new svg!!!

September 19, 2007

Welcome to our new issue of SVG! Featuring Melissa Mann and James Quinton!!! Enjoy!!!

 

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tourettestial ~ James Quinton

September 19, 2007

often
bleating out obscenities
left, right and centre
to myself
or when standing in queues
or in the car
or at the endless fucking adverts on tv
madly swearing
falling into delirium
spitting out abuse under my breath
a torrential tirade
of unmitigated hate
i try to count to ten 

COCK-EYED ~ Melissa Mann

September 19, 2007

Annie leans forward on her stick, watching the tiny tumbleweeds of afro hair cart-wheel past the bus stop from OJ’s, the barbers on Wandsworth Road.  She pushes the thick bifocals up her nose with the bunched fist of her hand then leans in closer, eyes squinting. 

“Well I never did,” she says, looking round for someone to tell in the empty bus shelter.  “Like seeing someone’s life passing before your eyes.”  She prods the hair balls with the rubber bung end of her stick.  “Not that I can trust my eyes as far as I can throw ‘em these days,” she says, taking off her specs.  “Nothing wrong with my ears though.  Got ears inside my eyes.”  She breathes a frozen pond on each lens.  “I hear things I’d rather not, private things, like the fella next door with his lady friends.”

She rests her head back against the route map.  “Lovely fella, black.   Not married of course; don’t seem to go in for it much these days.”  She looks up at the speechless grey sky pressing down on the parade of shops opposite.  “Fifty-two years me and Jack were married.  He said to me once, ‘Annie,’ he said, ‘we’ve been happily married haven’t we.’  I answered him of course, squeezed his hand and fed him the rest of his porridge.”

A 77 pulls up at the stop, engine grumbling.  She smiles at the driver and waves him on with her stick, her thin red mouth like jam bleeding out of a cheap Victoria sponge.

“Fifty-two years…,” she says, looking at the watch lashed to her wrist.  For the past four years it has forgotten what comes after three o’clock.  It was Jack’s watch before they archived him in Lambeth cemetery. 

“Yes, ears inside my eyes I’ve got.  He’s at it for hours sometimes, black fella with his lady friends,” she says, gripping her stick.  “Quite acceptable these days of course, putting yourself about a bit.  I wouldn’t’ve minded a change from Jack, I’ll be honest with you.  Wouldn’t’ve minded a black man come to that… you know, just to see.  Just to see how I’d get on…”

She plucks the hair stuck to the end of her stick.  “So dark and wiry,” she says, rubbing it between her fingers.  “Not like mine.  Mine’s all thin and fly-away now.  Used to have a good head of hair once.  Yes, a real looker I was; turned many a young man’s head in my day.”  She fluffs a cloud of pale hair.  “Face like a fairy-tale ending, Jack used to say.”  She presses a hand to her cheek.  “Not now though, not after the stroke.  Face is like someone’s pulled a tablecloth out from under it.”

“Yer say som’ink?”

Annie jumps, turning to see a girl sitting next to her.  The girl pulls out her earphones.  “Can’t ‘ear a fuckin’ thing wi’ these in, yeah.”  She pops a full stop with her gum.  “What yer say?”

“Oh, don’t mind me lovey,” says Annie, taking in the girl’s bare thighs and tight t-shirt.  “I was miles away, talking to myself.  You wanting the 77 cos it’s just gone, and the 87.”

“Shit!” says the girl in a voice burned black at the edges.  She looks down Wandsworth Road.  “Fuck!”

The girl pulls out her mobile phone and starts barking into it.  ‘How confident she is,’ thinks Annie, fiddling with the hem of her cardigan.  She looks at the swallow tattooed on the girl’s mid-riff and feels suddenly nostalgic, nostalgic for the girl she never was.  ‘Lovely to be able to grow up in your own skin like that, not caring who’s looking, who’s listening, what they might think of you.’ 

“Boyfriend’s gunna come pick me up, yeah,” says the girl, snapping her phone shut.  “Poxy buses, innit.  Never one when you need one.”

“Yes, bit like policemen,” says Annie, nodding her head at the road opposite.  “Though I did see a pair of ‘em over there by the Tennessee Fried Chicken place when I was sat here yesterday.  Looked like they were holding hands.  Yes, you see all sorts sat here…  Pretty,” she says, pointing her stick at the girl’s tattoo.  A hair ball drops off her stick and floats away.  “Did it hurt?”

“Bit,” says the girl, turning to look across the road again.  “Two coppers?  Holding hands, yeah? Fuckin’ weird is that!”

“Oh don’t mind me lovey.  Mind forgets what it thinks sometimes,” says Annie, taking off her specs and rubbing her eye with her fist.  “I envy you, you know. I do.  I envy you young girls today.  It’s like… it’s like your living my share of a freedom I wasn’t allowed.” 

A blue Golf with a suck-me spoiler pulls up at the bus shelter.  The girl climbs in the front seat, takes hold of the man’s face and kisses him violently.  “That’s it, you live your life lovey,” Annie shouts over the sound of the engine revving.  “No-one ever died of being young!”  The car speeds away towards Vauxhall, baseline pulsing out the back window like an ECG.

Annie swallows, feeling words catch in her throat, whole sentences of them buttoned up to her neck.  A gust of wind rattles the shelter.  She cocks her head – footsteps, heavy boots loping along the pavement.  Annie leans forward and looks up the road towards the Beaufoy Bar.  A man is walking towards the bus stop, a black man, skin shiny as patent leather, a woollen hat, red, gold and green nodding to the beat of his steps.  Annie struggles to her feet, squinting right at him.  Her stomach has turned to sand and is falling towards her ankles like an egg-timer.  Eventually a grin like an open wound appears in the powdered folds of her face.

