man with gun

*

 

Man with gun enters room. Fully grown, mature, adult, man with beard, known to friends simply as ‘that man with the gun.’ Everyone immediately acknowledges man and gun, exchanging formalities such as – Good to see you man, it’s been too long, and nice gun bro, where did you get it? Man with gun stands by television, picks up remote in one hand whilst still carrying gun in the other. Points remote at television. ‘Whatever you do, don’t get them mixed up!’ I joked in an attempt to make him approve of me slightly more, so as to lessen the hopefully very slim chance that he might use his gun on me for whatever reason.

He flicks through TV Guide and finds show about monster trucks. Really big, massive, nasty TRUCKS like MONSTERS with really big, massive wheels crushing things forever, on camera. I start to wonder why man thinks it is necessary to carry large, metal gun, possibly loaded and with bullets. Maybe man thinks of gun as fashion accessory, like bracelet or watch. Maybe man feels like 007 with gun. Maybe the ladies are into the whole gun-thing…

 

**

 

Man with gun wears leather jacket inside and likes to talk about politics and football, sometimes momentarily making people forget the incontrovertible fact that he is still definitely, 100% in possession of deadly weapon, more specifically; gun. Everyone agrees strongly with man’s opinions, no matter how extreme or uninteresting, partly because man with gun is perceived as edgy and likeable, partly through fear of being shot with gun. Friend Steve asks man when he got gun and man says that he has had it ever since man was child. Man changes subject and mentions that he enjoys ice skating. Friend Steve asks if he skates with gun in hand and he says yes, obviously. It can’t be easy, on ice with big heavy, metal gun in hand, friend Steve says. Man comes out with, it’s actually a lot easier than you might think, holding a gun at the rink. Haahaa very lyrical. I carry on thinking about why man feels urge to be constantly armed with gun and think maybe gun is an anxiety-thing. Life can be very stressful for most people and maybe carrying gun just takes edge off. Friend Steve then says (quite sycophantically) “I can’t get over how cool that gun looks on you man. It really suits you. Damn I wish I could pull that one off.”

“Thanks dude” the man replies. A very long silence, then-

“So… shot anyone good lately?”

 

***

 

Man with gun’s wife comes into the room and sits on man’s lap then asks, “how are you both?”

“Fine thanks.”

Man puts arms round wife’s waist and holds gun with both hands pointing forwards, forefinger relaxing on trigger. He says they’ve been together for six years now, and got married the year before. He opens up wedding album on mobile phone and shows us endless series of photos taken somewhere in France of man, wife and gun together in state of perfect contentment. Man sheds tear whilst showing photo of man kissing bride at altar with left hand on wife’s cheek and right hand holding gun by side. Emotional Friend Steve also sheds tear.

I’ve had many rum and cokes at this point and can’t really hold it in any longer so I ask man, “this might seem like a personal question, and you don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to. But when you both…you know… in the bedroom…together,” I point at gun “does the gun stay or…?”

“Yes that is very personal and actually quite rude,” wife nods head as answer, “and I’d also like to add that I may have a gun, but other than that I’m just a normal human being like everybody else. A human being with a job who likes to do things like watch television programmes about cars, spend time with my wife and children and have a beer at the weekends with friends. Why does the conversation always have to be about the fricking gun? This does NOT define me!” Man with gun is now red-faced and angry.

“You’re not going to shoot us are you?”

 

****

 

Man with gun has hair played with by wife whilst man gulps large mouthful of whiskey with grimace. “They aren’t trying to upset you honey. Don’t make a big deal out of it. The whole gun thing is just a bit unusual for most people at first, that’s all.”

“It’s fine. We can just draw a line under it now. Honestly.”

Friend Steve leaves room.

Big, massive MONSTER TRUCKS jumping off bales of hay and smashing into each other to loud AMERICAN ROCK MUSIC nobody knows. Friend Steve casually comes back into room in with large carving knife in hand, pointing downwards like dagger, sits down and scrolls through social media on mobile phone whilst humming. Everybody looks over and sighs. Man with gun scowls.

“Put the knife away Steve you loser.”

 

Tamarite I

I told my Madre that I was going to meet a girl in the town centre. She asked, ‘oh how do you know girl?’ I said Tinder, ‘What is Tinder? Is it like Facebook?’

‘Yes it’s like Facebook.’

I didn’t look too much into the girl. She was British, which is why I wanted to meet her, hoping for a nice fluent conversation (none of the Spanish chicks around would match with me). I would equally have met up with a British lad if there was one around, possibly with far greater enthusiasm. She was eighteen, which is five years my junior, an age disparity which I am oftentimes prone to forgetting. She was not the finest looking, but appeared like she made an effort with the feminine things like makeup and hair etc. From her pictures she looked very pleasant, happy, full of life. Almost every message she sent she used the 😀 face, so I assumed even if she was lacking in the brains department at least she would be entertaining. This certainly wasn’t a date, however. More a casual surveillance of what’s on the radar.

I was walking down past the rocky roads and the Favela like buildings towards the chick. The streets were punctuated by groups of old ladies on deckchairs, sat together on the pavements. I had only seen elderly women sit like this in Requiem For A Dream. They always seem in fine spirits. I say Hola! When I walk past which never fails to make them giggle.

