A Novel – When Hungry I Read

February 27, 2016




I made rice and chillies with coriander; it was all there was left in my house that wasn’t made of cake. We would re-convene here at 19:30. Sebastian was the first to arrive, smelled of love on someone else’s lips. Next in came the photographer he seemed a little lost without her. Scheherazade referred to him as her companion. I asked his real name. No one was going to remember that, not in this town! Scheherazade swanned in late and we all waited while she took a bath regardless. She had been to see Jesus. This funny little scenario said a lot about us all; the first place you go to when allowed to be alone.

She returned from the bathroom in subtler mood, with her hair tied back. Had beautifully high cheekbones, you know the ones, they hold on to your youth when it’s slipping down your face. We sat on the floor and ate. The three of them had gloriously straight backs. I slumped like an impersonation of Moomin Papa.

The house was empty of all my belongings filling it with great sadness. I knew enough to know that you hide what you are looking for by taking everything. They may have been cowboys, but they knew damn well what they were doing! Eventually the space we dwell in will become the physical manifestation of your psyche. But when your rooms do not coincide with the inside of your head, you are either trying too hard or your life has been short changed.

I passed round an assortment of leftover chopsticks and Sebastian asked for a spoon. Scheherazade brought with her whiskey. She said we would spend the night together in the house with the ghosts of my loss. Sebastian locked securely all of the doors. My life for the longest time had felt as if I had taken speed and then tried to sleep it off. And there, for the first time in a while I felt safe enough to let myself go.

After food I gave them the two-bit tour of an empty house. I slept upstairs in the panic room. Sleep was insubordinate with me; we have very rarely gone to bed together. Sometimes in the dark I panic, a suffocating horror like breathing into a gas mask until you die.

It was time to come clean. The whiskey helped. I had nothing left to lose. The truth will not set you free; believe me, I had detailed files on that. Before I lived here I had another life, one with life expectancy low. I had been an honest journalist. But then ‘The Agency’ called offering to dress me in clothes that make you disappear and I signed. We began to compile reports detailing the offences/abuses committed by various governments around the world. Everybody was doing it. The French made it art, the Italians made it passion; the Americans made it personal and the British, well, they were just superior.

The powerful countries puppeteered the poorest; of course they did, didn’t you know? Our brief was simple, we were not supposed to bring down those disloyal to us but bring about evidence ‘the blackmailer law’ should it be deemed necessary. But with slight of hand or heart we inadvertently helped topple the worthless governments; kings had fallen, heads of state had rolled, religion had looked away and dictators had gone on to disappear. We were the truth in the conspiracy. So I began to travel the world beneath its radar in assured anonymity, and compile their demon; it was called it ‘The Mistletoe Report.’

There were other ministries at work too, some worked on the highest-level of communications. Strict persuasion data programmers, they were really just young and gifted hackers paid to infiltrate and persuade people to withdraw all personal wealth from banks at a precise and collective time. Bring the world to its knees. The domino effect had been mastered and it was a secret bigger than any known bombing campaign. All the power was held by the many, when provoked by the few. Always had been thus.

But beware the righteous who hunts the righteous! All men are forged on anvils of this. I bow my head to that!

And so it was. The level of work, unbearable and the lies being told by governments crippling, forcing me into panic, poisoning me, someone following me. Who can you tell when you’re breathing in lies? Propaganda is politics depending from where you view it. It pays in truffles and cuddly boys; whatever you can wish for. But it began to get ugly and I began to suffer. Sometimes I would wake at night to someone sitting on the end of my bed, paralyzed by fear, helpless to defend myself. I knew too many lies. Urns of someone’s ashes appeared in my line of vision. The light outside my apartment turned off and on at my comings and going. My paranoia buggered, I told the agency and they gave me a physician who administered a capsule. All that mattered they said was to finish the report and keep no files discoverable. Their server bounced encrypted texts to a covert server that in turn pushed it under a rug and I laid the table, on which I set a Mediterranean banquet.

Add to that all of my personal issues, those of which I seem as always weird and unable to resolve; they all came crashing down. My partner at the time left me; they had left me before but this time he went back home to his wife. I was exposed; privy to truth and opinions you would sleep safer not knowing. I had taken to drinking and smacking and blacking out in crowds. I asked them to send me away but they couldn’t, it won’t save you, they said.

Then one day our offices were gone and it was time to disappear. All lines of communication severed, we knew the rules. I took with me The Mistletoe Report in its second immature draft, some research and many interviews still scattered about on various clouds in the sky. And it appeared my life up until that point was closed. Everything must be let go eventually.

So that night I slipped away in New York heels and a long leather coat in an unmarked cab. Came out here where no one will come looking and the satellites couldn’t find me. It was hot so I didn’t have to consider all of those things that go with cold; the sun aided my psoriasis, the heat good for my many nervous peculiarities. Work had sure taken its toll on my heart. I had become desperate with the lies we breathe in the city. The lies in town are just foolish in comparison. At least in the desert you can see the horizon, you can see them coming. I would wait in an unmarked town until such time as all of this grew over me. I settled in and wrote off a lot of it as drug and booze fuelled paranoia. I began a new life working with Jesus.

Recently I had set up a library in the disused reading room against the town’s minor opposition. I had always felt the need for books. People in real life seldom live up to the characters in books.

I thought it was over. Then I dropped my guard and they came for The Mistletoe Report!

Take me with you please God. I might be in trouble for the last time! They had found me; it was just a matter of time. Take me away, take me with you, take me to a sign, take me to a place that makes me dream of a viaduct. Just take me on the road to anywhere.

Scheherazade smiled and said it was all rather delicious.



A Novel – When Hungry I Read

February 27, 2016




Mumu was crying. Elongated with hours and a horse and a lot more lost than those feeble possessions. When nothing more can be taken, only then can you be free. Death will see to that.

