Refuge (280 words)

Tjuvkils huvud, Wednesday the 23rd of January 2019, 6.05 a.m. Narrative Pictures

 Time to set the seal, thoughts dabbled with the inhibitions and various kinds of unreliable composures. Life, he thought, was not what you made it, it was what life made you. Life that made me. Life that left me without a refuge.

A man without a shell and nowhere on Earth to go. He had been walking for two years, two months, two weeks and two days. A bit of a larf when he thought about it. Sticking your little finger up like a piquant note, when faced with a monstrous fact.

There was nothing to be done.

Questions would be foolish.

Well. Questions always had been foolish. They invariably needed to be answered by oneself anyway. So one might as well get on with it. No point in counting. He was on the road and it looked as if he would be staying there.

A new pair of comfortable shoes would be nice. There was probably somewhere near where a nice pair of comfortable shoes could be met, stroked and perhaps even polished.

He had always been proud of keeping his shoes well mended and well polished.

But you couldn’t say that now.

The bench looked nice, he thought. Vacant. Beckoning. Comfortable. Sunlit. The river waters burbling.

He could sit here a while. Grab some sleep. Then walk through the night. He liked that. Walking through the night when no one else much was about.

It made you feel special.

He would make use of the bench, this nice, comfortable looking bench, as a refuge, until the time came for him to continue on his travels.

 

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle. (and available from both Amazon and Lulu)

Blogg: nigelford.wordpress.com

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Shelter (238 words)

Tjuvkils huvud, Tuesday the 22nd of January 2019, 6 a.m. Narrative Pictures

Needed somewhere to go, that was it, wasn’t it, somewhere safe where you couldn’t be got at, where the ridicule would not build. A place of gallantry could be hoped for. No sniffles. No more taking pity on self. A place to be, think, build up courage. A place where it would be possible to grow strong, even gallant. Face the world again, disown the failures, sneer at the ridicules.

Well no, not sneer. Sneering was for losers. To regain self-respect and composure. Set a seal on the future, how things were going to be from now on.

Inhibitions, huh! There would be no more of those. No more tiny little piquant notes once thought so clever and cute. No more such monstrous cowardice.

Things would be said straight out, without hesitation, no more murmuring.

Seals would be set on the unforeseen.

Ahah! A bench! Looks comfortable.

Things were going to go the right way.

There you are, you see. Exhibit some considerable determination and the world was your oyster.

The myths of success would dissolve. The truth would be bared. The beautiful notes of correct and successful strategies would be heard.

Here, on this bench, clasping the hands between the knees, tightening the lips, nodding in agreement with self. Here a new beginning would be started. Here…

‘Lovely day.’

‘Yes indeed. Indeed it is!

 

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle, Amazon and Lulu

My blog is at http://www.nigelford.wordpress.com

Bench twenty eight

 Picnic (191 words)

Tjuvkilshuvud, Monday the 21st of January 2019, 6 a.m. Narrative Pictures

‘Champagne?’

‘Champagne.’

‘For breakfast?’

‘For breakfast.’

She made him push his legs slightly apart and up on this improvised table she spread a small bistro tablecloth. ‘There,’ she said. ‘That should do.’

The champagne glasses sparkled in the spring sunshine. It was 10 a.m. Most other people were at work. She had thought this would be a good time to come here for some peace and quiet. The romance, she thought, would disguise the discomfort of a hard bench and the inconvenience of being obliged to sit sideways on.

‘Here!’

‘What’s that?’

‘Hard boiled eggs with caviar and French toast. I hope it’s still warm. The French toast.’

‘Mmm. It is. The French toast.’

‘I’m so pleased.’

They sat and ate before the view of the dancing river. He did not really understand why he deserved this treatment, but he decided to get on and enjoy it.

He made a quarter turn on the blanket she had placed on the bench, to look at her more closely.

She was munching quickly, her face bunched in fury.

His stomach dropped.

 

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle.

Blog: http://www.nigelford.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

Bench twenty eight

 Picnic (191 words)

Tjuvkilshuvud, Monday the 21st of January 2019, 6 a.m. Narrative Pictures

‘Champagne?’

‘Champagne.’

‘For breakfast?’

‘For breakfast.’

She made him push his legs slightly apart and up on this improvised table she spread a small bistro tablecloth. ‘There,’ she said. ‘That should do.’

The champagne glasses sparkled in the spring sunshine. It was 10 a.m. Most other people were at work. She had thought this would be a good time to come here for some peace and quiet. The romance, she thought, would disguise the discomfort of a hard bench and the inconvenience of being obliged to sit sideways on.

‘Here!’

‘What’s that?’

‘Hard boiled eggs with caviar and French toast. I hope it’s still warm. The French toast.’

‘Mmm. It is. The French toast.’

‘I’m so pleased.’

They sat and ate before the view of the dancing river. He did not really understand why he deserved this treatment, but he decided to get on and enjoy it.

He made a quarter turn on the blanket she had placed on the bench, to look at her more closely.

She was munching quickly, her face bunched in fury.

His stomach dropped.

 

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle.