I walked past a chick on the other side of the road who was quite beautiful, she was also using her phone so I was confident it was her, and I intermittently looked over at her until she had gone past so as to indicate it was me. It wasn’t her.

I wished it was.

So the chick calls. Bethan is her name. She asks me where I am and I say I don’t really know, but I will know soon as I’m near the centre, which was where we planned to meet. Then she starts getting a bit stressed, ‘Oh so I’ve been going in the wrong direction this whole time, HAVE I?’.

I say ‘don’t get stressed, everything is going to be okay.’ She’s a bit northern. I explain in very simple terms that I know where I’m going, I just haven’t got there yet, but she insists on staying on the phone to talk through it all. I hear sighs through the phone. I tell her I’m near the tower. She says, what tower? The massive one in the middle, that comes up when you search Tamarite on Google Images. She says, oh my God I don’t know any tower and I imagine a :/ face.

You’ve been here for two months already girl get a fucking grip.

She mentions walking past some Jesus statue, and I make a couple of jokes about how I love Jesus and Jesus loves us too. There’s a bit of silence on the line, and she says, ‘are you a Christian or something?’.

‘No Bethan, no I’m not.’ What kind of idiot calls their kid Bethan?

I’m in the centre of Tamarite in no time, where the shops and bars are immaculately split up by two parallel lines of trees. There are kids around of all ages, jumping around and playing. My own kids go out at ten every night, and come back at twelve. This is seen as normal, as the little town is a proud community and safe place, radiating with joy.

They took me a bit by surprise in their brightly coloured t-shirts, flocked round a monument of some sort. One who was perched on the steps said ‘Hello Jim.’In Spanish the Js are pronounced like Hys. So this would be pronounced ‘Hello Hyim!’. I took a long look to see if my kid was there, fortunately he was not. I then saw Bethan, standing on the other side of the road, on her mobile phone. It was unmistakably her. I wandered over and as I got closer I slowly began to make out what I was dealing with.

She was of course fat and stumpy, and on getting closer I was instantly reminded of a dumpling. I went in to hug her and found that her head was in line with my belly button. We went over to the nearest bar. I went inside to get a drink, and she stayed outside. I looked at her and made a drinking gesture through the window. And she eventually clambered in and said, ‘it’s Spain, they come to you you know.’ I stayed at the bar, getting myself a San Miguel and her a cloudy shandy. I’m not a fan of that pay monthly contract bollocks, pay as you go all the way.

‘You don’t mind smoking do you? It’s just I smoke, all the time.’ She got the fags straight out, and in a few moments, it was confirmed that she was a glumbucket, of the highest order. The way she talked about everything was like a moan.

I don’t get paid enough. My dad doesn’t speak to me anymore. He cheated on my mum. Not a single one of my friends wished me a happy birthday the other day. Nothing ever works out for me. Yeah, yeah get over it.

I knew this was nothing but a pointless exercise, not even a training exercise, more like being caught in a traffic jam on the M25. But still I had enough energy to rage against the dying of the light, having a glass of Estrella sitting in front of me. I found it hard to listen to what she was saying lest it depress me into a Toblerone binge to Scotland in my bare feet.

Her hair was dip dyed and slung back across the top of her head, above a red forehead which was faintly glistening with a border of sweat. The rest of her head blended into the neck, leaving no obvious distinction of which was which. She was wearing these awful glasses that were very large, with thick black frames. If they were practical glasses it would have been preposterous, if they were fashionable, it would have been even worse. I say this as a guy who’s conquered the whole geek-chic look, with the braces and everything. I don’t even pretend those things are practical.

Bethan smoked her third cigarette, and told me about some party she went to in a neighbouring city. ‘It was alright, not the best. I got my purse stolen, when I was really drunk and passed out. Which was really bad because I needed it and it had money in it. Just my luck.’

‘So tell me about this party then.’

‘It went on until eight in the morning.’

‘Were they all on drugs?’

‘I don’t think so I think some of them do weed, but I don’t mind them doing weed because it doesn’t do that much. It’s the other drugs that I mind. They put them in your drink you know.’

I bet they do. ‘What other drugs?’

‘I don’t know what they’re called, I don’t know drugs, I don’t like drugs. My friends don’t do them either. They get offered them but they just say no.’

‘Oh right.’

‘I haven’t been to many parties even in England because I’m only eighteen.’

‘Old enough to go bungee jumping.’

A slight creaking , the gentle escaping of air, the subtle flutter of light objects. Background noise. I didn’t make much of it. Her eyes kept disappearing behind me as I spoke, then returning momentarily, then disappearing again. With each change of focus I think, ‘ she’s not going to do it again surely.’ Then eventually I expect it to happen with a tiresome indifference. She really can’t help herself with this. What’s even going on behind me? She clearly wasn’t listening to a word I was saying. Perhaps something even more captivating than me was taking place behind there. Finally I gave in and turned round to see that the bar woman was was moving a number of cardboard boxes into the restaurant.

A couple of kids turn up, a lad and a girl. He’s broken his voice, and has a beard, which is more than I have, but he’s still a junior. The girl says ‘I think I know what this is going to be about!’ Before the kids even say anything, Bethan draws two fags out of the box, then holds them out behind her, facing the other way. The kid takes one of them, says in Spanish he doesn’t need the other one. She wields the remaining one like a magic wand. ‘Oh take it, I insist!’ he takes it, and hands it to his girlfriend. ‘It just saves him coming back to bother me later, you see.’

