There is no such thing as mundane disbelief on the wretched, glittering streets of New Orleans. No doubt lives among the connoisseurs of gin and light. No hesitation hides behind distorted Mardi Gras masks, only creatures moving lithely through the crowd of wayward travelers. The city breathes in a cacophony of sound. Even the steel factory rattles distantly, like a drum beat. Yet, as Thomas O’Clery stood in the braking trolley car, inhaling the piss and bourbon stench of the city, he felt only a cold numbness. Neither the driverless carriages, or the preternatural weight of hot summer jazz, like a voodoo queen’s curse, could frighten or arouse him. Not anymore.
Here we are at week 210.
I don’t know about anyone reading this but there is a tradition in Ayr that showcases all that is bad with writing. It is the weekly release of the local newspaper.
My promotional Facebook ad campaign is far from ready. An upside down, high resolution, Marlene Dietrich holding my self-published book awaits my intervention. I hesitate before choosing the rotate option or is it the flip? Marlene looks regal, confident in her fur coat. What would Marlene think of a book starting with:
She loved lemons and would squirt them on everything, their yellow rind reminding him of her sunshine. Lemons never tasted sweeter. Without her, his heart wouldn’t beat right.
The Mooney woman taught him how to do it. She was forbidden to be on the premises, but she called Alfie over one day when he was playing near the fence that bordered the lane. The call was a high fluttering whistle, dancing like a mountain stream. He had been building a den from old branches and bracken when he heard, and though he knew from whence came the sound, he was drawn there as though to a trove of sweets.
A small bird lands at the roadside, scuffing the hot dust, and she asks the tour guide what it is.
“Zebra finch,” he says. “They’re what you wanna see if you’re lost out here.”
Eilidh watches the bird dab at the earth with its orange beak.
“Must be water somewhere close,” the guide says. “They never stray far from it.”
“I wouldn’t either,” she says.