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A K I N G

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O V E M B E R

Selected Short Prose


a verb, not a noun

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W A K I N G N O V E M B E R Living to be a verb, not a noun... #


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ARGUEMENT As the name implies, is a study of the human condition. The short stories in this collection will become the blueprint for the title's character of question; who may or may not actually be a character but only in their essence have form. The name implies 'Waking November' - is 'November' a person, and is the act of 'Waking' November something of a metaphorical verb. Is November a state of transience, with no real discernable answer or change to the outcome of it's own effect or being; if one were to remain to the setting of November, you could detail the flat trees waiting for snow, the gray lull of afternoons as winter slides closer. Walking through those lush leaves on the floor of the forest as it readys itself for winter sleep. This Autumn walk represents the acceptance, or heralds the approach of some simplified aspects of survival - the kind of thoughts winter, and in being reflective of the November environment, brings. This is also the essence of November, bare trees and gray skies. I'd speak to November more like a caretaker, asking on where things can rest for the winter. November: The force of nature, just before the certainty of nature. With a little luck and a lot of sweat this November slide into Winter becomes a physical vehicle for the conscious act of acountancy on the emotional scale; those grey moments we take stock of what is absolutely required in the event of a firesale of our known lives. Those moments you know that you have to reexamine what is going to sustain you through the 'winter' or any other absence of what is considered productive. Something we of the Canadian climate get used to - we may have outdoor recreation, but nothing else is growing on us except the layers. I think this affects every one of us, this regularity, whether we feel it or not. This does fit with the urgency many feel in their lives, because of this continual shut-down environment.

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In this way the 'Waking' becomes this realization. Where perhaps the summer had filled the head with thoughts of endless disposability: 'Waking' already sees a different direction where things will one day be doled out by portions, in order to preserve what we have; not in any form of surrender, but resignation. In quiet triumph of the snow buries everything and leaves nothing but the time that passes until the snow leaves once again. 'Waking' makes us see that coming. Waking, however, also compares itself against what else could be. So is this a cure for the lush abundance of a summer breeze? Which part of abundance do these eyes get lost in before November gets around again and we've fallen short? Waking pares us down to our essence so we can be comfortable if not happy while times are lean. What we forget sometimes is that sometimes times aren't lean. The stories here were the shoots bursting green through spring soil, bringing as much color back to the world as those first moments will allow and allowing the eyes to adjust to what is no longer lifeless. A reason not to pull the covers over yourself and wait anymore because that's what's coming next.

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W A K I N G N O VE M B E R

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No one has woken November, she is still asleep. She is still wandering around in the corridors of her dreams. In this room she was a child, she was behind bars. She filled the room with her screams and left. She could not control this, something so involuntary that reached out as far as she could hope or see and found nothing. Those were the days when her God lay silent, exhausted from creating her world. Her new world of falling leaves, of fleeting memories, bare branches, her world of those sad moments when she actually smiled and no one noticed.

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A R E F R I D G E R A TO R C H A N TY

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Dear reader please forgive these insights they are cold. They have shivered for a thousand years in the refrigerator, they have unscrewed the light bulb with their eye squinting and placard pointing spite and mostly because at this point the light bothers their eyes. They have romanced all your cream repeatedly and then spit out the milk. Their holy-land is a tit, they dream of a cow, an industrious mouth and an endless stream of fluid not really caring from where it comes. They reject the idea of suckling. Their ensuing profanities have been swallowed by various boxes of baking soda, noted by yellowing post it notes, and they have decreed that you are simple so they will not allow themselves to rot, so they can be further ignored by you in return. They continue to make short sighted strategies such as this a way of nondeath. This is, and continues to be, an interesting cycle of existence, culminating only in a faint scent of oldness in the room, this is their love. It’s not that they were always bad hearted or shallow like this, understand that conniving is only it’s own reward, they just had nowhere else to go; and as with many other things with nowhere else to go they just stayed exactly where they were, as they are. They stay and occupy the space that could more obviously be used for nothing at all, or for something, or for age on age, by no one else but you. They stand on spots where there will be nothing old, demanding you remember, reminding you to forget. They remain to tell you that endings are endings, not beginnings in every new note of song. They remind you, too, not to eat green-brown meat, because it will not be reborn as some Greek phoenix except through your mouth and other orifices. They'd tell you beginnings lead to endings, and that this is not always sad. They are sad. They are lonely. They are a tribe now, one by one, making designs on the walls your psyche warning of wooly mammoths. They insist they are always the beginning of the end, but the beginning none the less. They write passages that spare your further considerations, while they ignore you completely and love you intimately that way. They write poems that no one understands, but every one interprets as if they #


