Thursday, March 6, 2008

Haiee Hi


I was alone, and felt it. I uttered a sound, and liked it. The pictures are of me, on my own.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why Che Guevarra Was a Monster part B


28 mins. The second part of the documentary, comprising parts 7 to 10, and both summations.
===
at the Weasel

Why Che Guevarra Was a Monster part A


21 mins. This video is the first six parts of the documentary
===
at the Weasel

Monday, December 31, 2007

Auld Lang Syne


Andreas whipped up a gorgeous tune to my posting. This includes the full lyric, although the pronunciation is a little wide and not all the chorus are performed.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup !
And surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

CHORUS
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gies a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS
===
Oh, and so as to understand the video, people didn't have to die to get on it (Anna Nicole, Evel Knevel) or lose government (King of Nepal) or suffer (greek fires, california fires) or protest (Burmese monks). I chose pictures of my friend, Maria, which I took for my Big Heart series. She is o/s and doesn't know about this. hehe. I chose pictures of Rudyard Kipling because of a paraphrasing of something he said

Oh, sons of terrorists,
If you are asked why you came to die,
Answer that it was because your fathers lied.

This year has seen some cause for hope in Iraq when it had been given up for lost by many. It has also seen some tragedy, as the fate of Benazir Bhutto illustrates. I drink to a better 2008

Andreas' stunning music is at
http://www.icompositions.com/music/song.php?sid=80290

The story behind the song is at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_lang_syne

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The End of Despair (Chess Vs Death)



Made for Christmas.
updated;

A game of Chess against Death. I wanted to show the chess boards when I originally posted the sounds ..

http://oddballsstories.blogspot.com/2007/12/end-of-despair-chess-vs-death.html
===
I was raised as an Atheist. I learned, after reading the Bible, that God loves me, and you. This is his song for you too. He loves you, and wants to be with you.
All the elements are me and mine. ARIA ISRC number AUAWN1211128

The moves ..
1. B4 D5
2. C3 A4 mate.
I showed this to a student once, prior to a competition, and he won. He kept saying "You showed me the moves" and I was saying I was nowhere near him during his match ..
===
This was ad libbed in real time circa '05. One take. One actor .. me

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Mystery of Webster’s Curse & The Heroism of Mitzy

Updated file

===

The Mystery of Webster’s Curse & The Heroism of Mitzy

A few years ago I had my year 7 Mathematics class for a music teacher who was away, sick. They had completed their music work, and like so many playful and bored, begged a story. The Mystery of Webster’s curse was born that period. Later came the resolution of the curse due to Mitzy’s heroism.

Many thanks to PFB and AB for inspiration, and RMMB for encouragement.

The Mystery of Webster’s Curse

The events that surround the horror at that lonely suburban house so long ago are well recounted. They are legend.

Every year I am given charge of many groups of students. The younger ones are not privy to the stories. They want to know.

The printed stories I will leave to my neighbours of that era. How a family moved into a haunted house, and the oldest boy killed all of his family. Later, when questioned by police, he told of a voice that instructed him to kill.

Or of the couple who bought the house on the cheap. They faced such horrors.

I knew the house from before. When I was growing up. Old Mrs Webster lived there.

There are old people and there are old people. Some people have this thing called dignity, and it has nothing to do with being dignified in company. Mrs Webster had something else. She was old and possibly crippled, but she was athletic and energetic. She would wait by the side of her house each school morning. Any child unfortunate enough to pass within earshot would endure her curses and quips. Wise boys and girls knew to stay away. Naughty ones had to discover for themselves.

Once, on the way to school, I strayed too close. She had been calling me fat, which simple justice and an enthusiastic father led me to accept without question or deviation from my route. I trudged through the ankle deep snow. She had noticed my bag was low on my shoulder. I ignored her as I'd been trained. The wind was cold and sharp. I ignored the sharp pain in my shoulder and cheek. The dull thud. The sudden exhale. I stood stunned and still, my mind registering the stone and a little blood. Then I felt my cheek cool rapidly and wetly. Felt the heat in the muscle as it responded to the tear in the flesh. I shouldered my bag high and sprinted on without further abuse. No one at school asked me about the injury, although my teacher didn't bat an eyelid when I asked to go to sickbay.

Mrs Webster brooked no visitors. The mailman never strayed closer than an arms length to her box. The house was decayed and breathtaking. Two stories if you don't count the attic. Magnificent arched windows stood high on the second floor. They could have been doors to a balcony if one were there. She would stare balefully through them on cold days. On cold evenings, her form could still be seen through these windows. Watching the street.

Two mighty Oaks stood guard either side of the stone path leading to the wooden steps to the front door. A rope dropped from the entry porch ceiling had a leather pouch with a ball that could be used as a knocker, although nobody new if it ever would. The kids at school argued that it was really the skull of a black cat, but no one knew what a cat would be doing there anyway. Even a black one. Even if the house did smell of the carrion attractive to such cats.

A gate enclosed the house. Wooden posts lay ranch style with a rusty metal latch and hinge. It didn't matter that Mrs Webster lived there. It was haunted.

Time passes and even the inimitable Mrs Webster passed away. The Mailman noticed, one day, that she failed to collect her letters. She stopped appearing at her windows and passers by noticed they weren't being harassed. Police knock on the door, with the wooden ball hanging from the drop string. No answer. Police HQ instruct them to break in, which they do with minimal force.

It is said that they found Mrs Webster in a chair, facing the fireplace. School legend has it that she wore her death mask as a child on Halloween, dared to visit her place. Her face a picture of horror, with eyes wide and mouth agape. Some have said that she sometimes can still be seen standing at her window, on a cold winter's eve. Watching the street.
***
We were friends, Chris, Arthur, Joff, Big and I. I guess you could say we were naughty boys. If you were to describe the dreams of another ten year old, I could show you how we were not so different. It was Arthur's dare. But then that is how it would happen. Arthur would dare. Chris would lead. Big would follow bravely and Joff would follow nervously. I would follow. I would always wonder why.

Big was enamoured by ants. He had a glass fronted thin cabinet that profiled a nest. He would feed the ants by opening the top of the cabinet and leaving titbits of sweets, including sugar or honey.

An older boy had seized Big's ants. At his mercy, the ants did what they normally do, hurrying and scurrying and attending to the nest of the queen. The soldiers soon mobilised. But they were helpless. No more tasty titbits for them. Soon, a few were relocated to an established home for Daddy Longlegs Spiders. Eventually to be consumed by the spiders, most were caught and held helpless in webs. The rest were drowned in an acid bath of urine.

When Big ran to Chris to tell him about this older bully, Chris had been playing a CD for Arthur. Arthur was attempting to copy the tune on a guitar. Joff was there too. I wanted to show Chris a story I'd read, and I was waiting for a natural break in the flow of his conversation with Arthur. I was dozing while waiting.

Chris looked up and visually examined Big, who stood breathless and despairing before him. Arthur stopped strumming. I woke.

Chris broke the silence. "Good of you to join us."

Arthur "What's wrong?"

I intervene "Chris, Big and I were discussing this story, you might want to see it."

"Not now David! Can't you see he's upset? What is it Big?"

"You're my friends." Big began. I was feeling like Chris would never show an interest in the horror story I'd read. It had a major character called Webster.

Big's issue distracted me. I never cared much for the ant farm. My younger sister liked those things. I had to admit, though, that he was really distressed. Joff was repeating everything that Big told Chris to both Chris and Arthur. They were despairing over ever getting revenge on the older boy. I asked aloud "What would Mrs Webster do?" and Arthur called out "That's it!"

"Chris, we could spend the night at Mrs Webster's house. Then we can really freak that boy out."

"Great Idea, Arthur."

"Yeah, Arthur." Joined in Joff. I wanted to say that I'd thought of it too.

Chris gave instructions for us to invite each other over to his place for the evening. He would tell his parents that he was going to Arthur's house. We'd take our sleeping things and meet at Webster's old house. It had never been sold or leased since she had passed away that summer. Now it was high winter. She even had an old fireplace. We could roast marshmallows.

The marshmallow image caught my imagination in ways that facing down an older boy didn't. My mum was happy for me to stay at Chris' place. His parents had a holiday place and she wanted access. She made sure I packed everything, like a toothbrush. I tried to explain to her that we weren't having that kind of party, but I didn't want to alert her to what her greed had hidden. I also threw in the bag a neat flashlight I used to read under the covers and a mirror I often used to examine myself. Sister helped me by distracting Mum with her helplessness. "Mom!" She cried. "I'm thirsty!"
***
We met outside the gate. I was beginning to think that Big would never show at all. But we waited for him, as friends do. We were all shivering when he reached the gate. Joff had been staring at the windows, routinely claiming to see something. We kept pointing out the birds of winter that flew among the trees. It hadn't occurred to any of us that birds don't stay around frozen houses in winter. But then we still had some growing up to do.

