The heavy decrepit bodies of the great and not so, mingled with their offsprings, children too young to realise that this too would be their fate. Pathetic men way past their glory days paraded pretending that they still had it, while bored defeated women looked on knowing they didn’t.

It was another day at the enclosed perfectly temperatured salt baths. The warmth was comforting to the skin and the soul and made old bones and muscles feel rejuvenated. The inhabitants floated safe in this maternal womb away from the business deals that no longer mattered in a world that no longer cared and was on its last legs. Some old guys studied the racing form while younger middle-aged men preferred the stock market. Some gambled with their own money while others ventured with what they had married into, or had inherited. All in all there’d be few winners that day. There were no more lucky numbers to be had, or surprise gold and mineral funds in a world that had been looted, raped and gang banged so many times there was nothing left. Certainly not energy for outrage. Only resentment from natives who had been trampled under foot and squashed by the invaders who destroyed paradise without ever having taken the time to truly look around and realise the greatest wealth was above the ground. But like rats they burrowed lower and lower into darkness desperate for any shiny morsel of opportunity. Never thinking any further ahead than that.

We had destroyed the world without realising that such an abomination also destroyed ourselves. What we project outwards also implodes us. Given time.

I stood in the warm salt water as the floating bodies of the dead and the dying circled me.

(C) Frank Howson 2019

Sketch by Frank Howson.





I was walking down Sunset Boulevard when a homeless man sitting outside Taco Bell asked me how I was. I replied that I was good and asked him how he was. He stood and shook my hand with such force that it almost loosened the fillings in my teeth, and gave me a beaming friendly smile as if he was welcoming home a lost relative. He told me Congress had the money they wanted and that the bills could now be passed. I asked him if that was…good? I hadn’t read the day’s papers. He said it was really good and that I was now going to be looked after and not to worry. I thought when he said “us” he was referring to all Americans. But no, he was being literal. He meant me. He said as soon as he got back to Congress he was going to have them allocate $10 million to me and my “wife,” and that the money would be delivered to me in a stretch limo. He slapped me on the back and shook my hand again and told me that I would be looked after in my old age now. He’d been worried about me. And that I shouldn’t tell Congress I’d seen him as he was playing hooky for a few days. I said “My lips are sealed”. He gave me a conspiratorial wink and a smile, then waved me farewell.  He went back to sitting in front of Taco Bell and I went on to the nearest ATM machine to get some money to buy my dear new demented friend a meal. But when I returned he was gone. I thought about how in the midst of his madness he seemed so concerned about a stranger’s welfare. Perhaps I’d been the only person to have stopped and acknowledged him all day. Then I wondered whether it took insanity for us to reach this selfless point. A few blocks away I stopped, placed my hand upon the stone cold wall of a building to steady myself, hung my head and sobbed like a child.


 (c) Frank Howson 2013