The Joker - Chapter 1
“I was so very young the first time I saw real magic.” He rubbed his dry, paper-thin hands together. I could see how the arthritis was bending his wrists, pulling his joints up into hard knobs. It had to be painful. I clucked just under my breath.
“I’m sure you did, Charlie. Of course.” It was meant to be soothing, but he had tar in him yet. The old Charlie came roaring back.
“You mocking me?” he bellowed. His spine straightened, neck cords standing out.
“No, no sir.” I stuttered quickly. I cast my eyes down at my sneakers and kicked lightly at the bottom of the dried corn stalks. It made a soothing “Shoosh, shoosh, shoosh” sound. It seemed to calm Charlie after a spell.
“Well” he said, pushing out some air, “I’ll tell you. It’s past time isn’t it? Your card husking is child’s play. The real stuff is so much….” He stopped, his bright blue eyes considering.
“I’ll keep my word.” I jumped in, trying to tease the trick out of him. “Never pay the chase.” I added for good measure. That was one of Charlie’s favorite savings. It meant that buying or selling a trick was as good as killing it. I meant it too. Back then I still had honor.
“It’s a fever dream I remember. You understand? Not everything. Just…the smell, the flash of it.”
He smacked his hands together, savoring the gleam in my eye. Then, his voice came through as if piped from somewhere somewhen long ago, when he must have been even younger than I was. He spoke lightning quick, the words running together.
“Carnival-entranced children swarmed the barn.” He started. “Swamp gas hung in reeds. Lightning bugs circled. She stood on tiptoe, peering around handlebar mustache, who barred the door. The burnt-caramel aroma sickened me and I pulled at her, begging for the salt breeze. But she shoved in, tugging me behind, the wood-fire heat swirling her hair, a sweat lodge nightmare painted alive on the slats. As the children turned, the twisted dreamscape danced, enveloping them. The warlock stood, head brushing the rafters, and offered me a pint. “She’ll always be yours,” he winked. The merry-go-round sped. She stilled, eyes aflame, her hand disappearing.”
I blinked twice and stood for a moment in stunned silence. Where was the trick? It was as if I’d poured myself a pop and came up with milk.
After a minute, I snapped out of it. “Charlie, what was that? What the…what the hell did that mean?”
He shook his head side to side, slowly. “That was just the beginning. There’s so much more, Ellie. If you’ll hear it.”
I never considered saying no. I turned my hands palm up, our signal. The sun was just sinking behind the hill leading to the farmhouse. He laid the joker in my right and began to talk, leaning into my ear as we headed away from the house deeper into the corn.
Half of Me is Missing-Chapter One (excerpt)
“I don’t belong here. I’m not like the others. We don’t look the same or act the same. I don’t understand their sense of humor. They are crude and I am refined. I am intelligent and their capabilities are mediocre. I don’t fit into this family. How did I get here? It isn’t fair! I don’t like these people. I don’t like where I live. I deserve much better. Please, doctor, explain my situation. I don’t deserve to suffer in a place where I should not be. I can’t understand it! Help me, help me! I can’t go on any longer. I would rather be dead than in these circumstances! Part of me is missing. I have known this all my life!”
Jasmine was pacing the floor in my inner office in Portland, Oregon, twisting her hands, agitatedly. I noticed that she seemed to have little control of her body or her thoughts. Her fevered rosy cheeks and full lush mouth intoxicated me against my will. Jasmine pushed her black, silky curls back from her beautiful, distraught face as she begged me for some explanation. Tears were coursing from her luminescent green eyes, leaving a transparent trail down her cheeks, as she sobbed in my office.
