Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Drinks, Doubts and Lager Louts...

"A one, two, three, four...". The bartender recited my change with military precision.

Deploying the copper soldiers into my outstretched, eager palm, his voice flickered with a false enthusiasm. His acne accentuated face dripped with disinterest as he muttered his scripted pleasantry.

I didn't really mind, as I had long before shifted my gaze to his forearm tattoo - its sharp, jagged points wrapping and warping like arms through bars, trying to escape an inky prison.

It was a permanent, fleshy name badge, reading 'Brad'.

Why had I asked for lager again? I don't even hold much of a candle for the fizzy variety, much less the tasteless vase of warm glow presented before me.

Perhaps my inexplicable request had stemmed from my inability to cope with the pressure of a quiet bar and an impatient barman.

In those situations, it seems that I am pre-programmed to select a default choice - lager. Of course, 'Brad' was only too happy to oblige.

Now, underwhelmed by my hasty purchase, and having tardily processed the fact that, actually, I quite fancied a mojito.

There's something about the kind of person who can confidently stride into a bar and sit alone, sipping a mojito. 

I often conclude that it is almost exclusively the activity of rare James Bond characters - the men who pull bawling babies from burning buildings, gracefully jump into a stategically-parked top down convertible, and then speed home to read GQ in their penthouse. All whilst wearing a tux.

I looked on as he hastily married his dry towel to the moist marble surface, and did for a moment consider requesting an alternative - but quickly surrendered that bold notion.

It wasn't Brad's fault, after all. What power did he have if the bubbles refused to cooperate? He wasn't even a supervisor.

Instead, I merely knocked back his sympathetic glance with a knowing nod, and bitterly began to swallow down my dead purchase in the most mournful manner I could reasonably muster, considering my lack of acting ability.

As I theatrically choked down a likely unhealthy swill of my flat treat, I was quickly distracted by an angst-sodden group of teenagers entering stage left.

The ringleader, approximately ten stone of problem child, was a walking black mood housed under a Burberry roof.

Apparently thriving in this clammy climate, and spurred on by the poisonous plip of his Euro trance ringtone, he strode quickly toward the bar.

As his large feet went crashing forth, as though surfing on steel toe capped Rockport waves, he boomed a noisy request for three pints of lager, and I did for a moment wonder if the pressure had affected him too.

Ordinarily, I would have offered him a helpful review of my negative experience, but as he cast me a murderous look, I thought better of it.

"What?" he grunted in my direction. As the threat of a happy slap shocked me out of my grumpy trance and back into an uneasy reality, I concluded that I must have failed to hide my amusement at their antics.

Well, as mentioned previously, acting isn't my strongpoint.

Shrugging and sinking back into the familiar frothy depths of my golden enemy, I counted my blessing as the thirsty inquistor turned away to review the status of his pending transaction.

Ironically, it seemed that my misplaced choice - our only common ground - had probably saved me. 

Imagine if I'd ordered the mojito.

Jonno Turner

The Room

The room wasn’t familiar to Nick in the real sense of the word, yet in his recurrent dream he knew every inch of the dust filled single room under his bedroom rug. The paisley patterned rug that he had walked on every day of his short life had suddenly become a no go area to the eight year old youth. Each night required a series of hop, step and jumps to negotiate landing on his bed without touching the seemingly innocuous looking piece of carpet. You see Nick’s dream always involved him falling through the rug as if there were no floorboards underneath and landing perfectly unharmed in an imagined room below. Not much of a nightmare you might think but to Nick it was beyond terrifying. The feeling that once in the room, it was impossible to get out. The room came across as cold with all the colours seeming ‘off’. Everything in the room, from the single bed to the pictures on the wall to the small chair in the corner didn’t quite appear the right shade, almost as if they were living objects that were dying and fading with time. Even the small stuffed teddy bear on the end of the bed had lost its honey brown lustre and appeared flat and insipid. Nick feared that once he fell into this room he would end up like the objects and slowly fade into nothingness. . Every night after Nick had kissed his Mum goodnight he felt the unease of ascending the stairs to his bedroom and the leap over the rug into his bed. Once in his bed he often imagined he could hear a gentle sob from his Mother and the consoling tones of his Dad. Once lying down on his comfy duvet though, he never struggled to find sleep. The sleep was always broken with the feeling that he had stepped out of his bed and fell through the rug into the imagined room below. Nick always awoke with a start and gasping for breath each night. With much anxiety though, each time Nick would pull himself together and sleep an untroubled sleep for the rest of the night.

