Wednesday, 1 November 2017

A New Quest

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

Mercredi Singh’s next lifetime goal is to get blood from a stone. She had already achieved her first such goal, which was to become a famous writer. She self-publishes her short stories to passers-by in Newtown, Sydney, and has a small following there. She simply walks up and down Newtown’s main street of King Street proffering people her professionally printed, sixteen page wares for five dollars each. Those that bought from her were usually artists, or somehow artistic themselves, and were genuinely surprised by Mercredi’s original selling method a la busking. To Mercredi this method came naturally, as she had spent six months in travelling northern Queensland, having flown the family nest in so doing at the age of twenty-one, selling encyclopaedias from door to door. She was only six months at this job because she was eventually fired for not making any sales. Though she had made no sales she had developed a thick skin and naturally thought of selling her own books, in which she was more motivated to succeed rather than selling other peoples’ books. Unlike those in Queensland that never bought from her, those in Newtown that didn’t buy her self-published booklets were nevertheless encouraging, being impressed that a young writer was displaying such entrepreneurialness.
     Of those that were keen to buy two of them approached her one day, and told her that they considered her one of the Great Writers.
     ‘It’s so cool how you’re just willing to get out there and just slog away at getting recognised, shouldering your way into the public’s notice.’ This was said by the apparent youngest of them, a lass with green dreadlocks. She was accompanied by another lass with similarly dyed hair, though not in dreadlocks. ‘In fact Mel here and I have been getting our friends to read your little books. They also agree that you’re a real genius and one of them is studying your works for an English assignment at uni. Well at least the works of yours that we have. I’m Tasha, by the way.’
     ‘Nice to meet you both,’ replied Mercredi. ‘I also sell my booklets because it’s nice to chat with artists in passing.’
     ‘Do artists mainly buy your works?’ asked Mel.
     ‘So far. But I really don’t think I’m one of the Great Writers. I’m just a sales rep who got lucky with her hobby.’
     ‘No way!’ exclaimed both the ladies simultaneously. ‘Your work is so pithy, short but every word works so hard and does so much,’ said Tasha.
     ‘I even reckon you’re better than Dickens,’ chimed in Mel.
     ‘Yeah, compared to you he was verbose and long-winded.’
     Mercredi didn’t at first fully appreciate that she had won her way into the high esteem of a small crowd, that she was indeed a hero amongst them and consequently being seriously studied. Certainly it was a small fan base but they were also certainly ardent and quite likely to promote her further. Later at home she realised that she had actually achieved her dreams: she was technically a famous writer, adored for her literary acumen. Sure she was famous amongst only a small crowd, but from little things big things grow. Things were bound to blossom even further now. This deserved a celebration, an expensive bottle of wine that she bought with her day’s sales of fifty dollars. She drank it while dancing to the radio, for the first time imagining the real possibility of Greatness.
     Eventually then, after a celebration lasting several months, Mercredi found herself in the midst of the busy city of Sydney with nothing to aim for. She had achieved her consciously set life goal but now had nothing to inspire her. Sure, she could look around for a job, but she had always wanted to devote her own life to her own projects.
     Pondering her conundrum one evening, in the midst of Sydney’s wet autumn of 2015, she understood that she needed a new quest, but the wine was failing to inspire. Should her new life goal be artistic? Should she travel down a path that would complement her natural talents? Well, assuredly, but then again trying something never tried before would give her a real sense of achievement once she had mastered its nature. Maybe she should apply for a science degree? The world was full of serious problems and one of them could lay the path for Mercredi to build upon her fame. Yet such a new path failed to present itself, despite the Shiraz.
     ‘This is like getting blood from a stone,’ she thought despondently.
     And thus began Mercredi’s refreshing mission. If she could get blood from a stone then all apparent paradoxes would submissively lay at her feet. Getting blood from a stone would give her the perspective to solve other impossibilities, and the resultant fame would allow her name to ring throughout history. She may well not need her unemployment welfare anymore, revelling instead in money that poured in through the application of her stunning mind.
     But where to start? She would need a stone. And a knife. So she gathered them together on her coffee table, and was half expecting the stone to split open in bloody fragments. But nothing doing, of course.
     She began staring at them knowing full well that if she applied the knife to the small rock she would be rebuffed. She briefly considered doing it the other way around, applying the small rock against the sharp knife, but instinctively felt that she couldn’t trick the Universe that way, giving her what she sought, the ability to turn the impossible into the practical.
     ‘Why a sharp knife,’ she suddenly asked herself. Surely a blunt butter knife would equally serve to unleash the crimson deep within the rock, or the possible crimson deep within the rock? Of course the blood was in there, blood and stone being essentially two halves of the same coin, both opposites of each other and therefore mutually dependant. Maybe a blunt butter knife applied to the rock in the garden was the key? That way the rock would be more amongst its natural elements and thus more willing to accede to Mercredi’s crazy ambition. Maybe.
     ‘Have to start somewhere though, and may as well start now.’ She tried to cut the stone. Causing only a scraping noise.
     She gave up for the day, and returned to her laptop, vaguely hoping that creating a new character might have some answers. And if s/he didn’t Mercredi suspected that cementing her recent literary fame was probably the only reasonable path to acquiring a new life-goal, albeit an indirect path.

