Collection #006 With special thanks to Jibba Jabba and all of our contributors. www.facebook.com/material.newcastle @materialNE on Twitter www.materialnewcastle.wordpress.com
Dear Al l , It’s been a while since issue #05 but Material is back after a brief rehabilitation period. The team has had a bit of a shake up and shuffle with the addition of dedicated poetry and prose editors in the form of Asa J Maddison and Emily Owens respectively. I would like to extend a massive thank you to Katie Bates who was co-founder and absolutely crucial to the setup of this project almost 18 months ago. Best of luck to you! Although there has been a period of absence and change we are still focussed on our original ethos. Material has been, and still is, an outlet for writers of all styles and forms with the aim of celebrating the written word by showcasing our contributors in print and online. This comeback issue is especially important to us because we would like to dedicate it to the memory of a good friend, Stuart Clark. Stuart was, and will continue to be, a massive influence on myself and Asa and without him this magazine would have never been a thought in my mind. It is a pleasure to include his work amongst such a high standard of contributions where it belongs. Thank you to everyone who has continued to read, submit and support this zine. John Baker
- Materi al Editor –
Poetry Editor -
Asa J Maddison
Prose Editor –
Contents Page 3 -
‘Timewaster’ by Kirsten Luckins
Page 4 -
‘Les Barbarians’ by Ryan Foster
Page 5 -
‘Thicker than Watter’ by Michelle McCabe
Page 8 -
‘Negation’ by Ryan Foster
Page 9 -
‘Midnight Snack’ by Anthony Arnott
Page 10 - ‘Driving on a Hot Day’ by Jane Burn Page 11 - ‘Road-kill Bingo’ by Jane Burn Page 12 - ‘Salt’ and ‘Sugar’ by Alex Lockwood Page 13 - A Few Words With…Tony Williams Page 15 - ‘The Midlands’ by Tony Williams Page 16 - ‘That February Afternoon’ by Tony Williams Page 18 - ‘Paper Flower’ by Chris Harland Page 19 - ‘The 9/11 attack on democracy’ by Aidan Clarke Page 23 - ‘The Military Mind has an Artificial Heart’ by Stuart Clarke Back cover - Quote by Jack Kerouac - A dedication to Stuart Clarke
Timewaster ‘Sorry’ the man on the train says ‘for asking, but are you a writer? I’m a writer. Sci-fi fantasy. I don’t believe in happy endings, such a cliché. In my book, everybody dies after three thousand pages.’ ‘Sorry, sorry to disturb you I’ve been writing my book for ten years since I was sixteen. Unfortunately I’m off to work, insurance for my sins.’ I ask him when he writes and he says he hasn’t written anything for five years. His eyes roll little wet pebbles his eyes gape little fish pleading with me not to say the bleeding obvious – if you haven’t written for five years you’re not a writer. ‘Sorry’ he says ‘I’ll let you get on’ He watches me make notes for five minutes, and says ‘that seems like a lot of work for a poem.’ Kirsten Luckins @ImeldaSays
Les Barbarians The barbarians, in shimmering nylons, were first heard marching â€˜cross the old stone bridge. They stormed the theatre, derided the production, 'fore plundering the tailor-shops for nylons. They occupied the bakery, - nibbled at the pastries, whilst mimicking the local vernacular. Then proceeded to the university, - stupefying the civilians with caterwauling battle-cries, great hybrid flags and banners held aloft (modernistic shades of green, blue, red, black, white, nylon).... the university was taken and they exulted the barbarians exalted themselves for their discovery: a Babylon amid the foreign squalor.
