Coffee and Sugar (sample chapter) - Chapter Zero
Coffee and Sugar
Full Work Coming Soon as Part of the FREE ART COLLECTION
From Irish Australian Brazilian Artist, Writer, and Philosopher:
C. SEAN McGEE
“Get over here. Come on, come here little donkey. Look at him; doesn’t he look just like a donkey? He has his mother’s genes; long useless arms, hands like a little girl. And look at those fingers; they’d snap just trying to grip a toothbrush. Hey donkey, bring your daddy a drink” The Bishop said in a drunken slur to Joao whilst chafing some passers-by, rocking waywardly on his white plastic chair; the thin legs bending under the strain of his heaving upper body that twisted and turned with the eschewal of his foul exuberance.
From behind the bar came Joao, walking with sullen eyes and full hands; balancing a rickety metal tray holding a large bottle of cachaça and a single glass. As he crossed from the bar to where his father sat by the entrance to the small church, he patiently and obsessively counted every tile, watching his feet magically appear from out of sight and then always stepping on the space where his eyes had been.
He wondered to himself that if his feet always landed where his eyes had been, how much longer would he need to stare at the moon before his feet carried him there?
He imagined then that the tiles below him were great ash white asteroids and that if he stayed on them longer than it takes for a passing eye to pass on by, he would fall forever into the oblivion of space, always falling downwards, regardless of what direction he was falling; kicking his legs aimlessly while all the while keeping the rickety metal tray steady so as not to spill daddy’s drink.
As he moved from asteroid to asteroid, he sensed himself closer to the moon and with every next step; the thrill of accomplishment was met with the hurried fright of expected failure and he nervously tip toed his way over the last few obstacles; a heavy depressive weight cementing itself in his stomach, pulling on his focus and negotiating the exchange of his equilibrium as the sound of a low phlegmy cough willowed through his ears and threw him into expectancy; the boy tipping his hand slightly and his eyes drifting from an ash white tile just beyond his right foot to a piece of space just outside the reach of his left arm where the glass of cachaça sat idly in mid-air, having so naturally and unsubtly just slid off the rickety old metal tray like water off a duck’s back and crashed against the floor, smashing into a hundred thousand pieces and waking the old man from his momentary slumber.
“Are you retarded? What the hell is wrong with you son? You just dropped a full drink. Have you any dignity, any bloody respect? And in the house of god? What the fuck is wrong with you boy?” yelled the old man slapping his fist across the table as if he were laying his firm hand across a cattle’s rump, ushering it to move its insolent arse along the path of his righteous choosing.
“I’m sorry daddy. I’ll clean it up, you’re right, I need to focus. I’m sorry; I promise I’ll be better from now on” said Joao, putting the tray down on the table in front of his bullish father and hurrying to the floor to sweep the shards of glass into a small pile with the thick of his palm, trying to be swift yet gentle so as not to cut his hand.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s all I ever hear. ‘I’m sorry daddy; I promise I’ll be better’. You’re the reason this church is always so empty. You cursed the farm and now you cursed my church. How about actually using that thing inside your head for once? It’s called a brain. Figure out how to turn the thing on and use it. You know I wonder what I did to anger Jesus for him to grace me with you. You don’t see your mother here picking up that glass do you? No, of course not. I do everything for this family and still this is what I get, a lack of respect from my own son. I know exactly how Jesus felt with Judas and…” said the old man trailing off into lexical slur before his heavy eyes and drunken breath undid his temper and lowered his head upon his outstretched hands; his face nudging the chilled bottle of cachaça like a cat’s head, rubbing itself exhilaratingly against the tender loving touch of its owner’s amorous caress.
“Silly, silly, silly” said Joao as he continued to clean up the glass from the floor. As he swept the last shard, he cut the tip of his pinkie finger and it stung wickedly as it basted like a hairless chicken in the dregs of old cachaça mixed with cigarette ash and cheap domestic bleach.
His finger burned horribly but he wouldn’t make any more of a fuss than he already had. He had no right to deserve compassion for his own stupidity and that lesson he hadn’t forgotten, having been beaten into him many time before at a time when his drunken disgrace of a father carried more swing in his fist than he died in his curling tongue.
He tore off a piece of cloth that was wrapped intimately around the broken end of a metallic squidgy, dousing his wound in a vile cocktail of undesirable fluids; the remains of what would be of every Sunday service in the world’s least popular church in a part of town where not even your own shadow will stalk you under a beseeching summer sun.
As he washed the floor with a putrid blend of alcohol, bleach and old dish water, he allowed himself to slowly drift into the impossible again, this time imagining himself as the lead singer of a rock band taking to the stage in front of ten million people; maybe more and running around the length of the stage from corner to corner standing on top of the tables; that to him were giant fold back speakers and holding his microphone stand high into the air and singing at the top of his lungs; “Baby you’re a rich man, baby rich man too, you keep all your money in a big brown bag inside the zoo, whatta thing to do.”
Joao loved that song; he never knew who sang it and he hadn’t mastered the pronunciation but ever since he was a little boy he would hum the tune quietly to himself and disguise it as evening prayer so as not to offend his simple mother and displeasing father, sneaking up on the words he knew and then pouncing on them, splashing through the melody like a massive puddle in a summer rain.
He never quite knew exactly what he was singing but he imagined a very rich man that had so much money and he was really worried about trusting it with his financial advisor so he put all of his money in a big brown paper bag and snuck into the zoo one night; late, after everyone had gone home and when the keepers who stayed there overnight had fallen asleep while watching their favourite television show.
Then; when he knew nobody was around, he cut a hole in the fence and dragged behind him, his big brown bag full of money and left it somewhere that he thought nobody would find it, probably in a monkey cage, but whoever wrote the song obviously thought that was stupid because they couldn’t believe he would do something like that.
The song was explained to him when he was young by a travelling hippy with bad Portuguese; one of those spiritual questers who in the search for their inner Zen, cast themselves into a river of disquietude thinking the key to existence is found in the inheritance of the external struggles of the downtrodden native peasant; tied spiritually to nature, so that when they return to the drudgery of their corporate middle class configuration, their feet can be grounded, their mind humbled and their heart can be deep rooted in the memory that even to this day, they know and live the plight of cultural indignation and that the Indian inside of them will beat the tanned hide, playing its hollow drum as the beat of their heart while he or she hangs tight to the arduous threads of their inner sanctum as this cruel world threatens to copulate with their identity; or something equally introspective.
He said the zoo was a metaphor and asked if Joao he cared to know what it was a metaphor for. Joao just smiled, nodded his head and asked; “what’s a metaphor?” The significance of the song wasn’t important to Joao. He didn’t need to understand the words to enjoy singing them just as he didn’t need a doctorate in geology to enjoy playing with rocks.
And as he sang and danced around the room, he accidentally kicked over a pile of crates and old cardboard boxes. The boxes had been stuffed with construction material to make them more sturdy for the Sunday service and he squealed as he subbed his toe against the bricks, causing the old man to be jolted from his drunken pasture, throw his weight backwards, opening his eyes in a drunken flurry and waving his arms about as if he were calling a 747 in to land, eventually falling backwards on the ground below, his head hitting the floor and his stubby, little legs kicking away in the air and as they kicked, one of his feet knocked against the plastic table making the bottle of cachaça fall onto its side and spin in a flashing circle moving dangerously close to the edge of the table.
Joao leapt from where he stood, diving through the air and catching the bottle just as it rolled off of the table and with the precious bottle of cachaça entrenched in his hands, he crashed down hard against the floor hitting his chin on the wet tiles and biting down on his tongue but, the bottle was safe and for that he hoped the old man would be slightly happier than displeased.
