CHESTER: Tome of Time

Glaciers of dust covered the yellowed document. It was bound with loops of age dulled stainless steel.

“It’s a script.” Seamus turned a page, his mouth moving, silently at first, but slowly diecibeling into an awed whisper. “…they stand in the ancient chamber, looking…”
“Look! Our names are in it.”
“We’re a story. The threads that bind.”
“Let’s read from it.”

The party is startled by the old man’s cackle. Chester is startled.
SEAMUS: The party is startled by the old man’s cackle. Chester is startl-
CHESTER: (nervously) Who’s that?

The party search the shadows.

UNCLE: (cackling still, mirthlessly) The monster’s afraid! Ha-ha! Which came first, the chicken or egg, Chester?
SEAMUS: Who are you?
VOGINA: Such a dreadful voice!
OLD MAN: It’s played out, the drama. I’m oh so tired.
CHESTER: How do you know my name?
OLD MAN: It’s written in the book.

OLD MAN walks up to the manuscript and lets his finger linger along its length, looking intently at SEAMUS who fidgets uncomfortably.

OLD MAN: A lifetime like no other. A wealth of experience. A Tome of Time. My bones are weary, my hands palsied.

OLD MAN spreads his hands which tremble violently.

SEAMUS: You look very familiar, (looking at the script) Old Man.

UNCLE emerges from the shadows. A soft shard of music, the scrabble of little rat feet, the hiss of unaccustomed breezes through cobwebs. He flanks OLD MAN, who laughs excitedly. VOGINA’S eyes widen with shock.

CHESTER: You! (dead hand flashing with green grace towards the revolver at hip)

OLD MAN steps in front of UNCLE and intercepts the deadly trajectory. A small red rose smelt of iron blooms from his heart.

OLD UNCLE: (blood flecked lips moving like a young butterfly’s tentative flutterings) My part ends at last, and I bow out, if not very gracefully. Good-by! Good-by!

CHESTER: (tears gel at his eyes and slime down his cheeks like deranged slugs) Jesus! I’m sorry!
UNCLE: It’s all right. It’s in the book, isn’t it, my friend?

CHESTER sobs, the workings of his phlegmatic lungs visible through a hole in his chest. UNCLE smiles down at OLD MAN and gingerly places his body onto the cold floor. OLD MAN is wearing a peaceful smile.

CHESTER: I don’t know what came over me! I-I just saw something… I thought I had forgotten.
UNCLE: My dear Vogina. It’s your cue.
VOGINA: W-what?
UNCLE: Ahh, wonderful. Right on script. You’ve got excellent theatrical timing. Please do continue.

VOGINA peruses the book, blanches as she reads her previous lines and searches for something to say. Once she gets started, her eyes abandons the script, knowing it’s all in there, all that’s to be said. CHESTER is wandering aimlessly, torn inside at his display of senseless violence.

VOGINA: Why are we here? (Accusingly, narrowing her eyes)You aren’t really a PR agent, aren’t you?

SEAMUS: What? You know her?

UNCLE AKA FLASHBULB B. GETTER sniggers. With a flair, he bows gracefully.

FLASHBULB: Yes, and no. Vogina, m’dear, I am your PR agent, amongst other things.

FLASHBULB steps astride SEAMUS to whisper into his ear. VOGINA haarumphs and crosses her arms, jiggling disconsolately.

FLASHBULB: (breath hot on SEAMUS’ ear) I hired you for the botch.
SEAMUS: (whispering) Jesus!
FLASHBULB: Otherwise she wouldn’t have had the mettle to do this. Now, quick! Don’t let her read the book. She mustn’t suspect.

VOGINA is eyeing the book, having just figured out a way to overhear the conversation, but SEAMUS intercepts the book before she can do anything about it. She haarumphs some more and stares at CHESTER, who is still shuffling in no particular direction.

FLASHBULB: (mocking ceremonial voice) You must go into the hinterlands. I tis written.
VOGINA: Fuck you! I’m done with you telling me what to do!

FLASHBULB snickers. His eyes holds wisdom, and his smile reveals it came with heavy cost.

FLASHBULB: My dear… (he spreads his hands) It matters not what you do. It’s impossible to deviate from the script.

