Short Fiction

A Speed-date


(The bell rings and a fairly beautiful woman  sits down opposite Mark)

Mark:               Hi... I do hope you are more of a conversationalist than the last lady. I think she might have been shy. She certainly didn’t say much. I’m Mark. I was divorced recently. My wife is a…well, I should say my ex wife. I can’t get used to the idea of having an ex wife. I really can’t see the importance of it. Except for the fact that she gets paid out of my pocket. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she got her own way and I had to give her nearly everything. Except for some clothes, and my paintings of course. Thank goodness she didn’t like any of my paintings, can you imagine? I’m a painter by the way. Yeah… (Sighs), and her lawyers stuck me with all the expense. Damn lawyers. You know there is no justice in the world. Some people get everything and others are left alone to look forward to their own death. “In life there are certain sores that, like a canker, gnaw at the soul in solitude and diminish it.” I suppose you wouldn’t know that quote from Hedayat’s “The Blind Owl”; and I think it’s better that you don’t; it’s a pretty mind boggling novel. He committed suicide you know? And everyone at the time said: “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?” Ha! How benighted can some get? Anyway, I am a professional painter… I think I told you before? When I say professional, I mean that I have dedicated my life to it, not that I’ve sold many paintings. Well, as jobs go, it’s quite a terrible one. And, as a lifestyle it’s even worse. But you know, we don’t choose Art, it chooses us, and you can’t prepare for it. You can go to every art school and academy, royal or not, for years and still don’t make it. Oh sure you will be some artists, listed, which only a few, like those so called experts on Antiques Roadshow, will remember; but you won’t ever be a Leonardo, or a Turner. No, you have to have a vision, and an idea greater than god. You will be the Creator, and no matter what you create, it must be in your vision. (Laughs) It always makes me laugh when I hear the line “God created man in His own image” for God must be a terrible artist to have created such despicable examples. And how vain can you get? Self portraits by the billions! I need a drink. (Takes out a small flask, opens it and drinks from it) One can only endure this wretched life drunk; actually one must. Do you know in some religions you can’t have any alcohol, and their justification is that when you die there will be rivers flowing with wine in Heaven. (Laughs) I can just imagine what their heaven would be like. Full of drunks. Lenin and Bonaparte getting into a drunken brawl over Marilyn, while Einstein and Gandhi argue over whose round it is. Well I rather get drunk and forget about life and death now. My ex-wife never approved of my drinking. “You are a good for nothing drunk” she used to say, and that when she was in a good mood, which was hardly ever. Suffice to say I am not a rich man. I’ve never been, and it’s safe to say I never will be. I mean, it nice to be appreciated in your lifetime, but if I was to be, I would have been by now. I think that was one of the reasons my wife left me. She just didn’t see me making it as a famous painter. I tried explaining to her that all the greats were poor at one stage of their lives, and that Rothko didn’t even get recognised until his fifties, but it was no good. Fame. Ha! Why are we so obsessed by it? Now days to become a known artists you have to spend 14 million and make a diamond skull. Well I certainly don’t have 14 million. And if I did, I’d probably have to give it to my ex wife. (Takes out his flask and takes another sip) It’s all about marketing. Now days what you say is not important, it’s how you say it. Call it war and people be against it, call it fight against terrorism and you’ll get the right support. Art is not much different these days. If those damn publishers don’t think they can sell it, you will die an unknown. You know that they ask for 80% of the sales? Art is getting to be worse than music business. Soon they’ll be making five painting contracts…

(The bell rings again and the woman quickly gets up and leaves, and another woman comes and sits down in front of Mark.)

Mark:               Hello. I do hope you are a better conversationalist than the last lady, she didn’t say much. I think she was shy...



Finding Love


People usually want to know when it all started, and I usually tell them that I don’t know. But that is not the truth. I’ve always been me. I just started to notice me when I fell in love.

It was on a cold Monday in January. I had picked up my usual half an ounce of Hash from my dealer, who used to kindly let me build a joint in his flat, you know, for the way; and I used to return the favour by letting him have the first twos. He was an alright kind of guy, a real slow dude, but that was because he was always high. I was walking down the road with my half of a joint, when I saw my old mate Jimmy. Now Jimmy was a real mess head, I mean we were all mess heads in our own socially acceptable way, but we considered Jimmy to be the real mess head, due to the amount of different shit he did. Jimmy was the kind of guy that would do all his stash of pills in one go if he saw the club bouncer looking at him funny. He didn’t care, as long as the fucking bouncer didn’t get his shit off him. That night Jimmy happened to have an eighth of speed, and around fifteen White Doves on him, those are ecstasy pills if you don’t know. Now I usually did my chemicals on the weekend, you know for going out. Because there is nothing worse than being fucked and not having anywhere to go, right? I really don’t know why, but I found myself tempted by Jimmy’s offer to sell, so I got a gram of Speed, and five pills off the old boy, and told him he needs to get his head sorted. I remember him laughing and saying that maybe I should listen to my own advice.


