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WEIRDMONGER
Monday, 3 November 2008
Chloe's Elbow

 

CHLOE’S ELBOW by Dawn Andrews and DF Lewis

 

This scene runs over and over, luminous, although its edges have dissolved in time like a sugar cube in tepid water. There is a beach, sand glassy and brittle under a huge sun, a blazing supernova. How we met. She was drowning. I was there. "Look, don't struggle – I'll help you if you let me!" Her arms flailing, her elbow in my eye, the crack of bone on bone. Then she relaxed – the shiner she gave me. How come such a little squirt could bruise me so easily? After I finally managed to haul her out of the water we both lay on the sand, panting and exhausted, as if we had been having sex for ten hours. Straight.

 

They lingered, those tale-telling violet marks I had to constantly explain away. I claimed it was a riding accident that I had suffered from off the back of some godforsaken unbroken steed masquerading as a child’s near-pony of a pet. When I forgot the story and replaced it with another figment of my imagination (being lodged against a car by another car) I must have become the world's most accident-prone man overnight, my wife acidly commented. Yet I hated it when they faded. After she died, I'd even pinch myself to recreate them, then cry my eyes out.

 

How much can be reanimated, from the past? If I save another struggling girl, out of her depth, will it be the same? I keep wondering if I can make it happen again. Change the ending – all still passionate and very alive. I begin to see where Doc Frankenstein was coming from. And the freak with the living doll, Coppelia. Hey, doc. Cop a load of this! Cop? Dr Coppelius. That was his name. Swanilda – well, that was a different story. She played fast and loose with all puppet-masters, at the best of times, give or take the omniscience of Him who could only create her as a human, let alone a puppet. Give a man a break.

 

But she never did. Demanded perfection, always. The pure line of the jaw, not a bone out of place. Only her enigmatic sexuality saving her from the scrap heap of miscellaneous parts, piling up in the basement, awaiting incineration. Of course, her flirting ways were a constant threat, and maddening to her creator. She finally went too far. Lost the game. Snake eyes! Chloe had fractured her elbow. My wife, Swanilda, did die – I wasn’t sure, looking back at my notes, whether Chloe had died, or Swanilda had died: certainly one of them had done so. By composing fictions (like a latter day Borges), I have thrown up the luck charms and they’ve come down as dice. Chloe is the winner. Cube dice chipped off her old elbow.

 

She lies in the grass, trying to read a book that flickers on and off in the deepening twilight. Of how Mayans made dice and other gaming tools from the bones and skins of the sacrifice victims they tortured. Chloe knows she is a winner only in name. The stakes of love are high, and losing sometimes fatal. Poor Swanilda! Her pale blue eyes still radiate calm fire, cobwebs forming between her delicate brows. Chloe is an echo of someone else. Her elbow an echo of another elbow. Perhaps her own. Let me come clean. I compose music. The notes on the staves are like puppets. Crotchets and minims bouncing along the trampoline themes, heads butting, tails twining, keys turning, quaver waves surfing. This is the tale of one special composition. Chloe's Elbow, in four movements. A reanimation of soul from sound.

 

Soul from sound. Women can live their lives out as echoes of another presence. (We puppet masters rule the game, despite minor losses.) Did you know that Chloe and Swanilda were at school together? They were rivals, even then, the games they played – Chloe was the champion gymnastic dancer, Swanilda the vaulting princess – Watch her approach at a graceful run, pleated skirt wild above white thighs as she leaps high to reveal regulation navy-blue knickers, hands firm upon the leather horse, golden charm-bracelet jingling. As are the nerves of the gamesmaster who watches, breathless. Perfect landing, all smiles. Chloe takes to the floor, dances free-style, the music swells, the pattern of the music skips and misses a beat, as the heart yearns the dance progresses, even Chopin, he of the demonic hands, has a hard time keeping up! The girl spins like a dervish. Scriabin’s piano music next, more off-the-wall than Chopin, despite the obvious similarities, does sound from the tannoy. Has a strange metallic texture, as if broadcast direct from the ballroom of a submerged ocean liner. The epic tenderness of lost pleasures. Other girls clamber over a huge webwork of wall bars in tune to some internal rhythm not made obvious by the music, yet with so many sweaty show-offs crawling thus vertically towards their imputed Heaven, there was no dimunition in the attention span of the audience of proud parents towards the antics of Chloe and Swanilda in free-style abandon: a many-handed clapping building in time to the undercurrents that several sensed the music held, if not the dancing itself. The religious frenzy that sheaths the dance Spain and North Africa, the arabic delight in rippling flesh, the beating heart, open upon the dancefloor, that the dancer responds to, evermore in tune with the audience, wielding unveiled desires.  Gymnastic dancing was relative to both performer and watcher only inasmuch as it was quite separate from either. A sculpture. A single thing called dance. The puppet-master’s vision was one that sketched their shapes in grounded free-fall without any danger to life or limb – a skein of independent images overmapping the two girls’ real attempts at the choreography in their heads. Elbows clashing, heads butting, in the overenthusiasm of their finale as a duet.

