Waiting For John / An Ode To The Century Past / Imagine by Boris Glikman

The Dakota NYCWell, I finally made it to the city that never sleeps.  Of course the very first place I go to is The Dakota. I spent so many years reading about it, picturing it in my mind, dreaming about visiting it and now I am actually standing right outside its famous wrought-iron gates!

It is October the 9th, 2009. I have specifically timed my very first visit to New York City to coincide with his birthday. Surely he must come out and acknowledge his fans on a day like this, accept their greetings, perhaps even blow out the candles on the cakes some of his admirers will undoubtedly bring along.

Within five minutes of arriving at The Dakota—and what a thrill it is to see it for the very first time—Yoko walks right past me. Strangely, she carries no presents in her hands and looks rather melancholy on this joyous occasion. No, not just melancholy, more than that, she looks completely disconsolate and deflated, shrunken almost, as if some vital part of her has been amputated. But surely, once she walks into their apartment on the 9th floor, his famous wit will cheer her up and his cheeky smile will make her smile, too.

Meantime, I will stand here and wait for him to come out. I have flown across oceans to see him and see him I definitely will, despite those ugly rumours I overheard some time ago about something horrifying that apparently befell him a while back. What nonsense! Crazy things like that just don’t take place in our world. Surely fate would take extra-special care of such a man to ensure nothing bad happened to the creator of such sublime and immortal beauty. Why, I am certain he is half-lying, half-sitting on his bed right now, as I’ve seen him do in photos, picking notes on his guitar and creating more sonic jewels of ineffable wonder.

And so I will stand here and wait for him to come out, till nightfall if necessary, for I have to prove to myself that he is in fact a real person and not just an idealised construct created by mankind to satisfy its insatiable need for heroes. For it is almost impossible to believe so many timeless masterpieces could inexhaustibly flow out of one man. What if he is just an archetypal symbol of our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations for a utopian existence and so all my waiting is in vain? But no, that can’t be!

And so I will stand here and wait for him to come out, till nightfall if necessary, to wish him a happy birthday and to press into his hands some of my own poems and stories, so that he can see for himself that we both share the same ideals and beliefs.

And I will grab the opportunity to tell him how much his music has meant to me over the years, how his music gave me the inspiration and the courage to reach for peaks in my own creative endeavours, how music for me is the loftiest form of art and the most sublime means of expression. Alas, not being gifted with having celestial sounds divine arising and frolicking in my mind, I instead am constrained to convey my inner being through lame, unwieldy, coarse lumps of words.

I will let him know how I have tried to continue his mission of spreading hope and light around the world through my own writings, my own actions, my own conduct and interactions with people, for even one small candle can destroy the infinite darkness of the entire night.

Until then, I will wait, for I know if I wait long enough, he will come. He just has to come, for New York City is the place where everything is achievable, the place where impossible, ineffable dreams come true. And so if I just close my eyes and wish hard enough, surely he must appear!

“Waiting for John” comes from a series of pieces written by Boris Glikman titled “Impressions of America” after he visited the USA. This series takes a surreal and unusual look at America. Read more about Boris’ adventures here.

AN ODE TO THE CENTURY PAST

That was the age of despair, disrepair
of the damned and the condemned
but this is now, the New Utopia.

That was the time when we killed off our muses,
throwing their remains to the ravenous dogs;
our innocence disembowelled,
our hopes quartered
with five hollow-point bullets
on that cold December night. 

When six million replaced six-six-six
as the accursed number of all eternity and
six million nameless faces,
six million faceless names
were extinguished for that greatest crime of all –
Existence.

But this is now, the Neo-Utopia.

That was the age of despair, disrepair
when raven-black sun
threw rays of shadow upon the Earth
and giant bullfrogs ate pygmy antelope
bones, hooves and all.

But still we fought on, hoping for meaning to appear.
Yet when it arrived, it was only in our dreams,
dissipating the moment we awoke
and grabbed at its gossamer threads
with our crude, clumsy hands.

And this is now, the Last Utopia.

Imagine by Michael Cheval

“Imagine” by Michael Cheval


Imagine

When the city that never sleeps finally retires to bed, exhausted by its own exuberance and hyperactivity, then and only then does John appear at the memorial dedicated to him in Central Park.

