Archive for April, 2009
Vi Gets Old
She awoke. It was not a pleasant awakening. Soiled dreams drifted through her consciousness. Memories of falling, failing, no flying. Her limbs ached. Her head throbbed from last nights red wine. He clumsily threaded her aching limbs into the ancient robe – a legacy from her late husband and staggered out into the dimly lit kitchen gradually brightening with the light from the dawn. She finally managed to get the gas on the stove going and filled the kettle and places it over the gently hissing blue flame. She could smell the faint odour of the gas and it gave her pleasure to think of times gone by when she had cooked breakfast for the family – the noise of them drifting through the house as they prepared for the day.
Turning on the minimum of lights she wandered off to perform her morning ablutions.
As she ran the brush through her greying hair she thought, momentarily that something was wrong. Had she forgotten to let the cat out last night? Was it a noise from the front of the house or just the old wood shifting in the changing heat? She shrug’s and returned to looking at the sad sight in the mirror. Bags under her eyes, pallid complexion, more lines where it seemed only yesterday there was a clear complexion. Looking closer she saw the beginning of a turkey neck. God! Where had all that time gone? She smelled something funny. It must be the cat! She didn’t think she could face cleaning up after it again. Maybe time to get rid of the old companion. It was so sad when old age started to show through smells and little accidents.
She shuffled back down the cold corridor that separated the bathroom from the kitchen. As she entered the kitchen she instantly knew what was wrong.
Her brand new electric kettle ($62.95 at the Warehouse) sat on the top of her two year old gas stove, slowly sizzling and emitting an acrid cloud of blue smoke.
How would she explain this to her children? Already they were looking at retirement home brochures.
Images flashed through her mind.
A blue – rinsed old lady wheeled down a long dark corridor, soiled nightwear on prominent display. She screams incoherently for her long lost cat. She screams “Where are my children?” although she can no longer recall if she has children, a cat, a husband, a life.
He was in an odd mood when I got to the bar, I thought it might have been because I was a bit late but he didn’t say anything
much about it. The conversation was quite slow going so I
thought we should go off somewhere more intimate so we
could talk more privately. So we went to this restaurant and
he’s STILL acting a bit funny and I’m trying to cheer him up and
start to wonder whether it’s me or something else.
I ask him, and he says no. But you know I’m not really sure.
So anyway, in the cab back to his house, I say that I love him
and he just puts his arm around me. I don’t know what the hell
this means because you know he doesn’t say it back or
anything. We finally get back to his place and I’m wondering if
he’s going to dump me!
So I try to ask him about it but he just switches on the TV.
Reluctantly, I say I’m going to go to sleep. Then, after about
10 minutes, he joins me and we have sex. But, he still seemed
really distracted, so afterwards I just wanted to leave.
I dunno, I just don’t know, what he thinks anymore. I mean,
do you think he’s met someone else?
Lousy day at work. Tired. Got laid though.
Mia dialled. The idea had not fully formed in her head yet, and, she wasn’t sure this was the right thing to do. A stiffened reply from the other end of the telephone.
‘Wicham Police Station. How may I help?’
Mia felt a temor pass up through her legs, through that region of her body she could not bear to contemplate and then shudder up her spine. She slammed the receiver down. There had to be a better way to do this. To finish this right. To…. Her thoughts trailed off as she thought of the weeks and possibly months that lay ahead.
Meanwhile Fredericke dreamed. He was lying in a narrow bed. His thoughts were drifting off to form dreams. He heard a rustling of wings. Large wings. Was he still awake or now dreaming? He sensed rather than felt, a large presence descend onto the bed. An unpleasant smell accompanied the feather like structure. He sensed the wings enveloping his body. He felt suffocated as the beast crushed his small body.
