Pizza: the transdimensional constant

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

Scene 24

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

@germanforayear: Travel and social media won’t change you

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.

@germanforayeaTaxi smells like pretzels. How do u say ‘I need a f**king smoke’ auf Deutsch? #jetlagged

Continue reading @germanforayear: Travel and social media won’t change you

Love Me WiFi Whore

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

The big news

Derrick Foam was reading about Robin Gibbs’ death when Feather Hudson shot-put her monitor across the room. She’d heard the big news.

Derrick was modifying his email footer when another message appeared:

“Congrats. First task – fire Justine. Back next week. Sea’s the day. Clem.”

The attached photograph featured a groper lolling on the end of a harpoon. Continue reading The big news

Measuring Stars

The sound is proximate and consequential, like the crack of bone.

He wakes up and curls into a ball. He waits for a pain to tell him he’s broken something, or a betraying silence that says he has finally crushed his wife to death.

When his eyes adjust to the moonlight he realizes he is not in bed, but in the desert, alone and naked, and half-buried in sand. He raises his knees and finds a bowl of felled and splintered trees. Continue reading Measuring Stars

The Man Maketh the Journey

Mr Masao Takeshi, vice president of the Ryou Corporation, squinted through the curtains of the Rialto Hotel’s breakfast room.

Outside, the brilliant May sun glittered off the water onto the buildings, filling the canal with a thousand colours. Tourists scampered over the bridge, pointing at boats, taking photos, and avoiding the Albanian scam artists at the foot of the stairs next to the stained glass boutiques. A bell rang from some distant square. Takeshi looked at his watch.

“Everyone away from the windows,” Takeshi said and straightened his Italian silk tie. “Mr Ryou’s gondola is arriving. I want everything tripled-checked, quadruple-checked… and whatever comes after that. Cutlery, the guestbook, newspapers, salami… you all know what happens now. Yukio, is the kitchen staff on standby?”

A small man with a goatee beard put a finger in his ear, then nodded.

“And the guests, Miss Minako?”

Miss Minako cocked her head. She also nodded.

“Good. Now I want you all out of sight when Mr Ryou arrives. Invisible. In this world you are from this minute on ghosts. We’ve worked too hard to fail now. I don’t need to remind you of what happened in Toledo.” Continue reading The Man Maketh the Journey

A Breath of Fresh Tokyo

As Karen pushes through the revolving door the air begins to thicken with the tang of incense and soy sauce.

Sparkling neon lights flash blue and green and yellow messages against her white-shorts and t-shirt; in bold, red characters, a sign forbids a certain action, of which she is unsure—not to park, or spit, or linger too long in one place perhaps. She thrusts her ticket into her pocket and edges into the current of bodies. Continue reading A Breath of Fresh Tokyo

What happened in Paris? (Part 2)

Prue poked a strand of hair in her bun and watched her new husband’s shadow skulk around the rear of the car on his way to open the door.

His mood had worsened since they’d landed, and she regretted allowing him to become intimate with the spirits selection on the way over. Bloody Mary and Single Malt Whisky were terrible in-flight dancing partners. Somewhere over the Indian Ocean he had passed out while urinating in the toilets and it was only the swift action of the attendants in first class that had saved her from irrevocable embarrassment. Matthew wasn’t a loud drunk – he was too repressed even for that thankfully – but he was an unruly one, and if her plan was to work, she needed to keep him compliant (and sober) in the coming days. Continue reading What happened in Paris? (Part 2)

The corridor

When we arrived we were given cakes wrapped in soft paper, toothbrushes, fresh milk and lemon-scented towels.
Father spoke quietly and mother fussed with the sheets while my sister and I quarrelled over beds. There was a football; Father said I could kick it against the wall if I promised to be good, which I did for a while before my sister took a pair of scissors to it. Then a man wearing a raincoat came to drop off a box of wet books and oil paintings. “The milk’s out,” he said, like he was reading the weather. Continue reading The corridor