The gate creaked as it opened wide. In its disrepair, it had fallen forward slightly and that made it easier to open, as we didn't have to push back the newly laid, trackless snow. It was ankle high. The day's sun had left it crunchy on top, powdered below. So that the crunch of our steps and the creak of the gate announced our presence here to the world and made us jumpy.

Chris was first to the door. It was ajar. The lock that had been broken by the police had never been fixed. So the door remained in an almost closed position. Now snow spilled into the entranceway and held the door in place. Arthur dragged his foot through the snow, soaking his ankle. I tried to bend down and scoop it with my gloved hands, but Joff's feet leapt forward and soon he too had soaked his feet and ankles. Chris had a bemused expression on his face when he widened the door and stepped inside. I got out my flashlight, but Chris said "It's light!"

We went in and were awed by the appearance. Before us were wide steps leading to the upper level. They were thick with dust. A shadowy shape on the top of the steps looked like a ghost. On our right was a dining room. The long table was as Mrs Webster had left it; with (now) rotting fruit and places set two a side and one at the head. On our left was a lounge room. Two two-person lounges and a single chair faced a fireplace. Ash spread from the fireplace into the room. The poker was lying next to the place and a small fence protecting the place had been pushed aside.

Lighting was provided courtesy of the candles in the dining room. Two large wax candles were placed towards the middle ends of the table. In the living room were lit kerosene lamps placed along each wall. I said, "I don't like this. I want to go home."

"It seems quite strange," echoed Joff.

"We stay" Said Chris. "We don't want to have our lives run by an older bully boy."

I was thinking of saying that we weren't bullies, and so correcting his sentence, when Arthur said "I think I heard something upstairs." Arthur was up the steps in a shot. Chris followed. Joff was wondering aloud where Big had gone.

"C'mon" I said, brandishing my flashlight.

The steps were dusty, except where my friends had left their prints. At the top was a ghostly image. It was created by the outside lamplights on the street shining through the uncurtained windows. "Look!" I called, pointing at the image. It looked for a moment as if it had a mouth that moved. That was an effect created by a bird outside, flying between the window and street lamps. "Wow!" shot back Arthur. He was walking to the far side of the front room, which in its time might have been a ballroom. I think our plan, if we were to have had one, might have been to find the bedroom and hunker down for the evening, or take the bedclothes to a fireplace and light some wood.

It was a thin, reedy but loud and inhuman scream that came from the cat that Arthur had stepped on. Chris wanted to know if we had heard the noise in the attic. "Big and Joff seem to have left us." I say.

Chris and Arthur ignored me as Arthur pulled on the rope that lowered the ladder to the attic.

Soon I could hear their voices. "Look, we could place that mannequin in front of the window. It has her clothing."

"Great idea!"

I went up the steps to investigate.

It was dark. I turned on my flashlight. Chris was staring at the mannequin. It had make up on its face, and wore Her clothes. Movement above me came from bats. I'd never believed those old stories of bats and belfries, but now I was witness. I couldn't see Arthur, so I turned to Chris. "Everyone has gone, and I don't like this place." He smiled calmly, beatifically. "Lets go to my home." I said. "You won't have to get in trouble, I can sneak you in without my folks noticing."

Chris smiled at me calmly, and then he did something I'd swear I'd never seen anyone do. His elbows and knees kind of bent backwards. His shirt buttons popped on the front and four enormous spider legs pulled the fabric aside, exposing an abdomen. All the time he was smiling calmly. Behind me I began to hear laughter. It was coming from the mannequin. It was low and long and cruel, like "Ha ha ha," not a giggling "He he he." The laugh would start small and then crescendo, louder and louder each time.

Fear is not just a feeling. Fear is part of the body. Fear causes one to flinch. It's oppression causes thinking to freeze. I stared at the spider that had Chris' face. At first I was dumb. Then I began to babble. "Don't hurt me. Please. My parents are poor. They need me to get a good education and I can work in their old age."

Chris Spider was in attack range. A spider needs all eight legs to walk. When it is in attack range, it rears onto its back six legs. This exposes the mandibles, which are its teeth. I could see that Chris' rear spinnerets were silking the ladder. Doubting that I was doing the right thing, I leapt forward. Avoiding the mandibles, and pushing past the legs, I dove head first down the ladder, grabbing a rung on the way down. This caused me to swing, rather than fall, and my shins collected the entrance to the attic. Causing me to let go of the rung and hurtle headfirst to the floor.

My shoulder collected a rung and spun my body around, so that I landed on my feet. The thin reedy wail of sound came from the cat, which had softened my fall and now raced toward its hidey-hole. My leg was hurt and I scrambled towards the steps to the front porch, past the living and dining rooms. But the door was shut and locked.

The dining room had seemed different. I looked in. Four elderly men, with long beards, were seated at the dinner places. I recognised one. I known Arthur was Japanese. I had never noticed it, though, because Arthur was 'one of us.' This old man was Japanese, and he was Arthur! Now that I was alerted to this, I looked more closely at the head of the table. It was Chris. Chris was smiling gently, and invited me to join them for dinner. I backed away into the living room. Joff-man said. "Come join us. It is the only way to free us of the curse."

The body of a spider is soft and smooth. I felt this as I stepped back into the living room. Four spiders were seated in the five spaces. They had the faces of Chris, Arthur, Joff or Big. Big, the old man, said that it was the curse. The only way to remove the curse would be to have dinner with them. My head swam. My legs ached as I walked to the remaining dinner place. A curse. I could free 'Us.' I still thought I was one of 'Us.'

The dinner place was complete. A beautiful fruit bowl with polished and fresh fruit. Various roast meats. I was scared but hungry. But I finished my dinner. The bones by the side of the plate spelt a message, afterwards. Telling me that the flesh that fell so easily from the bone had been my friends. I felt sick. My friends. I felt sorry for myself. I felt sick. The spiders were gone. I might have felt relief. I felt sick.

That might have been the end of things. I would have preferred it if it had been. Instead I became restless. I wanted to go home. I wanted that I had never gone to that house. I went to the door. Its lock was broken. The door was now ajar. It swung open easily, the door skull, hanging from the rope knocking the door with a sharp report. Pausing to look at the space where my friends had so recently moved snow. As I opened the fence, the worst was to come. I became a spider.
***
Spiders move so quickly! I was at home, the back door was unlocked, and I went upstairs to my room. The upstairs level of our house is a collection of three bedrooms and two toilets along a small corridor. To get to my bedroom, I had to walk past my sisters'. I stopped at her doorway. She was playing, and she had her back to me.

She was seated on the ground. One leg outstretched and the other curled into a bundle she could rest her chin on. She was absorbed in putting some of her Cindy fashions on my He Man action figure. I think that was why I acted as I did. Because she was misusing my toy.

Spiders only require moisture and protein to live. I'd my fill of protein, but felt thirsty. My Sister just seemed so juicy. My Mandible broke her neck and I sucked out her blood. I don't think she felt a thing. I dragged her body to hang it from her wardrobe. Maybe I'd come back later.

The bathroom was closer to the steps, and when I heard my mother coming upstairs, I hid in the bathroom. For some reason I began to shrink. When she saw me, I was the size of a rather large spider, but not a monster anymore. She called out to my dad. Even joked about bringing the elephant gun, which we didn't own. Then, because she realised I'd not been long in the bathroom, or because of some other reason, she went to check on my sister's room.

Dad approached me with a rolled up newspaper. Before he got his shot in, I heard my Mother's screams. I guess she found Sister.

I might have been consolable if that were it. If my life had ended with the destruction of my Spider self. But therewas more to the curse. Although I held my life forfeit for my actions, I didn't die. I slept. I do not know for how long, but it was quite awhile.

I explored my world. To become a spider, it was necessary to step outside the gate. Inside the gate, I became an old man, just as my friends had become. I tried to warn people about the curse. They ignored me. I yelled at them and cast stones. They ignored me.

I watched the street from the upper story windows. It was easier to see the street at night, by streetlight. I could think then, plan to find a way out of the curse. A neighbour of mine, who also was a victim, came up with the clever idea of selling the house.

It is cold, night. The house is sold. A family of five. A successful businessman. Maybe now the curse will end. I am before the fireplace. Seated, I think of horror. My friends. Horror. My sister. Horror. I think of horror. Horror. Horror.

The Ballad of Mitzy the Puppy
A Meeting
She had spent the last few days at the school year camp with friends. But that had passed and now, after a dreary hot day, she was waiting for the bus home. Then he appeared. He saw her lounging on the brick wall, waiting for the school bus. None of her usual friends surrounded her.

"I've been toying with an idea. I think it is your fault." This school teacher was immensely fat. He had recently taken to writing. In a bid to encourage her to read what he had written, he gave her 'editorial status,' which roughly translated to listening to any opinion.

The possibility of repartee was irresistible. She was very bored. "And?" An almond eye glinted with mild interest.

