Tuesday, 12 April 2016
I am alone.
I have many different sides, for those who have the patience.
My lies can beguile and yet my truths can rile.
Those that see me, don't understand me or pretend to.
Those that understand may see me again but less each time, until I am cast aside completely.
I become a memory- a name when mentioned receives an "I remember" or "I loved.."
And now I lie, blotchy, pale and yellowing, paralyzed.
It will be years before the pain exits my spine and even then my sleep will not be blissful, for my heart has always been torn piece by piece over time.
Someday if I am seen again, they will try to make me whole.
And each time I fade a little more for they once gazed at me with intrigue, with love, and now in the depths of their eyes, I see only pity.
What am I?

A book.


The Ivory Tusks

Wednesday, 10 December 2014
     Although Dane had no parents, he never considered himself an orphan. He was 26 now, and for as long as he could remember Belle had always been with him. Sure she was an elephant, but her capacity to love was limitless.  She looked menacing, with her large size and her incredibly formidable, ivory tusks that curved out on either side of her face. However, she was a gentle giant, never intending harm for anyone. Dane's life had always consisted of Belle, and only Belle. She was his silent friend, mother and protector. Her trunk was the loving hand that kept giving, nourishing his sanity and comforting the loneliness that lurked in the hidden crevices of his mind.

     Dane was a poor man but a hard-working one. He never pitied himself for his plight- having Belle around, dissipated most feelings of loneliness and yearning.  He smiled to himself, as he remembered the time he'd accidentally gashed himself with his hunting knife. The cut was deep, crimson blood dripping out of the crescent shaped scar that was forming on his hand. He'd tried in vain to hide it from Belle but she had noticed immediately. She raised her trunk straight into the air and trumpeted so loudly that all the birds nearby took flight, screeching. She started to run into the woods and Dane had run after her, unsure of what she was about to do. When he caught up to her at the edge of the lake, she nudged his hand until he turned the palm upwards. Then using her trunk, she sprayed water on his hand, in her attempt to clean it. When he looked up at her face, he could see a tear dripping from her eye. That was the first time he realized that elephants could cry too. He didn't know what having mother was like but he imagined she would clean his scars too.

     Today, Dane was going to take Belle to the lake. It had become one of Belle's favourite places to play and it gave him peace to watch her prance happily. He loved to sit on the shores of the lake as Belle frolicked about. Sometimes she sprayed Dane with water and he would laugh and she would trumpet softly as if chuckling with him.

     As Dane and Belle approached the lake, he noticed a woman, sitting on the other side of the lake, dangling her feet in the water. She was a beautiful woman, with hair as dark as a moonless night and matching dark eyes, that seemed to smile at him. "Is that your elephant?" asked the woman from across the lake.

     "Yes she's mine. Her name's Belle," said Dane. Belle dipped her trunk into the lake and drank water, all the while staring at the woman.

     "Can I pet her?" asked the woman, smiling. She seemed excited, almost as if she'd never seen an elephant before.

"Yes," said Dane shyly. He was getting flustered and it wasn't just that she was an attractive woman. He was not used to informal human interaction, having come to rely on Belle for friendship. Only few words had been said but he'd never spoken to someone so friendly before.

     The woman lifted her dainty feet out of the pond, and walked barefoot towards him. Belle had stopped drinking water and had become very still. Her observant eyes keenly followed the woman, as she made her way around the pond.

     As the woman reached Belle, she put her hand on Belle's trunk and began to stroke her tenderly. "Ma Cherie," whispered the woman affectionately. Belle began to shudder and suddenly wrenched her trunk away from the woman. She lifted her trunk upwards and trumpeted as loud as she could and glared at the woman.

     "Belle, it's ok. She won't hurt you," said Dane soothingly, as he tried to calm her down. He patted Belle on the head slowly. "I - I think she's nervous," he said to the woman, stumbling over his words.

     "I better go home," said the woman quietly. Shock and fear were evident on her face as she backed away from Belle. As soon as she'd moved away far enough, she ran into the woods like a frightened rabbit, not looking back at all.