I found the only bar in town and took the pill. Ordered a bottle of Beer, idled with a strike-anywhere match, lit it with my ballerina nails just to watch it burn. Closed tight my Kansas eyes and allowed myself the privilege of letting go. The first idea I had was to change my name to the same as everyone else’s and then just leave, leave them all behind and let them work out the details. My name, my nom de guerre, Scheherazade, the executioner’s daughter.

Dinner was back at Mumu’s house at 8 in the post meridian, but I would not be hungry at 8; when hungry I read.

There are roads that leave and there are roads that arrive. There are roads both full and there are roads empty. Always take the road less travelled. Popularity finds nothing new to say, it leaves nothing and finds nowhere better. The biggest journey one can make is from town to city. No larger distance can be travelled. Tube station graffiti, London circa 1953.

When I was younger I danced in the Bohemian bar on summer nights. I craved all the experience I could heap upon my young artists life. Django would play guitar and I would dance. Candles dripped from the chandeliers and the scholars would come and mix their hunger for wisdom with wine; throw money at my feet and watch me tell stories with the subtle details of my carnal body. I would gently stamp and they would steady their bottles on uneven tabletops and smile softly. After the show their minds would tell me luxuries that I would sink the weight of my youth into. Then one night, on returning from that gruelling Venetian tour, I walked back to the Bohemian with my ballet shoes slung over my shoulder. But the corporation had moved in and the artist quarter had been moved out. So it was, in the bar that I had once danced at so tenderly, I had been replaced with the wrestling channel. Nothing lasts forever, not even God.

Someone rolled over the keys of the piano on the way to the latrine. The men had finished with what it was they did for life and found their way to Jesus’ bar. This bar too it seemed had no use for a dancer. I might be the pride of the academy, but in Jesus’ bar I was worthless.

My love and my dance still exist even if it is unrequited. You know, woman has no need to own the world, how could you own anything more than the child you carry! The chemicals from a woman’s tears can drop the level of testosterone in a man sufficiently so that he will comply with our needs. But don’t tell him so. We are whatever our thoughts are. I closed half an ear and squeezed what I could from the nonsense words they were chewing about me. I say misread or better still mishear the poorest conversations if you want to get the most out of nothing. The capacity for abstract thought is indeed a long forgotten art. On winning the lottery boys, try picking the wrong numbers.

What is it like to know a more interesting answer than the truth? Some say a liar; some say a fool, some say an artist. One man sings and a thousand women dance to it; one-woman dances and a thousand men wait for her to take off her clothes. This is the world according to the lonely.

You start out dancing and very soon you become a dancer. Before long you are competing with your friends; eventually you end up taking on the world. But I only wanted to dance. Many had exploited my life and published images of me that the world would eventually crowd around as if the pictures granted them permission to stare and draw beards. So I run now from this industry in bloodlust. I have been just another binary pulse of gossip fired down abundant methods of information that has you receiving instead of doing. Welcome to the new dictatorship of entertainment. Fame is the lowest form of worship.

When I die I will leave behind a stone carving of me in the mountains that they will drill holes into to satisfy the men. Hundreds of years later they will uncover this statue beneath the briars and the soot of the once great forests and tell stories about Scheherazade that will make children go to bed early and adults stay up late. All of the lies they spill in tabloid form will have been forgotten and I will be remembered for what I did to assist beauty. And once more I will be procreative and fertile as lovers covet in the shadow I cast upon a chamomile lawn, and above me the billions of acres of emptiness just keeping us from the next solar system look on. Life is a mere allowance. We are controlled by our moral information when we should be controlled by our insignificance. But I am stronger than you dare to believe.

Life is a game we borrow for a while and give it back when it is broken.




A Novel – When Hungry I Read

February 27, 2016




I held my camera tightly and photographed the ever-changing faces of the car. In its original form the photograph is pure honesty; it is just a reaction to light and life. The limitations of photography are with you. We reached town late that afternoon. Scheherazade had grown irritated and hot, her dry cigarettes crackled as she smoked them. Everything had shifted. We were I believe, as lost as we could get before you begin to turn the corner and find yourself changed. Experience is one thing that sure can’t be taught.

Mumu was interesting and complicated. But his sense of justice was his over-riding characteristic. He carried his issues like a line drawn in the sand and everyone had to step over it to get to him. Still, he would drop all of it if you endowed him with love. By the time we arrived, the car and our lives had grown considerably and the gun in the glove box was loaded and ready. Scheherazade slipped it into her bag when she stopped at that haunted little town. She looked at us all and smiled a woman’s warning.

“Eventually politics is a gun,” she explained.

This was the first town you come to when you climb out of the desert, it was where Mumu had lived and Sebastian had been passing through when he got in with the cowboys. My camera said this was a liar’s town.

It was getting late; the lanterns were coming on, bringing with them their mercurial view of the world. The sand of the street with its ochre deposits was turning blood orange under the lantern’s glow. The town was just a road; a sleazy restaurant, Jesus’s Bar, the Ecclesiastical Inc. church, a dry goods store, a vending machine offering cold drinks and an abandoned phone booth. Further up the street there was a family sitting in the road on sofas and reclining chairs with emotionless faces watching some game show on an old T.V. They looked over in our direction as if we weren’t there. Children and dogs running in circles. No Internet this far out of the world. Shadows began to grow from our feet and I longed for a soft bed.

