By Angel Lewis
There was a crick in his lower back as he bent over to pick up the stubbed out cigarette by the side of the road. His suit cuffs had the odour of nicotine. The dirty shiny fabric revealed his grey blemished shirt sleeve as he stooped. The build-up of dandruff looked like virgin snow on a road as it tumbled from his shoulders. It completed the theme that accessorised his filthy attire.
His hair had gradually turned from greyish to silver over the years: his obsessive, almost religiously, conservative ways made up more than half the reason.
“Move Bredrin”! He felt a kind of Knee shove in the side of his thigh as he struggled for balance clutching at a plastic street bin.
“Louw imm man, where’s your respect bro”? Said one of the young lost ones.
“But he’s a pig. Look at him scrambling for old squashed fags”.
It was true, he had sunken lower, if that was at all possible considering his previous limbo style life. He never questioned the morality before the money. He would do anything-restrain wasn’t his strongest quality when it came to financial gain. The lost ones walked away bouncing up and down with zest like piano keys popping up and down almost never in the same tune.
Paul picked himself and his habit up scuttling away, hoping not to bet noticed. The encounter raced his heart and lit his mind. It caused him to think back to better days, better times when smoking wasn’t a thing.
He remembered when he used to exhale with pride blowing the smoke of Cohibas into the faces of men who knew the difference. Only members of Parliament and… well Cubans got to smoke this particular brand of cigar. You got used to smelling it in the house; they considered themselves Lords. The house air freshener would submit to the Cuban’s overpowering smell. You dared not ask how such an expensive smell could become the standard of the house at times of recession.
His foot slid forward at least three inches as he slipped into reality. There was an instant stench. It appeared as though the dog had been eating yellow paint as the camouflaged dark greenish poop cracked open to reveal the slippery inner waste. His shoe and the pavement made a sandwich out of it.
“For **** sake, can’t you people just pick up after your dog? That’s what the damn bag’s for”, he yelled. “You animals”! He said it with his pupils in the corner of his eyes and a long, fixed frown. He was also checking to see if his attackers had gone. “You’re all just animals…take, take, take and give nothing back”. The madman in the shit was almost a contradiction and certainly a metaphor. But he knew exactly why he referred to them as animals. It was the very reason he was able to sleep at night after sending the animals to their deaths in the Middle East. He was well versed in the language of statute. He’d throw in an act here, a few codes there and voilà, like a magician he could create anything he wanted but that was in what he called his heyday.
As a matter of fact, Paul Munroe was well known for his success with a lethal traffic code that was eventually adopted in France, Italy and six states in the US. He used the emotions of the people after an illegally parked vehicle and the resulting deaths posed the perfect opportunity to convince his party constituents to okay his new scheme. It went through. The public bought his ‘Minimal Cost-Reasonable Loss’ campaign like it was the second coming. It sounded good without any real thought. But then we know people don’t think half as quickly as they parrot the new word, phrase or headline as if they earned extra points for knowing first.
It was a success worldwide…well at least with the view of creating profit, mainly because the people hadn’t noticed the absence of a cap on the new, now escalating, fine. It was raised 200% within two years. He made billions for a few governments.
Yet there was Paul, years later, being thrust forward by the violation of yet another cunning legislation that he knew was destined to fail amongst the uninformed masses. I mean, what did right wing Ray care that his Pitbull shat on a quiet road in Dalston to relieve his tummy of some old chips he ate outside of ASDA? Who was gonna stop him from edging away from the hot turd? In fact, Mr. Cist always left his home without a bag. He knew he would be home and dry before anyone discovered his little pop-up poop. Unfortunately, today it was Paul.
He always referred to them like that, it seemed it was his way of trying to justify his selfish actions against humanity with his tendentious statutes. He thought it was okay to screw them because they were just animals. Ironically he had a… well, small point but nothing to validate his careless infliction, taking money from those without any. But then if they had the sense they would call his policies crimes against the state but they were in no state to see that such vast inflation shouldn’t be considered anything other than a fraud in the eyes of justice. But by its very nature, the eyes of justice were well and truly shut.
