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Don't get all discerning on me now
Travis Flux

   A suburban garden neatly trimmed and diligently sculpted - a gorgeous young woman in a bikini lazes on a sun lounger as she reads a romance novel, cold sweet drink in hand, Dalmatian at her side panting in the summer heat. Over the wall a red and fierce argument, over the wall comes a plastic bag filled with something heavy.

Silence.

A scream, a dull thump.

   Out of the house comes a middle-aged man with a paunch, he's holding a gun, asks the supple siren what the hell is going on, she shakes her head, points to the plastic bag tangled in the bushes. He investigates; his nose rankles at the contents.
   What is it, darling?
   Human shit! How dare they!
   The dog jumps up, tears the packet, bad dog. Out pours a vicious slop of brown, but wait. What's this - egg-shaped sacs of something off-white.
   Oh, he says. This is not good.
   What is it, darlin'?
   This is some serious shit he answers, looking around furtively. This is cocaine courier shit.
   Oh, I couldn't do that, she says quietly, going back to her book.
   The dog is eating the drops of brown sludge, the man thinks a tiny thought of shooting this shit-eating dog, never liked it anyway. Logic gets the better of him; he goes inside with the dog on a lead, takes out a pair of rubber gloves and returns to the garden.

   The lovely girl looks up in surprise, we can't do that now, she says, not in the garden at least!
   No, no. Maybe later, girl. I'm gonna pick these balls outta here and wash 'em off, this is the best coke you'll ever have, baby.
   Ooh, she squeals, that's disgusting!
   Baby, this is the same shit you've been shoving up your hooter all year, don't get all discerning on me now.

   An hour later a knock on the door. It's a blue-black Nigerian, call me Joe, he says.
   Alright, Joe, the man says, gun in hand, and what can I do for you?
   You have my shit.
   You can take your shit and fuck off, he spits back, handing the dark man the packet of sacs.
   There is some missing, says Joe.
   Shit tax, my man, says the homeowner, taking out his gun.
   Thanks for my shit, Joe says, taking care to walk backwards as he leaves.
   No problem, buddy - just remember, we don't want your type of shit round here.
   Cheers, boss.

Shell

I am growing a shell as I grow older; each experience mottles and stipples my spine-leather. Here, I bake and harden under this African sun, more thouroughfares and tunnels, trials and rites of passage mark me, making a register for those who wish to deduce my age. From this I can analyse a map, of courses and tracks, without which I am certain I am doomed. The bitterness of a fact is determined by the date of its consumption. It is my birthday, and I am far from home.

   In order to travel safely on foot through the belly of what constitutes a city these days, you must employ animal instinct - within the cathedrals and channels of a modern city the skills of the wild are still necessary. Put that instinct to use - take it to the gym of experience and work it till sinews and veins, muscles and tendons begin to grow and bulge, ready for action. Then you can roam, sure of your homing signal, scything through crowds as they split for an instant, revealing gaps and shortcuts hidden to the rest of the churning mob. Master the art of fluid movement whilst your animal mind carves the path.

   Beyond the use of this skill to enable swift passage in literal terms, it can be employed in the management of other, more ethereal parts of life. People on the whole are conducive to subtle manipulation, if you go about it correctly. Body language is a fantastic tool which will allow you avoid or engage as it takes your fancy. This city is endless, it spans the horizon, I won't live to see the edge of it. I might never make it home.

   The instinct is to be found elsewhere, too - in bed, in love, in trouble. I can feel the shell tighten as the images swarm my darting mind - she's screaming, she's laughing, she's got her ass in the air and her hands are clawing the sheet. Witch that she is, I couldn't teach her a thing - which is perhaps why she's getting twitchy. I can't move comfortably any more, my body is getting taught with all this marching. This city is no longer my home. It's my fucking birthday and I'm walking home, and it may take some time. I look at my reflection and see the carapace; it's threatening to grow over my face, edging up my neck like a rash.

   And then I see her, and she's as caught as I am in the swerve and whisk of the march. I ask her:

   'How much further?'
   'You're late for your own fucking party.'

The bitterness of a fact indeed.