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Friday, 31 May 2013

The Nothing

*Extract from a novel by Roger Crow*

Midgard Hospital, North America

5 November, 1979

"My blood hurts Max," smiled the middle-aged woman before she froze. A green, horizontal line scored the dark screen and a slow beep filled the white room.

A pocket of nothing burst upon the tearful few. It was a sensation that made the blood run cold and stomachs feel like they'd gone over a hump-backed bridge.

"I'm so sorry Max. She's gone." The nurse covered Alice Donnolly's face with a sheet and turned off the life support. Keith Donnolly held his young son in his arms and wiped the tears from his face.

The 10-year-old was was spending the first of what would become many days coming to terms with the loss of his mother.

"Maximillian," he said with the gravity of a man passing on life-changing information. "Know one thing."

The lad looked up at his dad in the hospital ward, tears streaming. "Love is like a multi-storey car park," he said.

Max sniffed and tried to regain his composure.

"I don't understand," the boy replied.

Keith held his son tighter than ever.

"One day you will Max. One day."




Chatelherault Park, near Glasgow

5 November, 1979
Bonfire night revelries elicited whoops and screams of awe from the gathered crowd. The air was thick with smoke and lights projected from the town turned the night orange as it mingled with a sulphorous amber glow.

The family, husband, wife and one child, were enjoying the display as were most of the families that night. The girl shied away from the blazing bonfire and rejected the sparkler offered by her father.

"Do you not want it Meg?" he said. The girl shook her head and fought back the tears. Her dad had been trying for six years to get his daughter to come to a display and each time she refused.

"I dinny wan it!" she cried.

He supposed it was wise that kids were scared of fire but for so long? Meg huddled with her mother as a volley of firecrackers lit up the night sky.

"Aw come on Meg. Let's go get some baked spuds."

Then it happened.

The chilly air became electric with the power of the moment and time slowed to near standstill as the future shaped itself around her.

An explosion filled the night and everyone started screaming. Everyone except the girl who stared open mouthed at the man who ran toward her with a firecracker in his hood.

He dropped at her feet and she stared at the burning man until her parents managed to force her away.

It was a year before she spoke again and when she did, the Meg everyone knew had been replaced by someone else entirely.

One Sunday morning the girl came down to breakfast and kissed her father on the cheek. She had lines under her eyes. He stroked her face. In her hand she held a candle, her face fixed on the flickering flame.

"Morning Meg." Her dad didn't expect a reply. Meg merely went over to a vase and dropped it on the floor. It smashed and her parents sighed.

"Oops," she said with a smile.



Years later

Strontium City, West Coast of America.
Books.

Thousands of them.

For the old woman, it would have been impossible to find the one she was after without spending the rest of the day being seduced by the well illustrated covers and luscious type. A diagram by the stairs was no doubt handy for those who could read the font or understand the plan so she opted for the easiest route. The pensioner adjusted the camera around her neck and approached the shop counter.

"Excuse me, Miss. I'm touring the area and wondered if you had any guides to Strontium City."

"Hmmm." Moire, a plain-looking girl with fire in her eyes, smiled and pulled out a book from behind the counter then started reading. "Miller's 1989 guide to North West America describes the aforementioned as: Industrial town just outside the coastal town of Midgard. Key features: The lively nightlife, Stacatto's coffee shop, O'Mally's Tabernacle Bar, friendly population and convenience for the coast. Very popular with t ourists and film-makers alike." Moire laughed at the book and put in back under her counter.

"Liars," she grinned.

The tourist looked shocked and Moire smiled sweetly in return. "The night life isn't that lively," she winked.

What happened next was a common occurrence in the place called Hell's Gate. An explosion sent the old woman forward and hurled the younger back.

"Jesus." she screamed as Moire hit the shelf.

Alarms everywhere. The sound of sirens and screams down the street.

"What the hell was that?"

Panic everywhere. Running, screaming. Chaos.

"Another bomb by the sound." Moire helped the old woman up from the pile of books.

A fat man sighed and helped the fallen.

"Damn new age terrorists." Jake, her overweight manager cursed.