In his face was a look of utter disgust. His nose creased as if it were hoisting the slither of red that you could barely call a lip. In his angry observation, he saw some corn spilling out from the poo. It was noticeably large and more round in shape rather than squircular. He recognised it, it resembled GEnoCorp’s brand that he once had dealings with. Corneeka was the name. It was really easy to convince the house to accept that one. The indoor bred corn substitute promised local and cost-effective means to profit.
GEnoCorp had labs all over the world and their mission and aim was to subjugate God’s pabulum with food, absent of soil. They called it FAOS Food. The potential was in the trillions in their eyes and well worth the endeavour at any cost. They knew that their dishonour of trade agreements and the disgruntled countries that they had screwed worldwide would soon arrive like instant Karma causing inferior products to hit their own shelves but who cares. This was their band-aid for a self-inflicted pernicious gash.
He couldn’t help himself, he was locked into reflection, just staring at the open feces. The theatrical metaphor with him featuring was a spectacle. He was his only audience. He thought.
‘Here I am’, he thought. ‘Smelling like a toilet, staring into the body of a broken turd, exposing shitty GM corn that I, yes I… I did deceptively place them on the supermarket shelves by pure lies, lies, lies, with absolutely no idea nor a fleeting care for its long-term effects on the health of you dumb animals’.
He shouted with passion as though he was addressing a crowd.
“Now I, Lord High Admirable Munroe too have been shat upon by my trusted constituents, men who’ve turned me inside out and upside down, I feel like Dianna as I sink lower, lost in the very jungles that I once proudly created, that I crafted slowly, carefully, skillfully and attentively. Created from women made slaves to their mesmeric magnetism for the drawing of useless men lost to their pride adrift, out of their orchestrated Sisyphean sweat turned to fodder to feed the fodder to create more animals for my machine”.
“I mark the pathway with feces. The mark of a broken man lost in his own design, I await the inevitable and sobering bite from my own pathetic, brainless home-grown monsters”.
He didn’t care anymore, the little restraint he had left in him was gone, he was the crazy man in the street, screaming what sounded like nonsense yet his nonsense contained critical information for anybody who half-cared, that could steer a whole nation away from the dirty dealings of their elected elite. It was an exposé, an unwritten report. He knew they would hear nothing.
He was a wordsmith. His early experience in psychology and then business made his mind deadly. In his time he’d manufactured a phrase so deadly and so devious that any crime could be committed openly and hide behind the phrase of rejection making the whistleblower the guilty one and ceasing all investigation. The ‘Conspiracy Theory’ phrase was one of many made by FIP: a government think tank over which he also once presided. They also promoted the wide use of ‘terrorist’ and a whole library of other words that the insecure public couldn’t wait to use on each other out of context just to engage in dinner talk, barber shop or social media jabber. Insurgent was yet another creature of Mr. Munroe although it was created for offshore conflict it served the same purpose at home.
It banded anyone who wasn’t pro-United Nations into a box that turned the local citizens into prey, like food for the hungry prisons wanting of labour.
He was releasing the pain of having dirtied his soul for nothing. The promise of a peaceful, wealthy retirement was far from his experience. His trusted constituents screwed him over and he could do nothing about it. The bum had once sworn an oath and it wasn’t to Queen and Country. He was the fall guy because his loyalty was to the disloyal.
His whole life seemed pointless now and all he could do was lash out as if he could turn back time and instead be a loyal contributor to the people’s needs. Ironically, it took 40 years for him to simply recognise his job description. This pained him. After all these years HE was the sleeper, the unconscious walking dead that he used to scheme against even though he’d created them. Every regular face he saw, every underprivileged, blue collar grafter was his mirror of shame.
