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Reeking piles of doggerel

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Prompt: You sold your soul to the Devil some years ago. Today he gives it back and says, “I need a favor.”

I look at the gossamer-like substance in the simple shoebox on my desk, and back to Old Nick. His usually red tinged skin is even darker than usual. (He’s red like terminal blood pressure, like dying roses, like menstrual blood.)

“Nick, old buddy,” I say. I tut affectionately. I take a long drag of the e-cigarette and release impotent steam into the atmosphere. These things, they are soul stealing – (har har that’s a little joke). But it is true, they are fake. Fake like a fleshlight instead of an honesttogodtrue woman, fake like aspartame, whatever that shit is, fake like crocodile tears, all salt, no feeling. Trust me; I know when something is fake.

“Nick, Nick, Nick. We had a deal. You can’t renege on it now, old pal. A deal’s a deal. You got my soul. I got … well… “I shrug and look around at the cheap office with its cheap furnishings. The photos of my beautiful but used wife on the desk. My name plate on the glass panel of the office door, only half of my name visible from this perspective. A NEIMAD

I’m not a bad man. I’ve just had some hard decisions to make.

I reach for the lid of the box, to replace it, to give it back to Satan. The substance presses itself hard against the wall closest to me. It feels my presence. I feel its presence. It feels like home. I can’t take it back. It’s both my salvation and my undoing. I steel myself with practise nonchalance and cover it once again. I slide it with the tip of my fingers back across the table, to the dusky man in front of me. He looks at it. A single tear slides down his face. It is turned to vapour before it can hit the floor.

“Enough of this foolishness,” I tell him. I push a box of tissues – usually reserved for women seeking proof of their cheating husbands or parents looking for missing children – towards him. “Don’t set the place on fire.”

He snivels pathetically. Him. The Dark Lord, the Terror of Heaven and Earth, The Scourge, is sitting in my office gently wafting sulphur-flavoured-tear-smoke.

“But…it wasn’t supposed to go this way,” he says plaintively, the flame in his eyes dulled to a low burn, “You can’t get everything you want without it destroying you.”

I laugh.

I’m not a bad man. I’ve just had some difficult decisions to make.

“Perhaps I’m the exception to the rule,” I reply. I notice the fiery tears on the tissue. I wonder how much Satan tears are worth on the black market. (Oh yes, there’s a market, to those of us in the know. Look in the blogs, look in the message boards, hidden in public on eBay. It’s there, certain as I fucked my ol’ lady this morning.)

“Is it really that good?” He asks plaintively. He wants the answer to be no. He wants to see me suffering, in life even as my soul will post death. The soul I exchanged for all of this. If you believe in that shit.

I lean across the table, taking another hit from the cursed e-cigarette. Who wouldn’t want to live this life longer? I let the useless steam waft from my nostrils, mingling with the sulphur of the being in front of me.

“It’s fucking better than you could ever believe.” The words are almost whispered.

He stands. Little known fact: Even evil personified can only make short trips to this realm. And well, this evil is getting on a bit. Losing his edge, the same way he lost his successor, his protégé.

He shuffles towards the door, a defeated, red skinned man. Prime candidate for a heart attack, the box containing my soul under his arm. He turns around and looks at me, with his still brimming (har har – fire and brimstone, get it?) eyes.

“Are you sure?”

I walk towards him and embrace him gently.

“Dad, look I told you. I wanted out of the family business. Now go home and say hi to Mum for me.”

As I close the door behind him, I feel the remnants of his soul tremble in my pocket.

One from the trenches

It was 40km from the nearest small town.
About 5km down a gravel track off the main road.
The track serviced all the farms.
I was home with one of my flatmates
drinking because that’s what you do at university,
when your assignments are in
and exams are over.

You go to the beach
and you work on the farm
to pay your rent.
You drink paintstrippingly cheap wine.

You wax lyrical
about how you’re going to
change the world.

Because everyone else has it wrong.
Right?

In this little house
on a buffalo farm
in the middle of nowhere
surrounded by said buffalo
making buffalo noises,
there was a noise outside.
Unfamiliar.

We investigated.
There’s this goat just hanging out.
Doing important goat shit.
So we found some rope
and tried to make a lasso
and eventually did.
I lassoed the goat.
It only took about 100 tries.
Then that goat wasn’t going anywhere.

This couple walk up the track
looking for their goat.
We say “We’ve found your goat.”

“She was trying to run away, but I lassoed her!”
I add helpfully. Because sometimes I’m funny.

