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Travel

Taxi

The taxi stopped and Henry climbed into the taxi. The taxi driver went around the block three times before finally deciding to head to the train station. Henry thought about complaining but the bag was bulky and cumbrous, his arms were arching, his hands were red, and so the three times around the block helped with restitutio in integrum. Henry had been reading Latin. They say it is language in a state of moribundity. It is not yet dead and so the death scene can be compared to Othello’s. Henry had also been reading Shakespeare, something at school he had omitted with the help of cigarettes and a coquettish thirteen year old that showed her underwear for the last two drags on the cigarette. She always wore white cotton panties. Now Henry dreamed of white cotton panties. At the time he thought the girl and her white cotton panties a parasite, not worth the energy to expel the spit in his gob. He always handed over the cigarette smeared with his spit. The girl never seemed to mind. She pulled on the cigarette as though it was very dangerous and she was behaving very naughty. The morning sun made Henry feel uncomfortable. He would have liked to change places with the bulky and cumbrous bag which was in the shade. The taxi driver was no longer looking up the long road; his eyes had been diverted by a pair of long legs. Henry and taxi driver eyed the woman about to cross the road. She was wearing a fancy black dress and the pearls around her neck caught the sun. The taxi driver slowed down the taxi. Henry had to lean over and rest his elbows on the bulky and cumbrous bag. The woman walked into the road and was hit by a van. The van stopped. The taxi had to stop. Henry almost broke his neck. The woman in the middle of the road was dead. A pool of blood was slowly forming around her. Henry thought of Desdemona. A crowd gathered around her as flies around putrid meat. The taxi driver turned and looked at Henry. Both shrugged. ‘A cigarette,’ said Henry. The taxi driver nodded his head. ‘You do know don’t you that the world is in a state of flux,’ said the taxi driver. Henry lit both cigarettes. ‘Too much perfume stinks this I believe is a paradox,’ said Henry. The taxi driver nodded his head.

 

Train

Henry could have had a compartment to himself but the allure of an attractive young girl had him preparing to sit down next to an obese man that groaned on seeing Henry’s intention. The obese man smelt of fish. Henry nearly broke his back lifting the bulky and cumbrous bag and stuffing it above his seat. The obese man had not finished eating the fish. Henry would have liked to open the window, but to do this task would have been onerous seeing how the obese man was sitting next to the window. Henry could not lean over the young girl. She was reading. Henry sat down and surreptitiously eyed the young girl’s legs. They were milky white and red around the knees. Maybe he thought of himself as a body made up of many punchlines. The collar of his coat was turned up, but it was cold outside. She wanted him to say something to her. She thought him rather attractive in an odd way, but she had been reading Yukio Mishima and didn’t he write something like, ‘an ugly man will be stared at just as much as a beautiful woman.’ He was not ugly, she knew that, he was peculiar looking, there was a hint of danger about him, it could have been the leather jacket, the blood red sweater, the blue jeans, this she found alluring. Like the web and the fly, surely the fly knows the web is dangerous, after all, flies have been flying into webs for aeons, but maybe flies are attracted by the beauty of the web, there is a huge difference between something aesthetically pleasing and bait. When he smiled he showed a full set of white even teeth. The book she had opened did not arouse him. She took out her cigarettes. She played with the box. His eyes never strayed. She put the box between her legs, trapped between her thighs, and picked up the book. She opened the book and pretended to read. He did not wear a wedding band, there was no betrayal of skin colour and so he had not removed a ring, but why would he have removed a ring, they were not at a singles’ bar. She had been to too many singles’ bars and now she was a book herself, an Encyclopaedia Britannica. Laid down alphabetically were the ruses, the games, the betrayals that made up a night at a singles’ bar. She wanted to say something clever, something like, ‘look at that man’s scarf trailing behind him craved out of cigarette smoke,’ or, ‘I say, those windscreen wipers look like dogs’ tails wagging.’ The rain drops congregated upon the window, they joined together turning the window opaque.  She looked in the mirror with hope that their eyes would meet. She thought it was a fine piece of subterfuge. Steel reverberated off steel. The next stop would be her departure. She wanted to remove the cigarette box from between her thighs. Now it had found a home she felt dirty and silly. Movement removed the curtains and she could see houses, then fields with pylons. The carriage jolted but not enough to fall upon him. Her heart beat faster than the train. Now was the time, the perfect moment for sharing experiences, for history elucidated, to sit close, press thighs, to mix fragrances, to even kiss. She opened her legs and removed the cigarette packet. If he had seen themanoeuvre he made no sign. She smiled. He did not reciprocate. Maybe he was catatonic, or maybe narcoleptic. Each thud as the train passed over the track cut each strand, fabric by fabric, soon it would be unbridgeable. The waning procedure is always slow. She yawned, although she did not need to yawn, this was the first manifestation that dissipation had started. The train hurried through the countryside. Henry saw familiar signs. The next town he had stayed a night. The hotel was modern. The bed was comfortable. He had read Yukio Mishima.  In one last attempt at something she coughed, it was a tenuous cough. Henry looked at the girl. The girl was ashen and a rictus directed Henry to the window. The obese man was grimacing. The town was in ruin. The hotel was missing from the skyline. Most of the buildings were missing their roofs. The streets were flooded with murky water. The girl pointed, ‘look’. Something was floating in the murky water. ‘Dead,’ said the obese man. The train stopped. The obese man looked at Henry. ‘They were warned,’ said the obese man and he pointed to the sun. Henry squeezed between the knees of the obese man and the young girl. There were many bloated bodies buoyant in the murky waters. ‘You do know don’t you that the world is in a state of flux,’ said Henry. They felt the engines of the train fade.

