Volume IV, Issue 1– May 1, 2013
I pushed upon my gate and found it gone ‐ David Jeffrey
Poetry and Prose from the students of the 2010 Oxford University Summer Creative Writing Program.
Turl Times Volume IV Issue 1 – May 1, 2013 ISSN#: Pending Turl Times Inquiries: On The Grass LLC 508 W 6th Street Apt 1 Bloomington, IN 47404 Editor & Publisher Jackie Lee King Assistant Editors Carolina Amoroso Dipti Anand Amy Lovat Guest Editor Stefanie Sabathy Layout & Design Jackie Lee King Images & Artwork Coat of Arms – Ashley McMillan Jackie Lee King James McDonough Additional Image sources on Back Page General Copyright Notification All contents of the Turl Times are Copyright © 2013 On The Grass LLC, its suppliers and/or participating publications, their contributors, licensors and/or advertisers. All rights reserved. All digitally represented pages of publications accessible through the Turl Times are protected by their respective copyrights. Notwithstanding reservation of rights hereby noticed, additional specific copyright notices of individual copyright owners may be provided herein. Materials obtained through this or other Turl Times publications remain the property of the copyright owners of such materials and are also protected by national and international intellectual property laws, conventions and treaties and may only be used for providing proof of insertion and/or proof of publication for advertisements ordered for placement within the publication(s) in which they appear (if any). All other uses are specifically prohibited without prior written permission from the copyright owners(s) including but not limited to republishing in print, electronically, or by any other means; distributing, whether or not for payment or other consideration; or copying, reproducing, displaying or transmitting for any other purpose. These uses are prohibited whether in whole or in part or in combination with other materials. © Turl Times © On The Grass LLC All Rights Reserved 2013 The Turl Times is a Private Newsletter distributed, via the Internet and print, from the students of the 2010 Oxford University Summer Creative Writing Program.
Table of Contents
Introduction .................................................................. 8 Stefanie Sabathy Rendezvous ............................................................... 12 Carolina Amoroso Time Out .................................................................... 14 Janet Barr Wanting Minds to Ministers .................................. 17 Wafik Doss (Fiko) Slighted Effigy ........................................................... 18 Wafik Doss (Fiko) If You Came This Way ............................................ 19 Lorenza Haddad Time Out .................................................................... 21 David Jeffrey Shift Work .................................................................. 26 Jackie Lee King 7 Minutes: Original and Unabridged .................. 33 Amy Lovat Addict ......................................................................... 34 Sean McIntyre The Girl Next Door .................................................. 39 Stefanie Sabathy Recovering Looking ................................................. 41 Calvin G.W Sandiford
Natural ......................................................................... 42 Calvin G.W Sandiford
Jitterbug ...................................................................... 43 Agnieszka (Aggie) Stachura
Back Page ................................................................... 45
Carolina is an Argentinean teacher, writer and editor. She started learning English at the age of six, and has not been able to stop ever since. After sitting for several international English exams, she attended teacher training college at IES Lenguas Vivas, from which she graduated with honors. She then decided to continue her education abroad, and studied Creative Writing at Oxford University. She is currently doing an MA in English in hometown Buenos Aires. She works full‐time as a teacher of English as a second language to kids, teenagers and adults. Early this year Miss Caro also started teaching writing. Following her experience at Oxford she undertook a collaborative writing project in the form of an electronic newsletter with her fellow classmates, for which she writes and is assistant editor. She hopes to combine her passion for writing and for English and turn them into a book, ideally a best‐selling one. Stay tuned.
Janet Barr’s passion for writing short stories and screenplays arises from past adventures at home and abroad, an Honours Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Melbourne, and an earlier career in critical care nursing in Australia and England. Drawing on characters and events, real and imagined, Janet creates stories in a compulsive and probably futile attempt to make sense of it all. She returned to Oxford Uni‐ versity’s Summer School in July 2012 for a stimulating week devoted to screenwriting and continues to work on short films with colleagues in Mel‐ bourne.
(Fiko) Doss is 19 years old and lives on a farm in Cairo, Egypt. He is currently studying at the American University in Cairo and majoring in English and Comparative Literature. Wafik has inherited a love of literature and the fine arts from his mother’s side and his flair for business from his father’s. He dreams of traveling to Tibet, South Africa, and The Americas, and hopes of becoming a world‐renowned writer. In his spare time, he fights off monkeys in Bali, incidentally, and loves swimming and traveling the world. Wafik has been writing poetry since the age of six and remembers his first ever poem, word for word, however he is too embarrassed to include it in the anthology.
Jackie Lee King
Lorenza is a college student from Mexico. A warm hearted, sweet young woman, Lorenza can often be found wandering through Blackwell’s, reminiscing about excel‐ lent salads she’s had in the very recent past, and, unfortunately, sometimes careening headfirst into thick, dense briar patches. Her long, flowing locks have inspired much jealousy in the female population. In the future, Lo‐ renza hopes to spend a great deal of time strolling around sunny warm beaches and reading books under gently waving palm trees. If this fails, she has her heart set on becoming an archaeologist.
David and his wife Annie moved from Sydney, Australia to New York in 2000 when I was posted to work in the Office of Legal Affairs at the United Nations. Our two children, Royce and Ellen, work in the DC area and we have extended family in the Oz and the UK. I sing in the bass section of the Choir of the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York in Greenwich Village. In Sydney, I hosted a live children’s television program during college and law school, wrote and performed comedy sketches on public radio, and appeared in TV commercials and soaps. In New York I continue to write short stories at present, am a keen cyclist, hiker and swimmer and take improv theatre classes. It has been a privilege and a joy to be part of this wonderful Summer School.
At the age of 40, Jackie decided to leave a career in Corporate America to pursue his dream of becoming an accomplished author of short stories, essays, novels and plays. In pursuit of this ‘hobby,’ he attended the University of Oxford Summer Creative Writing program and has never looked back. Out of this experience, he worked with an illustrious team of authors and artists that created a publication showcasing creative writing from around the globe. He continues to write about the music industry (his other hobby), in his spare time. From record labels, to concert venues, to the artists themselves, he has spent the past 20 years immersed in this ever‐changing industry. His articles that span from Taylor Swift to The Genitorturers (currently at 120) and he continues to promote great musical acts in both Country and Heavy Metal. You can check out several of his articles at http://www.a2une2u.blogspot.com.
Ever walked down a dark al‐ ley and felt the presence of someone behind you? That’s Amy. In addition to sporadically stalking and killing strangers (or, at least writing about it), Amy loves editing. She first realized this love of spelling and grammar when she was six. She stole her best friend’s ‘writing book’ and vandalized it with a red crayon. She remembers the rush, followed by profound contentment. Amy is a self‐confessed grammarto make a career out of correcting the mistakes of others. Either that, or stay a Uni student forever. In the mean time, she takes photos of Public Spelling Mistakes at http://public‐spelling‐mistakes.tumblr. com. Amy is currently finishing her Honours thesis in Creative Writing at University of Newcastle, Australia, and is deciding whether to finish that dreaded Law degree, or pursue a Doctorate in Creative Writing. She spends her time oscillating between writing, traveling, working in a cafe, teaching ballet and Pilates, and blogging about the awesomeness of Newcastle at http://no‐ vocastriantourist.wordpress.com.
Sean McIntyre Based in Melbourne, Australia, playwright, screenwriter and character actor, Sean McIntyre has produced and written plays which have been performed in Australia, Ireland and the United States. His play ‘A Kind of Destiny’ has twice been awarded Best Actor (JUDAS) and recently featured as a finalist at Crash Test Drama, March 2012. His short play ‘The Pickup’ was selected as a top 30 finalist from over 1100 plays for Short and Sweet (Melbourne and Sydney, 2005) – the world’s largest short play festival. Sean is creative producer of ‘A Fistful of Scripts’, a script reading series, which he created and launched at Theatre Works, St Kilda in July 2010. His writing also includes personal essays, short stories and film scripts. In 2011, he presented the workshop: ‘Adapting Your Own Work For Stage and Screen’, at 2011 Williamstown Literary Festival. In 2010, Sean also studied Creative Writing at Oxford University. Appearing in some 15 short films and feature films, as well as TVC’s and theatre, Sean has also handled media for a range of independent theatre productions, most recently Mark Andrew’s ‘Bomb The Base’ (2011 Melbourne Fringe Festival) and ‘Time’s Arrow’ (La Mama’s Carlton Court House). He is currently collaborating with Chilean director Marco Romero on a unique
‘micro theatre’ project for Melbourne audiences (Lounge Theatre, Jimmy Flinders Productions) originated by Teatro de Cerca (teatrodecerca.com) performed to sell‐out audiences in Spain. Sean continues to plot an assault upon New York’s off‐ Broadway scene, publish an an‐ thology of his writing and holds onto his dream to spend a minimum of 6 months experiencing life as an ex‐pat overseas.
Calvin G.W Sandiford
Stefanie Sabathy who is also known as “Steff” has studied English and German, taught at the University of Mexico City and is now teaching kids and teenagers in her hometown of Vienna, Austria. She loves traveling which has brought her to remote places in Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and the USA and to many cities in Europe like Amsterdam, Paris, Rome and Berlin to name but a few. She has been writing since she was little, has studied Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champain and has done workshops at the Vienna School of Poetry and the Scuola Holden in Turin, Italy. In the summer of 2010 she attended the Oxford Summer School of Creative Writing and she is deeply moved that within this circle she now has the opportunity to publish her stories in “The Turl”.
Calvin G.W Sandiford was born in Montréal, Québec, Canada. He obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the McGill University. He read law and was granted an Honors degree in Law from the University of Wales, UWIST. He is a member of the Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. He was a tutor of law at the City of London Polytechnic in England. He has written on a constitution for the Nlaka’ Pamux of British Columbia. He read and received a Masters of Laws in Maritime Law from the University of London. He has sat as an Arbitration Judge. He retired as an Officer from the Canadian Forces in 2010 having served in all three branch‐ es twice serving overseas in accordance with Canada’s NATO obligations. He was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration. He has attended the University of Oxford, Exeter College where he undertook a creative writing programme As head of The Sandiford Group he is spending his time post the military representing authors and publishers, as well as reading and writing fiction and non‐fiction and lecturing on constitutional law issues. He is also a member of The Independent Press. He enjoys spending time with his son in Germany as he re‐entering the practice of law in the United Kingdom.
Agnieszka (Aggie) Stachura; Aggie misses yʹall! Oxford seems like a happy dream. Publication‐wise, itʹs been a good fall; Iʹve had work published in Hint Fiction, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and The Sun. But four months of full‐time work plus graduate school have left too little time for new writing. Now that my work hours have dropped and Iʹm between semesters, Iʹm in a much better mood. Laptop + cafe + writing time = happy gal.
Introduction Stefanie Sabathy
No living creature can escape and even death is its servant. It seems measurable. We, the human kind, think we have a concept of it, but reality shows that our brains are not quite adept to grasp it. The world revolves around it and still we all have our very own and very personal version of it to guard. We try to make the most of it. Its di‐ mensions deceive us and tamper with our mind: TIME. When we are waiting for someone, desperately counting the months, weeks, days, minutes and even seconds until our beloved is in our arms, a day might seem for‐ ever. In his memory play, The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams states in that “time is the longest distance between two places”. But when we are enjoying ourselves and are savoring every moment, then time flies by. This applies to single days as well as to years. A father hugging his son goodbye does not understand where time went when he realizes his helpless little boy has become an independent young adult. Putting the concept of time or, generally speaking, putting all types of concepts into words makes them approachable and provides us with orientation whereas failing to do so results in events evaporating into thin air, making us believe they are unreal.
Human beings all feel the need to define and compartmentalize everything. It seems as if everything that happens only takes on shape and thus becomes real when conceptualized by pinning it down in forms of when, who, where and why. Time, per se, is arbitrary and abstract – even if you stand on the prime meridian based at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, United Kingdom, you still won’t be able to feel time. Nevertheless time at this place functions worldwide as a reference time independent of location and thus is the cradle of all our time zones. In ancient times it was rendered crucial to find a measurement for the abstract concept of time. To our ancestors, understanding life’s cycle and watching the skies meant that they stood a chance of survival. Thus, to get a grasp of time, our forefathers observed the sun and the moon and then split their days in morning, noon, and afternoon. They divided the usually darker part of their lives into evening and night. Generations of ancient civilizations like the Mayans, the Egyptians and the Greeks figured out the concept of time by dividing days into twenty‐four hours, an hour into sixty minutes and a minute into sixty seconds. They interpreted the seasons and
decoded the skies referring to findings in astrology. They watched the moon and finally invented the calendar and the clock to keep track of time. Many generations have since based their daily routine on this knowledge and today our ancestors’ concept of time has become indispensable for modern civilization. Over centuries our lives have become more and more governed by the ticking clock. We time our day according to the minutes, hours and days our calendar shows us. The urge to be faster and more efficient than time allows has become an omnipresent competition. This trend already features in 19th century literature when the Englishman, Phileas Fogg, and the French, Passepartout, accept the challenge of travelling around the late Victorian world in eighty days. So far, every day in Phileas’ life has been planned with mathematical precision. He even dismissed an employee when the water temperature for his shaving deviated from his usual temperature by a few degrees. Needless to mention that said shaving had to fit exactly into an allotted time frame in Phileas’ daily routine. Owing to a bet between his new servant, Passepartout, and himself, they embarked on an adventurous p. 9
journey, during which to be able to stick to the time frame everything had to be planned by the minute. Despite a few obstacles, they final‐ ly made it back in time. But what have they proved? That a man can master his life by overcoming the time‐space‐continuum? But then, is it not time that enslaves them once they accept this challenge? Time also plays a crucial role in other literary genres, such as in science fiction. Readers are drawn into parallel universes where time dilation prevails and dimensions such as relativistic limitation, and the speed of light, can be exceeded. We all know Steven Spielberg’s classic trilogy Back to the Future which has also become a popular film because it seizes human desire to dominate time. The main character Marty McFly is able to go back in time with the help of a time machine. However, to make matters more intriguing he almost extinguishes his future existence because his own mother falls in love with him when he visits his parents’ past. In a completely different setting, Michael Ende’s Momo aims at a much younger audience but also works with the fascination for time. This old but still cherished young adult novel was also made into a film. The original German book title translates to Momo, or the strange story of the time‐thieves and the child who brought the stolen time back to the people. According to the saying “time is money” the so‐called ‘grey men’ convince the people of a little town to save their time by paying it into accounts at their Timesavings Bank. The hours deposited are stored there in form of lilies.
