Sunday, July 23, 2006

Fortunate Eggs: Summer 2006

In everyone’s little world I am dead,
Though through the cracks I might join new life.

Loneliness can be classed as a sin around some circles, but others may enjoy the intimacy it offers. For some people with a perfectly rounded sense of humour, it might actually drive them potty.

Edwin Coles continued to walk this walk of flames. His obstinate nature would stand him in good stead against nature’s savage realm. Unfortunately, he was viewed by Victorian society as an outsider either though he owned vast amounts in ready cash that would normally entitle him to some respect. However, Edwin avoided company at his own behest, not wishing to go on trial for his mannerisms and idiosyncratic unmentionables.

But hope did lie in another quarter: Edwin knew that the twins might help. When he was sixteen he befriended a pair of two clever female people who issued simultaneously from the same auspicious womb but never a care did their own family feel for them, while they were still young. The mother had rejected what she had first fed from her own hands and left her daughters in a stranger’s arms to sue for whatever favours the benevolent breeds would feel able to give. The cycle of time had passed on and now they were grown up. Both were goddesses to be sure, as most would admit; famed for their untouchable loveliness but on the other hand, their inner distress was overlooked as indeed, they were still scared about outside life governed by society.

“I’ll go there; the girls will help,” he decided, his mind well spent out for other options, “though by what craft I do not know.”

Edwin knew that after many years they would still remember him as a sham that had fed his own emotions felicitously, by meaning to fall in love with one of them. But by this era, this was a heavily deluded emotion that could only send the mind into a cycle of paranoia; colliding with insanity. Many people at the time were unsure about what love was supposed to be, but instead strove to cut their own off from the invading viral affections that were now just become as obsolete as small pox or even TB became later.

Yes, he decided to go and ask a favour from the Madams, especially one of them. Either they would acquiesce towards his plight or expunge him everlastingly from their sight and send him over to his irrupted enemies. Edwin couldn’t accept that their images may have changed; in-fact he was so excited about finding himself being reborn within the presence of the more beloved twin Evie, that he never thought over his feelings further on when he became within the range amongst their countryside hedgerows. His emotional propensities had begun checked for any canker and redirected in a fashion more seemly for every day in the year.

It had only been an intervening twenty years since he looked through this floating stare of the girl from his mind was currently drifting onwards. She seemed so demurely vulnerable but underneath a gift-wrapped mask was the garb owned by a more cunning madam. Evie would not stand to be affected, or to be superseded by a more powerful agent. She certainly occasionally wore an infrequent smile over and above her usual melancholy; so fragrant, it hung like a dewdrop from the pallor under her delicate nasal embrasure. She possessed a head of hair of such qualities that it washed down her cheeks in a bountiful loom thatched from black tresses that would sometimes veil her with creeping curls. She was more a gliding apparition, wrapped up in her mystery, than with anything tangible seen on earth, so that all that appraised her lightly, failed to notice her; save of course for Edwin who had never been able to fit his plans in with any action or reaction to such a desire. But to know Evie’s decision at this point had overtaken the despair in delay and he journeyed towards her with hopes addressed anew.

On arriving at her threshold, he found she was not as he had imagined in his minds eye. In fact her image was a travesty compared with his craving, so that all things rumbled on in diminution, contradicting his conceptual designs earlier derived from a portrait that stood proudly in the lady’s drawing room at the top of his house. In fact neither twin could offer any explanation for their dull existence or inertia towards life and spirit. Although Edwin had gradually grown in fondness for his Evie, she had never bitten back, so he felt sensations that were more prone to despondency than hopeful assent – complete indifference was an even worse banishment than he could ever envisage. Her cool response to his questionings made him grow ever more silent, just as keen to stop both girls referring to each other as finding out why they were paying no interest in him whatsoever. Evie moved on and on in conversation, making love with many topics but not actually consummating her wish to linger for much longer, every time she worded it.

Constantly onwards, all Evie could offer was her friendship; it was far sweeter than being in love but frustratingly misidentified as a deeper arousal, being so complicated to the feelings one might have for another being.

“What is your idea on the completion of hell”? This was the next set question that she had no intention finding out any response.

“I read the book and remained seriously unconvinced about what everyone is saying”, her twin answered above gasps from her sister who meant to intercede quickly.

She had apparently read numerous religious texts that had shown that intolerance was a fake sophistication to portray; nothing would come from opposing church doctrines; nothing would shake her resolve that God did not exist on earth. Evie had already irritated the local clergy more than once, tolling out her radical views without bearing any responsibility for the consequences or spelling out that she would not stoop to pick up the pieces if she ruffled a few cassocks. Astonishingly, she had avoided any summary excommunication from the local vicar, who had been more than patient, though her absence in church had been duly noted by about nearly a dozen parishioners; she already didn’t care in the slightest.

“You have not read it properly then”, she replied quite curtly.

Yes, Evie was trying to write a book and she felt that everybody should know about it, lest her remarkable talents for the unspoken word go unnoticed. Now she was distributing all her texts containing all her caustic ideas, preconceived on the basis that nobody would appreciate her final thesis, risking a ban across the board.

“Well I shan’t tell you what I may think in case my dear, you get the wrong idea”. The twin’s punitive comment was meant to seize control which in actual fact, it didn’t.

“Fine I’ll just keep talking to Mr Coles then”! Evie was obviously jostling for room to dominate her twin through creating some pretence with poor Edwin.

Evie rarely raised her voice above the normal frequency but she blundered into this too late and her sister was not going to countenance any of her usual foibles. And indeed she had not really intended to speak to Edwin about anything important, hoping just to bluff her twin by frustrating her into submission.

Edwin sat squarely between them during this preamble; claiming his space; coping with the exchange and forcing himself to be amazed when they fed him the scraps from their conversation, as the discussion had now moved on to the afterlife. Edwin remained mute, wrapping his legs quite tightly around the chair, as the diatribe continued on and on.
“Excuse me Mr Coles, I’m afraid that there is no truth in the suggestion that my sister has just made”.

Evie always referred to Mr Coles every time she wished to berate her sibling, without resorting to confirming her wiles externally. Worse was to come as a few hours later she had quadrupled her fortune by unwittingly inheriting a rare egg collection from a cousin who studied ornithology – she then shut out the world even further, save for her ever attentive twin sister just as a precaution. Mr Coles eventually found he was barking up the wrong tree without just cause: Evie never really wanted him around, so he just vacated the premises without regret.
When the note arrived, she just shoved it under her chair after reading it attentively. She looked visibly perplexed while her twin was unable to pick up on her draconian moodiness which refused to swing in her favour.

“Oh do tell me what the letter was about”, the sister enquired as if she was reaching out to accomplish some concealed goal.

“Nobody shall know except me”, Evie replied, visibly hurt - The ripples on her forehead tore the smoothness asunder, liked the ploughed earth – “our meeting is from now on terminated”. Victorian people always spoke in such terms without intimacy through monetary reasons alone, giving the extremely rich the right to distance themselves from any chosen peers on short notice.

Conversely, Darwin felt that nothing would terminate his theories save a calamity so enormous nothing would survive. He felt that the explanation for everything was derived from a single thread – a theory so strong that the chain reaction would challenge the path of god himself. As the story goes, many would deliver counter arguments against natural selection but it was always universally believed that slower conforming influences according to environment were a more robust way to measure man’s ascent.

Evie embraced this spirit with vigorous muster, courting her shrewdness for idealistic manipulation. The sparkle in her eye determined that she knew all there was to know about questioning existence. Victorian people tended to despise her for being far from the quintessential, not swallowed by normal acceptability and given to sometimes portray immoral tendencies when she so wished. This feeling had less to do with such things as Edwin’s flaming desire, that seemed out of place and time and much more to do with Evie’s scientific infatuation, showing an articulate bias in sound research theory reaching for the heavens.

She had bluntly hurt her family by delving into the less familiar – it was uncertain whether she would be ever welcome back if she should peruse her home soil once more. Scientific definition had always caught Evie’s imagination that had made up her notoriety. Even as a prodigy, she questioned the high offices that were held in retention for her maker. All the experts did not know what to make of her defiance, save redressing the balance her misplaced beliefs had wavered.

Having measured the eggs for face value, Evie took them away to encapsulate. Whilst investigating their yield, she discovered that there were several renegade objects that seemed more like large fruit items rather than anything with ornithological qualities – one resembled a large marrow. She first discarded the duck eggs as they seemed to common an item, owned by several doctors who thought that they may cure hypoglycaemia, which was just as ridiculous as the other superstitions that were frequently abound the medical profession. Other inglorious eggs had to be decided upon; even ones with coveted designs around the shell were rudely culled. As the years went by, just the fruit eggs remained entirely from demand.

By the twentieth century, Evie had become Violet, and after that became Emily but the only similarity between them was that they were blood relations. Violet had been extradited to France for reasons unknown – her crime remained wholly undisclosed. All these different kindred wanted to keep the eggs safe at bay properly. The latest descendent was called Daisy, a flamboyant middle aged lady who held the fruit eggs in firm esteem. She did not resemble her forbears in visage but had a curly infringement on her head just like Evie owned in abundance – hers was just a straighter conformity. She did have an argumentative turn of phrase, accumulative and confrontational in tenacity, not dissimilar to her distant cousin’s skilful dialogue.

The shock from accruing such items was heightened by the afternoon sun trapped walls even within the inner recesses around the tiny bungalow that was Daisy’s own. Amongst the linen finery, she uncovered the peachy eggs; stripy but soft as leather cladding would allow. A message also fell out from the main packaging that had been placed there by the original owner. It read as follows:

“Je n'ai aucune passion mais ceci: So reap what you will from the harvest and pass on as a gift. This is my legacy and will fulfil the mission for continued enterprise amongst mankind. During the last days left to the world, these will hatch and bare extra fruit; until then keep them safe, especially protect them from any such financial whim”.

Daisy immediately knew what this message meant, as well as her mother understood and psychological forbears, who at present, existed in her head, not her heart: These folk had long gone and just didn’t bother anymore now that she had become the sole guardian in measure. It suited her to nurture these seemingly banal gifts until her time had arrived to pass the eggs on again to another owner, and so on and so forth up to the very end, which was just as academic as her own personal conclusions surrounding the outcome for these strange spherical objects.

Having a greater mass than the muddled duck eggs, it surely mattered about all that palaver about the time’s end and the gestation that would succeed it. When Daisy held them in her conical palms, quite firmly, she imagined a rock, deadweight sandwiched between her digits that would regrettably fall and smash if she let go, an occurrence she must prevent, unless she felt a desire to stop the Immaculate Conception contained by the precious sparkly lozenge globes.

Daisy felt consciously prudent to wrap them back up and wined string back about the tin box provided - the intention was that the knot would never be tampered or twisted again so long as she was in charge. There was a hidden agenda that Daisy believed she was only transient, not an actual adjudicator. This was a permissive action for her to take, discarding the packet after investigating it only once, shoving it away for someone later to take out and check thoroughly again, once having gained the afterlife she so strived hard to achieve through religious means.

