Recently passed in at auction after the bidding didn't break the lower est. of 50 000 euros.
Will fifty thousand of you bitches please buy my book STAT so I can fulfil my fucking destiny?
Have a heart.
Uzbekistan, circa 1830.
Recently passed in at auction after the bidding didn't break the lower est. of 50 000 euros.
Will fifty thousand of you bitches please buy my book STAT so I can fulfil my fucking destiny?
Have a heart.
“Sure this is the one? Looks empty.”
The cab driver hooked an arm around the seat beside him and peered down the winding cobbled drive toward the neglected address of her description. The girl sitting in the back of his car checked the ballpoint inscription on her hand.
“Two three one Commoriom Drive... can you see a number?” she asked, scanning the ivy. The driver frowned, her accent dampening his already deficient interest, but the sun dropped a ray over the unmown field beyond the vine-choked palisade, glowing lime-green in the fresh grass and illuming three brass numerals beside the gates.
“There you go, two three one. That’ll be fifty bucks.”
Her mouth dropped open at the price of the fare and she sat for a moment, almost prompted to challenge it before shaking her head to herself, counting out a crumpled ball of notes and dragging her suitcase from the malodorous trunk. One side of the gates swung inward when she shoved hard at the rusted curlicue, voicing a low, drawn-out complaint. The sinuous drive presented signs of habitation; the rubbish bins stood choked with bottles ready for removal and an elderly motor scooter lay on its side in the lawn at the place where the last gasp of air had escaped the front tyre. A pair of black boots crouched in the half-timbered porch, split up the back with some sort of blade, thorny twigs entangled in their laces. Raising her hand to quash a sneeze, she looked around again and depressed the doorbell firmly. A fat green spider lowered itself slowly, paying out a thread of sticky gossamer, ocelli gleaming as the breeze turned it in a circle.
Sparrows declaimed noisily behind her while she waited. Leaving the porch, she peered vainly through dust-dimmed banks of windows to the east; several were cracked in their frames of blackened oak, the wood exuding streaks of copper brown over the lower course of plaster. Back at the door she rang the bell again and hitched up the strap of her bag, its embroidered mirrorwork catching the sun and throwing reflections across the panels surrounding her. Shaking her head, she puffed a sigh and set off across the garden, abandoning her suitcase.
Crushed underfoot, the lawn loosed drifts of sportive moths and gave up a dewy vetiver, the quiet, smoky smell of the sun in its depths cooled by notes of moss and stone exhaled by the trees, their influence like that of blue buried in green. They formed an arboretum to the rear of the colossal pile, crowded with exotic fin-de-siécle beauties purveyed by peripatetic botanists alongside those classic species treasured for their nobility; though untended, it had rejoiced in that very desuetude, forming a trackless and bewilderingly exuberant folly that ran as far as she could see toward the south. Chinese elms threw roan-blue shade across the house, their leaves like rounds cut from the gilt skin of an idol, feathery aruncus and tardy feral tulips clustered underneath, still losing crimson petals to the breeze.
Beyond them she discovered the corner of a relict orchard, valiant, bisque-white blossom still studding the boughs of the decurving pears. She was surprised again by the outline of a parterre in the neighbouring sward, a pool set in its midst and trimmed with blocks of sesame sandstone; it held a foot of rainwater and the leaves of the previous autumn. The sun and the cicadas' seamless chanting pushed her hand into her bag in search of her hat, passerine habitués scolding her intrusion from both sides of the clearing.
Indecision sat her on the low wall at the foot of the parterre and had closed her eyes in the shade of her brim by the time sound began to drift from the orchard toward her. Brushing off her skirt, she walked along the pool and into the fruit trees, pursuing the noises encrypted by the breeze. One overgrown aisle turned into another, crossed with fallen branches and draped with swags of morning glory. The voice came to her again, morphing from softly-mitigated babel into words with a slow rhythm and the suggestion of purpose. She bent down with her hands on her knees and peered beneath the rows, espying two bare feet, their calves and a tattered hem of hand-worked cloth in sober blue and ivory. Their owner stood beneath a pear, murmuring a recitative.
“a’ma, shali, a’nii s’ae kala ae s’ae siithra,
s’ae silya rani ae s’ae jiiani imaanae...
il bai’issan avai’ia e’shii assil nai’iim.”
She squinted through the boughs as she rounded the last tree and beheld the stranger in his entirety. He reached toward a dark shape in the leaves that shifted and thrummed, a delinquent swam of honey bees, which he coaxed onto the piece of branch he held aloft for them. Their warm, gold-soaked drone expressed their conciliatory mood and they came together, persuaded to descend. Lowering the swarm toward himself, he looked to her with wide sloe eyes full of irradiant, dissimilar green, their disparity redoubled by the shadow-dappled sunlight striking them unequally. Something in his face spoke of moderate surprise, which she reflected tenfold.
“Are you... Mr Lamb?” she began uncertainly. “Is this not... a very good time?”
“They’re much happier than they were.” he assured her, referring to the bees. Around his feet a trio of parti-coloured birds pecked busily at the insects that had fallen into the grass, their legs forming a fulcrum between their elaborate tails and pursy bodies. He wedged the branch into a crook.
“I’m sorry...” she murmured. “I must have... are you... Edward Lamb?” She stepped sideways in the midst of her inquiry to avoid the drowsy passage of an insect. Nothing could have persuaded her that he answered to that name.
“No, I’m William. William Lamb.” he smiled, holding out a hand. She stared up, first at the violent sanguine of his hair, then his face, its ice-white, almost specular brilliance agreeing with the coolness of his grasp, like the shade that she had left beneath the elms.
