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Pandora's Casket

Pandora’s Casket

A story… and other scribblings

Neil Stuart Morton

Copyright 2014 Neil Stuart Morton

Copyright and Disclaimer

 

Copyright Neil Stuart Morton All rights reserved © 2014

 

This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author

 

This story is fiction and any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead) or events is entirely coincidental

 

Neil Stuart Morton may be contacted at [email protected]

 

Cover art by the mighty www.a4ps.com

All rights reserved © 2014

 

Dedication

For Jocky,

A brilliant mate during brutal times

Pandora’s Casket

 

Penance

Devotion performed voluntarily in sorrow for a sin

 

Rite of Passage

To mark transition from one status to another… via ritual

 

Elpis

The personification and spirit of hope… the only thing left inside Pandora’s Box

Pandora’s Casket

Inside

 

The interior of the booth is padded

Industrial

Purple and compressed with the odd orange fleck

It deadens

Soaks it all up

I talk out loud… a lot

Always have done… although this is in my head

I think

They tell me the voters like it… the talking out loud

Inside it’s low-lit

Like the warm glow of an ember

Against outside through the window

Just like staring at the sun

 

The padding stops ricochets

Bullets fragmenting and sheaving us in two

Deemed to be unfair

Viewers didn’t like it… voted with their digits

The pirate channels started it

At the top of the dial between the porn

Semi-automatics

And screaming bids to control the crosshairs

Contestants all crammed inside one carton

Just splatter fests to get you off

If shooting fish in a barrel was your thing

And before all the worms and bees were dead

 

But this is the re-invention

One shot a day and shooter’s prerogative

Quick and clean

Killed or kept

What’s not to like

 

I think of him… or her, as the Doctor

Hiding out there with his panacea

The answer to all our ills

 

I limber up to do my thing

To step into the light again

Another prayer to the god of medicine

To miss this shot of Vitamin B

Bumblers

 

All the bees are dead

So gods bless Monsanto and their robotic polinizers

Over island sized fields of industrialised wheat

Just any port in a storm

And for now… we must still ride with the devils we know

 

The amber light comes on and counts me down

I pull myself together

And wait for the hatch at the back to open

Then follow the curve of the tunnel out

Don’t want to miss my break

Overshoot my slot

Did everyone get the pun

Sponge Bob

 

Back inside my pod

The familiar soak of sponge

And the white-out through the window

Wonder if Dad’s watching

Whether it’s day or night

Do I make them proud

Do they count the others down

Who’s gone while I’ve been away

 

‘You’ll never know it’s happened… ’

The last line of our briefing for our company of twelve

The answer to one of life’s great conundrums

‘Will it hurt?’

Perhaps a tad

Or maybe not

Perhaps even synapses struggle at 3,000 feet a second

Because that’s shifting

Even in old money

Scran Van

 

The feeding slide opens

Always the slide at the other end

I think they do it on purpose

So you have to pass the window

Sarcasm

Come on down

 

Viewers will like this

Get extra votes for my cojones

And if the Doctor isn’t otherwise engaged…

Then none of this will matter anymore

I bite down and stroll across

Don’t hold your breath

Oxygen debt

Vacuum

History

 

You’ll poison the worms man!’

You’ll poison the soil!’

Placard waving pussies

Hippies!

Only good for gunning down

So they did

Sorted

 

But they were right

Boy were they right

Booo!

 

But seriously

How the fuck do you kill all the worms

How the fuck do you poison all the soil

I’ll tell you Man! I’ll tell you

Then tell me

Hippie

You drill through the aquifer to fracture the sub-strata

But the chemicals leach back

Really?

Gallons of toxins into the arteries of your host

Into the venal system of your one and only little blue ball

Even parasites aren’t that fucking stupid

Even parasites don’t consciously decide to kill their fucking…

But cancer does

Whatever

We got frack-gas Baby!

Means we kept on trucking

For a while

Bottle Top Tricks

 

All anything ever was back then… before the shift

All just black magicians’ tricks

All just where you chose to look

The mis-direction you bought into

Knowingly… and willfully credulous

In the hope the true reveals would never come

And who needed worms and bumblers anyway

When it all could taste soooo good

High fructosed to the max

Monsantoed to the Max!

