#1 Short-story by Issa Dioume

             A Game of Mouse and Cats

Victor Verdun is fifty years old. He sits at his desk. Thinking and looking despondent. The picture of a grizzled man with an ungroomed beard and tired eyes. Carrying a face which spoke of the pain and trauma he’d endured. A man in the grip of an obsession.
These last couple of months had done him no good. He’d let himself go. What was once clean, lean and muscular had become heavy, smudged and floppy. For as long as five years now he’d been the sole detective working at the local Indian police station. The past few months, they’d been tracking down a trio of serial killers who plagued their streets. Victor is no greenhorn. He knows this job to be one which requires backup. Years of languorous work and failed attempts had taught him at least this much. But this time, this time is different. This time is personal. Those three murderers had killed his wife in cold blood. And so, he gets up from his chair as he prepares to head out.
Around three months ago. On an unseasonably hot autumn night. Gloria’d been alone, Victor at work. That’s the type of man he is. Hooked to his job, trying to wring meaning out of life through self-exertion. She’d known. She’d never been mad at him for it. No. She understood him. She’d had a job too, and like Victor, was prone to late-nights of work at the office. We formed a perfect duo, thought Victor.

The day she died, she woke up at one in the morning. Jerked awake by the whistle of a breeze coming from their downstairs living-room. After which, she’d gotten out of bed and decided to check up on it. How strange, she’d thought. Never had she heard that noise in their house before. They’d weaselled their way in through one of the windows, smashing glass and ushering whistling breeze in. Already, they’d began stealing things when she’d came up to them with lamp in hand. She froze in her tracks then. Seeing the outline of their silhouettes in the dark. Strike first, think later! was what their instinct told them. It’d happened many times before, in many other houses. They’d been used to it. How this time could be any different than other times eluded them. They’d never suspected she might’ve been a detective’s wife.
Victor’s wife was left bleeding out in a neighbouring gutter. They’d not finished the job. No, that wasn’t their style. She was incapable of moving. They’d known time would take care of it. That was how she’d died. In the company of rats, hidden from sight, in silence and darkness and filth. It was their modus operandi. Time, their reliable accomplice, an accessory to their crimes, always took care of it. And, as days clocked by Victor began to suspect time was protecting them and made sure they weren’t caught.  Eventually though, Gloria’s body was found. After a long month of searches. Battered, bruised and unrecognizable – rats had begun eating away at it. Police concluded she’d died two weeks ago. Scientists in criminology went to work, Victor made sure of it, until they’d managed to find a trail. This crime was coupled to a few others which had occurred recently in the city. There was a pattern. Crimes with a similar modus operandi. These three men were recidivists. Serial killers.
A week ago, he’d confirmed the whereabouts of their lair. And now, Victor finally had them within his grasp. Vengeance was at a hand’s length away. Since then, he stayed in a small guest house nearby, biding his time and awaiting the perfect moment.

A street urchin had come to the police station looking for him one week ago. The urchin wore crummy clothes. He struck Victor as being very young, scrawny and sickly. He reported that only two nights ago, he’d seen the trio of criminals stroll into a small house. It was lodged between two tall buildings down in Sufren street, not far from his own. They’d likely been returning from another evening of wrongdoings. Those three were known for being wary and distrustful people. They’d have killed the child had they seen him. This one though, they missed.
Victor sits at his desk. Thinking. This is a blunder they’ll pay for dearly, he resolved, he got up from his chair and prepared to head out, grabbing his gun.
The day he decided to go rogue and take care of matters alone, Victor took off his badge and left without a word. For a whole week after this, he disappeared from the lives of all who knew him.