If there was a social problem he would most likely have been the cause-rise in heart disease: him, cancer: him, broken families: him. He brought in an act that was also adopted in the US, where mothers became the victim and plaintiffs towards unsupportive fathers. Albeit a valid point, as all his points had to be, they were engineered. The act excluded nobody, including the mentally ill. He fast turned a monetary dispute into a crime that often held the weight and prison time of a deadly assault. With this nasty action, he was responsible for the loss of freedom of many a good man and as many deaths just because cops now had a quota to fill. He had police working for commission. He called them commissioners.
“Paul, Ahem! The right honourable Lord Munroe, how do you stand upon the matter, said Lord Nash”.
Without even thinking, Paul jumped to his feet. The house was quiet, there was an audience of forty or more predators ready to administer his scheme and break out into a frenzy of ‘here here’s’, like a pack of hyenas on an elephant carcass. All he had to do was concur and the regular business of money being made and lives being lost would continue as usual.
As he realised where he thought he was he found it hard to understand whether it was a dream he had or a vision he was in but he knew he had changed. He remembered himself once laughing at a movie and thinking about how close the useless eaters were getting to figuring out true reality, but they were not quite there so back to business as usual. That’s all he got from it. Now he was hearing the words of Morpheus echoing in his head.
‘Is it so hard to believe? Your clothes are different. The plugs in your arms and head are gone. Your hair has changed’. And exactly as done in the movie, Paul put a shaky left hand to his head to touch his hair, it was thick and full and probably still black. He was younger. The house was silent, everyone was staring at him. He had just become aware of where he actually was, as well as what he was. He had no idea of what the bill in question was for but he did know his opinion was vital and way overdue.
As the primates started bickering in low voices it was clear that they held him in high esteem, there was an unusual respect for the young right honourable Lord Munroe. There would be no shouting and no call for order even though they desperately needed a response.
“Allow me to take us on a short journey, they listened with an abnormal patience. We are but a thought in a universe made of mind”…
He paused and exhaled,
…” and what a beautiful mind of pure potential. But we have chosen to be, rather than a contribution, a contradiction to that cosmic beauty-a dirty intention. We cling to this condemned rock like the Titanic, this portion we call earth that ET’s may rightly be calling the stain, all because of the blemished minds that we have created with our selfish polluted thoughts. We disregard heavenly law to create bills as a remedy to pretend to rejoin the beautiful order that we know we will never truly join. Just another moment of false hope as we bury the truth and hold hands in this group suicide.
Nation by nation we play our evil part. It matters not what act we sign for they are exactly that-Acts. Nor does it matter why or where these bills that create these ills are placed on this wounded portion of the universe. We have become seasoned in pretending to be the law when the law is in question, yet no wise man would question the real law. The law binds our cells to each other but we seek to break them free and magnify these tiny differences with statutes that question our primordial law and make you pay dearly with your essence.
You ask me this question when there is only one real question. When will we finally implode into nothingness for the heavens to continue with the truth as a rule and love as it’s way? The journey was swift and on our way back to a tiny planet, in a tiny country, in a tiny city, in a tiny house, in that tiny mind, the animal will do only what’s within it’s negligible yet critical mind. Do as you will.
He retired onto the bench without a care as to what they decided as he was done with it all, he was empty and full at the same time. He was alive and in an instant, his heart was transformed.
In their design, they agreed that the middle of the night would be the most beneficial of times so not to be seen defacing public property.
One Alien, Ali Enfield the graffiti artist, faced ten years in an earth prison for his crime. He plea bargained his way to freedom when he agreed to give the court the name of his accomplices under one condition. The condition that the court agreed on two things; one was; The jury must agree that the accomplices that assisted him in his crimes location did not have to matter and could be anywhere and two; that during the serving of his sentence he would be granted assistance to support anything he wished to create as long as it was productive.
