The Factory Of Leaves (short story)
Some outlay required~
While looking for a few pieces to send off to a mag I found this old strange one. And realised that it definitely needs a blurb of sorts. It’s a story that begins with a maintenance man clinking a glass with the man who owns it. -And this is definitely a ‘drinking’ story! – I can barely make sense of it looking back! Haha
Heavily unedited. But it’s great finding an old piece that you’ve forgotten about. And much rather than the internet destroying the level of quality out there sometimes you’re reminded that: it does something helpful. Which is: beyond the cheap second hand computers that you buy – that ‘I’ always buy rather! haha – that bust up, and you loose all your stuff, you actually don’t, if you upload a draft to a site like this. Anyways, The Factory Of Leaves:
The Factory Of Leaves
The only thing Frank noted was the changing of day into night.
Not so much the ‘conversation’ in the upper levels of KMS Industries. But the clank of a glass on the exec’s desk made him look back, “It’s a good one,” The man said bringing the drinks over to the window where Frank stared out.
“Ah thanks,” Frank said wiping his hands down his over-alls before taking the glass.
Already the smell of the booze swarmed up from the square glass. it hit the upper parts of his senses like a thin knife.
“It’s ok.” Buckley said, smiling at Frank, as he took the drink. Buckley knew exactly what he was doing. He hated to jump on the tasklings, to kill them, to interrogate them too hard before offering, something.
They stared through the window.
They stood and sipped and watched the magenteic orange pollution fight within the waves of duller city steam below it, fighting up in great fists of grey above the hive lines the night hand smothering the colour drawing their eyes into the darting flies of nervous traffic germs moving over the city.
Even though nearing decrepid age, Buckley’s wing easily fell across Frank’s shoulders like the entire weight of the building, warm, heavy, and pulling him in for a second, then running down his back and arse.
“How come you couldn’t leave her alone?” Buckley asked the maintenance man. Frank looked into his glass and touched his lips, “Oh another? – Don’t worry, we’ve got until Samael smiles!” Buckley said laughing, returning to his desk and pouring them another two glasses.
Frank twitched a little knowing that he was in shit. He didn’t realise the weight of the shit until Buckley had asked that last question. So it had all been play – – of course – – but you knew that – –
Buckley’s large paw produced another glass full of the liquid as Frank accepted, “Didn’t leave who alone?” Frank asked, honestly, looking up at the man’s grey flecked jaw as he sipped, then looking for a second over to the security guards behind by the lift entrance at the bottom of the office – – glass, aye, across Buckley’s face – – oh ffuck it, I could go mad, maybe i’d make it past the two uniformed gits and make it down to the lower levels, and then what? More Madness? Me being tazzered in a heap on the marbeled floor – – oh Gloria, I’m sorry, I am so, so sorry, what have I done?
The circuitry inside Frank’s neck stamp twinkled as Buckley pressed a button on a miniature remote that lit up one of the entire sides of his office, from the window overlooking the city down the lift entrance.
“MY VEH-ILMA YOU CUNT .” Buckley said turning back to Frank before clearing his throat and adding further instructions to the illuminated walls.
“What made you think that you could get away with it?” Buckley asked sitting down in his large leather seat and re-watching the scenes that he had already done too many times. The guards by the lift doors may have shuffled, as Frank sat down in the seat opposite his desk and was enclosed by the images from the walls.
Frank sipped from his square glass as they both watched the wall moving. The moon blurred its white yoke into the middle of the presentation, as the images moved from one to the next; the beginning of the scene that Buckley found offensive through to the later charms of spectacle, that travelled down the long wall from left to right, repeated after after twenty minutes, then picking up new sub sections that cut in and out of the scenes like a wiley old drunk film maker that can’t keep up.
Frank sipped and soon grabbed for the bottle himself knowing exactly where he had fucked up. Buckley even shuvved it across to him over the polished wood, like two players in a game of sad chess across the table.
Buckley began, as the lights zoomed across the office suite window and it became 4am –“How’d you know she liked walking?…
I SAID HOW DID YOU FUCKING KNOW?” He added slamming his fist on the table.
