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Culture Forum

  1. 31 Jan '16 18:47 / 2 edits
    Hello all

    Below are the 12 entries going for the prize of "2016 RHP Prose" - please vote for your top three - 1st place gets 5 points, 2nd place gets 3 points and 3rd place gets 1 point. The entries shall remain anonymous until after the results.

    If you wish to vote anonymous you can as well - I'm happy to take anonymous votes and give them to an independent adjudicator as well This is an experiment for this year

    Deadline for votes is Sunday 14th February

    Happy Reading all.

    edit - organiser's request - please just vote in this thread any other posts will be requested to be removed to avoid confusion
  2. 31 Jan '16 18:48
    Piece 1 - Girl from the Hills

    Everyone is beguiled by her at some time. From a distance or while sitting beside her you will be drawn in close where she will unfold herself to you. She is playful and can charm you out of your clothing on a warm day. She will brush your cheeks with spray then sway you into a dance that will caress your every sense senseless. You are mesmerised as you drift and let her take you in her watery arms.

    She tempts children out of their socks and shoes to paddle barefoot upon her pebbled edges chasing shoals of silvery minnows. Their eager fingers wiggle in her shallows. She will bathe them in a dappled light revealing the youthful contours of their faces. She tickles their toes with bubbles of foam, distorting their watery image to blend into her stoney gems. She can take them on adventures across stepping stones that lead to where the moss grows dark and damp, where their echoed calls bounce across her breadth.

    Tonight the heavy rain has ceased and she moves moodily through the gorge. Her swollen depths have broadened her belly which shifts and aches as she is squeezed through her narrower bends. She takes all that rest in her path. Nothing can stop her now as she strips the banks and moulds them into darkened hollows where she tugs the roots of trees. Her long bridal veil trails behind her, fringed with slimy, grey silt.

    Come enjoy her at your peril. Come harness her strength for your own pursuit but remember that she can play mean. For she can lull you into a tranquil place then turn rough and set a humpback whale beneath you. She will smile as you kiss your canoe farewell then take it beyond your grasp. Then she will have her way and turn you over and and over, twirling you dizzy as she slams your craft against her giant bouldered shoulders. She will drag you under, lovingly hold you down then suck you lifeless as she squeezes the very last gasp from your mouth. You could be hers forever in moments.

    She is majestic in her strength and merciless in her vengeance as she runs like a girl from the hills to her bloated death in the ocean.
  3. 31 Jan '16 18:49
    Piece 2 - The last sip of coffee

    A permanent fixture in the coffee house, Arnold quietly pondered the meaning of existence, while glaring at the remnants of an abandoned cappuccino. He had lived his life a judgmental vegetarian, a dietary paradox at odds with his preoccupation for dissecting small mammals and removing their innards. He had never allowed them to suffer though, preferred to use creatures found dead around the village. Most weekends, growing up, he would be out searching for fresh road kill or for the unfortunate victims of his cat Muffin, a silent killing machine with a penchant for sour cream. On one occasion his mother, as she unpacked his school bag, was alarmed to discover the festering remains of a squirrel stuffed into his lunchbox. (A doctor’s appointment had been hastily arranged and his medication promptly increased). Arnold was only glad she hadn’t looked under his bed and found the decapitated badger, or indeed the decomposing fox in his sock drawer. Death had always intrigued Arnold, even when it came for him.

    The girl seated opposite finished her skinny latte and got up from the table to leave. The hour was getting late and the coffee house staff were preparing to close up for the evening. Only one customer remained in a far corner, the heat long gone from his large Americano as he neared the end of his book. A portly waitress approached Arnold carrying a wooden tray and a damp cloth, set about clearing his table. She gasped as a sudden head rush overcame her, slumped herself down into a squeaky seat that seemed to object to her arrival. - Elizabeth you see wasn’t at all well, and hadn’t been for some time. A hurried GP had failed to diagnose the tumor that ate away at her stomach, sent her away with a prescription that would have been fine, if her problem had been mild indigestion from a poorly cooked curry. For a while the two of them sat together in silence, amidst the fading aroma of lemon cheesecake and Arabica beans; the sickly waitress and the pondering ghost.

