Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Lizards of Bangkok

An excerpt from my current work in progress. First draft. Johnny Von Hakett wakes up to find himself in a world full of lizard demons...

Her face blurred into some strange abstract expressionist oil by a drunken dead hand Johnny couldn’t remember the name of. Her words slowed and then sped up like playback on reel to reel. A strange unique language. Her prehensile tongue whipped out from the corner of her mouth and licked his eyebrow. Her face was now the dull green color of pea soup. Her lips were moving but the words were underwater. Her eyes slowly blackened to those of a reptile.

Johnny stood up on shaky legs and walked out of the coffee shop sweat soaking his shirt. He walked back along the zone, past invisible vendors and whores; once a world of mystery, now like a dull green undersea city. Atlantis. A glass of water held too tightly will never quench your thirst... All the drugs and alcohol took hold at once. Both impending doom and exquisite pleasure shimmied for success.

Johonny flagged down a passing green and yellow and collapsed into the back passenger seat. A window-washer approached the car. A green soapy liquid on the window and he began to wipe it with a rag. His face smiled behind the glass. Johnny knew he was one of them. He waved the kid away with a backhand gesture. The street kid disappeared in a flash. Fucking lizards. He got out of the cab. Underneath the bridge of the shanty town shops and houses were nailed together with pieces of four-by-two, corrugated iron and hope. Old men sat in rotten rags underneath the motorway bridge swearing at the oily river, the rice-whiskey and the vile stews that cooked on open fires. Canned heat and spiced rum. Across the labyrinth of lean-to shacks whores lounged in doorways and smoked cigarettes. They hatched plans, swapped tactics, ruined each other. Shop-houses, pharmacies, wig-makers, haberdashers, filthy restaurants and fortune tellers. Obsolete trades fronts for shady practices. Abortionists above dental clinics, money-lenders and betting shops above heaps of junk, broken televisions, transistor radios, dilapidated repair shop houses. Launderettes, Burmese labour brokers, English teaching agencies. Law offices run by the type of lawyer that you’d be happy to be cross-examined by, estate agents that sell properties that don’t exist. Money sharks, pet-shops, tailors and road-sign brokers. A monitor lizard sauntered across the river bank, splashed into the water and swam with its hideous head erect like a gruesome penis languidly panning from side to side.

Johnny kept walking in circles under the bridge. Back to where the beggars congregated, faces eaten up by unknown diseases; the mule-faced woman, pinhead, the dog-faced boy, The caterpillar man. The freaks from the street slept in rags forgotten and unloved by the city. The toothless blind beggar from downtown rambling about the impending apocalypse. Today is the day of reckoning. He held his hands together above his head, praying to the heavens. The heavens answered. Rain, slowly at first and then great torrents of water poured down on the city. The blind beggar smiled knowingly. Green rain. Johnny walked from under the bridge and into the emerald downpour. Past veterinary surgeries and massage parlours, wedding outfitters, electrical repair shops. A feral dog walked up to a wall and cocked his leg, pissed a stream of green urine, it ran down into the river that ran by oily and dark emerald green shattered by the rain. Shanty houses made of jungle hardwood stood on stilts above the waters.

The night sky was as dull as it was violent; orange and yellow storm clouds, like Brueghel’s Triumph of the Dead. Slowly at first, a flash of green in a pedestrians’ eye. A whore’s tongue whipped out of her mouth and then back again like a salamander’s. The crash of thunder was followed by flashes of lightening from the heavens. The city lit up and then fell back to darkness.

An old lady stopped by a streetlight under a plastic shop awning, beckoned to Johnny to stand next to her. He walked over. Johnny couldn’t understand the words. Her syllables were a rapid jabber, impossible to decipher. He tried to follow the monologue before realizing the noises were unlike any language he had heard. She looked at him with a cold intensity. Her hand touched his with cold lank fingers, a terrible smell as she breathed over him. Her hands reached up to her face and her tongue whipped out from her mouth. A dull groaning sound as her head slowly elongated into a reptile. The lips pulled back to reveal rows of broken black teeth. The legs began to lengthen, the arms shrank inwards. Fingernails transfigured into claws. Skin into scales. She shed her hair, strands of silver blew away in the wind. The body grew green. Skin scaly and cold. Her voice sped up into a shrill chattering. She looked at Johnny with deep pity. The rain water was slippery as he ran. They were changing. Everywhere. He slipped and stumbled to the ground.

The world turned green.