FLASHBULB laughs again.

FLASHBULB: I’ve got something for you, Chester.

FLASHBULB raises a large satchel, opens it up to pull out a large zip-loc bag filled with a greyish almost liquid.

FLASHBULB: Brains! If you’re careful, this can last you weeks.
CHESTER: Where did you get them?
FLASHBULB: (spreading his hands wide, snickering) This here, my friend, is evidence that hardened criminals are really, in fact, softies deep down inside. The cream inside the hard filling, heh heh.

And they begin to close the book—

CHESTER: Close the book, already. It’s written.
SEAMUS: It just says that we begin to close the book.
CHESTER: As it should, expecting that you are going to close the book.

As Chester and Seamus argue about the closing of the book, Vogina growls and stalks to the book, grabbing it with angry grubby fingers—

SEAMUS: I was reading that!
VOGINA: Come off it already.
CHESTER: Yeah, Seamus.

Seamus closes—

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Bits and Pieces of Death

They found him keeled over and clutching a white gilded mushroom. He stirred and said, “I just wanted to taste a destroying angel…”

Before the deployment, his father gave him an engraved silver lighter for luck. It was his grandfather’s. He kept it in a chest pocket and pulled it out occasionally to smoke a spliff. During an exchange of gunfire a bullet caught him right in the lighter. His father received from the military a package containing a mangled silver lighter and soot covered dog tags.

The barrel was cold in his mouth. When he pulled the trigger it clicked. He was curious what it felt like to have a gun in his mouth. He pulled the trigger again. Then again. And for the last time, an overlooked bullet punched through the roof of his mouth and severed his spinal cord. His friends and family were astonished and said things like ‘He was so happy’ and ‘I don’t understand how this could have happened…’

It hung belly up in its bowl of water. It lay stiff and cold in the cage, its eyes and mouth grimaced open, its long ears a-lop. Its purr dwindled off to silence. After a series of small barks its rise of breath shuddered into non-motion. He sat in his deathbed and removed the tubing that crowded his arm and died happily.

Bicycle Diaries

The trail is hedged by oak boughs of many varieties. I careen down this lash of asphalt through the small, false backyard wilderness of the suburb. My spine tingles as my rear wheel rattles alarmingly and a grin scimitars my face as the prospect of being a red stain on stone manifests itself exhilaratingly. A couple of bearings are missing, but what the hey! it keeps my mind off my mind. haha what a pun!

A pair of signs loom as I approach. One lies on its side. Bold black paint on bright, rusted orange proclaims a detour. I don’t listen and follow the path until it gradually curves into disrepair. It leads to a forty meter corridor which span a ribcage of municipal architecture. The bike path that traverses its cool shade is abandoned to progress; instead of the usual asphalt, it is a bone-rattling expanse of stone salved with concrete that resemble the organic, organized chaos of a wasp’s nest. Sitting on a comfortable lump of concrete I imagine to be cooling magma, I am ironically and utterly alone. Forgotten sodium lamps glitter newly where the sunlight sneaks in the gap between constructs. The ground rumbles from above: the freeway is lusty today. It’s a Saturday after all. I get up and walk to the median and urinate feely on the stones, all the while chuckling to myself, for reasons difficult to fathom.

At the base of the Locust tree is the mangled remains of a squirrel. It looks almost mummified. I wonder why it clutches a broken D.A.R.E. ruler in its jaw and paws. A Budweiser lies in pieces around its stiff person.

I sit on this flat sheet of decayed concrete studded with large lumps of gravel, the detritus of the massive construction projects that never seem to finish. The City claims it is soil erosion prevention, but the excess leads me to believe that creek beds are just convenient places to put the waste products of new roads. But nature adapts beautifully to progress and renders urban decay with a multitude of crawling, scrabbling, slithering homes. I frighten a snake and it slips with sinuous panic into the sparkling current, a ribbon of chaotic motion with a definite vector, to peer from a patch of algae. Oh, how it waits, immobile in the bright rushing!

The water’s always appealed to me. Never staying in one place is something I think about often these days. The least I can do now is run in place while the scenery moves me. A battery of birds frolic on bobbing branches.

I am happy, at least for the moment.