Sunday 27 November 2016

The White Handkerchief

Wednesday 2 November 2016

The White Handkerchief

 by Dorothy Henderson

From the other side of the fence, I could see something white fluttering. Despite the fact there was no breeze, a piece of white fabric was fluttering up and down as if it were being tossed by a cheeky breeze. No trees waved their limbs or leaves in response. The day was unusually calm for a spring day in my part of the world.

Intrigued, I moved towards the movement. Then I realized that the cloth was in the clutches of a hand. Long  fingers grasped the white handkerchief, at least I think that is what it was, and moved it up and down. Frantically. It struck me that the hand with the flapping white cloth was engaged in a pose used by defeated soldiers admitting defeat and seeking mercy from the victors, but maybe I am guilty of watching too much "Horrible Histories" with my children.

Far from signalling retreat, the hand was in fact engaged in a deliberate attention seeking exercise. The body attached to the hand was that of a jean-clad young woman, who was standing behind another person. Hard to tell if it was a male or female as it wore a faded denim baseball cap and had its back turned towards me. The second person was crouched down, almost squatting on the ground, and deeply engrossed in something.

In front of the baseball cap wearer and handkerchief shaker stood a magnificent horse. It was black. True black, not just dark brown with faded brown edge, but rich, blue black from the tip of its muzzle to its hooves and the frayed ends of its flamboyant tail. Attached to a third person by a long line clipped to a plain leather halter, the horse was looking straight at me.

It was a Thoroughbred. I could tell by its shape and its physique. Behind the horse stretched a long line of stables and other horses heads were visible as they watched the same scene from a different perspective. Some were tossing their heads as if jealous that they were not the centre of attention, others simply gazed on as if appreciating the diversion from the monotony that is the life of a constantly stabled horse.

As the person in the grey cap moved to a new position, I was able to see a huge black lens protruding from her face. The photographer was obviously trying to get a photograph of The Horse---and it wasn't obliging.
Despite the frantic hanky waving and whistling of the jeans person, it refused to look in her direction. It watched the birds, it gazed at the sky, it tried to nuzzle the rope holder, who kept pushing its head away and saying "stand up" in a firm and slightly agitated tone of voice.

I watched, transfixed by the beauty of The Horse and amused by the efforts of those trying to get its attention. Then suddenly The Horse arched his beautiful neck, allowing his mane to fall gently along the curve of his muscled crest, and held his gaze on a point somewhere behind the hanky shaker. His eyes glowed with interest, and I followed his gaze to see what had caught his attention.

On the top of the fence that I was looking through there sat a cat. A white cat. With startlingly blue eyes. If ever an animal could be a complete contrast to the horse in front of me, this was it. It was fluffy, petite and elegant and it wrapped its body along the fence as only a cat can do. The Horse was transfixed. He just started at The Cat, his nostrils flared and every muscle in his body quivering in inquisitiveness. If the people hadn't been in the way, he would have been at that fence on a mission of discovery. But he stood.

"Got it! That's the shot!" exclaimed the person at the end of the camera. It sounded like a man's voice, but I still couldn't really tell as the camera was still obscuring his face.

The hanky waver relaxed, and the four left the scene. The Horse was led down the line of stables and disappeared from my sight, his shining raven coloured rump and tail gone from my view. His mission had been accomplished. The perfect pose had been struck.

A week later, as I walked past a newstand in the town I lived in, I saw The Horse again. His eyes caught my attention as he looked out from the cover of the latest edition of the Stud and Stable magazine. I couldn't resist buying a copy so I could find out more about The Horse. When I looked more closely at the glossy image I noticed the reflection of The Cat in the paper horse's eyes. White as snow. Blue eyes locked on the brown eyes that captured it and I couldn't help but wonder if the photographer had even noticed the two animals connecting, or if all of the credit for the pose had been handed to the hanky.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Throwing Poses