They were Scottish, the thickest Scottish accents I’ve ever heard.
And as I’m handing over the goat
(which is rightfully mine because of whole lassoing thing)
I ask if the goat has a name.
Because I’m clearly attached to it by now.
Twenty minutes to form a lifechanging friendship.

The woman says
in her thick, thick Scottish brogue
“Yes, it’s Geraldine!”
But because I was a bit drunk.
and heartbreakingly young and self centred
I thought she said Cheridan
and I was all “That’s my name!”

And for the rest of my stay there,
the next six months,
the Scottish neighbours called me Geraldine.

Peregrine: Heavy Thoughts

Alone in a different basement, Peregrine Falcon aka The Contrarian aka The Rainmaker lay on the floor in the dank dampness beneath St Patrick’s Cathedral. At least, he presumed it was St Patrick’s Cathedral, the journey in the back of the ‘official’ van had not been long enough to go anywhere else.

At St Bart’s the men had made their way to the fallen libertine, as he watched the outline of the Mason and Carey shimmer into non-existence, and as the duirwaigh faded from view, he had resigned himself to a quick and sudden death. That was the plan had the group had passed at midnight tomorrow night. But plans have a way of changing, and his had changed greatly, with no effort on his behalf. As the man stood over him, Peregrine had looked up, from his prone view, and grinned, the million watt grin that could cause a lady’s knees to loosen and to slip off her wedding ring, the look that could make the hardest gambler doubt his own hand.

It had no effect on the man standing above him. A quick jab from the butt of the gun, and Peregrine was mostly senseless. He had then been thrown unceremoniously into the back of an official car, landing on something soft. It also felt human. Donovan, perhaps. Players like Donovan never faded completely.

A short, jolting trip, and he was roughly hauled from his resting place. A trip, downstairs, judging from the bumps encountered by his head, and then thrown into this hell hole. It smelled of old books and despair.

And here he lay, as a choir somewhere above him practised the Easter Cantata. Peregrine put a hand gingerly to his face. He thought his nose had been broken, and perhaps an eye socket fractured, but right now he felt little: just an aching in the head like a jack hammer trying to excavate his temples and his occipital bun.

Wounded in the dark and waiting for the final axe to fall, Peregrine began to count his blessings, and give thanks.

He gave thanks that the group had passed, for better or worse, away from here. The passing tomorrow night would have been fraught with dangers from here, from those with knives and guns and a desperation to hide from the very truth. He gave thanks for the ladies he had known, who had comforted him (with no little comfort in return), for the sheer, sweaty smelly resilience of people, here and, hopefully, there. He gave thanks for the dead who were clustering around him imperceptively, waiting for final release, waiting to find their end. Notes’ Papp’s was there. Perhaps Manco too.

Tears burned the lacerations on his face as lay on the cold stone floor in the dark and summoned the only face that had given him absolute comfort for two hundred years; the sacrificial lamb to this ungodly slaughter. Emanuette. For her dark shining eyes and her dark hair, and her face that only he truly knew. He gave thanks for the centuries of companionship, of fruitless ambition, of the times that they had tried – and failed – for this particular passing. He gave thanks that he did not know what had happened after the transition, because it would destroy him to know they hadn’t reached the other side safely.

Mostly, he gave thanks for hope.

A dim light in an alcove suddenly indicated he was no longer alone. A bright light was shone from afar directly into his eyes. He squinted against it.

“They said not to kill him,” a young, guttural voice, “Looks like Smith nearly did the job.”

“Yo boy can you hear me? You’re going to be sore for a while!”

Peregrine grinned into the bright light. Stars were popping in his vision. He suddenly realised a couple of his teeth were loose, and another couple missing. He had the perfect response. It was all or nothing. And at one time or another, it was probably true.

Excerpt from Estrangement.

Hollows

A hand runs from thigh to ankle.
You know the power of kisses in hollows not seen by sun.
Deliciousness of waiting of feeling, the fervent invitation.
The placebo that wouldn’t ever be called love or fondness but something more pure, more primal.

Found

Inside the darkest place
that you have ever been,
you will be found.

Gentler than a thief
the rock beneath your feet will
turn to soft, sand sloping
to a moonlit ocean
stirring with the
swell of new beginnings.

Refraction

Darkness divides.

Splaying emotion and
fragments light into
shattered sharp shards.
Embedded in soft innards.

Delirium in happiness
playing with refraction
changing the substance

Faces fracture in reflections.

Finger-painted ideas
iridescently thought dabbled
and sublimely incoherent.
Interpretative dances of the shadow.

Darting hummingbird quick
into accusations.