Thicker than Watter 18th July 1905. I’ll nivva forget that day. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! I screamed when watter rushed out from doon below. No one had tellt is what to expect and I was scared stiff. Me Auntie May came to ours when it started. She was helping is. She’d learnt how cos of all the bairns that had been born ower the years in Low Suddick that she’d help bring into the world. And no, she wasn’t one of them that did it cos they walked the streets and did it for the Mother’s Ruin. She was a canny woman was me Auntie May, even if she was me Da’s sister. The pain was gettin’ worse and all me Auntie May seemed to be deein’ was mopping me clammy forehead. “It’ll be all right, pet. Yay scream as loud as ya want. I’ve heard louder than that pet. I’ve got a leather belt if ya want to bite on it?’’ I looked up, feeling as if I’d done a twelve hour shift at Priestman’s Shipyard, where me Da worked. I shook me heed weakly. “How lang’s this ganna tak, Auntie May?” “It’ll tak as lang as it taks pet. I’ve knarn some lasses still been in labour for nearly fower days.’‘ I shook with fright as well as the pain, lying flat on the scullion table, with bowls of scadding hot watter and plenty of clean towels. I was only sixteen, and I was hevvin’ a bastard. When I tellt me Ma, she looked at is as if I’d committed the biggest sin gannin’. And I knaa that it was to her. It woulda been to everyone at the Church we went to as well if I hadn’t stopped gannin’ when it started showin’. If they only knew the truth... I remember when I was fifteen; Ma had been housebound for a few months and we knew she wasn’t gannin’ to get any better. To be honest she’d never been the same since she lost a bairn when I was about seven. Me Da too. That’s probably when he started to gan to the Halfway House on his way hyem from Priestman’s anarl. And that’s when he started gannin’ to the pawnbrokers too. He’d drink his wages away on the Friday neet and had
nowt to give me Ma for the housekeeping. So he’d pawn whatever he could to pay the rent. And the tick at the corner shop was gettin’ bigger and bigger. Aye and he’d be steaming drunk. We’d pray he wad be in a good fettle, otherwise me Ma might be in line for a good thumpin’. Anyways, like I said, when I was fifteen me Ma became housebound. She mebbe had one too many thumps or mebbe she’d never recovered from the loss of her son seven years earlier, I dinnit knar. I had stayed on at school from the usual twelve years old. Mr Thomas, the Board School teacher thowt I was bright so he said he’d keep is on as a helper and give is extra tuition. Me Da wasn’t very happy but me Ma insisted I went. She thowt I could mebbe get out of the shipyard cottages with the Ash Middens in the back yard that was only emptied once a week instead of every day like it was supposed to, and mebbe end up as one of these new secretaries that worked in the shipyard or colliery offices. I prayed I wad cos the smell used to drive is mad. Especially when it was wash day, hanging all the claes on the line. But when I was fifteen and me Ma was housebound me Da made is give up at the Board School. I had to tak ower me Ma’s household duties. I would say before that I was reasonably content. Aye, content. I’d gan to school and I’d still see some of my friends at dinner time at the Green. Some of them had got jobs at the laundry so we’d have our snap like it was a picnic if it was sunny and if it rained we’d try and get shelter and try and eat it without getting the bread wet. I’d usually hev dripping sandwiches, with the dripping from Sunday dinner. After I’d been doing the household chores for about six months, me Ma was getting no better. Friday neet came and although I knew me Da wouldn’t be back till after nine, I’d made his tea, tripe soaked in vinegar and bread and butter and I’d mak a huge cup of steaming tea, strong enough to stand a spoon in. I heard him before I saw him, he’d had a good neet, cos he was singing ‘The Black Shawl’, one of me Ma’s favourites, changing the words, “He worked at the shipyards for nine bob a week, but all I get off him is plenty of cheek.” I smiled, cos it could’ve been written by me Ma that one. Anyways, I’d put the kettle on and I was just about to mak his tea when I felt him reet up close, his beer soaked breath warming the back of me neck. Then he started kissing it. I panicked, me Ma was upstairs and fast asleep.