The little boy climbed the play frame blissfully unaware that not fifty metres away lay two of the most sadistic killers in the history of crime. They, in turn, watched him, one in the certain knowledge that this would be a watershed in their personal and criminal relationship. They watched as his little Mickey Mouse hat, with little white ears, disappeared over the rim of the frame and he somersaulted over the other side. Fredericke moved in what Mia thought to be haste. He quickly halved the distance between himself and the playground equipment. Mia hesitated, then followed, uncertain as to what her part was to be in this unfolding mystery. Suddenly, from the surrounding bushes, a phalanx of bodies emerged, heavily armed and screaming different instructions. ‘Freeze motherfucker’, ‘Police – stop’, ‘Get down on the ground – Now,’ ‘ Police-you’re under arrest.’ Fredericke turned to look at Mia and, for an instant, a look passed over his face of betrayal, of love, of trust, of hate. Mia dropped. Rough hands pulled her arms behind her back and handcuffs were painfully applied. She could feel the cold metal burning into her wrists. She heard the sounds of feet on bodies, she moved her head, and looking under her arm, she could see heavy boots thumping into the side of Frederickes’s body. She grimaced as she was jerked to her feet and she could see Fredericke lying in a pool of blood as they moved their attention to his head. She thought of yelling for them to stop but realised that she may focus their administrations on to herself. She was led away.
The she-hawk circled the barren countryside from hundreds of feet. Her yellow eyes blinked as he pinpointed a rustle in the paddock at the base of the hillock. Her attention became totally focussed on that one spot. Her wings went back, her neck extended; she went into a steep dive. Her speed increase as she rushed headlong to the ground. At the last moment before impact, she thrust forward her legs, talons extended. They struck as the young fledgling tried desperately to regain the shallow hollow, that moments before had been his home. That he had gained the comforting warmth of his brothers and sisters while their mother went in search of food. The she-hawk felt the extra weight as she lifted skywards again, her wings now bearing the extra weight of bird and prey. She felt the life slowly draining from the bleeding body beneath her. She looked for a suitable spot to begin the dismemberment.
Final session 23/9/95. Fredericke continues to be withdrawn. His moments of lucidity, observed during session five and eight, have now receded. It would appear that he has entered a fugue-like state. Occasional snatches of conversation and some scribblings suggest that he has avian fantasies. The relationship of these to past or recent events remains obscure and will probably continue to remain that way unless there is a gross change in Fredericke’s mental state. The subject Mia continues to present a complex clinical puzzle. While my personal opinion is that she is of sound mind and should stand trial as an equal of Frederickes for these ghastly crimes, I am aware that defense counsel has credible psychiatric sources who are willing to testify that she is mentally incompetent. My overbearing impression of Mia is a statement she made to me as I left our last session. After being belligerent and uncooperative for the duration of the session she turned to me as she was being escorted form the room and simply said ‘I did it because I could.’ Out of context, this statement could have meant either her betrayal of Fredericke or her part in the killings.
Mia could see him through the one way mirror. He had aged since the last occasion she had been allowed this privilege. His once proud shoulders now stooped. His skin, once beautiful, seemed sallow and grey. His eyes were dull. She heard the words from the man she assumed to be the lawyer telling Fredericke what he had written on the pad before him. Mia assumed that it was taken verbatim from the statement she had made earlier in the day. She watched as Fredericke’s eyes darted to the mirror of the room, as if he senses that someone, perhaps Mia, was watching. She saw his shoulders slump further as the weight of her accusations sank in. She saw a small, almost imperceptible movement of his head, and then saw his nod of approval. She saw his life leave him as his hands moved forward to grasp the pen proffered by the lawyer. She didn’t know what she felt.
Photographer sparks Fears
My name is Martin and I am misunderstood. The newspapers say that parents and the public have been warned that the controversial photographer Martin Patterson is stalking the city suburbs for young girls. They bring up an historic jail sentence I served in Australia nearly twenty years ago and frame it as sexual assault on a young female model whereas the reality is far from that. I’ll tell you more.
Some girls mature physically and sexually earlier than others. Some nine-year-olds are sexually active before their peers are even giggling over the boy-next-door. They tend to be social outcasts; outcasts from their parents and outcasts from their so-called friends. Girls, in particular, develop strong cliques, and woe and betide anyone who doesn’t belong. Constant giggling, harassment, even physical assault. For a young girl that can be devastating. They usually develop addictions to alcohol and drugs, often go into prostitution at a later date, and often are in the company of older men. Boys just don’t mature that early. You probably know that in some cultures young girls of nine or ten are given in marriage to fifty and sixty year olds.