What had become of Evie? It was not that clear at first but those astute enough to uncover some grains from the misty evidence were disappointed by their enquiry:

“The Accomplishments of Sin”, had been completed as her greatest masterpiece; the book discussed the unfortunate business surrounding Darwin’s discoveries. She probed further into the backwaters that had disparaged the accepted dogma, which dared to challenge scientific reasoning that had passed from ancient times unscathed. She had become blessed with a reputation and her beauty followed it like a dog held on the leash, masquerading in the vein of the most sought after girl in Christendom – a cheap trick but effective fare for the unwise punters who bought the book.

Under examination, Evie had tried to change her identity on several occasions. The carcass left in between the facts was a bare faced big fat lie: She never got married, although she always maintained she did get involved with many men. Some had described her intimacies with a dissident scientist as a fractious showcase stirred with plenty of temerity – all to show she could form proper liaisons with people she appeared to reckon upon highly; then the disaster when she failed to provide the necessary documents at the marriage ceremony, but it is about here in the story that most observers conveniently lost their memory, avoiding the least trouble by account.

So her children remained in Normandy, abandoned by both mother and father who had fled south, goodness knows where. The egg parcel was found on their possession when they walked into a local orphanage; hence they founded their family yoke for future years, impoverished and vulnerable in perpetual disappointment.

One might want to enquire about Edwin’s plight but I’m afraid he had long gone by now. He was another mystery drawn into Evie’s Delphic realm, although too briefly. The eggs had supplanted his ambiguity and he landed himself with a hefty wasted effort for his careful persistence; there would never be any reward for that.

No doubt, this pleasure seeking man might have had enough company from her at present, but he memorised every moment he had spent within her domain and played them back in his head whenever he felt dull. Thus, he had a full record of all the transactions that occurred between them at any one time, making sure that all aspects in their relationship had been covered and a path made carefully to succour him in his fantasying - gazing into the middle distance without the perfect subject he once beheld so dearly. Would he be as so bold as to meet her again? His reactions were in fact tardy; he would never again shore himself up for greater endeavour. Evie’s jovial attitude had worn counter with his truer behest: Alas, she could not be moulded by his will in plain reaction from beauty.

One thing that could be said for him though, he had discovered something in that little room occupied by that female presence: a small oval shaped object with tourney stripes which felt like a leather rugby ball. By sleight of hand he found a way to smuggle the object away from its’ original ownership.

Having seldom swilled the opium measure, Edwin’s request for exchange with the museum was validated; the rare egg was placed in a cache surrounded by other similarly rounded objects, where it spent the rest of its days like the Faberge eggs in the Moscow Armoury: Decorative for sure, but ultimately allowed uselessness over the centuries without handy intervention.

Over time nobody actually bothered forming an opinion on this beleaguered treasure and nobody knew from where it had arisen in its’ artful journey along the set timeline. Indeed, many had avoided speculation as to functionality and obedience towards shaky theories, offered by both saints and scientists in their wisdom, for Edwin’s egg was like no other: It betrayed everything that both science and religion could muster. These two poles were indefinitely a mortal training ground for human diligence and still further, warlike indulgence.

The curators curiously asked few questions about Edwin’s acquisition but noted that his brows swept up his forehead quite dramatically, almost like a spiral boss over the eyes, denoting a pattern something like the eggs. It was thought that he had contracted this quirk after a hereditary turmoil from ancestry, not painted décor or some idiomatic scared symbolism to touch the sole, almost as if his eyes bore fruit in their own right. This delinquent touch was much overdone and frightened the gentle orderlies charged with the day to day running throughout the museum.

Edwin caught the rays from the fawning sun, the last in the afternoon, and the montage arranged on his forehead seemed marooned from his other features in retinue fashion. Finding that there was greater light than darkness, he stood away from the glare in order not to present conspicuousness too early; he wanted to achieve the best bargain for his wares without petty mysteries to tempt the curators.

In actuality, Edwin became financially fleeced by the museum but he had no concern regarding their offer. Sweeping his hair back over his flared skull, he left them with their mutually found treasure. He forgot to mention that the delivery would contaminate the other specimens kept on show – No one would presume to go near them, yet it was not clear whether they were listed amongst those too dangerous to touch. However, this message was received and understood quite clearly, becoming a charm arising from the clutch – there would be no countermand.
Years passed in-situe and the eggs left by Edwin were still in their crib, a faded basket; virtually forgotten about; institutionalised in lovely feathers; cheap and cheerful crape paper over wrapping, foundling the round bundle. By now the objects had grown larger and less immaculate in shape. The stripy ones were reproducing efficiently, until now. In fact, having completed incubation, they could reproduce no more. Edwin would have recognised his brothers and sisters amongst those planted in the pile’s historical centre as they all genetically belonged to him.

Aeons later, humans had officially vacated the spot, so she was an implacable beauty, seldom qualities you would expect in giant volcanic sediment covering vast spaces like desert floors. Once calm again after centuries, she erupted in gushing clouds, folding down and curling smoke around, an immeasurable power investing from the earth’s greatest dungeon, splayed underneath whole northern continents.

The eggs began parthenogenesis in their millions and they even coped willingly with extreme temperatures sent through gamma rays bombarding them through unnatural matter. Never would historical life exist again on a fruitful earth, the fountain that bore the life grain for so many species, both animal and vegetable. The newer works had copied themselves and would not budge for time’s sake. The French egg masterpieces shed their skins whilst protruding effortlessly one towards the other until all were eventually conjoined neatly – it would take a further aeon before they began a single rebirth in an alien being, all alone and distressed.
The lonely creature that came afterward had its single baptism in the stars, born from the human flesh that did not have any paternal rights over it – the mother had left her bounty for existing life on earth to share and fertilise the stripy invention – a lone creature eating through the galaxy until it run out into streaky bits of nothing.

Left Foot: Spring 2006

“Its competition time”! Said Elsie out loud and then thought all the rest, so as to avoid revealing her true feelings: She was finally going beat every single contestant and shower them with frustration. In her case, it was her left leg that slithered slightly and she could even wiggle her ankle so that it revolved on its axis. But was it enough?

Being an extramural event meant that the kids would not be told the exact date until the night before and then they would just have to rustle up some movement in those limbs over the course of a few hours. It seemed hopeless to most worthies because they felt that the insufficient time would not prove anything substantial. They needed weeks and weeks to practice and then having gained some requisite feeling in the thing, it would be essential to maintain it for the competition.

Everybody had rebuked the Ostrich for having wings that didn’t work – after all they were definitely not made for flying. Now it was the time for the greatest bipeds of them all to loose the will to continue, as they had developed two great clodhoppers that used to be a fantastic tool for mobility; now they just deserved amputation in cold design. Feet had become an obsolete tenure, by no means the giant cohorts they had remained back in the previous millenniums – just two useless appendages connected to the willing torso.

“Don’t be afraid to whup their arses with it”, was the stock phrase her mother used but that was until she discovered that Patsy, who had already won several trophies for her dexterous feet, had decided to make it a matter of personal pride: Her sinews were sponsored by a private company, which was allowed by the rules, so long as they didn’t fit completely artificial legs on the child. Elsie felt this course was unfair, though she never gave up hope to move further than her class mate without outside help or cause for bribery.

“The most emotive foot in the county”: Was the first placard that went up but it proved too sophisticated for the poor students; so they rustled up another legend, “Plunge in with both feet first”. It was barely more plausible than the first effort.

Elsie had placed reliance on her left foot at least doing something worthwhile; after all it was the only limb that was tractable enough to at least twitch at will. Each month she had taught it a new trick but her erratic progress meant a financial burden on her parents, at least from the steroids she pumped down the hollow tube right through to nowhere.

There had been an exchange in kind: “Place your bets”. Monies were place at the sides around the auditorium in anticipation before the first round: This was afterwards donated to the government as a tax on competitive sports but most knew this to be just a plea bargain against charges of immorality.

One year a boy was disqualified for spinning on his back, and Elsie was more than aware that the judges were not to be fooled by foul play.

Contestants were placed around the circumference belonging to several concentric circles, centring upon a single central beacon, which flashed on and off; this signalled the foundation for each move. Moreover, the children needed to make adequate preparation before they could even fidget within the region. Elsie wanted to so desperately scratch hers but that was strictly forbidden, so she just lay there wondering whether the beacon would favour her or not.
On the Beacon’s first flash, many were seen massaging electricity into their calves and using all kinds of swabs and salves to clear the lethargic ducts ready for the first move. After their legs had been pampered adequately enough there was a swift hum on the buzzer which meant it was time to start gathering momentum.

After a time, nothing seemed to happen around the hall and then a single stray limb got lifted way into the air like a branch waving in the wind: It turned out to be a single left foot. This was followed by a spontaneous round of applause and a flutter that could only mean more praise. The fluttering noise had discontinued by the time the foot finished off with a final little twirl.
The parents flew down quickly, wings akimbo, to congratulate Elsie for winning by such a comfortable sweep. For Patsy would need to learn all over again and recalibrate her rotten legs, except she conceded her own defeat in such a delightful manner: She clasped Elsie by her guiding paws, girded her loins fully into the air and carried her friendly face up high, in order for them both to make a round of honour around the stadium top, with their mouths wailing and wing tips flapping enthusiastically, honouring that victorious and rather courageous left foot.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Offer & Acceptance: Feburary 2006

I always thought that the trail had grown risky to run a fair supply line and I was proved right when a neighbour lost every horse he owned, all on a single jaunt. So I felt unhappy sending my wagons down the line as a friendly gesture towards the local tribal emissaries. They had already separated themselves out and completed an area search for the criminal in order that he would not be allowed to travel far before sun down. I suspected the useless work hand that dwarfed me so in many ways, often feeling it necessary to cause mischief amongst the natives and match his worth against mine. For me, I was just glad to be rid of his belly aching, churning on and dull jokes that seemed to be wrestled from male led generations below the par. Now that I had so many chums around, he was no longer needed for the full term living in the farm shed and I had to send him away double quick before my possessions became forfeit. Although I provided for his departure through considerable bribery, and I confess, gave him many garments that belonged to my late son, he became violent and so I became compelled to eject him more promptly than first anticipated.

“Follow the river, brother, as it snakes onwards and beyond”, was all he said with an accompanying twisted elasticity in his babbling talk as he went away.

“And I’m on to you”, was all I could foist from my tongue but thinking further it would have been better to have used more forcible means.

The stiff prairie framed his walk in order to quicken his pace, sending him pattering back with other strangers, the axioms of ill intent to force me out from my rancher’s paradise.

