Days of Generally Typical Vacuity


by Dave Early

The landscape is perfectly sculpted; a rich green tapestry caressing the even earth, protected by an unnaturally polished balustrade, the wrought iron blistered with authenticity. Japonica runs the length of the border, a proud display, assembled together in homely greeting for the untrained eye. The corners are marked by stooping birches, turrets of duty but softened by their sweeping boughs. And at the centre, crowned by a smattering of orange-tinged leaves towers a solid silver maple, profound in its majesty, yet not too intimidating, lest the scene be misinterpreted in its quixotic guise.

A lonely wooden bench, pale and loving, positioned at the far corner of the park catches the eye, distracting the viewer for a moment; tall unshaven grasses lick at the legs. He tramps into view. He passes the bench, ignores the majestic maple and the proud japonica flagged by the stooping birches, and crosses professionally to his mark. She has been waiting for him, though she is prudent enough to keep this concealed. But any casual observer could detect her longing.

He approaches. His eyes on hers. She bows her head, extends a long athletic leg and admires herself, as he quickens his step. Slowly he circles her, running his gaze along her rounded shoulders, her long slender neck, her smooth arcing back; inhaling her scent, her desire. She turns on the spot, crossing her legs one over the other, apprehensive of his intention, throwing her head wantonly over her left shoulder then her right, as he completes his circuit. The tension builds, the score lifts and then at the height of crescendo they are together, fused with passion; raw, frantic, natural...

Thomas paws at the remote. It has been a long day. Same old, same old. Same old journeys, same old meals, same old use of the few daylight hours granted him. He takes a drink, yawns and settles back on the settee. This is his relaxation time, the hours by which he is free to do as he pleases, no longer tethered to the desk, no longer forced to obey instruction, to jump through hoops. This is his time; his life.

The other channel explodes into a cacophony of whooping and howling. Surmounting two kitchen surfaces are two large bowls. One, the apparent victor, contains a limited portion of brown mush swimming in an amber coloured sauce. The camera shows no interest in the other bowl, though Thomas suspects its contents are of a similar standing. He stares blindly as the camera pans into the depths of the winning bowl. He licks his lips then strikes the remote again.

More applause. The camera pushes the runners round an oval track, flying up the posteriors of the leading pack. Thomas sits bolt upright. His eyes revolve, chasing the runners; it's touch and go, the front runner is in danger of being caught, the volume of the crowd rises and Thomas, in turn, twitches his leg. He reaches his neck toward the set, straining, tapping his feet against the arm rest, as the pack rounds the last bend. They are on the final stretch. The dissonant crowd is drowned out by Thomas' own howling, willing the second runner to overtake; Thomas is making a racket, lost in earnest devotion for this second runner he has never seen before. He has to win. He has to win. He has to beat the leader. And he does! The pursuing runner pips the leader at the post. And Thomas' celebratory howls leave him exhausted; in fact he barely has enough energy to bark a string of insults at the losers. Satiated, Thomas slumps back down on the settee, nudging the cushion into place. He stretches, takes another drink and resumes his lethargic pose.

Flick

The park has been invaded by a third party. A rival. The lovers are caught.

Flick.

A marketplace fills the screen. The camera lens hones in on the selection of foods on display before the presenter's interest wanes and she moseys off to the next stall to nose through another collection of foodstuffs identical to the last. The pace of the program relaxes Thomas's breathing. The presenter moves on to another stall. Same again. Thomas licks his lips. Another stall. His eyelids droop. A few foods are pawed at but never removed, never eaten, and the presenter's tread begins to slow, and... Thomas rattles his head awake again, has something to drink, and...

Flick

Thomas is invited to inspect the inside of a room. It is very clean. The cabinets possess a virginal sheen, the carpet is young and buoyant; the bed, framed and untouched. A great deal of satisfaction, if not fun, lies ahead. But their will be time for that.

Flick

Food is being eaten by a plump old thing. He shakes his head to intonate an element of disapproval, but he continues to feed. Thomas licks his lips. More critical remarks from the plump presenter, before he shoves the bowl impertinently aside and ignores the rest of the food.

Flick

An atmospheric wind whistles through the park, throwing leaves up into the swirling air, adding to the whirlwind of violence as the two rivals tear chunks out of each other while the prize looks on. Thomas gazes listlessly at the fight. He scratches his side.

Flick

White walls, white drapes, and on a white table a sickly bunny rabbit lies, its breathing shallow. Thomas licks his lips.

Flick

Another whirlwind of action. The elaborate whining pricks Thomas' ears. He takes another drink, licks his lips and peers clandestinely at the explicit posturing and frenetic rutting. An exciting channel. The wrong channel. Quickly he hammers at the remote.

Bright lights, grandeur, outlandish posing and with rapturous acclaim a well-groomed specimen takes to the stage. Thomas' eyes fix on to the spectacle. Even the god-forsaken howling that shifts between audience and stage is not enough for him to haul himself away. Thomas sits up. He watches. He waits. And when the din has died down, he barks his own approval at the reproachful verdict of the judges.

Flick

The rivals are still embroiled in a deadly bout. The adulterous lover, preening herself on the sidelines, falls to the floor. A glorious shot of the open canopy.

Flick

The room has been changed. The walls have been sprayed, the carpet ripped up, the bed posts scuffed and the cabinets have lost there innocence. Much better. That lived-in look. There is even an abstract water feature in the corner.

Flick

A couple of Boxers are circling each other in the ring. Thomas flexes his limbs. One of the Boxers lunges forward. The other meets the challenge and the violence escalates within seconds. Thomas snarls. He kicks out a leg. His breathing quickens. The second Boxer is down, no, he is up again. And he is gunning for revenge. Blood spatters the filthy canvas. Teeth are bared. The gloves are off. Thomas is barking instructions at the fighters. The first Boxer wheels away. Thomas barks louder. The second Boxer is in pursuit; the job not finished. He's down! He stays down. The second Boxer has won. Thomas howls in delight, and licks the sweat from his upper lip.

Flick

A sneaked peek at the naughty channel. That bitch is still getting pounded as she claws the air theatrically, brandishing her pedicure. Thomas persists with the removal of sweat from his upper lip. She whines and howls and there is even a little biting going on. Thomas shifts his weight on the settee, poking his nose around the back to confirm his privacy.

Flick

More food. This time there is no pretence of preparation or critique. Just a vast array of edibles on display. Up for sale. Thomas dips into his drink again.

Flick

Tomas pants. That bitch is still taking it.

Flick

Another candidate for ridicule takes to the stage and the awful howling commences. Thomas joins in. The audience join in. Thomas approves. He hopes this one wins.

Click

Thomas scrambles around on the settee, in a non-specific panic. A door slams, sending the walls in the front room a-judder. Familiar sounds alert his ears; familiar smells ignite his olfactory sense. He flips the cushions to the floor, searching desperately for the remote, which had seemingly disappeared the moment he heard the key in the lock. The door creaks open.

Flick

The lovers embrace, encased in a white orb which in turn with the music shrinks to the size of an atom. And the screen goes black.