“Susan Christabel.” the girl replied. His features obeyed a severe, disturbing symmetry, their oblique arrangement forming an uneasy accord with the droll set of his mouth. He was as tall as any scion of the Masai or Rendille, though taken together, his conflicting attributes defeated the cartography applied by her subconscious, her uncertainty compounded by his garb and the language that had drifted through the trees. With her hand still in his grasp her gaze followed the breadth of his naked shoulder and descended to the ikat cloth rolled loosely about his hips, frowning again at the insecurity of its careless configuration. Susan reached down into her bag, withdrawing a letter of referral.
William attempted to peruse the document conscientiously though his eyes drifted from the page toward the visitor with a frequency of which he was not entirely conscious. She was of relatively unimpressive stature, but the black pinafore that pinched her at the waist did nothing to disguise her softly-fleshed proportions, nor the watermelon pink flushed over her cheeks by the hot sun. When the breeze drifted toward him it conveyed the scent of her afternoon skin, sandalwood soap and the raspberry croissant that she had eaten in the car. Small silver hoops trimmed her ears and she had removed one from her nose; the hair beneath her fisherman's hat, streaked mottled tortoiseshell by a brush with peroxide, would have lain upon her shoulders if it had not been pinned behind her ears. The document informed him that Opal La Rue had arranged her appointment and he frowned, then smiled remedially, revealing exemplary teeth.
“You’re English?” he inquired. She nodded.
“Oh... no.” Suspicion lifted her dark owl eyes, a sable, spotless blue, and he smiled again, referring to her unresolved inquiry. “Burmese.” The word floated, briefly orphaned, until she ascertained that he was referring to himself. "Or Tibetan. I'm not sure. If I'd known you were coming, I would have put on a tie." William returned the letter. The visitor remained unsmiling. “Want to see the house?”
She stared past his shoulder.
“Will they be alright there?”
He stepped back against the trees to let her past.
Susan trudged behind her host toward the house, her eyes on the lawn as she weighed her distance from the city, the taxi fare and the possibility of charging it to her agency, and a dozen other practicalities that clamoured for attention. Behind them, the pheasants began to crow in an absent fashion, their efforts to recall him losing out to their preoccupation with their meal. When he spoke again she looked up, and was confronted for the first time by a great expanse of blackline figures sprawling from two points low down on his hips and devouring the surface of his back and shoulders. It was composed of wild, interfluent zoomorphisms in an arrangement more insistent than disorder but less immediately gratifying than any elegant literal schematic, elements merging and yet retaining independence. Dotted points of the same dark colour followed their outlines like diacritic glyphs, the whole composition raised and uniformly scarified. Two answering forms, transfigured beast’s heads garlanded with spirals, spilled down the backs of his arms and reached halfway to his elbows. She closed her mouth to prevent the escape of any exclamation.
“Pool.” William told her as they passed it. “Don’t worry, I’m working on it. House... it's, er... vintage...” He led her up to a pair of French doors in the rear wall, densely swagged with overgrown clematis, its simple musk-pink buds opening almost shyly. "Are you superstitious?" She shook her head, then nodded; he reached up into the vine and tapped the lintel buried beneath, uttering three words in the language that had drawn her to the orchard. Susan stepped inside at the behest of his smile.
They climbed up into a cavernously dark and previously formal drawing room centred on a hearth tiled with satiny, striated malachite. The boards creaked under an elderly Kurdish palace carpet soaked in the precious jannah colours of a weaver's fondest dreams, and this single item had been deemed sufficient ornamentation. Its walls retained their sombre Jacobean panelling, but as they continued into the hall beyond the deep green paper over the wainscoting sagged with the failure of the underlying plaster and the ceiling began to litter the floor intermittently, revealing the roof’s decay. Rugs lay rolled against the skirtings alongside massive gilt and gesso frames. They detoured into a kitchen tucked behind the front door, originally some capacious form of cloak room; William smiled with perverse pride at the red pearlescent formica and blanc et noir linoleum of its conversion.
“People say that on that dark night in fifty-three, thirteen psychotic stenographers took their lives after redecorating.” Her frown turned too quickly toward him. “That’s not actually true... I just... like to think it. The wiring’s completely fu... there’s no electricity in here yet, but I’ll run a cable from the garage.”
“Are you qualified to do that?”
William was not sure how to reply and pressed on into the passage once more. She retrieved her suitcase from the front door but he took it from her, the weight that twisted the handle making no impression on his arm. It was the sweep of staircase at the far end of the entrance hall and its lavish vinous carving that relieved her frown, her hand following the quartersawn balustrade as they ascended. They were confronted on the upper landing by the heroically-mounted head and shoulders of some giant caprine beast, crowned with horns that turned in spirals thicker than her calves. The same deep velvety green darkened the windowless ways leading away in either direction at the head of the stairs. He nodded toward the east.
“That end’s mine, Ed’s that way, and that’s technically a room, but the floor drops when you walk on it and I think there might be bees in that wall too...”
She glanced into the chamber he discussed as they passed by; footprints had entered and retreated, a portion of the floor lying undisturbed beneath a carpet of dust and windblown leaves. Toward the far wall the structures overhead admitted a view of the scilla-blue sky.
“It'll be nice when it’s finished.” she observed. The remark was received in a spirit of polite, if slightly blank, inquiry. "When you’ve done it up. Remodeled... isn't that what they call it here?" She laughed uncertainly. "The rain comes in back there... you'll have to do something." Susan lifted a hand to the strap of her bag. "This is your house, isn't it? You're not... squatting, or anything?"
"My brother paid cash money for it, croyez-le ou pas."
At the end of the central corridor a row of picture windows permitted a broad view of the garden and lit a narrow course of stairs into a gable. He allowed her to precede him into a petite garret apartment, its leaded panes casting storiated blocks of sunlight onto the oak bed. They were repeated in the dusty kitchenette, where a pine rack held a set of homely blue and white. She peered into the bathroom and found it half-filled with the belly of a footed tub; returning to the bedchamber, Susan lay her bag down on the mattress and turned toward her guide again. He had to stoop slightly with the angle of the ceiling; his size, framed in such vicinity, made her uneasy, and she looked down into the grounds. The verdant prospect moved her to a sigh that loosed the tension in her shoulders.