*

Mercredi eventually realised, after two months of persistence, that she had bitten off more than she could chew. She has asked her friends’ advice on her current life-goal, but to no avail. Although one friend, Derrick, had told her that she obviously needs to think outside the box.
     She considered that more deeply now, alone in her flat again, and realised that she was considering the stone in isolation. What about its environment? Surely its interconnectedness should be taken into account? After all we all live in an interrelationship with our environs so obviously the same must be true of the stone.
     Accordingly, seeing herself as part of the stone’ s environs, just as much as its environs were a part of her, Mercredi took the knife and pricked the end of her thumb. She squeezed a droplet of blood out onto the stone’s craggy surface and felt at harmony with the Universe. Her blood clung to the rough surface of the stone and she squeezed enough of her blood onto it so that a little rivulet was formed, spilling onto the coffee table. Mercredi smiled in ecstasy, somehow feeling the tingle in her left thumb as the beginning of an immense hug that would always be with her, or at least easily accessible. She had, technically, drawn blood from a stone, as well as proving to herself that she is capable of anything.
     But what was there left to do now? What was there to motivate her out of bed every morning? Surely she was not bound to be perpetually chasing phantoms, perpetually seeking justification for living, always needing something bigger than her? Mercredi feared that that was just what was in fact happening.
     Only her writing, Mercredi felt, still proving to be a success, was the only natural thing that brought her true satisfaction. Why not harness it, go with the flow? She had continued her busking throughout her attempts to get blood from a stone, hoping that in thus keeping her mind distracted her subconscious would eventually come up with a solution to her problem. And maybe if she were to work harder she could start earning some serious money. Not that the money was the be-all, but it certainly helped.

