Archive for September, 2007
She sat there in her little metal backed chair looking like the roaring in her ears was getting louder and louder. It’s all very unsettling for me. As if I could hijack a plane with a tinfoil strip carrying four Cataflam. And what did she mean by that crack that the little, perfectly formed orange pills bore a remarkable resemblance to Viagra? I can see the frustration on her face and the faces of my fellow passengers as they wait impatiently for this fool to clear security. First it’s the change in my pocket, then my inhaler within its metal container, then my car keys, and still that damn bleeper is still going off. I expect they thought that I should have known about all these little metal items. I feel hamstrung and a large amount of disbelief that I could not have anticipated the effect of terrorism on air travel. It hadn’t crossed my mind that the tinfoil was metallic, and that my inhaler, which I had always perceived as plastic was, in fact, metal. My hands are now shaking uncontrollably which has further incensed the now, team of women, who was scouring my body with a passion that only matches the frantic bleeping of their instruments. Glass case with metal hinges, metal frames on my sunglasses, a paper-clip lodged in the deep recesses of my money pocket (one of the peculiarities of men’s trousers). Finally I, as a gibbering wreck, make it to the comparative safety of my seat. I quickly scan the plane for dark skinned people with flowing robes and turbans but, Flight 450, on this beautiful sunny Sunday morning, is Taleban free.Then, not five minutes into the flight, a smiling stewardess hands me two beautiful, sharpened, metal weapons to slice pilots and passengers throats, poke eyes out, or cut vital pneumatic hoses.
That swarthy male steward is not fooling me at all! He has an Arab look about him with that pointed nose and sandy stare. The name Anil Prasad on his identity tag is not dissuading me from making him out to be a member of a tiny terrorist faction intent on capturing the plane and flying it into the Beehive. Why, just this morning, on National radio I heard a security expert say that NZ is a prime target as security tightens up in other countries. Terrorists will pick on weaker countries and repeat the lessons of 9/11. I bet, even now, that Mr. Prasad is secretly sweating inside his little green uniform as he anticipates that vital second to seize control of the plane and fly it into the American embassy in Wellington, or maybe an expensive visiting yacht, or maybe a KFC outlet.
And what about that tangata whenau in the beanie, black Levi’s and dirty dogs with the barbed wire tattoo around his neck. Has he been brainwashed by Tania Turea and is now intent on copying his Arab cousins?
Now the intercom is calling out for anyone who has left a set of keys behind in security. Suddenly its upgraded to a pair of Mazda keys. Is this some secret code that only Mr. Prasad can decipher. ‘We have control of the aircraft, Anil. Break out the metal cutlery and overpower the flight crew in the rear of the plane. Anil seems remote and distracted, as if maybe, he’s forgotten the code. Another announcement. ‘Congratulations to the Northland hockey team on their runner up placing out of 24 teams at the National Champs.’ Does this mean that the plan is aborted and will be run again in 24 hours? Or is it that target 24 is to be chosen? My palms have gone all sweaty and I can feel the world starting to spin as I come to the realization that this may be the last moment of my life. Why did I choose to fly? Knowing that I could be brutally plastered against a US made building somewhere hundreds of miles from my own home. I try some cognitive reconstruction but it all sounds like psychobabble.
The pilot’s voice comes on as we descend into thick fog. ‘We are about eighty kilometers south of Wellington and there are a number of planes waiting to land in front of us so we are going into a holding pattern.’ I look out the window and we are indeed flying in thick white soup. Motionless, it feels as though the plane is hanging suspended in a moment of time. I start to think of other scenarios. A nuclear device exploded above-ground or a new electromagnetic type bomb that can be built with bits from Dick Smith and can wipe out all machines and vehicles with electronic monitoring systems. Like large 747 aeroplanes. Maybe this has happened and we are suspended in limbo. A kind of time warp. My mind starts spinning around all the possibilities.
Gradually I forget about terrorists, bombs, Osama bin Laden, and mad dog Bush. Suddenly, another announcement as the plane jerks violently in the air. ‘Ladies and gentlemen we are now descending into Wellington airport. Conditions on the ground are not good. Strong southwest winds, heavy rain and very cold temperatures with very poor visibility. I will approach cautiously but I may have to power up and abort the landing if conditions are too bad. I’ll have a second go and if that fails we have enough fuel for thirty minutes flying so we will have a go for Christchurch airport where conditions are much better. Things could get bumpy, so hang on.’
