Nice little ‘bit’ in Clash magazine’s Letters from Wales post. Ifan Dafydd, Sam Airey, Islet and Kutosis also putting in an appearance. And, remarkably, only one “from the hills” reference…
“wine, wine, wine… may suit a Persian bubble bird but I say give me rain, rain, rain on the shingle roof for roses and inspiration every time” (Lolita)
written by me
“It’s a shame,” he said. Dogs stirred at his feet, forming a carpet of matted fur and trapped thistle seeds. The man in the house next door started on the next cadence of prayer; round and round it went, turning over and in upon itself like mercury-oil. “It’s a shame, because I was born with a face that was perfectly suited to moments of grace and absolute clarity.” The sound of tiny nails scraping against the wall cavity grew louder against the prayer; the dogs whimpered in their sleep. He fumbled in his pocket for the pouch of tobacco. “And yet,” he said to the wallpaper, which grimly held its peeling vigil over the room once occupied by Enid, “those moments have been so rare that I have only two worth mentioning.” His tongue dug for loose grains of coffee caught in his teeth. “They came like beacons. Twice, my face was illuminated. Light shone from the bonework of my chin. My nose caught fire. My beard turned to crystal, and when I laughed, diamonds tumbled from the crevices of my throat and drew blood which inched like a riverswell carrying rocks from my glowing lips.” An eye opened from the carpet below, streaked with the milky beginnings of blindness. His fingers arranged the tobacco, packing it tightly into the thin strip of paper, rolling gently. “Really,” he said. The eye continued to gaze at him. He laughed. Next door, the neighbour’s prayer was disturbed by a violent fit of coughing. Nanoseconds of emptiness passed. “After that first time, my skin was so badly burned that I sat inside for three months; every night I’d wipe a fresh coating of soot from my charred eyebrows; my teeth were permanently stained; I lost two of them to the diamonds.” The scratching inside the wall stopped. “I did,” he said. The nails started up again. “Sold most of the rocks to a pawn shop on the corner, kept one for Delta, one for myself.” He placed the cigarette between his lips, lit a match with his free hand, listened to the faint crackling, watched the air vibrate, watched it contract as the flame caught the edge of the paper, growing gold. “After that, I told myself that I’d never let myself have one of those moments ever again. Ten years passed. Nothing happened. I remained completely unenlightened. Had no thoughts. None. Saw nothing but this room. Wore a scarf around my head to hide the mess.” He inhaled deeply. “And then one day, I turned the radio on. I liked listening to the midnight phone-ins. But that night they’d cancelled the show, the presenter was in Antigua, and they’d decided to play music for three hours straight. And when I turned it on, I heard this piece of orchestral music, some strings, notes that seemed to creep like leaves, wrapping around my throat, and I found myself thinking about things. Instantly, my eyes started leaking a glowing liquid; shards of hot-white light started shooting from my nostrils; I coughed molten coal; what was left of my hair combusted; my entire face throbbed and shone. I crawled to the mirror. I looked like a God. I looked so beautiful. That was Part 2.” A dog entangled itself from the softly undulating mass of fur, got to its feet, shakily padded towards the kitchen. “Yes,” he said. “You’ve heard it before.”
The prayersong next door grew steadily louder, more desperate. He stubbed the remains of the cigarette into a cup. “Things always come in threes.” He drew his fingers to his face, touched the bone under the crepe of his skin, wonderfully smooth. “It’s really a shame,” he said again. “I looked so beautiful.” The final note of prayer hung on the air, spread itself over the skirting boards, ruffled the fur of the dogs who continued to sleep at his feet, tugged at the mildewing curtains. White light streamed from the cracks in the wall. The dogs didn’t move.