It’s a busy afternoon at the Duck-In shopping Mall in the outer city. Rose Holland is distracted as she rushes around the supermarket doing last minute shopping for a dinner with friends she and husband Vernon have planned at the last moment. In tow, and making Rose’s life hell are her three young daughters Charlene (14), Janelle (12), and Louise (10). They don’t want to be here and Charlene and Louise would rather be over in the games arcade where there are boys and excitement. They trail behind Rose and pout at passerbys, occasionally uttering some obscenity at the ones brave enough to make a comment about their manners and dress. Rose is tapped on the shoulder by a dark haired man with a camera hanging from his neck. The girl’s attention is drawn to him as he starts to engage their mother in an animated conversation punctuated with smiles and hand waving. They edge closer.
” …. and if they were to appear in say Charlie or even Teen View they usually pay. But you can’t give any sort of money for exposure like that. They are three attractive girls and with some artistic license could make them stand out form the crowd.”
The girls edge closer. It seems that this man is a professional photographer and is asking their mother permission to have them photographed for possible inclusion in a national magazine. This would raise their credibility with the school crowd.
It’s not common but children sometimes to displace abuse onto someone else. Sometimes the abuser is so powerful, so scary, that the child accuses someone who they are intimately involved with, but who has never sexually abused them. It might be a father who is imposing harsh restrictions on their social lives. It may be an uncle who has said something cruel to them. It might be a stranger who has taken them to a psychological space that feels exciting but scary. Sometimes the child is actually being abused, sometimes not. The law is placed in an impossible position in that it must protect the rights of a largely unprotected segment of the population. However, it has become to easy for men, in particular, to be accused and tried for sexual abuse without the rigour that might be paid to a case involving theft of property or murder. Even Martin knows this. Sometimes the games that he plays with young girls are deliberately designed to mimic abuse situations. Sometimes he pushes the boundaries of his art so hard that he may tip a vulnerable child into a false accusation. It’s a risk he feels he must take. It makes him feel alive. It’s essential to his art.
I like to think that I have an affinity with young girls. I know what they like and want. I keep my studio well stocked with things that will make them feel good about themselves and me. Parents can be cruel. They get it into their head that anything that kids like is possibly bad for them. Video games, magazines, certain foods, some drinks, music. I know from my girls that they would rather spend an afternoon in my studio than on a boring shopping expedition with their mother. Oh I’ve heard all them talk on video about how charming I am and how I use all these tricks to lure the girls to do things but I can tell you that I have never forced anyone to do anything they didn’t want to. Its only after they think a little about it and it suits them to kick up a fuss. Young girls can be very sophisticated in their likes and dislikes and I am merely giving them something their overprotective parents never would.
Her perfectly rounded young breast showed clearly through the clear black material of the bodice. Charlene looked back over her shoulder at the whirring camera as Martin slowly crawled towards her, adjusting his height and angle so get that perfect shot. Her white cotton panties were drawn tight against her pubic mound, the black of the blouse augmented by kohl makeup around her eyes. Her hair was piled on her head.
“No! Char-don’t smile. Just look at me as if I am something you have never seen before and you are faintly curious but wary of” Muttered Martin as he stood up and grabbed another camera off the table to his right. In the background Louise looked on in fascination whereas Janelle had the look of a scared rabbit. Janelle whispered in her sister’s ear
“I don’t think Mum would like this. I don’t like the way he is taking our photos. This is icky.”
Louise shushed her and pulled the top, that Martin had asked her to wear, a little tighter around her white shoulders.
“Just shut up you spoil sport. Can’t you see this is our big chance? If these photos do what Martin says they will we could be in the big time. Mum would want that. Its OK.”
Janelle started to sob quietly as Louise’s voice got louder. She felt very uncomfortable as Martin had asked her out of earshot of her two sisters to do a series of poses in a tiny short skirt and nothing else. She was very conscious of her body and hadn’t even let her mother see the extent to which her breasts had grown and she was in horror that a stranger, and a man, would be looking on here body which she, herself, had feelings of shame of. She had refused and Martin had merely shrugged and muttered something about later but the mixture of repulsion, dread, and something else she couldn’t put her finger on, stayed with her. Martin put down the camera and whispered in Charlene’s ear. They both looked over at Janelle and Martin took Louise’s hand and they left the room, whispering and giggling over some private joke. Charlene wafted over to where Janelle was sitting and lifted up the camera that Martin had been using off the table.
