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Scuttle Mind


He lay in bed looking up at the ceiling. The flutter had turned into more of a scratching. The scratching turned into a scurrying sound. The annoyance that it had been a pigeon taking shelter in a nook in the eaves now turned to revulsion that it was most likely a rat that found its way into the loft overhead. It sounded busy—whatever it was doing up there. But for whatever reason, Matt could not seem to build up the wherewithal to investigate. Instead he took comfort that rats were nocturnal and it was getting light outside. If anything, he would sleep when the rat did. Until the sun rose, Matt lost himself in the events that had been scuttling through his head for hours—days—weeks. “Has it been a month?” he whispered to himself. “No. It’s been more,” replied a voice from within. But Matt wondered if it had all been a dream.

That weekend in Golders Green had been real. He knew it had been real. The surreal assent from the tube station out onto a busy street then over the road to Starbucks— the earthy, warm smell of coffee teased the air with the same gossamer flutters of her dark lashes. The flirtation that lead to that long, slow walk to the guest house played out in his head like some kind of recording stuck on repeat. He had been alive, surely. He had playfully built up the passion—conversing—laughing–smiling as they wandered up the high street to the guest house. She had giggled as she lay there, wrapped in a white sheet after hours of lovemaking.

The scratching overhead broke him from his reverie. His mind went to looking for the latter. He had used it in the summer. It was in the shed. Or did he lend it to the neighbour on his left. Then he recalled when the neighbour to his right had knocked on his door to warn him not to leave the conservatory door open—that there was a rat in the garden. Matt told him he was not worried. His Jack Russell dogs were ratters. They would make sure the rat would not get in. “But dogs cannot climb drain pipes, can they, you great pillick?” How long ago was that? He could not remember what he did yesterday. He was not sure what day it would be when the sun came up.

Matt thought about putting his dogs in the loft. Maybe they would get the beastie. Maybe the dogs would chase it—run it down—eradicate the pest in the loft. But some things were just too quick and canny to be exterminated. He thought back to her eyes as they held him in soft stupidity. They were on the tube. They stepped on together but were jostled apart—separated by a plain woman who smelled like chip fat. She stood between them, removing herself from the reality around her by plunging herself in her book. The doors opened at Camden and he broke through the crowd to swing his arm around her and guide her out and up onto the burst of movement on the pavement. She had been on a mission. She was hungry but did not know what she wanted. She laughed at how much choice she had as they walked up and down the market. He told her he loved her for the first time at the lock. She burst out crying and held him tight.

The scampering started again. It was followed by some more scratching and he could hear his dogs downstairs becoming anxious. He could hear them clawing at the kitchen door. He knew they wanted to come upstairs. They could probably hear the ruckus with their super-dog-hearing. But they would not be able to get into the front room, let alone upstairs and up the loft. Matt’s mind went back to trying to locate his latter in his mind.

He saw her walking away from him at St. Pancras pulling her suitcase behind her. The loud, rattling wheels were more than he could bear. The day had been bright and the light streamed in through the grids and windows overhead. The white noise of the train station reverberated through his head and he could make out nothing discernable but the wheels on her suitcase rolling—rolling-rolling away from him. He compartmentalised that moment. But the sequestering of those raw emotions exposed him to her derision. She looked at him—there had been a Y shaped crease between her brows. She asked the question silently but he would not answer. He waved at her—as a friend would—when she stepped through the turnstile. She had turned around to look at him one last time before she joined all the nameless and faceless people boarding the train north.

The scooting overhead startled him again. The room had lightened. It was the break of day. He heard birds chirping outside. He resolved that he would get poison in the morning—or the afternoon—or whenever he would be able to. He would buy it down at Steptoe’s down the street. Steptoe would have rat poison. There would be no need to put the dogs up in the loft. He would see if the neighbour would give him a hand getting the poison up there. He resolved to get up, take his citalopram, have a slice of toast and go to Steptoe’s then talk to next door–at some point.

He closed his eyes and promised he would not dream of her.