With the help of the mysterious master Hora and his turtle Cassiopeia, who can see exactly thirty minutes into the future, Momo finds out that the grey men betray them all. They roll up the lily petals into cigars and smoke them. Therefore, the time given to the bank is consumed by the time‐thieves and lost to the people. Thus, they have no more time for pleasantries like paying visits to their ill ones or buying flowers for their loved ones. When the brave little girl, Momo, finally succeeds by bringing back the stolen time, the time‐thieves disappear because they have been deprived of their parasite existence. Ende criticizes how society is forced to lead fast‐pacing lives and how children are corrupted by the grown‐up‐world of con‐ sumerism leaving no room for leisure, independence or creativity. Especially the young ones have to put all their time to good use, by studying at music school as opposed to their earlier past‐time of playing games in the park, pretending to be heroes in imag‐ inary worlds. To the time‐thieves, these children present obstacles. It takes the men a lot of effort to convince them that their games are a waste of time because children, as we all know, seem to have all the time in the world. When a friend’s child was three years old, she was asked to hurry up and replied “I can’t Mum, I am only a child!” Why is it that the ability to not only enjoy time, but also to make the most of it, ceases as we get older? Is it part of the aging process driven by the biological clock? Is it inherent in the
initiation of coming of age? Is the way we perceive time linked to a rite of passage? Why do we, as adults, put so much emphasis on slow food, why do we feel thoroughly honored when someone spends time with us, why do we need to indulge in wellness holidays to forget about stress? Does stress not mean everything else around us moves faster than we do and that we cannot keep up? And is stress not always self‐made? It seems time has indeed become our most valuable possession to appreciate for ourselves and to give only to those who we deem worthy. In our fast‐moving world, time has become one of the most prized possessions of men and women. It is, in fact, considered the most precious gift of all. When a friend bestows us with the present of ‘quality time’ it is worth more than a quickly bought gift, because presenting someone with time means you value him or her and give them your full attention. Giving time means giving a portion of your own life to someone. You only give your life to someone who you think will not waste it, but rather cherish and make the most of it. All in all, time fascinates us, we may think we can measure it but as we have already seen, the way we perceive time is definitely not measurable and will differ depending on culture, context, and on personality. Whereas it may be perfectly normal, even considerate, to show up for an appointment at least half an hour late in Mexico it would be deemed extremely impolite and disrespectful in Britain. But the perception of time also depends on the individual.
You yourself may not be offended if your friend arrives late for drinks but your boss might be furious if you don’t show up on time for the meeting. Then there are people who consider ten minutes to be acceptable to keep someone waiting, but there are others who send text messages half an hour before the set time if their estimation tells them they might not arrive on the dot, but rather three minutes later. These people value time and they show everyone that they do. We should all be a little bit more considerate with our time. Because we all have already been given a second chance. Because whether you believe it or not, the world was supposed to end on the 21st of December in 2012. And yet we are still here—we proved the Mayans wrong. Human kind has overcome the end of the world. This carries an important message for all of us: Appreciate the time you are granted but never put off until tomorrow what you feel you should do today, because you never know how much time you have left. Maybe the Mayans weren’t all wrong… To put matters into a nutshell, although we may perceive time as stalling or racing, time itself cannot be rushed. As the saying already states, everything has its time, and time works by its own clock. To think we are able to measure such a vast dimension of something so elusive is an illusion. But do not worry. If you stop alternating living in the past or the future but start cherishing the present, you will be fine. Don’t worry. Your time will come… ###
Rendezvous Carolina Amoroso
“Downstairs,” I texted Jane. I was taking my girlfriend out to dinner and had just pulled over at her apartment. Even though I had deliberately told her I’d pick her up at 8, I was in fact planning to arrive at 8.30 all along (after two years, you learn a thing or two). But she wasn’t ready. Over the years, I had become an expert ‘waiter.’ My car was intelligently equipped with all sorts of things I had found myself wanting or needing while I waited: non‐ perishable food, Band‐Aids, two water bottles, Sudokus’ and an assortment of CDs to cater for every possible mood. The street was empty save for the few people who were going into the Italian restaurant in the corner of the street. I opened the glove compartment and rummaged through the stack of CDs. I found something I liked and was about to insert it in the CD player when I noticed the figure of a woman lighting a cigarette a few feet ahead. She was dressed in a tight strappy dress and was wearing an open coat on top. She must have been about forty, but had nothing to envy twenty‐five‐year‐olds. I could not help but stare at her.
Where had she come from, all of a sudden? Two puffs into her cigarette, the doors of the restaurant swung open and out came the figure of a lanky man. The noise evidently startled her, for she glanced backwards, but just as quickly she turned her head again and continued to look straight ahead.
It was a quiet street and their voices carried. I didn’t think they had seen me. “Your husband, huh?” he echoed as he looked at the glittering gold band on her left hand. “He must be a hell of a guy to have married a woman like you,” he complimented. She merely glanced in his direction once more, and took another puff of�� her cigarette.
I wondered what the man had come outside for. He was merely standing there, his hands thrust in pockets, looking down. After a few seconds, however, he started staring at her quite boldly. I saw his lips part once or twice, as if he was about to start talking but didn’t know quite what to say. He began to pace somewhat nervously, staring alternatively at the woman and at the cemetery of cigarette butts at his feet.
“Well, there must be something you can do, you know, to spice things up a bit.”
“Come here often?” I heard him say with a lopsided smile.
“Are you suggesting something?” she said in apparent disbelief.
She shot him a disbelieving glance. I thought she might ignore him completely, but after a few seconds she replied, “Only when my husband deigns to bring me along.”
“You see… marriage is like charades. The idea is to have fun, there’s lots of acting involved and it goes on only until you want it to.”
“Been married right?” he asked.
“Only twenty years.” “Let me guess… long enough for things to have become monochromatic.” “Yes. As in, all black,” she added curtly.
“Charades…” she repeated under her breath. I noticed the hint of a smile.
The man must have realized his small victory because he walked closer to her. “I mean, how great would it be if, for a while tonight, you weren’t married to your husband? If, even for a little bit, you pretended to be someone else?” he added as he took two steps closer. “I’d say you were losing it,” she retorted as she exhaled the smoke. “Come on. You and me. Let’s get the hell outta here. Huh? Don’t give it a thought. Let’s just go.” The woman looked at him intensely for what seemed like ages. Was she attracted to his boldness? Was she considering it? “No can do.”
The man nodded. Evidently aware of the need of a better strategy, he said: “You know what? You’re right.” He took a deep breath and continued. “I may not be the right person to be telling you this but… maybe the guy, your husband, deserves a second chance.” She took one final drag of her cigarette and said: “Second? Try tenth.” She tossed the butt on the floor and pressed on it with the sole of her shoe. “I’ve finished my cigarette. We should go back inside. Our desert has probably arrived and the kids are gonna get worried.” She extended her hand as a peace offering. He took his left hand out of his
pocket and held hers. I could see a golden band on his ring finger, a band much the same as the one she was wearing. “Whatever you say, hon,” I heard him say as they walked back into the restaurant together. The car of the door slammed shut. My girlfriend had got in and I had not even realized. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting,” she said apologetically and kissed my cheek. “No worries. Time flies when you let your imagination run wild.”
Time Out Janet Barr
Gerry has a whiteboard. He has attached it to the wall in his laundry beside a row of hooks that hold the ironing board, the indoor broom, the outdoor broom and an orange feather duster. On a matching row of hooks on the wall opposite hangs a yellow facemask with snorkel and a pair of sky blue flippers. Gerry likes things in their place, at all times, in every sphere of his troubled life. It doesn’t take much to rattle the anxious veterinarian’s nerves. Not that animals rattle Gerry in the way that humans do on a daily basis in his busy suburban practice. For Gerry, animals’ responses are wholly predicable. They have no subtext in the way that humans do and it is subtext that catches Gerry out every time. The cats and dogs he sees will yowl or whimper when in pain, snarl or hiss when threatened, lavish affection when fed or stroked. Simple. Human beings are a different kettle of fish, as his mother would say. Sonia likens houseguests to dead fish when they outstay their welcome in her extravagant home across the river, purchased with the proceeds of two lucrative divorce settlements in as many years. ‘After three days they go off,’ she says, ‘and if they linger any longer then I throw them out.’ Gerry and his sister, Bridget, have seen their mother carry out her threat on several occasions to the astonishment of the evicted ex‐friends.
Gerry thinks his whiteboard less confrontational, the only drawback being that those who have offended him remain oblivious to the affront, unlike Sonia’s houseguests. Gerry severs all personal contact, including communication by phone, email or post for a specific period of time, relative to the degree of hurt inflicted. It is must be said that Gerry is a sensitive soul as much toward others as to himself. Unsolicited comments, and they are always unsolicited, regarding Gerry’s receding hairline, lack of a girlfriend, or boyfriend, excessively neat dress, alcoholic intake (not so neat) or his fondness for a punt on sports of every code, typically earns the offender six to twelve months. ‘Sent to Coventry,’ as Bridget puts it. In large black letters, Gerry writes the offenders name on his whiteboard, the date and nature of the offence, the length of the sentence and the day on which he will phone the miscreant to catch up for a drink and a yarn at a quiet bar down the road. All is forgiven so far as Gerry is concerned; the offender has done his, or her, time. There is one exception to date and she is Gerry’s cousin Flora who earned a life ban the day she asked Gerry to euthanize her cat because it scratched her feral boyfriend on his newly tattooed arm. Gerry was on the cat’s side for Flora’s latest dreadlocked lover smelt worse than rotting fish. The cat was only out to test the multi‐coloured flesh and reconcile a disconnection between the
image and odor assaulting its green eyes and button nose. Not that fish is ever on the menu in Gerry’s house where the cat now lies languid on the sofa by the window with a clear view across the garden and the quiet suburban street. Bridget minds the cat on weekends when Gerry takes his snorkel, mask and flippers to go diving in the bay. He loves fish, alive and swimming free. Gerry flew north a year ago to photograph the tropical fish that live around the coral reefs off the coast from Cairns. The man, the sea, the fish, bliss. If only bliss had been on the menu for Bridget’s wedding this day, the fifteenth of March 2013. There was plenty of fish on offer, sautéed, grilled and fried, but no bliss. It began well enough with Gerry up early to admire the blush of sunrise colour the eastern sky not long after seven. Wisps of high cloud streaked the blue sky that followed and a light autumn breeze ruffled the leaves on the lemon scented gum trees in the park across the road. Gerry went for his morning run, five kilometers along the riverside path, returning home with the newspaper and a take‐away coffee from the best barista in town. He finished a few odd jobs, returned the brooms and orange feather duster to their respective hooks and checked his snorkeling gear and camera in preparation for the next days swim in the bay.
