Sunday, 1 July 2018

Vale

My name is Arik Tobias Grunbaum. You may have seen me referred to in these pages as 'Mr G', which seemed like Davidè's usual heepish behaviour. Sadly, past events have left no chance for redemption.

I recently found Davidè in his apartment, having hung himself from a ceiling fan. The coroner deemed it unsuspicious, and his readers may consider it unsurprising. There was no note, but a text message I received three days prior may provide some closure for his readers. I transcribe it, verbatim, below:

Alik i m fucked. just fucken fucked. i dont have ur money but im not doing too good. im out of options n im just so fucking sad. i could use a mate. i will pay yoi soon i hope

My reply is lost to the ether.

What's important is that Davidè has hopefully found in death the solace he could never have hoped for in life. He leaves behind no family, few friends, and a seamy internet presence.

I expect this will be the last activity on this blog. Davidè left his computer logged in to a suite of websites, but it's the last I'll have to do with any of it. Anyone who wants more information is welcome to contact me on my personal email. Anyone who needs an accountant is encouraged to visit www.atgrunbaum.com.

Baruch dayan ha'emet.

Arik.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Henri Wintermans Short

It is still a scorching summer in Melbourne, and the stifling heat in my apartment can no longer be beaten back by the creaking ceiling fans. Seeking shelter from the summer outside may seem counter-intuitive but, as my mum used to say "get out of the house now if you know what's good for you". And so I've found myself on a bench by the river, in the shade of a large billboard, and seated outrageously between a futuristic unisex public toilet, and an overflowing rubbish bin. I'm cradling a tiny cigarilla in my grubby paw, and it's about as pathetic an offering as I have. There is not a soul around. I might, and might as well, be dead. Let's take it to the flame.


The Winterman starts as well as any other bic-lit bottom-range cigarilla, with dominant mid tobacco, instant tar. I detect chemical, but then I am sitting next to a public toilet. I watch a girl approach along the path. She is about 19, gorgeous, with light brown hair swept to one side of her porcelain face, bouncing gently with every step of her long, bare legs. She is wearing a singlet with what looks like a man's shirt unbottoned over the top, and a pair of tiny cutoff jeans. She studies me as she approaches, perhaps because I'm the only other soul outside in this heat. I notice as she draws closer that her face is twisted into a grimace, and realise that she might rather I not be sitting right next to the toilet she's about to occupy. I puff thoughtfully on my cigar while tracking her approach, and watch as she sends the door sliding open with a press of the button. "Door, closing" chimes a voice. I hear a toilet seat cracking against a steel rim, and a tractable thudding sound as the weight of her buttocks is further applied. The Henri Winterman burns crisply, imparting now peppery mid tobacco and lots of tar as it mingles with a tinge of ammonia and fades toward the midpoint.


The sounds from the steel public toilet are abominable. Disgusting. Thrrrrrpts and plips and plops, grunting, interspersed with sickening *thunk* sounds as the occasional solid shit smacks against the steel. I recoil in disgust as a sudden ripping sound tears through the cubicle, and I realise that not two arm-lengths away an actual human is forcing her disgusting excreta out of her dirty hole, with graceless abandon. I imaging her, doubled over the bowl, red faced, hair limp in the searing heat, shit flecked buttocks flapping open over its foul deposit, like a ribald monarch addressing its masses. Women are disgusting. The cigar burns untouched in my hand.


Silence has descended on the cubicle, save for the occasional blotting of paper against flesh. The little cigar is burning coolly in the heat, still tarry, but rewarding my controlled drawing with a hint of pepper. I hear the sound of a clanging belt buckle, followed by the dull roar of the flushing toilet. A staccato trickle indicates that hands are being washed under a temperamental sensor-tap, after which a hand dryer is deployed for what seems like an age. Eventually the door slides open, and the warm reek of bleach and feces wafts toward me. The girl and I lock eyes briefly, then she lowers her gaze and slinks past me the same way she came. As she passes I extend my tongue past my lips, laying it flat like a burger patty between two soggy buns. I slowly blow air out of my lungs, and feel saliva fleck my chin as the underside of my tongue reverberates lazily against my bottom lip, mimicking the sound she made with her disgusting arsehole not minutes before. I maintain the lazy raspberry as I follow her retreat, noticing a quickened step as she makes her escape.