 

They cling to each other as the music ends. Dazed azure stares into greyest smoke, a painful understanding. Chloe has cuts on her hands. Swanilda'sface is scratched. Wounded by the freedom gifted to them by the music. The leather horse does not even blink. It is sleek with sweat. It imagines the future: a sea scene within its equine skull that betokens both a near drowning and the shuttling lifeforce reconfigured as music – in an attempt to stave off that watery extinction. Chloe's horse desiring to swim out, one of those horses that love to swim, at the expense of the rider who clings for dear life to a seaweed-entwined saddle, the wetness and heat of the animal neck against her face. The night before she remembers as if in a dream, the music, La Mer, waves pulse forever within the notes as if held prisoner by the mind that can sit before this immensity, and turn it into wriggling creatures of pure sound. Her mouth filled with the acrid bitterness of death, her eyes stinging pearls, full fathom five.

 

Chloe and Swanilda finally faded or still fade from any overlapping. Chloe became an artist of fine distinction. The dice came down in her favour, all manner of many-sided geometricisms that were once popular in role-playing games of the late twentieth century. She often incorporates their bone configurations in her art. Dragons and dungeons in freeform abstractions. Marienbad nuggets in random ricochets off their own surfaces as well as the ground they brushed.

 

Swanilda married Dr Coppelius. Schools are only for a meagre portion of contemporaneity. She and Chloe couldn’t possibly have gone through the whole of their lives clipping their joints in accidents of dervish or dance. Heads were not made of rubber. Clips and slaps of the skull rind would inevitably bring brain damage. Their girlish love for each other could never have borne such comings together.

 

Dr Coppelius was a dollmaker. He made Looby Loo for Andy Pandy, then created for her a soft boy called Teddy as a companion, because Andy Pandy was too preoccupied with picnic hampers. Swanilda was model for most. Her dancing was a diversion, though, since puppets or dolls rarely moved of their own volition … except perhaps, at their optimum, in dreams. Gymnastic wastrels and waifs he often ragged out into human shapes from excess bedding. He made horses into shoes, and shoes into horses. Or, boots, perhaps, bearing in mind the mane and neck and laced up jaw-bits. Vaulting was a pleasure deeper than leapfrog.

 

Meanwhile, Chloe became a long-distance swimmer, as well as an artist. She felt her elbow ends and kneecaps were safer in the water. A slomo dance of the forward crawl. She saw the coral beds as an artform she yearned to paint for real. Crags and fucus standing up on the canvas with the soft geometry of exotic airfish weaving between their furrier, seaweedier bits.

 

Chloe and Swanilda finally faded or still fade from any overlapping. Salting their melancholies. Chloe became an artist of fine distinction. The dice came down in her favour, all manner of many-sided geometricisms that were once popular in role-playing games of the late twentieth century. She often incorporates their bone configurations in her art. Dragons and dungeons in freeform abstractions. Marienbad nuggets in random ricochets off their own surfaces as well as the ground they brushed. In this way she creates scenes that turn black white and white black, the wanton feathers around her throat clinging to the possibilities of change, yet a theme that in reality had one outcome. Last year. Whatever happened? Happened. She was inconsolable, wished to forget. But in creating, only remembered with agonising clarity. More games. Swanilda married Dr Coppelius. Schools are only for a meagre portion of contemporaneity, teaching girls how to please and simper and lie. She and Chloe couldn't possibly have gone through the whole of their lives clipping their joints in accidents of dervish delight. Heads were not made of rubber. (Not yet.) Clips and slaps of the skull rind would inevitably bring brain damage, and this they could ill-afford. Their girlish love for each other could never have borne such comings together. Dr Coppelius was a dollmaker. He made Looby Loo for Andy Pandy, then created for her a soft boy called Teddy as a companion, because Andy Pandy was too preoccupied with picnic hampers. The desire for picnics usually an excuse for rural coupling, yet Andy wore an abstracted air, always. Fiddling with the salt cellar he would lie under a giant horse-chestnut, lost in the blue while Teddy and Looby Loo messed around in the licentious rhodedendrons.

 

Swanilda was a model wife. Her dancing a playful diversion, using the four-poster as a vaulting horse…. though, since puppets or dolls rarely moved of their own volition…. except perhaps, at their optimum, in dreams. Gymnastic wastrels and waifs she often ragged out into human shapes for excess bedding, although never going to De Sadean extremes. He made horses into shoes, and shoes into horses. Or, boots, perhaps, bearing in mind the mane and neck and laced up jaw-bone. Vaulting was a pleasure deeper than leapfrog. (And good for the complexion.)

 

Meanwhile, Chloe became a long-distance swimmer, as well as an artist. She dreamed of making it to the island; she knew it existed, that place where magic taints the air and the dream-capped towers, where sweet sounds drive the beasts to distraction. She felt her elbow ends, kneecaps and other sea-changed bits were better off in the water, away from civilisation, the temptations of excess. She scoured old junks shops, looking for a map. A slomo dance of the forward crawl. Even on land, now, she had the elegance of a mermaid. Like Esther Williams she kept her make-up immaculate, nobody knew how. She saw the coral beds as an artform she yearned to paint for real. Rich and Strange, as the voyages existing in the barnacled mind of Peter Grimes. Crags and fucus standing up on the canvas with the soft geometry of exotic airfish weaving between their furrier, seaweedier bits. She started to use collage, satins, laces and even the skins of rabbit and mink, to create the depth of thought she needed, then objects that only she and those closest to her could ever understand. She became 'obscure'. Moribund art dealers with care-worn moustaches would frown at her lack of monetary ambition. And she would watch her name, etched upon the sand, erased by each new tide. Then she would dance, and laugh. The freedom of being nameless!