Showered, shaved and dressed in his dinner suit, rarely worn, a white shirt and a new plum and silver striped tie, Gerry arrived early at Il Paradiso as requested by his sister. His first role was to see the elderly grandparents seated comfortably in the ballroom before hordes of younger family members and friends descended on the upmarket hotel beside the bay. Gerry looked longingly at the sea glinting in the sunlight. He hated crowds, the light banter and repartee were social skills he had tried and failed to grasp. Gerry thought he’d make a better fish. Perhaps, if there were a next time around, he mused, that would be his happy fate. Gerry walked slowly up the terrazzo path to a Spanish styled portico. He slipped quietly through ornately carved timber doors into a flashy marbled foyer. Gerry wondered who was footing the bill for this extravagant wedding but assumed that Bridget and her fiancée, Carlo, had come to some arrangement with their respective parents as the newlyweds lived from one pay check to the next. The bill was not Gerry’s concern this day. He was having enough trouble fronting up to the event. Gerry’s anxiety was high on his dial and the urge to run home overwhelming. In spite of it all, he was determined to do the right thing by Bridget and be in the ballroom along with the rest of their multi‐layered family and friends. As he crossed the foyer his hands began to sweat and shake, his nerves felt like wires dangling from a power pole, taunted by fork lightening, dancing in a storm. For a storm was surely brewing inside Il Paradiso this autumn afternoon, never mind the weather so benign out on the bay. Gerry, along with Bridget and Carlo, knew the potential for bad behavior among the wedding guests
was high. Gerry wished someone were running book on it. He would bet money on it at three to one, perhaps even two to one that more than half would play up a treat, for relatives on both sides of the family had ‘form.’ I use the expression ‘both sides’ loosely. It is difficult to describe the complex relationships that constitute the families of the bride and groom. Bridget is Gerry’s one and only full‐blood sister. There’s Susie, his half‐sister from his father’s second wife, who came with a son, Max, who is therefore his stepbrother. To be accurate, Max is now Gerry’s ex‐step brother since his father divorced Ramona to marry Debra, wife number three, who comes with four children from two previous marriages. I could, at this point, prepare a spreadsheet or draw a graph to explain the ties that once bound, do bind and may or may not bind in the near or distant future, the one hundred and fifty odd guests who descended on the ballroom at Il Paradiso, dressed to the nines by five on this hot afternoon in March. To a man, and woman, they arrived thirsty, hungry and horny, age being no barrier to the latter, quite the opposite. No one under the age of eighteen had been invited to ensure that no children, and certainly no animals, be harmed in the staging of this momentous and surprising event. Surprising because Bridget had repeatedly mocked the institution of marriage given the cavalier disregard her father, and mother, had shown for the oaths sworn on a range of altars and bibles with a variety of partners over the years. Carlo felt the same, his family history being just as complicated through multiple liaisons prior to and following his own birth thirty years ago. Gerry suspected that most had accepted the invitation just to see if Bridget and Carlo were seriously going to tie what amounted
to something no more binding than a slip‐knot in their families. The chance of a good feed and a booze up in exchange for a cheap glass platter or a pair of bath towels marked down in the January sales was also a major draw card for the less well off among them. Whether it was the name of the venue, the unusually warm day for early autumn or the opportunity for a knees‐up in these financially straightened times, is hard to say. No sooner was the champagne and beer flowing than the veneers of charm and grace dissolved and true characters came to the fore in sight, sound and groping touch, Uncle Colin leading the charge in the latter stakes. Their cousin, Ralph, a doctor of excellent reputation in neurology, put Uncle Colin’s lascivious behavior down to his being what he described in layman’s terms as ‘a bit frontal lobey.’ No one knew for sure if Colin had been dropped on his head as an infant or belted about the ears playing football once too often but a head injury of some kind was a reasonable supposition. Any female familiar with Uncle Colin’s wandering hands knew to stand well back once the alcohol began coursing through his veins. They rose pulsating in his neck and temples like a red alert. Anything else on the rise in Uncle Colin was generally short lived, according to Aunty Mary, his wife of forty years. She well knew the deflationary effect of alcohol where old Colin was concerned. Always one for equality, Aunty Mary had taken to extra‐ marital flirting once the children had grown and left home. She had found Colin’s mates at the golf club a generally obliging lot over recent years and between them and the Blanket Bay Bridge Club, Aunty Mary was content.
Carlo was no stranger to the likes of Gerry and Bridget’s complex clan. He too had grown up with a family history of parental marriages and divorces, acquiring a collection of half and step siblings, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and cousins, current and former, along the way. Added to the mix were more grandparents than the usual eight in conventional families. Some of the older ones had intermarried and the most forgetful among them, Grannie May, had proposed to Grandpa George a second time around not realizing that they, unlike the rest, had never divorced. It seemed that Bridget and Carlo had invited them all to add a certain frisson in the ballroom that night as old enmities were reignited and the prospects for new liaisons ran high. Their judicious planning reflected the skill they had both acquired, individually and together, as seasoned campaigners in the family relations department. Gerry gave them credit for that. It was a skill he would never attain. But Gerry had his whiteboard, his very own and most original court of trial and punishment that had served him well throughout the years of conflict. He and Bridget had long witnessed the throwing of fists and food, the upending of tables, the half‐naked carousing beneath starched linen cloths, in cupboards, behind curtains and doors and the inevitable exchange of house keys and cars among friends and acquaintances, old and new. Gerry checks his watch. Twenty past nine. He is home. Where to begin? Gerry loosens his tie, aware that he alone has left the wedding party as he arrived, neat, clean, and fully attired. Not so for many of the guests in the ballroom that night when the bride and groom finally made their appearance at eight– by Skype – from Greece. The Aegean Sea P. 16
sparkled behind them, yachts bobbed on the water in the harbor below, the sun beat down on the terrace. Bridget stood radiant in a flowing white gown, wildflowers laced through her hair with Carlo beaming beside her in light coloured chinos and open necked shirt to match. ‘Look at ‘em ‐ cool as a couple of cucumbers!’ Uncle Colin had shouted, his hand rubbing the bare thigh of Bernadette, his brother’s wife, seated beside him. The cucumber reference had more to do with Bernadette’s bare toes tickling Colin’s calf above his silk sock. She was always a tease. Colin yelled for champagne all round and the corks were soon popping and that’s when the mayhem began. Grannie May kept asking when Bridget and Carlo would emerge through the screen and enter the room like footballers breaching team banners before a game. Hydra in Greece was an island too far for old Grannie May. Then Bernadette’s husband upended the table concealing his wife and his brother who had slipped below in search of lost socks. It was, at the point, on for young and old, as Sonia would say. Gerry stands in the laundry, the whiteboard before him. Gerry has to hand it to them. Bridget and Carlo have given the family the slip along with the bill for the mayhem that followed their virtual wedding this night. Before their connection went down, Bridget and Carlo informed the gathering of their wedding gift to each other; this extended trip abroad that may, or may not, see them back in Australia later this year, or the next, or perhaps the one after that. ‘Time will tell,’ said Carlo on Skype. “Have fun everyone,’ laughed Bridget. ‘Enjoy our wedding!’ and the screen went blank. Gerry weighs the black marker pen in his hand as he studies the line below Flora’s life ban. The board is not big
enough to write them all up; Bridget and Carlo, Bernadette, Uncle Colin, his father last seen wooing a young waitress and a dozen more serial offenders fired up by the Rolling Stones look‐alikes rocking the room. Gerry would need two whiteboards at least. He felt so tired, tired of them all. No, not tired, he realized. Just bored. So very bored by them all, drunk and demented again. Suddenly, Gerry remembered the envelope thrust into his hand by the doorman at Il Paradiso as he fled the hotel and the roistering guests destroying the ballroom behind him. Gerry clipped the black pen back in the magnetized clasp on the board and felt in his dinner suit pockets. He extracted a postcard from Hydra written in Bridget’s neat hand: ‘For you, dear brother. We do not have to be like them, that is the joy of it. Come and join us. Bring snorkel and flippers. The fish in this sea are divine. X Bridget and Carlo. PS: Grandpa George said he’ll mind the cat.’ Gerry pulled a second card folded inside the envelope with an air ticket to Athens, first class, open return. He looked at the postcard again; white stone houses with blue roofs clustered on a hill above a sparkling sea beneath a bright blue sky. The cat mewed as she brushed her arched back against one trousered leg then the next. Gerry looked at the cat, his snorkel and flippers, the whiteboard and brooms. ‘You’ll like Grandpa George,’ he said to the cat. ###
Wanting Minds to Ministers Wafik Doss
This is is not an introduction. This is the final word. Youʹve brought the fire Of millions to your door. But none so rage as mine! With every crackling heart Beneath your step The fleeting moans Of dying breaths And loose words To Make amends I burn! The fire yearns. The heat overturning Shades of mutiny Beneath your breaking Skin of politics. No snake can have So much to shed! Yet for every grave we dig You find a bed. ʺLet all who ever in discomfort Of the left shift to right. And rest as I,within your tents No matter the hour, the day Or night. To shift from right towards the left For I care not which way you face But with which face I am Bereft. Tis all mine in the end.ʺ I burn!
Beneath the stove rages The hell of Lucifer And Godʹs as well! There is no pagan So heretic, that every sentence Said pathetic! He denounced With a smirk or changed its aims To make it work. I burn! There is no faith Full Man so blind! To be given honour Yet force the minds Of worlds to believe in him When he has yet to know the hymns Of foes apart from kin! Now let the husbands Let the wives Let the children! Bereft of lives And find beneath The ashes there The smoke of centuries Echoing your despair And out of dilapidated Lungs the heir Of the new age Of Our new world Where the pen Will Last longer than the sword. And with it decree ʺThis is not an introduction This is Our final word.
Slighted Effigy Wafik Doss
Iʹve seen god cut through The flesh He crafted Out of clay and spit. To find myself an effigy Of scars and brutal thought. To always have you in my reach But never reaching you. I’ve heard His angels whisper The contrite souls be damned. Stolen scruples and locked to land, Scabs of me whimper. Pieces owed to fall, Long before they’re set. The craftsmen’s dates are due The craft and hour have met. Blindly prying eyes, search the world For you. With eyes yet pried eternal, having seen Are looked through. God has not forgotten me. With crumpled marble, He sets your pace. To lift the veil of insanity, To try once, to fail, but never the same To begin again. I find you, still looking through. Through the load I carry, in your name That they call love. Hurry, as the hammer batters With a vengeance. While under the load, You walk above, My rubble sets your road.
If You Came This Way In Response to Little Gidding by T.S. Elliot
I Beginning of winter came, disregarding The City of Sempiternal Spring Suspended between seasons, in time. Posadas flamed with cold, a breeze, premonition of old. Steel birds, flying men, descending into Winding stairs. Then the noise, the sound, The smell. Decay was in the air. Pulled him out, unscathed by life, La Catrina caressed his face, Angelus mortis tallied one more No Pentecostal fire to light. There is Only the smell of dead. Or the Bordering dead. If you ever came this way You would find the trees outgrown The grass and flowers bloomed. If you found your way into the Molten valley, you would sit Wait like a patient cat, out in the sun Licking its bloody paws. Two letters, Two numbers of steel tethered To its hip. There are other places Which also are life’s end, some Near the Big Bravo, some near the sea, Yet others in between. Now and in Mexico. If you came this way, There is hope it’ll change A fleeting ray, a single dropping Flake that maybe will melt away. You are not here to save her, observe And, when the time comes, pray. Here the living meet the dead, intersect In Mexico and nowhere. Now, not forever.
II Corpse on a side street Cempasuchil flower out to greet Protect from Luz y Fer attempts Into the dark void it tempts Poisoned water and dead land Fighting for the weakest strand Found allies in both rich and poor Watch him unfolding in grandeur. Enumerated on it were fifty, tallying Those where one could die. Late For work, for school, does not matter Late, nonetheless, for there is life to be picked up. The masqueraded take them, Blood on their hands, on everyone’s minds. Disposed, not even two feet of honor On the side of a concrete way, where all Could find them and see, Where the message is clear. Reciprocity: tomorrow no change. III Water the land they try, but nothing Can fertilize a land that has become tainted With the cries of the innocent and the blood Of the guilty. To live in fear, forever Trying, Fleeing, and finally, ignoring. Six sardines in a car, anonymous tippers, All dead. Father cries out in pain, Blames the nation, blames the neighbors, They all just nod along in blame. One mother, wife and daughter, With eighty rain drops in her loving frame, From both sides. We are stabbing it from the inside. There can never be life like this,
IV Twelve out of fifty from my home Pools collecting every night, Defeated, exiled, we’ve become. A blessing, a curse. I pray this plight Will end, I can return and not roam In it lays the choice of life Consumed by either open fire or strife. V Piñatas hanging from the bridge Small holes on their sides, Can see the remnants from afar, the smell Stiffens the air. I breathe. There the heads rested, their manhood In their petrified mouths.
Home is gone, dark settled while Fire burns in hearts fueled with love In passion, in healthy lands; There is none left. Here Fire burns in cheeks of those That weep, burning Down the ties. Enemies we’ve become. History is Mexico. No more. Ditches from the storm, I hear another Will this one cleanse the red away. Tainted, She will remain. Haunt Now filled with ghosts, More than sixty thousand roam, No justice done. All lost Now what? My home is gone.
Time Out David Jeffrey
MR. MERCURY: Hello Coach Hickory ... I’m sorry I’m so... COACH HICKORY: Oh, Mr. Mercury. Iʹd just about given up on you. Hans Hickory. Come in, come in .... MR. MERCURY: Are you in network? I’m with Megarisk Universal Care. COACH HICKORY: We life coaches have learned a lot from the medical profession. No insurance, no networks, no copays, no deductibles, no appeals, no reviews, just cash ‐ suit you? MR. MERCURY: Yes, that’s fine. COACH HICKORY: Good. Now you arrived at 10.38 for our 10.30 appointment. MR. MERCURY: Well you see, the traffic this morning was ... COACH HICKORY: Mr. Mercury, let me stop you right there my friend. You left home too late and you know it. Let me check this note from your referring physician, Dr. Maudlin. Yes, here are some of the excuses you gave her over the past five years for arriving late to appointments: “I saw a fire truck as I was driving to work and returned home to make sure my house wasn’t on fire ... I was dreaming about a basketball game and it went into overtime ... I
tripped over my grandmother in the hallway causing her to lose her false teeth and I was looking for them all morning... I promised my dog that I would floss his teeth and he gets really mad if I don’t ... I was kidnapped by aliens and they released me a few minutes ago...” MR. MERCURY: You’re right, you’re right. I am constantly running late, forgetting where Iʹve put things, missing events and I want to do something about it. COACH HICKORY: I’m looking at Dr. Maudlinʹs referral note and ... let me see. She thinks you might be suffering from CSH brought on by TMBO. Sorry, that’s Chronic Self‐Helpitis and Time Management Literature Overload. So, tell me everything you’ve been reading. MR. MERCURY: Well, I have a list here ... I have grouped them by titles. First there are the numbers ... The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The 80‐20 Principle, The 4 Hour Work Week, 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, Becoming the 1%: How to Master Productivity and Rise to the Top in Seven Days, 18 Minutes ‐ Find Your Focus, How to Stop Procrastinating in 60 Seconds and The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. COACH HICKORY: We call that class of book The Numeric Incentivisers or NNV’s. They’ve been around for a
long time. Strictly over the counter stuff. Very popular at airports but not recommended. MR. MERCURY: Right. Well, the next group involves actions: Unstuff Your Life, Outsource Smart, Getting Things Done, Execution, Eat That Frog, How to Organize Your Life, and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. COACH HICKORY: They sleep? Those books we know as The Verbisers ‐ the VBIʹs. They promise the world, are best treated as narcotics and should be available only on prescription, although I would like to see them banished. Every so often a shipment will come in from who knows where and they end up on the street. The fast crowd like to experiment with these and have no idea what they are playing with. MR. MERCURY: Really? This leaves this miscellaneous group: The Checklist Manifesto, The Now Habit, Speed Reading,The Disorganized Mind, The Power of Less, Zen Habits, Extreme Productivity, Total Workday Control, First Things First, Mind Gym, Time Power, and Time Management from the Inside Out. COACH HICKORY: Ah yes, not so easy to categorize but they are generally referred to as The Big Cons ‐ the Big Concept theory. Again, they can be quite harmful. Is that it?