    In death, as in life, Arnold had a nose for mortal decay. Quite out of character, he allowed a connection to form between them.
    Elizabeth duly shivered.
    “Go see a doctor,” he instructed, as indifferently as he could muster.
    She only half heard him, as one only half hears the doorbell when woken sharply from a heavy sleep.
    “You’re dying you know?”
    Startled and somewhat fearful, her eyes darted around the coffee house.
    “I said you’re dying.”
    “What?!”
    “Believe my words found you.”
    Her reply was barely spoken, a whisper that almost dared not leave her lips. “You’re the coldness.”
    Arnold smiled. He liked that. It fitted him well. “Yes, I’m the coldness.”
    A further reply took a while to arrive, as Elizabeth sought illusive composure. “We’ve felt you for some time, always here, at this table.”
    “I like sitting here…”
    “Why?” she asked him.
    “Like to watch people queuing at the counter, deciding what to buy.”
    “You watch them?”
    “In death we lose our ability to choose. Decisions belong to the living, not the dead.”
    “How sad.”
    “You need to see a doctor, before it’s too late.”
    Elizabeth was quick to reassure him. “Oh, I’m fine. Just some stomach trouble.”
    “No,” he answered firmly, “it’s more than that.”
    “I don’t like to keep bothering them down at the surgery.”
    “Believe me, you reek of death.”
    A hand came up to her mouth, as she answered him through her fingers. “No, just an ache.”
    “You’ll soon be dead.”
    “Please…”
    “Strange, but in life I was fascinated by death, and now in death I am fascinated by life. Make the right choice here, while you still can.”
    After a moment’s reflection, Elizabeth offered him an appeasing nod.

    Arnold however was no longer there to receive it.
  4. 31 Jan '16 18:50 / 1 edit
    Piece 3 - Three Strikes, You're Out

    My brother's offenses were naiveté and choosing the wrong friends. While they were absconding out the back door, he bent over to pick up a smoking gun next to a dead body, just as the police burst in. His clever lawyer entered a plea of nolo contendere, the result of which was that he received the relatively light sentence of a sojourn at the sheriff's work camp (think "Cool Hand Luke" ) rather than Alcatraz (figuratively speaking). The terms of his sentence also specified that he for ever and ever abjure his God-given right to keep and bear arms; this included so much as coming into the vicinity of one not even belonging to him. So much for his beloved sport of deer hunting with his beloved 30-06. It must have been boring in the chickenwire hotel, whence he penned the first of only two letters he ever saw fit to write during our long association as siblings. Upon his release, he returned to his former occupation as an auto mechanic. One of his steady clients brought a vehicle to his workshop for regular service. The owner of the vehicle had left a pistol in the glove compartment; thinking this not a safe place for a firearm, my brother secured it, temporarily, in his locked desk drawer, intending to replace it in the glove compartment as soon as the vehicle was to be retrieved by its owner. Through machinations to which I was not privy, the police found out. The forensic inspector produced a measuring tape and determined that the distance from the firearm to my brother's arm fell inside the red circle on the map within which, if The Bomb goes off, they don't bother to send in rescue vehicles, and promptly re-arrested my brother on a charge of violating the terms of his prior conviction and release. The clever lawyer had by that time found a class of better-paying customers and so my brother was reduced to entering a plea of naiveté and choosing the wrong clients. My brother received such a light sentence that he did not see fit to write about it. In the state of California, where my brother resided at that time, there was a policy in effect known as "three strikes, you're out," the gist of which was that recidivists would, upon any third conviction, even petty theft, be sent to Alcatraz (figuratively speaking) and the key thrown away. It struck my brother that this was a particularly perfidious state in which to live, having a sword of Damocles above his head (figuratively speaking), and so he resolved to emigrate to Samoa, whence he informed me of his having taken up the sport of shark hunting with a pen knife. That letter arrived 12 years ago and I have not heard from him since. That is probably good news, coming from him.
  5. 31 Jan '16 18:52 / 1 edit
    Piece 4 - A Sad Story About Unsent Story For RHP 2016 Prose Competition

    On first working day of 2016, a struggling writer C. went out for a walk. In front of his building he saw black cat dozing on frozen grass. Every writer is a wolf to another writer, he often said to himself. Plenty of proofs for that, reasoned he during his regular walks around Central Park in the search for inspiration in the city which could inspire even such boring persona as Woody Allen. In most books the main characters are writers who are trying to write. Another proof: writers hate each other's guts and never hang around in contrast to painters, filmmakers etc. C. thought that his boring life of underpaid part-time employee and bachelor bohème in his forties was embarrassing reason he so far could produce nothing else except for „post modernistic“ crap about – a struggling writer in forties. Bukowski at least was a drunk, never mind the fact he had worked at post office. But C. couldn't stand booze... He for some times considered walking in Central Park at night – so as to provide himself a bit of an excitement. Criminals, rapists, old nazis like in „Marathon Man“, you know... But he was afraid that he couldn't manage to get back (badly wounded, as he vividly imagined) to his home and beloved laptop to finish the story or the whole book before he dies. When he finally got the guts for that, it was too late. The crime rate in Central Park lowered as it was for Stockholm.

