single piece of A Level coursework and exam for the next two years. It was going to be great. “So, are we boyfriend and girlfriend, then, or…?” I asked, throwing away my pride. As I spoke, I fingered one of the sore, red welts on my neck. “Course,” he said. Then he whispered: “I love you.”

On the last night, when we were all drunk, Tom wrote his name, address and telephone number on a scrap of festival programme and promised to call. “Please do,” I said,

ness, because I missed him so much) afterwards, my heart bouncing. Everyone said that holiday romances never lasted, but no-one had ever felt like this before. I placed the words ‘I love you’ like a trophy on my bedside table, to be gazed at when I woke up and polished when I went to

Owen Pomery

Years later, I can still smell, feel and taste the acrid assault of burning wood and plastic, as over-elated drunken teenagers and drugged accountants built up night-time campfires... was their last ever slow dance. I didn’t know how to answer her. I felt incredibly excited, elevated above my former life of lovelessness, love-levitated above the sleepless night and the stoned day. I felt scared, because I didn’t know what to do with this body – his or my own. I felt secure, because I had no knowlIssue 14

December 2008

It was all Meant To Be, so I knew he’d call the next day, but I was still irradiated and iridescent with elation when he did, and at the end of the conversation, when I asked him (because I had to! I was bursting inside with it! I couldn’t keep quiet!) whether he loved me, he said yes. I nearly cried with happiness (but also sad-

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sleep, struggling to dream about him. I hung the khaki shirt in the wardrobe and sniffed the acrid campfire smell and the trace of BO at least three times a day. I made epic phone calls about the festival to whoever would listen, setting a six-hour record with Kamini. We arranged that he’d come down on the last weekend of October: it’d be exactly two months since we’d seen each other. My parents finally agreed to go away for the weekend and I threw away my childish pop-posters and hid my cuddly toys. I was happy… then worried… then scared… then the heartbreak dawned, a blood-red, scorching sun, burning away my hopes and his promises. Gradually, I let go of the hope, until finally the memories slipped across the sky like a child’s balloon, slowly drifting across the rooftops, until our love was as distant as a dream.

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Review

Zeichne, was Du siehst (Draw what you see) by Helga Weissová, the teenage artist of Auschwitz Wallstein Verlag, 2008 £12.73 paperback (Entire text in German, Czech & English) Reviewed by David Gardiner Around 80,000 former residents of Theresienstadt died in Auschwitz and various other extermination camps in Eastern Europe. The Jewish children were not spared the horror. From a total of about 15,000 children under 15 who entered the camp fewer than 100 are known to have survived, after mass deportations of Theresienstadt children to the death camps in 1945. Helga Weissová was one of these 100. Happily, at

his is a truly monumental book, presenting the thoughts and also the drawings and paintings of a Jewish Czech girl who was herded into a concentration camp with her family when she was twelve years old, later transferred to Auschwitz extermination camp, but liberated by the Americans before they could get her to the gas chambers. Not only did she survive, but her paintings and drawings did too, and they make up the fifty or so colour plates in this volume. The book includes comments and discussions on her work by artists, politicians and academics, including Rita Süssmuth, the President of the German Parliament. Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (in Czech, Terezfn) where Helga and her family were first sent, was about 40 miles north of Prague. The 18th-century walled town had been a military garrison, and consisted of the Large Fortress, for the billeting of soldiers, and the Small Fortress, which served as a prison for political as well as military prisoners. During the wartime occupation of Czech territories the Nazis used the Small Fortress for torturing and murdering Jews and enemies of the government, and the Large Fortress as an official ‘Jewish settlement’. First set up as a showcase propaganda settlement, conditions there rapidly deteriorated and it became a transfer camp for Jews awaiting deportation to the extermination camps, particularly Auschwitz. The brutal statistics speak for themselves: From 1941 to 1945, about 140,000 Jews were sent to Theresienstadt, and over 35,000 people died there from the inhuman living conditions – hunger, sickness, overcrowding and forced labour.

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Snowman - My first drawing in Theresienstadt I secretly smuggled this drawing to my father in the barracks where the men were housed. He wrote back: ‘Draw what you see!’ December 1941 (Pen and ink drawing and watercolours)

the age of 79 and a grandmother, she is still with us, a successful professional artist and teacher, touring the world giving talks about the role of the artist when civil society goes insane. Cultural activity did not cease for those awaiting death in Theresienstadt. In the inhuman conditions of the camp, the prisoners insisted on retaining their culture and humanity. There was a secret newspaper, organized by a 15-year-old boy named Petr Ginz (murdered in Auschwitz in 1944), containing sketches and drawings, news reports, personal impressions and even jokes, as well as articles and poems. Children were encouraged to attend the cultural activities of the adults: concerts, song evenings, theatre and cabaret presentations, poetry readings and lectures. One of the greatest events was a production of Verdi's Requiem, with four professional


Review: Zeichne, was Du siehst by Helga Weissová vocalists and a choir of 150 under the direction of conductor Rafael Schachter. They were singing a requiem for themselves: shortly thereafter, all the performers were deported to Auschwitz. A similar fate awaited the children and adults who staged a production of the children's opera Brundibar by

In the last days the camp was strewn with piles of the dead that were no longer cremated. 1945/46 (Pen and washed Indian ink drawing)

Hans Krasa. The children of the concentration camp, soloists and choir, eagerly rehearsed this opera, and because of its great success and popularity performed it in the camp more than fifty times. The entire cast was eventually deported to Auschwitz for extermination.

One of the counsellors (adult supervisors) in the girls' home in which about 450 Czech girls between the ages of 9 and 16 lived, was the painter and art teacher Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. She gave the boys and girls lessons in drawing and painting, at the same time encouraging the children to follow their own fantasies. They painted their dreams, colourful fields, bouquets, birds, butterflies – images of a world that no longer existed for them. In October 1944 she was sent on a journey eastward, to her death. Another of the counsellors, Willi Groag, rescued the paintings, storing them in two suitcases. These works are now displayed in the Jewish Museum in Prague. Helga Weissová was not part of the circle of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. Unlike them, following her father's advice, she concentrated on portraying what she saw: the everyday reality of the camp. After her deportation to Austwitz in 1944, Helga continued to 'draw what she saw', giving the world a unique perspective on the deepest cesspit of Western civilization, through the eyes of an intelligent and perceptive young adolescent artist. The temptation to make comparisons with the journal essays of Anne Frank is obvious, and not entirely inappropriate. One through words, the other through pictures, tried to describe their own situation and to make it clear to us that they believed that the world would recover its sanity and civilised life would start up again some time in the future. They were both very much artists who loved and valued life, and understood that what they were living through was something completely beyond the normal order of things, the most extreme aberration that could be imagined. Neither of them, even for a moment, lost their faith in the basic goodness of human nature. And recognising that is perhaps the highest accolade that we can offer to either of them. It is virtually impossible to say anything that will do justice to a book like this. All I can say is that, if it leaves you unmoved, you are probably dead.

A drawing for my friend Franzi. We were both born in the same maternity home, I on the l0th and Franzi on the 14th of November, 1929. We met in Theresienstadt and became best friends. We shared a bunk, and together we planned our future life after the War. We imagined what it wouldbe like in another fourteen years. We both will be mothers by then and will go for walks in Prague. Franzi died in Auschwitz before her 15th birthday. November 1943 (Pen and ink drawing and watercolours) Helga Weissová today

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The Mourning is the Dawn of Our Love

Nik Korpon Flash fiction

A hospital room dominated by a heart-rate monitor becomes a place for honesty, self-reflection and empathy... look at the life monitor. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Spike. Valley. Spike. Valley. I turn my head back towards my grandpa, holding my grandma’s hand in his, raising it to his mouth, whispering softly into it. Maybe he thinks the vibrations of his words and lips will send a tremor to her nerve sensors, send electro-chemical signals to her brain, tell her I love you, Madeline. Keep fighting, baby. Keep fighting. Don’t give up, Madeline. Stay with me, honey. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me. My eyes trace from his lips up her wrinkled arm, punctured with IV tubes, a canal map of veins running the full length. From her arm up to the divot at the base of her neck where her clavicles meet, the tip of her surgical iceberg sticking out in a halfinch scar, remnants of an earlier heart operation. Up to her face, much paler than it had been two days before when we played canasta at her kitchen table. A light clamped to the shelf over her head, the only illumination in the sterile room. It drapes a milky pall over her face, exaggerates the shadows cast over her sunken cheekbones and makes canyons of valleys. The shadows quiver as her lips part: exhale, inhale, exhale, cough, inhale, choke, inhale, exhale. The official diagnosis was a strand of medical jargon that sounded Russian; fifty-three letters

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long, all consonants but for four vowels and a hyphen. Grandpa translated it for me - she’d suffered her third stroke, though none had been this severe, and was now searching for her life in the uncharted abyss of a coma. He called me yesterday morning, wailing, trying to tell me between

He called me yesterday morning, wailing, trying to tell me between gasps that I needed to come to St. Edward’s because something was wrong with Grandma... gasps that I needed to come to St. Edward’s because something was wrong with Grandma. Three hours, five traffic jams and two near misses later I was perched on a burlap-upholstered chair in her hospital room amidst a carnival of beeping monitors and LCD screens. The wheeze of her respirator, a gentle undercurrent that will drown me if I listen. The television in my apartment is still on. My Playstation still paused. My knees burn from lack of use. My body hasn’t left the chair for two days except to go to the bathroom, help him to the bathroom and get us food. The entire world has shrivelled into the palm of our hands, resting on the back of hers. ‘You okay, Grandpa? Need something to drink, or anything?’ He doesn’t respond, only moves his lips and pulls the rosary one prayer further in their hands. I lean back and close my eyes. Twenty minutes later, his voice startles me up-

right. ‘June 27th, 1932.’ I wait for him to continue. He doesn’t. ‘June 27th, 1932, huh, Grandpa,’ I say, hoping to elicit an explanation. He moves his lips and pulls their prayers. I laugh a little. He started this two years ago. Initially, we thought he was talking to himself. Gram and I used to joke with him, told him he was getting senile. But now I think he’s telling stories in his head and doesn’t realize words are leaving his mouth. ‘At the general store on Calvary Street,’ and he stops again. ‘Wow, that’s amazing, Grandpa,’ rolling my eyes a bit. It’d been a rough two days for him, so I have to give him a bit of leeway. I look at the life monitor. Beep. Beep. Beep. Spike. Valley. Spike. Valley. He turns to look at me, head cocked, and finally answers. ‘That’s the first time I ever saw your Gram.’ ‘Oh,’ dribbles from my mouth. Four long, self-conscious breaths of trying to think of anything not even anything poignant, just anything - to say and he saves me from my embarrassment. He passes her hand to his other, and walks me to 1932. Past the cramped aisles of a diminutive general store on Calvary Street, where a tall Georgia Peach with chestnut curls serendipitously


The Mourning is the Dawn of Our Love by Nik Korpon knocked him over as he was stocking soda in a cooler. Past the tree where they’d play canasta and whistle with sweetgrass between their thumbs until the summer breeze turned cool on the napes of their neck. Past the pond, where he’d lead her, blindfolded, and read aloud her favorite excerpts of The Great Gatsby, each character with a different demeanor, and hide until her drunken father had passed out.

