“EMPTY SPACE” by JAMES HOLLOWAY

Baron Samedi’s big black arse shines bright like obsidian on the deck of the Bay Marie.

I can see a lot from up here at the top of the masthead, drunk and bleary eyed, enjoying the breeze and the scent of the smoke rolling in from the city. Ha Long Bay. Two thousand lime stone islands jutting out from the water like a crocodile’s tail and the night sky is perfectly empty of cloud, more stars than I’ve ever seen back home.

People are yelling at me from the deck. They’re telling me either to jump or to climb back down. A six-foot pale Irishman is making it clear he wants to climb up next, he’s got a beer in his hand and he’s beating his chest like Popeye. I don’t think this rope ladder will support him.

Down below, the Baron’s oiled up rear end twinkles in the moonlight, a beacon in the darkness, then he lifts himself up and dives head first into the water. He’s followed by a Midas-touched teen in a red swimsuit; bleached blonde cornrows cascading down her back. For a man so large he’s oddly graceful. Continue reading

“THE CHECKOUT” by JAMES HOLLOWAY

It’s 6:30PM when you enter the supermarket.

You’re dressed in thongs and rugby shorts, an old white t-shirt with “Taree Surfing Club” on the front, pressed in faded letters. You haven’t been to Taree since you were a kid, and you can’t remember where you got the shirt, or why you still have it, but now you wear it for occasions like these – ordinary ones, like doing the shopping or visiting your parents; occasions that don’t really require you to dress up. Continue reading