As I’ve taken a break from posting fiction, I thought it may interest some readers if I posted the story that’s caused me all the pain in the world and is the reason why my creative posts have become rare. Entitled Kale and Radishes, it’s the one piece I want to finish. I began it in collaboration with Mr. John Fury last April, and since then we have not put anything else into it. In addition to the following manuscript, I just wanted to let everyone know that I am beginning to write a play, which at this point is called B108. I hope to have it done by late December, and when it’s done, count on segments being posted, along with a date for where and when it will be staged.
I wrote this in collaboration with my friend Tobias. It was all done over face book stauses over the course of two weeks. Spelling is bad, as is grammar, but that‘s the stylistic standpoint we‘ve chosen to use. In the beginning it’s a bit unclear as to who is narrating who. When one gets to the middle section it‘s easier to determine the narrators. Toby narrates the girl‘s life, and I narrate the boy‘s life. No ending has been discussed- no plans of reviving the tale itself have been thought about. It‘s impossible to finish this story properly without the commitment from both parties- and because Toby and Enfin have conflicting interests as of late April, it‘ll be quite a while til anything happens with this story.
And so it goes:
Untitled manuscript numero six
“she sat down to a plate of kale & radishes and looked longingly out the window. the rain falling reminded her of faraway countries, though she couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. in the next room, the television burbled about a tool to make cooking easier. on the stove, a pot frothed madly.
an alarming sound emanated from the kitchen, interrupting her thoughts. the fork dropped out of her right hand as she stood up from her battered chair which was thrifted from a yardsale the season before. for fear of knocking over a pile of her strategically stacked records, she moved with a touch of cautious air about her, and meandered into the dimly lit kitchen which resembled that of one found in industrial england centuries before her time.
the pot was a horrible anachronism that she had always despised, gleaming silver among the cast-iron skillets which hung like torture instruments over the ancient range. casting a swift glance over her shoulder at the cat about to strike an invisible mouse, she ladled out the soup which was boiling over. limp-wristed leeks clung to each other on the wooden spoon. a deft flick of her hand turned the gas off, and this motion extinguished something inside of her, too. she wondered if she had a pilot light and, if so, how she could lift her sternum and hold a match to it in order to re-ignite its slumbering stoma –
in the apartment directly above her dwelled a boy in his early twenties. i say boy because he had been stunted at the age of 15 as a result of his tumultuous rearing. much like the girl below, the boy stared out his window, which was covered with a thin film of blue tainted dust, at the rain. it was one of those moments where he felt as though the world stood still and time ceased to exist. the boy’s soul was overcome with an outlandish sense of peace, which quickly vanished as he heard a riotous yelp emerge from the hallway that neighbored his quaint flat. as his heart sank, he rose from the comfortably padded seat at his escritoire and ambled to the menacing oak door which yielded a small aperture to the world outside of his banasuic realm. an uncontrollable gasp forced its way up and out of his throat at the sight of the couple, who hailed from apartment 6C, flailing their misshapen limbs in the stale air around them and throwing each other’s valuables over the ledge of the balcony which observed the perilous stairs that led to the caverns within the blue house on arbus road.
the rain rendered everything benthic. she curled back into her chair at the table, leek soup curling up steam like a friendly cat’s tail, tickling her nostrils. her eyes were prowling around the room, seeking. there were crannies everywhere. though she had lived there for ayears, there were still places that she had never quite plumbed and at times was afraid went on forever. she had done her best to cram knickknacks and tchotchkes like cotton into their abcesses, but still places remained dark and cobwebbed with shadow. in her more superstitious moments, she was convinced that’s where the house-things lived, the menacing domovoi and goblin of folklore she had spent most of her life devouring. she tucked a strand of her hair behind a willing ear & turned her gaze to the window. now it wasn’t only the rain that was falling, but a fluttering of linens, bedsheets – an alarm clock tumbled like a hapless cat dislodged from a tree, cordlike tail snapping furiously behind it. framed photographs. she hesitated for only a second and then shot from the room as though fired from a gun to retrieve her camera from her shoulder-bag…
the boy above continued to watch the scene unfold with disapproving eyes. the two in question, were known for their late night arguments, but never in his entire 6 years of living on Arbus Road, had he observed such an escalating discord between the duo. the cause of their quarrel was unknown, but his mind wandered to the notion that perhaps the girl, who seemed to appear more emaciated than the last time he saw her, cheated on the boy who never seemed to leave the safety of the blue house. his hawk-like eyes continued to peer through the aperture, but soon glazed over at the perpetual drama, and itched to be faced with more foreign concepts. like his writing. as he walked towards the comfort of his desk, the sharp growls of the brash girl resounded in his realm. his mind was in an uproar, racing from one notion to another, ultimately putting him in a stupor. had this argument adumbrated what was to come? his right foot was pierced by one of the many hazardous items that were