"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time." (T S Eliot)
"A dark and chanted verse is what I am." (
Forough Farrokhzad)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CANCER

The following is an excerpt from early drafts of David Morisset's current project - a novel set in the suburbs of twenty-first century Sydney.

“Are yer married, man?  Ever been married?”  The young man drew on his roll-up, creating his own personal fire show.  “I thought about gettin’ married once.  But she f***ed off with another bloke.  Then another, and another after that.  She was skanky but she had power over men.  Pussy like a wet vice.  Last I heard she was in Europe or Japan or somewhere.  Wouldn’t surprise me to see ‘er down here.  She’d be a better stripper than most of the girls in the clubs.  At least she’s really a chick even if she is a skank.  Too many trannies in this place.  I rooted one once.  Man, was she dry!  Thank God for Vasso.  But at least I knew she wouldn’t get f***in’ pregnant.”
“My wife died of breast cancer a few years ago.  It was quick, thankfully.  She did not suffer for an extended period.  I suffered for both of us.”  The old man realised he had disclosed too much.  A secret piece of himself had become a conversation piece in a chance meeting with a stranger.  It shocked him and he lapsed back in to a contemplative hush.
“Cancer’s a c**t. But it’s funny yer mentioned breast cancer.  Me muvver’s sister had it.  Doctor cut one of her tits right off.  I walked in to the lounge room one day and she was showing the scars to me muvver.  F***in’ terrifyin’.  I dunno ‘ow ‘er husband could root ‘er after that.  Must ‘ave really loved ‘er.  Either that or ‘e was just a mad rooter.  They saved up for ‘er t’ go t’ Thailand to get a new boob.  She looks normal in clothes now.  Dunno what it looks like underneath though.  Too f***in’ expensive to get done here apparently.  Makes yer glad yer not a woman.”
The old man marveled at his young companion’s ability to talk on and on about anything without actually communicating much information of any identifiable use.  However, the constant parade of unconnected anecdotes was amusing him in a weird sort of way.  The situation made the old man think of Ronnie Corbett doing one of his famous rambling monologues where he feigned losing the thread over and over again and then somehow returned to his original joke and delivered an hilarious punch line.  He decided to inject an observation of his own.
“Men get cancer too you know.”
“Yeah.  I know.  Killed one of my footy coaches.  Great man ‘e was.  Taught me more than all the other bastards put together.  Salt of the earth.  Like a father to me.  Better than that.  Better than my own f***in’ father anyway.  The coach went slow too.  But ‘e never let on.  First at training every day and last t’ leave.  And we’re all a bunch of know-all teenagers who didn’t know shit.  He said we all ‘ad potential.  Probably the only thing ‘e was wrong about.”  The young man flicked the spent cigarette on to the grimy footpath and threw his head back.  His eyes were searching the citified blank sky above him as if he expected a message from some celestial deity.
“What type of cancer was it?”
“F***in’ forget now.  Perstroke?  Somethink like that.”
“Prostate?”
“Yeah.  I think so.”  The young man reached for his tobacco, papers and matches again.  Halfway though the assembly task he stopped as if he had seen a great light.  “What the f***’s a prostrate anyway?”
“It’s pronounced prostate.  It’s between your legs, behind the shaft of your penis and scrotum, but before your anus. “
“F***.  Ain’t you posh!  Penis, scrotum, anus!  You mean it’s between my dick and balls and my a***hole.  I know the little bugger.  It sometimes feels a bit sore when yer’ve been f***in’ all night.  Why don’t they just cut it out?
“They do if the cancer is operable.”
“Then we should get ‘em cut out anyway.  Like yer appendix.”
“Well, there’s a problem with that solution.  Removal of the prostate gland can make you impotent.”
“Yer mean, no rootin’?  What about Viagra?”
“I don’t know where Viagra fits into the equation.  Some men used to have to inject their penises with medication to get a sustainable erection.”
“Yeah.  I’ve ‘eard of that.  Wouldn’t get me sticking a f***in’ needle in me old feller.”
“What if you or your partner were desperate for sex?”
“I’d l*** ‘er out and get ‘er to s*** me off.”
“I’m not sure that would work.  Have you heard of testicular cancer?”
“You mean when they ‘ave to cut one of yer balls off?”
“That’s right.”
“Yeah.  That’s gotta be better than the other one.  At least yer still got enough equipment to keep rootin’ without needles and Viagra and all that shit.”
“There are other things in life you know.”
At that point a flashlight shone into the old man’s face.  Two police officers on bicycles were in front of him.  The beam switched its attention to the young man.
“OK, please move along gents.  You’re blocking a doorway and a narrow footpath.  This will be a pretty busy stretch later on tonight.  It’s for you own safety.  We don’t want to see either of you caught up in a brawl or assaulted by someone who’s had too much to drink.”  It was a woman’s voice.  Her male colleague said nothing.  He was listening to some incomprehensible jabber on a walkie-talkie.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PERFECT WORLD

The following is an excerpt from early drafts of David Morisset's current project - a novel set in the suburbs of twenty-first century Sydney.


