Archive for disreputable characters

The Girl Waking Up

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The eyes looked at her, looked through her, seemed to see everything there was in her to see, stripped through layers of pretense, the little fictions everyone maintains to stay whole, to stay sane. Two eyes glimmering in the dark, deep, as deep as the night sky in the spaces between the stars, rings of amber and gold circling wells of black just staring, seeing, knowing. Then the waves of it, falling down and down into them, the gravity of them pulling, smothering, the terrifying feeling of being alone, suffocating in its pure emptiness, it was too much, too alien and all on its own, singular and empty, oh so empty, not even air, no air, no…

Abby gasped awake, lids slamming open, taking in air with deep gulps. A trembling hand pressed against her forehead, slick with a thin sheen of sweat, fingers pushing the few stands of her hair back and up as she rose up from the dream. The room was still dark, still coming into focus, but it wasn’t the full velvet dark of true night, it had silver about the edges of it hinting at morning. Her head turned, hand fumbling now for her phone, thumbing the home key, the thin white numbers declaring at to be a bit after six am.

“Fuck me” the words hissed out into the thick, muggy air of her dim room. She closed her eyes again and found the dark behind them mercifully empty. The eyes had disappeared once more. She had no idea why she dreamed them, why a dream of eyes was so very frightening, but it was and they were just the same. The room was hot as hell but her skin was nothing but goosebumps and she shivered. “Get it together” a deep breath, then another. Abby sat up, throwing her legs over the side of her bed, kicking free from the twisted sheet. Daylight filtered in from behind the curtains, outlining the familiar clutter of her room. The dream faded away, being forgotten with each breath.

Time to get up I guess she thought to herself, pushing away from the bed, stumbling through the blanket of clothes, feet shuffling, eyes in that half open not quite awake squint as she wandered into the bathroom. Flicking on the light, cursing it’s brightness Abby fumbled her way through the usual ritual. She swore again as she stepped into the shower, the water turned full cold to wash off the stickiness, settling into the cool relief of it after a while. She hummed a bit, the remains of the night swirling down the drain.

On to the kitchen/living room, pulling on the old Murmurs t-shirt that had used to be her big sister’s, the fabric dragging on her still damp skin. Standing in front of the sink, water filling up the carafe, looking out the window but not really seeing anything, the usual line of flat, grey buildings crawling beneath the sky. Once the coffee was on, the machine gurgling to itself in a warm, fragrant steam, Abby untwisted the plastic bag, pulling out an English muffin, carefully plunging a fork into the soft, squidgy sides of it, pulling it apart just so that it came away in two halves of jagged deliciousness. Toaster, butter, jam, mug of coffee, sit.

Abby scrunched herself up small on the kitchen chair, taking a big, ungainly bite out of her toasted muffin, fully awake now. The light grew brighter and whatever bad dreams she’d had melted. A bit of buttery jam dripped down her chin and she wiped it up into her mouth. This was always her best time, sitting alone, watching the morning growing, eating breakfast, the only sound the rattling clank of the nearly useless air conditioner wheezing from her bedroom window. She absent mindedly pushed around the ripped envelopes and scraps of paper on the battered tabletop. The sight of a bill nagged at her but she pushed the thought back. It was her day off and she just didn’t feel like dealing with it now. She would eventually, of course, just not now.

The appearance of the bird nearly gave her a heart attack. Wings battered the air outside the kitchen window, muffled by the glass but the flurry of movement and sudden sound was magnified by the silence. A black, bullet head above a white collar stared at her from the fire escape railing, cocked at a curious angle.

“What’re you looking at?” Her heart was still hammering as she got up and walked over to the counter for a closer look. The bird, a magpie she thought, just kept looking at her, it’s eyes two tiny drops of ink. “Enjoying the view?” Abby chuckled softly, shrugged, then went to get dressed. It wasn’t too unusual, birds gathered outside all the time, but mostly pigeons. She couldn’t shake the feeling that it was actually watching her either, but she shrugged the idea off. Just a dumb bird.