Life.



Monday, 5 February 2018

Doña-Elba Corona

As I may have mentioned in seasons past, this website was once registered as 'finecubans.com' (or a URL to that effect). The visions I had! The passion forecast! I envisioned the expense, the late night hacking at my keyboard, the content barely keeping up with the reviews magnificently spooling up inside my bulging head. The lamplight, the untouched tumbler of scotch, the unpaid bills, and the smouldering notoriety as my grip on the cigar world slowly took hold. Finecubans.com was to be a gritty èxpôśe into the best from Cuba, brutally honest and punctiliously perspicuous. If you don't know the sad and immediate decline, you can probably start here. There have certainly been some Cubans from the finer end of the scale but, as long-term readers will know, your sturdy host was always destined to wallow wretchedly in the muck. And so I come to smoke the Doña-Elba Corona. Shamelessly Nicaraguan, and so unknown I had to be the one to name it.

I remember laying in bed as a young boy, maybe eight or nine years old. I had a steel framed bed in the back of a crumbling weatherboard property in the suburb of Keilor, which in the early 1990s was a fairly wretched place to live. My curtains were splash-patterned orange, sewed by my mother (vale) from fabric purchased by my father (vale), and which would eventually form part of a bitterly contested property dispute between the two parents. As a child I would lay in bed watching the moonlight play through the curtain's shades while my parents screamed at each other in the kitchen. For reasons I can't recall, I dreamed of us visiting Movieworld on the Gold Coast as a happy family, where I miraculously had some spending money all to myself. In my dream I was not riding roller coasters, but was instead visiting the various shops and stands for souvenirs for my family.

The cigar tastes like ashtray, burns poorly, and draws inconsistently. Truth be told there's no real way to confirm what the Doña-Elba is actually called. Their website gives no indication beyond the colour of the wrapper leaf ("habano"), nobody has ever bothered to review them before, and most of the google search results are from Granada-bound tourists visiting the Doña-Elba factory.


In my nightly pre-sleep dreams I would wander the streets of Movieworld to stands that sold crisp, brightly coloured Warner Bros. merchandise. A Tweety bird t-shirt for my mother might be within my budget, and surely she would love it. Father would be chuffed to own a pair of Daffy Duck slippers. My brother (vale) was only little, so maybe a plush toy of some sort. I never knew what I would like for myself. It had to be a toy, something fun but inexpensive, and not dramatically 'better' than what I bought for the rest of the family. Then logistics would sneak into my mind. Would I have the requisite time alone on this family trip to buy these things? How would I keep them a secret until we got back to the hotel room we all shared? And they never liked me spending money. I'd probably get sat in the corner while father rummaged through the crisp plastic bags for receipts to return the goods, while I cried in shame. Mother might defend me, screaming at my father to let it go, before the name calling and wall punching and door slamming. Finally the fantasy would meld horribly into reality as my father began his nightly threats to just burn the whole fucking place down with us inside because now everything is ruined.

I have been alternately sipping Sierra Nevada pale ale, and Canadian Club whisky mixed with Benedictine. I am beyond sloshed. My palate is pasty from the syrupy liqueur, and the acrid Nicaraguan smoke chokes my nostrils and makes me cough. The burn is excruciatingly slow, and I suck deep to speed it up, fanning the flame and adding tar to the ash. I dip my grimy fingers in my drink and fish out a piece of liquor-soaked orange, and wince at the pithy bitterness as it not masks, but mingles with the ash and the sugar and the tar.


