Joe didn’t have a Christmas tree…

By A.S.J. Ellis

Joe didn’t have a Christmas tree.  Instead he put a mannequin in the corner, wrapped tinsel around it and threw presents at its feet.  He said if there was ever a symbol of Christmas it was this.  He also covered one half of his TV screen with black masking tape because, as he claimed, it made the illusion more interesting.

In his spacious London apartment, he held regular parties.  Weekends were crazy.  People would fuck in the corner and others would write on the walls.  Joe was fiercely intelligent, a scrapper and a dodger, but the desperate took advantage of him, picking his bones clean of love and money.  He knew this – it was self-inflicted.  He could argue anyone into a corner but it pained him to do so.  He preferred a fistfight.

‘You know where you are in a fistfight,’ he said.

He drank a lot.  He liked wine.  He was scared of touching superglue tubes.  At night, usually around 2am, he worked at his desk on something he called The Interpretation of Numberless Worlds – but was very secretive of its content so no one ever found out what it was about.  Joe was a mysterious idiot savant, outlawed by his own behaviour.  No one could deny he had some form of psychosis.  He qualified the speculation with odd statements.

‘We all die in places that don’t matter,’ he once told me, high on speed.  We were passing a joint back and forth.  ‘All we have are circles, man, fucking circles, overlapping each other.’  He fixed his gaze on me, desperate and pained.  ’It gets so you can’t breathe,’ he said.  ’We don’t serve anything but the circles.’

At the time, I never understood him.

One day he got thrown in hospital and I went to see him.  I found him in a corner, skeletal and false, sitting in a chair with that death-look in his eyes while others around him danced with silent monsters.  Whatever system Joe belonged to had been wiped clean by the walls of the hospital, and I wondered if he was too far-gone to ever reshape himself.

Some months later, I heard that Joe cut his wrist with broken glass and had died right alone in that place, in that corner of that hospital when no one else was there.


A.S.J.Ellis is a poet and writer based in Bristol, UK.

You can visit his wonderful blog ‘the Elaborate Spinning Machine is his head’ by clicking this link.

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4 thoughts on “Flash Fiction – Joe didn’t have a Christmas Tree…

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