Night Shift

After three hours on the bomb case, twentysomething cops Donnolly and Williamson were lucky enough to end up trawling through the streets at 3am solving problems for post -pub revelers.
They sailed down 53rd street in their black and white, lazily drinking coffee and in true cop style, munching on assorted doughnuts. Seasons in the Sun began on the radio. Max turned the channel.

"Hate that song," he said.

There was an uncomfortable silence. Something Max knew from experience would usually end in so meone saying anything for the sake of breaking it. Williamson didn't disappoint him.

"Max, you think we're stereotypical cops?"

"What makes you say that?"

Mick Williamson paused at the lights and tried to illustrate his point. He held up the doughnut.

"Nah," Max replied.

T he lights changed and they moved on downtown.

"A beautiful night tonight all right. La luna's never looked better. And those stars man. They are something else."

There was silence for a second.

Max felt it was his turn to break the deadness and as they drove past a TV shop showing the animated series Fat Robots, Max decided to vent his spleen.

"You know what I hate?"

"Do tell."

"Those cartoons where someone gets punched in the face and they see stars. Has that ever happened to you in all your time on the beat? Some felon comes up to you and punches you in the face and you see stars?"

"No Max. I think you take those things too seriously."

They turned the corner and drove rather stylishly through smoke from a drain cover, purely because it looked good.

"I'd just like to see a cartoon one day, or better still, have someone punch me in the face and I see stars. That's all."

They both knew what was coming next.
"I'll do it." Mick replied. Max shot him a cursory look.

They passed a couple of kids playing on the street with Stormtrooper helmets and guns. At 3am this was no rarity in the projects.
Max knew this would set his colleague off on another rant and as much as he hoped, knew the situation was lost.
"You know the trouble with Jedi?" Williamson said.
"I'm sure you're going to tell me."
"The film-makers didn't have the courage of their own convictions. I mean the thing that made the other movies so cool was the bad guy. This big black samurai where you never saw his face. That guy had soul. I mean how cool was The Emperor. Not very cool at all. Some pasty faced guy in a cloak. Reminds me of my school play for Christ sakes."
Max sighed.
"I think YOU take it all too seriously man. Vader had to show he was okay under the surface. You know. It was a symbol of how even bad guys have some good in them."
"Yeah. But just think how good the movie would have been if the bad guys had won. I mean t hat's what made Empire so good. It was the only multi-squillion dollar movie in Hollywood where the bad guys won." Williamson was on a roll now.
"But was it a movie or was it the second act of a three part play?"
"Well it was a movie you dumb schmuck. If it was a three act play why were there credits at the end of the bastard? Huh? Answer me that. How many plays have credits half way through?"
Silence.
Williamson had won the argument and felt good with his victory. Mick grinned as the full moon rose over the housing projects.
"Hello, hello."
"Hello." Williamson finished the sentence. Neither man smiled but the cliche was mentally noted.
Their car pulled over to a SWAT van ahead. Large, squarish and formidable.
Max took out his binoculars and saw a man in his twenties propositioning a girl of sixteen. Despite the arctic conditions she wore what looked like a nightdress.
"So, you reckon they're here on business?" Williamson finished his doughnut.
"That's the Second Unit. Val's team. What do you reckon?"
"Are we talking bad guys here?"
Max nodded as the man looked around at the black and white and then backed away from the teen.
A minute later the SWAT truck was away.
Max rubbed his chin but didn't pursue.
"You figure that was business?"
"Last I heard was Valentine was suspended for bad behaviour. You know he got his knuckles rapped over that bombing incident?"
Williamson nodded. "Guy's got a head full of bad wiring that puppy. Wouldn't be surprised if our lad didn't have something to do with the bombing.


They drove after the truck which went way down the road then stopped at the next lights. Valentine opened the door and wandered over to their patrol car.

