• SibLINGSHOT

hatchet


The sun is surely shining. If I lean out my window I can see it striking off the brick and glass across the street. A yellow phosphorous nagging. Marginally out of reach beyond that band of shadow dividing the road. The grass verge eaten into by chimney pots.      I sit in the shade and digest my share of a pizza. Count out those cigarettes remaining in the pack.      It is the tenement year.      A scraping of violin. An unchaperoned burst of tuba. Nothing much to write home about.      At five minutes past two in the afternoon our closest star is already in decline. The red bicycle still chained to the railing.      Truant children whimper in the stairwell. Spilling soft drinks where hands stretch out to brace against a tumble. Clutching at knees.      The phone rings. A woman in South Africa tries to sell me home insurance. Failing that, unlimited access to a sports channel. I am not interested. After three minutes of meaningless exchange she finally throws in the towel. I hang up and make myself a coffee. Smoke another cigarette. Watch a fly writhe and expire one inch below the lip of my cup.     At a quarter past three I sit down at my desk and stroke some keys.     Characters stutter and dance like an epileptic stepping off death row. A capital sentence commuted.     I give up and smoke another cigarette. Hang out the bedroom window long enough to give myself a headache. Dragged under by the weight of elephants, I resolve to strike out for the corner shop to find a cure.     Too much jazz pulls on the stem of my second glass. Clifford Brown. Max Roach.     I hanker after the need to destroy nostalgia. To burn up the celluloid of a Fred Quimby animation, torture the tomcat over a paladin lamp.     I turn up the music and listen mostly to the protests of my neighbours downstairs. Naked hostility radiates up through the floorboards. Someone has a joint going nicely. The pungent stink of it bleeds between the cracks. I don\’t begrudge them their high, of course, but their idiocy is another matter. I am an intolerant divorcé. A singular misanthrope. All day long they bitch and whine and cackle. It is impossible not to follow a conversation word for word unless one plugs in earbuds. Or wrestles catatonia. At night it is worse. Every imbecility amplified until one surrenders to sleep with their pipe still lit. If I owned a shotgun I\’d blow every fucker away and face the consequences. The music, as they say. The music. That anyone can confront a life sentence devoid of song is something beyond me. Stripped of warbling. The need to bend sinister. I would sooner slit my throat than succumb to the unending dirge of the mentally impaired.      I return to the bedroom window and see I have driven them out onto the back court.      They are joined by my next door neighbour\’s thirty-three year old son. He has returned to reclaim his ancestral throne. To live once more with mother. His partner left him after he was bitten behind the ear by a hatchet. They say the next blow might fell him permanently. I am busy analysing the odds. He thinks this is his parish. He does not care for me, my presence here next door. I caught him one night. Peering through my kitchen window. I do not care for thieves. Although I do not mind his brothers.      \”Sure is a nice day,\” I say to my son.      \”What ?\” he says. Closes the door on my face.      I peek in on him two hours later and find him lost in music. The headphones stuffing up his ears.      At a quarter past six precisely, I find I am still plumbed into the mainframe. I have all but wasted another day and nothing to show for it but this numbing woeful bilge on the bleachers. I go for a piss and see in the mirror my hair standing up on end like Travis Bickle. Uptight. Glued. It is time I got it cut. It is time I put away my toys and learned to live a little. It is time I got myself a dog.

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