A few moments later and Abby was out the door, stuffing keys into her jeans pocket, grabbing her camera from the hook in the hall, hanging the strap around her neck. It was still early and there probably wouldn’t be that many people out and about which suited her just fine. Maybe she could get some nice shots in by the river, catch the light on the water just right. The outside air hit her cheeks, already warm, promising to be unbearable as the sun rose. She moved along quickly, eyes alert, the few vague people shapes catalogued in her head as she walked to the end of her street, took a left into the park. It was just early enough that the breeze was still able to rustle the leaves above, the sound of it so soothing. Why can’t it just always be like this Abby thought, just quite and soft. She never once looked up though, didn’t notice the narrow, sleek, dark shapes fluttering from branch to branch.

The water slipped by the low, grassy banks, it’s surface ribbons of current breaking up the sunlight. The big willow overhung the river, slender branches trailing in the flow of it. Abby squatted down, pulling the camera up, focusing it on the shifting patterns of light and dark. These were going to turn out well, she could feel it, almost see the images forming on the film as she clicked away. The second thunderous fluttering of the day had her stumbling back, landing on her ass.

“Jesus fucking christ, what is it with you today?!?” This time it was a large crow, his wings settling along his back like a schoolmasters hands. He cocked his head to one side, then the other, croaking softly. Abby gave a crooked grin, watching him hop-step in front of her. Without quite knowing why, she brought her camera to bear once more. “Want your picture taken, that it?” She clicked away, muttering under her breath, “that’s it, oh yeah, fierce, work it, oooooh, right there, a bit more pout, lemme see those bedroom eyes.” In spite of herself Abby laughed as the crow strutted back and forth, occasionally giving the thick grass a vicious pecking. “You know a pervy magpie by any chance?”

“Crawk!” It was almost, but not quite a response. A strange feeling prickled at the base of Abby’s neck, the fine hairs standing up. “What’s got into these fucking birds today?” She stood, taking a step back. Whatever peace she’d felt, the satisfaction of doing a thing she loved, how she saw the world through the camera lense fled. “Seriously, go fuck yourself Mr. Crow” Brow crinkled, Abby turned away, walking back the way she’d come. She’d need to stop by work, get her check, then the bank. Her mind wandered back on to normal thoughts, trying to push away the sudden oddness. Were there really more birds than usual? No, just her vicious mind toying with he again. “Get a fucking grip”

Abby left the park, her feet finding the familiar grooves, the growing sounds of cars and people washing over her, walking off the unease behind her. Just another day, one more in a long line of them, same as before, same as the next. She let out a sigh and went over her list, the things that needed done. As she let herself get carried out into the city, Abby didn’t once look up, didn’t see the flock of crows and magpies trailing behind her like autumn leaves, didn’t feel the eyes on her, black ringed with amber gold watching from their perch upon the blank streetlight as she passed beneath. They followed her until she walked out of sight, another girl fading into the crowd.

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The Imposter Has Coffee

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The breeze winds it’s way through the canals, cool, but not unpleasantly so. Early morning light washes over cobbles, not entirely succeeding in banishing lingering bits of the night still hiding in the cracks and under windowsills. The table I occupy sits just out front of a small cafe, mostly empty but filling up slowly with somewhat harried and bleary eyed people in smart suits and skirts. The waiter brings me my espresso, leaving it on the wrought iron tabletop, a vaguely baffled expression clouding his features as he struggles with the conundrum of why he’s serving no one. I don’t need to eat or drink but sometimes the mood strikes me and when I do so I always pay and tip well as I appreciate the effort it takes most to accommodate me. I appreciate good service.

I take a sip, roll the rich, dark coffee over my tongue. Say what you want about humans, they have found several excellent indulgences. I place the cup back upon it’s saucer, pull out a slim silver case and remove a cigarette. I inhale deeply, expelling a plume of blue-grey smoke, twisting it into strange shapes, tableaus of writhing forms that twist and dance around my head, amusing myself as I wait. Then, of a sudden, there is the delicate thunder of wings.