"Can I help you gentlemen?" he smiled leaning on the door.
Williamson wound his window down.
"What you up to Valentine?"
The SWAT soldier held his hands palm up and smiled.
"Me officer? I'm pure as the driven."
"That'll be the day." Max sneered.
Valentine observed Donnolly. Their eyes locked for a few seconds and then Val closed his and looked to the skies.
"My conscience is clear gents. Is yours?"
Williamson felt cold. Donnolly shook his friend by the shoulder and stepped from the car. "Valentine. Get your nasty ass over here."
The soldier smiled and walked over to Max Donnolly.
"Hold your hands out," he instructed.
"Why?" Valentine sounded like a child now as the drone of sirens in the distance echoed their nocturnal actions.
Donnolly was losing his patience.
"I know you're dirty Valentine. Know what you're up to. That bomb over on 10th street was one of yours wasn't it? You working for Bailey now is that it."
Valentine scowled.
"Bailey is a known underworld villain. You know that Max. You don't mind if I call you Max do you?"
"Just leave your hands where I can see 'em."
Valentine locked his hands behind his head and puffed his chest out.
"Oh, by the way. How's Meredith?"
Max knew he was playing him, making him make a move but he started breathing and tried to counter the anger boiling within him."
"She's fine thanks Valentine. How's the wife? Oh, sorry. I forgot. She ran off with Bailey didn't she. Boy, that must've been tough."
Valentine said nothing as Max searched him.
"You know I'm clean po-li-ce off-icer." He staggered the phrase, underlining its structure, undermining his authority. Valentine was clean. They had no evidence to suggest otherwise so there was only one course of action open.
Max hated to let the perp go but it was surely a matter of time until they nailed him. "Get going and leave the kids alone."
Valentine walked away waving his hand as he went.
Max and Williamson watched the SWAT van drive off into the distance. The chilled hookers ran off into the crumbling projects.
"These people deserve better than this."
"We know Max. Let's go, I'm freezing."
"Just a minute," Max looked down at the ground and stepped from the patrol car. Drawn on the sidewalk in chalk was a circle with the letter MKS in the centre.
"Ring any bells?" he asked Mick. His colleague shook his head.
The Nothing


Moire, Jade and Pella

At 4am in Moire's apartment, she stirred and then felt hair on the back of her neck rise and warmth in her sides.
Turning over, light turned her eyelids pink.
She opened one eye cautiously and saw the moonlight filter through her window and fall on her basketball.
Paying it little heed, Moire turned over and went back to sleep.
Jade's place, just next door, was littered with magazines, tarot cards and moon symbols stuck to her fridge, covering her duvet and cushions. A huge Mexico poster hung over the fireplace. Cancun in big white letters.
Whe n the moon flooded through her win dow she was asleep on the sofa, an old movie still playing on the video. It filled the dim room with light and awoke so sharply she fell off the chair.
Her inflatable crucifix shone in the natural spotlight.
Pella was lying on the floor of the kitchen when la luna's glow filtered through the window and lit up a single white egg.
Rice was spilled across the linoleum, her blood flooded the floor and congealed with the grains. She had three red lines across her wrist.