Blog: http://www.nigelford.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Bench twenty seven
 
Exhaustion (564 words)
 
Tjuvkils huvud, Sunday the 20th of January 2019, a.m. Narrative Pictures
 
Child woke as the day broke, he had an ambition, full of quiet he prepared, sensible shoes, a haversack, water bottle, banana, small chocolate biscuit. One needed to travel light. It was a considerable ambition to achieve what the child intended to do, very few others had done it, if any.
Child was out quick, quiet, closed the door gently. Sun not up yet, no-one up yet, only the child.
The birds united in song. The exhilaration of being alone, Child pretended to be a somnambulist eyes wide and staring, child determined not to blink before joining the towpath, 37 miles up here and 37 miles down there to where the river mouth smiled into the English Channel.
No elaborations, no drama, chin up and walk. Long strides, back straight, things would keep Child company, reflections, conclusions, pictures in the mind, new philosophies never heard of.
Child had walked for an hour now, covered three point seven two miles now according to his smart phone and there were nine miles to go, give or take, until the destination arrived.
It was easier to think like that, that the destination travelled back beneath the feet, not the feet marched forward to the destination.
Psychologically said Child to self, this was easier to swallow. Revolt stirred in Child’s soul. No-one else is doing this. Child greeted others on the towpath, both met and stridden by, with friendly routine greetings. Humbly, without a drop of arrogance about the feat, no-one knew what Child was doing, no-one would ever know, it was Child’s secret, never to be revealed.
The day drew past, full of Child’s silence, a silence justified with pride, the inveterate walker, never to be defeated.
A slight ache in the left foot, nothing to worry about. Eight point three four miles, Child estimated the milestones were accurate, calculated and bet no-one else used them.
In places the towpath was dilapidated. Child used a pristine notebook to take notes. These would be useful for the towpath maintenance engineers. Child would make a difference. The walk was an exploration to the engineering world. Articles would be written about Child’s achievement. Child’s exhilaration flooded as page after page of the notebook filled, striding like a somnambulist, nothing could stop this child, although a smidgeon of fatigue sensation grew insidiously.
Stamping the feet did not help, Child must not be greedy, must not demand the fulfilment of much ambition, the feet scuffed, puffed up nacreous dust, think automation, Child instructed self, but the strain turned mercilessly into numbness.
Child determined not to totter. Even the most inveterate explorers on expeditions of information to benefit mankind, needed to rest. Rest was invaluable to these exhilarating endeavours, reflections over achievements achieved so far needed to be noted.
Ah! Here was a bench, almost fifteen miles had been covered. A justified and dramatic deed. One should not be greedy for fame and glory at the expense of ones self.
Child had been ambushed by the unexpected weapons wielded by fatigue. Perfectly acceptable. Reflection was required to sum up and note the deeds done so far. Sinking onto the bench, Child drew up the knees and sank the chin on to them.
Soon there was only the smooth steady rhythm of the breathing of deep sleep of exhaustion. Prostrated in pride.
 
My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle.

Bench twenty six

 Sleep (282 words)

Tjuvkils huvud, Saturday the 19th of January 2019, 8.45 a.m. Narrative Pictures

He was an excursionist you might say. Although he always ended up at the same place as the intent of his excursion. I am an excursionist of one excursion, he would tell himself, I take a small and certain excursion frequently and with considerable relief to the bench on the towpath.

I do not know what I would do without it. I sometimes wake in the night, bewildered and sweating, convinced that someone has taken it away and my one, faithful refuge will have gone.

I should revolt myself, and that with extreme unction. I am a comically sad figure of a person, in constant need of refuge.

They mean well, those about me, they love me dearly I’m sure, if I were to suddenly expire they would be devastated, they would weep, shout, curse, stamp their feet at the exasperating pain caused by my expiry, a feeling which they think, will never die.

But it will.

It will gradually fade away and me with it. The occasional ache in the stomach churned up by memories. But these too, will more or less disappear, for almost ever. It becomes an emotion, only less strong, like joy or fear. It becomes dilapidated, some bits missing. It lies prostrate in its uselessness of inveterate death.

I am numb with self-pity. I must shake off these ruminations.

He slept. Started. How long had he slept? He felt ashamed of himself. He must pull himself together.

He rose from the bench, cleansed of reflections. Bright and sparkling with new life. And walked back home to the quixotic and comic particularities of the everyday.

 

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle.

 

Bench twenty five

 Party (271 words)

Tjuvkils huvud, Friday the 18th of January 2019, 6.00 a.m., Narrative pictures.

Hijinks, granny used to call them. Two of them playing with a ball in the river, tossing to and fro, T-shirts soaking. Another stood on her head on the towpath, attempting to drink from a bottle of beer, yet another balanced on the arm of the bench, a glass of white wine in one hand, a fag in the other, intent on using the arms and backrest as a tightrope. This did not go well.

Others turned up. Exhibiting themselves and baring their souls in one way or another. Commonly known as letting off steam.

Music there was too, blaring into the glossy night, and the off passer-by treading through and around them with care, smiles stuck to their faces, not wanting to intrude, not wanting to be noticed, just wanting to be out of there and gone.

No complaints though.

