Freitag, 25. März 2011

404

Long after mankind has ceased to exist, the world will be left blinking and beeping and pinging.

Giant adds will scream their message at the night sky, where no trace of airplanes is to be seen.

Motel signs will remain on their watch posts, looking for prey to lure into cheap traps for the night.

The roads will be empty, no one to admire the larger-than-life screens.

In empty houses, screens will flicker and reveal the communications of spam bots, with programmed intelligence allowing them to pretend being 17-year-old horny chicks talking to well-endowed, muscular beach boys.

They will live forever.

Freitag, 18. März 2011

Tell them how you feel

The late afternoon spring sun drifted through the immaculate windows, adding the appropriate amount of grace to the family fathering. Claudia had to hand it to Aunt Tiffany, the old lady knew how to stage family gatherings. Everything looked so casual, in this no-one-really-lives-here way usually found in magazines. The throw pillows appeared to match everything, from the carpet to the cake plate. There were two kinds of coffee (yummy and decaf) and several brands of lose tea in lovely caddies surrounding three perfect-looking cakes.

Claudia wondered why exactly Aunt Tiffany went to so much effort for her siblings and their offspring. Surely not because she liked them, that much was sure. These gatherings were tedious and boring, and Claudia would rather have seen her dentist than her family.

In the meantime, Cousin Biddy had realized her victim wasn’t listening. “Claudia, you’re being impolite!” she exclaimed.

Claudia managed to show the appropriate amount of shame. “Sorry, Bridget, what did you say?” No one called that woman Biddy to her face – not unless they wanted a public scolding and the wrath of Cousin Biddy’s Lord.

“I’ve asked you if you have seen one of the TV services by Father Gregory. I think I shall go through my tapes and send you the one on respect for one’s elders.”

“Really, I am sorry. And yes, I did watch one of his services. Last Tuesday it was, I guess.” Claudia tried to shift her weight. Her injured knee was giving her hell these days.

“Oh, that was beautiful! Don’t you think…” And Cousin Biddy drifted off on a sermon of her own.

Claudia was not a religious person, but Cousin Biddy’s elation had fueled her curiosity enough to make her switch on the TV and listen to a black-wearing guy with overbite and the largest spectacles she had seen in a long time. The sermon had been really good, however, touching on the necessity of telling people what you really feel for them. She remembered his intense voice, “Do not assume your loved ones know what you feel for them. Tell them, before it is too late. You will feel a better person for doing so. The Lord reaps each and every one of us, and wouldn’t you like to know that you are appreciated?”

Her gaze drifted through the room, following the spring sunshine from one person to the next. There was Aunt Tiffany herself, mistress of this gathering, throning at the far end of the room. Still, Claudia could hear her complaining about all the hard work she had to do “to keep this place inhabitable”, even though everyone knew she had not only one, but three Mexican girls coming over for cleaning and shouting at several times a week. One of them, in addition, had the ungrateful task of renewing Aunt Tiffany’s “natural hair color – really, I don’t know why I am so lucky, but there’s not a single gray hair on my head, and praise the Lord for that!”
Next to her, on a significantly smaller wooden chair, sat Uncle Ted, with his usual expression of adoration. The couple liked to claim that they were still feeling like newly-weds on their honeymoon, although everybody knew that Uncle Ted was a regular over at the “Parlor of Sins” and usually slept on the couch anyway.

And this couple was a good example for the whole family. Claudia hadn’t given up hope that there had been a glitch at the hospital, and that she really belonged with a different family. Her parents were in the kitchen, she knew without looking – probably pilfering goodies from Aunt Tiffany’s fridge and helping themselves to some booze. This way, they saved enough money each year for their cruise around the Caribbean, usually coming back with unhealthy tans and complaining about the bad service and lazy maids.