“That is such a lovely garden..." He smiled again in unreserved agreement as she reached out to tug a light cord. “Does this have electricity?” To his eye she projected strongly contradictory qualities, youth and sagacity, a self-containment that confused his initial assessment of her age and made him realise how inured he had become to its surgical effacement. His thoughts wandered, unbidden, along a tendril-shaded trail into more private speculation and he sank down in the Morris chair behind him, long white fingers spilling over the edge of its arms. Susan's uniform dug into her flesh along its side seams, loose hair curling on her collar in the heat cast by the window. “Accommodation’s included in my wages so I don’t pay rent, or any electric." she informed him gravely, relieved by his complaisant shrug. “Food is... it's meant to be negotiable..."
He shrugged again.
"You talked me into it."
"We can go over my duties if you like. Where should I start?” William gazed back at her dumbly. “Well then... what would you like me to call you?”
“Are you sure? It’s just that... most people find a formal title m... it would be more... professional...” she informed him, losing track of her spiel as his head tipped back against the wall, watching her lips move with a tranquil, almost somnolent gaze. She squeezed her own closed and began again. “I wouldn’t be offended, in fact I would prefer...”
“I would be offended.” he murmured. She shook her head.
“Mr Lamb, I...”
“Well... if there’s nothing in particular you’d like me to be getting on with, I’ll just start tidying up in here... are you sure there’s nothing else?”
“You seem sure there is.” he replied.
“I've been over here a while, and everyone seems to know exactly what everyone else should be doing.” she muttered, the observation renewing his smile.
“There probably is something, but... I do have a house guest...” he offered. “He’s gone off somewhere but he’ll be back, sometime... so don’t worry too much about... you know... peculiar strangers. I’ll let my brother know you're here. He will absolutely tell you what to do.” Easing himself out of the chair, he offered his hand again in confirmation of her engagement. “You won’t have to cook, we’re... what’s it called? Macrobiotic.”
“I’m not paid to, anyway. And I don’t do mouse traps or take out the rubbish. It’s in the contract.”
He received the news with the equanimity he had accorded the rest of her pronouncements, leading her to wish she had devised more.
“Do you think you'll be okay out here?” he asked. “It’s a long way from anywhere.”
“I'll be alright. I’m sort of sick of people.” Susan confessed. He shrugged, and turned toward the door.
“If you need anything, demandez juste. Je vis pour servir seulement. Er... parlez-vous français?" William added, gently hopeful.
"Oh well... with my roadkill anglais deal you must. If you need anything, just call down."
His bare feet made no sound as he departed, stooping once more at the doorframe and leaving a room that seemed much larger in his absence. She sat on the bed, reaching out to beat a puff of dust into the air around her, and fell to staring at the chair that he’d vacated.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce
Cafe De Flore, Saint Germain Des Pres, Paris, 1953 Edouard Boubat.
When you roll with poodles you're always the homely friend.
Teddy Girls, Battersea Fun Fair, 1956, Roger Mayne. What's not to love? See the rest of this gallery here.
Charlotte Rampling Helmet Newton.
While I loathe the icky misogynistic elements in much of Newton's work, he could take a fucking picture and I can't remember a better shot of the divine Charlotte. I sometimes wonder if a degree of hostility or distaste for one's subject is not an essential requirement for compelling capture.
See the rest of the gallery here.
Because it's brighter, Dreaming Dahlia is a little less obliging and can gather a wee bit in your lip flakes when you really smoosh it on; I find a brush can conquer this issue. Personally I prefer both these guys as a more patted-on, translucent look. They sort of 'settle' rather than drying down and give that lovely ye olde hand-tinted portrait look with a bonus no-maintenance fade that makes them safe for super-public situations and/or the gym etc. as well as making them a pretty foil for dramatic eyes. When dressed rather than painted is more in order. Can't believe I'm acknowledging the existence of the former condition; checks self for pulse.
Needless to say they both play well with a range of other shades, and I regularly dab them into some MAC Strange Journey or Nars Kelly to take the edge off those two beasts. Pale cool-leaning peeps should definitely look into See Sheer (try saying that three times quickly) while Dreaming Dahlia will sort you out if you're tanned or darker.
L2R All MAC unless stated.
Chili, See Sheer, Bite Zinfandel, Nars Kelly, Hot Tahiti, Dreaming Dahlia
a range of natural outdoor lighting (excuse the whacky hand creases lol- I was leaning it against something)
Saratoga Springs NY walker Evans / La buena fama durmiendo Manuel Alvarez Bravo / NY City Lee Friedlander
See the rest of this gallery here in the Guardian
Momday slash Tuesday slash the war on christmas is real & I am an army of one slash deformed dream legs & blood sacrifice.
< The distant summit of Mount Cargill viewed through the portal in a portentous sour cream and chives chip of uncertain tidings. Five hundred years ago people built shrines around shit like this, but I think it's enough that I document this visually and leave you to decide its significance, if that is the correct terminology.
It might bring roses, but I fucking hate this time of year. That not-yet-xmas xmas lead up, always so stuffed and sickly with its gross monetised sentiment and pressure to visit and be sociable; I suppose I should just be grateful that the latter imperative doesn't coincide with winter and seasonal affective shit down here. Because that would suck, and I feel badly for all my surly northern misanthropic homies. Late Nov/Dec also licks hairy balls because of the ambient psychic christmashead phenomenon- that *durr jingle bell durr* static that interferes with my attempts to write long form fiction. So if you're staring at a plastic xmas tree in a shop display somewhere thinking about custard, can you please cut that fucking retarded shit out? Thanking you in advance.