 

Yet our names are violet marks. Not tattoos, not even everlasting bruises … from the fight or the fight against rescue from drowning. Only puppets can be tugged clear by the strings – or by the hands up their nethers.

 

The horses vaulted through the waves. Those exercising waves, stretching their meniscus curves. Allegro, Adagio, Scherzo, Allegro. Two halves of one woman tugging back at the strings that a Doctor had once pulled free. Edge to edge they re-healed their well-heeled pizzicato souls. The only cop out was not knowing where the strings ended. Brass and percussion, too. Yet the egg-timer allowed the sand free rein through the middle joint. Time to go home, Andy is waving goodbye, goodbye. Chloe’s Echo. The shiner she gave me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Posted by augusthog at 6:43 AM EST
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Brunch At The Charnel Cafe

EVENTUALLY TO BE PUBLISHED IN PRINT


Posted by augusthog at 6:40 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 21 April 2012 3:36 AM EDT
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Locker Room

EVENTUALLY TO BE PUBLISHED IN PRINT


Posted by augusthog at 6:37 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 21 April 2012 3:35 AM EDT
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Sunday, 2 November 2008
'Odalisque' by PF Jeffery (DFL's comments)

Chapter 18 – Transitions

 

A chapter of events: low-key but all events are significant and powerful in one’s destiny however low-key they seem: getting pox, but allowed to continue for whip-making purposes at the Laughing Phallus by (pragmatic but essentially, we feel, soft-hearted) Madame Scurf:  i.e. retained for whip making. A delightful chapter, where we feel Tuerqui is fulfilling the stoical philosophy of this novel and making people (otherwise bad) better than they would otherwise be.  By the power of the Goddess as well as by the omniscient tri-partite author?

 

Choice snippets from among many:

 

We could gauge the passage of time, each night, from the sand trickling through a large glass by the door.  The timepiece was invisible from the cubicles, but I looked at it each time an attendant released me from my straps.  The device was, of course, placed there for the attendants – not for the whores.  It was to ensure that customers were not allowed more time than that for which they had paid.

 

and

 

Our injections done, Madame Scurf led us through the twisting corridors, with which the Laughing Phallus was threaded like worm holes in a several months overripe cheese.  The passages brought us at last to a large dusty room which was obviously long disused.  Sunshine spilt dimly through filthy windows.  The only furniture was a collection of packing cases – all of which proved to be empty – and a small clutter of cleaning equipment.

 

and the memorable Leather Mistress monument:

 

On the far side of the market were the dark outlines of mansions and a great temple with many domes.  Dominating all was a colossal goddess, at least sixty feet high.  Although I’d never been here before, I recognised the image from a book I had thumbed in the Belle House library.  She was the Leather Mistress and we were in Leatherhead.

 

I love the following sentence but did not fully understand it (no bad thing):

 

The purple faced man – or, rather, purple with discoloured streaks – sputtered in rage whilst the street rang with laughter.

 

.......................................

Queries;

 

or whom otherwise earned the attendants’ disfavour

 

I think that ‘whom’ should be ‘who’.

 

 

relcalcitent = recalcitrant ?

 

 

I know Tuerqui is purported not to be a semi-colon girl so would not the following:

 

Each booth contained a bed, each bed was occupied by a whore, some male some female, each whore was bound to her or his bed by leather wrist and ankle straps.

 

be better as:

 

Each booth contained a bed, each bed occupied by a whore, some male some female, each whore bound to her or his bed by leather wrist and ankle straps.

 

 

Does ‘tanner’ need a footnote?

 

 

Typo:

neither glanced my direction

 

===========================================

 

Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.

 

 On this site, if you want to leave comments all you need do is type 'nospam' in confirm box and your name.

 

The links to all Chapter comments by me are here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2008/06/odalisque.html

 

 

Posted by: newdfl on 8/9/2008 8:07:51 AM , 3 comments

Submitted by Pet at 8/10/2008 5:28:17 AM

Thank you for that, Des.

The paragraph beginning "Our injections done," was one with which I had quite a struggle on the final revision. In previous versions, it was rather clumsily expressed -- but it now seems to read rather well. I'm glad that you seem to agree.

I've never been to Leatherhead, but would be disappointed to find no temple with many domes or colossal statue of the Leather Mistress.

Perhaps it is better not to understand fully the man's face -- purple with discoloured streaks.

I've looked at the sentence with "whom" and, for such a short sentence, it seems to have rather complex grammar with (I think) two subsidiary clauses. Hacking through its strange complexity, I think that you may be right -- and yet "whom" seems to read better. I haven't changed it.

By contrast, I have changed the sentence beginning "Each booth". During the final revision, it seemed to me that the book contained the word "was" at many points where it was unnecessary. In this instance, I seem to have skipped two unnecessary occurances in the same sentence. I can only ascribe this to a lack of attention on my part. Corrected now!

"Recalitrant" was the word I wanted, and I've made the change. I wonder what "relcalcitent" means? The word "relcalcitent" found its way in via the Microsoft spellcheck. It failed to suggest the correct spelling as a substitution for my mistaken sequence of letters. I think that my false spelling was "recalcitrent".

