Prisoner

What is that noise?

“Get me out!”

Where am I? What’s that banging?

“Ya can’t keep me here, wake up!”

My head throbs. The night light cuts through my eyelids. I’m wet. I drag myself up onto one elbow. It almost slips off the shelf. A thin blue plastic mattress holds my weight. Its wet, too.

There’s a kid stood next to the door. “Who the fuck are you?” I say.

“Who the fuck do you think?” He turns and continues to assault the cell door. “This is your mess, get us fucking out of here.”

“My mess, how?” I scan the old familiar surroundings.

“You should have brayed the bitch.”

“Who?” I ask.

“Mary, who else?” He laughs.

Memory banks fire up as it floods back in. Fuck’s sake, not again!

I remember shouting through her letter box, wrestling with the new bloke. Out in the street, neighbours fully present, digging a key bumper to bumper along his paintwork.

Head still throbbing.

“And him, that goon with the motor, look what he’s done to your face.”

Stroking my cheekbone, yep, it’s sore alright.

A burst of energy. Depressed adrenaline. Quickly covering the nine feet as I hit the buzzer. A moment or two passes before the hatch drops.

A partial face, mainly lips, “Sleep well, did we?”

“What’s there a kid doing in here?”

He laughs, “It be pink elephants next sunshine, needing a little drink are we?” His wrist flicks back and forth in glass guzzling imitation. “No need to act the loon, the desk Sargent will see you soon enough.” He slams the hatch, “You be out before the pubs open.” His parting shot echoes through the steel door.

“Another fine mess,” I say out loud to nobody in particular.

“What about me?” Says the kid.

I look him up and down. Real enough. Look’s almost familiar. I head back to the bench and drop down hard onto my backside. And finally, it comes to me; after all this time, it makes perfect sense. The drink, the drugs, violence, sick sex, every conflict and disturbance. The separation and isolation. All him!

“I know who you are,” I say.

A tear carves a channel down his cheek, “Really?” He replies. “At last, so tell me where from?”

Furious, Im up pacing the confines. I hurl words that cut; reminded of every train crash disaster, I give him both barrels, sparing nothing.

Finished, I slump down to the cold floor, exhausted.

“I should never have listened to you,” I sob uncontrollably.

He stares impassively. A child. His turn; a wordless response, living pictures in my head. I see the laughter and the love, curiosity and innocence, a connection and direction.

“Where from?” He repeats.

“You’ve alway been here.”

He nods, “Right from the beginning, when God walked you out of the void.” He looks up at the ceiling and spins round a full circle, “Im the guide He assigned.”

“Then why all the fucking mess?” I shout.

The night light flickers, buzzing, before shrouding the room with darkness. I see two kids. Laughing. Playing. I sense something wrong. An evil. A temptation. One kid senses it too. He moves towards it, entranced. I want to scream at him to wait, stop, don’t follow it, something’s wrong. He won’t listen, can’t see the danger.

“You had to chase after them, didn’t you?”

“What! Who?” I shout.

He shrugs his shoulders and says, “All of them, every experience, every situation good and bad, you wanted it all.” He laughs out loud, “It was a buzz when they wanted you, but how’d it feel when they ditched you for something new?”

“You encouraged it,” I reply.

“Not so,” he laughs. Heading back towards the door, he knocks gently on the steel plate, “You made me their prisoner. I foretold the outcome.”

“What type of guide is that,” I ask, curling my knees up to my chest, burying my head.

“Mysterious ways type of guide that’s what. I don’t get to ask and neither do you. There was only one bite of the apple, but always two choices.” He sits down next to me and the night light buzzes its way back to life. The door unlocks. “Lets go Rocky,” says the cop. “Time to leave.”

Sunlight stings my eyes as I exit the police station. The kid reaches up and takes my hand.

“Pub then is it?” he says.

Shaking my head as I reply, “What with them crazy bastards, all that performing, no thanks.”

He smiles and squeezes my hand, “Hows about an ice cream?”

Yeah… that sounds good to me.

“And them, what about them?”

“I dunno, maybe its time we learned to love ourselves first and leave others to live their own lives.”

“Ah that type of knowledge is worth a fall,” he states, “Onwards, you lead the way.”

“Really?”

“Certainly,” he laughs, “You’ve earned it.”