The Morning After

Jade sat by the window staring at a sliver of cloud threading past the sun. Her CD player booted U2 into the air and she slipped down the wall to rest against a cabinet.
She brushed stray hair from her eyes and lay down on the plush carpet to stare at the ceiling. Hopelessness intervened.
Jade hated it but didn't know what to do. The place was a mess and she was broke as usual. There must be something which would take away the blues.
So she started cleaning.
Light switches, hand held hoover handle, microwave, TV. Dust was obliterated from her apartment which made her feel better.
She sat down after half an hour exhausted but felt better. Jade decided to ring a few people and see what they were up to. Cally and Pete were engaged, Jenna and Sal had their answer phone on and her mother was in Brazil on business. She hadn't seen her dad in years so that ruled him out and her brother was always partying so she didn't bother trying him.
Instead she fished around in the freezer, found a chicken curry, popped it in the microwave and decided to watch that for four minutes.
It tasted good. Jade hadn't eaten in a while and her stomach was aching for food.
The blues were turning a rosier hue as Jade slipped a game into her console and sat down to play.
"Screw 'em all," she smiled half heartedly, guiding her character round a series of mazes.
The drone of police sirens outside somewhere in the distance. Babies crying on the floor above but she ignored them all. Shut out the bad thoughts in her head and made way for some good ones.
Pella sat in her room crying, but didn't know why. Red should be happy. This was her wedding day. Yet, as she sat on the bed and drew the veil across her face, there was a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach that she was definitely doing the wrong thing.
"Pella, you okay love?" came Moire's voice but Red ignored it and stared down at the book cover. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was well thumbed and the crude illustration on the front had faded with time. She ran her finger along the spine and sighed.
Removing the veil, Pella walked to the door and pressed her forehead again the wood. It was cool against her fevered skin.
"I'm fine," she lied.
But of course she was far from it. Her wedding day and she had serious doubts.
No hen night for her. No drunken exchanges with old friends. Instead a void. Loads of TV and enough white wine to make a rhino keel over.
She drew for a while, painted a bit, smoked two packets of cigarettes and went through her photo album regarding the mass of smiling faces.
It filled her with hope and she turned on the TV to watch the news channel. Bombing, suicide and enough scenes of carnage to make her want to cry.
Pella turned off the box and flipped on the radio while she looked through her Mexican cookbook absent mindedly.
The clock was ever present as Red thought about her future and the possible mistake she was about to make.
Did she really want to get married? At her age?
Most of her friends had tied the knot and she was glad for them but for her it didn't feel right. A strange, hollow experience.
Almost a lie.
Pella took a shot of whisky and filled the glass with coke as she looked over the balcony and observed the city below. The place was busy as ever. Binmen in luminous jackets milled around in the streets. Kids played football, whooping like they were playing for their lives. An old woman made her way up the hill to the deli and she saw a procession of women carrying banners with a series of stars on black cloth.
End of the world is nigh.
That made her feel better. The Star Cult, doom-laden prophets of the new millennium. Starting early.
Maybe she could join them. That would be a laugh. Shave her head, wear black and moan a lot. Would be too much like being a student again, she thought.
Pella grabbed her wedding veil and slipped it over her head then looked at herself in the mirror.
"What the hell?" she said.

Moire went back to her apartment to send another e-mail. It was still relatively early but Silky Girl as she called herself on the Net, decided the time had come to turn off her computer. She had after all been on the thing for three hours and her eyes felt sore beyond belief.

