Mr Burke

Mr Burke

published here


The tiger folded his paws, cuffs slipping, showing monograms on his golden cufflinks.

Peterson shuddered. The bureau was huge, bigger than his house.

It made the boss look even more elegant and sophisticated, then before.

The white marble-topped table was impressive, the tiger enthroning the big black leather chair looked like a king holding court.

“Peterson. Do you think, this impresses me?” The tiger snorted and laid his ears back. His golden eyes pierced the weasel sitting in front of his desk. “Do you think this is ENOUGH?” The growl in his voice made the glass of the windows tremble.

And he sat on a wooden chair in front of a man, who could snap him in two, probably only with the power in his left pinky… His tail twitched nervously, licking his lips didn’t help. Peterson tried to hide in his hide, as he felt his boss’ eyes burning into his skull.

“…No? Sir.” The weasel trembled too, eyeing the door. “Sir? May I suggest Chef Michael prepares you an early lunch?” Peterson tried to save himself from his boss’ rage. He knew he fucked up, and the numbers were more than awful. But that didn’t mean, that he had to die for them. Hopefully… The tiger popped all claws on his left paw, and tapped the marble tabletop impatiently. He leaned back in his office chair.

“This will not suffice, Peterson. I’m disappointed with your performance.” The claws pierced the paper stack Peterson just brought with him. With a careless gesture he swept the stack to the floor. “Pick that up, Peterson.” The weasel swallowed audible.”You know what? Leave it. You reek like a dead dog. Have you been rolling in dead dog?”

“Uh, uh… nyes?” Peterson hurried to get to the door, and to close it as fast as he could from the outside.  The tiger smiled an amused smile and punched a button on his intercom. “Sally, darling, please do come in, and brighten up my day.”

“Yes, Mr. Burke.” The female voice chirped through the line.

The tiger got up and out of his navy blue blazer. The snow-white shirt was fitting him perfectly. He loosed the golden silk tie and unbuttoned his collar. His right ear twitched. Sharp clacking sounds were approaching the door. “Ah, Sally! Please come in, come in.” He opened the door for her. Sally had both hands busy with holding and over-sized bath brush, a pillow filled with catnip, and a box full of alive mice.

Mr Burke hugged her and lifted her from the ground. Sally thrashed a bit, then gave up, when hearing Mr. Burke’s purring. “Sir? Mr Burke? You know that it isn’t professional, to have your toys brought to you, if you are upset,” she asked in his shoulder.

“Mhm,” he purred.

“The CEO of a company worth multimillion dollars in arms business, is supposed to be awe-inspiring, terrifying and mighty impressive.” She lessoned him. “Shall I have Chef Michael prepare lunch?” He shook his head and let her very gently touch the ground.

“Ready?” She wiggled the pillow a bit before she threw it into the furthest corner of the bureau.


image: Kuoni

Nothing

Nothing

Published here


The metro reeks of sweat and wet dog.

Her expression is empty.

It always is. Holding that old crutch of hers, she walks. She walks slowly, and looks miserable too. But that isn’t hard with those exposed, burnt and broken legs of hers.

“A cripple has nothing to lose,” her father says so, before burning her. He says it, before he breaks her ankle and knee. First her right leg, then the left. 

She stretches out a hand, hovering in front of her, like a small cloud over a desert; white and calm, waiting to dissolve into the blue of space. She doesn’t look at the faces. People are easily annoyed. No eye contact. That’s the rule. 

There is nothing to see. She tells herself. Although… There is something worth looking at, maybe even staring at.

She feels the eyes stabbing at her. It makes her want to puke, right on the shoes of everyone. She has seen it, so many times – the thing she refuses to acknowledge: disgust, and pity. What a hateful thing to show her!

The pang of regret she can handle, maybe the glow of relief in their eyes too… Truly. She hates the naked gladness. They do not have to share her fate… Their ease, when she hobbles away.

There is nothing to see. No bother, she won’t look. She breathes.  

In.  

Out.

Three seconds.

After that, she turns to the next person. Still begging with her free hand. Repeating, carefully pronounced: “Danke schön,” and the pleading, “Bitte. Hilfe,” the best she can. She concentrates to pronounce the german words in the proper order. No slurring, no biting off syllables. The metro shakes violently, throwing her off balance.

A big hand grabs her under her armpit. She dares not move. It pulls her up. She dares not look. The grip tightens. It’s her guard, pulling her to her feet. A fat man, smelling of onion, beer and cigarettes, who can beat her to death, without remorse. 

In fact, he guards the money, not her. He leans on one of her crutches. He scratches his back with it, beats stray dogs and homeless people, beats her too. Tool and weapon.

The only good thing about being a cripple, not one man bothers her in bed. The only thing she thanks her father for. Men are disgusted by her looks. No one touches her burnt lower back, her burnt and bent legs.

They look away.

Everybody does.

Even she looks away.

