by Jack Buckeridge
Published in Word Catalyst Magazine 2009
There was no cage in Debra´s house. No budgerigar sharpened its beak on a piece of cuttlefish bone. No canary pretended it was happy. No dog chewed on a bone behind closed doors.
She´d considered a cat, because cats come and go as they please, but even a cat would have reminded her of her own imprisonment. No, it was better to be alone in the house when Kevin wasn´t in.
There were days when he was away on business when she ventured out on her own, without telling him of course, and an indescribable peace covered her then; a window opening.
She should have run away on those days, but she didn´t, she was too worried about what Kevin would do when he caught her. And he would catch her she knew it.
Kevin knew how Debra thought. This gave him the edge. He knew what she was capable of doing or not doing;the excesses of her cowardice, the limits of her courage.
Debra´s problem was her imagination. She always imagined the worst. Her mother had always warned her. "Beware of your imagination, Debra.It´s a blessing or a curse. Manage it or it will manage you. Never forget that you´re your own best friend and your own worst enemy."
She´d never forgotten her mother´s words but found it impossible to follow her advice.
There were periods in her life when her imagination was so vivid that reality itself paled in comparison. What she imagined would happen, invariably did happen. And the more she guessed right, the more real the other world became.
While Debra´s house was her jail, she was surrounded by images of freedom: the photo of a wheat field in the living room with its distant horizon; shots of the ocean everywhere; an eagle lording it over the Grand Canyon below; and the fridge.
The prints on the wall relaxed her but the fridge was her way out; the door to a colder, fatter world. Kevin liked her slim.
The day the penny had dropped was a Sunday, they´d visited Kevin´s mother and coming home he´d grumbled "Mom´s as fat as a cow now. Can´t keep the fridge door shut." Fat was one of Kevin´s pet hates, right up there with communists, demonstrators and loud neighbours. There were plenty more hates too just below the tops. It was hard to find anything that Kevin liked; other than his own way of course.
Debra had a salad dinner that night as the plan slowly formed in her mind. It´s difficult to stick to a diet, and the reverse, getting fat on purpose wouldn´t be that easy to achieve, especially with Kevin around. She would have to do it ever so carefully, putting on kilos under dark clothes. She chose black then as an indispensable ally in the hatching of her plan, as well as hiding the evidence of her new bestiality. Quiche Lorraine, chocolate cake and apple pies were too obvious to stack in the freezer and for the moment were taboo. She began to count calories like never before. Five here or there were added to her sauces.
There were no friends to help her, no sisterhood out there to listen to her story of sacrifice or applaud her willpower. She had to get fat alone.
Three weeks passed before Kevin noticed anything. He didn´t look at Debra, he looked through her and that gave her a fat start.
"You´ve put on weight." he said, suddenly noticing her across the table.
"I don´t think so." she replied.
"Maybe the candlelight´s playing tricks on me, but your face seems rounder." he said staring across the table. "Come to think of it why have we been eating every meal this week with candles?"
"I thought you´d like the idea."
"Don´t buy anymore." he snapped. "I like to see what I´m eating."
Debra wished Kevin would choke on a fish bone. Eating salmon or perch in the candlelight was always a risk. Still,bumping Kevin off wasn´t part of the plan, even though the thought amused her.
After that she knew he was on to her, but there was no stopping now. She upped the ante. Morning tea was cheese cake and shortbread creams. Doughnuts were piled on the afternoon tea plate.
"You´ve definitely put on weight." Kevin said three days later, watching her bend over as she opened the oven door. "Those pants of yours are stretched to the limit."
"Maybe you´re right," she said puffing as she stood up. "but if I have I can´t imagine why?"
He opened the fridge door. Everything seemed in order. Debra had eaten the evidence.
"Maybe I´ve got a hormonal problem."
"What´s that supposed to mean?"
"Things change, Kevin. Perhaps I should see the doctor."
"Can´t think of anything else to do, if you think I´m getting fat."
"Don´t say that!" he said staring at her stomach.
"Thanks for telling me." she said
She feigned a visit to the doctor the next day. "He´s given me a bottle of sea kelp tablets." she told Kevin that night. "We´ll just have to wait and see if they work or not."
She flushed four tablets a day down the toilet as she continued stuffing her face. A week later she was wearing muumuu dresses.
Kevin´s mood darkened. While Debra had irritated him when she was slim he was at least able to have sex with her three times a week. That kept everything in check. His bad moods peaked on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and trod water in the spaces in between.
A month later and Debra was a slob. Her voice was a pant instead of a trill, she was wearing some of Kevin´s old shirts as well as the muumuu´s, her blood pressure was over the roof and a mist of sweat covered her body all day long.
It had been three weeks since Kevin had done it. He was as laden down with sperm as Debra was with kilos. It was just too disgusting to link with that big fat ugly body. Staggered with frustration, unable to think of anything other than climax, Kevin turned the light off.
They´d been married five years and had had sex at seven in the mornings for most of that time. Kevin liked to start every other day that way. He´d never thought of doing it at night.
But there´s a first time for everything. "What are you doing?" Debra asked as he bumped into her body taking his pyjamas off.
"What the hell do you think I´m doing?" he snapped as he edged on top of the great floundering whale.
Debra couldn´t see him and his grunting sounded strange. He could have been anyone else other than the miserable bastard he was. She bit him on the neck.
Kevin reeled back in the dark, his desperation checked. She´d never bitten him before. It shocked him but he liked it. He was going to pay her back with a backhander across her fat cheek but held back as she bit him again. He let out a scream of ecstasy that neither of them had ever heard. The cycle of biting and thrusting continued unabated until they collapsed from exhaustion an hour later.