“Of all the habits you could pick up m’lord, must it have been one so noxious?” The chair beside me scrapes over stone and Skergaal sits, dressed today in seeming flesh and a rather sharp suit. Armani I think. “I don’t think I’ll ever understand your amusements sire.”

“Always so formal.” A slight smile crosses my lips. “Have a cup of coffee and enjoy yourself a little, it won’t hurt.” I wave at the waiter. He has no idea why his attention is diverted from walking back into the cafe but he sleepwalks over.

“A cappuccino, please” Skergaal turns his bird bright eyes to me, out of place in the narrow, predatory face. One myth is absolutely true, no one can ever hide the truth in their eyes, no matter how cunning a master of form. The waiter ambles off again, shaking his head to clear it. “After our last conversation my position seemed to be made very clear m’lord.” The tone is even, only knowing him so well can I detect the hint of reproach, the hurt. I wince a little, take a deep drag.

“I am sorry old friend, I was out of sorts already and I lost my composure. You know I value your council, cunning, and wisdom very much.” He preens just a bit, tugging on the cuffs of his shirt. “Our relationship is always a bit fraught, I being who I am but you are the closest thing I have to a true friend Skergaal, and that does mean a great deal.”

“I understand master.” There’s a look that wanders over his face for a moment then flees, perhaps sympathy, perhaps pity, but any such overt emotion is quickly replaced with the usual sternness. “I do try my best to advise, but in familiarity bounds can be overstepped.”

“Sometimes they should be. What worth is an advisor if he cannot speak the truth, even to ears that might not take pleasure in it?”

“Yes, well, the matter seems to have cleared itself up. There’s been no sign of The Outsider and his companions, the magician (this with not even remotely concealed contempt) and the warrior woman have been relatively quiet. I still think you should have been more direct.” As he speaks, the waiter brings Skergaal’s coffee, setting it down, sweat beading on his brow. Ignoring me is one thing, but Skergaal is something else. As he’d never stoop to actually transforming into a human, he simply clothes himself in a semblance of one. This means that ostensibly there is a well dressed man sitting at a table of a cafe while at the same time, inside, is a large, rather intimidating crow. Mortal minds are very, very good at convincing themselves that what they see isn’t, but limits can be tested. The look of relief on the waiters face is nearly pathetically comical.

“Anyway, to business. The Border has been relatively quiet for a while, so there’s something.”

“It is nice when things go as expected” I settle back into my chair, cup in one hand, cigarette in the other. “What if the new arrival?”

“The dragon has been settling in nicely, an absolute terror to the lands about. Several very brave but I am afraid terminally stupid knights have already met their end. The damsel it’s taken doesn’t seem to be minding her new circumstances much, in fact, I’ve report they’ve become rather good friends. Somewhat bucking tradition, but of no real concern.” Skergaal takes a slow sip, movements neat, precise.

“That’s good, and I’m not at all surprised, the beast seemed to have a deep affection for girls.”

“Other than that most recent little event, all else seems unusually stable.”

“Don’t sound so disappointed, it could be considerably more exciting”

“I know master, yet I feel this is but a prelude, I’ve a sense of storm shivering through me.”

“As is usual my friend, when does it not?” I notice some pinwheeling above, set aside my coffee, dip my hand into my pockets and scatter a fistful of seed. The air fills with green purple iridescence and liquid burbling as the pigeons settle.

“Bah, look at them, smug bastards” Skergaal bridles a bit, putting up a wall of scandalized affront. “They think they own the world, strutting about, believing themselves so clever just because the mortals stuff them silly. Gone to fat is what they’ve done, not a trace of The Navigators. Puffed out chest, putting on airs of civilization when they’re little better than flying vermin now.”