What the fuck else in premenstrual hell can I complain about? Yes that was a fucking rhetorical question and no your opinion does not fucking matter swings star mace on chain, wipes spittle from bloodshot eyes. You may be getting more flowers and lipstick this week. Just nod and murmur how much you like those things Back toward the door.
No fucking links for anyone.
I fucking heart this improvised train signage on one of the Port walls
See more of our images here
With both hands William wrestled a tribe of purple plastic bags, crowding them into his lap on a damp bench outside a wholesale flower market. They were stuffed with stems of lily buds, their waxen white and spotted spinel pink enclosing russet pollen and he lifted his chin to avoid damaging their petals. After a quick glance around he opened his mouth and took the tallest bud between his teeth, biting it gently from the stem. At four in the morning even the flower traders were saturnine, smoking in grim little knots outside the vehicle bays, their aprons stained with sap and bucket water. The night was rank and moonless and began exuding misty rain, its greasy shine settling all around him. William sat while condensation collected on the market sign and dripped into the collar of his striped pullover. Someone walked quickly past him and then backtracked, dropping hands to their sides as he looked up.
“If it isn’t everyone’s favourite cabana boy.”
“Bede!” William cried, leaping up to throw his arms around the stranger’s neck and kiss his forehead. "Salaud! Que fais-tu ici, toi?”
“I'm following my star.” he smiled; William glanced over his shoulder as though expecting a blow, at which his companion laughed. “Only figuratively. She’s on the West Coast.”
The creature smiling at him shared so many of his somatic traits that there could be no doubt of consanguinity. He brushed a fall of black hair from over his eyes, long hands heavily figured with indigo tattoos that disappeared into the sleeves of his worsted coat, his gaze two glowing shades darker than the sullen gold of Edward's. The formality of his english argued directly with the exoticism of his appearance.
“Doing anything particular?” William inquired.
“I came downtown for the lilies but you’ve beaten me to most of them.”
“Best longiflorums outside Aalsmeer. You snooze, you lose.” He grinned, and kissed his cousin again in the face of the traders' unappreciative scowls. Together they rescued the bags and set off beneath the buzzing neon, past yawning hookers, fresh urine steaming in the peeling doorways beside wads of tabloid newspapers, the sharp smell of the presses still rising from their pages and mingling with the exhaust from courier vans. “Thought you were still in Umbria.” William remarked, reverting easily to the ancient tongue they shared with no one else, its character leavened with modern appropriations.
"We were forced to decamp. It’s a funny story, actually... a strange man tried to core-sample my arm outside the Doge’s palace.”
Bede leant forward and delved into the pockets of his darkening coat, producing a wad of identification documents, both laminate and plain; sifting through his own plethora of names and guises, he selected one that differed and handed it over, watching William examine the item with an expert’s eye for forgery. Rain blurred its plastic coating and the unsmiling features of its middle-aged subject, the latter too wide and ruddy to be anything but American, overstamped with Federal seals and watermarks. He tilted it away from the street light, then shook his head, dismayed.
“Oh no no no... la la la la la...” he exclaimed, covering his ears with his hands, bag handles sliding to the crooks of his elbows.
Bede waited out the racket.
“If we’d dug our heads into the sand, I shudder to think where the next biopsy might have come from.”
“They were disbanded under Reagan.”
“Tis the season for dubious revivals... wedge heels, stubborn venereal conditions... Anomaly Investigation Units. They must have been watching the airports because the more we moved, the closer they seemed to come... they found us in Naples, which is strange enough... we left for Venice, our thought being that we should at least make their accountants reach for their heart pills, but that’s where things became really unpleasant. They broke into our villa, followed us afoot, terrorized the domestiche...”
“Tell me about the time when Nyāti doesn’t think she's being followed.”
“Sachiin, trust me when I say that paranoia does not tear apart your rental accommodation or corner you in alleyways. Ny caught one with the poker when we walked in on them, and I picked two off in Spoletto. They’re AIU.”
"Putain... would they talk?”
“They tried to peddle that old chestnut about only being after psychics, but I like to think they were more candid after the firetongs came out.” Bede tapped the card that William still examined. “This one admitted they were uplifting specimens... he said they were the only unit in operation, but he was fibbing. We lost them on the way over and haven’t seen them since.”
William cursed again to himself in three more languages.
"I fucking knew I saw someone up there."
"Out at Ed's house, on the hill over the road." he conceded reluctantly, as much to himself as his companion. “It’s not that I don’t believe you, mahatma, it's just... I've never actually felt their eyes on my body. Caleb's crew are always pissing in my ear about mystery disappearances... I just thought they were ghosting each other and needed the story. That, and I just can’t see their end these days. What the fuck is their problem with us?"
"Moral panic?" Bede suggested, eyeing him dubiously. “It may be that we present some form of biohazard, but there’s not much to choose between your own military industrial applications and being collected prophylactically for the good of mankind.”
"You make it sound so sexy. Look...” William exclaimed, waving a bag at the darkness. “It’s a legion of civil rights lawyers and they’re cutting off their dicks to handle our case.” He smiled again at his companion and nudged him into a stop sign. “Europa’s a shitty ghetto anyway. Someone died and put fucking bloodsuckers in charge... that's bullshit, man." At a taxi stand they paused while he emptied his pockets and rifled every crevice of his wallet, glancing up once more at his companion. "Nothing else to declare?" he scowled over the rustle of his bags. Bede shook his head.
"Ny thought here as safe as anywhere, given the circumstances... she has business, and you know how she pines for you."
William's crooked smile slid back into a frown.
“Ed’ll shit pineapples if he gets wind of this. Don’t tell him." Grimacing slightly, the newcomer made an uneasy gesture with his shoulders. "I'll tell him, ça va? Fuck... he’s just bought a new place...”
