Sunday, July 26, 2009
That afternoon as the sea breeze swept through her hair and the flicks of salty water sprayed her face, Wendy felt completely in place. She had bought a one-way ticket to Glasgow by way of Saltcoats. She made sure to pack some crackers for the trip and a few chocolates purchased from the local general store. This time she carried only one bag and an address book filled with a few scribbles. The outside was worn so much that even the patina had lost its sheen, covered by a layer of smudged grime.
Her third-class ticket placed her at the bottom of the vessel. Her berth had an olive green blanket made from low-end wool, which luckily wicked away sweat faster than it did water. Yet the smell of pungent odors wafted through her chamber’s port no matter the hour, nullifying the use of taking showers when warm, clean water was available. Even the scuttlebutt down the hall lacked a feeling of cleanliness and smelled of salinity and mildew.
This trip was meant to be a getaway – a new start. Even though her friends and family had attempted to persuade her to stay and try again or give it another year – nothing could stop her from leaving. The Post Office eventually stopped delivering letters to her home after her mailbox filled up with pleas and notes. She had decided that she no longer wished to read anything and everything so she had Jack axe the post off and burn the rest.
“No, Jack. Over there, burn it over there,” she had said to him 5 weeks earlier.
The rest of the passengers on board could be seen playing cards, chess and checkers on the deck. There was a couple over on the starboard side giggling away as they played Bryncir, spilling their cheap bottle of gin all around themselves. The man had a peculiar look to his face – one of those miens that you just can’t forget no matter how hard you try. It was a lasting look, which made it a peculiar look and also an ugly look. Every now and then when his companion wasn’t looking at him, he’d turn his head ever so briskly to catch a glimpse of an older dame sitting to his left.
He was probably of about fifty years of age yet his companion seemed to be in her early thirties. Sitting beside the pair were a trio of lads all dressed impeccably and wearing top hats. Each of them had their own, individual yet meek look – with the short, fat one taking the cake. He looked like a pug-nosed, piney prick. But his apathetic energy was what kept him looking more meek than a cheek.
The tall fellow looked as though his name should be Gideon or Ichabod. His light chestnut brown hair was as fine as a baby’s, which caused him great trouble when he took his hat off. He wore a pair of spectacles that were elongated octagons, framed by thin copper wires that were beginning to tarnish. During the conversation between the older man and his companion, Gideon – or Ichabod – would often whisper into the fat one’s ear.
Their friend, the third fellow, wore a shortened top hat with a 3-inch wide, satin red puggaree wrapped around the torso of the hat. On the left-hand side near the front of the brim he kept a bright yellow Buttercup that looked as though it had been plucked that morning. His garments were a bit more refined than his two partners, as his double-breasted coat exhibited brass buttons instead of steel. He had a scepter of some sort also, which in a way challenged the older man next to them in a passive-aggressive manner.
Besides looking over his shoulder every now and then to look at the dame, the older man would also clear his throat and look sternly at the spectacled-fellow every time the spectacled-fellow tapped his scepter on the deck. The fat, short one and the tall one never batted an eye throughout this series of exchanges.
For the first night’s dinner Wendy made sure to find a seat for herself away from the rest of foul-smelling, disease-infested passengers on her deck. She was very proud of her good hygiene so she preferred to converse with them only when it suited her needs. Earlier in the afternoon when the sun was just right on the top deck, she had managed to befriend a young lad who looked to be about her age. He had told her his name was “Peter,” but a tag on his luggage had read “Richard.” Though confused, she carried on the rest of the conversation referring to him as Peter, yet it took some effort for her to avoid blurting out what she assumed was his real name.
However, around dinnertime she had dropped her standards, if only momentarily, in search of finding this said “Peter.” After filling her plate up she roamed around the eating area for a good twenty minutes before grudgingly taking a seat near the exit. As she sat there spading at her plate with tense anger, a young man came up from behind and gave her a tap.
“Excuse me Madame, might anyone be seating beside you tonight?” he asked.
Wendy turned around with a gust of energy hoping it’d be her mysterious “Peter.”
“Oh my,” she let out.
Standing before her was a young man in a black three-piece suit and the most flawless smile she had ever seen. His hair was slicked back and combed to the side with a slight curl at the front. She could tell he took care of his body by the way the creased trousers streamlined down his thighs towards his calves and broke right at the crown of his polished black Derbies. His skin looked soft and delectable, even though she could only see his hands and face from where she was situated.
“Lance,” he said, extending his hand.
“And what might your name be Madame?”
Flustered by his imposing aura, Wendy almost gushed out the word “Peter,” but luckily she had to finish the bite she was chewing. Covering her mouth so as not to seem rude or un-ladylike, Wendy took a few more seconds to finish up.
“My name is Wendy,” she said with a bit of embarrassment.
“Take any seat you’d like - I could use the fine company.”
Thursday, July 16, 2009
“There are folks on this land that will strip you of your soul,” he said.
“Men come here searching for something and they find nothing. Not one thing.”
“So what is the point of looking if there is nothing or not one thing to find?” Ellis asked.
The grizzled man rocked back in his chair and narrowed his eyes as if a light had just come in through the window. His forearm gradually slid off the arm of the chair and planted itself vertically on his thigh. His callous palm, controlled by his blistered fingers pinched into his frayed and threadbare denim.