     Dane looked at Belle sadly. "Oh Belle," he said as he slowly stroked her trunk. "She meant no harm to us." Belle looked away from him, dipped her trunk in the lake, lifted water out and continued to drink as if the woman had never been there.

     Dane wished to see the woman again and hoped she would come back to the lake. He went back the next day, leaving Belle behind so as to not scare the woman if she was there. To his delight there was the woman, dipping her feet in the lake. "Is your elephant with you?" she asked nervously, when she saw him. 

     "Belle's not with me right now. I'm sorry about what happened, she's never done that before," said Dane sadly.

     She stared at him for a moment and then walked towards him. Then she extended her hand, smiled and said "My name is Michélle."

     After a moment, he too smiled.

1 year later ...

     As the days passed, he felt a rift growing between him and Belle. She who had always been supportive of his happiness, was not supportive of his relationship with Michélle. She's not human, were the words that came to his mind when he pondered this problem but immediately he knew this wasn't the reason. As an elephant, she'd shown him more kindess than any human ever had. He had to accept that somehow Michélle's existence offended Belle. One year ago, Dane would never have imagined Belle as threatening towards anyone unless it meant danger to his life ... and yet she became agitated in Michélle's presence; the woman who's only crime was to fall in love with a man who lived with his elephant. There were times Belle had lunged towards her, trumpeting loudly towards the sky- a war cry that spoke of death. There were times Michélle would walk away slowly, tears that she struggled to hold in, floating on her lashes. Dane wanted to run after Michélle and tell her he loved her but he couldn't- not while Belle wasn't calm, her menacing tusks slicing the air like ivory knives; a subtle reminder of what could happen if Michélle got too close.

     With each incident, questions surfaced  in his mind and answers wandered up from the darkest abyss where Dane kept certain truths he didn't want to admit. Why? Why did Belle act this way? She's an animal. She's vicious and if she can't have you to herself ... one day she will. He could feel this four ton burden of ivory and rough skin weigh down his relationship with Michélle for she increasingly burst into tears with each threatning advance made by Belle. Slowly, Dane could feel Michélle pull away from him. Her kisses no longer lingered, her caresses no longer reached him and her eyes no longer met his.

One night, Michélle met Dane at the lake as she had so often done. She seemed tired and worry was etched plainly on her face. "Michélle, it's nice to see you," said Dane nervously.

     "I have something to say," said Michélle sadly. "I don't see a life with you. Belle doesn't like me and she has become a threat to my life. She's dangerous. My patience is gone, I-I can't hope that she'll be more peaceful towards me one day. You're blinded by your devotion to her and I've no choice but to give you an ultimatum." She paused a moment, tears slowly streaming down her face. "Don't you see?" she said imploringly. "You have to choose between Belle and I. Sell her by the end of the week and if you can't I'll know that you've made your choice."

     "Dane," interrupted Michélle. "I know you'll try to change my mind and I don't want that. Come find me in a week ... if you've chosen me. I know how much Belle means to you but I love you. Belle shouldn't be my burden to carry." She lovingly stroked Dane's cheek with her fingertips and then turned away, walking off into the night. As he watched her back receding in the distance, Dane felt as if she were actually walking out of his life. He knew then that he would choose Michélle.

     Soon word had spread that Belle was for sale. Her size made her ideal for hard labour and her tusks were the coveted prize of poachers all over. The lust driven people offered sums of money that Dane could never have imagined. One person however caught Dane's attention the most. This person offered twice the amount of money Dane was being offered by anyone else. The person was cloaked and thus Dane couldn't tell who it was. He was hesistant to sell Belle to the cloaked figure, however the money offered was too much to refuse. Dane didn't have a chance to say goodbye to Belle as the figure demanded that he have her immediately.

     As Belle was being led away, she didn't fight or get agitated as Dane expected. She looked back at him, a tear swimming down from her eye and then she looked away. Dane held in his own tears, his hands full of cash, wondering if he'd made some mistake.