Betrayed and forsaken by God, Fate and Mankind on that cold December night, John now performs for no one but himself, singing softly the sonic jewels of wonder he has composed posthumously, and still believing, despite everything that had happened, love is all you need.

He wears a hat made out of a mincer which is filled not with dead meat but with living strawberries, his favourite fruit, and his piano is a zebra-girl hybrid who died young, at the very same instant John passed into eternity.

If all this seems to be quite bizarre and beyond belief, one must remember this is New York City after all, a place where impossible and ineffable dreams do come true, if only one imagines them hard enough.

@Boris Glikman

The (Virtually) Real Life by Boris Glikman

The (Virtually) Real Life by Boris GlikmanI recall that day well. My friends and I were checking out an abandoned, run-down mansion on the outskirts of town and that’s when we noticed that strange, inexplicable things were beginning to happen… 

Every time we open a door to some room to take another look at it, the room and the things in it have changed and look completely different. The more adventurous amongst us explore the building more thoroughly, only to discover that it has an impossibly paradoxical structure. One girl gets spooked out and, in her hurry to get out of the house, jumps through the ground floor window. A moment later we hear a shriek of horror and bewilderment coming from the top floor – her senses refuse to accept that she ended up there and not on the overgrown lawn in the front yard.

Then someone screams out, “Don’t you see what is happening! None of this is real! This is all Virtual Reality! Someone is running this game and we are its involuntary, unwitting participants. So we can do anything; break all of society’s taboos, take any risks, shoot one another, because it is all a counterfeit, simulated world.”

At once I devise a way of putting this remarkable claim to the test. I speed off in my car and start driving along train tracks that ascend to a great height before ending abruptly in mid-air. My car goes for a graceful flight through the sky, spinning and turning, soaring up on the warm air currents, then gradually descending, rising again higher and higher, then stopping and hovering in mid-air.

Finally, I get tired of flying and crash-land on top of a high-rise building. ‘I wonder if I have sustained any injuries,’ I think to myself. ‘If this really is a virtual world, then I should be just fine!’

It occurs to me that if in fact my life has been virtual reality all along, then that would certainly explain a lot of things. I always thought this world and my life in it never made any sense – things were just too absurd and incoherent. Horrible, unthinkably terrifying events like massacres, famine, persecutions, injustices which would never happen in the real world kept occurring, time after time after time.

Now I could see why certain things kept getting lost and disappearing in my life, why my life never worked out right, why something always got in its way and ruined its forward progress. Now I could comprehend why I could never fit in anywhere and always felt at odds with the whole world, for this wasn’t an authentic environment, but rather an artifice of someone else’s mind; a degenerate, corrupt copy of the real reality.

No, this wasn’t the universe that the Absolute Being had created, according to His flawlessly sublime and ideal specifications, but rather a miscreation of some devious, impious, immoral human being. And so it contained within its make-up all the faults, deficiencies and imperfections that every human construction possesses, as well as being coloured by the particularly nasty character of the cad running this simulation.

It was also obvious that this contemptible creature held, for some reason or another, an intensely bitter grudge against me in particular. He obviously meted out the worst of his cruel tricks on me, judging by how my life has been just one senseless absurdity after another.

‘What kind of a person am I, really, outside of this sham construction? What is my life actually like in the real world? Who is the wise guy that created this diabolical game? What’s he got against me? Wait till I find my way out of this virtual world and get my hands on him! I’ll make him pay for all he has done to my life!’

And just then, an even more devastating thought strikes me: ‘What if I am the evil genius who created and is operating this game? What if it is I who has inflicted all of this misery, pain, suffering onto myself and the whole world? But why would I do that? Why would I torment myself so?’

The First Kill by Darcia Helle

Quiet Fury by Darcia Helle

NOTE: This story contains graphic images and extreme violence. Reader discretion is advised.

The First Kill is a short story from Darcia Helle’s collection Quiet Fury: An Anthology of Suspense

About This Story: 

Sean Riley is a minor character in my two Michael Sykora novels – No Justice and Beyond Salvation. The First Kill gives Sean the chance to step into the spotlight as the main character. The plot here has no connection to any specific plots in the full-length books.

***

The first kill was the hardest. His father staring with those dark narrow eyes that had incited fear for so many years. Even as the life seeped out of him, those eyes were full of scorn.

