beautiful textures and observation
see the rest here
beautiful textures and observation
see the rest here
The first thing one notices is the texture of the Revolution version. It is stodgy. UD lipsticks are fairly immortal so it's nothing to do with its date of birth. You could argue that there's a lot of colourant in this shade but UD F-Bomb is also heavily-saturated and manages to avoid any gluey edge to its pigment burden.
Mrs MW stays unpleasantly present on the lip, and I don't care for the persistent greasy sheen either. This kind of sinister mouthfeel can be reassuring on one level; you know the product will live through drinks and food and 3am, no problem. You might end up with lint and rolling papers stuck to you though, so don't pass out anywhere.
Is she worth the trouble you might go through to get hold of her in original form? No, to be honest. The aforementioned Red Lizard is superior and offers the same sort of tonal shift. If you're looking for a something atypical and warmish, save the big eBay bickies for MAC Ruffian Red, that peerless paragon of high-functioning LE idiosyncrasy and the most lamentably fleeting offer of all time. That one's worth every blood-soaked penny. Otherwise, set pedantry aside and just be happy with your MAC Dubonnet, VG1, Russian Red, Nars Mascate et al. They get the same big red shit done.
(L2R All MAC unless stated) Russian Red, UD Mrs Mia Wallace, Ruby Woo,
Nars Cruella, Mac Red, Tenor Voice, UD F Bomb natural outdoor sunlight
Flowering down the road this season. It's been a good one, with Tui and Bellbirds gorging themselves stupid on the abundant nectar. The really big harakeke swamp flaxes like these can put up spikes 4m+ tall.
The smell is incredibly peculiar; fermented orange skins, sunwarmed hardwood, nameless terpenes, condensed forest, pencil-ness, dry bull kelp, phantom marigold.
The dumb acceptance conferred by sleep relieved little of the disgust Josephine felt for the conscript's ruined and brutalized faces. Rain that had begun as shiftless mist condensed the smell soaking the timbers of the structure around them and it could scarcely have done more to discourage occupation. The forest without had affirmed her worst suspicions as she returned from watch, no wind stirring the branches that dripped so ponderously onto the leaking thatch, the weeping trees destructing the silence of the grove like colluding militants.
The binocular elements over her eyes painted Shaw in pointilistic green against the gable wall. He looked up over his shoulder from the crouch he had assumed to plumb the contents of her pack, holding perfectly still for an elastic moment before shifting a hand toward the assault rifle on the floor beside him. She covered the movement with her own weapon and he abandoned it, sitting on his haunches. Pushing back her visor slowly, Josephine stood in the glow of the night light hanging from the rafters while the rain dripped from her fatigues and he awaited the subtle easement of her posture that would allow him to rise. She looked instead at the sleeping figure on the floor nearby and kicked at its legs.
“A One...” she muttered. “Get up.”
Two hours squatting in a bed of gleaming briar canes had deadened Josephine’s feet to the point where she could barely own their presence. Beside her, hunkered amid their weapons, Shaw and the four conscripts watched the second eidiré through the same barbed tracery, the treeless midst of the surrounding glade guarded by one half of the remaining C corps. Any loyalty they felt toward their isolated compatriot had proved soluble in rain and darkness; the smoke drawn from his cigarette drifted toward them, the slow precipitation blurring his shape and hissing as it struck the solitary ember. Shaw experienced his vulnerability as a constriction of his throat. The sentry opened the fly of his camouflage trousers and released a steaming stream onto the rank, bowed grass.
Behind him, the vapour lying stagnant under the trees began to drift, curling around the corners of the longhouse and creeping forth between its stout, drab piles. Josephine sank further and dropped the visor to her eyes as the figures she awaited began to coalesce beneath the eidiré, gathering black materia from the obscuring mist and drawing it into determinate shapes, their stares flashing like coin silver in the darkness. An arrant, dreamlike silence bore them out into the rain and two broke from the incursive party, passing through the grass toward the oblivious sentry as he stood wiping his hand on the leg of his pants. They closed on him from either side, so unhurried that his notice seemed assured until they seized and gagged their victim in a smooth, wordless accord, slicing open the great vessels in his thighs with dripping blades before he could utter a syllable.
