Thursday 30 July 2015

Fifth Avenue

By Michael Carta

Room 212. Super Motel, State Route 57. 10:55am

“Alright, since no one else is talking, I’ll start; my name is Frank. I have been a pizza delivery driver for over 15 years. Even if I won the lottery tomorrow morning, I’d still deliver pizza that evening. It is what I do, what I was born to do. Think about it man. You get to drive around with loud music and free food. No one cares if you shaved that morning, or if you got their email from yesterday. It’s freedom, tasty freedom! Oh, and did I mention you get paid under the table tax free? Admit it, even you have ordered a pizza.”

“Would you just shut up already? You’re starting to get on my nerves. Are you even sure you’re supposed to be here? I mean seriously, the rest of us at least look like professionals…” said the man seated at the card table near the window.

Frank peered around the hotel room at the other men all wearing black suits.  Across from the one who just spoke, there sat a man with sunglasses. Both were smoking cigarettes to pass the time. On the only bed in the small room, there was a third man who was flat on his back with his legs crossed and a black ball cap covering his face.  They all seemed to be in their mid-thirties and in perfect shape.

“I bet you could run for miles without breaking a sweat… typical overachievers. Good thing I don’t believe in running.” Frank looked down at his rotund gut in comparison. 

“This here is an accomplishment! Years of dedicated overeating- a financial status indicator if I ever did see one!”

“Seriously, if he does not shut up, I’ll put him out right here.”

“Number three, it would benefit you well to remember your place in this hierarchy.”

“Shove it man, we’re both just peons in this.”

“That’s my point. Well taken care of peons in a very lucrative industry- I think you’d like to keep it that way, yeah?”

“What are we supposed to do with fatty thunder thighs over there when things go down? Who’s caring his dead weight? I sure as hell am not. He’s all yours number two.”

“I guess that makes you number four then?” Frank said playfully towards the other man at the small table. The man smirked in return.

“Look, we do not make the calls; we’re not CEOs yet so cool it. For now we roll with what we’ve got, and if the Man says this guy is part of our assignment, then this guy is part of our assignment. We have a perfect track record thus far; don’t let your irrational bitching mess that up. He was either placed on purpose as a test to see how we do, or there is an unforeseen element that you have yet to realize. You have to trust the Man if you ever want the Man to trust you.”

“I’ve got some double stuffed crust pizzas in the car if anyone’s brave enough?”

“I like him ma’, can we keep em? Can we? Can we?” Said number four.

“Only if you feed him every day and give him baths too.” Said number two.

“Everything’s a joke with you amateurs…” Said number three.

“Hey we all deal with stress differently. Just focus on your part of the job. We all have specific instructions.”  Number two’s watch beeped twice indicating it was now 11:00am. “It’s time.” He quickly jumped from the small bed and continued to the door where he waited momentarily for number four to accompany him. They left and locked the room door behind them.

“It’s just the two of us now, huh?” Frank said. Number three blankly stared back in annoyance.

“Look, just watch some T.V. or something, whatever I don’t care, just leave me be, okay? I’m not feeling too hot today and need some time.” Number three proceeded to anxiously peer out of the window.

Bored, Frank plopped on the bed almost breaking it. “Cheap hotels.” He mumbled. He grabbed a remote, which was very sticky and turned on the T.V. He did not know if the stickiness was from his own hands, or already there- he didn’t care. After several minutes of watching Tornados destroy trailer parks, he was in a deep sleep.

The clash of the room door slamming into the wall yanked Frank from his dream state. Confused and delirious he sat up. “Mom, what’s going on?!” Number two stumbled into the room and collapsed at the foot of the bed. 

Quickly Frank remembered where he was as number three darted to assist his fallen comrade. “What’s going on guys, where the other dude?” Frank demanded. 

“Shut your fat ass and help me!” Number two barked. He got up and helped roll number two over. He was unconscious and bleeding from the mouth. Frank was petrified at the sight. 
“He’s so pale…”

“He has been shot; hold his head up while I get a towel!” Frank sat there in shock holding number two’s head in his hands. It felt like he had a fever and was still breathing.  

“Here, put pressure on the wound, I am going to get number four!” He tossed a towel at Frank and bolted out of the room.

