It is a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.
Tue, 20 September 2005
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(Yes, I used the same basic intro for two articles) Buttonhole has many creative types as part of our team. Amongst our staff we have photographers, musicians, artists, people who can make soup from toenail clippings (ok, I made that one up) and so forth. One of my hobbies, or passions, is writing; which is handy since that is essentially what I'm here for. I like to write short stories, poems and anything else that takes my fancy. I thought I'd share some of my creative stuff with our readers and hopefully that'll encourage other Buttonholers to do the same. Some of my poems are online too.
If I get a good response to this stuff I will post some more in the future. I if don't get a good response...well, I'll still post some more in the future. Because I can and it makes me happy to do so. I don't expect it to be everyone's cup of tea and that's fine. If you don't like it, just don't read it. No skin off anyone's nose either way really.
My thanks to Joel White for the picture.
Ghosts, Testicles and the Rest
Robert was his name. Zimmo was what he was called.
A tampon manufacturer sponsored him. They paid him to fill in any holes.
"Call for us hole fillers, we're better than any pain killers" he'd often say. He wasn't sure why, he just kind of liked the sound of it.
His best friend was Joseph. Joseph worked for a political party. His job was to dig as many holes as he could.
"A fall into a hole is worth two from a pole" he'd often say. He wasn't sure why, he just kind of liked the sound of it.
When Joseph was a child he used to have a pet frog.
That frog would talk to him and tell him all sorts of things.
Zimmo squashed that frog. He explained to Joseph that frogs couldn't talk, so all he'd heard were lies. The two of them remained friends ever since.
Neither Zimmo nor Joseph ever really cared too much about squashed frogs, holes dug, holes filled, or who paid who to do what. What mattered most to them was how many hours they could waste each day. That was their hobby. So far their record stood at thirty-two hours.
Mike T was an agent. He represented all the seconds that made up time.
He couldn't talk, because words refused to work with him. This was because he had repeatedly mistreated them. Mike T didn't like Joseph or Zimmo. He did, however, like collecting the royalties they had to pay him for using his seconds while they were wasting hours.
Zimmo and Joseph were quite good with words but they didn't work with them all that much. Words just didn't kill off enough time for them. Lots of words, they had learned, could never compete with wasted actions.
Mary Cont was a girl who everyone knew. She was hired by "Ugly Faces" magazine when they needed someone to make them look bad. Her attractiveness was undeniable. She exuded an irresistible radiance and aesthetically was virtually flawless. Actually, she was beautiful to the extent that it was almost impossible to fathom. Basically she looked as perfectly magnificent as a person can. Seemingly she was a lucky person with the world as her oyster, but she had suffered some major injustices throughout her life that she rarely mentioned. Some very disturbing feelings remained trapped inside her. Mary Cont was not intellectually lacking; she was far from stupid and she spent much of her time pondering things. But some of her scars were just too deep and her mind never could quite keep up with all the thoughts she tried to feed it.
Mary Cont believed that all beauty came wrapped in horror.
Zimmo and Joseph believed she was correct, but they'd never admit it.
Mary Cont never showed any interest in them, so they pretended to have no interest in her.
Mike T, being a lovesick sycophant, would've told Mary Cont whatever she wanted to hear. Of course he couldn't, because he had no words.
Doctor Wank was Mary Cont's therapist. She paid him to tell her the things she refused to acknowledge. Doctor Wank couldn't stand Mary Cont. He considered her to be a boring piece of work- just a bunch of dramas trying to create substance.
Mike T was far more appealing to Doctor Wank. Mike T was a fellow with no substance who longed for drama. A fellow who knew so little of anything that he convinced himself he must know everything. Doctor Wank was in love with Mike T.
He loved him because he could only love what he felt superior to.
Zimmo and Joseph never dealt with Doctor Wank. As far as they were concerned he was just a smart arse queer. He was of no use to them, so long as he kept doing things his way.
Lucy was a girl no one ever got to know. All she ever did was sleep. In a past life she had never had any dreams and so now she was trying to make up for that. With her outrageous dreams, she enjoyed her sleep immensely and had no desire whatsoever to wake up. Her father's name was Thor and he was an artist. Like many good artists, Thor was not well known.