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

‘“Ladies, I shall expect you to be ready at exactly a quarter before eight. His Imperial Majesty is to arrive at eight precisely, and I must be there to receive him.”’ Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now

Myself being The King of the Universe, for around a decade now, I know the importance of turning up to appointments on time. Mind you, most of these appointments have been arranged by the voices that only I can hear. Certainly they are the only ones involved in these transactions, I know that, but there’s still a chance that a thus scheduled meeting will indeed bear the magickal fruit expected. Not that I practice magick, but I somehow seem to have become caught up in someone else’s spell(s.) I’m sure there’s a reason for this and as soon as I’m told, I’ll leave all these squats that I’ve been drifting between over the recent many years. My filthy squats are probably the reason why the voices have never scheduled a meeting for me with sundry people at home, shadowy beings or otherwise, to provide physical proof that I am indeed King of the Universe, instantly worthy of untold riches.
     One time, however, I was actually expected. Sure the voices hadn’t arranged the rendezvous, it being a spur of the moment thing, but walking aimlessly down Newtown’s main street - King Street, Sydney, the unofficial capitol of so very sophisticated Aus - high as a kite on some top quality speed, yet unwillingly again, but without help to do otherwise, I suddenly entered a café on my right, which seemed to have developed a stunning brightness at my passing. I had walked into a photo-shoot, myself obviously the subject, from what I could tell by the photographer’s actions. He had an assistant who seemed to be encouraging me to throw poses.
     Here then was what I’d been waiting years for, proof of my Royalty, the beginnings of archiving my approaching Reign. I accordingly threw some poses, over a few minutes, and I must say that it was the best time that I can recall ever having. It felt very natural, both feeling and looking very chic, experiencing a vogue with Nature at a fundamental level, revelling in one’s own role in living, and fully able to gloriously show off one’s deliberately chosen colourful presentation to one’s fellow citizens. Like I said, the best time that I’ve ever had.
     And just as suddenly as I had begun I likewise stopped, just running out of steam, and starting to feel too self-conscious.
     ‘That was wonderful!’ said the photographer’s assistant. She then came over to me while the photographer moved into the background with his camera. ‘You just jumped right into the spirit of the shoot.’
      ‘Thanks.’ She obviously didn’t know that she’s just a pawn in the bigger game. ‘It suddenly felt like a liberating thing to do.’
     ‘Well, you were superb. I’m Deidre, the guy with the camera’s Elvis.’
     ‘His parents are massive fans, actually hung out with him for a bit back in the day. He was a thorough gentleman.’
     ‘And probably still is, in Heaven. I’m Sidney. Any chance of being paid for the shoot?’
     ‘Maybe. We’re a new art zine, Tempest Times, and were planning on doing some random-slash-guided shoots to open the first edition. What’s your number? I’ll call if we go with you.’
     ‘I don’t have a phone.’
     ‘Well, Sidney, give me your last name and we’ll let you know here at the café in exactly a week if you’ve got the gig.’
     ‘Okay, cool. It’s Rutherforde, with an ‘e’ at the end.’
     ‘I’ll call. Anyway, I’ll let you go. Gotta get ready for the next shoot.’
     ‘See ya.’
     So, feeling great, I treated myself to a cappuccino. Not many people entered the café, and all boring types, with apparently regular jobs, and even more apparent, regular opinions. They looked briefly at the photo-shoot setup but Deidre didn’t seem inspired by their insipid, lifeless attire.
     It was when I’d just finished my coffee that Kelly walked in, Kelly Alvarez, a fellow squatter that I often see around, even though we’ve never been in the same squat together. She’s always been a very vibrant person and she entered the café straight to where the camera was based. She threw some very vogue poses and Deidre signalled for Elvis to begin shooting.
     It was a longer session than mine and it was Deidre who called a halt. She got Kelly’s name and phone number, and then left her to her own devices again. I signed to Kelly and she came over.
     I never knew this about Kelly (then again I do know little enough of her) but she’s always wanted to be a model, and I can quite easily imagine her successfully doing so, with not much make-up, maybe some jewellery. She has such cute Latino features, with alluring eyelashes that are just crying out to be kissed. Constantly. Heroin, though, had other plans. Heroin forced Kelly onto the streets, her entire welfare being spent on the junk, only able to eat free food, and from money that she begs up, living in abandoned, filthy houses for the past four years. She wants to be a model even more now, surviving only on her charm, instead of dependant on a lower life form.
     So she made a deal with me, when I told her that I too had posed for Deidre, and was expecting to hear from her in exactly a week. Kelly promised to give me half an ounce of pot (fourteen grams) every two weeks for four weeks if, in return, should I be selected by Deidre’s zine, I encouraged Deidre to take Kelly in my place. But I would get the pot only, and guaranteed, if Kelly resultantly got the gig.
     Well, it seemed a good deal; who am I to stand in the way of a desperate lass’ dreams? So we shook on it. But we shook on it after I made only the one proviso: we both must head into rehab: her, to get off the junk; me, to get off the speed. Kelly easily shook on the deal, she said, because it was such a great idea. Finally! Control over our lives! We agreed to meet again, at noon tomorrow, in the same café to head off to Rozella Psychiatric Hospital, Ward 26, the rehab ward (well known amongst the seasoned inner city Sydney alternative types.)
     Both of us were true to our word and each of us literally arrived at the same time. Kelly was in as good as spirits as I was, both on the cusp of achieving a more reasoned meaning for our lives, wanting them to be simply ordered, simply yet also intoxicatingly. The ward, though, was unable to help us, at least just then. We both had to wait two weeks for a bed. So we put our names on the list and hoped for the best. Walking away from the ward, with having been so very close yet so very far, proved depressing, and neither of us talked on our journey back to Newtown.
     As I stepped onto King Street again, after Kelly, she turned to me, looking very solemn.
     ‘Sidney, you’ve always been a really good bloke, can I trust you?’
     ‘I always enjoy helping.’
     ‘Today’s my dole day. Can I trust you with it until we get back to Rozella in two weeks? I want to achieve something today and a $350.00 nest egg would be really something.’
     ‘Okay, let’s go to an ATM.’
     Kelly duly gave me her entire dole payment and today, a few days before what promises to be another roasting summer in sophisticated Aus, 2015, is the day we are to meet again at Rozella. I still have her money, deposited in a fee free bank account to keep it out of the hands of a certain speed freak. I’ll give it another hour before I check in to the ward; it would be great if we both had each other’s support while ditching the alluring bane that is all manner of illicit drugs. We’ll see.