Barry

 

Survived another day… another round

Played my part and gave a show

That you can watch when you come home

And consider at leisure my worth

And where to place your vote

They play Barry Manilow for this

I Made It Through The Rain

 

We aint so different

You and I

In the end it’s all the same

In the end we all play games

Swap Shop

 

Started with boxes on some shitty game show

In those slow years before the shift

When life was tasty

And good

As if…

For these are relative terms

And who remembers anyway

Or cares

Apathy… or Nihilism

I forget

And prove my point

 

Just in our nature to look back

To some frozen past that never was

Cast out and coloured by the cold

 

But yeah

Boxes

Apparently

The original inspiration for our game… of sorts

Just a player and a box

Filled with an unknown quantity of the bartering chip of the day

Played off against a load of others

Containing more (or maybe less) of that beautiful, notional moolah

That now means fuck all since the shift

Whittled down and swapped at random

And at every turn an offer to cash out

To take the shekels and run…

Against playing for the big one

Must have been riveting

Sarcasm

Pull up a chair

 

And the twists that led us here

Eventually

If you’ll forgive my abridged account

As I skip the vaccine and water wars

And endeavour to keep my point

 

Yeah… so this bollocks game that led to this

You win some… you lose some… and yadda, yadda, yadda

But ratings dropped

Less sales of product between the guesses

Soooooo

Spice it up Baby!

Increase reward

Notch up the jeopardy

Leave with all you’ve ever dreamed of

Providing you had the balls

Ooooh!

The irony is everywhere

Play that baby till the end

Down until the Wire

Two final boxes left to choose

Providing you weren’t some Pussy who’d cashed out

Or the jeopardy box had gone

But I’m rambling

You still there

Still with me in my head

Yes?

Only teasing Baby

You know I love you

 

But yeah

Soooo

Yes!

You are right

You are correct-amundo my friend

What was in the jeopardy box

Cheese wire Baby!

Cheese wire for a cheeeeeeesy show

Either hand

It mattered not

All they wanted was a pinky

Ooooh!

Unlucky sobbing fat girl

Guess Gramps won’t be going on that cruise…

Or adding a seventh to her blues

Guitar joke

And before the pleading cow can fold

The host is grinning like a loon

And slipping on the cutting coat

 

And the ratings went through the roof

For a while

And then began to fall… again

Because now the viewers smelt the blood

And as ever… wanted more

And who needs both balls anyway

 

And finally we’re here

After the shift has brought us back

To wherever here is

And whatever we are now

The premise of said game show utilised for something more

For the last thing left worth winning

And I know you love it Baby

And you know I love you too

Stop Buying Beans

 

In the end… or should that now be the beginning…

It was as simple as that

In that metaphor of slogan we brought about the shift

As figurative and as literal as that

 

Stop Buying Beans

And the prices will come down

Stop Buying Beans

And they can’t sell us SHIT no more

 

The groundswell…

Of some collective last-gasp grasp of realisation

That there were more of us than them

Just we’d never thought to count

Been too busy watching game shows

Until all the worms and bees were dead

 

But the shift did come

That much is true

The shift did come… and brought us here

Eventually

Collectively

The shift did come

That much is true

After the vaccine and water wars

And with almost no air left to sell

The shift did come

And we stopped buying beans

Realised that there was more of us than them

And that even God was dead

That even that was all just bullshit running up a hill from different sides

And all there ever was on top

Was just staring at the sun

That we now couldn’t see for shit

Because we’d set the hill on fire

The only fucking hill we ever had

 

Man I’m having a bad day

Whatever today might be

They say it happens

When you’re a few days in and the adrenalin drops

The pseudo Zen kicks in

And you start talking bollocks…

Or screaming like number three

And of course the breaks take their toll

And how could they not

For these are terrible things we do

Caskets

 

Pandora is an unforgiving BITCH!

Exacting penance until she smiles upon the chosen

Behold our rim of effigies

Who bend and break upon her wheel

A sacrifice for all that went before… for what we did

Until only one remains

To be

Ah!

But I’m getting ahead of myself

It’s still too early for reveals

Jeremy

 

The Panopticon

Bentham’s ‘mill to grind rogues honest’

Our pods arranged via Jeremy’s institutional design…

Around the rim of a wheel

Facing in

Towards the tower… where the Doctor sits

With his rifle

 

The concept

That Bentham’s lone guard might observe every cell

Impossible

But that every cell would believe itself observed

The nature of our game

 

We present daily at our windows

Praying…

That the Doctor’s crosshairs are fixed upon another

The Doctor is Panoptes

Greek giant of one hundred eyes

Former poster boy of surveillance state

In the Land of Buying Beans

Before the vaccine and water wars

And all the worms and bees were dead

And before the shift that brought us back

Quid Pro Quo

 

It means, this for that

The breaks take their toll

And how could they not

For these are terrible things we do

Amber One Last Time

 