I ask her why she does that, and she just says they all get fags off her whenever they see her. She then says, if she doesn’t hand them over, they don’t go away. No, they don’t go away, because you hand them over, you absolute specimen, you despicable splodge, you unbalanced little flump, you base!

Oh no. I see a woman walking towards us down the road, and as she gets closer I realise it’s Madre, with one of the kids. Oh dear. She then introduces herself to Bethan, and they have a small dialogue in Spanish until Madre says something a bit more complex that Bethan inevitably doesn’t understand. The kid says ‘I want to go now’ and Madre whisks him away.  

She then talks more about the bad things that had happened at home, how much she doesn’t get on with her Dad and how he can’t keep off the bevs. I feel so violated, the 😀 faces were all a lure to reel me in. So too were the photos, which weren’t that good but at least she appeared happy and not abnormal. I’m not being shallow about it, I just don’t like being conned. It’s not morally okay to do that. Girls are so successful in the art of deception with things like this, they can make themselves appear skinny in photos, appear reasonably good looking in some even when in reality they are ugly. I on the other hand, struggle to put a profile together that makes me look as good as I feel I do look, it being hard to find a photo that doesn’t make me look like creepy goblin. Besides, it’s 2017, who even takes photos anymore?

This was dragging along now like a colossal trailer full of broken fridges, with four flat tyres, being towed by a 1960s Reliant Robin. I’d only been there thirty minutes. I had finished my cerveza and I wasn’t getting another one. I told her I had to go to the bathroom then I was going to go, as I had to get up at eight in the morning. I got back and another little kid– looked about fourteen years old– was stood by the table, talking to the glum-faced town fag-dispenser. He introduced himself to me as Pedro. He lingered around quite awkwardly, until he finally asked for a fag, got one, and then ran off back to his friends.

‘You do realise he’s about fourteen.’

‘Yeah I know. I don’t care.’

I give it to her straight- ‘It’s not acceptable to give cigarettes to children,’

‘Well I’m going home in 8 weeks anyway.’

?

Being the Jacob Rees-Mogg that I am, I waited for her to finish her cigarette, before darting off into the backstreets with my earphones in, hoping something like this would never happen again.

The Jack Walk

I find real catharsis in taking dogs on walks. This is because dogs effectively live to be walked. It’s all they ever want to do. From the moment you take a dog out of the house, it seems to explode with happiness, wagging its tongue, panting uncontrollably and immersing itself in every aspect of the journey.  For this reason the dog walker feels like she is doing a good deed, and can see the results plainly in front of her in the form of an utterly contented beast. It isn’t like walking a human, where you have to maintain some kind of conversation, in fact, you’re perfectly free to stick your music in and forget they’re even there if you would like. Furthermore it provides an excuse to switch off the television, put the laptop away, get out of that door, get in and amongst the fields and the trees and experience Barrow Upon Soar’s rich tapestry of nature.

I got an opportunity to take my mother’s friend’s Jack Russells out yesterday and it turned out to be anything but cathartic. They weren’t her Jacks, they were her friend’s, who was out gallivanting on holiday in some sultry corner of the globe, presumably indulging freely in a bacchanalia of drugs, alcohol and sex. There were two dogs, one of them vivacious and young, the other one slow and whacked out like a family teddy bear out of the attic. I grabbed my stylish digital-camo sunnies, stuck the dogs on the lead and took them over to Millennium Park- a very pleasant recreational area near where I live, complete with a giant sun-dial to make telling time that little bit more convenient.

The walk was going perfectly well and to my satisfaction there were no rival dog walkers around to cause me any trouble. I was told by the owner that I could take the leads off the slow and whacked out Jack if I so wished- there would be no hazards there. I flirted with the idea for a while, at first thinking it too outrageous to go through with, but the dogs were so timid and well behaved and the concept of a lead is so authoritarian to me that I soon succumbed, and released both dogs from their tyrannical leashes.

At first the younger Jack scouted ahead, just within my range of vision. The older creature hung way back, moving at a slow pace. All of a sudden I had to turn my attention towards multiple directions at once as the dogs scattered all over the place. I was doing okay however, I could call the dog at the front and it would turn back and slow up for a few moments. The back dog was of course, no threat whatsoever and would be more likely to collapse at any given moment than cause me any grief.

Or so I thought. In a few moments the elderly Jack overtook me and began to chase its younger more athletic companion. I took a moment to laugh at the way in which it moved, its back legs moving at once, in a hopping motion, its front legs pedalling like a Loony Tunes character fleeing from the baddie. As we–the unseemly and incompetent convoy–kept moving through the field, I noticed a bench to my left and thought, ‘all right, let’s take a breather, maybe the dogs will run about a bit and play. Get it out of their system- so to speak’. The kid Jack wasn’t having it however and was motivated only by distance. The geriatric was still slowly making ground in second place. With a sigh I rose from my seat and began my pursuit.

Then in the blink of an eye I saw something I could scarcely have imagined previously. The decrepit beast burst into a pace akin to light speed and in a flash was out in front. I thought ‘well that’s very impressive Old Jack, but you won’t last long at that rate. Schoolboy error.’ But there was no looking back. He was out of here. Showing no signs of deceleration. Into hyper space.