But Moire didn't want to hear the ping and see the shut down sign. Didn't want to accept the loneliness beyond the screen.
What had she as an alternative except four walls and a fish dinner that took three hours to cook?
"No, be positive honey. You know. Put on a happy face and all that. I'm mad for happiness me. Can't get enough of it."
She gave a curious laugh and then started giggling uncontrollably.
Moire scratched her pierced nose and flicked the switch. The computer died and she grabbed her coat and bag.
A minute later she was on the street walking down litter-strewn alleys searching for the something that would make her feel better.
She made her way past the film crew shooting their latest piece of TV trash. Fitting that it should be shot in an alley full of garbage Silky thought.
Moire passed what looked like a normal warehouse from the outside. Blackened windows and a locked door stopped any passers by looking in on the events within.
Inside, a band of scientists stood around a large globe six feet in diameter held in a cradle by big steel beams.
"Okay. Try it now. One elderly man with a large A on his smock pocket said and held his breath as the switch on the console was thrown.
For precious seconds the men waited for something magical. But the moment was lost. Nothing happened.
There were a few sparks and then the room was filled with burning.
"Damn. Felt sure that was it."
"Um. The main circuit's blown. We're gonna have to start again from scratch guys."
Mr C held his head in his hands and cursed the globe.
"Bailey ain't gonna like this."
The lights dimmed as the film crew worked but the director barely noticed. He was immersed in his movie.
"Jim, Kelly, Paul. I want you to walk down the alley in a threatening manner. Merry. You'll be facing toward the camera." The director was looking through his viewfinder while minions milled around fetching coffees or taping down anything not already stuck solid.
"Can we change this line?" Meredith queried. In this light she looked like Sharon Stone. Not in her Grace Kelly-style days of Basic Instinct but more like her straight to video days before she took to flashing on the big screen.
"Sure. Dominik can you polish this up?"
"What's wrong with: The tears of misfortune fall heavier than a leaden rain?" the twentysomething writer scratched his beard.
"It's a TV movie Dom. Not William Blake."
Hennessy nodded and took the script back to his chair, nearly blinded by the two arc lights which stood either side. Meredith never noticed him take the script. Sh e was too busy fixing her hair and trying to remember the next line.
With a biro Dominik started amending the pages while the crew got on with the cur rent scene. Underneath the script he was scribbling away on his novel, The Wielder of God's Sword written in bold letters at the top of the page.
Moire made her way past the lighting technicians when Kamen caught her eye. "S'cuse me miss. You wanna be in pictures?"
"No. You wanna be in hospital?" she replied sarcastically and shoved through the throng. "Okay Mister Kamen. I'm ready for my close-up," Meredith wandered over and winked at the director.
They started filming the last few scenes of what would be strangely billed as: The movie of the week. She hated to think what the worst movie of the week would be by compar ison. "Ragnarok, Scene 140, Take three," the clapper boy snapped his board shut and t he shoot began.
At the end of the alley Max Donnolly watched the filming from his patrol car.
"Hey, Dono. Don't torture yourself," Williamson shook his arm, breaking his daze.
"Why'd she do it Mick? Why'd she get mixed up with that... THAT?"
"Cause he' s Holl ywood and you're a doughnut merchant with a cartoon fixation. That's why. Let it go Max."
"Cow," he cursed and they drove away, rubber squealing in their wake as Max hoped it would.
Meredith jumped, the director shouted: Cut! and the whole camera crew sighed.
"From the top!" Marshall Kamen sighed and wound his finger in a clockwise motion as they set-up again.
"Action!"




O'Mally's Tabernacle Bar was an Irish American pub on Strontium's version of Broadway. Neatly situated in-between Blaylock's Bookshop and the wrestling ring, it was there that Moire decided to spend the evening.

She took a flyer from the kid dishing leaflets o utside. He had the leg end Brian emblazoned on his medallion. Particularly tacky she thought.
Thor Vs The Strontium Bomber
Tonite at 7.30
"How about it baby?" He said cockily.
"What is it with this city?" she cursed.
"My old man taking on the Bomber. Be a sight to see."
"No thanks. There's some dust I've got to get off the top of my TV. Where is your dad anyway?"
Brian looked around. "He's gone to see The Abyss again. Bit of a movie nut."
"Considerate of him. Getting his son to do all his publicity."
'Silky' screwed the A5 leaflet up and stuffed it in her pocket. She was building her defences for a night of crude chat-up lines from the drunks and the married men.
"See you around Silk," he called after her.
"Not unless I have my brain removed with a warm spoon you won't."
Smoke gushed from the gap in the door as she walked into the bar. As it cleared Moire could just about make her way to the bartender cleaning glasses.
Same old barkeep, same old single guys, she thought loosening her scarf. Same juke box and pool table. Same line of optics promising an intriguing array of headaches.
What Moire didn't expect to see was a familiar face.
Jade, an old college friend, sat at the other end of the bar reading a man's palm. Technically she was an old college friend but Moire just knew her from drama class. After a few minutes, the businessman made his move.
"Sorry Mister." Jade rejected him as he put his hand on her leg. Moire wandered over and sat down as the barfly Lothario went outside to watch the filming. She noticed he had one of those medallions too. 'Val' caught her eye before he left.
"Jade honey."
A look, a double take and a flash of recognition. The years melted away in a single minute. "So what you up to now?" Silky took a mouthful of beer followed by a nut chaser. "I'm a stripper." Jade smiled.
"No kidding?"
"It's good money honey," Jade grinned. "They don't get to touch. Not like in here . And I get to exploit them as much as they do me."
"Jeez I wouldn't be caught dead up there. Not with my cellulite."
Another offer from a couple of businessmen and they both said: No! in unison.
"So, what about you? What's your scene baby?"
"Work in a bookshop. Pays the rent and gives me enough space so I can get my novel written. I do a few things on the side."
"Such as?"
"Um, I write soft porn for women."
Jade laughed into her bottle.
"What a pair. Right couple of ravers aren't we?"
"So you married?"
"No." Moire snapped and then apologised for her curtness. "Nah. He went to New York, I went to Hell and back. I'm okay now though."
They drank more.
"Meredith somebody was filming outside. You know, that woman off the box?"
"Not exactly A-list is she?"
The barman brought over another couple of beers and filled the nut bowl.
"Do I detect a hint of bitterness in there somewhere?"
"Probably just jealousy. Everyone wants to be famous don't they? I did. Still do I guess. Although I don't know if it's fame as much as..."
"As much as what?"
"I dunno. Making a difference."
"Know what you mean honey."
Filling the space left by the black and white police car, an unmarked black van arrived. The lonely heart with the 'Val' medallion opened the door and got in the passenger seat. "What's the op?" he said.
The driver looked at him blankly.
"Boss wants to see you," replied the black-clad officer.
Before entering the van he looked around to see if anyone had noticed his startled expression. The truck gunned its engine and was away.
Both girls had promised to cut down on their socialising and drinking was certainly going to be put on hold. However, in the spirit of the moment they both thought to hell with it.
Jade and Moire both smoked five cigarettes and had three bottles of Bud between them as the night sped by.
A small division basketball team were making fools of themselves on the tube. Moire flicked peanuts at the screen and Jade laughed harder than she had in years.