She was usually asleep by eight and I knew if I screamed I wad probably get a thumping. “What ya deeing Da?”, I asked trying to sound as if I was asking if he wanted his tea. “Well ya hev taken ower ya Ma’s duties, and it’s Friday neet.” I stood stock still. I cannit remember what happened next, but suffice to say, a few weeks later I started feeling sick and me belly started to swell. I told me Ma I’d met an American sailor doon the fishquay, when I’d gone looking for something for tea and he’d taken advantage of is. I didn’t dare tell her the truth. It would’ve killed her. She said we’d pass the bairn off as hers, otherwise I could’ve ended up in a workhouse or an asylum. No-one would ask any questions. Me Ma even managed to get to the church for Frances’s christening. Everyone kept asking is why I was crying. I just said I was so happy I had a sister at last.
Negation ‘We do not want to condemn the king....we want to kill him.’ – Georges Danton And the hulking silhouette of theocracy was too much, yes; MdeR stopped the blade mid-way on its descent, the thick fumes of the Festival drove into the scaffold, and then, only two months later, was there such hesitation when the Supreme Being’s head was held in a fat, gloved fist to fat, veiled faces?
Distant cars outside, no breeze, spring of the bed, breathing beside me. House settling, floorboards nearly give me away, descending the staircase. Fridge lights swing into tiles, shuffling crockery, knifeâ€™s teeth scrape on jarâ€™s lip. Back upstairs, both hands, crumbs everywhere.
Driving on a Hot Day Liquid mercury heat sheen licks Over sizzling, crested road humps. Driving, squint-eyed against the sun, Surprised how shimmering mirage Fosters forgotten memories Of extra value days dealt out In August daylight double length. A teasing dare would cause me to Kick off my cheap seaside flip-flops; Walk barefoot on scalding tarmac, Wincing at grit studded pavements. I took extreme care to avoid The desiccated islands of Hot white biscuit crumbling dog shit Product of wandering mongrel. A small tear in my yellow dress Caused by tumble from garden wall â€“ Floral, turpentine after-burn Caused by greedy consumption of Too many Parma Violets. Jane Burn
Road-kill Bingo Grey squirrel flattened mid-flight, a Moth-eaten grandmas stole Pressed to the ground: a pavement pie. Rabbit â€“ gaudy, crimson Fly feast entrails winding round; a Luau garland garnish. Badger corpse, drunk in the gutter Grey belly uppermost, Paws hooked over; gurning Mask smiling in expectation Of a tummy tickle. Stuffed wood pigeon, too fat to fly Paid for his gluttony Feathered snow puffs, light and blowy; Are all that remains of Brief pillow fight between plump breast And solid car bumper. Beef jerky dried voodoo carcass Hints at hedgehog, maybe. One more domestic pussy cat Crow stiff as unwashed socks And I have it â€“ road-kill bingo. Jane Burn
Sugar Each morning before lunch, after he’d swept the floor to earn money for schooling, Gwale would go out to the garden and climb the avocado tree and pick us the best fruits for our dessert. I was terrified of the tree, not for its height, which was larger than I ever imagined, ignorant of how avocados grew, but for the lace of web dipping between branches, the potency of the arachnids who lived amongst places where, if I were stuck, which I knew, from my childhood climbing our plum tree, could happen, I would have to face their brown scurry. My colleagues, mostly Zambian, ate their avocados sprinkled with sugar, as we do grapefruit. It was many years later, while reading Alice Walker’s The Temple of My Familiar and finally realising that Miss Shug meant Miss Sugar, that I understood what sugar might mean to Africans, and why my colleague Siviwe put between fifteen and twenty teaspoons of sugar in each cup of tea, each morning and afternoon, right up until his disappearance, only noticing he had gone when his avocado halves remained unsprinkled and uneaten.
Salt No-wonder Dunja did not date Westerners. In the fat of the war, as Milosevic besieged Sarajevo and every other city across Bosnia, the West, sending convoys to her aid, did not discriminate in the foods they sent. To Tuzla, sixty days under the sniper, arrived one morning in a Red Cross-bartered ceasefire, three trucks from Catalonia filled with sodium chloride. The white stuff, seasoning, vinegar’s other half, life’s essential solution-reactor, and, thought Spain, foodstuff’s symbolic saviour. Of course, Tuzla is the only city in Europe with its own salt lake. In Ottoman Turkish, it means ‘salt’. So the Tuzlans, under the eyes of the Red Cross and unbelieving snipers, poured those truckloads straight into the Pannonian. (And Ivana from Croatia, I soon discovered, was more amenable to the gut flora of foreigners.)
