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Allen Clarke Allen Clarke
Recommendations: 18

Shifta


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She had a friend.

I`ve long wanted to experiment somewhat with the idea of incorporating shock value into my writing. I just found the idea of getting a reaction out of my readers as something that I might find very interesting.


First entry: 12th of Never, Month: who knows. Year: Who cares?


     He had shifted form just like so many times before. The other evening, he assumed the


form of a paper bag. A MacDonalds bag, no less. The scent of greasey fries almost


overpowered him. Up and down, all around town, he was tossed about at the will and wisp


of the cool autumn air.


     Oh, how he longed to be set free! To be plunked back into the state of more familiar


human frailty. He remembered vaguely what it was like to walk. He craved to feel the


pound of pavement on the soles of his well-worn sneakers. What thought invaded his psyche


to propel his consciousness into the literal transformed state of a bag of


paper. Narrowly, he had escaped, the grasp of the Public Works man, who might have


trashed him forever. Then, again, he remembered with gasps of terror of how this derelict


tried to use him as toilet paper. The seagulls wounded him with a thousand jabs. Wincing


in exaggerated pain,it was only a sudden gust of the north wind which saved him.



     It was during a brief interlude, that he sat in repose, snagged on a jagged branch


of a gigantic maple overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. Below in the churning


waters, he saw Brother Fish calling out to him. `Come on in! The water is fine!``He chose


to ignore as the jack dissapeared as a flash of silver in the noonday sun. Just then, he


remembered wistfully what it was like to be human. Oh, the delicious sense he enjoyed as


a normal human being was all but a distant dream, a mirage on the distant skyline of his


psychotic landscape. Damn them, he thought, why did they teach him to escape his reality.


Damn those shamans!! Carlos Castenada, why did you enlighten me to travel out of this


body to worlds where no man returns. These night flights at breakneck speed, these warps


in time with no key imagineable to unlock their dark, stark reality. Now where would


tommorrow find him?


     At times, he would hover in the trees and lick at his feathers as if to comfort


himself. This was a favourite practise familiar and vital to the humans. Staring into the


fading glory of a beautiffful sunset, he felt a sudden urge to pray. And who might


answer the pathetic plea of an avian?


       The others would come and caw at him to join them in their care-free plunging and


twirling through the insistent tug and pull of swirling air current. Then finally, he


would stop for a quick nibble in a Lorass disposal unit. The human`s scraps were not much


to his liking, so he shut his pale eye-lids and...whammo!! he was off into, yet, another


dream-scape.


   The thunder of hooves suddenly jarred him onto another level of ecstatic euphoria. And


that was when he realized that he was running with wild horses.He grazed a bit, but his


preference for salad won out in an instant. He bucked and kicked at the bespectacled,


lanky creature who presumed to saddle his pride. He tripped into a gopher hole and was


immediately transported to the wilds of Africa. For some reason or other, he began to


fuss about leaving his American Express on the night-stand back home. He opened his


mouth to release his pent-up anguish, but all that came was nervous laughter. And he


began to whistle like the wind through the trees. He felt like a little boy walking home


alone after dusk.


   It was then, he knew that he had lost something valuable and precious. DEja Vu greeted


her at the doorway of The Pawnshop of Misguided Souls. Yes, yes... he had tragically


become a She.``How in the blue blazes am I ever going to explain this to mother!``he


mused. And it was while he..or rather..She, was staring into her belly-button that she


had a Zen moment! All of this is just a bad dream!! She wanted to wake up or tell someone


to throw some water in her face, but Nobody was listening.



   The sharp shrill of the alarm clock pulled him back to the present. Falling out of his


little cot,he fumbled for his wacky tabbacky, but the pouch was empty!!Stumbling out of


bed, he found his way to his bedroom mirror only to discover that he had on a very


sheer, lovely dress of black satin. The charcoal rouge, on his sickly


visage,smeared,leaving him with the look of the Opera phantom. Lon Chaney,would have


been tickled,to see him now!! No-name had long been a fan of the black ffffilm - noir


genre. Yesssss, he stuttered, ever since his parents had taken him to Stuttgardt for


summer vacation; somewhere back there in his dim recollection.