I guess that we must now go back to laughter and description, of what I have no idea, I guess I’ll share the last of this ‘stuff’, and then, it will be the same – perhaps death and sadness and madness are brother/sisters – but still, at least you are with me.
“I err…” Frank said whispering, pointing a finger at some fish jumping from river summit, just a few meters below dropping into the lower parts of the river – – hell, what’s the damn point, lets just lay it all out, teeth, bile, love and all – “Well I thought that your wife smelt a little of salmon that day, and there was a place – back in the village – called the ‘salmon-jump.’”
Vehilma, Buckley’s wife, was beginning to dip into the river, step by long step, from the side of one screen and then into the next, then a big collision of water and joy as she caught one of them and both of the men heard Frank’s laughter in the vision of summer, where Vehilma played, and lost the fish again, letting it go, but laughing with the water as Frank laughed too.
Frank stopped his company van on the way to the city’s refuse dump outside of the Buckley’s mansion, where Buckley senior had asked him to stop.
It was 07:15 exactly.
The dogs and cats and rodents and augmented homeless have mated so much with each other that now, the foxes are larger, but unrecognisable, as foxes, more thoughtfully trotting dusk creatures still searching through bins, a dripping tail a more useful limb of red, a face, mostly fox, but with eyes that you shouldn’t look at too long, no fur; and faster.
Big old Buckley was dragging a large sack down towards Frank as he waited subserviently by his van, on time, dumping it on the curb—“You’ll be ok with that yeah?” Buckley said lacing his black silk dressing gown up. No answer is what is required. A yes. A Yes. A motion. A doing. A yes.
“How come you didn’t think about that instead of my wife?” Buckley said drooling some of his drink down his front.
Frank couldn’t resist unzipping the regular body bags he was given before he tossed them into the heat of the company’s private off-city incinerator. Who was going to know? That he took a wee peek at the goods before they were chucked in. Frank unzipped the head of the body bag to see if he recognised who was within.
The problem was in that, the image on the wall, was exactly what Frank had thought, but much worse, was thinking…
As every class system of humanity disintegrated, another one came, the lines still easy to know, like old songs and new waves.
Now the unfortunates were free – to do whatever they wished – but had all agreed long ago that all thoughts are one and linked.
Frank and his wife, naturally suited the bottom of the pile, and were free as such, to see and to weave where ever they wished in the menagerie of thought, as freed by century recent augmentation, and again there was a price for it, as those lower in the equation were free, but policed, but up! And up!
One could pay for personal thought to be outside of policing, and then finally!
There was the likes of Buckley, the people who could pay for your every synapse dream, see them, and thusly, control them, and adjust their suitability.
“We both know where these thoughts went don’t we Franky old boy?” Buckley said shutting the viewing wall down cutting half of the office’s light down, “It’s late isn’t it?” He asked next, rising from behind his desk, drunk as Frank, like a soaring great oak, “Yes sir…” Frank thought, looking down at his feet and placing his glass on the table.
“But I have something for you,” The suited man said as the lift doors opened and a tall lady walked in. Frank knew who it was. He knew the smell of perfume from the body bags he had taken from their mansion, and knew the smell of the wilderness that was not there at all, from the amateur landscapes littered around the premises that Ms Buckley had painted.
Frank kept his eyes closed and new that he would be in a bag soon. Incinerated within plastic breaches of skin and flame just like the men Mr Buckley had found out were fucking his wife. That he had taken away himself by van, and then done away with; which was what asked his mind about the woman so many could not resist.
He had made up the image himself. Buckley dragged a body bag down his drive at least once a month, as if adultery was how he could tell time was passing, always to the same, mortal click.
The clinking clinking clonk clonk- hand slapped down on Frank’s shoulder as he kept his head down and searched for ways out. It was late. But there was no way he was coming back to his Gloria as a ghost without a story.
“You still fry the meat trying to make time.” Ms Buckley said, walking over to Frank and placing her hand on his shoulder, smiling.
“Do you recognise this man?” Mr Buckley asked, unamused with his wife’s joviality.
“No, of course not.” She said without looking back.
Enjoy the warmth, like jumping salmon, don’t – – don’t – – don’t, but – – hey – – haha…
“It’s the first painting in the lobby that tells me that you are sad Mrs Buckley.
