The Kimono Dragon: The Battle of the Stoned Fists

 

He was wearing a blue kimono. He shifted forward in purposive, steady strides.  Kicked up dust trailed behind him, broadening and dissipating lazily in the evening air.  His arms moved stiffly back and forth. They were held perhaps a bit too far away from his torso. His face was composed in a strained, serious expression. From the dense green wall of sugarcane that lined the dusty road he heard a rustling. He tilted his lowered head in its direction. His pupils were held uncomfortably in the corners of his eyes.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the KI-MO-NO DRA-GON” The mocking voice over-pronounced every syllable.

The Kimono Dragon didn’t move. Staying in that same visibly uncomfortable position, he raised the ridge where an eyebrow would be. “And who, if I don’t mind asking, which I don’t, uh, who the fuck are you?” His strange drawl seemed to originate from Boston.

“Oh you don’t recognise me? How ‘bout you turn that fucking lizard head of yours around face me. Your neck craned like that with your eye straining, you look so fucking awkward.”

He closed his eyes and let out long breath. He did want to move, but now that this guy had told him to, he couldn’t. He let eyes rest behind their lids. His peripheral vision wasn’t great due to his slit-like pupils. He sighed another breath out of his nostrils and trained his eyes back on the bozo. But the bozo wasn’t there.

“Oh my God! I’m right here you fuckin-“

He gripped the guy’s throat, swept his legs out from under him with his foot and slammed his head into the ground. Finally he took in his features.  Beneath the gurgling and the popping forehead veins, he saw something familiar in his beetroot coloured eyes. He let go of the man’s throat.

“Who are you?”

The man turned onto his stomach, wheezing and coughing as he did so.  He began violently retching.

The Kimono Dragon’s expression fell back into that mildly constipated look. He looked up, squinting at nothing in particular.

“My brother…He sent me to tell you something…If you don’t leave Sendai City tonight, you’re gonna die.”

“Sorry, you’re not ringing any bells here? Who’s your brother?”

“Coco Nut….from the Iron Palm Tree Clan.”

He sighed all the air out through his nostrils. It sounded like icy wind being expelled from an ancient chasm, thinning and thinning until finally there was none…BWWKKK! His hand had split the man’s head in two and had become lodged in his throat.

“Yeah, I got no idea, man.”

 


 

The doors of the Umebachi Dive Bar flew open and he shuffled in. He paused at the entrance and with shifting eyes he assessed the room. The low tables and chairs that occupied the dark wooden floor had been replaced again and the banister to his right had been repaired in sections. Everything was cheap and fragile, accustomed to being smashed into splinters. One dim lamp, a globe of white paper blotted with five red circles, glowed above the bar. The place was mainly uninhabited, save for the owner, an old, worn and saggy woman who had served him his first drink many years ago, and a drunkard with his face pressed deeply into an ashtray.

“You’re in shit again.” The old lady tutted.

“Why’s that” The Kimono Dragon angled his face towards her.

“You don’t come here at this hour unless you are. How deep are you in it this time?”

“I just killed some guy who claimed he was the brother of someone called Coco Nut” He watched her expression droop into a frown. “Sake, please.”

She hoisted a giant bottle onto her hip and tilted its contents into a ceramic flask. She returned the bottle behind the bar with a grunt and placed the flask in the microwave. A few beeps later and the microwave whirred into life. She set two cups on the counter and using a dry cloth as protection, fetched the heated sake. The Kimono Dragon sat opposite her and watched as she poured the steaming liquid into his cup and then into hers.

She looked at him gravely. “You stupid motherfucker.”

“Cheers” he smiled wryly as they both nodded towards one another, raised their cups and sipped.

He breathed out a long, satisfying breath. Sake steam rolled amongst the floating dust.

“So who are they? The Iron Palm Tree Clan?”

“A gang of about a hundred men. Capoeira mixed with iron fist techniques. They train in the petrified palm forest on the east coast. A group of them came here last week. Didn’t have one drink, eyes red as hell, they ordered a bunch of desserts and smoked a lot of weed. I still feel funny from all that smoke.” She giggled.