Now working on "Jane" which will have no footnotes, I'm not in the space to add more of them to "Odalisque". Actually, I'm content for "tanner" to lack a footnote. The footnotes are for the benefit of Jennifer Petrie's readers, over 800 years after Tuerqui's death. Sometimes, the notes explain things that would give a present day reader little trouble, sometimes they omit to explain possibly puzzling things. The footnotes are also a bit erratic -- "slaffilius" isn't explained until long after its first use. Perhaps a sense of delicacy held Jennifer Petrie from explaining the coarse allusion when it first occurs, perhaps she was merely inattentive.

Typo (which really was a typo) now corrected.

Thanks!

Submitted by des at 8/10/2008 5:57:26 AM

I disagree strongly with your decision on who/whom above.

"relcalcitent" only had one google hit: your blog of BONDLINGS.

Glad my comments seem generally useful to you (and others?).

Submitted by Pet at 8/10/2008 6:57:33 AM

I've taken another look at "whom", and think that my disinclination here was to make "who" the subject of two subsidiary clauses in the same sentence. I have now simply deleted the word "whom" -- the sentence seems to work well enough without it.

Perhaps "relcalcitent" is the invention of the Microsoft spellcheck.

Your comments are useful even when I disagree with them.

 

 


Posted by augusthog at 7:58 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 November 2008 8:01 AM EDT
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Monday, 6 October 2008
Cern Zoo

The enclosure was empty. The nearby cage, too.  No longer any loud meat.

 

I stared up at the invisible giraffe, gasping with astonishment. At last I believed it existed.


Posted by augusthog at 8:05 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

MY FAVOURITE BOOK IS LE NEVEU DE RAMEAU BY DIDEROT, NO PUN INTENDED by DF Lewis

 

Published 'Aabye' 1998

 

“Stop faffing about!” Flossie said.

            “What’s the problem, eh?” I managed to muster through loose teeth and porridge.

            “Go to the dentist and get your gums sorted out.  I’m fed up to the back...”  She suddenly stopped, realising what she was about to stay would have been a very bad pun, albeit an unintentional one.  The worst sort.

            “There’s more in the scheme of things, God, the cosmos, coincidences, creation, ley-lines, geomancy than worrying about nitty gritty things such as bleeding gums,” I said, grinning widely.  I hadn’t eaten real solids for quite a well.  Bread in hot milk.  Cup-a-soups.  Yoghourt.  And, yes, porridge was the most chunky stuff I could possibly manage.  But it didn’t stop my performance in other quarters.  Battering-rams and  mediæval catapults at dawn.  Nuff said?  Faff off!  But euphemisms are worse than puns.

            At that moment, Radio 3 put on Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum (if I’ve got the title right) by Olivier Messiaen (if I’ve got his name spelt properly) .  A pretty solid piece, at the worst of times.  At least, it put paid to Flossie’s nagging, because she liked it, too, if the truth were told.  Neither of us are that picky where music is concerned.  Though we do draw a line at Rameau.  No black hole intended.

 

 


Posted by augusthog at 8:34 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 26 August 2008
A Disorderly Imagination

Previous unpublished (written a number of years ago)­

 

­

Whether it was with some I-can't-posssibly-continue-living stab of pain or some I-don't-believe-this-can-be-happening-to-me rictus of rage, David listened to the news he was in the silent process of receiving from the telephone.  He'd vouch for ghosts having backbones rather than accept this incredulity.

­

            The house was silent, too, knowing, perhaps, that Melanie would never be returning to the protection of its walls.  Even the television had switched itself off.  The heating-pump was in an unaccustomed mode of thermostatic rest, depite the freezing weather.  The children had finished squabbling, in the bedrooms upstairs.  The traffic - as if it realised that it were somehow implicated in Melanie's death - was no longer conducting its rush hour trundle past the house, keeping, as it did, a tactful distance from David's consciousness as he replaced the handset in its cradle.

­

            To receive such news  from a bodiless voice almost persuaded David that he was dreaming.  Surely, with a tragic event like the sudden death of a loved one, the Authorities - police or whatever - had a duty to arrive in person and break the tidings.

­

            But everything seemed to fit somehow.

­

            David had always suffered from a disorderly imagination.

­

 

­

His three children huddled together, their disagreement abruptly forgotten under the weight of silence.  One of them had turned off the light, even though the other two were not yet ready for bed.  Their names were irrelevant in the darkness for, without faces - without, indeed, any physical shape - their need to define identity had vanished.

­

            Their disembodied voices were, absent, too, more by inertia than intention, ever since they had heard their father answering the call of the telephone.

­

            Now, they heard steady treads - their father ascending the stairs to start the tucking-in process, a nightly routine about this time.

­

 

­

Downstairs, the television screen bore a silent snow.  Evidently, the transmitter had cut out at source and the receiver had a device which automatically muted the ugly noise of no signal.

­

 

­

David climbed the stairs, his memory having short-circuited in its own autonomous effort to cut out - or, at least, blunt - the dreadful news that the telephone had brought to its owner.  Indeed, he recalled the happy days when he first met Melanie...

­

 

­

He was one of many Mods on motor-scooters - a nineteen sixties cult of sharp-dressed mohair-suited youths with molls in mini-skirts and stylish blouses - who visited the seaside resort of Hastings in 1963 despite a potential showdown with the black-leathery Rockers on huge snarling motorbikes: the latter raging through the town like supersonic beetles.

