Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Lust & Chastity - recap

Thanks to everyone who came out to The Fringe Club on Monday! 'Twas a roaring success. Special thanks to Matt, Dan, Sean, Marshall, Marysia, Shirley and Joe - and of course, all the Liars.

Keon Lee reading 'A Good Hard Shopping' Keon Lee!

Ann-Marie Taaffe reading 'All the Way' by Daniel Bird

Alexandra Jacobs reading 'Scimitar and Cane' by Paul Comrie

Saffron Chan reading 'Warrior Princess' by Michael Skansgard

Alex Milner reading 'Chastity' by Richard Meredith

Sean Hebert reading 'Brotherhood of the Blue Balls' by Sam Carter

Warner Sallman reading 'Our Lady of Guadelupe' by Evan Pheiffer

Hin Leung reading 'The Prince of Poland visits the Pieta' by  Grace Andreacchi

Daniel Jade Levia reading 'Bonerland' by John Biggs

That Sinking Feeling by Esther Cleverly

Read by Ann-Marie Taaffe

There it is. Like a monster, like a disease, like rubbish lying uncollected on the streets after a humanitarian disaster, like toxic flotsam tossed onto a polluted shore. Like the bizarre and poignant aftermath of an aircrash in which hundreds died but the crockery was saved. There it sits, haphazardly stacked and waiting, mugs at crazy angles, plates toppled into pans. Demanding to be dealt with. Smugly assuming that he’ll be the one to do it.

But if he doesn’t, who will? Stan sighs, curses himself, and puts on his apron.

Tell Me About the Girl by Mark Heywood

Read by Michael Rogers

She places the tray on the table in front of him and scratches the back of her hand. He looks at her, smiles and thinks about saying something as she empties the ashtray and replaces the dirty mugs with full ones. As she runs a dingy cloth over the tea-stained surface he sits with his hands on his thighs trying to avoid touching the dried-up wads of chewing gum stuck to the underside of the table. She drops the cloth and he leans over and picks it up with both hands. He notices her wedding ring as he sits up. He smiles again and gives her the cloth. As he does so his bracelet rattles against the table. She nods and picks up the tray. He checks that his trousers haven’t ridden down. He doesn't wear a belt.

The door opens and Harry Lee enters the room. He walks over to the table and sits down opposite him.

“Sorry about that,” says Harry shoving his phone in his inside pocket. Harry takes a sip from the chipped mug. “You were telling me about the girl.”

Wish Fish by Alison Willis

Read by Matt Fleming

I had a magic fish when I was seven. I won him at a fairground. I heard Mum muttering about how they always went belly-up the minute you got them home and Dad saying that’d be a mercy, and it would only be for a few days. I assumed belly-up was some sort of swimming trick, like belly flops for humans.

At home Mum found a big glass vase and I put my fish in it, along with some pebbles and a Lego castle. I called him Wish Fish because the man at the hoopla-stall had said he granted wishes. The fish-flakes Dad bought smelled grim but they were pretty colours, like confetti.

On the first night I watched him for ages waiting for magic, but he just swam around mouthing madly like fish do. But as I turned away in disappointment, a waggling fin beckoned and I laid my ear against the cool surface of the vase.

“All right?” said Wish Fish. His voice was deep and rumbly through the glass, with a London accent. I remember the stall-man said the fish came from Crystal Palace. I thought of a glass mansion full of flickering fins. “You decided on your wishes yet?” he asked, in a bored sort of way. 

My eyes bugged. “So it’s true?”

What Fell Beneath the Tracks by Kawika Guillermo

Read by Brad Powers

A man with flaccid limbs drifts by me at the Varanasi train station. Except for a beard covering half his torso he is completely nude, and just as I see his swaying comportment crossing my path, he plummets into the railroad tracks, tumbling into the heavy iron rails the way one might fall onto a softly pillowed couch after a long, exhausting day.

