Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Henry Flower's

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

‘Most people can put up with a bite from a wolf but what properly riles them is a bite from a sheep.’ James Joyce, Ulysses.

Henry James Flower had always, always been ambivalent about life: such outstanding, magnificent beauty was also the most horrifying and disgusting filth; life and death, gladness and sadness, pleasure and pain were the only things that defined each other. And to this day Henry finds it difficult to just take this bad with the good.
     Unfortunately for Henry this ‘badness’ was presently being expressed in his being held up at the Redferne Quinnswerth for theft: he had three chocolate bars in his backpack and no receipt (but which were indeed legitimately purchased.) The checkout operator, during the compulsory bag inspection, must have been a super keen employee for he guessed that the dero-looking Henry was buying a small apple only as a cover for more goodies in his stinking bag.
     And try as desperately as Henry could to explain himself the manager was called in, the police were called in, and Henry found himself with very little time to prepare to avoid a gaol sentence. Thankfully it didn’t take him long to realise that since he had been officially diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia he had a solid mental health defence in any fracas. Thus he spent the time awaiting the police rehearsing a role to be played to them highlighting his outrageous nuttiness. And anyone’s nutty who’s dressed in stinking trackies, grimy all over, and with dreadlocks.
     It was the grimy trackies that the police first noticed, assuming then that the dero was undoubtedly guilty. Naturally they would have given this piece of human detritus a break but they had both just come from a crime scene where two victims’ heads had been blown off. They were husband and wife. The husband had left a note. The police took their trauma out on Henry while they hauled him off to lock-up. His mental health plea was treated as a joke.
     ‘Okay, fuckhead, you’ve got one phone call. We’ll let you out in an hour to make it. You’ll have five minutes.’ The arresting officer then made it a point to surreptitiously give Henry the finger, apparently scratching the right side of his nose.
    It was at this point that Henry realised the immense boon of having a father who is a practicing lawyer of quite some years. Henry spent the time waiting for this free legal work by rolling a day’s worth of cigarettes, and only smoking the first of them (twenty-five) when his father had come onto the phone line.
     When the dero’s lawyer told the police that the dero was indeed mentally ill they had no trouble in accordingly processing him, after of course checking the lawyer’s credentials online. The dero would be accompanied to Rozella Psychiatric Hospital in the father’s company. Indeed Henry’s father was told his son was currently being released from his holding cell so that he may await the ambulance to Rozella in some comfort.
     The police were true to their word and Henry was very happy, knowing that he had just got out of gaol free. He didn’t mind that his father in attendance clearly warned him that he, the father, Simon Patrick Flower, planned to have his only son involuntarily committed to Rozella. After all, Simon reasoned, Henry was literally a dero, only twenty-four years of age, and doing nothing more than travelling upon the path of doom. Henry would be dead at fifty. And after living a horrible, filthy existence. Simon always thought of it as a living hell.
     Naturally Henry was admitted to Rozella instantly, whom knew him well, dressed in his usual rags and again attempting to prove that he was in fact God. All of the other schizophrenics throughout history were in fact a cover for Him, a disguise to Meld in with. He also didn’t mind being involuntarily committed because he knew a pot dealer close to the hospital. Mind you Henry didn’t have his preferred hash pipe but then again he really had no objections to joints. Yesiree, Henry was fully expecting a fine time in hospital.
     This was not to be though, as Henry’s bad luck was holding. He faced the Mental Health Tribunal two days after admission and was ordered into the locked ward of Rozella. He knew he shouldn’t have told them of his suicidal tendencies this time, but then again, in being honest with the Tribunal Henry knew that he was in fact being honest with himself.
     This thought was sustained by him whilst he was lead beyond the locked doors, had his clothing removed, and had changed into a thin pair of lime coloured cotton pyjamas. Henry was prepared for the worst.