“You killed my mother,” Sean had said.

His father spat a mouthful of blood. A front tooth dangled, barely hanging on. “She was a whore.”

No remorse as death closed in on him.

A lifetime of pain. Hours of revenge. And it came to this. Nothing. Sean felt nothing.

A lot of years had passed since then. Sean McCarthy became Sean Riley. He reinvented himself. Went to college. But the past wouldn’t leave him.

Now he looked at the man across from him. Not his father’s eyes but enough like them to cause his stomach to tighten. Life bled from the man slowly, because that had been the request. Make him suffer.

Dave Billings, the dying man, appeared ordinary to those who knew him. Middle aged, thinning hair, wire-rimmed glasses. Unmarried, quiet, respectful. Billings worked as an accountant, volunteered his time as a soccer coach for young beginners. That’s when it all started to go horribly wrong.

“How many?” Sean asked.

Billings shook his head. “Please…”

“We’re beyond begging. How many?”

“I’ll do anything.”

“That’s the problem, isn’t it? You’ll do anything. No territory too creepy for you to wander into.”

“I…”

Billings yanked at the restraints. His wrists chafed against the zip ties, the effort futile. Thirty minutes ago, Sean had crept into the house where Billings lived alone. Sean had dragged Billings from his bed and had his wrists and ankles secured before the man had managed to blink the sleep from his eyes.

“How many kids?” Sean asked. “Don’t make me ask you again.”

“You don’t understand.”

Sean stuffed the rag in Billings’ mouth. “You’re right. I don’t.”

Fingers broke easily. One. Two. Three. They hung at odd angles, while Billings screamed against the gag. Sean sighed. He sat on the kitchen chair opposite Billings and waited for the thrashing to stop.

Hit man. Assassin. Hired gun. Those words had all been used to describe him. He was a killer, plain and simple. That didn’t bother him, the killing part, anyway. His father had taught him how to kill and how to detach. He’d seen his first snuff film when he was three.

Billings finally slumped back against the chair. Sean reached forward and pulled the gag from Billings’ mouth. “You’ll answer my questions now. You see, I don’t care how much I have to hurt you to get the answers. Understand?”

Billings nodded. Tears and snot ran down his face. Sean said, “How many?”

“Can I explain? Please?”

The gag filled Billings’ mouth before he could flinch. Another finger snapped. “Next time,” Sean said. “I’ll cut it off.”

He crossed the room and picked up the small backpack he’d brought. Back in the chair, he opened it and gave Billings a glimpse of the contents. Pliers, knives, a small torch. Billings’ eyes bulged.

Sean took the rag from Billings’ mouth, said, “How many?”

“Five.” Billings’ voice trembled. “But it’s not like you think! Let me explain!”

“You molested five boys. Five. Innocent. Children.”

“I didn’t molest them! I just… it was just touching. That’s all!”

Sean stuffed the rag back in Billing’s mouth. When he’d started out in this career, he hadn’t cared about the why. He never asked. He was hired to kill someone, so he did it. He was damn good at killing and even better at not caring. Watching his father murder his mother had done that to him.

Then he’d met Michael Sykora. A client who wanted his fiancé’s murderer found. Tortured. Destroyed. Sykora had been looking for justice in a world that rarely gave any. And he wanted to see it happen. That was a request Sean never granted. No one ever watched him work. Nor did he take photos. Killing wasn’t a spectator sport. But something about Michael Sykora had made him say yes.

Sean had found the scum who’d murdered Sykora’s fiancé. Then Sykora had taken one look at the man and something snapped. Ten minutes later, Roger Dossing’s bloody body lay in a heap on the concrete floor of his garage. Sykora had beaten him to death, while Sean looked on.

Turned out, Michael Sykora was damn good at killing, as well. Only he cared. He had to know why. Losing his fiancé to a repeat rapist-turned-murderer changed the person Sykora had been. He got a taste for justice, vigilante justice some would call it, but justice nevertheless. He set out on his own crusade to right the wrongs, rid the world of the bottom-dwelling scum. And somewhere along the way, Sean had joined him.

He turned his attention back to Billings. The man was squirming in his chair. Five children had their worlds turned upside down by this man. Five children whose lives would never be the same.

“Just touching?” Sean said softly. “That’s how you justify what you do when you look in the mirror every day?”