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on my cheek as she play-slaps me for a smart-ass comment, her wrinkled neck in the crook of my arm as I - very gingerly - pretend she’s stuck in my sleeper hold. I look at the life monitor. Beep. Spike. Valley. I feel my arm hair stand at attention. I feel my eyes match my Pop’s. I can’t handle this. A cough from down a long stone hallway, cold and damp and weaving from World War II Georgia to a hospital ward in Baltimore, ricochets to my ears and I jolt up in my seat. Blinking the nap from my eyes, I see my Pop, spittle, tears and spent prayers mixing at the corners of his mouth. I take a deep, deep, trying-to-processeverything breath. Hand to my mouth, I bite my index finger, try to keep my mind focused on at least something. Flecks in the tiles. The steady tone of the LCD screen. Wheezing respirators gone silent. I stare at my Pop. My eyes follow down his arm to his hand, squeezing hers so hard it turns an unnatural white and shakes flaccid in his. Her chin: bobbing slightly side-toside, out of syncopation with the rest of her body. From her torso to his face, pressed into her neck. His chin: becoming epileptic, beyond the control of his muscular system. He turns his head to me. Someone shot a tiny BB in the top corner of his façade of decorum, and the spider web cracks slink across it at the rate of comprehension. He looks at me and blinks, shattering the glass over his eye, cascading through the wrinkles in his cheeks. I grind my teeth into my lips. I look at the life monitor. Owen Pomery

He pauses for a minute, looking down at Gram, and I can see his eyes glass over. I start to get him tissues, but he waves a dismissive hand and runs his cardigan sleeve across his eyes. I look at the life monitor. Beep. Beep. Spike. Valley. After he composes himself, I ask if she came in to see him. ‘Nah, she didn’t know me from Adam. Just wanted some pop. I told her later that she’d come in to meet me but hadn’t realized it at the time.’ He tries to chuckle, but the weight of it is too much and it collapses on itself. We sit in silence, save for the beep of the monitor and soft wheeze of the respirator. In the two days since we’ve been at the hospital, we haven’t said much to each other. But it’d never seemed awkward, not until now. All of the scenes and questions scroll through my head like animated newspaper headlines on the side of a building. The obvious ones: how will he handle all of this, where will he live, how long will this last, will we lose our Gram? Then the ones that tear like fish hooks through my chest, the ones I might never have a chance to find answers to: if he likes the crust on pizzas, whether he puts water next to his bed at night, what time his favorite TV shows are on. The things that he’s so accustomed to. The things I don’t know. ‘She certainly was a great lady,’ I hear my discomfort say. I think he

knows that I didn’t say it, and doesn’t acknowledge the comment. I dig the rubber tip of my right Converse into the arch of my left, stare at the floor as if I was staring through it and watch my subconscious arrange the flecks on the tiles into different shapes that begin to look like music

notes mimicking the score of the last two days. Spikes and valleys. Syringes and antiseptic. Reheated meatloaf and catheters. I should say something. I should stand on my chair, speak in an authoritative pre-Technicolor tone and recite passages worthy of Orson Welles, passages about how Death is a celebration of life and we need to remember what a great woman She was and that we should live out our lives joyously to keep Her spirit alive. But the truth is I just want to feel my Gram. I want to feel her wool sweater against the side of my face as I sleep head-in-lap on her couch and she watches Bob Vila. I want to feel the slippery smoothness of her cow-print dishes as she washes and I dry, to feel her warm, water-swollen hands

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Cukoo A clock ticks for you With your hands of blue and green A waking dream Of innocence lost in tainted shadow And here I gently sit Quietly sleeping with hands untied and a face laid bare That sees you and your heart that fades

Florence Joseph

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Mint On A Pillow The etymology of Cornish game hen does not interest me, or my dog Kelly, whose slobber coats two-thirds of the hen. That we will eat this hen that has been filled with alloy pellets, dead dived into a lagoon where the neighborhood youth urinate and marinated by my third best friend, Kelly, who eats the feces of all manner of dogs. She is not chauvinist. I’m thinking white wine, chutney sauce, crème brulé branded in brown sugar with my spouse’s initials, music of slightly rockified country. An impingement on my feast, I remember that there is double churned, sucrose-saccharine, mint chocolate ice cream absent the lime coloring, which makes it taste less minty. I crunched beneath my muck boots, poisonous mushrooms known as au naturel. Stir a drink with the stem and cap as an umbrella. Sans mushrooms, the digested food spreads like embalming fluid. I kiss my dog and wife in that order.

Paul Handley

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December

Christopher J Dwyer

A young man’s quest to find his father... could almost see the heartbreak in my stepfather’s face, the way the morning sunlight would quickly dissipate and leave only the natural cobalt blue of his old and tired eyes. It was like I just told him that his nearly twenty-two years of raising a boy that wasn’t of his own blood was a waste of time. Twentytwo years of a union laborer’s life, money and sanity spent watching a disheveled child bloom into what he would at one point call a “man”. ‘Not a single word from him in over two decades,’ he said, ‘and now you’re ready to drive five and a half hours to see him like he had only gone out for milk during that time.’ I shook my head and placed a hand on his shoulder. ‘Listen, Dad. Even though I can’t remember the time when he was around, I feel like I owe it to him to at least sit for a while with a cup of coffee, let him know about all the good things in my life that he missed.’ He sighed and turned away. ‘Trevor, all of my life I’ve given you nothing but the honest insides of my heart. I don’t understand how you could so eagerly embrace a man, a so-called ‘father’, that abandoned you and your mother when you were just a child.’ ‘Dad…’ I looked inside but couldn’t find a thing to say that justified the small overnight bag that was sitting so gently in the backseat of my truck. The truth was that all of that anger and rage had disappeared years ago when I realized it didn’t matter if the man that raised me was my natural father or not. What mat-

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tered was the countless hours teaching me how to ride a bike, the days and days spent in the little league baseball park. What I would always remember were the nights in the local drive-in, the early Saturday mornings fishing when the first light of day would rise above the darkened rim of the horizon. ‘You’re old enough now to do whatever you want,’ he said, nose crinkled into the typical Gregory J. Armstrong sneer that I feared whenever I came home from school with a horrid report card or a broken bone from playing football with the neigh-

I was always afraid to cry in front of him, and this was no exception. I could feel my eyes water with the residue of a million memories. “I’m going to take a ride and have a cup of coffee, maybe stay a night at a hotel nearby... I’m going to get closure from him, and then I’m done with this small chapter of my life.” borhood kids. ‘Dad, I can understand why you’re upset, but please just listen to me for a minute.’ I sat down on the edge of the kitchen windowsill and pulled out a chair from under the table. ‘Just sit with me for a minute, please.’ The sneer dissolved into wrinkly cheeks and eyes of winter. He sat down with a deep and resounding breath, arms crossed as if ready to deal with a used car salesman. ‘You

have five minutes before I start dinner.’ I smiled and nodded. ‘This trip is more out of curiosity than anything else, Dad. Believe me, there is nothing that this man is going to say that’s going to ever make me smile like you make me do. I know what he did to Mom and me, and there’s no room in my heart left for someone that abandoned their only child without an explanation. You are my father, biological or not, and nothing is ever going to change that.’ I was always afraid to cry in front of him, and this was no exception. I could feel my eyes water with the residue of a million memories. ‘I’m going to take a ride and have a cup of coffee, maybe stay a night at a hotel nearby if the weather’s too bad to drive. I’m going to get closure from him, and then I’m done with this small chapter of my life.’ My father pinched the end of the kitchen table, crumbling aged pieces of maroon paint between his fingertips. After a minute or two he stood up and looked out the window. The beginnings of snow fell from the December sky, day beginning its decent into the darkness of night. He pushed the chair back and leaned against the edge of the table. ‘I’m not angry that you’re going, Trevor. I’m angry that he even had the nerve to call you. The minute he walked out on you and your mother was the minute the he lost out on watching you grow up.’ He cleared his throat and pulled open the kitchen curtains, his eyes darting back and forth between the waves of plush white snow sticking to


December by Christopher J Dwyer the oak trees outside of the house. ‘Just remember where your home is. I know you don’t live here anymore, but this house is where your heart is. No matter what this man says to you, that’s the only thing I want you to remember, Trevor.’ My lips curled into warmth. ‘I promise, Dad.’ ‘Good. And I want you to think of your mother when you see him. She may not be with us anymore, but I know she’s thinking the same things that I have ever since he called you.’ I nodded in agreement. ‘You’re staying for dinner, I hope. Nothing better on an early winter’s evening than a hot bowl of chili.’ He was already standing next to the refrigerator, pulling out a fresh package of ground beef. ‘Feel free to give me a hand over here.’ ‘I’d love to, Dad.’ I woke up around eleven-thirty. My father had thrown a red-and-black patchwork quilt over the lower half of my body. We ended up talking for hours after dinner, which led to a round of cards and too many glasses of wine. I told him I wanted to rest my eyes a bit on the couch before taking off for my apartment. Before long, the mix of wine, chili and smiles dragged my body into a satisfying fit of slumber. I sat up on the couch and for a moment I was a teenager again, the inkling of inebriation still a hazy fog in my youthful mind. The couch was much older than me, made of fluffy cushions and plush velvet lining. I would routinely fall asleep in the living room since there was never a television in my bedroom. Even after I left for college, the best night’s sleep came with a little alcohol and a weary body resting on an aged three-cushion sofa. My father shuffled about in his room a floor above. He was always a restless sleeper, victim to overexcited legs that needed a quick lap or two around the room before falling back Issue 14

December 2008

to weariness. I didn’t want to disturb him so late at night so I instead walked into the kitchen for a glass of water. Cool liquid slid down a parched tongue and the fuzzy siren call of sleep was nipping at the back of my head again. I paused and peered out the kitchen window before heading back into the living room. A perfect coverlet of snow dressed the front yard, great oak and pine trees now housing a winter’s dose of frozen ice. I laid my head under a quilted throw-pillow and remembered one of the first moments I realized my stepfather loved me like I was his own. It was only a year into he and my mother’s marriage, and I spent the majority of my time wondering where my real father had retreated after ditching what I imagined to be the two

I sat up on the couch and for a moment I was a teenager again, the inkling of inebriation still a hazy fog in my youthful mind. The couch was much older than me... Even after I left for college, the best night’s sleep came with a little alcohol and a weary body resting on an aged three-cushion sofa... people closest to him. It was the early winter and the multi-colored fireflies of Christmas lights adorned the trees in our front yard. I sat on the front steps, watching a layer of thick snow dance amidst a perfect winter landscape. Crushing a fistful of snow and ice in my hand, I tossed it as far as I could manage. It smacked the end of the driveway in a soundless explosion. My stepfather emerged from the front door, wooly jacket covering his hairy and tattooed arms. He sat next to me and smiled, scraping snow from the stairs with his boots. ‘Has anyone ever shown you how to make the perfect snowball?’ he asked. I shook my head, staring at

