Lankie leant against a wall down a cobbled path behind peoples houses and a pub. A cigarette between his fingers and his right leg bent with his foot on the wall. Down the left mouth of the ginnel, a penguin waddled towards him. Lankie shook his head and did a double take, “What the fuck?” He huffed through a haze of smoke.
The penguin approached closer and closer till Lankie could make out the man’s eyes.
“What the fuck is this?” He gestured with his cigarette hand with palm wide open.
“It’s a penguin costume,” Shortie replied matter of factly.
Lankie rubbed at his temples with both hands, ash falling from his cigarette. “You going for a Batman theme and took the penguin bit too literally?” He grinned.
Shortie looked up at his Lankie friend, “What?”
Lankie shook his head, “nevermind.”
Not long after Shortie appeared behind him his entourage appeared, three waddling penguins.
Lankie pulled his lips back with a sarcastic look on his face, “We’re meant to look inconspicuous.”
Shortie ignored him and turned to his boys, “Right,” he barked as if it was an order.
All the men began unzipping their penguin costumes and stepped out dressed up as women.
“Shit,” Lankie shook his head, “You’re all like some really freaky fucking Russian dolls!” He averted his eyes from the colourful makeup on their faces and the attempts at hiding their stubble rather than shaving. “Yea put the penguin suits back on, you were oddly much less noticeable.” Lankie shot Shortie a glance, “why didn’t you wear a penguin costume anyway?”
“Didn’t want our wives seeing us dressed like this!” Shortie gestured at his wig and dress, “they’d wonder what we were up to.” He said in explanation.
In his garish floral dress and brunette wig with curling strands of hair down his ears Shortie led the other three men who were also dressed garishly, one of the men had short denim jeans on with that torn effect at the rims. Lankie towered over them and followed with a scowl behind the tights on his head. They snuck across the road to the hairdressers. To any onlookers it would have been a sight, five men stalked across a zebra crossing. One tall, Lankie man in a long coat creating a further illusion of height and four men in front wearing wigs, looking not so glamorous. It would have made a good copy of the famous Beatles photo, but with one extra band member if it was taken at night. Shortie crept along the window of the shop and peered into the darkened room.
“Right,” He gestured with his arm for Johnny in his denim shorts,
Johnny looked over his shoulder, his wig flailing with the momentum before bending down to the lock on the door and picking it carefully with his lock picking tools. When the click came, he looked over at Shortie and grinned in the dark. Stepping back from the door he let Shortie have the privilege of opening the door.
“Right come on boys!” He waved a hand to gesture at the other two short fuckers and one Lankie streak of piss.
Shortie, Lankie and the two other short fuckers skulked around the shop trashing to pieces, pouring shampoo on the floor, spraying foam everywhere.
While Johnny went into the back room and picked the lock of the safe.
“You got it yet?” Shortie shouted into the back room as he took a piss in a corner of the shop.
Johnny came out in a flash with a wad of cash in his hands!
“We need Nicholas to know it was us to send him a message!” Lankie reminded Shortie.
Shortie shook a spray can of hair curl spray foam and wrote the words, ‘This is the long and short of the story,” on a mirror.
Lankie shook his head, “What does that even mean?”
Shortie shrugged, “It means this is the end.”
Lankie shrugged and led them out of the shop.
I’ve got shoes on my hands
And gloves on my feet
Got a nose that runs
Don’t know when we’ll next meet
Got eyes where ears used to be
And ears where eyes should’ve been
I cry a lot but the tears are my teeth
Falling out when I breathe
I tried to join the circus
But they said I was a freak!
I stretched my legs till I could reach the sky
It still wasn’t enough
So I shrunk myself till I was invisible to the naked eye
I still wasn’t satisfied
So I stretched my arms till I could reach the clouds
But kept my legs short so I could still touch the ground
But my voice wasn’t loud
I sounded too much like a mouse
So I enlarged my head and my throat box
And I screamed and screamed
Till I smashed all the clocks
And time flew over the cuckoos nest
Now I forget the rest.
“I see you’ve cracked.” The therapist says, tilting her body on the big computer chair.
“Haven’t we all?” I ask
“No. Do I look like I’ve cracked?” She asks, tilting herself forward and spinning in the chair to show me her entire body.
“The night is young. I can crack you if you want.”
“And how would you do that?” She asks.
“Then you’d crack more and we’d both just be a gooey mess.”
We both draw smirks on our shells.
“You are being inappropriate perhaps, Miss Therapist.” I etch a grin on my shell. “Do you remember when we all had cracks, out of the virtue of being human?”
