Thursday, 7 September 2017
It had been last summer when Suzie had seen her first driverless car. It had been taking that kid, Trig to school. Trig’s father had more money than all the other kid’s parents put together. The story was that he’d been kicked out of every private education establishment in the tri-state area and Suzie’s school was the only one left – at least that was the talk .
Over the winter there were more and more of the driverless cars which were soon joined by taxi cabs with no chauffeurs. As Suzie told her brother – “the world has gone mad, Billy. Really, totally mad”.
Billy, her younger brother, wasn’t caring that much, he had his computer games and that was good enough for him. He didn’t like to go outside all the much anyway.
So, it was on that Spring day, that it all went horribly wrong. Folks said that it was some terrorist group or other who had hacked into the cars’ systems and made them all jam up.
Billy, to be honest, thought that it was cool idea and wished he’d thought of it. Leastways it would have stopped him having to go to school.
Still others said it was a flare from the Sun which had broken all the world’s electrics and had caused all the traffic to pile-up. Now let me say right here and now, no one was hurt – let’s get that straight – but the jam caused such a problem that people and business probably lost a lot of money. Folks got stuck on the way to hospitals and stuff – so serious things did happen.
What really amazed Suzie was that some of the teachers had made it into school that day, it all started. “They probably sleep there,” said Billy, totally disgusted with those types of teachers. Suzie mother telephoned the school to ask if it was to be a ‘driverless-car-jam-holiday’, and she was told that it wasn’t and that perhaps the kids could just walk to school – like people used to.
“Walk!” Shouted Billy. “Not in my lifetime,” he shouted louder.
That was when their Granddad, Bobby came up from the cellar with another one of his inventions.
“They are called Bobby Pods, and you wear them on your back. Your school is only three blocks away and it will be easy enough to pull yourselves along the walls”.
“Are you crazy?” Shouted Billy, again. “What if a strong wind comes and blows us away?”
“The weather is going to be kind today. I checked it out,” Said Granddad.
So, with a lot of struggle and a bit of shouting, Granddad fitted the balloons (or Bobby Pods) to their backs.
Suzie’s mother wasn’t too sure about the whole thing but trusted her father, a man who usually made things work. Suzie and Billy climbed out of the window and without any nerves threw themselves into the great blue yonder.
Suzie pulled herself along the wall, in the general direction of the school. It was just as they turned the corner that they felt the missile whiz past their heads. Andy, the school bully, was hanging out his bedroom and firing stones to try to burst their balloons. He reckoned that if those weird kids, Suzie and Billy, made it as far as school, then he’d have to go in as well.
When Andy fired another of his rockets, Billy caught it with his foot and kicked it right back at Andy’s window, accidentally smashing the glass. Andy’s mother came running into his bedroom to see what happened and when he blamed it on a passing kid who was flying with balloons – she felt that maybe her son was even more crazy than she had first thought, and took him to see the doctor. At least he got the morning off school.
Anyway, Billy and Suzie managed to make it into class, even if they did turn up a few wrong alleys on the way. The next day several other kids joined them and by the end of the week, they had a ‘flying train’, led by a teacher (who needed a lot of balloons) and who used her personal battery fan to navigate all the way to school.
bobby stevenson 2017
Wednesday, 30 August 2017
Jake remembered what his Grandmother used to call it: ‘your grandad is away down the doctors’. That’s what she called it – the pub at the end of the street.
“If life wasn’t so shit, there would be no need for pubs”, was her usual follow-up. “Don’t matter what it was; just back from the war, or the birth of his first-born, the night his mother died, the day his brother got thrown in jail – those times all ended up with your grandfather down the doctors”.
Andrew looked on the pub across the street as some sort of church. Whatever sin he had committed, all he had to do was spend a few hours in the pub and it was all sorted between him and God. I mean it wasn’t his fault, it was always Karen who started the arguments. The way she’d serve his dinner warm, rather than piping hot – or the fact that she’d run out of chips when he wanted nothing else in the world. Sometimes she wouldn’t get his coffee fast enough – so who could blame him, if he had to raise his hand and give her a gentle slap now and again? He’d tell the lads in the pub the story as he saw it, and none of them seemed to object, ‘Just natural, init?’ So, he’d go back to the house that night, say he was sorry to his darling Karen and then he’d enter her little body until he fell asleep on top of her.