He brought up some camp gossip and she spoke the truth of it disinterestedly. Then she challenged him to get to the point. "Have you found out what you wanted to know?"

He grinned. "I'm only making conversation." He grinned again. "I've been thinking. You know how I promised you that if you didn't like one of my characters I would kill them, but if you liked them I would give them a puppy? Well it started me thinking."

"In one of my stories, I kill my sister. I thought that harsh, but she had to die because of the story.. So I thought and decided to award her a puppy!"

"But then I realised what would have to happen. The puppy will be left alone without the mistress. The puppy will have to journey, perhaps exacting revenge or justice. It's a hard world for the very young on their own..."

The bus arrived and he began to walk away from her. "I wanted to thank you for the idea. But .. it seems a bit harsh. Couldn't you have given me a kinder thought?"

"Not my fault!" She was satisfied with the repartee, but she needed to correct him before he walked away. He flashed another grin before going home.
***
At Home
Puppies aren't taken immediately from their mother. The mother feeds them, but also instructs them in behaviour. Mitzy didn't remember her mother, but she would always follow those lessons. Mitzy's earliest memories were of the Mistress and Master. Both were young. Mistress liked dolls and to set scenes for play. Master liked rough play. It probably was unlucky that it turned out as it did, but then it might have been different and far less distressing and Mitzy might be less than what others now know.

Master never did everything that Mum and Dad asked. They would instruct him to 'play nicely' and one might not see all that 'nicely' meant to Master. Master would lie on his belly, facing Mitzy. A hand would stretch with fingers waving invitingly. Then, the hand would grasp Mitzy's head, above the snout. Mitzy's black ears would move from side to side as she struggled to free herself. She would snarl and nip cutely, and ineffectively. Her snout was black, with flecks of grey around the muzzle, giving the appearance of a permanent smile. Mitzy's paws were white on black limbs, looking a lot like clean socks. When Master grabbed Mitzy's muzzle, the paws would rise to fend, but all Mitzy could do would paw at Master's hand, cutely.

Mistress was a few years younger than Master. She loved to place Mitzy in among her dolls. Mitzy, with her white tipped black tale wagging, with her black coat and white belly expanding and contracting with each short pant, looked cute. It was as if Mitzy participated in the dreams of Mistress. Together, the dolls took on life. Together with Mistress, Mitzy had childhood play.
***
A Slaying
It happened one day, in high winter, when snow covered the world and Master had gone visiting friends and Mom and Dad were relaxing, He watching TV, She pottering around the kitchen. Mistress had Mitzy to herself in her room. It smelt of perfume and nails acrylic that accompany such as Mistress. She hummed as she played with the dolls. She hummed an old, sad, folk number.

"My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the seas
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me!"

She had arranged a male and female doll as friends, waiting by the ocean. She needed another male doll and she knew where she would find it. Master was out visiting friends. He had this stupid, but rugged looking doll. It had a silly flashlight on its chest and various boys’ toys. Dressed appropriately, this doll could be perfect as Bonnie, stepping from water into a tea party. Mitzy would be perfect as the faithful guard for the tea party. Mitzy could warn of giant monsters bent on interrupting tea parties. Mitzy would also have to be dressed.

With everything present that Mistress needed, she started on her task of dress. She had tailored Mitzy with a tartan kilt and an open breasted long sleeve shirt. A wide brimmed hat with a secured string collar completed Mitzy’s uniform. She had stripped Master's doll, and was proceeding with the wet-ware when ‘IT’ happened.

Mitzy became aware of it first. Mistress seemed to Mitzy to be removing the scent of Master from his toy. Yet the scent was growing stronger and another, additional scent that just seemed wrong accompanied it. Mitzy whined and looked at the door. Mistress misinterpreted the action.

"The story will begin soon, Mitzy. We'll relax with biscuits and tea while Hero man apologises for being overseas."

It was Master. Master was outside the door, looking in. Only, he didn't look a lot like Master. All who saw it, later, died, and so it was never reported thus. A leg was the first thing Mitzy saw, but not a normal human leg. Rather it was a leg of a spider, if a six foot tall beast can in fact be called a spider. Two furry legs and then six more. The legs supported an enormous abdomen, upon which was the torso and head of Master. The same face and hair, but Master didn't normally have the body of a spider, or eight legs.

Master approached, eyes fixed on Mistress playing with his doll. The look he gave wasn’t of hatred, but it was un-natural, and focused. Mitzy was sure that Master was paying her no heed, but she feared for Mistress. Mitzy launched forward, constricted by the clothing Mistress had put on her. Then a spider's leg pinned the open shirt of Mitzy, so that Mitzy was momentarily trapped, and had to wriggle free of her clothing. Mitzy glimpsed the face of Mistress, before the hat obscured her view. Mistress seemed irritated and unaware of Master.

When Mitzy freed herself, Master had gone. Mom was coming up the stairs to investigate Mitzy's yelps. Mistress' body was swinging from where it had been casually hung, in the cupboard, lifeless.
***
Master's New House
Mitzy followed his tracks out the back door. She could smell where he had been. She could also smell so many other things. It would have been confusing if she weren't so focused on tracking down Master.

Then what? What would she do when she found him? What could she do? Mistress was gone. Mitzy chose not to focus on that.

Mitzy didn't know what she would do when she tracked down Master .. if she tracked down Master. Mistress was gone, now Mitzy would find Master. Where had Master gone? He had disappeared in the bathroom. Mom saw him as he began to change into a large spider .. that began to shrink. Mom called for Dad to kill the spider, then followed Mitzy's call to Mistress' room. When Dad went to strike Master's spider self with the newspaper, Mom's scream echoed in Mitzy's mind, Mom had found Mistress' body. Mitzy didn't know where Master had gone, but Mitzy could follow where Master had come from and she felt certain he wasn't dead.

The trail led out the back of the house and around to the front, the street. Mitzy had never been to the front of the house before. This evening, under the full moon, faced with the winter garden covered in snow, with cars on the bitumen road and the smell of the cursed Master, Mitzy forgot her confusion and focused on the task at hand.

The road had been sanded, and either side of the bitumen, the snow was black and iced. Occasionally, a car roared into view and out. Mitzy did not know what to make of these night animals with their bright, confusing eyes and felt it best not to get too near. However, Master had crossed the street, and so Mitzy quickly did the same. Those enormous bright-eyed beasts seemed to completely ignore her.

The house Mitzy came too was magnificent, old and apparently deserted. The rusty ranch style gate was open. Master and his friends had been this way. There was a bad smell here. Like that which had accompanied Master. Mitzy left the tracks and circled the house. Master had not gone this way, but there was THAT smell there.

Untrimmed bushes covered in white snow made a perimeter around Master's home. Mitzy followed this virgin path to the back door. She was unprepared for the sight or smell that greeted her. A black cat sat languidly on the cement stairway, which led to the back door. On one side was a long unused hose and tap. On Mitzy's side was a wooden door, which covered the entrance to a cellar. On that door was the horror scene of human bones .. Master's friends made part of the scent. The full horror lay with the cat. It sat preening. It was dead, but it sat, preening.

Finally, the black cat looked in Mitzy's direction. "I've met your Master."

Mitzy, cold, exhausted and scared didn't know how to respond to that. The cat spoke again. "Why are you here?"

"Master killed my Mistress!"

"So?" Cat stood, tail almost erect as it sought balance while sauntering down steps. "You want him to kill her back to life?" Cat's teeth were yellow and sharp.

"That can happen?" Mitzy had never heard a cat laugh before.

The fight was as quick as it was serious. Cat had struck Mitzy across the side with open claws. Suddenly, without warning. Bloodied, Mitzy quickly scampered back and away. Snow stained red. Mitzy scampered away, and Cat didn't follow.
***
The Cow
Mitzy was blinded by pain. She felt herself moving through the bushes separating property. She heard those big animals with their bright eyes roaring on the road, indifferent to her pain. Bush and branch gave way to wood. Snow gave way to the foundation-less style dirt floors peculiar to barns and very old homes. This was a barn.

It was a very big sound, from a very large animal that had attracted Mitzy, in her fatigue and pain. Mitzy had seen toys of such a beast in Mistress' toy farm. It had an enormous rectangular body, supported by four legs. A large head and a little tail. Mistress would make 'moo' sounds, but these were inadequate to describe the despairing, sad call emanating from this beast.

"Why are you crying?" Mitzy was in pain, but remembered her manners. If she could help, she would.

"Why aren't you?" The reply startled Mitzy. Why wasn't Mitzy crying? Others might come to her aid against the dead cat. Mitzy realised she wasn't looking for a fight, but safety and crying wouldn't be safe.

"You feel safe, so you can cry?" It was a guess.

"I am safe because my keeper is hungry. He feeds me and will not notice you, so you are safe here for the moment. My name is Adora."

"Thank you Adora. I'm Mitzy. I'm very tired. I would help you if I could."

"Grief will not go away. Tomorrow you can help. Rest."