A Few Words with Tony Williams… Tony Williams's first book of poems was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh, Portico and Michael Murphy Prizes. All the Rooms of Uncle's Head (Nine Arches) was a PBS Pamphlet Choice, and his debut book of flash fiction won best short story collection in the 2013 Saboteur Awards. He teaches creative writing at Northumbria University. Hi Tony. You’ve had great success in writing both poetry and prose - what form do you prefer to write in? More and more I’ve discovered that there are things you can do in prose that you can’t do in poems, and vice versa. Recently I’ve been writing prose, and it’s very moreish: prose feels attractive and available, and the poems aren’t coming very easily. But there’s something about the poem, when you’re in the thick of writing it and you know it’s working, that can’t be beaten. I find prose comprehensible – I can read it and know why it is or isn’t good, and think rationally about what to do with it. It’s rather deliberate. The poem is different: more intuition, more guessing, and for that reason more exhilarating when it’s coming out right. Have you, or would you, ever consider writing a novel? Well, as a matter of fact I’ve just finished writing one. It’s amazingly difficult, in the mundane sense that just sustaining something that long without losing focus or tone is very hard to do. It can’t be ticked off incrementally as a book of poems or short stories can. Is it a novel, or just a very long short story? I’m looking for a publisher for it now. I suppose they’ll tell me the answer. How disciplined are you when you write? Do you have a set time or place in which you sit down and write or do you take a more fluid approach? I’m terribly undisciplined, and very easily distracted by anything I see in real life or in a book or on the internet. But I think that’s healthy, really – feeding the creative process. I like to grab time to write when I ought to be doing other things – that’s when I seem to be most productive in terms of words-per-minute or poems-per-week. It’s great to have big chunks of time to write. I’ve just had a big load of research leave to work on the novel; but there is also something joyful about sneaking a quick half hour to write when I should be doing admin or whatever. I write best in the mornings, which is odd as I’m not a morning person. I get up and my brain is empty and I can just build up a head of steam. After lunch it gets harder. In the evenings I read, and then after I’ve turned out the light I might find myself thinking of ideas, and have to sit up and write them down.
When setting out to write a collection do you have a definite aim with regard to its themes or style? With regard to themes, usually I do, yes, but I’m not sure it really helps. Certainly the final manuscript tends not to match my initial intentions. Maybe it’s good to have a destination in mind, but you have to accept you won’t get there. Style is a bit trickier. Of course I know what are the ways I have managed to write before, so it’s a fair bet they’ll be involved again. But you don’t want to keep doing the same thing, or it would get boring. And in terms of stylistic features, like, say, particular stanza shapes, it’s very dangerous to pre-select them. I don’t believe in a mystical process of ‘letting the poem find its own form’, but you do have to be flexible, try things out, and see what happens to work in that instance. I’m always planning book-length poems or sequences using six-line stanzas or whatever, and in the end they boil down to a single poem, or nothing at all. What, or who, inspires you to pick up a pen and write? The thought that death is relatively imminent so I should use the time well. Are there any authors that you would name as influences? Lots and lots, in all sorts of different ways. You know, for prose fiction I could say (and usually do) Alice Munro, Jane Smiley, David Gaffney, and for poetry Auden, Peter Didsbury, Lisa Jarnot, Michael Hofmann, and so on. In the end it’s just a list, though – you get specific things from different writers, and sometimes it’s only years afterwards when you realise what someone has to teach you. For years you think you learned one thing, something obvious or to do with tone or effect, and then you realise it was something else – a delicacy or tact, or some unconscious syntactical tendency. These things are hardwon, and personal in the sense that I can only pass on what I’ve learned in a second-hand way. I can’t make others feel that lesson, only see it. All you can do is point to things you think are good and say, ‘I like’ – though from ‘I like,’ literary criticism was born. Can we expect anything new from you in the near future? I’ve got a book of poems called The Midlands coming out in 2014. It’s a kind of love song or hymn of praise to the region, the landscape, the town, the hill, the house I grew up in. I will try to sell it to you.