Scheherazade roughed up the ground with her boot; yawned and stretched, then brought down her palms flat to the floor exhaling to the perfect Uttanasana. Re-asserting her womanhood. She was a fine Google search when boredom or eroticism found you. She kicked off her boots to bare feet and dug her toes into the powdery sand. To work her artist’s frame back to life she slowly pirouetted across the street to that bitter old church; signing us all in her beautiful adagio credentials. The church was worn down to a nub by the abrasive winds thrown out by the desert. A single candle lit a small vestibule and Scheherazade disappeared into it while we all impatiently waited. Minutes later she returned to us smiling with a shot of wine and her reinstated virginity.

Mumu was tearful and rightfully impatient to get to his house. We drove the short distance to his place, a once elegant old house at the end of town that now looked as if it belonged to a set of photographs pinned to a crime factory wall. But the story the boys had told tallied with an empty home. Sebastian and I stood awkwardly in the dining room while Mumu ran about the house red faced and bleating,

“Oh my God, Oh my fucking God!”

None of us knew what to say or do. Everything had gone; you didn’t need to have seen the house before to know that. Scheherazade slipped out the front door like a magician leaving stage left. Mumu returned from his bedroom in a panic of tears.

“They have taken my report. They have stolen my book and my report on this fragile world; the details of everything. Who steals the book you write? Who shall have my secrets now?”

He collapsed in shuddering sobs on the stairs. I went to him; Sebastian stood in the hall and bowed his head.



A Novel – When Hungry I read

February 26, 2016




I put on the heavy sunglasses that laid on the back seat of their very expensive motorcar as I eased myself into someone else’s world, someone else’s cover, someone else’s time. This is a game I have played with remarkable effect many times in my life. I am Sebastian, a chameleon, a screen idol drifter, I am whoever the fuck you wish me to be.

I explained to Mumu quietly that it had all been a terrible misunderstanding and he accepted it like a coward. It was just a game, a suitable grift for a grifter; but know this, I had been out played and left for dead and that don’t come off! I too knew by sunrise that morning, everything I owned had already been lost to me; but it didn’t matter, I could always get more. All that remained were the clothes I sat in on heavy leather seats, and the unsecured loan of my memories. I was ready to hold on to the classy lady with the car and let her carry me away to another destiny, perhaps another shot at redemption.

It was true Mumu spoke the most but he had the most to say. Though it didn’t really matter, I liked his voice, it was oddly comforting. I could sleep with it on. I closed my eyes. He went off in my head as she drove. Mumu was up on high heels really letting it all out. Maybe just a nervous reaction to rescue, maybe something more. He spoke fast, quicker than I think, making up excessive examples with each new gasp of air. I dipped in and out.

“I’m terrified of government and stock-markets, horticulture, falling asleep, barbershop singers, the scream of foxes, blue ink from biros, blood, Palestine, oh yes and my own reflection. Hatred and prejudice are learned; they are! They are formed in parents not in children, in teachers not in students. If dictatorships evolve into democracies, democracy must evolve a purpose greater than markets and money. The evolution of democracy is self-awareness. The human world is built on excess. It has not enough of what is necessary and too much of what is immaterial. There are too many people, too many people hungry, too many people want love, too many guns, too many are not kind, too many without hope, too many lies, too many tears, too many lonely, too many sad, too many greedy and too many people die without good reason. And not enough care about that!” He paused. “And how can the French word for milk ‘Le lait’ be masculine? Did you know that up until a couple of years ago the Iranian film censor was blind? He would ask his assistant what was happening and then censored that!” Mumu slowed and finally said in a sad voice. “I have lost it seems, the ability to love cowboys and horses.”

She asked me about being a locksmith. “There is happiness in safety.” I told her. But I didn’t tell her that I had the ability to enter people’s homes when they slept and peer into their pots and leaf through their music. Thieves were greedy; those that were not were exceptional. I understood the mathematics, the connotation of what we keep locked. What we wish to hide best, we hide in obvious places. Put the one thing you care for most in your life somewhere in your house and I could find it in a matter of minutes. We all had our secrets to contend with.

Scheherazade said,

“Love laughs at locksmiths.”




A Novel – When Hungry I read

February 26, 2016




I was just Mumu the freak. My last relationship ended in the words,

“Mumu, you give people the freaks.” But I just wanted to be in a relationship so people couldn’t hurt me anymore.

It was Sunday morning and I thought we were going to die out there in the heat of the desert without shade and without a sip of water between us; standing over a dead horse in our party clothes, counting buzzards, dealing in death.

In the early hours we had walked pointless kilometres back towards town in the dark keeping to the deserted old road, and that stupid horse followed like an angry child. We were too far away from everywhere to get ourselves saved. Nothing was about to drive past us on the way to that not yet dead, but dying horse town. It was possible that the taste of Catfish would never return to me. If the cold of the night didn’t take us then the heat of the day surely would. Nothing is harsher than a man and his lies in the desert. Still, we walk in hope. But out there, God had pulled up his rope, let the Devil get ya, let the desert take us. I bowed my head to that!

Some years back the diviners of oil had been prospecting out there in the wastelands of the desert; they promised the people of the town a yield of black gold. But as we all know, a town that sits and waits to reap its bloom by the evils of oil will be damned long before a drop is even spilled. The town will eventually whore itself apart with the promise of riches on dreams by proxy. Nail that to all their frail wooden graves. Finally the company men shall move in and inherit what is left of a town destroyed by its vices at the prospect of greed. And one more town lost its inheritance to the power of exploitation. Some folks lived out in the low caverns and caves on the edge of the desert but you wouldn’t want to take your chances with them. Incest has the loneliest hand in love. Believe it! To the mercy of a rescue our chances were bleak. How had I allowed myself to get into this?

I had spent that evening with Jesus at his bar in town, trying to forget tomorrow. Jesus was good; I prefer a liar to a cook. In came two men in clean hats and an unseen disguise. Not the average greased mule you see grovelling beneath the hood of a truck round here. You can see a man’s class far easier than a woman’s; man shows his, woman hides hers. And within minutes they had settled in at the bar like they belonged. Took a side table and started up a game of English. Should I wish to play? Here was a game fit for me, deal me in a good hand.

