Sunday, November 29, 2015

Living Stories: Kafka Woman

The thing was that he didn't want to send out the wrong signals. There was no denying the facts: he was much older than her and she was, no question, beautiful. This random encounter – so far quite a lovely thing - could quite easily turn into the clumsiest of cliches.

Maybe it was best left alone. Left to fade to the faintest of sweet memories.

But what if he was – yet again – missing an opportunity? Hadn't he already missed his opportunity with her? Only for her to return, for the memory of her to return, for him to be given the chance to thank her and talk to her and get to know her a little.

She had been sitting in his cafe. Her beauty and serenity had caught his eye. He didn't feel love or lust, but he was entranced. That she was reading one of his stories intrigued him further. Which one was she reading? What was she thinking as she read? He kept glancing over, entranced and intrigued as she read.

Later, while he had been busy making coffee that he knew they would enjoy, he heard an accent ask his helper a question: Excuse me, can you tell me who is the author of the stories?

His helper had looked at him. He had looked at the customer and smiled: I am the author of the stories, he had said.

She had smiled like she knew, a smile of peace and knowing.

I loved your story - she had said in a way that made him forget what he was doing - It was so sad and so beautiful.

He had felt such gratitude hearing these words. Thank you, he had told her, for telling me this. It means so much to me that my stories reach people but I never know.

It moved me so much, I had tears as I read it.

Ah, he had replied, I had tears as I wrote it. A sad smile of gratitude, then he had remembered the mundane thing of work and had shifted his attention.

She lingered, seemed to want to say something, could see that he was busy and wished him a good day.

And was gone.

He watched her go.

I think, his helper had said, that she wanted to talk to you.

This was true. As true as the fact that she was gone. He said something about next time, knowing as he said it that she was a traveller, perhaps passing through, perhaps never coming back. Losing focus, he had heated the milk too much, tipped it out and started again.

But she came back. She was looking for work, would like to work in his cafe. She wanted to leave her contact details in case there was work for her. He didn't recognise her immediately. He wondered why there was such friendly warmth in this traveller's smile. Then the memory fell into place and this time there was no room for the mundane things. He was not going to miss this opportunity again. Fortunately it was the quiet time of the day. Perhaps she had planned it that way.

You were here a few weeks ago, weren't you.


And you told me you enjoyed my story.


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It means a lot to me. And thank you so much for coming back. It felt like you had wanted to talk.

I did. Your story has stayed so much on my mind. It's so strong, the way life moves on... it is such beautiful writing.

Thank you. It's just a thing I do. Stories are all around us, happening all the time. Some of us have to write them down. Are you a writer?


And they talked and talked the way only very old old or very new friends talk. She told him about her play that she had written and produced, and about the other things she had written but not yet shared. They both asked questions and gave answers. They told each other about the tricks needed to get the words flowing, about the pleasure found in writing the perfect piece. He made her a coffee that she said was perfect, and she stayed and they talked and when finally he had to get back to the mundane things of cleaning up and closing down, she sang a peaceful song to herself in his empty cafe, perhaps for herself, perhaps for him. Her voice was exquisite.

Eventually, it was time for her to go. They thanked each other for whatever it was they had given each other, and once again he watched her go.

And now, weeks later, he was worried about sending out the wrong signals. He thought that maybe he should just let it go because it could so easily become the clumsiest of cliches. And yet... what if it could be the perfect friendship? What if, like him, she was a solitary soul who rarely opens, but opens fully in the right company?

He had no work for her, but he had her contact details. He could write to her. He could tell her about a new story he had written. She could come back into the cafe to read the story and they could talk and...

And what? Could they really become friends? Could true friendship really come out of this random chance encounter with a stranger? Why not? Stranger things had happened.

And yet. Maybe it was best left to fade to the most perfect of memories. She had come into his cafe. She had read his story. They had talked. End of story.

Friday, November 27, 2015

You Tool

A partner in crime is currently visiting. We have a history of staying up all night talking and drinking, but the cafe and 6am rises mean school nights are pretty quiet these days. She is out seeing other friends. It is Thursday night, just after 10pm when she texts saying that she is on the tram on the way home and asks if we are in.

I reply: No, we are at My Aeon nightclub in Brunswick. It's going off. You should join us.