I am Dr. Engels and I desperately want to help my patient. However, I have no inkling as to why she feels this way or how to help her. This is the first time I have ever seen Jasmine cry which makes me wonder whether we have reached a breakthrough. The past few months, she has been sullen and uncommunicative although she finally admitted that she has no feeling or empathy for her family. I have no recourse but to adjust her medications and to seek answers from other psychiatrists. Before I discuss her hypothetical case with other doctors, I decide to ask Jasmine’s parents to come into the office to see if they can shed some light on her perplexing and bewildered thoughts. Jasmine is now twenty. I can see no hope for her until we can get to the bottom of these aberrations. I hate to admit to myself that she is so physically lovely that I can’t help feeling a stirring in my loins every time I scrutinize her looming presence in my office. I try not to stare at dots of moisture between her full breasts. I fight these feelings since I realize I must remain impartial. As I gaze at her flushed appealing countenance, I try valiantly to persuade myself that there must be hidden beauty inside her as well. If only I can delve deeper into her problems to obtain more of an understanding of her psychological issues, then I may be able to delude myself that she can be helped. After all, I am just human myself; yearning intensely for her to be well and functioning so she can live a productive life. I desperately want this disturbed young woman to be one of my success stories.
∞ Chapter 1 - Yesterday Had 48 Hours (Extract)
Some would say these streets were empty, forgotten, but that isn’t so; amongst the dark, burnt brickwork of a forsaken, microwaved metropolis there was a different war raging. The majority had been evacuated on the promise of a better life; the paving stones for a peaceful tomorrow in a brighter future, it was false; the war didn’t end, it escalated; every day delivered more casualties, more bombs, more chemical weapons, more destruction and it was unending. Still, some believed in the future, they had the power of hope, the ever optimistic, these people were the only ones that Whoopee had ever enjoyed being in company with, there was always the exceptions of the miserable ones, that could be swayed with a smile, a romantic gesture or a friendly ear to bend, ending in that all important smile, the only currency that Whoopee cared about. He lived off the optimism; it was his drive; his clarity, an anchor to some sort of sanity. This was important when you have the ability to time travel between realms, slowly driven to the edge of extroversion and then over that edge and into the dark realms of psychosis; yes then maybe you would be one with Whoopee, who recently decided that he is the original clown, the inventor of comic timing and humour. He was, at present discussing this theory with a fellow colleague…
“…obvious before me, everyone was dull, serious and cautious, what…”
“How would you know what was before you? You weren’t there,” Whoopee was cut short by Mary’s stolid interruption. A classic poker face expression shaped the skin around the front of his skull. This expression rarely changed from day to day. Mary Slinger had very little need for expression; he feared no one and cared very little for anything. However, he was a slave to good values and strong morals, the two principles instilled in him from birth by his dear departed parents. These two principles he would refuse to let go of at ANY time.
“I know, I’ve been back there, it’s very grey, everyone was an accountant, bread for breakfast, dinner, tea, water for a good time; I invented Whiskey to stir it up a bit, don’t be fooled by the monks either, they know how to…” Mary switched off and set his gaze on the armoured security van they had acquired earlier that day.
“Why’d you show up? Why now?”
“…party. You were having far too much fun and I got a proposition for all this hardware.”
“You were at a loose end then?” Mary lit a cigarette. “Thought you’d bother me.” He turned and grinned at Whoopee. It was a rare and momentous occasion.
“Well? It’s been awhile.”
“For you maybe, but I saw you yesterday.”
“Yesterday’s a long time for me Maria darling; my yesterday wasn’t quite the yesterday you had.”
“Thought you were gonna cut that shit for a while?...
Mary and Whoopee will return... With friends.
© Richard Withey. All rights reserved.
Chapter One: Fairytales
Fairytales. Something I’ve always craved to live out. Even the word sounds like something unaffordable. It sounds expensive, probably because it is. Living a perfect life comes at a price, and I guess I didn’t realize that sometimes life isn’t going to be perfect. Not forever.
I guess we all try to pretend that life will eventually be perfect as we get older, but it's a big tangled-up, disappointing mess. Eventually, all our fantasies, even the darkest secrets and feelings we refuse to face, spill into people's minds, only to be stabbed by reality.
Fairytales don’t exist.
A perfect love. A perfect life. It was all useless lies I was taught as a child. But what upsets me is the fact that until something really rocked my world, I hadn’t really thought about how much a decision could impact a life. At least, not until I had to chose between a fairytale and living my life.