I remember being in school years later, long after predictable tragedy made the Movieworld fantasy consummately impossible. Long after the curtains stopped being something to bicker about, long after the arguments settled in the ashes, and still with a long stretch of state wardship and foster homes and kindly counsellors and police stretching out ahead of me. In the schoolyard, in my new black school shoes and white socks and my cotton interlock of blue shorts and shirt, I confided in a classmate that I'd love to see Movieworld on the Gold Coast one day. "Movieworld is gay" sneered my peer, whose rebuke turned to waxation as he waned about an upcoming family trip to Disneyland. "Yeah, probably is" I replied, the enormity of explanation eclipsing any rebuttal. I felt my new school shoes cut into the scarred tissue on my ankles while any hope flickered its last, and died away.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Hoyo de Monterrey Du Prince

This summer sun, dear reader, is no longer welcome. What was a gentle warming of my old bones has become an unrelenting barrage of often simultaneous sickly humidity, searing heat, and a glare that has me cucked to my core as I scrape under its pervasive gaze. The worst part is my daily hangovers, into which I wake on my damp, soiled mattress, and must navigate painfully as my doings necessitate. The heat last night has sucked the water from my head, leaving my brain to flop limply against my skull, around which it is now rattling painfully as I brain-shake it awake. The heat is so intense that I can't bear the thought of hot coffee and, in an effort to stave off my caffeine withdrawals, I splash ageing UHT milk over instant coffee, before gulping it, gagging, down my gullet. I feel the cold milk leak out the corners of my mouth and down my chin as I retch on the bitter granules, and I fight to quell the rising bile as the icy cold liquid hits my churning stomach. Guiltily I crack open a beer and, wincing down the first icy cold swigs, wander over to my humidor. I lift the lacquered lid and select one of many similarly low-priced cigars, and sit at my old desk. I am hesitant to smoke inside but the heat, my headache, the growl of my gut, my almost reflexive need for chemical relief, and the crippling hopelessness, have decided for me. I snip, fire, suck, and blow. Consume and expel. Inspiration and exhaust. A meta for the metaphorical breathing, drinking, shitting, pissing man, living to die, and feeling nothing. It's a Hoyo de Monterrey Du Prince, I believe.


I have had a few friends die in my life. Mostly young, and always unexpectedly. A death from my distant past that has haunted me in particular of late is that of my high school friend Han Wang, who attended my high school in the years before I dropped out. Han was the son of a wealthy Honkinese politician, and found it more awkward than most to fit in amongst the Australian teenage yobbery. My inherent racism prevented any sort of friendship initially, but a particular event in middle-high school impressed me so much that I figured I'd want this kid in my corner some day. We were waiting for a bus to take us to one of my school's many mandatory sport days when one of the many bullies, Ben Margiannis, decided to target Han. Margiannis, in prison at time of writing, pushed the unassuming Wang in front of our approaching bus. Han never lost his balance, and stood confused as the decellarating bus bore down on him. The screams, the air horn, the hydraulic screech of brakes and the shriek of rubber against asphalt all melded into one horrific clangour that died with a gasp as the bull bar sent the gentle Wang flying sideways, landing meters away with a cracking sound, only to slide a further bus-length on his thick school blazer. The P.E. teacher who witnessed the attempted murder, Mr Tim Ellis, yelled at Han to "stop fucking around", and a relieved giggle arose from the crowd as Wang, shaken, returned to the fray. 'This kid is invincible', I thought as I shot him an impressed smile. Sheepishly he smiled back, and would later loan me $5.

The Du Prince is a well constructed cigar, despite the damage this one has endured in storage. The draw is perfect, the tobacco smooth, and the tar minimal. I taste some spice, but there is an enduring comestible tang that tastes of old Big Mac. I roll the smoke around my mouth, and realise that my teeth, unbrushed for at least a week, may be contributing to the off flavours. My current poverty dictates that I pair my cigar with an old, heavily infected, band-aidy home brew, which cloys on my palate in a thick smoky saliva paste. I feel a pang of guilt at my cigar collection, which stands in outrageous contrast against my crippling debt, both private and institutional. I suck too deeply on the Du Prince and detect a tannic chemical burn, and ponder my position. I drain my home brew, lay the smouldering Du Prince on a bottle cap on my filthy floorboards for a quick photo, and run on to the fridge for another beer.


"The Invincible Wang!" I would cry, regardless of location or company, whenever Han would approach. He would smile and bow foppishly as my other moron friends debated the actual invincibility of such a panty-waisted kid. But I remained convinced, and found the wealthy Wang to be not only a valuable source of answers to my consistently terrible math homework, but also a good source of interest-free, electively repaid, loans. At age 16 I decided that high school was for retards and fuck-ups, and worked instead as a kitchen hand until fate forced me to pursue my year-12 equivalency at TAFE. Of course this was long after my high-school friends had graduated, and even longer after they'd forgotten about me.

At the midpoint the Du Prince is coming good, with hints of sweet white pepper, some clove, little tar. Dominant of course is fairly bland mid-tobacco, but there's little to complain about cigar-wise. Do I regret the $500 worth of cigars in my $1600 humidor? Maybe. It's more the guilt than anything else. I have no money, and my only assets are combusted on a weekly basis. I owe Mr G about $400, about which he harangues me daily. I also owe the notorious Buckley $5, about which he has forgotten. I'm suddenly awash with resumed sadness at my situation and, terrified that my parasitic habits will drive my isolation further, fire off a conciliatory text message to Mr G. I just need a mate right now.


 
A few years ago I was browsing the domestic beer at the local bottle shop when I ran into one of my high school friends. We'd both been staring at one another off and on, clearly trying to establish where the familiarity lay, until we eventually performed a tandem head-cock and mutually engaged. We did the usual awkward catch-up; he doing some consultancy garbage, and me doing myself the usual disservice on the internet. We were running out of conversation as we approached the counter, when he hushedly enquired if I'd heard of Han Wang's fate. I answered in the negative, and was informed that Han had come out as gay to his father shortly after graduating high school, been instantly disowned, and hung himself from his doorknob that night. How my long-estranged friend knew this I'll never know, as he quickly backed out of the store promising coffee one day, and will likely never be seen again. Still, it rattled me to my core. Han Wang, the invincible kid who survived being hit by a bus, was a woofter. Gross.

My filthy apartment is now filled with a haze of grey cigar smoke, and my lungs crack and wheeze as I draw breath between drags. The Du Prince is finishing strongly, though it could be a little less temperate. It's mostly heavy tobacco, some tar, a little spice. The construction is first-rate, allowing me to nub the sucker with fingers relatively uninflamed.

The problem with smoking in my apartment is I have no retreat. I'm where I would otherwise return to, and it's horrible. I have demolished my refrigerated beer without the forethought to refrigerate some more, but the still-searing heat has sealed my next move, and I too-enthusiastically crack a tepid home brew. It's rinse and repeat here, my friends. I'll hopefully see you in a week.


Monday, 22 January 2018

Fonseca KDT Cadetes

It is not a happy place, between the dusk and the dawn
Deep below the well lit and open spaces
I wait under the under
For them to come and rip me asunder
Tearing my core until morning.

This is a poem by Zachary Norman, who was the writer for a 1990s computer game called Interstate '76, in which you played the role of a vehicle-based vigilante. I remember playing it as a teenager and finding the fun of the game was constantly countered by the misery of the character's back story, along with the desolate Midwest hellscape in which it was set. Poetry was the medium by which your in-game mentor, Taurus, would express his dark past, and it is amidst these works that I'm finding a gloomy outlet. Today, some might say, I am even feeling a sense of happiness in my connection with these characters from my own past, however fictional. It is during this gentle poetic erudition that my phone blares out the opening bars of Limp Bizkit's Break Stuff, heralding a phone call. "Davidè" comes the oily tone of Mr G. "If you haven't killed yourself yet, come to my compound. I have a cigar that may interest you." And so, curiosity piqued, I terminate my scholarship, and catch a train into the city.


The cigar is a Fonseca KDT Cadetes, and an interesting beast to behold. The wrapper is the lightest possible wrapper I have ever seen in my life. It is white, as if a double claro had been left to bleach in the sun for months. I ask Mr G if this is some novelty cigar, to which he simply sneers. I shrug, ever trusting, and take the Cadetes to the flame. The foot instantly combusts, shooting licks of flame into the air while filling my nostrils with sooty smoke. I hack and cough under Mr G's quizzical eye, until the Fonsesca finally subdues. After the influx of carbon particles, the secondary flavours are almost refreshing, if a little bland: dry grass, tea, amidst mid tobacco. No tar is evident, but every fifth puff burns more of the papery quadruple claro wrapper leaves, which buffets soot into my lungs which needs to be suppressed with liberal swigs of beer. Purists often tell me that a simple glass of water is the best accompaniment to a cigar, but as is there isn't a day goes by where I don't imbibe, so why would I go dry while sucking ash? Questions such as these run on and on, dear reader.


At the midpoint the Cadetes becomes extremely bitter, like dregs of overbrewed black tea in the base of a cup. The cigar really does leave you in a recondite solecism, whereby the coal goes out in an instant, but a relight makes the thing combust spectacularly, only to go out again in a cloud of its own ash. The draw is tight, the construction shabby, and even the band is kind of ugly. I am pairing it again with one of the cheapest beers one can get in Australia - the Oettinger pilsner, which comes in six-packs of 500ml cans for about sixteen of our Australian dollars. It is crisp, not too complex, but refreshing enough for such a day. And really, its main job is to douse the fuliginous cloud that palates my mantle with each puff. As usual, my desire for nicotine overcomes my distaste for the cigar, and my draw intensifies as I spur the Cadetes to the final inch.


Long time readers of this blog know what's coming. It's a pitiful sight; one man, eyes rolling back in his head, sucking the dregs of a cheap cigar while his lips and fingers smart. I peel the band off and, to my disappointment, the entire wrapper leaf comes away, leaving behind deep Colorado filler. In desperation I reach for the multi-tool in my bag, with which I clasp the little Fonseca, and suck the remaining cigar until it is done. 
And so, spurning the cigar, I bid my host adieu. And, dear reader, I bid the same farewell, to thee.


Monday, 15 January 2018

Montecristo No. 5

Today, unlike any other, your sturdy host finds himself in Frankston, which is a large regional city in Victoria's southeast. My friend Connor caught wind of my current depressive funk, and decided that a four-hour round trip to sink beers in his backyard might cheer me up. I noted at the time that I was fairly content to sink beer at home by myself but, weak against Connor's reproach, eventually capitulated. As I was getting ready a text message came through from Connor, stating only: "bring cigars". I deliberated briefly on why Connor thought he had the social capital to demand such an oblation but, cursing my cowardice, perused my humidor anyway. Amidst the mid-range garbage are some cigars that I purchased purely to have a stash to offer guests that never came: the Montecristo No. 5. And so it is that I switch verb tenses anew, and put the Monte 5 to the flame.


The Monte 5 starts well. There's no need to flower here. If you've had ten cigars in your life, there's a fair chance one of them has been one of these bad boys, and "it's started pretty well" is probably how you'd describe your first few puffs. Connor, being a long-time cigarette smoker, is dragging and heaving on his cigar, thirsty for the nicotine he so craves. I take the time to draw gently on my own cigar, and do note some subtle woodsmoke, maybe a little straw, amidst the mellowing mid tobacco. We are in Connor's backyard, seated on camp chairs and, though I want to remark on the flavour profile to him, the setting demands I focus more introspectively. Truth be told, despite the promises made in my season return post but a few weeks ago, the Fitful Fires brand is back to its old tricks. My depression, culminating from the months of solitude, poverty, breakups, breakdowns, and the cycle of intoxication and withdrawal, has had an almost petrifying effect. I can hardly mutter replies to Connor, let alone share my thoughts. Taking a leaf from his book I drag hard on my Monte 5, cleansing any lingering subtlety with an inundation of tarry smoke. I throw the Monte 5 on the table to snap some pictures, drain my Mexican lager, and feel a sob rattle through me. It starts at my feet, and I feel it coursing through my legs, my bowels, stopping briefly to seethe in my stomach, before I catch it in my throat with a physical lurch. Connor eyes me curiously, cigar in hand, while I lean forward, wind knocked out of me. I excuse myself for more beer.


At the midpoint the Monte 5 is starting to really impress. I've been treating it poorly, yet the coal burns long and cool, the smoke mild and refined (if a little bland), and the construction in general is perfect. Connor's cigar has burned nearly to the band under his wanton guzzling, and he tells me I shouldn't waste my money on such fast-burning cigars. Hardly able to speak, I just nod and stare at my boots, before reaching anew for my beer. Could if I would, gentle readers, tell you a better story. Under the tutelage of Mr G, I have always tried to follow a general formula for my reviews. An intro, a photo, then an alternating story-review dichotomy until I conclude. I also try very hard to get these posts out weekly, but alas this week my inspiration has waned. I've got as little to talk about as I do to look forward to, and that thought alone nearly kills me. Maybe it will kill me.


The final inch. The tarry nub full of sense-numbing nicotine, filtered through a moist and resinous cap. Connor has long since discarded his cigar, having smoked it barely past the band. He is telling me about the type of cigar he wants me to bring him next, but after the first "Churchill minimum, mate" I tune out. I am drunk, wretched in my own misery. What am I looking forward to today? A two-hour commute in the searing heat? My shithole apartment? A cask of wine and a disgusting hangover? I'm dragging frantically on my cigar, now pinched between my long nails growing from my thumb and forefinger, tasting nothing and feeling even less. My head swims and the churning in my guts threatens to rattle another sob through me, but I bury it in beer while dashing my cigar into the ashtray. I think this is the end.

Like I said at the start: you've probably had a Monte 5 before and when, inevitably, you have one again, I hope it at least brings you some joy. And I hope you have a wonderful life.

Davidé


Monday, 8 January 2018

Quai D’Orsay Corona

It is a beautiful day in Melbourne's south-east. Warm, some cloud cover, and only the lightest of breezes that barely penetrates the widening cracks in my derelict apartment. As usual I wake alone, sprawled face down on a bare mattress, and stagger foggy-headed to the bathroom. Such is my solitude lately that my toilet is largely decorative, with my waist-height sink long doubling as a place to rest my lewdly pissing dick while I study my face in the mirror. My skin is ashen. Cracks extend from the corners of my yellowing eyes, and greying hairs grow wildly down my sullen muzzle. I force a smile, and see only tarnished teeth amidst a pained scowl, shocking against my bleary countenance. I tuck my still dribbling penis into my trackpants, decide against killing myself for one more day, and head to my humidor. I select a Quai D'Orsay Corona, for its drab band if nothing else, and head off in search of a park.


I have always had a penchant for damaged women. Whether caused by misfortune, or deliberate exploitative effort, or perhaps a subconscious projection of my own deficiency, the women with whom I have been intimate have been magnificently, thoroughly, broken. My most broken, and most fondly remembered, was Jade. She was a gorgeous Singaporean princess with ivory skin, delicate features, and one eye iris that was situated constantly in the inner corner of her eye, giving her a slightly cross-eyed, kind of exciting, totally crazy appearance. Adding to this, during a Britney Spears meltdown, she had completely shaved her head, leaving her either bald, or wearing one of the many wigs she quickly acquired. She was a diplobrat who had settled in Melbourne to study, and had more cash than she could spend. This suited her, because she huffed nitrous-oxide canisters for every waking moment she was at home. By day she would scream at me to scour the city for increasingly suspicious kitchenware suppliers, where I would buy boxes of the canisters at a time. By night, I would try to sneakily dispose of the used canisters for her, but never succeeded in even denting the mountains of used nang tubes that littered her apartment. Dinner plans were postponed for hours (and usually, eventually, cancelled) while she huffed the gas, and I would find myself woken at all hours by the hiss of a canister. She took them as a supposedly non-addictive means of managing her fibromyalgia, but in the process had become hooked to the point of debilitation. And I, guided by my loins, was powerless but to do her bidding.

The Quai D'Orsay starts poorly, with harsh sulphuric smoke and and a sharp, ashy, aftertaste. I want to blame the burn on my ham-fisted method of lighting but, since my application of flame is pervasively clumsy, decide it must be the cigar's fault, and let it rest while I open a beer. I am pairing this smoke with a fruity session ale which, though purchased in an effort to not get too maggoted, is already making my head swim. I didn't bother changing out of what I slept in, and my piss-spattered trackies and grubby singlet ward off any park-goers that may seek to disturb my public impudence. I eventually notice the previously blackened foot of the Quai D'Orsay has mellowed into a pearly grey ash, and I chance another puff. Grassy notes, some old leather, with a slight buttery undertone flood my palate, and I remark to nobody in particular that there's hope for it yet. A desperate swig of fruity ale cleanses my palate of any lingering complexity, and I allow the cigar to mellow anew into the midpoint.


Once, while sleeping as usual at Jade's apartment (she was too suspicious to allow me to sleep at my house), I woke to a blood curdling cracking sound. I sat bolt upright and saw Jade on the floor, mouth agape, but no noise was coming out. Confused, I simply stared at her, until I realised what was wrong. In each hand she held a separate piece of the cream whipper she used to charge her nangs, and suddenly, like a toddler who had just realised its own audience,  started to scream. She had nanged until she blacked out, fallen off the bed, and in the process had broken what was surely her most prized possession. Never in my life have I experienced anybody, child or adult, so inconsolable. She screamed and wailed, in between cursing at me for not "looking out for her". It was 2am, so anywhere that sold the canisters would not be open for hours. I held her like a child while the wailing continued until, as if a switch had been thrown, she stopped. "Davidè", she said, each syllable sharpening under her Singaporean accent. "You need to fuck me. And you need to make it hurt".

At the midpoint my little corona is starting to come very good. There's no real complexity here, but the smooth mid-tobacco has developed a peppery spice, with none of the harshness evident when first lit. I live in an area of Melbourne that has been about 85% gentrified, and the park in which I am indulging is home mostly to young children strolling with their parents. In my self loathing I have consumed beer at an even faster rate than usual, and I loll and lurch on my bench while a voice, presumed to be mine, chatters about the worthlessness of my own being. I drag hard on my cigar, desperate to feel something, and choke the air into my benumbed lungs. I expire with an urgent hacking and, feeling my head spinning while stars dance about in my vision, steady myself against the bench. An older Jewish lady scowls at me, and I drain my beer can under her gaze. The corona, still buoyed from my puerile pull, glows in my excessive ashtray as it angrily fades to the final inches.


"Hurt me, Davidè", came Jade's almost detached voice, over and over in my ear. "Hurt me. Fuck me and hurt me, I need to feel something". Despite her madness she was a sweet kid and, though the sex could be fairly freaky, I didn't want to hurt her. The sudden 'thwack' sound, followed by a ringing in my ears, then the blinding pain in my jaw, told me things were going to escalate. "FUCKING HURT ME, YOU PIECE OF SHIT" came Jade's now frenzied screaming. "FUCK ME, you pussy. You coward", followed by a crazed clawing at my cock through my underwear. I again refused, and pushed gently at her face, to which she responded by grabbing my nuts in a vice grip. I grunted with the pain and threw my elbows, connecting one of them with her face, knocking her on her back. "Yessss, that's it boy. Now fuck me". I looked at her prone on the bed, balls throbbing under my inexplicably expanding cock. I yanked off her panties, turned her face down on the bed, and entered her dry. "Fuck me properly" came the muffled cries as I slammed into her, feeling the staccato dragging of her dry vagina on my cock. "Harder, make it hurt". I slammed into her as hard as I could. I slapped her, I punched into her cervix, I called her every degrading name I could rally, while Jade, still face down, admonished me. "You pussy, I said to make it hurt!" came her sarcastic, accented English. I saw only one outlet to her demands, and roughly grabbed the crown of her tiny head in my hand. While mashing her face into the mattress I roughly withdrew my cock and, ignoring the blood streaking its sides, aimed it at the tiny crinkle of her arsehole. The bulbous head of my cock wobbled back and forth above its target a few times then, with a thrust of my hips, started its penetration. Jade bucked and thrashed, eventually dislodging my weight from the back of her head and, with a swivel, kicked me in the face. We stared at each other silently, while l I felt my cock deflating slowly against my thigh. "You know I have fibro", uttered Jade tearfully. "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

The peal of children's laughter cuts through my foggy ruminations, and I notice the blackened final inch of the Quai D'Orsay Corona snuffed out in my hand. A sloppy relight brings heavy tar, and I suck the nub until my fingers sear with the ever encroaching coal. It is close to midday, and the park is now busy with families, older couples strolling, and some fresh-faced youths kicking a football around in the sun. I shift my weight to take the final photograph and send empty beer cans tumbling to the trodden patch of dirt where, as far as I'm concerned, they can stay. I haul myself to my feet, spurn the contents of the giant ashtray to the gentle breeze and, in solitude, make my way home.