Cautiously, Frank lifted number two’s jacket from his chest to find blood seeping out with each breath from the gunshot wound. It was on the left side close to the heart. He fought the urge to puke and covered the area with the towel. Blood soaked through like it was toilet paper. He applied pressure and closed his eyes. Number two started coughing and regained consciousness. With an extraordinary strength he grabbed Franks shoulder and hoisted himself into a sitting position. 

“You ‘re… you’re alive!” 

“Not for long, listen up. There’s a trash can in the lobby” He painfully coughed blood and nearly passed out. 

“Man you’re not looking good, you need to lay dawn” number two slapped him hard in the face. 

“Listen, there’s a trash can in the lobby, inside you will find a small case about the size of a book, you need to take that to fifth avenue, got that?” 

“I don’t understand.” Frank murmured. 

“Do as I told you, you’ve got to get moving, it all depends on you now.” There were three loud, but muffled popping sounds from down the hallway. 

“Gunshots… They’re here. Leave me and go through the window, remember the avenue on fifth!.” Frank was bewildered and hesitated. Number two propped himself against the foot of the bed facing the door and removed a silver handgun from his jacket. 

“Go now, buddy! This sure won’t be pretty.”

Frantically Frank kicked the screen window out and tried to climb through. He fell forward into the bushes. As he regained his balance and stumbled to the sidewalk, he heard several loud gunshots from the room. He ran as fast as he could to the parking lot expecting to get shot. His lungs burned and his knees where bleeding from the fall. 
“Fifth avenue… fifth avenue…” he told himself.  

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Hath Crowned Me

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

I have chosen to be homeless in order to completely escape the Man: the Man and his unfair monies, the Man and his bigotry, in short, all the squalor that defines the Man. And it’s not so bad being unsheltered; I have welfare and my only real expense is food and water. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink alcohol, and I don’t take any drugs, not even the drugs I’m supposed to take, the ‘medications’ for the voices that only I can hear. These voices are great, keeping me uplifting and constant company, intellectually stimulating me, and they have been doing so since I moved onto the streets at the age of twenty-one, two years ago. I just got fed up one day, watching more news of war, and walked out of the share house I was in, never to return, vaguely looking for something permanent and noble. Mind you the voices had been preparing me for this adventure from about a week beforehand so it came as no surprise really when I watched myself walk out of that house in Chippendaille.
     The adventure is now really beginning in earnest for about three weeks ago, somewhere in nearby Redferne, in the wee hours of the morning, near a public park approached through a short avenue alternately planted with tall, ancient elms and shorter Banksia trees, the voices and I witnessed my creation of something from nothing but my dirty hair. A twig in fact, about six or so centimetres long, a few millimetres in diameter, and looking very, very brittle. The voices have now started calling me God, but I’ve asked them to not call me The Maker, in case the real God shows up. I can always tell Him I was just preparing the way for Him. But to this twig.
     Like I said, it was in the wee hours of the morning and I had decided on a bit of a ramble. I usually stay in a park and read throughout the day, and when it’s raining I find a bench under cover where all the shops are. I was simply strolling and happily chatting away with the voices when I felt one of my dreadlocks on my right suddenly, and inexplicably, tighten. Then some sort of droplet emerged and began bouncing against the top of my right cheek. It felt like it was giving me a kiss each time it bumped into me. I instinctively thought of it as Mistress Nature. Then the dreadlock began growing, quickly, but it felt harder than normal hair. It felt like wood. While the twig formed from my hair the droplet shape bumping against my cheek made each kiss more quickly, sometimes lingering over the odd one, and remaining separate from the twig, holding on with an intangible force.
     Seeing a small tree come up dead ahead of me, about fifteen paces away, I had almost already expected. The tree came out of the darkness and I made a mental note to walk into it. I did so to enforce my memory of having created the twig before I brushed passed the tree. It seemed a rational choice at the time.
     When I came out from under the canopy the twig was barely dangling from the dreadlock and the droplet shape had disappeared. I carefully took it in hand and looked at it under a streetlight.
     Yep, a twig, just like I felt, very dry and brittle. I had my backpack with me so I took out the tin of mints that I always keep there in case the boredom gets too much, emptied out the sweets, and carefully placed the twig inside the tin. A snug fit. I then wrapped the tin in a t-shirt and carefully placed it into the backpack. The question I have now for you, dear reader, is: hath Nature crowned me God? Are the voices right? Is in fact that twig my mighty sceptre? We’ll see.


