‘I= life* n(others + me)’ by Richard David Lawman

It felt like there was more darkness than the room could hold. Like a battle against the light was being lost.  Gall slumped in his chair in front of the glowing computer screens, watching dust particles illuminated by the screen light rise and fall on the convectional currents.  The air was thick. He could feel himself getting full from just breathing it in.  Gall sat and stared at the screens, as he always did.

In the corner, an orchid strained for the light and optimistically bulked it’s flower head ready to bloom and fill the room with colour.  Gall sat and stared and watched the screens – just as he always did.

A greasy pizza, crushed into its cardboard coffin, rammed through the letterbox.  Gall heard the clunk of the lid shutting as the delivery boy took his payment which waited for him.  Gall shuffled across the room on his swivel chair, re-tracing the familiar groves in the dust on the floor as he fetched his meal, and never taking his eyes off the screens.

Gall heard the ripples of rain against the window. The sound still got through the blind, curtains and board he had in front of it.  He never took his bulging eyes off the screen.  Always watching them.  No one watching him.

And then Gall woke up.  Bright lights, moving images, unfamiliar sounds.  He was in a hospital bed.  After taking a few minutes to adjust, he turned onto his side and found her sat by his bed.

“How…?” he murmured in her direction.

“You had a heart attack, Dad. You’re going to be ok, thought…” She softly said.

He shut his eyes again, forcing himself down as deeper as he could go, closing off everything around him.  After a few seconds he opened them again.

He was back in his room.  The darkness felt even heavier.  Light crushed in on all sides.  He smiled, for the first time in months, he could do it – he could live any life he wanted – vicariously – without the risk of death, pain, heartbreak.  He clicked off the page of the father in his hospital bed with his daughter at his side and clicked onto a new page.  The letterbox rattled as his next meal crushed through.  He shuffled over to retrieve it, never taking his eyes off the screens, and looking for his next experience.

“Why live one life when you can live many?” he said to himself, hot, greasy pizza slopping onto his chin.  But then it stuck him – who would want to live his?  He ushered that thought away and returned to staring at the screens, concentrating on his next trip and eventually, his next victim.


‘SAY HELLO TO THE MONSTER’ by Richard David Lawman

When they finally caught me – trying to dissect my seventeenth victim – they knew that the standard punishment protocol wouldn’t be enough. For I was special and I needed something special.  They kept me caged for most of the time, with usually two or three guards staring at me from behind the criss-cross window, and fantasising about all the things they would want to do to me.  Nothing was painful enough. Nothing would last long enough.

I heard the state judge actually wretched as he was read a list of my crimes – to each one I had confessed, supplying every detail I could remember – which was all of them.  When he took the case to his seniors in the Department for Justice, they agreed that I wasn’t fit to stand trial and I should be sentenced immediately.  The truth was it was they who weren’t fit to stand the trial – I had been rehearsing my performances in my cell, practicing and labouring over each and every word.  They had even given the guards ear plugs to stop them from hearing the disgusting details. 

After three weeks I got word from my lawyer – via letter, I might add – that they had turned to an “outside consultant” to find an appropriate way of dealing with me.  They didn’t want to execute me, they wanted me to experience hell on earth.  This consultant was a horror writer, unpublished, relatively unknown, but whose imagination was left to find a solution to this predicament.

Eventually, the keys jangled and the heavy door lock snapped open and in stepped a gaggle of riot guards and the prison warden.  They chained me, cloaked and bagged me up and carried me on a stretcher out into the long hallway and into a waiting prison van outside.  I felt the undulations and vibrations of the rough tarmac as I was rolled outside.  I inhaled violently against inside of the body bag to suck in the fresh air one last time.  I was sure they were going to torture me, maybe even crucify me. 

We drove for nine hours straight. 

It was dark when we arrived, the cool night air smelled sweet and the insects triumphantly announced my arrival – filling the darkness with a hiss of excitement.  I was known throughout all species.  I was the devil on earth.

They laid me down on the muddy ground and unzipped the body bag, hauled off my hood and unblocked my chains before stepping away.  “What is this?” I asked.

“Hell.  You’re in Hell.  A Hell we have created just for you,” snarled the warden. 

I clambered to my feet and arched my back to take into view the house.  A decrepit, old wooden house shrouded in dying oak trees which pre-dated the industrial revolution.  The paint was peeling off the walls, panels of wood splintered open here and there.  I laughed and stepped inside.

“What’s in here?” I asked as they followed me – going nowhere further than the porch.  The warden looked anxiously at the ground and then the horror writer – whom I presumed was the older guy with the beard and the glasses. 

“A monster.” He answered.  And with that they shut the door.