There I was, with enough dope and chemicals to be put away for a long time, and I had nowhere to go. It was a Monday after all. No fucker wants to do anything on a Monday night. People are usually tired from work, and feeling the come down of the weekend. I decided to make a trip to the park and sit there for a while, maybe do a double drop and then some speed. In my opinion you should never do speed before ecstasy, because you simply won’t get to enjoy the buzz. If you have both, do the speed later when you feel yourself coming down, but you have to time it right. Some fucking pills are tricky, they keep bringing you down and five minutes later you are on the up again. But I had Doves that night, and they are quite good. I don’t know if you can get them still, I mean with all the cheap MDMA around, who does pills anymore right? Well, we didn’t have dealers for MDMA back then, so those White Doves were my only option. I did the double drop before I got to my favourite bench in the park. And when I got there I built myself another joint. I lay on the bench looking at the stars, which appeared every now and then through the clouds. Smoking a joint outside is different to smoking it inside. Inside you get fucked and lazy, it’s a mellow buzz. But, outside it gives you a live feeling. You don’t feel as fucked outside, just buzzing.


So, I was in the park, feeling the tingles in my toes. I was coming up, and the yawning had started. The ecstasy yawn always made me ponder over the purpose. Think about it, we yawn when we are tired or if you want to get technical about it, when we don’t have enough oxygen in our bodies, and I always associate yawns with dreams. A way of my body telling me, enough of this reality, let’s take part in fantasy and the unreal. I guess that’s the attraction of those little pills. After a while, I was feeling the full effect of that drop, so I decided to build another joint. You have to right? I mean there is nothing like getting kained when you are peaking. There I was, lower jaw refusing to stay in place trying to find my skins, when I heard a voice.

She was standing in front of me, watching me with those penetrating eyes. Dark curly hair to her shoulders. She wasn’t wearing winter clothing, which surprised me at first, but I decided against commenting on it. I introduced myself, and said that I thought she might be an angel of some sort. She laughed and said that she could be an angel. I asked her for her name and she responded by indicating that I already knew her. I ventured a “Clair” and she smiled, so I called her Clair. I could not feel the cold anymore, and that park might as well had been the summer beach in Miami. I told Clair that I had not slept for days, and that I smoked Hash to make me tired. She said that was lucky, because if I had been asleep, I wouldn’t have got to meet her. I finally managed to build the joint, and took a satisfying drag. I asked her whether she smoked and she said that I did enough smoking for us both. She was smart and beautiful. We just sat there enjoying each other’s company. I felt something that I had never felt with any other girl. It was comfort. With most girls that I find attractive, I can’t help but to imagine them in sexual scenarios, but not with Clair. She made me feel at ease with the world, as if nothing mattered anymore. Me and her, against the wretched world. It’s fair to say that I fell in love with her straight away. We talked about many different things. I was quite buzzing by that time, and as it’s always the case my mind was racing like formula one car. I couldn’t concentrate on one topic, and what was amazing was that Clair kept up with my every thought. She did talk too, and introduced ideas and theories, which I found interesting enough to discuss. I could not tell how long we talked for, it felt like forever. By that time I had done the Speed too, so I could have gone on for a lot longer. But, Clair stopped me as the birds started their declaration of sunrise. She told me that she had to go, but she said that she would be back again. I did not question her, I just accepted it. She said that it would be wise not to talk about her to anyone, and that if I did, I might not get to see her again. I agreed.


I walked home, still racing from the speed, and walked into the house, where I found my parents awake talking with a man. My mum had tear soaked eyes, and I could see my dad drowned in melancholy. This is it, I thought, this man is here to arrest me for the drugs. The man walked up to me and introduced himself as a doctor, and said that my parents had contacted him with concerns about my well being. The doctor told me that I should go with him to the hospital for a talk, so I did. We talked at length about the things I had been up to, and my insomnia. The doctor listened for a while, and decided to go outside and talk with his colleagues. So, in that office I sat, still fucked, mind still flying, and I never felt so alone in my entire life. I never heard the door, but out of nowhere, there stood Clair. Shocked, I asked her what she was doing there? Was this a joke? Did she have anything to do with this whole thing? She just looked at me, and said that she was sorry. Anger exploded from my body. I had trusted her, and she had betrayed me. What was she planning to do with me, have me arrested for drugs; lock me up for being awake? What? What? But she just looked at me with great sadness. And, then the doctor came back, and asked me who I was talking to? I pointed to Clair, still in the room, saying they couldn’t do that to me. Saying that it was entrapment. Saying that Clair had tricked me. But, the doctor’s reaction was not what I expected. He walked up to me saying, there was no one else in the room.


I live in a room at the psychiatric hospital. The door is labelled Schizophrenic. But I am not always alone in the room. Clair comes to visit every now and then, when I need her most, still wearing her beautiful dress. For a long time I felt stupid for falling in love with a figment of my own imagination, but isn’t that what everybody does? We use our imagination to create a perfect person whom we want to spend time with, and we project this image onto other people. Isn’t love a misunderstanding after all?


They say this whole thing only surfaced because of my own drug abuse. But it does not make a difference now. I’m just glad that I found love, however imaginary.