­

            One could sit on West Hill looking down at the beach covered in resting Mods - apparently conducting a pow-wow before the expected onset of Rockers. 

­

            The sea was out; so was the sun. 

­

            Blue faced blue, a rarity for England in those monochrome years of newsprint and black & white TV.  Suddenly, completely unpremeditated, the Mods, rose as one, lurched, swarmed and milled about haphazardly - radiating in more directions than those any normal circle could encompass.

­

            Which figure was David, it was impossible to judge from the top of West Hill.  Which Melanie.  Which anybody.  Perhaps it didn't matter.

­

 

­

Today, it doesn't matter; David continues to climb the never-ending stairs towards a memory of children who, if Melanie had not been killed, would have been born to fulfil a promise of bodies and bones for ghosts.  In fact, Melanie had been run down all those years ago in Hastings by a Rocker's rubber-snatching front wheel, practising drag-racing with her body as friction fodder.  So, the telephone saying it was an incident of road rage today, in 1988, rather than then, in 1963, derived from a modern dose of obscene anonymity.  1988 was an odd year.  It made the sixties seem almost sensible.

­

 

­

But who had it been watching the flailing, fleeing, flowing figures upon a distant descent of angle from West Hill?  David had spotted the black speck up there from the beach and he had guessed it was, in turn, solely intent on spotting him and the mini-skirted girl whose soft hand he'd happened to grab in the suddemn random scattering by the Mods over the yellow sands (sands which later looked so terribly grey on the television and in the Daily Express).  The girl, of course, turned into Melanie, just before her fatal brush with a Rocker's cutting-ridge rimful of spokes.

­

 

­

Hafley Clapp, as Fate would have it, was the Rocker who killed the girl with his roaring metal underswag.  The girl David would have married, given half the chance.

­

            The peculiarity was that Hafley Clapp returned into David's life in 1988 (the heyday of Margaret Thatcher).  By that time, the erstwhile stubble-cheeked, beer-bellied, bike-thrusting Rocker had transmuted into a respectable spine-doctor who David hired (through private insurance, rather than National Health) to wield osteopathic skills upon his slipped disc.  If that was not a coincidence, the fact that anyone was in a position to exercise Free Will seemed under considerable doubt.

­

 

­

David reached the landing at last - set to tuck in his three children, biting his tongue as he remembered the telephone's call.

­

 

­

David vaguely remembered seeing the Mr. H. Clapp nameplate on the spine-doctor's door.  Only doctors of senior rank could use Mr as opposed to Dr as their handle - a fact which seemed an odd tradition to David.

­

            "Come in," roared the deep voice of Hafley Clapp.

­

            Being a privare patient, there was no waiting-room.  Consultations were immediate, the secretary at her desk merely nodding him through with a knowing smile.

­

            David was indeed intrigued by Clapp's resemblance to somebody from the past, but he soon shrugged it off - blaming his own disorderly imagination.

­

 

­

If David had pursued the meanderings of his mind, he would have been able later to rehearse the likely conversation in the leisure of his own home...

­

            "Don't I know you from somewhere?"

­

            "I don't think so," said Mr Clapp as he placed his fingers firmly upon the almost fin-like ridge of David's spine.

­

            "Many years ago ... when the Beatles were never off the top of the Hit Parade..."

­

            The conversation was far too stilted to be a real one.

­

            "Well, that far too long ago for me to go back!" laughed Mr Clapp.

­

            "Yes ... I remember ... in Hastings ... weren't you riding a motorbike?"

­

            Clapp visibly blanched - as anyone could have attested given the vantage point - his fingers freezing upon David's rubbery skin.

­

            "I've never been to Hastings in my life."

­

            "I met a girl there called Melanie ... who you killed."

­

            This time the retrospectively rehearsed conversation short-circuited as if David's probing had hit a raw nerve too near the bone.  Hafley Clapp was no longer co-operating within the confines of David's memory-conduit - two memories inside the other like Russian Dolls, that of Hastings in 1963 and that of the spine-doctor's consultation room earlier in the day, that day, today, in 1988.

­

 

­

David had by now reached the first bedroom door, his hand outstretched to twist the knob.  His children were being remarkably quiet; they usually screeched and screamed as they flung rag dolls from wall to wall.

­

            David's back suddenly seized up, the way it often did.  Age had many concomitants.

­

            He couldn't move - neither towards his original shape nor to a new one with which he had intended to open the bedroom door.  Neither into the past, nor the future.  Stuck permanently in the present, with the ugly noise of no signal as sole accompaniment.

­

            But then the phone rang.