Mostly youngish, but there was a prophet, long and gangly, wearing a long grey beard. Long hair tied up with a rope, wearing an olive green suit, red tie and plimsolls. Who sat on the bench listening to earnest and drunken enquiries, beseeches and woes.

A person on a bicycle wobbled up, one hand holding a cool box that looked heavy, wobbled some more and crashed into the rushes, machine, human and box all vanished.

Laughter erupts.

It was a good party. It went on for a while.

Then, suddenly, it wasn’t here, they’d all gone.

The dawn was a glimmer. Suddenly an abrupt and deafening clamour of bird chorus burst into the air from all directions.

 

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle.

My blog is at nigelford.wordpress.com

 

Bench twenty four

 Two Tramps

Tjuvkils huvud, Thursday the 17th of January 2029, 5.45 a.m. Narrative pictures

A man neatly dressed carrying a small brown suitcase walked down the towpath with deliberate steps as if to a destination. Most others walk the towpath in ad hoc fashion. A lage American stars & stripes sticker decorates one side of the suitcase facing outwards towards the river. This man is walking from roughly west to east.

A woman neatly dressed walks up the towpath carefully and swiftly as if late for an appointment. She carries a medium sized brown suitcase of the reinforced cardboard type upon which a small Union Jack sticker was affixed onto the outside of the lid. She is walking along the towpath from roughly east to west.

The distance to the bench on the towpath from each of these persons is roughly equidistant and they are planning to arrive at the bench at roughly the same tome, which they do.

Seated on the bench, staring at the river, these two people sat with their respective suitcases placed on the ground between their legs.

‘Swop?’ asked the woman.

‘Good idea,’ replied the man.

They then exchanged suitcases.

They sat staring at the river for a while.

‘Peaceful,’ said the man.

‘Very nice,’ agreed the woman and stretched and stood up. ‘Shall we get going?’

‘By all means,’ the man agreed. ‘In which direction? East or West?’

‘We’ve done both East and West haven’t we. We can tell each other all about it,’ the woman pointed out.

‘North or South then,’ suggested the man.

‘Yes. One of those. South perhaps,’ the woman touched a finger to her lips. ‘Warmer. Sunshine would be nice.’

‘Good idea,’ said the man and rose.

Balancing their suitcases on their heads they waded across the river, walked up the bank on the other side, and disappeared from view.

 

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle.

 

 

Bench twenty three

 Explanation (224 words)

Tjuvkils huvud, Wednesday the 16th of January 2019, 6.05 a.m. Narrative pictures

A fine day today. Full of fictions and tales of summer. The narrative of the world flies by in the diamond swift riplets of the river, cut glass dazzles the deep blue sky, wisps of whitebeard scud about. Stories are told from mouths and books.

Bugger work, this is recreation time!

‘Life’s a mockery,’ said someone, ‘doing what you don’t want. What’s wrong with this. Seated here, on this bench, doing no harm, asking for nothing, leaving let be.’

‘Quite so,’ agreed the other. ‘Quite so.’

You can imagine a vigorous nodding of agreement. Two of them, seated on the bench. Unable to keep quiet and enjoy it. Obligated, they feel, having convened here, to convene. One explaining to the other what they feel, hear and see.

The other receives the information with a certain irritation.

They do not wish to be told what they feel, hear and see. They can do that for themselves. It comes very naturally. Descriptions and explanations are unwanted.

Unfortunately, there is only the one bench. Consequently they sit there and provide each other with superfluous descriptions. Flinging the superlatives this way and that.
Why can’t they keep quiet? Enjoy it for themselves. Switch on to inhibition mode. Shut up. Neither of them need any explanations.

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle.

 

 

Bench twenty-two

 Thief of Souls (271 words)

Tjuvkils huvud, Tuesday the 15th of January 2019, 6.10 a.m. Narrative pictures

‘It is relentless and holds no one in esteem. It roams the unbeaten jungle of the business world and leaves the empty shells behind, blows this way and that, trampled in to dust by empty obsessions. Its province of study is everywhere and leaves no-one untouched!’ A small man stops talking to the river and blows his nose, he has a bad cold, which has cleared his head into a fearful conclusion. His life is a total waste of time.

‘I shall retreat into strict retreat,’ he mumbles, ‘I shall bury my sorry head in a bucket of torment.’

‘It can’t be that bad.’ A small, confident voice behind him.

Startled, and full of foolish questions, the small man twirls around. There is no one there. Only a bench. ‘What?’

The voice took no notice, but continued. ‘There is no point to either propound for, or elaborate on, the Swedenborg System. Mere nonsense. If you do, you will find the metaphysical ideas of age to be a perpetual irritant instead of the soothing balms of age as they should be taken.’

‘What?’

‘Don’t keep saying “What”. You heard me, take a seat.’

The small man sat. Occasional seizures of wrath shook his body, but he remained in place.

The Moon rose and smiled down. It seemed to him a fulsome Moon full of wisdom and to which he listened solemnly, bent slightly forward, hands clasped between his knees.

‘Renounce your gift,’ said the Moon, ‘and become free with me, for I am the Thief of Souls.’

 

My story collection “One Dog Barking” is on Kindle.