After the Judge agreed to Ali’s plea bargain, the court were all shocked to hear that his accomplices’ location truly did not matter at all because they were just non-material thoughts inside of his mind and so, as promised, he submitted the names of the five accomplices that lead to the crime: fear, desperation, hunger, insecurity and notoriety.
On the first day of his sentence, he requested assistance in creating one mile of space around his body. This could only be achieved without walls. He then went on with his creating and was outside of the prison walls within a few hours.
Whatever happened to Ali Enfield, nobody seems to know as he was never seen again but there were many sightings of his work around the English countryside. He certainly was an honest, upright individual and kept to his word, as unconventional as it was.
By Angel Lewis from the book ‘Brush’
The Birth Of A Habit
“I once read that the mark of a great actor is to possess the ability to imagine a thing that they generally dislike and allow themselves to become aroused by it.”
Austin screwed up his face “Eeww.” he said
“Your testosterone ass probably saw a dood, didn’t you?” Austin was shaking his head in disgust. …but, ok if you did have to, he’d have to be exactly like a woman, right?”
“Dood don’t even go there.”
“Aha! A low calibre D-list actor.”
“Are you nuts, I craft characters out of nothing?”
“Well, why’s this so hard?”
“Cos, men are freaking, dirty, smelly, hairy, rough and disgusting”
“All of them?” Asked Richard
“All of them!”
“Okay what about Fabon, he’s cleaner than your germaphobe of a sister, and that’s a record right there and have you ever seen a hair on him?” Richard wanted to prove a point.
“Look man, he’s…men have got no figure” He corrected himself before completing the sentence to make it less personal.
You could never say Tony ain’t got hips. They both started laughing thinking of all the times they’d call him a girl as children and at how remarkably it was that it hadn’t stered his sexuality.
“Dood! Men ain’t gentle, you know when a woman strokes you with them soft hands and her soft breath is near your ear.” Austin breathed in deeply as his strong imagination took the lead.
Ok, so a beardless man with soft hands, a bottle shape, like Tony,”… he giggled. .”..and breath smelling like roses would turn you on?” Austin tilted his head like a dog, with a confused look shaking his head.
“Yeaahhnno” he said.
“You know?” said Richard, mocking and questioning his response.
“Nah man, my grandad always said, when you’re searching for something you always find it, a woman is a woman is a woman and I don’t wanna even imagine that shit.
“Too late he said picking up his JanSport backpack with a smirk that glorified his psychology obsession.
Austin left the tea house minutes after Richard did but Richard had quite deliberately left behind something very important. It was his baggage. The heavy dark question in his mind was emptied out on to Austin. He had been questioning and fighting with the conundrum for a while and needed to share it with someone for his own satisfaction and also to relieve him of the mental turmoil of a question he truly wished he had never asked. He insidiously chose to place it on unsuspecting Austin in the most palatable way that he could, through his passion: Acting.
That evening Richard’s mental baggage was shifting around in Austin’s head, it was demanding answers. Austin was 32 and quite adventitiously questioning his whole life path. He’d had quite a few challenges the previous year, his family knew he wasn’t dealing with them because he definitely took all his frustration out in his acting to the effect of being dubbed the title ‘Actoholic’. Although he outwardly seemed confident, he felt that life didn’t make sense.
At one time when life was simpler, just saying his grandparents were from (Persia) Iran gave him the highest props. Yet today he watched his people despised around the world because of the countries resistance to America’s plans to gentrify their culture and the war that followed. Yet Austin felt rich inside, it was the memory of the good times that he was most comfortable with so he held onto them. But to let the truth be known he was stuck between the conflicting cultures of the east and the west and was beginning to lose faith in his principles.