Moire went back to her apartment to send another e-mail. It was still relatively early but Silky Girl as she called herself on the Net, decided the time had come to turn off her computer. She had after all been on the thing for three hours and her eyes felt sore beyond belief.

But Moire didn't want to hear the ping and see the shut down sign. Didn't want to accept the loneliness beyond the screen.
What had she as an alternative except four walls and a fish dinner that took three hours to cook?
"No, be positive honey. You know. Put on a happy face and all that. I'm mad for happiness me. Can't get enough of it."
She gave a curious laugh and then started giggling uncontrollably.
Moire scratched her pierced nose and flicked the switch. The computer died and she grabbed her coat and bag.
A minute later she was on the street walking down litter-strewn alleys searching for the something that would make her feel better.
She made her way past the film crew shooting their latest piece of TV trash. Fitting that it should be shot in an alley full of garbage Silky thought.
Moire passed what looked like a normal warehouse from the outside. Blackened windows and a locked door stopped any passers by looking in on the events within.
Inside, a band of scientists stood around a large globe six feet in diameter held in a cradle by big steel beams.
"Okay. Try it now. One elderly man with a large A on his smock pocket said and held his breath as the switch on the console was thrown.
For precious seconds the men waited for something magical. But the moment was lost. Nothing happened.
There were a few sparks and then the room was filled with burning.
"Damn. Felt sure that was it."
"Um. The main circuit's blown. We're gonna have to start again from scratch guys."
Mr C held his head in his hands and cursed the globe.
"Bailey ain't gonna like this."
The lights dimmed as the film crew worked but the director barely noticed. He was immersed in his movie.
"Jim, Kelly, Paul. I want you to walk down the alley in a threatening manner. Merry. You'll be facing toward the camera." The director was looking through his viewfinder while minions milled around fetching coffees or taping down anything not already stuck solid.
"Can we change this line?" Meredith queried. In this light she looked like Sharon Stone. Not in her Grace Kelly-style days of Basic Instinct but more like her straight to video days before she took to flashing on the big screen.
"Sure. Dominik can you polish this up?"
"What's wrong with: The tears of misfortune fall heavier than a leaden rain?" the twentysomething writer scratched his beard.
"It's a TV movie Dom. Not William Blake."
Hennessy nodded and took the script back to his chair, nearly blinded by the two arc lights which stood either side. Meredith never noticed him take the script. Sh e was too busy fixing her hair and trying to remember the next line.
With a biro Dominik started amending the pages while the crew got on with the cur rent scene. Underneath the script he was scribbling away on his novel, The Wielder of God's Sword written in bold letters at the top of the page.
Moire made her way past the lighting technicians when Kamen caught her eye. "S'cuse me miss. You wanna be in pictures?"
"No. You wanna be in hospital?" she replied sarcastically and shoved through the throng. "Okay Mister Kamen. I'm ready for my close-up," Meredith wandered over and winked at the director.
They started filming the last few scenes of what would be strangely billed as: The movie of the week. She hated to think what the worst movie of the week would be by compar ison. "Ragnarok, Scene 140, Take three," the clapper boy snapped his board shut and t he shoot began.
At the end of the alley Max Donnolly watched the filming from his patrol car.
"Hey, Dono. Don't torture yourself," Williamson shook his arm, breaking his daze.
"Why'd she do it Mick? Why'd she get mixed up with that... THAT?"
"Cause he' s Holl ywood and you're a doughnut merchant with a cartoon fixation. That's why. Let it go Max."
"Cow," he cursed and they drove away, rubber squealing in their wake as Max hoped it would.
Meredith jumped, the director shouted: Cut! and the whole camera crew sighed.
"From the top!" Marshall Kamen sighed and wound his finger in a clockwise mo tion as they set-up again.
"Action!"