MR. MERCURY: I think so .... well, I... COACH HICKORY: Well nothing. Just let me check these titles in my Self‐ Helpedia ... so you’ve progressed from one volume to another? MR. MERCURY: When you say progressed, do you mean ...? COACH HICKORY: I mean, you finished the book and then disposed of it safely, preferably in one of those Used Jargon disposal bins you find in train stations, rest rooms etc. MR. MERCURY: Dispose? Bins? No, I ah, in fact I am often reading two or three books concurrently ... COACH HICKORY: Highly inadvisable. This could lead to an intra‐class overdose. MR. MERCURY: Oh no, Coach
Hickory, not always from the same group.
plunging into inertia with laced with confusion and despair.
COACH HICKORY: From different groups? At the same time?
COACH HICKORY: No wonder. Those particular books are all contraindicated. In your case a 4 hour week would mean that it would take you 210 days to discipline anything. You can cause yourself irreparable damage and complete immobilization with this lethal combo. Extremely dangerous. What exactly are you trying to manage?
MR. MERCURY: Why, yes. COACH HICKORY: Just a moment ... please give me your current cocktail. MR. MERCURY: Well, I am currently reading The 4 Hour Work Week and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life. And then on my nightstand I have Do It Now, You Sloth! and Productive Procrastination. COACH HICKORY:. How did they make you feel? MR. MERCURY: Er, well, momentarily motivated only to be quickly overwhelmed before
MR. MERCURY: My time. COACH HICKORY: And how much do you have at present? MR. MERCURY: Not nearly enough. COACH HICKORY: A time deficiency. MR. MERCURY: Exactly.
COACH HICKORY: I see. How long have you felt this way? MR. MERCURY: Oh, for ages. COACH HICKORY: Since you were a child? MR. MERCURY: Of course not. I had all the time in the world then. I just woke up, showered, ate, flossed, went to school, played, ate, annoyed my siblings, ate and slept. COACH HICKORY: Remarkable. Let me run a few numbers by you. How many hours did you start out with this week? MR. MERCURY: From when? COACH HICKORY: Letʹs say from midnight last Sunday. MR. MERCURY: Well, hang on, thatʹs ... COACH HICKORY: 168. The same as me. The same as your grandmother and whoever was driving that fire truck you followed. MR. MERCURY: Okay. COACH HICKORY: Now, how many hours do you sleep each week? Let’s say 56 sleeping, 40 working, 36 dressing, bathing, eating etc., 10 commuting ... thatʹs 142 which leaves you with .... 26 hours free. Over 15% of your week unencumbered. MR. MERCURY: But ... COACH HICKORY: But nothing. How could you use those 26 hours? At present, youʹre probably spending them worrying about all the things you think you have to do, let alone want to do, and then overdosing on time management publications. MR. MERCURY: Well ... COACH HICKORY: For whom do you think those books are written? MR. MERCURY: People like me.
COACH HICKORY: People quite unlike you, Mr. Mercury. People such as the publishers and authors of those books.
COACH HICKORY: You donʹt say. Such as?
MR. MERCURY: But they contain lots of good ideas.
MR. MERCURY: Make a will, scan and index my collection of Marvel comics, send a boastful newsletter to friends and family for 2012...
COACH HICKORY: Such as?
COACH HICKORY: Last year?
MR. MERCURY: Gather, sort, prioritize, review, do...
MR. MERCURY: Right, but only just ...clean out garage, apply to graduate school, sell old mobile phones, get fit, learn Portuguese, arrange my 45,000 digital images ...
COACH HICKORY: Do what? MR. MERCURY: You do what is on your list. COACH HICKORY: What list? MR. MERCURY: The list of things you have just gathered, sorted, prioritized and reviewed. COACH HICKORY: And do you find you end up getting things done? MR. MERCURY: Of course. Well, getting a complete list. It is essential to empty your mind of every task into one big bucket to avoid the stress of trying to remember them. Only then can you start doing COACH HICKORY: And who’s theory is this? MR. MERCURY: This is Professor Alphonse Alarmʹs Do It or Don’t Do It ‐ I Couldn’t Care Less. It’s sold over 2 million copies in 18 languages. COACH HICKORY: So how does it work? You buy the book... MR. MERCURY: Naturally. Well, yesterday I was in a real mess. I had no idea what I was meant to be doing. So I applied Alarm’s principles and wrote down everything I need to do or think I should have done. I just let it all pour out like full fat yoghurt onto a marble floor. COACH HICKORY: And? MR. MERCURY: Well Coach, I was stunned. I ended up with 134 to do items.
COACH HICKORY: Mr. Mercury ... MR. MERCURY: Walk the Inca trail to Machu Pichu, learn to tango, scan three years of receipts... COACH HICKORY: Mr. Mercury, you sir, are a victim. MR. MERCURY: Right, of not enough time. COACH HICKORY: Not enough sense. MR. MERCURY: I beg your pardon? COACH HICKORY: Sadly I see this all too often in my practice. These books are a menace. Not to mention the resulting destruction of old growth forests. MR. MERCURY: They’re not all paper copies. Many I now read on my Kindle or iPad. I have them downloaded right alongside my apps. COACH HICKORY: Your apps? MR. MERCURY: Mainly productivity applications. COACH HICKORY: Such as? MR. MERCURY: Oh, where to start. Toodledo, To Do, Tomorrow, 2Do, AnyDo, Orchestra, Clear, Task, ToDoist, Producteev, Remember the Milk, Omni Focus, The Hit List, Wunderlist, Google Tasks, Things, Thongs, Fangs ...
COACH HICKORY: My head is starting to spin.
updates .... itʹs overwhelming. Facebook is always ... in your face!
MR. MERCURY: Mine too. I have had several calendars operating simultaneously, only to find that they failed to sync. I have a Lotus Notes calendar in the office but it is incompatible with my iPhone. I lost a complete week of appointments one month because a server in the Bahamas was down for maintenance. I missed my wedding anniversary, annual physical and my cousin”s induction as a theatre lobbyist, all because my phone was hacked into by a twelve‐year‐old video game grand master with a black belt in Tetris.
COACH HICKORY: Of course you do. You are not alone. And whatʹs next for the aging Baby Boomers? Facelift? Mr. Mercury, would it help if I could pronounce you an honorary member of the Gumbuwanga people of the New Guinea highlands who divide their days into just three units of time: chasing, being chased and sleeping? That might be too big a step. Consider, perhaps, the Layabouti family who measure the passage of time by their binge watching of satellite television drama? Our 168 hour week is for them a mere 25 downtons. They get through 25 episodes of Downton Abbey in one week. Youʹd have far fewer units to manage.
COACH HICKORY: Mr. Mercury, breathe deeply. You are at severe risk of an anxiety attack. MR. MERCURY: I know, it’s just the pressure to manage not only my life but also my appointments, my tasks, my free time, my philosophy on time. COACH HICKORY: Let me pour you a glass of water. What exactly is time? MR. MERCURY: It’s a right, royal pain in the neck, thatʹs what. Itʹs oppressive, it’s weighing me down, itʹs excessive ... COACH HICKORY: It’s insufficient, you said earlier? MR. MERCURY: I did. I meant, thereʹs not enough time to do everything but too much time to manage. COACH HICKORY: So are you trying to manage time or manage yourself? Mr. Mercury, my dear chap, time is an entirely artificial construct. MR. MERCURY: I find the whole 24/7 news and work cycle, the emails, the texts, the tweets, the voicemails, the missed calls, the followers, the P. 24
MR. MERCURY: That would be a huge relief. COACH HICKORY: Mr Mercury, I am toying with you. I am afraid that you indeed have a very acute case of Chronic Self‐Helpitis and Time Management Literature Overload. I see an obsession with listing, reviewing and syncing at the expense of planning and doing and relaxing. I also recommend that you you have an appexomy. MR. MERCURY: I had my appendix removed when I was a teenager. COACH HICKORY: That was an appendectomy. I am recommending an appexomy. It is a simple outpatient procedure. A software specialist will permanently remove all time management apps from your electronic devices and insert download blockers. You will then have to adopt a strict pencil and a paper regimen. MR. MERCURY: For how long?
COACH HICKORY: Probably the rest of your life. Youʹre middle aged so thatʹs a lot of downtons. MR. MERCURY: But what about all the promises these authors and app developers have made, such as The 4 Hour Work Week? COACH HICKORY: That promise was fulfilled. After selling more than 1.4 million copies in 35 languages, the author ‐ not the reader ‐ only works four hours per week. And what does this say for all those who purchased his book? If they fail, the author can say, “It’s all in the book; any failure to achieve is simply poor execution.” Or take your Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Does this pronouncement mean that they are the only seven worth following? What if your particular habit is the eighth that failed to make the cut? Would it be as superfluous as an Eleventh Commandment? Actually, the unwritten eighth habit is: Write a book. MR. MERCURY: Oh dear... COACH HICKORY: Now, now Mr. Mercury, chin up old son! This time and productivity management pit into which you have plunged is a modern phenomenon. It is a huge industry, guaranteed to set most people up for failure. Can you imagine Shakespeare, Marie Curie, Bach or Joan of Arc getting away with a four hour work week or doing everything ʺnowʺ? And since when did mere speed or volume ensure a worthwhile outcome? Some symphonies take years before they are completed. Some remain unfinished and are still masterpieces. Da Vinci took four years to complete his Mona Lisa and some say 20 perfecting her smile. MR. MERCURY: I see.
COACH HICKORY: Just because something can be flushed from your mind doesnʹt mean it needs to be done or in fact will ever be done by you. Many things have remained undone because, for whatever reason, they clearly are not sufficiently important to you. A list of things you havenʹt done is not the same as one of things you should be doing. Creating and then being haunted by such a mind numbing list of stale tasks is guaranteed to distract you from what you truly want and need to do. The result is a stalemate. MR. MERCURY: Iʹm not sure I can ....
COACH HICKORY: Look, when you get home, I’d like you to pulp all those time management books. And don’t sell or give them away. They’ll simply paralyze others.
MR. MERCURY: Is that available on Kindle?
MR. MERCURY: If you’re sure, but what about ...
COACH HICKORY: Just jesting with you, Mr. Mercury. Be well. Until next time.
COACH HICKORY: Iʹm afraid our time is up Mr. Mercury. Now, I’d like to see you again after you’ve completed your pulping exercise and had your appexomy. In the meantime, in case of a relapse, Iʹm prescribing you a copy of my latest publication, How to Stop Buying Time Management Books.
Shift Work Part I (11pm – 7am)
Jackie Lee King
Forty‐two, forty‐three, forty‐ four, forty‐five, forty‐six, forty‐seven, forty‐eight, forty‐nine, fifty. Just as I finish up my workout, there is a lady at the desk. “Oh, I’m sorry, did I interrupt you counting the cash drawer?” “No Ma’am, just doing some push‐ups behind the desk. Drawer’s already accounted for.” “Oh, I don’t mean to bother you.” “No bother, Ma’am.” This lady reminds me of my grammy. Little bitty thing, no more than 90 lbs soaking wet, but her demeanor takes me back to when I was a child – when my grammy would give me the look. She reaches out and pats my hand gently, which startles me, but I ease with her touch. Then I wonder … did I forget to give her an additional key? Does she need more linen? The housekeeping personnel are not currently on site — am I supposed to do a load? I should call the MOD. This is not how I planned my first night solo. I don’t want to receive a reprimand. My chest feels tight, but maybe that’s the workout. I’m having trouble catching my breath. “Can directions?”
“Yes, Ma’m, yes I can.” I exhale in relief.
“Do you know where the beach is at?” “Yes, Ma’am, ‘bout three clicks north. Sorry, miles if you like. If your POD is here, then go due east on martingale, flank left, go to the light, flank right, continue till you hit the beach – Big sand pile at the end of the cul‐de‐sac.” “Oh I know what clicks are young man, married a grunt myself, and he talks that way all the time. Calls me the Commander In Chief of Household, but I’m not going to the beach tonight. We want to watch the sun come up in the morning, and I don’t trust my husband’s keen sense of direction.” “Sure thing, Ma’am. Served under a CINCH myself.” I took it upon myself to give this couple our best room. Checking them in took longer than what is the standard. It took about two hours for them to tell me of their road adventures. They’d been traveling for three weeks in an RV seeing the marvels of this great nation: a large frying pan, big ball of twine, brewery in a dry county, presidents carved into the side of a mountain, and dinosaurs in the desert. Not that these places are evidence of this country’s greatness, but it’s the freedom to go and see these things which makes this country great. We get a lot of the off‐the‐ beaten‐path travelers here.