Only two of us now

As the final votes are counted

And I don’t want to talk anymore

Give this the reverence it deserves

 

Instructed to stand

And move once more towards the sun

 

I wait for the amber glow

As the other will be waiting

 

Ever knowing that only one exit hatch will open

 

To sprint the curved walk to the tower

Into the hub of Bentham’s wheel

To sight the crosshairs on the other

And become the Doctor… one last time

 

I think of Elpis as the music begins to play

And if Dad…

Zzzzzt

The Thrill Is Gone

And I loved her… sooo much… although it had grown stale… and sort of fucked up… maybe even abusive (those on the outside, who never understood us, might have said.) And so I made the call… after that last fight… to give it a break… just for a while… just to catch our breath… and get it back on track… get our shit together, separately, and see what it was we wanted, without the constant fucking and recriminations… and then right back into bed again.

Yeah I made the call, from that easy place within the sickness, and in the aftermath of another day we’d fucked away together; that we needed to take a break, just for a while… because we’d talked about it so long… I’d talked about it so long. During those long nights we’d sat alone… speculating on what might be out there.… out there beyond what we had together… here in the warm… with the doors locked. Undefined and unexplored. And in the back of my head, but never said out loud…. what if we did find it… and it wasn’t built for two? What treachery… after all those times she’d helped me see it… at least at the start… when it was good… and before the awful shattered mornings… when all the dreams had shimmered out … back into the mists that hung outside.

And I never went outside… into the loud lights and the cold… never was much good at that… all that doing shit… when we could just stay inside and fuck… close our eyes and dream again…. of all that waited for us down the road, of all the good stuff, that we would get around to doing one day; but just not today…because today was cold again… and we were fucking in the warm.

All nice and safe… until the mornings… and then the insults and recriminations of another day pissed away again… never to return. Another day of staring out towards the mist…. and fighting the knowing that it was hiding out there, whatever IT might be… tormenting me in dreams, gnawing at me again… writhing in my sweats… in that stale aftermath of fucking.

Always too cold to go outside… into the mist… against the soft, ‘Come back to beds…’ and, ‘let’s throw this day away.’ And every time I did… ever knowing that the sand was sliding out; another fear that needed drowning. And even further down inside, in that part she could never see… still knowing that this day would come. And perhaps she counted too? Inside her own small, hidden heart… counted down towards her own constructions. And god knows what shapes they were… and what it was that she imagined… waiting for us out there in the mist.

And so I left her… still inside the sickness of our latest fight I slunk away. And she was fine… like I’d always known she would be. No pleading and no threats. No melodrama or, ‘You’ll be backs!” Just lay there and watched me leave… and then turned again to sleep… the way she always did… after every time we fucked.

And I don’t know if she ever thought of me… or if there were others during those hundred days… all I know is there were none for me, beyond poor imitations in coffee shops, that simply made me think of her… and of what we’d had. And all of that was fine… because I was never looking for another… because that was us… and always would be. And of course I knew, hidden inside… that she was still back there… waiting for me.

I always knew that… during those days… that she would still be there…. in our room… waiting. Waiting while I performed the penance… for when my days were done… for when I came back in from the cold and wandering. From edging down that road trying to see how far it went. I knew she’d still be there… at the end… on my return… and that we’d fuck again. And that this time it would be great, like it had been at the start… before those empty, wasted days.

And so I wandered… towards the time for my return… and my hundred days were done. And I never found it hard…. beyond those first few weeks… when her scent still hung upon me. And the weeks bled into others, which in turn bled into months, until all her scent was gone. And there was just a memory… of what we used to be. And sure outside it was cold… just like she’d said it would be… but I learnt to wrap up warm, and watch what others did… all those who’d never had her in their lives, or maybe had, but never said… and which I’d never speculated on.

And then I returned. And she was waiting… and never once asked where I’d been.

And it felt good to see her… and tell her of my travels… and what lay out beyond the mist. And that yes it had been loud at times, just sooo fucking loud at times, just like she’d said it would be… but I’d found the hidden places…where it was quiet and made sense. And that inside them was a tone… that when you really listened hard… simply whispered, ‘Don’t be scared…’ And that it made me think of us… and how all we ever did was fuck.

And she just smiled… and pulled back the covers… and pointed out towards the mist… and it was rolling in again… and finally I realised… that it was driven by her hand.

And she said that she was pleased I’d been outside… to get it all out of my system… and that all the good things I’d talked about would still be there… for us… and that we could take that trip together… for sure… one day…like we’d always talked about… just not today… because surely I could see the mist.