Joseph and Zimmo asked Thor to paint them a picture of Doctor Wank. They thought throwing darts at the picture would be a good way of wasting plenty of time. Unfortunately for them, Thor's art was drinking. He was extremely good at it. The only problem he had was that the drinks didn't always give themselves to him for free.
Mary Cont killed Thor. She didn't really want to do it, but he asked her very nicely. The opportunity for more drama proved irresistible for Mary and Thor had nothing left to drink, so it seemed like the right thing to do. Besides, Thor's art would likely only be appreciated fully once he was dead.
Around about this time some frogs were holding a jumping contest. It was held in honour of all of their friends who had been squashed for talking. The frog that jumped highest won a prize. It was a testicle donated by Mike T.
With the money he made from the frogs using the seconds of time he represented Mike T was able to buy himself another three testicles, so he still came out ahead.
He then thanked God out loud. However, words protested and he was forced to retract his statement.
Hillel knew about all of this and about all of them. At least he knew of all of this and all of them. He knew enough about it to realise that he only wanted them to know certain parts of him. Hillel was not a real person; he was a fictional character. Still, he was more genuine and sincere than the others and knew it was best not to get too involved in matters that are beyond control.
It was all a tragic and pointless state of affairs. Nevertheless, when viewed objectively, a certain degree of strange charm became apparent. Besides, it was impossible to ignore. These things have a way of surrounding us, whether we like it or not.
The ghost of Thor and the ghosts of some frogs invaded everyone in their dreams. Thor couldn't drink as a ghost (no spirits for spirits is the rule) so he had nothing better to do. The frogs joined in simply because such things amuse ghost frogs.
These dreams made Lucy wake up. She knew that Thor was annoyingly inoffensive and obvious without his drunken art. She had no desire to keep dreaming when all she was getting was some unimpressive images of her father and some easily amused frogs. So Lucy chose to use her dream experience to quickly take over the entire world. All it takes is a good imagination and some creative thinking. So, Lucy was extremely well qualified for the job.
Joseph and Zimmo started worshipping Lucy. Despite the fact that they didn't consider her particularly exceptional in any way. They had discovered how much time mindless worship could waste and were quite content.
Mary Cont tried to seduce Hillel. Hillel found her so ridiculously attractive that his penis refused to become erect. The two became so frustrated with each other that they knew it had to be love. They soon got married. It seemed to make no sense at all, which is exactly why they did it. Things that made sense made them feel safe and secure, yet tended to fall apart just as they'd invested themselves in them fully. From past experience they both felt that anything that made a great deal of sense was insidious, usually somewhat false and potentially devastating. Taking a major risk, which was guaranteed to fail, was far less disappointing and damaging in the long run. For their honeymoon they beat each other to death with chicken drumsticks.
Mike T came to a slight understanding about how badly he had mistreated words over the years. He spoke out about how people should not use words badly. He put it badly. Words got so fed up with his inability to use them correctly that they made him read them until his brain exploded. It was no great loss. Really few losses are great. If they were you would probably call them a gain.
Doctor Wank was heartbroken about Mike T's brain explosion. Or so he said. He also said that he thought he would never again love a person as much. It was unlikely that he meant anything he said. It was unlikely that he meant anything at all.
Somehow somebody ended up with Lucy. The two of them were extremely happy as a couple who couldn't care less about each other. They produced two children- twin boys. Lucy might well have been very smart. Or she might well have been very stupid. Either way, she felt enough at peace to go back to sleep.
Those twin baby boys closely resembled frogs. Nature can sometimes be very cruel. Doctor wank, who had adopted them because they made him feel highly superior, named one boy "tampon" and the other "hole". The three of them ate testicles for dinner once a week.
They were all, each and every one of them, rather useless really. Or, perhaps, not quite useless enough. In any case, none of them mattered very much.
Occasionally their lives got mentioned in stupid stories told by self-centred and confused people who were hoping to sound like they made interesting observations; usually a fairly pathetic and futile exercise.
To the best and worst of everyone's knowledge, all over the place life went on regardless.
She came before me claiming to be the sweet angel of mercy.
I could tell straight away that she wasn't.
She was so pleasing to the eye,
I played along with her just to keep her there.