“Thank you for the directions, and the room upgrade. Being cooped up in that RV can really be trying sometimes. It was my idea to stop here. I wanted a hot bath and to stretch out on a real bed, though my husband makes a nice pillow. With the kids gone, there’s not much left for me to do, so my husband planned this little adventure for us. Though if you ask me, I’d rather just hang around the house. Maybe do a little gardening before I have a bunch of doctors poke and prod the daylights out of me. I like a routine, but I went along with this trip to make him happy.” “Well I’m glad you stopped by, ma’am. Let me know if I can be of any further service to you and your husband.” “You’re very kind, but no. I’m gonna go get some sleep before my husband returns from the DAV. You know, when he goes to those places, he thinks that I think he’s just bragging in sharing war stories, but I know better. He doesn’t tell me much about what happened over there, but I’ve read a couple books about it. I’m glad he gets it all out, but it’s a mixed blessing. War can damage a person, and not just in the physical way. He doesn’t like to talk about it with me, the stuff he’s been though in Vietnam, but I’m glad he has some people to talk with. You can’t keep it all inside. I think those are the worse wounds.” “I’ve been lucky, Ma’am, no permanent injuries to speak of from two tours in Iraq. I’m hoping my luck keeps up when I go back for a third to do some new recruit training. They’re young, dumb and full of cum … sorry Ma’am.” “That’s alright,” she says, patting my hand again. “I’ve milked a
lot more than that out of my husband over the years.” She winks at me. “You do him proud, Ma’am. Have a good night.” She pats my hand one more time, and then moseys down the hall. Now she’s someone to come home to, not that I was that lucky. But, it’s like I always say, ‘all women are crazy—you just got to figure out what kind of psychosis you’re willing to deal with.’ I’m better off without them. I’ve got my right and my left hand, what more do I need? Besides, the extra military pay gets washed out in the divorce, so I’m ahead not getting married again. I go to the back office and start to fold towels for the next shift and wonder if I should count the drawer again. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing … … forty‐eight, forty‐nine, fifty. “Drop your cocks, and grab your socks!” A boisterous tone comes over the counter. I hear a loud thud and I hit the deck, waiting for something to happen. After a few moments, I realize that it’s Buck Sergeant Gabriel, the husband. “Anyone on duty? Didn’t mean for you to jump out your own asshole.” “Sir, taking cover, Sir,” I say, jumping to attention. “Don’t get your panties in a wad, and cut the ‘sir’ crap, I work for a living.” “Sir, no panties — going commando, Sir!” I shout, and in a few seconds we both burst out laughing. It takes a few seconds to realize that I’m not over there, but here, in the country. My chest is still pounding and I feel the adrenaline coursing though my veins. My heart becomes loud in my ears
and I want to focus on something that doesn’t sound like constant shelling. I want to run, I want to fight, but this is not the place for such things. I know that I have to distract myself with something else, something to put me here, instead of there. There are no crickets in the desert, there are no crickets in the desert, I keep repeating to myself. I take a few breaths and listen for the insect chatter, which surrounds the motel. The back office window is open and I hear the mating call of the night creatures and the sound brings me back down to earth. I look over the counter and see BS Gabriel in his Class A’s, but they need a good pressing. I take in his ribbons and recognize the Vietnam Service Medal. There’s a Purple Heart mixed in with ‘The Salad.’ “At Ease, soldier. I’m on R’N’R and watching you do push‐ up’s is harshing my buzz.” “Sir, have you been drinking, Sir?” I say; half serious, half joking. “Nonya Beeswax, maybe a little dope smokin’ at the DAV. The CINCH doesn’t mind if I toke up, but she lowers the boom on the sauce.” I look down and discover the source of the loud boom; a blue mini cooler. “What’s in cooler, Sir?” “Oh this thing, it’s beer,” he says winking at me. “I picked up some samples in that dry county brewery. They make it, but can’t sell it, so I snagged a couple of sixes to take with me. Want one?” “No, I’m on duty,” I say, feeling a pounding in my head. “It’s beer‐thirty son, no one’s coming in at this hour. Have one with me.”
I don’t want to offend BS Gabriel, and I figure one won’t kill me and it might calm me down a bit. He puts the cooler on the counter, opens it up, revealing two six packs of beer. “See you served in Nam?” “Yep, Infantry. You serve?” He hands me a beer. “Iraq, EOD, two tours and one to go.” I twist the cap bare‐handed and down half a bottle. It’s cold and bitter, reminding me of someone. It takes away some of the buzzing in my head. I feel calmer, now this is something to come home to, whereas the ex was something more mercurial. “Fucked up shit explosives. Your nerves are probably shot; son you need a drink. But why would you want to go back. I admire your dedication, but I’m sure you can find some sense of purpose over here. I’m on the ROAD program myself, taking a bunch of newbies under my wing. Most don’t know their ass from their elbow. I travel to bases around the country; tell my stories. Maybe I’ll write a book some day, if the shit ever gets declassified. I work with a lot of Lifer’s so they find shit for me to do. All Stars and Bars.” “Well I was volentold to take some R’N’R, when I got stateside. I guess they want to make sure that I’m going back for the right reasons, but when I got home everything went tits up.” “What happened, son? You can tell me.” I finish my beer, he hands me another and I decide, what the hell. “Well I hitched a ride on a cargo, and got home a little sooner than my ex‐ wife expected. She was finishing up a little rack time with one of my ex‐ buddies from back home.” p. 27
“You didn’t do something stupid, son?” “No, I handled it. I walked out of the bedroom and sat down on the couch, took out my service revolver, and waited for them to finish.” I gulp the next few sips and it makes my throat sore. “A few minutes later, he walks out and I get him in my line of sight, ask him how much he has in his wallet. He tells me a few bucks, and I tell him ‘pay the whore’. He walks back into the bedroom, comes back out and says that the wife wants to explain, but I wave my gun at the door and he proceeds to run out the entrance. I sit and think for a moment and determine that there’s nothing I want to hear from her and that I should probably give her some space for her next client. I think, some time away would be good, and since my bags are still packed, I came to this motel, and I’ve been here ever since. I was lucky that the MOD gave me a job, so I wouldn’t have to go back to the base.” He takes a long swig of his beer, sighs and says, “Not all women are like that. Not my woman, she’s got my six.” “Damn fine woman, if you ask me, no offence.” “None taken,” handing me my third beer. “My monotony.”
“Monogamy?” “No, I said it right,” he winks. “Well in my scenario, I felt like we needed some mandatory fun cause we gotta be back in four days, and a wake up to start her chemo. Figured it would be me in the chair. Been in the shit for years and still healthy as a horse. Situation’s all FUBAR. Didn’t want her leaving me P. 28
without making some more memories. I say you gotta move with a sense of purpose in life, cause nothing ain’t owed you. Tell ya what, you give me a wake up at zero dark thirty, and I’ll leave the rest of the cooler. Sound good?” “Enjoy your rack time,” I say, and take the cooler. “Semper Gumby!” “HOOAAH!” After three beers the buzzing in my head finally starts to fade. It’s quiet, and I find myself wondering what lies ahead of me. Am I crazy for going back for another tour? I feel like a failure here and want to go back where I have some sense of purpose. One more should do me, I hope. I reach for another bottle, twist off the cap and down most of it. What I need to do is to go back into the office and actually count the drawer this time. I pick up the cooler and transport it behind the desk and sit back and prop my feet up. It’s o three hundred, and I doubt that I’ll have anybody else come in, so why not do a whole six‐pack. The stack of towels still needs my attention, so I start the process while considering what else I need to do. I finish my fourth beer, in between folding towels, and pull another one out of the cooler. The melting ice of the cooler startles me, and I look around for something to dry my hand. I don’t want to use the towels, so I wipe my hand on my pants. I relax and wonder if this sense of calm comes from the beers or the lateness of the hour. Leaning back in the chair I look out the back office window and see movement out in the parking lot. The ground’s warmer than the air, so there’s a bit of a mist
hovering over the pavement. Outside the window, a shadow appears in the midst and I wonder if I’m dreaming. The lobby door swishes opens, maybe from the wind, and I see a dark figure enter the lobby. “Reservation’s Midnight.”
I look up and what I saw out in the parking lot now stands front and center. To call her stunning would not even come close to a description. She’s draped in loose fitting sweats, but I can tell there’s a lot more to be stunned about underneath. I blink and look down at the computer, and there�� is a reservation for that name, but there’s no contact information provided. “Do you have an ID, or a confirmation number?” “Boo, I’m right here, what more do you need?” “It’s just not our Standard Operating Procedure.” “At ease, soldier.” “Ma’am there’s no…” In one fluid moment, she presses her finger to her lips, looks me deep in the eyes, places her hand into her sweats, swivels around and peels them down to reveal an electric blue thong invading a perfectly tight bottom and the word Mesonoxian tattooed on her tailbone. “Means Midnight.” She says, reading my mind. Full moon after midnight ‐‐ I think the lettering of her tattoo even twinkled. She rights herself, swivels back around and asks, “Need anything else? Oh yes, payment.” Her hand dives into her bra and retrieves forty‐two dollars, all in ones, and places the bundle on my desk. “It’s
usually the other way around when it comes to a cash exchange, but you’re my boo and you’re the one providing me with a service. Dawn will be joining me shortly; she’s just … well … she’s busy at the moment.” “I need a little more in order to rent the room, in case something happens.” “Oh Boo, nothing will happen unless my desire takes hold. Let’s just say that we both have what each other wants, so let’s not complicate things.” “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you a room.” “Firm, I can appreciate that. Tell ya what, I really don’t need a room, I can just hang out here in the lobby till Dawn comes, and she will have what you need. I’m flexible in these situations, and I like you Boo, so if you’re up for it, maybe we can kill some time together.” She then saunters over to one of the couches with a mischievous sway to her hips, plops down on the cushion, puts her feet on the coffee table, and grabs the remote as if she owns it. “Got cable?” “Satellite.” “Even better, been wanting to watch a little trash TV. Got popcorn?” I guess I’m in for a bit of company, because I can’t bring myself to ask her to leave. “There’s some in the vending machine around the corner.” “I could use some company over here. Tell you what, use a few of my ones and get us some popcorn and I tell you a little about myself while we watch the boob tube. I’m not really tired, and tonight was good to me, so I want to make it last. I just
need a place to kick back for a couple of hours until Dawn arrives. You won’t have to wait long, it’s later than you think.” She pats the cushion next to her with satisfaction and I’m suspicious of her motives. Against my better judgment, I take a few ones out of the bundle of money she’s laid on the counter, and walk over to the vending machine and buy two packs of popcorn. I place them in the microwave and go to the back office to dig out a few cereal bowls, which I should be stocking for the continentals breakfast in a few hours. I get lost in the hum of the microwave and figure that I could use another beer. Besides, I don’t like listening to popcorn do its business. It just makes me uncomfortable. In the meantime, she is scanning though the channels with determination to find something in particular. As the microwave dings, she perks up and says, “Ooo, now that’s what I’m talking about.” I look around the corner and wonder what she’s so ecstatic about and discover that she has found the Game Show Network. “I love Family Feud,” she purrs while I empty the contents of the bags into a few bowls and set them on the coffee table. I’ve always liked ‘The Feud’, because Richard Dawson is the man. Nowadays, you just can’t get away with that shit. Kissing wives and daughters on television—‘for luck’ he would say, but that man was getting plenty of action.
disarmingly long legs are mere millimeters away. “Game show hosts are sexy. They wear a suit and give away money, what’s better than that? Besides, I learn a great deal from these shows. My mom and I used to watch these when I was young. Now that she’s gone, I still have these shows to keep me company.” “ M y r es pe c ts , di d she pass ?”
“Oh, she’s not dead, just somewhere else.” “Yeah, my mom’s AWOL.” “See Boo, we’re simpatico.” “ Tha t’s n o t the wo rd I w ou l d use.” “So how would you describe us? Wait, let me give you a better picture.” She rises from the cushion in one fluid movement. Moving around the coffee table she positions herself in front of the TV and with a quick flick
I go back into the office to get the cooler; maybe she would like a beer? I offer her one, but she waves it away. I consider BS Gabriel’s advice about always being flexible and sit a respectable distance from her on the couch. I grab beer and in the interim she has scooted next to me; her
of her finger, turns the power off. I can see delight in her face as she systematically stretches all of the muscles in her body, starting from her legs all the way up to her neck. Her eyes lock on me, and I feel a bit intimidated, but she starts to sway in very small controlled moments to a soundtrack in her head. I knew she was a stripper, but looking at her now, she looks like that girl from the movie Flashdance, which if memory serves me, is a stripper, but wants to be a professional dancer. I don’t know what fantasy to believe. She smiles deeply and begins to unburden herself of clothing, never taking her eyes off of me. I turn away but still feel her gaze.
away. I smell her perfume and it brings on a different form of intoxication. If it weren’t for the several beers in my system, I would have a few reactions at this point. One of them would be to reach out and bury my face into that strip of electric blue satin. I feel her eyes gazing down upon me and I look up at her face. “Behave,” is what I get from her expression, so I sit back and watch her maneuver around until she finishes the song in her head.
I think back to my initial impression of her, and that those sweats don’t do her justice. She unveils a lean muscular body, cinched up with matching underwear. My eyes scan her whole body. What little material is left on her skin moves in harmony with her body. I don’t want to be teased like this. If a woman presents herself like this, then she should follow through. When you make a promise, you should be held accountable for your actions. I won’t fall for this again; I’ve learned my lesson about women.
She walks around to the office, takes one of the towels I managed to fold and presses the cloth against her moist skin. Her optional clothing is still by the TV, so she folds the towel neatly, lays it on the couch, and then sits right next to me, still in her underwear.
Apparently she notices my mind beginning to wander and snaps me back to the task at hand. I marvel in how much muscle control she has over her body. He skin seems to glow while she spins around, whipping her hair in the air like she’s on some euphoric drug. Whatever it is, I want to be on it. Even though a piece of furniture separates us, I can feel her warmth, something I would like to get closer to. She seems to reads my mind, by stepping upon the coffee table moving her body just millimeters P. 30
“Copasetic?” “Stripper.” “Um, clue‐phone, it’s for you. I’m not subtle boo, figured you got that when you saw my tat.”