O'Mally's Tabernacle Bar was an Irish American pub on Strontium's version of Broadway. Neatly situated in-between Blaylock's Bookshop and the wrestling ring, it was there that Moire decided to spend the evening.

She took a flyer from the kid dishing leaflets o utside. He had the leg end Brian emblazoned on his medallion. Particularly tacky she thought.
Thor Vs The Strontium Bomber
Tonite at 7.30
"How about it baby?" He said cockily.
"What is it with this city?" she cursed.
"My old man taking on the Bomber. Be a sight to see."
"No thanks. There's some dust I've got to get off the top of my TV. Where is your dad anyway?"
Brian looked around. "He's gone to see The Abyss again. Bit of a movie nut."
"Considerate of him. Getting his son to do all his publicity."
'Silky' screwed the A5 leaflet up and stuffed it in her pocket. She was building her defences for a night of crude chat-up lines from the drunks and the married men.
"See you around Silk," he called after her.
"Not unless I have my brain removed with a warm spoon you won't."
Smoke gushed from the gap in the door as she walked into the bar. As it cleared Moire could just about make her way to the bartender cleaning glasses.
Same old barkeep, same old single guys, she thought loosening her scarf. Same juke box and pool table. Same line of optics promising an intriguing array of headaches.
What Moire didn't expect to see was a familiar face.
Jade, an old college friend, sat at the other end of the bar reading a man's palm. Technically she was an old college friend but Moire just knew her from drama class. After a few minutes, the businessman made his move.
"Sorry Mister." Jade rejected him as he put his hand on her leg. Moire wandered over and sat down as the barfly Lothario went outside to watch the filming. She noticed he had one of those medallions too. 'Val' caught her eye before he left.
"Jade honey."
A look, a double take and a flash of recognition. The years melted away in a single minute. "So what you up to now?" Silky took a mouthful of beer followed by a nut chaser. "I'm a stripper." Jade smiled.
"No kidding?"
"It's good money honey," Jade grinned. "They don't get to touch. Not like in here . And I get to exploit them as much as they do me."
"Jeez I wouldn't be caught dead up there. Not with my cellulite."
Another offer from a couple of businessmen and they both said: No! in unison.
"So, what about you? What's your scene baby?"
"Work in a bookshop. Pays the rent and gives me enough space so I can get my novel written. I do a few things on the side."
"Such as?"
"Um, I write soft porn for women."
Jade laughed into her bottle.
"What a pair. Right couple of ravers aren't we?"
"So you married?"
"No." Moire snapped and then apologised for her curtness. "Nah. He went to New York, I went to Hell and back. I'm okay now though."
They drank more.
"Meredith somebody was filming outside. You know, that woman off the box?"
"Not exactly A-list is she?"
The barman brought over another couple of beers and filled the nut bowl.
"Do I detect a hint of bitterness in there somewhere?"
"Probably just jealousy. Everyone wants to be famous don't they? I did. Still do I guess. Although I don't know if it's fame as much as..."
"As much as what?"
"I dunno. Making a difference."
"Know what you mean honey."
Filling the space left by the black and white police car, an unmarked black van arrived. The lonely heart with the 'Val' medallion opened the door and got in the passenger seat. "What's the op?" he said.
The driver looked at him blankly.
"Boss wants to see you," replied the black-clad officer.
Before entering the van he looked around to see if anyone had noticed his startled expression. The truck gunned its engine and was away.
Both girls had promised to cut down on their socialising and drinking was certainly going to be put on hold. However, in the spirit of the moment they both thought to hell with it.
Jade and Moire both smoked five cigarettes and had three bottles of Bud between them as the night sped by.
A small division basketball team were making fools of themselves on the tube. Moire flicked peanuts at the screen and Jade laughed harder than she had in years.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Cloud atlas - the review