strewn about his floor, causing him to careen in the direction of his seat that awaited his presence. as he sat, his eyes were immediately faced with a piece of crisp, loose leaf, graphing paper that was full of antilogies and caustic prose that engulfed his mind, once more in flames. as if it were instinctive, he gazed out the window, where he was once again faced with rain falling from the ominous nimbus clouds. the street below wasn’t just freckled with sepia toned spots on the sandstone cement, it was a solid murky grey. the fat rain drops ricocheted off of the pavement and about 4 cm into the air, always falling back to the ground with an almost-audible “plop”. he adjusted his view so he could see the face of his blue house, and the bushes that bordered foundation. an outstretched arm, from the apartment directly beneath him, wielded a 1970s Ricoh camera, with a pale narrow finger rapidly hitting the shutter release, as creased white linens fell, and family photographs fell in front of the lens…
she was enthralled, rapt, held tight. one, click, two, click, her fingers moved over the camera’s extremities like a lover, caressing, flicking, twisting, snapping. her face contorted with glee, left eye squinched shut. she could feel the cat, fresh from its invisible mouse-hunt, rub up against her ankles, pressing as if to knock her down. she ignored it, though thrilled to the sensation of its whiskers and hard jaw, followed by the sinew of the neck, causing gooseflesh to ripple her skinny arms. a palimpsest of papers, looseleaf and stained by the drooling rain, was now falling. she could tell they were letters – some were crumpled like a beginner’s frustrated attempts at origami and fell more swiftly than the others, which travelled through the air listlessly, like sighs. the thought of her soup, her small salad, had left her as she had osmosed herself nearly entirely into the scene before her. as she snapped photo after photo with the complaining camera, she saw herself, too, plummeting like alice down the rabbit-hole, out of the window, again & again, in stop-motion, arms and legs akimbo, pinwheeling slowly, drifting like one of the leaves of paper. finally, eventually, the deluge of desiderata ceased and she waited, breathless as an Inuit over the ice-hole. still. tentative. what next? nothing. she removed the camera from her eye and looked upward. there she saw him, like a crested hawk in his aerie, also craning out, narrow skull already dripping with the storm’s refuse, motionless, tilted, waiting the same as she. would he look down? would he notice her? she turned her gaze to the already-sodden pile of belongings. snapped a photograph, almost as an afterthought, and snapped her gaze upwards again. he had retreated. where his figure had been was now only cloud, and driving, vertical raindrops, splattering impotently, yet furiously, into her face.
because of his schedule, the boy rarely formed any sort of relations with his neighbors. he’d leave for work in the mid afternoon, just before rush hour, and he’d return to the small house just past midnight. he worked at a reputable bar, where he waited on customers and occasionally poured and mixed concoctions that served as a vice for his clientel base. night after night he observed the same faces and the same routine, and oftentimes he’d be discouraged by the career that he had held since he turned eighteen years of age, seven years before the present moment in time, but he was able to calm himself with the undeniable fact that a career wasn’t the only characteristic that defined a person. at least he made enough money to live alone. ever since a young boy, he was unable to connect with his peers on a personal level, perhaps because he was socially inept, or perhaps because he was invisible to the average person. the pale narrow fingers belonged to the girl in apartment 2A. her name was a mystery to him, for he had never spoke with her, but he had observed her multiple times before. she stood at a height of five foot three, and was as slim as a birch tree. her skin was milky, but was contrasted with her jet black hair. her almond shaped eyes sparkled a kelp sort of green, and her expression always remained neutral. she was living on arbus road before he had arrived to the house. he remember the first time he saw her, standing near the mailboxes as the postman made his way down the gravel path wielding a packet of letters tied with twine. the sun shined on her hair, and the reflection burned his eyes as he saw her accept the bundle from the mailman in exchange for a generous grin and a friendly pat on the back. her skirt, which fell just above her kneecaps, was constructed with scrap pieces of fabric with a myriad of patterns and textures. as she reentered the building there was a slight bounce to her step, and the grin that she gave the postman was still discernable on her face. while he observed her, he wrote, in his small leather bound journal, notes about her appearance, about the occurence, and about the day. words flowed out of his mouth as if they were the water of a cascade in an obscure part of chile. the cold rain hit his neck with what felt like an atomic force. chills were sent from the top of his crown to the bottom of his toes as a result of the rain meeting his untouched skin. as his neck bent down with the aid of the atomic force, his eyes were met with a new sight. the hand that was once extended out of the window beneath his was joined with the toroso of the photographer. the head of the torso was faced down, only to be observing the pile of what was once a strong admirable relationship strewn about the murky ground where earth worms rejoiced in honor of the generosity of Nature. the torso was clad in a shirt with a cut out back, only to emphasize protruding ribs and an exposed spine. his mind, still engulfed in thoughts, suddenly became silent. was that her? could she sense his presence? for fear of her head slowly raising and turning upward he retreated back into his home, like