Sebastian tinkered at the piano. We had only just met about an hour before and I liked him. I hadn’t played it straight for years; straight love is wired to find the best possible partner; it has an investment in the future. Love without procreation brings a different set of rules; but this is just a Mumu perspective deep. Ugly love was good enough for me now. It is the loneliness I cannot bear. All of my relationships this hour were based on lies. Half the world was made of bullshit. Half of every court on Earth was swearing on the truth with lies. Makes me grin every time. I just write the truth for the liars to read.

I didn’t see it coming; the trick was not to see the con. All the bells of warning should have been ringing, but nothing sounded but the booze in my tiny ears and the desperation for a good time in my playful fat heart. So they offered us anything we could dream of should we win. It was pretty much the same deal should we lose. I was all aching and promiscuous and full of flavour. What the hell was a girl to do? Got their eye on my money. Gay, fatty, maybe Jewish, I would always be condemned as the obvious choice for an easy target. We could win and we could lose; but it was all the same to the cheating.

Of course we lost and in the dark Sebastian and I climbed into the back cab of their chrome Hombre. Sebastian was in on it in a small way. They tied our hands in fun with what felt to me like hessian and gagged Sebastian’s mouth and we all drove away laughing as if players in some terribly exciting game, me courageously drunk. But love was not on the lips of our cowboys. No Sir. By the time I suspected something we were way out of town and Sebastian was boiling mad and muted. We sped into the darkness, the midnight moon still rising and after the longest time they dragged us out and dropped us on the road. Then they emptied out the caution box they had dragged behind them; contents, one dying horse, mean as rat meat. Sebastian tore off his gag and exploded, spitting up,

“What the fuck is going on? What the fuck is this? I thought I was on your side. Fuck you! Fuck!”

But the play was on him too; they knocked him to the ground and one brought the heel of a boot down on his throat. I screamed and escaped the violence, such men want to fight men not me. So there it was, the night that had gotten me drunk and loquacious was over and now we had to deal with the consequences. They drove away with a lighter adjusted load, the keys to my house and a mental map of every single thing I had ever cherished. And I remember for you now what I had learned in Bible study. Beware: some liars tell the truth.

We unpicked our hands on a barbed wire fence; I knew my wrist was bleeding, my fingers sticky and afraid. I had what some call an unfortunate soul. Ho hum! Ho hum indeed!

And there we would have died for sure if it had not been for two people sweet enough to stop: the driver and her personal photographer. She must have been something else, of riches, even fame. He took pictures of us. Sebastian looked away. I wanted to protest for the way I must have looked after such a rough night on the road but that was all rather silly.

Give me a very large drink in a small glass.



A Novel – When Hungry I read

February 23, 2016




Recently I have been dancing in my head. The most intimate form of imagination. It has been quite a revelation to me, a study of control pinned to expression. I can dance where you cannot touch me. People are way too keen to have their artistic abilities, their egos admired; these are formed on the requirement of praise, not of honesty or progress. All of the weak arts have this failing, wanting to be on view before understanding what quality is. They buy the rumour but we offer the truth. Pop culture caters for this need, as does gossip and mundanity. In the age of social media, not to share every shit you take is priceless.

Our beautiful artistic disciplines are continually being dragged down to a level where the non-creative can accept it as normal. Where opera becomes a musical, where art-house is seen as a blockbuster, where jazz is only as corny as a horn section and ballet is just a television workout for the general public. You are financing a brutal entertainment industry that is stealing your musical and artistic heritage for a moment that looks like now. As it is with the business of art, those who are not creative usually own the position to judge those who are. So I wait for the creative politician on which to cast my vote. Until such time I will continue to be that which normality feels uncomfortable with. So I dance in my head and there I am no longer available for the tails they wish to pin in me; I keep my libretto low and I dance in and out of the light of my own making. In this artificial world keep your creative energies inside; be fed by them until others are in need, only then are you ready to let go all your little lifeboats. Tomorrow creativity will be the most valuable commodity on Earth, I say guard well your gift until such time.

My companion mumbles something out in my distant mind and then reaches and pulls the steering wheel to the uneven side of the road. I stand up on the brake as a reaction and we grind to a powdery halt, throwing me from the field of my dance. And there in front of us a horse is lying as if dead in the middle of the road. By its side are two young men dressed up like a Sunday morning was missing a couple of liars. Their pleading hands still coupled across the road relax as we join them in dilemma. Their faces disjointed with whatever predicament they were upon. My companion jumped out and ran over to the horse. He knelt down and reached over its back and laid his hands and head on its crestfallen chest as if he could haul back its life. It moved its head as if to get up but that course was done. Its mouth foamed, ears wild, hooves sparking upon the road, eyes distressed with dying; its mind never really used the gift of nostalgia. The bigger the beast the more the distress can be seen in its dying. The bigger the clock the quicker we see time pass. Beneath the moon I dream of whales and their slaughter, and I wake in sheets of blood and my pillow sodden. The smaller the detail the less we erroneously believe in its effect. I warn you my audience, beware of that!

The horse died, it suffered horrible details. This picture’s true sense of proportion was lost on human time. We have no right to be greater than other animals just because we have charted the genome. I looked at the two opposing road horizons hoping on another vehicle to take our place in this hopeless lamenting little scenario. Nothing but an oncoming sense of loneliness and more of that monotonous rolling haze of heat. I had never really liked horses, not since an estranged friend had worked at the equestrian centre collecting sperm. Acts of assisted intercourse she called it, she would slide a sheath on the stallion’s cock on mounting, before penetrating the mare. It was not quality work. But someone always has to pick up the horseshit.