Billings shook his head furiously. Desperate to speak, his muffled pleas got lost in the gag. Sean removed the pliers from his backpack. “Do you know how sensitive that spot beneath your nails is? Have you ever had one tear too far down?”

Billings’ eyes nearly popped from his head. His body shook violently and he toppled over, chair and all. Sean reached down and righted both the chair and Billings. Five minutes and five fingernails later, Billings lay in a heap on the floor. His body convulsed, as tears streamed down his face. His nose drained snot and he fought for breath around the gag.

Sean searched through the kitchen cabinets, found a glass and filled it with cold water. He drank it slowly, watching Billings struggle for air. When he’d finished his water, he carefully washed the glass and put it back. Then he yanked Billings up and sat him back on the chair. He pulled the wet rag from Billing’s mouth and the pedophile gulped at the air.

“That was a fingernail for each child you molested,” Sean said. “We have a problem, though. Your fingernails will grow back. But the kids are damaged forever. You think that’s fair?”

“I’ll give you anything you want,” Billings stammered. “Please. Anything. You want money? I’ve got ten grand saved. You can have it! Please, just stop!”

“Tell me about Bobby Lawrence.”

Billings sucked in a breath. His eyes darted around the room, seeking escape. “Tell you what? Bobby is a good kid. I coached him on this year’s team.”

“Coached him or molested him?”

“I…”

“Do not lie to me.”

“I touched him! Okay! Is that what you want to hear?”

“How many times?”

“What?”

“How. Many. Times.”

“I… I don’t know!”

Bobby Lawrence’s father had hired Sean to take care of Billings. How Lawrence knew for sure that Billings had been the one to molest his son was something Sean didn’t know. He didn’t need those kinds of details. He did, however, look into Billings before agreeing to do the job. Last week, he’d broken into Billings’ house while the guy had been at soccer practice with a group of four-year-olds.

He’d emptied Billings’ hard drive onto a small flash and given it to Michael Sykora. His client was now his partner and the guy was a genius with computers.

Sean hated the machines but pedophiles consistently loved them. They hid and encrypted their files, thinking that would somehow save them. Michael took no time in finding the hidden photos. Hundreds of them. Images that Sean would never get out of his head.

“You don’t know how many times you molested Bobby Lawrence?” Sean asked.

“I only touched him!”

“And took photos.”

Billings gulped air. “I…”

“Don’t.” Sean glanced at the digital clock over the stove. Almost four a.m. He needed to end this soon, get out before the neighborhood woke up. “I don’t want to hear your excuses, Billings. I don’t think Bobby or his father want to hear them, either. However, Mr. Lawrence would like to know a few things. His main concern is whether you put his son’s naked photos on the Internet.”

“The Internet?”

“Spare me the innocent act. I have no patience for that. You share photos with other twisted men who get off on little boys. We both know that. You post them on a website where you all go to get off. Did you do that with Bobby’s photos?”

Billings slumped, defeated. “No.”

“If you lie to me, it will be much worse than a few missing fingernails.”

“I didn’t!”

“Why not?”

“I… I hadn’t wanted to share him, yet.”

“I see.”

Sean got up, paced across the room. His skin crawled. Being around Billings made him feel dirty and he desperately wanted a shower.

“I love Bobby!” Billings blurted.

Sean groaned. “No. Don’t do that.” He walked back to his chair, sat down. “Mr. Lawrence would also like to know if you made Bobby do anything to you.”

Billings’ Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. Sweat seeped through his t-shirt, dripped down from his scalp.

“I asked you a question,” Sean said. “Don’t make me ask again.”

“He wanted to. I didn’t make him do anything!”

“Bobby wanted to touch you?”

“Yes! He wanted to please me.”

Sean’s stomach lurched. That was it. The things Lawrence needed to know for his own sanity. Sean could erase Billings from the world and end both of their suffering.

He had the knife in his hand. A five-inch blade, brand new, serrated for extra pain. Before Billings saw it coming, Sean buried the blade deep into his flabby gut. Billings sucked in a ragged breath, gasped, begged with his eyes.

Blood seeped from the wound. Sean stuffed the gag in Billings’ mouth, then twisted the handle. The blade shredded organs. Billings whimpered into the gag.

