NONE OF us know what’s next in our own unique way – we share that. The
figs are stillborns that, one by one, are resigning in a rain of
bruised tears that rail in the air and rot on the grass. Their muffled
phuds punctuate the ringing calls of the funeral parlor informing me of
the latest additions to the bill. The sun is out and when its face is
pressed against mine I feel like I
am learning. I sit at my father’s desk watching his image wink back at me from the
reticent convex of one hundred and forty-four brass drawing pins. “Sometimes the future seeps into the present unexpectedly, like when
your toothpaste broke in your bag on the way to Sri Lanka.”
“But that
wasn’t my fault, was it Dad?”
“Not at all son.” Just as I am busy
thinking that the furniture could do with a shuffle – a bird the same
colour a thumb bleeds when it is drawn across crimson coral, beats its
wings through the open window and sinks its talons – bent yellow straws
– into the leather of his chair. Then another, a tawny fake emerald,
then another, a blinking computer screen, and then another. Finally a
large black crow mourned its way through the window and sa  – a
fist of coal sanded down for better aerodynamics and belched an ominous
croak as if to lend some mortality to this Luftwaffe of colour. I sat
there curling my toes, half expectant and half aware that expectations,
by their very definition, are rarely met. The hand of an
environmentalist and then the rest of her, wrapped in red cotton check,
jeans and a tangle of biblical wire wool posted itself through the
window followed by boots coated in fig flesh. She was responsible for
this menagerie, this coup. She spun around and looked at me from two
slices of kiwi. The fourteen loo rolls she had been holding to her
breast spilled out. I recognised her as the same girl I stare at and
say nothing to as we wait for the number 37 bus. She gave an autumnal
shake and shed leaves of adrenalin.
“Sorry,” she stage whispered, “I am
being chased.”
“No respect for people’s property,” I said.
 She bent
down to scoop up the loo rolls – her eyes fixed on  me. She knew,
somehow, that my father and I used to pretend these little grey
cylinders were, in fact, telescopes. How could she know that? The left
corner of her top lip and the eyebrow on the same side of her face
raised up like they were attached to a string. If there was a puppeteer
– he was too high for me to see. “Your neighbour,” she righteously
indignated, “keeps those (she pointed to the birds with her elbow) in
these (she rifled me a gaze through a telescope) you’ve got something
in your teeth.” My lips hid my stones, a pillow between too much and an
imagination. I need a sentence. I always need a sentence. Her full-beam
headlights penetrate my dewy fog. I remember we have spent hours alone
and never before spoken. Suddenly there came a lucid thunderclap of a
noise from outside followed by two more. The SNAP, CRACKLE and POP of a
gun. “Pollock!” Came the halitosis of my neighbour Wallace Shanks out
of his broken-speaker-mouth. I walked onto the porch to behold a face
of grimacing gums standing next to a tree filled with slices of white
wedding cake. Beneath Wallace’s shadow lay the lifeless frame of an
orange parrot all laced with the pepper of a cartridge from his post
coital gun. “Where’s ye father? What’s he ave to say about ye
stealing?” he dribbled. I was about to explain why my father probably
wouldn’t have much to say about anything when a shock of white and
yellow go faster stripes flew past him and away, the seething man
squinted his warty lids and let off the gun for a fourth time in the
direction of the exotic flash – and my mother’s grave. The parrot
continued to minimise as Wallace sank to the ground with a flatulent
gasp. My mother’s headstone fell into two pieces as the man who had
split it choked on his own tongue and digested his own bullet. I winced
and watched as Wallace’s blood mingled with the flesh of my father’s
figs. “Give them a good roll and a squeeze before you bite, it draws
out the juices son,” but not always Dad.  Before long she was suggesting
what to do, calmly. Calm is sexy. The absurdity of what I was doing
dissipated – like bubbles do when you rinse them off a plate. “What
else are we going to do? Stick an ornamental fishing rod in his hand,
give him a little red hat?” she said. And in the next minute Wallace’s
dirty toenails and clean feet were sticking out the side of the compost
heap my father and I had made five years before. A memory of his voice
reminded me to cover Wallace’s body in straw and chicken shit, that way
he’ll decompose quicker. “Will it turn into oil Dad?” “One day,” he
replied. The sun is baking me in tin foil.
Know your words before you
start fucking up. Execute kindness.
None of us know what’s next in our
own unique way – we share that.ARCHIVE: 1st week MT 2005