The first man was very pretty; had late night eyes smudged and dark. He introduced himself as Sebastian.

The other boy was on the verge of catastrophe his mouth falling apart, disfigured in crying. He spoke. I do not out of necessity care for listening to speech; I resent the interpretation.

“I think the horse had a heart attack. Its left leg has been dragging all night. I’m so sorry you have to see this but this is not our fault. However does this look? Could you please take us back to town? Jesus was waiting for me. This is all so fucked up! I don’t want to be part of this, none of it. This is so fucked up, I’m sorry! Sorry you have to see this.”

And then just as living is by mysterious design, both men climbed into the back of the brute, as if our collective humanity had spoken.

The headlines of this sordid little road-side-affair would be spinning gum-shoe style behind me. This is of course a judgement peculiar to the famous. Everything I do shall become the wanton details of others. I live beneath the lights of the media microscope, I am manacled to wealth and privilege and therefore I have earned the position to be one more exploited captive for the voyeurs of modern life to view. Even our suicides are seen as the ultimate gift to the God of the masses. How naïve it is of anybody to believe in the news. We are just a new form of sacrifice to fill up another moment in the media coliseum of the 21st century.

“My name is Mumu,” the fat one said, seated and calmer now. “Oh! It has all been so horrible. How will I ever get this out of my life!”

Sebastian was quiet and more composed but he could not hide from me what he was.

He would survive prison, do not let that pretty face fool you. I do not trust beautiful people; they give off an incantation that masks what it is they strictly are. This is the Devil’s endorsement. True beauty can never be expressed, only felt. My companion offered them the essentials of water. I squeezed down my boot. The road was long and already there was no going home.

I imagine hay must smell different to horses than to lovers.





A Novel – When Hungry I Read

February 21, 2016




I hadn’t slept all night. Scheherazade, after suffering a bout of lunacy and dancing, passed out on the sand and I eased her slender body into the one-woman tent. She purred at my touching her. She had recently said that ‘the mind was an unfathomable compass; our destinies are mapped for us in utero, you shall not prevent where you are heading.’ It’s a thought, sober as a hurricane.

What was happening to her? How long would this last? I suspected exhaustion: perhaps artistic collapse. It cannot be easy being adored and not wanting it so much. In her tent, swaddled in blankets, she wriggled and shook now, as if possessed by a determined Being. Her scent filled the tiny space like the odour of Jasmine but more concentrated, near lioness. The light of a tiny lamp sketched her in strokes of charcoal, it was delicious. Being that close to her was as if I were part of whatever ordeal she was sleeping through. I touched her bare belly as I moved her and it sent shivers of human vibration to my feet like a concentrated orgasm. I lay close besides her, just listening to her being alive. I became self-aware alongside Scheherazade at 2:34am that other people’s sordid view of this would be a greasy violation. Unfortunately we judge love by our own standards. In the hours of dark and cold on the desert floor, I wondered just how far she was prepared to go with this. Later I returned to the car for a little warmth.

In the morning I was up with the light. The desert sand was unstable for yoga so I took myself to the roof of her all-terrain vehicle and from a constant height adopted, Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), Vrksasana (Tree Pose), a little Thai Chi, a little meditative order, a little abstract idiom. I didn’t just take photographs.

There was nothing to see from up there but vast yellows and blue further than you could think. We had come so far already. Stepping down I checked the vehicle for its provisions; they were few. Breakfast would be a simple affair, but without the proper supplies and Scheherazade still in her mysterious abandon we could die out here. I would need to take a certain amount of control over our situation and drive, find food, touch life; find the stuff with which to safely enable her freedom. I usually ran before breakfast and my girlfriend Alice would say I was normally up controlling something before lunch. But perspective is to understand a situation from where you cannot alter it. Take the youth unemployed and send them to a foreign culture and replace them with the equivalent in that foreign exchange. Change the world of work, and stop spinning those tired old plates.

Scheherazade rose from her tent around 7:30am; I positioned myself down wind just to smell her. Stale cigarettes in sleepiness are strangely erotic when the requirements of love are needy. She didn’t talk to me; I reckoned it to be a morning thing although she didn’t seem to mind me being near her. I could almost touch her skin, I was that close. I wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and felt the devotion of lovers. We were like a happy couple painting a wall after an adorable bout of sex; we both had our dedicated space to occupy and to fill with colour and occasionally smile on it. She needed more cigarettes and I needed her to have them.

Soon the heat was enough to make anyone retreat to a safe distance. The desert is without relief and frightening, I say bring forth the irrigators. This desert was the polar opposite of my life. For desert has no comfort, it has no recognisable history and a place without history forces you to look forward, to make your own history within it. But a life through the lens of a photographer, you live always in the past; it is a life dedicated to memory. Your life is determined in the pursuit of examining other people. I turned on the radio but she turned it off. So I raised my camera and cautiously took a shot of my driver. She didn’t bite back. Scheherazade was as gorgeous as any raw and unedited frame could be. She was photogenic and I was sent to capture her, the anticipator of her responses. Before I had photographed her at distance, but now I was to study her real and up close. What you study you must become. As a painter shall become his muse, a writer her characters or a musician becomes their song. She just drove; I looked away smiling with new fortune.

“I’ve forgotten your name,” Scheherazade said without even turning her head to me. It was the first time she had spoken to me in nearly 24 hours. And it marked the beginning. I told her and she replied without hesitation,

“It doesn’t suit you!” And waved it away in a puff of smoke as if she would have no more of it. And from that moment on I had been rendered nameless.

We pulled into a garage forecourt and she got out immediately to buy cigarettes from the store, engine still running. She left some expression hanging in the air almost as if it were a sign of flirtation, a detail of love. Scheherazade was a class above us all in leaving.