“Oh... you're... cohabiting?”
“Yeah. It’s a bit... transitional. But I've managed to blag my way off the discard pile.” Bede sucked in air between his teeth. "It's not that bad, actually... I've got him forming sentences and everything."
“Sachiin, I’m not sure everyone's a candidate for rehabilitation, and I do say that lovingly.”
“It’s not like I’m just whacking away at his cage with a stick to see what happens.” The visitor smiled indulgently, and he grinned back at him. “Need a bunk?”
“Offer me one and I’ll pay for the ride.”
“I should er..." William swung the bags in circles on either side of himself. "Warn you about Ed, though... he's..."
"Still as he was?" Bede suggested. "To what degree, exactly?"
"I can’t downgrade him from skullfucking soulreaper yet. He does talk, I wasn't exaggerating, but he can still hone edge weapons with his arse cheeks, and if he reaches, you better run in a big fucking zig-zag. But... I am sensing change. The house is okay, it’s not Alcatraz or anything, just don't... you know... expect marimbas.”
“I am prepared to forego them at this juncture.” said Bede as he climbed down into the taxi alongside his companion.
The rain stopped as they were driven away.
Josephine Jones brought her night-vision visor to her eyes, adjusting the flattened green rendition of the surrounding darkness with its dials. Its casing creaked as she leant forward, propping her elbows on the bonnet of a Range Rover to quarter the ivy-strangled wall and the wilding darkness beyond, high on the shoulder of the hill over Commoriom Drive. The road formed a stripe of vacant negative alongside an enclave contrived by pre-Depression magnates seeking acreage to compliment their brownstones. Its clement, arboreal seclusion had matured just as duties and reversals had forced the clans from their demesnes, leaving them largely unoccupied and deeply neglected.
One of the oldest of the derelict estates stood back from the road behind a set of leaning iron gates, lampless and barely weather-tight. Its wan Edwardian expanse had once staged Gibson-girl opium soirées and sinister flapper scandals, though it had settled in its abandon to accommodating encroaching wildlife. Josephine cursed the care with which it had been chosen by her elusive subjects, handing the instrument to her companion.
Trent drew deeply on his fraying cigarette, its tip bright against his sunken cheek; the wet smell of marijuana drifted over her and she surveyed him through the smoke. He was on the furthest side of middle age and possessed a gnarled physique that bordered on the grotesque, his features constructed of the same rude, tanned matter, hawk nose thinning to an empurpled cere. Despite his martial aspect he moved with a carelessness that seemed like rebellion against invisible constraint. His boots were deeply creased and mud-encrusted.
"Where were you before this shit?” he grunted.
“Bag van... research.” she replied, folding her arms..
“Meat wagons? Guess it aint bad now like it used to be. I heard stories’ll make you piss blood.”
She knew he was only exaggerating slightly, having spent a decade shoveling human fatalities and the creatures that had predated them into the backs of vans flagged with unassuming commercial livery. Trent returned her interest obliquely from behind the visor. Amid her early thirties, she might have passed for almost any age in the preceding decade with her height, her tight, clean olive skin and deer-brown eyes, her ash-blonde pony tail bleached by summers in the field. The man relished her youth even less than her competence to operate every piece of surveillence equipment in the vehicle behind them; he was certain that her face required make-up and her abstention was a puzzling irritation.
A taxi slowed to a crawl as it was directed toward the gates, its occupants disembarking with plastic shopping bags. She hauled back the heavy lens that tipped her camera forward on its monopod. Through the glass, the pair before the iron gates were almost indistinguishably alike, glowing even at the edge of the hooded streetlight, the last in an elderly chain. One gave its bags to the other and appeared to search its garments with its hands, then they walked to the boundary wall, negotiating it with an ease that almost bested Josephine’s attempt to record the process, the first dropping out of sight while the second stood for a moment on top of the masonry. She switched her view to active infra-red, the expanded spectrum revealing a number of unsettling properties. Its face and hands bled out into the shadows, visible only with movement; unknown structures in its eyes collected ambient light into two points of floating occult green. From gazing at the street they shifted suddenly and flared, and in a moment of smothering fright she thought it stared directly through the lens. Her companion chuckled.
“Seaworld should be dealing with these freaks. They got everything fuckin jumping and back-flipping... they got a fuckin killer whale too scared to take a shit. Put it in a fuckin cage and terrorise it's what I say. Works fine on the bloodsuckers, even seen it work on howlers.”
“Sanguivores will tolerate confinement with minimal protocols. They'd cut the metamorphs loose if their material wasn't so valuable, and they're the best indication of what to expect from this genera.”
“What a sack of bullshit... head shed just aint got the stones to pick them up.” he laughed contemptuously. “Meanwhile they’re out there freeballin and flipping us off.”
He hoisted himself into the driver’s side while Josephine remained, staring down into the darkness, letting him swear at her recalcitrance before returning to the car and stowing her equipment. He knocked his filthy boots together in a sarcastic concession and rolled another joint despite her visible disgust.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce
Being able to say that we could do this walk every day of the year if it so pleased us, no money down and with few to no other human encumberants (which should be a word) is a privilege that loses nothing to repetition.
To recap, we come up a series of ascents toward Careys Bay, through the new(er) Cemetery (see above on a smoky day) on a final push up through the Port Chalmers Town Belt to Scott Memorial and thence onto the Rangi Park track, which summits one of the ridges snaking down from the distant Mount Cargill. You can see part one of this journey here, part two here and part three here. Or just git on to the Photoessay navigation page and look at shit from there.
Above: the view, collated in a panorama, from the Scott Memorial lookout, with the Port Chalmers township in the middle foreground and Otago Peninsula providing the hilly backdrop there.