She looked all squeaky clean, I couldn't help wanting to rub her in some dirt.
She looked like someone had made her into something she did not want to be. Something she wasn't.
Not many things are left to be what they are.
Regardless, this was shaping up as a day well worth living.
We started talking. That can ruin any moment.
But when luck is on your side no harm comes your way.
I said to her,
"Since you are here, sweet angel, why not take off all your clothes?"
She had no sense of humour.
She gave a resentful hiss and slapped me in the face.
That got both of us laughing.
So, okay, she did have a sense humour and a good one at that.
Then she took off all of her clothes.
The laughter stopped.
Even the sun conceded it had met its match and stopped shining.
I thought for a minute that I would go blind-
Looking at the incredible picture she made.
We didn't speak any more, the would-be angel and I.
Everything between us now was well understood.
I stood there for an eternity.
Then I took off all of my clothes.
She didn't laugh. I was glad.
Nothing is ever as predictable as you expect it to be.
That's what keeps it interesting.
Usually, when everything seems to be going well,
Something comes along and kicks the shit out of you.
Occasionally, it'll be that when you're down and out,
You'll receive a break of some kind.
Then there are the rarest kinds of moments-
Where a bunch of random things
All happen for no apparent reason.
All you can do is hang on
And try to get whatever you can out of it.
These moments are few and far between.
These are always the most memorable times in life.
Her and me. Bones and organs wrapped in skin.
Free from material disguise.
We were both still masked under our own insecurities.
But that can't be helped and, in this instance,
it was far less noticeable than usual.
Her movement was methodical and deliberate.
She knew exactly what she was doing.
Turned my obvious overall uselessness into perfection.
Rendered me helpless.
She grabbed hold of me and tied me up in knots.
No angel I know,
But quite heavenly indeed.
She took my mind,
Blew it well and truly.
Sparks flying. Circuits smouldering.
She chewed up what I was.
Spat me out as something better.
Her miraculous hands,
Made me live and die a thousand times.
She turned my body and soul
Inside-out and back again.
The brilliant painter with blank canvas,
Or something like that.
She had her way with me.
Had me any way she wanted.
The end arrived as all ends must.
But some come better than others do
And this was certainly one of the best.
I don't know what happened. I hope it happens again.
What a sublime gift. What wonderful charity.
That girl who claimed to be the sweet angel of mercy.
She still looked squeaky clean.
But if you looked really hard,
You might see the faint trace of dirt in her eyes.
She got dressed and bid me farewell.
Left me curled up naked in the corner of the room.
Still spinning. Laughing at my own happiness.
I would have thanked her,
But I was smiling too much to talk.
Anyway, I couldn't remember any words.
It really didn't matter.
She already knew what was what.
She knew way more than I did.
That was it. It just happened.
I had held on and gotten all I could from it.
To this day I still don't know who she was.
She might have been a singer,
Whose voice could make you cry.
Or, perhaps, a shooting star;
Gone too quickly, yet brilliant while she lasts.
I know for damn sure...
She was no sweet angel of mercy.
Whatever she was, she's welcome back anytime.
Some amount of time passed and then he woke up. He went to the toilet, shaved, showered, sprayed some stuff under his arms so he wouldn't stink, put on some clothes and all of that.
Mentally and physically he was in some degree of agony. Otherwise he felt quite good. He felt very much alive - not that he knew exactly what that meant - but he was pretty sure that was how he felt. I mean, if he was dead there is little chance he would feel as alive as he did, of that much at least he was well aware.
Light came in from various places and it was overly intense. Like it was turned up too much. Basically, everything was just too bright, there were too many shiny things and it hurt his eyes. Maybe he didn't know how to use his eyes properly. Perhaps he was just doing something wrong; looking too hard, or whatever. He put on some sunglasses and that seemed to help somewhat. It was fairly likely that it was all in his head. But, to some extent, the same could be said of most things.
He turned on the television, not because he expected to find anything worth watching. It was just to hear the voices. He wasn't exactly lonely, but he was often alone. He enjoyed it mostly- being alone. He found it rather draining to deal with others. He didn't dislike people; he just preferred to deal with them in limited doses. He had plenty of friends if he needed them. And if they really needed him he wasn't hard to find. But usually he found that if he turned on the television or put some music on, that was enough company to satisfy him. Then he could just get on with being himself, without any complications or interruptions.
