He is the secretive puppeteer of invisible marionettes, and
he at once fascinates and repulses me. His hands pirouette about their wrists,
controlling unseen dolls dancing apart to their own speculative and hesitant
rhythms. Lost in their own world, listening to their own impulses, they have no
mutual attraction; they do not flirt, do not seek to caress each other, but
merely follow as he walks them along the street. One seems to care childlike
about the cracks in the pavement – she jumps to avoid them, while the other,
the androgynous one, brushes aside all obstacles crying ‘look at me, I’m free!’
They are oblivious to his hesitance at the kerb, his glance
at the danger of the busy crossing. Then they stop. They slip self-consciously
to the floor while their strings become tangled, awkward.
Linda talked of herself as having a ‘butterfly mind’, and
when prompted by puzzled expressions would expand “Oh, I just flit from idea to
idea without being able to concentrate on any of them!” She would then take the
metaphor further, and explain how at least from her fleeting chance encounters
she had gained a good overview of how beautiful the world around her was. What
she never understood, what was missing from the eulogizing at her crowded humanist
cremation, was how beautiful the friends around her regarded her flitting among
them. For from where they stood, Linda’s wings had made a snow angel from their
“Hurry up, Mikka!” Across the space between them appeared ‘Three of the moons
were droid-made’. “Double-phrase for ‘droid-made’, makes 43 klep.” Sor smiled sweetly as he joined ‘moons’ to ‘Saturn’ with ‘imploded
above’. “Triple-syllable for ‘imploded’: 92.5 to me, sucker!” Mikka mind-melded with his weapons. You could never be sure an
old-time galanaut like Sor had entirely lost the habit of post-victory genocide,
and Sor’s ship was itching for a fight. There was a burst of noise aft. “Mother ship beacon,” sang Mikka. “Call it a draw.” Before Sor could answer him, the retreating picket’s neutron-drive scattered the phrases. * I don't know if sci-fi writers invented flash-fiction, but a 'drabble' is an SF story no more than 100 words long.
The cock-a-leekie ebbs from the right of the bowl, and I read in its jetsam a turn to the north. It is part way through the Wellington that I realize that though the meal is just right the train itself is quite wrong. I have until the dessert course to re-think my holiday, and until breakfast to make contact with my luggage, checked-in to the van. I’ve made worse mistakes, I decide, and order a liqueur.
Several early bird
car-booters bagged bargains such as a packaged GPS for £20 and a pair of travel
rugs for a fiver. The best deal had to be the alloys and slightly muddy tyres
for a ton, but the Spear & Jackson stainless steel fork and spade were okay
for a tenner. The boots, the overalls, and the box of disposable gloves were
£10 the lot, after which pretty well all the forensic evidence was gone.
Early one Winter solstice I settled into the top deck of the X5 with Jack Kerouac as my companion and serenaded by kids from St Johns heading for their breakfast club. Down at street level, I saw the handwritten sign: trainee baker wanted – enquire within.
Sal, Dean and Marylou sat quietly in the ’49 Hudson waiting for me to get on board with them. Eddie was starving, but wasn’t he always?
The tall mist–enveloped beeches of the West Woods leaned towards the bus, the rising sun silhouetting us against their boughs. I’d criss-crossed the downs for over a year now, burning in the unremitting summer and freezing in snow-bound traffic. Was all this an escape?
The college catering course had left its indelible inedible stain on shelves of library books. There were five cracked copies in the same paperback edition of English Bread and Yeast Cookery, and there and then I fell in love with the woman who sold out enough to have her own cookery range, but not to the extent that she’d sell garlic presses.
We bicker now and then, Elizabeth David and me. She uses far too much salt, I complain, but maybe I just sold out more than she did in the matter of taste. And I can’t remember on which Midwest sidewalk I left Sal, Dean and Marylou, but Eddie and his kin visit me often. There is always someone hanging around the rubbish skip in the car park behind the bakery.