do. They pour through history books and rip out the inappropriate pages. They keep those pages anyway, somewhere aside, and always light their fires with something else (just in case). They want to consume your brain and remake it into their likeness. They are there when you reach in without thinking, but they are the way you think when without reacting after you regret it. If you’re looking for them they’re somewhere left of the pork chops and /or north of your foliage and tomatoes always busy hiding from the light.

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P O VE R T Y

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Addressing of the park bench, the pigeons, the faded picture in yesterday's newspapers, the snow that just keeps falling and falling, the vague statistic someone else fell into; the wind howling outside a window, that's crying unformed, cold fingers and toes. The stray look along the sidewalk, that pointless searching. The fleeting warmth of the steaming grate, the rough shelter in every closed door, the eyes outside the fine China shop lingering but no longer proud enough to be jealous or even interested. The one with a child in a closed hand, a rigor mortis of the soul, which does not allow for peace holds the fingers shut tight. The one who has forgotten to speak out, who hold their words like their valueless currency. The one who once deserved more and still bargains for less. The reflection that doesn't match the memory. The memory that doesn't match the moment, the moment that never changes, the sameness worn like a veil across the face. A mask that cracks only to reveal another mask underneath. The steaming from a cup of tea that washes over a face, the frosted over winter windows, the silence of the kitchen where laughter once lingered comfortably, the feeling there should be something, but knowing that something else isn't. The urge to go, with nowhere to go to. The wont to speak with no one to hear. The desire to hear answered by silence, or white noise addressing of the television, the radio, all the voices point in a direction that always leads right by to somewhere else where fairy tales of happiness hide their spoils like thieves.

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N O VE M B E R ' S V E R D I C T

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What is the face of November I recall here like heathcliff? Your skull held at arms length, spoken to like a lover here in these rooms filled with these robed thespians. To ask what trick of light brought innocence to bear like a stencil against of hope against hope that makes you almost believe in it. What dreamed of stage did we meet on, which way did we turn to exit, why do the parts equal more than the sum when subtractions are made? These are all questions the black pits of the eyeholes know nothing about, but here is a deepness: This soft malleable blackness, swallowing the horizons of sight with the stare of the infinite. It's intenseness humbling you, it's pureness confining you in the knowledge of what is utterly simplistic. This is the darkness behind my eye when I close it, this is the light your face shined into my life in reverse.

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T H E M A I E S TA S

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The stage here has been set, there are flowers and candles in the corners, red velvet curtains covering mock back-lit windows. There is an implied ornateness which swallows beauty. A ticking clock files at the silence in raw sequential strokes of a second hand. There is a chamber orchestra, half awl, half asleep at their instruments. There is a crowd of people looking the other way. One allegedly whispers that each seat is a nation, and each nation fills a mote, and each mote is the world drowning under the seat of another mote. There is a fearful symmetry in this This is not an opera, this is not a grand spectacle, the players will take to the stage largely unannounced and unnoticed. There is a stale scent of optimism in the air, there are numerous calls for barter, and an equalling amount of replies with nothing to offer but their act of incessant taking. This is called balance for those who swell. The troop begin their sequence as business goes on. Voices are raised and fall, scenes are played out in perpetual ignorance, the myth of a production is the quality of it's complete ineffectiveness, mostly for those who can't recall ever having seen it. Points are made and sharpened here, then there are punctures, and soon everyone is deflated or impaled on circumstance. The players take no notice, going on about their business of entertainment. When the production is over they do not bow and leave the stage exactly as they found it.