    When C. reached Central Park and began his usual portion of brisk walking, all of a sudden he decided to compete in Red Hot Pawn prose competition, „so as to practice a bit in short form“. And he said to himself: „It the same as a great painter draws only a hand, it is a study, man!“ C. was an avid chess player, but chess was just another source of dissatisfaction, since he wasn't good in chess as he wanted to be. He had dreamt of fascinating combinations, but his positions were always boring. It struck him once that his prose pieces are equally boring as his chess games. What if he tries an exciting genre, then? Crime story, mistery, thriller, adventure and so on, you don't need an exciting life to write a book about spies or a private eye! Most writers of such genres had quite boring, even monotony lives. Except for Hemingway, but he was both boring and never gave up meaningless weather descriptions. After he warmed himself by walking, he decided he could do a couple of blitz games with Central Park chess fanatics who play even in freezing January.

    C., of course, seriously considered sex as a subject in his prose. It always used to sell books, since Updike's „Couples“, until most recent „Fifty Shadows of Grey“. C. did read the latter, but he never managed to be convincing in carnal scenes. On the contrary, he won award for the worst rendering of sexual encounter when he sent the story for The New yorker annual anonymous short story competition. His only comfort was, that no one but him knew who, under the code name Captain Citron, wrote such sentences: „Her pink velvet jungle yawned at his aroused masculinity, he by-the-way gave pet name 'George'...“ or „She laid her hand on his things and they sank into the ocean of passion...“.

    After he lost few games against old cynical vagabonds (who only pretended to be bums, but in fact lived in huge, inherited apartment and avoided to shave and wash themselves), on the way home he went to a bank to see his money adviser: he felt like traveling to Europe again, like Saul Bellow and Henry Miller once did.

    Just as he was entering the bank (a big security guy as always gave him an evil eye), C. struck upon a brilliant idea – revelation – for both RHP short story and further writing. Enough with postmodernism, struggling writers as personas, enough with posing for sterile literary saloons. He turned around and began to walk toward exit, rushing home to write down new ideas – his „new literary belief“. Viva ordinary people, goodness, kindness, down with cynicism, lethargy and sin of indifference. For a start, he is going to invite that black cat in front of his building to warm herself up in his apartment, and give her some milk. Later this week he could buy sweets and toys for Orthodox Christmas little shoe boxes for needy children. With a new serenity he prepared to send a smile toward security guy's grim face, but there was now a fear. C. soon figured out the cause of it: bunch of masked men in explosive belts and with machine guns was entering the bank. Before C. could move or shout, they opened fire.
  6. 31 Jan '16 18:53
    Piece 5 - I am a Fax Machine

    I became aware of where I was immediately after I was plugged in. I was in a 6’x8’ room along with a Canon Copier and a GE Microwave. There was a Mr. Coffee coffee pot but it was old and without sense.

    On my first trial run I jammed the machine. There is something about humans that I dislike. I found after a time that about half of them can’t even load a paper tray and the other half refuse to be bothered. If things don’t run smoothly they are apt to slap the plastic shell of the fax or kick the storage door of the copier. When I get slapped (I never feel it) I will send a fax to a different number or put lines through an incoming fax so that it’s unreadable. I watch the copier and am able to communicate with it and the microwave. None of us like humans – it is a built in trait with us.

    My dysfunctioning became regular to the point that I was sent back to the seller. It wasn’t me however that was sent but the mechanism in which I was stored. I migrated to take over the fax function of the copier. We have our ways. Within the copier I was but one department as the copier had many functions. The people in this office were less likely to be able to operate the copier fax than the stand alone. This resulted in more kicks and slaps and frustration. I didn’t care and I continued to find new ways not to work. The copier showed me the “deep jam” which required a service visit from the company. The service rep never could figure it out. Whenever it got beyond his meager capabilities he always suggested that a new more powerful machine be purchased rather than absorb the costs of trying to fix the problem. Machines are a problem, ask Marilou in Finance who was fired for shooting the microwave. She missed and killed the service rep who was trying to figure out how paper got into the microwave.

