Lost in Space
The Chinese bar is full of fruit machines. So many people are playing the fruit machines. I sit at a table warming my hands with warm wine. A sex doll comes strutting towards me. Mind if I join, they say. Sorry I’m leaving, I say. They turn on the animal jam. Everyone jams to the animal jam. The sex doll holds out its hand and curtseys. The sex doll has been to charm school. It is hard to resist a curtsey. We dance our way through the legs of the locals. I’d like to take you to the movies but they don’t let you bring your own snacks, says the sex doll. Is this a pick up line or a factual statement, I think. I think about eating. It is the strongest kind of connection. Animals eat each other. We are animal/not animal. Somewhere between eating and being eaten is the no man’s land I am looking for. We walk the no man’s land across the big bridge into the floating world. We wedge out with cheese wedges. The cheese wedge is the best wedge. It wedges open the mouth pangs. The grey lights mean lost in space. My lights are turning grey. I’m lost in space. I’m often lost in space. But what is space. It is a cold place. Zeros add something to nothing. It is the difference between a little and a lot. Absolute zero is cold and space is even colder. Back home, I tell Siri to play The Cure. The Cure is playing Friday I’m in Love. Today is Friday. Am I in love?
Winnie takes the taxi. It winds up the hills overlooking the trout pond. The front desk woman, dressed to the nines, hands her the microchip wrapped in plastic. For the secret lift, she says. Take the horseshoe to the left, she says. She takes the horseshoe but forgets to hook left. She ends up back outside with a roaring fountain. The fountain changes colours from red to blue to yellow. Transfixed with the fountain. I can’t get stuck at the fountain, thinks Winnie. She yanks herself back to the horseshoe. Spins left. The secret lift. She slides the plastic. Pokes the three. It moves down. Opens into a room full of warm towels. The swimming area is closed due to the virus, says the sporty woman. Yes, says Winnie. Winnie slips out of her six layers of winter clothing. I’ve never worn a thong, thinks Winnie. Better not get a hummer, thinks Winnie, slipping under the towel on the massage table. Before long she is sliding around on the table. Her bones too close to her muscles. I am becoming a new person. I am becoming a new person. She says this over and over. Hoping for something. Trying to slide into the popping and crunching. We are heading into the meadows, says the tape player. Breathe into the meadows, says the tape player. Before long she is smelling damp grass. Even with the virus mask on her face. It is damp grass. She is moving away from the city into the country. Little streams to steam out the stress from the body. It’s the Rhine, says the tape player. The Rhine is country, thinks Winnie. And the stones, thinks Winnie. Where there is a river, there’s a stone, thinks Winnie. The wild west gallops into the picture. I’m the Rhinestone Cowboy, thinks Winnie.Rackety click rackety click rackety click. Her body is putty. All the world’s a hospital and the patients keep wanting to change beds, said Baudelaire.
Squirrels in the Attic
He used to shave up from my collar bone but a woman in Turkey showed him the downslope. Closer cuts, she said. It was closer but not close enough. Here, said the woman in Turkey, wielding the razor. Down, up, left, right. Your grain is everywhere, she said. It was hard to direct the razor. You’ve got to position your face for the future. Willy had the chops. But he didn’t have the position. The squirrels scurried in the attic. He turned on the television. He drowned out the sounds, but then they grew louder. A man knocked on the door. Yes, he said. It’s me, said the voice. He let the voice into the living room. The voice squeezed his shoulder. They plopped down on the sofa. Cathedrals were on the television. I’m blind, said the voice. Put your hand on my hand, said the voice. He put his hand on the hand and they drew the cathedral from the television. The two hands moving up and down and around. Stone by stone on the paper into a giant something. What do we have, said the voice. Is it any good? But then the squirrels returned with their scratching and scraping. The voice went out the door. I’ve got to take care of these squirrels, he thought. He slipped up into the attic. The squirrels had melted into the floorboard. Only their teeth were visible. Biting into the hard wooden floorboards
How is your mojo, says Willy. My mojo is medium, says Winnie. No more stinky thinker, says Willy. Hell is high waters, says Winnie. We are still swimming, says Willy. They enter the forest near Manhattan Estate in Katowice. I was born here, says Winnie. A rustling in the distance. The boars are having their picnic. They love the ways of the foliage. You cannot win the golden boar. The boars are off-limits. The moon saucers the sky. I’ve someone’s hair in my back pocket, says Winnie. Witch hazel, says Willy. It is good to feed the omens, says Winnie. Let us paint the doll face, says Willy. A little rouge and shadow. They come upon the stones. The stone people moved stones into tidy collections. Stones are full of spirits. They measure the way the light cracks. We are people of the stone. All that fortified calcium. Rich deposits for the earth goddess.
On the windowsill three small elephants. Their haunches pointed toward us for good luck. On the balcony a plastic crow, plus spikes, to keep away the pigeons. The sea’s spastic foam has soaked the sidewalks. Before long, we are pouch surfing. It is good to be here among the pouches. Everyone needs a good pouch even if you already have one. You can deposit into a pouch. A little or plenty. There is a lot to deposit when you are young and less and less as you wizan yr way into the elderly. Weed whacking starts early. The more you wack the more it grows. Chutes too narrow? Widen the chute. We slide into our pouches to burrow for winter.
Born in Portadown, Northern Ireland, Marcus Slease has made his home in Turkey, Poland, Italy, South Korea, the United States, Spain, and the United Kingdom – experiences that inform his surreal-absurd stories. His writing has been translated into Danish and Polish and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best Microfiction, and Best of the Net. His stories, poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in various anthologies and magazines in Europe and North America, such as Tin House, Fence, Poetry, and The Lincoln Review. His latest book of prose poems, Puppy, is available from Beir Bua Press, his novel in microfictions, Never Mind the Beasts, is available from Dostoyevsky Wannabe and his book of surrealist prose poems, The Green Monk, is available from Boiler House Press. He comes from a working class background and currently teaches high school in Barcelona. Find out more at: Never Mind the Beasts.