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... each speaking in a distinctive voice and with intense emotion as love
and sex, violence and humour, anger
and pathos meet in a kaleidoscope of human comedy and tragedy
All I could think about was should I go up to him and say Are you
my father? Did you ever donate your sperm to a clinic in London?
Why? Why did you do it? Why did you leave me? Why have you never
tried to find me? Kitchen Table
Cause you beautiful. You the most beautiful girl I ever seen. With yo shiny straight hair and yo big eyes and red lips. An the pretty clothes you wear. I wan you from the first day you walk by our door. You was with some of yo friends, laughin and that. It was a hot day and you was in a tight black top and short skirt and you looked so good.
“Foucault? French philosopher, wasn't he?” I said. With a second in linguistics, not to mention naturally blond hair, self-supporting 36D Moet and Chandon and hips described by my personal bank assistant as the nemesis of SW1, I was, as ever, determined not to let Roger entirely dominate our intercourse.
By chance my fingers brushed your hand and by intention, as we stared into infinity, your fingers claimed mine. A touch so light and strong. My heart thudded, then disappeared. We were alone. I took you in my arms and we fell into a waltz that led us into the air to dance on clouds and sunshine, my arm around your slender waist, your breasts nestling into me, your hand, your beautiful, long dark hand, on my shoulder, all possessing me and yielding to me as we swirled over London and the shadow of my once shallow life.
I have known and loved you for years, for centuries, for millennia. I have known and loved you since before knowledge and love, since before sight, before sound, before touch, before memory. I have known and loved you with every cell that has ever birthed and died in my body. I have known and loved you since you were me and we were one.
Ten million years
When I came down, my body cleansed, my garments new, my affairs in order, I sat by the unlit fire and resolved to pray. But my eyes would not close, so afraid I was of the darkness besieging my spirit. I tried Our Lord's Prayer, but the words died and I could form no others. Into the silence came, not my pleas for strength and forgiveness, but a slow crescendo of mockery from the portraits of my predecessors and their benefactors that surrounded me. As you abandon God, they whispered, whispered, so we abandon you.
Think there's a new man on my route. I ain't seen him, but pickings been low the last few days. Don't begrudge him what he gets, but I hope he moves on soon. I was getting used to ten, twelve bucks a day. That and hitting the blood bank now and then, kept me going. Eight bucks is cutting it fine. Gotta drop something, like fruit or smokes. That or start begging. All my life I ain't asked nobody for nothing. Don't aim to start now.
First and Fiftieth
All I heard and saw was you, five foot ten, slim and handsome on the outside, quiet, determined and considerate on the inside. Pigheaded too, but it took me time to find that out. Anyhow, you waited till I was seated and had my skirt tucked safely under me, then you got in, pulled down the safety bar and, without asking, took my hand and held it. I guess you wanted to reassure me. You reassured me all right, but not in the way you think. It wasn’t the roller coaster I was uncertain of. It was you.
Colours are different at night. Under the roadlamps everythin's orange. Above them everythin's black. Navy blue. There must be stars, but ah cannae see them. The cars are all orange, jist different shades. They whoosh out fae under us an disappear into the night, goin so fast ye'd think they were daein a hundred or more. Like spaceships on the attack. Ye cannae even see their taillights. Night Traffic
Pokhara sure was a sight for sore eyes. After two weeks in the mountains Ulli and I were dying for a hot shower, a comfortable bed and a Klo you could sit on. Not to mention a fresh supply of sanitary towels. It's a small town on a lake, no Club Med, but at least it was flat and the restaurants served semi-decent food. And it had tourists our age; tourists who'd heard of Nirvana - the group.
Homophobia, darling, is rampant in this office. You can smell it the moment you walk in the door, like a rugby player's used jock-strap. And believe you me, if I had to sniff any sportsman's sweaty drawers, rugby players would come right down the list, just above women's cricket. That'll give you an idea how bad the homophobia is.
All I had to do was make her like me. She wouldn’t like the guy I was, but let me tell you - and it’s not easy, I’m laying it on the line here - I didn’t think much of myself either. Talk too much, could lose a few pounds, stuff like that. But we’ve all got someone better inside us. It just takes time to dig him out. Well, I swore that’s what I’d do. Become the kind of guy that a woman like her would like.
Women respect you for keeping up standards. Especially around here. They know how tough it is. Joanna next door, the one with three kids and the husband that drinks, she always compliments me. So does Betinha, the one with the small shop. She's had more than her share of life's troubles. One man shot by the police, another doing time and problems with her health. Won't say what, but you can tell it's serious. She understands what I've been through.
My wife is becoming an old woman. At night she snores.
In the morning she gets up slowly. She has many pains.
She complains about many things. I love her, but we are not
intimate. Sometimes I want to be, but she tells me I am too slow,
too heavy. Other men would beat their wives if they refused,
but a woman is not a cow to strike when she fails to follow the path.
A woman is a strange creature, weak where men are strong and strong
where men are weak. We men need women. All women should be honoured because they give men life. All women, especially young women. Especially my daughter.
The Last Saturday in May
We were the older generation who strolled in an hour or so after the daily routine of lunch, shopping or, for one or two, the gym. Perched on stools around the crescent-shaped bar, we watched our favorite films from the forties and fifties, pronounced on the failings of politicians, film stars and others in the day's news, and encouraged Richard, the impossibly twenty-three year old barman, to invent ever more outrageous cocktails. We stayed until surrounded by more strangers than acquaintances or until the door swinging open revealed that the last of the stores across the road had closed, then by ones or twos we drained our glasses and returned home to the companionship of a lover, a pet or a memory.
Ben and Joe's
"Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain.
Sometimes you talk.
Tell your story if you've a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things.
Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened.
Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody's story's true. Not yours, not mine. But it's all we've got."