While he bled out, the remaining the alujha turned back toward the longhouse, Josephine's visor casting them in cold, tarnished relief through the pluvial static until they were lost to observation. That they had somehow ascended into its interior was betrayed by the cries escaping it, then stuttering volleys of automatic fire crashing wildly through the thin plank walls. Two inmates struggled from the doorway, lost their footing and fell in a tangle, Wessner kicking free from his subordinate before they were both snatched up and dispatched like cattle drafted onto a killing floor. The percussive speed and terse perfunction of their deaths worked on the hidden conscripts; they shuffled thickly, altering their grasp upon their weapons and working their jaws so that only the rain preserved their concealment. Familiarity had muted Shaw’s own reaction, the same dull principle warning him of the decapitations that were an inevitable sequel, that they would be performed with no particular efficiencies or flourishes. From doubling over the corpses, the alujha rose in turn with smirks greased red, swallowing down the morsels they hacked out of and sliced from their victims, grunting over their division. They had set down the choice munitions and equipment looted from the eidiré; with their trophies consumed, it was examined and re-packed, then passed amongst their number. Saplings cut from the edge of the forest were replanted in the glade, their denuded crowns replaced with the slack-jawed heads of the slain, their labile fluids oozing thickly down the smooth bark.
When they had disappeared into the southward trees the conscripts remained within their crouching silence while Shaw examined the glade through two sets of visors. Declaring it clear, he rose and gave the signal to advance, only to look back to find he had stepped out alone and that the men had lain down and writhed amid the thorns, clutching their heads. He strode toward their tormentor.
"What the hell are you doing?" he hissed, snatching at the fob in Josephine's hand. "We are done. We walk out, right now."
Her victims climbed back onto their feet, shedding the wet debris gathered from the ground by their clothing, still too impressed by their erstwhile adversaries to audibly deplore their treatment.
“Toss their bunks.” she told them. Shaw put out a hand to stay the remaining corps, but they looked to Josephine, and pushed on into the glade.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce.
I was walking alone in this sort of infinite Art Deco planate landscape, matte and bone coloured and sort of polished concrete-esque with no visible landmarks. I was uncomfortable about wearing a strange set of silky moss-green pants with a straight, ribbon-like waistband that didn't sit right, and over my shoulders was this wide cloak of white fur that was incredibly light and cloud-like.
I knew someone was running behind me and at first this felt hostile, but I turned around to see a man with polar bear feet and it was immediately apparent that he was intent on something else as he ran past me. He was sort of faintly ochre-coloured and looked vaguely metallic, as though he had been rubbed with some micaceous mineral. I noticed he was chasing another figure who had pulled ahead of me, and in a sudden shift of perspective I stood on the opposite side of a long rectangular pool with stepped edges as the polar bear-footed man drove the second figure into an evasive dive.
As the latter threw themselves forward, they split into a hundred similar figures in a fanned array that spread out in a neat arc; it was my task to hit as many as possible with a bow and arrow and I managed to do so as they plunged into the water, which incidentally was bright and colourless.
This dream was super-unusual for me because of its weirdly coherent Deco aesthetic and holistic symbolism; my dreams as usually much more chaotic. No idea where the whole polar bear motif came from as I haven't been thinking about that stuff; the whole thing had an Arctic feel, as though the entire environment had been condensed down into this abstracted representation, utilising its arid colours as a signifier. The figure that split into a hundred versions of itself and rained down into the pool was a gobsmacking visual; I felt no particular hostility as I shot them, only that crystalline, egoless content that comes from dream achievement.
I had another linear dream last night that was much darker, involving an oily-coloured rocky shoreline, talking dogs, nocturnal wharves, amphibious shark-creatures, concealment and a feeling of inevitable discovery and some sort of confinement. As I've gotten older, I've become convinced of the freaky and yet somehow entirely plausible notion that these sorts of dreams result from the entanglement of various animal consciousnesses; that sleep is a porous, low-density medium in which the floating Ursidae, Hominid and Carcharodon consort, the whole suffused by their various experiences and perceptions.
It would explain a lot of things.