Lawrence had wanted the death to be slow. The man would be happy if this went on for hours. Days, even. But the suffering wouldn’t change what Bobby Lawrence had gone through. Nothing erased that.

Sean sat in his chair and watched the life seep from Billings’ eyes. He flashed back all those years ago to his first kill. His father’s eyes, so much like Billings’. Both scum who preyed on children, shaping the adults they would later become.

 ###

Darcia Helle lives in a fictional world with a husband who is sometimes real. Their house is ruled by spoiled dogs and cats and the occasional dust bunny.

Suspense, random blood splatter and mismatched socks consume Darcia’s days. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative. Only then are the voices free to haunt someone else’s mind.

Join Darcia in her fictional world: http://www.QuietFuryBooks.com

The characters await you.

http://www.QuietFuryBooks.com/blog
http://www.Twitter.com/darciahelle
http://www.Facebook.com/quietfurybooks
http://www.Facebook.com/darcia.helle

The mePhone by Boris Glikman

The mePhone illustration by Michael Cheval

Illustration by Michael Cheval

One of the best things about being on Facebook is the opportunity to get to know some really talented people. One of those gifted ones, is writer & poet Boris Glikman (from Melbourne, AU) who has graciously allowed me to share some of his quirky, fun, short stories here with you.  Here’s the first.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on this piece so please comment!

The mePhone

One day a new type of phone that you could use to call yourself appeared on the market. All one had to do was dial a certain number and one would be connected straight away with oneself. The quality of the reception was so good that the voice on the other end of the line sounded as if it was coming from the very same room.

Inevitably, there was some initial apprehension about using this phone, for no one quite knew what kind of a response they would receive when they rang themselves out of the blue for the very first time. What if their unexpected call was considered to be an impertinent invasion of privacy?

Eventually, these fears subsided as most found that they were greeted with warmth and enthusiasm and their calls were seen as a pleasant surprise. Talking with yourself was just like talking with a dear friend you haven’t seen for a long time and conversation flowed easily.

People rushed to purchase this new invention, which was marketed under the brand name of “mePhone”. Suppliers could not keep up with the demand and there were ugly scenes as customers fought amongst themselves for the last available mePhone.

For mePhone to work properly certain rules had to be followed, and these were set out in the Owner’s Manual. First, the reception only worked in particular areas, access to which required an extra fee. Second, there was a strict time limit on how long you could spend speaking to yourself. And third, when using the mePhone, one had to wear special, rather cumbersome apparel that was sold separately from the phone. Also, owing to the technical complexities involved in establishing a connection, the cost of a call was outrageously expensive, although some enterprising phone companies, hoping to capitalise on the popularity of the mePhone, for a while only charged it at a local call rate.

However, these inconveniences were more than outweighed by the benefits you gained from having a good chat with yourself, for no one had ever had the time to stop and take a good, honest look at their lives. Everyone was always rushing about, preoccupied with the mundane details of existence, trying to silence the nagging question of whether they were happy with their lives and if they were being true to their inner selves.

And so it was an enlightening experience to be able to have a deep and meaningful talk with oneself. The users of the mePhone could now catch up with all the things in their lives they had never had the chance to think about before, to find out the vital news that fell by the wayside as they were speeding along the road of life.

People found that talking with yourself was a lot like talking to an old confidant, with whom the most intimate matters could be discussed. Not infrequently tears were shed as truths one had been hiding from oneself for many years were conveyed in blunt and forthright terms. Conversations gained a confessional aspect as darkest secrets known only to oneself were divulged openly over the phone lines. Quite often, surprises were lying in store as people discovered what they were actually feeling inside. At other times, the voice on the other end of the line would remind you of your long-neglected dreams, of desires and needs you had suppressed for far too long.

Many found out they weren’t really happy in their places of employment. Some realised they had fallen out of love a long time ago. Others saw for the first time that they had deluded themselves as well as others into believing they had reached fulfilment, regardless of how they actually felt inside. Quite a few recognised that they had become so comfortable with being miserable and disenchanted that they shrank back in fear when contentment appeared to be within easy reach.

The world became a better, happier place because of the mePhone as people at last began to be true to their own selves, for they knew they could no longer get away with lying to themselves. The way life had been before the mePhone was just a distant, faded memory and no person could imagine ever being without one.