*

He was not prepared for the best. For the best food that he’d ever tasted, and so very nutritious. Why hadn’t he noticed this before? Probably because he had really been too far gone in mental illness during his previous admissions. Maybe Paradise was really a mental hospital after all? God knows that the food was testament to that. In fact Henry loved the food so much that he managed to get fed extra. This was usually an hour after dinner, which was at six pm, and he would approach a nurse saying that he was still hungry after a small dinner. The nurse invariably agreed that the patients’ meals weren’t robust enough and was quite happy to assist someone needing a bit more. While Henry consumed his boon in the kitchen with the nurse in attendance Henry would talk about how food was his central concern on the streets, his main focus, whilst he drifted from squat to squat. Food, he often asserted, was mainly for comfort. It was a confirmation that he, Henry, had made the right choice by becoming homeless, avoiding all stink of rent or mortgages, of the stink of all private property in fact.
     It shouldn’t be surprising then when Henry was released from the locked ward two weeks later onto the open ward that he continued to make extra attempts for some of the hospital’s quality cuisine. Yet it was this rapaciousness that saw him soon discharged altogether back into the squat that he had arrived from. With far more patients on the open ward the hospital simply could not afford to satisfy Henry’s constant, extra demands. We mustn’t blame the hospital too much though for discharging the hungry Henry back into unsafe housing as Henry had often proclaimed that he was ‘quite able to secure safe housing.’ He just didn’t believe in safe housing in the modern world, the world merely being a corruption engendered by every filthy capitalist.
     When he did arrive at his squat he was surprisingly appalled by the discarded, used needles scattered around the old coffee table in the living room. It was the very, very opposite of the wholesome, open enjoyment of Rozella’s locked ward cuisine. These junkies were lucky if they could hold down a small carton of milk.
     Even though Henry knew that his junkie housemates had only appetites for heroin he still began cooking for everybody, fondly recalling Rozella’s locked ward whilst doing so. It was usually pasta or rice with some meat and sauce. Henry was the only one who enjoyed it however, always thanking blind Chance for the opportunity to eat something really wholesome, cooked with his own diligence upon a roaring, open fire. The other housemates though saw it as an easy breakfast.
     It was during one of these breakfasts, about noon, a week after Henry’s discharge, during the middle of Sydney’s cold 2012 winter, that Henry was surprised by a visit from his father.
     ‘Dad!’ He exclaimed upon answering the knock at the front door. ‘How did you get my address?’
     ‘Rozella told me. Or, one might argue, were tricked into telling me. That’s for the judge to decide.’ Henry had no plans though to blackball his father.
     ‘What do you want?’ Then Henry remembered his manners. ‘Care to come in?’
     ‘Thanks.’ Simon was then led into the living room and introduced to Henry’s housemates. These three housemates however weren’t so drug addled as to allow Henry’s consult with his father to occur in public, singly and gracefully excusing themselves.
     ‘Well, Henry,’ began Simon, ‘now that your kind housemates have left us alone it’s time to talk about why I’m here.’
     ‘Dad, I’m not moving back in with you and Mum. This squatting is the only real free life.’
     ‘I’m not here to get you to come back home. I’m here to tell you that you may have a claim against Rozella Hospital for breach of duty-of-care in persistently discharging you back to a squat. You could come into a tidy sum of money.’ Henry was silent a short while, then,
     ‘Are you sure?’
     ‘Quite sure. You could buy yourself a small flat with the compensation monies. You’d probably need a bit extra for that but your mother and I are quite willing to advance you the monies.’
     ‘But what about my wanting to be homeless? My wanting to be completely free?’
     ‘You’ve got paranoid schizophrenia, Henry, such desires are therefore irrational. That’s why your first four admissions to a mental hospital were into their locked ward . . .’
     ‘No it wasn’t . . .
     ‘Well soon after that you were usually locked up. Do you still claim that you’re God?’
     ‘I can prove it.’
     ‘Well either way, son, you have a claim against the hospital. But to make it virtually risk free you have to get off the streets. Move into some fairly stable housing.’
     ‘I’m not doing that. I like being able to travel whenever I want.’
     ‘Henry, if you were to get a lease for a year you could show a judge that you had serious ambitions to get a safe place, that Rozella should have done more to encourage these ambitions.’
     ‘But that would be a lie.’
     ‘Would it? Haven’t you ever wanted the modern conveniences? A clean, private toilet? Running water? A place to shower?’
     ‘All the products of greedy capitalists.’
     ‘But look out for yourself, Henry, like everyone else is looking out for themselves. Self-interest is quite natural. I’m telling you there’s money to be made here. Just listen to me and do as I advise.’ It was the mention of available money, again, that gave Henry pause for thought.
     ‘Good money,’ he asked. He may well be able to donate it to some noble cause.
     ‘Enough to set you up,’ affirmed Simon.
     Still, Henry suddenly realised, it was all too good to be true.
     ‘Sorry, Dad, but I don’t think anyone’s going to pay me for declining safe housing. I was very up-front with Rozella saying that I can look after my own housing. And that’s still true: I have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in and somewhere private to eat my meals, rare as they are. What more do I need?  Isn’t that what we all ask for?’
     ‘But other people’s places don’t have infected needles on the floor. And smashed windows allowing any old thief or murderer in.’
     ‘They’re not infected.’
     ‘Can you be sure?’ Well, not really, Henry realised.
     ‘Well, I don’t care. I’m not giving up this perfectly free life, the whole world just a step away.’
     Simon then knew that he was talking to a brick wall and soon after left. He made his way to Rozella once again and managed to convince them that Henry had been discharged prematurely, again. It was the threat of imminent legal action that motivated them to reclaim Henry. At least Henry hadn’t resisted the arresting police officers. And at least Henry could rely on excellent food for the next several weeks.
     His father though had more long term plans. Over a week of visiting his son he was able to convince him to lay a claim against the hospital. Henry duly agreed to make serious efforts to get off of the streets but only with the proviso that he was free to return at any time. Simon agreed, sure that his son would appreciate the luxuries so offered and thus be unwilling to return to being a dero. Henry could still have his wine and pot, but now he could do so within Paradise, a home inviolate. Simon was unsurprised when they settled for sixty-thousand, plus costs, but he was surprised when Henry took up the offer of his parents loaning him the balance on the price of a bedsitter in Blacktown. Henry remains there to this day, winter 2015, and he is very keen on cooking at least once per day. He also respects his parents a lot more, seeing them as genuinely interested in his welfare. Need I say that he didn’t go back to the streets?

~~~

If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books
and paperbacks (go to http://amzn.to/1NfodtN). Other ebook and paperback options are available at  http://bit.ly/1UsyvKD Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing in 2018. You can follow its journey at www.aberrantselected.blogspot.com

    
    

     

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Charles and Eve

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

‘Yep! Certainly! Eve must have been a real giant of a woman!’ Charles Evan Jackson had met many metaphorical giants in his homelessness, which was largely ruled by psychosis, and had for the first time considered the giant nature of Eve, the first woman. He was at home in his squat, in Redferne, Sydney, at the start of a wet autumn, 2015. Smoking bongs over candlelight, he wondered if perhaps life could offer more to him: a safe house, running water, electricity, a private toilet all his own.
     He pulled his last bong for the day. He had some for tomorrow but that was strictly for the morrow. Charles was a pothead with eminent control over his pot use.
     ‘Yep! A real giant!’ The trouble was, further reasoned Charles with himself and an imaginary Eve, that Eve ought to have been one of the first voices that he heard, one of the first psychic giants to present themselves to him. After all Charles was God and had come to expect a high level of respect from the voices. So why this neglect? Why had Eve, and indeed Adam, not introduced themselves to him when he first started hearing the voices at age twenty, and thus partake of the party that had been going on in his head for the past three years, having suddenly left his parents’ place to do so? Perhaps if Eve had introduced herself he would have the sooner given up his homelessness, as now Charles was realising that his choice of living in the utter wilderness was a choice of living in utter primitive neglect. Not even a toilet all his own.