It’s now been a year since those dark hours of the morning and I’m still out here, evading the Man. After having marvelled at the twig safely ensconced in my bag for several weeks I decided it was best to bury it. Thus I went looking for an abandoned house, with a nice garden hopefully. Squats I’ve mostly avoided because the Man patrols them. No-one bothers me here in the park. Anyway, I found an old, derelict house and safely committed the twig, in its tin, to the earth.
     The voices stopped calling me God after I buried the tin and also told me later that night that I would eventually return to the buried secret, unable to avoid the fate of its implications: I had created something out of nothing substantial, whilst feeling the growing joy of Mistress Nature. Does this indeed make me God? Quite likely, methinks.
     Anyway, something has reminded the voices and they have brought me back here. The abandoned house is being fixed up now but my little spot is safe. The treasure is again safe in my backpack and I am now on a bench in Prince Alfred Park, Redferne. It is here that I will begin my rule, it is here that my Godhead will step out into the world to claim it as entirely His own, wielding righteously through the wand of my special relic.
     My first act will be to loudly proclaim to the world the fact of God’s arrival. Everyone should know. I can also proclaim some of the secrets that the voices have revealed to me over the years. Let me just prepare myself.


What did I say about the Man? There I was, publically revealing my great news, and two police officers on pushbikes pulled up in front of me. And now I’m in Rozella Psychiatric Hospital. Again. In the locked ward. The nurses have allowed me only a small pencil and this notepad.
     Funny thing though is that some of the voices’ secrets I’ve revealed to the psychiatrists have impressed them unexpectedly. They invariably say that they have their own unique and appealing logic. But the doctors also assure me that I have no influence, that my conjectures must ultimately rely upon posterity. And that, reasonably, is that. I’m just a powerless homeless guy. I am doomed to obscurity, God or no, so I may as well give up my Godhead: it just isn’t worth the extra effort. Best to remain somewhere safe, reading, drawing maybe every now and then for a change.
     Suicide is an option of course. After all since I’m God, but still bound to be unnoticed, obscure, and of no influence, why go on, having so much power, but completely unable to use it? Who knows, maybe all that dammed power is bound to eventually break me and suicide is really the only option, especially considering that my Godhead is bound not to be acknowledged.
     But then if I commit suicide there will never be a chance for me to express my Godhead in this world. There’s always the remote chance, by mutely holding my Power, that it will eventually blossom while the whole universe bows at my feet.
     No, I won’t commit suicide, I’ll just bide my time, always on the lookout for that one hope of heralding in my Godhead. Which reminds me, I better not let the nurses and doctors read all this, I’ll never get out!


If you've been enjoying Denis' stories here his previous such stories, from September 2013 to February 2015, are also available as a Kindle book, Amongst the Ways of God, at, which also includes several completely new ones. You may also enjoy his debut novel, This Mirror in Me, which tells the story of how Tonia achieves her life's fundamental aim of having her home as a social hub, by staring at herself in the mirror. It is also available as a Kindle book at Denis also has a short non-fiction book available, King Street Blues, which is an encouraging tale of Denis' willfully chosen five years of homelessness in the inner cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It too is available as a Kindle book at If you don't have a Kindle you can download the Kindle app for free onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer through your local app store.


By Michael Carta

The year is 1604 in feudal Japan during the early stages of the Edo period. Master swordsman and military leader Kazuhiko Wada is overseeing the interview process for new recruits for his growing school. Kenji Ishii is his most senior student and proved his worth in many battles. Seated in front of them is an orphan who demanded to be interviewed.

