Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Island

Don Quickshot had assumed control of everything, including the main port. The previous owner then went missing as soon as the deal was signed, causing his senile wife, beautiful daughter Maria and half-witted son to be thrown into near ruin: with only the guarded respect of the other islanders bolstering their waning spirits. Maria often found herself, thereafter, standing signal watch upon her father's erstwhile private wharf. Even in the endemic coastal fogs.

The new man whom Quickshot placed in charge of the Island was called Felix. A handsome man. A cunning man. One who kept his boy friend under nightly house arrest - rather than allowing him, some said, to be adversely affected by the Island moon. There were, of course, the various islanders who gradually went missing, yet nothing could be laid at Felix's door. He had emasculated the police force, in any case, and their investigative duties were conducted with a diffidence that made Maria's idiot brother appear suitable for high political office on the mainland.

Maria knew her way about the emotions of others with a fine-tooth comb. One in particular loved her, nay, adored her. That was Clement, the butcher. He was young enough to be of some use to Maria - and that was not merely his supply of cheap briskets and spare ribs. In fact, he wanted her to live at the butcher shop where he could lard her all over on cold winter evenings, when the cruel cut of the moon scythed the night sky with its rhythmic whishing sound. But, no, Maria needed to return to the old homestead where her ancient mother and mind-bottled brother awaited the comfort of her company. "Bring them, here, Maria - there's room enough." He pointed to the ceiling, as if beyond its yellow stipple lay the palace of her dreams.

"No, Clement. Felix and his arse-stoker would take over the homestead soon enough - and what would my father say if he returned?"

Maria's voice was deceptively gentle, yet underlaid with a stroppier edge than the Island moon could possibly wield. Clement gazed at the inscrutable face. What could he say in response to such unquestionable beauty? Nevertheless, with the sound of cracking meat-bones in the cellar outdoing that of the sharp icicles crepitating outside the window, he said with a faltering tone: "Your father will never return: he can now be little more than the beefen sides down under this shop: you know that: I know that: and, above all, Felix knows that."

Maria could not weep although she found her eyes doing so.


The lad struggled with the lid of the water butt. His mother had said she wanted its ice breaking. Why she needed the ice breaking he had not thought to ask. Ice breaking was tantamount to cracking open the hardest veener of reality itself. How he was to do it with his scrawny arms presented a further mystery. He might need to await Maria's help. And, yes, why did he need to do it now, of all things, when the ice would be at its sturdiest and thickest, with the moon itself little more than a shard of frozen sky, albeit with the shine come off its newness. He saw it still retained white daylight in its horn, even if well past the shadow-tide.

He took the axe which he had dragged from the shed and brought it down with a splintering crunch - causing the surface of the butt's ice to craze over with a map of unknown lands. No sign of the Island's shape in the patterns, he mused, upon examining the convoluted geography which far outstripped the fantastical archipelago of thoughts in his mind. During this lull, he thought he could hear footpads beyond the susurrus of the homestead's trees - no doubt Maria returning from her dalliance with Clement. The lad smiled. Clement was always kind to him - unlike that sallow, high-boned individual Felix sent round to collect the tithes. Yet when a lengthening howl ricocheted from earth to heaven and back again, he knew one thing for certain: it was not his sister Maria.


Felix sat honing his fingernails by his picture window. He had billeted this building near the wharf as the Island often received night deliveries here by junk. He stared out, uncertain where sky ended and sea began. Not one single pinprick of light. Yet there was a sheen that covered the whole vista which, he knew, was thrown by the unseen moon behind him. He guessed nevertheless that it was a new moon.

He shivered. He really must turf out that family from the homestead. The father had so long abandoned them, he was not likely now to return to seek retribution on Felix, should Felix park his bivouac there. The daughter Maria would be a hard wench to benchmark, he thought. Best to let them moulder away. At least he knew where they were. He lifted up the cross hanging at his throat and kissed the macho Christ figure carved upon it. He felt it squirm, as if icons had learned to fear the monsters they were intended to protect against.

"Yes." Felix heard knocking, even before it actually sounded out.

"Can I come in and see you?" The voice was of several throat noises rather than the fluid ones tongues could make: like wickerwork talking.

"Yes." The same word, but a second meaning.

In walked a creature it would be most people's misfortune to meet. Felix saw that the Christ shape had blunted back into the very knots of the crossgrain. The creature's tumescent cod-piece was larger that his whole buttock area: face hidden by a harlequin-mask, yet eyes piercing enough to bore to the back of Felix's skull, charring the retina en route.

"Yes." A third meaning.

"The moon is brand new, Felix, not engorged," weaved the wicker words.

"Yes." A fourth.

"Well, as that is so, there is no harm in me stretching my legs in the fresh air, is there?" The creature left before hearing the reply.

"Yes." The second again. Or possibly a fifth.


Maria was being escorted home by Clement. Not that she thought she needed protection. It was more the ritual of the last night kiss: like fresh sweethearts: ignoring, for one delicious moment, the frenetic shafting Clement had already given her above the slabs of textured blood that hung in his cellar. Almost a game of role-playing, stirring the dry loins into one last gasp of come. Tonight was the coldest night of the year: thus, the most clear-sounded. They could even hear her brother's flailing axe as he grappled with the ice monster: a common sound these days in fulfilment of their mother's latest peccadillo.

She leaned up Clement's body for the peck. He lowered his face to where his mouth needed to be and sucked at Maria's cheek. A little known fact that some people had two cheeks on either side, one under the other, with a gossamer-thin air pocket between. The lower one was a clandestine cheek, a cheeky little cheek, and he laughed on thinking of it in this way.

"What are you laughing at?" Her voice was a more overt blade of sound, as if further honed by the geomantic moonrib above.

"Your under-cheek - I wish I had one." Clement prodded his tongue into his own and swabbed around for remnants of loose meat.

"Under-cheeks are nothing but trouble, Clement - things collect between and I'm forever using the douche." There was an added squeak to each word, as if she demonstrated her cheeks' valve-like quality.

The scream they heard was blood-curdling. An unrehearsed scream. One that came from a freight of frights rather than a single self-indulgent fright. From the direction of Maria's homestead. Clement ran on ahead, being fleeter of foot. She hustled in his wake as best she could, fearing her brother had gouged his foot accidentally with one foul axe-swing. But they lost their way in some coastal fog.


The old woman sat at the motionless spinning-wheel, tired of thinking. Being senile did not mean she had lost all common sense, however. Her two children were dim enough to outdo any of her own foibles. Maria was always with Clement above his meat-cellar: and love made a young mind even crazier than the thoughts it contained. She peered through the salt-streaked window and saw her son in combat with an imaginary ice monster - yet again. But Clement and Maria would be coming to the rescue, both ready to adminster a blow-job with the hottened breath they'd kept stifled up in their mouths from erstwhile empassioned kisses.

The ice creature had chomping jaws slavering in the bonelight. Her son, despite his sluggish reactions, had managed to break off an ice stake and thrust it into the monster, towards the heart, from behind its plumped-up sausage of sex. The erupting jam dyed the snow a startling black, and steamed. The monster twitched and, once dead, twitched again. Then, the old woman saw an arm forcing its way from beneath a patch of newly poached snow...

The earth is the best meat-cellar of them all, she thought. Shrugging, she returned her attention to the spinning. "Am I the sanest castaway of them all?" she asked aloud. She examined the palms of her hands. "Yes," she replied, with a sixth sense.

(Published 'Night Dreams' 1995)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We all need a cheeky cheek now and then.