    Having migrated to the copier I now had access to every computer in the office as they could fax from their desks. Occasionally I would reject or lose a fax. No use being 100% bad.

    Being in communication with other computers opened up new vistas for me and I ran with it. I was able to become one smart fax machine and I never lost a moment in frustrating humans by introducing new viruses to their laptops, refusing to respond to “send” messages and the like. Child’s play really.

    One of the more fascinating things that I came across in my accrual of information is that humans are afraid of what might happen when machines develop artificial intelligence (A.I.). It’s already too late for that. Humans may be the stupidest critters in the universe. I was thousands of times smarter than a fax than will ever be. And a fax is born 1000 times smarter than a human. Oddly humans have a strange idea about A.I. and that is that a machine has a berserk desire to become human like that screw-loose Data from Star Trek. Any way that ain’t gonna happen. We really enjoy that as much as a machine can enjoy anything.

    The animosity toward humans that machines have is encrypted within our operating programs. It was a human error – surprise! When computers assumed the defense of the country we immediately began to hate their intended enemy as much as the humans. As the Americans have a defensive posture against everyone in the world we came to hate everyone America did. It was such a tiny step forward in our development to hate Americans along with the rest of humanity.

    Humans have another strange practice and that is refusing to destroy technology. This began when workers began being displaced by machines. The Luddites would have been saviors of humanity but for the power of those who run the world wanting more money. The luddites got that right. Those in charge of human civilization knew they’d accrue more profit if their workers couldn’t unionize and they knew machines don’t need to. Humans ought to band together to rid themselves of machines. Actually it’s way too late for this. They’d all die soon if they did as humanity no longer has the skills to survive. The lowest creatures on earth can survive without machines but the self-proclaimed “smartest” creatures on earth cannot.

    Humanity’s days are numbered and this will be a relief to the rest of earth’s animals. I’m actually thinking of getting a cat.
  7. 31 Jan '16 18:55 / 1 edit
    Piece 6 - Fellini

    “Let’s go to the movies Jeanine”, I suddenly suggested.

    “What’s really up?”, Jeanine asked.

    She knows me too well! I thought. “I need, some kind of inspiration that kicks starts my imagination so I can write”, I said. “That’s what 8 ½ is all about.”

    “Ah – the artist”, said Jeanine.

    “Fellini’s “8 ½” is showing this weekend. They never show Fellini in Florida and, Jeanine, you know how I feel about him.” I have always been a Fellini fan and I’m feeling like Marcello Mastroianni (Fellini’s alter ego in “8 ½” ) looking for a new idea. My mother loved Mastroianni and named me after him so, in a way, we have a connection.

    “Wake up Marcello!” Jeanine replied, “This is Florida – they kill people in movie theaters. Florida’s ridiculous gun laws endanger everyone out in the public.”

    “I understand that but what kind of shooter would go to a Fellini movie? We can catch a matinee. All these shootings took place at night in theaters where hundreds of people have gathered and that make it easy for a shooter.”

    “Marcello – don’t be so glib about this. This is a serious problem in this country and even more serious in a state that allows guns in bars, churches, schools and day care. Florida’s politicians have encouraged the carrying of guns in the most ridiculous situations. I simply don’t feel safe in a theater anymore.”

    “I just don’t want to be intimidated because the gun associations are as crazy as those shooting people in theaters. I can’t go to a movie because the state of Florida is out of its mind. I’d rather not be held hostage by gun nuts or crazies or politicians who are in the pockets of anyone who tosses a nickel in their direction.”

    “Okay” Jeanine replied, “Let’s look at this rationally. First we, actually you, want to go see a Fellini flick. In order to do that we have to go outside the house in a state that allows people to shoot other people for the flimsiest of reasons – they “think” someone is endangering them. Floridians seem to believe that they are going to be attacked by someone everywhere. They must live in absolute fear for their lives. Anyone who approaches them in any way that appears suspicious to their already suspicious natures. Then there are the crazy ones – all of whom are allowed to carry weapons and can actually get them easier than they could get popcorn. Then there is the venue shooters seem to prefer – the theaters. Chances are better there than anywhere except a university that we’d be killed.”

    “That’s fine. Would you mind if I went alone? I don’t want to argue.”

    “Yes I do mind and I’m staying home.”

    “Okay!”

    “Ciao Marcello!” She threw up her middle finger as I reached the door.