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CALL ME GEORGE

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I sat down and had a beer with the devil. I know that claim must seem somewhat deluded, but I assure you that t was indeed Old Nick himself. Not the character you often see portrayed in popular religious art, he looked a lot like you and me (whatever we share in common, anyway). I was down at the bar, my usual routine after work. I sat with a pitcher and myself in the deserted mid-week room, alone with my thoughts. He came sauntering in with a pompous swagger, and I supposed it was only appropriate, because he does own some shares in creation after all. To my surprise he sat down with me and said deftly; “I am not the sum of all evils, you’ve got me all wrong” Bastion of creation as he is, he sorely lacked in social graces. I poured some beer into his empty mug and he smiled at me gratefully. “I never said you were”, replied I. “Well”, he said taking a sip, “You didn’t have to. It’s a popular misconception, really it is. I hate the smell of brimstone too”. “You’re awfully defensive for a Supreme Being” I retorted. “What is your name?” he asked, taking the pitcher and pouring himself another beer greedily. “I’m Jeff”, answered I, “and how shall I address you?” He thought about this for a moment. His one massive mono-brow furrowed in a deep concentration. His dark black eyes studied the ceiling as the beer slid down his throat, then the light of a muse struck his face, “call me George,” said he. “Well, George, you owe me a pitcher”, I said looking at the empty receptacle. He touched it and time reversed itself, the pitcher was filled again from the bottom to the top rapidly. “Happy?” he asked. “Yeah you’re a real cheap date”, I said and he howled laughter. It was a #


maniacal but almost charming whoop, that filled the room with it’s resonance. The bartender looked over with a passive interest, torn away from all the glory of Baywatch. “Is something wrong?” I asked. “No, not really.” he said, rubbing the condensation from the shell of his mug, “I mean everything is perfect. People are starving for the greed of others; people are dying for the ends of others. People are leaving their little religious nests and growing closer to me without even realising it-“ “You mean from-“, I began but he rudely interrupted, his face erupting into a mask of raw anger; “If you even consider using that thrice cursed name in my presence I will turn that beer in your stomach to acid!” “Sorry”, I said astounded by his vigour. Had I expected any less, really? His stormy visage soon relented into the serenity that had preceded it. “No, everything is going well. People are killing people in…(here he mumbled something inaudible)…in the name of whatever their particular saviour represents. And Oil, damn, that was such a boon; I’m looking forward to the day when the last drop has been sucked out of the earth! Now that will really be a party!” I could see his point. Or not. Pamela Anderson was a hell of a lot better looking. “The world is a perfect place for me right now and I do spend a lot of time here. I love kicking around Israel and Palestine. It gives me a real giggle to see the place where love and forgiveness was ultimately being born transformed by the hands of you guys into a shrine of intolerance. It’s almost as much fun as the gas chambers were at Auschwitz. But sometimes I just like to take a walk you know…meet John Q. Public. Like yourself Jeff. You’re a poster boy for the movement”. I sat, perplexed. “What movement is that, George?” #


He sat back and folded his hands; “Now you have to believe this took millions of hours to devise, in deliberation with my top advisors but it’s a perfect loop. Back in the days before the industrial revolution things were much harder for my cause. Back then faith and belief were divided and secure. People feared that greater power of Myself and that…(again that inaudible mumble, joined as well with a look of thorough disgust)…that other being. People feared for their immortal souls, and all that other foolish crap. I took a page from evolution, however, and in lieu of the usual attentions I laid upon the earth I got a better idea. Looking back through time, I saw the birth of fire and indeed the beginnings of “civilised” man.” I took a sip of my beer; he was starting to bore me just a little. But, after all, it was a Wednesday and there would be little else in the way of entertainment this night. “Did you know”, he said leaning forward again in his chair as if having sensed my attention span slipping, “that tribes used to wipe each other out for that precious little commodity; fire. Not everyone knew how to make it, and one would not be well served by waiting for lightning to strike a tree. Yet there you are in this cave thinking you've evolved.” “So, this inspired you how?” I asked, filling my mug once again. I filled his as well. “Well I woke up one morning in what you would have called the eighteenth century. I had been terrorising creation in my casual manner. I had cults, demons that walked the earth, the blackest of the black sorcerors kissed my hem - but somehow I was always thwarted. That particular morning I came up with a new theory on my conquest. Instead of undermining your existence, which you must believe really turned my stomach; I began to bequeath you gifts. I gave you the gift of inspiration, for example. Not in the artistic way, but in cold scientific reasoning”. #