And so we fucked.

Because that’s all we ever did…

Rune

 

He’s a big lad, he’s a bonny lad, and he likes tuna fish… and they call him Runey Morton, and he has his own dish, dish, dish, dish, dish, dish, dish…”

Rune’s Car Song; Me and the kids… repeat till heartbroken.

 

Big, beautiful, handsome, funny and proud; a giant head he’d push through the triangle of your legs as you sat watching the telly and he came huffing in after demolishing his dinner. He’d have to really squeeze his head through and up; his ears sliding back to get through the gap, to perform this ritualistic thank you of snorting the bits of mashed food stuck round his nose, as you ragged his hairy jowls in laughing praise. The vulnerability of this daft performance never lost on me. His head stuck tight and staring up… simply making me happy.

 

‘Big for a boxer mind?!’

 

That would be the usual comments from the tourists stopping at our garden wall, leaning over to tentatively pat him if it was their first encounter, or laugh and praise him like an old friend if they were regulars. Rune standing like a shopkeeper; stretched to his full length on shaking back legs, supported by front paws on wide shoulders, taking all the praise on his big flat head as he stood against his counter… his long brown tail spinning with the attention, while up top all solid for the customers.

 

I miss you every day.

Strange the markers that fall upon life’s road and allow a beginning and an end to view things between. I’ve never had this before, never saw something brand new and at the start… and followed through until conclusion. I had him since an egg; his bucket head too floppy and heavy for his little frame; legs growing like a young calf’s… out of all proportion to his size.

Eleven years. The longest anyone’s ever stayed around. Only realising that now in the writing. No wonder then I guess this poignancy, when thought about like that; when seen from looking back… this marker on the trial. And a lesson learnt in the passing. That when it’s gone you miss the whole… and all the parts that made it. And all the things that you got mad about were also in the gift. Come back and chew the carpets, I don’t care that you’d never bring a ball back; lying with it between your paws to bound off whenever anyone got near. Come back and fart beside the fire… and I will walk you in the rain.

But I couldn’t let you howl like that again.

 

I’d have carried you upstairs to your basket every night for the rest of my life… no mean feat, and seemingly none too pleasant for you either judging by your rumbling, throaty growls. But I couldn’t let you howl like that again.

I knew my dog was gone, but the old senile fella that had taken his place, oblivious to everyone around him… could have still stayed here forever. But I couldn’t let you howl like that again.

 

And Reece and Janie came down.

 

I’d told them how you were… but it’s hard to believe in just words down a line.

 

But no mistake when they came…

 

No going ballistic now. No tail hammering off the kitchen radiator like someone striking it with a stick. No round and round in your tight little happy dance… no pushing up beside them and the up and down the stairs… barging into the bathroom if Janie dares to close the door… no eyes fixed on them solid. No none of this no more. Our Mr. Rune has gone.

 

This old fella doesn’t even flinch, splayed out by the chair where he’ll lie all day, interspersed with sideways lumbering towards the garden… back legs dragging to collapse mid piss… lost, pathetic and sad. Where’s the shopkeeper now?

So Reece and Janie said goodbye… and she ran her fingers down the soft velvet between your eyes for the last time… and held those big old paws, with their old scratched pads and broken claws… from all your days standing at your wall serving all your friends. And the night soon came when you howled and yelped at nothing that was there, and I couldn’t let this happen… and it was easy to decide.

.

And on the morning I dug a hole… and I remember the wet blackness of the deeper soil… and it was important that it was deep and wide so as not to be uncomfortable… and you just slept on by the chair.

 

And Lynda called Dave, which was a nice thing to do, after all the times he’d looked after you when he lived next door. And he brought Jazz down in her cat box, because you’d sometimes lie together when you stayed at his if you were both really tired and sick of chasing her… and I think she knew you never really meant it. And she looked at you as you slept and said something in cat that I didn’t understand… then walked away to the farthest corner and sat there watching.

 

And I knew that time was short and there would soon be someone at the door…

And I lay down in front of you and pushed my head up against yours… my beautiful old friend.

And I said, “Look at you, you daft old sod… look at you, look at you!”

And I knew you couldn’t stay here anymore… and heard Lynda talking at the door.

 

And it was kind of her to come to the house; yes she did seem kind and nice. And I asked her about things… and she explained those things to me. And I lay down with you again… and then you came back from where you’d been.

And you raised your head and looked at me… and your eyes knew everything. And it lasted just a moment… and will stay with me forever. And I saw Runey Boy for the last time, and he was big and proud and strong as ever, and he said that it was all okay… but that all he felt was tired… and he really had to go.