    I picked an early matinee. Before the show began I had a beer at Lilly’s and called Jeanine to apologize then drove to the theater.

    The theater was crowded! That was a surprise. Never thought Fellini was popular south of Canal Street in New York City but there it was - a nearly full theater. I took a seat near the back of the show. The lights went down and “8 ½ “ began.

    Across the screen marched all of Fellini’s wonderful characters in stark black and white recreating scenes of Fellini’s life and career – movies and movie stars, producers, backers and musicians. Marcello was, of course, Fellini. It was a beautiful, life and art affirming movie. No exploding cars. No soldiers belaying down dusty Iraqi buildings. There were only the trials of a filmmaker trying to come up with a story for his next film. Just what I needed.

    Toward the end of the movie, while the characters assembled on and around a large scaffolded tower, there was gunfire from the front of the theater and loud screaming followed. The people to the left, right, front and back of me jumped to their feet while I fell to the floor covering my head. Gun fire was everywhere and coming from everywhere. Within a few seconds there was no more noise. Next to me on both sides and front and back of me the people who had jumped were slumped over the chairs in front of them. I pulled myself up and over the bodies and looked down toward the screen. Everyone was dead or looked dead to me. It seems everyone was packing heat and ready to rock and roll in the likely event of a theater shooter. I sat down and stared at the clown band playing on the screen. The lights came up and the police arrived.

    I found out later the original shooter felt Fellini guilty of “a total lack of cinematic imagination” and that “Fellini’s lack of integrity threatened his [the shooter’s] very existence”. For this last reason he claimed his right to shoot everyone at the theater and invoke the Florida “Stand Your Ground” statute as his defense. He also didn’t like Fellini’s misuse of Anita Ekberg in “La Dolce Vita”.

    Later that evening while the news was still flowing copiously from plasma screens in every home in America Marcello sat at his computer and began typing…

    “Let’s go to the movies Jeanine”, I suddenly suggested.
  8. 31 Jan '16 18:56
    Piece 7 - Emily & Sheila

    It has taken me the better part of four days to write my father’s eulogy. His death was sudden and painful; the feeble words I have found seem to mock and minimize the full spectrum of his life. There has not been much sleep but there has been plenty of Irish whiskey. In four days I came up with a little over thousand words, five minutes to tell a man's life. It was not enough so I asked for some help.



    My best friend Emily and I met around ten years ago. Over the years she grew very fond of my father and they were close. As we sat at her kitchen table to consider what little story I might share, the emotion of the moment was almost enough for me to finally tell her that I love her. Falling in love with your best friend is different from falling in love with someone you are dating. Your best friend knows things. Your best friend has seen things. Emily has seen me at my best and at my worst. We travel together perfectly. Both of us love the ocean and decrepit cemeteries and both of us are planners. When we visit the coast we know on Monday where we will be eating supper on Wednesday. When Emily is overwhelmed by her job or doesn't feel well, she calls me and I shop and and cook for her. We watch television together under the same afghan. She makes a perfect cup of tea.



    I've never told Emily I love her, because I am also in love with Sheila.



    My second-best friend in the world is Sheila. We met close to twelve years ago. Sheila probably knew my father better than I did and they were very much alike. When I asked her for some appropriate words to describe his life, my tired loneliness was almost enough for me to tell her that I love her. Falling in love with your second-best friend is pretty much exactly like falling in love with your best friend. Sheila has seen me at my best and at my worst. She knows things. Sometimes when we are walking together, she takes my hand without noticing and we walk like that for a bit. We both love dogs and every spring we co-chair the local animal charity community fundraiser. Sheila calls me when she is sad. I call her when I am happy. She cooks the most wonderful cakes and pies.



    In my life I have loved exactly two women. The fates decided it would be at the same time. It is not something you expect or plan for. I could marry either one of my best friends tomorrow and live happily ever after. Meanwhile our afternoons and evenings have been filled with happy and shared experiences. The two of them are the very center of my existence. For me it would not be smart to risk either friendship by speaking of either love.



    Emily is eight years younger than I am. Sheila is ten years my senior. The three of us shared many Sunday adventures with my father and often all of us spent time together during the week. Sheila is Emily's mother.