“Martin thinks that he puts you off wanting to pose and he wants me to take some pictures of you. Take your top off Janelle,” she demanded. Janelle couldn’t believe this was happening. She started to make a protest but her elder sister seemed oblivious to her protestations. Charlene shrugged and pulled at the sweater that Janelle had around her shoulders. It fell away and Janelle instinctively wrapped her bare arms around her naked body. She heard the click, click, click of the camera and the voice of Charlene urging her to raise her hands in the air. Reluctantly, almost in a dream, Janelle obeyed her sister, blocked out the voice in her head and the sounds around her, and raised her arms.
If only I was a fly on the wall I would see Vernon come home and see the unopened portfolio containing the photos resting on the floor where it had lain since being delivered by the postman that morning. I would see him reach down, a look of delight on his face, anticipating fresh, clear images of his three girls. I would see him eagerly tearing the zipper strip that sealed the bag and plunging his hand into the sheaf of clear 12 X 10’s and the single proof sheet. I would see him withdraw the contents and walk through the vestibule to the sunroom where he would lay the photos out on the polished mahogany table. Then I would see his brow furrow and I would see Vernon’s face changing colour from brown to white to red and I would see his hands shaking and I would see his body stiffen. Vernon would sweep his hand across the mahogany table and the photos would fly first in the air, then flutter down as they spreads across the room. He would hear the door opening and the sounds of his family coming home from yet another shopping expedition. I would see Vernon trying to gather up the mess that lay all around the room as the four females enter. Then I would hear and see no more.
I started off telling you I am misunderstood. This is what happened after the three girls had left the studio, happily chatting amongst themselves. Janelle, after initially seeming a little bit shy had joined in with her two sisters and at the end of the two hours was happy to pose in whatever position or clothing I suggested. They couldn’t wait to see the finished product and I assured them that I would have the photos to them before the end of the week. Then, after they have only had the photos for a day, I have Rose on the phone and threats of police and the media. Worse, she calls me creepy, sinister, a predator.
“I sat down with my daughters after the photo’s arrived and asked them what had happened after I left you at the studio. They said you made them do all these things. Sick, sick things. Asked them to pose in their underwear, to wear suspenders and see-through clothing. You betrayed their trust and you betrayed my trust. I will make sure that you never ever work in this country again. I will make sure that no other mother will let her daughters be alone with you in a room. I will do my best to make sure the police get to hear about this. You are vermin. The ……….”
She must have slammed down the phone the same time that I did. Now I can tell you that I was furious as well. This is not the first time that this has happened to me. They wriggle and bat their eyelids at you when you first meet them and then they get together and plot and plan behind your back. Go figure. I think that its these people that see some sort of because they have these secret cravings themselves. When I took those photos of Janelle, Louise and Charlene I saw the innocent beauty of a women on the verge of breaking out of her child-body and into womanhood. They seem to see something like ………..well I’m at a loss to understand why they get so upset. Like I said, I am misunderstood.
I am a photographer and dare I say, artiste, whose work is exceptionally composed, tranquil and, above all, mature. I consider myself alongside Jock Sturges and David Hamilton. Yet, I provoke a great deal of suspicion and even revulsion. But the more you look at the openness of my photographs, the harder it is not to feel that those reactions come from the misguided belief that acknowledging the beauty and sexuality of minors is the same thing as paedophilia. I think what I try to capture is the steady gaze of preternatural seriousness you see in Victorian photographs of children. They are not pornographic. The only pornography is in those who gaze upon the work of a genius and only see filth.
I watched the TV documentary the following week. I did not recognize the three women and Charlene as they posed in front of the camera’s steely gaze. The mothers looked as though they had had emergency Botox injections. Their skins glowed and the wrinkles that had been cruelly exposed under the harsh lights of the supermarket now had disappeared. They primly sat on their chintz covered sofa’s and ogled the interviewer, all the time muttering about perversion, pedophiles, and generally painting me as some sort of suburban monster. Charlene looked years younger and she was playing the sacrificial lamb to their Mothers of Mercy. Me! I was painted as the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Described as devious, manipulative, extremely talented then as a sickened monster. Like I said. Misunderstood.