“Why would they be after me-“ He thought of the man’s face falling apart around his hand. “Initially…”

“How should I know? Did you dick down one of their girlfriends?”

Stifling his wince at her coarseness with another sip, he thought back over the myriad of women he had been with recently. Through the fog of limbs and orgasms a memory bounced into view.

She held his hands into her milk chocolate breasts as she rode him, her dreadlocks danced and twisted. Moaning in a Jamaican accent with what he thought was just poor grammar, “How do you like that coconut! How do you like that COCONUT!”

“I might have.” He said through a smug, post-coital glow.

“Ugh. Well you’re gonna need to get outta here. I don’t need my banisters, chairs and tables smashed to pieces. Thanks.” He topped up her cup before pouring the remaining sake down his gullet.

“Sure.” Steam streamed from his mouth as he spoke. He stood up to leave. “Anything else I should know?”

“Their strikes are deadly, try not to get hit.”

He smiled and began moving towards the doors.

“And Kimono Dragon!” He turned expecting a warm goodbye or a touching expression of concern. “Take this asshole out with ya.” She said, glaring at the collapsed figure wheezing clouds of ash onto the bar.

Squinting, he stepped out of the bar into the morning sunlight. Below the wooden steps stood a gang of about 100 men with varying lengths of dreadlocks. The man at the front stared intensely at him.

“Another one of your victims?” He gestured to the passed out man he was holding by the scruff of his neck. “My petulant brother wasn’t enough to quench your thirst for blood.”

The Kimono Dragon dropped the man on the floor.

“Oww.” He groaned. The Kimono Dragon eyed his supposedly sleeping frame suspiciously.

“Come down here! It’s time for you to face the music!”

 


 

A rhythm began to be drummed by one of the Iron Palm Tree Clan. The clan shuffled to surround the Kimono Dragon and Coco Nut. From beneath the shading leaves of a palm tree sat Coco Nut’s wife. Dark lines of tears ran down her cheeks. DumDeDeDumDum DumDeDeDum. Coco Nut began shifting from side to side, from one foot to the other. As he lunged onto his left foot, his right leg would sweep behind him and vice versa. His eyes were bloodshot and fierce. The Kimono Dragon thought that perhaps he had been crying but this thought was soon snuffed out as the members in the circle began lighting and smoking palm leaf blunts. This guy was high as fuck. The air was quickly filled with sweet pungent smoke. Dum DeDeDum Dum Dum. He watched the figure dance, his feet left deep imprints in the earth. Left, Right, Left. Coco Nut suddenly leapt off his left foot. He rotated, bringing his right heel around. The Kimono Dragon shifted backwards to avoid the apparent attack. Coco Nut seemed to float. The right heel was merely for torque. From over the top, axing through the haze came the right leg. He had dodged to the side when the leg made a devastating impact in the ground.

“Woooaaaahh…” came the clan’s inebriated slur.

Coco Nut, not missing a beat, sprung off the ground launching a flurry of strikes. He deflected them and getting to the outside of his arms, he aimed a strike at his exposed elbow. Knnn! The Kimono Dragon stepped back clutching his hand. A smile had spread across Coco Nuts bleary face. He held his fists in tight balls, rippling the muscles along his arms. “Our bodies are of iron and stone.”

“Stone…” The word was sluggishly drawn out. It reverberated inside his head and became lost in the thumping haze surrounding him. He turned his head. Dum…Dum…The clan members’ laughter seemed disconnected from their convulsing bodies. An ember flared inside a blunt. Further around the circle he saw the old lady peering at him. His eyes slowly travelled along her arms to the tray of deserts she was holding, and then to the eager, glazed expressions of the section of the circle she was serving. He looked back at the old lady. She raised her eyebrows and shrugged. De…De…Dum…Dum. Damn… He thought, They do look goo-

“AAAH!” He threw his head to the side as a fist grazed across his cheek. Having gone past him, Coco Nut thrust back a heel kick at his floating rib. Sliding forward past the kick and hooking his foot behind his grounded leg, the Kimono Dragon scooped his extended leg up and in a circular motion threw Coco Nut backwards. Coco Nut sprung off his hands and upon landing resumed his rhythmic bobbing.