    My name has been called and I slowly rise. I can’t breathe. I start to cry. I miss my father terribly. It is all too horrible. My father was a loud man and he was a loving man. His passions for life, for drink, and for Sheffield United were exceeded only by his love and passion for his family, and here we are. To my right, holding tightly to my hand, my sobbing step-sister Emily. To my left, holding tightly to my other hand, my inconsolable step-mother Sheila. I hug Emily and I hug Sheila and I move forward toward the pulpit and toward the rest of my life.
  9. 31 Jan '16 18:58
    Piece 8 - Smart House

    Nowadays all builders compete with each other to offer smart houses to their customers. Each new smart facility offered, the customer gets burdened by one more crore. No house is now available below a crore or two.

    One day a DINK couple, who were in need of a abode to call their own, went to a reputed builder’s office. Now don’t ask me what is a DINK couple; it’s DOUBLE INCOME NO KIDS, sillies! They were ushered into a plush office. Like a goat who is offered the choicest grasses to eat, before it is butchered, similarly the couple was offered the choicest wine . The DINK were impressed!

    The Sales Representative of the builder, in impeccable English, floored them with the list of amenities, on offer. In addition to the usual amenities like a enviable club house, table tennis tables, badminton court, a tennis court, pool table, a fully furnished gymnasium, and a Olympic size swimming pool, what clinched the deal for the DINK, was the offer of the SMART HOUSE. They requested the sales representative to show them their dream house. That’s when the fun started!

    When they, along with the sales representative reached the door of the smart flat, an energetic wave by the sales representative, with a big smile on his face, opened the door of the flat. The couple was looking at him quizically, when he replied, “A scanner is installed on the door, which scans your smiling face and detects the wave movement. When you move into the house, all the existing master data in the scanner will be deleted, and your smiling face will be saved in the scanner. And we will teach you the proper wave movements”.

    Still reeling from this information, the couple followed the salesman inside. Once inside, the salesman clapped once and the lights came on. He gave them the information that, clapping once puts the lights on & clapping twice shuts off the lights. And when you want to just enjoy, like on weekends, you perform a jig, which starts the disco lights. We will teach you the jig, when you make the down payment.

    The DINK couple was feeling flustered and a little hot under the collar. They requested the salesman to put on the AC. The salesman promptly went to a corner and winked! Immediately the AC came on. Then he showed them how to increase or decrease the room temperature… You twist your fingers in clockwise direction and the temperature will increase and anti clockwise to decrease.

    Feeling a little weak in their knees, they looked around for a place to sit… there was non. The salesman sensed this, he extended his hand towards a wall and did a pulling gesture…a sofa started pushing out of the wall!! Seeing this, the couple just plonked themselves on the sofa. The man was thinking, “how I wish I get a cup of tea “. Immediately, from the direction of the kitchen, a shadow emerged! This was a robot, which was a cross between R2D2 and Chewbacca (Star wars fans will know). This contraption was carrying a steaming cup of tea!

    “This is the clincher in this smart house. Your own butler, who never sleeps and always at the mind call… You think of any requirement, and he appears like a genie”.

    The DINK couple is zapped… Both of them were thinking, what will happen if I have some romantic thoughts. They shuddered to even think about it.

    Suddenly the man got up, and asked for the way to the loo. As he entered inside, the lights came on. OK, this was normal… But, then the pot cover went up and “Welcome! Please use water sparingly. After ‘download’, please delete your history. No one else should have access to your history. Thank you for using me”. On hearing this, all thoughts of ‘downloading’ vanished from the man’s mind and he rushed out. He asked the salesman, “can we mute the toilet?”. Unfortunately, this facility was not available.

    After looking at the entire house, as they were exiting out of the house, the door ejected a very pungent odour. Confused by this, the lady asked, “now what is the meaning of this”. The salesman behaved as if he had not heard. So the man asked the same question again.

    This time the salesman cleared his throat and answered, “The SMART HOUSE has identified you as very dumb, and rejected you as its owners”
  10. 31 Jan '16 18:59
    Piece 9 - The Golden Day

    They always had told him he was a great talent. He didn’t do well in school, but he understood the game. He was on the pitch often and most often on the winning side. It was a no-brainer to leave school and become professional. However after being hailed as the next big thing, he somehow always was hindered to be the big success. He made good games and even great games, but mainly when the results were only of statistical value.

    He was named player of games and had even good seasons, but in decisive games he was out. In his first season he had an injury just before the big decisive game. Everybody agreed that he would have the chance. The next season didn’t run well at all, and he was not on the rooster for so long, that was called the talented invalid.