     He found Michélle at the lake, her feet dangling in the waters, like the first time he met her. A year ago, she seemed carefree and joyous but now, there she sat, unsmiling, as if the weight of the world were upon her. "I sold Belle," said Dane.

     Michélle, ran towards Dane and threw her arms around him. "I'm sorry I made you choose," she whispered. "I'm so sorry."

     Dane stroked her hair, happy that he had Michélle but still wondering what would become of Belle. "I want to give you the money I received from selling Belle. I wouldn't know what to use it for," he said.

     "I'll save it for us. There will come a time when we'll need this money it'll be useful then," said Michélle happily.

     "So be it," said Dane. He handed her the cash and that night when he went home, he was more at peace with himself. He had sold Belle but now he had Michélle and money. He felt hopeful about his future.

     The next few weeks passed by slowly for every day, as he had done most every day for the past year, he'd come to the lake to see Michélle. However since he'd given her the money, she'd not come to the lake. At first he reasoned that she must be busy and would come within the following days but slowly he realized that perhaps something had happened to her. He didn't know where she lived and he'd never asked for he'd always been content to see her by the lake. He asked around town about her, but no one seemed to know who she was.

     Desperately, he started to stay longer and longer on the shores of the lake, surmising that maybe he had just missed her in the past few weeks. It was one such evening that he was at the lake's edge, when a familiar, thundering sound reached his ears. With each passing second, the sound drew closer and closer and then suddenly Belle appeared. Her rough hide was covered in  deep cuts that had darkened with infection and her left back leg had a rusty shackle wrapped around it. Her right, front leg was completely gone, almost as if it had been sawed off.

     Dane ran towards her, not understanding how she could be in front of him and regretting selling her for she had clearly been abused. He threw his arms around her, sobbing for the state she was in. "I'm sorry Belle, I'm sorry," he kept saying to her. Belle raised her trunk and patted Dane on the head lovingly, for she was a mother that would always forgive her son.

     There was no wind and yet Belle swayed as if the force of a thousand winds were behind her, With a massive thud, reminiscent of a minor earthquake, she toppled to the ground and lay still, the now silent woods a mockery of her plight.  She'd escaped from somewhere- the chain was evidence of that- and had done enough to reach Dane. He knew he needed to get help but that meant the would have to leave Belle at the lake, for she was too heavy to bring back with him. He quickly ran back the way he came, towards town to get help.

      As he started to run, he heard footsteps in the still woods and quickly ducked behind a maple tree, barely concealed by the ancient bark of it's massive trunk. A cloaked figure holding a serrated, hunting knife, stepped into the clearing. Dane thought he recognized the cloaked figure as the same person he sold Belle to. He wanted to run from behind the tree and pummel the figure with all the strength that he possessed but the knife dissuaded him from moving.

      The cloaked figure moved quickly, not wasting anytime. Dane watched in horror, as the cloaked figure began to saw at the gleaming, ivory tusks that beckoned to all with its sheer beauty. Belle didn't move as the cloaked figure continued to saw, and Dane realized with anguish that she must be dead.

     As the cloaked figure finished cutting of Belle's tusks, Dane noticed her trunk twitch. She was alive but just barely. Suddenly, Belle's trunk wrapped around the cloaked figure's leg, knocking the person to the ground. The force of being knocked to the ground had struck part of the cloak off the figure. Underneath, was Michélle.

     Shock coursed through Dane, as he realized that for the last one year, he'd fallen for a woman who had patiently conned him. Part of him wanted to run from behind the tree and save her from Belle, despite all she had done. But he saw that Michélle had a darkness in her eyes that he'd never seen before and couldn't bring himself to move. Belle was the only being that had ever cared about him and she wasn't human. Michélle screamed and cursed at Belle, while struggling to free her leg from Belle's trunk. Belle squeezed with all the strength left in her dying body, her unshakable grip, clenching valiantly at the woman who had caused her suffering. Then with one last movement, Belle spun towards the lake, still gripping Michélle and slid down the shore into the murky depths of its waters. Michélle's screams echoed for a moment and then all was still.

     Tears streaming down his face, Dane stared at the surface of the lake hoping they would reappear but knowing they would not. Even now, Michélle was affecting him, for his tears weren't just for Belle, they were for her. This was the first moment Dane felt an orphan, for he was now truly alone.

     He sat there for hours, his heart full of regret, knowing he should've chosen Belle over Michélle because now he was all alone. As he got up to leave, he noticed the two ivory tusks Michélle had cut off Belle. New tears welled up in his eyes as he realized that even in death, Belle had taken care of him.

Her Petal Lips

Sunday, 23 March 2014
She is a person.
She is beautiful.
She is smart.
She is kind ..
and she is my friend.

She distracts me by day,
night has brought no relief for I have dreamed of her for seven days.
She talks to me for hours,
even when I'm alone, she calls.
She touches my hand sometimes,
lightly, a soft caress,
and blushes like a blooming rose.
She kisses my cheeks with her petal lips,
strokes my brow and wishes I would speak.
She has hammered at my silence,
forced a crack that has let in emotions, so alien to me.

I am too shy to enter a realm beyond friendship,
too awkward to express my intricate feelings,
and too scared to receive an answer I do not want to hear,
but today I will speak.
I am to see her at midnight and yet I cannot wait,
so I wait upon a bench that gives me full view of her building,
as the bustling street life walks by.

The sun is at its zenith, it seems to hover above me,
but provides me no comfort on this frigid day.
I conjure an image of her, she smiles at me,
looks at me with her loving eyes,
oceans blue, oceans deep.
The scent of mangoes drifts into my nose,
the aroma of her skin of snow.
A river of warmth courses through me,
she has done what the sun cannot.

I hold three roses, for this simple gesture can reveal more than I can ever say.
The hours pass by,
and I do not get tired of waiting,
for the mounting excitement is a pleasurable tension that I thrive in.

The sun starts to set,
there are cars passing by but it is less now.
People walk by and stare at me curiously for many had seen me earlier,
rigid and unsmiling.

The sapphire sky becomes a myriad of colours,
shades of violet clash with fiery orange,
and the blues stand a witness.
Still I sit,
midnight is some hours more.

As the night sets in, the windows of the building are illuminated.
Those with lights standout like fireflies and fascinated, I stare up at hers.
It is now five until midnight,
my rapid pulse, a thousand bull stampede.

Suddenly, her curtains open and there she is,
a silhouette familiar to me.
I feel myself getting warm,
for even her shadow occupies a space within me.
Another silhouette joins her, and my heart almost gives out.
The silhouettes intertwine, until they become one,
and by the light of her window, the meeting of the lips is clear.
I will my tears to ebb, as the crack in my silence slowly stitches itself back together.
My heart full of grief, I watch as the vines wrap around each other for eternity.

I keep the petals on my cheeks ... but leave the stems behind.
As the silhouettes dance in unison,
I walk away in darkness.

TRANSLATION OF இரத்தக் கண்ணீர் (Blood Tears)

Wednesday, 19 March 2014
*This is the translation of the tamil poem, 'Blood Tears'. As it is with translation, it is not always possible to convey the imagery and word play, so while translation is a fairly accurate representation of the original, it does not convey the exact meaning, imagery and word play. 

When the sun rises in the sky, the people of this world awaken,
the sun is the roof of this windowless world, that has been forsaken.
When the sun enters its slumber, the moon arrives alone,
the cries of the mind echo without noise and yet one can hear the moan.

I stand on the banks of a river-a river I cannot see,
in this room there is no time, for there is no clock for me.
I sit atop a pomegranate tree, an old man yet a child,
but when I open my eyes, the rubies bleed for my trials.

My four sides surrounded, my visions cry for my kind,
this poem that I write is where I reside within my mind.
As if a statue, I am motionless, inside echoes my screams,
In this hell that I live in, I fear nothing but my dreams.