The Bishop stepped over him; reaching his hand down to pick up the bottle of cachaça and made his way to the podium which sat next to the bar; at the head of the church. He wobbled and swayed as he stepped up onto a little wooden box hidden behind the podium and held his arms out in the air, welcoming the eternal love of Christ.
The Bishop fought angrily with gravity and his weak grip as he wrenched hard on the bottle’s lid trying to twist it open without success.
“Surely this excaliburian bottle has been packaged for the king of kings, to set free the spirit of Christ to fight the evil in the world and lead mankind to the judgment.”
This was what the old man thought as his sweaty palm slipped and slid over the metal lid and twisted and turned until the skin on his palm it burned and it burned and he cursed a ton of vile obscenities into the air, throwing all of his insult at his dim witted son who was now picking himself up off the floor, looking disgraceful in his Sunday’s best with a trickle of blood running from his chin down onto his white shirt and a stupid wash cloth wrapped around his right hand.
“You’re nothing like your kin; always on the nearside of an accident. Your brothers, now they were smart. Don’t know how in god’s grace I ended up with you but for the eternal grace of Jesus I will endure your hellish deviancy. For the love of god, would you look at your shirt, it is a disgrace, you are a disgrace. Hurry back there and make yourself presentable for Jesus. There’ll be no service with you looking like that” yelled The Bishop, steadying himself on the podium and trying to catch his swaying vision by steering his head in all directions, over correcting each time and aquaplaning his conscious mind, taking with it, the bottom of his belly as with every spin of his mind he felt his stomach swinging about wildly and willing itself to evacuate onto the floor below.
“What’s the time donkey?” he yelled out at the top of his lungs.
From behind a curtain in a small room behind the bar, Joao was busily removing his shirt and quickly soaking it in water and bleach before the blood stained permanently. His chin was stinging as the warm humid air flowed against the small, loose flap of skin from where he had hit himself against the ash white tiles; ash white because no matter how hard he scrubbed or how much bleach he used, he just couldn’t wash away the filth that had collected over the years that, so instead of returning to an off white like when they first moved in, had a thick greasy ad greyish residue from years of dirty shoes, cigarettes, beer, cachaça, urine and rain washing all over it and so, no matter how hard he scrubbed, the best he could get was an ash white colour.
“It’s eight thirty five” yelled Joao from behind the curtain; racing to dress himself in a clean white shirt to match his Sunday suit; the pride of any man’s possessions if his heart was true to the lord that is.
“Why did you let me sleep this long? You know the service is forty five minutes and I’ve only got twenty five minutes before the soap operas start. You1ve upset Jesus” said the old man.
“Can we miss the soap opera tonight?” asked Joao.
“What?” screamed the old man belligerently.
“Every Sunday we give a service from eight until eight forty five. Not a second earlier and not a second later. At nine o´clock every night, we sit with Jesus and watch the ‘The Carriage of my Heart’. That’s the way it always is, it’s the way it’s always been” he continued in a lecturing tone.
“Sorry daddy, I didn’t forget I just thought that…”
“You didn’t think little monkey, that’s your forte, speaking on an empty mind. Now what are you doing in there?” yelled the old man ushering the boy along so that they could start their service.
“I’m coming daddy” he said, tucking his shirt into his pants, all the while staring at picture of his mother who sat upon an old wooden bench on their farm wearing a long floral dress that covered her big bulbous knees and holding a small pocket sized leather bound bible; being long from where they were, surrounded by barren land and lots of stinging insects. A joyous warmth washed over him as he thought of the work he and his father were doing for the sake of their family and more so for the kind and brutish woman sitting painfully still in the photo.
Joao came rushing out from behind the curtain and sat on one of the crates in front of his father who was now standing behind the podium with his chest high into the air like a proud preacher, waiting to deliver the word of Christ our lord and saviour.
“Fix your tie son, you look like a Catholic” he said acrimoniously.
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