     ‘Maybe Eve’s a myth after all, like the atheists say.’ Surely if Eve really existed she would have left some sign of such for him, God, some sign that she wished forgiveness for her Original Sin. But then again maybe she sought no forgiveness.
     ‘l tell you what, Eve,’ offered Charles, wanting now very much to meet the elusive Eve, ‘if you give me one of your ribs to eat, and it must be a giant rib, like your giant self, you can enter my menagerie of very wise voices, living with me everywhere, and always moving onto better things. Forgiven.’
     Charles was the most surprised when he actually found this massive rib a few days later. It was the size of a car tyre, cold, and he had found it on the street corner that he hoped to find it on, ideally. He ate it all in one go: no fat.
     ‘Okay, Eve, sweetie,’ crooned Charles when he had thrown her bone away, ‘you’re really here. Better late than never I guess. And I suppose your actual existence brings Adam with you, the fool. Thanks, Adam!’ Deep in his subconscious Eve laughed.
     This laugh resounded through his mind, a deep, deep toll. Eve was actually real, the first woman, present amongst us. Charles then had no choice but to inform others of this momentous event, bound to alter humanity to its very roots. But where to start? Well, the police was the obvious first choice. But could he trust them? Did he have a choice? No, not really.

*

‘I’d like to report an incident,’ said Charles to the officer at the counter, Newtown police station.
     ‘What sort of incident? Domestic?’ The young attending officer looked thoroughly bored.
     ‘Magickal.’
     The officer did a quick double-take and looked closely at the unkempt, but clean, Charles.
     ‘Magical,’ asked the officer.
     ‘Yes. And very ancient magick. Yea, the most ancient.’
     ‘What’s your name, sir.’
     ‘Charles. Charles Evan Jackson.’
     ‘Do you hear voices, Charles?’
     ‘Yes, all the time.’
     ‘Are they talking to you now?’
     ‘Yes.’
     ‘Well, I’m sorry, mate, but I’m going to have to take you to Rozella because of those voices. I presume you know Rozella?’
      ‘Rozella Hospital! A tangible Paradise: a psychiatric hospital with rare, real heart!’
     ‘Well, I’ll have to take you there, and take you there now, Charles.’
     ‘No problem.’
     Charles, as usual, thoroughly loved his stay at Rozella Psychiatric Hospital. There were many, many people who believed his story of his having eaten Eve’s rib and that Eve, as well as perforce Adam must really be amongst us all. He didn’t mind that the psychiatrists he saw held an opposing view because they were all, being scientists, cut off from the world of feeling and emotion. But Eve was very real to Charles because he could still feel her presence on a primal emotional level, as part of his very physical being.
     Perhaps it was Eve whom prompted him to escape the hospital after two weeks, to just walk off the grounds. Charles certainly felt that it was indeed Eve guiding him, a postscript to having given him one of her ribs. Charles was beginning to think that he bore her a deeper relationship than he realised, and it was only in escaping the hospital that he could provide such a relationship.
     His escape went completely unnoticed for two hours, and then the nurse regularly noting the involuntary patients’ presence noticed him gone. Just as Charles had planned. He had had no plans while he had been waiting for the bus, just to get back to his squat and begin to plan his search for the actual, real, right here, Eve.
     When he did arrive at home two nurses were waiting for him. He really shouldn’t have stopped off for a couple of celebratory beers. He briefly considered making a dash for it but he also knew that that was the worst thing he could do. He went along quietly with the nurses.
     Naturally, as Charles was still insisting that Eve, and probably Adam too, were really here amongst us, he was put into the locked ward. Such a persistent delusion alluded to a much deeper problem in the bizarre, but nondescript, Charles. Mind you though Charles actually liked the locked ward. It was very quiet, very clean, and its old world architecture made him think of quieter times. The food was also much better. Yep, the locked ward was actually quite nice, with the sole drawback that patients were allowed to smoke only once an hour, out in the garden, surrounded of course by a barbed wire fence.
     It was during his first ‘smoko’, in clean, green, cotton pyjamas, that Charles suddenly and completely realised the world thought him and his story about the giant rib were utter garbage. Still, Charles had the proof of his own senses, proof that he had witnessed real magick: he had psychically called up that rib when and where he wanted it. Not only that but this rib of Eve’s could well be her original one; she was tying herself thus quite strongly to Charles and his world. Charles, lying in bed during his first night in the locked ward, decided that he still has a story to tell, that he could still spread the news of Eve’s arrival. He could do so in pamphlets that he had no choice but to print and distribute. The message would take longer to diffuse, naturally, but Charles thought it was worth the effort. Eve was most certainly worthy of such devotion. Maybe he could even somehow sell the pamphlets, hardwiring thus his message into the market. It was certainly worth trying.
     He drifted down to sleep on visions of his future greatness.

*

Needless to say Charles’ pamphlets didn’t sell. He found that out pretty quickly but he still handed them out: a short tale relating his converse with Eve. Maybe they didn’t sell because of their conclusion, that Eve was just on the edges of our society, keen to bring us all into the light. It was hard to believe that all our problems can be so instantly fixed. Maybe it was the fact that they were being sold by someone quite probably homeless, who had wilfully opted out of society and was thus worthy of only derision. Whatever the reason, he persistently handed out his flyers for three months, giving them away for free a week after starting the project, and printed a new batch of two hundred every few weeks (having welfare monies and only food costs he was well able to play the prophet.)
     At the end of the three months, however, Charles had had enough. No-one was listening. Sydney is just far too busy for Eve. He would go out in style though: print up a double batch of pamphlets, do up some extra bright and interesting cover art, and include in each of them an IOU for a drink at a pub of the holder’s choice. Yep, that would be a great way to go out! He handed out his last flyer for the day, bought a couple of beers, and then went back to his squat to plan his graceful exit from an important adventure.

*

Eve though had other plans, plans completely antithetical to Charles’. He saw her whilst he was on LSD, deciding to go out in style indeed. It wasn’t hard to get one in warm Byrone Bay, and he saw the long train ride north from Sydney as physically putting himself between himself and a Truth no-one else wanted. But he was only travelling into Eve’s desires.            ‘Charles,’ she said to him, ‘tell of me no more.’ Charles was lying in the scrub next to the ocean, in his sleeping bag and watching the Universe sparkle and dance. Eve was indeed a giant but appeared only before Charles’ mind’s eye. He could also smell her, hear her long rustling hair, and fully appreciate her complete nakedness, but she was tangible to no-one else. ‘My gift to you was a whim. And it was Father Adam’s rib anyway. We heard your call to me, joking with me in a way no-one else has done before. We thought, “Why not? He’ll eat the rib and throw the rest of the evidence away.” Adam also wanted to remove an extra rib as a protest to God. He’s no doubt Aware of you and your own claim to Godhead so Adam decided to protest our treatment for our very human mistake by giving you one of his ribs. But you weren’t supposed to broadcast the spell. The less said about these sorts of things generally the better.’
        ‘What else could I do? It was a duty.’
‘Your duty is to look after yourself. Don’t worry about saving the world, just look after yourself. And get off the streets.’
     ‘It was the voices though that told me to move onto the streets.’
‘Did they give you their promised riches?’
     ‘Not yet.’
‘I suggest you go back to Rozella and ask them to help you get off the streets and away from all this magick. You’ve too delicate a frame for these forces anyway, Charles.’
     ‘Is that an order?’
‘Yes. My second order is for you to burn the last of the pamphlets right now. Just take them down to the beach and set them alight.’
     Charles did as he was told. After the fire he got into his sleeping bag to await the morning, wide-eyed and smiling. He was going back to hospital.

*

Charles now has his own subsidised one bedroom place but still hasn’t quite forgotten his adventures with Eve. He has a small shrine outside his front door, a stoneworked piece. It has no statue, but constantly refreshed fig leaves instead. He has told no-one of its import, not even his psychiatrist, yet remains convinced that Eve is still listening to him, still attentive.  Who knows?

