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The Big/Ancient/Deep

My mate’s Charlie’s dad grows truffles and magic mushies out in the Moutere. He’s a tall guy, big-boned but skinny: got a head shaped like a tissue box. Charlie looks like his old man, but writ small—he’s got that flick of delicacy about him. Anyway, there’s an old place out on his block that we used to smoke weed in. Now most places like that are covered in graffiti, filled with rigs and dirty undies, but this place was fucking pristine. A perfect 20s farmhouse, preserved in amber, not even rust on the kettle. 

One time, me and Charlie are blazing up and we hear—I swear to fucking god mate—jazz. Coming from inside the house. It was maybe 9pm, middle of summer, sun still refusing to quite-go-down, and somebody was playing live jazz and we were high as shit so we sat and enjoyed it. It was real emotional stuff. You ever get that thing when you’re high, when the music manifests itself? Like it’s hanging in the air, and you could reach out and touch it. This was like that, but with fish hooks. I touched it and felt the tug and I started shouting, and Charlie started shouting, and we stumbled the fuck out of there. Got a bunch of cuts all over my arms that I don’t remember getting; I just remember moving through the trees, sweating bullets, knowing the music wanted me to follow and I did not want to follow.  

Went back in the light of day and the basement hatch was open, yawing madly, pitching down into darkness. Never even knew the place had a basement. I stood at the top of the stairs, bleary-eyed but stone sober, and felt fish-hooks in my blood. 

Charlie died last year. Took some bad Russian synthetic, started talking about the hole in the world, about the way wind sounds when it gets pulled down, then he went real still and he didn’t ever get un-still. Somewhere on the wind, I swore I heard jazz, and tasted amber. 

Published inProse Fiction

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