Nice drafting and composition.
See the rest here.
I have some hard things to say about David Austin roses. While his innovative breeding program has served up some ravishing aesthetics, those visual fruits have withered on the vine of practical reality too often for me to respond with anything more than a slow clap.
I know how to grow a damn rose by now and furthermore I garden in New Zealand i.e. premium fantasy rose territory; moderate temps and a low pest burden. And still so many of his creations fail to thrive here. WTF, David?
This colour isn't one you really expect to find in a natural flower- a rich, custardy tempera gold rather than the cooler dilute lemon of yore. It's like saffron rice or Baltic amber, its richesse upheld by the thickness of the petals and a bloom that is both graceful and pneumatic.
GC's gigantic flowers really are a perfect combination of substance and structure, with just the right boop of raunchy informality. They are broad, semi-pirate-ruffled and medium-rise once open. Despite their size and weight they sit proud on the bush and handle rain incredibly well, never balling or rotting out, even in our maritime spring. They are a better picking prospect than most DA roses and you might get three days in the vase before they break. Though she is intensely theatrical in full spate, somehow, rather inexplicably, the total impression is more dignified than the sum of her parts, just in case my description is giving you the willies.
You might have noticed by now that Golden Celebration is also endlessly photogenic. If I ever lose R, I usually find him hovering around this rose with a wide angle in some sort of fugue state.
Here's Graham Thomas (left) compared with Golden Celebration. GT is slightly more entirely self-yellow.
In Zone-9 areas like this, GC will split her pants and blow out into an enormous (thankfully fairly thornless) Cthuloid abnormality in the blink of an unwary eye. In the pic above right she is at about 1.5m after leafing out and is getting ready to explode in all directions after her first flush; at this point, I pounce with the secateurs in an effort to contain her. Then you are confronted with deciding where and when to prune her, which is a nightmare you never wake from. Her bud spacing and general morphology defeat the conventional approach so I tend to take long stems when cutting for the vase, behead the monster-canes as they emerge and then brutally lop the whole plant down to knee height in winter, chainsaw-style. That final step makes for a tragic spectacle, though to be honest, I'm almost grateful there's so little you can do to influence her final expression. Every year she ignores my hapless curtailment and boofs right back out into the big-boned heaux she was before. You should definitely find a spot for her.
My delightful nascent colony. Opens in the later afternoon for nocturnal moth pollination. Looks like a maternal bohemian darlek. Smells like boiled-down jungle honey, gingery vodka and alien varnish.
A pleasant MMXIX to you all. Yes I had to google the numerals. I am wasted. what do you want from me
With her small torch propped against her pack Susan changed into fresh clothes and tied up her hair, all the while subjected to the vigilance of the piglet standing four-square in the doorway, its narrow head wearing the shadow like an operatic villain. He could not be tempted in with clicking fingers or offerings of dehydrated fruit and regarded her inscrutably, grunting and moving to precede her as she switched off the light and made for the door.
Sachiin had furnished, lit, and begun to neglect a fire on her behalf by the time she climbed the steps toward them in darkness, its low coals sprawling and collapsing around its glowing remains. The face of the peak bounding the yard had rebuffed the layer of silvery white that had alighted elsewhere upon the flags and castellations and Kala'amātya and Petrouchka pursued an almost wordless game of bezique beside it at the refectory table. The vampyre's mannequin features and obsessive intent proved less useful than her opponent's barbaric statistical command; Susan paused by his shoulder to look at his cards, then removed herself to the pyre, standing with her pink hands stinging over the ebbing flames. Sachiin sat in a chair before the parapet. Its stout legs had been reduced by their contact with the damp floor of an inner chamber, his own lying propped on the stone as he contemplated the benighted panorama. The snow had settled on him in an eccentric distribution; he made room on his legs for her, using his elastic dimensions to confound her half-hearted attempts at repulsion as she sat down, pressing a kiss to her ear, and she sighed, showing him the thorns still buried in her palms and fingers. On the ground beside his chair a strange collection of dark, egg-sized objects sat on a stripe of bark, from which a peculiar aroma rose with the faint heat of the fire, roseate and linseed-oily.
