Exposure № 004: Tie me up/tie me down

Audubon Dougherty has creative friends who double as accommodating tie models.

A first-person account of Dr. Hurley’s Restorative Baths & Spa

When a research colleague from Northern Germany contacted us recently, claiming to have found a document pertaining to Dr. Hurley’s Restorative Baths and Spa in Skibbereen, we were thrilled. Little did we know, however, that this document – a personal letter from one of the doctor’s patients to her sister (back home in Germany) – would provide such insight into daily life at the Restorative Baths.

The letter-writer – one Mrs. Antonia Gallagher – details the complaints that led her to go to the spa for recovery, describes the activities undertaken by the patients in residence there, and hints at the various treatments prescribed by the doctor. It appears that his assertions about tedium were borne out in the everyday operation of the spa as well as in the courses of treatment he espoused.

This document was uncovered by our esteemed German colleague while she was clearing the attic of a distant, recently deceased relative. It appears that this document survived against stacked odds – there is a good deal of water damage to the paper, a number of tears (the corners of the document seem to have been ripped as our colleague extricated it from behind a badly jammed desk drawer), as well as some evidence of a fire. Our colleague only has this one document to share at this time, but intimated that there may be others of a similar nature.

You may inspect the letter in its original form by clicking to expand the images. For those whose German is lacking, we have provided a translation below.

My dear Sister!

You have most likely been asking yourself why I have not written. Be reassured, there is no reason for concern. In fact, I am not spending the Spring in Cork, but have been sent south by Eamonn while he continues to conduct his business. I was, in any instance, terribly bored in Cork! Yes, I became acquainted with several Ladies from the church congregation, but everything is so strange here, both in the city and in the church. There really are only Catholics over here! You could not even begin to imagine!

I meet with them regularly to do needlework—with the Ladies from church, that is—but it is not really something to which I am suited, and I find it difficult to make myself understood. I continue, diligently, to learn English, but only with difficulty have I become used to the queer dialect of the Natives. Of course, I do not regret that I followed Eamonn, my one true love (for such he is!) to his native land, but the strangeness has begun to go to my liver. And all the rain! In Winter, there was hardly a week when the sun shone for more than one day! I could no longer be happy, and grew ever more querulous.

By chance, Eamonn heard of a place that was supposed to breathe a new joie de vivre into life. And now here I am, at Hurley’s Restorative Baths and Spa. Aside from me, there are eleven or twelve other guests, but the majority of them stay only for a few days. I, on the other hand, have been here for seventeen days and am recovering from the trials of city life. The establishment is overseen by one Dr. Hurley. He is indeed a young man, no more than five years older than I, and to all appearances in his mid-twenties, and is best equipped to raise and

reinvigorate the spirits of dispirited Men. Every morning, before breakfast, I walk on the beach and breathe in the fresh air and stretch my body as much as I possibly can. The Doctor says that it is good to expand the lungs in order to be well-armed for the day. And the day is always filled with one thing or another.

The Doctor believes, in fact, that boredom may be the death of modern society, and I am only too grateful that he has made it his goal to combat this. I play guessing games with the other guests, we paint and draw, for the ladies there is a crochet group and for the gentlemen a smoking room, and in any case, everyone here is in the best of moods. Of course, even here I have problems with the language, but everyone is so helpful and patient with me! After our evening meal, Dr. Hurley often holds forth on his newest discoveries, and he even hands out potions, herbal remedies and tinctures that help combat all of the ills that have afflicted the people here during their lives.

Often, of an evening, I have a brew of whiskey and different herbs that the Doctor grows in his garden behind the main building. What exactly is in it, he won’t say, but I tell you, it helps marvelously! Rarely was my mood so good as after partaking of this drink! However, the Doctor warns that you should only enjoy it in moderation, otherwise the potions can have the opposite to the intended effect. I myself take care to avoid drinking more than the prescribed measure. I heard from another guest that she woke up with a terrible headache after having drunk her sister-in-law’s portion (she had had indigestion) the evening before.

I plan to stay here for a few more weeks, and to return to Eamonn in Cork during the Summer. I miss him terribly, but I realise how good Dr. Hurley’s prescribed ministrations have been for me. I am quite

excited to see what will happen after my third week here. I have yet to taste any of the Doctor’s tinctures or herbal remedies, but I will let you know as soon as there is anything new to report!

And—how are things with you? Every evening I imagine how things might be going, and what you might be doing. You must certainly have a lot to do, but I am relieved to hear that Johann came to his senses and that you now have a housekeeper.

My most heartfelt and loving kisses,

Your loving sister Antonia

P.S. I am so looking forward to your next letter! Here is my address:

Mrs. Eamonn C. Gallagher
c/o Hurley’s Restorative Baths and Spa

As always, we would be thrilled to receive any further reports or information pertaining to Dr. Hurley’s beliefs, history, and practices.  Please send any pertinent information and/or documents to snakeoilcure [at] gmail [dot] com.

Chess Rules

“You can’t move like that,” Ryan said, moving his brother’s pawn back. “Now move the right way or I’ll move for you.”

The two boys, neither a day over ten, sat in the corner of the hectic classroom. Recess was taking place in the classroom due to excessive snow. Ryan and James were huddled over a plastic chessboard.

“The pawn can only move up. Up ‘till you get it to the other side,” Ryan said.

“Why?” James responded.

“Because those are the rules and that’s how we play the game.”

James looked down to the small board to see the squares of black and white. Two different shades of empty. Beneath it was a magnetic pad to hold the pieces in place. He remembered the rules his father had taught them at home. Pawns don’t move like rooks. They certainly didn’t move like kings. Pawns move forward unless they’re claiming another piece. But they weren’t home. The squares were all the same anyways.

“Let me move it or I’ll stop playing,” James said as he moved the pawn to his right, away from his brother’s rook. The magnetic sheet beneath the squares responded the same. It held the piece down with a vigorous tug, indifferent to color or placement of the square. Both boys looked at the pattern break. It irked both of them how one player could try to change the rules of the game.

“Move it back or I’ll tell,” Ryan said. “I’ll tell the teacher! I’ll get you in trouble for cheating.”

“No,” James responded calmly. “We play this way or I don’t play at all.”

“You can’t move like that,” Ryan said, moving his brother’s pawn back. “Now move the right way or I’ll move for you.”

Impression № 002: Tiny Things

Knox discusses her art with Dr. Hurley:

“I am attracted to the still-life subject not only because it presents an opportunity to intimately know an object through the drawing process, but also because the still-life represents a moment. A still-life is not only the object, but also the light, even the weather and the artist’s mood. The choice of objects and their placement conveys a certain feeling. In “Small Vials,” the feeling is of contrasts and sparkling light. The objects are similar in both being made of glass, but their form and the way the late-afternoon light passes through them differs. “Turkish Hazelnut” presented an exercise in texture. The shaggy husk enclosing its smooth edible nut has strange finger-like appendages, and those cast almost eerie shadows.”

“For as long as I’ve been putting pencil to paper, most of my subjects have been things small, ephemeral, and jewel-like. My dad says that when I was still toddler-age, a dragonfly alighted on my skirt, and I stared at it intently for as long as it rested there, then took up a stick and drew a dragonfly in the sand. This seems too poetic to be true, but I like the image and it does seem like me.”Graphite on paper, by E. Knox.

Dr. Hurley’s Digest: Week Two

This week things got serious around here with fabulous fiction and poetry contributions and more great visual art.  In case you need to be reminded on what you missed out on:





Small Pond

acques’ father was leaning against the side of the boat parallel with the rod, the two shapes forming a quotation mark against the blue of the water. Looking back towards the shore, Jacques felt like they were drifting away, leaving for good. Several miles behind them, the harbour walls and the breakwater jutted out from the east side of the island like pincers. The steep incline of the coast was peppered with old masonry, and the slopes down to the sea were home to low, flat structures, houses and shops. People moved like Rorschach blots along the waterfront.

Jacques was still threading the fishing line along his rod, watching his father’s face – its salt-beaten creases and shallow scars – for signs of life. Peter’s gaze was, as usual, fixed on the waters slapping the wooden hull of his boat. “No fish on today?”

“Nah,” Peter replied.

Terse was an understatement. “You ever catch anything out here?”

Hrmpf. Small fish, like. Caught a couple of ten-pound conger eels last week, though.”

Jacques twisted the fibre through the eye of the fishhook and tied it in a knot. He should have known what kind of knot. He didn’t. Delving into the bucket of bait behind them, he pinned a thrashing ragworm to the end of the hook and cast off. The line broke the water’s surface and the sinker plopped into the Channel.

It had been a long time since he had been out fishing with his father. He didn’t remember (and perhaps never really learned) any of the things Peter had taught him back then: the sailors’ knots, the best places to dig for bait, how to choose the float or weight to attach to the end of his line. The only vivid memory was that of trailing his hand across the surface of the water as they left the harbour, of watching the spray whiten then jump into the air.

“Probably some bass around, this time of year.” Peter stirred and pulled out a packet of old cigarettes and a lighter. Leaning against the side of the boat, he lit one against the wind.

Jacques had been fascinated by his father since childhood. The physical world seemed to part when Peter stepped through it. And they had always communicated as though through radar, measuring the distance between themselves rather than their closeness. In two weeks, when Jacques left the island, this distance would increase exponentially.

“Why fish, if there’s nothing out here?” Jacques asked.

Peter turned back to the waters and held his cigarette by his side. “Just enjoy it, Jacky. Relax.”

Jacques said: “I’ll try.” He watched the ash drift from the end of his father’s cigarette before being snatched up by the breeze.

The slow boat to Provincetown, MA. Photo copyright EEJ

Breathing in a lungful of salty-familiar air, he recalled the beaches of Angia, a neibouring island, where he and Peter had spent childhood summers. Jacques used to dig in the sand while his father cast his line into the sea, both of them enjoying Angia’s light sands in near silence.

But as he turned toward the Channel, they felt a curl of water slap the side of the boat. Jacques barely stayed upright. In a movement smooth and yet slow, Peter had slotted his cigarette between his lips and placed a hand around his fishing rod. Jacques’, on the other hand, had fallen back on board and bounced dully against the deck.

“C’mon Jacky,” Peter said, his vowels muffled around the Benson & Hedges in his mouth. A reproach. Peter picked up the rod and reeled it taut, then set it back against the side of the boat.

“There,” the old man said. “Didn’t you– ”

“Dad,” Jacques pointed behind him. Peter’s rod was winding out, the fishing line arcing against the sun.

Grabbing the rod and placing a hand over the spool, Peter slowed the unravelling. Jacques leaned over the side of the boat and saw the line glint, rise, and move towards them. Slowly, it began to wrap itself around the hull.

Peter muttered: “Clever bugger.” Whatever was on the other end of the line was underneath them.

Pulling against the rod, sinews pressed against the cotton of Peter’s shirt, lines of faded muscle that Jacques had never noticed before. With each jerk of the rod, the salty indentations on his father’s face grew a little deeper and more familiar.

Up, up, up the line went, flat against the little wooden boat. Peter was straining his boots against the lip of the deck; Jacques stepped over to him and steadied the end of the rod against the wooden slats. Almost incomprehensible, Peter blurted the words “Thanks… Jacky.”

With enough slack now in the line, Peter turned the reel once, twice, three times, and with a final tug, lifted the thing out of the water. It writhed and beat its fins from side-to-side as they pulled it on board, and with a final switch of its tail, it slapped a burst of sea water up into the air.

“Get the net,” Peter stammered. Jacques grabbed it from the back of the boat and held it out. As the fish was lowered into it and placed on deck, it flailed with dull thumps against the wood.

On the trip back to the harbour, Peter told him: “A rainbow trout. Unusual for this far into the Channel.” It was no leviathan. Maybe ten inches long and six or seven pounds. But then neither was Peter anymore.

Jacques peered over the back of the boat and watched the trails of white foam forming parallel lines behind them, leading back to where they had been. Up ahead, the harbour was punctuated irregularly by sailboat masts, mirrored in turn by the church spires that peppered the coast. It was a home, of sorts. But soon, Jacques thought, he would be leaving for good.

Womyn: Prologue

t wasn’t the sign that tipped her off, brazen though it was. “Danger: Unsecured Area. Clearance Required.” Didn’t leave much to the imagination. No, it wasn’t the sign, or the rough ending of the road, the pavement disintegrating and curling up under her toes with the crunch of rubber and stone. It wasn’t the rusted barb wire fence that dipped and dropped along the ruined concrete until it disappeared into the brush, its faulty gate hanging broken, a weak sentinel as the last line of defense.

It was the smell.

They smelled different, you see. Not the sweet, tangy salt with which Ava was familiar. No delicate, floral scents here, at the end of the burnt-out road and desolate wild. The pine from the trees was unfamiliar, but not unknown. But this smell; this was something else entirely.

This was the Ares.

It was… deeper, somehow. Muskier, Ava thought, without really knowing what that meant. It was a rich, earthy scent that coiled up her nose and set her at ease at a time she should have been wired. Part of their supposed charm, perhaps. Designed to entice what is forbidden to them.

She thought, inanely, and somewhat hysterically, of a book she had read as a child, something handed down to her from her mother’s mother’s mother. A book of loss and hope, in which strange otherworldly creatures lured their prey through beauty and scent and song. But the Ari were no supernatural wonders. They were flesh and bone, not so different from Ava herself, but a world apart from her nonetheless.

Shifting the rough cloth bag over her shoulders, she contemplated her choices. She could continue on her current path into the Outlands and track down the Ares. They might kill her on sight, but it was a risk worth taking at this point. She was already a wanted woman back home, and she didn’t have anything to lose. Magda was gone, and with her, her only friend and ally.

If she didn’t go forwards, then she would have to go back, to Boston, to the Center. And tell them what? Sorry guys, I was kidding with all that conspiracy theory stuff. I’m totally back on board now, no questions asked. If only she hadn’t proudly, and publicly, told the Director to go to hell. When the older woman had advised Ava that pigs would fly before she let her walk free out the door with the Center’s secrets, Ava looked out the window. Any minute now…

Going back would be the sane option, Ava knew, but it was inconceivable. She couldn’t ignore the truth. She couldn’t ignore the centuries-buried secret that would topple the balance of her government, her country, her world. She couldn’t ignore what was right in front of her.

As the Ares stepped from the tree line and aimed its gun at her head, she wondered, How did I get here?

Stay tuned for further installments of “Womyn” by guest contributor Fayth Trunweigh

Impression № 001: Fault lines

Graphite on paper, by Michaela Irving.

Michaela Irving talks to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure about her art:

“I draw portraits using graphite pencil on paper as I find this gray scale effect highlights peoples expressions rather than distracting the viewer by using colour. It also shows the starkness of people’s lives.

“I try to make people think about who they are and who other people are by bringing out the models inner- or flip-side.

“With poster boys, I bring out their dark side; with homeless people I try to show their sensitivity or humanity. Homeless people are particularly interesting subjects as they are unseen, ignored or forgotten people, as their contrast with the “perfection” of other society is painful. It is easier to ignore these people than to see how easy it is to become like them, not necessarily financially but emotionally. People who look at my drawings are forced to see homeless people’s humanity, and so face their own pain through connecting with this darkness.”

Michaela Irving talks to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure about her art:

I draw portraits using graphite pencil on paper as I find this gray scale effect highlights peoples expressions rather than distracting the viewer by using colour. It also shows the starkness of people’s lives.

What An Artist Dies In Me

As I write this,
I picture myself reciting it
while holding a lit cigarette
I bummed from Frank O’Hara,
even though I don’t smoke
and Frank left twenty years before I arrived,
so I guess you can say I don’t know him.
Grandma Mini left just minutes
after I walked through the door to see her,
to say goodbye,
both of us unable to speak,
her thrusting every breath
as she held up her world with the difficulty of Atlas,
attempting one last curious smirk.
This is one of those concrete images
etched permanently into my hippocampus,
like the friend then foe, beauty then betrayal, Great Fire of Kelly’s smile,
the distinct non-smile on Dave’s girlfriend’s face
when she knocked on my door and asked for relationship advice
from an emotional tadpole.
It’s not my fault;
blame it on the lack of social development after age fifteen,
the vigilantism of the monkey operating my brain,
the abandoned chambers of my heart?
How brutally similar to Nero.
His mind turned against him as everyone disappeared.
And how I fiddle with smiles
while Rome burns around me.

Exposure № 003: Abstracting

A series of progressively abstracting photos by l00k-book.