“Oh come on now”, I said, “you can’t really expect me to believe that you are responsible for the industrial revolution, do you?” “There in lies the beauty of it”, he giggled madly, “who’d a thunk it Jeff? I had hype working to my own advantage in that area. In your minds you’ve raised yourselves to divine proportions. As you’ve progressed to the present day, with your microwaves and your Plasma Televisions and your nuclear bombs you still don’t even suspect the truth. All this technology owns you know. Have you ever known life without the threat of nuclear war?” I thought about this, it wasn’t really a good thought. “I have divided the whole race, made everyone into singular units where once long ago people would have been dependant on one another. Everyone wants more now, when then it would have been more about survival. People get so wrapped up in their pursuit of the trivial wants that they are won’t not to address another’s needs. Indeed, look at yourself sitting across from me. Sitting there with your cold beer, is there anything else you’d want right now?” “Well,” I said thoughtfully, “a million bucks would be nice” He snapped his fingers. The waitress, who’d been sitting at the bar watching television with the bartender, rose from her stool with a blank look in her eyes. I looked disparagingly at the devil but he just said “don’t worry, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before". She undid my zipper without a word, she withdrew a wad of bills I hadn't known were there. A million bucks. “See how easy it is to manipulate you pathetic little humans?” his smile seemed to stretch ear to ear, but I was otherwise distracted as he continued; “you don’t realise that in the time it took her to do that thirteen people have died from starvation.” “That’s not…my…not my fault”.

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“That’s exactly what you should think! Oh, I’m always so amazed by my own brilliance! I love you humans, indeed, you are far more suited to my image that that of…well…that other one. You humans are hilarious. You live on a pathetically small orb and somehow you all figure you live in your own world and what happens a world away has no bearing on you. You live like consequence isn’t shared by all! My gift to you is a lot like what that pretty little girl and that wad of cash right now; does this not please you?” “Yes”. “And now you see the fruits of my labour. As long as you are content and happy nothing else matters, does it?” When I reached for the wad of bills he withdrew it and tucked it into his breast pocket. “Everyone thinks exactly the way that you do, and this was my plan all the long. This is how you will send yourself hurtling over the brink of extinction; with ignorance and self-involvement. I win by default” his face had the look of a general that knew he was going to win the war, confident and calm. I took a sip of my beer, my legs still quivering in shock, “people are trying to help”. “Who? Who are they? You know nothing of your world but your course to work, your apartment and your bank balance. You know this bar; all of this belongs to your life and that is all that you are. You like to believe that others will fix the problems, and that you are just too busy. You hear people on television talk about these other worlds but then switch the channel. You come in here nightly for a pitcher, and to stare at the waitress’s ass when she brings it to you. You are my poster boy, Jeff, but there are many more out there like you that those faceless beings you believe are trying to help”. His voice was an ecstasy of triumph, “and #


this is a great time to tell you the real truth about all this. I am not really a higher power, nor am I the sum of all evil, as they like to represent me. Neither is…(inaudible mumble)…that other one. We represent you; we owe our existence to you. But I’m winning, because you have as a collective race entered freely into my domain. Evil is just a tiny slice of my domain; I am the harbinger of malcontent overall. I rule over the ignorant, over the angry and the hateful, I rule over everything that makes yourself yourselves. I represent the eternal slight that divides you all. I am the misunderstood truth of your existence and I am the personal gratification and all of the distraction in the world.” “You’re really starting to get on my nerves, George”, I said. “Sorry about that…I get carried away with myself sometimes.” he rose, “and I most certainly wouldn’t care to agitate you into any action. I just needed to gloat. Here-“ he said and filled my pitcher once again, “-this one’s on my tab.” And without a further word he just faded into the air. I turned my attention back to the television and sipped my beer, finding myself glad of the renewed peace and quiet. So let me assure you that I did indeed have a beer with the devil. I’ll tell you what; he could just have well been one of us, really…

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Waking November Promotional Copy