I gazed across the darkened hallway, allowing my eyes to adjust to the poor light.  I saw dozens of darkened figures staring back at me.  I stumbled over to the wall and groped for a light switch and found none.  Eventually, I found an oil lamp with matches and brought light to the room.  I held it up to see the dark figures staring back at me were mine.  I laughed.  I was the monster they were referring to.  I broke every mirror in the house.  Punching, kicking and head-butting with grotesque delight.  When I was done I slept, giddy from the rage, on the floor in the back room.

The next morning I awoke to find every mirror had been replaced.  I shouted out insults to the men watching outside.  And once again I broke every mirror in the house.

They promised me that the monster would come, and with time, it did.  After four nights I began to go insane.  My bloodied, scab-crusted, evil reflection found me in every room, round every corner.  I smashed and begged them to stop.  Each of my seventeen victims tortured me with eyes each day.

But not their eyes. Mine.

————————————————————————————————————————–

Richard David Lawman is the chief Writer/ Director/ Producer of ‘The Putty In Your Hands’ production company. He can be found and contacted at  http://richarddavidlawman.com/ and http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/richard-lawman/24/966/182


‘HAPPENED’ by Richard David Lawman

An adolescent teenager put his shirt away in the cupboard; the kettle clicked delightfully in the kitchen below; the tea bags waited in their porcelain grave, thirsty for the monsoon; the cat skulked about the rosebush in the garden; the father picked his nose and flicked it onto the wall behind the TV, and then, nothing happened.

The hairs on her head parted, the nit comb dived in and tore through, looking for the offending white dots; her mother bit her tongue in concentration; the dishes slowly dried; the chicken defrosted on the windowsill, and then, nothing happened.

A middle-aged man suddenly became aware of how old he was, sat in a traffic jam, the blurry red and yellow lights leaving fluorescent stamps on the vision of his mind; his wife sobbed tenderly in the bathroom, a piss-stained strip of plastic carrying an uncompromising truth; their daughter stared into the blinding light of her laptop, her history essay due in a week, she heard a knock at the door, and then, nothing happened.

Some screwed up paper dropped to the floor of the bus, he could see in the rain-soaked reflection of the windows, the young man was in debt; a disappointed builder, laid-off for the third time in his life, noticed his laces were undone just having left the train station toilets; an African lady chuckled to herself as she couldn’t decided between orange, mango, apple, kiwi; an old man farted in the queue in Tesco and no one pretended to hear except the young boy who proclaimed, “Errrr! It smells of poo!”; a strawberry yoghurt balanced precariously on a worktop edge, and then, nothing happened.

Nothing happened in the hallways of a recently derelict office block; or the on the cobblestone back alley behind Allen’s Fried Chicken; or inside the cupboard under the stairs. Coats continued calmly clinging to pegs, tins of paint proudly perch on shelves in the garage; that bit of wire you’ve been saving for when you might need it, remains lodged annoyingly in the cutlery drawer; the curtains hang, not quite straight; rain uneventfully drizzles; and the air is filled with the sound of soft sighs from simple people wrapped in a blanket of boredom, because nothing is happening.

And then, suddenly rising up, descending in some places, filling the faces of children with fright, and the reflections of those forgotten puddles in the street with colour, distracting peaceful fisherman at the lodge from the sunset, giving people who barely meet something to divert them from the barren landscape of their conversation, casting a deep shadow which is boring its way into the ground and steadily marching towards us, producing that dull, distant groan which sounds like it comes from a Hollywood movie, and breaking the pathetic dullness of this ordinary Thursday evening, something happened.


‘BENEATH THE FOOTSTEPS’ by Richard David Lawman

I lay, amongst dust and rubble, pressed up against damp wood. Through tiny cracks came slits of filtered light into what they thought was my grave.  I heard their TV drone and their footsteps thump down. Their explosively bitter arguments of where their next solution was coming from – often of the chemical variety.  I heard the needles loaded and then shot.  Also, their groans, the lifelessness, the euphoria fading to nothing.  I waited for my time to come, the time to break out of the grave they had given me.  Their mistake. They hadn’t killed me after all.  The drug-fuelled murder fest had been nothing more than a beating. Luckily for me, they were out of it before they went to the tool shed.

I don’t remember each moment exactly. Obviously, the memory of how I came to be in their home wasn’t too hard to place.  It was my naivety, the fact I overlooked their darting, mistrustful eyes and ignored my gut to get out of there.  I stayed, a kind visitor, there to help.

“Dig him up!” I heard her say, “Dig him up, I’m hungry!”

“He’ll be off by now, it’s been weeks!” It had been two days. Two days.

“I’m hungry.”

“Fine…” he sighed. The heavy footsteps thudded down again and the room was filled with delighted moans and the smacking of her lips.

I listened as I heard him stomp into the hallway and out the front door.  Wedged between two floor joists that ran the length of the room, I could only shimmy up or down.  Pressing my hands out onto the underneath of the floorboards, I pushed myself across the rough floor, inch by inch.  I had only made it about a foot from my original position when I heard him stomp back in.