இரத்தக் கண்ணீர் (Blood Tears)

Saturday, 8 February 2014
For those who can read Tamil, I do not claim to have perfect Tamil, however I have tried. This is a poem about a person trapped in what seems to be a prison but drifts in and out of imagination. There is some word play in this poem that may be difficult to understand. 

வானத்தில் சூரியன், ஆள்  நடமாற்றம் கூடும்,
ஜன்னல் இல்லாத உலகத்தில், கூரை போன்று மூடும்.
சூரியன் தூங்கும் போது, ஒரு குரல் 'நிலா' என்று கூறும்,
மனதின் தனியான அழுகை, சத்தம் இல்லாமல் கேட்கும்.

நதியின் கரையில் நின்றும், ஆறுக் காணவில்லை,
நேரம் இல்லாத அறையில், மணி ஒண்றும்  இல்லை.
மாதுளை மரம் மேல், கிழவன் போல் பிள்ளை,
கண்களை திறக்கும் போது, இரத்தம்,கெம்புவின் உண்மை.

நான்கு பக்கம் சுற்றி,  என் கனவு கண்ணீர்வடியும்,
இந்த இருட்டில் எழுதும் கவிதை, நான் மனதில் வாழும் இடம்.
சிலைப் போல் நின்று, அசையாமல், பைத்தியம்,
 நான் வாழும் நரகத்தில், என் கற்பனைதான் பயம்.

The Lost Land

Thursday, 19 December 2013
*The second last stanza (before the one line, last stanza), is the reverse of the first stanza. The lines are written from bottom to top, instead of top to bottom.

Destined to wander these waters forever,
I close my eyes once more.
The lost land, a story that I am a part of, it was my home.
I disappear.
I step into the sea and let it caress me in its beckoning arms of water.

The tide came in and the sea took me way,
quenched my thirst but watered my grave, the last survivor .. now gone.
The village on the edge, a poetic past now barren,
screamed of voices, some feet below.
When the last breath was taken, the shadows remained,
there were no memories, for they had been detained.
The gnarled tree, once a sapling, now a wise grandfather of a thousand years,
watched all unfold.
Rooted to its roots, helpless it watched as the people slowly faded into obscurity.
The smell of the sea masks the stench of the tragedies that lie below the lost land,
where the pitter patter of children once echoed.
Sometimes I visit and let my tears flow,
sit in the shade, walk the sands that were once gardens, leaving no traces behind.

I step into the sea and let it caress me in its beckoning arms of water,
I disappear.
The lost land, a story that I am part of, it was my home.
I close my eyes once more,
destined to wander these waters forever.

I'm not sure when I'll visit again.


Saturday, 14 December 2013
    *In Chinese culture, jade pendants can protect the wearer. When white Jade pendants turn green, it means the pendant is protecting the wearer. It likes the wearer if it turns a darker shade of green, every year. I have used this interesting aspect of Chinese culture to write this story. This is a story that deals with racism but also has a message and deeper meaning.

      "Excuse me sir, do you have spare change?" begged Corlo to a man as he sat in front of Divine Deli in the blazing summer heat. Begging had become his livelihood, yet as he begged, the sir's and madam's of this world passed by him without so much a glance and it took everything in him not to say, "Listen idiot, give me your money." At the end of the day, someone would drop a few coins in his cup and he would say thanks and maybe even profess how grateful he was for their generosity if they put more than five dollars in his cup. He hoped today would be the last day he begged for money for he had procured a job interview at Broderick and Associates for 6pm. If he could get that job, he would have no need to scrounge around for change and food; he could live the life he once had.