a tortoise, and shut his guillotine window. he was in complete agony because his thoughts of the girl tortured him. yearning for more information, he ambled through the only clear pathway in his apartment, that had been carved strategically and solely for easy manuevering to and from his heirloom desk and troubling door. as if he were concerned he’d be included in the discord of 6C, he peered out the aperture once more, and when reassured by his own sight that the hallway was clear of all other beings, he slowly turned the handle of the door, and pushed with his free hand. his feet led him to the precarious stairs, and even though noticeably small, his steps brought him to the landing at the second floor. there were six doors, all painted a different color, all spaced methodically and symetrically on the confining walls of the hallway. three doors, a carmine, an ash, and a cherry oak, on the right side of him, and three doors, a sallow, an azure, and a deep violet, on the left side of him. each door was adorned with a metal plated number, increasing by one as the hall progessed. his heart was racing as he detected a number three on the grey door. standing at the door, he was bombarded with self-doubt and his insecurities, all of which had been acquired, and never discarded, began to consume his mind. as objection after objection was molded in his mind, his left hand, always the disobedient one, was pulled towards the door by an invisible force, and rapped at the painted oak in a misleading pattern. whatever force had inhabited his body, immediately disappeared after this abrupt motion, and his heart, which had been beating at an unspeakable speed stopped. he could feel the steps toward the door in his knees, and as the door knob slowly twisted to the right, a small creak grew into a gap where the alleged torso that had been hanging out of the window was fully visible. the torso was above a pair of legs, which were covered in a thin pair of ripped black tights and high waisted shorts, and above the torso rested a head, which was tilted ever so slightly to the left, where wild black locks rested limply. the features of the face were more exotic, than originally predicted, but were all rather warm in appearance. the girl’s lips slowly separated and he could see words slowly make their way up through her throat. at the moment where the words should have been delivered, silence gripped both of them. his eyes drifted down and observed the same Ricoh camera, which was held out the window, accompany her side. he wondered if there was film inside, but he found this to be a foolish thought. he backed away from the door, nodded his head in a swift motion, and slowly made his way down the hall towards the landing, so he could ascend the stairs back to his flat. what had he done?
guilt, and alarm, were the twin feelings that wrapped like barbed wire around her heart. did he know? of course not. how could he? her brain skipped backwards. maybe he had surveillance mounted in his apartment. cameras pointed unforgivingly at his desk. this is the thought she always has after one of her transgressions. she knows it is unlikely, but fears it nonetheless. maybe his cat can talk, and whispered into the pale shell of his ear late one night, divulged her, gave her away. it had stared at her with disapproval in its round, burnished eyes, as she crept into his apartment & closed the door with a snick. it had padded out of the adjacent room and sat down, tail lashing, owlish & stern. licked its chops once. she had liked his apartment, felt envy’s ivy steal its vines through her. she had sat at the old upright piano – how had he gotten it upstairs? – for far too long, brushing her fingers over the stained ivories, wincing at the out-of-tune sound they made. a twinge of her own disapproval, snapping one of the strings of her infatuation. how could one have such a beautiful instrument and allow it languish? perhaps he never played it. perhaps it was simply for show. she stood up and took a picture of the keys, noting idly that it was fortuitous she was shooting in colour. the piano looked like a hobo’s mouth. she had turned, ghosting around the place, tiptoeing inadvertently, as if not to wake any unknown occupants when she knew no one was there. photograph after photograph, surgical invasions of his privacy, glee sparking & spiralling through her at the thought of her trespass. as always, her joy was tempered by the awareness of the risk – what if, quite suddenly, he were to return? in which closet would she secret herself? through which tiny slats would she watch him as he performed the banasuic rituals one performs when they return to their domicile? the keys, on the countertop, the pockets emptied, the small sighs and language of solitude. the murmurs & friendly, yet one-sided (despite her over-active imagination) conversation with the cat. she crept from room to room, and halted at only one threshhold. at this borderline, she pulled up short, yanked her Ricoh to her eye, and took a single photograph. then, as rapidly as a crustacean on the shore, scuttled backward out of the apartment, almost as if in rewind, making sure to twist the lock as she departed. she stood, motionless but for small twitches in her muscles, in front of his door, camera held at the level of her stomach, staring at the flaking paint, at the meekly conjoined letter/number duo of 3B. a rasp of thunder overhead jolted her, and she pulled out of her momentary past-lapse, leaned her head into the hallway, and saw no sight of him. closing the door with no small modicum of fear and worry, she retreated to her bedroom, sat cross-legged on the quilted cover, and stared at her favourite shot of – well, pretty much all time – his heirloom writing desk, implements, sheaves of paper – reams of paper, overflowing wire wastebasket, small dim window allowing the filtering, hesitant light. she had named him Garrett after the writer’s attics in Paris because of this picture. she knew that was not truly his name.
with the initial intention to retreat back to his apartment, the boy descended the stairs with little thought, aimlessly headed out the front door of the house, and sat on the granite stairs that were the customary greeting to the inside of his world. he took short snappy breaths, wheezing in between each, and his eyes darted back and forth from the front of the yard to across the street. his head shot upwards, looking to the girl’s window, but it remained shut, and the torso belonging to her, no longer was visible. in his pocket he fumbled for his pack of cigarettes. as if his fingers had been dipped in olive oil, whenever he grasped the carton, it slipped out from his hand. out of frustration he yanked his pack of american spirits out of the never-ending pocket of his cargo pants. he lifted the flap and removed a single filter from the pack, put it in his mouth, and held a yellow bic lighter to the tip. he hadn’t smoked a cigarette all day, but as he inhaled, held, and then exhaled, he felt a deep knot form in his stomach. he hadn’t imagined what had just happened, no matter how much he wished that was the case. the rain had turned into a mist, and small drops of condensation gathered on his exposed arms. a sigh forced its way out of his vocal cords into the open world. questions were waiting to be addressed, but for the first time in a long time, he silenced his mind. his cigarette was held by his mouth, and his hands were on his knees where they supported his drooping head. the image of the creak growing into a gap reoccurred over and over again right in front of his eyes. he could see her, standing there, with a stolid expression, and not the least bit surprised. as if he were trying to rid himself of this memory, he pulled out his journal from another pocket in his pants, and flipped through the pages. observations of the girl ranged from her hair being plaited with a modpodge of flowers strewn about in the back to her departing in the early morning on her bicycle and coming back just before he left for work. in his notes, he referred to her as sourie, meaning mouse, not because he thought she resembled one, only for the fact that he rarely heard her make a sound. the sound of an approaching car made its way up the gravel road, and as if it were a signal to depart, the boy threw his vice to the ground, and stamped out the burning ember. he escalated the stairs, pushed his shoulder to the face of the door, and enter his hearth. inside he immediately felt the lights blaring on his skin, and he could feel the stench of his pre-smoked cigarette follow him up the stairs. as he passed by the second floor landing, he made sure to mind his steps, as not to cause any excess noise that might give away his presence. the inclining steps up to the third floor were tortorous, and made him regret his habit of smoking, seeing as it obviously caused all the strain he experienced whilst walking up stairs. at the landing, he could see a full view of the third floor hallway, a bit cleaner than the floor below, but still having a sense of dilapidation. the door to his apartment remained open, just as he left it. his black tabby cat, who had stalked him home one evening after work, sat right beside the frame of the door, where her eyes were shut, and her tail whimsically moving back and forth in a 1, 2 pattern. as he approached the door, the feline butted up against his shins, and mewed in utter delight. upon entering, he surveyed his familiar surroundings and at first glance it appeared as if everything was in order. his desk, covered with sheaves of paper and various writing tools, looked normal, his messy floor hadn’t been touched, or miraculously cleaned. he sauntered into the adjacent room, where he kept his upright piano that had been used a form of currency when exchanging his 1972 volvo with his old friend tomas. the hardwood floors gleamed, for it had been a while since he shared company in this room. its arguable that he hadn’t ventured inside this alcove for months, until this day, but in all truth that’s just a speculation. the ivory keys glimmered, even without the aid of sunlight, and the piano bench, stolen from the abandonned church down the road, remained plush. he carefully stepped towards the piano and sat on the welcoming wedge. his fingers grazed the fine ivory and all of a sudden began hitting the keys in a soft, methodical manner. a beautiful harmony was produced as a result of his tapping, and soon his tiny kitten entered the room with a dance-like motion. to the notes of the music, the cat moved, wildly, ferociously, but then in complete unison and synchronism as the meledy achieved a steady pattern. when his fingers grew tired of the heavy beating they were enduring, he paused and looked at the folding lip where he typically perched his sheet music. in plain sight he saw something that he couldn’t rightfully claim as his. an empty film canister rested on the lip, staring blankly at him. his hand reached out towards this foreign object, took it from the lip, and examined it. the cap snapped off easily, and inside of the canister he found nothing. it was empty and light, and certainly not