He pulled the rug violently from the floor.  The coffee table, laden with overflowing ashtrays, glasses and cups crashed down on top of where I was.  Stale, flat beer dripped down the cracks onto my face.  I heaved a little more and made my way towards the far wall.  He grunted and muttered to himself as he kneeled down and began to work the crowbar into the gaps in the floorboards.  I shimmied faster, faster, not worried by the scrapes and grunts I let out.  Finally, I slid off the living room foundations and hauled myself into a bigger space in another, smaller room.  The crowbar cracked down into the floorboards, the sound of wood splintering, nails squeaking as they became dislodged from their holes.

I was under the pantry – a closed-off room next to the kitchen-dinner.  The floorboards here were more rotten than the ones in the living room and began to crumble damply in my hands as I clawed at them.  Squatting, I was able to push my back up against the underneath of the floorboards here and, timing my heaves with the bangs of his hammer on the crowbar, I finally burst out from my dusty grave.  Dirty light poured into the cupboard as he prised up the floorboard.

“He’s not here! He’s not fuck-, shit, I don’t believe this!” He cried.  More footsteps, more stamping about.  I felt out in the dark and found what I was looking for; something heavy, something hard.

My only way out would be back through the living room.  I wiped my hands on my dusty jeans and made sure of my grip on the curtain pole.  This would be my last stand, two against one. But I had the upper hand, unlike them.  I wouldn’t make the same mistake as they did.  I would check for a pulse before nailing the floorboards shut.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Richard David Lawman is the chief Writer/ Director/ Producer of ‘The Putty In Your Hands’ production company. He can be found and contacted at  http://richarddavidlawman.com/ andhttp://uk.linkedin.com/pub/richard-lawman/24/966/182


‘EYES IN THE CUPBOARD’ by Richard David Lawman

Something made Detective Boll feel uneasy as he stepped into the hallway of the house. Perhaps it was the stillness, the eerie silence broken intermittently by a distant drip as of yet unplaced.  Boll stepped carefully towards the kitchen, a pile of garbage spilled from the bin onto the floor.  The lino was sticky under his feet. And he still felt uneasy.

He saw the broken chair and the table on its side by the door.  The back door lay slightly ajar and began to rock quietly as the wind caught it.  Boll looked around for his suspect, his victim, his witness and saw nobody.  A dirty trickle of blood on the floor and a red hand-print on the glass window gave it away.  He unclicked his holster and let his fingers rest on his revolver.  He silenced his breathing and began to step backwards, towards the front door, away from the silence.

Silence comes first. Then the laughter. Then the screaming.  He was the last detective left in his team.  They always lured them out like this.  The child’s swing in the front yard, the freshly mowed lawn and the sparkling SUV on the drive.  The eyes were watching him.

He knew there was no point in running, he just stepped back slowly out the door.  What chance was he taking by not reporting this? What if it was a real burglary and kidnapping like the screaming woman said?

“Next time.” He shouted. “You’ll have to get me next time!”

Boll drove away, the last remaining Detective. Away from the freshly mowed lawn, the child’s swing, the blood on the window and the eyes in the cupboard under the stairs.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Richard David Lawman is the chief Writer/ Director/ Producer of ‘The Putty In Your Hands’ production company. He can be found and contacted at  http://richarddavidlawman.com/ andhttp://uk.linkedin.com/pub/richard-lawman/24/966/182

 


‘NOTHING TOUCHES ME NOW’ by Richard David Lawman

It lay on the floor, in thousands of pieces, a shattered symbol of people’s faith in me.  And I watched it, staring for hours, hoping the drugs wouldn’t distract my attention, or cause my mind to dream up blurred visions that would confuse me.  As I watched the clay pot, staring intently for hours, a lump of guilt built inside of me, as piece by piece, the pot reassembled itself, and inch by inch, drop by drop, I was filled with the faith others have shown in me.

Being a creator is scary.  One can’t comprehend how it’s done, as one doesn’t want to become aware of the process, of all the tiny wheels and cogs, their alignment and relationship with one another, or see the blueprint of the mind; because once someone sees the blueprint of the mind, it crumbles away, your awareness of the part of the universe least discovered by yourself will kill you.  It’s like fumbling in a darkened garage for a screwdriver, but realising that the whole point is not to find the screwdriver, it’s to fumble around, discover other objects, put them down, rearrange everything, and then one day you might find the screwdriver – but that’s not the point.  Whatever you do, don’t turn the light on.