Partner In Crime: Cool. I'm on Smith Street. Where on Brunswick?

Me: Sorry - that was a stupid joke. Am at home. Have to be up at 6am again.

Partner In Crime: You tool.

I do indeed feel like a tool when I learn that she got off the tram to find the nightclub.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Grumpy Meets Kafka Woman

Cafe Stories: Kafka Woman

A few weeks ago a woman was in the cafe quietly reading my story, Remembering Argos. I wrote about her then. I think I described her then as seeming like a serene or peaceful soul. She had come over and asked who is Lee Bemrose. I said I am. She told me she loved the story, that it really moved her. I got the distinct impression that she wanted to talk, but I was busy with coffee, and she left. My helper said to me, I think she wanted to talk to you. I shrugged and said maybe next time, but felt like maybe I'd blown it because she had an accent and was probably a traveler stopping by as she moved on. There probably wasn't going to be a next time.

Weeks later there is another traveler looking for work. I walk into the service area as The Dreaded One is telling the traveler that we are fully staffed. The traveler smiles at me and says hello the way you say it to a friend. I don't recognise her immediately, but we start talking and I realise who it is. It is her, as beautiful and peaceful and serene as ever. We start talking. I tell her how happy I am that she came back because I got the impression that she might have wanted to talk. I also go the impression that she might be a writer. Right on both counts.

It screwed with my afternoon getaway timetable, but I wasn't going to miss the same opportunity twice. The talk was easy and jumped about all over the place. I think something about my short story intrigued; she wanted to know more about someone who would write such a story, a story that she said has stayed with her so strongly since she read it. I asked if she was a writer, and she told me about a play she wrote and produced just after her uni years, and said that someone had compared it to Kafka, and how proud that made her feel.

We told each other about ourselves. She seemed content to stay in the cafe, saying something about its vibe. Eventually I had to continue packing down. She said the coffee I made was the best she had had in a long time. She sang quietly as I cleared the day away. Her voice was exquisite. We thanked each other for whatever it was we had given each other and said we'd probably run into each other again.

I could be wrong, but I thought I felt the hint of the beginning of a friendship between Grumpy and Kafka Woman.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

And So It Was Written: The Lament Of Saint Grumpy

And so it was to pass that all of the last customers of every day for all days to come would be the messiest customers of all the messy customers.

And it was to pass that all of these messiest of all the messiest customers to be the last customers of the day will order hedgehog slices with their lusciously loose toppings of desiccated coconut whose ultimate destination would be at the whim of the slightest of breezes.

And if these last and messiest of all the customers chose not to order the fucking annoyingly messy things called Hedgehog slices, it was depressingly inevitable that their second choice would be a toasted croissant, with its crispy and wonderfully flaky crispy flakiness.

And it would pass that now and forever more that there would forever be unrelenting storms of fucking coconut and fucking croissant flakes long after Saint Grumpy had swept the floor, weeping for the unrelenting eternity of his eternal punishment.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

An Open Letter To Jihadis

Dear Jihadis everywhere,

Look, I know you're not very bright. I know “Thinking” is not as high on your Things To Do Today as shouting, raping and beheading. You'd really rather throw people off rooftops or crucify them than actually think about stuff (stuff like kindness and charity). I know you don't like it when people suggest that maybe you should go about things in a different way, but bear with me here. I'll speak as slowly as I can and keep my message to you as simple as I can, because I know what dumbfuck simple morons you are – and I say that in the nicest possible way because it's not your fault that you were born a dumbfuck simple moron; your god made you that way smiley face.

So here's the thing. Paradise. It's good, huh? What's the deal? 72 virgins all to yourself? That's fucking awesome, isn't it. It's way better than you have it here. I mean, you're not EVER going to pull that many chicks in your life in the here and now – let alone virgin ones, what with all the raping you barbaric fuckers are doing. So Paradise... this Paradise with all these virgins to deflower... because that's the best – the absolute best - your God could come up with... 72 virgins who aren't going to be virgins after you've had your way with them. He's, like, God... he created the entire fucking universe – which if you ever read any science stuff you'd realise is an amazingly big and complex and mysterious thing... a fantastically amazing thing that just does your head in when you think about it... he created dimensions and time and black holes planets the size of... okay, soz, said I was going to keep it simple for you. But seriously – orgasms? This immense god has promised you some orgasms with some virgins? And that's it? And you're buying that?

