CAGE

This is the nineteenth chapter of my month-long work of fiction, NOV.

The room is pervasively red. He is lying, in his new white briefs, on a red b—spread ach bedspread how nice, spread fixed the ed gap. The walls are red, the furniture is red, one door, slightly ajar, is red. There is another door, closed, also red. There are just two interruptions in this sanguine colour scheme:

The walls are covered with posters. Some of them seem to be pages of an abstract modern score, some staves stretched like a sticky cat’s cradle, the notes trapped on them like flies, others like kaleidescope pieces and jumbles of letters. Some of them are posters for musical acts of bygone times: Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Jim Morrison.

Next to him, sitting on the bed, in a kimono, is one. In the flesh. In the flesh tone. One is no longer black-and-white. The kimono is many colours; one’s face is a light tone with a faint sunset glow, but unmistakeably unpainted skin. Our protagonist may be only in his underpants, and one is in a kimono, but he feels that he is seeing one naked while he is still clothed. Continue reading

STRIP

This is the eighteenth chapter of my month-long work of fiction, NOV.

He’s making supper for himself and Janet. He still hasn’t chosen a name for himself. He won’t know where he is until he chooses a name, but can he get back home if he does?

Can he get back home anyway? One was his way back. He made one disappear. Or just go somewhere else? One must just have gone somewhere else. One still has to be somewhere. The alternative is too unnerving to consider. The fact that he is not dispassionate tells him again that he isn’t dreaming.

But even if one is around, one may not be favourably disposed to helping him now.

He looks at Janet. Janet is leaning against the counter in faded jeans and a light cotton plaid button-up, watching him cook. Janet is favourably disposed. But not to helping him get home. Continue reading

MORALS

This is the seventeenth chapter of my month-long work of fiction, NOV.

This sidewalk café, this black mass of circular latticework metal tables and matching chairs set out on fresh brickwork, is not deserted. People may for the most part be background noise, filler, and props in his life, but they are there, and he is happy for that. He is usually happiest when he has people to ignore.

Except when they can’t be ignored. Like that kid over there.

He and one are seated near a wall, coffee freshly served, but just a couple of tables away is a family with a small child and this kid is a demon screamer. Our man is sensitive to loud noises, but triply sensitive to screaming: it sets up an alarm in his body, an emergency state that is pulled three ways between wanting to fix the emergency, wanting to escape, and wanting to start screaming along. As he cannot do the first or third, he is stricken by a desire to do the second. But he can’t. He is nearly transfixed by the screaming, but his shaking hand holds the pitcher of — for his coffee.

Wait.

He holds up the — towards the source of the s—ing and cancels out the blanks: sing.

“Lalala lalalalala lala lalalala” babbles the suddenly happy child. Continue reading

BOUND

This is the sixteenth chapter of my month-long work of fiction, NOV.

Same as yesterday morning. He awakes in this guest bed; he is alone. The evening was take-out food and wine, enjoyable conversation and word games. One slow shirtless hug and kiss. And then she retreated again. Click. One layer at a time. Strip-tease? Or -torment?

Does she even sleep there? She could as soon be heading down her Escher stairs to sleep elsewhere, or nowhere. He heard her sink, the brushing of teeth. After that? But he will not open the door and peek. He has a strong sense of propriety; he doesn’t go wantonly snooping. This is life, not someone’s novel. Right?

At least she has left toothpaste, a fresh toothbrush, and shaving supplies in the guest bathroom. Shampoo, towels. She may not have men’s shirts – except one artful one – but she is equipped for male visitors.

Who have brought their own change of clothes.

He needs to get clean underwear, at least.

Oh, and his shirt. Continue reading

HOTEL

This is the fifteenth chapter of my month-long work of fiction, NOV.

HOTEL and RESIDENCE. He sees the sign again as he approaches the building. It may be the latter for Janet, but it’s the former for him: his stay is temporary; he’s not at home here.

He doesn’t even have a —ephone. He has no way other than walking around and hearing what people will —l him to gather in—ligence. Perhaps in this place people use —epathy.

Gah. Why won’t his brain let him see repeated sequences? And as soon as he snags on one it shows up over and over again. Like a magnet, drawing them. Or a mental black hole. He sees the reflection; he can see LET in backwards —ters.

Now it’s blanking backwards and forwards! His mind is going down the toi—! He can’t — this go… He can’t allow it to continue… Let. Yes. Plus OH. OH LET me remember… HOTEL. Well. He seems to be gaining a bit more control.

He gets into the elevator, leans his head against the wall. If he gets home, will all this stop? But how does he get home?

Not that he wants to get home just yet. He has unfinished business. But. Continue reading

LEDGE

This is the fourteenth chapter of my month-long work of fiction, NOV.

He’s sitting on a ledge, literally as well as metaphorically, confronted with the limits of his know—. He is trying to balance the —r of his desires and obligations, his pleasures and p—s. Behind him, a cliff; before him, a precipice; but beneath him, a place he can rest. A ledge, yes. And the view from here, literally, is not bad: art, architecture, cityscape. If only he could see as plainly figuratively.

He does not know a way off that won’t hurt, possibly kill. Continue reading

RESIDE

This is the thirteenth chapter of my month-long work of fiction, NOV.

The houses along the margin of the park are pretty nice. He can see how someone as resourceful and, apparently, magical as Janet would have the means to buy a nice big place, one of these red-brick Romanesque four-storey piles. Which one? They walk along in silence on the broad sidewalk across the street from the park, every five metres punctuated by another pretty elm or maple, each ringed closely by a low wrought-iron fence, its own solipsistic parkette. They are leafy for November.

Generally the space between him and an attractive woman on a walk like this is filled with the fuzz of conversation or the silent electromagnetism of expectation, but this time he feels as if he’s in an anechoic chamber with a glowing sword-bearing bejewelled idol, ensorcelling but ambiguously beneficent or baleful.

And yet she’s just wearing teal jeans and a SPAM-coloured shirt. And walking as though everything is exactly unexceptionable. Continue reading