“You know what they say about those clubs, everyone gets screwed, but no one gets laid.” I say to break the mood. “And a lot of drugs and drinking happens at those clubs. What? Are you too good to have a beer with me?” “I don’t drink Boo, well not much, but when I do I do an old bar trick when a client offers to buy me a shot. Always get a beer back. I suck a little on the bottle, swallow some, and then knock back the shot and hold it in my mouth. Then I take another pretend swig of beer and spit the liquor into the bottle. “ Tha t’s y ou r mo u th .”
“I’ve had warmer things in there. Listen, I’m no whore, boo. I don’t have a drug problem, I don’t
have kids, and I like my body very much. Is that too much for you to wrap your head around?” “No, simplify it.” I wonder, starting on my next beer. “Simply, I like being looked at. When I’m dancing, I pick long songs so that my fans get their money’s worth. I start with “Shadows of the night,” and then grind myself silly with “Queer.” I come on strong and then dirty up their minds. It’s no classy place, so I get a lot of … let’s just say … sub‐casual consumers that have just gotten off and are up for investing their paycheck. I make them forget about their labors, while I get a workout. I’m like a PHYSICAL therapist. They sit on my couch with all their tension and I work it out of them.” “I don’t need therapy.” I say, grabbing another bottle. “Not any more.” She winks. “Then, why are you here?” “I’m here to avoid complications. This place is halfway between my personal and professional life.” In a way, that’s the same reason that I’m here, but I can’t help but think that she is taking advantage of me. Like she’s got some sort of agenda. She’s probably a psych student, dancing at a club so she can get her degree in anthropology, or whatever. All I know if that I feel like I’m being played. Played like my ex played me. I’m waiting for her to ask me for money, but she settles right beside me, still in nothing but her underwear. She turns on the TV, slips one hand into her panties and loses herself in Alex Trebek, who is now quizzing three stooges in the category of vocabulary.
“Learned what killed my girlfriend from a term on Jeopardy— Tyrotoxism.” “Ty‐two what?” “Poisoned by cheese. Her downfall was cheese, quite literally. A wealthy guy that she ‘counseled’, sent her some imported cheeses— expensive stuff. It didn’t quite keep on the trip over from Paris and the cheese turned toxic. Or maybe it was the heroin, I don’t know which, but she didn’t end up with him in the end.” “Served her right—” This whole situation is becoming FUBAR. I gulp the last of my beer, search for another bottle in the cooler, but there is nothing but melted ice. “—and there you have it. Tell me, do you have against me personally, or is it women in general that you have a disdain for?” “I don’t hate women.” “Well, I thought it was queer that you kept getting distracted, considering that I was doing my best moves for you, and you didn’t grab me, but maybe that wet spot on your crotch is not beer leakage.” I look down, and notice that my lap is damp. “Mine’s wet too, boo.” “Dammit, must have absentmindedly wiped my hand on my pants again when I was getting another beer from the cooler.” “Right. Need a little help there?” Before I can say anything, she’s hopped up, taken the towel from under her, and attempts to dry me off. I jump up and move around the couch. She eyes me like a scolded child and then returns to the couch with a whimper.
“You should let someone do something for you. I mean, you do a lot for so many people. Haven’t you ever received a proper thank you, soldier? I consider it my civic duty to make you feel appreciated.” Somehow I feel like I’m being disrespected. “You don’t know me— know what I’ve done—what’s been done to me. Hell, you are all the same, they say that men are only after one thing, but you women, ah, women, only want our money.” “Did I ask you for money boo? In fact, I think I paid YOU. So who’s the whore that tore your heart out? Wait, let me guess, an ex‐wife…” I nod, unable to say anything. “…and she cheated on you with, say, one of your friends…” Again, I nod, “…so you just left, I’m guessing. Look, if you married her, then you at least have to give her a chance to explain. Things are never really what they appear to be. I know that I tend to seek out evidence to support a conclusion that I want, but I can’t go on living as if everyone is guilty till proven innocent.” “I caught her red‐handed.” “…and?” “Isn’t that enough?” “Well, yeah, but why? Why do you think she cheated?” “Because she’s a slut?” “You can’t divide women into two categories boo. Admittedly, I am somewhat suspect of your image of me, but I’m more than just what you see. ��I have needs, boo, just like all women, and when you don’t fulfill them, for whatever reason, we look elsewhere.” “But what about honoring your commitment?”
“Whoa, slow down there boo. We’re not all saints; we all got a little sin in us. Just look at it this way. When you find the right woman, and you treat her right, there will be no manner of sin that she won’t commit, just because you love her.” “That’s not love, that’s lust.” “True, but when you are with the right person, the lust comes merrily along. It’s like you can’t get enough of them, and when they leave you ache. If that’s not a tease, then I don’t know what is.” “So you believe in love?” “Absolutely, but I know I’m not ready for it. Sure, I have some fun from time to time, but I haven’t met the right person yet, but when I do it will be a match—“ “What? Made in heaven?” “Well, a little south of there boo, but you get the idea.” “That’s an illusion.” “But then again, so am I. I’m not apologizing for what that woman did to you, but you have to consider what she was thinking. What, you were away off at war? Sent home money, but re‐upped because of some sense of duty? You have obligations here, isn’t that why you went over there; to defend what you have here? It’s easy to just block out everything and just focus on the task at hand, but what happens when years pass and you miss some really great things on the home front. I’m all for the military, hello solider, but really, you have to come home sometime. Have a sense of purpose in your life, but don’t make it all negative boo. You also have an obligation to me as well.” Here it is, I knew this was coming.
“You’ve seen my uniform, now I want to see yours. Put those class A’s on. I just love a man when he’s all dressed up, makes me want to undress.” Is this some kind of reverse strip poker—I put clothes on and she takes hers off? I don’t really follow the logic, but this will give me time to regroup. Maybe I can finally get the rest of my shit together before the next shift comes in. The MOD will be checking up on my work, and I don’t want to disappoint her, after all, she is my sponsor. Maybe I should have called her. I get up, take the two untouched bowls of popcorn, the cooler, and her towel back into the office and grab a housekeeping keycard. I don’t have an individual room key, because the computer tracks the comings and goings of guests, and I don’t want my boss’s boss becoming suspicious. I stay in a down room, off the books, and don’t want to get anyone into trouble. I come back out of the office and notice that she’s still in her underwear, perched on the couch, and engaged in the next round of game shows.
I walk down the hall, enter my room, and see my duffel bag lying on the bed. All of my worldly possessions are contained therein. My life is what I carry on my back. It would be nice to have someone help me with my bag; what B.S. Gabriel has with his CINCH. They’re getting up in a few, just to watch the sun rise. It happens every day, but they get to share this one with each other. I unpack my duffel, lie out my uniform, and decide to take a quick shower. No one is going to check in at this hour. I do three of the four S’s (Shit, Shower, Shave) and delay the fourth S, (Sleep). I’m thinking about joining Mr. and Ms.’s Gabriel in their morning maneuver. I straighten the ribbons pinned to my uniform, and wonder if I’ll be as decorated as B.S. Gabriel someday. I wonder if I’ll have someone to share my accolades with. As I pass the mirror on the way back to the front desk, I don’t recognize the man reflected at me. He looks tired, and old, and not worth much. Is what I do really that important? Some of my buddies are having a hard time with their disability and find retirement a difficult objective. Do I belong here?
Fuck, I left the front desk unattended. What’s worse is that someone might see a semi‐naked lady in the lobby. I dash out of the door, with my duffel, and double‐time it down the hall only to find the lobby empty. All traces of her are gone. The overnight mist has dissipated and I feel out of place. I think it’s my time to go. There is nothing that I need here, and the base has a cot for me. I need to talk with my C.O. and figure out my next move. Maybe I’ll see B.S. Gabriel at the sand dune and we can have a little chat about my future. It would be good to get his insight on things, but first, I have a sunrise to see. Epilogue: “Sorry that you had to wait in the lobby, miss. The overnight person left before I got into the office. He didn’t do anything, didn’t count the drawer, didn’t fold the laundry, and just left a mess for me to clean up. I apologize for the disorder.” “No problem, I just got here, the name’s Dawn, and I have a reservation.” ###
7 Minutes: Original and Unabridged Amy Lovat
I am sitting in the class at my very first RHD (Research Higher Degree) Writing Circle group and we’ve been told to write non‐stop for seven whole minutes anything that comes into our heads and I had a lightbulb moment, literally just in this moment, that this is all about time. This is my piece for The Turl. When I type this out tonight and send it to Jackie, it will be unedited, even if the sentences don’t really make sense or even finish. Our supervisor keeps saying “no stopping or thinking” when she sees someone baulk or pause. My forearm hurts – the nerves along the right side of my arm are pulling because I’m not allowed to stop. I’ll probably regret this decision to submit this to The Turl. There’s no timer – I don’t know how much time I have left. That’s quite a profound statement, really. No time. How much time we all have left? Not thinking, just writing. This is the moment. This is being in the moment. Am I going to hate this when I re‐read it later? Probably. Classic. Self‐deprecating writer. I wonder if Caro got my updated bio via email; I should probably add that I’ve started working for My Child magazine as a copywriter. Non‐paid but, hey, I need the experience. I didn’t choose this life for the money. I just had to turn the page and the girl next to me also turned her page at the same time and we giggled. My hand is cramping. My handwriting is really messy. Am I still in the moment? I wonder how much time is left. Imagine if the world exploded after the seven minutes and this was all I did with my last seven minutes. Now I’m thinking of The Ring – but no, that was seven days. My hand still hurts. So I think— THE END.
Thurs Feb 1 | 10:19am
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t addicted to ideas.
Tues Aug 22 | 7:39pm “My name is...” Do it. “My...I’m...” Jesus. This shit is real. “Ok. I’m Molly. I am...um...” I’m really doing this. I feel the small gathering shift in a kind of collective solidarity. I feel what they’re thinking. Yeah, sure you do. You know what I’m feeling. What I’m going through. As if. Don’t flatter yourselves. Some loser puts his hand on my shoulder. “Fuck off. I’m not your fucking soul sister.” I watch him wither back into his seat. The ‘moderator’ stifles a chuckle. Great. I’m going to be led by the nose through my group counselling by a world‐weary cynic. “We have plenty of time. Molly. There’s no rush. We all appreciate this is hard. Just relax. Watch. See how things work. You can do this – try again, I mean ‐ next week.” “NO! No we fucking don’t.” He doesn’t blanch. A true professional. I’m sure he’s heard much worse throughout his career. He pauses, then: “Yes, we do Molly. We would love to have you P. 34
Of course I liked them. Who doesn’t? I fucking hate them now. I ‘spose there was a time when they were meaningful. Shiny. Innovative. Full of possibilities. Nurture for the soul. Now they’re just seductive. Demeaning. Overpowering.
back next week. When you feel more comfortable. Wouldn’t we.” It’s creepy the way he ends with a two‐worded statement. He is telling them to agree. Probably does it every session, every week. Bastard. I sense no further shift of communal endorsement, just an inaudible bowing of heads. Fourteen eye‐balls start wandering aimlessly across the linoleum floor tiles studying each crevice, every scratch. The silence is begging me to break it. C’mon. Do it. Do it you fucking gutless pussy. “I’m sort of...I’m like you. My name is Molly....” The ‘moderator’ smiles. “I’m addicted to ideas.” The ‘moderators’ smile twists and contorts to reflect the self‐ conscious feeling flashing through him. The assembled believers seated in the name of addiction redemption transfer their weight awkwardly, fighting the need for flight. No one wants to look at me. Fuck ‘em. They wanted me here. They said it would ‘facilitate’ me. “So, you pricks. Gonna help me or what?” *
I am a sucker for new ideas. Always have been. I love new ideas. Just love ‘em. They just ‘pop up’ out of nowhere and that’s the beauty of it. I devour them. I’ll never forget the first time I had an idea. It started out as this tiny little thing and just grew bigger and bigger. Bigger. Bigger! Until finally it felt like it was going to overwhelm me. Now ideas always overwhelm me. You can’t say that about alcohol ‐ or heroin, ice ‐ that it ‘pops up’ out of nowhere. I used to laugh at anyone who tried to get me on that gear. I’d say “No thanks, I think that’s a bad idea”. You should’ve seen their faces! Of course they wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about. But then I never understood their gibberish either. You can’t describe it to a clean‐skin. That’s just impossible. Only makes sense to those who share the disease. That’s the thing about us addicts. We each have our own jargon. If I said something to you like “I had a good idea yesterday”, well...only another addict from my ‘tribe’ would know what the fuck I was talking about and appreciate the context of it. Whereas the clean‐skin waits for the punch‐line. Like some dick stood up by the blind date that never arrives.
