* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Dave's problem

28 February 2002
Victor's friend Dave has a problem.

The usual house - whitewashed, deserted, possibly continental - laid out slightly differently this time. He ascends the half-lit stairs, throws wide the doors. Sensing the air thick with a discomforting presence he zooms in on the only object in the room. In the corner to the right of the window, through which the moon pales, is a tailor's dummy in hessian. He presses on, knowing damn well that there is something wrong, that he is not the only one in the room. The dummy is wearing a shirt - claret slubbed silk, wide collar, double cuffs. Five paces later the shirt's right sleeve begins to flail, desperately cutting the air - a hopeless rooted marionette. The moon is extinguished, leaving him in total darkness with the chemise possessed.

Fumbling for the light - the fucking light - Dave runs the nightly race against the tail end of the dream. Depressing the switch he sighs, turns to look at Laura. She is out for the count: oblivious both to the sudden illumination and to her love's suffering she snuffles away. Dave is not so callous as to disturb her, but needy enough to wish that he could. Wishing to be held himself, he puts his arms around her, hoping to feel the real, to dispel the isolation of the nightmare.

It was the third time this week and Dave was beginning to despair. He could have coped a lot better were it not for the accompanying stomach cramps and cold sweat - there was enough damp in the room without his contributing to it. Yet again the thought occurred to him, what to do now? Nothing to read. Too early to get up. Can't go back to sleep. Run the risk of the dream carrying on. Fairly sure I don't want to find out what happens next.

Seemed like hours, but at some point after 5.15 (when he last checked the clock) Dave must have nodded off. The alarm sounded an hour and a half later, dragging him out of the pit in which Laura always managed to sleep soundly. How the hell did she? Having accumulated steadily all week the resentment appeared to be coming to a head he could now taste the bile. After several expressions of concern from (mostly female) colleagues he examined his appearance in the Gents at work.

He was green. Not jaundiced, not even livid, but verdi gris. Stubble gives the bristle of Astroturf. Like a drugged up gimp he underperforms his way through the day. In the photocopying room, in the kitchen, plugged in at the VDU, in the fag break on the fire escape, he is haunted by the nightly visitation. What the hell did it mean? And why did it insist on coming back night after night?

Two nights ago, as he had lain in the now familiar funk, he had attempted to interpret. He wasn't stressed at work - if anything the load had been light for some time. His relationship with Laura was stronger than ever. The kids were fine: Edward had been slow to make friends at the new school, James was at a loss as to which A/S levels to select, but otherwise they were reasonably happy, well-adjusted individuals. He could, in short, be fairly proud of his parenting. As the obvious explanations dwindled a wide-eyed and vigilant Dave delved into the dim recesses of his psyche. Could there be some kind of hangover from his childhood, deep-seated resentment of long-buried mistreatment, fear of being haunted by past misdeeds?

He values the mornings more and more now. Previously a thawing-out period, a prelude to the liquid lunch and brief afternoon of work en route to early doors drinking, the dawning of the new day now signals blessed relief and the opportunity of escape from his bed. Whereas before he had done his damnedest to pass the time he now drags out his hours, savouring every moment of daylight in an attempt to postpone the moment when he will be forced to return home to the locus of torment.

Days pass in much the same fashion. Towards the end of the fifth week Dave, stiff and bloodshot, levers himself into bed, careful not to rub the raw nerve endings, bruise the wires in his head. Aware that he cannot go on like this for much longer, he begins the nightly ritual: lying now on his front, then again on his back, he is torn between dread of sleep and torpor of exhaustion. It is 10.35 pm. As he is just dropping off it hits him - he must get rid of that fucking hideous shirt.


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
27 October 2003. Victor writes: Our Tune
6 October 2003. Victor writes: Sucking face (in a public place)
15 September 2003. Victor writes: You got any ID?
25 August 2003. Victor writes: Blood on the Boulevard
4 August 2003. Victor writes: In (paren)theses
10 July 2003. Victor writes: Island Fling
19 June 2003. Victor writes: Back (back) and forth (and forth)
2 June 2003. Victor writes: 300 clowns, 13 eight-year olds
12 May 2003. Victor writes: The swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune
21 April 2003. Victor writes: ...just sitting there quietly contemplating suicide
31 March 2003. Victor writes: Victoria
6 March 2003. Victor writes: Relevant experience
17 February 2003. Victor writes: You will eat chips and go nowhere
27 January 2003. Victor writes: A bushy fish for fishy Mr Bush (after Juvenal)
6 January 2003. Victor writes: The Accidental Voyeur
16 December 2002. Victor writes: Gripper goes bang
25 November 2002. Victor writes: Bediquette
4 November 2002. Victor writes: Where have all the spastics gone?
14 October 2002. Victor writes: An Immodest Proposal
23 September 2002. Victor writes: Fastscan masterplan
2 September 2002. Victor writes: Dry Humping Social Club
12 August 2002. Victor writes: Beat the Mongol
22 July 2002. Victor writes: What life is not
1 July 2002. Victor writes: Stupor heroes
6 June 2002. Victor writes: Dry
13 May 2002. Victor writes: Muppet Suite
18 April 2002. Victor writes: gingermingeninja
25 March 2002. Victor writes: Sodomize with Pukka Pies
28 February 2002. Victor writes: Dave's problem
4 February 2002. Victor writes: King of the Aisles
10 January 2002. Victor writes: Here come the decorator gimps.
17 December 2001. Victor writes: Make war, not supper.
22 November 2001. Victor writes: Cough
29 October 2001. Victor writes:
4 October 2001. Victor writes: Green Gauges
10 September 2001. Victor writes: Blind weed
16 August 2001. Victor writes: Snout!
23 July 2001. Victor writes: You're not going to put this in a clown are you?
28 June 2001. Victor writes: What is a droll?
4 June 2001. Victor writes: Burt Pakamak
10 May 2001. Victor writes: Board to Death
12 April 2001. Victor writes: Tricolon with anaphora?
22 March 2001. Victor writes: Point of View
26 February 2001. Victor writes: Goth's Dinner
1 Feburary 2001. Victor writes: Les Miserables
4 January 2001. Victor writes: Flat-packed furniture
14 December 2000. Victor writes: Deliverance
20 November 2000. Victor writes: Bottomry: Exorcising Ghosts
26 October 2000. Victor writes: Body Art
2 October 2000. Victor writes: Disney must die
7 September 2000. Victor writes: Ice-cream in Offworld
14 August 2000. Victor writes: I like sweets that taste of medicine
26 June 2000. Victor writes: I've seen the future, and it's feathered

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