The one that isn’t original, but made first in a smaller print, and then blown up to ten foot by twenty foot squared, to the left, before the security loops, I dust it every night, you should have really gone for it if you wanted to paint so big, not just enlarged a smaller piece.”
Mrs Buckley snapped her make-up mirror shut and looked back at the maintenance worker as looked down at his feet—she made the kind of sounds that a 1920’s car make when they can’t start, from her lips, half a throat restrictions blowing out before it can breathe again and then – clink clink CLONK CLONK CLONK ∞
“It’s no wonder you’re so damn full of shit – – watching the thoughts of these guys all day, what’s the god damned point in us not being shit if you let all this crap float around inside you?” Mrs Buckley said walking by Frank slapping his head and then walking over to company senior exec.
Frank tried to shiver a bit less, he felt death coming, and tried to count its numbers, but he let the maths go into the paint – which he knew, intimately, on some level – and that at least helped him, whatever he said next would have to be something that kept him alive – – oh these fuckers able to know my thoughts, my wife and I buy all the ‘dullers’ we can, but hell still a little a bit of it leaks out, and I spend all my damn nights cleaning this building, I HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG, yes, I have thought about where these crappy paintings come from, but hell, THEY deserve a black bag, not me – –
Mrs Buckley smiled at her husband like she had a thousand smiles inside of her, knowing exactly how her husband felt. The tension was made of pristine hate.
Pristine as bleach.
The bleach streaming down from every part of the inners of the KMS Industries that kept all the viruses at bay, until you went outside.
“Well I don’t see how this worker knows so much about your shitty painting love! I can take you fucking the junior the execs, whatever, you know I can take that-,” Mr Buckley said walking up to his wife as if asking her to dance, then standing in front of her as streamline cars hovered and crashed outside the windows, in endless sounds of dull sweeps and machine swoops.
Frank not only felt the zip covering his face, but the fire – – no no no, not yet, I know that I am worthless here – – my life, to them, think, think THINK! – PORRO! I’ve got nothing! How they hell do I get out of this fucking fix? – Porro! You damn lazy teacher!”
The screen walls of the office suite were black as the Mr and Mrs Buckley argued perpetually, as Frank sat, and to be honest, he was praying, closing his sweating hands, knowing that at a flick he was gone.
And so his eyes closed again as his hands squirmed, and he called upon: PORRO. Porro – – Sorry Gloria, sorry for being here and the way that my mind runs away with me, but now I go back, AND I WILL COME BACK to you, and your love is amazing, but I think that I have an angle here – – PORRO come, YOU MUST!”
Frank shut his eyes willing this.
But that was ridiculous, as Porro, his old art teacher, let him know as he walked into his blackness as he started to shake in the black office.
And the room of easels was something not blazing, but almost, as Frank remembered, twenty years ago, and he was trying: too hard.
“Heyyyy… Come back a bit here Fank…” Porro said as Frank stood banging into his canvas, moving him gently to the side, not by force, but by artistic warmth.
“Have you taken a look at who you’re painting here mate?,” Porro said to Frank, “Look mate,” He said turning the easel around one-eighty so there was no silencer between what Frank had been painting as a student, and what was actually before him.
“This guys about twenty stone mate, it’s dark as hell, it’s over worked, lets move some of this,” Porro said moving his tennis built forearms over Frank’s portrait of what was actually a nine stone man. In moving his forearm, whilst gripping the side of Frank’s easel, he moved the paint.
He moved some of the heavy browns (of the clearly white models body), and it looked a mess, but worked, Frank opened his eyes.
The arms came underneath Frank’s armpits, “Take him down to the back yard,” Mrs Buckley said as Frank didn’t struggle as he was dragged back but said “And if you had remembered the colours of that fish better in THAT picture, it wouldn’t look so damn bland!”
“What?” Mrs Buckley said turning around, Frank remembered a dumb move from when he did Hap-Lido at high-school hooking both of his legs behind the legs moving him back, that made them all topple down.
“WHAT FISH – you fucking filth!” Mrs Buckley said, “Yeah yeah?,” Frank said before taking a baton to the eye as the guards raised and started upon him.