The Midlands are crying, crying for haslet and bacon, crying for bridges where railways falter, crying for sumpters no longer needed on towpaths of moss and built-upon pasture and troughs of mind-stilling water where only the rats and the litter come to drown. They are crying for schemes for the installation of solar panels, for mortgage advisors, for money itself in the old-fashioned sense of the biteable coin exchanged for the ancient inviolate volume of sulphuric bitter, which also they cry for and cry for and cry for at length in the night. They cry in the car parks of aerodromes, deep in the cellars of buildings that used to be bookshops but now are where somebody dying refuses to soften their accent or will to the ears of well-meaning strangers. They cry for the conkers and tennis balls lost in the leaves and faded fragments of pornography, and the woodlice too. They cry for the fences and steam engine rallies and dogs and bags of granulated sugar. They cry for the rugby posts lost in the mist, for vandalised road signs and nullified Sundays, for the teenage perceptions of dreadful pan-Midlands despair at the doom of solitude made real in bedrooms invaded by older sisters themselves driven mad by the tussocky desert of pop songs and taciturn lads in the suburb-like towns and the town-like suburbs of Dirgeville, and Grieflington, and Sad-at-Heart. This is neither under nor over, nor near nor far. There is not the flash of headlights on the wall to say that someone loved is coming home. There is not even the clarity of hatred, but only the rain that sets in on a plain between ridges, the magistrates courts as busy as ever, the chorus of starlings chattering trenchantly on in the skies, an unfound grave of a Mercian king under wurzels, new housing, and out-of-town Asdas that mop up the rheum of the foothills that lean-to the North.
That February afternoon
That February afternoon when the mist had made the willow pattern grimy as the pumps at Esso and given the tablecloth croup I tipped every promise Iâ€™d made and received on to a plastics fire, to see what would happen. It was an afternoon which had abdicated in favour of evening. It was a piece of chipboard ruined by prolonged exposure to damp. The buckets had applied for compassionate leave and without them the patio looked like a sports hall commandeered for the storage of people and beds following the discovery of asbestos. It was a nylon moustache trying to edge through customs. As afternoons go, it was like sitting next to a jazz bore at a wedding the day before you go in to have a stye removed. We lost our credit cards. We played minigolf in the rain. We used an Enya CD to scare off the birds from the roof of a kiosk. I went out to spread the news of the desecration of the signage at Halfords amongst the officious wheelie-bins, the lazy hosepipe, the ghosts of the horses doing impressions of cops freezing on stakeout and the vulnerable, timid potatoes
hiding in the garage from the gangs of hyaenic teeth. They listened, sceptical, disenfranchised, podgy, and advised me to put on a jumper from the corners of their afflicted mouths. Later that evening I burped explosively as the tinsel from Christmas renewed its J’accuse and the rain tapped on the window asking for its copy of MR James and ‘ever since that time in the car park its wife has walked with a limp’, but I was asleep in front of the snooker and only registered the hours’ continuing mither by dreaming of captive bears distracted from the misery of 70s earworms with a couple of rotten melons and a lull in the pop of artillery and noting, in my diary of that year, ‘Perhaps a weekend in the Lakes will recharge my chutzpah.’ Tony Williams Tony’s short fiction collection, All the Bananas I’ve Never Eaten and his poetry collection, The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street, are available at www.saltpublishing.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.abebooks.com
Paper Flower One week ago today you smiled And made short work of a good long while: Sluggish hands flowed faster And the calendar stood no chance. One week ago today I thought The world had surely ended: Unprepared and undefended I was crippled By your sweetness, Honest thought and modest meekness; Trifles - needs and cares â€“ Suspended. I, in short, began again, For a time. One week ago today I faltered: Heroin thoughts in an instant altered; Stalling thoughts, persistent, halted Sure advances. Though stutter-spoken, My awkwardness bestowed a token Of interest piqued and life awoken, Folded and offered simply. One week ago today We shared the shortest hour And much, Much more than a paper flower; Once made and kept For no clear purpose; Until you smiled Its beauty was worthless. Chris Harland
The 9/11 attack on democracy Shocked me. Aged only 20, I lay down by Leopoldplatz U-Bahn Station In West Berlin And wept. This was the 9/11 of 1973 When the Government of Chile Was overthrown by a military coup. Those who expected The U.S. to condemn the Chilean army. Discovered the U.S. had fingers in the pie, Demonstrating a belief in democracy Only if it provided the approved result. 28 years later, On another 9/11, When terror hit the Twin Towers, Few observers recognised the historic coincidence Or realised a brutal irony Had built a bitter road Between the two Septembers.