My phone was low on its meter, so I took the keys from the ignition, not wanting to become stranded as she drove into the next calamity, forgetting all about me waving madly at her leaving from a dry forecourt. I claimed the only working public phone by the side of the store. Needed to explain to my girlfriend what was happening, and maybe how long was I prepared to hold on to the photojournalist mantra: lies can be written but the truth is ours to tell. Scheherazade deserved that much. I think Alice had somebody in the room with her when she answered and didn’t really want to talk. She sounded cornered and irritated; irritation is a natural cover. I apologized, told Alice that I was trying to fathom what Scheherazade was doing. Trying to coax her back to civilisation. But Alice didn’t want to care. I wished I hadn’t phoned and so did Alice. Pause… Then she said she had to go and rang off. Just like that. She hung up on me in the desert. That would be the title of now.

After picking up food and the water we needed, I climbed back in the 4×4 and Scheherazade was smiling with her eyes closed. It was bewitching, as if she already knew about Alice. She opened one eye.

I asked where were we heading and she gestured to no one something like, I don’t even care. Scheherazade tore open her new packet of cigarettes that she had bought and lit one.

She started the engine and put down her foot. The Mercedes exploded into battle and dust. I sat nervously by her side. I had no idea what to expect from her next. The food from the store was rough and impregnated with chemicals rich enough to stop time she said. I dared not tell her that I had emptied out my wallet on our provisions and so I remained silent. Now I really was lost, penniless in the middle of the desert and my phone was 7%.




A Novel – When Hungry I Read

February 20, 2016




When I woke I was alone in a tent untouched. The heat had returned from the cold. The photographer had finished off sleeping in the vehicle, to dream without caution. I climbed from my rest and was already considering the evolution of pain. What I needed was psychosomatic medicine to ease the symptoms of a life. My brain and body hurt, my lumbar at best poor. And just as water molecules evaporate in the icebox leaving the mystery of depleted cubes of ice, my liquid energy too had dissolved.

My companion had already brewed mint tea made out of what water there was. The tea sat on the engine part of the vehicle waiting for me. The fire of the night had gone out as if someone had thrown a dry black paint ball at a beautiful yellow canvas. I was not hungry, I was never hungry. Hungry reminds me of men, they are good at this and in feats of engineering. I lit the first and I was buzzed by it. I needed to pee. I had words but I was deprived of their meaning by the longitude of my fatigue. My companion messed around with the tent, folding it, lifting it and squeezing the life out of it. The breeze was already sweeping away the sand as if I had never been there at all. We were being rubbed out. Time was on the move. Today I would try and find the things I thought I had dreamt. The artist must entice the world to bend to their provocation, to its originality. We must never bow to the masses but lift them. Anything else is not art but sales. Learn that today. If you give people what they want you grow rich. If you give people what they don’t know, they grow richer.

Behind the tailpipe of the brute I squat and pee. I smell of asparagus. I walk a little, stretch, arch my soul and sip the tea. I remembered walking through a graveyard as a child, a child’s graveyard, and laying my head on a little bump of bunting covered earth. What must we go through to feel nothing? Some say more, some say less. I can still hear what I thought that tiny hill of ground was saying to me. ‘Life is no alternative.’ Later I spoke to my companion quietly through the window of the beast but he did not seem to hear me. His eyes were closed; I looked at his face as it rested while waiting for me; he was young, twenties, wore a jazzy little beard on his chin and it suited him should ever he take it off. Christmas last, when I met some King and Queen at their palace made of crystal, I had been introduced to their son. He had the same set beard but nothing in the eyes, he had tried to seduce me as if I were just more riches given. My brain makes connections of tenuous things. It is a tool to complicate the ordinary. I thought it was the worst job going being him, the pseudo-majestic. He was as pompous and empty as the education regime that had kept from him all life’s necessary gifts. He was like a mortal God, he knew we wanted to believe in him, but ultimately did not. As people, the King and Queen were culturally learned, and from fabulous things, but they were as unloved as me. They had met everybody and it seemed could do nothing with it to benefit mankind. I cupped my breasts in my hands; it was good to hold me.

You can get rich but you cannot get love in the same way. In my line of work love is what you keep in reserve to dance with.

The strain in her slender neck was the end of a leading career for the principal dancer and the beginning of mine. She would dance again but never in the same capacity. I, her understudy, had replaced the prima ballerina’s steps in the performance and from my success I continued to lead. They wrote of me as her natural successor and her suicide was assured. And even at such a simple age it began to appear, that I was instrumental in the fate of others. The effect of me touched people, sometimes as a cure, sometimes as a curse and sometimes just the art of a simple dancer.

The fuel station was the first sign of life we had seen all morning. I pulled in and slipped out to stretch my legs. There was stiffness in my eyes that had not occurred to me before. I bought toothpaste, cigarettes and a bottle of water. Ordered espresso but no one knew what it was. They said there was a diner a thousand miles away. I was sure there was.

I drank water heavily, leaned into the sun and closed those eyes behind my sunglasses. No more than a little moment mirage, to pepper the day in dreaming. And there I found myself a place to get lost in and entered it wholly. Around the waterfall, sumptuously carved people had been and left for me the froth of their lives to play in. I released my companion from the chains I held to see if he could fly, he took his camera and shot where light was compromised. As he disappeared I pulled off my clothes and dived in to the waterfall. Beneath the surface tension the acoustics of water heaved and mooed. Like amniotic fluid it calmed my sensors and blurred my perceptions and at its surface it lapped at my breast rivets. I came out of the water and swung my body to those glorious ghost rhythms inside of me. It was a seductive, a meditative instinct. I dried in the air without chill. I ached between my legs for his passion. I dropped back into my body and climbed into the driver’s seat and my companion said,

“Where are we heading?”

We were in the middle of a strangled heart where compliments were hard to believe; where we needed to change the way we make love.

“You can only make love to a stranger once,” I told him.

In my life I danced and things around me improved in the same way that some people take to working. Art makes people free; work is the parasitic form of this. All people looking for something are looking for art without knowing it; it is the only thing I am sure of. Money can only buy art, but it’s a poor comparison.

I did not like the music on the radio so I turned it off. Music engineered for people to dance to that has no grace is crude and purely mathematical. It is for people who do not actually enjoy music, but use it as a substance. The brute was a riot of power; such mechanical things are the way men add to the poetry of life on Earth. Beneath the sand I found a road that drove straight into the horizon. My companion had found a laptop and said someone had already hosted pages dedicated to my escape. I sensed he was being kind. He talked about the technology involved in receiving such information out there in the nowhere and my mind returned to the substance of living. People had become more fascinated with other people than with themselves and if they were not they were just selfish. Everything in the modern age is more interesting than you, even when it is not. Smile on it.

I was pregnant with a child so deadly that it could potentially kill everything that lives on the planet. I could let it go out here. Let the Earth begin a new evolution. It crossed my mind.

Let me spend the day eating bonbons.



A Novel – When Hungry I Read

February 18, 2016




Scheherazade was beautiful. I watched her dance. How gracefully she removed the angles from her body and made them curve and flow. She was how I imagined love would feel. Dedicated and determined to dance, we shall all ache and suffer in watching her. Nobody touched the floor more lightly. She had perfected the vertical line; this woman shall fall upon the bed of all man’s desire. I was a photographer, paid to capture what it was she could do with her perfected biology. And she moved with such clarity, such definition, that to contain her in pictures was to study the stress graces themselves. Black and white are the true colours of photography, anything else is just recognised as life. The more you watch someone dance the more you learn that to live is a restless journey. She had been quoted in the press recently as saying that she found the more she spoke the less people knew her, and they had printed it for everyone to read and add in the continuum. But she could dance and with it tell stories; she spoke the language of our bodies. I could smell the puff of moisture she left in the air as she danced through it. Let her smell like a woman, not a lady. With my camera I held what other people missed. In art school we used to say photography makes people see. As a photographer I told the truth. All of life is art, careful how you see it. Scheherazade made what wasn’t there appear. I held her for a moment and she was gone. This was the view from finely tuned eyes.

The press conference had been scheduled in for weeks in voluptuous buildings out in the heat of the city. They were promoting the dance ‘Unrecognised Legislators of Man’ (those who speak for the world but have no ambition to govern) and a book of photographs to accompany the music by The Heroin Jazz Orchestra. It was to commemorate the finishing of the war. The war was over. ‘Everyone lost,’ she had said to the press in tears. But it had only been replaced by another, a more profitable, a far more aggressive strain and as much as we all wanted to think the artists of the world had become the voice of an anti-war generation, we knew ultimately we were not. Politics shall see to that. And as much as we tried to focus on the end of that war, we had in a way all been made redundant, superseded by the beginning of the next. The dancer bowed down her head to this and I photographed her in sorrow.

And so Scheherazade stood up in an interview, dropped the mic and walked. Leaving nothing but a bunch of bored reporters with a better story than the one they came to write. And in her exodus to their enquiring lies, whatever she was about to embark on I followed. Following was in a photographer’s qualification. Maybe she could no longer be congratulated for a war that really wasn’t over, maybe the artist (this artist) needed to draw a line of perspective above the bullshit of contractual obligations. They had asked impertinent questions about her private life and it outsold all conflicts. Nobody seemed to care about the war, about all that hurt anymore. The wretched art of life she called it. It was well documented in the press how she trampled her way through life if only to get the required response, but they did not see the good she did. ‘The Prima Donna Show’ they called it. They all loved to loathe her, but at that precise moment the balance tipped, she stood up and walked away. It was like walking away from an argument that didn’t matter. It didn’t matter… this was the highest form of argument resolution!

The media was such a bitch to her and she didn’t work it well. Celebrity is the true death of the imagination she had told the press. People were dumb enough to believe in people they didn’t even know, written by people who didn’t believe in what they wrote. Scheherazade had become whatever people thought she was. But she didn’t need to exist anymore in the warmth of a hotel reception. Maybe to be forgotten is the only way forward. As for me, I followed her with my camera as she sped from her artistic collapse out into the light and heat.

She blipped the doors of a magnificent all terrain vehicle and we climbed in. I said nothing, waiting for her to scream at me to get the fuck out! After a moment quiet she started the engine and drove out of the city as if she had a plan. I said nothing, could not believe she had allowed me an audience, an intimate space with this devilish creature. What was running through her mind, what was bleeding through her brain? The controls around her seemed so massive next to her slight dancer’s frame. Scheherazade messed around with the gears she hadn’t quite mastered and huffed, irritated by it. She thumped on the steering wheel unlike a man, annoyed with herself not it or them. I was quiet by her side; it crossed my mind that she didn’t even know I was there. She panted, physically changing the stress of the air with her control, calming her soul and remarkably mine. I wanted to live around the corner of her mouth. The radio found the world we were about to leave, its details no more than opinion now. The heat was unbelievable in there and I fiddled with the air conditioning and she didn’t even turn her head. She took out her cigarettes and smoked. She was fixed and unaccountable.