­

 

­

 

­

 


Posted by augusthog at 12:13 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 August 2008 12:19 PM EDT
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Thursday, 7 August 2008
Weirdmonger (2003) Book Bibliography

STORIES IN THE 'WEIRDMONGER' BOOK (2003) BUT NOT INCLUDED AS STORIES AVAILABLE ON-LINE:-

 

 

>The Abacus

Whispers From The Dark #14 (1995)

 

>Always in Dim Shadow

Exuberance #3 (1991)

Frisson Vol 1 No 2 (1996)

Sackcloth & Ashes #6 (1999)

 

>Angel Of The Agony

Necropolis #18 (1994)

Nasty Snips (MT Book) (1999)

 

>Apple Turnover

Dead of Night #9 (1994)

 

>Back Doubles

Black Tears #2 (1993)

Black Moon #4 (1995)

 

>Benoko

Gothic Light #7 (1993)

New Dawn Fades #14 (1995)

Hadrosaur Tales #8 (2000)

 

>Big Ship, Little Ship and Brown

Substance #2 (1995)

Stygian Articles #6 (1996)

At'mos faer (Kadath) (1997)

 

>Bloodbone

Deathrealm #13 (1991)

Best of DF Lewis (Tal Publications) (1993)

 

>Bobtail

Dementia 13 #10 (1993)

Elder Signs #1 (1997)

Dark Legacy Vol 3, i (2001)

 

>A Brief Visit to Bonnyville

The Third Alternative #7 (1995)

 

>Caretaker

Atsatrohn vol 3 no 6 (1993)

Contortions #1 (1996)

Nasty Piece of Work #11 (1999)

 

>The Chaise Longue

Gravity’s Angels (The T Party) (1998)

 

>The Christmas Angel

Grotesque #6 (1995)

Parasol Post #18 (2000)

 

>Dark They Were and Empty-Eyed

Nyx-Obscura #1 (1995)

Visionary Tongue #3 (1996)

At’mos faer (Kadath) (1997)

 

>The Dead

Elegia vol 2 no 3 (1995)

 

>Dear Mum

Dream #26 (1990)

Parlour Papers #1 (1993)

 

>Digory Smalls

Dagon #24 (1989)

Twisted #1 (1996)

 

>Dognahnyi

Flicker ‘n’ Frames #12 (1991)

Best of DF Lewis (Tal Publications) (1993)

Earwig Flesh Factory #3/4 (2000)

 

>Effervescent

Palace Corbie (1995)

 

>Egnis

Scheherazade #8 (1993)

Palace Corbie (1997)

 

>Encounters with Terror

Weirdbook #29 (1995)

Dark Horizons #34 (1993)

 

>Find Mine

The Vampire’s Crypt #14 (1998)

Peeping Tom #29 (1998)

 

>First Sight

Dark Regions Vol 3 No 1 (1995)

Lathered In Crimson #4/5 (1998)

 

>Gongoozler

Heliocentric Net vol 2 No 1 (1993)

Psychotrope #3 (1995)

 

>The Hungerers

Imelod #17 (2000)

 

>The II King

Ocular #18 (1998)

 

>In Unison

Stygian Articles #3 (1995)

Black Rose #2 (1998)

 

>The Jack-in-the-Box

Exuberance #3 (1992)

Best of DF Lewis  (Tal Publns) (1993)

 

>The Last Prize

Albedo One #5 (1994)

 

>The Merest Tilt

Mystic Fiction Vol 2 No 4 (1994)

Beyond The Brink #9 (1995)

 

>Migrations of the Heart

Dreams and Nightmares #39 (1993)

 

>A Mind's Kidney

Severin' #4 (1993)

Footsteps #2 (1996)

 

>Padgett Weggs

Tales After Dark #2 (1986)

Fantasy Macabre #15 (1993)

 

>Queuing Behind Crazy People

Night Dreams #7 (1997)

 

>Rosewolf

Eldritch Tales #26 (1992)

Roadworks #6 (1999)

 

>Salustrade

Alternaties #13 (1993)

Year’s Best Horror Stories (Daw) (1994)

 

>Scaredy & White Mouth

Chills #8 (1994)

 

>The Scar Museum

Palace Corbie (1996)

Strix #17 (1999)

 

>Season of Lost Will

Hobgoblin #2 (1991)

Dark Horizons #33 (1992)

 

>Second Best

Vicious Circle #2 (1993)

Eclipse #6 (1998)

 

>A Selfish Strain

Scar Tissue #13 (1998)

Drift #96 (1998)

 

>The Sun Setting

Never printed before

 

>Shades of Emptiness

Never printed before

 

>The Shiftlings

The White Rose #16 (1990)

Dreams & Nightmares #37  (1992)

 

>Small Fry

Never printed before

 

>Small Talk

Alternaties #16 (1994)

 

>The Spigot & The SpeechMark

Deathrealm #28 (1996)

 

>Sponge and China Tea

Dagon #26 (DF Lewis Special) (1989)

Year’s Best Horror Stories XVIII (1990)

 

>The Stories of Murkales: Twelve Zodiacal Tales

Dagon #20 & #21 (1987, 1988)

 

>Stricken with Glee

After Hours #16 (1992)

End Of The Millennium #11 (1999)

 

>The Swing

Visionary Tongue #9 (1997)

Dread #4 (1998)

 

>The Tallest King

Cerebretron #6 (1988)

Sierra Heaven #1 (1995)

 

>Tentacles Across the Atlantic (The Story)

Stygian Articles #7 (1996)

 

>The Terror of the Tomb

Heart Attack #2 (1992)

 

>Todger's Town

Cthulhu Cultus #15 (1999)

 

>Tom Rose

‘Signals’ anthology from 'London Magazine' (Constable Books) (1991)

 

>Top of an Angel's Head

Barfly #2 (1996)

The Fractal #6 (1997)

 

>Uncle Absolutely

Foolscap #12 (1992)

Visionary Tongue #11 (1998)

 

>Valedictory

Gateways #6 (1993)

 

>The Walking Mat

Sugar Sleep (Barrington) (1993)