The neighbours heard Kevin singing in the shower in the morning.
Debra spent most of the next day thinking about what had happened. She only picked at her food. Kevin repulsed her but she´d enjoyed the night before. Did that mean that she really did love part of him? She began to cry and went to the bathroom for a tissue. As she wiped the tears from her chubby cheeks she stared at the image in the mirror before her. She hadn´t looked at herself for more than two months and what she saw shocked her. She screwed up her face and the double chin tripled. Her tears turned to vomit. She stormed out of the bathroom and slammed the door, sat down in the kitchen and leaned her head on her hands. Who was she really? She´d never hated the sight of herself before. But had she ever really loved herself? Even when she was thin? She guessed not. She´d just tolerated herself. She went to the cupboard and threw the box of chocolate éclairs that she´d secreted behind the porridge packet into the dustbin. She had to find another way.
Around six she heard Kevin coming up the stairs singing. He´d been singing when he left in the morning. How often had she heard him sing in the five years she´d known him? Never, came the reply.
The front door opened and he swept through the house to the kitchen, a broad smile drawn across his ruddy face. "A very good afternoon to you," he said bowing, holding a large pink paper parcel in his right hand. “ A present for my Debra. A little something to cheer her up.”
Kevin never bought her presents. She undid the ribbon slowly, pulled the tape off and opened the packet. A triple layer cream cake with a cherry on top stared back at her.
"Just a little something to keep us going." he said smiling.
He walked into the bathroom, closed the door, and sang like he´d never sung before.
Wednesday, 22 July 2015
The Fear of the Dance relates the story of Veronica Bloise, a young woman suffering from bi-polar disorder who in the manic flight triggered by the death of her father, braves a new and distorted world. We enter that world and follow the steps that lead to her murder some twelve months later. The book alternates from the past to the present as the detective Dardo Soler attempts to unravel the mystery of her death; the action taking place in the streets of Buenos Aires just prior to the collapse of the De la Rua government in 2001. Each chapter presents a hint of the turmoil beyond as the book settles down to resolve the riddle of her murder. Three working parts bring the book to life: the victim, the detective, and the city that spreads from the Rio de la Plata to the edge of the vast pampas beyond. The initial investigation suggests the killer to be one of the victim´s two lovers. But before long Soler begins to divine the chain of events that led to the presumed accidental death of Veronica´s father and the series of seemingly unrelated deaths that culminate in Veronica´s strangulation. Starting from a base of jealousy driven revenge the book veers subtly in another direction, that new course leading our detective into a world of fraud and corruption.
Wednesday, 22 January 2014
It was a dark day for Marisa Larkin when she heard her mother’s voice. Not that she didn’t love her mother, of course she did, but Chloe Larkin had died six years before; which meant Marisa had lived six years without listening to her, without seeing her, without sharing the day with her! But then, suddenly and surprisingly she was back, along with Uncle Ralph and an old neighbor from Squirrel Hill. The three of them together in her head: chatting, arguing, screaming; stamping the turf of her mind as their own! Was it a bad dream, or far worse than that, a real nightmare? NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE READER
Saturday, 24 November 2012
Sunday, 14 October 2012
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
I came into the world and the trumpets blew, my heart, my lungs, my tongue, baby blue; she smacked, I cried, they looked at me--my feet , my hands, my face, the eyes that see. The taxi came and away I went, the meter would run till my money was spent. The driver was silent within my brain, steering the body through the love, hate and pain. From the back seat I saw many die, fighting for breath save the earthly tie; they live as owners in the house they keep, landlords of the flesh as time it creeps. To the top of the mountain my car it drove, to view the great battles from a sanctuary cove, to be a guest I knew was right, to gaze with wonder at the starry night,to arrive in the conscious from the unaware world and rape every minute till the end is unfurled, to see that life is but a dream--the short sharp visit of the human bein'.
Thursday, 2 August 2012
ARTICLE ON MISERABILISM SURREALIST GROUP OF THE RIO DE LA PLATA Buenos Aires/Montevideo, January 2006. Translated by Jack Buckeridge Introduction The deceptive reflection of prosperity that produces delusions among the few residents of some residential suburbs of Santiago together with the certainty or at least the dark suspicion of them belonging to a parasitic and dependent bourgeoisie, but one living in the stables in the context of nations, has resulted in a recent flare up of putting on airs, and an unjustifiable and promethean pride. Given its peripheral and third world character it may be considered to be a sort of sub-class of “nationalism among the provincial oligarchies.” It raises the possibility that the idea of a sort of Latin American surrealism for exclusive domestic use is desirable, a form that distinguishes itself with considerable ferocity from any other that has emerged previously (and one that is especially interesting for old, corrupt Europe).It is clear that in the present case the use of the term “Latin American surrealism” in no way alludes to the circumstantial fact of its location on the map, but rather comprises a common principle of identity, a “value” so to speak, and one that possesses an exclusive character: “Latin America these days presents a surrealism of the ceremonial and shamanistic, much closer to magic and poetry than it is to “materialism”. It could be said that it has chosen a spiritual, poetical, cosmic path as did the ancient Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, Kawesqar, and Selknam. We have posed the following question: Is the surrealism evident in Latin America today different to that in Europe or vice versa? . . . SURREALIST GROUP OF THE RIO DE LA PLATA Buenos Aires/Montevideo, January 2006. Read complete article at www.archivosurrealista.com.ar