The contrast between the harmonious harbour geography and those shitty, almost petulant geometric impositions means I should be spending a lot more time poking it with a camera.
Pff. You have to be in the mood.
You cannot hear or smell the sea from here. It is just an enormous blue idea.
Above: Random pattern association time: I see... myself, after half a bottle of vodka or 2/3 of a doob. Glib projection? Xylogenic critique? Narcissistic delusion? Essentialist divulgence?
Above: la camino. And looking back across la camino toward the town belt bush.
Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons
Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons
As a rebuttal to the violence so recently exemplified in France, and wherever it occurs (let's remember this shit happens every day in a dozen other countries), this week @ The Blackthorn Orphans will be exclusively devoted to beautiful, meaningful objects and images inspired by the natural world. By spirituality and individual experience of the divine instead of religion. A celebration of those tangible physical truths that seem to so offend brutal fucktards everywhere.
Sometimes I need to remind myself, hard, that we aren't all just a swarm of gibbering bloodthirsty monkeys going batshit because there are far too many of us. This idea haunts so much of my writing and private rumination already, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
So let's stick our fingers in our ears and go la la la la with the help of some Homo-genic wonders.
First off- beauteous moments from Japanese art as currently presented at The Met.
You can see more in the NYT.
And something from Björk, because we can all do with more of that.
Hectic drum and bass issued in a boundless loop from five-foot speakers at the entrance to the Avalon apartment, its instrumental seizures pounding through the building's upper floors. In the opposite direction William lay on the sofa he had dragged to the balcony, enjoying sunlight dimmed intermittently by bouffant cumulo nimbus and the outrage seething coldly in those neighbours denied the arms of Morpheus by his choice of music.
His avian companions picked spiders from between the facia stone and stooped to sip from the bowl of water he had furnished. On his back, he was reminded of the decrepit building's lean toward the adjacent seaboard on the rotten sandstone of its foundations. It was this failure that had kept his landlord, and others of its antique fraternity, from the benefit of the development conflated from their colonial redoubt, the ramshackle dockside precinct half-crushed by piers of soaring pharonic stone, grandiose setbacks and Futurist friezes before the City had condemned it. Sylph-like liability had left the neighbourhood in stasis, its decrepitude quickly girded by a dark and half-fabled repute. The original speculators drew a desultory return from those preferring or requiring civil abandon and the convenience of its primitive via subterraneus, hollowed through the fateful strata.
Just as he was tiring of his own phonic demonstration, it died in mid-break with the power shorted at some distant juncture, throwing the apartment into shadow and prompting him to roll from the sofa and retrieve a bottle of vodka from the freezer box. He had drifted into a doze by the time the short clip of stiletto heels began to trouble the hall outside, the intruder inspecting the plethora of notices taped to the dislocated door, then squeezing in sideways past the speakers.
Two garbage bags lay slackly, like excised organs on the atrium floor, stuffed with clothing and personal effects; clutching her phone, the intruder loosed another message at the number she had solicited all day, using the recipient's irritant ringtone to locate the appliance where it lay face-down on the parquet. Having snatched it up, she divided her attention between scrolling through its messages and deeply suspicious incursions into neighbouring rooms. The bedroom still wore a dusting of finely-milled silver on its undisturbed surfaces; she marched her scowl out to the balcony, standing before its occupant in flame-red knit and ankle-boots, statuesque and amber blonde and stripped of body hair. William's silence pursed her plenteous lips beneath their gleaming slick of raspberry gloss.
"You're moving out of here? Don't try and lie to me!" she shouted suddenly.
As Opal La Rue’s sole extant relation, Rachel Whateley had been taken in hand by that maternal ancestor, the latter desirous of refining her appeal as an heiress into that of a fully furnished debutante with a view to securing a particular strain of suitor. This had proved fruitless upon Opal's discovery that her own acuity had been granted without heritors, but Rachel's beauty, so comprehensive and expertly nuanced, still struck William as something almost mythic, in its perfection and in its almost poignant irony. He lay in apathetic silence and watched her rummage through her bag, muttering to herself as though he had interjected.
"I said she's a hooker." she hissed.
"Where?" he murmured.
"That bitch... you know who I'm talking about..."
"Frost?" She bristled at the name.
"Forget all about moving in with her... I don't care how hard she tries. If I find out you've stayed over one more time, I'll have Opal go to the police about her. And I know all about Megan." He frowned and propped his head on the Biedermeier sweep behind him. “You know... May-gan? Five-six, ghetto implants, heavy, bad weave... the girl you had sex with last night at that disgusting bar..." One of his eyebrows ascended as he scratched the side of his neck, expression expanding into an artless, remontant delight. “Harvey warned me you'd use other women to control me, and guess what? Exactly what you're fucking doing right now.” she proclaimed, sinking down on the end of the couch and forcing him to withdraw his bare feet. Rachel's eyes were a brightly-rayed cerulean, though their tinted lenses tipped them toward violet. Her hair slid from the silken polish of her shoulder, the day beaming through its Isabella gold as she gazed up into the sun.
“Who’s Harvey?” he inquired unwillingly.
“Who’s Harvey? He’s my therapist, you fucking asshole!” Without taking his unblinking eyes from her, William reached down for the little silver pipe that had rolled into a crease beneath him and put it to his lips, bringing his lighter to its furthest end and flicking the flint wheel. Rachel gasped. "You're using, you pig? You know I'm in recovery!" The burnt scent of the amphetamines she had ingested with her breakfast melon rode her breath into his face as she snatched the pipe and tossed it over the railing. He drew his knees up to his chest.