Mitzy didn't need a second invitation, or wonder at the cryptic offer. Mitzy slept. Badly. Adora chewing cud, refrained from mooing, for a time, and the neighbourhood seemed, if not peaceful, quiet.
***
Mitzy woke, stretched and instantly regretted it. The wounds had healed a little, on her side, and she nuzzled and licked them clean.

"It is near time" said Adora.

"Time?"

"You offered to help."

"If I can." Mitzy felt a little timid.

Adora laughed, gently. "You can do this. A few days ago, I calved, and my little one was taken from me. My keeper took him next door. I cannot go there. All I ask is that you take a little of my milk to him. Only a little."

Adora helped Mitzy get the milk. Mitzy had to drink some as well, apologising for not being able to carry much. "You only need a little, a reminder of me."

The milk was warm to Mitzy's tongue, and nourishing. The wound of yesterday now seemed less. Mitzy kept her mouth closed, breathing through her nostrils. She made her journey, but not before Adora thanked her, gravely and sadly.

"A mother's grief can be short, yet her duty is lifelong, and even then, she may be called to service. Give my love and my milk, and apologise for me, who wanted so much more."

Now, as Mitzy entered this other, smaller barn, her mouth closed and forced to breathe through her nose, she discovered the grief of Adora. The Barn's roof was 'A framed' and the frames supported a horizontal post. Adora's calf was here, hanging upside down. Skinned. Gutted. Ropes secured the calf to the horizontal pole through loops that went between the bones in the lower limbs and wrapped so the bones wouldn't separate.

Mitzy walked to the calf, and released the milk from her mouth, below him, onto the floor, to mix with his blood.

"She loves you." Mitzy spoke to the corpse. "She is sorry she couldn't give you more."

The smell of the drying corpse was unbearable. Mitzy left, but decided not to face Adora, who already knew the fate of her calf.
***
Following Master
Mitzy retraced her steps to Masters new house. She was more cautious than before, yet Cat awaited her.

"Your still hurt. Why come back?"

"You wouldn't understand love." It was a game. They were sparring in much the same way Master would spar with Mitzy. There were no rules, and Mitzy new she had scored well when Cat feigning disinterest, began to groom.

"Why don't you leave that house?" Mitzy wanted to widen the score. "It isn't as if you live there." The delivery was mild.

Cat stopped grooming and hissed.

"You can't leave, can you?" Mitzy wasn't really enjoying this, but she was trying to learn what was happening. Master would often corner Mistress and gloat. Master would then learn, from Mistress, things. He would learn about what she enjoyed, so he could stop it. He would learn about what she liked, so he could break it. It was all about power, and having control.

"Only Master can leave. But if you come close enough, I can kill you."

"So Master keeps you as he would a faithful hound?" Mitzy was beginning to enjoy the sparring, and Cat knew it. Cat rose and, with a flick of the tail, walked away. This left Mitzy free to inspect the area around the house .. but the house itself was off limits, because although Cat didn't show it, Cat watched Mitzy intently.
***
The appearance of Master surprised Mitzy. He looked like an old man. Yet he smelled like Master and .. something else. Mitzy was horrified to realise part of the other smell was Mistress and his friends. What Master said also surprised Mitzy. He was warning people. Telling them to stay away, because of the curse. Yet people ignored him. Mitzy kept herself hidden from Master, watching.

She didn't have to wait too long. In the evening, Master left the house and provided a third surprise for Mitzy. As he passed the gate, he became an enormous Spider. Just like when he killed Mistress.

Without Cat to guard him, Mitzy got close to Master. This was how she learned the last, horrible truth. Master didn't enjoy killing. In fact he regretted it. But he was hungry.

Mitzy too, was hungry.

She didn’t wan’t to go back to Mistress’ house. As with Adora, she didn’t know how to face the grief. Master's house was near a restaurant. She discovered it when she heard a piano being played to the sad refrain

“Last night as I lay on my pillow
Last night as I lay on my bed
Last night as I lay on my pillow
I dreamed that my bonnie was dead”

Mitzy discovered this restaurant provided no protection for its scraps. Other pets from the neighbourhood were in on the secret. It was there, Mitzy learned how to fight. She resolved she would fight Master.
***
The Cow after two moons
Two moons had passed. Winter had gone, and amid the desolation, Mitzy had learned all that she could. She had watched Master as he energetically and despairingly warned others of the curse. She had watched Master as he stood at the window overlooking the entrance, and watched the street at night. She heard Master beg his victims for an end to his curse.

Three times, Mitzy had fought Cat. The wounds she earned were terrible. She hadn't meant to, but she had strayed near the house. Perhaps too near.

Now she decided to visit Adora.

The bushes that separated the farm from Master's house were beginning to green, but the summer insects had not yet arrived. The calf's barn looked disused, while Adora's seemed run down.

"Thank you." Said Adora, simply.

"You remember me?"

"Grief never forgets. Nor love. Can I help you?"

“I want to kill Master. I want to lift the curse.”

“So which is it?”

Mitzy didn’t understand Adora’s question.

“Do you want to kill the loser, or do you want to end the curse? You might not be able to do both.”

“I want to end the curse. What must I do?”

“The keepers like to repeat things. Find out what should happen, but doesn’t.”

Mitzy didn’t understand this either.

“The keepers repeat everything. Every day they take my milk. They open the door the same way. They feed me, stocking the same patch. They service me with a type of bull. They take my calves, selling the females. Everything they do they repeat. Look to the house, and see what they might do, but don’t. That should end the curse.”
***
An intercession
Mitzy looked at the house of Master, wondering how it was different from others. The chimney was like all the other houses in the neighbourhood. There was a belfry at a nearby church. The windows and paint needed work, but so did other places. Cat had carrion in the back, but so did other places. Mitzy was stuck, but determined to follow Adora’s advice.

It was Master who provided the clue. He had discovered a real estate agent who wanted to live. The agent had suggested that selling the house might remove the curse. This sparked the interest of Mitzy, who’d become exhausted at her own powerlessness in the face of Master’s slayings.

“You only want to save your life! You would use your time to talk about me!”

“No! No! I have a client who would be interested in your place! The belfry is unusual .. but there is space they want! You don’t have to kill me! I will sell it for you.”
***
End of Master
The sale was arranged, and the agent’s life was spared until after the deal was closed. Master had apologised to the estate agent, but explained that it was essential no one knew the truth about him. Master didn’t think the sale would save him, but hoped the curse would be lifted.

It was night. Master sat downstairs, before a fireplace. Mitzy watched Master intently. Cat watched Mitzy uninterestedly. Mitzy thought she knew what she had to do, but didn’t know how she would achieve it. It involved getting past Cat, and she doubted she could do that without being very hurt, or killed.

“Master?” Cat seemed concerned. Cat left its perch, and went inside through a partially open front door. This was to be Mitzy’s chance, and she hesitated for a moment before seizing it.

Once inside, Mitzy saw some stairs directly ahead. On her left was a dining room with rotting food. On her right was the fireplace, Master and the dead Cat. Mitzy launched herself up the dusty stairs. Cat was trying to get Master’s attention. Master’s body had slumped in the chair. Drink spilled by his side.

Up the steps, a ladder led to the attic. Cat could be heard at the steps. Cat cried taunts. Mitzy climbed to the attic. Mitzy had this plan. Yet she had no idea what to do.

A belfry is many different things thrown together to achieve a result .. a bell in a tower. Pulling on a rope can ring the bell. Once a bell is pulled, it gets easier to pull with the bell’s swing. That first jolt is the hardest. Mitzy had grown, and was quite tough for her young age, but as she bounded to the belfry pull and pawed at it, she discovered she might be inadequate to the task.

Cat had entered the attic, yellow teeth bared, claws extended and hissing. Mitzy leapt and grabbed the bell-pull with her teeth. As Mitzy’s weight fell onto the pull, through her teeth, the bell moved, but not far enough to ring the bell.

Mitzy had leapt too high, and her feet weren’t near the ground for purchase. She had her full weight on the rope and the bell hadn’t rung. She had only guessed that ringing the bell would lift the curse. Evidently, the death of Master hadn’t. Cat sized up the situation.

“No one got as far as you. No one ever worked out what to do.” Cat shook its head, admiringly. Mitzy growled, but held fast to the rope.

It was supposed to be a coup de grace, Cat striking Mitzy across the exposed belly. Cat’s claws penetrated the fur and opened the gut, but got caught on Mitzy’s bone, and the weight of Mitzy, with the force of the strike, completed what Mitzy had set to achieve. The bell rung, once, twice, three times, clearly, echoingly. At the nearby farm, Adora’s grief broke, and she found forgiveness to her keepers. Nearby, a local restaurant manager found some strays, adopted them and began donating to the animal shelter.