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the ground. He leaned forward and scooped a mix of slush and puffy snow, curling it in his fist like it was a hardboiled egg. I watched as he pouted his lips and worked the ice until it was nearly perfect in circumference. He showed it to me, holding it between the tips of his now red fingertips. ‘This,’ he said, ‘is good enough to throw.’ He tossed it with a gentle heave, nearly tripling the distance of my throw a few minutes earlier. It shattered with a glittery boom, fractures of moonlight shining with each mirrored piece. I sighed and adjusted the pillow under my head. I could see the reflection of the storm’s final drippings on the blank television screen a few feet away. The shuffling upstairs stopped, and I silently wondered if my father was going to experience the same memory-laden dreams as I about to encounter. The aromatic pleasure of fresh coffee woke me from a solid dream state. I could hear spoons and pans colliding in the kitchen like a momentary morning symphony. I lifted my legs off the couch and stretched the stiffness in my back. Before I could stand up, my father greeted me with a smile and a cornflower blue mug, wisps of steam floating from its open mouth. He sat next to me and placed the mug on the wooden coffee table a few inches away. ‘Just the way you like it,’ he said. ‘A little bit of skim milk and three spoons of sugar.’ I took a long sip, sizzling springs of caffeine jolting my body into full consciousness. I crossed my legs over the table and pointed behind me. ‘How does it look out there?’ My father inched his head over his shoulder and peeked out the living room window. ‘Shouldn’t be too bad out there, son. I bet all of the main roads and highways should be fine.’ He cleared his throat. ‘What 27


December by Christopher J Dwyer time do you have to meet him?’ ‘Noon, or a little after.’ My father nodded, then stood up. ‘Well, you’re going to have to get some eggs and toast in that body if you want energy for that long drive. It’ll be ready in a few minutes.’ ‘Great. Thanks, Dad.’ I tilted my mug towards him in a joyous toast. He chuckled. ‘Save the theatrics for breakfast.’ I shoved my hands through my jet black pea coat and silently wished for summer. When I was a kid, the family travelled to a bakery outside of town for a cake for my mother’s birthday. The roads were icy, and one quick turn forced his Jeep into a nearby tree. Neither of us was hurt,

When I was a kid, the family travelled to a bakery outside of town for a cake for my mother’s birthday. The roads were icy, and one quick turn forced his Jeep into a nearby tree... but since then I’ve been afraid to drive with snow and ice on the road. I was about to open the front door when I heard his voice from behind me. ‘Trevor?’ My father stood with a silver travel mug in his arms. ‘I know you’re not going to forget our discussion last night, but please, do not let this man sway you with anything, not even memories of your childhood. Your mother swore that she would never let him see you again.’ I blew a round of cool air through my teeth. ‘Do you think I’m breaking Mom’s heart by going through with this?’ ‘Not at all,’ he said, tightening the cap on the mug. ‘If she were still alive, I know she’d give you her blessing to see him because you’re old enough to deal with that chapter of your life.’ He handed the mug to me. ‘Here, some coffee for the road. 28

I’ll feel better if you call me when you get there.’ ‘I’ll ring you as soon as I pull up to his house.’ ‘Sounds good.’ He initiated a hug that could have lasted for an hour. All I know is that it felt like I was a kid again; the gentle push of his muscles against mine was not nearly as strong as it was years ago. I found myself pressing my forehead into his shoulder, something I would do whenever I was nervous. ‘It’ll be okay,’ he said, letting me go. ‘Now, go on. There’s a long drive ahead of you.’ He reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out a small envelope. ‘Wait…I wanted to give you this,’ he said, shoving the small beige envelope into the inside pocket of my jacket. ‘If you feel that this encounter is going to stir up unwanted emotions, open that little envelope and I promise that it’ll bring a smile to your face.’ ‘Thanks, Dad.’ We said our goodbyes and in minutes I was behind the wheel of my car, engine beginning to purr in the shriveled air of another winter’s day. The conversation last week only lasted a few minutes. My cell phone rang with a number I had never seen before. The voice on the other line sounded familiar, but I didn’t know who the caller was until he said my name with a long and extended breath. For the first minute, every muscle in my body quivered with an icy chill. When you think someone is long dead and forgotten and all of a sudden their voice is loud and clear on the other line of the telephone, you forget where and who you are. You forget that time has passed. You forget that this man on the other line made the decision to cut you out of his life over two decades ago. You forget that he’s just an outsider now, nothing more. I don’t know why I agreed to meet him, but I said ‘Yes’ after thirty

seconds of hesitation. I canceled two days of consulting projects with my clients and packed a small bag, eager to spend the night before the meeting with the man who actually

raised me as a boy. Five hours after setting out on Interstate-95 and I was idling two houses down from his. I shut off the truck and leaned my head against the seat. My eyes closed, I imagined what he looked like now. I hadn’t seen a picture of him since I was a teenager, and I couldn’t even remember if we shared the same eye color. I couldn’t remember what his favorite food was, what he liked to do on a winter day. When I swung my hand on the door handle, the cold tinge of metallic touch reminded me why this man wasn’t a part of my life anymore. I refrained from opening the door, hoping that I would summon the courage to leave the truck and knock on his door in just a few sec-


December by Christopher J Dwyer

Owen Pomery

onds. A few seconds turned into a few minutes turned into a few tears. I didn’t picture a person hopelessly wondering if his son grew up to be a man. I didn’t picture a person spending their days hoping that one day his son would just walk right back into his life as if nothing had occurred oh so many years ago. An hour burned off the truck radio and it was at this moment when I pulled out the envelope my father had shoved into my pocket, the one I now realized was dressed with the purple cursive handwriting of my mother. I flicked open the top and a single picture fell on to my lap. My mother’s eyes were the first thing that came to me. Two drops of perfect green, the color of an uncut pine tree glimmering in the morning sun. Snowflakes were frozen in the air and the three of us were smiling as if we knew that life would give us nothing but the best. My father had one arm draped over my mother’s shoulder, the other barely pinching my cheek. I couldn’t quite recall when the picture was taken, but I knew that this was a sliver of happiness, a flash in time where nothing else mattered except the love burning between these three souls. I turned on the ignition and blew past his house, not taking a second to see if he was standing by a window. Eyes focused on the road, and soon enough I was flying on the highway, eager traces of snow falling from the sky like little rogue angels dancing in a winter solstice. I found a hotel less than an hour later. I plunked down my credit card at the

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front desk and asked for the cheapest room they had available. I knew that I wanted to sleep off the day, let the thoughts in my head burn into embers wild as a forest fire. Two flights of stairs and my room was in the very corner of the floor. I didn’t bother to turn on the television, just kicked off my boots and placed my cell phone on the nightstand next to the clock radio. At some point, my eyes closed and I remember the cooling whispers of the night beckoning me to slumber. My cell phone rang around three in the morning. On the second ring I jerked out of a dead sleep, unaware I was resting on a hotel bed. I flipped open the phone without ever seeing who the caller was. The voice was a woman’s, and if I didn’t know that I was now fully awake I would forever swear that what she said was just the soundtrack to a temporary nightmare. Her name was Rianna Peterson and she was a doctor calling from Massachusetts General Hospital. My father had dialed 911 and only a second after the operator answered, silence spilled from the other line. Police and an ambulance rushed to the house and found my father crumpled on the kitchen floor, his fingers still touching the receiver. He had experience a massive heart attack shortly after noontime. Doctor Peterson said the paramedics found him dead. I closed the phone and immediately leaned forward, ignoring the urge to let my insides spill to the carpeted hotel floor. I drove that night with fire in my eyes, the smoldering strands of shock still waltzing in my head. The ride to the hospital should have taken three hours, but with my foot on the gas and my heart in my hand, I walked through the front doors in just over

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two. I was barely coherent at the front desk, managing to say the words ‘father’ and ‘Armstrong’ and ‘heart attack.’ Doctor Peterson greeted me a minute after, olive skin somewhat comforting in a sea of lost souls scattered about the hospital lobby. She shook my hand with the grace of a beautiful woman and asked me if I was okay. I told her ‘No’ and smiled, unaware that I was gazing into the distance. ‘I know this is difficult for you, so I’d he happy to call any relatives that might need to know what happened.’ She placed a hand on the side of my arm, unpainted fingernails plucking the rogue fuzz from my jacket. ‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘His brother, my Uncle Charlie. If you can, please call him.’ I shook her hand again and walked away, forgetting to button up my coat as I walked out the front doors and into the throes of December. A gentle sniff of the air told me that another storm was coming. There were already four inches of snow on the ground, and before long I’d be wondering when winter would be over. I knelt down and ran my fingers along the concrete, swirling figures into the ground that were symbolic of my confusion. I stared out into the night, half moon poised in the sky like a low-hanging slice of glowing frost. I removed my gloves and shoved them into my pocket, letting the back of my boots support my backside as I knelt down to scrape up a handful of dirty ice and snow. I packed it into a ball, watching the flesh of my fingers begin to flush with red. Smile upon my face, I closed my eyes while I worked the snow until it was as hard as baseball. I opened my eyes and held it in the night air. It was good enough to throw.

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Vertigo Unbalanced

Caleb J Ross

A famous artist has plans for his latest exhibit... his motel at the edge of town caught fire three years ago. A dog died. Its keeper escaped but never came back for the body. The motel manager, a fucking Monet collector, had the dog stuffed, named it Camille in honor of a favorite print from his charred collection. Magazines saddle the taxidermied dog now, in the motel lobby. Immigrant day laborers patched the burnt rooms with plywood and shingles, even wallpapered a few spots with destroyed Monet prints for the novelty of it. The manager rented the dilapidated rooms to tired nomads at half-price. ‘A good deal,’ the manager says when I approach him, a weathered sketchbook under my arm and a few graphite bruises spotting my palms and forearms. ‘A roof and enough walls to keep it up. If you want fancy, stay on the road a few more miles.’ ‘If you even want to call these just walls,’ I smile. ‘Even a fire can’t take them down. More like a fortress.’ He nods. ‘You should feel safe,’ and he brings my ID to his face. ‘Mr. Garitty? Are you here for the gallery opening?’ I motion toward the supplies tucked under my arm. ‘Yeah.’ ‘Why aren’t you staying downtown, closer to the gallery?’ I adjust my grip on the sketchpad. ‘You’re a terrible salesman.’ ‘I’m just curious. Believe me, it’s an honor to take your money.’ I smile. ‘Curiosity is my vice, too. I’ve heard about this place. They say it’s tougher than a bank vault.’ ‘We’ve survived a few fires,