“Well, what’s yer story?  Ol’ guy like you must ‘ve seen a bit.”  The young vagrant took a packet of tobacco from his pocket, fished around for some papers and matches, rolled a cigarette, and lit it.  The automatic nature of his movements suggested the entire task was a process he had completed millions of times.
The flash of the match gave the old man a better look at his interrogator.  He was not at all familiar.  That was the wrong word.  Rather the old man saw him as a type.  He seemed to present the predictable picture of the no-hoper.  It was as though he never had much of a chance.  Or possibly, the old man thought, he had one opportunity and he messed it up through either carelessness or capricious circumstances.  So his whole life had driven him towards a precarious existence on the streets just like many others before him.
Trying to avoid breathing the stale tobacco ridden air now all around him, the old man remembered his own earlier life.  He had had no understanding of anything but success.  People rode high and made money and fended for themselves, effortlessly exercising aptitudes that were taken for granted.  Those who failed slipped immediately out of view.  There were rumours of them driving buses to make ends meet or setting up as a consultant without any clients.  By that stage though, they were forgotten completely.
Even those who had encountered sickness and serious illness quickly became nothing but blurred memories or anonymous names.  Sometimes in the shock of the moment funds were raised to help them fight whatever cancer or other modern plague they had contracted.  However, that was as far as it went.  Occasionally the remaining spouse showed up married to someone else but no-one ever spoke of the death of their former loved one for fear of sounding insensitive.
Long ago the old man had realised that for much of his life he had lived in a world free of any sustained consciousness of bad things happening to good people.  It was forever onward and upward.  Some of his colleagues had even spoken of people made redundant or sacked for underperformance as road kill in their charming and caring way.  It was as though the corporate structure was a god demanding sacrifices and dispensing rewards to his favoured subjects.
In the way of people like him, therefore, the old man had found to hard to feel sincere sympathy for those who had fallen by the wayside.  He held all the orthodox views.  Those on the dole were bludgers who should try harder to get a job.  The allocation of resources to help the disabled was a huge drain on the productive parts of the economy.  Pensioners were so cosseted that it was obvious the pension age should be raised to make them work longer.
All of these opinions were, of course, never articulated as baldly as the old man now remembered them with the lucidity of hindsight and the clarity of his hapless situation.  They were always dressed up with some economic logic that was designed to befuddle and mislead.  Politicians loved economic theory for that reason but business people loved it even more.  They never understood it but they loved it.
Now he had to admit that for some people things simply go wrong.  Through no fault of their own the tide turns against them and no amount of planning nor prudent resorts to wise contingencies can stop the rot.  The old man laughed to himself when he thought of the countless hours he had spent on risk management reviews, compliance plans, and financial control procedures.  Not one of the lengthy documents was worth anything when someone decided to commit fraud, unless the fraudster was extremely stupid.  Such miscreants are, unfortunately, seldom stupid or even careless.  They have a plan and they stick to it.  Lying comes natural to them and it is the truth that rubs them up the wrong way – usually when it is too late.
As these thoughts ran through his head, bunched together like the peloton in a cycling race, the old man acknowledged once again that his biggest fault had been his inclination to trust people.  He could trust them no longer – in particular, he could see no reason to trust the young vagrant who was filling the air with toxins and asking him questions.  Even if he answered his inquisitor, the old man considered, the young man would not understand much of it anyway.  Then the old man cursed himself for thinking that way – for thinking like he used to when everything was good and he had a lot to lose.  He decided to open up.  Perhaps the young man could learn something useful.  Even if he could not, he reasoned that there would be no real harm done.  It was impossible to lose nothing after all.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HOMELESS

The following is an excerpt from early drafts of David Morisset's current project - a novel set in the suburbs of twenty-first century Sydney.

“The Cross is a c*** of a place.  Doncha reckon?  Specially in the f***in’ winter.”  The young vagrant was propped up against a shopfront.  The store was closed and its signage suggested it was some kind of take-away during daylight hours.
He was addressing an older man who had arrived earlier and taken up the prime position of the shop’s narrow doorway.  Both of them were bearded, although the young man’s whiskers were sparse and scraggy.  The old man’s full set was impressive with its dramatic streaks of grey and thick curls.
Failing to get an answer from the old man, the young itinerant kept silent for a while.  He glanced at the old man’s bucket hat, which was upturned in front of the doorway.  It contained a few two-dollar coins and at least one fifty-cent piece.  There were no notes.  The hat was ill-made for holding donations because it took only a few coins to make it look almost full.
“Nice hat.”  As he sniggered the young man took out a baseball cap and put it on the pavement in front of his crossed legs.  The blue and gold colours stood out on the grey tarmac.
Again, the old man did not respond.  Instead, he picked up his hat, emptied the contents into his left hand, and deposited the coins in the deep pocket on the inside right of his lined coat before placing the hat back on the footpath.  It was an impressive overcoat that kept him warm on all but the most severe winter nights.  However, it was not waterproof and it looked odd.  The young man thought it might have been a woman’s coat because of its strangely rounded collar but the buttons were correctly positioned and the sombre grey woolen blend would have been unlikely to appeal to a fashion-conscious female.
“Is that an Italian coat?”  This latest question from the young man almost broke through the old man’s defences.  He gave it another try.  “It looks Italian.”
“How would you know?”  The old man’s response sounded more brusque than he had intended.  He did not look up for fear of seeing that he had caused offence.
“Me mother was Maltese.  Almost Italian.  Ol’ man was an Aussie though.  ‘E was a c***.  ‘E used to beat ‘er up when he got on the grog.  Next day ‘er bruvvers ‘d come round and give ‘im a real ‘iding.  Tough buggers they were.  Market gardeners.  Worth a fortune now.  Sold off their land when the developers moved into the northwest.  Livin’ in Manly now.  Oh yeah … one’s in Bondi.”  The young man paused in his monologue to acknowledge a drunken girl who had dropped a dollar coin into his empty cap, her tiny skirt stretching tightly across the cheeks of her bottom as she stooped and riding up to reveal bare skin as she walked away.
“Bondi.  That’s a nice place to live.  I’m saving up to move there myself in the summer.  Maybe I’ll get a loan.”  The old man looked ruefully at his hat and pushed it further out so passers-by could see it better.
“Yer a funny bugger!  I used to ‘ave a mate that was a funny bugger.  Got ‘imself killed.  Outta control when ‘e was pissed.  Drunk I mean.  Made ‘im angry.  Wanted to fight everyone.  Pain in the arse really.  But he was funny though.  Could remember jokes after ‘e ‘eard ‘em once.  Mother was a real slut.  Shacked up with a Chinese crook of some sort.  Father was a pr*** like mine.  They came to a sad end too.  Gotta be careful ‘oo yer mess with in this f***in’ city.”
Something in the young man’s rambling recollections caught the old man’s attention.
“Are you making all of that up?”  As he spoke the old man turned to look at his young interlocutor for the first time.  It was too dark to see much detail but it was clear that he was no older than thirty and possibly very much younger.  The whites of his eyes were still bright but the skin around them was scarred and swollen as if he had lost a fight or graduated from piercing his arms with needles and opted for the veins around his eyes to get a bigger hit.
“Possibly.  But I don’t think so.  I forget a lot these days.  Been ‘it in the ‘ead a few times.  Specially can’t remember anythink from school.  What a waste of time.  Only went when the footy matches were on.  That’s when I’d get ‘it in the ‘ead.  Father told me I needed to learn to f***in’ duck.  Great advice.  But ‘e’d never played.  Used to play soccer.  F***in’ girls’ game.  Roll around on the grass and pretend yer leg’s f***in’ broken.  Then jump up and do it all again.  It’s gay.  They earn some money at it though.  Those guys in England make a zillion every match.  Manchester f***in’ United and Chelsea and Liverpool and those.  And don’t forget up the Arsenal.”
The old man was tiring of this random composition of apparently unconnected streams of consciousness.  Sensing this, the young man looked at him more closely and, with a jolt, realised his shattered memory had suddenly achieved ignition.
“You look familiar.  A bit.  What’s yer story anyway?  Why’s an old bugger like you on the streets?  Yer’ve even got a posh accent.  Not a cop are yer?”
There was a look in the old man’s eyes that almost told his story without him having to open his mouth.  The young man was tantalised enough to ask him again.
“Well, what’s yer story?  Ol’ guy like you must ‘ve seen a bit.”


Monday, April 21, 2014

MACBOOK

The following is an excerpt from early drafts of David Morisset's current project - a novel set in the suburbs of twenty-first century Sydney.


Felton woke when the morning sunlight found her face via a gap in the dusty vertical blinds.  Her bed smelled of sex and body odour but, as Felton’s eyes began to focus, she experienced a surge of contentment that dwarfed the physicality of her latest relationship.  Carlton continued to sleep.  Felton had exhausted him and, secretly proud of herself, she was happy to let him go on dreaming.
With a slight movement she reached for her laptop, sitting handily on the edge of her bedside table.  Carlton turned his back on her, still unconscious.  It was time to check the daily headlines.  For Felton this was more habit than work ethic.  She was instinctively curious and found herself off balance if she was not fully aware of what was happening in the wider world.  Only the most extreme occurrences affected her in any meaningful way.  No matter how bad the news of the day there was usually no emotional content for her.  Events were events and horrors were horrors and that was how it would be always.
The MacBook made its little noises and humming sounds and eventually the screen was all colour and icons.  Felton went straight to Google’s news page.  It was the top story and it was only minutes old.  Felton started to shiver as she read the first of several articles.  Try as she may, she could not stop her gentle convulsions and the tremors woke Carlton.  He looked at her, taking several seconds to understand what was happening.
“What’s wrong?”  Carlton’s voice was husky.
“This is wrong.”  Felton tapped the computer screen with her impeccably manicured index finger.
“Bloody hell.”  Other than that apt exclamation, Carlton was lost for words.
“I’d better get in touch with the Waterfords.  They’ll be all over them for days.”  Felton rose from the bed and made for the ensuite, naked from the waist down but indifferent to her lover’s lusty yet forlorn gaze.  She stopped shivering when the warm water of the shower wet her shoulders and back.