     Mercredi, like a lover returned, felt reinvigorated to be back at her laptop creating other worlds and envisioning the stretches of glory that were already laid about her feet. Her new life goal is an adaptation of her original one, attempting to create a fully-fledged story in only one page. She fully expects to become even more famous by selling her sixteen page booklets all over Sydney, booklets with sixteen short stories for the reasonable price of only five dollars. Who knows, perhaps this was the beginning of a dynasty? It was certainly possible.

~~~

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

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Help

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

‘But Jesus called unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of God.’ Luke 18:16, KJV

Reality is ultimately circular. ULTIMATELY, as Joshua Andrew Devine’s first Technical Drawing teacher would say. Ms Templeton always started off a new set of pupils by saying that anything can be drawn using curves and straight lines. Thus, Reality is ultimately circular. The base then is a straight line. This then, more or less, gives the Greek letter ‘Omega.’ Where then, thought Joshua, is the necessarily balancing ‘Alpha’? Joshua has since had this question answered when voices (that only he is able to hear) told him that he is “The First True Alpha.”
     Joshua had become homeless at the age of eighteen, currently aged twenty-one, because of these voices, whom had woken him up one bright morning at the start of Aus’ 2012 mild summer. He had awoken with androgynous voices telling him that his life was in danger, that he was “The One,” and that he had to leave his parents’ house now. He trusted the voices (after all he could clearly hear them) and left the family nest after packing a few clothes and some bread in a bag. It was a decision that he never really regretted, having the voices to keep him company, and also to assure him that he is indeed “The First True Alpha.”
     Recently finding an abandoned newborn babe Joshua similarly felt was further proof of his Divine nature. After all wasn’t Moses’ life saved by being cast among the Nile River reeds? ‘Yes,’ said the voices, ‘and thus you too have now a chance to establish greatness.’
     Joshua found the babe hidden among some bushes in a small park in Redferne, early in the morning, before dawn, having espied the wrapped bundle and approaching it thinking it was a pile of hidden cash. He was very surprised indeed to see it was a young baby. A quiet baby, who uttered no protest when Joshua picked her up. Joshua knew it was a girl as the babe was dressed in pink.
     Holding the babe in his arms Joshua knew he was not at all capable of looking after her, that she must be surrendered to more capable people. He also saw the discovery as a sign that there were others, inconceivably, more important than ‘The First True Alpha.’ At least The True Alpha could look after himself, more or less, but here was a more important bundle, completely dependent upon the goodwill of strangers for its survival. Joshua decided to take her over to his only friend’s place, Timothy LaGrange, who could not only rescue the babe but show Joshua how the babe could similarly save Joshua, guiding him to shape his Divine nature. Joshua felt that he was very much rescuing another Moses, a counterpart to ‘The First True Alpha.’
     ‘Of course the baby is more important than you,’ said Timothy after they both sat down in the living room for Joshua to unburden himself. ‘You’re just a dero, J., but here is a bundle of pure potential. Here, you hold her while I ring for an ambulance.’
     The ambulance arrived in five minutes and in the meanwhile Timothy tried to show Joshua that even the abandoned girl was better off than him.
     ‘You think you’re crucial to Reality, J., but whenever have you ever done anything that got you applauded in the news, hailed as a hero?’
     ‘I work in secret, Tim. My every breath justifies Reality, gives it hope that there is indeed a fundamental meaning to life.’
     ‘Crap, J. None of my friends ever mention you as a saviour, in fact the few times that they do talk of you it is to disparage you. You’re not crucial at work, no-one desperately needing you to solve their problems. You’re just a dero, J., and the sooner you realise that the better it’ll be for you.’
     ‘Well, it was my homelessness that saved this babe. If it weren’t for me she could well have died horribly.’
     ‘Yeah but, J., if you got off the streets you could do some volunteer work with children, maybe work at Bernado’s. Then you’d save even more children. God knows Bernado’s need all the help they can get in protecting children.’
     Joshua was mildly stunned and he continued the conversation along these lines while the ambulance people collected the abandoned babe and checked her out. Joshua was soon thinking that Timothy had made a very good point indeed. Maybe that was the point of being ‘The First True Alpha’: to dedicate his life to protecting his younger brothers and sisters the world over. Maybe Joshua could eradicate child abuse permanently, giving a real definition to the ‘True’ in his magickal title.
     When the paramedics left Joshua continued exploring this newfound realisation with his only friend.
     ‘You might be right after all, Tim, maybe The First True Alpha is meant to look after the young. There’s no point in being so powerful if it isn’t meant to be put to good use.’
     ‘Firstly, you’re not powerful, J., you’re just a wreck who doesn’t believe that the voices only he can hear aren’t real. But secondly, maybe this babe is indeed a sign, a sign that you will be only happy in looking after the frail of the world.’ Joshua smiled, briefly imagining such positive influence.
     ‘Maybe, Tim, very well maybe I’d like to work in protecting children. The noble path I’ve been unknowingly looking for. There’s a problem though, a problem in getting off the streets and beginning the path.’
     ‘What’s the problem?’
     ‘I experienced child abuse when I was about six or seven. Nothing too serious, mind you, just a teacher who kept me after class for about a week in a row and looked down my pants to stare at my penis.’
     ‘How did that happen?’
     ‘I came to school one day not wearing underwear and while we were all sitting around listening to a story my penis fell out. The teacher told me to put it back in and close my legs more. And then every day after that, for about a week, after class and everybody had left, she would look down my shorts to see if I was wearing underwear. I was wearing undies by this time but the teacher still wanted to see my penis.’
     ‘I’m sorry, Joshua.’
     ‘Like I said it was only mild abuse. The point is though since I’ve experienced such abuse am I safe to work with children? After all most paedophiles are themselves the victims of abuse, setting up a vicious cycle.’ Here he paused and looked down at his bare, dirty feet. ‘It would be nice to think that I could stop all such abuse.’
     ‘Well, J., I don’t know the exact answer, that’s something that can only be answered, I think, by a psychiatrist. But if you really want to volunteer at Bernado’s, or work anywhere in child advocacy, you will definitely need to consult a psychiatrist. You should have seen a psychiatrist years ago anyway about those voices you hear.’
     What Timothy had just said sounded very reasonable to Joshua but he was still hesitant to come off the streets and lose the complete freedom he’d discovered there.
     ‘If I came off the streets though I’d have to pay rent to the Man. And I’d be justifying the sin of private property.’
     ‘That’s true, J., and I don’t like the Man any more than you do. But the good work you’d do would surely counterbalance “justifying the sin of private property.” The good may well far outweigh the sin, with the net result of complete goodness.’
     Again Timothy had a point. It was great having such a level headed friend.

     In fact Timothy had such a good point that Joshua there and then decided to move off the streets. He asked Timothy if he could move in with him for a short while until he had basically got his act together. Timothy was absolutely delighted to be able to thus help and together they found him a room in a boarding house within the week. Joshua then found a psychiatrist that billed under the Aus Medicare system and now plans to make enquiries about volunteering at Bernado’s after he has attended three consults. He sees his future as nothing but rosy, helping young minds to similarly experience a rosy future. Timothy likewise sees Joshua’s future as rosy.