Much of the house remained the same. The new owners moved in and had Master buried at the local church. The house was dusted and cleaned. It was some time before Mitzy was found, curled beneath the bell-pull. Wounded, but not beyond repair. Cat was nowhere to be found.
***
New life
As this is about Mitzy, and not the curse of THAT house, it didn’t end there. A long time later, after Mitzy had become a hero for saving her adopted family from a fire, she rested at her new home, where she had played during the day. Mitzy awaited her evening walk.

He was very tired, yet looking forward to being home. He didn’t know it, but there was a medical reason for his tiredness and it went beyond the fact that he worked harder than most. Work was full, with a new job running an educational committee for television and an evaluative network for school leavers and editing a prestigious journal. It was enough to tire anyone. At home, his depressed wife and four kids, constantly fighting. His wife had recently burned down their house. Luckily their sweet natured dog turned hero and woke everyone, so that all lived without further injury from the fire. He suffered sleep apnoea, and his noisy children, led by his wife, used to laugh as he restlessly dozed after getting home. They told him he sounded like the coffee percolator.

Home was a quiet, well-placed house opposite a tree park that led to a golf course. An unusual boulder sided the front door. There was fighting inside.

The youngest was in trouble, and in bed. He had refused to stay with his older, sick, sister on her way home from school that day. He had been told to stay with her, as she was afraid of a dog on the path to school. However, when he had walked with her, she would pay no heed to him, but stand at corners, ready to run at any hint that the dog might appear.

The oldest was trouble. Once, he had gone to the community swimming pool, looking for her. He found her in the presence of numerous boys, playing cards. She had been the decision maker in keeping Kiddles, the sweet natured stray Dog that was actually named Mitzy, once, long ago. The cost, from the adventure, for her and the second oldest, a brother, was that they would care for Kiddles. Kiddles had saved them from fire, but those two fought for the right to not have to walk the dog or feed it.

Tired, he walked into the house. His wife was delighted that she could give a report card on the day’s shortfalls by the children. He was too tired to walk Kiddles, and the kids wouldn’t. So he let Kiddles out of the house to get some exercise. “She can walk herself, and if she gets hit it will be your fault.” The oldest thought that unfair, as the depressed mother had manipulated events to make things worse:
A five year old boy was never going to lead their seven year old sister from school. An eleven year old girl, left to her own devices, was always going to trade off tasks with her nine year old brother.
***
Mitzy left the home and crossed the street to her tree park. Some time later, returning home, her heart beating fast, tired but happy, Mitzy crossed the street again. Someone was playing a tune on their piano, old and sad.

“Oh blow ye the winds o'er the ocean
And blow ye the winds o'er the sea
Oh blow ye the winds o'er the ocean
And bring back my bonnie to me”

Crossing the street this time, a large beast with bright eyes appeared to Mitzy’s side. Those lights were confusing. Mitzy couldn’t see behind those eyes. She thought of moving back or forward, but those eyes seemed to follow.

The impact was loud. Everyone at home heard it. The eleven year old found Mitzy on the doorstep. Mitzy, in her confusion had gone home.

He was tired. The accident had stopped his dozing. He got the three oldest together, so that Mitzy might be buried that evening in the back yard. He asked the youngest if he wanted to be there, but the youngest feigned sleep, having been beaten earlier, and not wanting to be ‘responsible’ for anything else.

My bonnie lies over the ocean
My bonnie lies over the sea
My bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh bring back my bonnie to me

Last night as I lay on my pillow
Last night as I lay on my bed
Last night as I lay on my pillow
I dreamed that my bonnie was dead

Bring back, bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me, to me
Bring back, bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me

Oh blow ye the winds o'er the ocean
And blow ye the winds o'er the sea
Oh blow ye the winds o'er the ocean
And bring back my bonnie to me

The winds have blown over the ocean
The winds have blown over the sea
The winds have blown over the ocean
And brought back my bonnie to me

Bring back, bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me, to me
Bring back, bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me
***
A meeting reprised
Sometimes a conversation has to take place, but it isn't easy to wait to let it happen. He'd considered several different ways in which it would happen, even avoided a few. Then one day he found himself walking past the bus stop, after school. She was entertaining a few friends, but stopped as he approached and they stood facing each other a moment, awkwardly.

"I've been meaning to talk to you about that story." He started. He knew many different directions the conversation might go, but waited to allow her to direct.

"Wow! That was a really good story you wrote!" The compliment felt good for him, but he needed to clear air, and she wasn't the maudlin type.

".. Mitzy was special to me. I wrote her based on a puppy I once had, although Kiddles wasn't the type to chase monsters and bring them to justice. Unless she had to." That last was a joke.

"Mitzy came into being because of you. I wanted to thank you and I wanted to say that it isn't your fault, but something to have pride in. Mitzy was a remarkable puppy." He began to move off, promising her that he would sign her copy, if it became published.

Big Heart


Big Heart, by David Daniel Ball
Beating Heart
Friday Afternoon
It was Friday, school had finished and while we hadn't exactly left school together, we were walking our separate ways, together.

He is very fat, even for a teacher. His belly went as far forward as it did to each side, the effect was to make him appear as a tennis ball with arms, legs and a head. He spoke in a clear tenor's voice. He asked lots of questions, but also volunteered a lot about himself. I thought he was kind, and useless to me. He meant well, but he knew only about his world and only guessed about mine.

Around us and at a discreet distance, other kids walked their separate ways. I wouldn't walk with them and they wouldn't walk with me. Some were older, and they were ahead of us and getting further away. Some were at our sides, at a distance, these groups looked clean and giggly and self involved. I couldn't talk to them, and wouldn't if I could. Behind us were some my own age. Boys. One was aping the walk of the teacher. Teacher had noticed.

"No. Not one of my friends" I assured the teacher.

I didn't want to get absorbed in conversation. The teacher was happy to talk and I was happy to listen.

"I'm Vietnamese, Jacky Chan is Chinese"

"I like action, but not subtitles."

"Yes."

"Yep."

"No."

"Just my Mother."

We were approaching the end of the park. To our left was a small track that led to the railway station. Straight ahead was an underpass to the railway station and a road bridge that overran the creek we were walking next to. Angel's sister was holding court. She lived here with her druggie boy friend. I didn't want to think of how they lived, or went to the toilet, here. Angel despised her as much as her adoring fans fawned over her.

The teacher broke off, brightly greeted the others and cheerfully went about his business as the others looked at each other, bemused. He was fat, but so straight he didn't even look as if he knew what was happening there. I ignored the 'lady' in her court and went about my business. I wasn't going straight home; I had too much to do. Candy saw me and called my name.

Candy was the older, only sister of Angel, but her age showed in an exaggerated and broken way. Much as an abandoned weatherboard house compares with a luxury apartment. She was blonde and her hair was dirty and broken and straggly. She stood with her pelvis forward, as one might that was expecting sex, and didn't want to make extra effort. Her voice was broken and she never enunciated, preferring to slur her words.

"Hey Candy."

The others looked knowingly at each other with her next words, and smiled with malice.

"Thanks, that means a lot to me. You're very sweet." I liked Angel too, but I didn't want to give everything away in front of the crowd. I also didn't want Candy to know I despised her, so I lay it on, thick. Then I excused myself.
Someone said I was going to see Angel straight away. I left without acknowledging the suggestion. I was going to Angel, if I could, but I would have to find her.

Through the underpass I walked. It smelt of urine and faeces. The smell might have come from the processing plant downstream. I paid little attention as I marched toward the shops and a possible glimpse of Angel. The path snaked up and ran parallel with the arterial road that ran next to the railway. It seemed funny to me that roads and rail ran next to each other. The creek smell concentrated below and exhaust fumes were above. To my left, the street and rail formed a bitumen and concrete hell. To my right, the trees and creek looked beautiful, but enclosed, surrendering to the shops and road ahead.

The shops and station formed a hub that was Canley Valley. Lots of people hurry and scurry at this time of day. Shopping before the shops close. Many wear the Canley Valley High School blue and white uniforms. Many wear the chocolate colours of the primary school, or the uniforms of many other schools of Sydney. Angel was working at this time, but she was a suburb away, ten minutes walking.

Canley Valley, and the surrounding neighbourhoods, is all part of a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. About one third are Vietnamese, one third are Chinese and the remaining third make up over a hundred other nationalities and races. People don't notice me, or clock my 'uniform' which had caused me no end of trouble during the day. Canley Valley was a poor neighbourhood. Vice was strong and policing difficult when few spoke the language of English when it didn't suit them.

I was thinking of Angel and walking. Time flew. I was in the metropolitan hub of South West Sydney, Cabra Vale. Supermarkets, shops, banks, One Police Youth Club to service a million people, and it was here. No movie theatre. Freedom Square. The RSL Park. A group of kids had collected at a bus depot near the railway. Cino held court there. Normally he hung outside the Timegone Entertainment facility. Today he had his pug like face that topped a wiry, underfed body that should, by rights, have melted under the glare of attention. The air was sweet. I knew Angel was nearby.