 

Boat

Henry stood next to the only suit on the boat. The two men acknowledged their suits. Henry offered a cigarette. The man shook his head. The man’s suit was a better cut.  It was pointless to speak, the wind obstructed all hearing. The gulls were loquacious and vexed, but they were created that way. The sea slapped the boat violently and rocked the boat. There were clouds in the sky and so it would rain. The man pointed to the island in the distance, it was more of an upset in the line that separated the sea from the sky. Henry nodded his head. The air was fusty with the sea and decay. Henry leaned over the rail and stared down at the sea. The sea was erratic, the milky foam burped and belched, it was an odious reek.  Henry looked up as an aeroplane crossed the sky. This confused Henry, but so did the fact that the sea was stuck to the earth. The man tapped Henry on the shoulder and pointed out. Henry saw a whale break the surface of the water. Henry smiled. The man smiled. The whale was white and bulky and cumbrous. Henry lit his cigarette. The wind stole most of the cigarette. The man’s hair was disheveled. Henry was not so lucky.  Henry pictured platyhelminthes, nemertea, annelida, sipuncula, echiura, chaetognatha, phoronida, mollusca, shellfish, squid, octopus arthropod chelicerata, crustacean, porifera, bryozoa, starfish, urochordata, sea squirts, tunicates moving about in the sea. Henry had been reading a lot of books. Reading helped to pass the time. Henry had spent a lot of time in cars, trains, and in hotel rooms. It started to rain. Henry discarded the cigarette. The man pointed to a door. Henry followed the man. They went inside and stood next to the bar. The man ordered two drinks. ‘Business?’ asked the man. Henry nodded his head. The men laughed. ‘Yes,’ said Henry. The man picked up his drink and held it heavenward. ‘Business,’ said the man, jovially. Henry picked up his glass and said, ‘Business.’ They emptied the liquor. Henry ordered another round. ‘What line of Business?’ asked Henry, affably. The man sipped his drink. He turned and pointed to a bulky and cumbrous bag. ‘That’s – no, that’s my bag,’ said the man. Henry looked at the two bulky and cumbrous bags, they resembled Siamese twins; they were fighting to stay on their seats.



ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR


is the author of Iceberg (Honest Publishing, 2012).