Six Stories (The Ongoing Riot)

Where the orchid grew into a room; where a scientist discovered the properties of rare neon specifically for the glow of its sign; where a “Eureka!” moment follows every prematurely-flowering sigh, there is a front yard where a mysterious lady, with her long hair coiled above her head under a bright cloth, wanders with a portable, fold-up seat.

First she will be seen at one end of the garden, by a Tree. Next time, should you see her, she’ll be talking to the Owl. The next moment she will whistle her Marshall-amplified tune, and enter the large sand dune on the swiftly-appearing beach. This, a place which can also appear as a bar, is the front porch of a house on which I left a gift. A card with glitter stuck on with glue. You coloured outside the lines too.

The yellow aeroplane which hung above the bar had little propellers which spun whenever the door opened. Simultaneously, there was a bell that prompted an anteater to fire a projectile peanut at a bongo drum, and the others to applaud the trick.

Soon came the tapping of rain onto seashells and piano keys, and the scent of coffee throughout day and night. A leak, or a hole, in the roof that we had decided to call the sky, provided the addition of stars to the already fine ensemble.

The kids were tearing up the seats at the picture house. The projectionist set the place alight. The young and rampaging teenage delinquents, in black leather jackets, floated three centimetres or so above the orange cellophane torching the plush patterned carpet, towards the smoking exit. They escaped, tin eyes gleaming, to the Orchid Riot, where everyone, it was generally agreed, had the time of their lives. The delinquents grew up – and Angus, in his wisdom, kept on his cap, tie and blazer.

The maids in the garden giggled at that curious phrase, “To plant a kiss”. Their faces were still fertile soil, their cheeks had seen no tears. They sang,

“How many songbirds fly to and fro?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know…
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots,
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Kookaburra, Emu,
Rainbow Lorikeet, Bluebird, lark, and thrush,
Zebra Finch and cardinal, nightingale,
Tawny Frogmouth”.

The song was harmonious.

It was like summer at Christmastime; something that a man at odds with England had always struggled to grasp at another side of the world. He fumbled with the red curtain of the Moroccan archway, into the Room. There he saw that even the chief catalysts of The Orchid Riot had been persuaded to wear purple platforms. Inevitably, everyone found them impossible to walk in, and instead walked bare-footed and innocent, on tip-toes. The jet-lagged Englishman asked for a whisky, took a sip of it and coughed. Embarrassed that the beverage of riches and experience was too strong for him, he nursed it while sharing the warm spirit of conversation with the others, in the idioglossia that is common to this exotic room.

One other thing – I heard a story about the baroque fountain; we remembered the hope and happiness that came of first drinking and filling our bottles there. They say, if you’ve cupped your hand in the clear stream once – that moved the ornate miniature steamboats on the water, that made each frog jump from each lily pad to play their didgeridoos in sandcastles and on marble bicycles – and the dragonflies circle around the drinker’s head where words flowed from golden mouths and he, of course, laughed his heart out with every laugh, they say that drink will be enough to sustain you for all time.