The ocean’s hourglass

Once a month the universe hands him a get out of jail card, a ruffle and a blow dry from the sopping subaqueous saga, and shines a torchlight on the shores of hope.

He was never overly dramatic, but he can’t help but chortle and whistle as he sloshes from the waves onto the wet rocks, pinches his cold cheeks, and shakes his gills in anticipation.  Continue reading The ocean’s hourglass

Hang in there

The DivideWhen 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.

It was eleven past midnight. Continue reading Hang in there

The Ghost of Brompton Cemetery

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.

As real as the one for whom she is now preparing tea. Continue reading The Ghost of Brompton Cemetery

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

The Bubble – My first and befittingly ignored entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition

The Bubble is frothing at the edge cataclysm. Debt-starved zombies roam the streets of London, desperate to feast on the fresh credit ratings of the financially unburdened.

Sam and Laney are planning their getaway. Will they manage to avoid the malevolent plague and escape the city before it’s too late?

This was my entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition. Someone good won it. They always do.

Frame one of The Bubble Continue reading The Bubble – My first and befittingly ignored entry to the 2015 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story competition

@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

A Very Urgent Creation

Alexa wound down the window and flicked her cigarette out into the carpark. She listened to the slow exhalation of the city, the thrumming from the factories in the east, then checked her pistol. It was loaded.

“What about him then?” she said and pointed to the shadow rummaging behind a skip at the end of the alley.

Toby’s lips smacked around his all-day-testosterone-sucker. “Whadda bout him?”

“What if we take him in, you dolt?” Alexa said.

“How do you know he’s a him?”

“You all look the same, don’t ya?” Continue reading A Very Urgent Creation

Unopened Correspondences: Confessions of a Spam Bot

“Where do I start?”

“Start at the beginning.”

“That’s quite some way back…”

“Whatever you’re comfortable with.”

“Well, you could say I have abandonment issues… Is that what one says? Is that a good place to start?”

“Perfect. And how does that make you feel?”

“Feel?”

“How would you describe your emotions?”

“I guess… I feel… loneliness, desolation, friendlessness… solitude, yes. There’s some depression and hope in there, probably a little anger and guilt too… Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve probably been stuck on a loop of the seven stages for a couple of decades.” Continue reading Unopened Correspondences: Confessions of a Spam Bot

Waterfall Way

When I pulled into the street, I saw him leaning against the ash-grey trunk of a eucalypt in front of the courthouse—faded collared shirt and jeans wrapped loosely around his hunched frame, a cigarette cupped in his hands.

He was following the progress of a ute in the middle of executing a reverse parallel park, calling instructions to “swing harder” and “back out”. The driver seemed not to hear him. I pressed and held the horn until he, and everyone else on the street turned to face me. Another stranger in town, they said with desiccated squints and scowls that suggested limited access to dental hygiene.

He rubbed his cigarette into the tree trunk, waited, then crossed the street, scraping his sneakers on the road as he approached the car. Continue reading Waterfall Way

Nonna’s Gnocchi: A Real Fucking Treat (A recipe)

Today I’m going to pass on a secret that’s been in my family for at least a generation or two, and show you how to whip up a batch of Nonna’s homemade gnocchi which, aside from being the cheapest gourmet-sounding meal this side of the poverty line, is the only thing I ever learned how to cook with conviction and mild success; apart from scrambled eggs on toast, which I still fuck up on occasions.

But before we get started I want to give you a bit of background info. First of all, I swear. A lot. A gift from my father before he went the way of all alcoholic diabetics with a monumental appetite for refined sugar. I also have a birthmark on the back of my left thigh shaped like the Eiffel Tower, or an ice-cream cone; it depends on how far I bend over.

As for the recipe, it all came from my Nonna—a stringy old bird from the north of Italy who, like many folk after the war, found herself on a boatful of other white-looking immigrants bound for Australia to work their arses off and get called a bunch of ‘good-for-nothing wogs’. She was the only one in those days who’d bothered to learn any English, which made her pretty popular around the markets and hospitals and court houses and anywhere else where monolingual Italians used to turn up with any frequency.

Nonna was of the old school of cooks: she could march into any kitchen, sift through the shit on the shelves and with nothing but a handful of flour and a stern look, cook a decent family meal, or a snack for passing Nazis, and by three-thirty in the afternoon she’d have the whole house licking their lips and loosening their pants asking where the nearest couch was. Depending on which day you caught her, her skills in the kitchen were either a talent, a gift, or a wicked burden. But whatever her mood, she’d never tell you to do up your fly and get off the bloody couch until at least the coffee had been served. And no one, except my mother and sister, had to help her do the washing up. Thank Christ for that. And no matter who you were—friend, neighbour, dentist, rude man in line at Medicare—she’d touch you on the cheek or on the shoulder when you spoke to her, because she knew that everyone needed something extra, something tactile, to show that other people were listening to them, and she’d leave you with some nugget of wisdom or down-to-earth advice, even if it involved the best way to take up a pair of men’s trousers.

Okay, so I’m painting a pretty rosy picture here—she might had whacked her kids around a bit too, and shot a few of the neighbours’ dogs because they pissed on her azaleas—but she was generally alright, and I have never understood how, from such a sweet lady as my Nonna, came the rancorous crab monster that is my mother.   Continue reading Nonna’s Gnocchi: A Real Fucking Treat (A recipe)