A collective hush falls over the cabin. We are all confined in the same small tin coffin. We are to be incinerated in a sudden ball of fire or worse, drowned, as helplessly we try to find the flotation device so thoughtfully hidden beneath our seats. Suddenly all thoughts of hijacking by angry Arab terrorists fade into the background as we pitch from side to side and then descend rapidly with a thump. I look below and a cold angry ocean peers back at me, and then I see gloomy Wellington streets as we round the point at Oriental parade and descend toward the airport. The plane drift sideways and then shudders and shakes. I am aware that my knuckles are white and I have worn a groove in my armrest. My sphincter muscle is working overtime. Clench, unclench. The runway seems to scream up at me and then we are down. A perfect landing and the passenger compartment breaks into prolonged applause and I even notice a small smile of relief on the face of the obviously Indian Anil Prasad.
Polynesian men line the early morning wharf. A perfect photo opportunity. Intense winters sun highlighting the silver sheen of their lines. A school of kahawai has entered the harbour and are being pulled out for their stupidity. A few wise old souls have bled them, to remove the toughness.
I wander further along the waterfront and find the left over trail of blood from an early morning stabbing. To add toughness.
He sits at the rear of the public toilets. Tall, thin and bearded he is probably three-quarters Maori. His clothes and grooming alerts you that he is a man of the street. He sucks on his can of Lion Red, at 10.45 am. He carries out a three way conversation which sometimes spills over into four or five-way as new hallucination manifest themselves. They, the hallucinations, must be vivid as each character has distinct mannerisms. Overt sweeping hands suddenly jerk into the clasped hands of the introvert. Next he is an effeminate man, then the Maori elder. His visions push and pull each other; one strikes him on the head. His finger goes to his lip in an elaborate shush.
In another time or place he might be seen as a gifted artisan. Here, he is a harmless madman.
D had just committed lactomangulation for the second time that day, manhandling the “open here” spout on a milk container so badly that he resorted to the illegal side. All-in-all it had been a frustrating day.
They had been hung over from the night before so resorted to confabulation.
“Dollars to doughnuts they’ll believe this one”
“D here” he mumbled in his best phlegmatic tone “I seem to have been influenzidized”
Midday they had gone to a movie and the inevitable game of elbonics had turned really nasty. M claimed she had the choice of the front part of the armrest. D remembered it differently. Then the popcorn had spilled onto the floor as the argument heated and he had tried to disconfect it. After expending good air M just knocked the container from his hand and roasted corn obscured the delights of Reese Witherspoon doing her Little Red Riding Hood act in Freeway.
Then as they were preparing to go out for the evening she really put the boot in
“If men can run the world, why can’t they stop wearing neckties? How smart is it to start the night with a noose around your neck?”
Always with the smart cracks and the male put down, though he secretly admired her very astute and funny eye.
So D decided that they would eat in –
‘Do you know what I would like’ he started off,”fish eggs on toast, followed by a game soup so gamey you can taste the rabbits foot. Then something fried in so much animal fat that you can feel your blood vessels clogging. For desert something with chocolate. So much chocolate that your head hurts and you feel like sneezing. They settled on Indian takeaways.
An hour later and the food still arrived. M started off on another little tirade. D teleprocrastinated for a while then eventually got through to Prasads Popodoms.
“Oh! Yes sir! Sorry sir! Our driver has been in a bad accident and delivery will be delayed. Its very near where you live kind sir and if you are so vishing you could retrieve your tasty morsels from the delivery car”
D shcmoosed into the cold night. Down the block he saw the flashing lights of a police car and an ambulance. A white van, doors open, bonnet popped, sat at a strange angle to the curb. A bus, seemingly accidentely unchallenged was surrounded by a gaggle of passengers, muttering and ooying aahying amongst themselves. As D got closer he could see the glass scattered over the road and the unmistakable red of a pool of blood near what was obviously a crash site. Two policemen, notebooks drawn were detectivising near the van. The Prasads Popodoms insignia was cruelly dissected by a large metallic gash. D spotted the white boxes in the rear with the familiar markings.
” Excuse me- I know this may seem inappropriate but that’s my food in the back. Would it be possible…” D’s voice trailed off.
The two policemen looked into each other eyes, the back of the van, surveyed the carnage, the blood, then looked back again.
“Forget the food son, it’s a goner”
Body on a Wire
He’s been there now for three days. Hanging on the wire, sideways, hands clutched at the rim. He nearly made it over the top but the Maxim machine gun caught him at the apogee of his flight and left him forever suspended in space and time. The men make macabre jokes to ease their tension. ‘He’s grown a little thinner today.’ ‘I don’t like that aftershave you have on today Ben.’
