Half a poem, half a flash fiction piece, mostly a fragment (800 words): The Smog

The Smog

On Wednesday she nuzzled me awake, like a puppy might,

Her nose cold as a kitten’s, in the air-conditioned cell,
I had rented for ourselves.
We checked the time too late on our phone,
Thought the tone of orange that sliced off one of her thighs,
Suggested 6 AM.
The haze outside had fooled us.
So we were both late for work,
On the bus I read, rather than looked outisde the window at the too thick orange haze,
I could not see through,
Disappointing; I had only just downloaded new music to try.

I had a headache till lunch.
Someone said: “It might rain soon.”

Someone else said: “No that’s just pollution.”

A VP came out and told us proudly that our stock price had gone up 12% today, I pumped my fist, hissed ‘yesss’ and counted two more years before I might get options.

I stayed later than the rest as usual. Except for a secretary who read me snippets of headlines from her phone, her tone perpetually quizzical, like she was discovering events that came as a suprise and that I ought to answer her perpetually rhetoricals: “Did you know that / Wow so / Apparentlies and According To BBC – a bomb exploded somewhere, killing some people, a billionaire did something, billions of dollars went somewhere, the progress of wars, less predictable than the sports scores- sometimes in the hundreds, when casualties crested thousands, that became interesting, though only if they were Europeans or something, Americans maybe.

It seemed that it took about 10 000 dead westerners to shock me as much as say, two hundred thousand blacks from some African country.

“Apparently there is a genocide going on.”

“Wow. That’s fucked up.” I said, and left out: “But I really need to finish this spreadsheet before tomorrow.”

Before temorrow I got to wake her up, pin her to the bed with two of my crab hands in hers, we made two fists, then love, rushed, forceful, racing midnight till we both came first.

I was at the airport Saturday morning. The haze hadn’t moved but we prayed for a typhoon on the train, to come and blow away the smog, at the cost of a few lingering villagers that had not yet moved into government flats. Across from us two mainlanders spoke, and she translated for me via text, writing messages on her phone, as quickly as she could, whilst I read over he shoulder and she never pressed send. The mainlanders were mules, sent here by unfathomably rich businessmen to purchase purses worth a years rent, the decadent, stupid fucking backwards assholes, even they were saying it was perfectly insane, how much money it cost to buy what they thought of as perfectly ugly shoes.

They wore nails flecked with glitter, painted a cacophony, they butterflied them in their mandarin patter, clicking against each other sometimes, a pool of gentle mellodic err shi’s and bou jyos, till a guttural bout of cantonese POG KAI’s invaded the car from an open station, quickly silenced as they noticed other people, and thus everyone bowed their heads politely, into their smart phones.

It was my first time flying business. There was no line at check in. I should have worn a suit, but I told myself that’s how casual I found going business. I asked for champagne twice, the second time as hesitant as when I volunteered my opinion at the meeting yesterday. The stewardesses, so much hotter than her, they took care of themselves, their make up perfect, skin so pale, tall as swans I watched their asses and tried to ignore the waste of a window seat- the orange haze reaching all the way up to the next nearest, waiting plane, obscuring half it’s tail.

The rush of taking off mixed with the distant joke of shot down planes, mad muslims, bad luck, bad weather, shit I’d have to leave behind in the event of an emergency god please don’t let me have to buy another Ipad I fucking loved that thing.

I put down my kindle when we we leveled out and suddenly, the orange was gone. A sea of blue dressed like infinity, above a plain of rolling ice tinged orange, like the cream that came with my berries for dessert. It just went on and I felt something new, up there, where I couldn’t go online, couldn’t message anybody, couldn’t leave my seat, had to stare at how blue, blue, clear it was, how far I could see, how I was not bored by the repetition of sky. Then below, distant through the smog, I saw the flecks of concrete towers, the ant like container ships, the steel, glass, and concrete fruits of progress, across a smoggy field.

And I wondered what the news will say tomorrow.

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15th post: Less than 1k today: And The World

I’m taking a break from the longer story i’m working on.

So today it’s less than 1k:

And the world

And the world becomes the city leaves on the street swept up by the straw hatted elves.That walk under uniforms their wrinkles visible for a blink. Then the bus roars at everyone and everything from the tops of the canyon walls where people live to the little men on their thin pavement walking to somewhere.

The air goes dark as the street lights change and the traffic exhales like a smoker into your face.

Walking until you cross the wide road to a narrower street and through the crowd come to the hole in the ground. Descend the stairs into airconditioned tunnels and move through the earth that looks like all planets and moons will look when we are through with them. Follow the correct colors or just remember what you already knows till you pay for your ride with a beep like magic you will never understand. And a thousand others step up to the train that you wait for too.

Pass the time by staring or distracting yourself with all the screens in your pocket and on the wall. Gaze at all the other people like you like a tourist. Dream a short dream till you hear the train howling farther on coming closer and you stop and wait with everyone else now patient now expectant. Prepare to board the train till you do and then fill all the spaces with your body next to everyone else till all that is left is people.