Well, I’m now in rehab. The ward gave me a bit of a feed after I filled in the paperwork (for which may God earnestly bless them!) and I am still waiting for Kelly. I’ve enquired about depositing her monies with the Hospital for her but they say I can’t do it on her behalf, not even having her full name. Ah well, at least it’s not in my wallet, easily destined for some more choice speed. The only thing I can do now, I guess, is to follow the programme here and clean up my act. Can’t wait for Kelly forever. I remain hopeful.


It is now the next day and Kelly is still a no-show. My first night in rehab was awful, though the day started off all right. Soon after admission in the morning, however, I couldn’t stop my racing thoughts, couldn’t stop pacing, constantly thinking of the direction and purpose that speed gives me. The staff gave me a Valium to calm down but it stopped working around bedtime. I didn’t sleep all night, desperate for a shot. I was going to ask for another Valium but, really, things were looking like I was just trading one addiction for another. And speed is a finer master.
     So I’ve checked myself out and am on the bus back to Newtown. Kelly’s $350 will buy a nice bit of speed and a good chunk of pot. Boy, does that approaching party feel good! I’ll deal with Kelly when I see her. She can’t really blame me, though, for spending her money. I can always repay her if she really does kick up a stink.
     Anyway, just about to get off the bus. Things are looking fine again!


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 Other ebook and paperback options are available at Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing and you can follow its journey at