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maybe a few earthquakes, too. We’ve never been privileged to survive a famous painter, though.’ The man hands me a room key and a short stack of hotspot brochures. ‘Here’s hoping the famous painter survives you,’ I say and exit the office into the night, illuminated by struggling 40-watt bulbs and dying lightning bugs. The broken artist/the broken motel; I know, such a damn cliché. I might as well sip Starbucks and claim the counter-culture as my own invention. I’m six doors down, 117, 118, 119, when the office door blows open behind me. ‘Wait,’ the motel manager yells. ‘Been some bomb threats around.’ I thank the sad Monet collector and turn back toward my room. My doctor would err on the side of human goodwill and insist that the man said ‘Mister, you dropped this on the ground,’ or ‘Almost binned this in the lost and found.’ But my doctor isn’t here. I’m not so sick that I don’t recognize my own paranoia. I am too sick, however, to dismiss it. Sick, that’s the term I’m told to use, like it’s supposed to work on me, grating away at preconceptions. Because being sick implies a cure. Simply being fucked up implies a lost cause. The jargon changes. Social Anxiety Disorder some days. Cardiac neurosis. Even agoraphobia. My files say that I have an idea of perfection coupled with a crippling fear of attaining it. I stayed at a treatment center for a few months, this was back in ele-

mentary school. My mother complained about the cost, but settled when my teacher suggested government assistance. Mrs. Rose. I liked her. I learned to piss my pants in school because my apparent embarrassment was always soothed with a hug from Mrs. Rose. At the treatment center, they gave me a blank canvas and enough diluted paint to reduce any artistic intent to erratic veins and random tributaries. They said the weakened watercolors might teach me how to just let things happen. The first canvas, I set fire to, frustrated. They gave me a second. Then a third. Eventually, I learned how to fool the doctors into believing I could be healed. If I closed my eyes, I couldn’t see the paint running wild. Over the years, though, I learned to control the paint. I exchanged muddy watercolors for concrete acrylic. This motel still smells charred. I shut my door, close the curtains, and dim the lights in what I immediately understand is just a part of a continuous attempt to ignore the world. I stopped watching TV for the same reason. If I couldn’t see the chaos, it didn’t exist, right? Some critics claim to see this seclusion in my work. Dark colors, I guess. Maybe they see the layered brush strokes, protruding from the walls in a well-lit gallery. Once a stroke lays, so the teaching goes, the stroke stays. If I accepted that theory, I’d have Pollacked a canvas with Gun Barrel Red already. It’s the heat, I suspect, so hot I swear it shifts the paint. I’ve seen a


Vertigo Unbalanced by Caleb J Ross painting move. In my studio it moved. When my agent took it from my hands and leaned it against the wall of his office, all that Midwestern humidity pulling the acrylic like sweat, I fucking lost it. But it’s knowing that I’ll lose it again that makes me Sick. I’ve seen the colors slide slowly down the wall, out of control, threading paint to the floor. I know the ground is solid, but there are earthquakes. I know the air is clean, but there are diseases. Where one person sees an ancient tree, strong and tempered over the years, I only see the world spinning out of control below it. I want to believe in logic. Sick people like me, though, we don’t have much faith in logic. I’m in town to open my piece, an acrylic painting on particle board, downtown in The Blue Gallery. Nailed to the wall. Wall made of solid stone. The building is a fucking fortress. Security guards. After-hours alarms. Motion lights. Not to mention the crowds, all gathered to see the newest Jeffrey Garitty. Fixing my painting won’t be easy. The piece got away too soon. Really, I should have held on to it for longer. It hangs now, half finished and weak. Bleeding to death. That’s what happens when you leave something to float in a changing context. The art dies, the intent drowns, and the artist falls to a common spectator, watching along with so many others as the work becomes trumped by contemporary movements and abused by

critics. My doctor says I’m committed to control and that I’ll have to learn the freedom of apathy before the strive for perfection kills me. But my doctor isn’t here. My agent is, though, and he’s a bit of a dick sometimes. The only light left in the motel room is that from the crimson alarm clock numbers. 6:42. Just eighteen minutes until I’m set to greet the curator of The Blue. Tick. Seventeen minutes. I grab a cake icing savoy bag filled with phthalo blue, a Kolinsky Sable brush, and a jacket with big enough pockets to conceal both. On the way out I stop by the motel office and ask the manager if he can point me to the gallery. ‘Truth is,’ I say, ‘I try not to get too familiar with new places. If I come back later and everything is different, it tends to depress a person.’ ‘Nothing’s changed here for years,’ he assures me. He gives a few quick directions, but decides instead to offer to call a cab. I thank him and step outside to wait. ‘Mr. Garrity,’ he says, suddenly behind me. ‘When you were in here earlier, you left this,’ and he hands me my ID. Is it worth living if every time I close my eyes I can feel the earth careening underneath me? Vertigo in a World Unbalanced began as a plagiarism of Magritte’s Golconde. But after layers of gesso and new strokes, it became Vertigo in

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a World Unbalanced. Then it became something different. Something I didn’t intend. ‘Let it go,’ my agent told me that day in his humid, Midwestern office. I nodded, but already the paint had shifted. The lights, too, made for a different context. This isn’t a painting for office buildings and florescent lights. But a few new strokes could revive my attempt. I step from the cab and hand the driver a few bills, marked blue by my leaking savoy bag of phthalo blue. As I approach the gallery steps, I have to hold my breath to avoid colliding with so many erratic bodies. I keep germicide in my pocket for chaos like this. The gallery curator meets me at the door, says my painting reminds him of prison, ‘not that I’d know what the inside looks like,’ he says, ‘but I’d imagine it to be as depressingly quiet and socially removed as what you’ve painted.’ ‘That’s what my head feels like,’ I say. The curator laughs and warns me that ‘Abasement like that will get you blacklisted so hard you’ll have to change your name’. I might change it anyway. No artistic integrity in Jeffery. ‘Not true,’ my agent says, suddenly behind me. Has he followed me? ‘My man here thrives in confined spaces. He spent some time at the Rooster Estates hospital, you know?’ The curator apologizes. For what, I’m not sure. He nods like he can relate, then hugs an approaching friend, kisses her chaotic cheeks - I can hear the dirt slosh between lips and skin, lubricated in grease and sweat, renegade germs fighting wars. He introduces me, calls me ‘The Genius’. I smile, lungs tight, with the voices all around me growing by decibels. ‘It’s hot in here,’ I tell her. ‘We’re outside,’ she says and turns to the next oncoming embrace. Sensing my discomfort, my agent says, ‘It’s a good evening. Big 31


Vertigo Unbalanced by Caleb J Ross crowd. Go meet some people’. ‘I’m not ready-’ I begin, but he interrupts. ‘If you want to be alone, you should check out your wing downstairs.’ He grins, air kisses some weightless art tourist across the room. The tourist leaves, stares into each work, deep, creased eyebrows, then dismisses each piece for the

My agent had to beg the curator to let me use it, this perfect space, far away from the casual eye, inviting only to those truly desirous and open. You almost had to set up base camp to get to this thing. On the way down I pass a few viewers returning to the main gallery. Their faces, some furrowed brows,

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next in line. I watch her bounce through four paintings before I realize the curator still talks. ‘…not sure why the hell you demanded your piece be hung all the way down there. You’re going to have to learn to embrace the critic, Jeffery.’ ‘The critic is a funhouse mirror.’ ‘But they’re the first step in a career,’ he says. ‘The only reason I let it hang,’ I say. ‘But down there,’ he says, ‘it might as well be buried’. He ushers me in through the crowd. A security guard notes my tumored posture, awkward by the bulge of my paint and Sable brush. I smile away his concern. ‘Down there’ is an old cellar converted to a bomb shelter converted to supply storage space now used as a temporary gallery wing for my piece. 32

some dismissive smirks, some complacent, renegade passives. Far too many reactions all from the same painting. Could be the bad air circulation down here, though; my doctor tells me to step back, think logically. But my doctor isn’t here. I haven’t seen Vertigo in months. The days have not been merciful. The paint, at first so perfect, sags now, drips now, isn’t what I intended. I pull the blue from my pocket, grasp the brush, and squeeze like toothpaste. In the background, the placard to the right of the frame says $4,000. Fuck. ‘Don’t,’ a voice says. A young woman, ugly as fuck, stands next to me and stares into Vertigo. ‘You’ll ruin it.’ ‘I’m fixing it,’ I say. ‘You know, Mr. Garrity, it’s not yours anymore.’

‘I didn’t catch your name, Dr…’ and I hold for her last name. ‘Jane Gilbert,’ she says, ‘but I’m no doctor.’ ‘I guess I just assumed,’ I say and smile, bringing the loaded brush toward Vertigo. Jane grabs my hand. ‘I mean when you decided to put this on the wall, in a gallery, it stopped being yours. I actually think the painting does just what it needs to, as is.’ ‘You said yourself, you’re no doctor. Stop trying to tell me what I need to do.’ ‘Fine.’ She waits until I’m centimeters from the canvas before pushing me aside. She grabs the $4,000 tag and tucks it in her pocket. ‘Sold,’ she says. ‘Now it’s mine.’ ‘I still own this paint,’ I say and raise the brush again, but another voice, echoing off the concrete walls, yells for me to stop. I turn back to see the security guard walking toward me, mace and a flashlight beating against his thighs like the renegade legs of a parasitic twin. He quickens, and just as the brush meets the canvas, he grabs my wrist and pulls. The motion cuts a lethal blue knife over the painting. Jane hits me. I push back. The security guard staples me to the floor, a knee in my back as he binds my wrists with riot cuffs. The concrete floor muffles my dissent. When the guard pulls my lips from the floor and steers me toward the stairs, I catch Jane pinning the placard back to the wall. ‘Did you ever want it?’ I yell, but it sounds like ‘Do anything you want with it.’ I’ve been shot; the popped bag of blue paint drips like blood from my chest. The upstairs crowd parts for my journey to a waiting police car. With the wind still knocked out of me, I can’t speak evenly. I try. My agent hones in with concern, but I can already see him shaking hands with a buyer, justifying a higher selling price by both my hospital stay and my impeding jail time.


The Synaesthete’s Feast Round tones tasting earthy, Like oven-baked jacket spuds, Or mash with Italian spices. Rumbles like tough beef and dumplings, And a laugh, cutting through it, Bubbling treacle, and mozzarella, And then, out of the blue, battered cod, As the words ripple rhubarb in the distance. A child's orange screams burn acidic, Citrus fruits undercut with dark rum, A heady mixture, purple in the deep, Plum pudding, raisins, claret, port, As the mother's voice tries to soothe. Smooth milkshake quiet mouthing, A whispered promise of ice-cream. A couple bicker as they pass, And waves of taste burst inside my mouth. Peaches and walnuts and chicken pie, Fish curry, broccoli and, suddenly, The cold red fury of tomato soup, For the flicker of an eye. I taste the sounds, the words, Steve Cartwright

And see the colours of thought, As the world passes by.

Elizabeth Waddington Issue 14

December 2008

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33


Redemption

Richard Thomas

Snapshots of a life... he scream of a baby echoes in the distance. He crosses the marble lobby in scuffed leather boots, gliding below his battered jeans. Across the wooden foot bridge the orange Koi bob up and down in the pond. The crystal chandelier shines down upon him, his black wrap-around sunglasses blocking it out. A subtle fragrance floats to him as he passes an arrangement of yellow fighting red paired with lavender in a vase. Dull brass doors sit side by side with intricate patterns hammered into the panels. The yellow buttons pulse, marked with arrows pointing up and down. Weather-beaten hands push one as the manicured nails retreat to his pockets. Behind the glasses his amber eyes close, and he sways slightly on his feet. Muscles twitch beneath the black t-shirt, a splotch of red paint on his right forearm jumps, a smear of grease on the back of his neck sulks. A loud metallic ding and doors glide open. He lurches forward into the mouth of metal, a light sigh as he enters.