But no time is nothing much, Frank took the heavy hit, and felt it, and collapsed without fluxivity – – it’s over worked, lets move some of this – – and no, I will not fight fist for fist, I will go down, roll back, come up, “YES?!” Frank said as the sentinels stood around him, ready to truly paint, ready to never see Gloria again until death.
“LEAVE HIM.” Mrs Buckley screamed across the hall, and so they did, the guards looked at Frank breathing heavy ready to earn their pay, ready to go home after after a job done well.
He walked forward with a finger pronounced—“YES, you think that you can get away with a few brush stokes to indicate depths, but, you do not!” – – now not to far Frank, just read, just a few pieces, you can’t take the whole thing on in one, you’ve spent too many weeks on this, you might be able to turn it around, if you just don’t- go – too – too – damn – crazy now… Come on mate, I believe in you, so does Gloria—
“Take him down, I don’t want to see this flesh near me again.” Mr Buckley said sweeping an open palm out to where the maintenance man was.
“No I want to hear what this man has to say about my art work, I want that very much,” Mrs Buckley said trotting away from her husband around to the gasping remnant that was Frank, “I Wish to hear EXACTLY.” She said easily picking the man up by his throat and holding him by one arm in the air.
“How can you bare to be the way you are?” The Nightingale asks the worm.
The worm looks up, as the Nightingale looks down, haha “But how can you bare to be you, questioning me?”
And the courtesan and courtier were asked to come into the king’s hall where he sat in a solid seat; built, now more, now more gone than here, and then the throne asked, and not the king:
UUUGHHGH, eeeugggh… Like a trumpet coming from hell. Like a volcano bleeds. Like two hands holding blood. Like all the cooing do’s, and a must to turn into sickness, which is love, and these two birds stop living on the top of a lamp-shade, from the top of a lamp-post, dancing.
It’s the worm and the nightingale, it’s the bird and drool.
there was no short story- ever, just pure, pure, disgust
no mites leavening the bread, no yeast, so sun, no trot
ha—but gracious bloom, Ho and “And where shall we go? and
Where Shall we go!”
The courtesan and courtier knew that to hold hands was forbidden, but hell, they did it as they walked into the great hall. They were holding the hands of love. They were holding the hands of flesh.
“And it is this gambit, that I must make you make…” The King said as the couple changed down in to worms, and he walked over and picked them up, and flicked them out the window.
“If you can come back – – yes,” The king said sorry, and returning from the castle window, “You win.” He said to his heart.
They went down.
Holograms from the solar plexus of stories mean nothing.
The words dissipated into similar sleep and dreams. And there was no rest, and the livers moved red, and there was easy easy liver on an easy sand flicking.
The first parts of the world burst into and out of nothing, in space, but there was room for skill, in 2014, in space, and you grip my my hand like a scaley iguana floating, and like enough time for the Thames to be red, redder, redder, redder, then torture, then sky, and then what the hell, and then vigour, and then youth, and then age, and then a heron watching fish in a pool by my old river where I am..
I will never ask you what you think, as the universe is made in reciprocal notions, but you know- where I envelope your smell, where I allow myself to be devoured, by it, I smell it strongly. Shall we not bump the stars with your arse, and also mine own when as we rise. And there is one more thing that I must say:
Melody take my feet, take them well
good ‘ol haemorrhage blues! Your face! No bollocks, your heart!
and mine, and now we must respect our own dreams, as one
singular grasp, I as am with you as an animal is, I am as with you as a human is animal
there are gusts external to our faces which will fail, where there is weather born
to the street screaming cars, to the un-held things of shadows bending…
over in strip bars, and love will not bother them there, and love will be you searching;
but love knows better than us, that we are humans learning to know it, I
may know this emotion when I am say near the Thames, I may know it when I am
lost, and the grains under my feet, and the dreary dreams I have of myself, and
that shadow looking at me, break- – I wish beyond short stories, but not beyond
poetry, that I slap you hard, and you slap me hard too—and that we have ready
life! And that although stumbling when young, that our slaps never reach
each other; I feel and dream past the office, I am our casserole, our wine, our