The bat shit crazy incontinent old fiend soon overtook the kid dog, whom it was also fair to say was well and truly going places himself and in a matter of seconds, they were out of Millennium Park gates. In one moment it hit me that the walk had taken on a wholly different dynamic whereby I was not the walker but the walked.

I felt like a bad supply teacher. Moreover, Old Jack had well and truly conned me, all the while dreaming of escape, lulling me into a false sense of security at the beginning of the walk, playing the codger, then jetting off at the opportune moment. Had it been waiting all of its life for this chance? Was this its best hope for true freedom?

They ran straight out into the right hand side of the road; the oncoming side. A Chelsea tractor was forced to come to an abrupt halt to avoid running over the things. The driver honked his horn and waited for the dog to go round him before again pelting off ahead (at the cost of the biosphere). Fortunately for me, Young Jack was never really taking any of this seriously. This was no life and death situation for him, it was all just a funny joke, he was now content to amble along in second. Following his friend but by no means gunning to fly head first into the jaws of death alongside him. Meanwhile at the back I was tagging along, occasionally switching from brisk walking to bursts of half-hearted jogging, shouting the dog’s name every few seconds. Though it had once listened, it was not listening now. To my left a gardener was pruning his hedge, and looked up to see what was happening. I half expected him to moan at me for having lost control of my pets but he took pity on me and smiled before returning to his secateurs. I paused to think about how I must have looked, jogging, distressed, carrying two dogless leads, my cheeks bulging like hamster cheeks following my recent jaw surgery, and wearing my suave digi-shades, and a T-Shirt that said X-tra large Condoms, great sex, great protection.

I could barely make out the dogs any more, all I could see were furry balls floating over the roundabout. One after the other with a ten second interval. After a few more car horns the balls got to the top of my estate. I took it upon myself to catch up this time and used my massive pistons to propel me like lightning. At this point I was half-expecting to find a writhing dog corpse at every roundabout.

As I ambled on no such corpses were found. To my delight, Young Jack was soon within my grasp. I lassoed the beast and gained control of it once again. Old Jack however was last seen cackling and smiling to himself as he sprinted towards the horizon to his lifelong awaited freedom.

Zengin’s Pride

Deep in the heart of the ancient woods, two slimy hermaphrodites were sharing a slimy embrace, suspended high in the air above a carpet of woodland leaves and mulch. Fuelled with strange invertebrate desire, they hung from a string of mucus like an umbilical cord and spiralled and pirouetted and danced through the night. For hours on end they hugged and kissed and smooched and cried together. They lost themselves in each other’s slippery skins and tasted each other’s slime until one final burst of enthusiasm that marked the conclusion of their meeting. The atmosphere pervaded with awkwardness all of a sudden. Immediately the two slugs were incapable of eye contact. It was now time to go separate ways. With their teeth like clandestine guillotines they severed the cord and dropped to the ground and slid away in opposite directions like they had never known each other. No goodbyes were uttered. They plunged into the darkness, never to meet again.

Hoot-hooooot. Yellow eyes glowing in the distance, between the leaves without blinking. Fast-forward to the night of our protagonist’s birth. The momentous night. A litter of slime in the dark. Hoot-hooooot. Yellow eyes glowing in the distance. A pale and translucent thing at first; the colour a gentle light blue, nestled into the rotten undergrowth, among others, all feeble little sacks- some without motion. Hoot-hoots in the distance. Yellow eyes glowing between the leaves.  Two slugs remained, one sizeable and full of life. The other a runt, pathetic, soon to expire. His mother stared only at one, who she has named Zengin. Hoot-hoooootShe rejected the other slug, and gave all her attention to its superior. Yellow eyes.

The owl is coming!” uttered the maternal slug, covering her favourite son with a leaf as she saw the flapping of wings through the needled branches of the pine. The young slug was devoured in one peck. Zengin watched from a gap under the leaf as the owl finished chewing, and then slowly rotated his head as he locked on its prime target, who on this occasion had not the haste to escape. Zengin’s mother’s shouted to her son one last time “be proud, Zengin. You are the greatest!”. The owl then scooped her up with his claws and cackled to himself as he dived into the air.

“Bless my feathers! I do love the fat ones. This’ll feed the kids for a whole week. Hoot hoot!”

From this point onwards, Zengin was left on his own to confront the world, however barbarous. All that he had to take with him were those precious words uttered by his mother. Being too young to understand the concept of hyperbole, he regarded them as infallible, as literal truth. Be proud at all costs. You are the greatest. As soon as Zengin could develop thoughts, they were exclusively self. Or I. Or me.

The young mollusc soon left the leaf under which he had viewed the slaughter of his mother, and got on with his life. He feasted on all of the rotten treasures of the woodland until he increased in size and strength, and his muscles began to show. God I’m handsome, he thought to himself. The mollusc purchased designer clothes from brands such as Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith God I’ve got style, the mollusc thought. The mollusc soon met other slugs of a similar age and established a clique full of admirers God I’m popular, the slug thought. The mollusc began to have dalliances with other youthful and exuberant slugs God I’m a stud. He watched his children grow up God my children are better than everyone else’s. The mollusc began to read the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, William Wordsworth, William Blake and George Gordon Byron. God I understand poetry, he thought. It was only a matter of time before the keen mollusc took up a pen himself. The mollusc composed an epic poem of twenty eight thousand lines titled The Eternal Quest of Zengin the Perfect Slug. God my verses are delicately cadenced, I’ve outdone Dante! were his thoughts on this occasion. Nobody read them of course; It’s just a shame nobody is intellectual enough to appreciate this emphatic work. The hubris was frightful and burned bright like phosphorus, and was equally corrosive, as we will soon learn.