T

Air rushes over his now naked body as he stands in the darkness. A hint of light from the buttons is the only light. He reaches out and pushes one. 24. They all say 24. The glasses are gone. His t-shirt, jeans and boots. He mutters curses under his breath. The cab moves on, shooshing upward. The muted haze throbs as his skin glistens with a sheen of sweat, his jaw clenching and unclenching. Ding. 34

Down the hall is a faint light, a single candle flickering. He steps out on to the plush, moist carpet, his upper lip in a snarl. Fists made and unmade, he marches down the hall, faster and faster, legs pumping, his bare feet thudding. One door at the end of the barren hallway awaits. 1201. He reaches for the knob, cold in his sweaty hand, twisting it fast and hard. The temple door is hand carved with ornate vines, sinuous arms, serpents and legs, breasts and roaring lions. 1201.

cover the walls. Buckets of paint squat next to gleaming wet backdrops. One says GREASE, another THE SOUND OF MUSIC. She brushes her long brown hair back out of her way and sits up to refasten the hair tie. She turns her head, and glances up, her face void of emotion. She squints her eyes and runs her hands over her lower back, arching with half-closed eyes. Dusty jeans hang from her frame, while a flannel shirt stretches taut. She rubs her hands together, looking down. A steel egg timer in the corner ticks away as she resumes her work.

It opens. She sits in the center of the room, legs crossed, playing a clarinet. The band uniform of red and white stifles her, sweat running down her temples, as she moistens the reed over and over between bits of honking and blowing. She removes the instrument from her mouth. Silence. She is surrounded by grass, the walls nothing more then weeds. A grin crosses her face as the licorice stick sits idle in her lap. Wiping the moisture off her brow with the back of her hand she holds up one finger and blows a kiss. She falls over on her side, eyes closed, smiling, into a fetal position. Intro to Spanish is in a stack behind her, on top of Biology 101, Catcher in the Rye, and a handful of blue Bic pens.

1203.

1202.

1204.

It opens. A woman nails furiously on some boards, down on her hands and knees. Thick red velvet curtains

It opens. The smell of stale beer engulfs a solitary figure sitting in the cor-

It opens. A dark kitchen with only the red numbers of the stove clock providing any light at all. Hidden in the dark the blonde teen waits. In a pink velour robe festooned with white daisies long dishwater hair spills over her face as she holds the robe shut tight. She runs her hands up and down the lapels, pulling the robe open wider, bit by bit. Looking up, her wide eyes turn to shimmer, her tongue darting out to lick her now dry lips. The hum of the Frigidaire plays with the muted crash of ice tumbling inside the freezer door. Freesia, magnolia, apple and musk hide in the folds of her robe. Her eyes close a little as the bathrobe parts.


Redemption by Richard Thomas ner. The dark young beauty holds a plastic cup full of golden liquid, raven hair tied in a braid, her jeans painted on. Crimson lips part to reveal ivory teeth, her doe eyes sparkling. She puts one hand on the keg and eases to her feet. She moves forward in long strides, hands on her hips, as they sway from side to side. Her shirt is tied in a knot revealing a navel filled with gold and diamonds. She shakes her head, hair drifting, her heels clacking on the tile floor. Sunlight peeks in the two slivers of window in the back of the room, up high on the concrete walls. She brushes past, her caress a long, lingering ripple, hairs rising.

slightly. 1206. It opens. In the dim light of a lone hanging bulb, pots and pans crash as a woman darts from the broad stove to the gleaming metal counter. The dingy chef coat strains at her movements, as her checkered trousers cling to her muscled ass. She bends over to retrieve something, tribal etchings disappearing from sight. The knifework starts, garlic cloves smashed and thrown in, oil spitting as she reaches for a green bottle, swigging it down and splashing it in. A tiny radio sits behind her spewing French

the slatted door behind her. The phone rings in the hallway and voices in Spanish answer, then yell, then whisper and hang up. She tiptoes over to the bed and sits down. Leaning over, her mouth is warm and wet, the smell of cigarettes and whiskey on her. Her uniform reeks of sweat and disinfectant. She peels it off and drops it on the floor. Pulling back the sheet, she climbs in. Voices in the hallway again, and a banging on the door. It rattles in the frame, the clasp straining against the violence. Splinters fly and dust escapes the rotting wood. Finally silence, followed by soft footsteps going away. In the distance, stomping and cursing. 1208.

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1205. It opens. She lays on the padded lawn furniture of faded wrought iron in the shadows of the moon. The screen porch allows only the chirp of the crickets, and the rustle of greenery in the breeze. Eyes closed, left hand behind her head, nestled in the blonde mess. The other glides over her jeans, unbuttoning with a snap, her work boots kicked to the floor. Her right hand slides in as her eyes slowly open. Her emerald gaze pierces while her mouth parts ever so Issue 14

December 2008

electronica as she ties the rabbit haunches and gently adds them to the pan. She glances up, giving a quick nod of her head in recognition. Her hands move fast, grabbing bits of basil and oregano, tossing them in, back to the knife and rapid chopping, more flash and splash, into the pan. A pause and she rests on the chopping block, smiling as she leans out of breath, motioning to come closer. 1207. It opens. A creak and light spills in from the hallway. She enters, closing

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It opens. The tiny room is dark but for the streetlights leaking through the blinds. Three bay windows stretch floor to ceiling, covered in sheer curtains. Car horns mix with screeching brakes as the bass of a radio thuds by. She lies in the bed, quiet as a mouse, the mattress resting on the hardwood floor. She turns over and the sheets rustle, the light from the hallway striking her bare shoulder. A soft sob and her shoulders shake gently. On the floor by the bed an empty bottle of whiskey cuddles an ashtray filled with butts. Burnt amber lipstick kisses some. But not all. An empty condom wrapper torn in half lies spent. 1209. It opens. A cat meows and rushes forward, eager to greet, coiling and purring, tail swishing. It jumps back into the room on to the Formica table littered with magazines and mail. Light spills in from the bedroom window through two French doors draped with old bath towels. A patchwork bedspread covers sheets that were once white. A pile of old socks and underwear are piled in the corner where the cat now sits. A letter flut35


Redemption by Richard Thomas ters to the floor recounting plans and locations long gone and foiled. She floats through the room, a transparency. Her long flowing hair and faded gown, all white. Nothing but white. The cat leaps up and out the open door without so much as a glance back. 1210. It opens. There they sit. The Aussie and the Brit. Music thumps and grinds through water, deep and muted. Giggling and clutching at each other, martini glasses in hand, laughter and pawing. The couch curves around the room with only the neon light from the beer sign illuminating the space. Tiny lights at the DJ booth, motion a blur. Space to the right, falling away to a hazy EXIT sign. Shoes come off and feet hit the table. Rubbing ensues. A bottle of something is picked up and never put down again. They look up, focusing, gold crosses around their necks shining in the dark.

1211. It opens. Loud music, and at the end of a long bar, amongst a room full of windows, she sits in a white dress with tiny yellow flowers, and black faded combat boots. A silver ankh around her neck dips and shakes as she drinks a martini, three olives. She glances up with a hesitant smile. She tosses her keys and jumps up ready to go, spilling her drink, knocking over the bar stool, and tripping over her untied bootlace. Covering her mouth, she giggles, running her hand through her shortly cropped hair. Cabernet lips and ivory skin beckon.

eyes fixed on the screen. Her wine glass is near empty, but for a splash of Merlot. A pile of papers sits next to her on the couch, a laptop open, dull green leaking out. On the floor lie mid-heel halter brown alligator heels, standing up by the couch, out of the way, crouched together. Her mouth opens and her lips move, spittle flying, nose wrinkling, eyes squinting. Her arms flail, her foot stomps and a handful of bills fly into the air. Letters tumble to the floor. A shatter of glass against the sage green wall, that last bit of ruby, trickling down. Her hands cover her face as her shoulders shake. REDEMPTION

1212. It opens. She sits on the leather couch, her feet up on the ottoman. A fire roars towards the back of the room, flickering over red brick, the brass lamps dim. A television plays, talking heads and flashing colors. The Persian rug in muted earthtones. She rubs her hands and grimaces,

It opens to blinding light and warmth. Birds chirp in the distance, the soft breeze pushing lilac and lavender. A rumbling, deep voice, not words, but notes. Eyes wide open seeing white, and nothing, and quiet. He moves forward.

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36


There is a light There is a light towards which you walk Though the darkness fades little That light to me the pale yellow tired and weak holds me little

Isobel Renton

Steve Cartwright

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37


Winter Nights Books and books And paper and ink And crinkling pages And tea to drink The kettle is cooling I’m snug in a chair Possibility ruling This limitless lair Full stops into lines A story, a thought Letter and word And chapter and plot Let a furnace Return us To solace We sought The glorious stories That mould and shape And dig and scrape The grooves of my mind Use a page and a line To catch me And trap me With bait I can’t find Of books and ink And paper to drink And thoughts to think I imagine the link As I read I create With a book in my hand Wrapped in blankets to stay In this warmth I'll expand

Joseph Brady

Owen Pomery

38


Review

The Clam before the Storm by John Griffiths (Grenadier Productions and Publications, 2008) £7.99 Paperback Reviewed by David Gardiner but in my opinion this is a very fine collection with an exceptional breadth and variety of stories, and, as claimed, genuinely accessible and enjoyable poems, and is simply a highly entertaining and at times very moving read.

Find out more John Griffiths’s webpage, including his first published poem, plus selected prose, poetry and cartoons, is at: www.e-griff.com clever title and an amusing cover, similar in style to the cover of Griffiths' humorous novel of last year Truckerson, might mislead you into thinking that this is a light-hearted collection of short fiction and witty verse: in fact it contains some very serious and accomplished examples of both prose and poetry, although my ability to judge the latter is limited. You get a great deal for your money in this collection – over 220 pages, something in the region of 27 stories and 39 poems – and Truckerson, the intrepid flyer of the novel, does indeed put in an appearance as a sort of bonus track at the end, but more importantly you get some strikingly original (I hate the term 'experimental', which always seems pretentious in this context) stories with a real 'wow' factor, like A Hole in the Wall of the Universe, The Presence of Jalendu and The Garden, as well as some that are quite traditional in their form and simply do their job extremely well. This second group includes my personal favourite Minna, which speaks with poignant eloquence of lost opportunities and wasted youth. In addition there are shorter and lighter pieces, the Banjo of the Gods, which pays homage to Douglas Adams and his precursors and sources like Philip Jose Farmer and Robert Sheckley, and a quirky Victorian love story, The Talent of Julia Cramphorne, which is somewhat more layered than you might realise from a first reading. I must own up to having been present at the birth and early nurturing of many of these stories by reason of our common membership of an online writers' workshop and so find it difficult to stand as far back as perhaps I should,

A

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Griffiths also helps run a production company, Grenadier Productions and Publications. Actors and composers can get involved at: www.grenadierpp.com His first novel, Truckerson: The Man, The Myth, The Legend (Bluechrome, 2007) is a satirical take on Britishness.

