Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sleepwalking in Manhattan - Chapter 1

I checked my appearance in Kiehl’s Pharmacy Store window on Third Avenue. Average height, average weight, average looks—everything average. You see people like me everywhere—whether it’s London, Paris, or Madrid—if you take time to look.

Natalie was late. We met yesterday for the first time. She was just another pretty girl walking down Fifth Avenue. Our eyes didn’t connect until she dropped a glove. I called after her, waving the glove in the air. She thanked me with a shadow of a smile and resumed walking. I ran after her, and she laughed when I said I was new in the city. 

I asked bluntly if she was free tonight. Perhaps to Natalie it was my illusionary arrogance, but she stopped and looked at me from head to toe. She became prettier by the minute. She had never considered doing such a thing before, though said it might be pleasurable.

Walking away she said, ‘Eight O’clock at Pear Tree Corner. If you want to meet me you’ll find it.’

A thin breeze and a twinkle of neon helped relieve my tension as I stood outside the store. I had given up hope when a hand suddenly gripped my wrist ushering me along the street.

'Just follow me.' It was Natalie, the voice and fragrance were unmistakable.

'What’s going on? Why the dark glasses ... The headscarf?!' I found her demeanour unsettling.

'I think I’m being followed. Just trust me.' I looked around and saw what appeared to be a caravan of Japanese sightseers armed with a million cameras. 'Japanese?!'

'No!' she responded. 'I’ll explain when we get to proper surroundings.'

As we turned the corner Natalie hailed a taxi. Soon it was speeding towards the city centre.

'Why the disguise?'

When she turned towards me some of the apprehensions about the situation disappeared, her eyes sparkled.

'What’s your name anyway?' she smiled.

'Conrad ... ' I stuttered.

She held out her right hand and we shook hands briefly. 'Well, Conrad, it’s good to meet you. I don’t normally talk to strange men in the street, but I made an exception in your case for some strange reason. I admired your style. Hope my intuition dosen't let me down,' she winked. 'Where are you from?'

'Back there,' I replied, nodding towards Pear Tree Corner.

'Are you for real?' she laughed, looking at my face. 'I guess you are. You’re sitting right beside me.'

The sky was darkening, streaked with scarlet clouds. She asked the taxi driver to pull over. Natalie paid our entrance fee into a small gloomy cinema. Several people were watching an old movie.

'This is my favourite film. I’ve seen it a thousand times. The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart. Try to chill out.' She took my right hand and caressed it. 'You’re too uptight.' Natalie resumed watching the screen. 'Sydney Greenstreet as "Kasper Gutman" has some great lines in this film. Anyway, if anyone should be worried, it should be me,' she half-smiled.

'I thought we were on a date?'

'We are. I want to discuss a proposition. This place is as good as any.” Even in the dark I could see her soft wavy hair, full crimson lips and bask in her fragrance.

She resumed watching the screen. Now and then she would glance at me and extend a wink.

'Why me?'

'I don’t like Prima Donnas. Tall pretty boys with strong chins. Always someone telling them how great they are. Anyway, you can’t tell someone’s good just by looking at their face, can you?' she said, producing a playful laugh.

Natalie returned to the film. 'This is my favourite part. Listen and watch closely. Amazing dialogue.'

I watched Natalie as she mimed in unison with the film. “Well, sir, here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding. You’re a close-mouthed man? - I like to talk - I’m a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk.”

She turned and winked. It worked every single time. Even though I felt things could descend into a kaleidoscopic nightmare at any moment, I was, for now, mesmerised.

To be continued . . .?

Reflections: Everyone needs dreams. Some men love soft delicate dreams and soft delicate woman. A lady of my acquaintance loves a man she believes does not dream. Yet jealousy of his thoughts keep her awake. He is a master of deception. Her virtue, wise or unwise, lies in her performance.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Headline: Heavy Cold Sweeping the Country


Today I'm sick, My head feels like it's made of wood. My temperature is leaping about on the roof of a neighbour's car. I'm surrounded by a faint injured air. Have I a cold, a heavy cold, or a very heavy cold? I'll weight it later when I'm feeling better.

The headlines in the morning newspaper confirm a "heavy cold" is sweeping the country. Surely that's a job for Council personnel? I was considering embracing a tin of meat for comfort when Doctor Wobbleski strutted into my bedroom. As I was downstairs in my living room I found his behaviour outrageous.

He had brought his three-pointed black and white beard which looked ridiculous hanging out of his trouser pocket. He uttered unspeakable words: 'You scum!' I stayed silent. While I have the gift of the gab I'm damned if I'm giving it back. I resumed listening to myself growing old. I glanced at Doctor Wobbleski. He looks like a man who works hard all day, but has nothing to show for it. His jacket is shapeless and baggy: in league with his face.

