Fleeing the Scene ( A Short Story )

Heart and lungs ached beyond mortal endurance as he fled, and heard with dread the footsteps behind him,seemingly chasing after him on the dark country lane.
He cursed his own folly for having given in to a panic which as a veteran practitioner of the dark arts of espionage and assassination he ought not to have experienced let alone given into so cravenly.
He’d gotten there late in any event,long after the three others had commenced partaking of the sumptuous repast.And natural inquisitiveness,especially from Marlowe, had caused him to recount as plausibly as he was able the reasons.He realised this was more to put the other two, Poley and Skeres at their ease,for they too were more than a little anxious at his, Ingram Frizer’s tardiness.
With formal,gentlemanly apologies now aside,he partook of the repast with uncommon relish.His ride from Walsingham’s residence out here to Eleanor Bull’s reputable lodging house here at Deptford was far too hastily arranged and improvised for Frizer’s own professional liking.
Scant planning and the gift of one of Walsingham’s own blades that had seen action across the water in Holland
were hardly compensation enough for his disquieted demeanour. What was asked of Poley,Skeres and not least himself would  under more reflective circumstances been rejected as too hasty and open to failure.
But Marlowe the scribbler. the critic nonpareil,the one who shared his outrageous opinions with all and sundry;those who would listen and many more who heard them because of the timbre of his prevailing larynx,proved alluring enough for the three of them to go ahead with the bare bones of Walsingham’s idea.
With the sumptuous repast coming to an end and their bellies and spirits satiated with Mistress Bull’s copious wines and ales;the boisterous exchange of opinions both large and small took an inevitable turn,one that Frizer was alerted to wait for as patiently as need be by Walsingham himself. The turn that came when Marlowe, ever the disputant, could not hold himself or his temper so fused by imbibing,back from the precipice he himself was allowed to carve.
 
Afterward,standing in front of their Master Walsingham ,they would all remark how so like one of Marlowe’s or indeed Master Shakespeare’s stage plays with its own cunningly crafted directions for the players it all seemed to unfold at the time.
Which of course was a lie,as Ingram Frizer, his heart and lungs fit to burst on this deserted country lane in the pitch black with hell hound footsteps behind him,knew perfectly well. He had to come out of this mise-en-scene more alive than that poor sod Marlowe whose last look in this passing mortal sphere was one of sublime incomprehension.
And as his loping strides brought him ineluctably to the stables at the rear of the tavern by the bridge and his silken tradecraft let him deftly unhitch and ride off on a stolen steed back to Westminster with his report of mission accomplished- his mind conjured one more illusion.What would Christopher Marlowe write of this night in one of his plays?
With the footsteps heard on a dark country lane receding far, far into the background Ingram Frizer let his imagination roam thus:-
 
” Four figures in a room darkly conclaved,hushed breaths escape from the mirrors’ taut embrace.
Leaving no trace of having been expelled from any mouth nor orifice so plain that might betray the breather’s fear.
Malice aforethought alone leaving imprints in the air amid this spectral scene. A coven’d place where meaning and word
intertwine where shadow and light danced their furtive Pavane,
Swirling about,word without meaning,meaning without form,form without content into an empty shapeless void.
And in the dimness of guttering candles, the trails of reason evaporated and in the morning to come a new naive horizon bearing a false dawn. “

 

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Posted in 17th.Century, British History, British Literature, Destiny Poets, Ekphrasic Poetry, Existential, Flash fiction, History Poem, Horror, Poetry Noir, Short Story | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A 1960’s Northern Town

fading back the years,
to Friday-paid dirt-nailed
stand-up straight-razor guys,
smoke-stenched beer-drenched,
immersed in Willy Dixon’s words
strung like wire
barbed across their hearts;
lost in deep resonances
of factory-line steam-hammers
raw and edged
like John Lee Hooker’s
“BOOM…BOOM…BOOM “,
drunk on too much scotch
and too much weekend parfumerie,
unrequited by Howlin’ Wolf’s
plaintive primordial lament
“ won’t you come back to me? ”
its timeless patina of weariness
covering the night that goes crashing,
its braggadocio getting swept aside;
the only consolation
is in the cold clear air
of Sunday morning.

 

 

 

Posted in 20th.Century History, British History, Culture, Dystopia, Ennui, Existential, Identity, memories, Social History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Surveillance ( A Short Story )

He watches the lives of others through the end of a telephoto lens.

It’s 5:42 a.m. on an ordinary suburban housing estate and he’s been squatting for the past 6 hours in an unmarked delivery van when he catches a fleeting glimpse of a window-framed face. The same face that’s appeared at the same time at the same window on each day that he’s been here.

Parked in the driveway of the house opposite, he’s taken on the role (at least in his own imagination), of ethnographer studying and recording for academic posterity the esoteric habits and rituals of an hithertofore unknown indigenous society.He records in the neatest handwriting the ephemera of the lives of others.Their daily routines timetabled in line-ruled pocket notebooks of which he keeps more than sufficient under his seat.

Outside his ethereal realm as disembodied observer, in the lives of others a telephone rings.

Its receiver is lifted. It’s followed by a rush of silence.He adjusts his earphones and enters a menacing voicelessness.The spools of his tape-recorder engage.”Click , click ” as though a conductor is tapping his baton bringing an orchestra to order.