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You Know How It Goes Ben Nardolilli Don’t get too close! I’m witty they say. Smart too. And creative. They tell me I can make beautiful lies. I’m not sure if that is much of a compliment. So I guess I don’t trust any of the compliments I get. They bring me out at night, for parties, dinners, trips to the bar and dancing. When I try to find a way to decline, they start to bargain with me. I tell them about the poverty. I tell them about getting rest, eating one square meal a day. But they insist. If there’s one thing everyone around me does, it’s that they insist. They throw something free into the mix and then off I go with them. But why they want me around is a mystery to me. In the old days I used to try and figure it out. If I was bored in a conversation, or already drunk while everyone was waiting for their next course, I would look out at all these friends of mine and wonder who was being honest, and why. When people lie to you, they don’t need much of an excuse. But to tell you the truth, that requires something sinister. They want you to be honest too, that’s what. I never tell anyone I’m thinking about all this. Or that I’m wondering what’s sitting inside their stomachs. Or the last time they got themselves off, no help from anyone or the mass media. Just them, a hand, and their imagination. When I do tell other people how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking, I never let it all out. I just let out enough to let them think I’m an open and translucent personality. They will laugh and cry and nod their heads, shaking the air with violence. But I’ve sent them postcards compared to 40

what I could say. In a sense, I’m no bigger liar than they are. They’re probably not holding back as much. One time I made a mistake. I let it get out from under me. And it didn’t push anyone away. Lucky for me she was leaving anyway. Her name was Marilyn. She had dark brown hair unlike Mrs Joe DiMaggio. I always imagined that some names are dark and some are light and that you can’t mix them. I think of Monica and Natalie as being dark names. Names that this particular Marilyn should have had. A Marilyn has to be blonde. Her hair has to make the sun angry and the moon lonely at night. Nevertheless, I couldn’t change her name. I couldn’t drug her and drag her to the courthouse and make her a Natalie or a Monica. It wasn’t her fault. You get called a name so long you figure it’s yours and you won’t give it up for anything, even if you never really liked it to begin with. Marilyn was friends with some people I knew and she had found me a good conversationalist. Over the next few months she would come and see me whenever she found that I was being dragged out with our group of friends. We never saw each other without them. I wouldn’t allow it. I never hang out with more than one other person at a time. I need at least two other people with me, so that when they go after each other I’m left clear on the side, watching it all. One day, mid-August, Marilyn phoned me while I was walking home from work.

‘Are you doing anything tonight?’ ‘Going to sleep, mostly.’ She laughed. ‘I meant before then.’ ‘Pulling away the covers.’ ‘Do you want to get a drink?’ ‘Why?’ ‘What do you mean, why? I just want to see you before I go.’ ‘You’re leaving?’ For some reason my voice betrayed a hint of feeling surprised. ‘Yes. I told you that last week at John’s. I’m moving back to Boston.’ I wondered if she had confused me with someone else. Or if I had done the same with her. ‘Oh.’ ‘Do you want to see me?’ ‘Can I just hear you?’ ‘Ha-ha, stop it. I’ll meet you at Calamity.’ ‘You will?’ ‘Yes. See you then.’ I wanted to call her back, but I didn’t want to pay for the call and she was probably going underground right after and I would not be able to reach her. There was something that made me want to see her, simply because she would be going away. If she boarded her bus, train, or plane, and completely disintegrated in an accident, I would be the last one to see her alive. Everyone would come to me. I would be a witness. I could make all kinds of things up. Yet I was wary of being alone with her. I knew she was single and when she drank she tended to put her hands all over everyone near her. Fortunately I always managed to sit


You Know How It Goes by Ben Nardolilli away from her, so she would have to fling herself across the table to get at my shoulders and chest. However, I would now have to sit close to her. I could put distance between us, but it would look odd. I also figured if I was too far away I would lose my voice yelling at her. Calamity was closer to me than her, so I went home, lost the tie and the jacket, and put my papers away. Before leaving to go out to the bar I stopped in the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I wondered if it was right to go out in the condition I was in, my nose hairs long, my stub-

gusted by the sight of me, she would make an excuse and leave. Maybe word would get around. Then I would be done with them all. When I got to Calamity, I saw that Marilyn was inside. She was at a table drinking a glass of water. I knew it was water because it was clear and she was taking large gulps of it. She drinks, but not enough to confuse the water of life with water that burns. Marilyn didn’t see me outside. I didn’t want to go in. I thought it was too early. If I went in, I would have three hours with her; if I waited, I could shave off thirty minutes with her,

Steve Cartwright

ble sharp and pointed, and my hair greasy at the ends. My breath was also rancid and my teeth yellow from lunch. I decided that if she wanted to see me so bad and if I was worth such time and compliments, then I would go as I was. If there was a bad enough experience, if she was disIssue 14

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maybe more. She might even go and leave after thirty minutes, I thought. The neighborhood was interesting enough for me to lose myself in. I made a circle around a block. It took roughly half an hour. I went into grocery stores where Pakistani men leered at me and told me to leave if I

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wasn’t going to buy anything. I looked at menus and when waiters wanted to welcome me inside, I walked away. I told them it wasn’t their fault, it was mine. I’m not sure if they heard me. After I carved away thirty minutes for myself, I went back to Calamity. Marilyn was still there. She was still drinking her glass of water. I looked at my reflection in the dark window and stitched a smile over my face. I walked in and took my place next to her. She smiled at me and leaned over to give me a hug. Her perfume was strong and I held my breath. She pulled me into her and I slid along the wooden bench I was sitting on. Soon I was right next to her. Every time she spoke, drank, or breathed, her hips came crashing against my leg like sea waves. I looked nervous. I tried to look sick, but nervous was all that came out. Marilyn picked up on this. ‘You seem antsy.’ ‘It’s dark in here. I feel like I’m underground.’ ‘Does that make me the queen?’ She winked at me. ‘This whole place isn’t much different from a colony.’ ‘Yeah, you know, it is.’ ‘Everyone just swarms. Thinks the same.’ ‘You’re so right. That’s why I’m going to Boston.’ ‘I thought you got a job there.’ ‘Oh, I did. But that’s why I was looking for one in Boston.’ ‘I see.’ I debated whether or not to attack the city she was moving to. There was a chance it would make her leave me and move there quicker, or it might cause a change of heart and she would decide to stay. I said nothing. We began to sip a couple of drinks with tonic in them and she did most of the talking. She got on to the topic of her family and I sat and listened as she started to get emotional about her father. I put my hand out and patted her on the shoulder. I did41


You Know How It Goes by Ben Nardolilli n’t say ‘there, there,’ but she got the idea. The one thing I wanted to avoid was tears with this woman I hardly knew. She felt differently. We had gone out a couple of times. We had talked on the phone. I was apparently a candidate for best friend. She started to talk about her mother. I wanted to steer the conversation somewhere else, but she started to drop tears into her drink. I joked with her. ‘If you make it anymore salty, Marilyn, it’s going to taste like a martini.’ She laughed and for a moment she was fine. But it was the choice drink of her mother and I had to suffer through descriptions of her mother’s bouts, some good, but most of them bad. I tried to keep up, but I wanted an opportunity to get out, or better yet, to push her away. Not physically. I’m not a violent man. But I wanted some verbal opportunity to come down and send her away. Instead, she asked me about my mother. I took a long sip and drew out the noise of the liquor and bubbles going through my lips. She asked me again about my mother. ‘I never really knew her.’ ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘Why, it seems like you knew your mother.’ ‘Knew her too well.’ ‘Yeah.’ She looked at me like someone with open wounds jealously eyeing the scabs over mine. ‘Did she die in childbirth?’ ‘No.’ ‘You don’t want to talk about it?’ ‘Not really.’ I paused and then I piled up the sarcasm on to my vocal chords. ‘You can talk about your mother some more if you want.’ I imagined the words coming out slanted. Weighed down into italics. She looked away from me. Then she turned her body. I thought to myself that now she was finally getting away from me. I could finish my drink and go home. Recently, I had not 42

been getting a good night’s rest. But she turned back to me and waited for me to say something. She retracted the lids around her eyes and the brown dots seemed to glow at me. She seemed to be accusing me of ruining the evening. Which, I admit, I was trying to do. But now I had been caught by the dark head lights beaming out at me from her. ‘She died when I was five.’ ‘Oh.’ Marilyn sat at the bar and was quiet. Suddenly I was the only one who had anything to say. It made me want to talk. If there was a screen between us, I would have called it a confession, although there was no sin involved. I suppose that’s why it made me feel better than the ordinary sacrament. ‘She was a delicate woman. Really shouldn’t have had kids, but noone knows what kids will do to them. There’s no way to know, right? Not to blame myself for it. It wasn’t my choice. Well, she had a nervous breakdown in the winter and left me alone in the house. There was a blizzard going on. I called the police, it was the only phone number I probably knew, and they found her in a park on a bench. Frozen to death.’ I went to take a drink,but realized there was only ice left in my glass. ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring it up.’ ‘No, no, it happened. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. Right?’ ‘I know. But, I had no idea.’ Her eyes started to water. I felt bad about telling her. ‘Don’t cry.’ I tried to make it sound like an order, but all that came out was a suggestion. ‘Oh, but the thought of you, five year’s old, and suddenly without a mother. It’s just so…so…sad.’ ‘Maybe.’ ‘You don’t feel anything?’ ‘I’m not sure. I feel a lot of things.’ ‘It wasn’t you.’ I looked away from her and I

started to cry and she came closer to me. I ran out of the bar and didn’t pay. She threw some money on the table and chased after me. Marilyn kept telling me it was alright, it was okay, I had to let the feelings out. But I felt wounded. The surfaces inside me were broken. I kept checking the inside of my clothes to see if there were any punctures, convinced something had pierced me. Marilyn ran out to stop me in the middle of the street and we barely avoided being hit by a car. We sobered up in the gutter. I was too tired to keep pushing her away. She demanded politely that I walk with her to my apartment. She held my elbow and we walked over there silently. She invited herself up and tried to do her best impression of my mother. She undressed me, gave me a glass of water, a pill or two, and then told me to get some rest. Then she climbed into bed with me. There was the usual exchange of fluids and in the morning she told me she had to go and pack for her trip. She stood in front of me in her knotted-up hair and with her skin slightly flush from the evening, hoping that I would pull out my horns and my tail. And I would make her forget about the whole trip. She wanted me to try to be selfish. Give her a reason to stay by keeping her to myself. Marilyn wanted to hear my demands, a temper tantrum. She wanted me to start a fight. She wanted me to win her. But I was, in fact, too selfish to take any of that into consideration, and, for once, it probably saved me. I waited to say something. When she stopped smiling, then I decided it was safe to speak. ‘It was fun. But I don’t want you to miss your flight.’ I searched for something to say. All I could offer was dull advice. ‘Wear something comfortable and shoes you can take off easily.’