“Cul de chien.” he told her as she reached down for one. “Medlars. Found an old tree down the hill.”
“They’re rotten.” Susan observed, curling her lip.
“Bletted.” he insisted, pressing a finger into the soft heart of the largest fruit and committing it to his mouth.
Sampling its yielding flesh doubtfully, she was startled by its fudge-like savour, the creamy tastes of date and cooling caramel paired with strange, sylvan associates, awakening her moribund appetite. She consumed several in untidy succession, addressing the remainder with more consideration, then sitting up suddenly and staring at him.
"You're freezing cold..." she complained, pressing a hand to his face upon perceiving his condition through their clothing.
"It's snowing." Sachiin reminded her. "Wait a minute..." His face became entirely expressionless as he took her hand in both of his; their temperature climbed slowly until it was indistinguishable from her own, as though flushed through with hot water. "There you go... thirty eight degrees C."
Her mouth fell open.
"Are you only warm for me?"
"I'm hot for you, poupée." he smiled. She exclaimed again to herself, sliding his hand into her jersey and laying back against his shoulder.
"God, that feels so dodgy. You do have a superpower, though... I knew it."
A dry halo clasped the moon, arrayed in shards of spectral lavender and silver and they considered it together.
“More snow coming.” he murmured.
Even in the hands of six sweating conscripts the folding spades that had been dropped with the rest of their equipment from an unmarked helicopter made scant impression on the root-bound soil. They toiled in mottled darkness beneath the trees, the drop chute lying flaccid over the bracken while Amis and Wessner dismantled the package it had purveyed.
“A Two, Three, get in and assist. I want that chute covered in five.” the latter muttered, directing the two conscripts standing guard; they complied, but soon demurred, climbing back out of the shallow depression.
“Sir, we got a great big fuck-off rock under this shit.” A Four declared, scratching at his black-greased neck. Josephine frowned, took up the welter of silky olive folds and rolled it in both arms, dumping it into the depression with the dismantled crate to expedite their concealment. While the conscripts were set to shoveling debris on top of them she found Amis poring over his GPS and stowed her rifle, taking the appliance from his hands.
“Something wrong?” she asked, looking up through the grease stick slashes that flattened and dissembled her features as she scrolled through its screens; he made an abortive move to reclaim it and then shook his head, folding his arms.
“Some kind of mode issue.”
Josephine slid her own device from the side of her pack and pressed it on him, glancing up from beneath her black cap when he began to object.
“It’s the same unit.” she assured him.
“You don't have the data... I need those coordinates t...”
“Get them from Wessner.” she told him over her shoulder. "And get some mud on your boots. I can see them from half a click out." Shrugging her pack onto her shoulders turned her about and brought her face to face with Shaw, who lifted his gaze in a pretended survey of the evening sky, partially visible through the canopy.
They waited while the single file arranged itself and moved off, assuming the posterior guard, both glad at least of the waning moon's half-light upon the deer track; the boots preceding them had churned it to a slippery ribbon tracing the contours of a steep rise. They crested it together, pausing to quarter the grassy glade beyond while the advance party shuffled into the trees. A raised hand urged them onward, and they had taken their first step with that intent when a high scream pressed them onto their knees and brought their weapons to bear in its direction.
The cry was quickly stifled; Josephine looped around the glade, meeting the tail of the compressed procession as Wessner dispatched a new point past the dark shape of the longhouse. C Two lay on his back, hands pawing at those held tightly to his mouth and nose by grimacing companions. She hissed the overlooking men out of her way and threw off her pack, stooping to search out her emergency appurtenance. The stout brown teeth of a gin trap had met two-thirds of the way toward the conscript's right knee, severing everything in its hunger for bone. His features were shock-white and shiny under his greasepaint; standing with a foot on either side of his leg, she popped a heavy silver syringe from its plastic cell, leant down and stabbed it into his thigh, dispatching its twinned doses. The man sagged, eyes rolling beneath lids already suffused with contused blue, the colour blackening his lips. Josephine looked up into Wessner’s face. It was as tight and slick as the dead man's, and she rose as he nodded slowly, wiping a hand over his nose.