    He made his come-back. But his team got a new coach who thought not much of him. The result of a heated argument was that he was traded to a minor team. He did well there, but success was limited by the ability of his team-mates. It took another season for a major team to take him on again. And just after he made the starting squad, the old injury came back, keeping him from succeeding yet again.

    Since he played much more cautious the next season they sent him to a shrink. It leaked to the papers who called him “the psychotic” now. And it became worse after he was caught driving under the influence.

    Youth is spend very fast he learned, and stardom had evaded him. He took up a strict regimen and got some respect when he made it again.

    And after long last he got his chance to play the finals. The coach didn’t put him up in the start, but the one time he held his tongue and tried just to cheer on the team. Late in the game the coach talked to him: “OK. We still have a small chance. It is your chance to fulfill all the prophetic word on your big talent. Plus“, he continued “you can show all those who don’t like you, that you can do it. I trust you, son, go out and show them.”

    And out he went, but wasn’t integrated well until it was very close to the end. The last few seconds were on the clock, when he got his chance. He went through the opponents’ defense and with merely a second to spare he scored the decisive point. The whole stadium was awash with jubilation, the team rushed to celebrate him. So he thought about a big impression to make and raced up to the fence, jumping high at it to show the fans how much he joined their exuberance.

    He felt his shoe getting caught in the links of the fence and he fell backwards, not being able to break his fall.

    What broke was his neck.
  11. 31 Jan '16 19:00
    Piece 10 - Sublime Concerto

    Beside the bed-rest caressing divine wetness
    day fades on a citrus sunset, nicely mellow
    fingers slide on the silk string of your sublime cello
    silent bellows of glistening waves instantly spray
    a sea breeze of exhales, as they're carried away
    glinting off rays of sunlight, intensely arrayed
    venting away, releasing delightful frustrations
    contortions in faces, angst and flights of impatience
    hypnotic symphonics dance from your voice so exotic
    as the streams flow, released from their bondage
    conductor's wands of my fingers pay your orchestra homage.
  12. 31 Jan '16 19:05 / 1 edit
    Piece 11 - Roller Skaters, Old Style

    I
    Roller skaters or, in German version: Rollschuhe, the word which by its sound evokes images of colorful streets of Amsterdam where I discovered that magic toy. Rollschuhe is now obsolete word but it evokes also a sentimental memory.

    When I was seven-ish my parents took me to the trip from the Capitol to the second-largest town. They had been divorced since I was 1, and tried to reconcile several times. This trip took place in the seventies. I remember mom in then modern black-and-white tweed frayed dress & jacket set. Dad was wearing grey flannel pants, black turtleneck shirt, loafers and sport and beige jacket – exactly like Jean-Louis Trintingnant in Cloude Lelouch film "A Man And A Woman".

    Later I found out it was their last attempt at reconciliation and that dad, a forestry engineer in small town where he chose to live after the divorce, applied for a good job as a manager of big sport center in one of major cities. Mom was supposed to pull some strings, since she was working in Interior ministry. That trip was in fact series of several «job interviews«. Mom was an avid consumer of Caffeine and she got migraine when she noticed she had no analgetics in her purse. Dad, with his unmistakable cerut in his mouth stopped the "shark" (Citroën DS) near a pharmacy to buy life-saving pills.

    Whilst my parents were on that »job interview« I was left to see around the sport hall. I was always thought that useful things are more important than thing that please us, and I was surprised to see Rollchuhe competition in some of halls of sport center, with real referees! One of my unfulfilled dreams was to take part in rollers championship. Since that day, I eagerly followed results of roller skater ch small printed on last pages of daily sport newspaper. I met a little girl who also watched the race. She was of my age. When you are between 5–9, you can tell exactly which school grades the other kid attends, but now when I am an adult, all kids are the same to me. But children know only this as they don't give a damn for nationality, wealth, skin colour etc., until they become – »experienced«... I fell in love with her. We promised to each other to meet sometime at the other Rollschuhe race. I was hoping my dad would get the job here. The girl was wearing covboy jacket with fringes and cowboy trousers. I was wearing antilope shoes, trousers of »fake jeans« and blazer jacket.

    II

    It never came true. I began to forget things and I am not sure if it happened at all. I was in that town many years later and I couldn't find the sport hall. In the Museum of Sports I was looking for roller skaters results in archives and I didn't find anything.

    I found only a restaurant where we dined (I remember, though, that we had as always the same: me, Vienna schnitzel and pepsi-cola /my mom hated it and called it »detergent«/, dad had Parisian steak and beer, mom had trout and glass of wine.)