The blood has dried and crusted over the dozen or so exit wounds in his back and the smelly excreta has finally been overcome by an even more malodorous scent as the flies start their relentless feeding and laying of eggs. We would cut him down but we don’t want to end up as scarecrows on the battlefield. We argue amongst ourselves who is the more inhumane.
I expect you are wondering why I am lying here on the railroad track with the certain knowledge that the 6.15 northbound is due in sixty-five seconds? It probably dates back to June 25th, 1957. I remember that date as if it were yesterday. We were on the playground at morning break, that delicious time when we left the classroom after an hour of monotonous arithmetic, and played a boisterous game of bar-the-door. He came out of the Primer three classroom. He was dressed in a woolen suit, and he wore a striped tie. But what made my heart hang suddenly, stop beating, and reserve judgment if it would start again, was the lower half of his body. He wore short pants to the woolen suit, and, he had a wooden leg.
It was just that, at first. A physical sensation that I had no name for. That and a need to know this boy more and to be seen with him. I wanted to let him rest his hand on my shoulder when he stumbled at the waterfountain as he reared back after the icy cold water pained his teeth. I wanted to go home with him after school and maybe, just maybe, see him take off that wooden leg. I wanted to know how he cared for it. Did he, like my grandfather, lovingly rub all wooden objects with boiled linseed oil and then wipe them down with a dark yellow cloth? How did it smell? Of pine? Or oil? Or did it have a scent all of its own? Maybe a mixture of human and wood. I wasn’t particularly interested in how he had lost his leg but if finding out meant I could win his friendship then I would do that.
I never did. He was gone within a month. His father or was it is mother gained employment elsewhere and like many kids at our school, he just simply disappeared. His wooden desk sat as testament to his presence for a further school term and then a vicious little boy in cowboy hat and boots took over the place that I had seen as a shrine.
I can feel tracks vibrate beneath my sturdy spine. In less than a minute my lifetime dream will come true. I will finally be the person I want to be. Some of you will call me mad; some may think I am bad. I am really no different from you. We all want the same thing. To be fulfilled, to be our true self.
I forgot about the boy in the woolen suit with his wooden leg until my mid-teens. I had been hanging out with this nice girl but things just weren’t sparking. She was keen on me but my burgeoning sexuality kept throwing curve balls at me. I was recently not-a-virgin and my hormones were raging but this girl, beautiful as she was, did not stir my juices. I was on the verge of moving on when a curious thing happened. Debs, yes she was a Debs, was an active athlete and she had an accident at one of her track meetings. She didn’t exactly break anything, but for some reason she had to wear a knee length plaster and use a pair of crutches. For the next month, my life was heaven. The feel of the plaster, the sound of the crutches, the look on her face as she painfully tried to master her new appendages drove me into a sexual frenzy. Unfortunately Debs became rather depressed over all of this and was not in the slightest bit interested in sex. When she became interested after the plaster was removed and the crutches thrown away, I had lost interest. Debs and I were not destined to be. But, for the first time, I had an inkling of what it was about myself that was missing.
If I twist my head, I would be able to see the yellow and blue engine coming toward me. He has started hooting, so he must be able to see me, but it is too late. He will never be able to stop. I will get my wish. That I have to come to this is an outrage. I am filled with so much anger. Anger that is hard to explain. I will try, so you can understand why a thirty five year old man, in perfect physical and mental health, would be lying on a railroad track, in a wealthy and advanced society, waiting to be run over by a fourteen ton railroad locomotive.
I didn’t think much about the sexual excitement that Debs and her crutches and plaster cast had caused and I went through a normal period of what any teenager would. There were some troubles and a few skirmishes with the law and with parents but by and large it was normal. Bland even, and I often did think that there was something missing. Something about the way I felt about myself and about being a complete person. I read books, I took a course at Uni in Introductory Psychology, but it was only when I discovered the Internet that I got an inkling of what it was that was missing. I’ll tell you how it happened but I’ll have to be quick because my time is near. Very near. I can feel the cold steel about to tear my body apart. Rip my limbs asunder.
I had been having this curious desire to be in a wheelchair. As part of our Psych course, we were required to go into the city and drop articles from our person. One group did it as normals and the group that I was attached to had to be in a wheelchair. I have forgotten the object of the exercise but I can vividly remember the thrill I got going through a mall in a wheelchair. I quickly forgot about dropping things. I just loved to try steep ramps and feel the eyes of people willing me that last few metres as I ground my teeth and emitted little sighs. Inside I was overflowing. I had never felt so full. Full of self-love, full of desire, full of love for those who paid me attention. When I finished the experiment one of my instructors took me aside.