He held out his arm and snapped his fingers. The drumming stopped. The crowd bustled with excited murmurs. A clan member entered into the circle and held out a coconut before Coco Nut. Carvings adorned its shell, a hole had been chiselled into the top of it and out the front sat a small bowl. The clan member placed what appeared to be a greenish rock into the bowl. The clan member felt at his pockets for a moment before whispering something to Coco Nut. His face trembled with anger.

“Does anyone have a lighter?”  He sternly surveyed the clan who was now silent. His eyes flitted at the Kimono Dragon. He gave his head a little shake. “Well?” he shouted.

“I got one.” A member replied. His head was lowered into his chest as he stuffed his hand into his pocket. Finally he raised his arm triumphantly towards his leader. Coco Nut glared at him. The member’s placid face stared back. The Kimono Dragon felt his face tighten. Another agonizing moment passed.

“Well, bring it to me.”

“Oh…Right.” He clambered to his feet and trotted to Coco Nut.

Coco Nut took the lighter and began to touch the flame onto the rock. “Petrified marijuana bud…Now you’ll feel what it’s like to be stoned to death!” He placed his mouth over the hole and as he inhaled sparks began to crack over the rock. He closed his eyes and handed the coconut back to the one member who quickly backed away into the crowd. He opened his eyes. Violent crimson shrouded black pupils. He held his fists before his face and blew the smoke over them. An emerald sheen began to spread across them until they were fully encased in crystal. He looked menacingly at the Kimono Dragon.

“Can I get my lighter back?” The gormless member held out his hand.

Without looking away from the Kimono Dragon, Coco Nut thrust his arm to the side and through the man’s chest. Blood burst out of his back. He slumped limply forward onto Coco Nut’s arm before he was thrown onto the dirt. His body was dragged from the circle.

Coco Nut began advancing towards the Kimono Dragon. He saw that his right arm was pulled back, close to his ribs, cocked for another deadly blow. He closed the distance, one threatening step after another. Silence creaked across the circle. He lowered his gaze and softly exhaled out of his nostrils.  This was not what I bargained for…

“Look out, my Dragon!” Exclaimed a familiar Jamaican accent.

The punch had been launched. Stepping to the side and rotating his torso, he sliced below the crystalized fist with the knife-edge of his palm, drawing it to the ground. The fist cleaved deeply into the earth. The Kimono Dragon, maintaining control of Coco Nut’s wrist, slid his palm to scoop the back of his fist. Turning his whole body and twisting the fist back in on itself, he thrust it back towards Coco Nut, driving it into his jaw. The sound of a boulder splitting cracked through the air. A plume of red and green had shot up from his face and had begun to drift down, engulfing them both. Coco Nut’s jaw hung onto a shred of cartilage, his tongue waggled in blood. He dropped to his knee, and then onto his back.

KD bloody hand RB.png

 

The Kimono Dragon stood still, his body was flecked with blood, his eyes were lowered. A breeze pulled at his kimono. He wasn’t quite sure what to do. The clan had seemingly forgotten about him, and was busy trying to resuscitate their leader with blunt smoke. He took a breath in, quelling any doubts about his next action. Lifting his head, he turned to the woman beneath the palm tree, gave a sheepish smile and with a slight head shake gestured that they get out of here. She stared at him for a while without blinking, before finally smiling back.

 

sake finished

 

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Interview with The Kimono Dragon: Part I

We’ve finally managed to arrange an interview with you, Kimono Dragon-

“The”

 

Right, apologies. You’ve been labelled everything from an eccentric, a martial artist, a weirdo, a pervert, someone terribly out of touch with reality, a saviour, a “Don” and a sex symbol. Now, bearing in mind that the last three were your own suggestions, what’s your response to these?

No, I think they definitely come close to capturing the essence. Some were refreshingly accurate.

 

You’re a purveyor of Japanese Culture?

Its’s a beautiful culture. I mean you wouldn’t see Steven Seagal listening to j-pop is his house for instance you know, unless he was having a karaoke party and one of his many Japanese guests put it on he’d probably groove along to it, he’s an artist. He probably watches the music videos actually, in his own time, for the aesthetic value.