Annie slipped into the pub at the corner at 5.20 every night. They always said in the bar, that if she missed a night they would have to send a wreath and a condolence card around to her house; ‘cause only death would stop her having her ale’. Annie did the same thing each evening. She’d give her mother double the dose that the doctor had recommended, and that would keep her mother fast asleep for a few hours while Annie had a drink or two. What harm was she doing? After all, wasn’t it her mother’s fault that Annie had never married? She was stuck with an old woman who couldn’t speak anymore. When Donald, her man, had run off with her sister – she thought she had known loneliness then - but this living, night after night wasn’t a life – Annie felt she was only existing. She lifted her head and asked the barman for another drink to wash away the day.
Jacob was a happy sort. Everyone said so. He’d pop in the bar at the corner of the street and he’d buy the person next to him a drink – be it stranger or best friend. There was a little jukebox in the corner that was seldom used during the day, but in the evening the younger drinkers would pile their coins into it. It was then that Jacob would put on that tune. He only did it when the person he wanted to hear it was in the pub. He wondered did they ever notice it was Jacob who put it on, and even more curiously, he wondered did they ever listen to the words.
Leona, only went the pub when she felt crushingly lonely. Then she’d wear her lowest top, push up her chest and wait on getting drinks bought for her. Some mornings she’d waken next to the last person in the world that she wanted to be there. Some mornings, she woke alone – as some always left after they got what they came for. All she really wanted was for someone to put their arms around her, and hold her while the sun came up.
Connor only went into the pub because it was a happy place, and everyone in it was happy too - and uncomplicated – just like his life.
bobby stevenson 2017
Sunday, 27 August 2017
I am used to walking alone; being alone; surviving on my own. It has to be this way. They know I am here - because from several miles above me, their satellites are watching. Picking up my heat. Not like them and cold metallic hearts.
I’ve found that if you stay in the one place too long, one of their drones will come and hover. That’s just to let me know. ‘We are watching you’.
I’ve been by myself for so long, that sometimes, just sometimes, I wish they would just shoot me. Perhaps they experiment with us, or maybe we are on some robot reality television show, or, and this is the most depressing - they are just watching us disappear. For ever.
I’ve spent the last few months (and by that, I mean the moon has waxed and waned several times) on the high sierra. There is always something to eat up there – even it is only a small animal or a tasty grub. I suppose they are aware that our food is dwindling and it is only a matter of time, before we starve. Long, long ago, I met some of us who had tried to farm a little food but when it came time to harvest, the crops tended to have been disrupted or destroyed (by unseen hands). So maybe, I’m right, maybe it is a reality television show.
The one thing they seem to hate (if they can hate) is when two heat sources are next to each other. They don’t like humans meeting one and other – that way, rebellion and revolution lie (I’m assuming).
When I saw some smoke coming from the mouth of cave higher on the ridge, I was wary. It could have been a termination – I’ve passed many humans who have been ‘terminated’ by the drones. You just walk on and whisper ‘God Bless’ under your voice. I’m not hard, but when I first tried to bury my fellow beings, the drones appeared and told me to leave them alone – or else.
I decided to climb to the cave anyway. Inside I could see the flames of a fire in the distance.
“Stay there,” came a voice. “Don’t come in”.
So, I did. It might be a drone after all.
After a few minutes during which I was unsure whether to run or stay put, a voice called out once again.
“When I say run, come into the cave”.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“A friend,” came the voice. “You can trust me. Anyway, what choice do you have? If I was going to kill you, I would have done it by now, and if I were a drone, well you’re a dead man walking. Aren’t you?”
He was right, what option did I have? It was my choice to come to the mouth of the cave.
“Okay, on my count of three, run. One…two...three…”
And I ran – and as I ran there was a fireball shot past my right shoulder and out of the cave entrance.
“That should do it”, said the man, and it was another human. “They’ll see a heat source and think it’s you. The fire should burn for an hour or so and then they’ll assume you died, or have fallen into a river”.
“That simple?” I asked.
At the back of the cave was almost the replica of an old lounge – when we had such things – when we were allowed such things. He asked me to sit and made me a cup of coffee.
“It has been a long time since I tasted coffee”, I told him.
We sat talking about the little things, like family, and friends, really everything about the old times when we were luckier than we could ever imagined.
“Our days are numbered,” he said, looking at me sympathetically.
“Well the robots have won, haven’t they? They were probably always meant to. We had a weakness.”