I have seen some epic, bonkers films in my time but Cloud Atlas rewrites the epic bonkers book. It's like watching five films at once, all screened on separate channels, all starring the same cast, but someone next door keeps changing the channel. Amazing, but just random.
The Wachowski siblings may have scored a smash with The Matrix in 1999, but both sequels were self indulgent, pretentious and often dreadfully scripted, badly acted and with awful make up.
Here things are better and worse. The cast is super, especially Ben Whishaw, but there are so many bizarre appearances by Tom Hanks, especially a scene in which he plays a brutal Irish novelist, which seems to have no pay off at all.
Imagine someone being given enough rope to hang themselves, the cast and thousands of crew, and you get the idea behind this gloriously bizarre folly.
I'd wanted to see it at the local multiplex, but it was pulled after a week, and I'm not surprised.
This is an art house film with a blockbuster budget. It's bound to find a cult following on Blu ray, and no doubt benefits from repeat screenings, but one viewing is an absorbing, snappily paced affair that is never dull, but at the same time ultimately frustrating, like doing an epic jigsaw puzzle without the box cover to see what the final image is, and then when the picture is complete, it's so much less than the sum of its parts.
Kudos to the actors for giving their all, but it's clear none of them knew what was going on, and there's a good bet the three directors didn't either.
As a book, David Mitchell's tome is no doubt a compelling read, but as a film you may find it far too literal in places.
I'm glad I saw it and may watch again some day, but if you want a more satisfying avant garde cinematic experience, I'd watch a David Lynch movie as there's a strange logic to his weirdness. This is an adaptation of a patchwork quilt of a novel with three film makers pulling in different directions. Inevitably the fabric of the piece was going to tear, and like Tom Hanks' scar in the opening and closing scenes, is badly stitched together in places.

Quite an experience.
7/10

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The GreAt Gatsby. the review

The biggest problem with Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the F Scott Fitzgerald novel is it just tries too hard in the first act, becomes rather dull in the second, but at least features a satisfying ending.
Another key problem is the fact i didn't really care about any of the characters. Leo DiCaprio is superbly cast as the eponymous tycoon, Tobey MacGuire watchable as the money man drawn into his world and Carey Mulligan engaging as ever as Gatsby's soul mate.

It looks incredible, though at times like a video game cut scene, and some of the music is great - contemporary tracks done in a 20s era style.

The 3d wasn't bad, Joel Edgerton was annoying, and the over use of the phrase old sport was maddeningly annoying.

7/10

Friday, 10 May 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness - the review

Was it a fluke? JJ Abrams' 2009 reboot of Star Trek? Could he recreate the same magic in a bigger universe, in 3D?
Thankfully no it wasn't and yes he could. Into Darkness is one of the best films of the year. Great story, script, pacing, effects, score, set pieces, throwbacks and forwards to classic Trek. Another home run for Bad Robot.
No spoilers here, but the story will keep fans of the 80s films happy, convert even hardcore Trek loathers (like my wife
) and never feels tired or hackneyed.
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg and Benedict Cumberbatch are all on top form, while Karl Urban delivers another great performance as Bones.
See it. It'll leave you beaming.