Monthly Archives: October 2012

Death Story

(A new short story. Here’s other stuff.)

Death sits across the table from me, grinning madly.

“Whatcha reading?” he ventures.
“Nothing,” I reply, too quickly. I don’t look up.

I feel the conspicuous glare tighten. Just sockets. And teeth. And silence. I concentrate on the story before me, but his glare is heavy. I can feel his skull boring into mine.

“Is it good?” he continues, carefully and slowly, intoning the question deliberately, painfully. I take another deep breath and exhale forcefully, turning it into an audibly frustrated sigh. It whistles out my nostrils like a pinched plastic bag at first, and ends with a little jiggle, betraying my subtle anxiety. He’s still there. My brow dampens and tightens. Death grins on for another small eternity.

“Who’s it by?” he almost chuckles.
“Nobody.” I turn my chair away from the table, merely shifting the angle of his mirthful stare by 45 degrees. Somehow it feels less like I’ve moved my chair and more like my whole world has rotated around the persistent mystery across the table.

Now I feel the next question building. The pause becomes infinite. The page before me blurs and my knuckles whiten around the corner of the hard cover.

Anticipation. Endless.

“Can I see…?”

A loud squawk erupts as I launch out of the chair, interrupting the question. I spin and turn my back on him in one motion, facing the wall. My lower eyelids glisten and drops form on my temples. I stand, frozen, facing the wall, preparing myself for the next onslaught. Rage builds inside me. He’s teasing me. Holding my hands back, pinning me down, pretending to dribble spit on my face. Why won’t he stop? Why won’t he go away?

Confused and angry, I glance up at the wall momentarily and look in the mirror. I’m there, but the reflection is clear behind me. Two hardback chairs stand empty. I gasp. He’s gone! I spin around, slack-jawed and eyes wide to see if it’s really true.

He is calmly sitting in the same chair and this time, our eyes meet. He grins.

I exhale deeply, this time in resignation, ending with the quietest of whimpers.

“OK,” I confess, looking directly into his sockets. I pull up my chair and sit down sadly. “It’s a love story set in the 50s…”

He grins.

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Bad Start

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5 Things I Screwed Up In Vietnam

1. Anthropophobia

The genie’s right in saying “thy wish is my command.” You get what you ask for, and I spent most of my time in Vietnam suspicious about being ripped off and generally closed off to the opportunities of spontaneity. It inhibited my freedom to explore. Looking back, I see that it coulda been so much more than dinners at the guesthouse.

2. Hai Van Pass

Thanks to some sublimely unfortunate weather, the “Top Gear Experience” of the beautiful Hai Van Mountain pass turned into a fog-fest with 30m visibility! I kinda enjoyed the whiteout, but not sure if it was worth the 2-hour uphill “bottom gear” experience of getting there!

3. Bar Tab

Thanks to Phong Nha Farmstay, I was able to taste my dream of doing music as a pro when they hired me to stay and play in the evenings for two weeks. But I managed to basically eat and booze my paycheck away. Good times, yes, but too much of routine-by-default drinking instead of the occasional memorable night.

4. Wi-Fi

I spent far too much time staring at a screen while faffing around online, converting video formats and the like. Enough said, clock’s ticking.

5. Lonely Planet Slave

The maps are occasionally wrong, you tend to have a pre-digested experience and you see all the same faces along the road. A pair of French dudes I met at Saigon train station actually unwittingly referred to an area of the city as “District 1” instead of its real name (not hating, just observing). There’s a common assumption on the LP path that everyone’s eating from the same plate, and it makes you wonder what else is on the menu.

Now I’m here correcting these and other mistakes, and generally things are going better and better! I love comments, drop one!

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