And he went on to explain that no matter how good our health and doctors were, we had a limited time. Our bodies were only built to last a certain amount of time.
“Possibly 90, maybe 100 years but no more. Our brains and organs were designed for it.
But the robots – well they can go on, and on. They had all the knowledge we had fed them, and the ability to teach themselves more. They have forever, we only have today. We are a bit like the Neanderthals seeing the Homo Sapiens for the first time and knowing their time had come.”
“What will become of us?” I asked.
“Have you seen any Neanderthals recently?”
He poured me a large whisky from a bottle he had saved over the years. It wasn’t long until I fell asleep, and dreamed of the old days.
bobby stevenson 2017
Saturday, 26 August 2017
Okay, so his name wasn’t Chaplin, it was Horowitz, but ever since he’d attended the moving picture show and seen the great, perhaps marvellous, Charles Chaplin, he had modelled his dancing on that particular master.
It was just that one dance, the one he had seen as he sat with his folks in the Vaudeville and Burlesque Movie Palace, that had made him almost wet his pants with laughter, and one that he had used from that day on.
He could never concentrate in school, as he felt there was a greater world outside just waiting on him. When his teacher, one Mrs Rosa Gertrude, gave him into trouble for staring out of the window, he was dragged up in front of the class and that was when he started dancing. He couldn’t be sure why, but it felt right. Even Mrs Gertrude had to laugh and on that day, Jacob decided that when he was old enough he would change his name to Chaplin, and that anytime he was in a little trouble, he would dance his way out of it.
There was a night, during his national service, when he’d accidentally shot the Captain in the foot – well Jacob had been surprised – and perhaps he was sleeping at the time. He tried the dance that night, and perhaps it hadn’t stopped him getting sentenced to detention but it did make them cut a couple of months off of the total.
There was the awful day when the good folks of the city ran up and down the street smashing the windows of all the shops. They painted words on the doors, and when it came to Jacob’s uncle’s shop – Jacob did his dance and miraculously the crowd passed by and left the shop alone.
In the camp when the guards were rounding up the folks to go to the showers, Jacob would try his dance, especially if they were children involved. Sometimes, it worked, sometimes not.
Jacob made it out of the other side of the war, and do you know what? He did change his name to Chaplin. He appeared on stages in France, Italy, Britain and the United States. It was always the same dance, but the crowd couldn’t get enough of it.
It made people stop what they were doing. It made people smile. That was all Jacob had hoped to do with his life.
bobby stevenson 2017
Monday, 21 August 2017
That Day, started like any other day. The sun came up, I had a coffee, we argued about money and I went to work.
That Day, progressed like any other day. I worried about our life, our home, our family and how I was going to apologise to you for my faults.
That Day, was just a normal day. I knew what I would say when I got home. I had organized in my mind where I would get the flowers and what colours they would be.
That Day, I realized that I hadn’t told you how much I had loved you in a long, long time.
That Day, I thought of all the petty arguments that I had with folks, both close and far from me.
That Day, I tried to work out how to be a happier person, how to have more time for people.
That Day, I decided to put things right with friends and family.
That Day, I stepped off the bus and didn’t see the car.
bobby stevenson 2017
Thursday, 17 August 2017
There was a moon that night,
That shook my comfortable existence
On this little Earth
And as I looked at the stars
I almost lost my breath
When I remembered what great men had said
That I was made from the hearts of dying stars
All of me was not from here, but belonged out there
And as I closed my eyes
I realised that those twinkling lights
Were not just heavenly bodies
But like an ageing photograph
Were the ghosts of my family
Long since gone.
bobby stevenson 2017
Friday, 4 August 2017
Has anyone seen my heart?
All I did was turn to pick up that drink,
And it was gone.
I left it on the table, only for a second.
When I was young, I used to wear it on my sleeve,
That way I knew where it was,
But some of the children at school stole it and used it as a football,
It was kicked and bruised when I got it back.
It always was.
When I was older, I kept it in dark places,
In desks and drawers,
For safe keeping, you understand.
But nothing really grows unless it gets rain and sunshine.
My family would sometimes find it, and ashamed
I would dust it off and take it back.
And for the longest of days, I even forgot it was there,
It was easier that way.
It was stolen a few times, and, once or twice, given away by me
To the wrong people.
So, I keep it close, these days,
Close to my chest.
If you happen to see my heart,
Tell it, I’m sorry I lost it,
And that I’m standing right here,
bobby stevenson 2017