Hi, how are you, hello

Úna Elfred'd played it over in her head, once too many times. Fingers crossed, head straightened. A newly-found, muse, call it whatever it describes, a distraction, an obsession. The idea of an unattainable. A subject of desire. To save a glimpse from right across the street, to watch (say admire) as she took a drag of her fag, of—her sip an afternoon tea, in love, them sat behind the glass that divided both worlds. They'd realized one's presence, stole a glance or two. And went on with their own lives, uncrossed, unquestioned. Who would have expected otherwise. Daniel Johnston, Anthony Gonzalez, JD Samson—geniuses. The list could go on. Played it over, perhaps make a brand new best friend, that is if the chosen has the same sentiments; as they ride down the mews on bikes over the bumpy stoned passage:

1. Nice ride, how'd you do?

2. Bumpy huh?

3. Hi, how are you, hello.

Or unlikely, catching up as she made her way out into the open road home or elsewhere. Missed.

1. Hi, how are you, hello.

2. I think I am in love with you.

Doubt it. Too late anyway. Hasn't seen her lately.

There was a day, they caught a gaze. Seconds that could have just been a second. Like on silver screen, the lights dimmed, they were not there, they were not there. Then, it was there, and passed the stairs, then it was there, up those stairs. So near, yet so far, so they said. She'd him, embraced, kisses and a sweet oh sweet shared luncheon. Oh so sweet. M Quatre-Vingts-Trois = shoegazing geniuses! Orgasmic! Nothing to lose, nothing to cry for, nothing to fuss about, only tears of laughter upon no shameless crime. Allez! There's always a first time for everything. They deserve the truth! They'd been loved. Love at first sight on a one-way street. Who cares. There's always a first time for anything. To run her fingers through those thick brown locks, to feel the rushing heartbeats behind a naked ear. To wake, under the sheets, of soft rhythmic breaths and whispers of sunshine through one's flaming lips. Pancakes, coffee and white-painted oak floors. Could be nice. These words, this cigarette, this glass of scotch, Coloring The Void, could be nicer. Do not forget happiness is only real when shared. Do not be dead before.

Bent over the pool table, tight trousers wrapped around lifted buttocks. The cue grasped in her right hand angled between the knuckles of her left as she positioned for 8-ball to be struck, proper. Try again. Turned against the world, she had her hands in her shirt. She's ready. Hey ho' let's go. It's okay to be stupid. There's always a first time for everything. She would know what to do even when the time's not quite right. She's in love with you. No fear of the deep although it could drown you. Nor the fall. There's love. There's lost. She's gone. She's not coming back. There's always a first time for everything. So where do we start?

There were 2 Jeromes. One high school sweetheart, showered her with chocolate candies and love letters, alphabets jumbled. Slightly stout, he was, with slit eyes, a rather sharp nose and his hair centre-parted, too neat. A year or two a senior. Couldn't remember what happened but his love was stacked in a tin amongst tins stashed away somewhere in the closet, unopened, most likely moldy. He was nice. He was kind. And Jerome, Diving With Jerome, not too shortly after. An artist and a dutch. Shaved head, grey, not too grey, 6'6". Very—nice. Very—alluring. Hij draait haar op, elke keer. Elke keer! Sur la plage ou non sur la plage.

How'd he ended up there? Naked, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the motel room. Walls painted in a bad blue, unmatched furniture arranged in corners, a cheesy picture of a scenic landscape hung above the bed; two floors up a dodgy frequent indian eatery, next to was a busy road, bright red stools sat around bright yellow tables. An undercover rookie sat across, for days, Jerome insisted. More likely a retired hooligan, she thought. By the undrawn window, and an office building 50 feet opposite, he stood, butt naked, an erected cock. Someone's watching. Ceiling fan or cold air-conditioned, downtown, in and out of the unbearable tropical heat. They had each other and there were the orgasms. Till dusk. Till dawn. There's always a first time for everything. Different, that was all he said. Different good, different bad. Different? His eyes mesmerizing. His tongue luscious. His touch tempting. Úna Elfred could not forget. The first kiss, the walk on sand, the boat ride and the coach back.

How'd they ended up there? Gordon. There he was. On his way up the slanted coconut tree on a barely lit sidewalk. The sea was calm. Not too drunk. They strolled back to their huts. A kiss goodnight. That was it. Gordon saw them falling for each other. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. It was not a good night's sleep within the straw walls as she recalled. Tyomn Ysland creeps after night falls. Should have been the day after or before. It was dive day. It could have been nice. Rough waters and too slim a craft for canoeing did not seem like a better option. Úna'd a 2-star kayaking certificate but definitely more up for a basic dive with the boys. Jerome was convinced to join them. There's always a first time for everything. Brief instructions were given, they were 4 or 5 newbies. Ready. Úna was not. Though shallow, 7 meters down, she'd a ear squeeze. Both ears. Pain x2. Goggles fogged, salt water up her nose. It was not a spectacle, not the least of the worst postcard. Mostly murky, and pain in the ears. In fact nicer was by the shore of Monkyh Beyh. Then again, at least a sea turtle'd swum by, exasperated as they had their bare hands stroked against a limp or two of this poor thing. There was Jerome in her hands. Gordon could not understand. Sissies.

They met, or rather Úna found them, on Monkyh Beyh, on not so fine a day, at least yes and no for her. Yes, terrific! indeed, as she found fellow holiday-makers and yes, it was a nice lovely sunny day everyday, it was not the monsoon period, some fine day. No, because she'd almost and could have killed herself in the jungle on her way. No, because she'd not recovered from the trauma. The fine white sand beneath her feet, the clear water revealing the schools of anchovies were therapeutic yet not enough to take her mind off the fact that she could have had slipped off that cliff, hit a rock and—die. It's funny. Life is. You try to kill yourself, sometimes, on your wrist along and not across, like they did on T.V.. The concept of death, then, was brilliant, in the stupidest context. You feel alone. It gets funny. When you end up in the middle of the woods, alone and perhaps in not so death threatening a situation, you instinctively find means not to succumb to death. Úna'd came across couple of strangers in the beginning of the trek. They were going in the opposite direction. She did not think it would be difficult to follow a trail from one village to the other, not until she lost her sight of a trail. She went round, up, there and there. Panic. No one was seen nor heard. Just crickets and toads and overgrown roots and wild thorns here and there. She got anxious, her heart raced. Breathe. Breathe. Deep breaths. The multiple scratches on her arms and legs did not bother her too much. Her ankles hurt. It did not matter. Move, she reminded herself. She could not be lost as she had lied of her whereabouts. No one really knew where she went. She could not die. Not now. Not yet. Blood on her arms and sweat dripping off her forehead into her eyes. The backpack weighing her down in the heat. Where's? someone, anyone? She fell. She got up. Minutes felt like hours. The refreshing air of the jungle started to be suffocating, not knowing her way out. All the shades of green surrounded her in a camouflage of labyrinth. No trail. Nowhere. Massive trees in all directions and traces only of hers on mud. No luck. No flashbacks. At least she knew she was not going to die. Not today. It was just going to be tricky and more than slightly painful to get to the other side of the island. The sound of the waves against the rocks led her to the edge of the cliff. Too far down. She went along the edge instead. And there wasn't any to follow. It was left, into the water 30 feet off or right, back to the jungle. Left, it was. It was a jump too near the rocks. Still, a relief. Great, everything got wet. Where she thought was her destination, was in fact Monkyh Beyh, not just yet where she was planning to go. No damn way was she going back to where she was stuck for the last many hours. There's always a first time for everything. Úna Elfred hitched a ride in the boys' boat. That was how they met.

A decade too far. Their faces remained a decade young. Gordon and his goatee on the slanted tree. Jerome, naked in the motel downtown. The rain hadn't stop falling.

Hi, how are you, hello

Bhraf And The Four Heavenly Kings


W • E


If once was not enough,


Ron could not recall where the anger was coming from except that it was the last word spoken to Bhraf. Yelled at, as a matter of fact; —an involuntary enrage. That was likely the second monologue after the only Hello all summer, that she had said, of a single word to him.

Ron spoke to Mahtr on an almost twice-a-week basis. Conversations over the horn lasted from approximately 4 minutes to rare occasions of 15 minutes—tops. Skype calls happened on unusual days; the last being 2 weeks back, dialed from Nana's. Over the horn, conversations were not exactly the type you thought so. Frequently-asked-questions with given answers of yes and no included:

"Did you eat?" / "Did you work?" / "Did you go out?"


She ate, drank and smoked. So did I. Ron had not found any ways to entice Mahtr into an interesting conversation; only always being drifted back to square one, led by an overly concerned mother worried only of Ron's physical, and not mental, health. Never treated like a friend but as an overly protected well over-grown child. Her mother's love and care was limitless, yet carelessly limited. Darhd was worse, over the line or in person. It was a family of a few words when it came to the four of them. They could have been the Four Heavenly Kings* watching over the cardinal directions of the world, back turned and too far away from each other.

Ron and Bhraf had a strangers' relationship. At times, so near yet so far, he was the brother she never quite had. Never quite there, when the walls came rumbling down and things being thrown around. As a child, Ron took cover from the regular verbal wrestles between Darhd and Mahtr not from the protection of a brother but the corners of rough plastered walls.

He always gets away from all these unpleasant moments.

They all have their big brother; mine? A very wrong word, then again: non-existent.

"Don't you worry. It gets better when y'all get older."

Shane'd assured her, by pure experience apparently and time was supposed to make everything alright anyway.

Well, rather unlikely? It hadn't been any good, over the last decade.

Having said that, how could Ron have found a solution when she did not have a clue what was the cause of the problem.

Ron was 5:

There was once and the only time, back on Coco Hill, Ron had a brother.

"But I am here,"

He vowed, to be the guardian angel of her night, to make sure Freddy did not leave Elm Street.

Ron was 8:

One other time,

"Teach me,"

And that was nice, as Ron felt important. Like a ringmaster training a bear on an unicycle, Ron passed on her whistling techniques to her big brother.

Sure felt good to know something he didn't.

Ron was 9:

Mostly, as a child, both of them had nothing good to say to each other.

"You're stupid!"

Nana overheard Ron insulting Bhraf in her sleep.

Ron was 11, maybe 7:

"Stop singing,"

Ron sulked as Bhraf had all the attention on the road trip.

Ron was 13:

"Quit following me,"

Bhraf commanded and turned his back as they got out of the truck on Ron's first day at school.

Ron was 27:

"So long, you do not become her,"

Bhraf reminded his little one as Ron played clown and amused her with a wind-up toy.

It was that watch, wasn't it? It was a curse.

I should not have opened his birthday gift. It did not belong to me.

I should have listened.

They warned her. Ron did not bother. She could have and she should have.

I should have done many things.

I should have not been here.

I should, this. I should, that.

Stop telling me what I should do.


s, h, o, u, l and d kind of looked weird

when placed next to the other.

"My brother…"


"My brother…"


"My brother…"

Blah, blah, blah.

"My brother…"

It goes on.

Ron listened in awe to all these stories of "my brother…" from people around her over too long a period of time. Ron would imagine being the author and lead character of these stories: of the adventures, incidents and conversations with a—brother. Nonetheless never felt quite right about an imaginary brother since that would not have nominated her onto Bhraf's Love-My-Little-Sister list. Only misunderstandings, more than mishaps. Whereas, these guys, they had something.

Le Brothers

Gwndlr had decided to get away from Paris. He had a broken heart. Ian was in London, he came by. They sat on the desk next to each other; an elbow away, on wooden chairs, they were two disciplined juniors in a classroom. They sat the same way down, different hair, different drawings, similar body language and brothers with mint-colored eyes. Ian could not mend Gwndlr's broken heart, but he was there to share a lunchbox and a bed. They baked a King's pie, they had each other.

That could have been us.

Big Leo, Little Leo

They almost had the same nose and cheek bones. It must be the hair, too. On a rented racer and a squeaky Triumph, they went on a Deptford hunt. Laughters over a shared cigarette; a cider and a lager, they danced within the red velvet curtains through the chilly winter night.

That could have been us.

The Hickey Boys

Partners-in-crime; they shoplifted and they pranked. To protect and be protected, made-up jokes and made-up laughters, that's alright. Questions answers and stories exchanged in a one-bed motel down town, they supported each other despite constant dissimilarities. They overcame their ego and said I love you after three decades. It was funny, they managed.

That could have been us.

Alvin and an undead—Mark

Don't wake the dead. At least, they spoke.

That could have been us.

Yet, they weren't them.

Ron and Bhraf

They were barely three years apart by age and only ten thousand eight hundred forty-sevenish kilometers away from each other. They were magnets of the same pole. Shared Darhd's eyes and lived very different lives. Bhraf, an aerospace engineer and a family guy. Ron, a self-proclaimed artist and not a homey sort of person. Bhraf seemed to know what he wanted, what he liked and what to do. Ron, on the contrary—not. His sticker collection, ended up her possession. His postal stamps obsession, were missing Ron's favorite design. His fondness for Lego bricks passed on to Ron's Pink Legoland. Whatever he had, she had to have them. The Four Heavenly Kings, if not the four guardian angels of the Buddhist faith, were the four Canto pop artistes of the early nineties. Bhraf had taken a pick of one from the four; Ron then, had too, idolize the other as to oppose his preferences yet at the same time be lured into all of Bhraf's hobbies and interests.

How else could we have been closer?

Ahndy was definitely more talented than Ehronn, by vocals and by looks.

I have better taste in music and films.

Ron assumed. Till recent years did she realize she had lost her confidence over the years. Had the Fairy Blackstick too taken it away. Bhraf, unlike either of The Four Heavenly Kings, had yet been crowned prince. Neither a pop star, neither a guardian angel. Bhraf and Bhrafer knew not Ron nor vice verse.

Ron took the road, in her own directions.