Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

  • Music:

Useless Bit Part One.

I parked my lady beetle on the top of the Westfield Shopping Centre's skull, next to a lady beetle of similar colour and shape, but faded, it's antennae drooping in weariness.

The sky was a peculiar shade of green, swirling with stormy black lines, the promise of bad weather. I erected a tent over my lady beetle, and ripped out the motor function of its brain so that no one would make of with it. After jamming the squishy organ into my knapsack, I began walking to the entry of Westfield's skull, passing a pair of teenager with fiery red skin and wearing Nazi uniforms, their tiny Hitler mustaches a dusty finger on top lips. They pointed at me, these little creatures, and then over the ledge of the parking lot, which ended in a fenced off area where chained giant rats powered the air conditioning unit.

"Call him over," the left Hitler said in a hushed voice. "Show 'im."

"But he's a troglodyte!" the second responded, trying not to look at me.

Briefly, I considered walking over, and peering over the ledge. But what would I find? Two new Hitlers making out? Pushing their black tongues into each other's mouth, groping for their miniscule organs, caught up in pre-dictator love? I had seen it before, numerous times, and filmed it twice. I vowed to watch it at home and kept walking, oblivious to the real nature of events, even as I descended down the rolling tongue that lead into Westfield.

Cavernous, muddy, dripping mucus, the inside of Westfield's skull was a five floor extravaganza of capitalist opportunity operated by swarms of lemmings. As I walked along the floating titles, they offered me books, CDs, dead chickens, and the captured souls of celebrities, locked in chambers of black and white.

Half way across the fifth floor, I came upon a crowd of lemmings. They were looking down through a hole that ran down to the second floor.

One lemming, a burly blonde female in security trousers, looked around at the crowd and began screaming, "There's nothing to see here! Nothing to see! Please go about your business, there's nothing to see!"

Assured that there was, I approached the opening, and gazed down. At the bottom was a collection of towels and broken glass, a circle of blue curtains obscuring the view of anyone on that level, but not above it.

"Sir!" cried the security lemming.

I looked up.

"There's nothing to see, sir."

"Well, clearly there is," I responded, pointing down. "Something fell."

"Sir," her voice cracked like a miniature God, elevated due to another's fall. "There is nothing to see."

Shrugging, I walked away, heading to the lemming capitalist clothes shop, where I purchased two penguin shirts. They were fifteen dollars, and exactly what I needed to protect myself against the winter weather. I made my purchase, was smiled at by the lemming cashier, and told to have a nice day, and then pushed out onto the web of rolling tongues in the corner of Westfield's skull. I followed them down to the bottom floor, where a crowd still stood around the curtained off area.

Now that I was on the bottom level, I could see that whatever had fallen, had in fact landed in front of a lemming ice cream stand. The blue curtains had cut off entrance to the front, but it was still doing brisk business to the side, as humans with colours skins, giant cockroaches, and the occasional spirit of a loved one, made purchases.

"Daddy," said a young female cockroach next to me, "I can't see anything. There's nothing there but towels."

Indeed, I had arrived at such a conclusion myself, though you could make out broken glass and white towels with a brown colour clinging to the edges. Still, it was spectacularly uninteresting, and I figured that the shattered remains belonged to a collection of fish that had, sadly, fallen to their doom.

"Hmm. I'm kinda hungry," said the father cockroach, his antennas twitching. "How about some ice cream?"


I moved on, ice cream having never been my thing.

What would happen, I wondered (my natural curiousity taking over as I walked along the floating paths of the skull cavity) if one of the living creatures with the higher brain function that is valued moreso in our society had died? A coloured human, for example. Would Westfield have stopped, and closed down its life flow for a day? Or would it have simply kept operational, organising its lemmings to deal with the aberration-the discoloured splotch on its body, as it were-quickly and cleanly, so as not to halt the flow of capitalist blood being fed into its spinal column from the cash registers?

Inside the bookstore, I followed the bony spines of paperbacks, looking for the Peter Carey novel, Bliss. Lemmings swam around me, using the air like water, and as I found the slim, slightly yellow with discoloured bones tome I was searching for, two of them joined airflow and began a conversation behind me:

"I saw a stretcher," said the First.

"So it was someone," said the Second.

"Yeah. I was on the way to lunch."

"What'd you have?"

"Chicken salad."


"I recommend. But the stretcher was gone by the time I got back, and they had this divider up."

The lemmings finished, and Second moved away. Turning Carey's book over in my hands, I approached First, and introduced myself, claiming that I had overheard her conversation, and wondered if it might be related to the ice cream store.

"Yeah, it was a 'roach," she said. "I saw his arms. Jumped off the fifth floor."

"But they're still selling ice cream," I said, somewhat perplexed.

She nodded, smiling as one does to a child asking why the world is flat. "Yeah, but rent's expensive in Westfield."

"But he landed right in front of them!"

"I don't think you understand how expensive the rent is here."

Unable respond, I followed the floating steps to the cash register. Veins ran from the steel boxes into bloody holes in the ground, and small bulges-pulses-passed along them, carrying, in this case, my money to the central nervous system. After completing my purchase, the lemming serving me held up a card and said, "Congratulations, you won five dollars off in Westfield!"

I took the voucher, but was gripped with an inescapable sense of dread, certain that registers throughout Westfield were regurgitating five dollars coupons in response to the traumatic experience that shoppers were skirting around the edges of. It was a message of sorrow printed upon the skin of the centre itself, apologising for all the ills I was feeling, assuring me that it would not happen again.

Running, I made my way past the ice cream store-where blank eyed lemmings still sold ice cream to lines of customers-and up the rolling tongues, past the entry points to capitalist enterprises, and out into the clear air of Westfield's skull.

I would harness my lady beetle and leave. I had to leave.

But where I had parked, I discovered a problem: red veins were spread out like wires, closing the area off, while blue uniformed lizardmen slunk along the edge, holding cups of coffee in their clawed hands.

I have always been wary of lizardmen, with their flat heads, and dark green and yellow skin that turns brown like the richest dirt with age. My wariness rises from the function that they fill in our society: that they enforce the laws and believe in them in a way that I cannot, which is to say that they believe in them totally. By the shape of its life, a lizardman is beholden not to his or her morals, or to common sense, but by the rules that exist outside them, the rules that an unseen force has written down upon the skin of virgins, and placed up high. This way of life, embraced by the lizardman, is a total opposite to mine, an alien formation that sends a chill down my spine when I see it in action.

Approaching a lean, olive coloured lizardman, I said to him, "Hi. I'd like to get my beetle and leave?"

"Ain't goin' to happen," he replied, slurping coffee. "You have to talk to the Highway fellows first."

He pointed me in the direction of a parked fly that was surrounded by dusty coloured lizardmen in blue jumpsuits, and I made my way to them. Halfway there, I saw the fiery skinned Hitlers being interviewed by a bright green lizardwoman, and I felt a new sense of dread grip me. It came from the realisation that whatever tragedy had happened-and surely it had to be bad-that I had avoided it only the barest hint of moments.

"Hello," I said to the Highway lizardwoman who sat upon the front of her fly, stroking its eyes.

"Hey," she said. "What can I do for you?"

I chewed on the bottom of my lip, glanced at the Hitlers, and said, "What's going on?"

Glancing behind her, the lizardwoman dropped her voice into a whisper and said, "That 'roach who jumped from the fifth floor? He killed his buddy beforehand. Dropped him off the side."


"Going to be all over the news tonight," she added.

"That's nice. Ah, I'd like to get my bug, if that's okay?"

"Sure," she replied brightly. "Which one is it?"

"The red lady beetle."

She froze, her forked tongue darting out in a sign of nervousness. "Which beetle?"

I pointed to it, and she relaxed. Quickly, she ran a check on the leg identification, and then told me I could leave, but to exit to the left of the lot. Nodding, I made my way to my beetle, realising, as I removed the covering, that the faded, older beetle next to mine had been cornered off, given it's own special area that none could enter. It was, I realised then, the lady beetle that the two dead men had arrived on, and it's drooping, warn antennae took on a new air of sadness for me, as if it knew the great tragedy that had befallen it.

Harnessing my lady beetle, I reversed, and, glancing at the cold grey skull around me, the lizardmen and women, and the Nazi boys, I shivered. It was suddenly a very intimate thing this murder and suicide, touching my life as it had not done before. I hastened my way forward, down the ramps, leaving Westfield.

On the black tar roads, I glanced behind me at the giant skull, lit up with buttery light and full of life. It was working hard to reassure everyone that nothing was amiss, but I was not fooled.


this is, as the title suggest, a bit of useless work. i had planned to write something (i'm not sure what) using the language and images that are found in this piece. people might find it similar to some early livejournal entries, which is where the idea found form. it is based off real events, and indeed, that was the basis of the work, but it died pretty early on, with its guts everywhere and brain in a jar i couldn't get open because i lost interest in the idea as anything more than something to fuck around with on the livejournal as a doodling exercise.

i remembered it earlier tonight, and i figured i could dump it on dead orbit for people to have a look at. it's only disintegrating into electronic dust where it is, and there are a couple of nice images in it which might appreciate.

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