The slug began to develop an insatiable sense of anger at the world, the world which he deemed to be insignificant for a slug of his intellectual capacity. But most of all he felt that his excellence was constantly unrecognised. In his bohemian slug circles he began to vocalise his thoughts about the pretentiousness and lack of ability that surrounded him. He ended up telling a slug with a liking of impressionism to “fuck himself” for refusing to make him the subject of all of his paintings. “Impressionism is shit anyway. An impressionist picture of a family of slugs eating a dock leaf is just a regular picture of a family of slugs eating a dock leaf, only slightly more blurry. Paint me, and you must not ever blur what is immaculate as it is.” The disgruntled impressionist slug left the society and was never seen again. 

Soon the community began to realise that this Zengin slug was a most arrogant creature, whose thoughts were always completely concerned with himself. Thoughts that were descending into chaos! Why won’t they provide my food for me and attend me at all times? Soon became Why won’t they make me their Monarch? Soon became Why won’t they worship me like a deity? He was insufferable. They soon banished him from their circles.

Inflamed with rage and disappointment, Zengin decided to take a stand, and make his voice heard. Crowds of slugs were congregating to discuss routine political matters, and Zengin the slug, wearing a T-shirt with a pseudo-iconic picture of his own face on the front, climbed onto the top of the tallest dock leaf and commanded the attention of the populace, rudely interrupting a discussion regarding tax credits. 

“Zengin stands before you. Worship me you pathetic slugs. I am the best. You are all worthless molluscs spawned from your mothers purely for the purposes of following my designs,” there was an intrusive silence. “I am the righteous dictator”. Each sentence took what felt like a life time.

“I am the greatest.”

The crowd had already grown tired of his grandiosity, “Are you not also a mollusc?” a little leopard coated slug dared interrupt from the back of the crowd. Slugs speak every bit as slow as they move.

“No. I am no mollusc,” if not slower.

“What are you then?” another slug, flummoxed by Zengin’s words gave in reply.

“I am a celestial deity in the form of a slug,” some slugs laughed in response, others were growing irritable and murmured to themselves their discontent and embarrassment.

“PROVE IT!!!” they all roared.

“Does not my mastery of oratory demonstrate this clearly enough to your impoverished brains?”

A long pause, “no.”

“Well what must I do?”

A fat slug with short stubby antennae addressed the proud orator.

“You say you are celestial and a deity and not a slug like the rest of us. Surely you must therefore be immortal?”

“Yes, immortal. I am yes.”

“Then we shall pour salt upon your flesh, and watch you return unscathed. Then we shall worship you unconditionally, for as long as our miserable lives may transpire.”

“How insolent of you to even require proof. Do you not know it in your souls when you gaze into my eyes, my eyes heroic like lion’s eyes on stalks?”

“Not really,” the fat mollusc replied with ambivalence.

“Oh as you please. Bring me the salt. You will see. Oh you will see that I am invincible.”

The slugs congregated and after eleven long hours of acquiring salt granules and carefully placing them on a dock leaf, which they carried to the spot where Zengin remained standing, facing the slug crowd in what he believed to be an imperious stance. The slugs violently beat their drums and violently waved their torches in the air. They drank beer and ate popcorn (sweet flavour)

The fat slug with the stubby antennae saw this as an opportunity to make money so took it upon himself to open a betting shop, and take bets on the outcome. Most backed death. The queue stretched further than the eye could see. It is rumoured that even a number of snails came to view the spectacle. And the other slugs were too captivated too notice. They were consumed and in a frenzy.

Zengin was not intimidated by the mob, and stood strong, laughing at the gormlessness of the crowd. The crowd were divided in their chants, some roared for Zengin’s divine rulership, others for his demise. Some wanted divine revelation, others simply the gore of death. The dock leaf full of salts –carried on the shoulders of eight labouring slugs– was moving ever closer to the mollusc orator by the hour. Zengin was not phased and stood magnanimously on the his rock. He imagined that this image of him would remain the most prevalent and revered image for the future of not only slugs, but all molluscs alike. The gastropods, the chitons, the bivalves, the cephalopods- they would all remember the image of Zengin on the rock. Some slugs took it upon themselves to video the event on their camera phones, others drew portraits. Some merely watched intently, waiting.

“Salt!”, “SALT!!!” they screamed.

“You shall see. You shall see pathetic ones. You shall see,” Zengin responded.

The slugs who were administering the salt couldn’t help but portray their enthusiasm. It was not often they had the opportunity to potentially destroy a fellow slug for sport. Zengin lay next to the leaf, unwavering and motionless. With smiles on their faces, the slugs began to tilt the leaf while the crowd was catapulted into ecstasy.

The first granule fell onto Zengin’s back. The second. The third. Then the rest. The eight began their journey to the other side of the leaf to witness the results. The crowd fell silent as the granules began to slide down the dock leaf towards Zengin’s back. 