I had no idea how I came to be like this, in an old, weathered terrace, red bricked and tired, housing my creations in it.  The lives of those next to me seemed so crushingly plain and unexciting, and frightening, but most of all, alluring.  I knew I needed normality, some mundane responsibility to ground me, but it never seemed to come.  How old am I?  I have no fucking idea, absolutely no idea whatsoever.  Maybe forty, fifty, or even twenty.  I can’t remember.  Nothing in this shell bears any mark of time, no comparisons can be made, no calculations carried out to determine how old this bag of bones is.  But that’s not the point.  But what was the point?  I needed to reach a level, find a place whereby I was unaffected by the world around me, find a place in which I could create my masterpiece, the one that would let me go, the one which I could sell to an art collector for millions, retire and rejoin the real world after so many years.  I needed to find a place in which nothing touched me.  Nothing at all.

The creating happened when it needed to happen, and it came in every form.  I am a painter, a sculptor, and a writer – although I haven’t written for a while.  The problem with my painting and sculpting is the fact that with such acts of creation, came the need for my inner self to balance the world I was living in.  In the heightened ecstasy of creation, came the desire to destroy, to undo and to reset everything so the process could be started over again.  I have no idea how many paintings I’ve painted, but there aren’t many left to show now.  Most of them have been destroyed, by myself, in fits of the most violent temper.  Burnt, on a fire, whilst I wept sorrowfully beside them, wishing I could undo what I had done, but realising, that by this very process, I was undoing what I had already done.  The world didn’t deserve my creations, and with my temper, came a worldly responsibility which compelled me to relieve us all of my hideous creations.

But there was something which stood out, something I had never destroyed, and never could.  It wasn’t made by me, but it was affected by me.  My son made it, years ago, the son I never saw anymore, and fleeting reminders raced through my mind: blurred pictures, muffled voices, echoing and drowning each other out, making it impossible to manifest a figure or a voice in my head, to remember what he looked like.  That was my guilt.  It was something I could never destroy, because my son made it because he had faith in me.  Why?  Again, like with most things, I had no idea.

The gift was a small clay pot.  It wasn’t atheistically beautiful, or particularly well made, it wouldn’t have ticked the boxes those retards who call themselves art critics.  It did its job, like all art should – it moved me.  It made me feel something different, an emotion which dripped bright sky blues into the inky reddy-brown of my world, drop by drop, the colours would change and everything would become lighter and more beautiful.  It made me feel like nothing touched me.

I can’t remember the last time I ate, or the last time I drank or the last time I slept.

The fury came over me again.  It came from the back of my head and rushed forwards, drowning my consciousness with rage.  I tried to fight it, I tried to reason with it, but it made me feel so furious.  It came all because when I picked up my cup of tea the glass coaster was stuck to the underneath, and before I could catch it, it peeled off, crashed down and shattered on my perfectly clean floor.  It fucking shattered everywhere.  I could have remained calm, and brushed the pieces up, but I didn’t.  I threw everything near me at the walls, I grabbed the side table and turned it over, I frisbeed my only remaining glass coaster into the television, spiking the glass and sending a delightful spiders web across the screen.  I tried to fight it but I couldn’t.  Next, I found my hammer.  And then it all really started happening.  My latest sculpture, the bust of Orwell, something I had been working on for months, my greatest work to date, met my hammer and blow by blow, it was reduced to crumbles of marble on my carpet.  A nose lay here, an ear there.  It was horrific.  The tears welled, and I crashed to my knees.  Exhausted, I crawled through the splinters of glass and marble, cracks of the TV glass delicately filling the air.  I gasped for breath, for some sort of explanation; it took me five minutes to breathe.  It wasn’t long before the comprehension of my actions hit me, and sure enough, as it always happened, the rage filled me in seconds again.

I found it and held it, for the last few seconds, this old, clay pot with it’s badly carved inscription, “I believe in you”, and I savoured it, knowing I wouldn’t be able to resist.  And then I hurled it against the wall.

The next morning, I left the house for the first time in months.  It was windy and there was a chance of rain, but the cobwebs, thick and sticky, couldn’t cling to the rafters of my mind.  I didn’t need to comprehend what I saw, for I knew it already.  I savoured every moment of it, as I watched that small clay pot reassemble itself, magically knowing how to piece itself back together, and leaving no traces, no marks, nothing other than another blurred memory thrown into the depth of that haunted mind of mine.  I knew that other’s faith in me would always outlast my own, that without others I was nothing, and that was something, that with a gentleness and a subtleness I always dreamed of, pushed me out, into that dreamland, that state of mind I always fantasised about – and now I could create my masterpiece, the thing people would remember me for.

The end was in sight.

But had I been here before?  How many times had that old clay pot reassembled itself before my eyes?  How many more miracles would need to take place before the message sunk in?  I still had no idea, because as I walked out in the light, I thought to myself,

nothing

touches

me

now

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Richard David Lawman is the chief Writer/ Director/ Producer of ‘The Putty In Your Hands’ production company. He can be found and contacted at  http://richarddavidlawman.com/ and http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/richard-lawman/24/966/182