~~~

If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and
paperbacks (go to http://amzn.to/1NfodtN). Other ebook and paperback options are available at  http://bit.ly/1UsyvKD Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing in 2018. You can follow its journey at www.aberrantselected.blogspot.com

     

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Discovered

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2014

Having never, since the age of twenty-one, been astounded by the fact that that he was a Homo Deus, a man-God, or God-man, Geaccomo Darius Worthen-Grieves, now wondered if the flames in the hearth were showing him other Homo Deus people. Well, of course there were others he said to himself, literally; God Would Need many such in order to Keep a proper Account of Reality; and God Needs more than just the one good friend.
     He took another swig of his port and then got up to stand and look out of the gaping doorway of his squat.
     Being a Homo Deus was very trying for Geaccomo: he had to be always observing his neighbours; he tended to worry over the tiniest things that could possibly harm Reality, wondering as well if he was endangering It by bringing God down to his level to report the week’s observations of his fellow citizens. God though Loved Geaccomo’s reports, God once Telling him that they were the Highlight of His week.
     He took another swig of his port and closed his not-too-dirty overcoat.
     It would be nice to lose his burden, with perhaps infinite port in exchange. He didn’t need to pay rent, the drink meant he didn’t have to eat much, he neither smoked nor took any illicit drugs, but still there was never enough port for the welfare fortnight. And spying on people had always made him feel guilty, even if it was in order to report to God. Surely he could resign his viceregality, maybe even exchange it somehow for an endless supply of port?
     He took another swig and headed back to his mattress in front of the lit hearth.
     ‘Stuff it,’ he said to the flames, ‘Satan will buy my Homo Deus title, a feather in his cap in The Eternal Struggle. He’ll easily accept my services for simply some choice drink. He’ll probably give me cash as well as the free port forever.’ His increasing alcohol psychosis made the idea seem entirely reasonable.
     ‘Where can I find Satan though in this big city?’ he asked himself.
     ‘Head out and he will find you,’ he likewise replied.
     Geaccomo finished his port and headed out to find Satan.