     Around 1:30pm, Corlo started to hear the lion like roar of his stomach that desperately craved food. He hadn't eaten all day and hoped he had enough for a couple of sandwiches from Divine Deli. A simple ham sandwich cost two dollars and he needed three to fill his belly so that when he slept at night, the gnawing hunger wouldn't keep him awake. With a sigh, he tipped his cup into his hand and slowly started to count the change. He glanced to his left and saw a short man in a long, black jacket (evidently a high-quality piece, for Corlo had worn a similar jacket in his glory days) and black bowler hat walking towards him. His head was tilted downward as if fearful of being recognized. His pace was rapid and every few seconds he glanced behind him as if wary of people following him. As he passed Corlo, he dropped a wad of bills in front of him. "Use it wisely," the short man said. He did not slow down his stride and continued walking as Corlo stared after him, at loss for words.

     There was something familiar about the man who had given him money, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. It took him six minutes to count his money and when he'd finished, he realized the man had left him ten thousand dollars.

     He closed his eyes as tears of relief descended down his cheeks and dripped onto the concrete sidewalk he sat on. No longer would he slave on the streets for money, begging people as if he had no right to live. Wu ... unbidden the name floated into his head. It was a name that incited volcanic rage into him but today his name brought a slight smile to his lips, almost smug. He would use his money and regain his former life, that would show Wu ... then he'd come for him. He closed his eyes and his past came back to him.

     Corlo is in his office on the 16th floor, talking with someone through the phone. It's nearly 4pm; he's expecting to interview a person for the job of financial advisor. As a hiring manager, he does his best to weed out those he deems unsatisfactory. 

     A loud knocking on his office door reaches Corlo's ears. "Come in," he says. The door opens and a man of short stature walks in. He is dressed in blue jeans that look as if it has been washed one too many times. The faded blue matches the  crinkled, tucked-in, checkered shirt he wears which speaks of a man that has fallen upon hard times. Around his neck, he has a small jade pendant in the shape of a half-crescent moon on red string and it appears to glow beautifully as if it were snow crystals on which rays of sun reflect and create a twinkling stone. He wears thick, black glasses but what strikes Corlo the most is his squinty eyes that remind him of a bored cat that appears to be sleeping but is truly alert. "I hope you can perform for me tonight, I've been looking forward to it. Lily won't be back for a week," says Corlo into the phone. A soft giggle echoes from the phone receiver and the man that his here for his interview senses that Corlo is having an affair.

     "I will see you at 6:00pm at the harbour ... wear the black dress I bought you, I want my women to look good," says Corlo ending the conversation. He now gives his undivided attention to the other man in the room; As he does, he can feel his blissful mood disappearing quickly, for the eyes of the man are the eyes of an Asian man. It was already too much that the law made him respect black people who were roaches that were blessed to be allowed to live on the bottom rungs of society but now the law defined every man, woman and race as equal and that intruded upon his personal beliefs. White is the superior race and the only race meaningful and damned if he was going to hire a Chinese man or whatever those Asian people were called. 

     He wouldn't have booked this interview if he knew the man was of the Asian variety. Mentally he told himself he would have to tell Charlene, his secretary, to screen out any peculiar sounding names, names that didn't fit with what he liked to call the 'caucasian lifestyle'. He couldn't tell the Asian man that he wasn't getting the job without a valid reason or word might get out, the Channel 13 News might hear about it and it would create a furor that would end his comfortable lifestyle. Everyone was sensitive to perceived slights against races he believed shouldn't have rights and he did not want to stand out like blood on snow.

     "Sit down," he says to the Asian man, gesturing at the chair. It was a courtesy he didn't have to extend to the critter but he did. It was his way of showing the Asian man that the white man can give and taketh away.

     "Thank you sir," says the Asian man, in an infuriatingly Chinese sounding accent.

     "What's your name and why do you want this job?" asks Corlo.

     "My name is the Wu Xi. I come from the China one week ago and have degree in the accounting. I have other qualifications to. I want this job because I come from the China and need to take care of my wife," says Wu innocently in English that was commendable for a man who had been an immigrant for a mere week, yet his honesty did not soften Corlo's resolve.

     "You have said twice that you came from China. You are giving me information not relevant to what I asked you and your English, well frankly its appalling. Sorry Mr. Wu Xi, you are not going to get this job. Please leave," says Corlo rudely.

     "Sir, you haven't looked at resumé. I am very qualified for this job," implores Wu.

     "I don't need to see your resumé. You are not what I'm looking for. Now get out of my office before I call security," says Corlo impatiently.

     "Please sir, give me one chance,," says Wu with tears in his eyes. Corlo sees desperation and fear in his pupils yet he does not heed the pleas for he simply does not care.

     "I'm going to call security," repeats Corlo firmly.

     Wu gets up to leave. He knows it futile to argue with Corlo any longer. As he is about to exit the office he turns around and faces Corlo. His face is tear streaked, his eyes are red and he is trembling from what appears to be anger and humiliation. "I will never forget this day. I hope you don't forget it either."

     "All I hear is ching-chong-ching-chong. Close the door behind you," says Corlo gruffly.

     As Wu leaves, Corlo picks up his phone to call Charlene and in that moment he remembers something odd. The jade pendant on Wu's neck had been snow white when he entered the office ... and yet when he left he was sure it had been a pale green. He ponders this for a moment but a minute later he dismisses any thought about the pendant completely and Wu becomes something of the past for him.

     When Charlene picks up her phone, she does not greet Corlo with a warm, "hello" or "how are you sir?". To Corlo's utter surprise she says, "Sir you left the intercom on. I could hear everything you said to Mr. Xi."

     "Mind your own business. I wouldn't have had to deal with him if you had done your job and not foolishly thought an Asian was worthy of this company," sneers Corlo. "Remember, my job is to hire but it's not too much of a stretch to say that I can fire you."

     "Sir, Mr. Xi ran out of here in tears. I'd like to think you're a good man. Please apologize to him," implores Charlene.

     "Don't tell me how to do my job," says Corlo angrily. "You are only a secretary and that's all you'll ever be."

     "Very well sir," says Charlene. 

     Corlo does not respond and after a moment he hears the phone click and knows Charlene is gone. By the end of the day, management informs him that he must vacate the premises by the end of the week. Apparently human resources has received a complaint about his, "inappropriate and unacceptable racist behaviour that goes against what this company stands for" as they put it. As he takes out his last box on the last day that he is allowed to step on company premises, he passes by Charlene. She meets his eyes but quickly looks down and does not say anything.  He exits the building and in his mind he utters one word angrily ... 'Wu'.

     Two weeks later, his wife discovers his affair and initiates a divorce that drains him financially until he is left with his mistress and the clothes on his back. Yet his mistress finds that Corlo alone is not enticing and leaves him in search of a lover that has money. He is now on the streets and with a cup in his hand, he begs for money. For each coin that drops in his cup, he thinks of Wu. Wu, the man who destroyed him. One day, he will have his vengeance ... one day.

     He opened his eyes, wiped his tears and stood up. The wind blew strongly and he clutched his money, fearful it might blow away. A small, white piece of paper danced in the wind and landed on Corlo's lap. He was about to brush it off, when the words 'hit man', caught his eye. He picked up the paper and looked at the writing on it. There was a 10 digit number and the word "hit man" scrawled beneath. Fate, that's what he would call this moment when he wrote his memoirs that only he would read.

     There was a pay phone right beside Divine Deli, so he went to it and with a quarter he dialled the number on the paper. On the sixth ring, someone picked up the phone but said nothing. All Corlo could hear was silence and it unnerved him. After a few seconds he decided he would say what he had to say to the silence on the other end of the phone. "I need a man killed." His words seemed to echo ever-so-slightly and for the first time Corlo fully realized what he was about to do. Saying it out loud and hearing his own voice uttering those words made him realize the power he was about to wield with money. He was going to to take a man's life and there would be no returning from this point. His hatred for Wu blinded him to reason and the only logic he saw was his own anger towards a man who had once asked him for a job.

     "His name and ten thousand dollars," said a voice through the phone. The utter lack of emotion in the voice stunned Corlo. This was a man who could not care whether someone lived or died for it was his livelihood to play god for money. Like a wolf that decides to hunt rabbits to survive, this man hunted and killed people for sustenance and his heart had become impervious to the human weakness, emotion. "Put both in an envelope. Go to 401 Holland Avenue, you will find an abandoned home. Push open the gate. Walk to the front door. Put the envelope under the doormat at 3:00pm. Leave. He will die by 6pm. Do not look back ... or you will die." The hit man spoke in short sentences, almost robotically. Clearly these were lines he had said time and time again; he was a man who was experienced with his trade.

     "How do I know you won't steal my money?" asked Corlo nervously. There was no answer from the other end of the phone. A beeping sound reached Corlo's ears and it was a few seconds before he realized the man had already hung up.

     By 2:59pm, Corlo had reached 401 Holland Ave, an old house, seemingly abandoned as the hit man had said. The house was surrounded by a black, wrought iron fence similar to the fences that enclosed graveyards where past victims of the hit man now lay. Although it was summer, the overgrown grass had faded to yellow, dead as this house seemed to be. The house spoke of neglect- from its dirty, grey brick to the roof covered in broken, black shingles as if someone had stomped all over it. The house cast an ominous shadow over the front yard; it truly was the type of house one would associate with the nefarious beings of society thus Corlo felt 401 Holland Ave was not only a place where murderous transactions were conducted but it was also the home of the hit man. Corlo walked quickly up to the front door of the house. In front of the door, a carpet so filthy that it's colour was no longer discernible, lay. Corlo took out a white envelope with the name 'Wu Xi' and ten thousand dollars in cash inside and shoved it under the carpet. Immediately he turned around and walked back towards the gate. He was tempted to look behind him but the hit man's last words rang in his ear, "Do not look back ... or you will die."

     As he left the property, he felt a sense of relief. Wu would be dead soon and perhaps then he could find a way to truly get his life on track. He smiled to himself, he had an interview at 6pm at Broderick and Associates. He had 10 years of experience as a hiring manager for Lolland Co., he was certain he could get the same job at Broderick and Associates.

     At 6pm, he sauntered into the building of Broderick and Associates with a smug look on his face. He knew he wasn't an important man right now but his luck was about to change. He would rise to the top where he had seen the sun set from a 16th floor window, many years ago.

     "Hello madam, I'm here for the hiring manager interview," said Corlo to the receptionist. He noticed her blonde hair, slim figure and her youth and made a mental note of asking her to dinner if he managed to nab this job.

     "You must be Corlo, we spoke on the phone. I will show you to the conference room," she said unsmiling. She stood up and gestured forward, "follow me."

     When I get my job, I'll hire you to do tricks. I hope licking is one of them, he thought to himself as he stared at her slim figure and her hips moving left, right, left, right almost like music that he could hear through his eyes. They took an elevator to the 31st floor.

     "Here we are sir," said the receptionist, interuppting Corlo's sexual reverie. "Please wait inside, someone will be with you shortly."

     Corlo pushed open the mahogany doors and stepped inside the conference room. One wall of the room was entirely occupied by glass that afforded a view of the city that even Corlo's 16th floor view at Lolland Co., paled in comparison. In the center of the room was a long glass table that could have seated at least thirty people but despite its vastness, it was empty and impersonal as if it hadn't been used in some time. It was here Corlo waited for his interview.

     Two minutes later, a man stepped into the conference room. Corlo glanced over at him and simutaneously a gun shot rang out. It hit Corlo with such an impact that he immediately dropped to the floor but oddly he could not move, not even to convulse in pain. He could not scream for help, all he could do was keep his eyes open and even that was starting to become an effort. A small bullet sized hole remained in the glass, evidence of a sniper of some sort.

     The man in the conference room immediately dialled 911. Then for a few minutes, there was silence as Corlo's life slowly slipped away. "I told you to use it wisely," Corlo heard the man say. The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes was a familiar jade pendant but there was something different about it ... it had turned a dark shade of green.