I felt a bit light, being near her presence. I called out to Cino. I was only being familiar. I hadn't noticed the policeman who had collected a big wad in daylight. Cino assured him I wouldn't be trouble. Eyes were on me. Angel happened by and saved me.

Angel wasn't very tall, but she was perfect. Her heart shaped face framed two grey eyes. Two golden legs that kept moving in interesting ways, framing her pelvis beneath a miniskirt, supported a petite body. Her voice had a girly pitch. Wherever she moved eyes would follow. She walked up to me and looked full into my face. "You should be proud of him, Cino." We kissed.
==========================================
Friday Evening
I awoke at home. I was tired and could have slept so much more. Mother had returned. She was upset. She had been drinking.

"I'm tired, Mother." This statement was true.

"I work at school." This statement was not true.

"The teachers never give a fair go. They always favour the Chinese." This last response is something I knew she would accept, and more importantly, not research.

"Chinese kids gang up on us!"

"I work at school." I had to make that claim. No one would believe that claim to be true. My teachers also made the claim, as they had to as well. No one believed them, either.

"Will Trevor give me a job?" Uncle Trevor was a private investigator. I don't think he actually did anything, but promise the world to others. He had never promised the world to me. I liked that.

"Who cares about work experience? I want to get paid!"

Mother had begun to 'clean up my room. I knew she was searching my things, and this made me angry. I didn't want her to find the pills. She kept looking and talking. I got mad. I got dressed. I left the unit, slamming the door. She could look as much as she liked, now. The pills were in my shoes, which I was wearing.

The pills were for me to sell, and a few for personal use. I was tired and angry. I took a 'go' pill. I didn't feel like resting. I didn't want to attract police attention. I went toward Timegone, but I avoided lit pathways. I kept looking over my shoulder, feeling as if I was being followed.
===========================================
I passed Candy's home, and overheard an argument she was having with her boyfriend. He was upset.

"I hate this sh*t!" He called out in anguish. "We can't afford NOTHING."

I stopped myself from laughing at that last statement. In fact, nothing was all he could afford. I knew where this loud conversation was heading, but I listened, fascinated to hear them work out why it was they had nothing.

"Don't lie to me!"

"No. We don't."

"You are always saying that."

"Fritter doesn't know. Fritter knows sh!t! F#cken sh!t! No F#cken sh!t!"

"I'm sorry, baby."

"I am sorry."

"I'm sorry, baby"

"We don't own a unit. Not one f#cken bed."

"I'm sorry, baby"

"What are you going to do? Become a house?"

"I'm sorry, baby"

"You didn't share it with me, did you?"

"You never share!"

"What about me?"

I gathered he hadn't scored, earlier. He couldn't afford to. Now he was bemoaning the fact that they didn't have what 'everyone else has.'

As I walked, I had this feeling of being followed, by Mother. It was as if she were creeping behind and not calling out. Surreptitious, like when she scanned my room while I was there. I could feel her eyes.
==========================================
First stop was back to Cino's sweatshop. Located close to PCYC and Timegone. If Mother wanted to follow me to Cino's, that was her look out. Cino had ways of dealing with unwanted observers. I marvelled at how well, how quickly Angel had protected me from Cino's security.

Cino's little office was the administrative room of Timegone. There were three easy ways to get to it. One was through the front door of Timegone, next to the discount furniture and electrical goods warehouse shopfront. That was closed out of hours, the glass doors locked. It was opposite Cabra Railway Station, which was manned twenty-four hours a day. I wasn't going that way.

Another way to Cino's office was through the car park to the warehouse. The shutter doors were part of an automatic system. I wasn't going that way.

Pedestrian access to the car park was behind the shops. Cino kept people on watch there. That would be my route. I didn't know the twists and turns, but then I didn't have to. The policeman was there.

"We're cool."

"No sir, no disrespect meant. I'm going to see Cino now." He laughed at me, but he left me to continue. I was met by a couple of young men. Nothing they did told me, but I thought they were dangerous and armed. They took me to a room. One left for a while, and then when he returned they escorted me to Cino's office. I hadn't noticed, but they had searched me.

Cino's little office was lit and he was busy with phone calls. He spoke calmly and lightly, but everything he said suggested threat and death. He looked at me, and spoke.

"Yes. I'm Angel's friend." I acknowledged.

"No. She doesn't know I'm here." What did he want to know for? Was he sussing me out? What did Angel have to do with him anyway?

"I would like to work." He explained he wasn't going to give me money to have a dirty weekend with Angel. He said I was useless to him, if I wanted to work. But if I wanted money he would tell me how to get some.

"I want money."
=============================================
Monday Morning
School wasn't any different, but it was worse. I didn't have any equipment, as that was at home in my school bag. Most teachers didn't notice. It was a game that they played, making me look dumb. I knew that the secret to success at school wasn't to be noticed. Being bag-less attracted attention. I had my weekend takings. I had my pills. I hadn't slept all weekend.

Mr Ebay taught wood. I didn't know his name; only what others seemed to call him. He was upset with me for not having a bag. He also taught Electronics, so I suppose his question was understandable, but it seemed funny to me.

"How's my not finishing homework for wood got anything to do with me being electrocuted?" It was the wrong question to ask.

He began to get more animated and talk louder. He demanded to know my name, and so I looked confused. He repeatedly asked me and so I gave him my third name, "Hung."

"Everyone calls me Hung." I pointed to my name on his clipboard. He became very sarcastic.

"Your name?" He wanted me to tell him what his name was.

"Mr Ebbay" I had decided to flatten the E a little. This seemed to satisfy him. He didn't correct me, he just became more sarcastic.

Then he let me back into the woodwork room. The others looked knowingly.

"I don't know why he got upset." I said this loudly enough so that he could hear it. His face changed colour. Very amusing. He didn't take it further.
===================================
Monday, After School
It was Monday, school had finished and while we hadn't exactly left school together, we were walking our separate ways, together.

That fat teacher again. He kind of continued from where he left off.

"No, I don't play chess."

"I don't play games at home, my Mother is too busy." Too busy drinking, I thought.

"I visit friends. Home is small."

Some kids from my year were walking behind us. One was aping his gate, and he noticed this.

"No, they are not my friends."

Candy was holding court at her makeshift home, which wasn't good enough for her boyfriend. The fat teacher waved cheerily and rolled away. He was out of earshot when Candy said I would be an all-right brother. I left for home. Exhausted.
==========================================
I'm tired. No one is home. I sleep.

Mother starts talking the moment she has found the weekend takings in my shoe. She hadn't waited to look further, and so she missed the pills in the other shoe.

I snatched my shoes as quickly as she claimed the $5k cash.

"I haven't done anything illegal! That's from my friend! He wants me to hold it for him."

"Give it back!"

"It isn't mine!"

"That isn't fair! Do you want to get me into trouble? Do you??!!"

I'd thrown on some outdoor clothes and slammed the door as I left. She'd kept my cash. She'd probably blow it on alcohol. It had been my first pay from Cino, courtesy of Angel. My first real pay ever.

I remember Cino saying, "This is more than a dirty weekend ... You want work? Get a job. You want money... You do what I tell you. "
=====================================
It is dark. I am tired. I go to find Angel, confident she can help. I don't know where she is. I want to find her. I don't think Cino would tell me if I asked. I don't think Cino will even see me if I haven't cash for my pills. I get a pill from my shoe. I can't swallow it without liquid.

Units have gardens and lawn. I find a tap and cup my hands to drink, waiting first for the water to run a little. I'm told poisons and bugs collect when outdoor taps aren't used often. I take the pill. Maybe Mother isn't following me, but it feels as if she is.

The bus rank outside Cabra is where I often see Angel. It is close to a railway car park and opposite the shops that form the entrance to Cino's little office. I figure the shops will be shut, the station open. Maybe I'll be lucky.

The metal benches that make seats at the bus shelter outside Cabra rail are empty but for filth. I sit on one, relaxing, lying back for a few moments, and then looking around. Someone has followed, but I can't see them. A few people wait on the rail platform. One is drunk, and yelling loudly about the poor service.

"Business or pleasure?" Where had Angel come from?

"There is a difference?" She heard my reply and giggled. She had an arm over my right shoulder and I could feel her breasts against my back and shoulder, as she placed her left arm around my belly and kissed my neck. It was fun to turn around and return the compliment.

"Come with me" How could I resist her command? She led me to the car park and the Salvation Army clothing bin.

"Wait" she said to me, and opened the bin and leaned inside. Her skirt was small, and it rode up, exposing her pink cotton panty, which I pinched through. She giggled, and her head swung out from underneath the frame. Her clear eyes were as wide as her smile. She had some pale rubber tubing, a spoon, a lighter, a syringe and needle and some liquid vials. "Do you trust me?" She challenged.

