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2017

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2011-03-05

As Lady and I look out tonight from Desolation Row

Hamish and Veronica leave their apartment only with the bare essentials; their iPods, their Blackberrys, their credit cards and their medication.  Veronica considers bringing a bottle of water from the fridge but noone can be bothered carrying it so they each have a hydration shake before their leave the apartment.

They take a taxi down the road to the city park because the circus is in town.  All the freaks are out tonight.  Luckily Hamish and Veronica are normal; they are heterosexual, living in a legally recognised de facto relationship; their parents are Christians and they are nothing in particular, they believe in God, but not in religion; they earn average incomes, well slightly above-average, for this part of town; they are well-educated so they don't spend more than three or four hours a day watching TV, they both prefer to spend their evenings on the internet; they have no children but Veronica wants three; life is good.

It's still early, only 23.00, and yet there is a gang of drunken men roaming down the middle of the street, blocking traffic, looking for somewhere to go.  Hamish and Veronica veer off the road and into the park.  They browse the stands in the park, each only paying $300 for inclusion in the carnival.  There is one stand for optometrists, one for making jewellery out of plastic beads, which occupies Veronica for three minutes while Hamish stares enviously at the automatic rifle stand, one stand for joining the police force, another for joining the Green Party, another for joining the army, another for joining the surf lifesavers, another that sells piano keys that are also MP3 players and Parker pens that are also lensless cameras.

Hamish and Veronica browse holding hands for thirty minutes before heading to the food stands to eat some candyfloss and hotdogs.  When Veronica sees Hamish eating a hotdog she has a flash of her old fear that he is homosexual and decides to stab herself in the thigh before bed.  While Hamish buys pretzels Veronica bumps into that crazy man from work who spends too much time on the internet and believes that newspapers are propaganda and the government is trying to control us.  She smiles beautifully, never indicating her underlying hatred, while he talks about atheism and smokes what appear to be cigarettes but what smell to Veronica like marijuana.  The worst part is that Hamish talks to this lunatic and even offers him pretzels, which Veronica subsequently refuses to eat.

Hamish is too friendly to be truly heterosexual, Veronica thinks, as she watches him agree with the lunatic that we are living in a police state when she knows perfectly well that Hamish makes monthly automatic payment donations to the police force, which are now a private company and need all the money they can get if they are going to keep our streets safe and our screens clean.  Veronica's digging her fingernails into her flesh through the fabric in her pockets waiting for this polite conversation to end; Hamish is not even listening anymore, just nodding and grinning and agreeing while he thinks about visiting the lingerie stall or the automatic rifle stall while Veronica is busy; the lunatic keeps talking to Hamish, despite having lost interest minutes ago, because he doesn't know how to end a conversation with someone who clearly still thinks that free-market politics is a sign of a healthy freedom-loving civilisation.

They are interrupted by the sponsored idiots coming through with microphones and amplification following them around on an electric trailer.  They be funny by talking about defecating in the water cooler at work and embarrassing people on how many times a day they take a shower.  Veronica is desperate for the lunatic to be humiliated but she is surprised when he makes some left-wing comment that sends roars of laughter in every direction and is loaded onto YouTube by the time she buys another sugar-free energy drink.

Everyone is overwhelmed with sexual delight when the sailors come past, all in their uniforms, all drunk and merry and holding each other around the shoulders, all in town just for the weekend.  Each of them has been to the beauty parlor and clearly spent a lot of money getting their hair done and their make-up done for the big night at the carnival.  Veronica's heart is a-flutter as they pass, desire and confusion intermingling at their prettyness and gender-confusion.  She smiles at Hamish and wonders about his desires around these sailors.  "Pretty aren't they?" she asks him with a jovial smile.  "Pretty gay."  His derision is a great relief to her.

The excitement is building and in another session of great humour they have the police commissioner, who has been hypnotised, standing on the gallows as a makeshift stage.  He has his pants around his ankles and is eating an onion like an apple when Hamish and Veronica turn up.  Hamish understands irony and chuckles about the fact that if the commissioner wasn't hypnotised he would be the one charging the hypnotist with the dangerous and illegal act of serving raw food, which could be swimming in bacteria and putting a strain on the already over-burdened health industry, which is no longer receiving any public funding and relies entirely on the donations and health-insurance of everyday people.  Hamish wonders at how he can be so subversive sometimes.

After the hypnotist has been arrested for making reference to the police commissioner's genitals the real show begins.  Since the UN claimed that public hangings are barbaric and inhumane and the state policy became torture-to-apology there have been annual public hangings, just one a year, as celebrations of the success of good behaviour in society in general.  And since the new society for the protection of child sex offenders it has been tradition for the hanging to present gimmick criminals such as drugaddicts and filmmakers.  This year the hangee seems to have dressed in some sort of retro '60s hippie costume and is throwing slogans like "free love" and "make love not war" around though most people can't hear him cos only the MC has a microphone.

All the cameras and phones are raised as the big moment of the hanging takes place and the list of charges is read aloud.  Most of his charges involve crimes against language, impoliteness and loitering in national parks but noone's really listening because they know the charges will be listed on the postcards being sold for $5.00 each or $2.50 if you wait until the trucks come in the morning to scrub the streets and spray soap everywhere.

As Hamish and Veronica wander off, casually texting for a taxi, there is loud music and they turn to see the riot squad beating the crowd and trying to disperse the lingerers who have stayed after the hanging is complete and the blood and semen has been cleaned up.  Veronica holds her man close, in loving awe of his sense of timing and his extremely quick text messaging.

When they get home they watch the news together, not wanting to miss the up-to-the-minute report on the carnival on the local news channel.  Then Hamish uploads the night's photos onto Facebook, they watch some YouTube, have a coffee and go to bed.

Early in the morning Hamish wakes up and sees light shining through the window.  He stumbles in his satin pajamas to the window and sees the quiet clean streets caught in the bright rays of the rising sun.  It's all already been cleaned as if nothing happened out there last night.  This is an ungodly hour to look out onto Desolation Row he thinks to himself as he closes the curtains and stumbles back to bed.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Wow! Incredible, Chris....