Nick managed to pluck up enough courage to tell his mum who listened with watery eyes as she reassured him as best she could that it was all just a dream and that it will fade with time.

Then Nick’s mum told me the story.

I, by the way go by the name of Dr Mayweather who diagnosed Nick’s weak heart just after he was born. I’m afraid Nick died in his sleep last night and was found lying on the rug by his mum first thing this morning…..

Colin Elliott

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ladder #4 (Volunteers) Gets A New Driver

-Now listen kid, I don’t want you getting all excited and running red lights and shit, it’s better we get to a fire in one piece a minute or two later than get in a fucking crash at some intersection just because you wanted to drive like fucking Steve McQueen outa Bullet ok?

-Steve McQ….

-Oh fuck you’s fucking kids. Christ I’m too old for this shit. Too fast too fucking furious whatever that shite is yous kids watch these days. It’s not an Xbox, it’s a fucking fire engine. It’s fucking big and it’s heavy and it can do a lot of damage if it hits another vehicle.

-Yeah, I got that Captain. Nice and steady.

-Right kid, nice and steady. We’re heroes but we don’t have to act the fucking hero. We get a call, we get on the truck, yous drive us there nice and steady, no panic no adrenaline rush, we’re no good to anyone if were wrapped round a fucking streetlight.

-Point of order there Cap, he’ll destroy a fucking street light if he hits it with the engine.

-Fuck you you fucking hump.

-So you got that kid? This is a good crew, you can be a big part of it. I knew your old man he was a good firefighter to. Measured.  I see a bit of him in you.

-There goes the fucking alarm baby, Capt, Jr, you’re up kid.

-Now remember slow and steady.

-I got you Captain.

-O’Connell, leave the fucking food we’ve got a call.

-Come on Cap, it’s chilli.

-It’ll keep.

-Slow and steady.

-What’s the address?

-203 South Mountainside Ave. Report of a turkey roaster tipped over, deck on fire.

-Fuck! Hey kid, remember all that bullshit I just told you, slow steady, fuck all that, hit the fucking gas, that’s my fucking house!

Johnny L

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Lady And The Bird...

She comes out of the plane, "It's ok Jane, it's ok." is what she reassures herself with.
Out through immigration, passing with a breeze and through to the luggage carousel.

"Where is it?! WHERE IS IT?!" screams in her head, panic erupting in waves like volcanoes.

A familiar blue luggage bag in pristine quality is thrown onto the carousel roughly. The one with the red and green tag.
Round and around and around it went until it arrived at the lady's feet...
And out she goes.

Tourists like herself stare at her as she
walks out the doors, bag being pulled just behind. Peculiar, it seemed to them. And, yes. Indeed that briefcase was.

That briefcase had previously stowed away live birds, all shapes and sizes. Cockatoos to rainbow lorrikeets, all ending up alive in the end. It was a briefcase that had endured everything, pain and hardship as of a human. But still, to her, it seemed downright normal for her.

She rushed out, needing to get to her point of destination. She was holding, in her briefcase, the world's very first mutant bird. A miniature peacock crossed with a crow. For the first few days in her custody, it had
stared at her, those beady eyes clawing their way to her soul. 
Fond of the bird, you Say?
Yes. She was.
She stopped for a moment to check if it was still alive, opening the bag to a 'CACAW!'

"Your taxi is here ma'am, where to?"
The rush of the airport closed around her, encasing her thoughts and movements.
You know why? Because she had no idea where she was going!

She was lost in Papua New Guinea. With a mutant bird!

"Great job, Ali!" she muttered to herself.