*Sneak Peek* Start Of My Novel-With A Bluejay Came Hope (It’s not done yet)
"Up and at ’em sleepy heads,” I could hear my mom holler at us from down stairs. “Come on, let’s go!” I sit up, push off my blankets and stand up. I have jello legs and my eyelids feel as though someone attached an anchor to each one of them. I slowly walk over to my dresser and pull out a red spaghetti strap tank top and a black leather vest along with some blue shorts. Quickly I throw them on and walk over to my closet and grab a pair of worn out black hidden heel sneakers that I bought last year to make me look taller, I’m only 5’3 which is short at my school. I throw them on fast because my beige carpet annoys my bare feet in the morning.
Oomph. I plop back on my bed and close my eyes. My door opens. “Come on, get up. You’re going to be late.” It’s my mom. I groan as I get up and go downstairs to the kitchen.
“Whoa, nice hair!” my brother Kal says sarcastically once I sit down at the table. “What happened? A raccoon make a nest on your head or something?” Shoot, I forgot to brush my hair.
“Hey, be nice to your sister,” says my dad as he walks into the room. He pauses and looks down at me, “I love this new style of yours you have going on.”
“Dad,” I whine. “Stop it.”
After breakfast, I run upstairs and look in the mirror. It can’t be as bad as Kal made it sound, can it?
“Oh. My. Raccoons.” I utter. My brunette hair is usually slick and shiny, but it’s not now. My hair is all over the place like a crazy mullet afro. I brush my hair back to its normal straightness again.
When I finally get out the door, my mom drives me to school as always, but lately I’ve had her drop me off a few blocks away from school. Who wants to be seen in a blue minivan when they’re in high school, or ever for that matter. Plus, what kind of parent would want to see their kid being pushed around from the second they stepped onto the school grounds until the second they left them?
“Hey, look everyone, it’s Kooky Brontosaurus,” someone yells as I reach the school. Everyone laughs.
In sixth grade I was kind of overweight, and was a little different than everyone else, thus ‘Kooky Brontosaurus’ was born. I’m skinny and normal now, which is why I don’t get why they still make fun of me and call me names, I guess it just stuck. I put my hands in my pockets and keep my head down and try to stay out of everyone’s way. Even when I do that, people still kick me and throw things at me. A few soda cans hit me, but I still don’t look up.
People Standing Still
"Leon!!" She was doubled over, puking her guts out into a garbage bin after too much alcohol and not enough cocaine. San Fran was much colder at night than the valley. It's the death that rolls off of the water, the wind that kicks up the smell of urine from the sidewalk, the sky scraping metal buildings. The homeless have an aftertaste when they pass you by.
Leon walked down the dark alley, reached out for the back of her neck and warmed her skin with his cold hands. "Let it out dear, just let it out."
Sabine smiled, mouth wet with saliva. "Take me to the ER, that demon wormed his way into my gut."
In Between Days
I sprang bolt upright in bed. The strains of reverie being blared from a miniature trumpet stabbed at my eardrums .........once again.
This was not a military base. This was Sydney circa 1986 and the asshole playing the trumpet is downstairs pursuing his ongoing agenda of pissing off our Indian neighbors.
My feet hit the particle board flooring and I thundered down the stairs tripping over a mannequin head along the way.
His trumpet farted its last note as I hobbled over to reach my wild eyed roommate wiping away the spittle from his mouth.
'What the fuck is wrong with you Rager?'
'I mean.....they are really nice folks and they have kids for Christ sakes'
He slowly sat down on the sofa fixing a bead on me with his glass eye.
'Fuck em. Don't worry about it mate.......I made breakfast'
'You made breakfast? Its a joke yeah?'
He reached under the sofa cushion and produced what looked to be an ounce of hashish.
'Most important meal of the day sunshine'
I first met this creature at one of those infamous inner city parties a few months back.
The 6 foot, skinny, sunken chested, curved spine, wide hipped, hook nosed, pale, John Cooper Clarke lookalike was hard to miss.