Home floats back into her head. Dreams of her family occur from time to time. Mum and her little brothers dig into the familiar pain. Her knees and ankles wobble. She’s back in the hut. The stench of the abandoned dump is everywhere. Mum makes a fire and white smoke billows in. She sits in her cracked plastic chair, at the mouth of the hut. Her legs hide under a winter coat. She peels potatoes, and her brothers shout and scream. They hit each other with sticks, pretending they wield swords. 

This is where the dream takes a bad turn.

Father comes home, and he is not alone. A shiny white Hummer rolls into view, golden hub caps blinding. Father, uncle and a stranger. Mum is somewhere behind the hut, or climbing the dump for scraps. The pot bellied stranger has a golden watch on his wrist. He smiles a lot. No, that is not a smile. He bares his teeth. The men talk and laugh. 

“You don’t need to peel those potatoes anymore,” the stranger says warmly. “We are going on an adventure now!” He is the only one sober.

Mum’s voice is behind the hut, low and urgent. Father screams. “Know your place!” A loud slap. “Bitch!” Sobbing.

“You know.” The stranger squats down beside her. “You are a smart girl. If you come with me, you will make money. A lot of money. More than you can imagine. You can do with it, what you want. Maybe send it home? To your mother? So she doesn’t have to work so hard.” The stranger’s eyes lock on hers.

She nods.

Mum needs help. He’s right. In her state, the best she can do, is to go with the man. Earning money. What a dream!  He even helps her into his car, buckles her up. Then she turns around to look back. She wants to wave mum good-bye. She’s not there. At the entrance of their hut, father and uncle smile and wave at her.

Earning money… What a nightmare!

Next week, she turns fourteen. If police shows up… Jail waits for her. But that’s not important.  

After all, cripple has nothing to lose.


Image: A public display  of Shame: Prague’s beggars, by Miriam Rosseau

Spiderweb of Understanding, a Puny Guide to Writing Emotions

So you made up a character you are fond of? Well done!

Let your character come to life. You know the drill: a face, a body, a CV, a past, jobs, families, friends, past lovers, nick names (cool and nasty ones), pets, favorite drinks, tattoos, scars, allergies and whatnot. The being of the character forms gradually in front of your mind’s eye. Mannerisms give a vivid stroke. Borrow them from people you know, if you must.

Almost there! Your character is fleshed out, but still a bit flat. Facts and habits do not add up to a realistic figure. The whole is more than the sum of the parts. The magic potion to add depths, is labeled – no, not unicorn tears – the character’s emotions. Continue reading “Spiderweb of Understanding, a Puny Guide to Writing Emotions”

the lion roars (2)

the lion roars (2)

PART 1 – LIQUID PEACE


PART 2

PATIENT PAPER 

 

The police station was accommodated in an old building, a school from the 19th century.

It took me three hours to get anywhere near Benny.

They had me fill out seven forms, both sides, all identical. The policeman in charge ripped two forms apart, and I had to start again. “Hand slipped.” His comment slapped my ears. This was nothing but mile high harassment. I knew it. The police man knew it, and I tried not to get too angry.

Then they had me write down what happened from the phone call on, till now.

Time delaying tactics. Maybe they searched and bugged my apartment right about now. They must have turned Benny’s upside down already.

 I tried to remember, if there was anything suspicious in my flat, something that could get me in jail.

Nothing to hide…

No political literature, beside what was permitted and encouraged. Some family photos, but I’m the only one left alive, so no danger on that end. No newspapers or magazines, no radio – lucky me. Only cigarettes, coffee and booze and dirty laundry.

Continue reading “the lion roars (2)”

med bay snippets # 3

Is this one of your stupid jokes, Rains? What do you mean with, “we lost Decker”? He’s hooked to E-bed 2, in quarantine, thanks to you. Care to elaborate? He raises an eyebrow.  I know the doc doesn’t approve that I ripped off the seal. The best I could do, to trigger the alarm.

I shake my head, but plunk down into the seat, the doctor offers me. He pushes a cup of fresh coffee over to me, and glances down his watch. I know perfectly well, that what I’m about to say is… It sounds batshit crazy, even to me.

Look doc, I’m… I don’t know. I – I just – I have to tell someone. Makes me feel less… Continue reading “med bay snippets # 3”

med bay snippets #2

The soft purring of the monitoring alarm on my watch wakes me, by vibrating. I’m up…

I tell the watch and it recognizes my voice. The command kills the alarm.

Sleeping at the med bay is seldom a good idea, and sleeping at a working station – uh, table – is downright irresponsible. I rub my face into some kind of wakefulness and wish I could rub my back into a painless state. Continue reading “med bay snippets #2”

med bay snippets #1

I look at my bandaged hand in the unnatural green light of the exam room. Nasty… That’s what I would say, if my mouth would do its job. Lips and tongue are swelling and numb. I try not to be too suspicious by licking them. I bet, if you eat a swarm of angry hornets, it would feel the same. Not the regular ones, but the big, Japanese ones, with mean attitude.

Continue reading “med bay snippets #1”