After (2000)

 

>Wall Pack

Dagon#26 (DF Lewis Special) (1989)

 

>Waning

Oasis #62;63 (1993)

 

>Watch the Whiskers Sprout

Cthulhu’s Heirs (Chaosium) (1994)

 

>The Weirdmonger

Back Brain Recluse #11 (1988)

The Dream Zone #8 (2001)

 

>Welsh Pepper

Vandeloecht's Fiction Magazine #5 (1992)

Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI (1993)

 

>Wild Honey

The Stylus #1 (1993)

 

>Wiles

Dagon #26 (DF Lewis Special) (1989)

 


Posted by augusthog at 5:39 AM EDT
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Saturday, 12 July 2008
The Dream I Was

(published 'Masque' 1994)

 

When Mirren first met me, I was just recovering from a bad do, suicide being not too strong a word. However, Mirren, china-doll's face with crushed aspirin make-up, was due to become my saint and saviour. To say I hoped that she would save me from myself may be trite, but how else can I tell the truth? By telling lies?

Mirren could speak for herself, in any event.

"I love you for yourself. Nothing else."

"What else is there?" I asked.

Her eyes milked over and I knew she meant the money.

Despite my selfless misgivings, I was rich. Really rich. If you bacon-sliced me, a watermark could be seen running right through. No counterfeit money, me.

Mirren was beyond all that. I could tell from the sincerity in her face. Hard to hide that behind make-up, however thickly applied.

Then there was that day, when I sensed another do coming on me. Depression was like that - crept up when least expected.

In the throes of foreplay, nothing but moving shapes in the heavy drizzle; the red pulsing light of the electronic advertisement-sign making our skin have episodic wounds. St Paul's Cathedral loomed silently through the air's patina - with lighting-effects beyond even those a night-demon once used in my special never-to-be-repeated and often, thankfully, never remembered childhood dream.

Sleeping rough, of course, had its drawbacks. There must have been a general power-cut in the city, since we suddenly discovered ourselves in pitch darkness. The black sky had descended like a sopping wet funeral blanket.

"Bugger!" Mirren was heard to enunciate with some conviction.

Another street-lady moved nearer to her, crushing corrugated cardboard between body and pavement. "Don't fret, Mirren, that bloke's just a dream, cos I had him, too ... once."

And no amount of money in the world could bring me back.



I wandered a Great Britain that I did not recognise. I gathered I must indeed be a dream, rather than actually dreaming myself. I had hiked from London's cardboard city to the Scottish Highlands in less than a day, faster than the railways, in fact. I had negotiated previously untrodden paths, intermittently coming across towns named after Scottish football teams. But snatches of sleep disfigured the dream I was with unconscious darkness.

Eventually, I found myself resting upon a steep slope of heather, gazing down upon a lagoon. I could just discern the forms of children diving and splashing in its inviting pink waters. Their distant cries of joy punctuated the living silence. I was a stranger on the shore and the first to spot me were the older ones. Shame-faced, they continued to careen through the bubbles: evidently a healing process, since the younger ones had long sores along their sides, opening and shutting like mouths: waiting for the white lips to close up permanently. The older ones cared for those younger, keeping them from sinking in the water and encouraging them to move sinuously like sea-snakes. As soon as I became too obvious to ignore wholly, the older ones helped those younger to make as much progress as possible to the centre of the lagoon, where natural frothing geysers concealed them from me.

"Who is he, Meadowbank?"

The one who was addressed was the oldest and his only answer was to teach them how to continue treading water since, there at the lagoon's furthest reaches, no steady footing was even remotely near; the insecurity of that fact could very well lead to panic. The children had paired off - and were embracing in combined attempts to remain afloat, each set of four legs pumping away at the nothing below them.

Meadowbank took hold of his peer, Heart of Midlothian, and pressed himself against her buds and uprearing limbs; she, in turn, pressed back against his scissoring, sapling form. But such frenzied, spinning motions only served to re-open their wounds which, until then, had begun to knit together in the soothing mountain waters. Redness dyed the springs around them. Fearing that the legendary monster had got them, I forged on towards what I thought was a northerly direction.

During the next bout of self-awareness, I had arrived at a black city among the towering mountains. I first saw it from afar as I broke new summits. Its many gothic cathedrals were like the Redoubts of another dream ... dark places of sanctuary and spurts of intermittent foundry fire breaking between the clustered buildings where I could see the wandering populace flinching at each fresh outburst.

As the slopes neared the highly wrought affair of the city gate, I saw the inner watery courtyards where craft with purple sails dodged from quay to quay. Soon, I was below the looming gates and could no longer see within; the ripping cries continued to increase in volume as if it were market day in Hell. I was a tiny dot at the foot of the sky-high city walls, knowing instinctively that it would take more than a day for the heavy workings of the groaning gates to be set in motion. But here, at last, was sanctuary from the dream I happened to be.

The guardian of the gate appeared as if from nowhere, covered from tip to toe in an armour of cardboard pound notes, accusing me of being a carrier of plague dreams and thus not welcome to shelter in the city of Partick Thistle.

I strode on, holding my shut-eyed head high and ignoring the tolling alarums of the cathedrals' behemoth-bells that now reverberated throughout the mighty valley ... seeking the sanctuary of Saints Mirren or Johnstone further north.