Smouldering trees filled the chase as I sidled down amongst the flick of ash that had been inflicted by the very team who had infiltrated and claimed this part of the territory. Everything around: my orchards, my farm, my chattels, my loves, and my identity had been sadly enflamed. Since I had left my towering lair, this mess had been found out and now I had to flee from the scorched parade and everything that the sinful ghosts had lain in time for my imminent departure from the mown down ruination that was once my very own fruitful back yard. Moments later, I fled the last maple avenues that embraced the entrance towards the dust bowel my home now gave way to. There would be a thousand journeys before there could be somewhere to foster as my very own patch. Instead, the wastes swept far away and were unsanctified with the angst of evil visitors who darted, mighty in their crazy sleep.

Everything was crisp around the ranch but I had to work out the uncertainties surrounding my life and divine the strangeness that had brought about my personal demise amongst the ash groves – for before I felt established on my homestead farm. Indeed, I did my best to leave the place, untidy as it was, without recourse to relent or fear my decision. As I had no horse there would be a trek ahead that began with only dust, then prairie and then sudden solitude for much distance.

After days marching on and away into the wind, I kept furtively searching my mind for things I could do about the mess – actions to take or a line of attack that would engage the enemy properly enough, emerging from the echoes of restraint that unconsciously guided my mind from time to time. I was careful to pick my way south, camping without complaint at roughly sunset each day, watching for the dawn colours, signalling my onward journey. This cycle reoccurred over the coming months until I reached a hill that looked decidedly conspicuous in the arid wastes I had traversed without question. It might be a shame if I had missed an opportunity to rest and discover quickly my curiosity’s source, so I dropped my satchel to investigate further my dreaming feasibilities.

Drifting into a new sensuality I was back in the house where I was born and had lived for most of my life up until now. I also remembered my first heavenly passions towards a seemingly bright girl who used to wait down below my window until she received a coin from my hand.
“Will you promise to embrace me”, was all that I could reply.

I always aimed for her own hand but the coin nearly always shot to the ground which was really humiliating, though she would grin back to make up for my clumsiness. Granted she would watch for me every night for fun, but stealing a smile from her more than ordinary face became far more difficult for me. Eventually, her face eventually became a desert like the one I was now traversing and her eyes failed to light when I presented myself above in love, especially when I finally descended to street level to address her in person – this happened quite a bit in later days.

“Where’s my money”? She would clearly ask, clearly ruffled and offering no recognition or greeting, though with an inquisitive slant in her eyes she watched me carefully.

I would indicate that she should have shown more wisdom in her transactions and when on the final night she revealed a gun out of desperation, so it all came to an end – I dismissed her before taking action. It was through tiredness that I turned back in my thoughts to this night time ritual and as I didn’t loge a complaint to the relevant authorities later on down the line, I discovered that she had subsequently killed four other men in a violent act of jealousy. She was the ringleader to this injustice; as rumours spread quite quickly around the territory, she would wear the reputation for some time to come.

This only being a fleeting glance into my past - an unfortunate glance – I initially felt it askance with my predicament here, though it being a strong remorseful dose I remembered from a lost stranger I had not got to know properly enough. Nobody had approached me since leaving home, or spoke in any tongue to facilitate their own means; finding that they had lost their way for example. But I admit that I had felt some communication out there and quickly found that the misty night shadows explained their desires accurately, wanting to sadden me with recollections ingeniously subdued for sometime until now. I fought against this extreme melancholy but it burned within me so that I felt distressed enough by the situation. I knew that I needed to leave the area but something within my inside cajoled me to remain.

As I was already placed in a seated position it was easy to let the situation ride along indiscriminately but if I was not going to leave the spot, I had to discover some way to keep myself warm during the night as the shivering pines mocked my progress further. There was no chance that sleep would claim my actions. Already I judged the hill to be an imperfect night companion during wakefulness. Besides, there was a sorrowful openness about the place that matched my own predetermined burdens - I was no more at home than the home I had to leave forcibly.

“Oh this is untimely – do not shout out now, I can hear you through the air – do not force me to show myself”! It sounded irritable and tabled a resonance in its’ vocal patterns so readily given upon the moment that it could have been laughing at me.

“Are you a friend”? I called out at seemingly the empty air above.

“I told you not to shout, I can understand you perfectly”, came the reply but at a greater distance from beyond the hill this time. It wasn’t like any voice I had heard before or ever again, but then it giggled, leaping out at me through the tail end of its jolly mirth.

“Are you the one who is running away”? The shoulder high native asked me with almost a whisper, this time more in line with my own language both sweet and dry, “Because if you are, I can help you accomplish that dream”.

“I’m not running away”, I answered, “I’m seeking help from others”.

There was a threatening purr in its voice that indicated amusement guided by his insane pleasure as to my vulnerable predicament. It crept further up to the hill’s ledge and began patrol the open nook without taking its eye off me for one instant.

“Then let me pass”, I said.

“What am I doing to stop you?” replied the ape like creature, a caricature but not quite a full man. I couldn’t see it properly because its outline seemed too inconspicuous for certainty.

By now I was feeling frustrated as I just wanted to leave the creature to its own devices but it had filled the area with subversive energy, grafting itself into the scenery so that all became as one with the frame.

“Whereas you of course are afraid my actions might hurt you”. It felt extraordinary that this creature was still talking to me either though its’ discourse seemed inerrably impersonal.

So it was foolish thing to believe that a comforting bed for the night would await me and so I tried to slumber there and then, right next door to the stranger, though my efforts only made its’ chattering seem worse than the peaceful environment it inhabited, not as picturesque compared with tasteful standards.

There was nothing pleasant about this time consuming imp, a rather nasty character who had waited throughout the day for a god fearing citizen to bait and had now caught me following the path of my adversary, believing me actually seeking it instead around this deserted scenery.

“Get off you hard bitten old thing”! I yelled.

I shouted in its ear so that it was sure to hear me but it buzzed back and shook about; plainly its’ hearing was not what it was but then again, it had no reason to hear anyway. My voice just echoed, challenging the silence in-between. All the gains I had made so far were as transient as the life within me and my energy was cold, sapped by this shoulder high native. I watched the disfigurement that shone on its face through which I had no claim to reach around and suck out the smile it wore as a front. The eyebrows met in the middle of the forehead and I thought I could read its motives there but unfortunately I couldn’t.

“Are you afraid to drift off to sleep, in case I turn and do something awful?” it mused carefully with a voice that again buzzed more than spoke out properly.

It was incredible that I was still paying attention to such a foul being but I was inhibited in some way to release myself and I felt quite listless inside due to a curious exhaustion that held me in the sway of the thing.

Purring away in the shadows it strode out and the face was completely held bare in the night’s haze so that I could be a witness to everything it wanted. While it goggled at me, the native began sharpening his teeth on a bone necklace strung around its neck for some design governed by decoration. I noticed the moonlight reflecting off a talisman hanging from this necklace the creature had just wrapped its jaws around. Executing this task with devotional gratification, using its own teeth to finish the job, the thing poked me with it and shoved the chain roughly into my unclasped hand.

“This is for you”, he mouthed silently.

I looked at the amulet and then at the demon smile that was offered to me in exchange for my acquiescence.

“You must wear it of course”, it surmised.

“Why?” I ventured to ask.

“Because its’ really yours – there is no other choice”, it carried on quacking away with an insatiable ardour but now I had turned off from his ramble believing that I could end up in real trouble. I didn’t want to accept this trinket on anyone’s behalf; least of all my own. The sphere showed a twinkling core surrounded by gilt crystals like spokes on a wheel, casting a comforting familiarity yet it felt tarnished by an unlucky injustice: I recognised it to be the thing that hung from the girls neck who waited by my window all those times. There was no mistaking the fancy parabolic design, fanning out into a peacock’s coat out straight, signifying a beasts jaws outstretched.

“I can get her back if you want, with all her love intact”.

I began listing all the certainties driving me to continue my present sanity; unfortunately, there were none and I had to be courageous towards my purpose.

“You know about this lady”?

“Certainly I do – she and I have been in collaboration – is it not plain”.

It opened its mouth but the issue was just wind but its mind spoke to me intact, strange in complexities and affirmations.

“Judging by your small reaction, I trust you don’t care for my offering, though you must take it anyway”.

I felt a need to despoil the necklace as my anger had not run through its course with the slut bound in the image I saw. She was the one who had thieved me along with her accomplice, my rough work hand – I felt sure now.

“I can release her for a small claim, what say you? - She may assist in recovering your properties far flung. I have trapped her beauty in the amulet”. Dealing with this situation first through sagacity and decorum, these qualities had been reduced into a palpable nothingness through my dismay. I angered steadily and began to contemplate violence as a potential forward course – yet she had threatened to shoot me through her chagrin. Consequently, it was time for me to take remedial measures and break this dammed energy that surrounded me through the void.

The slant of his eyes caught me in a glimmering moment before I smashed the present into the dust, sealing the crime with my grinding foot, so that I held it fast onto the dry ground. A swift yelp issued deep from inside just as the vessel split amongst the grainy dirt – I stooped down to retrieve it carefully since the chain was still intact. In certain respects, I hoped whatever pain that lie within the orb had now been released from being bottled up out into the open. It was not long before I knew what it was: An influx of energy exuded through the struggling outer cortex shell which fell away to become the beautiful young lady who had tormented me from under my window.

“At last I’ve broken free from death to look upon you just once again – I have requested this friendly shaman to conjure what he does not know or can control”.

Her frame bore reference to the magic around because it seemed part of the environmental design: the desert, the open tundra and the dry aridness that ran through the eye like a thread. She blended in amazingly as a friendly shade, yet really an enemy so far in the extreme that she wanted me dead outside my house at our last meeting, and now she sought me here post mortem to commune from the dead through the air with me.

“I was part of the charm - it worked”, she was so desperate to say her piece that her remarks seemed condemned to go unheard for the while but when I had time to catch the gist from her lifeless tongue I understood at once what she had become.

“Looking from the sunny side of death I think that I have born the change well”.

Indeed she looked quite alluring in her elemental appearance: Her complexion was worn like a garment carried without being mindful of conscious deportment. The cheek bones were more defined by the sloping barrow like structures that were situated on the circumference around my central point where I stood at this moment. My other companion began hissing again and its eyes peeked at me from behind a rock seeming unsure as to how it should react.

“Your promise must be fulfilled”, came the voice disembodied, “I know you have something good for me”.

Her voice was becoming more and more palpable now. So much so, that I actually started to hear it with my ears as oppose to my head.

It became absolutely necessary to distinguish her face, feeling pressure that it would run abroad and cause some mischief that her body would not discount entirely, so I wished to see her in the proper light, not the coefficient of dusk that masked the landscape now.

“Now I shall receive your shallow promise. I have paid for immortality through sinful reaction”! She said, commenting from my conscious within.

Her merry lips melted into the air, opening to show a hollow embrasure, leave taking her final secret: A tooth structure formed an internal network which seemed particularly inhuman – more like a dog’s set of dentures if compared. Nevertheless, her mouth fell close again when she felt enough had been done to scare me witless, though I could still see two white arched tips peeping through the crevice between her upper and lower jaw – I admit I had not noticed these before, it was true. About then, I knew that I was in grave danger if I did not get out of her way: She had somehow risen from the dead, wanting to demonstrate her newly acquired powers culled from the ambit of unrest for some selfish benefit that didn’t apply to either me or anyone immediately nearby.

She was trying to touch me and show me how real she could be. The other being just laughed, while he made out that this spectacle was inspired by a mystical saint unbeknownst to common knowledge because he was a holy man, set to serve us earthly bound angels by controlling this malingering demon.

She visibly gulped down the freshly harvested air from all around me, looking out of breath but only just for a moment. I then took this opportunity to disengage from the proceedings as I did not want to be drawn into their whimsies, lest I became savaged, hacked to bits or even split in two, in spite of both their natural combined preoccupations with myself. They of course meant me for their own immeasurable thirsts – the lady, I had already ascertained as already dead, certainly seemed parched of any life blood and looked like she could do with a drink.

The teeth sunk deep into the flesh but it was not my skin she sought to puncture but another’s. Charged with pain, since he instead became part of the embrace, her lips touched his head seeming gentle in establishment but she was quick to draw out every drop of blood like a flame to lick the dawn. His face then looked selfish, tearing away but she was so well nourished from the ruby harvest that he eventually had no more to give.

It became high time to put the genie back into its lamp and I felt the bracelet swinging through my hand, hoping to at least knock her out from my keen grip or suck her back into the vortex created somewhere within its core. Unfortunately, the one I once sought to love, mainly because of her fleeting entries into my life, had turned into a wild brute that had probably been responsible for all the devastation invested on my corral.

Clearly I felt nothing for her now, save a lasting pity for her Indian keeper who could not tame this particular dame, as she had gobbled him up in the half light - his plot to sink me had now actually terminally sunk him. There were so many things that these ghoulish creatures could do. Not limited to purely being a fanged mistress of pleasure; she had greater longings beyond goodness knows where and atrocious needs for her own device. She gave out the minimal amount of protest as I held the slovenly hands that tried to grab me back towards her. I grappled her to the ground and stood over her, which was extra felicitous towards my present intensions for escape.

“Now back you go into the bottle under the lamp light like a good sprite”, but my incantation went unheard as the creature struggled between my fingers and thumbs that were beginning to feel numb from struggle.

With all the flapping about, the slither in her movement and mastery of her limbs with greater propulsion off the ground, I let go and let the creature loose in flight through the air. It fluttered briefly before it gave an almighty push upwards, as she took off and gained altitude, free from my eager grip. I had to release the thing that once gripped me in the pressure of the evening’s potential; otherwise I would be suffocated at once by the following attrition to my sanity. Drawing strength from the wind the serpent crawled skyward free from the snare in the necklace, no longer giving way or allowing authority to bare her against her will.

My obsession’s margin had been reached once more and by instinct, I cut across the canyon as quickly as my gait would cast hopefully following the witch along to her own lair. Bringing my only chattels along the trail would have been a grave risk, so I left them behind so as to procure a greater speed in pursuit without a fair idea as where it was going…….

My mind turned on its’ axis in mid flow after tripping and falling badly over my skirts, discovering that my gun had disappeared some way back along the misty pass. I presently felt it would be useless to try and defend myself should I need further on.

So it became a nuisance masquerading as fair game amongst these illusions but I was determined to reverse my logic and even distract myself from giving in to my gut reactions, even tempting the problem. I needed a firm resolve and positive recourse, not racing off hooked on the darkness, hoping to find answers from this mysterious female, when none would be lay bare, or become available once I had eventually gained on her - letting the matter go was about the best option available. I felt the seismic pressure which didn’t relate to my fluctuating canker for curiosity’s allure, so I immediately abandoned my present drive through the tundra and walked back to invest my future, rebuilding, retrenching my shattered homestead instead.
Since then I got married to a rather prosperous young man who turned out to be none other than the local governor. He would never believe my story so I put it down to experience with a glowing light in my eye and a toothy grin.

Damsel in Distress: Winter 2004

Richard Diamond opened the chest to reveal a moth eaten coat he had been saving for the dreadful squall they seemed to be caught up in. The voyage had moved along safely thus far and all the crew were relived that the cargo had been safely stowed inside the hulk, so much so that they seemed to be squandering most of the food and drink on the way back.

On this day, it was if the ocean was coughing up phlegm in its’ distress, as thick foam breached the ship’s four corners, flying into blinking eyes and crossing the foredeck at unnatural speed. The weather drove the ship along so that it skipped through the waves in a fashion unlike a normal gravity hugging craft, lurching as it travelled quickly without course for calm or solace. Many windy gales were more like the roar that came from the bottom of the world than anything in the unassuming Mediterranean.

While it rushed, Richard watched as the speck denoting the mighty ‘el Maria aurora’ began to dominate the horizon, finding itself room to sit comfortably above the chaos below. The other ship seemed much more equipped for these onerous situations threatening catastrophic circumstance.

Richard felt strangely placid; the sky’s wicked pleasure would not work him up and he certainly had no time for his own ailing barge that now creaked demonstrably. He was no stranger to the complications suffered sometimes from the sea’s embrace and the other ship’s mastery increased his delight that he was not on friendly terms with its’ captain who he suspected as a crook.

Titan Casselle, who had adopted that name through the gambits surrounding both myth and legend, governed the Spanish vessel by chance rather than any real qualifications that could prove his worthiness to lead. He was a self made man and openly dared his crew to flout all his rules, without revealing the consequences or accounting that would be needed for such actions – the crew were an unhappy lot who were only marginally yet casually willing.

Titan would frequently pace the deck’s outskirts in a lazy manner and then candidly open a liquor bottle, guzzling the contents immediately showing no pretence to anything. Even when the rain was flushing down, he would not forgo his witch’s brew. Richard wondered what concoction was being consumed at this moment, as nature blustered around, shoving the boats with a decadent muster.

Coastal byways continued to lay in soft focus, as if complementing Richard’s present temperament. The captain explained the dangers that would occur if they were to run aground but Richard was hardly listening to his distress signals - he was making a fuss about their own chances to an uninterested witness. It irritated the captain no end to consider the Spanish sailing boat as supreme for it negotiated every peak and trough mapped by the ocean way with qualified ease. A rather ferocious wave made its way well over the bows, temporarily delaying the captain’s diatribe. Richard used this opportunity to find his way to the front to get a better view qualified to pander the sea’s panorama.

Titan was now conversing with someone on his ship but Richard could not make out this bearded newcomer who seemed to be very angry, roughly pushing as if his life depended on it. It was hard to make out in the mist but Richard felt sure that Titan’s predicament was unexpectedly desperate because just as he began to stand back, a gun was produced from the stranger’s bulky attire as if he was insisting upon a course of action detrimental to Titan’s immediate wishes. Both he and Titan began to spar. Their fighting acumen seemed limited, especially since Titan had drunk deeply that evening from everything available. He fumbled several times but the stranger spared him any direct physical pain but insisted on his gun being constantly aimed at the head.

To Richard’s astonishment, he watched as the mysterious man indicated to several other equally unfamiliar individuals to gather the tea boxes in order to jettison them over the side, as if to emphasise his quarrel. However, Titan now seemed unphased by the disturbance and even seemed to be quite jovial with the aggressor, even though his fortune was being systematically dispersed over the white powered waves. His enemy did not seem so amused by this turn in attitude and levered a silent punch straight towards his adversary’s double chin.

Richard’s head swam as the ship reeled over a particularly bad humped-backed surge in the swell and he steadied himself on the captain’s coat, who had appeared out of nowhere again to accost him with news about their impending doom and imminent salvation in heaven. But Richard was not rising to it, as he was ever-occurring preoccupied; nothing would overwhelm a ship he was on, so long as they avoided the land and kept away from the following ship – it was all so simple.

The captain was just in time to watch the goings on beyond in the Spanish clipper and observed the stranger swinging round to clout Titan neatly in the face, watching with formidable contempt the cut rudely adjusting itself on the mouth’s side just as the blood had began to run - Titan made no struggle. Meanwhile, other items that fitted below deck were tossed into the ocean in an effort to clear the ship completely. It would not be long before she was stripped bare without recourse to any merciful conduct. Other crewmembers were tied to masts and stared out by their guardians who refused to allow them cause to expect release - all this to the erratic upward and downward rhythms through the escalating sea storm surrounding the Spanish mainland.

“I’m not sure whether I should attempt to board and investigate” - Richard reiterated his intentions aloud showing just a hint of reverence, in case his captain should fear the smallest insubordination towards his decision-making.

“And I’m sure you are not getting on that boat to investigate”- rose above the din just as the sails from the stricken Maria Castile were pulled down and detached from their erstwhile elegant symmetry, now flailing, depriving a comforting functionality.

The sails were now spread about the chipped decking in distinct heaps away from the home masts to which they were used to hanging taught. Ropes were tangled up everywhere showing no directional managing or outstanding attachments in pursuit. And from the quarterdeck arose some flames heavily marshalled by the wind and in complete freedom to range above and below, engulfing the water conveyance, levelling her with ferocious intent. It had occurred to Richard that the other ship was suffering from a motiveless action that would only complete the calamitous suffering on board.

What had happened to Titan, no one could offer a clue as he was taken below through the reigning chaos and it was assumed he died in tandem with his carrying steed beneath the sea. Richard just stood and stared incredulous at the watery death and wondered what monstrous enactment had been reasoning this unmerciful action on board an ocean going clipper. His mind was still bent on going back to England and sorting out a heavy confusion that could not sort out at sea.

Mr captain was staring through his large telescope as if the stars would inform him what had happened on the stricken boat but they had been obscured by the unacceptable weather conditions. The once jaunty little fellow quickly fled the scene, disclaiming all profanities that had begun to dominate his lazy mouth just at the point the Spanish ship pitched under the swirling coverlets streaming in on the hull quite lucidly to fashion a burning edifice.

The emergency had happened on the Ms ‘Aurora’ but none had been recalled back to life, not even momentarily to bargain with the devil that would have been able perhaps spare their life if treated respectfully. Richard felt especially aggrieved about his captain’s reaction towards boarding the other boat, as he had categorically made no deliberate attempt at insubordination. Unjustly, from now on it was the captain’s intention to keep him under observation – he would not sanction any unauthorised movement from Diamond; growing paranoid each tractable hour Richard passed; noticing his sleeping preferences and nocturnal wanderings down wind from his own quarters every night occurring subsequently.

All in all, only the fishes knew the true extent of the matter beyond all hope on board the ‘Aurora’ as she sank beneath the ocean’s beam, into its’ open arms and dragged along the seabed gusting in the currents; to be washed by the waters from its’ sudden demise and at last enjoying the sanctity in release. The fishes would recognise the floating carcass that once bore someone’s soul, openly lost in this cool void – nature’s cathedral, far away from man’s delinquent sovereignty. And around the sea creatures swarmed in flocks assertively thrusting through the tea stained rivers fading into the landscape dominated by the immense and powerful Spanish naufragio.

Over and above the Galley doors were labelled tins that had been garnered from the Chinese merchants on the maiden voyage. They contained such stuff, which would harm the pulmonary system within any person who was determined to inhale ambitiously, and other materials existed which would bewitch through addiction and over usage. Richard suspected that the captain had already succumbed to such injurious inundations and that Titan was a willing disciple in tendering these goods to the far reaches of the world – after all, hadn’t the captain strode over to the ‘Aurora’ just before the storm claiming he needed a conference with the Spanish skipper? Of course, it was a distinct lie that this was the first time he set eyes on the ultra-modern exterior - as he had said at the time - they had weighed anchor together many times ago and exchanged visits disguised as courtesy to all outside investigations.

For Richard’s part he remained conscious that he was unfamiliar with the territory. How could he capitalise on his skipper’s greasy goings on if he knew nothing about the immediate area governed by the tidal forces? The country held no part for him and he grew uneasy that they still had some days before docking in Greenwich for the duration. It had been piping hot over the last few days and Richard had been growing drowsy and unaware in the real heat, suffering from extraneous nervous exhaustion but he invoked his metal, felling it unwise to encourage suspicion that there were vulnerabilities lying within him below the surface.

But it was his burning desire to expose these vulnerabilities that bit him to changing favouring disquieting impropriety. He was willing to talk about his difficult maladies but not in this hostile climate, so far away from silent intimacies, there could be no opening up or discussion regarding his pastoral situation. His personal loneliness through travelling current after current slid onwards and choked his pores like the substances stored on board and left him drifting the Spanish shores without any contact, save for a few obnoxious lines from the humdrum captain who didn’t even care.

Openly he knew nothing that such a pretty language could produce and that was exacerbated when Titan and his captain spoke Spanish secretly together in the typically frugal cabin space, such as the poor conditions they were all used to out there right in the moon’s stare. They both smoked until dawn and then froze as the wind set in – this became the last night before the Aurora’s abduction and flaming barrage, which came to pass before Richard’s discerning eye-sight.

He had picked out the key events but didn’t know any detail, while until he could grasp any local lingo; he was not going to make any surety in his progress towards working out the gamut of the problem. Meanwhile, the shadows would fall; his mental isolation gently immobilised his senses; mysterious urges plagued him so that he felt uncomfortable within his frame, or was this just his loneliness – he would not even understand it himself –not quite yet.

“You seem keen to challenge my authority”, said the captain.

“I just need to know what has happened in these waters”, Richard blindly stabbed, fully knowing there would be no reply to that, for the captain would not be quoted on anything he witnessed, especially his take on the demise that Ms Maria Aurora had suffered - he rarely allowed anyone below rank into the governing loop.

“Now if you will excuse me, I will attend to the steerage”, the jaunty old fellow then followed out, leaving Diamond a stone’s throw away from insisting the captain laid bare all his schemes precipitated with Titan the decedent Spaniard, or so he was perceived as such by all the ship’s staff.

Richard felt he needed to intervene into the intransigent profundities that were beyond the captain’s obtuse nature that now dominated the ship’s ultimate fate; the captain was promptly barking impossible orders around the stern at those who dwelt within the ship’s stomach, having dispelled themselves all over the wooden planking that sheltered their uncomfortable nightly slumber – they were servants tied to the vessel which would spit them out back onto the soil so personally beloved, although overridden with prejudice against their kind, making them akin to vermin and rats infesting from beyond the grave. It was a nervous situation to be sure – the captain dealt with their sort like dogs and they succumbed to him like dogs, always hungry but obedient to the natural pecking order of things.

Piecemeal Richard arranged together in his mind the events before coming on board ship. It was a hot day and the order of things was that he was to meet a significant lady in Covent Garden within a seedy-bold little café with nothing much going on save that whirling in both their minds, man and woman. Richard imagined he was some great legendary mariner such as Sindbad coming back to collect his lovely from the monster’s claw. Indeed, they were both turbulent with mutually admiring suggestions but no concrete evidence as to their love issued from their mouths and the parting with his imagined darling was rather wistful, wanting of rapture – and now he was all alone to ally his troubles with solace, rendering him hopeless to stand up to the captain’s insensitivities towards the Aurora’s national plight. Both parties on that day had masked their affection and now it grew to be a vast scourge that dominated Richard, who had never before warmed to an affair of love, but towards this particular lass on this particular day, he felt a never ending urge towards capturing her delight. It drove Richard’s mind insane that he never formed any lasting union with her, or kept any trinkets to serve his memory before his golden departure into the sun’s halo umbra. The heavens sang his praises each time he left her before but he had never said to her he would be back to praise her at some later time – he never thought out any final conclusion that would reach his satisfaction. It was a forlorn admittance that she would seek sanctuary in another closer friendship being mean with the time she gave to his fantasies. He knew she would too easily forget him afterwards as he roamed amongst open stars at night remembering her look, so he left her centre stage, going back to the sea’s embrace as he had always been doing everywhere he had been so far before – it was all a sin, an inversion, always back to the water’s plough. Why could he never leave off sailing away? It was never for pleasure did he voyage; more like self-indulgence did he seek this pastime?

“So how long are you going ”, she decided to go for the line completely.

“For some months or even longer”, came the thunderous answer coming involuntarily from Richard’s already deadened mouth, forming the sounds around the words so odious to his cause to settle away form her completely, having had enough uncertainty ascertaining her motives. Self-disqualification from romancing was always an option to him, as it seemed easy to run away from shaping problems that it caused, though the girl always came back for more of him after the correct time interval governed for property’s sake but he could read nothing into her interest.

It was a long week punching the air after their first kiss, but it had been a fragile embrace and not long lasting enough to be the definite faith people invested in each other when they first burst aflame in mutual worship – it was not enough. By now this token had become distant and did not seem to frame any lovers intimacy. He was not to approach the altar and would leave the country without his queen, fully excommunicated just to serve a rotten clipper captain delving amongst the furious sea, a junkie himself to solitude. Richard’s newer conviction was that he didn’t need anyone such as her to serve as kin but in the mid Mediterranean flow for it was all too late for any revoking action and self-banishment was his destiny in flight. He could not reverse his decisions, only in his mind could he turn the clocks back and regret his dismissal from her side.

“Well, have a happy time”, was all she could say and they would never do as the last uttered words he could remember that dropped like pearls from her full lips, all wavy, near-silent, quivering with amusement – yes, she had been amused by his predicament, just amused and nothing more.

Though, why was there question and doubt in his mind? Had she not befriended him quickly and disclosed to him all her secrets alphabetically unsoiled by public presentation, which nobody else could ever be in confidence and now, she quickly showed demonstrably that she didn’t care for him. He was an island of a man from now on – how was that to be cruel? But what if she did have deeper feelings for him above the normal applicable dutiful, amiability ready for exploration - had it not been up to him to grasp it when her intentions had been deliberately offered politely and sedately?

Richard, now a ship stray, stared glumly at his long tatty sea boots as the clipper continued to stride forth through the froth oblivious to the courageous lives on board that steered her through the wrathful passage. This steady preoccupation was now taking up his energies. In some strange way he blamed himself for loosing the girl and leaving her at the table in the cafe safe without a backward glance, striding away, confident that he didn’t need her or to see her again forever.

He had composed a letter to her in his mind that was never sent, “Dear Alice, as my feelings run deeper for you than is possible, that is why I am no longer able to see you without expressing these affections in person and thus with cowardly intent, force myself away from you for fear from the rest, your affectionate friend Dick Diamond”. Except that this letter could never be sent and existed in his head to comfort him in a wretchedly poor situation.

His desires remained unspoken and they became an obsession. So not being able to possess every calculated portion from her attractively skinny body, had warped his mind into a useless infatuation beyond even his mindful capabilities, sweeping him away quite casually towards a dreaming sustenance. He was unable to shield himself from immunity, such was the blight caused by the malady: An arching madness he resolutely dismissed as anything approaching permanent love for the madam in question, just a dream world consisting of suppositions, maybes and maybe-nots.

The man’s thinking was kept to the same quadrangle area along the deck each day, summoning his mind to establish why he had let the catastrophe on board the Spanish clipper go on so readily without plausible rescue attempt. Soon time became the watcher upon his sorrow.

He was sometimes waved from his rest by the mute from below who signalled him to rise so that he could clean the area that had been so dear for him in the wake of the crisis. It wouldn’t have mattered much, only Richard had lazed there silently for days and he was becoming to look like a stain on the woodwork. Frequently the snorting cleaner would work around him but now he really had a job to do. While Richard had been through mysterious sleep, he had developed nausea for what he had not done for the Aurora, just as the sunshine broke from beneath the cloud layers to shower the boat with radiant glowing dust uprising from the air stream – a sight that brought mercy from a hitherto godless extreme over the last week’s course.

His awakening was deathly and shooting up a gaze to the fresh sun that allowed the earth to spin by consent around and around without breaching contract. Richard stalked about deck in sympathy to find something further to steady his own relentless orbit. He had been allowed to lay there drunk for ages and no one had made actions to revive him from his stupor or even to address the man verbally. It was if it didn’t matter that a key worker could be allowed to drift away from his duties in such a manner. Richard felt that he had been dammed by the whole ship and had been condemned to enter into the contemplative universe that only a vagabond would seek.

“So you are awake then”! Said the captain after what had been abusive word parade streaming continuously, mutually offered.

“I’m singularly out of sorts”, came the reaction from Richard after the door was shoved closed behind them both. The captain shot another glance that meant more thunder.

“As from now, you will remain in here until I feel I can trust you; I believe you to be a spy working for that traitor Titan, who I believe has faked his own doom in order to survive secretly elsewhere. He plans a mischief against me”.

“The very idea is preposterous”, came with a widening of the eyes, “I do not know a word of Spanish if you please! How can I negotiate in such roguery sir”?

“Simply by suggestion, by a look perhaps”? an answered framed by a question.

“I have not been off this ship for six month hence. How can it possible for me to acknowledge something from Titan you didn’t know”?

The captain paused for thought and then began again to muster his argument.

“You mean to hoodwink me drabbly sir, and I’m not countenancing it”!

The captain broke off to achieve an exaggerated contortion with his facial muscles, which divulged his fury. It was if he had compositely broken his requisite temperament.

“You will stay here for the duration…. there is no sense in letting you loose about the ship causing havoc and reporting back everything that happens to the Spanish infidels. I’ll just shut you up in here until we port at Greenwich”.

It was clear to Diamond that the captain was hiding a dark secret and he guessed it wasn’t for such as him to know anything about it; it was time for him to curtail his maritime adventure and endure the captain’s censure. Out twisted a key from the captain’s pocket, which was held up to the light to inspect its eligibility to do its job well.

“I’ll lock you up leastways”, was the parting shot, and the only one the captain could resort to administer righteously.

“But I’ll shall have it out”, was the unheard reply under his breath solely into his neckerchief.

These games, Richard knew well by force of habit as they were often played amongst the mates but humour had lately run dry and he did not wish to be barricaded in a cell by this tyrant consorting with paranoia, still further away from the hub, whilst remaining silent. Besides, most times the Captain was not to be taken seriously in his capricious hyperactivity but to dally with his pride was always a maritime mistake. Unfortunately, Richard had piqued him when he questioned his judgement before the ailing Aurora and as she sunk the captain had decided to depose the lad from active duty in case of any reformation silencing his authority. Richard’s self inflicted drunken stupor gave him just the excuse he needed to lock him away for an extended period until the bolting guns would be heard from Greenwich dock once more.

Richard became a forgotten charade, a mere gesture, all played out as the skies darkened into night, the shade of day. As the mates circled around the prowl they were nervous, as there had been a let up in the wind that had left them with one days grace to breach the mainland. Survival and money were everyone’s chief concerns and the captain was not easy on his feet as they were still wasting time in the wash of Spain.

Night officially begun its’ iron domain that would not relent unless the fractured dawn could be encouraged enough to rampage the heavens. The ship heaved steady but below the decks there issued long coughs and spluttering noises from the tired sailor’s mouths; they couldn’t sleep though seldom stirred. Others kept watch over their destinies in the stars but switched their attentions to earthly matters dealt up in a dull clay pipe to smoke, mumbling a few obscenities just to reassure themselves through the night, gaining succour from their rasping voice addressing the moon unsheaved.

Splish, splash, splosh, and during early hours, while the few were now reposing soundly, one strong hand broached the ship’s side and one tall man cast himself over onto the deck surface, sprawling madly on the wet planking like a squirming sea animal in its’ death throes. He was enormous, not withstanding his bulbous underbelly, jiggling about horrendously as he rose up on all four limbs. Water gushed off defining his shape as a hulking marine beast but in actual fact this miraculously was a man desperate in his intentions.

Slish, slosh inside his boots as he urged himself along, then leaning silently to peek through a window. Ribbons of flushing water glided onto the floor from the boat sides to form small pools, so much so that he would slip and try to take hold, though not to fall suddenly. Shrugging darkness belied his coming: The man was not able to see through the dour gloom ahead because the deck area remained unlit, although his eyes shone out like two hollow beacons, suspended in mid air.
All the water in his eyes obscured his view but he tottered and swung with his hands to propel his heavy frame, swaying as he traipsed towards the steering helm gaining momentum gradually without fail, gaining inch by inch as he felt his way down the narrow side alley in slow progress. Then by swerving he gained access to an open door and barged into the Galley area where he knew he had items belonging to him but quite honestly had no knowledge if they were still kept there.

Once wiping off the last drops from his temple he crept under the table and peered at the boxes and utensils laid out obsessively neat. He recognised the boxes that he had dealt in unfair trade with the captain, as it was exclusively he who had carried out the shady deal. It wasn’t tea that fixed this particular transaction but the silvery mercury threads readily known as quicksilver by appearance. He knew it to be stored in the tins above the doorframe; luckily there was no one around to bar his access to the said items.

This skulking man remained a mystery, with his fists ready to pound anyone who gave action to his desperate wanderings. Just to look into the face would affirm the convictions that any doubter might oppose: a man that had endured arising hardship, though hell bent to carry out his bequest after death.

The tins came rattling down and he dragged them over to the door, not wishing to pause for stealth or to check his passage even casually. As he was in possession of his beloved objects, he felt to tarry would strike fatal to the cause. Mechanical eyes with energy and monstrous intentions scanned the way and he sped down wind towards the sailors, some were cavorting in order to reach out the way of his path – the sheer momentum would set to kill a straggler; his eyes forbade real reproach. The sailors felt a crazy terror as to challenge their jurisdiction over the living, recognising the figure rushing towards them to be the loping Titan from the late ‘Maria Aurora’.

Most called and called but their voices were spent on the winding breeze across ship.

Titan opened his tins and the silvery liquid swam out all over, covering a vast distance. With a spring he followed the wide sweep with fire from the oilcans that he knew were always stored next to his mercury tins. Hence the whole sidewalk was deeply engulfed in gliding flames, as several more cans of mercury fluid were dispensed around the inner gunnels to fester, fume and asphyxiate real men, up above and down below the decks. None could rise above the suffocating mixture as the tyrant had done his work exceedingly well.

Men cascaded overboard diving in teams, clutching their throats, not knowing where to wonder but seeking solidarity with the seas frozen embrace, it would act as a solid death. Frantically, the captain barked orders but nobody seemed to hold dominion, some still beating the air, gurgling with fire in their throats and diving from the conflagration that still needed to take hold around the ship.

With Titan still rampaging around and around, no one took notice when a second figure crawled over the beam and straggled the capstan with a heave and a cry; she was in pain, though it was not particular physical exertion that impeded her desperately. Catching the light she looked barbarous as if she was about to strangle someone for pleasure but it wasn’t for her pleasure, instead half crazy with the same tyrannical emotions that Richard ventured to sweat out from himself during the vicarious weeks after the tragic sinking, both seeking to douse the inflammation that so goaded them towards nowhere or the abyss: a love that refused to pass.

Drippy, drip and whomsoever would be watching would see that this woman was sparkling from the wetness uppermost on her shoulders and over her face. Not wholly slim but still her body kept faith with a clandestine benediction that remained uncovered. She had been born from the sea, ripped out from the nadir. She now wanted to face her champion, the person who had brought about her demise.

Titan was still enraged and filling up with fury. He pressurized the infernal fire by sticking everything flammable into the blazing extremes so that its energy could not be countermanded. As it travelled, it became a monstrous entity consuming the rigging, slicing its victims alive with unnameable gusto without compromise. Just then at last he saw that the captain was at last shaking a lifeboat loose as if to unhook it from its harbour with panic ringing in his ears and his life nearly forfeit.

“You English pigs are nothing special, you should have be our slaves when we had the chance”, was the gruffly utterance from Titan as he stormed up the aisle to transact a furious tide of abuse on his old chum who was lying surprised by the untimely resurrection, who immediately echoed his sentiment in plain language – their partnership had indeed run out abruptly. Their deeds cum crimes were finalised in this single suspended moment, one man built like a fortress and the other in his captain’s regalia like a military general deciding the standoff.

“Since Shanghai, you have been an idiot. I will not yield to you,” was the captain’s bitter argument; he hoped it would not be his last to cast his elemental resentment against his former ally,” See if we cannot settle this before the fire wipes us both out. Are you not angry because I am so?”

“I’m not interested anymore in your inclinations, I hear you speak on diplomatic terms but I’m not attentive – you have shown cowardly instincts and it shall be your punishment that I destroy your life with a quick clench of my fist”, he said, “if it was money we should have spoke but to quickly away after stealing my treasure would only deserve my wrath after friendship”. Titan spoke from bitterness, slightly entranced in resentment and regret adding his own spittle as opposed to the bitter waves gushing forth over the sides as if to indicate everyone’s common fate.

The howling was torturous and the old captain continued his preoccupation with freeing the small boat from its efficient shackles. Then like a jackal Titan pounced and tore at his hair whispering in his ear further nastiness. It was all that he could do to level his enemy after stealing away in the Indian Ocean with the fresh supply on board - The seeds from the red flower ready to use with faithful evocation, torn from the oriental garden originally intended for homeward custom but for these two desperate felons, an addiction they could nor shake off in imagination’s bluster. They had both made a deal to smuggle and make money; unfortunately the boredom ate away at them during the many months on board, poisoning them thoroughly beyond measured time.

It was the one that may be called blazingly attractive, in elegant guise, which the colourful female appeared within the storm and rancour. Just a silken mop on top and persevering eyes, almost challenging but beautiful now and again, tempted to shine momentarily to quell the darkness’ pleasure.

She reached out with both her limbs and took their hands respectively and began to shout above the din, her mouth shaping words that seemed reaped from both terror and shameless declamatory. The lady had walked the sea to find these men who had destroyed her so readily, being determined to bring them to justice quickly for tying her up in the living world as a figure-head to be shorn from her perch as the ‘Maria Aurora’, now long since sunk, stifled beneath the waves.

She indeed had drowned and had become the sea herself but her soul lived on to persuade the men that had lashed her up in their rigging just to die for their own messy conscriptions. One had been her lover; the other betrayed her to bargain with him; they had respectively been under the urge from the opium and she dealt a surprise with one blow, baring her teeth to withstand the pressure their bodies made while they broke in the waves.

Back in the safer English harbour, tall ship captains spoke candidly about the two boats suddenly destroyed around the deadly seas, around the Spanish coast – it was all circumstantial mystery. One survivor had remained in a shabby frock coat, calmly returning on a vessel requested to rescue the survivors. He was originally found in a small lifeboat with his dead captain stored on board, first spotted towards the shore clinging to the bobbing figurehead, a single remnant from the ‘Maria Aurora’ – a girl petrified in wood with defiant expression. The captain was already dead before he was laid belly up, posing for the heavens as if to beseech them to take him back.

Richard watched on with nonchalance, having lately gained a more balanced temperament although his better judgement had been dangerously challenged during that time abroad, governed by his infatuated desire for requited love that he did not get. She was nothing more at this moment than a memory – her spell had finally dispersed over the ocean forever to fix his remission.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tall Fences: Spring 2004

He was locked firmly into his work, tearing up the ground with his silver spade, splashing through the flying soil like a blade. It wasn’t long before it was all done. Sid’s monstrous garden had been dismantled and now it was ready to be transformed into something renewed. All the soil had been turned over several times and fresh manure had been applied to grow the plants, now it was for the ground to open up with contemporary growth that was promised by the season’s twist. The frost had made the ground impregnable but spring had come along to loosen the concrete soil and fulfil its role as the universal midwife.

But the stroll every day to the garden’s boundaries made Sid grow more thoughtful and forced him to procrastinate on his former glories, certainly not on this virtuous outing he made day in day out to wander around his crops. As the day fared on with its rain and debutant sunshine, he began to consider his age and his own promised destiny. What had he become now? His mountainous body parts had turned into disarray; his gums had glued themselves tightly shut for more than a year and his legs now only allowed him to amble politely around his little pen containing all his family shrubs, yet it was never going to be more than that on this patch.

Sid found that he could not promote his notional garden; he found it hard proving the potentiality his garden might be capable. This small patch represented the dying functionality linked to the ploughed enclosure, not the modern outlay created to be more aesthetic. His golden potatoes, his bobbing bulbs and his quality turnips would be gone very soon, brushed away with his impatience to continue another crop yielding next years precious victuals. Nobody cared or bore witness to his interests and least of all did he care about the minor tantrums that appeared in the news, in the newspaper and most probably in the garden where Lilly Siedler lived, right next door to his chosen bunker retreat.

She was a native within this long Island, although quite adequately equipped with worldly travel to hotter climates. Lilly found it vital that she learnt to stay in one place for the current time franchise, especially as something shockingly brighter was now about to present it’s calling card upon her presence.

It was curious to note the contrast between the hopelessness writhing amongst the immature botanical surplus that Sid had lately encouraged into a living state and the coming mystery that was fated to once more provoke Lilly’s revision as to her lifetime strategies; both extremes, the old man and the young lady, lie side by side in the smouldering semi detached jungle that were forever odorised by musty autumnal bonfires, heralding the darkness before the first school run at every weeks beginning.

Despite the regular sequences that dictated events, Lilly thought about her multi-linked department, bought for her by semi-acquainted sponsors whose creed lay in badgering her for her company on demand. It was not that she would not give it freely; it was more that she was a fashion item, not a woman, which earned her distain every time these people called in their little monetary favour. They ignorantly imagined her flirtations and each dubiously thought her for themselves. In actual fact she had no preference over which was more benevolent or consequently which was less bankrupt, though we do know they all tended to spill the alcohol most nights right until the bluey morning dawn came swinging on its hinges.

One particular day, outside the house, the shadows lengthened casually in sink with the sun’s developed journeying over the horizon, and it loaded Sid’s garden with silhouettes, twisting out on the lawn’s surface like circuit wires. He had been fixing a useful trestle, it had been a dreadful battle, but was now infecting the amounts of poisonous Ivy that had openly annexed his kitchen conservatory thus affecting his malice.

On the other side, Lilly was thinking deeply about how she first recieved her name: Was it given to her deliberately to make her so old fashioned or did it suit her nicely? She definitely felt it was a great deal better than Lillian or even the devilish Lilith, but she decided it was just Lilly without all the dressing up. Now she was extremely cross with herself for having to sort all that out mentally and she mostly never wanted to venture in her head far from what was immediately transparently relevant to her, though something had hi-jacked her today, rebuking her usual habitual alignment. If she sat here for much longer she could prejudice herself towards a strong action or to make a decision that would rebound back on her immediately. She needed to escape these quandaries quick smart or take root to the spot and become a garden spirit instead. That wouldn’t do and furthermore, it wouldn’t be so amusing if anyone she knew would espy her here alone, just idling the time cast away in deep contemplation.

She arose and felt slightly pleasant in her laziness; perhaps she thought she would just lie there for the rest of the afternoon, nothing else would matter. She now resolved from that moment on not to think about anything too weighty or to think about any later developments that she might be engaged upon that day. This was her inheritance for getting up happily each morning, a welcome afternoon snooze, barracked in within her own back yard. It would not be long before her sponsors would be around to collect her for a little evening activity around the pubs and clubs that hung from the town in tassels. Meanwhile, she would carry on rewarding herself for living such a worry free life style without the sex or harangue many colleagues would suffer by being paid off. Her sponsors were extremely kind and hardly ever laid a finger on her.

“Bing – bong”, the doorbell was a distant echo around the lounge area, typical but a clearly an unmusical chime that all the doors along the street would open and slam shut to in unison, but with one exception: The house opposite actually imitated Big Ben in an aggressively auditory manner. Their difference was put down to the red light that shone out from their porch whenever the evening, with darkened coppery gown, walked in upon the fractured suburban landscape. Unfortunately, these people were ordered to vacate within two months and Lilly looked forward to more comforting street companions, who would fit in more within the street’s outlay.

She stretched and entwined her hands around her bobble head but she would not leave it until the sound’s reprise. The glass door steamed up in the air and it was opened to a tall gentleman who barged his way through quite aggressively. His hands brushed quite cynically through what had not been tied up in her hair and he sued her for an empty declaration of love, straining the air full with duplicity. There was a silent understanding as their eyes met and their lips locked but it was not for long. Her mouth elongated with zeal from the kiss into a loaded smile. She did not want to cope with a longer and sprightlier embrace, especially if her partner decided to take liberties that would leave her shabbily dressed instead.

“Go away to that chair and a wait”, she would say under her breath.

It was not long until he was straining again to lever her away from a self-reliant standing position so that she would actually fall on him. But it was not a thing the lady wanted to do and she just looked at him dreamily before loosing herself within the knick-knacks that had been stuffed into the fridge from a previous shopping spree around buildings that looked more like bomb shelters than places to buy things.

Everything in her room grew with foliage that extended about, as if it was distracted away from the earth in order to populate the air. Some flowering bells were strikingly bulbous; others withered and shorn, inflicting their presence quietly but intimately on the watcher’s eyes that might be peeking from several angles, but never too closely, for that is what flowers are all about – they are decoration derived from creation.

She found no wine, so instead they hacked into the spirits instead. After several hits they fell into each other’s again in order to summarise what they had done before now, and still other moments far back into the past. It didn’t stop, as life itself was hopeless in stopping its own revolving outcomes.

“Oh fire maker, why do you crackle so”, he said.

“Because I have not yet been put out”, she replied to this onerous remark from her heaving lover.

Her smile was now an actuality and not just an imagination by the man, as he covered her over with himself so that she would not be distracted anymore. The crocus on the mantle looked on despotically, not wishing to lift its gaze anywhere about the room. The colours pigmenting this pretended sentinel blended well into the patterns printed copiously onto the carpet and around the lounge walls.

“How long have we been asleep”, she arose to peer dimly at the clock that was not on the wall but carelessly bounding around her room out of reach from her arms length. They had now both got up and he was now quickly tying his shoelaces delicately in an effort to disguise his emotions, if they would so dare to reveal themselves from the escapades consequence. He managed that well and then quickly got as far away from the woman as possible, marching through the front door like a foot soldier, playing to his real self, not the shadow that had released its energy around her lounge area, hoping for love but never quite getting it in full measure.

Lilly’s auburn hair carried off the sunshine that came arching through the window in a watery line past the bowing narcissus flower poised to forge the depths. Besides looking at the cooker and being hypnotised by the dials for a few seconds, she flicked on the television set and began to watch whatever it was the dialectic broadcasters were prepared to broadcast at the time of day for public indifference. It allowed her to deviate away from what she was really thinking and in comfort she found the pictures tranquillizing, never perplexing. It was here that she found her assuring reality.

She deeply smiled to herself as she saw Sid eagerly reprise his weeding in his front garden patch. Of course he would never swing his face her way, just in case she was able to read what emotions had been written all over it for most of that time that day.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Affair Of The Deep: Autumn 2003

Her heavily wrought corona bellied that she was infallible beyond irredeemable doubt. She would never come to harm if she insisted on it and she would never permanently expire as long as she believed in her ability to live indefinitely long for a mortal. So who was she really, for nobody became emboldened enough to request an answer from her tongue of any magnitude that would sort out any inquisitiveness resolutely. It was a question that was just never asked anywhere, least of all in her own palace.

Just on the week’s cusp she threw out several guests who had invented an excuse to berate her wilfully, asking intimate favours she would not give in to any such person. They had ceased an opportunity to engage the more ethereal aspect in her visage, duelling with her repose and delving into her hidden motivations that constantly remained unravelled. After brushing these arbitrary people away into her all too saintly court, her designs flew forth from the present situation she had dominated for centuries, as it was long time again to fly and in that actual resolution, it was all too late for her invited suitors to fulfil desire’s faithful promise.

She garnished herself overtly with egotistical trinkets, gauged into the body like bulbous diverts and wore assorted ring nuts all arrayed around multiples in three and six. They were all devices designed to assault the mysterious pretensions flowing through the male transept towards beauty but were at this moment intrinsically designed to intimidate her immediate aggressors.

And so it was time for her tortured foot soldiers to flood the plain as they prepared to move once more away from her terrible sphere of influence. The novices first with their metallurgic pikes flashing in the dawn wind as they wound down the plain past the boulders they had hailed six years ago, quenching their impetuous curiosity to see the only feminine entity that had wrapped herself in a downy shawl that were surely her wings.

Her will was not remorse but to do what one must, quickly and efficiently in the face of an invading enemy from the south, who claimed their action every leap year. The pike men would open hostilities while she made a stealthy exit back to her settled birthplace. And in that way she was not infallible; she could be turned out onto the barren tundra to seek her penance elsewhere whenever the leap year turned its cycle into regular effect. Now the dawn reigned down on her as she and her packhorses marched into exile for twelve month until at last she was allowed to return by the satisfied usurpers. Fortunately for her, she was not aware that any humiliation had befallen her and fulfilled every detail in her role without due complaint and in true compliancy; She was graceful in the relinquishment regarding her inherited land fortress.

Carocco was one such novice footman who had been sent out with the other pikers to cause a diversion, while she escaped back to the provinces. At this moment in time he was feeling rather too bitter about his treatment by his fellow officers. His frustration was justified by his unequal treatment, without the qualified seriousness or respect that had quickly established itself around the other ordinary guard. Indeed, he was the sovereign’s personal lackey, amounting not much more than a slave. In another life he had been a warrior renowned for tremendous battle instinct but now he was just a tamed pet, reporting to her majesties domestic department as a lower functionary, unjustly enfeebled by his lowly status.

“Oh for the arms of a welcoming party, hell bent to heal my pride”, Carocco shouted out into the open air.

But they all intransigently ignored this gesture and covered themselves with their flustering wings so that he would not decide to talk with any face to face ad libitum.

Carocco’s rancour effaced by the situation increased while he was directly challenged to help carry the giant field cannon that was destined to be trained on the enemies marginal defences. Openly he fought the decision but it was to no avail; he would have to apply his delicate limbs into carrying it over treacherous countryside terrain for the impending common assault.

It was discovered later on that he had instead decided to veer off for his own purposes, though it could be rightly said that the pikers were grateful for this departure because Carocco tended to weigh them down with his inability to fly like them - carrying baggage was to be entrusted to someone much more versatile to the job in hand.

So aloft the pike men all danced, wafting on the wind as their flock flew in a stringent formation, their weapons at the ready to strike for only an instant in their need, and their wits as slight as their feared end. They were all afraid and glassy eyed whilst the colder layers met them at attitude, feeding them with apprehension. Up they moved to conjoin with the sky’s length, coiling around and around like sailors fighting turbulent seas, except this frothy ocean was drenched in vying dusty feather wings from all the people around. They searched the heavens as labourers would for somewhere to build a solid formation but it was terrible weather in which they sought sanctuary and quite openly the gang developed nausea, for the heights attained and their feathered tips failed them in flight, sending them back to the mercy of the ground petrified in the rain’s severity.

Carocco’s back moulded itself into the bough’s frame as he watched them all float into the air and swim off into an unknown realm. He too had arisen to a height but was in his case, was beholden to the tree’s branch holding his elevated position over gravity’s tyranny. Sleep was not far off but resolve far more the more urgent course for consideration.

“Oh travel gently my fellows, into the storm as they’ll cut you down surely once our enemies become maddened enough to strike heartlessly,” he mouthed silently.

His calculated run for freedom had infringed compliance expected from him in a perverse run of things. Despite never really wanting to look up, his relief forced him to meet the winking sun dressed in a small blue coverlet, then immediately looking away to grant an audience with a passing dove, which was as white as the singlet worn by the rising pike men and could be detected in the breath of sky immediately adjacent to this blue patch.

“Oh my tender gals how I shall miss you now we are away again”, he voiced to the sun, who in recognition stepped out from its throne behind some foolish clouds, just managing to obscure its majesty but it still overtly manage to leak golden juice over the poor champion’s face, sitting there along the tree wondering what to do next.

Perhaps the sun reminded him that the Queen’s solace was similar to his own impregnable reserve. Cocooned in her cosy palace of beautiful styles, she hardly knew anything about outside affairs, except as like now, she needed to flee her enemy’s sight for a very short period until it was safe again to return to normality under her own stealthy wings.

From the father reaches Carocco grew more aware that an incredible lurching figure was picking its way towards him through the giant thickets, typical in such a baron dust bowl that was the region’s delight. Carocco could not identify this approaching blob, though it seemed mad in its conscientious progress, flaying through the hostile undergrowth. He slid down the arching trunk to meet this unknown person head on and to find out something more about this comical wayfarer. It soon became obvious that this person was a piece of chaff disastrously walking about at random, or was he running away from something menacing by his own calling, Carocco could not tell which.

“Dear sir can you tell me which is road that would link me to Breach Canyon”, he said in a fleeting lisp casually set on his tongue, twisting his mouth into a mechanical shape.

“The shapes of my Klan ventured in that direction, what of it”, was the retort from the equally strained Carocco, “what is your purpose in that special realm young sir”?

“A blood relation to the queen”, he heaved back, “just visiting the good old lady soverign to purge a few sins”.

But he could not possibly know the queen’s qualities, besides she was a young lass, quite younger, younger then anyone else could remember. Why would this stranger want to describe her so when she was clearly not? Carocco felt suspicious and became doubtful because the queen was not a matter for common knowledge, and would never countenance such treasonous intrusion, especially not now when she was under a cyclical threat in the leap year.

“Well I cannot detect any look that you may own that puts me in mind that you may be a true royal relation. Cut your tongue if you propose to blaspheme longer blockhead”, as was said by what was now an overtly irritated Carocco.

He could not read anything from the mazes within the crone’s hazel eyes and proceeded to rebuke him further as in punishment.

“Your rude interjection will mean a dangerous presumption; find your way to a more considered opinion or I’ll have you hung drawn and quartered amongst the other rogues I mean to eliminate, for I’m more loyal than you suppose”, he beat back.

And so they began their torrential quarrel that took hours to settle in the rain. Carocco just would not let him pass muster for his lies and listened out to capture the whispered curses about him that this man might moan under his breath. Apparently he knew her name, as Kim but all Carocco knew was a royal woman processing an opaque pallor according to her needs. Sometimes an illusionary smile momentarily fractured her enormous gums that spoke nothing about what the female thought behind her hopelessly wrought mask. Her eyes would beat from time to time but when opened fully, seemed fully numb and serious; nothing for the likes of Carocco or the universal pool within his kind to get into. So this man alluded to intimacies with her that were just not possible in any circumstance; so lay the paradox.

Carocco grew sure that if this nuisance carried on burbling about what he knew about their sovereign, he would end up twisting his head straight off his accommodating shoulders, just to gain him some peace; besides he could not fly with wings like his fellow countrymen and remained pinned down to endure the tormented fiction this man spat out which angered him interminably.

“Prove you know our mistress, otherwise develop your madness in chains”. Carocco now spoke his mind and ventured to immobilise himself from yet a further breach of sanity that this man could offer.

For this man was far ruder beyond the pale of doubt, ruder than anything Carocco had noticed in anyone else before but it had got him thinking on other tangents beyond the ones he had got stuck on so recently. What if she, this so-called goddess they had been worshipping for the last fifty years, was really the rude infidel instead? What if this man was right and they had all been hoodwinked into thinking this graceful lady more than she seemed but really she was a crown disaster, possibly even sleeping with the man who faced him down now. Perhaps she was in the clutches of something evil instead, or was charmed by day and by night she would awake from her torpor to become a temptress at her leisurely device. But what was really true, she didn’t want anything from them, her own true kith, whereas Carocco would stay by her side until the last measure, or even until the dawn had no more will to break in its infatuation with its own self.

“Open your mind you fool; from the cradle I have known her, for I’m her brother who lives up in the moon’s quadrant around the sea of eyes. I sometimes tramp through more earthly domains as a spy, hoping to curtail her enemy’s hopes but it is never to any worthwhile avail that I can halt their indicative schemes”, he said almost in an unearthly chant, “but, she must always wave them away with a composure that would scatter the witless and every fool that would blunder to follow her hoping for a sudden wind fall from her soul”.

“No that cannot be, she is as secretive as this desert around us now! How can you burst force with all your deviant manners and maintain she is nearly the same as you?” It was Carocco’s last hope that the stranger would relent before him but he held fast with a knowledgeable smile that put out his flame with a flutter.

To Carocco, she just did not utter more than a sentence at a time and only spoke as if within her sleep. He could not tame his mind one way or another and he saw that the shameful mask would not unfurl from the stranger’s visage, not even slightly.

“The devil betrays you old man; do not now try to convince me any further. These are lies that could be construed as gossip”, though in actual fact Carocco felt deceived on the Queen’s account and by this mans eccentric behaviour. Was there a conspiracy to pervert evil around this tight corner realm? How could the same seed spawn such diverse figures: One queen and a man who claimed to know her like the palm creating his own hand?

“Give me your hand and I will take you and show you all that I have promised”, the stranger spoke quietly as he pulled out a limb that fielded a long set of wobbly digits that had up until now dwelt neatly down his long sleeved smock, “you must come with me now otherwise you will not grasp for yourself the whole truth in this matter; your knowledge will lie forever destitute without functional enlightenment. Please say you will come. It is not far to what it is I wish to show you. But do come now otherwise it will be all gone and there will be nothing to see. Hurry up”!

But the ground sucked him down and the ferocious spies of anger would not allow Carocco to stay still but to move him further forward off the preferred spot. It seemed like magic that his curious legs were not his own but journeying in their own accordance, following the older gentleman in unison a few paces behind. They both trudged through the robust countryside, not noticing that the sky was always changing from a blackened stain to a silver azure whilst the sun shone through, then back again into the bleak eye sore that it had been before. Soon enough they both stopped short several feet from a dusty canyon that funnelled out towards the travelling duo.

“Where do you think she is now”, he barked at Carocco.

“Carried off to seclusion according to her war time obligations”, answered his opposite number.

“I bet you don’t know where she really is youngster man”, he said.

“If I were you, I would loose the attitude, I have pretty powerful allies”, he counter-struck.
“She’s not where you think she is, that’s for sure. I know for certain”, he said as if to parry the shot much more carefully.


“Because she’s around here where she truly lives”.

“Around here, in there, thriving in that aisle” he said, pointing to the long desert groove that made up the canyon.

Carocco had forgotten himself and it definitely showed on his face. What was this man implying? A whole lot of nonsense had been stumped up it initially seemed, though despite all the doubt, young Carocco felt ill at ease. This man was so sure in his conclusions, his aspersions, and mostly his clear thinking as towards everybody’s queen that she truly was when he remembered home.

“She’s down there alright”, he was singularly on a roll now, taking big advantage that Carocco looked terribly confused, “she’s camping out down there with her entourage my friend”.

The ragged man went on to describe her first journey to these parts. She needed to leave the home city straight away. It wasn’t that she needed to be away for some lunar months while the marauders sacked her haven; it was mostly because she had some other diversion away from the usual courtly drudgery, prying eyes and miscalculated investigations into her life. She would spend all her nights in this small free alcove.

It wasn’t long before a dishevelled little girl came tumbling towards them, yelping coyly, stumbling breathlessly and constantly sneezing. Her wings constituted another tight shawl united with the shoulders, winding round her body, spiralling down in tufty feather vistas to her two little naked feet. Two little blue eyes peered up but slammed shut to shield against the now constant sunlight that had broken the creeping clouds.

“This is her first born and there will be several others like her who will come along, no doubt after the first wave has spent out, though that’s only a prediction”.

Carocco couldn’t think what the man was talking about, it didn’t make sense to his tiny fragmented mind; it frightened him to know all these things; there were too many things to take in simultaneously.

The man went on with the story as the child girl carried on stumbling along, switching from one leg to the other as she travelled across their mid sight towards another stationary figure, which had suddenly appeared behind them. There was a brief description to finish the story’s final slice but Carocco was no longer listening to the man. He had already turned to face what he could only feel sure was a trick in the now modulating dusty light. She towered over him, wings spread out wavering in the solar illuminations that cut through the structural gaps. She briefly looked agitated beyond measure, her mouth dazed open by her own bewilderment. But she soon composed herself and slid back into her former decorum that had be so familiar to Carocco back home, where she led them with the same such curt indifference. Her deeply summated eyes assumed a poised stare and through cultivating hypnosis seemed to subdue her company captive like mere prey. She stared at Sirocco endlessly but remained obdurately taciturn, as was her usual nature whatever the occasion.

She had obviously been spawning quite heavily lately and Carocco could pick up one or two words about ingratiating herself onto a male being, which was fertile enough only at certain brief moments in the lunar year for her to hatch her gullible osprey whenever it was her whim to do so. He had seen her example in the ambling girl. So she was here in this ditch with all her new companions, partners, their families and her own family, involved in a community-building project beyond imagining, cultivated from here amongst the dusty waste. She had bled her all into this project and left nothing but her emotionless shell towards her deserted kinfolk at the palace.

“What is to become of us”, he whimpered while he could still control his panting voice in quite lowish wave patterns, “it would seem silly to suggest that you would ever want to come back to us now you are established here”.

It was true to say that she could not consider any such reason to return to her former kingdom anymore, especially now she had been found out by an insignificant underling, intruding to discover her new nest away from her own shinning past. His little jab from her destiny had jeopardised the palace. Such knowledge would be his undoing, as he saw her now for what she was, in her true guise.

She folded her arms angrily and declared, “Now you can go home Carocco for I certainly don’t want you now”.

Carocco wept violently, as he knew he could when he had occasion to, with sheepish upturned eyes that pleaded with his former majesty but she was remiss in her response. She turned away uninterested and sauntered down into the foreboding crack to feast on the desolate earth with her virulent partner, who had drawn her into his dormant lair several springs in every leap year.