Over a spliff he explained to me all about his ancient alien lineage. Totally validated by the fact that the first time he saw a photo of the surface of Mars, vision was restored through his glass eye for 24 hours.
I had no reason to doubt him....we became instant friends.
I only ever knew him as the Rager. Someone told me that they heard that his real name was Paul but I never pursued it. Rsger suited him fine.
At the time I was living by myself in a two bedroom terrace house.
The latest in a long line of crazy ex girlfriends had departed a few weeks back and left me to cover the rent.
Good riddance. The nightly visitations by her dead older Italian lover were doing my head in anyway. She owned a huge collection of cow memorabilia and a suitcase full of anxiety medications. There were pillowcases full of chocolate bars which she never consumed........just collected.
I playfully grabbed a Snickers bar once and ate it in front of her. She went absolutely bonkers and wouldn't talk to me for days. Psycho bitch.
To top it off she owned a cat. I hated that fucking cat.
I gave Rager the option of the second bedroom however in true gypsy style he claimed the sofa.
He'd sometimes go 'walkabout' for days on end. I'd arrive home to find that maniacal Cheshire cat face gleaming up from under a throw rug. Talking full throttle he'd share fanciful tales about all his wondrous adventures.
I'd mention about the rent and he'd produce a smorgasbord of illicit drugs as full payment.
We eventually got evicted but I'll talk about that in due course.
This is me. Go ahead. Tread lightly. You may see things on each page that you can relate to. Life thats before us. Every blink of an eye. From sunrise to sunset. I evolve like you. Living, breathing, striving for a better yesterday. Longing for a better future. Go ahead don't be afraid. Open up. Take my hand into the journey of my mind.
Chapter 1-You cant unsee or unteach
On a warm September night, unseasonably warm, the wealthy young soldier on furlough came home to a quite distressing affair. A rabid dog, or a dog at least, had attacked his wife and she was quite dead. These things happen, seemed to the sentiment among his neighbors and the case was quickly dismissed by the authorities. The dog was never found, determination of ownership uncertain.
The matter may have been put to rest if the husband had not made the incident the focus of his existence. Having been the first to see the ravaged remains, the Corpsman did what most grieving husbands do…he had bloody disjointed sex with the deceased. The act was quick and terrible, both gleaming with bodily fluids and serenaded by the one piece noise machine; all the while being objectified by the neighborhood dog walker…little Graham Fallin. The tears in his eyes were little diamonds of joy, his face flushed with amorous longing
With the resolve and patience of a good southern soldier Francis waited until his better half was buried to start his obsessive revenge. Within a week he had murdered every dog in the community and put Graham out of business. In the wake of this development, the young entrepreneur decided on a duel course of action. First, to catch the man who took his job, then to teach everyone he knew about the glorious art of love.
So Graham went work. To determine the killer, the young sleuth snuck out night after night dressed in his mother’s fur, knee pads and socks taped to his head. Striking out in his pursuits and stirring up the neighborhood rumor mill with stories of a bear, Graham finally asked his mother. Mrs. Fallin-McDrumph told him that more than likely it was their neighbor, the soldier that had lost his wife in the “accident.” To Graham, who knew better than his mother the love that this man had…real love, the connecting kind, this sounded like utter nonsense.
“Mom, its not him, I knew him much better than you.”
The hand, that had before been deftly placing wildflowers in an arrangement, stopped.
Her face concerned, “How is it that you know this man so well? Has he done something to you.”
Seeing the conversation was heading in an unexpected direction, he decided to leave quickly, under his breath claiming that the man had taught him about true love.
The next part of his plan was better thought out. Being out of a job had put a damper on his eight year old extravagant cost of living and he determined to rectify this through teaching…teaching love. The very next day he went to work again, bringing his compatriots together behind the Carlson’s guesthouse. Graham was intensively strategic about this, determining that he must offer this service to those that needed and deserved it. Little Graham Fallin became the necro-guru and the world did'nt bat an eye.