Silver Bullets i believe in silver bullets as the way to kill a werewolf because i believe silver shaped like a bullet etched with a cross loaded in the hunter’s gun fires tangible hope against real fear if one squeeze of one trigger may release a light much brighter then when the moon’s full face shined on the vain hunter’s path otherwise empty he’s visits it tonight as he stalks his prey because of one silver bullet believe in silver bullets a silver bullet yes without a doubt in my mind but werewolves? werewolves don’t exist

Joseph Brady

Owen Pomery

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Something Shocking Robert Dando How Electro-Convulsive Therapy came to be...

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terhouse to observe the proceedings for himself. And sure enough he discovered that things were as he had heard them described. After this he started to experiment on animals by passing shocks through them – different animals, different parts of the body, different voltages and different lengths of time. He concluded that passing a shock through the brain would be safer than passing one through the chest. The next step was to try out this

Cerletti then told those present that he proposed to repeat the process using a slightly larger shock, whereupon the man on the couch suddenly said in perfectly comprehensible speech: "Don't do that again, you'll kill me!" (Or words to that effect; different accounts have given different translations from the Italian). Cerletti was somewhat taken aback by this outburst, but went ahead nevertheless and gave the man a second shock. This time the shock was a hundred-

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The circumstances in which the Italian neurologist Ugo Cerletti originally came to invent and try out the controversial psychiatric treatment called electro-convulsive therapy are well known. But a document that has recently been discovered has thrown new light on those circumstances. Let me re-examine the circumstances, before revealing the contents of the document. In the late 1930s in Rome, neurologist Ugo Cerletti started to look for a new way of treating people who were diagnosed with schizophrenia. For some reason (and after all this time it is no longer clear why) it was believed that epilepsy and schizophrenia were incompatible, in the sense that if a person had one of these conditions then he could not have the other one as well. This, in turn, led to the belief that epilepsy could prevent schizophrenia, or cure it if a person already had it. And, accordingly, Cerletti tried to find a way of artificially inducing epileptic seizures in people who had been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia. Electricitiy seemed to him an obvious way of doing this, but naturally he wanted to find a way in which he could do it without killing anyone. And then he heard that there were butchers at a Rome slaughterhouse who were giving pigs electric shocks through their brains – not to kill them but simply in order to render them unconscious so that they could be killed before they woke up. Cerletti found it interesting that the shocks themselves did not actually kill the pigs, and so he went along to the slaugh-

process on a human being, and the opportunity was soon to arise. A man turned up on a train from Milan without a railway ticket or anything on him that could establish his identity, and he was talking total gibberish. He was brought to a hospital where Cerletti proceeded to pass an electric current through his brain. The first shock consisted of seventy volts and it lasted for one fifth of a second.

and-ten volts and lasted for half a second. The man had an epileptic fit, and then fell asleep. When he woke up he was talking normally, and later on he was judged to be cured and discharged from the hospital. And that, basically, is the story of how electro-convulsive therapy (or ECT) came into being. Nowadays patients are put under an


Something Shocking by Robert Dando anaesthetic before they receive the treatment, and it is used on people suffering from depression rather than on people who have been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia. The recently discovered document, however, has thrown new light on the whole situation. We reprint that document here, in a translation from the Italian: "It was 1938. I was in Milan. I hadn't eaten for two days and I was starving. My only possessions were the clothes I stood up in. I didn't even have anything specifying my identity. Luckily I knew someone in Rome who could help me. The only question was, how was I to get there? I didn't have any money for the train fare. "My only idea was to try to slip on to the train, and slip off again at Rome, without anyone noticing. "I managed to get on the train alright,

and when we arrived at Rome I tried to get off and slip past the ticket barrier. But a voice called out: 'Tickets please!' "And then I suppose I must have panicked. I could see myself being arrested. I could see myself ending up in a police cell, and ultimately in prison. "But then I had an idea. I had heard of people in restaurants managing to Issue 14

December 2008

avoid paying their bills by faking a heart attack. I didn't think I could fake a heart attack, but I did think I could fake madness. So I just started spouting a load of gibberish. "And it worked. I was taken to a hospital. "But then things took a most unexpected turn. I had naturally assumed that I would be taken to a ward where I would get fed. But instead I was taken to a room where I was laid out on a table. Beside me was a strangelooking apparatus, the like of which I had never before seen at any time in my life. "There was a group of men present. One of them started addressing the others. He introduced himself as Ugo Cerletti, a professor of neurology, and he started telling them all about ... (At this point the document gives a summary of Cerletti's research, which we have already described.) Cerletti finished speaking. "I was no scientist. But I had understood enough to realise that I was to be used as a guinea pig in a psychiatric experiment. I was absolutely terrified. And yet what on earth could I do? If I admitted that I had been faking all along I could still be prosecuted for evading my train fare. "The strange-looking apparatus included two wires, which Cerletti proceeded to attach to my temples. He then pressed a switch. "It's difficult to describe the sensation that I felt. It was as if a giant hand had lifted me off the table and thrown me against the wall. I know I remained on the table throughout, but that's how I felt. "Cerletti then announced his intention to do the same thing again. At this point I decided I'd had enough. Even if I ended up in prison, that was still preferable to having another one of those shocks, so I cried out: 'Don't do that again, you'll kill me!' "Cerletti was clearly very surprised by this. But it didn't stop him. Again, I felt as if I was being thrown against the wall. And then, mercifully, I lost con-

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sciousness. "When I came to, in a hospital bed, I couldn't remember at first how I came to be there. And then it all came flooding back to me. "I could see that I was in a bit of a dilemma. If, on the one hand, I admitted that I had been faking all along I could still end up in prison for evading my train fare. But if, on the other hand, I continued to pretend that I was ill I could receive more of those shocks. So what on earth was I to do? In a flash, the answer came to me. Of course! I would pretend that I had been ill, but that I was better now. "This I did, and shortly afterwards I was released from the hospital. I then managed to make contact with my friend, who was able to help me, just as I had hoped he would. "Looking back, I can't help feeling a little bit guilty about the whole thing. You see, Cerletti thought I really had been ill, and that he had really cured me. As a result, this treatment (which I believe is known as electro-convulsive therapy, or ECT) has been used on thousands of people all around the world – not only people suffering from schizophrenia, which is the name of the illness Cerletti thought I had, but also on people suffering from depression. It has had all sorts of unpleasant side effects, such as memory loss. It has actually killed some people, and some of the survivors have committed suicide. "You know what I think? I think that the whole history of psychiatry (or at least a sizable chunk of it) could have been very different if I hadn't got on that train." AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is a mixture of fact and speculation. There really was a Ugo Cerletti who invented ECT, and his first patient really did turn up on a train from Milan without a ticket and talking gibberish. But this story is only one possible explanation for the events that followed...

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It is not moved by me Bass strings like rain drumming Underneath a whisper of middle strings Is like a cry of the caged The Bali set is like an autumn wind It is like a memory of freedom Was it always like these strings That freedom requires rebellion But like lute-player’s fingers Light changes on its own patterns It is not moved by me

Tendai Mwanaka

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Other Side of the Moon I light a candle Watch you burn Energy can’t be destroyed It can only be transformed All the rainbow pieces of my heart Bled for you All the promise held in the stars Didn’t come true I light a fuse Wait for the bang It’s nearly over But it feels like it just began All the rainbow pieces of my heart Bled for you All the promise held in the stars Didn’t come true You light my darkness But you’re the other side of the moon Now the sun is setting I know I’m gonna see you soon But you’re the other side So I hold you in my mind I hold you I hold you I hold I light a candle Watch you burn I watch you burn

Song lyrics by Laura Swain

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Can Write Will Write Cas Peace Cas Peace writes about the publisher who gave her a chance...

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CWWW is not a vanity publisher. To publish with us, the author/agent submits the manuscript and synopsis. We study it and decide whether, in our opinion, it will sell in enough numbers to make it worth our while to publish. In other words, if we like it! If so, we publish at our own expense, charging the author/agent nothing. We make our money by deducting 20% of the sale profits, forwarding the rest to the author, or agent who negotiates his/her own deal with the author. We sell on Amazon and various other websites. We have arrangements with Amazon etc so that whenever someone buys one of our books, they liaise directly with our printers to print and deliver the book to the customer. Amazon and the printers deduct their fees and send the balance – the profit – to us three months in arrears. We deduct our 20% and forward the rest to the agent/author. Should the agent/author sell copies privately, eg on their own website or in bookshops, that is up to them and they can keep all the profits from such sales. If you are interested in either our showcase website or our publishing service, please visit the website:www.canwritewillwrite.com and follow the submission guidelines.’ I would recommend giving Can Write Will Write a try. You will find them refreshingly different.

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When I decided to write For the Love of Daisy (reviewed on page 6), I have to admit that I was more than sceptical about finding a publisher willing to take it on. The subject matter is fairly unique and so I was not surprised by the response I received from the major publishing houses. While they all praised the writing and applauded the sentiment behind the book, they felt that Daisy didn’t quite fit into their lists. Then I approached Can Write Will Write (CWWW). I already had a relationship with this company, as it was the first to see the merits of my high fantasy series, Artesans of Albia, which it had enthusiastically accepted on to its showcase website in 2005. Now it pronounced itself willing to launch Daisy on to the book market and so we entered into a long and productive narrative concerning all aspects of producing the book. I had full involvement, from layout to publicity. Daisy was finally published on 5 September 2008 and is beginning to sell. I was not CWWW’s first author by any means. It has also published four novels of the Spawater Chronicles by Barry Tighe, a series that looks with humour upon such weighty issues as animal cruelty, the dumbing-down of television, identity cards, gambling and nuclear power. It has also published The Silent Scream by South African author Sulette Gardiner, a powerful yet engagingly naïve novel concerning a South African prostitute. Through Can Write Will Write, Sulette has secured a deal with African Perspectives, a South African publisher. Concerning the company, Can Write Will Write says: ‘There are two aspects to our service. The idea is this. Initially, proper authors – that is, people who have written at least two books – submit the first five thousand words of each book, plus synopses, photographs/illustrations and, within reason, anything to help get a publishing deal. These will be read by our assessors and, if deemed suitably professional, will be approved for publication on our website for others to view and comment on. This is a free service. Please note that both books must be good enough, as publishers are rarely interested in one-book wonders. Agents and publishers are then free to view the books on offer and, if interested, approach the author. Second, CWWW is a publisher in its own right, producing about four titles per year. This year, 2008, is spoken for but we will be looking for another four from January 2009.


magazine

About us We founded Gold Dust because we wanted to create something fresh and new by publishing off-beat, original pieces from all genres in one place - which is why you'll find a quirky film script alongside an avant-garde poem, followed by the funniest flash fiction you've ever read - we put it all together and the result is pure Gold Dust! As small press magazines are often one-person shows, it's understandable that many never make it past their first anniversary, but the Gold Dust team (currently made up of six writers & editors) has been producing quality issues of our magazine since 2004, proving that we are a powerful force in this busy field.  Every issue of Gold Dust is downloaded absolutely FREE by over 500 readers.  Gold Dust magazine is 52 pages of quality writing, including short stories, poems, articles, interviews and reviews. We are listed in The Writer's Handbook and publish 2 issues a year.  It costs nothing to submit to Gold Dust magazine and our favourite piece wins a book!  All of us at Gold Dust are volunteers, so every penny of your subscriber fees goes towards keeping the magazine alive!  We receive about 50 submissions every issue and we publish the best 15 or so. Next issue, it could be your name in print! To submit, see our website: www.golddustmagazine.co.uk/Writers.htm  UK-based readers can now subscribe at www.golddustmagazine.co.uk for the following rates: Colour: ÂŁ21.50 p/yr (2 issues) B&W: ÂŁ13.80 p/yr (2 issues)  Single issues and back issues can be purchased from: www.lulu.com/golddustmagazine  Join over 50 readers and subscribe to our free newsletter at: www.golddustmagazine.co.uk/MailingList.htm Issue 14

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Contributors This issue, our contributors largely sent in their work from the US and the UK, but we publish work from all around the globe on a regular basis.