Good ideas are a staple of any addict’s diet. New ideas though – hey, they’re the bee’s knees. The ant’s pants. Nearly the Holy Grail too, if you believe what some addicts say. Wanna hear something funny? I was with this guy in a bar once – ok, I was trying to pick him up. Take him back to my place and fleece him. See if he had any ideas I could use. Anyway, never happened. Turns out he was trying to pick me up. One of those low‐life types addicted to really big ideas trying to pass himself off as a dealer. They’re easy to spot. Wanna know how I knew? He tried to sell me an original idea. ‘Honey!’ I shouted into his ear. ‘Nobody ever has original ideas. Unless you’re Jesus Fuckin’ Christ and created it yourself!’ I slapped his inner thigh so hard, I swear I saw tears come to his eyes. Fuckin’ funny as. ‘Sure! Settle in, darl. Buy me a drink. What the hell. Buy me a shit load of drinks. No. C’mon, really. Load me up, get me real shickered and tell me. Tell me in copious detail how you’re gonna take me and my ideas‐starved mind to heaven and back! PUH‐lease!’ Never saw him again. Moron.
reached my stage of dependence. The aftertaste leaves you feeling stale. Used. Not even an addict wants to feel that. Especially not after a hit. Kind of defeats the whole purpose doesn’t it? That’s the danger of our disease. Ideas never go away, so supply never dries up. At least a heroin addict has to meet their dealer. Or go to the bottle‐shop. Or the casino if you wanna get cosy with a pokie machine. We always use ideas. They’re always with us. Always on tap. Sometimes... Sometimes I’d give anything to be addicted to gambling. I often think they’re kind of lucky, those gambling bastards. They know when they’re losing. Lose it all, you’ve got no money. No money, no gamble. No gamble, no habit. Simple, no? Shit. I must tell you this story. God it makes me laugh. A couple of years ago I was at the casino y’know, an’ I took one look at this woman and knew right away. I felt so sorry for her. I said: ‘Love, c’mon. What’re you slow on the uptake? Ya got no cash!’ She gave me this deep, dopey‐eyed look. It was all she had left. Probably been sitting at the table for 19 hours straight and been through 11 different black‐jack dealers over six shifts.
Nobody ever has original ideas. We steal them. Everyone does. Addict or not. They’re called ‘new’ because that’s what it is if you haven’t had that idea before. I wonder what the rush would be like. To have one. An original idea. God, knowing my luck, my head would probably explode before I blow‐out from the hit.
‘Ya got no cash, darl! What’re you stupid? Go home. Stop killin’ yaself. Go home. Open a can of baked beans or somethin’, ‘cos ya wallet looks kinda fucked. It can’t take anymore shit from you tonight.’
I’m not too proud to admit I’ve occasionally gone back to my stash of old ideas. I might use an old idea. If I’m dry. Desperate. They’re ok. Good for beginners. Alright, so I’ve had plenty of old ideas when I’ve craved a hit but trust me they suck once you’ve
Just chuck ‘em out. It makes me so mad. The logic of it, I mean. If they’re just sittin’ at the table when they’ve lost all their money ‐ chattin’ up the dealer ‐ they should just chuck ‘em out. There should be a law against it. Makes me sick.
‘Whaaa...whaddid you say?’ Yeah, I know right?!
And then. I had an idea... See! That’s what I’m up against! No one comes tuggin’ at my sleeve makin’ me turn ‘round to see some strange face crinkled up into a furtive, conspiracy‐laden look. No, ideas just come to me. Out of nowhere. Just like that. So who gets kicked out of the casino? Me. Fucking me!? Just ‘cos I take my idea and run with it. Well. If you really wanna know. Here’s how it played out. I told the dealers’ pit boss my idea. Y’know. About kicking out the dumb ass. ‘She’s lost all her palava’, I said to him, ‘so help her. Show her the door, man’. He listened to me. Fair play. Then does nothing. So then someone new appears, sits down at the table. I tell them the idea. They ignore me and just start playin’. I keep at ‘em. Finally, the dealer says ‘enough’. I ignore him. I tell another fella. His girlfriend cracks the shits at me. I tell the drinks waiter. I keep talking. The pit boss pulls over security boofhead number one...you can guess the rest. *
Tues Aug 22 | 7:51pm ‘There’s nothing wrong with ideas, Molly. Perhaps we can get you on a moderation program’. That’s what he says to me. His exact words. ‘Moderation program’. Fucking idiot. I’m not here for ‘moderation’. I’ve had it. I’m sick. Sick of it. I want to end it. Move on. Or shuffle off. I explain myself again. Like I’ve explained to the counsellor. Same as I told the psychologist. The fucking psychiatrist. Even a bloody fortune‐ teller. I’m sick. I’ve had enough. I don’t want to have any more fucking ideas. They eat you up. They consume you. Deprive you of sleep. They make you p. 35
run around like a fucking blue heeler bored of chasing sheep. I’ve had it. I tell them. I hear myself saying over and over ‘I can live without ideas’. Cheerfully. Quite gladly. Without using. Without having them. It might sound like a shitty bloody way of life to some. Not me. I could get used to it. Learn to live without them. In fact I’ve already tried. For days. Weeks. Being idle. Listless. Not moving. Trying not to think about ideas. I can lie still for God knows how long. And I have. Neither happily nor unhappily. On the couch. Sweat dripping into my $2 Shop retro‐style cushions! So what?! I don’t care. No one comes to visit anyway. I don’t need to be house‐proud. It’s an existence. Of sorts. “Just so long as I don’t have an idea.” “Are you ashamed, Molly?” I turn towards the voice. “What the fuck do you mean. Ashamed?” It doesn’t repeat the question. “Well. If you must know. Neither. I’m not ashamed. I’m not proud. I’m an addict. I just... I’m an addict. For now. That’s what I am.” “Yes. But you weren’t born an addict. Were you?” I dunno. “So. How did you get it?” I’m sick of these fucking questions.
locked on the floor. ”Ask ‘em. No, wait. Even better. Show me someone you’ve cured.” Of course he can’t. No one ever heals. Once you get an idea, you never stop having ‘em. That ‘moderator’ sure hasn’t smiled for a while. *
Fri Mar 9 | 10:09am Over the years, I’ve met truck‐ loads of others like me. You probably have, too. I bet more than once in your life you’ve said ‘Ah, great bloke that so‐ and‐so. A real ideas man.’ Yeah! Probably a poor tortured bastard who never gets a decent night’s sleep thanks to some bloody idea he had that day! Addicts spot other addicts a mile away. Addiction is this dreamy, distracted look. All the time. Doesn’t matter whether you’re in a board meeting or at your kid’s parent‐teacher night supposedly listening to how little Freddie is coping with his accelerated learning program at that ten‐grand‐a‐ term school. You’re not taking anything in. Before you know it your mind is sneaking off to its secret hiding place, to court and flirt with an attractive idea that it simply can’t stop thinking about. And then you’re planning. Well, technically you’re not – the idea drives every thought you have. Every action you take.
I just assumed I was born with it. Beyond help. Even other addicts look down upon junkies like me. Like we’re the bottom‐feeders of dependence‐driven behaviour.
That’s the devil of it. The way an idea makes you act and take action. It’s exhausting. You have an idea. You have to act on it. It’s pathetic! It’s like you have no mind of your own – you have to share it with any old bloody idea.
“Anyone else here ever get ideas?” No one moves. Every eye stays
What’s the addiction like? Well, people addicted to ideas are just
“You tell me.”
like your garden‐variety addicts. We have our own language. Behaviour. Slang. Short‐hand. The sad thing is that to anyone else, it just sounds like a normal conversation. Ideas are like commodities to junkies. We’ll exchange ‘em. We buy. Or sell. Like. Swap. Lie. Con. No, really. See. How can I explain it? Some stranger came up to me once and whispered: ‘Hey, I’ve got this idea’. Well, shit. That was it. I was done. Cold. That’s all it takes for an addict. I didn’t even have to respond. Couldn’t utter a word. My brain was on fire going ‘Ok then. Let’s hear it. What is it? Tell me. Spill! I want to have it. GIVVIT TO ME!’ Just like that. Scary, now I think of it. When I get an idea...or say someone discusses an idea with me, I feel like...like...like I’m being invaded. Assaulted. Raided. Over‐run. And finally. Occupied. Ever seen that movie? Invasion of the Body Snatchers? It’s kind of like that. It’s terrible. There’s the feeling. You get this ‐ I dunno ‐ uplifting. Yeah. I feel uplifted somehow. Like it’s almost spiritual, like I’m being filled with the light of possibilities and supposition – whatever the fuck they are. Not every idea is like that, mind you. It varies. So I said to this bloke ‐ like a fuckin’ idiot – ‘Heeyyy. That was a great idea.’ I can’t even remember whether it was or wasn’t a great idea, let alone what the idea was. I still said it. Even if the same guy came up to me right now and said the same bloody thing ‐ it wouldn’t matter. Probably make the same dumb‐ass comment. Steal his idea, too, if I had to.
But here’s the rub. And again, another thing that separates us from the ‘normal’ addicts. You can’t overdose on ideas. I even used to think ideas can’t kill you.
“I didn’t come here to think. Ask me an easier question, dickhead.”
Now I know better. That’s why I’m here.
Fri Apr 7 | 9:51am
Tues Aug 22 | 8:02pm “So. Why’re you here tonight Molly.” I just shrug. “You must have some idea, surely...” The rage is instant. “NO! I MUST NOT HAVE ANY FUCKING IDEA! Who the fuck trained you, you fucking moron? I don’t want to have another fucking idea! That’s the whole point of trying to be clean. OK!?” Jesus. He might as well offer syringes and whiskey flasks to the others in the room just so they don’t feel left out. Dipshit. He doesn’t say anything for a long time. We all sit for a while. Like penguins waiting for ice‐flows to move. Which, come to think of it, is pretty fucking counter‐productive. But I guess it serves its purpose. “I’m sorry. You just hit a sore spot.” “Molly. What would life be like. For you. If you had no ideas?” Wow. I dunno. I’d never thought of that. And in a subversive way it’s kind of a sick reverse psychology. Now there’s an idea. What would life be like if I didn’t have another idea as long as I lived?
There’s worse things to be addicted to. I guess. I wish that was me. Addicted to something worse. Why? I’d probably die quicker. Ideas kill you slowly. Did you know that? They gently cheat you of everything. Money. Energy. Clarity. Hope. Worst of all? Oh, that’s easy. Ideas rob you of time. Time is the only currency that matters when it comes to ideas. Didn’t you know that? Y’know. I can be so caught up in the moment of having an idea I’ll simply forget to eat. Sounds impossible. It’s true, though. An addict gets caught up in a web of delirium. Your thoughts race from one thing to the next. More than once I’ve suffered ‘blow‐out’. That’s junkie‐talk for when one idea leads to another idea. I’ve lost count of how many full‐on ‘blow‐outs’ I’ve had. It’s awful. God knows how I managed to survive those periods. It’s impossible to live life normally. Or maintain relationships. Friendships. I can barely communicate with my family during a ‘blow‐out’. It’s like an alcoholic going on a bender. ‘Cept I’m not chasing my next drink. I’m out there chasing concepts disguised as wind‐mills. You can’t hold down a job, much less have a bloody career ‘cos you can’t focus on anything that’s not related to your idea. That’s how bad it can get when you have ideas that blow‐out. In the early days of my addiction, my Dad was so proud. He thought I’d become this kind of accidental entrepreneur. No one in our
family ever had ideas before. I mean, we had notions, beliefs, routines. And that’s fine. Some people can live a very contented life upon those concepts as their foundation. My poor Dad. I made him cry once. I was off on a tangent, completely off my head raving about idea after idea after idea. ‘Stop’, he’d say, ‘Stop it, Molly. Give up these ideas. You’ve got no stability, no financial base, you never plan ahead, never go on holidays...’ ‘It’s ok Daddy’, I’d say blissfully. ‘This idea is different. Look, let me explain it to you...’ And of course, he wouldn’t let me explain ‘cos of course it was different but the outcome never would be. He’d learnt to read my habits and compulsions by then. I’m always trying out ideas. Might as well chase a rainbow for all the good it does. They just absorb you. They anything. *
Tues Aug 22 | 8:09pm “Do they ever amount to anything, Molly?” I look around the room at my group ‘buddies’. The alcos. Crack addicts. Slot junkies. They’ve been imitating penguins for a while now. “How should I know. It’s my first visit.” “I bet it takes ages to recover, hey” I feel my mouth moving and words exiting at pace. “Y’know. It doesn’t matter what I do. What you do. What anyone p. 37
does. Y’see. I can swear off ideas all I want. I just fall back into bad habits... Y’know?” Same old addiction. “You didn‘t answer my questions before...if you had no ideas, Molly. What would life be like?” My words are no longer evacuating from my mouth. *
Mon May 4 | 10:22am Time is the only currency I have left. My only possession of value.
Tues Aug 23 | 8:58pm “You’ll do fine. Mere formality. Call me afterwards. Let me know how you go.” He chuckles. I watch him zip up his all‐weather motorbike jacket and he leaves the community centre. I’ve grown used to that chuckle. It was three years ago this week. Some sort of progress, eh? Going from potty‐mouthed junkie to a moderator of all things. Well, not yet. Have to pass the exam tomorrow for my certificate first. Imagine that. Me! A fucking moderator! Ok. So I’ve still got a potty‐mouth.
I’m scared. Ideas have been stealing time from me. And I can’t seem to do anything about it. I worry. I worry about how much time I have left. I’ve given away so much of my time to all these ideas over the years. I don’t know whether I’ve been investing my time properly. I can’t tell anymore. I’ve only been given so much time, right? So much time to actually achieve something. Make something of myself. Right?
That was his idea. Not mine. I fought it as hard as I could through every group session until he let me in on his secret. He was once an ideas man. A junkie. Just like me.
I can’t keep taking on every idea under the sun. It takes too much time to play out each of them. And when I ‘blow‐out’ it’s even worse.
