Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bahrain Diary

10 p.m. local time. It’s almost a full moon and the cacophonous hooting of rioters can be heard again, once more from the direction of Diraz. First time in a while. It sounds rhythmic, organised. No gunshots yet. Is this phase II? Are the claws of Ahmadinejad out tonight? Awhoooooooo….

posted by Kirk at 2:25 pm  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

For Ingles

It felt strange to be wearing his suit again. Now within the confines of the car he could smell the courtroom panic that had seeped from his glands into the fabric that day, as he embarked upon the most terrifying journey he’d ever made. They swept past dusty villages, deserted but for the feral dogs that nosed through piles of rubbish, their skin stretched taught over spindly ribs, their tails an embarrassment of loop-the-loops. Through communities left further behind each day by the relentless pace of the city, over state-of-the-art suspension bridges and past craggy outcrops of rock the soundless wheels of the Japanese car glided on borrowed, yet vastly improved technology. Inside the vehicle not much was said, Latimer gradually acclimatising to the half-remembered expanse of his recaptured environment, Cotswold wisely allowing this to happen unimpeded.
Within thirty minutes they’d reached the outskirts of Mong Tin. Latimer surveyed the grimy tenement blocks with mild distaste. He found it hard to believe that people – many of whom were swimming in cash – were prepared to live in such squalor. Theirs was a mindset that was opposite to that in the debt-ridden west. For a moment, it made him wonder which was correct. In a better part of the district, along the harbour front, the restaurant was housed in what had once been a swanky hotel. Through a gilded lobby and up a staircase hung with the faded swirls of nineteen-seventies wallpaper they ambled to their appointment with the finest steaks to be found anywhere in the territory.
As was customary the pair sat first at the bar, where the hit of Latimer’s first gin martini was sufficient to strum his vocal cords.
“Jeezus, that’s strong,” he wheezed.
“You’re out of the habit, that’s all, my boy. Anyway: congratulations.” Cotswold raised his glass. “Chapter closed.”

They sat at the retired barrister’s regular window table where both were drawn instinctively to look southwards across the harbour. Jutting high above the other skyscrapers was the black, marble-clad North Peninsula development. The imposing and vaguely eerie XGTV Tower.
“Bastard’s probably looking straight at me right now,” Latimer grumbled.
“Come, come. Today’s a day for celebration, Frank. Put him out of your mind for a moment and let’s enjoy it.”
It was a well-intended sentiment but one prescribing a course of action that was bound to fail. And so it was that by the time Latimer was halfway through his colossal, medium-rare hunk of Australian beef – and perhaps more importantly, on to his second bottle of wine – the guns were well and truly blazing across the neck of water separating the two points.
“I’m gonna fucking crucify him, Harvey,” Latimer said between mouthfuls. “Make no mistake about that.” The smoothness of the Bin 389 was at odds with the bile he was spouting.
“Language, Frank.”
“I know, I know. Sorry. It’s just that–”
“–And you don’t want to go making a martyr out of him, either. Look, we’re going to have to map out a campaign. I haven’t brought the subject up because I wanted to give you a bit of time to readjust. Get back to fighting fitness. But if you want the discussion now, we can have it.”
“Go on.”
“Okay. He’s been assassinating your character all over town, I’m afraid. By word of mouth and through the television and newsprint media he owns, as well as those of all his various contacts in the business. If it continues unchecked, there won’t be a single person of influence anywhere in the territory that doesn’t think you’re an arrogant, self-righteous thug…”
Not such a bad thing, thought Latimer. His old swagger had popped its head above the parapet for a peek.
“…You’ll be black-balled by every club, have your name and ID logged in the notebooks of every police officer as someone in the ‘watching brief’ category of ex-cons. A potential repeat offender, in other words. You won’t be able to sit at a bar or even take a leak without someone looking over your shoulder…”
Ah… The picture’s becoming a little clearer… Back into its trench his ego slunk.
“…Your friends won’t be able to take the risk of associating too closely with you, so you’ll mostly be sitting on your own in those bars, getting drunk and, let’s face it, angry. Your anger will lead to frustration or violence, or both. Even if you avoid another spell inside, your life will become so miserable you’ll want to leave town. Which is precisely what Tse wants, of course…”
“But how can he get away with it?” Latimer quizzed. “I mean: I committed a crime, judgement was passed, I served time, ‘repaid my debt’, and now I’ve been released. Chapter closed, as you put it. How can he slur me like that without being subjected to the full force of the law himself?”
“Dear boy. Power corrupts: it always has.” Cotswold twisted his wine glass in his fingers. “Just as the Roman Emperor would look out over all the splendours his city had to offer and think himself a god, so Howard Tse looks across the harbour from his eighty-eighth floor chambers and considers himself above reproach. The law itself, even. He’ll do anything it takes to destroy you, legitimate or otherwise, and not doubt for a moment that he’s in the moral ascendancy. And in terms of ‘getting away with it’, he’ll be using all his political connections, his guan xi to…”
…But Latimer was drifting off… His stare was focused somewhere beyond his companion, his ears no longer the antennae for his mind they normally were…
“…And that’s why we’ve got to act, before…”

…Something profound was happening to Francis John Latimer. Perhaps it was all the time he’d spent languishing inside, thinking, while the bile collected in his throat. Whatever the stimulus, he now began to reassess the meaning of his existence. Or lack thereof. Considered the futility of everything he’d been doing, up till now. Of where it was all headed. And why it was that for people like Tse, life’s journey was a breeze while he, Frank Latimer, was made to struggle; to fight tooth and claw for every inch of territory gained.
In an instant everything crystallised.
A fundamental change was needed. One that he alone could bring about.
The words whispered to him.

“…Sorry, Harvey. I seemed to float away there for a moment. Bit overwhelmed by the day’s events, I s’pose. Didn’t sleep last night, either, which won’t have helped.”
“No problem, my boy. Like I said earlier, I’d planned on having this discussion only after you’d had time to settle back into a routine. Let’s park it for now – we can return to the matter in a day or so. Now, come on! Drink! There’s another bottle of this left in us yet!”


Latimer’s eyes closed the moment his backside hit the familiar comfort of the ferry seat. Approaching four-thirty in the afternoon it was too early for the returning office crowd, while mercifully he’d missed the maelstrom of the school run. In fact his timing between the two tides could not have been better. Slack water. The hundred-foot high-speed catamaran was virtually empty as a result.
If You’re up there, and it’s You who organised this, thank You, he sighed.
A little drunk from Cotswold’s generous hospitality, physically exhausted and emotionally drained, Latimer plunged instantly into a deep sleep.

Woken by a fellow passenger as the boat docked in Conservation Cove he felt like strangling the cheery welldoer. Instead, he thanked the woman ungratefully before rousing himself to disembark. He felt awful, in need of substantially more sleep. An entire day wouldn’t be bad for starters. There was also the prospect of meeting Rachel and not knowing what to say, or how to act. More an irksome chore than a task to dread, it bothered him nonetheless. If there’d been a way of avoiding it, if he could have sloped off somewhere else – disappeared completely, even – he would have done so. But there were many things he needed to accomplish. First priority was taking the fight back to Tse: for this, he knew, he needed the platform and stability of a home base. Somewhere to anchor each night.
Any port in a storm, he found himself thinking.

posted by Kirk at 4:05 am  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Marvellous Bird

What is enough?
To muzzle up to the small of your back
To smell the yourness, lick the beads of your sweat
To reach around and stroke the warmth of your breasts
That is enough.
You put the cream
In my cracker,
Marvellous bird

posted by Kirk at 1:51 am