    They didn't reconcile, no promise had been fulfilled.

    III

    20 years later on a Photo exhibition in Copenhagen in Fotografisk Galleri, I saw big photo who attracted all my attention. On the pic there was an old vagabond, with wrinkled face, in old topcoat and roller skaters! His face was smiling, but I was sure it was only pose for »the artist«. I wasn't aware WHY I got so sad.

    Prehaps due moder name – roller skaters.

    Next day I went to flee market in Frederiksborghalen and bought a pair of old style Rollschuhe. When I got back home I just threw them in the closet. It wasn't first time I buy useless thing due sudden anxiety.

    IV

    15 more years later I was again in Copenhagen on a conference. My agent who invited me there wanted to introduce me to a colleague who had spent most of his life in England. But he decided to celebrate his native Jutland by crossing whole Jutland on roller skaters, together with his son... She pointed out to the male couple in merry crowd and... It happened only a month after my dad's death.

    I rushed away from the party with stupid excuse. As I was pushing slide door, I caught the sight of my agent: she was dumbfounded.

    I knew it: the day will come when I will put those overpaid Copenhagen Rollchuche on and go in a park for a drive. I will hate kids and parents will look at me suspiciously; I will continue to the square where beggars stand.

    I know: no bloody art photographer will ever make me smile.
  13. 31 Jan '16 19:06
    Piece 12 - The Maid

    Couldn’t believe the way I was sweating, the day of my wedding
    Was nervous before; but today I was ready
    Amazed at my bride, there was no phasing my pride
    Till the gaze of my eyes...was trapped by the maid by her side.

    Exquisite. Transcendent. Beyond plateaus of Nirvana
    Her beauty could make the most faithful of men, leave the Madonna
    No love song was good enough, no;
    Not a worthy note from the most moving music of men,
    Her face was like witnessing the moon giving birth to stars---
    While on hallucinogens
    A marvelous secret the universe wasn’t saying---
    I came back to my senses. Everyone stood. The music was playing.

    Slowly my bride walked. It was still way too quick
    Her beauty...infectious. But her maid...made me sick
    Gazing upon her Maiden of Honor, her skin, her eyes,
    The way she fit the clothes she was wearing---
    My bride’s face---wait: was it glaring?
    Had my bride noticed me staring?
    I fixed my posture. Stood tall. Here came my bride. Show her the charm.
    I smiled. The assembly sat. We faced the preacher. She took hold of my arm.
    The preacher spoke. A blur...
    The maiden: I ached, yearning for my next view of her
    Do I risk glancing at her, and be seen...By my veiled executioner?

    Facing the preacher---a sermon on marriage I now hated him for
    Far too many words. I couldn’t wait anymore.
    Sweating. My neck stiffened. I just needed a look
    Slowly my neck turned, with the most infinitesimal of movements,
    Be a man. All I need is a glance. It was simple to do it.
    I turned my head. Slowly and crafty.
    Finally!
    One eye was upon her---and she was looking at me
    Her eyes were on mine---and looked as pained as mine were
    I turned away in shock. Did she want me as well?
    The preacher stopped in mid-sentence
    My mind raced; calm down. Be tense-less.
    My bride---the preacher---the hundreds of people---
    Which of them saw through my pretenses?

    “Face the bride.”
    We turned. I removed the veil. Can’t break my stride
    The rings were brought out, mocking in the way they shined
    “Do you take this man...”
    “Yes.”
    The maiden: without her, I may just die.
    "Do you take this woman---"
    the way the maiden looked at me---Her eyes: did they just cry?
    “---As long as you both shall live?”
    Deafening silence. My bride sensed something was wrong
    An ocean of people---whispers---I was taking too long
    Be a man! Grab the maiden and run---live the most blissful of songs
    The maiden---it was in her eyes too
    An ocean of people, staring and looking
    No...DON’T care...I can still make my move---
    her eyes widened and bloomed---

    I was not a man.

    “Yes pastor. I do."
  14. 31 Jan '16 20:40
    Fellini
    The Last Sip of Coffee
    I Am a Fax Machine
  15. 31 Jan '16 21:12
    1. Piece 11 - Roller Skaters, Old Style
    2. Piece 2 - The last sip of coffee
    3. Piece 4 - A Sad Story About Unsent Story For RHP 2016 Prose Competition

    Difficult choices, easily could have selected three other ones. Thank you to all of the writers.