Wait whilst hurtling in your tube and distract yourself from the wall of clothes by staring at the screens or listening with your ears to a tiny voice in a tiny speaker. Till the train slows and you squeeze out whilst the mass pours forth and another army swaps places with you. Follow all the metal snaking escalators to the right colors or just remember what you already know till you beep a card in a magic moment and pay for the ride you take every day..

Almost finished you find your way to the place you spend most of your life in currently. Ascend at the foot of the titan you man and enter the last small space for awhile with a few other bodies. Ignore their presence whilst you wait for the doors to open and you are pulled up to your occupation. Walk towards the correct name of the thing as invisible as any God. Find your way to your desk and begin to fight for the thing you serve inside the titan of concrete and steel.

Use the machines that someone else made and someone else realised and someone else understands to make the the numbers go up and down for someone else. Connect with your eyes and fingers and ears to the keyboard and screen and phone and wires all the way around the world and up above in space bouncing your voice all over the globe and building things with words and decisions like the other billion decisions made by the humans you live and breathe next to.

Then stop when the time comes. And find your way through the maze again you’ve learnt so well to navigate. Find your way down then across the ground and under and up till you are back in another cube with no God’s name to mark it. In your cube you watch the screens and hear the sounds that make you want to do it all over again tomorrow next to the ones that share so much with you.

And then you do it again tomorrow.

Later on you die.

5th Post: Side Tracked

Rather than continue l2binvisible, i’m taking a short break, as i had a bit of a splurging session today, and wrote up a good thousand or so words. I reckon it’ll eventually be one of the characters for l2binvisible, but for now it’s just some randomness i wrote after taking a walk.

I realise that this blog is quickly turning into a complete clusterfuck. Well fuck it, it’s my blog and i’ll spew if i want to.

Anyhoo:

Side Tracked

It was going to be one of those days, I could already tell. The kind of day where I think i’m six years younger than I actually am, and my hand flutters around by bed, searching for a cigarette. It’s the sort of morning where I forget that I quit. The kind that lengthens, till afternoon creeps up on my watch and I feel guilty and useless.

The first thought that enters my foggy mind is a question. “Why am I still here?” I gaze up at the white ceiling, and I wonder that maybe if I stare long enough i’ll see something amazing. Maybe my mind will use the ceiling as a canvas, and i’ll realise some answer to some question that will make everything better. My phantom cigarette tastes like nothing. I inhale anyway only getting a mouthful of cold, air conditioned air.

I roll over, and am tempted by the thought, that flares up suddenly, like an angry flame, “Just give it all up.” or more like “JUST GIVE IT ALL UP.” Give up all the money. Turn those numbers on the screen into zeroes. Achieve some kind of cosmic goal by diminishing myself, removing all that useless shit. I inwardly chuckle in my most condescending, and obviously invisible manner. Yeah I could give it all up, and then what? I’d spend the rest of my life trying to make it back. A slave to the money then I die-ie?

Nothing interesting happens to me. I read some news, and live vicariously through the tragedies of stranger’s lives. I used to comb the headlines for the latest crisis, the latest world wide fuck up, and then i’d wonder, in a fury of thought, at how I could help fix it. I’d wire some large amount of money to some charity, feeling so smug, so self-satisfied. I’d watch the number in my account become smaller, i’d pore over the email the grateful organisation would send me. If I got real mail, it was better than any watch, any car, any goddamn toy I might treat myself to. That got old though. It got old when I noticed that the world stayed shitty.

Bill Goats, and Warner Buffin donated what was it, billions of dollars to charity? Some estimates say Goats has saved millions of children’s lives. I can’t scratch that score, but I got at least a couple of thousand under my belt. And so what? What if they end up being little cocksuckers? Something’s wrong with me, and I justify it by thinking that anyone who gets as rich as I do has to have something wrong with them. The disease of success.

Now i’m turning down all the last minute invitations for the nights revelries. I can’t untangle the sycophants from the friends, the girls who think i’m a decent guy from the ones that just love power. The thought of talking shit all night long is wearying enough as it is, let alone the practice. Yep. One of those days. The city’s taking on that nice orange tinge. It’s the best part of the day, when it’s late enough that people start leaving work, but early enough that the ballistic nightlife has yet to start. Everyone’s calming down. Things are going to slow, as the sun sets, like some kind of spontaneous ritual, an ode to the natural world. Fuck me. I’m getting all lyrical in my old age. 35 feels ancient.

Especially when you’re alone.

Suddenly, i’ve walked into my wardrobe. Past the tailored shirts, the suits, the flashy, bullshit absorbing night clothing. I reach for an old drawer, and take a sick sort of satisfaction in dressing like some kind of normal, kind of bum. Shorts, wrinkled oversized shirt, anything to blend in. Not that i’m worried about being recognised. Not much at least. It’s a sudden urge, to walk about the city.