*

Geaccomo was instinctively sure that Satan would accept his service, being eager to call one of God’s best servants to his dark side after Geaccomo had simply muttered a bastard prayer affirming his allegiance in return for booze, booze, and more booze. Satan would probably announce the acceptance of the deal with a full bottle of top quality alcohol left somewhere for Geaccomo to find rather than making his malefic appearance before the malodorous Geaccomo. Geaccomo was also mentally too far gone for such an audience.
     And turning the corner of a street in Redferne, in sunny though presently cold Sydney, Aus, a land Worthen-Grieves was sure has a twin in a parallel universe, he was met with a bright glowing light. There was also a flashing sign: ‘Free Party! All Welcome!’ The lights were coming from a terrace house, filled also with people and not too loud music.
     ‘So, Satan,’ said Geaccomo, ‘methinks my service is accepted. You’d better keep me in port.’ He crossed over to the party.
     There was indeed port there, not of too high a quality though, and the house was full of mostly young adults, well dressed and too drunk to worry about Geaccomo’s general filthiness. It bothered Geaccomo though for he wanted to start his dark service on a positive footing. Easily finding the cheery young lass who was one of the hosts he was allowed to shower and was also given some clothes to change into.
     It was the first time that he had had a shower whilst also imbibing good sherry (for a change) and the novelty made the washing seem almost sensual, like he was being caressed by silky spirits completely surrounding him. It was also the longest shower he had ever had, over half an hour. He would have liked to stay longer but he had to refill his sherry.
     Finding the clothes a perfect fit, almost as if they were made for him, he re-joined the party and the general boozing.

*

And the party continued, long after Geaccomo had left that terrace house the first time. Geaccomo didn’t question the fact that he was now regularly finding bottles of wine, fortified wine, beer, and one time a half full bottle of bourbon, and occasionally fresh clothes. The bottles were never completely full but he was now stretching his alcohol budget to the point where he had plenty of strong drink every day of the fortnight. What Geaccomo did find surprising was that he had been shouted at most of Redferne’s pubs quite a lot over the past few weeks. His benefactors invariably explained the cause for doing so was Geaccomo’s improved appearance. On dole-day he usually went from pub to pub in Redferne, allowing himself fifty dollars for the party, dressed in his stinking, pungent rags and spying on his neighbours until he had a good drunk going. But since his deal with Satan, with its fresh clothes, and also being allowed to shower regularly at the house that had thrown the free party, the locals at these pubs had noted his improved appearance and odour and sought to encourage him in these improvements with the occasional free drink.
     But Geaccomo didn’t forget whose service he was in during these free drinks, avidly spying on the pubs’ patrons and reporting all he saw to the Dark Lord. Geaccomo never actually saw Satan when he called him up, every Saturday night upon the stroke of midnight, but rather addressed his report to a vaguely humanoid shadow, and only appearing in Geaccomo’s mind’s eye. Satan neither said anything during these reports nor showed any signs of recognising Geaccomo.
     All in all Geaccomo congratulated himself on his move to Satan’s service; the fruits of his labour were bountiful and he was now drinking more, partying longer, was cleaner, and well clothed practically all of the time.
     ‘Yes, things have improved a lot. A lot.’ Such was the constant refrain from him whenever he thought about it over a drink. He was neither sorry to have left God’s service nor did he expect any serious repercussions from his dereliction of duty.
     He was thus very surprised to be Visited by God one night in a dream, around six months since after his dark service had commenced. He did not think God would Miss him but apparently He Did.
     ‘My son,’ began God, ‘Geaccomo, My dearest Geaccomo, why hast thou forsaken Me?’
     ‘I have found Paradise in drink, Father.’
     ‘‘Tis a false Paradise, an empty temptation by My Rival, solely to take another valued sheep from My Fold. Thine monitoring of this sad world is sorely relied upon by Me and My Son. We cannot Do without thee, dearest Geaccomo. Return to Our Embrace, but return and all shall be forgiven.’
     ‘Will You Fix me up with endless drink? Fresh clothes, and no rent?’
     ‘Thine wine is a sickness. Thou needst aliment, a veritable bounty of which I can Guide you to obtain if thou but return.’
     It was no contest for Geaccomo. ‘God,’ he said, ‘alcohol is the only thing that makes me feel real, alive, potent, and eternal. I don’t need food. Being a diligent Homo Diabolus is nothing but bounty.’
     ‘‘Tis bane, my son. Ware! Even now My Rival’s firewater erodes thine heart, erodes thine lifethews. Ware, I Say! Return to My Fold lest My Rival take thee unprepared, turning thine heart against thee.’
     That gave Geaccomo pause for thought. ‘You mean,’ he asked of God, ‘Satan is trying to murder me?’
     ‘He is nothing but ill. Didst thou expect anything more?’ Geaccomo now realised his error; he had been tempted away from his holy service simply so that Satan could score one against God. Geaccomo was nothing but a sacrificial pawn.
     In his dream Geaccomo got onto bended knee, bowed his head, and joined his hands in prayer. ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Service to Satan boots nought and henceforth I commit myself to You if You will but Welcome an erring sinner.’
     ‘So be it, My dearest Geaccomo.’
     Geaccomo then awoke with a start, slightly sweating in the clothes he’d slept in, and with a pain in his chest. It was dawn of a promising spring day and Geaccomo instantly got out of bed to say a prayer on his bended knees, affirming God’s Dominion over the Dark Lord, renouncing Satan and strong drink as all ill.
     Satan mustn’t have been cognizant of this change for he still left strong drink and clothing for Geaccomo. Geaccomo was too far gone in alcohol psychosis to resist temptation and soon gave up resisting altogether the Dark Lord’s wiles. It was easier to still drink and to report to the Dark Lord, afterwards fondly recalling the halcyon days of his services to God, one of His viceroys, Homo Deus, the eyes and ears of The Almighty.
     Geaccomo was found dead by the police exactly three lunar months after his failed return to God. A neighbour had placed a call to the local police station after noticing a pervasive, unholy stench from Geaccomo’s squat. By the way Geaccomo was clutching at his heart it was fairly certain that he had died of a heart attack. The police could find no next of kin and Geaccomo was cremated unceremoniously. He was missed by none except God and Christ.
    