Tues Aug 29 | 7:36pm
Do I sleep? Jesus. Sleep is near impossible. My head buzzes from the lack of it. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m going to shrivel up. Soon I’ll be nothing. There’s not enough time. I’m scared, ok? Ideas will eventually kill me. Help me. Can you. Just tell me what to do. *
I couldn’t believe it. A walking, talking functional ideas junkie. Weird. And now I’m gonna be one. *
It’s my first time tonight. As soon as she walks through the door I cannot take my eyes off her. I recognise her straight away. Impossible not to. She spots a vacant seat, runs an eye over her surroundings. But she is not taking anything in. I bet her mind snuck off well before she arrived. Who knows when? It’s in a secret hiding place now, courting and flirting with some attractive idea that she simply can’t stop thinking about. She has the look. The one I used to see in the mirror each day. Every night. Any time I walked past a shop window and stole a sideways glance at myself only to see that same haunted, dreamy and
distracted look. And I bet right now she’s planning. Planning and plotting. She sits. A few years ago she could have been my soul sister, but tonight it’s simply impossible for her to identify with me. She doesn’t even notice me. How could she? I am an ex‐addict. I’ve never been happier – ideas are not so bad. Life is so blissful. I’m learning how to live with my ideas. It’s all about moderation. So now I am one. I will moderate and help people like her because once upon a time not so long ago, my moderator thought it was a good idea to help me no matter what. Simple as that. I can co‐exist with my ideas. It’s possible. We should begin. We’ve been sitting like penguins for a while. They’re all so carefully straining their eyeballs at the floor. I have an idea. It’s not usually the way we proceed but stuff it. I speak to all of them. I address only her. “I’d like to kick off proceedings. I appreciate this is hard. There’s no rush. We can do this next week if you like. We have plenty of time...” “Like fucking hell we do! NO...no.” I go to address her again but she interrupts. “Ok. I’m an addict. Hi. My name is...” ###
The Girl Next Door Stefanie Sabathy
Childhood memories will always stay with you, both good and bad. The good ones will crop up again and again and make you smile but the bad ones will haunt you. Your childhood shapes you and the experiences you make finally shape you into the person you are. You can already tell that the little boy living down the street—who gets stuffed
with cookies for lunch and is always left at home with the TV set on for hours—is going to be a pest in his teenage years and will probably grow up to be an introvert, egoistic and stern business manager. The kind that works long hours, is too proud of his very own business and earns a lot of money but only finds out about his daughter’s fiancée by chance and
when they have already broken off their engagement. However, sometimes you can be completely mistaken and misjudge a person. Little nasty kids can change for the better; it does not happen very often, but it does occasionally. I once knew a five‐year‐ old boy who always played tricks on everybody he knew, until one time his
older brother “dressed up as him” for Thanksgiving and the kid realized how annoying he actually was to everybody. This made him behave at least for a while but the older brother actually found some liking in being a nuisance so they sort of exchanged their roles. The parents then had to deal with a very grown up five‐year‐ old who wanted to make coffee and severely burnt his hand and an eight‐ year‐old who expected to get cookies for every single piece of homework he did and who laughed his head off when his dad fell off the roof in the attempt to retrieve his laptop. So it goes. It is not as if we haven’t all changed in some way, especially during our adolescent years. However, some people change so fundamentally that you can hardly recognize them after a few years’ time. Have you ever met somebody from high school who you thought must have been brainwashed during the last few years and who, apart from his arrogant because so much faked attitude made you sick by just looking at him? He was probably a guy you really liked in high school. But then you do not know what he went through so you finally decide he most likely had a hell of a life that justifies his arrogance. Sometimes it only takes one single event to change a person completely. One day. One single second. This can be an accident or the death of a loved one—but it need not be tragic. It can also be the giraffe in the zoo that you so badly wanted to live and that died because some stupid kid threw rocks at it and hit it right between the eyes. There it is— your personality change. You might hate little kids for the rest of your life and start a career as a Greenpeace
fighter traveling the world to save endangered animals. Who knows? More often it is other people who change you; other people that make an impression on you or convince you entirely by their way of life. You might adore how your gardener speaks to the flowers, caresses them and makes them bloom. This could be it. Next thing you know you are married and tend a garden of your own as big as a park. There go the hopes and dreams your parents had for you, no college career and no way of bailing your father out of prison once in a while for drinking too much because you are no influential lawyer with prestige. But when you are a child, nobody thinks about things like that— especially not you. You are probably a little girl playing in a sandbox, unaware of how many changes will be imposed on you and your friends. I was this kind of child. I loved the sandbox. I played for hours in there and nothing could have made me happier than baking my own cakes that I decorated with grass and leaves. The only shadow of my day was when I had to go home for dinner but was not yet finished with my sand cakes. It was of course much easier to go back inside the house when I could bring my friend along. Alice was half a year older than me and lived next door. At the beginning I could not pronounce her full name, Elisabeth, correctly, so she made me call her Alice. That worked well and I stuck to it. I had no idea what friendship was at that time. Alice was simply always there when I went outside. Although there were other kids as well, I always preferred to play with her. Not that I didn’t like the others, but Alice and I were the same age. The
only kid that was the same age as us was a boy. So it was only natural that we two girls did everything together. One day, when Alice and I had just perfected our sand cakes I realized that somebody was watching us. It was a girl, sitting at the doorstep of her family’s porch, her feet dangling above the ground. Alice had seen her too. Before I could open my mouth, Alice had already made an inviting gesture and the girl walked towards us. I did not want her to join us. I was very jealous of other people playing with Alice but I did not know what to say. That was the beginning of the triangle of us, Alice‐Nola‐me. I say it in this order because that was ex‐ actly how it was. I was the last. ###
Recovering Looking Calvin G.W Sandiford
Like a deep chasm deep and dark An encompassing depth I fall into this void Covered over Cold cover, warmth is desired With fear in every gesture found Unable to sleep as I sink deeply Reaching artificial exhaustion Driving hard for sleep Hoping for air Now I hear crying, crying Moaning Scared I hear the noise turned to small voice Fighting through the pointing fingers The planned deception, the self‐doubt of worth In between the chaos Getting closer to the eternal edge I fight and pull away From within this place of cold The grey of extended timely deaths Which my soul seems immersed in I find my child scared I comfort him We are surrounded by the stuff Too much stuff of contradictory truths And as I slowly push back The noise, the press becomes less We feel like we have stopped falling Like being in the eye of a horrible hurricane The is some peace too little Around swirls and flashes back We hug and look for safety In this barren place of grey I tell the child that we are alright together We are together in this bewildering mess p. 41
Natural Calvin G.W Sandiford
As the moon rises and ripples Over the tranquil sea The heat rises as the day sets As you head off to sleep Cotton below on the bed Peacefully, inviting The gentle sound of your breathing Mixes with the frogs of the night The Prince is the moonlight that comes Through the open windows Alone is yours It touches your naked body Each curve gently caressed As it moves, a nightly journey Which kisses with the warmth As the body succumb with sleepily delight Releases the sweetness of desired sweat Surrender to sleep is given in the night As the dawn meets night The prince is gone The refreshing feeling of sweat is left You awake feeling right Looking forward For the return the next night
Jitterbug Help! I’ve Fallen Behind and I Can’t Catch Up!
Agnieszka (Aggie) Stachura
You’ve seen the commercials. Spry young seniors, the laminate still warm on their AARP cards, holding giant cell phones to their ears, giving earnest, upbeat testimonials to this new, streamlined technology. The happy claims are punctuated by a one‐word jingle: Jitterbug. This is the cellphone, “That’s changing all the rules,” crow the full page ads in Parade magazine. It’s technology, “Without all the unnecessary complexity.” Scowling disdain for today’s hip young whippersnappers is implicit. Who needs ringtones and downloads and Bluetooth? The toilet seat cover on this phone flips open to reveal easy‐ to‐use features like oversized numbers, an on/off switch, and a dial tone which, for those too young to remember, sounds like a flatline on ER. I hate this phone. I hate the giant keypad. I hate the simple Yes and No buttons (Yes, you are obsolete; No, there is no hope). I hate the patronizing suggestion that some people are just too old to adapt to new technology. I hate it most of all, viscerally, because I’m secretly afraid I might need it. It’s not that I can’t “pass,” most of the time, as a competent navigator of the
modern world. My own cellphone, red and sleek, is something I’m proud to whip from a pocket or backpack as I stroll downtown, self‐ consciously chatting. I take pictures with it, or at least I did until the memory filled up, and I send them. I’ve matched my friends’ photos to their phone numbers. I access voice mail like a boss. But I have yet to download more than a single ringtone. I don’t know what an IM is. The only text messages I’ve received have been from AT&T, and if I tried to send one back, I’d be pecking out all the words. My laptop, the new one that was supposed to enhance my writing life, is unruly as a child. It won’t recognize my fingerprint. It denies me access to my own files. It hijacks the screen, interrupting essays to install, update, and shut down at will, all the while warning me sternly against interference. By the time it returns my pages, like an infant tiring of a rousing bout of peek‐a‐boo, I’ve already rewritten them, longhand, in the modest and nearly vestigial spiral notebook that I cart around with me, like an appendix. The desktop is a five‐ year‐old relic that chugs along
the shoulder of the information highway, regularly stalling to taunt my husband with a Get Smart series of obstacles before cruelly denying him access to a 30‐second CNN video. RealPlayer, Media Player, Flash Player; it’s all more than a little daunting for someone whose first taste of computers was Pong. I’m not sure what Google Plus is, or how to navigate Chrome. I don’t have a web page. At a friend’s urging, and in a fit of hubris, I did set up a blog some months ago, but after two entries, I forgot how to access it and now it drifts somewhere in cyberspace, as lost as I am. I have never burned a CD. Our shelf‐long stack of store‐bought discs, once fashionable, now seems woefully out‐of‐touch, pathetic as a combover. When our bulky 22‐year old television finally blew a cathode tube, we thought we’d transition gracefully to a sleek new flat screen. But hours spent researching the choices of plasma and LCD, flat mount, direct TV, and high definition, brought us no closer to an informed decision. The model we chose, almost in resignation, is a giant that strutted into the
house armed with a hydra of remotes, none of which, apparently, precludes the necessity of manually adjusting both channel and volume. I mourn the passing of my competence, the days when I traded winking quips about eh Soup Nazi, and Homer, and Darth. When I recognized each new constellation of stars in People. When I could sneer easily at something like the Jitterbug, with its desperate parody of hip, the name meant to evoke a time when a sidelined generation was ascendant, when they were the ones spotlighted by the trendy cultural references. Now it’s my turn to feel obsolete. It’s not just unfamiliarity with the slang anymore, the shorthand of youth; it’s basic competence in this hyperkinetic society. Keeping up requires a near constant vigilance which, like
the upkeep on a soon‐to‐be‐ aging body, grows increasingly more difficult. Even commercials unnerve me, lately. The tossed‐ off references to IPods and Wii and Skype. And everywhere, the passwords, endlessly required and constantly expiring, a morphing admission to a club that changes its location as secretly and as often as a Rave. I live in fear of being hurled from the whirling merry‐go‐ round of technology to land, bewildered and bruised, with my notebook and a pen for which Staples may or not provide refills. Maybe I do need something with big buttons and a soothing name. “The Moonwalk,” say, or “The Hustle.” When did the future, once bright enough for Ray‐ Bans, become so faded and dim? When did it happen, being shoved off center stage? When do I simply concede defeat?
Deftly juggling three remotes at once, my husband wrestles the new TV into tempo‐ rary and hostile submission, just in time to catch the Osmonds’ th
50 Anniversary Tribute concert. Older, heavier, still recognizable, they launch into a toothy medley of their greatest hits, any one of which would make an apt theme song for the vanguard of Generation X. ###
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Timeless:, Cover Image: http://www.palmerwebmarketing.com/blog/3‐timeless‐social‐media‐tips/
Submission Deadline: July 20, 2013 Theme: “New Beginnings” (2,000–4,000 words) Guest Editor: Lorenza Haddad Publication Date: November 1, 2013 Submission Deadline: October 20, 2013
Untitled by Leo Reynolds, pg. 8: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/3546392439/sizes/o/in/photostream/
Keep Calm, pg. 11: http://www.keepcalmandposters.com/poster/keep‐calm‐your‐time‐will‐ come
Film Noir Still, pg. 13: http://cdn.openculture.com/wp‐content/uploads/2011/02/filmnoirpage‐ e1319841938815.jpg
Theme: “Personal Impersonation” (2,000–4,000 words)
Mexican Flag, pg. 20: http://blu3dawn.deviantart.com/art/Mexican‐Flag‐209652796
Guest Editor: Wafik Doss
How To Use Time by Ted Goff ©1996, pg. 22: http://pbmagician.blogspot.com/2011/12/find‐time‐stop.html
Note on Submissions:
Spiral Clock, pg. 25 http://www.jesusgilhernandez.com/2013/02/21/the‐procrastination‐boost/
Make sure you put your name and title as the first two lines of your submission in the document. Please title the document with your name and the issue theme.
Popcorn by Enokson, pg. 29: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vblibrary/8516482429/sizes/o/in/photostream/
Motel By Thomas Hawk, pg. 32: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/5084754851/
Editor’s Final Note: Let us know if you’re interested in writing an introduction to the Turl. You set the theme, write an introduction (max word count 1,000), and submit a piece for the issue. Please send us any announcements that you would like listed on the Back Page
Doodles by Ellen van de Sande, pg. 33: http://ellenturningpages.blogspot.com/2010/04/collected‐doodles.html
Sandbox by Robert Froberg, pg. 39: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/‐ 91c1Ona8fRQ/TnPPleiU1uI/AAAAAAAAAPQ/HWZ‐ lP1R7Ow/s1600/Sandbox_by_robertfroberg.jpg
Image, pg. 42: http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/outdoor/koleston‐hair‐colour‐natural‐ night‐11349355/
Gravestone, pg. 44: http://torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com/.a/6a00e5509ea6a188340167613d8aa 0970b‐pi
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