Archive for August, 2010

Need a processor. Does WordPress count?

August 5, 2010

It’s likely that everything I write with a certain word count will appear here for a while. I want to keep track of my length, my Microsoft Word has run away from home, and only WordPress records word count. I have just fed you a pun, wrapped in regular conversation so that you’d eat it. Ha, ha.

This is a draft. What of it?

Thank you for understanding. With love, The Management.

The city is old now. Once it perched on hills and watched nature while the animals’ two-legged masters crawled about in its guts and opened its mouth to leave. It was strong and young, entire armies would clutter at its edges and push with their most terrible inventions, just to break its skin. Each human was its eyes, they could send out its vision across continents in miniature cities bobbing on water, where a bearded cursing captain would play king.

Now it’s senile, though it dresses as a god. Like Odin, the city sends trams to prowl through itself, watch the nervous two-legged slaves of nature rush about and at night, they whisper what they saw in its ears. Soot-grey haze blurs the stars and wafts over its buildings, which haven’t been clipped in decades and can almost touch the lowest clouds. This is one way the residents watch its anger and whining desperation to move with the earth like it used to. The way a puppy shrieks at the closed back door, the frantic cars and fast-moving, fast-chatting residents vent out its sorrow. The city has become unpredictable, every day odd happenings draw each set of eyes – an argument, car accident, protest march. Sometimes when the city can feel a certain resident on its surface, gone concrete-hard with age, it plays with them. Sometimes it becomes a boy with action figures, sometimes a sadist lifting a fly by its wings and deciding whether to watch it struggle or pluck them off.

So now, I can picture a young man’s figure – myself last Thursday night – when the city challenged that sprinting hooded form, leaning over with his laptop bag’s weight. Dodging between its obstacles, the city used a tram as its prodding finger, it tried to see him scramble over the tracks in time through its smog cataracts. It eased another train into his path, heading toward the figure’s home. Then, his hand stretched out, the city swiped it away and leaned in, anxious for his reaction. The figure dropped his head back, sighed and laughed. Maybe the city pelts its hatred at one person each night, who can tell? Like human drama, the city’s moods have no schedule, and each place expresses them a different way. New York has screaming matches, Sydney hurls gangs together to fight, and on weekdays Melbourne plays practical jokes. That’s how its gentle nature rolls. So, what happened:

This figure lounged in a warm alley restaurant, the cobblestone, Flamenco busker type. For company, two other writers. They clapped to the music, called rough jokes and whole debates over it to each other. All along, the city’s attention stayed on this alley, which became a flame for the eyes and the spirit each night. The waiters danced from counter to tables, strangers at different places with different menus could call to each other like old friends. It reminded the city of its past lives on other continents and the travellers it once sent out, the way they could greet hunched wanderers resting at crossroads and walk together until their paths split. Now, watching this young man wreck his throat by shouting and laugh at each little thing that snatched his attention, the city knew its old affection had faded – choked by the fumes that sent it blind. Tonight, it would only play with that happy young man.

First, it sent temptation. The young, well-kept attendant leaned over to fill his glass, held the figure’s eyes longer than the others, and danced away. The memory swayed about in his mind, until one of the writers asked the young man, “What are you getting?” He shrugged – “I’m easy.” A voice cheered, “We all know that!” and they watched the attendant waltz back to the kitchen. Between the meals they met eyes, their voices softened in simple things like “What do you want me to eat?” and “You certainly can have that,” and the whole dim alley sang to him, “Say more! Linger, chat!” But the figure had trains waiting, and he waved off the city’s lure. But he’d held the man long enough.

When the three stumbled off and their paths split, the figure scurried to his train station and glanced at the timetable. Something under the ground seemed to slither. The last train had become a coach – which was leaving now. He fled over the concrete, to the coach bay, then stopped at its glass wall outside. His bus crawled away, over the road, then out the tunnel. A train could take him near the same stop – he chortled, thinking of ringing his housemate to pick him up again – the city did this last night too, then lost interest. But tonight … his train arrived at the huge station’s other side. He flew, over the escalator, past police, his hand landed on the train door … just as it hummed shut.

Here, he laughed, glanced over the skyscrapers and – imagine the shocked chill if a mouse did this to the scientists running it through its maze – the figure whispered, “I’m not your plaything.”

Then, where the others panicked, or fell into one of the platform benches and cried, he wandered onto a tram and called his friend. He asked, “Hey, you wouldn’t believe what just happened. Can I stay at your place? Just tell me which stop to get off at.”

Just before this news-raven tucked into the city’s ear and slept – with him in it – he asked a passenger, “Is this next one Montague St?”

“Mate, we’ve passed it.”

It didn’t stop. The city threw him a last bitter shrug. He stepped off, laughed at himself, and rode the opposite tram just for one stop. A gamble. Now, he found the sign – Montague St. The figure knocked on his friend’s door, left the city’s elderly vision and slept until it lost interest.

The next day, he had until 9 o’clock to catch a train, before his housemate locked him out for the weekend. The figure was a traveller, and every traveller’s lodging has funny conditions. His second-last train home didn’t come. He sat on the platform bench, and waited … until his last chance rolled in, slow, placid. The figure climbed on, knowing the city had accepted him, the torturing child gave affection to his fly. That day, the city announced, every train ticket was free. The figure heard, “Little fly in your black hoodie, today I set you free.”