“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” ~ Bob Marley

“Take off the E and let it Go” ~ Unknown

“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me” ~ Matt – 25:36

D&O in Fresno

Resurrection

Vegas looked at the betting slip. What chance did it have really…14/1 against the heavy favourite, in the big race as well, complete fucking long shot! He lifted the pen to his eyebrow and scratched. A voice in his head said, “Leave now before its too late.” The shop door bursts open, all eyes are on the interruption as two snivelling shitkickers accompany some lover of sun beds and Armani. Staring deep into him, they float by close to the nose. Too close. An elbow clips his mid drift as they descend on the roulette machine.

A scene like someone he once knew. Way back. That night in Caesars Palace. Wasted on Don Perignon and Cocaine, strippers and 70 Grand to the good. Long back, a whole fucking Universe from this, and that walking overestimation stood at the gaming machine.

The Armani Kid barks orders while his stooge moves to the counter.

“You sure Tommy?” He says, looking back over his shoulder.

“Place the bet dipshit.”

The dipshit lays down a wad of cash. Then the unexpected happens, nothing but something. As the assistant picks up the money there’s a pause. She glances through the crowd straight into Vegas’s eyes. A fraction of time, and in it he sees. He sees fear mixed with something else – Respect.

“Is that really you Billy Boy?”

“Yeah Colonel its me, how you been?”

The old man looks him up and down, “Prostate Cancer and Malnutrition thanks for asking.”

“Sorry to hear that Pops, got a tip for the big race?”

“Since when do you take tips from the likes of me? See you’ve met our rising star.”

“Who is he?”

“The new you.”

“Bullshit Frankie I wouldn’t be seen dead dressed like that.”

“Things have changed while you been missing.”

“How come?” Vegas asks.

“Drugs!” The old man turns his attention to the gang at the roulette machine. “They peddle that shit on the streets then make a stake over the counter. Play with somebody else’s money.”

Vegas notices the assistant look over again; pretty thing, good tits, looks a little tired, maybe squeezes the headboard too tight.

“They cleaned this place out last month. Took it for 50 large, place was shut for a week.”

“Nature of the business” said Vegas.

Lights flash, the machine screams and the sideshow give it their best Zebedee impersonations. The kid turns, stares straight at Vegas smirking. Abbott and Costello congratulate him with puppy dog appreciation.

Around the room feet shift nervously.

Vegas holds the stare, “what’s his fucking problem.”

“You” said the old man.

The assistant takes a ticket from the stooge. A slimy looking bastard in Stone Island jeans and a Hugo Boss T-shirt. Arms animated he badgers her impatiently as she calls for the manager. Vegas strains to hear what’s said as the TV announces runners and riders for the next race.

“Fuck it, add it to what I dropped on Bonsai Baby in the next race Dave, ya can write me a check if ya short.” Armani Kid laughs. The manager develops alopecia on the spot. Again the kid darts a look at Vegas as they move towards the big screen.

At the counter Vegas asks, “How much?”

“Excuse me sir” the assistant replies.

“Smart arse with the chuckle brothers, what’s he got on the next race?”

Anxiously lowering her eyes, “we don’t want anymore trouble, its best you leave Billy.”

“Why’s that, and how come you know my name?”

“A Grand, even money! You like to place a bet? There’s customers waiting sir.”

Noise rises. The shop springs to life. Vegas looks on from behind the crowd. Bonsai Baby crosses the line in first place as the dynamic trio explode into revelry.

Vegas heads for the door; almost makes it, hears the shout, “Leaving already Mr Big Shot?”

“Business of yours is it?” He turns to see the whole crowd staring. The Colonel moves to the flank, pulls the peak of his cap, lowering his eyes.

“Heard you were good at this, maybe you just lucky.”

“Get fucked.” Vegas replies.

“Take a bet?”

“On what?”

The Kid smiles, his friends look on with excited faces.

“I match what’s in your pocket, horse of my choosing against that betting slip you been hanging onto so tightly.”

Vegas feels the roll of notes through his trouser pocket. The fabric aggravates callouses on his hand. Months gripping the front rope attached to a pipe from the concrete pump. Hours of overtime. This new life. Straight as a dye. The shop across the street. Jewellers. A ring sits in the window. An honest girl and a warm home to go back to every night.

“Gotta say I’ve been having second thoughts, don’t think the distance is right for my horse.” His fingers loosen, hand opens, the crumpled paper drops to the floor.

Armani moves in close. His forehead on Vegas’s nose, sweet liquor breath rises into his nostrils. “Like I said, lucky thats all.”