*

Steeling himself, he enters the premises of their den. Gun cocked and at the ready, eyes tensed with concentration. Muted steps carry him past the door. He creeps into their living-room, does a roll, hides behind a sofa below a window. He inhales. And, ready to make them pay for their dastardly deeds, jumps out, all guns blazing. Victor was sure he’d seen them enter through this way only fifteen minutes ago. He’d seen shadows move from behind the shutters. But, as he stood there pointing his gun at thin air, he understood, there was no one in. The house remained motionless under his gaze. Soothing his nerves, he began surveying the place.  Soon, a noise came from outside; the sound of hushed voices, orders and wheezing horses.
Victor partly parts the shutters and peers out the window. Outside, the air is thin and murky. Driftwood floats atop the cold river surface which runs through town. The sound of horses galloping down pebbled streets rents open the night in half. From afar, Victor sees the back of a lone rider astride his steed. The rider is heading straight for the outskirts of town. Their frame reminds Victor of Gloria’s own – short, delicate, with tapering limbs and a large waist. An overall stocky appearance. The mere comparison makes Victor sag into nostalgia. The rider wears long trousers, rife with pleats, and a pair of rawhide boots strapped into the stirrups of their saddle. In the span of but a few seconds, rider and horse disappear. The veil of night covering their tracks. All noise abates. Victor shuts the curtains, letting his shoulders slump along his sides. He turns from the window and back to the room. They’re gone now. He groans. A sunken look on his face, displays the depth of his anguish.  Escaped out ov’a hidden back door, he suspects. He’d checked, of course, made certain. There were supposed to be no escape routes. Yet now there they were, completely gone. And here he was feeling angry with himself. Attempting to calm down he begins familiarising himself with his surroundings.
Opposite him is a four-legged table. With one of its four sides pushed against a wall. Three chairs flanking each of the three free sides. Their lengthy legs draw shadows of crosses across the living room floor as they intertwine. When he touches their seats, he feels a certain warmth emanate from them. On the table are plates. Resting upon which are half-eaten slabs of bread. Slathered with melted ghee, cream and blood-red jam. They rest limply at their centre. Greasy strips of bacon sit in a separate plate, assailed by a family of flies. No one would eat them now. They left in such a hurry, seeing this amuses him. But his mind keeps wandering back to the horse rider and their eerie resemblance to his wife. The more he thinks about it, the more the two seem alike. A bright white light flickers overhead. Each flicker sending blinding spears flying into Victor’s eyes and into the room. Revealing a large array of articles and newspaper cut-outs that have been tacked across the walls. Victor plods away from the table. With his hat obliquely placed over his head and his long pelt coat drifting smoothly over the wooden floor. Wooden planks creak under his weight. Already broken glass breaks further below the soles of his boots. Wailing warnings which, resonate with Victor’s current pained and broken mental state. As he nears the entranceway, he detects a trace of cigarette smoke. They’d even had the time to smoke. They’d known he was coming, had prepared in advance, had laughed with contempt at his attempt, had rejoiced at his impending failure. They’re probably laughing right now, reckons Victor. The red mist descends upon him then. And he draws closer to the flight of stairs facing the doorway. He supposes he might as well have a look at what sordid objects lay upstairs before calling the police to apologise. He would have to find a good excuse. A stench of cabbage permeates the air at the staircase’s feet. Warding against cleanliness and justice. Victor grabs the railing and heavs himself forth. It’s hot, mucky and uncomfortable. As he moves forward, he feels sweat rise from the walls at his sides. Reaching the landing, the temperature seems to abruptly increase.

In the silence of the deserted dwelling, Victor pauses at the landing as he hears a sound. It travels down the stairs from the first-floor. With caution heavy in his heart, he trudges on and arrives in the upper-floor room. There is a kitchen. He’d found the source of cabbage fetor it seemed. Yet Victor perceives another odour mingling with the putrid cabbage smell. Something resembling a melange of sulphur and rotten eggs. He looks around and notics the oven open. Timid metallic clicks issue out its gapping mouth in a metronome-like rhythm. Inviting him to dance. A hob and a set of four dark burners brood above the stove. Gleaming with the grease covering them. One of the knobs of the hob points in a different direction from its twins. It’s rebellious. Invisible flames burn and dance, jutting from its sides, vying for oxygen and a spark. The oven keeps clicking, each click producing specks of light. Sweat drips down Victor’s forehead, falls from his jaw-line and plops to the ground. Now he knows. They hadn’t just escaped. They want to kill me! Again, the oven clicks, this time more resolutely. By now, he is already running but… too late. From behind he hears a bubbling explosion, feels the scorch of flames crawling through the air on his back. He has reached the top of the staircase and is about to hurtle himself down its steps when, suddenly, nothing. Nothing more.