 

Uh huh…

And the thing about Japanese chicks, they’re always slightly afraid of your penis size, just think about sashimi. Great girls…Respectful and uh their culture’s a different language, an entrancing different language. They can be both strong and weak like ice and water, yin and yang, ramen noodles before and after being cooked. Their resolve is…almost cartoonish sometimes, manga, you know… who’s inspiring who? …And if you’ll forgive me for objectifying them…I’d say they’re beautiful.

 

No, no, I wouldn’t worry about that.

And I respect guys who recognise that beauty, guys like Steven Seagal, culturally informed motherfuckers, Hemingway’s another one, Woody Allen…I’m assuming Matt Preston. They’re all…I’m just to find the perfect word, model… (Raises his hand above his face as if addressing invisible deities)

 

Role models?

Well of course but more universally…model humans…the pinnacle of human development and expertise. And I don’t advocate eugenics or a kind of governmentally driven social manipulation but hypothetically if was advising the scientists and politicians working on such a policy, I would say “There’s the bullseye. Steven Seagal is a master marksman, he can literally hit a bull’s eye. Aim for the bullseye. Follow the recipe, Matt Preston is the successful author of numerous recipe books and they’re brilliant, the recipes themselves unironically easy to digest, peppered with personal anecdotes and witticisms so relatable I literally thought I had written them myself and had somehow  forgotten about it. I remember being unreasonably suspicious of his glorious smiling visage on the cover, and thinking to myself “KD, you are being illogical. In what world would a divine man such as Matt Preston commit intellectual theft, especially against you?” I came to the conclusion that he is just that good. Just follow the recipe.”

 

What was the nicest thing you ate in Japan?

Clams.

 

…Is that a joke?

Next question.

 

 

 

To be continued…

 

sake finished

Pieces of the Forest

Artwork by Jemma Clamp

Her breaths shook in rapid grasps. Trees approached and blurred past her. She jinked one side to the other, hopping over obstacles that littered the forest floor. She threw herself downhill. Air was dragged desperately into her lungs. She was afraid. She was running for her life.

Trees and branches rushed towards her. She suddenly sprang off her right foot and darted to the left. Through the sounds of her breathing, her heartbeat, and the claustrophobic rustles of the forest another set of footsteps could be heard, purposive, giving chase. FUCK! Her eyes flitted across the procession of trees in search of a possible path to take. The forest had grown denser, the branches reached out in hooks. She forced herself through a thicket and felt a hot sweet sensation as something sharp clawed itself down the length of her back. She yelped and gritted her teeth.  Run! Fucking run! She felt blood wetting the back of her leg.

“Look at the mess you’ve gotten yourself into.” a voice cooed through the forest. Her head whipped around in shock before returning forward in time to narrowly avoid a tree. “Come back, you’re so much better off with me.”

“GO AWAY!” she screamed, purging her lungs of air before sucking in the next breath.

She was now using her arms, swiping away braches, pushing her way forward, forgetting self-preservation, driven by the strongest sense of fear that blinded all thoughts except that she had to run.

She felt the presence behind her, its fingers barely touched the nape of her neck. She clenched her eyes shut and ducked forward. Nauseating shivers crept across her body. She grabbed at the ground and flung dirt backwards. Premature screams resided in every exhale. She couldn’t escape this nightmare. Tears streamed backwards from the corners of her eyes into her hair.

She opened her bleary eyes and they immediately trained themselves on a spot of light barely visible through the black web of branches. Her body immediately sharpened in its movements. She lunged and leapt, snapping branches under her steps as she thrust forward.

“NO! YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME!” The voice shrieked.

She burst into the light. Falling to the ground she scrambled blindly, creating distance from the dark forest edge. She stopped. Her head was lowered, she looked at nothing. Her breaths began to steady, the warmer air relaxed her lungs. She was tired. She looked up. Soft beams of light shone through the treetops, cradling the dust that floated in the air. The air was painted in brushstrokes of varying shades of gold. The ground was soft and warm.

She heard rustling behind her and turned to face it. The figure of a girl stood at the edge of the forest. Her arm was held behind the trunk of a tree as if using it for comfort. She seemed unwilling to part from it, caught in a moment of hesitation. Her face was not unlike her own, yet it fluctuated, breaking into fragments, a mosaic that billowed in an internal wind, fluxing and reforming. At first an angry scowl seethed amongst the rippling shards, however gradually a sense of sadness and longing began to appear.