She draws another smirk on her face, “Are you using a euphemism?”
I draw raised eye brows on my face, “Well the euphemism sure was implied. But I also mean metaphorically.”
She tilts her body forwards and looks at me curiously, “Explain.”
“Do you remember your first heartbreak, Miss?”
She nods her body to gesture yes.
“So do I. That was a crack on our psyche. But then we moved on, perhaps we were even stronger afterwards. You know when all was said and done.”
“We used to crack inside and sometimes we had wounds to show for it outside. But we stitched ourselves back up.”
“We did.” She agrees.
“But the generation just after me, hell probably even my own age to some extent, crack and never get up again.”
“We’re more fragile than we ever were. While trying to be stronger than we ever were.” I knock on my shell, and another crack appears, “See what I mean?”
“You are so cynical, Sam.”
“What you call cynicism is just the truth, Miss.” I lean my body forwards, “It’s also just evolution.”
“I’m supposed to help you.” She leans forwards and replaces her current default expression with a sympathetic look. “But honestly, I don’t think you can be helped.” She etches a sad face on her shell.
“I know.” I agree. “Our shells are just too fragile.”
“But they’re so full of calcium.” She says with the scripted optimism therapists are given.
“Which is certainly good for the birds.”
She looks at me puzzled.
“We can feed ourselves to the birds.”
“Perhaps it’s time for the dinosaurs to rise again.”
For more like this:
All in the head
“So, Sam how are you feeling today?”
We both glow brightly in the dark room, I want to touch my face, but I’m afraid I’ll accidently press a button. “I’m feeling an emptiness that is full.”
My therapist changes position slightly in her chair; she’s trying to tilt her head in that human way therapists used to do. “Uh huh. Tell me more.”
That’s in the therapist’s script or dictionary or whatever. “What can I say. It’s everything, and it’s nothing. But there is no connection.”
“Connection to whom?” My therapist asks curiously; I imagine she’d be raising a brow if we were still human.
“To the world, to life, to humans. We think we’re connected, but then we come away empty, don’t we? Just a screen full of emojis.”
“What emoji represents how you feel right now?”
“None can adequately portray anything.”
The therapist nods her body. “Yes, Yes. But you’d probably say the same about words, right?”
“Yes. No words, no emoji’s, hell even no action can quite express what I so often feel. That’s why, no disrespect, therapy is bullshit.”
Her cartoon like legs dangle off the chair, “I think the problem we have is many people have been comfortable putting their brains into their phones, but you’re not quite there yet.”
“Nobodies quite there yet.”
“Isn’t that a massive assumption?”
“No. The evidence is right here. Have you been to Tumblr?”
The therapist looks sad. “Yes. I’ve seen it.”
“They’ve put their brains in electronic devices, miss. And then they’re looking for a reason and well let’s be frank, there is none. So they’re fighting for causes some of them have a grain of truth, but they’ve mutated the grain.”
My therapist nods her body again. She is also reluctant to touch her face, just in case she too accidently touches a button.
“We’re dotting our I’s, Miss.”
She shows me a confused emoji, then says, “Like,” and shows a cross-eyed emoji.
“We’re dotting our I’s because we can’t quite capitalise on individuality, though we’re trying harder than we ever have before.”
The therapist’s screen shows moving dots as she considers this. “I can’t say I understand the way in which you express yourself.”
“That is nothing new, Miss.”
“Sam. You’ll never be happy living like this.”
I glow my full body towards her, my cartoon like legs dangling also. “Happy wasn’t ever a constant or ever will be. There is no such thing as a happy life.”
“That sounds very cynical.” She shows an emoji with a flat expression.
“Perhaps what you call cynism is just the truth.”
She ponders a moment, her legs kicking out underneath her like a child’s on a stool that is too tall for her, “How can we end this therapy session?”
I bend my body, so I glow towards the floor, the light reflecting from the ground back to me, making it too bright to exist. “We can’t.”
I forgot I’m not supposed to go on rollercoasters. Still here I sit like a beer glass on a coaster, I’m shaking inside my teeth are chattering. It’s not cold. I’ve got adrenaline through my viens 10 times a dozen. I’m about to have a heart attack. I’m fizzing up, I’m frothing at the head and I’m running over like a liquid. The rollercoaster goes upsidedown, everything looks right this way down. I throw up my guts over some innocent person just walking along minding their own business. “If my head falls off,” I start, to the stranger beside me, “It’s okay.”
“Um.” He shifts his eyes from side to side.
“Your eyes looked better where they were originally.”
“The doctors say everythings in my head anyway.” I grin, sick smeared round my mouth.