“We took some video of the experiments so that you could give a talk at the end. I want you to look at yours.”
She showed me wheeling through the mall. The expression on my face was one of absolute, unadulterated, joy. She switched off the tape and talked to me in that conspirational tone that some earnest shrinks have when they are about to give you some babble-type theory.
“You get a sexual thrill out of this don’t you Dexter?” She was so close to me she was practically in my mouth. I didn’t know what to say because I hadn’t made that connection. Sure, I had the hots for Debs cast and crutches, but my mind had thought of other things. The short dresses she started to wear at the time, the way the crutches pulled at her blouse, the way she came to depend on me.
“There are people like you all over. It’s an unspoken of thing but there are others who want to share. Here, look on the Internet. See what it’s all about,” she whispered slipping me her card with an URL scrawled on the back. I thought she had gone over the top and the card remained in my back pocket for a week or so, when I found myself at a friend’s house and hooked to the Internet. Out of curiosity, I typed in the address and that is when my world changed. I suddenly stumbled on the world of wannabes, devotees, and pretenders. I stumbled on hundreds of lost souls who only wanted to have their inner and outer selves match.
I now had a name for what it was that left me with that empty feeling. I now had an explanation for what had happened with Debs, those many years ago. I now sought a means to satisfy my longing. I was not a devotee, although that is what my initial urge had been. I tried the pretender route but it ultimately left me feeling less and less satisfied. Tying my leg into a bandage and lashing it to my thigh left me feeling more like a fake than a real amputee. Agonizingly crawling in and out of wheelchairs or dragging myself up and down flights of stairs on crutches temporarily made me happy, but what I desired was to have a leg removed. Possibly both. Unfortunately, not too many doctors were keen to be involved. I thought of other ways to do it but there were all sorts of reasons why I didn’t try them. Finally, in desperation, I have come to this.
I now feel the heavy steel wheels cut into my right leg. I am tossed to the side of the railroad track as the rest of my body is separated from that limb I have tried to rid myself of for these last few years. I pass out.
The lines between mental dysfunction and ordinary life are not as sharp as some psychiatrists like to pretend. Look, even medical science has resorted to a form of apotemnphilia to cure illness. The frontal lobotomy performed on thousands, probably millions, of patients had little valid scientific evidence to back it up. Removing clitorises or penis to stem excessive sexual appetite, cutting of thieves’ hands, and cosmetic surgery such as breast enlargement, liposuction, and tucks. Yet, these same doctors call someone who wants to be an amputee a freak.
Amongst our group, we have come to embrace our beautiful bodies and not talk about them in politically correct ways. We don’t talk about disability and handicap and debate the language that has hung up amputees for so long. We have no fear in referring to a double amputee as a bucket jockey, a single arm amputee as a lefty or a righty. We are now happy that we have the bodies that we prefer. Some have managed to have legitimate operations performed by sympathetic doctors. Most of us have had to resort to self mutilation. I am one of the more radical. Gun shot wounds are the most popular method. Just rest the barrels of a shotgun on your kneecap and after a brief, blinding pain, then unconsciousness, you are an above or below the knee amputee, depending on how good your grip is.
The only unfortunate thing is that the train didn’t do its job properly. My right leg was damaged but below the knee. It is just not enough. I want a reduced stump. I want an above the knee amputation and, my patience is running out.
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Bombs will fall
He drops them a nightly message in a weighted steel tube. They’ve lived like this for months. Hard times. She reads the few words to their son, tears staining her faded coat. ‘Daddy is well. We will see him soon. He had a croissant and strawberry jam for breakfast. He sends his love.’The boy doesn’t understand. She finds it hard to understand, her husband and lover up there, her in occupied territory. He flys bombing missions. Nightly destroying the very buildings he had created. To make them free in some imagined future, in some far off time. She could only look into the black sky and hope that he could read her thougths. ‘Fly on my love. Finish this’ Tonight he will not return. He will lose his life over Amiens, when the unyielding end of a 8mm shell will explode inside his body. It will destroy his liver, spleen, pancreas, his left lung and then enter his heart where it will instantly end this nightly ritual. She will wait, night after night, boy on her hip, looking up.. ‘Daddy will come. He will have had coffee and rolls. He loves us.’ .