“What is your name, lineage, and gift for consideration?” Kenji recited robotically.
“I do not tell strangers my name, my lineage is hidden, and I bring only myself for consideration.”
Kenji could not help snorting in reaction to the ridiculous response. Kazuhiko however, smirked since he had been sitting through dozens of these interviews from annoying, begging, weak peasants with family connections. Everyone wanted their son trained in his school after he helped the Shogun take power, but truthfully none of them were warriors. Their spirits were pampered from spoiled upbringings, integrity cannot be bought.
“How dare you insult master Wada with your ignorant response… you should leave before you are no longer able!” Kenji barked sternly as his hands flew like lightning to the hilt of his sword.
“Relax my old friend, relax.” Kazuhiko said calmly while putting his hand on Kanji’s shoulder. Instantly Kenji’s aggression vanished as he returned to his original posture. Surprisingly, the orphan did not move or flinch even when Kenji was about to attack. This greatly interested Kazuhiko. “Tell me, why are you here little one?”
“I wish… I do not hope, but I wish. I wish for a better day, a better life, a better world. I know I can do something, I just do not yet know how. I wish for the training to make waves like you have! With you wishes come true. I wish to learn strength and understanding. I wish to know what it means to wish…”
“You can leave now” Kenji said unsympathetically while motioning towards the door.” The orphan slowly bowed toward Kazuhiko, got up and left completely ignoring Kenji.
Kenji turned to Kazuhiko and said: “You do realize that one was a girl, right? She cut her hair to look like a boy, but you can tell in her voice the truth. She is probably only ten years old, too small to even wield a sword!”
“Yes, I noticed.”
“Then why did ask her a question? Why not provide a small punishment and send her on her way? We do not have time for beggars, thieves, or lost causes. She was very rude and strange with all that talk about wishing…“
“I do not believe she is any of those things.  The quality of one’s mind is not contingent upon their gender. Instead, we should consider the strength that it took for her to come here while concealing her identity. It was very risky for her and yet she was calm and collected.“
“Deceit is hardly an admirable quality. Have you forgotten we are in a time of war? We do not have time to train every orphan you feel sorry for.“
“Then I will train her myself. I do not feel sorry for her, but I do feel that there is potential and that is a rare thing these days.”
“But sensei, you are a teacher of teachers, not a fundamentals instructor! Such a task is below you and should be insulting! I do not understand your judgment and implore you to reconsider. Surely one of the Shogun’s sons would be more suited to be your apprentice? Not some lowly peasant girl-child!”
“Haha, Kenji… I have always enjoyed your persistence and forward mind, but I do not need you to understand my judgment. Instead, you should trust in my decisions… for, are you not one of them my friend? We should never forget who we are, or where we came from. Perspective is everything, do not limit yours.”
“I… I never meant to… I trust you fully with my life, sensei. Please forgive my foolish questions.
“Do not worry Kenji; hope does not exist until you believe in it.” With that the old man rose from his kneeling position to his feet without any visible strain almost as if he was lifted up by some mysterious force. He walked down the hall to where the girl was standing; his feet made no sound as he walked and his head did not bob up and down. She noticed his shape getting closer out of the corner of her eye, but made no movement to acknowledge. Instead, she slowed her breathing and stared forward at the wooden wall.”
“Come, boy.  Your training begins today, but it will not be easy. You will live and die at my command and pledge your loyalty here and now. This is your only chance to change your mind; deserters are hunted, caught, and executed. Bow and come forward, or bow and leave- chose. “
“I am not a boy.”  She stated following her bow as she stepped forward. She was small, yet her eyes were fierce.
“You were a boy five minutes ago, who taught you the black magic?” He asked with a toying tone.
“The group of old men would not see or consider a girl, so I had to be a boy. Now that I am your student and have pledged my loyalty, you should know my name is Kaijuko! I am the feared woman warrior of the North!”
“Kaijuko? Monster girl? Haha! So, you were an orphan and gave yourself a bandit’s name. You have a strong spirit; if you live I will make you a true Kaijuko… Though, you have not killed, but that will change, you will change. From this point on you say only: yes sensei, thank you sensei- no matter what the command. What say you, girl?”
“Yes sensei, thank you sensei.”
“Good! You were an orphan, but now you are a pupil of the Tomonuro Ryu, the most feared and respected sword school in all of Japan. Let us practice our misogi, the art of mental purification. We must learn to unlearn what it is that we think we know and embrace the nature of our world. Remember those who are skilled in combat do not become angered; those who are skilled at winning do not become afraid. Thus the wise win before the fight, while the ignorant fight to win. You must meditate on this and find an understanding for yourself.”
“Yes sensei, thank you sensei.”
“We will study water. For, it is the source of all life. It can be subtle or raging, dirty or pure, soft or hard, shapeless or structured, cold or hot. Your mind must also adapt to these contrasts if you are to be invincible.”
“Yes sensei, thank you sensei.”

“Thus it begins…”