“Your people have been known to haunt the footsteps of armies in anticipation of feast, one might not put on so many airs.” I chuckle, knowing this will sting his pride a bit. “Harbingers of woe and wrack as they say old crow”

“Humph, waste not want not, they’re always going to slaughter themselves, I don’t see why good meat should go left to rot.” He glances over again, sharp eyes probing. “You know well their capacity for death, and it isn’t always influenced by the others, oft it’s their own hands turned to it.”

“I know.” There’s a new melancholy unlooked for.

“I worry for you at times Nevermore, your love for these mortals in particular, among all of your charges. The fascination may grow unhealthy.” I cast my gaze about us, watching the city springing to life, the faces of it milling about much the same as the birds at our feet. “They’ll break your heart master.”

“I know” the sigh wells up from somewhere deep, deep within the heart of me, of what I am, of memory and more than memory, what was an what is. “They always do.”

There is a long silence filled with city noise, cars, scooters, the white noise babble of voices punctuated here and there by rising shouts or exclamations. The morning is turning fine, the sky above glimpsed through a maze of ancient rooftops is robin’s egg blue. We sit, two of the strangest strangers, in an island admits so much burgeoning life. We both sip our drinks.

“Excellent coffee” Skergaal breaks silence first.

“Yes, some of the best I’ve found.”

“How are the pastries here?” I reach for another cigarette.

“Decadent, rich, and sinful” Skergaal perks up at that, settling back into his chair.

“Best call the waiter back then, I could murder one” we both have a chuckle at that. “Oh, pass one of those along, I’m gasping for it.” I pull a cigarette from my case, light it as he takes it from me and holds it to his lips, inhaling deeply. We both sit back, smoking, drinking coffee, surrounded by a cloud of smoke and disbelief. “Damn fine day master.”

“I think so too my friend, indeed, very fine.”

Unfinished Poem

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2018 by beautifulimposter

There’s a hole in my shirt
Letting the clockworks show,
My hat wants to fly away,
Join the night sky circus
While my shoes grumble along
Mooching along the greasy pavements
With drunkard precision.

Fumbling with the keys
Wind me up an I’ll speak just the truth
About all my fictional accounts
Better jus wind me down
I’ll sing you sweet lies
In a rusty bourbon voice,
Slightly bitter and burn, with a cherry in.

Thas me all over
Pinballed between parked cars
“Hey buddy!! Spare a smoke…
I got two bits, some thread, an three kisses like wounds
Fair trade, promise
Put ‘em on your watchfob
Or pin ‘em to your lapel, all red and dripping.”

Termination

Posted in Poetry, Social Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2018 by beautifulimposter

In light of recent events the company finds you Superfluous to current needs,
Redundant, a dangling appendix full of bile
Waiting to be pruned, we hope
This won’t cause offense and is meant in
The fullest sense of positivity and current
Political and social correctness in just
The right amount for the climate of public
Acceptance of the period.

We do regret to inform that this means
Immediate termination with extreme prejudice
So if you will kindly swallow the enclosed
Arsenic capsule and shuffle off your mortal coil
Forthwith and with alacrity it would be demonstrably appreciated
As we could use your meat suit in our exciting
New recycling program
Which should provide some comfort
As in your obsolescence you can still find a purpose
In fattening up the next meat sack in line.

In conclusion, we the company do hope
To end our partnership on a positive note
Being that we are positive that everything useful
Has been wrung from your bones in the most
Efficient way possible, a complete rendering
By which we have profited immensely
Whilst you have been left
Holding the bag.

Sincerely, Management

Dispatches From the Front

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2017 by beautifulimposter

The traffic signals are glass and plastic jewels
Smeared across the windshield
Cheap and gaudy ornamentation suspended
In pools of bruise purple black nighttime sky
While constellations of headlights form and dissolve
Stars afloat, hovering above the slick pavement.

Constant motion, vibrations, humming
Complicated rhythms of hands on wheel,
Feet on the pedals tapping Morse code gibberish
Underpinning radio hiss crackle
Disembodied voices, music, things forgotten
Things remembered by halves, rising and falling
Beneath oily waters, yet never quite breaching.

