Monday, 26 September 2011

The new standard

We don't just manage expectations, we lower them. Everything is for sale. Everything must go. Rock bottoms.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The unknown soldier

The force of the hit, as if from an invisible sledgehammer and without pause for resistance, knocking him sideways flat to the dirt. The next available sensation was of grit particulates adhered to the moisture of his lips as his jaw worked pressed in abrasion against the soil. With careful placed attention and methodical application he lifted himself clear of the ground, raising his head slowly against the swell of lethargy that buffeted at his core, howling at the lantern of his will. Then the veil drew black and the clock hand tick froze. Taste of salt and bitter minerals against his tongue tip, the earth pulling at his face. Had he fallen again or had he never moved except for his imagining? And then burning. Pulses of fire in running rivulets till the fire consumed and then it was just. Burning. Ringing. Raging. And back. Liquid sensations, warm wet, the pleasant suspension of swimming, the tug of viscosity against his limbs as they extended in passing rhythm clearing the way in satisfying drafts. The gulp as surface broken and the eye lids faltering, momentarily flattering the welcome glare of the sun. And then he was the sun. Burning. Power. Cleansing. Killing. Feeding. Energy transforming.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Winter's hangover

His fingers trembled on the window sill under the tension placed upon them by way of his levering himself from the floor as the weight of burden transmitted from their tips to his wrists, to his forearms, shoulders, and then were joined in venture by the initially unwilling cranking of leg, thigh and back muscles until finally he escaped the gravitational pull of floor and drunken oblivion. There was some delay before the warmth of touched sill registered as unexpected among the rehearsal hall din and clashing cacophony of beating brain vessels, which receded, momentarily, to establish a bearable rhythm, revealing a further clearing ahead in his consciousness. He groped towards it. Vision vacillating between the interruption static of pain and then shards of clarity, which themselves were a kind of pain, triggering the cycle yet again. In a longer break, the crystallised condensation in the corners of the window pane sparkling in imperceptible deliquesce from low hung breaking-sun lasered rays over the powdered, crunch-deep frosting of snow outside. Uncanny how the self-enforced condition of wretchedness can sometimes render the slightest things, usually passed over in the casualness of familiarity, beautiful.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Magnolia walls dapple-tinted with nicotine, time and the quiet tapping betraying the slow unravelling of nerves at the edge of a crumpled, cork-affect butt-filled ash tray lying on edge of the desk near one of those varnish absent wear patinas, sat opposite the pealing paint windows in the mute surrounds of officialdom and the telephone that rings that's never answered.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Spies like us

I want to talk to you about your retirement from the service.

Retirement is certainly a favourable way of describing what amounted to a forced ejection, rather in manner one might downplay the explosive emission of a cannonball as being “dropped” .

I'm not here to apologise, but appeal to your sense of duty.

I hadn't imagined otherwise, you know me as well as any transcribed account. Taping. Third party conjecture. Stories. Legend. Chinese whispers. And what as to the motivations of those who decant the white noise of static into your eager - and I mean no offence - "green" lobes? The great game. Slight of hand. Pick a number. Choose a card. Motivations hidden behind mirrors and the cigar smoke of poker table tactics?

They said you were the best.

Flattery is the doyley beneath my coffee cup. I don't drink from it. In any case, “best" is an epithet most safely placed after the hindsight of “was the” ... not forgetting charm and false flattery is often a prelude to the strong arm of compulsion by blackmail or brutality.

We want you back in the fold. There are events, according to the wise, best viewed from the outside. By outsiders. Outsiders that once looked in.

So what token of temptation do you bring to my table?

The opportunity to make a difference.

To one who tried and faced indifference?

Indifference was a rock you once didn't mind pushing up the hill to spite the conventions of gravity.

And as for yourself?

That is not at issue.

But it is. You always.

I knew this wasn't going to be easy.

Really? I doubt you would come to me without focus group trialled bait. Don't confuse statistically based confidence for competence.

I'm only interested in what gets the job done.

Well, you shouldn't, unless you are willing to rely on the occasional accident. The complacency cook of results fostered in the broth of utilitarian kitchen-spoiled conceit.

There will be kills.

Not all information is heart-stopping.


As you no doubt know, I quit a while ago.

Delusions of eternal life?

No. My habit is to occasionally break habit. Trade craft.

Mind if I spark up?

Go ahead, if not now, compulsion will tell later.

They say more addictive than heroin. Then at least a refresh?

Since you offer, gin and tonic; ice, lime not lemon.


Tolerance, tried and tested.

But you are still open to persuasion?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a spy in possession of a credible source is in want of an assignment.

So I simply supply my credentials?

It's a start. You can begin by lying about your real name; a slight pause is more convincing than the immediacy of a trained reflex. Unguarded spontaneity.

Don't make it easy.

Or too hard.

Let's drop all pretence.

If I was thus inclined, you wouldn't be talking, but carrying me on your shoulders.