his. he looked down at his feline suspiciously, as if she had placed it there to ensure a positive feeling of suspicion would ensue in his soul. the cat’s eyes, green, circled with yellow, flickered with a half-hearted annoyance, and she swaggered out of the room, tail swishing in the air, fighting back any particle of dust that obstructed its way. as he continued to observe the empty canister he heard an unmistakeable noise from the other room. his body became paralyzed as he gradually turned his head in the direction of the door. peering through the opening, the room where his desk lived, was just as it was when he entered his piano room. untouched. he stood, befuddled, in the middle of the room, eyes surveying every nook, and every cranny. nothing new. no one was there. just as he began to walk to his escritoire, to finish his writing, he heard his front door, shut, almost silently, but audible enough for him to detect the slight disturbance. his head spun for a moment, questioning the validity of his notion, but suddenly, as if he were waiting for the gun to go off, he ran towards the door, grasped the brass door knob, and threw it open. the hallway called him to the landing where he was just able to discern the split ends of someone’s head of jet black hair, and a salient spine.
she was too angry to speak, goitered with rage, able only to communicate her extreme displeasure with her body. as ridiculous as she felt, she couldn’t help picturing their dispute as an exhibition of modern dance. he was glowering and gesticulating wildly, mouth and chin dotted with spittle. she couldn’t even remember what had started it. this was one of the signs that her fight was dwindling, that the inevitable creep of sadness was winnowing its way in through her body. she could feel it, the enervation of it, the exasperated sigh working its way out of the cracks of her lungs, up through her throat – she turned away so that he couldn’t see it, and the second after, felt herself turned sharply around, his meaty paws clamping onto her shoulder. instinct took over & her hand flew up – she watched it with disconnected interest, as though seeking the strings which had been pulled to facilitate the strike. she connected with his face, and the sensation of skin against skin set her tired heart to flood anew with re-inspired hate, but this time the kind of hate which flows from a different source. the magma from further within the earth rather than what bubbles hotly just beneath the surface. the incandescent, molten hate that percolated patiently inside her core. she took a single step back, pursed her lips, and fired off a gob of spit that landed satisfyingly just below his left eye. he blinked, stunned by her vituperation, and took a step back as well. the image of the dance rose in her mind again, tottering to life like a jerky ballet-mécanique – she briefly entertained the notion of stiltedly bowing to him and turning to depart the room. it was then that albert greer’s smile floated to the surface of his face like a dead fish, sick and simpering. he reached into his sport-coat and removed his hand again. she didn’t even see what was in it, hallucinated that he was drawing out a small wriggling cat whose single eye blinked confusedly at her – it was too late to move when virginia greer realized that it was a gun. and then it went off.
he sat there idle, silent. quivering. the only thought spiralling about his mind was that the beatles were wrong- happiness surely was not a warm gun. virginia stood above him, her eyes engulfed in flames, lips persed, thick bellacose blood spewing out of her right shoulder. the shot albert had fired had just skimmed his wife’s shoulder, barely grazing the skin, barely inflicting the intentional damage that was hoped for. out of his right hand dropped a silver plated pistol, down to the oak floor. his ribs were kicked, and he accepted the onslaught which was done unto him by his outraged wife. her heeled foot swiftly nudged the gun just out of albert’s reach and under the coffee table. he pushed himself away from the ominous body of his ginny and lifted himself off of the ground and into the air. the gun didn’t even belong to him- infact, he was unsure of how it came into his posession in the first place. with snarled lips, ginny made a sound at him, one that slightly resembled a growl and with that she exited the dingy living room furiously, stopping near the door where she bent down, picked up the lethal weapon and tucked it in her back pocket. a coy smile- not so uncharacteristic of her- appeared on her visage, and with a sudden jerk, she stumbled out into the hallway, slamming the door behind her. albert stood beneath a clock, heart pounding, eyes spinning. the banal and pristine sounds were constant reminders of reality… would she return? with a vengeance perhaps? why, even though so apparent, had he shot at his wife? his thoughts however were interrupted by the sound of a nervous banging on the main door. his steps were unsure, but ultimately led him to the face of the girl who lived beneath him, and the rushing body of the boy who lived beneath her. “can i help you?” he sneered.