“Please don’t leave me…” Her eyes fluttered on the verge of tears.

A sense of peace seemed to extend the distance between them. She gave the girl a final look of understanding before she turned away and strode amongst the light.

Hiking with a Chocolate Dog

We hiked through Newlands Forest this morning. The path while sometimes bending and twisting up and down was flat for the most part. As it lead into the canopy its surface changed from rocks and dust to a raised wooden footpath. The landscape shrunk to dense greens and browns through which the dogs would swim and clamber. Areo, our chocolate Labrador, was always fascinating to watch. She was both regal and gluttonous, sluggish and supremely agile. Walks were an opportunity for her to display her potential energy that she would happily conceal when lounging around at home. She was the chocolate drop, at home slipping from the couch to the floor to the other couch, always fitting her cumbersome and floppy bulk to her place of rest. On the walk she was a torrent. She poured down steep rocky descents, flowing through our legs and at the bottom she would stir about gently. Her golden eyes watching us and seeming to ask a very pure yet elusive question.

I often wondered how much she knows. She is intelligent and possibly very perceptive. Perhaps when she looks at me she is somewhat aware of subtleties of character, of my inner-turmoil and is trying to console me. She is a beautiful dog and perhaps as we do with all beautiful creatures, we ascribe far more to them than they ask for. She is a hungry dog and would raid the bins every night if the “Please Lock: Areo” bin locks were not fastened. She’s probably just trying to telepathically compel me to give her some food.

We reached the designated picnic point of our walk, a raised wooden construction built around a thin chopped down tree. This was the halfway point of our hike, the horizontal peak, and as such required the ingestion of some snacks. I had brought some chopped up croissants, my mom some grapefruit and apple slices and her friend a flask of coffee and some cups. “It is such a pity women are such light eaters” I thought to myself as I gorged myself on the remaining croissant pieces. I dipped a piece into my coffee (something I was told was ‘the French way’ by a woman I had had a fling with a while ago. I have since been told otherwise and so now not quite sure of the correct procedure, claim to dunk the croissants for sentimental value. The truth is that I just like dunking things in my coffee) before unctuously noshing on it. Creamy, coffee-y, buttery, my mouth’s relationship with this dunked pastry was intimate and all-encompassing. As it flaked and dissolved into the ether of my digestive system the familiar sense of longing and abandonment, the defining symptoms of pastry heartbreak, began to rise within me. My fingers (Note: plural) swept up the residual flakes that lined the Tupperware container. Ah, bless croissants flakiness. I am a clingy lover when it comes to pastries but our affair was well and truly over (for now) and so after eating the remaining, but this time offered fruit slices, we moved on.

It really was an easy hike and I was midway through convincing myself to go on a run later in the day when we came across a fork in the path. The decision was made to go left, turning up an incline instead of going right and continuing to wobble downhill. This was the motivation I needed to not go on a run later, the uphill had settled it. “No need to do two exercise activities.” It said gently. And gentle it was. Within a minute of walking the slope evened out and the path began to lazily undulate amongst the grass in front of us. I thanked the slope for its kindness and continued altruistically at the back of the group, making sure everyone had the chance of a view uninterrupted by a sad, inwardly deteriorating glutton. I cursed myself as I finally took note of the butterfly flapping in and out of my field of vision. I’m on a lovely hike with friends, family and dogs and I’m unable to enjoy it, to be in it. I spent my time gobbling food and forming lazy abstractions for the purpose of distracting myself. If I begin to start distracting myself from eating I’ll have to take direct action, something extreme to jolt this feeling from my being, to shatter this foggy mirror which dullens everything whilst forcing my perceptions back into me.

