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Servant's Log May 18-2418th May
Busy all day: cleaned windows, washed curtains, beef stew with leek and onion. On the master's request, dusted the foyer with special care today and prepared a vase with a bouquet of roses for the small bedroom. He expects a visitor tomorrow.
Spent the morning with standard duties; waited to greet the master's visitor, but the master requested that I busy myself elsewhere, as his visitor is uncomfortable with artificial servants. Cleaned the library extensively. Steak and potatoes with parsley for the master and his visitor. Hedges want trimming.
Brought the master his breakfast, then apparently took an unscheduled nap in the bathroom. Internal clock two hours out of sync with the master's atomic pendulum. Unsure how this happened; apparent systems failure. Will bring to the master's attention tomorrow.
Resumed duties as usual. Found sufficient breakfast dishes for two; cannot explain this. Checked for intruders, found none. If systems fa
Eyes Like Gift HorsesClacking as my train rounds the curve. An arm touches my lap. Near its owner’s mouth, her skin cracks. Her pupils reflect the overhead fluorescent flicker. She smells old.
The Chicago and Franklin stop. My shoe thuds against the wooden planks. A reclined man watches the sun, which is overcooking this city. I throw a quarter at his empty coffee cup.
The store is cool and dark. The cashier defiles the register with her body, creamy blues watching me lift a Shiraz off the top rack. Two thousand dollars. I shrug and leave, cradling the bottle. Outside, mayhem greets me. Cars everywhere, drivers watching their bumpers. Traffic crowds the buildings and river, pigeons cover everything else. Their bellies are distended. There is a sweetness in the air.
Today, it’s the riverfront Hyatt. I take a room for myself and my wine. The bellhop drapes his cart, face layered in shadows. The overhead lights are excessive. I don my sunglasses. The maid by the elevator looks flushed.
Fireflies"Ah! Little lights!"
He followed his young son's gaze through the twilight dim, looking into the wet grasses beyond the airport. "Fireflies," he stated, ever the pragmatic scientist.
"But... why are they disappearing?"
"They'll come back. Follow one closely, watch the path it takes. See?"
"It's like what you do, Papá?"
"Not exactly. They are not teleporting."
He held out his hand, a sign of impatience, waiting on the child to take heed and follow him along. But his junior stared at the drifting beetles, deep in thought.
"Sad," he finally mused. "What if they don't come back?" Like you.
GloryI didn’t really accept it until the day I decided to cut my hair. My sister braided it for me one last time – French braid, decorated with little white hydrangeas from the garden and the most perfect pink hibiscus behind my ear.
My pageant tiaras didn’t sit quite right on my head after the chemo took what was left of my hair. It’s okay – I’d rather be bald than grey any day of the week; no one will ever guess my age from now on, not without looking like a huge jerk. I’m still the prettiest girl in town, muthafuckas.
And then I realised, I was a pawn of greater menI'm flying on three tabs of Andraxian Blue. I don't remember taking them, but the Blue has an unmistakable way of splitting your head in two with a four iron. The question is why. It's been years since I've hit anything this hard, and I can already feel it coming on too fast.
People surround me like a swarm. Their noise reverberates through my skull, and the stench of their salts fills my lungs and threatens to drag bile out onto the street. They gawk at me. They sense something is different, and they're just waiting for their chance to tear me apart. They keep coming closer, sidling up to me as if nothing is amiss, pretending to look away.
It's too fast. I need something to cool me down.
I start to pat myself down for smokes - something to smother the Blue - and find a sheet of crumpled paper in my pocket. The letters slide around like pond-skaters over water, but after pleading with them they agree to stay still for long enough for me to read:
You've done something incredibly
Sketch - Little EliseShe flies through silent air. Stolen wings attend her shoulders. Her fragrance, morning dew. Chrysanthemums become her golden home. Her sustenance, honey nectar. Gossamer tresses and daisy stem ribbons crown the flower queen. Her airy dress, lily petals.
With a toy boat and spider silk sail she skimmed down tumbling rivers and across stormy seas. She hid from winter within the burrow of a beast and in fading light met her dearest friend. A butterfly net of silver loops strung to a diamond ring sought in vain to steal her from the sky.
Fly onward kindred souls, Swallow and Elise.
IntegrityI’ve never turned down a job. Professional integrity, and all that. But even so, when I saw the name in the file, I cringed. At some point in every man’s career, he gets that job he knows is going to make or break his name.
I’d been using this name for a while now, and it had started to get a decent rep behind it. People knew me. Not my face, obviously. I was smart enough to use wigs and contacts; prosthetics, if I had to. A face was too damn valuable, and not so easy to change. Especially if you didn’t go in for all that cosmetic surgery stuff.
But names? Names were easy. Names were shoes that you could slip on and off as needed.
This name was one I’d had long enough that it had moulded to fit, like a pair of hard wearing boots that weren’t so much pretty, as reliable. So I took the job, because integrity is all we’ve got, in the end.
I packed up my gear and went to the address. The client had already said where they wanted it to go down, and
Flash Fiction #212-6-15
Ralf looked at his watch for the fourth time in five minutes. Xavier was late again. Yesterday they had spent the time sanding the walls to give them a smooth surface from which to work. Today they were painting. Furious at his brother, Ralf opened up the paint tin and started stirring the contents with a stick. Soon he had worked up a bit of a sweat and the paint was frothy.
“Probably stirred it too much,” he muttered, checking his watch again. Xavier still hadn’t showed up. He out the extender and mixed it into the paint as per the packet instructions. This would slow down the paint’s drying. Because the colour of paint can differ from can to can, even with the same colour, he poured his freshly stirred paint into a five-litre bucket. Furious with Xavier for standing him up, Ralf vigorously stirred the paint in this bucket so that it was all mixed properly. He then used painters tape, the blue kind, and placed it on the wood of the skirting boar
In an essay on Robert Frank, Ian Penman wrote: ‘You are never going to live in some still strange meditative thing-free desert. You are here, and these are your things.’
The theme of the involuntary recurrences, of the mysterious resurgences of subjects in the photographs of different authors and times, is a theme that haunts me since I read The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer.
Photography returns us to the same dumb things over and over. As Dyer observes in his book the same objects recur with uncanny regularity: doorways, barber’s shops, ruins and roads to nowhere. Men in hats and dark overcoats smudge the grey weather in André Kertesz and Dorothea Lange. Chairs, fences, beds and benches rhyme endlessly into the distance in the work of Paul Strand, Brassaï, Edward Weston and Garry Winogrand. Blind beggars step out of August Sander onto subway trains for Bruce Davidson to photograph; doorways open out of Eugène Atget and William Henry Fox Talbot into interiors by Walker Evans and William Eggleston.
Well, Dyer forgot Sliding Scales, but I did not!