Many acts of violence line that road, Each granting planning permission for the next And revealing the ruthlessness, short-sightedness And shooting-yourself-in-the footedness Of he-hit-me-first politics. I was left with nowhere to go And nowhere was precisely where I had to go. I became a nowhere man, Sitting in his Nowhereland, Drawing all his nowhere maps For nobody.
I’ve spent more years writing in cafes Than Keats lived, But I’ve made it to 60, Happy with my whereabouts. I’m pleased to be nowhere With an eagle’s view of everywhere. On a clear day, you can see forever. Aidan Clarke
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The Military Mind has an Artificial Heart. I watched the worker bees bring the honey to the story. ‘Green light…! Red light…! Green light…! Red light, red light, red light, red light, lockdown!’ It had been a hairy ride into Kinloss air force base. My role itself was never truly explained in full, but they gave me a pass card, and said ‘there it is!’ I asked how it worked. And that was the last time I heard another voice. The orderly cued me to a long white coat, and told me to ‘watch out for the biters doc,’ I decided to help myself, and self-medicate some kind of ‘saccharin enriched tonic’ among the patients. It failed, and became a hideous riot of whispers, and blackened rings of unknown prejudices. What’s that saying I thought, something to do with ripping a book and a cover without even turning a page. I decided to inquire, and turned it myself. The lettering was brutishly black, and bold, and I gave it my ‘absolute attention’, but I couldn’t clearly make out the language?’ No wonder I couldn’t read it. Maybe, it had been a good story yes, clever, yes, but the narrative was unclear, who was this unknown author? Did ‘he’ use the pen or did the pen use him? I was confused so I decided to clear my throat with the dregs from a dented can of Pepsi. It tasted funny, but it somehow didn’t quite have the ‘snap, crackle, and alcopop’ of Aldi Vodka and coke. My memory started to fail me like the tools in this ward. The military system had lost control; patients projected their greatest fears into one another’s psyche. After Nine weeks the medical team tried to end the crisis by sacrificing a previously, previously, etc, escaped goat. After splitting its head they found a note, but no one could read. So why did the patients carry books? I still couldn’t figure out why the killings went on, and on. Doctors came and went. But the patients didn’t listen, and the listeners didn’t have patience. The pressure mounted; there was no communication from the outside world. Until a disbarred associate from the past turned up unannounced! At the time of his arrival, I was sitting, damp, in my office by the radiator when I heard a knock at the door!
