Saturday, May 23, 2009

6flashbacks : Jamais vu

Mud as a carpet, the excited chatter of birdsong, light scattered through trip switch branches. He strained and stretched from a heavy sleep shaking the biting sparks of pins-and-needles from his hands. Dense quiet surrounded him, the silence preceding the heavy chorus of a storm. In the dissolving instant recollection of dreams faces and voices entwined into silence, uncertainty melting through the certainty.

===

The man who looked like Sean jogged over the three lanes of traffic, raising a hand at the driver who sounded his horn. Sean opened the newsagent door to allow someone pass; the electronic signal meeting the car-horn with opposing pitches. Sean flicked through the stack of magazines and newspapers with non-committal routine. There was a plan in this, a reason, something entered into his mind by the whispered voices of fate and predestination. He smiled an awkward greeting to the squat, balding Indian man sitting behind the counter, who reached to the bottles behind him without turnout around, shrill female voices on a hidden tape-recorder. The man who looked like Sean patted his trouser pockets to feel for the precious papers: Sean bought a lottery ticket

===

You thought it was logic? What the Hell are you talking about?
Can't you just let me finish, please, honestly...
Oh don't 'honestly', you're unbelievable
But, please...I thought it made sense, I just...
Don't say anymore, please, look my Dad is coming
to pick me up and he doesn't really want to see you, really,
so let me pack and...
I just want to explain!
You have! And you're talking rubbish, so I'm not listening anymore.

===


Cooksy was confused by the man who looked like Sean boarding a train to Manchester Airport. He tapped out a text message which Sean would never receive, having long since had his mobile phone contract disconnected. The man who looked like Sean flicked through the tickets and papers in his hand, each as valuable as the next.

Sean hated the quiet of his room, the silence amplified by his wariness to breathe too deeply, a childhood fear related to somehow blanking out the sound of growls or sneers from under-the-bed monsters. Held out in the emptiness a translucent frozen image from recent dreams; the pouring of honey-coloured liquid into misshapen bottles, faces from strangers distorted with voices stolen from distant memories. The morning dragged itself like a petulant child desperate to stay away from a parent. Sean padded from his bed to pee, shaking bottles on the way to find one with liquid swishing in the bottom; voices from arguments swam through the chilled air, her voice and his voice, his argument and her reasoning. Honesty and embellishments unbalanced in a failed gamble.

===

Fate inhaled the fumes, sharing the joint and straight whisky with Sean in generous gulps. Sharp claws nipped his skin in the attempted friendly embrace. Warm encouragement in every word, the spiced cinnamon smoke warming the lungs. Love has no definition, said Fate, make of it what you will. She will understand, she will "get it", you know she will. Sacrifice, the ultimate showcase of devotion. Everything is perfect now, you know that, why ruin everything? Think of this is a greater test of your relationship that anything obvious like another man or moving away or any of that shit. She will understand if this all works out.

Sean caught his reflection in the far mirror. Shirtless, sitting cross-legged, studying the pieces of paper in his hand. His chest had relaxed its muscles and toning, his biceps seemed disproportionate now, inappropriate. Her hands ran across his body, she kissed his neck, asked "Ya'rite?" in the chippy, cheery manner of hers. This was the memory he cherished: the ordinary, the usual. When logic was linear, when thoughts were of love, and devotion, and caring. No games to be played in the twisted uncertainty of love. He swigged another mouthful of whisky, the heat pounding his chest and burning through his thoughts. The piece of paper in front of him was embalmed in heat, flames consuming it without hesitation. Lines drawn from his room into and through the clouds and sky, lines of past and present and future, diverted and diverged, memories wrapped into fantasies, worries into thoughts.

====

Sean, my Dad's here. You okay?
Yeah, yeah, cheers, just...
Yeah, cool...Well....
I don't know what to say. Sorry?
Look...I'll catch you later, I really have to go. You've got the numbers
of some people, there's help out there, Sean.
Thanks...Would you accept "thank you" ?
See you around.

====

Fate watched the dreams and fantasies of a future filter through Sean's dream. Smashed light of flashbulb memories turned roads into airport runways, faces into distorted masks, sunshine into dark. Noise confused and contrived sucked out the meaning from individual words, the grand cacophony reduced to the hiss of a detuned television at the bottom of a drain. Sean saw reason in the logic, in testing the perfection of his affair. A woman with too little make-up and fading tan called out the first number; "Twenty-three!". The ticket in Sean's hand said "32". Well done, well done, good work, keep going. "Seven! Lucky for some, maybe for you?" Sean's ticket read "35". He slugged more drink down his throat, smiled at the dancing, morphing numbers in front of him. Logic was dictating, reason and decision. This made sense; she would accept the clarity in his words. She would have too. They loved each other, he was absolutely sure of that, he would raise a glass to them at any invitation.

===

Sean stumbled out from the woods adjacent to the park. Dawn smeared grey-silver clouds across the sky, reflected in the still river below. He recognised her face, hidden partially behind her hair; she was smiling.

You did sleptwalk, silly.
Ugh, right, what happened?
I saw you though the window, good on me for
not putting curtains up yet.
I could have slept on your sofa!
My Dad...Look, I spotted that copper who knows you,
he kept an eye on things. You okay?
Confused.
You phoned Greg? He's looking forward to seeing you again.
No I...My mouth is dry, you got any water?
Just water, yea. No mixers, sorry
Har-har. I can't remember what I drank...I mean...
Don't worry about it, look, as long as you're okay...
Are you...?
Yea, yea, I'm fine. Just look after yourself, keep smiling.

====

The man who looked like Sean took of his shirt, sat cross-legged, span the empty bottle in absent minded fidgeting. He caught his reflection in his mirror, his aging body and worn face. A smile stretched the skin, he hated the wobble in the chin. He tapped her letter against his hand; he knew what it would say, there was no point in opening the envelope. Something about the dreams, both real and those drawn in lazy picnics on beaches. Something about the drink, no doubt. Taking too much of a gamble, too many liberties, only so many times you can expect help. The man who looked like Sean took his cigarette lighter to the letter, consumed by the black-silver tiger-stripe skin of heat, eaten by flames. Lines drawn through the histories invented in his deep thoughts crossed and twisted, flew in circles and circled the sky. All the dreams and nightmares had been invented by his imagination, fueled by flame and drink. The man who looked like Sean had lost but he had learned, that was something to concede, he knew that. Gambles rear their head but rarely win.

Love and loss and all that is obvious. I didn't know what I was doing. Just invented something to be worried about, and took the chance. My head can be held high, the dreams and all that keep it balance, they're like ballast, I suppose. Here's to keeping my head high!


The man who looked like Sean raised a glass of fruit juice, nodded his head, and smiled.