I knew what was happening, and I wanted it. We were seated cross-legged at Cabra Station, next to the car park clothing bin. Angel was more like her sister Candy, than I'd imagined. My senses were overwhelmed with the possibility of impending sex. Although I was ready, and had practised for the event, it wasn't panning the way I had thought it would, like on TV.
She was looking at what she was doing, pulling aside my sleeve and rearranging bits of clothing. The station lights and the inky black sky framed her hair. It was after she injected that I began to notice some things, but not others. Everything was proportioned perfectly. The dirty light produced a halo around the Angel's hair. I watched as her hair bobbed up and down. It felt great, and before I could repay the kindness, I slept, as I hadn't done for so long. I even forgot my fear that we were being watched.
====================================
The light tapping of rain on the clothing bin changing to a heavy roar woke me. It was dark and warm and clean. I was on a bundle of clothes. A strong box I later found housed all of Angel's possessions. I became very alert. I could hear Angel, outside the bin. She was talking as if she were frightened.

I wanted to help, effectively. Someone, probably more, was monstering my Angel. I tried to locate the opening mechanism to the bin without making noise. Angel was pleading that she was alone and far from home, but she would help them with anything they wanted. The bin's mouth had a metal pan that was secured on either side to greased swivels. I looked out and saw.

My mind didn't immediately register what I was watching. Two large, furry, crouched figures were moving away. They looked as if they might be Gorillas, but their arms were curved and flashed brightly, like scimitar. That wasn't the horror that besieged me in that bin, with that rain. The horror my mind wouldn't accept was the body of Angel. Her back was to me, yet she faced me. She had a beautiful face, but all that had animated it had gone.

I left the bin and stood over her, looking into her eyes. Then I ran my hand over her face and eyelids, trying to close those eyes. It didn't work at first, and I brushed the orbs a few times before they closed. I couldn't leave her there or take her anywhere. Then I 'heard' her request to go home, and I picked up her body, as she had done mine not long ago, and pushed her into her home, climbing in after to rearrange it so she was comfortable. Then I found her strong box, and I knew what to do.

The rain was strong. Water coursed down my face and stung my eyes. There were monsters walking the earth, and I was alone. I walked purposefully... into Candy's boyfriend.

I blinked. It took him a few minutes to recognise me. He was more dishevelled than usual. He seemed drunk and upset.

"No," I answered quietly, numbly. "I haven't seen Candy,"

"No."

"No."

"Maybe she is with Angel?" That last was cruel in ways he would never know. He nodded at that, and started to grab my arm and ask urgent questions.

"I'm sure she loves you"

"I've never seen her with anyone else."

"Yes, she is a beautiful person."

"I like Angel too."

I was trying to politely get away, disengage, and he said. "Sam. I respect you. You are so young. So f*cking young. You'll never yell at others. Go to school. Angel will still love you if you go to school. Stay at school. Education is the most f@cking best ... The only way to not be me or Candy." I tuned out. I couldn't listen. In another time I wouldn't have paid attention, now I couldn't. I turned on my heel and left him to lurch after Candy.
===============================
Cino is behind his desk. He is agitated. He wants to know if I was followed.

"Angel is dead." That took him back.

"No. I didn't kill her." I resented him for even thinking that I was like that. He had suggested, for some reason, that such things happened on 'dirty weekends.' Cino was someone I never wanted to know.

"Here is her stash." I placed her strongbox on the table.

Cino looked at the box and then at me. "There isn't enough cash for it. Sell it or it's your debt. You hear me?"
====================================
Police are waiting for me outside of Cino's office. They search me and fail to find my pills, or the strongbox. They drive me home.

"Yes. This is my home."

"My mother isn't home right now." She was at work. Drinking is a full time job.

"I don't know how I can prove I live here."

"We don't have pictures or things."

"My Uncle will vouch for me."

"He's a PI. He is going to give me work experience." When they finished laughing, they asked for his name. A quick call over their network and they phoned my uncle.
The policeman handed me the phone, and told me to talk to my uncle. I did. He sounded distracted and upset.

"Yes Uncle, I'm going to school."

"No, Uncle." I handed the phone back to the policeman. He talked to Uncle, and then said I could go home, now.
===============================================
Going home after school, Tuesday, Candy holds court. She wants to score. I know it wouldn't be profitable to sell to her.

I am tired, and I take another tablet. I stay awake, and it dawns on me. Those monsters are tracking me when I take the drug.

I sell after school at the station. That is safest. I don't go home in the evenings, but sleep near the clothing bin of Cabra station.

Friday evening.
$12k cash. I sold at cost; all of it was Cino's.

It is night. It feels as if I am being followed, but I haven't taken a pill. I go to Cino's back door. No one is there. I follow the corridor to the office. Cino is at his desk. He was slumped over, his face looking backwards, like Angel had. I look at the phone. Would I get into trouble for being here? What should I do?
My Uncle is on the speed dial. I call him.

"I'm at Cino's. He's dead." It sounds hollow to me. Yet I had hated Cino.

"Yes. I see them. Petrol drums at the door."

"Yes. I've gotten the tapes."

"Yes. I have the cash, about $50k." Actually, about $150k.

I hang up and spill one drum of petrol around the office, as directed. I light the office with Cino's lighter as directed. I give $20k to the policeman outside, as directed. I let the policeman take a further $20k after he discovers it in a search, as directed. I go to Cabra Station, and wait for a train to the city. As directed.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Broken Heart
Why did I still have the money? That cop should have found it. He pulled $20k out of my underwear and yet missed the $110k in my bag. I had some of the choicer drugs from Cino's office. Smoke billowed behind me. Firemen clamoured and ordered. Police restricted. I was waiting for a train.

I hadn't killed Cino; I'd found him dead. Uncle Trevor had told me how to leave the office without leaving evidence that I'd been there. It is Friday evening. I'd not gone home since Angel; my young junkie sweetheart had been killed, last week. Those pills were either making me paranoid, or sending a signal to murderous creatures that had taken Cino and Angel, leaving Candy (Angel's older junkie sister). I was numb with hurt. I was afraid of being pulled aside by police, or thugs, wanting the money and gear. I wouldn't go home to mother.. She had taken my first pay. Instead I was going to meet Uncle Trevor at Wynyard.

I bought a ticket from a machine, without flashing wads of cash. Most of the people at the station minded their own business. All should have. A dumb drunk called out to me. I ignored him, hoping he would approach a livelier group down the platform. He would have none of it. He put his hand on my shoulder and leaned close to my face.

I didn't like to be touched. Never had. In the white areas, people stared at me. In the Asian areas, people treated me as scum, because that is what my Mother is. Now this drunk was touching me. When sober, he'd've ignored me. My heart beat faster and I tried to remain calm in the face of his foetid breath. I didn't want to attract attention.

He said I was too young to be out at this time of night. He indicated the fire and commotion. I stared at him in horror. This lonely drunk wouldn't be redirected or respect my personal space.

"Go away and stop touching me!" I said this loudly enough so that the others in the station would hear. You could almost feel the drunk wince with the rebuff. He began to protest innocence of molestation.

"I understand you have no friends .. " I continued, heartlessly.

"If you have friends, where are they?"

"Leave me alone." I held my voice loud and level. He shuffled off, wounded. It hadn't struck me, but my question applied to me with equal force.
++++++++++++++++++++
There was still time to wait for the train. I nervously looked over my shoulder for signs of police. The drunk had shuffled to the other platform, where trains went away from the city.

They have three signal lights on the front. These lights indicated which route the train was going. I had never paid attention to the lights, although I had wondered. The top two lights were off. I wondered what that meant. It didn't really matter to me as they all went to the city.

The door to the train didn't open where I was standing. It was secured with bright yellow and red tape that read "Warning. Malfunctioning: This door is not working. Warning." I nipped into an adjacent carriage. The unconcerned whistle of the train guard whistling approval to the driver that all was clear. I'd chosen a carriage that had a junkie couple with a pram.

Upstairs was a group of university kids (Chinese, I thought, probably Mandarin speaking), while downstairs, a group of Middle Eastern boys were collected for a hot night out. The carriage jerked in response to the lead carriage moving and between the carriage with a broken door and the one I was in, a beggar girl stepped.

I'd seen her on trains before. She seemed to feel it was her job to collect for the needy. If you said 'no' she would become more insistent. If you looked cold to her need, she became rude and abusive. The junkies knew how to handle her, though.

"Didja see the fire?"

"Please. I need some money to make a phone call .. " It was the same line she had used last week. The friendliness of the two junkies led her directly to me as a third party.

"I said to you last week that I had no money for you and you got rude." I was being direct and meeting her rudeness proportionately. If she got upset, I could laugh at her. She seemed to know she was outmanoeuvred, so she turned to go upstairs and face the students.

The two junkies became emboldened by their success, and repeated their question, this time to me. I tried to give a non-committal response. The junkies decided to talk about me between themselves, loudly.
"Is that your child?" I asked this because it would take them awhile to realise the insult. I smiled at the same time, which I thought would gratify them.
I was amazed that the skills my parents gave me would prove so useful. Only dumb people seemed to fall for my false sincerity and misdirection. Users, like the beggar girl stayed away, and called me a 'smart arse.' I'd never really met a smart, sympathetic person. Even Angel .. I didn't want to think about her.