   ``I think I need professional help!``he admitted, as he was led down the long, drab


hall of the Villas psyche center. A distant peal of thunder signalled the beginning of


the spring season. And then the rain started to fall in a gentle mist, washing, cleansing


his mind from the hurtful things of the past. The pitter-patter in the trees soothed the


savagely, tormented soul.


    Today was a new beginning. It was a new day dawning, and already he could envision


himself huddled over his type-writer, clacking away to his heart`s content. Pachebelli


played beautifully in the background. The classical sweep of symphony gently


orchestrated a time for renewal,a pacific interlude for quiet times and rejuvenation. Of


a sudden transpires the embarrassing moment when the musician busts a string and spoils


the whole overture.


    Inevitably,the ugly nag of harsh reality won out. By degrees, he realized that the


calm was an illusion, like a mirage in the desert. The climb back up out of the slimepit


was going to be long and tough. He figured if he played his cards right, he might get a


straight flush. He also might get all that poison drained out of his system. The poison


of rage needed to go to make way for the healing salve of forgiveness. His ultimate goal


was to feel normal once more. The problem was that nobody on the outside could easily


define what the word``normal``meant anymore.


They brought him his dinner on an old,tin tray and it began to talk to him. The macaroni and cheese pleaded for mercy as he chawed it down voraciously. Hungrrry like the wolf, he dreamt of bending his head down to quaff deeply from the swiftly flowing stream and suddenly heard the clatter of the tin cup on the cold cement floor. Damn, he thought, and now they won`t fill my cup for another hundred years!! Time eluded reason, as the Bavarian clock in the dining room hall rippled out the hollow minutes. Blue sands in the hourglass sifted slowly and at times swiftly. The tick-tocking on the wall lapsed into a quasi-state a.k.a.the surreal. Despite psychotic distraction, his appetite had strangely returned.


  He often wondered what it was like to bite into a big Mac. Of a sudden, he began to chortle at the name, `Mac``.Big Mac. He never knew anyone by that name. He was straight, well, at least, in a sexual sense. MacDonalds couldn`t possibly have made that connection. He was like No-name. He knew he had a name , but everytime someone called him it came out garbled, but instinctively, he knew that he was being addressed. Does that make any sense? These days, nothing seemed to make any sense.


2nd Offering : On the Eve of 0 Hour
Location : Somewhere over the Rainbow
Year : Of the Draggin`


      Hi, it`s Me again. Of course, it`s me. Who else can it possible be but me! Although I begin to wonder at times.  I think it has something to do with this neurotic age we live in. Or maybe it`s something in the air? I can hear your thoughts, you know. I heard you say, ``He`s losing his marbles again!`` The truth is, I never had any marbles to begin with. Marbles are more for children, don`t you think? Oh, to be that innocent again!


     No, Don, I am not smoking again!


     Hence, the writer steps into the narrative only to resume his dream state. They are at the door now in their clean, brilliantly white lab-coats. They`ve come to get me again. I wish they would sstop zapping me. It only makes things worster. The ice-water treatment is a bit out-dated. It doesn`t do a thing for me. All it does, besides scrambling my neurons, is to give a slight frizzle to my toupee. (Don would know all about that. Don`t you, Don?)


I awaken to the sound of someone crying in the distant hills. Suddenly, like a splash of icy water to my face I shrink back, cringing in the corner of a room with concave walls. The tall, white figures that flash back and forth in my field of vision are clearly not human. They utter a darkly mysterious gibberish which seems to me, an ancient tongue. They look at me as if I was something they had never seen before.


   I then recognized one of them. This was the man who gave me visions in a bottle. He drove me to the brink of the abyss, only to call me back. For, you see, I was, and became their experiment.I was looked upon as one of the expendibles. I was left to my own devices. They gave me a pen and reams and reams of clean, ruled white paper. They didn`t know it at the time, but they had unwittingly armed me. And now, by God, they were going to pay!! All that remained for me to do was to submit the expose`, the dreaded manuscript that would utterly expose my hidden genius.


   I could already taste the champagne, the glory, the critic`s accolades. Heck, they might even see their way to give me a standing ovation, now and again. I can barely contain my psychotic slobbering at the thought of long-awaited success. They could never take away my moment in the sun!! Here he comes now the publisher coming to me with the golden contract, for me to sign! Along with the contract is an advance of 10,00o bones. Wouldn`t you know it!! Just as I`m ready to be catapulted to stardom, the pen dries up!!
Oh, tragedy of tragedies!!Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo-oooooo!!!!!


   Again the writer finds himself washed up on some desolate beach, clutching a piece of ragged paper! He cannot read it because the sea has eaten away whatever meaning there had been scribbled thereupon. It may as well have been written in Portugese and stuffed into a corked bottle! Presently,the chilly sea breeze forces him to seek shelter in the mouth of a nearby hill-side cave. Being the amiable fellow that he is, he quickly makes friends with the neighbourhood crustacheons. Slowly, craftily; he begins to pick up on the deeply mysterious dialect of the snail-crabs. No sooner does he befriend them, than he voraciously snarfs them down!! For, you see, one must never trust the human who smiles and drools at the same time. And drool,he did, because his absolute favourite epicurean delight was sea-food!! At times, he often ponders the slim possibility that he might have a smidge of Oriental blood coursing through his genes. Sooner, than later, he feels the increasing urge to depart from this quaint little beach party. Once more, he is off on another tangent as he slips off into another time-warp. There..it comes. Wheeeee!....


High above the earth, he sits on a misty cloud. Sounds from across the universe lull the feeling in his trembling soul... to grieve,.. to scream out for sweet release. The pin-prick of the sharps come across as a pinch of reality in the cloaked guise of chemical rush. Falling headlong, the swift descent registers in his cerebral cortex, as he views the earth rushing toward him. His foot barely reaches the brake pedal at the last possible moment. The rushing, oncoming headlights, the sharp, acrid stench of burning rubber; all part of a cosmic surreal play carreens wildly out out of Death`s awaiting embrace. The cosmic superhighway was never more dangerous than this!! One never knew where one might end up driving blindfolded. Shifta has no control over the Stream, and where it might take him. He could be deposited anywhere at any given time and it sends a chill up his vertebrae just to know that,ultimately; he is just a plaything of whoever it is that is ``pulling the strings.``He had just finished that thought when he felt his being tumbling down a deep well. He woke up in a frail hospital bunk with a big pair of saucer eyes transfixed on his person. This was accompanied with a crushing sense of having seen this peculiar dimunitive fellow before... somewhere. As to that certain Somewhere, he could not bring himself to fully ascertain.


   Shifta found out his name was Sam. The little man with no legs had told him so. Now, at last, he had identity! One night , eons ago, or so it seemed, he had clumsily spilled out the contents of his wallet at the canteen. A treaty card, a social insurance I.D. had him pegged as Sam. In the pile of other pieces of junk, he picked up a dirty, crumpled up dollar bill. ``Shit!``,yelled No-Legs,``I didn`t think they made those anymore!``Along with everything else, a scrap of a MacDonalds`burger bag was tucked into the change compartment of the old wallet.


   The little man with his legs in absentia, rolled up alongside Sam and whispered quietly, ``Hey, Bud, did ya know ya gotts feathers all across yer back. Gees, man, what are you... a Canada goose??`` In a scintilla, Sam had the eureka moment. It was true then. He contemplated the unthinkable. Is it possible? By now, his meds were starting to kick into his bloodstream, and in a moment, he would resign himself to the bliss of darkness upon his eyelds. Perchance to dream, to travel to distant worlds.


Final Install ;Sektember 34
Locale: Somewhere in the Vicinity
Year: Whatever you Please..for now.



      Nibbling on his small stack of melba-toast wafers, and sipping on a tiny, fancy English tea-cup,he was completely enjoying being fully human again. No-Legs had been gracious enough to nurse him back to reasonable mental equillibrium. At last, he could savour something he had never enjoyed before..a true human friend!! No-Legs took great joy in reading to Shifta from the complete and unabridged works of Sigmund. At this particular writing, the little friend was now reading to his friend from Tolstoy`s ``War and Peace,``from back to front. Shifta, or rather, Sam, preferred no surprise endings, so he would sooner listen to the conclusion first. In the back of his mind, he had the nagging sense that he might suddenly turn up,``missing``again.


In due time, Sam became somewhat uneasy around No-legs. One day, Norman showed up for the midnight read in a lovely pink, satin ballet dress. The voice of Norman began to develop a smooth, satiny velvet tone to it. Sam was so used to Norman`s abrasively masculine baritone that the sight of Norman in feminine attire disturbed him to no end. What was even worse was that Norman began to play The Greatest Hits of Tiny Tim on the grammaphone. The pop and crackle of the falsettoed singing only added a eerie flavour to the ever-tensioning air between the two friends.
   It was inevitable. All good things had to come to an end! This was one time, Shifta would have no problem eluding a painful scenario. He winced in the darkness, unable to sleep, for fear that Norman might creep in on tip-toe to try and lure Sam over into the tulip garden. Everytime he felt the Stream approach, he felt a surge deep down where the sun of Reason did not shine. Somewhere in his private heart of hearts, he acknowledged that familiar calling that he knew was bound to come. It could strike at any moment!! Oh be still, my broken heart, he calmed himself with those silent words to soothe his spirit.
   Like a swift updraft under his wing, he was swept up once more just at the precise moment that Norman lunged at his unmentionables! How sweet it was to sense release such as this. There was no control over these sudden occurences. They just happened. Out of the blue, so to speak.


After awhile, Shifta got tired of staring up at the night sky. `I`m getting much too old for this,``he thought.`` Maybe, I`d better quit while I still have some sense of sanity about me.` It entered into his mental log. All he could see straight ahead was the narrow, winding road to normalcy. Maybe, it had something to do with those new, purple pills they had just started him on. He was lately starting to feel the itch to settle down. He longed for a simpler time when he didn`t question everything that was laid upon his table.


Lately, he felt as though he had gone through a spiritual awakening of some kind. The doctors were aware of his progress, and were keenly savvy to his present state of renewal. Everything began to make sense, as though someone had happened by to blow away those dark clouds that had so fogged his mind for such a long time. He, by chance, felt under his pillow and found a huge pile of his meds hidden in the pillow-case. No wonder, then; that, Sam ;was now returning to a clearer, sparkling reality.


The needle on the reality gauge in front of him was nearing the critical range of near-perfect. He felt uneasy, because he had never been that close to perfection before. Well, there was one time, but she disappeared in a moment, as he was turning to look the other way. He turned quickly enough to see her fade away into the crowd. He tried to swallow the lump in his throat, but it seemed to be permanently lodged there. He had sworn he would never allow anyone to get that close enough to hurt him again, but he utterly failed that resolution from the first time he laid his eyes on her.The strangest thing was that he had never even got her name.``Oh, well,`` he recalled wistfully,`I guess that`s life.``


   Shifta sensed The Stream moments before it swept into existence, once more. The rippled wall effect preceeded the whir of atoms and crackle of neurons as the planes of reality shifted back onto the present. The familiar pop, popping deep in his ears signalled lift-off. There was a flash of blue light and, wham!!,he was dropped into a movie set circa 1962.
   ``Samm, where the hell have you been? Read the dummy cards, for shit`s sake! We`re on live! Get with it!``
   ``He was momentarily blinded, like a deer caught in the headlights of a pedestrian vehicle.
    The character directly in front of him resembled a trashy Garbo, as he read his lines into her face.
    ``All right, doll, dis is whut you been asking for for a long time!``he barked as he let her have a backhand heavy and sharp with Indian love.


``All right, cut! That`a wrap!`` Within moments, he stood in his neighbourhood butcher shop. Oh, God, I hope I don`t turn into hamburger! he pleaded to Whoever was in charge of this mad scenario. No..not this time, he stood, tall and resolute, determined to resist The Stream. A thin vail of peace fell over him, as he awaited the next transition to God knows where! He noticed with dismay that he was dressed like Pinochio, and he tried to snap the strings that were attached to his hands and feet. He suddenly remembered the words of his mother,``Hang on to your mind, Sammy, that`s the most precious thing you`ll ever own in this world. They can`t take that away from you!`` And, just as quickly as her face appeared before him, it dissipated. It went up like a puff of cigarette smoke. He smelled the lingering pungent scent of the Pell-mells she used to enjoy so much! Of course, the One in the Dark Robe eventually came for her. She was reluctant to go, but finally gave in and went the way of all flesh. No use...no use to fight...to resist. I am undone! The jig is up!


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