“Well I never did,” she says wiping her mouth.  He is standing in front of her now, smiling down at her from his six feet of tall; smiling down at the frail old lady who is laughing so much she has to sit down. 

“Oh lovey, I nearly fell out my pants!” she says, hand pressed to her chest.  “Thought all my Christmases and birthdays had come at once.” She points at his dreadlocks, which are so long you can see them hanging between his legs.  “I thought it was your cock!”

It’s no big deal. The federales rescued me. I needed them more than they knew. Leslie was out there in the east and we had a dog named Bubbles, imagine that. The dog’s name was Bubbles and it was a little thing some trinket in Hollywood would carry in her purse to a club before passing out and using it as an unwilling pillow. There was a bell on its collar.

There were a utility or two in my name but I was smart. That college flat was hers and I feel bad; it’s expensive. But distance is the same as time.
 
I moved here and things are different. When the federales were bi-monthy placing a few thousand in my checking account, this woman at yoga said: “and now we’re going to relax our minds because soon the aliens will return and bring with them the fourth dimension.” This women was serious. It known but it was a joke. Now it was a known and serious. This is the type of thing when we say ‘east’ and ‘west’. One of many types of things.

I was practicing the Science then and felt a kin with what I should say, “the fourth dimension’s here. It’s time.” It was like that but she was like the hoof of a deer and that’s it… The people bent and their muscles were lax. I’ll give them that. West is different than East. And Mountains are different than glacially flattened space.

But I drove and started working and we kept in touch and I didn’t love her. It was only circumstance and Steinbeck was the first thing I read, long ago. His California’s dead. So is Kerouac’s. It’s a little sad but now it’s my California, right?

Affluence everywhere. I didn’t have these thoughts then but I had their consequence and Les’ dad is a lawyer and I’m from DC and politics and money. You know? Maybe you don’t… there aren’t too many royalties. Anyone read Kosinski? My California would be like his, I guess. Even though his California was more like a privileged Manhattan.
   
The Feds, by the way, fired me, or refused to hire me, after they did. And my only guess is that my friend’s are terrible references. I’m sure I passed the drug test. It was the rest of the investigation that failed. Perhaps it was because I lied about never being in jail. I had actually forgotten and I thought that record was purged. So many truths have been ameliorated because of this nepotism.

So what happened? I went in and these people liked me. The secretary gave me a hug and the boss shook his head. It was out of their control.
   
“Who’s control?” I asked. “No. It doesn’t matter.” I looked out the window
   
A younger kid had already thought of that. He was excited. “It’s not People. It’s words, written down as laws. It’s LAWS. The PEOPLE have been taken away.” He showed passion.
   
“It’s ok.”
   
“I’ll give you a good recommendation.”
   
“It’s ok.” I said and gave them a hug, left and put in my notice for the rent on my house.

Next. I could have gone out and moved boxes or cut lawns or wrecked body and mind in one way or another. I could have gone back to Les. But shit, there was something different and money is self-perpetuating. It is a faith in others. Mexico is corrupt and this faith is lacking. They have their candles and Virgins, though.

I wandered around with sit-ups and push-ups, running in circles around palm-lined blocks until I was able to think like this: ‘Nothing is here to stay. Even the sun will dry up. We’re all taking advantage of something. We’re all already something else. Infinity is real. Everything is a combination of something. I will become every combination given infinity.’

So I bought a big van and got Mexican plates to fit in with that special breed of hatred down there. Oh, and it’s not hatred, it only looks that way from the glow up here. It’s a beautiful benevolence but the bandit here and there that’ll push a log on the road and rape your dog and rob you as you pass will be more likely to… pass. This is even truer in Guatemala where Reagan and the CIA did what they did. You know?

So I gave it all up and the federales helped me. To put icing on the cake, they allowed me to collect unemployment and that’s the most beautiful piece to the blurred puzzle. I collected, after they refused to hire me. So they stopped me from being able to do the job and then continued to pay me for not doing it. Even though I was willing to do it… is that not great? Those are the things that bring the smile to the face.
   
It’s hot. Waiting? I don’t know. I’ve stopped and sit. Sit for what? A reason, perhaps. There is no reason but there is desire. There is desire but not explanation. Where does love come from? A silly question. The options lead me to diseases. Morals are sighed away. Without someone to judge… instruct…

I remember a friend (perpetually) cheated on his timecard, took 2-hour lunches and claimed half hour. Brought the night’s party in with him. Left early. I asked him his solution to the jefes and he’d say he’d fill out the timecard once every pay-period and say he couldn’t remember. A planned ignorance. But this is not planned. This is only being alone and comfortable. 

That has nothing to do with anything. This is not about any religion. This is about that great sigh and circumstances that nudge. “Leslie.” See? No response and when I say, “Tecate?” they say viente instead of diez y cinco and I smile at them to let them know I know. ‘Oh, yes,’ my reluctance on the colorful money says as we tug a game with the cash. I watch them feel guilty and they are simple folk (like our fathers) and it’s only circumstance for my rich white face in this shaggy country smothering Latin America (it’s a ladder of smothering, no?). But they tug the money free and I wink. It wasn’t my money anyway, is the point. It’s yours. For sure. It’s yours. Understand? And I give it to them.