The Kid spins round Michael Jackson style; throws his arms skyward, announcing victory, he shouts, “All of it Dave, fifty big ones I took from ya, stick it on Click and Collect next race.”

“But but…”

“Never mind but but but you stuttering fuck, this still a bookies isn’t it, hurry up man they’re at the gates.”

What happened next is better seen than told…

In a betting shop a long way from Las Vegas a group of men stand watching a horse race on TV. An old man pushes up the peak of his cap, leans into the wall and lights a cigarette. One betting shop assistant glares at an individual who watches from way back near the door. Eleven horses complete the first lap. Four fell attempting the fences. The punters scream as the horses reach the second circuit. The manager grips his chest, falling to the floor. A button pressed, shutters screech as they lower and lock into place. The 6/4 favourite Click and Collect heads the field at the final fence. He makes the jump. 100 yards to go. The small crowd go wild. The camera pans back slightly. One horse makes a final dash. Franticly the rider deploys the whip, he’s gaining ground, its looking close.

“Open these fucking shutters bitch or I swear I will carve you up.” The kid yells.

“What happened, thought you were good at this” says Vegas “or just lucky?”

“You fuck off ya has been, think coz ya scored once in Las Vegas, I’m telling you ya don’t know jack shit.”

Raising an arm out straight Vegas opens his had. A crumpled piece of paper in his palm.

“Take it, look what ya could have won.”

A shriek echos the room as Vegas turns the door handle. Pausing to smile, he knows what’s behind it. 14/1 The winner ‘Resurrection’, “Good luck with all this kid, you’re gonna need it.” Not looking back he walks out, crosses the street and heads towards the Jewellers.

June ‘19

I first had the idea to write this six months ago. Sat down, fired up the keyboard and waited for the Muse to show up. Like I have any control over that. I quickly shut the whole thing down and done something else instead. It was the beginning of what has proved to be the most challenging period of my recovery and maybe even life itself. I’d be lying if I said I’d never thought of a drink. I have, many times. Twice I’ve been on my way. Stopped at the line by something outside of or deep down within me. Im still no closer to knowing what that is. All I know is that it is, and I continue to seek the experience of Him, Her, It, or none of the above. My job is just to remain teachable and open to the lessons that often come disguised as demons, then reveal themselves as blessings later down the path.

I love you JJ, trust the journey, wherever it takes you, “More will be revealed to you and to us…”

“Live in the layers not on the litter.” – Stanley Kunitz

“My Father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived, and let me watch him do it.” – Clarence Kelland

“For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” – Matt 16:26

D&O in Fresno

Elevator

Flash Fiction Series…

A reflection beams back from the Crome; the scene mirrored in a visor. Chinstrap loose, pushing the helmet up to suck in air, the shell drops back down into place. Time check: half an hour has passed. Helmet feels heavy, breath sharp, a look round, the space closing in.
Walls gleam, nothing unusual, an average lift.
Thirty minutes trapped. Boxed in tight, nowhere to go. “We are still here Sir,” says a voice through the speaker. “Are you ok?”
The reply curt, “yes.”
Head butts the wall; no force, just a tap. The voice of the responder again, “won’t be long now Sir.” “Ok.”
The conference will be due to end shortly. A need to get out and away before the main speaker is missed. A busy city like London, not uncommon for people to be late. Soon the questions will start. They will come looking.

Hurry the fuck up

Sweating; it’s close like a coffin, helmet tight, uncomfortable. A glance up at the camera. Still broke, smashed before pressing the alarm. The visor stays down.

Fucking feet ache

A wiggle of the toes, a look at the phone… still no signal. “Sir, the engineer has arrived.” That voice again, an irritating tone. “Won’t take much longer,” she says. “He will need to set up, then winch the lift to the rooftop.”
Gun removed from the waistband, gets into position.

Relax

“Is it definitely just you in the elevator?” says the speaker, “the hotel CCTV shows two people entering.” A corpse sits behind, the wall above painted in blood. The silencer fastens into place as the door peels back. A workman stood there, mouth open, his face in terror. An employee screams. Two shots fired. The gunman steps out onto the roof and moves towards the fire escape.

On the street crowds exit the hotel. The motorbike starts first time. It speeds off. The call connects in the helmet, “Go ahead.”
“Mr Yakanawi will not be speaking at this years conference Sir.”
“Very well Julie,” the reply. “Payment will be received in the usual fashion.”