There is to his mind a haunting absence of noise. When telephones ring and their receivers are lifted, conversations follow. Except when they don’t and he catches another fleeting glimpse of the window-framed face that he saw just a few minutes ago.

Inexplicably, the receiver is replaced,” Click ” .The tape-recorder stops.

It’s 5:52 am and across the city in a sound studio on the fourth floor of an otherwise unremarkable office building the voices he’d captured less than 24 hours ago are on playback. Their rhythms and cadences mimic the lives of others.They hear him listening to them, listening to him listening.

Observed. Recorded. Collated. Analysed.

“Click”

 

Posted in Allegory, Contemporary Society, Dystopia, Ennui, Existential, Identity, Poetry Noir | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Passage Through Time

Time was forgotten

by time itself,

even those that

remembered and knew

of its harsh cadences

fell into a silent repose;

where no time

no longer mattered,

for in essence

time itself was no more,

no morrow,

no morning

mourning as it all fell silently

into an oblivion

it had created for itself

throughout its ceaseless computations

until the numbers themselves

ran out..

 

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In Dreams

I dream of,

I have dreamt of

Mountains and those

who’ve climbed them;

I dream of,

I have dreamt of

Seas and those

who’ve sailed them;

I dream of,

I have dreamt of

Clouds and those

who’ve flown above them;

I dream of,

I have dreamt of

a lonely boy and those

dreams he dreamt alone.

 

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Dustbowl Memories ( A short story )

“Never felt heat like it kid..”; my grandpa would reminisce apropos of nothing. It would always be Summer and we’d be sweltering as a family out on the porch trying to catch our collective breaths and there’d be grandpa reassuring us that this ain’t so much hot today as cool.

Even though the mercury was doing its darndest to top 90. “Man, that ain’t no kind of temperature not leastways till it gets past a hundred and just stays there”. he’d always accompany this utterance with a usual expectoration of chewing tobacco effluent.

And I suppose and we’d all suppose that he was right. well, kind of. Him and his whole extended family upped sticks and trekked there way over here to California all those years ago. Because of The ( capital tee) Heat (capital aitch).The furnace that was the Dust Bowl.

By chance, or maybe as one of my Aunts contended, by some grander design, one of my many distant cousins came by to visit one day. She’d finished her journalism major up at Berkeley and had just gotten a commission to produce a series of radio documentaries on the Dustbowl, and was wondering if grandpa might be interested.

Turned out, none too surprisingly that he was and naturally that put the spring back into his step.

We taped them all, all the episodes and down the years, on big family occasions, we sit around and listen to grandpa’s voice, reminding us all. There’s one or two passages that our Cousin edited as an introduction that kind of sums up Grandpa and ” The Heat “

“Sure I recall, clear as day all the names and their faces, those times and their places,
Down at the rundown rail depot from where the last westbound left in that dry-cracked goodbye summer with me and my closest kin  on board.”
In another passage suffused with his inimitable cadences, he recalled ” Days were so hot and dry that water was our heaven
and  the wells coughed their grinding choking echo. Dust was going to be our future, had we stayed”.

“Some folks never left, they remained In those places and their times. I recall, some years later seeing in the newspaper and county archive records all the shrouded names and their faces who waved me off down by the rail depot in that dry-cracked summer when the westbound whistled its goodbye.”

And when it came to saying our farewells for another year until the next Thanksgiving or Christmas, we’d switch off grandpa’s voice and notice just how hot the tape machine had become.

 

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The Stranger, A Saint Among Men ( Short Story )

The Saint, A Stranger Among Men
 
A previous age, perhaps less materialistic than our present one would have recognised and
acknowledged his otherness. His air of inner spirituality which others say he carried with him
and wore as lightly as the finest cape about his shoulders. Shoulders that others imagined
might have sprouted angelic wings. Eccentric, a flaneur with a quietly assertive insouciance
he wafted along the boulevards with transcendent equanimity. Then on a day of no particular
significance, at least none that I could apprehend at the time nor afterward, I actually
encountered him at one of the more popular Cafes, this figure of some Left bank
intellectual /philosophical speculation /admiration/veneration. This itinerant dispenser of
wisdom and insight.
 
The Saint with the shabby overcoat and hangdog expression asked me if I could spare him a
few reminiscences. I replied that the change in my pockets changes with the changing tide,
though I could offer him some reflections instead. The Stranger sat back in his chair
ordered himself another absinthe and began whistling some nameless tune while he waited
for his drink to arrive.
 
” If all our pain and sorrow only came on the morrow would we set the alarm late or not at
all? taking the chance that vicissitudes had all somehow passed us by while we were fast
asleep.”
 
This I realised immediately was the aphoristic balm which the Saint dispensed with
customary generosity to those he presumed were in need of immediate spiritual relief of some
kind; which in his own inimitable view included just about everybody. Though not all at the
same time.
 
” And were we to store all our tears shed in our lives, how big would the bottle have to be?
Could we claim back some pennies if we returned it empty? ” I was inwardly responding with
something akin to mild annoyance, outwardly with a beatific smile bordering on rictus when,
the Saint glanced askance at his watch where time had stopped years ago.
 
He wondered aloud where the waiter might’ve got to with his drink? “ If we don’t feel the
suffering of others, how will we know if we have blood in our veins? ” thereupon the Saint
got up, bid me adieu and was gone.
 
Some time after he’d left I saw in the mirror that there was no longer a reflection there
of me.
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