On the train to Kolkata I can think of little else. The fall, his fall, a fall. It seems he was…drunk? Poor? Desperate? Really really old? Perhaps religious? Was the man's loosely-worn dhoti simply yanked off by the elements? I am so troubled that when Avisha's bag is stolen in the middle of the night and I am charging through each compartment of sleeping bodies searching for the stolen passport and credit cards, and when the Kalkota police with Rajastani mustaches and thick eyebrows finally arrive holding Uzis and AK-47s, and when we are left sitting in the station in Kolkata wondering if we are ever getting home, and even when, hours later, hotel owners start throwing our luggage into the floods of the monsoon, refusing to let us in without Avisha's passport and then we have to trudge for hours through a street flood that has risen to my waistline and our tears never show through the pouring rain—during all of that, I am still in that Varanasi train station with the heat slapping me down, still watching that nude man plummet into the train tracks.

Hotel California by Reno Ong

Read by Warner Sallman

The victim missed the pool by a couple of feet – just enough to put the word suicide in doubt. An obese Vitruvian Man, sprawled across the gray concrete in all his pale magnificence. Was he meaning to meet his maker the way he came into the world – perhaps not with his tighty-whities on, but almost as bloody? Maybe he was just looking for a midnight dip. Maybe he just missed. He probably wasn’t that great at the jumping. God knows, with that figure, he wasn’t exactly the stuff of Olympic dreams. Shame, with the right regimen and dye of hair – crimson really did suit him – he might’ve passed for someone’s Prince Charming someday.

The police were there, or as there as they could ever be. They seemed to be settling in all right with their dime-store coffees and equatorial waistlines. They’d given up, but then again they didn’t seem like they were trying to begin with. “A jumper, Jimmy,” the black one with the paedophile mustache offered. “All there is to it.”

“John Doe?” I asked, trying to add something to tomorrow’s paper other than “fat man jumps to his death.” He nodded.

Big Fish by Liam Hogan

Read by Daniel Jade Levia

I don’t mind people who don’t walk on escalators. Really I don’t. I don’t understand them, but I don’t mind – just as long as they leave me enough room to go past.

At school they called me the BF – the Big Fish. I took it as a compliment, and an accurate assessment of the aspirations of the private school my middle class parents struggled to send me to. A Big Fish swimming in a small pond. They, I’m sure, meant it as an insult – that I wasn’t all that, that I was only remarkable compared to them, and that in the wider world I would struggle to make an impact. I pitied them, and their attempts to belittle me by pointing out what inadequate competition they were.

The pushchairs are bad. Oversized suitcases on the way to or from the airport are worse, there’s no getting round those, but the most annoying of all are the cretins who have absolutely no goddamn reason to block my path. The couples standing side by side, the tourists oblivious to the unwritten rules of escalator etiquette, the women with handbags the size of microwave ovens sticking out at 45 degrees to their fat arses.

I’ve always been in a hurry, always on the move, always had my eyes on the prize. I don’t usually take vacations – too many opportunities lost - but when I do I’m always looking for an activity holiday - climbing, or diving, or even skiing. No sitting on a beach going lobster red for me, no guided tours, the pace dictated by the slowest in the group. The only time I’m truly at rest is when I’m asleep - and I begrudge every wasted  moment of it.


Monday, 10 June 2013

Technical Drowning by Maria Kyle

Read by Sin Gwamanda

Everybody in this world provides a service of some kind. That much is self-evident. And service provision is a simple matter of supply and demand: the rarer something is, the more you pay for it, and vice-versa. It’s the same with shrinks. Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this, and maybe it’s an open secret, but it’s been obvious to me for a while that though only a few people really need us, damn near everybody above a certain wage bracket feels like they ought to have one. They want a psychiatrist on call, on tap, on speed-dial, on their Christmas-card list, on their health insurance – just on, basically. Available in case of emergencies. There to soothe the worries away, to siphon off the bile so they don’t get caught bitching to their colleague or have a panic attack in a board meeting and wave bye-bye to promotion. They want a welcoming voice, a forgiving heart, a listening ear; someone who will never reject them.

As a shrink, I’m in demand, and believe me I charge a lot, because I’m the only one of me. The only one who can - who will - do what I do. Unconventional? Sure. Unprofessional? I’ll see you in court. But effective? Oh yes …