~~~

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

Friday, 1 September 2017

A Novel Thought

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015


Elijah d’Israeli, as he watched the road flow by the past two days, had been seriously pondering something entirely novel, a completely new thought: he should share a bottle of bourbon with his wife and daughter along for the ride. There were many pros to the thought: they both mightily deserved a party after travelling across Aus, Speaking on far flung street corners about a wailing Christ needing all of our help; it would bond all three of them even closer, maybe even becoming a solid anchor that they could all rely on in times of travelling trouble. Becoming intoxicated under the bright stars would also certainly be a notable life event, and if any of them have any niggling issues with the other(s) they can bring it up in a convivial atmosphere. Elijah could only see one con though - the cost. Fifty dollars for a bottle of the good drink was a lot of money for them and they had no way of getting any extra income.
    When Elijah finally accepted the fact that the pros outweighed the cons he was very surprised that his young daughter (and you know how young people love a party), was completely against it.
    ‘It’s called the demon drink for a reason,’ said Blanche, all of them on their way to Uluru, in the middle of Aus. The day had been roasting as usual, but the evening was quite pleasantly cool. ‘Here now, like I predicted, our Speaking Nights are being tainted. We’re not going to end up getting drunk every night and ranting on street corners, are we?’
    ‘You’re being too puritanical, Blanche,’ said her father. ‘Christ Himself shared wine at The Last Supper.’
    ‘That was completely different. But something tells me that the bourbon is going to become a habit, and you’ll end up doing nothing but embarrass me while I drag you both out from under a streetlight, ‘preaching’!
    ‘It’s not going to become a habit, dear,’ assured her mother. ‘I don’t think we could really afford it, could we, Eli?’
    ‘Not at all.’
    ‘That’s even worse. We’ll be beggared because of the drink.’
    ‘You’re worrying too much, dear,’ said her mother. ‘We aren’t going to fall to the demon drink. And, yes, I think a wee party would be nice. Who knows, we may even have one every now and then after being on the road awhile, finances permitting.’
    ‘Well, I’m not joining you,’ pouted Blanche.
    ‘Ah come on, Blanche. A wee nip won’t be the same without you. What if your mother and I promise, hand on heart, to not let the drink carry us too far away, tonight or any other night?’
    Blanche studied the motor home’s walls, considering.
    ‘Ok, but we’ll have to drink at night when it’s cooler. Let’s try to not get too wasted, shall we?’
    Elijah and Janette both proclaimed,
    ‘Hooray!’