Yellow. Then came the swoop and in a matter of seconds the young slug was in the talons of the same owl. As they flew off into the trees, Zengin shouted to the crowd at the top of his lungs.

“Zengin is the greatest, and will be resurrected!”

“Shut up little slime! Hoot hooooot!” replied the owl as he carried off his dinner.

Cobwebs and Blancmange

I had invited myself to stay over at a girl’s apartment. I don’t know why. She was a girl I used to like at school. I couldn’t remember spending the night there, I just remember when I got into her bed I saw that all around it was surrounded by cobwebs, little spiders and flies. On arrival there was a little show for me actually; a blue and red insect was enveloped in a little web that went upwards at the foot of the bed like a tube. It looked like a ghostly pitcher plant. Before I could take the time to mourn the insecticide, I noticed it start to sway and shake, and I was waiting for the wily arachnid to appear and engulf it at any moment, you know the way they do- get all on top of it, paralyse it with a bit of venom, wrap it up and then suck up the insides. But there was no spider, and the ladybird just waggled and waggled its way out then bust out of the web and flew off, increasing in size as it did so. I watched as it flew out of the door. It may have been missing a few legs, but at least it was free. It would have been all right now. Maybe.

I had dreaded staying in that little single bed, surrounded with cobwebs. I thought, I’m going to ask her, ‘does all this not bother you at all?’. Then I must have gone to bed at some point, I don’t remember. I woke up and entered the kitchen to discover it was painted yellow. Her partner was there. I knew she had a new partner, but I didn’t know it was a chick. Funny how people just turn into lesbians sometimes. I just went along with it.

I approached the yellow cupboard to make myself some breakfast, with my towel wrapped around my waist. For some reason the only thing I noticed in the cupboard was a shot glass of yellow and pink blancmange, which I grabbed immediately, with a small bottle of milk.

Is that even how you make blancmange?

Is blancmange even particularly suitable for breakfast?

I felt pretty comfortable, like I could just stick one of those Jonas Rathsman mixes on, Elements, and then just dance around the kitchen while I did my thing to some nice, funky, colourful techno.

I thought I’d say good morning, and ask ‘are we all right?’

Her response- ‘You do realise I play rugby for Oxford?’

It was a killer that one was. I broke into awkward laughter, ‘why would you say that?!’

She didn’t know how to answer. I noticed she was quite an attractive blonde girl. However, all was not well- she had been indoctrinated, she was wearing a dark blue hoodie that was probably one of those ‘University’ brands, or a leaver’s hoodie from one of those private schools that make their students feel like a million dollars purely because their parents are stuck up enough to send them there. She was one of those who wasn’t up to her own life, she was defeated by herself at every turn. Life is like a video game, and some people simply aren’t good enough, so they only get so far, and get killed on the same level, by the same monster, over and over and over again. It must be so demoralising, but they carry on trying.

She definitely had a horse.

‘I just wanted to make that clear.’

This one hated me, absolutely hated me. She must have told her everything about me. This one probably had very good reason to be skeptical about me, but contemplating rugby tackling me was extreme. I realised my blancmange was only slightly increasing in thickness with the milk I added, so I kept adding more and achieving the same awful results.

‘All right to jump in the shower after I’ve made breakfast?’

‘Another shower?’

‘No,’ said the unfamiliar lesbian.

‘No worries.’

‘You used my towel yesterday didn’t you?’ asked the girl whom I used to be so fond of those many years ago.

‘Yeah,’

‘I bet it stinks now!’

I thought to myself- ‘why would it stink if I used it to dry myself after showering?’

They kept quarrelling with each other about things. I could only hear murmurs and groans.  I didn’t listen, but then she spoke to me.

‘Stay in my bed last night did you?’ she snapped.

‘Yeah I assumed it would be okay?’

‘Well it’s not,’ I remember that stare. I tried not to look back, lest I turn to stone.

‘So how do you make blancmange, does it just set eventually or does it go in the microwave or…?’

‘I’m fed up of this,’ the Oxford lesbian stormed off, grabbing the keys to one of those Fiats that all girls of about that age seem to drive. She looked distressed, but deep down you could tell that she relished making a scene. It was probably her greatest form of self expression.

The remaining one then groaned from the kitchen table, all stressed and in her pyjamas. She had a series of application forms in front of her and you could tell she didn’t understand what any of them meant. She’d have been better off tearing them to pieces. She ended up sweeping them off the table onto the empty chair opposite, then started groaning again.

‘Do you ever think about getting a life?’

‘Well that was awfully abrupt of you.’

‘Well, do you?’

‘Isn’t it a bit early in the morning for questions like that?’

I looked down at what I was doing in shock. I left the shot glass on the side by the fridge, and had since acquired a butter tub full of more blancmange, and was adding beetroot to one side. It turned into a beet coloured mess, but I was persevering. It was frightening.

She was getting animated now. She was clearing undergoing an identity crisis. I wish I knew who I was sometimes too.

‘I cleaned up your room for you. There were cobwebs everywhere, and spiders corpses and God knows what.’

‘I don’t care!’

I paused for a brief period, sighing at what I had created on the work surface. The horror. The unprecedented purple and yellow horror. I sighed.