“That’s... that's... good job.” he told her. The other conscripts scowled bitterly at the praise as they freed the corpse’s leg and dragged it into the trees. She threw down the syringe in favour of her rifle once more as another cry went up beyond the eidiré, just as quickly extinguished by the small point team.
The second victim began struggling at the sight of her, requiring his cadre to restrain each one of his desperately crawling limbs while she shouldered her way into the affray and pressed a boot to the side of his head. He threw his loosed hand against the fresh needle, piercing it through and prompting her to whip it back and slap the dose into the side of his sweating neck.
A scout from her own detail returned to Wessner with news of the second longhouse, then doubled back toward them, eyes wide.
“He says we gotta bunk in these." he told her, cocking his head toward the black bulk of the eidiré beside them. "We got this one, they got the one up the way.” Glancing in the prescribed direction, she rose and capped the needle.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce
Fir is a crazy little unit with rolling sanpaku eyes and a joyous love of virtually everything. He's a year old now, which we cannot believe. Like Felix, he's topped out his miniature designation and gone over 35cm at the shoulder but is still small enough to sit comfortably in your lap. He throws up on long car rides. He treasures little pieces of fabric for hours, flipping them around and carrying them in his mouth like the little pica freak he is. Neutering didn't take the edge off his inexhaustible mania so I think we're stuck with all that dragon energy.
In what seems to something of an emerging pattern, late winter was warm and clement, easing into a nice early spring that then shit itself badly, turning into a month and a half of clammy sunless rain late in the season as Antartica started its seasonal thaw and threw front after front at us. Not fun. But the roses are gigantic. I'll post some pics soon.
The town has since succumbed to an epidemic of steam punk, the faux Victorian sci-fi fetish that has flooded Oamaru with more goggles than a Minions movie - transforming it from an economically depressed sh*t hole, to an economically depressed sh*thole in fancy dress."
"The highlight of Oamaru’s social calendar is the Steam Punk Festival, an excuse for people who work in IT to slap on some stupid hats, do some wheelies on their steam-powered penny farthings and engage in group sex."
The same universality could be claimed for the bullet version of this shade, simply because it doesn't actually deliver enough visible colour to fuck anyone up. I bought it on a whim because I've always enjoyed the original and was disappointed by its well, abject sheerness. Nars should have just called it Natural Lips instead of Dolce Vita and leading a bitch on like that.
That's not to say the sheer version is without merit. If you're new to the whole concept of lipstick, it's a great training shade. If you're in an ultra-conservative environment, it's a way to add polish to one's facial situation without visibly offending. It offers a really beautiful balm-like texture, fairly impressive staying power and an enviable natural sheen that serves up mid-90s Kate Moss at the beach naked under flattering atmospheric conditions-type satin lustre. Sheer bullet DV is just enough of a thing to take the edge off patchy pigmentation and smooth away the dreaded forgot-your-lipstick issue that can sometimes blight a low-key look. Perfect for sucking face across the table on a night out. Or a walk to the shops when you think you might run into someone hot but don't want to look like you were... you know... trying. Do people still do that? I have fond memories. These days I suppose one just stays home chugging anxiety meds and stalking them online.
OMG you look at this shit right now or we are fucking done professionally.
see the whole alphabet did like this here
Scentimental it is, unfortunately. Though I am baffled as to why. I have sniffed this rose in a dozen settings and can report that there just isn't much worthwhile scent to speak of, and it's not like anyone who sees it in full bloom will give much of a toss what it smells like anyway. To my reckoning, 'scent' must be consistently present and furthermore worthy of your nosetime to be rated as such; fucked-out pot pourri dust (as is the case here) doesn't count. It may just be the particular bud material propagated in NZ, but as a sensory panel veteran I can faithfully declare this is not an anosmia. It's hardly surprising, though- overselling scent is a rose breeder con driven spectacularly out of hand in the last few years by online sales.
On my return a couple of weeks later it had completely recovered and burst into another round of flowers.
Its health, good form and performance are gobsmacking. I mean, above left is a rose competing with Horse Chestnut roots and half day shade in early spring. In these humid, no-spray conditions it resists rust almost completely and blackspot is never able to outshine its vigour; I can't recall seeing it more than 1/3 spotty, even in the very worst years. Cane dieback is a bit of a problem here too among wimpier roses, but I don't think it's ever lost a single one.