He heard the baggage in his head while checking his email and the curiosity rose. He was alone and his sub-conscience had put his conscience in a sleeper. The numerous flashing ads on the screen made it a hypnotic clump of one constant noise. He hesitantly thought of smooth hairless men (google or just thought it) instantly an image appeared, yuk it wasn’t pleasant , he’s naked, but at least his shoulders are narrow, he thought. Looks a bit like Jenny his Sisters friend, he thought…bout her height too. He thought about her with a moustache as though he was trying to narrow the gap between male and female. He was starting to look for the best in a bad situation. Beneath that image was a hairy beast with a beard all the way down to his chest. Austin wanted to puke.
I need to feel if this is true. Okay, I’m a man but a man can be like a woman, he stroked his face and it actually felt as a woman’s touch. As he lost control of his thoughts he went on to wonder if he could arouse himself. He thought that was less damaging and a more reasonable attraction to have to yourself as a heterosexual male. “It’s okay to be attracted to yourself, right?” he thought.
Twenty more minutes of this rampant mental journey Austin found himself fishing around for incense. He thought to burn some and use the charred end to enhance his eyes. He wanted to see if he could at least see in himself the eyes of a woman as he was always complimented on his big almond-like eyes. Mascara was something that he would never possess. He then remembered that the Muslims often wore coal to enhance their eyes, men and women alike, nobody ever got suspicious of their sexuality. The Yemeni Bodega up the block had man coal.
“Woah, woah, woah.” He stopped and exhaled, he sat down staring out the window, utterly shocked that he nearly followed up on such a stupid idea.
He sat for a minute and headed back to his computer, getting ready to delete the disparaging search. He saw the next image down was the most beautiful, gentle-looking woman with the softest features ever. “That’s what I’m talking about, a man can’t look like this doll right here.” Just after his confident statement he soon realised it was a man, his eyes opened wide then relaxed back deeper than where they were originally but even more relaxed. He thought damn, how’s this possible? He tried to deny his excitement by blaming it on the fact that she looked exactly like a woman. The burning thought caused him to think, does it matter?
He felt aroused and he knew it, Richards experiment had led to another question, the question was no longer about his acting ability but about his sexuality. Suddenly his conscience turned in its sleep awaking his ego, he stood up, shook his head, he knew now that he should never have accepted the task or let it become a question in his mind, he had not the discipline to leave it alone.
He walked out the door into the night defeated and desperately trying to forget.
He had no idea that forgetting would be impossible as the first person he would see, whatever gender, would spark those peremptory questions, instantly resuming the bizarre experiment engrained in his mind. As his conscience was again wrestled down by his sub-conscience he started thinking again.
He was staring at men that he passed in the street, comparing limbs, eyelashes and even turning around to, quite innocently, judge the shape of their posterior, but who’d a thought?
He was on 13th street behind Union Square, he looked deeply into the face of the hooker. Of course, she stared back, she stared and stared till he had to say something. “I just want to talk” Fortunately or unfortunately for him, Herm was a gentle soul that spoke quietly, he naturally had the look of a woman in the first place. You’ve never seen such soft light features on the face of a man, no beard or moustache, just a soft demeanour in very little need of makeup. It was hard to even see a hint of a man so to dress up in female attire was just about enough to step into a woman’s world but to go through a semi procedure could be considered somewhat unnecessary. “Okay that’s fine by me and don’t you worry I’m not the loud type,” said the soft-spoken ladylike man with a smile.
“I know the owner of that club over there, we can go upstairs and talk where it’s quiet.” “No, a club is much too public”
Okay, let’s just sit in the park. “That sounds cool,” said Austin, in a voice deeper than his usual one as if he was trying to hold on to the part of him that proved his manhood.
As they sat on the bench they spoke about Herm’s friends, life, career and personal things that caused Herm to tear up a bit only to be comforted by Austin, their paths weren’t that different, they were both originally the children of immigrants, only Herms parents were from Sardinia. They were beginning to bond. Never did he think he would try on a hookers scarf and fur jacket in a public park. Well, I guess it was in the spirit of fun and it was late and there were fewer people to witness them in the comfort of the dark but in a strange way in that moment of hiding, he felt free of restraint.