If I walk around, keep my eyes open, and my mind peeled, I see all sorts of incredible shit. Outside the guard smiles, and I say hello. My voice is more subdued, less authorative. It just happened. The costume works. Good. I still feel like a fraud until I leave the main gates, and make it to the main road. Then i’m just another part of a stream of people going in all directions. I feel invisible, no one pays me in any mind. Everyone’s eyes are unfocused, gazing inwards or at some far away place that they all slowly plod towards. The only ones who seem to look are the peddlers who hunt for marks like predators, the children who wisely, couldn’t give a fuck, and the tourists who everyone hates.

Not me though.

I like tourists. They might treat the city like their own private zoo, which of course elicits a natural contempt from most locals, I reckon because we want to let the tourists know that hey, they should be so lucky to live in the city, and since they don’t they must be from bumfuck nowhere. As if having an army of screens adorning every wall makes the city a fucking utopia. But if you follow their eyes, and listen to their accented conversations, you just might learn a thing or two about a place you’ve grown too used to.

Easy for me to say though. Behind my fucking gates, above it all, I may as well be a tourist to.

I follow the unknown walking down a street I don’t remember ever exploring. After half an hour I find myself at a corner i’ve never been to before. I drink in the shop signs, looking for anything particularly niche to give me some fucking hope. A wine store maintaining pretentious airs sits next to an incongruent Turkish kebab, it’s tin seats empty. Next to that is nothing less than a municipal garbage disposal garage. Smells great. I continue past, and next to the garbage place is, wow, an entrance to a park.

I know this area a little, and I wonder where the fuck this park is situated. The entrance is two bollards, and a winding, uphill paved slope. On all sides are skyscrapers. Nonsensical. This is what I love. No one seems to be paying me any mind, and no one seems interested in the park. A dozen or so brown skinned delivery men tan on cardboard boxes, some under the angled shade provided by their lorrys. Some smoke on the street railings, talking in their musical tongue. I wonder at what they might think of this place. I wonder where they came from, and whether the city has become more of a home than wherever they orginated. Then I start up the slope.

The path is steep, and on eitherside are checkerboarded, reinforced concrete slopes. Above them are little copses of honest to goodness green grass. Trees on either side too, till the buildings are like some weird, alien backdrop to this little garden in the middle of all the noise. It’s pretty much empty, and I watch the way the long swaying shadows move with the breeze, the awful sporadic baying of carhorns contrasting. Then I’m at the top and a view of the harbor is discovered. Amazing. Along the distant promenade I can make out the tell tale camera flashes of tourists, becoming easier and easier to spot as it gets darker. I walk around, pretending to examine the scattered, worn benches, when in actuality i’m stealing glances at the couple under the sole gazebo.

Under the gazebo a man helps an elaborately dressed woman, in some kind of japanese cosplay. She has a long blonde wig, reaching all the way to her knees. An intricate kimono, a fake sword, and impressive boots compliment the costume. I don’t recognise the character, and that kind of makes me happy. Her companion enthusiastically helps arrange her sash, a camera swaying from his neck. I notice her turn, to look at me with dark eyes that don’t suit the blonde wig, and I glance away, worried that I was making her feel self-concious. I feel a bit like a nature photographer, careful about spooking his quarry. So I turn my back and walk towards the harbor. I notice the overlook then, through the chain link fence.

It’s the designated smoking area, and a set of concrete steps decend to it. I start to go down, then I spot a smoker in the corner. Two white earphones plug him up, and a wooden pipe sits in his hand, smoke curling upwards. He doesn’t notice me. I get closer, and my suspicious are confirmed. It’s weed, and when he hits the pipe again it’s obvious even without being close enough to smell. I supress a chuckle. Guy has balls. The city has gotten a few things right, it’s technically progressive. Great tech, wifi everywhere, all sorts of shiny shit. But still the archaic drug laws. I’m sure if any cops found him they wouldn’t bother arresting unless he was carrying a bag, but still.

Then I realise, looking back at the path I took to get here. No cop is going to bother marching his ass up that steep path, to an empty park whilst walking his rounds. At least not till late at night. I can almost see two uniformed police, looking up at the path, then at each other, shrugging and saying Fuck it.

The sun sets, the city lights take over. I don’t have to bother describing it. From my penthouse apartment the view is always there, always magnificant. But from on high the people are just tiny bugs, and cars perfect beatles. I can read the signs that emblazon the buildings, like the flags of nations selling cameras, insurance, electronics, but I can’t see the grafitti, or the posters advertising some brave new DJ. It smells great too, on account of the aromatherapy shit I have burning in the living room. I don’t like the smell of garbage, but some days, like on this day, I prefer it.

My phone sits waiting next to the main door, a plethora of messages demanding my attention.

I look, I read, I delete.

Tomorrow i’ll get back to my life.