Yet I had to think about Angel. I was numb and being eaten away and had no one to talk to. I might've talked to many, but all that I might've talked to had no interest in my affairs. I met Angel and she died. I kept stopping there. I slept close to where her body was interred .. even when magpies began to collect around the scent of rotting flesh. I followed a sequence of events leading up to her murder. I followed the sequence away. When I reached back to the train, I overheard the students challenging the beggar girl.

"No money, sorry. But I have a mobile phone! Who would you like me to call?"

"Will they sell me drugs"

A girls' giggle followed with "Couldn't you find a better excuse?"

Suddenly, the beggar had become like my mother, and I loathed her more.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The boys downstairs were becoming rowdy and had started on their favourite topic of hating the United States of America.

"They deserve every death they get."

"They love Jews and they hate Muslims."

"They could do the world a favour by dieing"

A middle aged, fat man with an American accent had joined the conversation.

"The SLA didn't exist" said one boy hotly. "That is just another lie told by Jews." Apparently, the Southern Lebanese Army had worked with Israelis to prevent the worst atrocities of the Lebanese civil war. This was an uncomfortable truth to the boys.

"What about the Afghan farmers? USA promised compensation for them to not grow drugs .. and never paid! Why should anyone trust America again if they don't honour their promises?"

"They had no right to go into Iraq! They only wanted the oil!" The boys had long ago stopped using connected logical statements. They punctuated each supposed outrage with another slogan. The fat man remained calm.

The beggar girl sat next to me.

She hadn't needed to, but she sat close.

Her leg touched mine.

The boys were talking about Palestine.

I put a hand on her knee, and it slid up her leg. Turning to her, I put an arm around her and kissed her. Her mouth opened and I could taste her. I could taste sweat and vomit. She wasn't Angel, nor Candy.

The train was sliding through the tunnels to Wynyard.
++++++++++++++++++++
Although I have no memory of what followed, I clearly recall her taste. There was more than I listed. She had recently had one of Cino's amphetamines.

The scent provided my first sense. Acrid fumes of burning wire mixed with what can only be described as biological. A sheet of metal had somehow wrapped around me and cocooned me. My head was almost clear of the cocoon, and my shoulders could slip through the opening.

A hand appeared before my eyes. It was held open, waiting for me to grasp it. A voice, clear as a bell, girly, was giving instructions that my mind wasn't registering. Still, I slipped both hands into hers and was pulled from my cocoon. My pants had slipped off and parts of my legs seared with heat from the cocoon. I knelt in my underpants before my saviour. Unhearing. Unseeing. The scent of burning metal and flesh.

"Come on! Go! Get out of here!" The voice of my Angel.

I was moving to the commands. One of my arms was held into my side as a bird holds a broken wing. One leg didn't bend very well. I staggered as she half led, half pulled me towards this enormous hole that used to be the end of the train carriage.

"Help me!" An arm extended from a burning hole.

"Help me!" A voice from beneath a metal fa├žade called.

"Hang on. These people need help!" Angel kept leading me.

"Wait. Angel, wait!" She stopped and looked at me. She was dressed in her customary cotton dress with high skirt. Her hair and skirt lifted as she spun and faced me. A smudge on a heart faced cheek looked designer and her eyes were earnest.

"You shouldn't be here!" she seemed very upset. I saw nothing particularly explosive and tried to speak levelly. "It's safe now. These people need help."
"These people are dead. You shouldn't be here!" She was pleading and crying .. it seemed very bizarre.

I followed her out of the train. She was crying. I placed my index finger beneath her chin and lightly held her jaw with my thumb, as I bent to kiss her lips. In all the excitement, I didn't notice that she had no taste.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
"Sam. You shouldn't be here."

There were cries coming from the train. I would have to answer them. I also had to respond to her. She was here. She was real. And I remembered her dead. I remembered the magpies that collected around the clothing bin that I had interred her. I remembered holding her lifeless body. "Angel, I'm confused."

"Sam. Think. Where are you?"

I was going to answer 'I am close to Wynyard station. There has been an accident. Uncle Trevor is waiting for me.' But before I said that, I realised I was wrong. "I am .." A cry from the train drew my attention. I forgot my injuries, and moved to the train.

"Sam! You aren't meant to be here!"

Stepping into the car, I saw arms grasping for me. I heard voices calling for help.

"Sam. This is Hell."

I agreed with her. I grasped a hand and pulled. A torso slid from the hole it had reached from. But not the whole body. I was shocked to recognise Mother. There was blood oozing from her mouth, just as she had once dribbled claret. "Sam! Save me!" And there was no more I could do for her.

"Emergency service will get here soon!" I called this out hopefully.

"They aren't coming, Sam."

"Angel .. Come and help."

"You aren't listening to me."

I grasped another hand. This time I pulled out the drunk from the station. He too, was too injured to live. "Sam, son. Save me!"

I threw myself onto where the stairs should have led up, but because the carriage was on its side, was actually to the left. I grasped the hand of a young girl and pulled her clear. It was another torso. This time it said nothing, but lay dead. It was Angel.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Angel was standing at the entrance. Angel was lifeless and beneath me. "I'm confused."

"Sam, you aren't supposed to be here." Her voice got smaller. "I'm sorry."

I remembered something. She kept talking to me.

"It smells bad, doesn't it?"

Angel's blood pooled at my feet. I dipped my finger in the stuff and licked it.

"You thirst, yet there is no water. Salt has lost its saltiness."

"Why am I here?"

"You shouldn't be here!"

"Why AM I here?"

"It's a mistake."

"WHY AM I HERE?"

"Sam." "Your dead, Sam."

"The train accident?"

She laughed, bitterly. I no longer paid attention to the outstretched arms, or to the cries for help. I wanted answers.

"You are here because you chose to be."

"What? No I didn't!"

"Yes. Yes you did.
You have choices in your life. You haven't exercised your choice. But that is also a choice."

"What?"

"Your father left you before you were born, but did you stop blaming him?"

"I never blamed him for anything. I never knew who he was!"

"And you never moved on either. You never took the gift of life he gave you. You blamed others for that. Others like him."

"The drunk?"

"Didn't it upset you that he was like your father?

You don't forgive your Mother."

"What's there to forgive? She lives for herself!"

"So you won't? You aren't punishing her by punishing yourself."

I looked around, and spotted the dying drunk. "He is my father?"

"You don't know who he is, Sam. He might be your father, although he never fathered you. Maybe he hates you, but you can't live your life by sharing hatred. You must love, because that is all you can do. But to wait? He will do nothing for you, so waiting won't help you. You will wait forever, being more resentful day by day, and he will never do what you want him to do for you.
You are in Hell. You have died. You never made the choices you were given because you waited for things to happen."

I rejected the summation, and tried to think of ways of cheating death.

"I am not dead! I made choices! I lived!"

"No you haven't. You lurched from situation to situation, hoping that a female would extract you. But it isn't about others, is it? Your mother helped you, didn't she?"

"My Mother! That bitch? She took my money! She drinks everything away! She never thinks about anything but what serves her!"

"So why are you waiting for her? Your hatred is a swinging hammer, it needs to hit somewhere. The hammer is controlling you. Let go of the hammer of hatred. Know this: Your mother doesn't matter, but she matters."

"What?"

"Your mother doesn't matter, but she matters. You can move on. Don't worry that she doesn't mother you. Don't look to her for that. Look away. Yet you need a mother. She will always have been that. You can move forward. Holding on for what she will never give you won't satisfy you.
When I first met you, I was attracted to you because, although you were paralysed and dieing, you had life. I tried to give you your life, but you stopped. You chose death. But you haven't embraced death yet. You are waiting for mom and dad and friends."

"What else is there?"

"There is love. Don't wait for the others. Live your life."

"I'm trying!"

"Don't 'try.' 'Do.'
Look, you waited here. You have done your time. You can go now."

"Go?"

"Kiss me. I will show you."

So I moved to her. To kiss her. To be with her as I should have been when she died. And that was how I found her. Again.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The smoke had obscured the fact that the surroundings to the carriage were sparse. A dead drop crevasse on one side and a wide, Martian, sparse-scape on the other. I stepped into the sparse-scape, leaving the bodies and the cries behind.

I walked.

I felt the heat of the wreck, radiating behind me.

I walked.

My legs didn't always respond the way I wanted.

I walked.

I was walking from the flames of Cino's office. My bum hurting from where the Policeman pinched as he reached for money. I was leaving the dead behind, and embracing a smoky, uncertain future. The train is pulling into the station. People are on board.

I cross to the platform where the drunken beggar is alone.

"I have nothing to drink, but perhaps you would like to go where the food is good and the people kind"

I had no idea where that might be, but even beauty begins with a lie.