As their eyes stared at each other the moment became the master of their actions, nothing mattered apart from what they were feeling. Austin leaned in to kiss him. Quite soberingly the prostitute leaned back with a yearning but apologetic look. “I’m so sorry but I can’t, I have to be paid first, it’s a rule, sorry I like you but let’s just get the business out the way and you’re all mine sweety” She smiled.
Austin’s ego jumped up together with his conscience like they were caught in bed together. He looked startled, it brought him home to his own reality, he realised that with this one defining act he would have sealed the legitimacy behind the answer to the more direct question ‘have you ever kissed a man’? He would never again be able to answer with a straight face (pun intended). That would have been it for him forever, no more being alone with male friends the suspicion would drag paranoia into many a good friendship. Even his future children would know of the rumours, no matter what he built in his life, years would corrupt the story and well after he was dead and gone, echoed after his name, in so many places negating everything he had achieved, would be.”..Austin Paria?…You mean the gay so and so.” The kiss was a gay contract.
Austin put his hand in his pocket pulled out everything, a wad of money surfaced with a blue napkin and some pennies, he just plonked it all in Hermes lap. Herme’s eyes were wide open, “That’s too much, look, let’s not put money between us, I really like you, it’s on me please.” Austin noticed a slight bulge in his throat as Herm pleaded, he saw his male side. He said, “No, it’s fine, thank you.” He pulled the mink scarf from around his neck, dropped it on him and started to rush away.”
As he picked up his pace he heard a galloping sound running behind him, it was definitely heels and he hoped in Gods name it was a random woman. “Hey,” he heard as he jostled through the crowded union square. “My coat” Austin’s ego tapped him on his head to remind him that he was actually running through union square at night, wearing a tight woman’s mink jacket. It was obviously Herm. “I don’t want your money, I want you, I think I love you” He dropped the coat and stopped. As Herm slowed down, he had a smile as though Austin had been wooed by the L word.
The crowd had parted and were also waiting in expectation. Nothing in America is lack of drama so in the eyes of the talk show community, following this should have been the one knee proposal, but Austin tried to reason.
“Please, don’t, I had a question in my mind, you helped me to answer it, I paid you, we’re done.” “You tried to kiss me though, did that mean nothing to you?”
Ego was fully awake, that comment felt like being pushed on stage with no script, those people watching, the face in the crowd that looked like Richard’s, it manufactured the only thing it knew how to create given the situation: testosterone
As Austin pounced at Herm he felt strong arms holding him back.
“Leave her alone you faggot.” Austin became suddenly aware that he was in New York, the globally agreed excuse to be numb and rude. He felt shame and danger, he was scared, hot and also tired. He fell on to his knees and covered his head in panic. Herm pushed past the crowd in a heroic burst, trying to impress Austin. ” Leave him alone, he covered him with his arms and shoulders in a defensive manner. It was just too much for Austin, he let go and passed out and the crowd dispersed.
Nobody quite knows what became of Austin. In 1999 there was a candidate running for governor in Maryland with a similar first name that looked like a much cleaner, tidier, Austin, but you couldn’t really tell. Some say he met a twin flame and was living in the mid-west with them. Others say he changed his name and made it big in Paris as an A list actor. We do know that after that night Austin never surfaced again in Manhattan, nor did he ever contact Richard. He did leave something profound on the desk by his computer though. He didn’t use a diary, he thought it too condemning but he would write on scraps of paper to learn new lessons, then he would burn them deleting every trace from history.
In all questions lay a path where all roads may unite. One can think anything into existence and come to love the dark as the light but at the end of it all it is the mane on those thoughts that depict where they go to create their future, but to ride thoughts without a mane for direction into any endeavor, you will certainly arrive there by way of reason or unreason. One must control and then choose the thought to entertain and not be chosen by them.
But what you’re seeking you will surely find.