As everything disappears, Victor finds his mind wandering back to the rider again. And he suddenly he thinks, No! That’s not possible. All this time, he’d been caught in a game of mouse and cats. Not a game of cat and mice.

Brother [Poem] by Issa Dioume

I Write This For You

My dearest brother, for you I do grieve
As a days’ light was stripped away by night
Wrongfully, bereaved
Leaving you many a hurdle in sight
And your garden-tears briskly mourning eves.

Our Lady Fortune, this whimsical goon
Veiled by a jet-black restless cloaked-sky
Mindlessly, before noon
Coating our dear world’s hair, a darker dye
Has wrongly robbed one of life, much too soon

In what was pilfered lies what is gifted
Where fire has passed, so too must there grow ash
Salt waves, and sand below
When it’s dark and there’s no moon: you thrash
Yet wind still does blow and has just shifted

Therein lies hope in absence of hope-thoughts,
Therein lies sweet life in absence of life
Joy devoid of scope
Toils betwixt you and the now over strife
Beseeching brother to view past blue knots

Which ’round your hands dangle like wrung bangles
Woven with flows of thread binding you to-
– Your blue mind-street angles
Hiding from your sight red-roads where cows moo
Which all good memories do bespangle

Tear that grief away, let it fly today
And beneath souvenirs of him grinning
Like the cold heated-snow, you are brewing
Let it atrophy, and then I will say

My dearest brother, for you I do smile
Knowing you had the rarely chanced upon
Friend to rest on even just for a while
A most indissoluble truth beyond –

…. – even time and space,  now life’s breath is gone

The House of Chronicle [Poem] by Issa Dioume

At the house of Chronicle

You’ll be met with quite the spectacle.

The standards you deem normal

Will come across a many great reversal

.

Lies and deceptions galore

Fake smiles and kindness they adore

So many faults to list and more –

– Much more in its rotten deepest core

Water leaking from ceilings, they ignore

.

Denial of blame, absence of shame.

Plain to see they are comparable to no company,

Only hungry crows perched atop a tree, Looking down, smugly,

To see,

Lame, tamed little mice calling their names,

In vain, abandoned to the pitter patter of rain.

.

.

.

– by Issa Dioume &

Inspired by true events

Click for Author’s website

Chronos Devouring His Son [Short-Story] by Issa Dioume

Time seems to slow like running water gone still. Haunted and lost by the ghosts of the minds’ windmill trapped in the slow tic-tac motion of the clocks’ hands that kill. Strangling air out from his throat.

I need a cig thought Barnaclos. Nothing beats the delicious smell of cigs, warm coffee and
cold beer. It’s what gives life its worth!
Black crescent moons drew themselves like bags of filth below his eyes. His irises darted around
the room as he slowly soaked in its white walls. He was sitting, back leaning against the wall,
sheets covering one leg; The other: was bent and utilised as support for his head.

Slowly, he brought a cigarette to his lips and lit its tail end. The cigarettes’ extremity
bloomed red deep like cherry lipstick as he breathed in its sweet poisonous relief. As the smoke escape the aperture of his lips he thought – picturing gun-smoke – he saw himself in it. Much alike gun-smoke, he was the product of a violent act.

The result of the orange mist descending upon his male progenitor one evening. The mist of a voracious, lustful appetite for the sensual pleasures of the meat.

That same night, ‘father’ searched and found satisfaction in ‘mother’. Rape is what they called it. A violation of the fundamental right to one’s body – making temporary use of someone else’s body to satisfy your own bodies’ desires.
Effectively reifying them; dismissing them as: mere flesh, blood, and sex.
Dad had been subjected to physical violations himself during his budding years, at least, according to the authorities. Perhaps, was it to understand? Understand what had happened to him as a child thought Barnaclos…
a product of pain will breed pain.