Life is Like a Bowl of Milky Granola

 

Strong coffee propels me forward and into the page. Black hurried squiggles of a man with low-pressure commitments stacked pleasantly for the day ahead suggested stress or tiredness. I was guilty of gluttony yesterday. This was proved beyond reasonable doubt when after seconds of supper and the remainder of the ice cream I had made myself a second bowl of milky granola, this time with a crumbled sugar cone. My stomach practically burst with each mouthful. The usual glowing inner-hug I felt after eating was replaced with images of the grey boerewors from earlier looking even greyer as it writhed in the milky mire of my stomach. It was curling and writhing viciously, seemingly intent on rupturing out of my chest as if it was from Alien. Of course there wasn’t a long unchewed piece of boerie in my stomach, I didn’t deepthroat it down whilst pouring lubricative milky ice cream to ease the process. I may as well have, I felt disgusted. Not only that, but the crumbled sugar cone went completely soggy and offered nothing in the way of texture or flavour to the dish. I was disappointed. Finding a sitting position that didn’t threaten the dormancy of the alien life form was also difficult and so after completing some work I made myself a soothing mug of peppermint tea. Since I was wounded and unwell, the tea was medicinal and was therefore administered joylessly.

Fuck, the coffee’s finished. I had quite a wonderful thought yesterday (or terrible, depending on which side of the inferiority-complex seesaw I choose to sit). Food is like life. The more you eat, the less there is on the plate. I will use the bowl milky, vanilla seed granola (usually made with dates, coconut flakes, a drizzle of honey, and dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg) that prompted this insight to further explain the analogy. As we begin our lives we are faced with the full bowl with only the milky surface actually visible, save a few specks of spices or sesame seeds. The world is unknown, our lives are for the most part sheltered from anything hard or substantial. It is also pure in that sense and the first spoons are delightful, simple, and easy. Vanilla honeyed milk with only the softest resistance of floating sesame seeds testing our milk teeth. Ah, but we grow more inquisitive and brazen. Our spoons delve deeper and we begin to encounter the granola. The granola is harder and more substantial. It requires chewing, an action that like hard work is often its own reward. We become enthralled. The crunches pop with moments of delectable sweetness as unctuous chunks of dates are scooped up in the process. Aahh, the joys of life. It all begins to mix extraordinarily well, the flavours, the textures, all the while wonderfully accompanied by that never-ending pool of milk.

Or, it was never-ending, but as you pause to take a leisurely sip of your grandma’s homemade kombucha tea you have a moment of reflection. You are already half-way, maybe more, maybe less, and a feeling of dread attempts to set in. Here the mind will dictate how the rest of bowl will go. Every spoon from here on out not only depletes the milky granola, but does so at an increasing rate.  You could have never have known but the bowl is conical, the longest years of your life have already happened. You could attempt to bury this thought, let it become a dull but ever-present force that will destabilise that inner peace you had felt.  You could begin to eat it faster, ignoring your body’s pleas to slow down, you don’t care, or you say you don’t as with tears in your eyes you shove mound after mound into your mouth. You barely chew and swallowing becomes painful. Take a breath, there’s still so much left, you made yourself a big bowl after all. Take a spoonful, savour it, that spoon had two date chunks in it, would you have known otherwise?

We are getting close to finishing our bowl of milky granola. We are beginning to feel content and quite full. There are more dates at the bottom. Our smaller, more conscientious spoonfuls do little to slow the milks progress down the sides of the bowl. We have enjoyed it and feel restful. We make peace with the pangs of helplessness and greed for another bowl. We scrape the sides dotted with memories of times before. Our spoon has done all it can, there is no more granola left, just a shallow but richly flavoured puddle of milk at the bottom. Finally with a smile on our face, we grab the bowl with both hands, raise it to our mouth and take our last sip. A dribble of milk runs down the side of our chin and we recline with our eyes closed back into the chair.

I open my eyes and look at my phone. Ah, it’s already 11:00 am, a couple more hours and I’ll have some lunch.

Thou Shalt Not Waste

By Shaun Clamp

 

It was a misty and carboliscious morning. Breakfast was at Granny’s and that meant that my already naturally relaxed arms were about to be twisted, forcing my head and torso into the spread of Weetbix, hot cross buns, and crackers that she had laid out. Thanks to my aikido training I went with the motion and offered no resistance. Luckily I possess an iron gut and an infinite resolve when it comes to food and as such would never let mere overindulgence at breakfast get in the way of lunch.