Then there were cousins who stole, other cousins with disturbing religious views, uncles who drank and were out of jobs, aunts earning money in less-respectable professions, … The only family member Claudia really liked was Uncle George, and he claimed having discovered that the world was pear-shaped. Every first Sunday of the month, they gathered here – had done so since Claudia was a toddler – and flaunted their shortcomings with pride based on stupidity and inbreeding. Nevertheless, looking around the room, Claudia felt a strange warm sensation welling up through her torso. Maybe it was time that she made use of what she had learned from Father Gregory.

Slowly, she came to her feet, her painful movement interrupting Cousin Biddy’s explanation of the “light of the Saints”. She tapped her faux-silver spoon against her water glass. Silence settled over the crowded room.

She opened her mouth. “Dear family.” Now she really had everybody’s attention. Her father’s head appeared in the kitchen door. He was chewing something.

Claudia cleared her throat, made a second attempt. “Dear family. You all are a bunch of disgusting, self-important, stupid inbreds. If anyone would happen to ask me where I came from, I would claim having been adopted. You annoy the hell out of me, and I hate coming here to see you.” Then she limped out of the room, leaning heavily on her cane. Her car was the last in the driveway. Carefully, she draped herself on the driver’s seat. A quick glance to the front door – no one. Maybe Aunt Tiffany had had a stroke, and they were dividing her tchotchkes among them. Claudia didn’t care. She enjoyed the silence. A smile spread over her face. Father Gregory had been right, after all.

Freitag, 11. März 2011

Run

I'm almost done with lunch, and you look like dessert. You'd better run.

Dienstag, 1. März 2011

Hunting

It is very likely that I was conceived in a back alley while my mother was stoned. Or that some guy mixed her a "special" drink and she was blitzed out of her mind in a dark corner of a club.

Her own version differs, of course. On every occasion, she declares that I was a "child of love", a "magical gift" and that my conception was "very special" - the last one not even a lie, according to my theory. And her "sisterhood of the moon" is all awed and filled with love when they hear it, ghosts of past Beltane celebrations floating through their minds. Let me tell you this, not all herbs are meant to be used as incense.

I lean at the bar, my back to the wall with its mirrors and bottles. Believe me, none of that exotic stuff has ever been consumed in here. Why bother, if all you need is some syrup, food colors and cheap vodka? I bet that's the ingredient list for all the fancy cocktails I can see standing on the tables, some radiating their own light - or so it seems - in dark corners. I wonder if these are "special" drinks as well.

The drink next to my elbow looks too sweet, with a pink umbrella and at least a dozen kinds of artificial-looking exotic fruit impaled on blue plastic. Not my choice, I'll stick with my beer, thank you very much. At least it comes unopened. Even today, some guys can't imagine buying a girl a drink will not lead her to jump his bones.

Stupids. Everyone knows a cocktail at this place costs only two bucks. It's way more expensive to get into my pants. Unless it comes for free.

When you spend enough time at a place like this, you learn to read the customers. The hipster, the shy guy, the stupid drunk. I am not interested. All I am looking for, on these nights, are the dangerous guys. The ones who are persuasive in their own, very special ways. They may think they are clever, but the little signs give them away. A quick movement when they slip her a gay pill, or the tiny brown glass bottle carefully concealed inside the arm of the jacket. The Jackson pentagram, disguised as jewelery or in the shape of a tattoo. Hardly visible, but I've got eyes like a cat.

There is one. His victim is cute, blond, petite. The kind of girl who always attracts the biggest jerks. she laughs at something he says, head thrown back, oblivious to the danger. Her eyes sparkle. He appears to be attentive, but already his eyes are scanning the room, looking for dessert. Our gazes lock. I know what I look like. Easy entertainment. No one would expect what's inside this tiny leather package. But there's ways to hide whatever needs to be kept invisible. My hand goes up to the necklace. No one will suspect anything.

(You wouldn't believe the stores I had to go to for this outfit.)

He excuses himself, comes over to the bar - to get them a new round of drinks. Or something more? I lean in to him, whisper something. The blond's eyes lose their spark, turn to something cold and shining.

Sometimes I am tempted to walk away. Let them make their own mistakes. I could curl up on the sofa, watch an old movie. Instead I lick the stranger's ears. We leave the bar.