'Well, doctor,' I said, in a polite murmur. 'What do you think?' He seemed indecisive, scratched himself, ignored me, and attended to the "faint injured air"! Suddenly, I remembered why I dislike people who smell of carbolic acid. I began to howl but the doctor told me to be quiet. My anxiety for my health persisted. Meanwhile, the doctor made vague promises he would tend to me shortly. I watched as he grunted like a pig while examining the faint injured air.

'I'm at a loss, ' he said. 'Of course, I don't know what's going on inside . . . No, indeed . . . But you look in terrible shape . . . It has been a cold winter. I do believe you've caught a dreadful cold. I'll give you something for the cough.' The injured air had another coughing fit. The doctor enlightened the injured air of the benefits of a refreshing trip to the seaside, or to a quiet corner of a park. He felt it would help its mood, ease its headaches. He further prescribed excitement, music, curiosity, a change in diet and whistling.

Just as I felt all was lost Doctor Wobbleski approached me. He felt my pulse, listened to the blood racing through my body, then shook his head. I sat motionless, anxious, covered in dandruff. 'You're in a dreadful state. You smell like a mouldy rope, and worst, look like one. Do you want my advice?' he said, clearly intent in getting out of my house as quickly as possible. 'You've lost your spirit. First of all, take that cigar out of your left nostril, your glasses out of your mouth, and your false teeth out of your ears. Get out of bed, shave, and kiss the first women you meet outside who is blessed with full pale thighs. Get a job that doesn't involve work, and remember: It may be foggy, but it's not raining. Whatever the hell that means!'

After Doctor Wobbleski left I put on an extra layer of clothing and jumped into a warm scented bath. I lit a cigar and dozed with Pleasure, a young lady friend, who rinsed my back with her soft hands. I believe it was her hands. I could be mistaken, of course.

Reflections: Some people, places and things, once important, lose their impact on us over time. Loss of colour and ambivalence, speed their demise, and our conviction towards them. Something to be celebrated, surely.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Why the Silence?

I profess to ignorance, stupidity, to wear a mask that sometimes slips and to be the owner of a small mind: not a large mind, a little mind. I tend to jump to conclusions about issues happening all over our dear planet. Test me on any subject. I know human existence is stressful, just pick any subject. Any subject at all ... Tomorrow? Well, if you wish.

Why the silence? No doubt you're right. I've no patience. My little mind is spluttering thinking of all the questions one can be asked. Some people appear to be blessed with a big mind; one that belonged to a pretentious charlatan and now belongs to them.

Is there an excuse for the above paragraph? Well, yes. The exact issues and journalistic reports are immaterial, and this personal view is not directed at authentic, serious, accomplished journalists and politicians.

This is what happened today. I listened to journalists and politicians on the television and radio, and evidently some believe their thinking and utterances are of special importance. Indeed, superior and of greater significance to that of doctors, psychologists, scientists, artists and philosophers. Indeed, any other human being on this planet.

Give them any subject: the economy, health, accountability, finance, morality, the role of men and woman in society and culture, motherhood, careers, education, prosperity, advertising, mental health, infidelity, how to raise healthy children, religion, automatic washers and driers, gourmet cooking, frozen dinners, interior decorating, fashion, political and social events, flight attendants, dieting, sex, childcare, shipbuilding, pregnancy, fertility, ad infinitum. Then listen and watch as they speak and write with a 'drainpipe mentality'.

However, their depth of thought and insight into certain issues may be patently shallow, and subsequently their words highlight their ignorance, and unsavory ability to jump to conclusions on complex matters without access to the full facts. It's a patent challenge to listen to their unenlightening, unintelligible, and absurd rantings.

Of course, the full picture behind the story will emerge, and the newspaper, magazine, and television editors, and staff, can celebrate their role in presenting, not only the telling details, but the dirt dug up to dupe readers into believing it is in their interest and is necessary to provide a full and accurate picture of the issue.

Life is difficult enough without listening to people talking and writing about other peoples lives, problems, burdens, as if they, alone, possess a unique insight. Inept journalists and politicians should leave people to confront and solve their own painful problems. As we should do ours. Are human beings condemned to torture each other, emotionally and psychologically, for ever?

Hopefully, daylight will arrive soon and shine light on these motionless, standing, robotic creatures. No-one is totally innocent of anything. A lesson some journalists and politicians have still to learn.

Reflection: By appearance solitude does not deserve praise. However, gazing into empty space has its reward - sometimes you may find something of value.