My girlfriend was back in her apartment on the sane side of life waiting for me to finish and fly back to her. We were about to start living together; it was of course the natural progression from casual to permanence. I didn’t much like the statistics of marriage; I have always believed to not marry would improve the figures. She was a palaeontologist and liked it most when we cycled into the mountains and I took what she called dirty pictures of her. I had once photographed her vaginal pubic hair that she had had printed in seven pairs of her knickers. It was a palaeontologist thing I didn’t really understand, she mocked. I was sure we would grow old but right now I was being driven into the middle of nowhere with a dancer getting lost in something I had no control over. I had artistic licence that allowed me to follow certain creative freedoms. I could write off tempestuous actions as someone else’s cause if I got the picture. Yet always, unfortunately, the freedoms I followed belonged to other people. I followed. I had come to terms with what I was. But I had an alibi for what it was I was doing now and I would hang on to it just as long as I could. You flatter yourself if you believe photography can be learned.

I waited patiently beside her for the artist to recognise me, perhaps to hear her sultry little voice. Hers was the voice in a whisper. Whispers do not have a recognised pitch. Her words; shrouded in mystery.

Scheherazade tore me from the life I was living and dragged me out into the desert of heat and cold. Then suddenly she wound down her window and yelped and screamed into the desert air the shocking sound of her inner relief. The wandering refugees on the roadside shouted back and she threw her jewellery to them and a book to read. Her internal inhibitors were not as restricted as mine, my heart still cold in comparison. And then she looked at me and for the first time smiled, as if she knew. I could have sworn two people were having the exact same moment, differently.



A Novel – When Hungry I Read

February 18, 2016




A day is twenty-three hours and fifty-six minutes long.  Forget what you think you know.

As the sun left that particular day it took with it every bit of heat. You don’t see dark like this anymore. The modern world had forgotten how to be night. But here, out here in the desert, a total blackness came on like the prelude to light, pressing itself into the meat of you. Suffocating your breath until you become it, until you fall deeply into its sleep. And with it a deafening silence awoke in me, as if someone had turned up the night. I opened my eyes.

Above me the star-sprinkled sky so inspired by heaven looked on, an aid in my moral perpetuity. I danced lit in moon-glow and I cried a little in doing so. Then the desert graced me in sound. The miracle of life speaks above the silence. Nature has sent many more potential victims than predators. Predator or victim, decide which one you are and go be the best of it. But out there you could feel the sheer power of both. I was at the mercy of my wild and nervous behaviour. To be above nature’s requirement is how we define being civilised and I was sick of it, sick with it. Gone were the industrial things my life had become so endured by, forced into simplicity from. I lay a while on cool sand wrapped in woollen garments, looked up at that planetarium of light and wondered what worlds were out there. What were the secrets the universe was not giving up? What was left to know? Where was God? Who was I? Where does it all go? Will it ever end? Why me?

I had gotten off the mad road late that afternoon and wandered into the sand hills of the desert in a vehicle so bullish and powerful that nowhere could escape that tramp in me. In the back of the brute I had locked cases of my past. I carried them; sometime soon it would be time to leave them behind. But for now I just needed distance, to become mothered by the morning dew of this full and beautiful world. I craved arousing things that could bring me to where I was heading. Between apes and man are the ugly automated people I have been touched by, the people I deal in, this pornographic vision of love. Their purpose was for sale, they were not of creative affairs; if this is so, then you are born from the hounds of diplomacy. But no more can I take the strain just to live this life. Let me scream it with the might of my body until my uvula dances freely.

“This is not progress!” And from here I will carry my own bags; my libido no more in masquerade, now I must become what is too long subdued.

Travelling light had never been easier. The technologies could do everything but feed me where I was at my hungriest. In the city I had become a name, a provider; I was insured legs to stand upon. But how they mourn with unopened matriarchal gifts. In necessary times we find the strength in that which is already there. So I come to this day to see for myself what calls at my window when I dream.

My companion is made of a certain chemistry that fills in the parts I lack. And at the same time it is as if my companion does not exist and I am forgetful around that. We have lived together now for twenty hours. We shared water but did not need to talk. We had both been in the press conference together and left in full flow, without a word between us. We had walked away from the highly polished vertical stones that proclaimed in foolishness that the man-made world was here to last. I could take no more of that, and so I left and climbed into the heavy-duty carrier. For too long I have known the singularity of this day. But when we know tomorrow as today the human prospect has already accepted its demise. Free the prison, free the mind and free your conditioned perspective. All three are best served without compass or conclusion. If I had intended to disappear it was subliminal. This was no more than a movement that takes you somewhere without you knowing it, the highest form of impulse. Escape has the same madness as love or lust. Everywhere mapped has already been explored; I was about to draw a map of my own path.

“It would take us a thousand years to see what we are today”, I whispered to my companion.

I passed the inhabitants of this their desert world and asked for directions to a place I did not know how to find. They obliged me with skinny pointing fingers, like summer sticks. Go until you become uncomfortable with what you once were. I understood. Keep an ear to your soul and be ready to kiss their knuckles in thanks. And I left them with gifts of gold and words the professor used. I grew a need to feed their Gods at the mouth of the mountain but maybe I would come back this way. Maybe one day I would throw my bags into their volcano.

The nomadic found my photographer and me that first night and gave us tinder with which to light warming fire. We swapped unknown languages; we tried at communication harder than that of the known words. They talked and referred to the skies with gestures of love and kin. They passed around some type of root that I sucked which at first made my lips tingle and then my lips disappeared from the feel of my face. And into view fell the things that until that moment I had not seen with enough clarity. And I knew I would get bloody and savour it. I knew only how to be scared of the people born in cities. As I looked through the fire the people I sat with were leaving, my companion and I remained alone. Into the night they rode on horses, into a darkness through which they did not seem to fear what they could not see. To run free and at speed into total darkness shall open both time and mind. Life is unfinished.

It was here we found our secrets, my companion and I. It is in my smell, it is caramel, it rolls down my curves, my unfinished lines. I am twenty-nine years old and a ballet dancer. Close your eyes and open your mind so I can explain the truth. My name is Scheherazade, and I am a woman.





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