    ~~~ 

If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and
paperbacks (go to http://amzn.to/1NfodtN). Other ebook and paperback options are available at  http://bit.ly/1UsyvKD Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing in 2018. You can follow its journey at www.aberrantselected.blogspot.com

Monday, 1 May 2017

Elijah

(c) Denis Fitzpatrick

Elijah d’Israeli, since about a month after the beginning of his freely chosen wandering life of a prophet at the age of twenty-three, absolutely hated his reflection in the small mirror on his bank’s ATMs. Elijah hated how that small mirror showed the dirt buried deep into his very pores. Presently he grimaced at it, and inserted his card.
     The machine promptly told him that he had only $114.57 left. He was short by around $100. He needed all of what he had left for his beer, cigarettes, and food for this week, in that order. And there was no point trying the Trust Fund for assistance; the regulation daily $250.00 (to cover any hotel costs that the wandering prophet might need, and sundries) would be there once again at 9:30 am tomorrow morning, and there was no negotiating for an advance. He was lucky his moderately wealthy parents couldn’t bear to completely have him at the mercy of the wilds.
     He was $100 short to entertain a new belle that he had met three days ago in Chippendaille, near the end of a very cold winter, 2011. Chippendaille he found extra depressing in winter, feeling shut away into darkness, and he sometimes wondered if its utter wintry barrenness was counterpoised by a brighter Chippendaille in another Sydney, in a parallel Universe. But to this young lass. She had seen the grimy, shabbily dressed, Elijah sitting on a wall, his travelling bag nearby, looking to all intents and purposes as if he was really enjoying the cigarette he was smoking. Probably a joint. She decided to help him out a wee bit by buying him some hot chips, a nice hearty feed of them.
     Elijah had in fact been smoking a joint and the dinner box full of chips was just the thing for the consequent munchies. He didn’t fail to notice either that they were offered by a fairly attractive young lady, in an aqua dress, with blue denim jacket, calf-length, shiny black boots, and such fine, long, straw coloured hair. She introduced herself as Janette Meunier.
     Elijah didn’t take long either to ask her out, after he had finished off the chips in conversation with her. He assured her that he had ample, ample resources, that his present homelessness was his voluntary response to a vivid dream that he had had around the start of the year: it was simply an image of Christ in a wasteland crying and pleading for help from someone, anyone, just please help. He awoke shortly after shaken to the core. That morning he went searching for the source of his vision, abandoning everything, including a writing career that was just beginning to be fruitful.
     But all this interesting history doesn’t look like it’ll be able to be conveyed upon the eager, earnest Janette, unless he can now come up with the $100 missing from bank his account. He could of course go without the beer, but then again, no, that was simply not an option. At least he had given up the red wine after waking in an old man’s house, with presumably his son in attendance, with no idea as to how he had got there after a heavy night of the red, red wine. But was there any possible solution to his present monetary woe?
     Yes, he instantly thought. Tonight’s Speaking Night (which he was planning to forgo in favour of a restaurant) so just take her around the traps. Speaking Night was every Sunday night and Elijah travelled the inner city suburbs of Sydney, Aus, preaching a particular truth revealed to him as a result of his wandering search for the wailing Christ. After all, it certainly had novelty as a date and Janette looked like she liked anything interesting. He pulled out his phone to dial her with the change of plans.