Kerouac Rules for Spontaneous Prose #19



19. Accept loss forever

Keys. Goddamned lost my keys. Everything in those keys. Stability, freedom, tranquillity, worldly wealth, the words on my papers that tell me who I am–what I am–who I will be at some point if I live that long—or who will get what if I do not. I reach in to my childhood for St. Anthony to come and search for those keys—to let me in the house—to help me let the dogs out—to let me use the bathroom—to sleep.

Keys are beautiful—dangled, distracting my crying baby boy–Tinkling in summer wind through art room window at college—keys dangling from the wood beam, holding within them locked away memories in long ago houses from some time that was but will never be again. Forgotten rooms, elapsed moments, long ago lust, hidden away Spector in stasis–precious things– keys all rusting away in some man’s utility drawer; expendable like so many disremembered names of those that faded away when pain expired.

I stand accused of not being bothered because I cannot access my mail– those All important missives laden with requirements that sit just within the locked door. I lost my keys.

The locksmith will come anyway.

Kerouac Rules for Spontaneous Prose #13

Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

Ann: Hey, Sarah. I’m going to try something. Thought i’d tell you cuz I don’t want you horrified and shit.
Sarah: uh-oh. what are you thinking?
Ann: Lemme read this to you, yo. REMOVE LITERARY, GRAMMATICAL AND SYNTACTICAL INHIBITION. That’s what I gotta do for the blog tomorrow.
Sarah: (horrified face) oh god. no.
Ann: I gotta do it.
Sarah: ok. but it is so hard for me not to try to edit it especially if it is not in my own handwriting.
Ann: I know, right? so I gotta do it.
Sarah: ok. oh god… ok.

Ann: (clears throat)”running, rolling, rambling out on that road at a viciously, vivacious speed shouting out in the vernacular voom-voom-vooming aloud…”

Sarah: oh god. oh god.


Note: Sarah is more than just my work colleague..she is the Spock to my Kirk. The Stabilising-Editor to my Freak-Writer…also my watcher when I get far too drunk on port to know what is good for me…but I digress. Once I read this out loud to Sarah, I said, “This was fun. It actually was pretty good.” Sarah laughed then said, “Yes. actually it was pretty good. It could have gone so wrong.”

Kerouac Rules For Spontaneous Prose #9


“The unspeakable visions of the individual

It was a Once Upon a Time moment. A man and a woman sat at a table in a garden café and spoke to each other. He noticed how her eyes sparkled when she spoke. She noticed the gentle tilt of his head when she made a point that he found unpredictably unconventional. They both enjoyed their conversation in, what seemed to be, a deferred moment in time as people blurred by in a disconnected frenzy of white noise. The only interruption was to come when the waiter crossed the threshold of their intimate sanctuary to enquire after their culinary needs—their general comfort. The time was spent with no other motivation but to be within each other’s company without distraction. That time was good.

Paradise was lost the day they became connected to all their friends and relations through the use of a mobile phone, social network and instant mail. Time after time, there was the debilitating sound of a small buzz that came from his coat pocket. He would pull the device out and check it. A friend needed help later. Would he come? A brother had liked someone’s photograph. An old lover lamented that she wished she was in Disneyland. And his mother was tired of picking up dirty socks. Her phone was on silent. But his constant notifications encouraged her to check her phone. She would read the screen. Her forehead creased. She was in a state of confusion one minute. She was mildly amused the next. Another time she looked absolutely vexed.

Neither mentioned what was happening in their respective worlds. They kept these messages private–For their eyes only. They thought about the goings-on of their other friends and family and the conversation between them became unfocussed and fraught. The world felt all too and they were far too preoccupied to speak to each other. Rather, they sat drinking their cups of tea, discussing the latest application and skirted around the issue that they knew all the news of each other because of what they read about the other from other friends on the their mutual friends-list.

One day, she was too distracted by his frequent checking of the social network. She wondered why he even bothered coming to see her that day as he was much engaged by what was being posted by his other friends. He became annoyed because as preoccupied as she seemed to be by the text messages she read, her answer to his question, “is everything ok?” was always, “it’s nothing.”

Suddenly, there were too many people at the table for two. In the effort to be “connected”, they found they had stopped being so connected to each other.

But they have not “unfriended” each other on the social network.


The poetry of ineptitude.


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