“Rachel... I don't know what you want... honestly, I don't... you only fucked me to fuck with Opal... you thought my name was Aaron til a month ago. You don’t like me, you don't like my birds...” He nodded at the avian contingent regarding her from the railing like clockwork follies. The sun disappeared behind a cloud. “Just... give me the flick. Go hard after that hedge fund guy... the one with the duck face, you know, smells like... what is it? Compulsion... obsession? Calvin Klein Repulsion? And he probably doesn't have herpes, don't listen to me. I want you to be happy..." She hated the polymathic complexity of his voice, his English subverted by French vowels, Arabic hiatus and other, stranger anomalies. The neck of her knit dress had fallen open over the tanned and sun-warmed volume of her cleavage as he struggled to conclude his failing admonition. "I know what I'm doing wrong... I'm standing in your way. I'm suffocating you, and you should just... wipe me out of the way like an angry blesbok."
“You expect me to sit here and listen to your shit when you're high?” she snarled. "You're in a fucking spiral... a circle only goes in one direction. You don't even know what normalcy is any more!"
“Rachel... think back and pick out all the good times, please... just for my benefit. All those sober occasions when I was happy and shitting normality, sorry, normalcy out of every orifice...” She looked up again at the sky.
“That picnic in the rain... you threw the turkeydogs in the river and tried to tell me you were vegan... that time we made love on the roof of the Peninsula... and Vegas...”
William nodded as she related each circumstance.
“Baked... fan-baked... out of my fucking mind on peyote... and Vegas? Bordel... no files exist. Pour l'amour de Dieu, you have a doctor and he's costing Opal lots of money... talk to him instead of showing him your knickers."
She stared, then swung a fist, striking him with all the impulsive wrath that rose in answer to the suggestion. William closed his eyes, let it land and kick his head sideways in an expression of defeat he knew would satisfy her, his ascent from the couch and escape into the lounge timed to those aspects of her response that he knew better than she did. He secured the bedroom door behind himself but she was not long deterred; on finding herself debarred Rachel began a stream of personalized invective, twisting the handle and kicking at the intervening panel. A phone on the tansu behind him began to vibrate as though in sympathy and he reached for it with a foot, squinting at the unfamiliar number while he kept hold of the door, then pressing it to his ear.
"Ouais?" William received no reply though the line hung open, the hum of faintly oscillating static a product of the topography. He smiled to himself, recognizing the silence and addressing its palpable sentiment as Rachel's demonstration waxed almost satanic. "I do know this is completely fucked." he admitted. "But she's got me clocked, mahatma. I try to tell her it’s over but she starts screaming and fucking my earholes and taking her clothes off and I try to get away... I'm sweating and crying but I can't move, then I wake up and I've lost an hour and I feel so empty inside." An automated voice advised that the line had been temporarily assigned, and he waited with his back to the door, flicking his teeth with a fingernail until it returned.
"Get in the car." his brother's voice pronounced coldly. William reached forward and dragged the tansu against the partition, edging around it to lean out the window and gaze down at the German sedan idling on the street below. His gaze narrowed.
“You just flipped a fucking coin, didn’t you?" Another grainy silence ensued and he smiled to himself. "What were you going to do if it came up heads?" He received no reply. "Well... that beats the shit out of what you're doing now." The vehicle was placed in gear as its driver's patience ended but William whistled down at it, stowing the curtain and climbing out over the sill. He hung for a moment in the arms of the breeze before letting himself drop onto the balcony below, repeating the process five times until he gained a section of fire escape and whistled back up toward the apartment. One by one the pheasants coasted down to the street from the balcony on their short, fanned wings, clucking as they alighted.
The sedan's interior was as exclusively redolent of leather and high grade plastics as it had been on the day of its issue. William sat down in the passenger seat after settling the birds in the rear and glanced up through the window at the building from which he had absconded.
"Fifteen floors of vampyres and not one is that fucking hungry." he sighed.
"Darknet, no landlines, no mail to the address. Nai i'rani, nai i'ssi'tan." Edward decreed, his yellow gaze returning to the road like that of some effigy that had discharged its oracular obligations. William took a while to respond, sitting with an expression that darkened with the fitful percussive blows transmitted to his seat through the chassis beneath them.
"I'd have a look at that if I were you." he muttered.
Edward slid a hand into the depths of his jacket as he stood out of the driver's seat, surveilling the empty street with automatic deliberation before attending to the restive contents of the trunk.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce
Aykut Aydogdu: visit and appreciate.
His technicality is very impressive.
When RL's leaning cool, MAC Red is... well, you could tell they were cousins if you put them in the same room, but the latter's vibrance and mad gloss level set it apart. When RL is wearing warm, as it does in p.m/summer sunlight, I was reminded (again, obliquely rather than directly) of my beloved MAC Ruffian Red (LE)- the same sort of striking, vintage left-field sophistication. There's something in it for every complexion, or at least everyone with a taste for statement lips. If overt undertones tend to ruin red for you, this one should sort you out. Seriously- they should have called it Red Chameleon.
Red Lizard is mighty and head-turning without being dog-whistle vibrant like UD F-Bomb or Guerlain Garçonne. I get a pleasant gerinol/citrus scent on application, exactly like that of Nars Afghan Red, and little to no staining. Despite a fairly thorough opacity, it is slightly darker on the lip for me.
Don't be fooled by the apparent sheen in the swatches; if the infamous MAC Ruby Woo is 100% matte, RL scores in the low nineties once it's dried down, which leads me to my only gripe about this shade; lip-comfort. Unless my lips are in really good pliant condition and/or I prep with balm, a heavy, full-thickness application can mean I'm conscious of its presence on my mouth to the point where there's that slightly stiff, leathery sensation all matte-fiends know too well. In common with a lot of the other Nars matte stuff I own, this effect tends to settle down once you get further into the stick, so I presume it's more about solvents escaping and drying the surface during storage than the formula as a whole. It doesn't actively ravage my lips and in my opinion the slight discomfort is a fair trade for the amazing degree of tenacity Red Lizard offers. It's now my first choice 'eating red', because that bitch don't budge. Application-wise, it is moderately draggy and will challenge the novice even with a brush, and if you're chapped, flaky or self-conscious for any reason you should probably drop the $$ elsewhere.