*


The party began well, with a bottleshop in some remote South Aus town selling two 750ml bottles of bourbon for only $65. Mind you they could only afford the extra $15 by deferring their Net connection for a month. That should be no problem however, easily worked around with the occasional free Wi-Fi.
    They had pulled into a nearby caravan park after getting the drink, all set to cook up a large dinner before the drinks. Night had just fallen and the sky was a Faberge brooch after brooch of twinkling, priceless stars, as they heartily ate their dinner. After the washing up the party began in earnest.
    Need we say that the mix of stars and strong drink was sublime? Even Blanche was surprised that she was having such a good time with her parents, the alcohol mixing even better with music. It was also nice for Blanche to see her parents dancing.
    Blanche was thus not too unduly surprised to find a black kitten sleeping by her feet the next afternoon when she awoke after the heavy festivities. The kitten’s furriness gently guided her into wakefulness, her feet unquestioningly nestling into it, and once she realised she was cuddling a small, warm ball of fur she slowly sat upright. She stared blearily at the kitten.
    Yep, definitely a kitten, black, with bright yellow eyes, almost demonic in their brightness. She plopped back onto her pillow trying to remember where the kitten had come from.
    She still had no idea when, a short while later, she showed up at the kitchen table, carrying the kitten.
    ‘I see you’ve found Luke,’ said her father, having a coffee at the table. Her mother must still be in bed.
    ‘Luke?’
    ‘The kitten.’
    ‘Where did he, or she, come from?’
    ‘Don’t know. He just walked out of the dark late last night and went straight up to you. He seemed drawn to you, fascinated by you. Probably because you’re most likely to look after him, young as you are, and thus sympathetic.’
    ‘Why is he named Luke?’
    ‘You named him. You said he was darker than the Devil, Lucifer, and thus Luke.’
    ‘Well, Lukey, we’ll have to get you some special food,’ said Blanche nuzzling the kitten.
    The novelty wore off soon though as Lukey kept following Blanche around, would sit just staring at her while she was reading or cleaning up, or attending to the motor home’s maintenance as per usual. It was very creepy and Blanche didn’t take long to vociferate her objections. She secretly thought Lukey was indeed an agent of Satan, waiting to get underfoot and fatally trip her up. Her parents would be then left with no-one to protect them as they conitued ageing, compounding Lukey's sinister plans.
    She soon told her parents this, after a week of being under Luke’s close scrutiny, begging them to let it loose unto some other home. They would just abandon it and head off, free of its ever watching eyes.
    ‘It’s an innocent creature, dear,’ said her mother. ‘It has no evil intent toward you.’
    ‘I’m not so sure. I can see deep cunning behind those cute eyes.’
     But her parents didn’t need much persuasion to let the animal go. One less mouth to feed. They took Luke amongst the trees that night and left him there, scurrying back to the motor home and leaving the park. No-one felt any guilt.
    At least they felt no guilt for the first five kilometres or so. And then Blanche voiced all their conscience: Luke needed them, Luke relied on them. There was no-one else to ensure his best interests. Luke had only them to rely on.
    So they drove back to the park and Blanche was greeted by the bounding bundle of relief when she stepped out to look for him.

    ‘Ah well, Lukey,’ she said, taking him up to nuzzle, ‘if you are a spy you’ve met your match in me. I’ll certainly have to watch you.’ Luke looked into her eyes, thoughtful.

~~~

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

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