After the Studio
By Laura Kerr
The studio was silent. He put the guitar case straps over his shoulders and switched the light off. Andrew and Jack were in the pub. They’d be a couple of pints in by now. The pub would be bright. Maybe quiet, maybe not. He could have a beer or two. He’d take his guitar home first. He walked up the dark corridor, past the other empty studios for rent. He’d stayed too long. He didn’t need to practice those chords.
He locked the outside door. The night was cool and clear. Two drunk women laughed and held onto each other on the other side of the street. He walked to the main road. Outside the pubs, men and a couple of women were smoking. He crossed over, passed the dark supermarket entrance.
In the stairwell, the sweet smell of weed. A low bass came from the flat below his. He climbed the concrete steps to the second floor.
His flat was quieter. The usual musty smell. He leaned his guitar against the wall. He stepped over video games, plates, food wrappers and clothes. In the kitchen area at the back, he picked up a greasy glass. Rinsed it and filled it with water. The water tasted off. Maybe it’d be better without the grease.
In the small bathroom, he cleaned his teeth and relieved himself. He couldn’t be bothered with a shower. In the morning, maybe. The double bed was still rumpled. He didn’t know why he expected it to be made. He kicked his shoes off, pulled the duvet up. A car whooshed by outside. In the morning, he thought, if I’m up, I’ll get the grease off that glass.
The Cutest Bane of Sleep
By A. Harris
Laid back, I’m reading peacefully in bed about pacific island birds that peck for nuts and insects from tall, slender trees. Their plumage bright and colorful with greens and reds and blues. And soon I’m there with them. We dance above the dusty realm of men. The salty summer air inflates my lungs. I’m warm and toasty, bathed in radiant sun. My feathered arms unfurled; my song, so loud.
Then in pitch black, my bastard cat meows.
And I’m back. Lonely in my dark, cold bed. Yawns yearn for sleep I almost had. I stretch. Damp silence smothers me and, fighting back, I grab my scratched up mobile phone in hand and get the white noise app. I choose the sound of trickling streams and water gushes out about my head, it floods my room with calm. As crickets chirp, a soft breeze blows my heart through woodlands far away that smell so fresh, like flowers on a rainy day. I’m met with butterflies and sparrows. This is peace.
And then my stupid cat jumps up on me.
Again, I’m back. Depressed and in my bed. Poor kitty then becomes my teddy-bear. His purring breath, much softer than his hair, inspires an image in my mind of trains traversing countryside on metal rails,
a-rocking back and forth. They gently sway. The passengers on board all chat away. And there I doze, my head against the glass. Long, heavy snores, the bliss of sleep at last.
And of course, my face gets scratched. That bloody cat.
And here I am just lying in my bed.
Time to Feel
By Caesar Tall
Once upon a time, whose time? Your time or mine. Let’s assume for a moment, for the setting of this tale that there is no time to feel, to mend or heal the wounds that in the absence of time remain open. So, open we start, born or reborn, without a clue of what to expect; the tale of tales starts in a simple manner, in such, a manner befitting of the writer to read the written words written to him by the reader. This reader sits reading this tale unknowing of where the idea or tale is going. Your thoughts on what I write confuse me, are you confused yet? I’m inclined to be, with the reactions to my thoughts that peer down at me. Let’s forget the boundaries that exist, the rules we must conform to, let’s assume we can have a dialogue, in which you write, and I read. Although you may object, I know quite despairingly that it is to die.
This tale you seek that speaks to you, that dwells within the distant abyss and yet you know this tale all so well. You look and you gaze, unflinching, baffled, comfortably discombobulated, am I reading or writing this tale of tales. It is clear, it is driven, it is as the road beneath my feet unfolding. I can see now that the tale I wish to read was never on the pages but in the glimpse moment of a moment that left my sight before it was felt within my heart. Did you feel that? I had no time to feel.
A Day in the Life…
Damn. It happened again. Okay, wallet, check. Passport, check. Phone, check. Watch, check. A good start. Now, where am I? Label on the phone is all in Chinese so no idea. Must be a hotel. In Shenzhen? Must be, as the phone shows a “0755” prefix. How did I get here? It is slowly coming back…baijiu.
Another blackout brought on by baijiu. It started as all other similar episodes had. Afternoon business meeting, dinner with the supplier’s laoban and team, then off to KTV to drink; competitively.
The ritual played over and over every night, in every town anywhere factories have set up in China. A not-so-secret society of brothers fashioned by overpriced, fake alcohol which is at the root of all bonding nights in China. Suppliers feeling their duty is to ensure the customer drinks way past their comfort zone. Customers praying they don’t throw up, after having lost yet again in liar’s dice.
Trying to piece together last night’s activities is proving extremely tedious. Compounded by a massive headache, I still haven’t established a reference point for the night. I check my phone and see that there are 40 new WeChat messages. Included are a couple of videos of me singing arm in arm with the supplier boss; a horrible rendition of Hotel California. God, I hate that song. Unfortunately, it is triggering my memory. This was just before they goaded me into drinking one of those mini carafes of baijiu. I think it was just after that when one of their managers and I decided to exchange shirts, as they do jerseys after a football match. I don’t remember much after that.
It will take a while to piece together the remaining parts of the night.
Perhaps with a little help from those that were there I will have an idea of what unfolded. I swear I will never be in that bad of a shape again…after tonight’s festivities that is.