To summarise, Nars Red Lizard kicks a lot of arse but I think that's supposed to be a secret, so don't tell anyone.
(All L2R & MAC unless stated) Across the top: Studded Kiss, Ruby (LE)
Main group: MAC Red, UD F-Bomb, Nars Red Lizard, Ruffian Red, Guerlain Garçon,
Nars Cruella, Ruby Woo, Nars Mascate, Russian Red
* You might want to tilt your laptop screen to achieve the best view of these images because all-red tends to challenge resolution and screen gamut settings. Red Lizard doesn't shift warmer in the swatches to the degree that it does in the tube or on my lips.
Another notable emergence is the full-banana version of Brugmansia sanguina, the Red Angel's Trumpet (below) that we are lucky enough to be able to grow here. I took a root cutting from the backyard of a flat we were renovating for someone and this is the first decent flower.
industrial/industrious back beach
It's out of the wee Canon and the B&W conversion is a bit fucking rough but I like the
general direction and will probably do a few more versions. Posting stuff is a great
way to sort of disinterestedly observe your work; if it was someone else's shit I'd
compliment the composition. Vanitas? Veritas? Ingenuitas?
Wind, sweeping ceaselessly against the mountain on which Sachiin kneeled flapped the heavy layers of silk and figured brocades swathing the women before him, as though giving voice to their impatience. The priestesses struck his eyes as burning shapes that held the same terror in smoking purple negative when he closed them. He bowed his head, wary even of the detail in their pale hands and the repeats and roundels of their robes, their colours shrill in the morning sun. Like a second skin was the white clay painted on their foreheads and down over their wrists, hands, fingers, daubed even over their curving nails. It softened the sound of thick metals and jade as their bangles clashed together, the scolding chime of the tasseled silver pendants fluttering from combs atop their hair and around the repoussé tableaux of their diadems, impressed with warring deer and felines. He was accustomed to their baffling majesty and knew them to be trophies wrested from distant, reviled entities; Yuezhi and Wuhuan, Sogdians and Xiongnu, names he had never heard, their nomads as ruthlessly despoiled as their royal emissaries. It was the great crescent of lapis lazuli strung from the neck of the foremost priestess that instilled dread, its hypnotic colour found nowhere else in their wild domain, not in the two unvarying shades of their eyes, nor in the glaucous, ice-fed lakes, or even in the open sky of violet white; beloved of their fatal goddess, it was a herald of her distant nightmare realm. All this Sachiin had beheld to a greater or lesser degree, so oppressed by their intent upon him that he scarcely comprehended their questioning.
The wind began to shift the flakes of scree around his knees, their skittering passage underscoring the priestess's impatience. He looked up once more, their acid-hued eyes burning away his nerve.
"Are you your mother’s child, Sachiin?"
"I am." he replied.
"I ask again. Where is your brother Kala'amātya?" She spoke the name with violent distaste.
"My brother is by the lake." he murmured finally.
"Go now with our daughter Nyāti."
He fell in behind their acolyte, following her along a shallow, stony cirque cut by a watershed stream. Sachiin stared at the back of her clay-dressed coiffure, the endless black coils of her braids carefully daubed with white, though bare of the ornament worn by the elder members of the Sthali'sātva sisterhood. Formal distance had grown between them since her induction into their junior ranks, curtailing their exchanges. Over his shoulder, the Sthali'sātva disappeared from the ridge in the opposite direction, descending toward the tarn of his description. He tightened the waist of his dark robe, breaking from his companion to leap the stream and lope uphill, working himself into the cloven granite of an outcrop and watching the sacerdotal conclave through a split in the stone as they moved in stately, foreboding unison.
Far deeper than it was wide, the water of the tarn was darkly stained by a seam of nameless ore. As a mirror to the night sky it was reserved as the venue of recondite lunar observances, but his brother transgressed the prohibition with such regularity that the priestesses had finally apprehended him. They gathered on the shore to await his emergence. Sachiin's companion attempted to preserve decorum as she joined him in the narrow fissure. He glanced back into her golden eyes.
"Remember your star, Sachiin, and give thanks that you are not your brother." she whispered.
Two darker figures had accompanied the Sthali'sātva, mute and wreathed in drab black homespun, standing like commanded shadows behind the priestesses while the wind fretted the waters with lines of silky corrugation. Kala'amātya rose from it like something born out of its proscribed depths, his black braid settling on his back and merging with the pattern inscribed over its skin. He took up his robe and tied it about himself.
"Why does he love the water more than us?" Sachiin wondered.
"Ana'siām'ilye warns that we should not look for virtue in those made without it." Nyāti promised.
"Will they not beat him and be satisfied?"
"If you are to meet again, it will be where he is going... you cannot wish that." she told him, deploring the idea. "Say nothing of what you have seen."
By the lake, the dark male figures took up their places on either side of Kala'amātya, walking before the priestesses from the lonely stretch of water. Exile had settled on him as though his shadow had been shorn from his feet and tied about him like a shroud, transformed like the outcasts flanking him and sent toward perdition in the wastes that lapped the mountains. His brother's face, already harder than wind-harrowed stone, was crossed by the scars of punitive strokes, so intrinsic to him that they might have been innate deformity; his eyes saw nothing but what lay before him, ears deaf to admonition. The sullen veterans escorting him did so at a careful distance from his person. Sachiin glanced back at Nyāti.
"If he is not made to abide with us... could it be that he is destined for some other purpose?" he ventured softly, hoping she would support his naive logic with the dharma to which she had been admitted. She could not oblige him.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce