When the tyre blew, there was no explosion of rubber. No extended hiss.
No sudden slump in the cab, or grinding of rim on rock. Nothing to indicate that the wheel had put up a fight. Only an unsatisfying and noiseless wobble, an deflationary apology for having left me perched perpendicular to the descending mud track, and enveloped tip to toe in mountain forest.
The accountant’s wife has seen ghosts before—Bhut they are called in her home country—and she remembers the very mischievous one who would come crawling down from the mango tree, her bangles clanging in the night, and slip through the crevice in the wall at the foot of her bed; the one her mother insisted brought luck, though it often caused the young girl to wet the sheets. At times the apparition resembled her father, featureless and bloated. On other occasions it was a witch with black teeth and a pulsating, red bindi. No more than pedestrians passing through the nightly imaginations of a child, her mother had said. But to the wife, they were real.
The meeting took place in the lower dining room of Dario’s. Plastic lemons, fake aspidistras, clogged toilets… an infelicitous atmosphere for anything other than privacy.
But the Bufula was good. We liked Bufula.
I’d arrived first to arrange tables, pre-order nibbles, and setup the temporal displacement cube.
The others began wamping one at a time into the WC. The pilot, the failed rocker, the one-eyed politician, the medieval librarian, the knife-throwing accountant. They stumbled out of the cubicle, arms and heads gyrating as though wrestling invisible octopodes, and hung their jumpsuits on the wall, over the yellowed paintings of Naples. We were as different as we were the same—lined faces, crooked legs, clipped fingernails—our universes had left their signature marks, but still we shared the same misanthropic grin, the same, simple acknowledgement that life will not only take capricious and inconvenient twists, but will do so at every opportunity. Continue reading Pizza: the transdimensional constant
Short chapters inspired by my new, coming of age novel, Sandbanker, available at no bookstores near you (yet)
The bell at St Christopher’s was not a real bell, made of brass or anything, but electric — it droned, like the torpedos in River Raid. (I didn’t actually have an Atari 2600 to test the theory, and didn’t really know anyone who did, at least someone who I could ask, but that’s what I’d heard.) Whoever they’d gotten to ring the school bell on that Friday afternoon had morsed-coded ‘S-O-S S-O-S’, and everyone had a good laugh about it, but I would’ve bet a case of chocolate frogs they had no clue what it meant. Continue reading Tales from Shelley Beach – The Bus Ride home
Many had taken refuge on the roofs of the buildings which still stood—the bus depot, the medical clinic—others had clamoured up trees, straddling branches and waving helplessly to the heads and head-shaped objects floating by.
From the ridge, Kobe looked down into the valley at the spume of life and death as if in a trance. Just three hours ago he’d been tying a load of cane to the back of his motorbike, whistling that tune that had been going around, and watching Jora belt the life out of a woollen rug with a piece of driftwood. “Am I so useless to you?” she raged, punctuating each word with a blow of the stick, “Useless! Useless! Useless!”, clouds of dust exploded from the rug’s woollen flanks. Continue reading Milk and thunder
There I was: cloaked in a Victorian coat and tails, in thirty-five degree heat and waiting for my sausage dog to finishing squeezing one out under a tree.
All around me, thrashing like a school of tuna in a whirlpool were makeup artists, their assistants, camera crews and their assistants, boys chasing tangled chords, girls driving racks of plastic-wrapped suits between trucks, small men in yellow caps who seemed to do nothing but else but run up and down the set with coffee cups, and us – the extras – standing helplessly in the broiling sun, waiting for instructions from the loudspeaker. Continue reading Scene 24
Transitory, on ice and breath, a sweeping movement of a coffee-stained Frankfurter Allgemeine. The check-in announcement screams at me as I exit arrivals, stone faces, no signs. Where is my welcoming party?
Thirty hours of cracking your bones in seat 32F and this is what you get, though it might be what you deserve. Nobody’s going to come to get you in GMT+1 except the stipple dreams that you coloured for yourself when you thought it was OK to exchange everything that defined you for a one-way ticket.
@germanforayear Taxi smells like pretzels. How do u say ‘I need a f**king smoke’ auf Deutsch? #jetlagged
The refrigerator smells like it’s just run the equatorial marathon in a tweed jacket.
Opening the windows to the panting light of a Krakow morning, she recognises the red Volvo with the flat tyre across the street. She waves at it. The price in the windscreen has gone down, but it’s still the most meaningful welcome back she’s had. Continue reading Love Me WiFi Whore