It's obvious that Scentimental draws its genes from a deep ancestral well of quality plants. Its parents are Playboy and Peppermint Twist, both descended from generations of unkillable roses. We need more like this.
Scentimental's blooms are produced in profusion, both clustered and individually (meaning there is always a decent number of picking prospects) over the entire plant. Although slender, the stems support the blooms well with just enough nod to ease that awkward Floribunda brass neck stance. They are quite Hybrid Tea-ish at first, their clean white liberally streaked with deep, vivid raspberry, the former dominating in shadier positions while the red will take over in full sun. Few things are more lovely than a vase stuffed with an armful of Scentimental once they have opened out to reveal their generous eyes of pale golden stamens. It flowers in lengthy pulses for me starting in late spring through to early winter, meaning it's a top choice for a position that needs prolonged and reliable impact.
Earlier stripeys like Commandant Beaurepaire and Ferdinand Pichard might have more refined individual flowers, strictly speaking. Rosa Mundi might have more roguish vintage charm. A number of modern striped roses promise more complex colour combinations. But I grow CB, FP and RM and Scentimental pwns those guys by almost every criteria except fragrance. And I can't even remember the number of modern striped varieties I've punted onto the compost heap after they've proven themselves inexcusably feeble.
If you can reconcile yourself to the fact that striped roses are awesome and fancy just one for your own place, this is the plant to go for. They're addictive, though, so make sure you have room for the rest of them.
From the NYT: A study published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that if you look at the world’s mammals by weight, 96 percent of that biomass is humans and livestock; just 4 percent is wild animals.
I mean, I know we're fucked, but that is the tangible figure I really needed.
Drawing on experience, Shaw had been careful to pack a set of aging jeans and sweatshirt to replace those casual garments issued to them at the time of their departure, the latters' institutional flavour so devoid of anonymity that few dared to wear them. His companions, two men his own age, had taken no such measures and crossed the road before him stiffly in their new gym-grey and naval blue ensembles, boots still carrying their factory dust over the muddy tarmac toward a roadside inn. Its ponderous stone frontage was set back beneath a slatted balcony painted a fading pale milk chocolate. Slits of light fell through the yellow bottle glass windows and their thin render of dirt, to lie upon the sodden road. The trio paused to allow the passage of a pony ambling before a trailer of corrugated iron hammered over wood, its mismatched tractor tyres shrieking as they swayed upon their axles. Drifts of misting rain so fine that it settled on their clothing without soaking through blurred the darkness of the hills, their cobalt ramparts penning the listless village like some huge stockade.
The tavern door was manned by an ancient rustic seated beneath the sunken black felt of his hat; he squinted at the Americans as they ducked the lintel and stood before the counter in the shifting glow of christmas lights entwined around its timber fixtures, alternating red and green. Their leader scanned a gloom composed of candlelight and the malted stink of upset beer and smuggled cigarette smoke. Wessner was the tallest of them by half a foot but carried enough muscle to offset any impression of idle length, his face a neat, squared, close-shaven summary of his Pennsylvania Dutch extraction, his pale stare guarded by a forehead promising resolve. Belying these cues, he turned his back to the imbibing locals and reached down into his pocket to consult his GPS device for the third time since their arrival. Their communications officer leant over the small appliance himself, unduly invested in his vacillation. Amis was slender, watchful and dark-haired, possessed of a limpid gaze and restless limbs; Shaw murmured, too late to prevent the staring habitués emptying their vessels down their throats and departing in a flat-footed mass, the exodus leaving a single clique seated at the far end of the narrow room.
Its members sat behind imported beer bottles, nursing half-closed and blackened eyes and other undisguised contusions, their battered faces sharing the colours guttering in the grate of the tiled stove beside them. The shadowed atmosphere agreed so closely with the dark woodland pattern of their partial fatigues that their limbs merged with the furniture. Turning again, Wessner addressed Shaw beneath his breath, looking back toward the bar.
“They’re not our source.”