“Son I could tell you but it isn’t going to do you any good,” he said. “I tried telling Graham that a few years back and he went out anyway. Last thing I heard he was shot in the back by a few Dillinger Boys who wanted nothing more than his watch that day. It wasn’t even that nice of a watch I recall – some Moviendo brand or something like that. It had no place with him at least.”
Graham was his brother. He was about 3 or 4 years older – the oldest of the three. He was a smoker also – and a complete burnout. He had spent the last 8 or so years fucking Ellis’ mistress while Ellis picked tobacco in the field. Neither gave two shits about it because Ellis had been sleeping with Graham’s best friend’s sister, Alice. She opened her legs just as fast as Ellis could shoot down about a dozen ducks in the field. He was a master skeet shooter – the best in the county.
In town the locals were flocking to see John David, a musician turned magician from the next town over. Graham had actually fucked his wife too for a period of time – so routinely that she ended up leaving John David for Graham. Unfortunately for her, Graham had left town by the time she showed up on his doorstep.
When John David found out about it he shot her twice in each thigh. It’s said that he left her to die with a note nailed into her cervix that read, “Crucify me now or forever hold your peace.” The local morgue denies this wholly, up until this day.
In the morning Ellis woke up and put together his satchel for class. He had stolen a flask from his uncle the last time he visited Kindersley, which he recently had been carrying religiously. The Bible in his drawer remained in his drawer, covered up by a few pieces of fish bones he had picked clean after the last smokeout. His laziness was his greatest downfall – even his britches had more holes in them than John David could fabricate in a show. Patchwork seemed to be far from his forte also. He preferred to take shits on the back porch instead of the outhouse because the flies would come swarm about his stockpile. Though his brother detested it, Ellis would often shoot the 14-gauge at the flies hoping to scrap up some shit in the process.
“Ellis get in the goddamn wagon,” he said. “Hurry up dammit!”
Without a glance his hands reached for the satchel but knocked over the pitcher of fresh water. The smashing sound of glass and the cascading splash of the water caused the blood to run out of his face. Ignoring the shards of glass littered across the floor, Sotheby lapped up the water as if she hadn’t had a drink in days.
“Piss off you twat!” Ellis shrieked. “Before he sees what I’ve done!”
“What was that sound Ellis?” shouted a voice.
“What’d you do this time boy?”
His eyes darted to the doorway. All he could see was the next room – nothing else. As he let out an exhale, he left it up to his faith and decided to run out the back door instead.
As he leaped over the three or floor steps leading down from the veranda, he was greeted by the blinding sun that had been blocked out by drapes that morning. He squinted and lost his footing before he ever had it. Dust kicked up around his boots as his elbow made contact with the warm, chalky dirt. At that time of the year the prickly parts of the plants that grew around their house blew all over the place like little gumballs with spikes. They were a dark umber brown with holes that reminded him of the damage he had done to a deer last month. Depending on how long ago they had detached from the plant, some were hard as an apple while others were as supple as a buttocks.
Sotheby came running out the door and began licking Ellis on the face. Her tongue was bleeding from lapping the water inside as evidenced on his shirt. While he tried to fight her off she kept licking and lapping without any desire to cease.
“Just stop! Stop right now girl!” Ellis demanded.
She still kept going at it as if licking his shirt would do him any good. By then the blood had stained through the linen and onto his skin. The warm sun made sure to dry it fast and cause the blood to stick to his skin.
Just then a voice came from the house that sounded both happy and sad at the same time. Ellis couldn’t hear properly but assumed he had heard “dead” and “come” in the same sentence.
“Come on girl,” he said. “Let’s get back home. He’s calling me back.”
At the back doorstep Alice was standing with an envelope in her hand. She had a smile on her face, which she wiped just as soon as Ellis came back.
“Hello Ellis,” she said.
“Hello,” he responded.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you so… dirty.”
“Well, yes,” he said. “But there’s a reason why I’m so—“
“No need to explain to me,” she said. “But I have something for you.”
She extended her hand and handed him the envelope. It was a light rose color of good stock and had ample weight.
“Thank you,” he said.
In the back the maid could be seen picking up the shards of glass and wiping the floor.
“Oh don’t worry about that Killam! I’ll get around to that –“
“Soon enough?” Killam asked. “Excuse me sir, but bull-friggin’-shit.”
Diverting his eyes back to Alice, Ellis smiled then looked away.
“Sorry you had to experience all this Alice,” he said.
“Usually I’m not such a tardy and uncouth individual,” he added.
“Please, Ellis. Don’t be sorry about it, just take the envelope and I’ll just…”
“Come over here boy and tell me what the hell this crap is!” demanded a voice from inside.
It was him. Ellis had assumed he wouldn’t see or hear it but Killam must not have cleaned it up fast enough.
“Don’t make me ask you twice!” he said again from inside.
Ellis looked to Alice again and expressed his sorrow through the sappy look in his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he mouthed and walked off with the letter.
“Ellis, wait!” Alice said as she grabbed his bloodied arm.
“Open it for me, please,” she said.
“It would mean a lot to me.”