Everything was so yellow, so horribly yellow all of a sudden. The walls, the floor, the ceiling. 

‘You really have transformed into a very miserable and nasty person haven’t you?’

 

Banished

I had been banished from my homeland by them and forced to live the rest of my days on an island of disused electrical appliances. The accumulation of these disused electrical appliances had formed a conventional geographical landscape, there were mountains, dunes, hills, caves and valleys all consisting almost entirely of discarded electrical equipment, ranging from microwaves, right the way through to scanners and other forms of basic printing equipment. It was a nasty place, and a stark reminder of the sub-standard technological endeavours of the past. I had been alone on the Island for twelve years, all the while desperately trying to escape. The place was starting to have its wicked way with me-I kept hearing this track. I don’t know whether I was actually hearing it coming from a bassy sound system or whether it was all a figment of my cursed imagination. It sounded wonky and agonisingly repetitive. 

For twelve years, with my gigantic legs like ostentatious Roman columns I clambered and scrambled over obsolete P.C monitors and waded through mires of unidentifiable cables and wires until finally I discovered a beach. One would expect, being an island, that there would be beaches everywhere and I would stumble upon one without much trouble. But this was far from the truth. I can only suggest either that they have cast a spell on me (hampering my sense of direction) or that the Island is of continental proportion, the size of Australia probably. Though infinitely more horrideous to inhabit. 

One of the troubles of such an Island is the continuous electrical shocks from misplaced plugs and battery packs. I found myself being given a good old zapping almost daily, sometimes multiple times. It really is terrifying, and impossible to get used to. I believe I might actually be beginning to develop my own electrical current, possibly something to do with my braces (which I’ve worn for fourteen years now, twelve of which have been without any orthodontic treatment). But that doesn’t even bear thinking about. I hadn’t been zapped all day today and along with my discovery of this preposterous beach I was beginning to think it might be my lucky day. 

 As I walked, breaking metal and plastic with my legs etc… it became apparent to me that there was life around. I would notice crabs quickly crawling sideways into old Playstation disk-drives as they saw me approach. Seagulls sporadically flew overhead with USB sticks and memory cards clutched in their horny beaks. 

Since the first day of my banishment on this isle, when they had whisked me off when I was twenty two, and hopeful and just coming out of university, I always knew that the only way I could escape this place was by building a boat and sailing off into the sea. My whole exiled life was in hope and prayer for the one moment when I reached a beach, but it was a dreadful anti-climax when I finally got there. But then again everything in life is an anti-climax, if you anticipate it positively. 

Why do we even bother?

Why are my legs so massive?

I tried not to think too much because my thoughts always end up like this and I go round and round in the same circles. I try and tell myself one thing, over and over again -It will happen Jamo, one day it will happen.

It will happen. Anyway- I figured the best  method would be by using a large fridge freezer that I’d picked up earlier on my travels, and add a couple of other boat-necessities to it. A sail basically. All I had to do was find something to use as a sail, and then there was hope. It will happen. 

(But what if it doesn’t?)

As I walked further down the beach the music stayed in my head, getting louder at irregular intervals. I heard a voice shouting “HDMI Cable!”, then “Ear-Phones!” I noticed that the voice was that of a penguin, standing by a large pile of dilapidated extension leads, plugs and sockets. He was desperately trying to get my attention. I noticed he was smoking the remnants of a roll-up, and as I got closer to him I realised he looked rough. His feathers were grey, and there were patches of bare skin developing over his body. I’d never seen penguin skin before. I pretended that he wasn’t there. His voice sounded soft like gravel; “Sir, come from a long way have you?  VHS?” he began to cough violently after this pitiful attempt at a conversation starter.

As I walked straight past him I was thinking to myself, what the fuck would I want with a VHS? Jesus Christ. He can’t have long left. Absolutely fucked. 

Then I skulked away, sliding down a slope of unidentifiable digital boxes and keyboards on my side when I heard the words being shouted to me.

“It’ll never happen you know!”cough, cough, cough.

Don’t ever listen to a penguin. Ever. 

A few miles further up I saw a beige coloured fabric nestled into the side of a little ledge at the back of the beach. I thought this would be perfect to put on my fridge, and I could maybe use a robust old television aerial as a mast, but I would address that issue later. On closer inspection I realised that the curtain was already being used by a family of otters who were watching television. They were using it as a carpet, or a bed or both.

“Hi, sorry to interrupt.  I’m in a bit of a mess…” they were watching a documentary about the dangers of alcoholism. They had a really large HD-ready LCD screen complete with Sky Plus. One of the otters in a floppy hat and with effeminate whiskers, presumably his wife, was quite displeased to have her programme viewing interrupted and sharply pressed pause on the Sky box, leaving the television with a still of Louis Theroux looking compassionately distressed whilst talking to a slovenly man on a park bench clutching a can of Zubr. They all looked at me at once. A butch, masculine otter, presumably the father, looked shocked and then exclaimed in a west-country accent “Man, why so big in leg?”

I smirked, acting as if it was a joke. “I’m building a boat and I need a sail-”

“They’re gargantuan! Whopping great mammoth- legs!” he continued to stare at them in a daze. There was a pause. 

“Any chance I could have that curtain please?” I continued.

The otter turned back to his family, still flummoxed “How does the man get from A to B?” then he snapped out of it and looked at me again. “Sorry there, I was distracted. What was it you were after again?”

