S T O R I E S
Michael Aitken loved Cader Idris. It loomed moodily above the town of Dolgellau and in his thoughts at all times. Cader Idris spoke to Michael Aitken, sending him psychic love notes in the day, and entering into langorous, far-reaching discussions in his dreams. They talked about her craters and peaks, and the myth that those who slept at her base would arise either madmen or poets. They talked about the clear lake at her summit where Michael Aitken would swim and masturbate, and watch thin strings of his ejaculate coagulate in the water. He would try to swim backwards away from them, so they'd sink to the bottom and merge with the soil instead of getting matted into his pubic hair. Then he'd walk home, shivering in the moonlight, pockets full of stones.
first time I noticed it, we were in the kitchen. My wife stood at the
window chopping carrots for soup. She was hypnotized by the boring
landscape outside, sheet rain and grey hills, and ignored my repeated
requests to bring me my fucking pipe. I tore a page from my newspaper,
screwed it up, and threw it at her head to disrupt her reverie. I
succeeded in attracting her attention but also caused her to plunge the
knife deep into her index finger. She jerked it up into the air and I
watched blood arch out of the wound in the surprising form of a tiny
red steam train, which briefly held its shape in mid-air before
splattering onto the counter, dangerously close to my pipe. I hastily
wrote down the train’s serial number next to the crossword, and
congratulated myself on remembering to wear my vari-focal glasses.
I invented crying, the doctors at the Oxford Street Maternity Hospital
were rightly impressed. This boy is a marvel, they said. While he lacks
the facility for language, this primal wailing communicates a need of
some sort, and can be mediated in pitch, volume and intensity in order
to indicate the severity of the need. Fuck knows how we managed before
this boy came along, they said. Before long, all babies were crying,
and you will notice it still continues today, not that anyone has ever
dreamt of thanking me, or paying me any money.
The main thing you need to know about the dogs is what they get up to at night, he said. He handed me a card and told me to use it to open the door, and we walked through into a room full of caged dogs, about a hundred in total. Neither the smell or the sound was welcoming. What happens at night, I asked. Well, it's best just to show you, he said. After that we sat in the room with the dogs and the smell, smoking cigarettes and waiting. At about 10pm the dogs all went silent, and the manager looked up from his newspaper to make sure I was paying attention. After a few moments, the dogs opened their mouths and each emitted a thick torrent of transluscent slime through the bars of their cages. The more they expelled, the more their bodies began to sag and crumple, until there was one big slime-pool on the floor and each cage housed a deflated husk. Then, the pool started to reform in the shape of a single gigantic dog, losing its wet sheen and gaining a springy firmness. For a moment, it stood in the blinking electric light, pink and proud. It then yawned and curled up and went to sleep. The manager folded his newspaper and looked me firmly in the eye. Don't let it get out, he said. Other than that the job's easy enough. He showed me the kitchen and how to lock up and then left.
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