‘One second!’ I shouted, ‘Stop banging, I’m coming!’ Before I had another chance to move, the window to my office smashed! I reeled in shock as I watched my invited intruder lean over the broken glass. The doctor’s expression never sat naturally on his face. It was focused and mean, and you knew he always had that mean look when you turned your head. ‘Hell, oh, oh, Doctor Freech, it’s, it’s good to see you?’ ‘Are you a drug addict?’ Said Freech. ‘No, no, Doctor, I’m the….’ ‘Show me your veins! I rolled up my sleeve, and gave the doctor what he desired. ‘Okay, get me one! Strap him down; drug test him; get the evidence from the lymph glands. He’ll have no need for an immune system now.’ ‘Oh, no, no, Freech! Please, sit, rest awhile!’ ‘Yes, yes, yes, let’s reflect.’ Said Freech hunching to his knees for…for a second! ‘Hhmm, too random eh! No your right, we’ll round them all up; flush their systems with saline, and paracetamol; let the vital organs fend for themselves!’ ‘Doctor, Stop! Do I have to call the MP, s.’ ‘Just try it my good friend. You’ve had disturbances in the special wing. It’s been reported to me that you’ve been trying to get know the patients! You’ve been experimenting!’ ‘Never Freech, I’ve spoken to no-one, but you!’ ‘You Lie! I have spoken to General McQueen, and you are now only to assist in the matters at hand! Now…basement…keys!’ Wheezed Freech, tapping a large metal spike against his thigh. ‘Keys? Basement? Please doctor, let’s…talk!’ ‘Get me a crowbar then! The men can be socialised in nineties minutes. We will observe them at the mess hall. Give them two options: bread and water or turkey fillets and growth hormone. Then we wait, watch, and listen for the mirroring of personalities. And so to Segregation! We then brush the hungry to one side, and
brand the closet narcissists with a hot iron. The aroma of their own flesh will make them strive for excellence.’ ‘Doctor that’s, I mean, it’s unethical!’ ‘No, no, you simpleton, we’ll give them what they want.’ Freech pulled down his trousers to reveal gold stitching in his skin. The words read: ‘Heaven is me!’ ‘So, what is hell to the military man?’ I said, looking for another way out of my office. ‘It’s…Its, its, its!’ Freech mimed two words in the air then shouted: ‘Now where’s the lobotomy table?’ ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes Doctor, the good old days.’ I said with a strained grin. ‘We have a situation here, if you could observe for a day or two, then you can…!’ He leaned over and pressed the spike against my temple. ‘Do you want a slice of the pie? ’ ‘Please, doctor step back for a second! Can you not be adult for once?’ I said reaching for the panic button under the desk. ‘Jesus, Freech, it’s not a toy…!’ I put my head back and gasped, as I felt the warm flow of blood fall to my chin! I had to calm the doctor. So I mixed the dull yellows with the light orange capsules. ‘Here! Freech, take these!’ He swallowed the lot and flashed a grin. I tapped my leg like a jack hammer to try and distract myself from the doctor’s flaming gaze. After a few minutes he began to talk gibberish, and slowly fell into a twitchy sleep…for a second! I sighed as he picked up the pace of his argument, again, and again: ‘If any survivors persist we’ll keep a close inspection of their skin tone. Once the blood starts to flow back into the subjects cheeks we will look toward the veins! Opium extract is what they really desire, and we’ll give them it, at night! A couple of months; a shot of artificial flu, and they have the thirst to kill themselves.’ I turned my back on the doctor, as my heart raced at the thought of the days to come. I realised by Freech’s persistent mannerisms that I had no option, but to adhere to his quirky medical procedures. I knew that I had to kill time if I wanted to get back to any sense of reality. But I had to keep the Doctor’s trust, or else he would have
me on the slab, for sure! The only ray of hope was that someday, on a day of rest, maybe, I would eventually get back to see my son again. I shook my head and realised that there was silence in the room! The drugs must have worked. I glanced over my shoulder to see the sleeping Freech. He was gone! A note sat where the doctor had once been. I picked it up, it read: ‘Gone to the basement! Wish you were here!’ Huuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I thought, I wonder what he’s doing now?
In memory of a true friend and forever the Third Man…
Stuart Clark th
10 November 1972 – 9 September 2013 “[…] the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!" -Jack Kerouac, On the Road