An Obstacle to Her Indulgence


by Shane Jesse Christmass

Who models the sexiest supermarket aisles? A SWAT team of bluecoats arrive almost within minutes, handcuffed – shutting my eyes.

“My God! Will I ever find my way home?”

Standing on the corner of Cheshunt and Broxbourne, meadow and copse and cornland all around me. A tall figure in a scarlet cloak. The exquisite, pathetic, entrancing feeling of this figure. The magic of the drug business was a matter of fact. It was a steady, prosperous establishment. Turning and looking back, I fling out my hand with the toe of my plain serviceable boot. As-Sabur they call me. As-Sabur baby.

I have a chat with the tall figure in the scarlet cloak. Turns out he’s a GP, has lived a good life, has kept away from evil, and, in particular, has never been in love. Over in the down paddock, infernal things die of inanition, female suffrage, exhaustion, deadly emptiness inside. The clever application of the Chaucerian verse is implanted into my mouldy brain, my eyelids blink twice because if it. He bends his head over the brazier. A fire weighing one hundred and fifty pounds. The sky is tartan-plaid at midnight.

Children on an awful mail-boat docking at Port Said. Travelling down the coast, sailing from Cairo, into the Suez. Legs planted far off. How to get a job? Make a romantic fool of yourself. Spoil the game. Rosa steps off the ferry. She is dressed like she is set to go out. Fire door swings open. Secret rooms on the ferry, a common enough practise in the Triassic regions of Earth.

“I don’t believe it.” Rosa says, still sobbing like she has been before.

Rosa was born in Damascus. She isn’t married. Maybe I should introduce her to the tall figure. The man. Pipe dreams! I’d introduce them but the man would still spend Christmas dinner by himself. I need to leave Port Said. Need to take a lazy voyage to Genoa. Petal silk-stockings abrade thighs on the way. I escort Rosa to my brother’s office. She hasn’t seen him in eight years. He likes to call his office Pogboro House. He is a marrying man. Been divorced for thirty years. He’s the sort of person who will never die out. Moustache is a dirty brown. The tips of his hair all saturated in seawater. A sluggish outlook on life. He has a supreme degree in watch-keeping, and a subconscious sense of responsibility. Personally I couldn’t care less. His wig weighs at least four hundred pounds, and smells like an automobile. Pure evil devil shit.

We reach his chambers. It took an infernally long time. My brother gets carried away, intoxicated by his dim success. His dull eyes promise more than they can foresee. It’s all minor affairs anyway. I cut out through the bunk beds onto the rooftop. I have a boiler suit with me. I peer at the cars in the Port Said streets below. Cars stop. People coming home from work. Accountancy slobs. Attorney jerks. Genteel professions bringing in the dead, the wounded. Most on them look like they made their money from iron ore in Cartagena, Spain. Body ache. A realty company. A smoking bar. I squint at the sun.

Two leg pinching me, my woollen pants. A stout, iron-grey man in uniform is leaning against a plate-glass window. Common toil and mechanical things. I love the Grecian patchwork cobblestone. I’ll give you ten pounds for it. I can hear my brother yelling at Rosa. I wondered what had become of them. Rosa rebels against the hapless brink in most men’s lives. The smug, complacent conclusions my brother will come up with will surely annoy her. Oriental vases. Several letters and a telegram. Riots in the alleyways.

Rosa spends her spare time playing with the dog. My brother’s early childhood memory. The memory evokes shrieks even in me. Rosa’s eyes come back to my face for a moment – cauliflower ears. A two-note heartbeat coming from a savage moment of attack. All these details, only they are important, because – well, you’ll see.

Rosa talks, a glance flutter in my direction for a moment. A hard-boiled bench by the dynamo sky. A tense and silent stare. Mere spendthrift men of pleasure, inarticulate save for his mistakes, myself. Rosa is a thin girl of about eighteen. A gilt chair, a writing desk. I’ll employ her as my secretaire and engage with her in smooth conversation. I’ll guide her around to the subject with strange technical jargon. I’ll become boorish, a rake, furl myself in a hammock, tickling my ears as I do so.

A Pittsburgh native. An Egyptian priest. A bottle of Scotch to bleed out. Gut and bind me. Liver. Lung. Modern effete civilisation. Rattling cans that have sailed from Buenos Aires. Loose tabs of Primatene against the mesh of my hand. I detect no sympathy in my brother’s tone. He’s dismissive. You can imagine how a thing like that can upset something. Weird affairs. Catalogues. Colonial engines. Abhorrence of melodrama. Pillows and petunia. Horses. Supper parties. Nail guns. Shipping cases. I walk the supermarket aisles looking for stockings. My brother advises that I’d get no work in London.

“London’s dead for etchers.”

A skyscraper of dizzying sound. A wire fence. Swerve, dirt, ditch. Annoyance. I leave in the morning for Genoa. For the time being, I’ll sleep in a big shed of creosote-boards, composing an advertisement in the time. Will I ever find my way home? Rosa is a redhead. She don’t like me.

About the Author:

Shane Jesse Christmass is a Perth-born, Melbourne-based writer. He edits the journal Queen Vic Knives. He’s also a member of the band Mattress Grave. He firmly belives that the future of the word, the novel, will be in synthetic telepathy. Most of his writing is archived here.