And you lay your head back down…………………………………… and I had to ask her if you’d gone. And she was kind and sad… and she was crying too.

And so I hope you’re never cold… and that the big quilt keeps you warm.

And it’s just different round here now.

And I miss you every day xxxx.

Come In Number Seven…

So I was thinking of that thing David said on the trail with Reece, when Reece asked him if he was happy and he went into one about Happiness and how people feel they will be happy once they have everything in place…but that life is not like that…that life is change and the key in his opinion was to accept change. So I got this analogy in my head of having this rowing boat on the pond and trying to get everything just where you wanted it; like metaphors for all the things in your life. Bits here and bits there, but of course they are all floating around on the water and not staying still and you’re frantically rowing around, in and out of them, trying to keep them in place and getting more and more agitated…and there are bits of them drifting off and of course you’re crashing into others in rowing boats all trying to do the same with their bits and pieces (of course none of their bits you give a bugger about, so it’s okay if you just row over them) and on, and on and on it goes. And maybe a storm blows up, or maybe it just stays pretty calm, but even then the things you want to get just right are forever just gently washing around and your time is spent in degrees of rowing, some manic some just patrolling, making sure everything stays where you put it because that is the design you want and that is when you will be happy…when you get everything just so. And sometimes you are almost, almost there…but never quite…and then, at whatever point (but come it must) some bloke on the bank calls out your number…because your time is up, and the things are just left drifting and floating off to become whatever…and all of a sudden none of it is really that important anymore. And you row back in, past all the others still having their turn, still rowing around in circles trying to keep all their bits of flotsam and jetsam in place, in the shape they like…and maybe you notice the trees and flowers and nature on the bank side as you row back in towards the dark boathouse, and perhaps it passes your mind that maybe you should have enjoyed all that stuff a bit more, or even made for the other side to see what was there, or just powered round the pond like a half-wit enjoying the liberating thrill of it all and the scariness of just letting all the shit you’d brought with you just float away and do its own thing and see what happened, instead of trying to control it…in such a fruitless task…and on a sea that never really listened anyway, but which will still be there long after you are gone.

And as you beach back up to the jetty and that bloke stretches out his hand to help you out, he maybe says something like, ‘Did you enjoy that?’ and you glance back for a moment; at all the stuff you left behind…and realise that your turn is really over…and you just think… ‘Fuck!

I didn’t even need a boat…’

After Words

My son Reece, the mighty A4PS.com (or Art for Pete’s Sake in case you were wondering) was talking about attaching short descriptions to his paintings to provide some context… so this is me nicking his idea:

 

Pandora’s Casket, the actual story, was written after watching Deal or No Deal during an idle, drunken, afternoon… and thinking Man! This game needs livening up… what would happen if the reward was raised so players were prepared to sacrifice something more than just imaginary money… and then, as happens when you conk out after a curry, dreaming about it in some Dystopian near future. And I suppose watching Gas Land, about fracking, didn’t really help either; being able to light your tap water on fire and all that… I kid you not! And knocked my original idea of… Noel’s Family Pet Cremation Quiz off the top slot. Although I still think that one’s got legs… and might still try and pitch it to Edmonds.

 

The Thrill Is Gone is about an alcoholic returning to his crutch/lover after one hundred days away. And Rune is something I wrote years ago to say goodbye to a beautiful old friend.

 

And finally Come In Number Seven was inspired by meeting the amazing David on the Camino de Santiago last year. As Reece and I plodded past his shack with our ridiculously overburdened backpacks… abandoning cooking stoves, underpants and other none essentials as we went; and then took time out to rest and watch this remarkable man feed and nuture the passing pilgrims… and if I’ve ever been in the presence of the real deal… he was it… although should you ever consider walking a Camino please put more thought into it than we did… as Reece’s solution to what we would eat along the way did lose something in translation… ‘We can just hunt squirrels and stuff!’

 

Anywhoo… that’s me… so Muchas Gracias for taking the time to read these ramblings and just get in touch if you think you’ve wasted your money and I’ll happily reimburse you… because it was just cool that you took a punt and decided to check them out… because if I did learn anything from David… it was that not everything should have a price tag. Or was that Jessie Jay?

 

All the best to you and yours,

Neil Stuart Morton

And here’s one I made earlier…

[+ Clown Wolf+]

 


Pandora's Casket

  • Author: Neil Stuart Morton
  • Published: 2016-01-19 15:40:12
  • Words: 4935
Pandora's Casket Pandora's Casket