*

Janette thought that joining him on Speaking Night was indeed a novel idea, perhaps able to shed an entirely new light on her fellow citizens. They met up at a café across from Redferne station at seven pm and decided to have just the one coffee each and start off the Night just outside the station.
     The coffees were engagingly and leisurely consumed but after Elijah, who had spruced himself up very well and was without his travelling bag, had paid the bill and was waiting beside the still seated Janette to join him in the Night’s journey. She remained completely motionless. Elijah soon became slightly concerned.
     ‘Janette? You okay?’ She remained motionless.
     ‘Janette?’ She then jerked her head to her left and looked up at him,
     ‘I’m terrified of crowds.’ She looked frightened but wasn’t pale.
     ‘I’m absolutely terrified of crowds,’ she continued. ‘I know it’s a silly fear, modern life is crowded, and that’s why I decided to join you for Speaking Night. I would be in control of any crowd that developed. Or partly in control. I knew I’d be scared but I also knew it wouldn’t kill me and that I’d face my fear.’
     ‘That’s very brave, Janette. But I very rarely have crowds gather in front of me. The good people usually ignore me.’
     ‘Still, it’s the thought that a crowd might form in front of me that absolutely terrifies me. Although, my freelance painting is now starting to get talked about more so I’ve had to force myself to be amongst small crowds oftener. I can overcome the fear easily enough; it just takes a few minutes of quiet preparation. And a glass of water.’
     ‘Can I get you one,’ asked Elijah.
     ‘Yes, please.’
     While Janette was drinking her water and preparing herself Elijah offered to hold her hand while he was speaking, to help her be sure to remain steady and unfrightened. She thought about it and decided any help oughtn’t to be rejected. And he was a nice guy, well-dressed now, with Mediterranean features that alluded to curiosity. Short haired too, thankfully.
     Janette soon announced that she was ready and they made their way across the road.
     ‘Brothers and sisters,’ he assuredly called while they were both taking up their stations, hand in hand. ‘Cousins and strangers! I preach the word of Christ. And I have heard Him Calling to me and I remain responding to that call. He has told me many things to aid my search, some of them good, some of them horrible. Tonight, brothers and sisters, cousins and strangers, I will reveal an utter abomination before His Eyes, an abomination enacted by the Roman Catholic Church. Their paedophilia is well documented, people, but what is not well documented is that these very same abominable priests are regularly going to Confession, admitting their evils, and then being absolved of their sins. Of course the Father who hears the Confession will sometimes pass the information onto his superiors and another disgusting, vile priest is shifted onto a new parish with no knowledge of his damnable sins.’ Elijah paused, looking around at the passing people ignoring him. ‘An utter abomination, brothers and sisters, cousins and strangers. But there is more.
     ‘As I said the Roman Catholic Church’s paedophilia is well documented but what is not well known is that Its victims, once having received monetary compensation, must contractually agree not to talk about their horrors to anyone, neither to friends and family nor to counsellors. Brothers and sisters, cousins and strangers, it is talking about this abuse that is the first critical step towards healing. The Roman Catholic Church are simply prostituting the children in their care, buying their silence once they have been so completely damaged.
     ‘So what can you do, good people? Simply boycott Mass. Simply extend your charity elsewhere. Turn your backs upon the Roman Catholic priesthood, as the Roman Catholic priesthood had Its back turned to worshippers in Mass for centuries, until the Pontiff allows them to marry.’
     Elijah then led Janette further down the road and once again he revealed the same message. They spent an hour in Redferne, randomly moving to spots, and then spent until five am the next morning Speaking all over inner Sydney, always the same message, to make it the more effective with repetition. They parted back at the café across from Redferne station and Janette said she might like to come along on the next Speaking Night. Elijah had no problem with that. They had a milkshake each and agreed to get together in a week. Elijah headed off to sleep in a park seeing as how the morning was warming nicely.

