Archive for October, 2009

Crumbs

October 24, 2009

How long had it lain there? Hiding behind the remote controls; controls which either work for appliances that don’t, or vice versa. If one of them did function, I have no doubt that I would, this very instant, be upturning the entire front room, looking for it, and effing and blinding the blasted thing, and breathing loudly through my nostrils, and cursing the fuckhead who had put it in such a ridiculously unfindable place. Naturally, it would turn out to have been me. And, it would be down the back of the sofa; not that it had slipped there. No. I would have put it there to hide it on someone else, and then I would have forgotten I’d done it, and the prank would have backfired on myself.

I have lost so much money down the back of that sofa while napping in the evenings, that I now look on it as a kind of comfortable piggy bank. In a couple of years, if the housing market and my increasing narcolepsy continue in their current directions, I’ll find enough change down there to buy a nice place overlooking a nicer place overlooking an even nicer place overlooking what’s left of The Liffey.

But, it is still looking at me from behind the remote controls, inviting me to taste it. Cellophane wrapped, its gorgeous bun-ness tempting me to partake of its delicious chocolaty-ness. How long has it been there though? I saw it first some time last week. Where did it come from? I’m not sure. I don’t know whose it is. Every evening I sit here with my housemates talking, and there sits the little cake on the edge of the table crouching behind the zappers, looking up at me. But now, I am alone. And I am weighing the options in my head.

It has an air about it, that cake, as though it had been specially baked for someone, and therefore I ought not steal their gift, and yet I also think that had its owner really appreciated their gift, they should have eaten it by now, and if they had been waiting to eat it later and savour it, and cherish it, and give it its due attention, they ought not to have left it in such a conspicuous place. The reasoning process stirs. I already know the verdict. I just need to justify it, work out the probable cause, tamper with the evidence, select the jury. We all know I’m going to eat that cake. I just need to go through the mental motions or else it would just be heartless. Who would abandon such cocoa-laden delicacy? Who would ignore such saliva-inducing chocolacy? It has been slightly crushed or misshapen by its ungrateful intended eater. This cake’s owner loved it not, not like its baker did. It has been left to me to appreciate this crumbly muffinesque offering. In fact, not only would it be right for me to eat it, I fear it would be wrong for me not to. It is my duty to eat it. It is my calling.

I move the remote controls aside and eye it greedily. I pick it up and hold it to the light, like a priest with communion. The cellophane wrapping glistens; hopefully it has kept it fresh. I pull the cellophane off slowly. I bring the bun to my nose and inhale the care with which it was made. I bite into it and pause; even though it’s not, it still tastes warm. I hold it in my mouth for a second before I begin to chew, slowly at first, then faster, before I swallow it down into my hungry, hungry belly. The second bite I eat a little more quickly, and then I just shove the whole rest of the bun, over three quarters of it, in to my mouth, in a moment of uncontrollable self-indulgence, crumbs flying, drool slipping out, murmurs escaping in little ‘m’s and groans. And it is so satisfying, so good, like I imagine a vampire’s first kill must be.

And just then Damo walks in. He fixes me angrily. My jaws cease from their movement.
“Eating my bun, are ye?”
What can I say? I clearly am. I look up at him with what I imagine is a mixture of guilt and surprise. He looks at me with disdain; a look of continued disappointment in me.

And then, in my surprise, the cake, reduced to mulch in my mouth, goes slightly down my throat and gets stuck. And suddenly I can’t breathe. I try punching myself in the back, but I can’t dislodge it. Damo stands watching me choking, as though deciding whether or not to intervene; whether my life is really worth saving. I stand up, and with my eyes, and ever-reddening face, I plead him to come to my aid. I beseech him. He looks doubly irritated now, but he turns me around, and putting his fists under my ribcage, he pulls up sharply, giving my lungs a sharp squeeze, the food is forcibly ejected from my throat. It flies out of my mouth and lands in a mess on the carpet. I fall to my knees, gasping the air I was briefly deprived of.

Damo turns to leave the room. He looks down at me unsympathetically, shaking his head

“Get yourself together”, he says disapprovingly, and he walks out.

I am in a heap on the floor, legs tucked under me, with one hand supporting my upper body. I am dejected and humiliated. I disgust myself. I am shamed by my feebleness; my lack of will power and restraint; my clumsiness. Why do I do these things I wonder, and why do they happen to ‘me’.

Before me, the ex-muffin soils the floor. I look down at the brown crumbs scattered there. Amongst the crumbs lies the offending object, still stuck to itself in a sort of ball. That mass of chocolaty brown that was stuck in my throat, that murderous lump. ‘It sure tasted good though’, I recall. It sure did. Maybe the nicest muffin I’ve ever known. I wonder how something so simple could give such pleasure. And I’ve already chewed most of it up. And it’s not like it was in someone else’s mouth. And it’s not like anyone would know. I scoop it up and look at it closely, pulling off a small piece of fluff that has attached itself. I look about me, and listen for steps.

‘It’d be a terrible shame to see it wasted’, I say to myself.

And then I toss the chewed-up chocolate back into my mouth, savour its loveliness for one short but-oh-so-sweet moment, and then send it straight down my gullet, and on into my belly where it belongs.

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Leaves

October 17, 2009

He always goes to the same place, when he goes. We tend to let him there a while before we’d go after. Usually, one of his brothers goes to get him. And if they fail to coax him out, I go.

Behind the old library are the woods. They stand still; quiet in the sunlight. As I enter, looking up, the sky above seems to shift from blue to white. But, as I go deeper, the sky itself gets lost; pushed aside by ancient branches, blacked out by a sea of leaves. It is neither night nor day here. A few minutes in, lies a long-fallen oak, around which have grown bushes and brambles, which seem to be consuming it. It is here where I find him.

I walk around it to where he hides. Even though, I cannot hear him, I know he is there. I can picture him, trying to be silent. I speak to him softly. He doesn’t answer. I try again, and he tells me to go away. But of course I do not leave. I move to find him. I part the briars which dangle down over the log and see him sitting within. Only his face breaks the dark. He looks up at me, but does not return my smile. And we stay like this a while, mainly in silence; me, outside crouching; him, inside with his knees to his chin.

And, so I edge in further, lifting the thorns carefully, stooping my way through, and sitting down beside him. The brambles form a kind of roof. Last year’s leaves carpet the ground. It is cosy: his den. I like it here. And I can see a bit of me in him. I can see why he likes it in here. I almost wish I’d found this place first. We sit here in silence for a time; I don’t know how long. This place is without time. It may be afternoon outside, but in here, there is no day; the leaves having extracted the light.

Eventually, he speaks. “Anthony McBride stood on my train set and crushed it”, he tells me; his tone betraying no anger, only sadness.

“I’m sure he didn’t mean to”, I assure him.

But, no, he tells me how Anthony had explained what he was going to do, before, while, and after he did it, and I feel cheap for doubting my boy. That train set didn’t cost much, but I know what it meant to him.

I turn to him and thumb his cheek, clearing the dirt, which always seems to make its way towards young boys’ faces. I tell him that he is better than guys like Anthony McBride, and tell him how good he is, and how strong, and lowering my eyebrows, leaning closer, I tell him conspiratorially how we are going to show him. He turns his head and catches my eyes.

And then, bottom lip quivering, eyes welling up with tears on the verge of escape, he adds, “And Mary Jo says my ears look like a rabbit’s.” As though, somehow, this was worse.