God seemed to have an issue with gluttony. Although it wasn’t a commandment, not being a glutton is still considered a strong rule. This rule is at odds with my own equally righteous mantra, Thou Shalt Not Waste. What results from the clash of laws is a morally beige area, a narrow road that I must walk across. This path happens to be as narrow, as beige and as acrossy as the glistening crosses that adorned those sweet, spicy buns I had dutifully enjoyed moments earlier.

It is Easter, a time where the guilt for killing Jesus is replaced with a guilt for eating too many glazed buns and chocolate eggs. Feeling guilty for eating is like feeling guilty for breathing and feeling guilty for overeating is like feeling guilty for doing cardio. Guilt is not what we should feel and neither is hunger. If we wish to repent then we should do cardio. Such is the circular and on the surface hard-to-argue-with reasoning I tell myself.

I am aware of the benefit of coffee’s diarrhoetic properties for my food pilgrimage. Like the donkey who lightened the burden of carrying the cross to its destination, coffee helps move the carb-heavy hot cross buns through my digestive system, allowing them to be bathed in a pool of pure white (porcelain) before disappearing into the ether. For this I give thanks.

I am getting a bit concerned that my writing with regards to food has become an exercise in crowbarring metaphors. As a writing technique it’s as lazy and self-serving as myself serving myself a milky bowl of granola at 12:30 am.

Shortly after breakfast it was time to go for lunch. We went to Overture. The restaurant was nestled amongst olive trees that swept in the wind. It was fairly high up the slope of a mountain. The weather was cloudy and the light was gently distilled through the clouds into a soft white. The food was delicious. The sense of urgency surrounding mealtimes that has developed recently was present. I wanted to try everything and thanks to our group being all girls (besides me) I was the designated human hoover. Leftovers were passed without question to my corner of the table. I suppose I should have felt self-conscious when the waiter would collect three or four empty plates from me after every course, but I didn’t. My finger would begin to tap impatiently within minutes of the table being cleared. My all-seeing eyes were acutely aware of every crumb that remained and would automatically assess which ones were large enough to warrant consumption. The miniature crane operator tugged heavily on its levers, my arm raised, my index finger and thumb separated. A thoughtless expression rested on my face, my eyes thoughtlessly rested upon a spot on the table. My arm swung mechanically across before halting. The miniature crane operator knew he needed to be quick. The action must be discreet but natural, it could not appear to be the product of intense deliberation. The claw without missing a beat lowered over a largish piece of sourdough crust before closing. The claw swept up in an arc and dropped the piece into my mouth with a final push. My jaw crunched.

If eating brings out your inner child, then I was a selfish, greedy little shit. And I was. My finger began to tap impatiently. I stared at the window which looked out across the expansive valley, and noticed only the waiters’ movements in its reflection.

Reefer Madness

By Shaun Clamp

 

He was right now locked in a heady neighbourhood dispute, alone, in his room. Moments earlier, beneath the beginnings of a poolside creeping grapevine patio type deal, shielded from the moon-and-starlight, he had smoked a blunt. There were various factors that contributed to his toking of said blunt, but the one he would rely on most was that he had been undergoing physiotherapy and was currently in a leveragable amount of discomfort.

The dispute arose with a squabble when the couple on the neighbouring plot became alerted to the dank odour that hung heavily and slightly obnoxiously in the air. At first he could only hear the wife. The sonic texture of her shrill panicked Afrikaans twang might have been enough to ruin his high, regardless of the context. They reacted with a sense of urgency that seemed almost animal. It was its instinctiveness that scared him. He knew it to be hard-headed and hardwired, sternly pruned and possibly sharpened by the conservative values of the prevailing Afrikaans-Christian culture of the village.

The plots were stacked closely and he could make out with an ominous half-certainty, the conversation going on next door.

“Is someone smoking weed?”

“Someone’s been smoking weed near our house!”

“What do we do? I’m not okay with someone smoking weed, are you?”

There was a palpable anger rising in the conversation, with each mention of the word weed propelling it higher, as if it were a sort of furious-kinetic energy. It refused to die down, even though it was 3 am.