*

Janette indeed joined Elijah for another Speaking Night, the next Sunday, and it was to both of them outside of Central train station that a Roman collared priest approached. He had heard Elijah at Central last week and wished to offer the olive branch. Would he and his wife care to join him for tea to discuss the matter?
     Elijah, naturally, took the priest at his word and they all agreed to a meeting on the following night. The priest remained affable when they arrived at his place, a balding sandy haired American, still with the accent, and they all sat down to some tea without suspicion.
     How Elijah knew he’d been poisoned he didn’t know. It was just a sure, undeniable conviction that made him dial for a taxi to the nearest hospital the instant after he’d first sipped his sweet tea. The doctor said it was that instinct that got Elijah to him in the nick of time. Elijah would be sick for a while but he just needed bed rest and he’d soon be fine again.
      The priest handed himself in soon after the attempted murder, admitting to everything. He had got the arsenic from the Net. The priest, Father Sebastian, said he did it for the greater glory of Christ and that he would easily do it again if it meant keeping the Holy Roman Catholic Church rightly all powerful. The police thought he was a nut.
     When Elijah and Janette returned to the Speaking Nights a month later she did some of the Speaking, exhorting reason to the passers-by that weren’t listening as usual. They didn’t do it primarily to be heard but to hear each other. They were never derided, simply ignored. They also did it for a love that was growing in Christ’s name. And Christ indeed must have been paying heed for after three months of Speaking with Elijah, and other dates, Janette had a similar dream to that of Elijah’s Christ wailing in a desert. She had seen Him sobbing, crouched down upon his knees and bent over, crying into His Cupped Hands.
     She then awoke with a start, shaken to the core. She naturally told Elijah of her vision the following morning, his response being to ask for her hand in marriage: together they could the better assist the desperate Christ. Janette happily assented. They took to travelling and Speaking across the length and breadth of Aus, until a year ago, when they had their first children, twin girls. They have put the Speaking in abeyance until the children should have flown the nest. They remain on the lookout for the forlorn Christ. 


~~~


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and
paperbacks (go to http://amzn.to/1NfodtN). Other ebook and paperback options are available at  http://bit.ly/1UsyvKD Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing in 2018. You can follow its journey at www.aberrantselected.blogspot.com

Saturday, 1 April 2017

My Father's Last Will

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2014
(Formerly published, in a shorter form, under the title, My Father’s Ashes, in Fitzpatrick's short story collection, Bearing all Gods and Goddesses, published by www.independencejones.com.)


Deep within a dark, dark cave the ashes of my father have been spread out across the walls, in line with his Last Will and Testament. The walls of the cave are moist, not excessively so, most of his ashes being easily absorbed by the dampness. There was intermittent lichen but I worked around them, my father’s will being quite adamant that his last resting place was to be on solid rock. I spread them out in a loosely artistic shape, vaguely resembling a bird, because I didn’t want my father to spend the remainder of eternity in boring, unimaginative straight swipes across the cave’s wall. We were all surprised when his Last Will was revealed, especially with the fact that he had picked out the specific cave and that he specifically wanted me to perform the act. Maybe simply because I am the eldest son with two younger sisters, Leanne, and Daisy, the youngest. I won’t tell you where he has chosen his last rest; let him remain in peace.
    They have been there for just over a year now, and I spend a lot of time wondering why he would want his last remains treated in this way. I am not sure if he meant the act to be a boon or a bane. Did he expect to merge with the Earth in some fundamental manner? Or was he rejecting the Earth, ultimately prone to change? Was he choosing to become somehow more fundamentally solid, real, and more impervious to time, by partaking of stone’s nature? It could also have been a desire to reach Paradise by the most direct route possible, by by-passing the Earth altogether for an eternity of quietness. But then again my father was never a man who liked quietness. Growing up he always put on a classical radio station upon coming home from work as a bank teller (which he worked at until five years before he passed away at 94. He looked in his 60s until the last), have only the one can of beer, and spend the rest of the evening in joshing around with us.
    And then again, he may have been seeking utter oblivion, choosing to escape the natural recycling of his self had we emptied the urn containing his ashes over the vegetable garden that he had created. Perhaps his life was simply too full, and all he needed now was eternal rest upon a solid base?
    That garden was almost a farm it was so large. He gave us ten dollars every week when we were pre-teens if we watered it properly and did a bit of maintenance, and he always paid with a grateful heart and on time. I don’t think though that I, or my mother or sisters, would have eaten from the garden, which my sprightly 89 year old mother still maintains, should Dad have chosen to have his ashes scattered there. Dad  mustn’t have also wanted to be that close to his wife and children, forming their cells as he was absorbed through the produce, whilst at the same time being so very far away and powerless to help if his family needs it.
    I asked my mother, yesterday, again, soon after the start of Aus’ very hot 2014 summer, if Dad had given her any insight into this strange last request. I visit my mother every Sunday in Redferne, an inner city suburb of Sydney, having one of her superb lunches with her. My sisters can’t visit as they moved to other states years and years ago to take up good work promotions.
    ‘Well, Denis, he often thought life was a burden, even unnatural: I think he did it purely out of spite. Many times out of you and your sisters’ hearing he was sarcastic about modern society. Society in general.’  She isn’t usually so frank.
    ‘That’s not like him. In fact the opposite’s true.’
   ‘Remember how he always laughed at news of murder?’
   ‘Only because it wasn’t him or any of us.’
   ‘Still, it’s pretty peculiar you’ll have to admit. He also thought burglaries and thefts in general were funny but didn’t let on because he didn’t want you three thinking stealing was fun. He knew he could laugh at murders because neither of you have ever shown the slightest hint of violent attitudes.’
   ‘But he didn’t seem unhappy. In fact whenever I think of him I just hear him chuckling. Very contentedly.’
   ‘He just didn’t let on. In bed at night sometimes, admittedly very, very rarely, he would complain long, long and hard that everyone else was an idiot, taking the world with them to Hell in their collective idiocy. I used to hate it when he spoke like that, so full of venom and scorn. The opposite of the man that I fell in love with.’
    ‘I guess that would also explain why he kept his Last Will so secret at the last. He didn’t want us to see his eventually revealed possible dark side.’
    ‘We all have a dark side, sweetie, he simply kept his hidden from his children, the better to start them off in life. He told me of his last wishes soon before he went but I felt that there was nothing I could do to talk him out of it. After all, it was his Last Will, completely under his own control, like all of ours’.’
    Still, I’m not convinced that he did it out of spite, for my first clear memory of my father is that of his loud laughter while he tickled me. I had discovered his excellent tickles accidentally as a young child and remember thinking that he would tickle me again if I asked him nicely. So I went up to him on the couch while he was reading and asked, ‘Daddy, can you tickle me, please?’ He eagerly responded, the first of my many fond memories of his tickles.
    I hope he’s alright. Mind you I fully expect that he really is alright. Such a contented man must surely have only Paradise to look forward to throughout eternity.
    As for me, I want to be buried, not burned, most certainly in my father’s grotto.  At least that way I can be nearby if his spirit needs me. I have stipulated a shallow grave in my own will, the better to assist him if he needs it. After all, his unusual plan for being so laid to rest may have run into unforeseen consequences. I’ll be the more able to rescue him if I am whole and within easy reach, and the more likely to be able to give him any needed strength with my bodily nature, perhaps a somewhat decomposed bodily nature, but far, far more solid than his ashes.
    I really hope he’s alright.


~~~

If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and
paperbacks (go to http://amzn.to/1NfodtN). Other ebook and paperback options are available at  http://bit.ly/1UsyvKD Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing in 2018.