Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I Opened A Can Of Worms

I didn’t need to notice the brooding clouds that tipped over the tops of the surrounding cliffs like peeping Toms to know that my chase my futile – or that I was in trouble. I was never going to catch Jack; not only was he faster than me at clambering over the slick, glistening rocks, at taking such a treacherous route towards the coves, he had the strength to keep up a momentum that required visiting a gym every day. I used to stand and smoke my cigarettes in their doorways, just to show my contempt for those that gave up so much their time in these places. Another regret? As I leaned over into a clear rock pool, hacking up my lunch of five-bean salad, it was turning out to be. Not for Jack, but for me.

I recovered enough to call out his name, my voice hoarse as my vomit-burned throat tightened. I coughed again, spitting a caustic taste from my mouth. I’d never wished for a moment that this would happen. What had made me come here, to this desolate place with its amphitheatre of cliffs, endless coves and crashing waves to share such news with Jack? What protection was it really offering me? I’d already made one mistake and, now, another was unfolding in front of me. There seemed nothing I could do to stop the rollercoaster. I wanted to get off.

I watched as the rock pool I’d been upending my lunch into – not a bad place for it to end up, as it hadn’t been much tastier going down than coming back up – rippled and distorted. I felt wetness against the back of my legs. It took me a second or two to realise it was the sea encroaching. Here, amongst sharp, talon-like rocks, was not the place to be when the tide is moving in. I’d venture that it’s not a place to be, full stop. Period, as our American cousins so like to say; as it seemed I was coming to a bloody end it was more than apt and the irony wasn’t lost on me as I chose to continue. Only when I’d made up some ground did I slow down some, better to prevent any more cuts and bruises that mottled my palms and shins. The saltwater was a constant reminder as it was.

This part of the world is famous. Not just for the job losses when the local fishing industry collapsed in the mid-Sixties, or the rife drug abuse that blighted it for much of the next ten years, but also for its breath-taking coastline. That’s how it’s always described in the brochures: breathtaking. I’d moved here eight years ago, long after the problems had ceased to be and the place had reinvented itself as a holiday destination. I was looking for a change, a break from the city and the way it hurries people to an early grave. And I’d found it; not at first – let’s just say that the locals were distant – but after some time. I felt accepted, at last. I felt I had roots.

Of course, I was saddened to leave behind my good friends, but they all promised they’d visit, and often. And they did. At first. Once it became clear that my new place wasn’t somewhere they could just pitch up, any old time, without prior notice, they stopped. It was a long drive, they said; lots of people from London drive down now, the roads are always jammed, they implored. Because if it weren’t for those two things they’d be around like it had been before, when I had the flat. There was the convenience of the flat being central, I conceded, but I thought there was more to our friendship than just somewhere to crash, or come back for a quick snort to perk up the night before hitting the clubs. I still believed that, even though no one has come down for over three years. It’s not as if I’ve been banging on their doors, I visited sporadically and always “only for the day”. I wanted to leave the city behind, not the people I loved, but it seemed that it wasn’t going to turn out that way.

Except for Jack.

10 comments:

purplesimon said...

Okay, so it's not finished.

And the title? That's because I spent all day waiting for something that didn't happen.

So, this is the beginnings of a story that formed while I was waiting. It's a little all over the place as the moment, but it was one pass. I think it deserves some more attention.

purplesimon out...

ginab said...

Hello Simon!

Hi'ya!

Um, the title...you're right. Makes it seem as though it's non-fiction. Just that first person in the title does it. Easy to change and then you'd ... well, let's just me stop there.

I like "I was never going to catch Jack" for an opening. The text leading takes us a whle to get to the crux. And then I think I'm infuenced by listening to Elliot Gould (actor) narrate stories and vignettes written by Bergman (he wrote these in place of scripts or in place of screenplays) for what became his movie "the Passion" (or, 'the passion of anna' as sold in the states). His story opens with three suns seen in a scandi sky on a muggy October day. The wind comes up, it's described, and the clouds come in covering the miracle (the sighting of the three suns). The glimpse of something that quite honestly I hadn't listened to Elliot Gould read I'd have kept on believing the two extras were sunspots on the lens.

Back to you, the barf is FELT. "...spitting a caustic taste...".

A lot of the detail punches out at the reader, meaning it's sharp and all well and good and interesting, but liking the line about never catching up with Jack, I'm wondering what's really at stake.

My eyes are at stake right now in that if I don't shut them I am going to drop. Not to sleep, but to doze. I am knackered. plum out. out like a light. out like a candle that's been blown out for the night, but not for the whole night. must walk the pooch.

it's always a pleasure. glad to see you're up. the water has been eerie calm out here for some time. still alive.

-ginab+bb

purplesimon said...

Thanks G, your comments (as always) are most insightful and, more importantly, helpful.

I've already revised a good part of this and added another couple of hundred words. I think I've sold it short in places and waffled in others. Time to redress that balance.

I'll check out Gould's reading as I'm not familiar with it; sounds great though.

I know how you feel about tiredness. I'm bushed almost constantly and still I have a load of work and household stuff to do! Never seems to stop.

Anyway, I'll mail you soon.

Hugs

purplesimon out...

karma lennon said...

I find this intriguing. I think it's a good start. I especially like the part talking about his friends who don't visit anymore. Good sense of loneliness...

purplesimon said...

Karma Lennnon: Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately, due to a large project running on slow I've not had time to do any more to this, but it's not done with yet. It might not get re-posted but then again...

purplesimon out...

Kat said...

I like this. There will be more?

purplesimon said...

Just in the process of re-drafting this story. It's about twice the current length and a lot more to tell about our poor narrator.

Promise I'll post this side of Christmas.

purplesimon out...

KarmaLennon said...

I'm excited to read it!!! :)

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