There was something very strange about the pictures on the television screen and what the people were talking about. As usual it was nothing terribly important, but after a while he recognised what he was seeing and hearing. It struck him hard. It knocked the shit out of him, as a matter of fact. What all of it was...that was him! The television was showing his picture and saying his name. For crying out loud, that was HIM!
"Voted today as the nation's most popular and important artist... Hillel Samson...most loved and admired star to emerge...Hillel Samson...sales have set new records...Hillel Samson...blah blah blah...Hillel Samson"
That was his name. That was his picture on the screen. He was and is Hillel Samson. To the best of his recollection he always had been. These people were talking about him! Why were they talking about him? How did they know who he was? Why was this happening? How could this be? He had no idea just what was going on.
A marketing guy came on the television. He'd obviously been in the business for quite some time and, therefore, long since lost his soul. He was now little more than a talking calculator wearing a tie. The advertising guy said there was about a 75% chance that Hillel Samson would become the highest earning artist of all time. Of course there was also about a 98% chance that the marketing guy no longer had the ability to just enjoy things for what they were, act spontaneously, or have any kind of original thoughts of his own.
For those who like a drink, all this shock and confusion can really make you feel thirsty in a hurry. Hillel Samson went to his fridge to grab a beer. It was about the only thing he could think to do.
When he opened his refrigerator, that son of a bitch was empty. Completely empty. Not only was there no beer in the thing, there was no anything at all. What kind of good is a fridge when it has nothing in it? It is no kind of good! It becomes, at that point, a useless cold box that would not impress even the simplest of fools. Hillel knew that much. He also knew that he damn sure always kept some things in his fridge, so there was only one explanation: Somebody else must've taken everything out of the bastard thing. Why would anyone go and do such a deed? This was all so ridiculous. This was some kind of crazy bullshit.
They were still talking about him on TV. They hadn't even stopped to take a breath. He tried changing the channels, but they were all pretty much the same. It was different people talking, but they were all saying the same things. Saying his name, as though they'd known him closely for all of his life. All these people he had never met, ranting about him and showing the same pictures of his face. Hillel didn't even know when those pictures of his face had been taken. Or who they been taken by.
What made all their rambling even worse was how increasingly boring and inane it became. They started talking about what food he liked to eat and how many hairs he had in his nose and what brand of toilet paper he used. They seemed to be just making it all up as they went along. Hillel couldn't be sure - he'd never really given any great deal of thought to those things. Just how low could these television people sink? There seemed to be no limit to their idiocy.
Hillel wanted to hear them say what it was that lead them to decide that he was so important. What exactly had he done to warrant this kind of attention? But, as far as he could ascertain, they never did provide any specific reasons. All logic quickly drowned in their ocean of hyperbole. They continued to say over and over that Hillel was a great and talented artist. The hottest thing to come along in years. Apparently, he made his whole country proud. They said that line about how he made his country proud at least five times, without once explaining why. They simply stated it as though it was a fact everybody should know and be in agreement with.
The more they spoke about him the less Hillel Samson liked what they were saying. It was almost enough to make him loathe himself. They carried on about him as though he was some kind of a god. An exceedingly mundane and unimpressive god. It was absurd. It was all completely ridiculous. It didn't make a lick of sense and he ended up feeling quite numb. He was in a state of shock. It was just impossible to take it all in.
So, he sat there for a while. Then he vomited. He never felt it coming. The stuff just exploded out of his mouth. It sprayed all over the television screen and seemingly everywhere.
"Take that," he thought- or maybe even said, "I puke on all you leeches. You vultures. You absurd creatures, I hope you all drown in my stinking vomit!" This was enough to make him start laughing out loud. He then realised, though not for the first time, that he was a pretty fucked up individual.
He must have passed out after that. When he woke up again it was much darker. He felt better for the sleep. He assumed the whole ordeal was some kind of dream, but even if it wasn't he felt ready. He felt rested enough that he didn't give a fuck.
His fridge was still empty. His television was still turned on. He could hear it, "Hillel Samson...worshipped...Hillel..." No kind of dream that he knew of. It was all still going. It was whatever it was.
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