He knew he needed to address it, the situation, them, to prevent the possible calling of the police should the conversation reach boiling point. He had made his way outside of his house to the road with the intention of ringing the doorbell of whichever house the voices were coming from. He was fighting stabs of paranoia with steadying breaths and had armed himself with the official-sounding line “I wanted to address the situation personally” that was to be used during his introduction. How could a criminal be so self-assured and forthright?

The road was quieter than the house, deafened by the dry wind and the crunches of his tentative footsteps. He tried adjust his posture and stand erect and professional yet felt himself tilt forward at the waist as if he was being hollowed out by fear. As he walked along the road towards the house his torso also twisted as if anchored stiffly in its direction.

“Oh no! He’s coming!”

He stopped in his tracks, frozen cartoonishly in his odd stance. He was at that moment Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. If he had brought his dog, Areo, along on the expedition, which he had deliberated earlier, the resemblance would have been uncanny. He listened, head cocked, iphone torch cocked (undoubtedly unnecessarily but the situation was intense and at that stage, bodily) for a few moments (seconds), before briskly walking back into his house.

Inside his granny was awake, tending to the dogs, and he calmly and earnestly explained the situation. Low THC, for his back, too much pain to sleep, not harmful, rather weed than consistently taking Myprodols. His granny was lovely and empathetic and responded to the only slightly cherry-picked and airbrushed narrative with saintly care. She was only concerned about the pain in his shoulder and even offered to put arnica ointment on it. She really is a great granny. He declined her offer and her suggestion to bath, opting for a shower instead so he could stretch and just zen the fuck out.

Low THC content, essentially legal, medicinal, electroshock therapy, I have nothing to hide officer it was one joint of less than a gram and it was all I had in my possession, it’s for my shoulder.

He switched on the tap and automatically began adjusting the heat settings.

Of course you can come in and search officer, but you would need a search warrant, I can’t authorise entry, the house was not rented in my name, who’s the owner? I wouldn’t know, I think we booked through a –

“Oh my GOD! He’s having a shower. I don’t believe it!”

“…Unbelievable!”

They were baffled. Their confusion and anger had reached the point of hysterics. The audacity that he take a shower. The AUDACITY!

They were, in a word, trolled.

He afforded himself a smile as warm water poured mercifully onto his upturned face. He imagined them slowly, dumbly, shaking their heads, still unable to speak, the wife’s horrified expression teetering on the brink of manic laughter. He tried to stretch but felt too self-conscious so he decided to just wash himself and get this whole absurd episode over and done with.

After fumbling in the wrong place for a bit too long he finally managed to turn on his bedroom light. He walked across his room to his suitcase.

“Look, there he is.”

The curtains were white, thin and translucent at the best of times, and offered easy viewing into the lighted room in the dark hours of the morning. He wasn’t sure if it was because he was incredibly tired, that he had been recently frazzled, or possibly that he was still high but he felt comfortable. He stood still, naturally deliberating the thought.

“What is he doing?”

His eyes scoured the floor mindlessly, searching for…what? He was discombobulated from hearing and processing both his consciousness and the antagonistic and invasive consciousness of his neighbours. For clothes perhaps?

“It’s just so…rude.”

She probably wants to fuck me, he thought as he tossed the towel onto the chair. He wasn’t being serious but the thought was so instinctual he wondered whether he truthfully likened himself to Russel Brand. No you don’t…mmm maybe a little? Can I say I’m unsure? No, to consider that would probably open the floor to all sorts of narcissistic character flaws. He decided to remove himself from that thought pattern altogether. He did leave it on unsure though. Did he?

But it was time to address the situation personally. He found his pen and his notebook with nice, professional paper and sat in the chair illuminated by a bedside lamp.

“Oh my god, he’s writing a note.”

To whom it may concer-

His handwriting looked shit. He considered continuing and writing at the end something along the lines of “My handwriting is usually this bad ;)” His pen was resting thoughtfully on the side of his head.

“He’s thinking!”

He let his head roll backwards to rest on the chairs plump leather cushion, his faced turned skywards once more, and he felt the unbelievable, almost ecstatic ridiculousness of the situation wash pleasantly over  him. He was smiling.

“What is he writing?”
He sat up, paused to grin, and began to write.