“The curtain.”

“Oh right. For a sail or something you said?”

“Yes.”

“Oh okay. That for the Detritus Beach sailing competition this Saturday?”

“No. I’m trying to get away from this Island. For good.”

“Why’s that? Not good enough for you is it?”

“No it’s not that. I just…”

“You humans. Always asking for a bit more aren’t you? It’s never good enough for man is it?” A rat’s head emerged over the side of the curtain. The otter then quickly tried to leap on top of it but it scurried away and giggled to itself. They clearly had a problem with beach-vermin.

“Anyways, I can’t give you the curtain if you aren’t going to give it back, but I can lend you it if you want to enter the competition, ten quid per boat and it’s all for the Underprivileged Otter’s Foundation, so it’s all for a good cause, we always go down to the Raft afterwards for a few drinks. Great day out if ya fancy it?”

“No thanks, I’m out of here man. Is there anything else you recommend I use to build my boat?”

“Typical. Errrm what to use? Refrigerator usually does the trick. The one you’ve got there looks perfect for the job. Anyway be gone man, I’m trying to watch a documentary with my family, ” the wife pressed the play button and Louis Theroux’s face became reanimated. 

I staggered off.

“Oh and competition starts at eleven o’clock!”

I then heard the otters laughing sinisterly, and the music began to play again. It will happen. It should do. It might. It could.

ZAP!!!!!

After the shock I was catapulted five feet into the air and landed half-inside a washing machine.

It quite possibly never will.

 

A Creative Writing Seminar

 

So basically I was in this creative writing seminar. Everyone was reading their poems about things and the lecturer was commenting on how sick we were at poetry and stuff occasionally and we were all handing out sheets of paper with our poems on them to the class and writing things on them if we felt that that was a necessary thing to do.

“I particularly liked the metaphor about (insert metaphor). That was a tremendous image, it really was,” the lecturer might say about someone’s poem.

“Yeah that was really good actually,” someone else might have said.

A guy called Dave who always wore burgundy Superdry clothes had to read his poem. I really didn’t like Dave’s poetry, because it was a bit depressing and sometimes a bit pretentious.

 

We marched together, like imperial soldiers

your arm round mine, tied to my ulna like rope

up the mountains, as if Ben Nevis was only a hill

and you were my perfect future. 

 

“Nice one Dave,” we all said.

One student covered her eyes with her hand in order to conceal a tear which had escaped from her face.

“Are you okay?” the lecturer asked Hannah.

“I’m fine! I’m fine!”

“It was a very touching poem,” the lecturer conceded.

“I’m fine! Fine!” she said, endeavouring to cover her face now more than ever- which had turned vermillion.

She was probably fine. She just had an extremely personal connection with heartfelt verses, such as the ones that Dave produced every week, that was all.

“Thank you Dave. Thank you very much.”

Dave smiled to himself and put his pen in his mouth feeling a bit satisfied with himself and also a bit like Sartre. It was my turn to read a poem now. Which one should I read? errrm errrm errrrm errrrm…

As I was deciding, I saw the lecturer withdrawing a pouch of Golden Virginia from his pocket. I decided to read the one about the depressed squid that I’d been working on for a few weeks.

Then the lecturer pulled out a pack of King-sized rizzla.

 

I float through Sea, I float through the salty water

like an octopus (but I am actually a giant squid)

 

“Sorry to interrupt James, does anybody have a train ticket or something? Making a roach you see.”

“Yeah sure,” Caroline handed the lecturer a train ticket (rather obsequiously). Everyone fancied the lecturer to a certain extent.

“Thanks. Do continue James,” the lecturer said as he effortlessly crafted the perfect roach.

 

I plunge through the darkness, propelled

like an extra-terrestrial missile, armed only

with my tentacles of cruelty and contempt. 

 

I looked over to my lecturer who had now ground some weed and was gently dispersing it across the tobacco, until there was little left to see within the paper but a thick blanket of powdery light green leaves. The smell of haze spread across the room like a friendly cloud. I continued…

 

I have an eye that is too big, and terrifies everyone.

Why do I move in bursts, why do I buffer through the sea?

I don’t belong here. I am depressed.

The class showered me with applause.

“Wow James that was probably your best yet I reckon,” one said.

“I loved the buffering. Squids do move like that!” said another.

“I love the way you portray depression as a thing that affects creatures as well as human beings,” another.

“You’re a genius James.”

“Thanks,” I smiled.

There was a bit of a silence. The lecturer revealed an extremely long and perfectly shaped spliff, removed a key from his pocket and packed the top down nicely. Then he folded the top over, preferring the folded approach to the twisted one. We all know that the folded approach is the more sophisticated, and that the lecturer had definitely made the right decision there. The lecturer tapped the finished product on the table and held it between two knuckles.

“Well I have to say James. That was an outstanding poem. How do you come up with stuff like that? You’ll have to tell me some day… anyway in the mean time, I think you’ve deserved it; would you like to do the honours?” the lecturer handed me the spliff and a bright red clipper with a massive yellow smiley face on it.

I lit the spliff and it was really harsh. Then I passed the spliff all the way round and everyone had some.

“Great seminar guys!”

Then we all went home really stoned and wrote a bit more poetry.