Short stories Alan Kelly Serious. Ridiculous. Overblown. Pretentious and Warped. Alan K has written for the Penny Blood, Film Ireland, PrettyScary, 3am magazine and regularly contributes to GCN and BuctherQueers. His fiction has appeared in Streetwise, Dogmatika and Beat the Dust. He is currently struggling with his first novel. Jim Meirose Jim Meirose’s short work has appeared in many leading literary magazines, such as Alaska Quarterly Review, Witness, South Carolina Review, and New Orleans Review. My work has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was short-listed for the O. Henry Awards. A collection of his work has been published (currrently out of print). Robert Edward Sullivan Robert Edward Sullivan has been published in The Boston Literary Magazine, The Round Table Review, Edifice Wrecked, Mississippi Crow, and Twisted Tongue. He has also been published in the Grand Rapids Community College literary magazine, Display, five times. He was awarded second place for fiction in Display for his story Longing, which the judge, 200203 Milwaukee poet laureate called, "A vivid story." He was an award-winning writer and editor of the college newspaper, The Collegiate. Christopher J. Dwyer Christopher J. Dwyer is a writer from Boston, Massachusetts. His fiction has appeared in Dogmatika, Pendulum Magazine, and The Green Muse Review. He is currently writing a noir novel. Caleb Ross Caleb Ross's fiction and non-fiction has appeared widely, most recently in Flint Hills Review, Vestal Review, and online in Dogmatika, No Record Press, Word Riot and 3:AM Magazine. He has appeared in journals alongside Ron Carlson, Noah Cicero, Stephen Graham Jones, Steve Almond, Aimee Bender, and others and has studied with critically acclaimed authors including Peter Rock and Craig Clevenger. Visit him at www.calebjross.com. He loves email. Richard Thomas Richard lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago where he is currently editing his current novel, TRANSUBSTANTIATE, a neo-noir thriller. He has been published in Cause & Effect, Colored Chalk Issues 1-4, and online at Opium.net and NefariousMuse.com.

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Ben Nardolilli Ben is a twenty-three-year-old writer currently living in New York City. His work has appeared in Houston Literary Review, Perigee Magazine, Canopic Jar, and Lachryma: Modern Songs of Lament, Baker’s Dozen, Thieves Jargon, Farmhouse Magazine, Elimae, Poems Niederngasse, The Delmarva Review, Clockwise Cat, Sheroes Rag, Literary Fever, and Perspectives Magazine. In addition he was the poetry editor for West 10th Magazine at NYU and maintains a blog at: mirrorsponge.blogspot.com.

Flash fiction V Ulea I have published books of poetry, prose, and literary criticism by Greenwood Press, Southern Illinois University Press, Livingston Press, and many others. My short stories and poems have appeared in the Literary Review, RE:AL, Princeton Arts Review, Sein und Werden, The Dream People, Golden Visions, Aphelion, and many others. V. Ulea is my penname. Sam Szanto Sam Szanto is a 30-year-old Creative Writing MA student at Bath Spa University. This is her sixth year of higher education and she hopes that another three years, at least, of substandard housing and Top Shop discounts will follow. She is writing her first novel, a cheerful tale of eating disorders, and hopes that this and the recession will finish at approximately the same time. Sam lives in Bath, a city masquerading as a town, which often engenders the words, ‘Oh, what a beautiful place, I’d love to live there’. Before recommencing her career as a student, Sam worked in Marketing, until she choked on an acronym and was forced to take long-term sick leave. Nik Korpon Nik Korpon is from Baltimore, MD. He wants to surf, see Celtic FC win the Champions League and backpack through South America, though not specifically in that order. His stories have been published in the Mechanic’s Institute Review (UK), Colored Chalk, Out of the Gutter Magazine and Cause and Effect Magazine. He is working on his second novel. Robert Dando Robert Dando has written and published many stories, articles and letters. His short novel Dark Angels has been published as an e-book and will also in due course be published as a paperback by Chipmunkapublishing, who can be contacted at: Quay House, 2 Admirals Way, Marsh Wall, London, E14 9XG or online at www.chipmunkapublishing.com.


Poems Joseph Reich Joseph Reich is a social worker who works out in the state of Massachusetts; a displaced New Yorker who sincerely does miss diss-place, most of all the Thai Food, Shanghai Joe’s in Chinatown, the fresh smoothies on Houston Street, and bagels and bialy’s of The Lower East Side. He has a wife and handsome little son with a nice mop of dirty-blonde hair, and when they all get a bit older, hopes to take them back to play in the parks and playgrounds of New York. Florence Joseph Florence Joseph is a new writer living and working in London. After much deliberation she has decided to spread her poetical wings. She often looks towards the water for inspiration and is grateful to her friends for their encouraging words and patience. Paul Handley Paul Handley spent a career as a student and a student of odd jobs. He has a paralegal certificate, attended law school for a year, has an MA, MPA, and is abd. He has driven a cab, scraped fish guts, sold meat door-to-door, worked as Director of a truck driving school and multiple others. Paul has had work published or forthcoming in Burst!, Hobble Creek Review, iddie, Macabre Cadaver, the Maynard, Ophelia Street, Short Story Library, Shape of a Box, The Smoking Poet, Winning Writers, World Of Myth, Yellow Mama and Yippee. Elizabeth Waddington Elizabeth Waddington was born in 1982. She went to St. Andrews University where she obtained an MA in English and Philosophy. She is a freelance writer, editor and creative writing tutor, and is passionate about passing on to others her enthusiasm for the written word. She and her husband Greg live in Pittenweem, in Fife, Scotland. Although she has been a keen writer for as long as she can remember, she has not yet attempted to publish much fiction. However, she has met with some small success, and her poem Colours Idly Spread won third place in a ‘Joined-Up-Writing’ competition. She enjoys reading literary fiction, art, and travelling, and is currently working on a novel. Isobel Renton Isobel lives and works in lovely South West London surrounded by people she loves. She can be spotted most days whizzing about on her really cool bike, usually heading for the pub. Isobel wants to eventually live in Australia and drink wine. Joseph Brady Joseph Brady is a playwright and screenwriter recently turned poet, thanks in large part to the copious free time he has at his job. Previously published in the Santa Clara Review, he writes a regular column for an American newspaper. Tendai R Mwanaka Tendai’s poetry and short stories have been published in sev-

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December 2008

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eral magazines in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, India and South Africa, inclusive of the following: wordgathering, decanto, winningwriters, earlscourt, newcontrast, itch, poetrylifeandtimes, languageandculture, kota, kritya, barnwood, beyond the rainbow, curious record, idiom, mobius, mgversion2 and she has work forthcoming in decanto, newcontrast, phoenix, sonnetart, downtreader, wordgathering, snailpress and newcoin. Her poem unbroken awareness was reviewed by winningwriters in October 2007 Laura Swain In her search for the truth she’s rarely found it in words, rather it hides under fingernails, is embedded in soiled tissues, dwells in the crevices of furrowed brows and in the corners of smiles. Even though it continually breaks her heart, she remains firmly in love with life and has found the pain agonisingly productive - much more so than the joy. There's no bigger celebration of humanity than immortalising it in art and that is why she writes. If you'd like to experience her lyrics with an added dimension, check out her myspace page: www.myspace.com/lauraswainmusic

Features Alan Kelly See Short Stories Daffni Percival Born in Kent in 1932 Daffni has been writing on and off all her life, between earning a precarious living, mainly as a language teacher and 20 years running an International Centre in Exeter. Daffni moved to rural Wales in 1985, thus fulfilling a long cherished dream. She now lives in an ancient farmhouse in Cwm Pysor with two sheepdogs, two cats, three sheep and assorted ducks. There she still teaches (occasionally), paints and writes. David Gardiner Ageing hippy, former teacher, now psychiatric care worker, living in London with partner Jean, adopted daughter Cherelle and Charlotte the chameleon. Two published works, SIRAT (a science fiction novel) and The Rainbow Man and Other Stories (short story collection). Interested in science, philosophy, psychology, scuba diving, alternative lifestyles and communal living, travel, wildlife, cooking and IT. Large, rambling home page at www.davidgardiner.net. Omma Velada Omma Velada grew up in Wales and read languages at London University, followed by an MA in translation at Westminster University. Her short stories and poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. In 2004 she founded Gold Dust magazine, which continues to promote fresh and established literary talent. Her first novel, The Mackerby Scandal (UKA Press, 2004), received critical acclaim. She has also self-published a short-story anthology, The Republic of Joy (Lulu Press, 2006).

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Submission Guidelines Writers!

Poetry

We are always looking for quality work from new or experienced writers. Please read all our submission guidelines carefully before submitting work. Submitting automatically signs you up to our free mailing list. No submissions can be accepted without the correct fee.

Maximum line count: 50 lines To submit: golddustpoetry@hotmail.co.uk

For all submissions:  Target response time is within 12 weeks. Maximum of 5 submissions at a time. Please allow 12 weeks between submissions. It is not currently possible to give feedback on rejection.  For each issue: Best piece wins a book. Contributor copies are available for free in PDF form.  Please submit by email. We prefer Word attachments but, if your submission is very short, you can paste it into the body of the email.  Please include a biography (c200 words) in the third person (include past publication credits and future aspirations) with your submission.  All pieces must be your own, original work, and you must own the copyright. No previously published work (either in print or online) or simultaneous submissions please. Once work is entered into Gold Dust's ongoing competition, it may not be withdrawn.

Prose (Short stories, Flash fiction, Plays, etc): Maximum word count: 3,000 words To submit: davidgardiner@worldonline.co.uk

Book reviews (Your review of someone else's book):Fiction/Novels or Poetry anthologies Maximum word count: 2,000 words To submit: davidgardiner@worldonline.co.uk

Book reviews (Our review of your book): Please include the following: Title & Author/ ISBN number/ Page count/ Cover price/ Publisher/ Release date To submit: davidgardiner@worldonline.co.uk Finally, please let us know where you heard about Gold Dust!

 Pieces may be published online as well as in print. Editing is at our discretion, with author involvement for major changes where possible. Source: stock.xchng)

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Gold Dust magazine - Issue 14  

Issue 14 of Gold Dust, biannual magazine of literature and the arts, featuring an interview with award-winning author China Miéville, as wel...