Point is, he's fucking hugely gifted and amazingly talented, this god of yours.

And you're settling for 72 virgins. I see. That's the ultimate reward your god has promised you. That's Paradise.

Has he promised you hot virgins? What if they're fat? What if they're fat with chin stubble? What if they're a virgin version of the mother from Everyone Loves Raymond? Or even better still – what if they're Marg Simpson's sisters? How funny would that be! You kill innocent, peace-loving people quietly going about their business in this wonderful, modern world we live in and then you kill yourself only to end up in paradise with 72 virgin cartoons! Sorry, but that would be fucking hilarious. Your god, the great creator, he gave us (not you so much, but the rest of us) humour too, so you know... Paradise could be a great big whoopy cushion of laughs for you knuckleheads.

Thing is, you really think this Paradise gig is real. You say things to your loved ones like “See you in Paradise” before you go off to murder the loved ones of others. But if Paradise is the ultimate goal for you... if life here on planet earth is just a stepping stone... fuck off to Paradise now and leave the rest of us alone.

Go. Now. Put a fucking bullet in your poisoned mind and go. Go to Paradise. Leave us alone. Go to this better place, this promised place. Leave us infidels to rot here on Earth in the here and now, and you wallow smugly in your promised place with your promised virgins. You consider your death your wedding because of the promised virgins? Get married right fucking now. Gun. Bullet. Load. Put it in your fucking brain and fuck off to your Paradise and leave us in the peace WE all want and deserve.

It's so simple that even you dumbfuck jihadis must be able to get it. Fast track your destiny.

Paradise is waiting for you – what are you waiting for?

Leave us alone.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Forgotten Memories

Forgotten memories
Dark shadows
In closed rooms.
The empty hallways,
And the shadows
Of memories
That seep into the light.

I loved you.
I miss you.
And I wished from time to time,
That you existed.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The Fear Of God, Flash Fiction

The Fear Of God

Lee Bemrose

God, look at them. What on earth are they doing?

Beats me. This is not what I had in mind. They're completely out of control. They're totally bonkers.

You going to do something about them?

I don't know if there is anything I can do about them. Not now. They've changed so much I barely recognise them.

Maybe you should have stepped in earlier. I think you should have definitely stepped earlier.

I think you're right. I think it might be a little too late now.

You're not going to do anything at all?

Hmm. I could send you in, I guess. Some of them have been expecting you for some time now.

Are you kidding me? I'm not going down there. They've gone completely batshit crazy.

You scared of them?

Damn straight I'm scared of them. They fucked me over last time, and look at them now. They've developed and regressed spectacularly at the same time. Imagine what they'd do to me now?

Yes, it's fascinating, isn't it. Like watching a car crash, as they would say.

I don't know why you don't just do something. Pull some Big Daddy stuff on them.

I just... I' don't know. I'm actually pretty confused by it all. None of this was supposed to happen. Not like this. Such killing. Such madness. Such destruction. I'm not sure exactly where I went wrong. Or how I can put it right.

You really think they are properly out of control?

Look at them. What do you think? So much potential squandered. And I thought I kept things pretty straightforward. Why did they make things so complicated.

Tell me something... are you scared of them?

Me? Don't be ridiculous.

No, you are, aren't you. You're scared of them too. Ha ha – that's friggin hilarious. They scare the shit out of you. Heee hee. You're shitting yourself!

Jesus, stop laughing. This is serious... stop it! Jesus Christ stop doing that! I hate being tickled!

Lol. Soz. Okay. Look, I just don't think it's right to sit back and not do anything. They're making a hell of a mess and making things pretty bad for everything else. And they're expanding.

What are you suggesting?

Smite them. For all their stupidity they are pretty bright. What if they figure it all out. Can you imagine them in here?

What a thought. Ergh. That would be really horrible.

Then I think you should either do something to save them. Change them somehow. Or smite them.

Maybe you're right. Although if we leave them to it it won't be long before they smite themselves. And it is weirdly entertaining. Maybe we'll watch for a little bit longer. See what happens.

Okay. You're the boss. You want some wine while we watch them?

Yeah, sure, some wine would be good. And maybe lock the gate on your way past. Just in case. These crazies... they scare me.