"There were no preambles to the conversation," she said.

"What, no introductions?" I queried, not quite believing her version of events.

"None at all. Just two voices emerging out of nowhere, as it were." She tilted her wide-brimmed hat so that the shadow was lifted from her face. The rest of her clothes seemed to big for her, as if appearances were not her prime motive. I recognised her but could not put my finger on where and when. She appeared irritated, as if I were speaking my thoughts aloud. "Of course you recognise me," she resumed, "you were my lover many years ago."

"Ah yes," I said, by and large unconvinced.

"You're not sure then?"

"Yes, of course I am." I was afraid to admit otherwise.

"Well, I was telling you about the conversation, wasn't I?" She knew I was afraid of her, and I merely nodded as she continued. "The two of them started talking as if they'd known each other for years. One minute the room was empty. The next they were nattering twenty-four to the dozen. It was as if reality had started up from scratch, with all memories already complete but not actually experienced. Real memories, by comparison, are built up piecemeal from the sheer survival of existence. Their memories had been born as if from nothingness."

I nodded again, humouring her. How had I become embroiled with such a weird creature? How could I disentangle myself? I looked at the window. It was completely black outside. The door was shut, but with nothing to suppose it was locked. Perhaps I could make my excuses...

"Look here!" she snapped with a scowl. "There's no way I'm going to let you go. It's been ages since I had anybody with which to keep company and you having been my lover in the past, you can damn well stay put and reciprocate."

At that moment, the door swung wide on shrieking hinges. A man of middle years stood in its frame, staring at the pair of us. He was older, or perhaps younger, than he looked, in view of the baggy clothes he had chosen to wear.

"Hello, Meadowbank," she said as if on a reflex to the newcomer.

"Heart of Midlothian!" The one called Meadowbank addressed the woman with the loose tongue who claimed to be my long lost lover from a past so foreign she seemed like a complete stranger with an incomplete grasp of the present. They acted like people who had been lost-presumed-dead in an endless war. But presumptions were what they indeed were: they slid out of sight within each other's gaping wounds which I now realised had been previously bandaged beneath their ill-fitting clothes. Not even the slightest bubbling or gurgling remained, as the dream I was finally expired - like a period return on the railways.



The bells of St Paul's Cathedral tolled loudly, as Mirren settled with a smile into the sticky warmth of my own recently vacated body. It was better than a cardboard box any day. A body-bag of riches for an undressed doshless dosser of a dreamer.

"Bugger!" A misplaced rib stuck awkwardly in her back.


Posted by augusthog at 10:39 AM EDT
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Sunday, 22 June 2008
ODALISQUE by PF Jeffery (Chapter 1)

The author of ODALISQUE has been kind enough to send me a CD of the whole novel. He started writing this novel in the nineteen-eighties.  Recently completed (June 2008).

I hope to read this novel chapter by chapter on a weekly basis - and record some thoughts below.  There are 50 chapters plus epilogue.

PLEASE POST YOUR OWN COMMENTS BELOW, USING JUST YOUR NAME AND TYPING OUT THE VERIFICATION CODE FROM THE BOX. IF THE CODE IS DIFFICULT TO READ, YOU CAN CLICK ON THE BOX TO REFRESH IT.

The author is happy for me to send to you a word-document of each chapter at any time, at your request.  My address is bfitzworth@yahoo.co.uk

I am a long-term epistolary friend of the author (handwritten letters from 1967 on a rough weekly basis).

I believe in ODALISQUE as a great fantasy/horror novel (spiritual, grotesque and humorous), but I am still in the personal throes of grappling with its strangely powerful (for me, almost alien) ethos -- greatly assisted by its beautifully silky style of expression.

==========================================

My previous chapter comments (up to chapter 28) on an earlier version of ODALISQUE (namely OF BONDLINGS & BLESH) may also be of interest here: http://newdfl.bloghorn.com/205  These should give a good flavour of the actual plot of the novel's first half.

Recommended additional reading: PFJ's GOLDEN GODDESS AND BLOODY TIMES: http://bondlings.blogspot.com/2006/05/golden-goddess-and-bloody-times-part-1.html

 

===============================================

Odalisque

Being the memoirs of Tuerqui
The Founder’s Concubine
Usurper’s Daughter from the Blood Victoria


Transcribed by P F Jeffery

Edited with reference to the original manuscripts and annotated by Jennifer Petrie, senior archivist at the University of Pain

Is the existence of a rock preferable to that of a candle flame? My feeling is that truly living is better than merely existing – however brief its span. Rather a single night as my mistress’ odalisque than a long life free from trouble.
– from a memorandum book in Tuerqui’s hand



Chapter 1


Well this is the business. It really flows sweetly about sexual, grotesque, spiritual and dynastic matters - as if it were meant to be!

Please ask for attachment of this one chapter if you want to check it out. And then see if you can resist the rest!

TWO SNIPPETS
“I’ve heard people mention it, mummy, and know that Surrey folk do very bad things.”

“The Third Battle of Lundin was bloody hundreds of years ago,” Jenna remarked. "If the ghosts haven’t got over it by now, they need to get a life… Or get a death!”

TYPO:
and we we’d be carried off as slaves.

 

CHAPTER COMMENT LINKS: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2008/06/odalisque.html


Posted by augusthog at 8:05 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 June 2008 9:29 AM EDT
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