“We can't look like this.” Shaw muttered, glancing back at the remaining patrons while Amis sucked a corner of his mouth between his teeth. One of the trio beside the stove addressed them loudly from their crowded table.
“That’s okay, you know... your source, he talk to us, and he’s cool. Very, very cool.” he called to them through a smirk, lifting one booted foot and setting it on his knee. Their predacious smiles lit the silver in their eyes and spread into a slow, smug chuckle that they shared, exhaled with cigarette smoke. One of them kicked out a bench from beneath the table; before Wessner could object, Shaw moved to accept the invitation, standing before the stove. Their self-styled host’s star tattoos moved slowly on either side of his throat as he spoke. “You know, I was thinking about this so much... what gets black op guys all the way to here? Maybe it’s big and not so friendly and maybe it likes English girls... because, I think I know where you can find this.” He folded his hands behind his head and leant back against them.
Taking a look around them, Wessner issued a reply without returning his eyes to the alujha, and Shaw withdrew, retracing his steps toward the bar. The thin plank door in the shadowed wall beside it cast a line of light across the floor, and he put out a boot and pushed it inward. Behind it, one of the bright blonde bargirls stood bent over a trough-like sink beneath a naked bulb, her head pulled back by the fist wrapped in her ponytail; it belonged to a youth in a camouflage parka and combat boots, addressing himself with single-minded emphasis to the posterior revealed by the brevity of her denim skirt. She abused Shaw’s intrusion while ash fell from the delinquent guard’s cigarette over the rainbow tattoo on the small of her back; the latter slowed their conjugation and with one hand swung the assault rifle from his shoulder at Shaw’s features. He retreated slowly, looking into the pink-pencilled pout of the older barmaid as she sat upon a high stool, a glass of white spirit at her elbow.
The stove-side conclave adjourned, the sound of shuffled benches drawing the alujha guard from his tryst into the bar, zipping up his pants as he emerged. Shaw looked to his colleagues expectantly as they stepped out onto the street, hunching against the slight slant of the drizzle.
“It was positive.” Wessner assured him, against the weight of his own frown.
"You got a location?" They headed south along the side of the road, the few headlights pushing past them blurred by the mist beading around their eyes.
“Posted on the sat nav... advised on terrain, ordnance...”
“What’d they want?”
“They took a five year NOMO.” Shaw stopped before the turn they were about to take, blinking into the weather; Wessner’s scowl deepened as he looked back toward him. “Is there something you want to say, Shaw?” The demand turned Amis’s head to them as though pulling string knotted beneath his chin.
“These crews know we don’t have a presence out here... they want cash, not non-molestation bonds... they’ve been all about buying land since the eighties.”
Wessner shook his head as though at an absurdity.
“You're saying I should run this entire operation off of hearsay? We gave them what they asked for... what is your personal experience with this genera?” he demanded.
“Eight years, six campaigns, five on point.” The taller man’s stare faltered.
Shaw's impetus carried him past both men and onto the narrow lane running from the main road, the clay turning his boots a claggy yellow by the time he had made their billet in the hamlet’s collective-era grainstore, its blockwork stained with long streaks from the rusting lights on its facade. Josephine sat on a ply chair, eating her rations from a foil tray. Eight black sleeping bags were laid out in rows upon the concrete in the rear of the hangar-like structure; the conscripts assigned to them stood in a line with their hands clasped to the backs of their heads, their faces pressed to the furthest wall in an attitude of punitive immobility. She glanced up at Wessner as he brought his scowl inside, shaking the rain from his jacket and staring at the arrangement of his personnel. One of the entailed men turned slightly toward them and began to speak, shouting loudly over the blade-like tone still screaming in his head, but Josephine reached again for the poison-orange fob clipped to her belt and chastened his presumption. Wessner leant over her while she cornered the last element of her meal against the tray with her fork.
“I left orders for them to be sleeping off their air tranqs.” he hissed.
“I deal with verbal insub before it escalates.” she told him. He shook his head bitterly and looked back toward the punishment detail.
“Hit your bunks. We break at o-four hundred.” he declared. “Shaw... first watch.”
Shaw took a rain-damp chair sited by the door.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce