I am going to bed with Mrs. Crasthorpe.
I have been to bed with her before.
It was a most pleasant experience.
Her husband is dead. She is a free woman now.
She is fit and feisty and when she’s breathed in the briny air of Eastbourne, she loosens up and tells me.
She has generously full lips. blonde hair and grey-blue eyes and is the ripe old age of 59.
Nothing unseemly passes between us, however.
Sadly she is an invention of William Trevor.
You look like a newt
in yr birthday suit
she said with clear élan.
A little blemished.
A strange fit of a man.
I’ve read yr text.
I know what’s next
& up the stairs she ran
Is it any good pleading? Thompson says.
For your life? Not really.
But you can’t just toss me aside like a dog carcass, not after all I’ve done for you.
You were more than serviceable, Hunter admits. But you’ve served your purpose. You can’t argue with me.
Will it be painless?
Well, get it over with then.
One minute, Hunter says.
He reaches into his satchel and pulls out his laptop.
Finish your drink, Hunter says. Out with the old and in with the new, he smiles, keyboarding fiercely.
He taps the delete button.
And with that, Thompson is gone.
I was talking to my rarely glimpsed neighbour who was out the front raking the leaves.
We chewed the fat for a while
and then I asked him about Gus, his elderly Jack Russel.
He doesn’t annoy you. does he? he asked.
Not at all, I said. I’m a dog person.
Well, he annoys the hell out of me, he said. The other day he was barking at the dining room wall and wouldn’t stop. There was nothing there.
Apparently, they see ghosts, I said. Even in the dark.
He stopped raking.
Or he has dementia? He offered.
Wow! I said. That would open a can of worms. Think how many documented ghost sightings could be put down to dementia.
People don’t bark at walls, he said.
Not even in they’re barking mad ? I asked.
We both laughed uneasily.
Inside, the dog began barking again.
Your canal’s very narrow, he says.
Yes, like the Thai tunnel cave divers had to negotiate to get those boys out. Not much sound can get through. There are no cave divers small enough to help it along.
Like that film in the sixties? I say.
Which film is that?
‘Fantastic Voyage’, where a submarine crew are shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of a scientist to repair his brain.
Can’t help you there, he says.
Is it hereditary then?
Quite possible. The left auditory canal is quite large. Can carry a lot of sound.
Maybe that’s why I lean a little to the left, I say.
Politically? he asks.
No, doc. When I walk.
pic courtesy of Pinterest
You’re taking over, she says.
Am I? I say. I didn’t know that.
You men are all the same, she says.
I go away and think about it.
Can one take over without even realizing it?
Did Alexander the Great conquer all those kingdoms without
even being aware of it?
Did Genghis Khan?
Did these warrior leaders perform their actions with sleight-of-hand
fooling even themselves?
Take over? Who? Me?
I talk to my therapist who is mightily amused at the very notion.
She said what? Who? You?
I take a good look in the mirror as I pass by.
Ummm. My tentacles do seem to have grown longer.
pic by pinterest. Andrei-Pervukhin on DeviantArt
Someone once said, be in the moment otherwise you will miss your life.
I don’t know about that.
Once I was stuck in the moment.
It was like being stuck in a lift.
I was going nowhere.
Not even up and down.
There was no way out.
No alarm button to press.
No side passages to explore like in a labyrinth.
I was stuck. In the moment.
That moment when at three in the morning
the phone shrieked at us
from the hallway.
I could hear the old Minotaur lurching down the tunnels
of my brain.
I tried not to panic.
Tried smoking a cigarette
Humming a tune
Studying a fly on the wall
Reciting my nine times tables
the alphabet back to front —
do you know how difficult that is? —
And then suddenly SNAP
I was out of it.
I don’t know how long I was in the moment.
But I did wonder if I’d ever
Get out and join
The flow of life again.
The way you get worked up.
I can hear you, the noise of your coming, three rooms away.
Are such outbursts necessary?
Why, even the walls vibrate,
Now you’re really going.
Hope you don’t bust anything.
You’re not that young anymore, remember.
There’s no doubt you give it your all.
Do you enjoy it?
Sounds as if you do.
Now you’ve gone quiet, can I come in?
Yes ! The clothes are done, giddy with all that spinning.
One hour, twenty. Wish I had your stamina.
You must be exhausted.
They didn’t tell you when you trustingly submitted to a covid test that you’d have to quarantine for fourteen days even if you tested negative.
They didn’t tell you the queues would be so long, could take up to ten hours to be tested, and that there were no toilet facilities available, no hot dog stands
And they certainly didn’t tell you a fortnight in quarantine by yourself would be as gruelling, as solipsistic as a fortnight in solitary in a maximum security prison — and that you never even get to see your jailer
There is no training for this.
And anyway you’ve only got eight more days of madness to look forward to, so it isn’t all bad
Until you realize at the very end, your state’s in hard lockdown for at least a week so you have to go through it all over again
On the shortest day
I take the longest run
between one jetty and the next
and back again
rest myself against the rump
of a dune
listen to the sea shanties of the waves
while a mermaid appears, rises above the waves
swinging her wild, wild hair
in the sun-drenched breeze
until spotting me she coyly slips
beneath the water.
The jetty wades a little deeper into the sea
to catch a glimpse.
On the shortest day I tell
the tallest tales.