Bodies come and go, vague shapes
Defined by rustlings in the black,
Faces floating ghosts, masks smiling, grim, in between
Conversations drifting currents around rocky shores
Incomprehensible yet demanding, insistent
Inviting, but the address is lost, the directions
Seem to be in a foreign language.

He’s not really here or there, out of phase
The dial tuned just out of sync
A whole world of in betweens
Caught in the middle of point A to B
Möbius twisting, the cat forever in that box
Tires spinning out forever, still in motion
As a billion moving pictures flicker past.

The stories gather like storm clouds on a lazy tongue
Thick, pouring out in streamers of blue smoke haze
Littering the floorboards, curling up at the edges
Leaves and old photographs
Pinned wriggling between dime-store paperback
Yellowing pages, leaved through, well thumbed
Favorite passages recited prayer beads.

They aren’t his stories, those dried up long ago
Back when his tongue rusted to the roof of his mouth
He just gathers, stitching them together
Her shy smile to his lonely fumbling
Their boisterous revelry to his towering silence
Fingers calloused from needling onion skins
Piles of manuscript, instruction manuals for disused objects.

No rhyme, no reason, dispatches
For disinterested commanders,
From no mans but his land, a pilgrims travel guide
The points of interest among drifting bodies
Sliding past upon the sidewalk banks
The living, the dead, the dreamers
All with stories waiting to be gathered.

4am Still Life

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2015 by beautifulimposter

Walking in from the stale smoke
After hours part of the night
Stung by antiseptic fly buzz
Fluorescent light, thin as the coffee
Face as creased as shirt half untucked
Pork pie hat askew
Fag end ash dripping onto chipped Formica
Legs jackknifed beneath the counter,
Another late night wreck
Waiting on the sirens.

Peach polyester day glow dress
Plastic name tag drifting
Just beneath third shift wince smile
Aching back, dogs barking
“What’ll it be hon?”
Litany mumbled around loudly chewed gum
Sagging dish rag wrung out
Violent electric blue eyeshadow
Highlighting bruise dark bags
Carrying bills, three kids and deadbeats.

Blue plate nothing special
Everything wearing grease patina
Illusion of healthy gloss
Washed over still life desperation
Dregs and bottoms
Late night last rites car key cigarette lighter fumbling
All the pieces that float to the top
Commiserating in code
Bellies full of disappointments
Along with rot gut whiskey.

A hard luck story
For each busted down face
Weary slow jazz horn whining
Through hiss and pop radio crackle
Incidental music for accidents
Draped in cheap three piece
Salvation Army toe tagged suits
Rag tailed nighthawks
Perched all in a raggedy row
4am still life picture perfect
Rogues gallery disreputable characters
Heavy handed groping
Towards the crack of dawn.

A Room and A Chair

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2015 by beautifulimposter

There is no conceivable measurement
Of the distance between where I am
From where I saw myself
A gulf of time and regret
Bad decisions and inaction
Old ghosts and fading memories
A scattering of busted toys
Tumbled about my feet, littering the floor
Around my chair.

Music plays faint and scratchy
Popping and hissing through the dusty silence
Voices that never fade out
Crackling reminders spinning out and on
Needle cutting tracks out of my fingerprints
Smudging bloody over skin
Smears of bright color across sepia
Twisting smokey though amber whiskey lense
Choking down fire to bitter ashes
We all do fall down…don’t we?

Rags and feathers
These instruments of faith and sex and God
Right, isn’t that how the line goes?
I was beautiful in my brokeness
But you twist yourself into those shapes of damage
And it sticks, limbs twisted
Into driftwood gnarled water carvings
Bones have memory and are hard to untangle
Too brittle, snapping under the weight of scrutiny.

Time passes like a razor
Slicing paper thin, peeling a rind
Of blank tape, spooling out
In meaningless ribbons just waiting
For a random spark
Something hungry to move from me to nothing
Faintly flickering orange greedy tongues
Leaving an empty chair
In a dusty room
With a scattering of busted toys at its feet.