Fortunately enough, ‘mother’ had opted to keep him. Being from a Catholic family had
taught her every life counts. Even an embryonic one. She, however, despised him bitterly, throughout his eighteen long years. She tried not to, but, was unable to conceal her true feelings. As he grew to resemble her aggressor, she felt nothing but resentment towards him; regarding him with fear.

Why let me live, to hate me?Perhaps, just like father thought Barnaclos it was to
understand.
He felt like an experiment… a therapeutic substance imbued with life.
Slowly, Barnaclos took another drag from the cigarette. A red rose sprung from its ghost
end, paring down the body with its glaring heat. As he exhaled, the smoke danced before his eyes, and, ‘they’ appeared.
Father, Mother, and I, dancing in the smoke.

*pang*

A vaporous infectious shadow cast itself on the white walls, where red roses now bloomed as gun-smoke spread through the air.

🥀

The circle is broken.

Written by Issa Dioume

Author’s blog : Writing, Improving, Coffee

Silent Falling Bird of A Flock [Poem] by Issa Dioume

…Hiding my emotions like an enamoured prostitute.

Or an actor, trying to make his debut on this twisted scale.

Harloting my way through life, a simulated masquerade, trying not to ‘fail’.

Beneath, this masked trade hides a performer. me.

Outside lies the judging audience, silent observer. THEM.

Only one believes the performance matters and fears judgment; from THEM:

me.

Icarus with his smouldering wings.

Burning in an ocean of inexistent flames.

Written by Issa Dioume

Author’s site : Writing, Improving, Coffee

Midnight blues (part 2) Dolphin in a bottle

‘They’ say the bottom of the bottle is always dry, but don’t ‘they’ also say: it’s not about the end but about the journey.

My emotions run dry as I reach the bottom.

So come here! Come join me on MY journey of self-destruction! I promise to keep you entertained all the way down to the last drop of delicious details of my downtrodden life. Watch me swim like a dolphin in a bottle, to the bottom of the sea only to crash and splatter all over the glass.

I know where I am going, swimming to the deepest and lowest part of the self slowly tearing apart the rest throughout my self-destructive thoughts and attitude.

Life to me has always felt like being subjected to something. When I was born, I was subjected to life. My parents gave me life but by soon so also offered me the sweetest gift of death. I would have never known this gift were it not for the life they gave me. What a selfish thing to do! Give life! You killed me mom, you killed me dad. And now as a grown man I sit on stool at a bar as the stool grows roots and sucks away my will.

You call me an embarrassment. Ha! It is you who is the embarrassment, so distraught with the idea that this ‘thing’ was contrived from the mixing of your DNAs. I craved attention and love but got nothing but things. I do not want things. Things may be worth something to my image by things are worthless to the soul and my soul is the poorest there is. Dragging itself from one day to another only by the assistance of alcohol. All holding by a thread. Take that a way and all link disappears.

Enjoy the spectacle, enjoy seeing this absurd man rowing a boat in brandy up a mountain and wanting to touch the sky. Absurd it may be but to me it means something. It means not giving up. Not letting life win. It’s my beautiful vengeance. Giving a spectacle for all to admire. Bearing my all, bare naked soul out in the open and vulnerable. Not plagued by the same disease as the fakers and bluffers I cross everyday.

The other day I went up to a crossroad trying to sell my soul for what it may be worth. I wanted the bliss of ignorance in exchange. However as I presented my soul he laughed at me pitifully knowing full well he would see me seen anyway.

Numbing and drowning the screams of my consciousness is the best solution now. Liquor is my love. Liquor is my self. An Intoxicated mess.

A dolphin in a bottle swimming downstream to the bottom of the sweet sweet liquor. Lost in a daze, veils of sorrow grief and pain. Waiting for the end to come at the twilight of my high.

Author’s website:

Writing, Improving, Coffee

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