REMNANTS OF LAMOUX PART TWO

•April 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Now I look at her as she lies dying by my side, her hair lying out like the rays of a grey sun on the pillow and I know that she must be thinking about her Alexander a lot who ever he is. The only time she mentioned him to me was when she gave me an old book, a poetry book by Shelly. It had the name ‘Alexander’ on the title page and I asked her who the previous owner was. She told me that he was a boy that she had met in Greece and it was ironic that Shelly’s was the book in which I should find his name as their fate was two and the same. This was all she said, I read the book many times, hoping to find out more within the words but I soon realised that it wasn’t the words that I should be looking at but the symbolism and I became lost in the meaning of the new romantic. Ever since the old lady has been prostrate I have read her a poem by Shelly, each day, in the morning. Which I think she enjoys, for he was, as she said, the only poet who could ever be ambitious enough write poetry for both Byron and the Gods.

 

I lift her, clean her, feed her. I administer a little more medication for the pain. And I see in her eyes all the poetry she has ever read slowly being released. I see Sapho’s last parade and I administer the spike into my vein and I too become part of the parade. I stand amongst the crowd, all-yelling and cheering, I stand with sore feet, with eyes wide open at the spectacle that is passing before me. First come the marchers who slowly walk with a steady gait in the sunshine one ahead of the other, this holy army that has never seen blood shed, who were the first born sons to be cast into the river and found by the lovers of Sapho, who were then raised to protect and serve the poet and her people.

Panthers, lions and wolves all come next, ridden by collared children with grins bared wide, waving as their steeds slink along the cobbled street. Then one hundred maidens, naked and pale, their bodies painted with terracotta mud while each one carries a great palm leaf in each hand and through the heads of the crowd I can just make out the most beautiful, shivering and whispering a prayer. A man next to me, tall, leans on an ivory cane and smokes an opium tipped cigarette imported from Egypt, he tells me that he is the English ambassador and believes that this is what the Britons need once a year to teach the English what life is for. We look on as the Maidens pass and see a dozen bejeweled Indian elephants borrowed from Hannibal who has been spotted surveying the spectacle from steps of the great library. There is an acrobat on the back of each Elephant tumbling and turning while throwing giant flowers down to the crowd. This is the last march of Sapho, this is the poet’s last parade.

All of the people whom line the street are drunk on wine and sun and the buildings are shining golden, as the air smells of summer and hyacinth, we hear the thundering beat of many drummers and we finally see them as they come with giant sweating arms beating the pulse of the day that grabs the crowd and incites them into a dancing frenzy, they start throwing their tunics to the ground as the drumming builds to a climax and the many arms become a blur, then as quickly as the frenzy was built it stops and silence falls like a blanket of darkness, from which a girl, dressed simply with a flower in her hair walks and she sings a song with a voice that is a gift from the gods. The drumming slowly builds once more and everyone takes up the song. This ode that has become the anthem for Sapho’s last parade.

As the drumming slowly starts once more, painted men run along the crowd throwing jewels, tapestries and ancient papyrus scrolls on which are written secrets of the ancients.

Two men hold a ladder that stand high into the air, atop which sits the smallest of boys and he smiles as he releases leaves of paper that the wind catches and takes slowly down to the crowd. I catch one and find that written upon it is a poem written by Sapho herself.

The hours pass and naked men and women pass through the crowd giving food and wine to any in need, there are many things to see copulations, killings, laughter, sadness. The portly man turns and embraces me as this true celebration of humanity has shown him something it has shown us all something.

And the parade finishes, the street empties, we all crane our necks and wait.

Then she comes. She rides a stag with antlers painted gold, she sits naked but for a skirt of chain mail and many jewels and holds her head high with the dignity of a goddess. As she passes she looks my way and I see sadness, a tired weariness, for she knows this is last march. The poet’s last parade.

 

There is a loud bang. I walk to the window and see the garbage men have knocked over a bin. They are arguing about who is going to clean up the contents.

I close the window, and face the old woman, she is still lost in the crowd of the poet’s last parade.

I walk over to the gramophone and put on Stravinsky’s Firebird, it has always helped the old lady relax, especially whilst being medicated. I sit back down and contemplate what will be done when she finally passes. She has left instructions regarding her funeral in the top drawer by her bed and told me that I am not to read them until after.

‘After’- Possibly the most misunderstood word in the human language.

I look at her. She could be dead right now. Lost in a medicated stupor. I think about her, how we met, what we have become to each other for the last fifteen years. She was old when we met, yet she was not doing what one associates old women with.

I met her at night, with a fire burning beneath my feet and my life needing both validation and stability. A fire was burning above her head and her life had nothing to be compared to, it had no parallel, no black to her gold. So she created the black, she pulled it in around her and created a whole new life for herself and it was by mistake or chance or coincidence that I was pulled in next to her to become what she would call her apprentice to life, and I learnt quick that I would have to forget everything about the city which I once loved, a city that has since been given to the Germans in the divisions of Europe since the last war. She made me forget my parents, and taught me that although the tree might be rotten it doesn’t mean that the flower has to smell bad. I however, did decide, when I was old enough, to leave her and I left to find my mother, something that she advised strongly against. It broke her heart. I set out from this city that is clean and open to the twentieth century and stepped back looking for the city of the old Roman lighthouse. I never made it. It seems my father who I only knew briefly, yet well enough, before he died had passed on his love for women and gambling both of which I found very much to my liking and I ended up on an island of the east coast of Africa. I have no recollection how.

 

My memory of this time is faded and worn with only the crickets chirping in my mind to keep the rhythm of remembrance there. There I found a city that was the city of my youth, or at least it seemed it was. I felt as if it was the last place on planet Earth on which you could stand on the soil and witness the last of an ancient magic, not unlike the city of my youth was like. It felt as if someone had pulled down my parent’s city brick by brick and built it upon the white beaches of this island. Here where you could smell the cloves within your lover’s hair and taste the cinnamon on their skin.

It was here I found Love, I found wine and I found the Swahili.

The Swahili include the tribes of Africans that live up and down the central Eastern African Coast. There are too many to name, they all vie for and believe in their supremacy above other tribes and each have their own beliefs and thoughts. The one thing that unites them is that when they smile it is as a new music has been written for the world to see- not just to hear. One has to learn to trust their smiles, not all of their motives can be trusted but if you grow untrusting of their smiles one has then lost all belief in the magic of the world.

 

I found myself on this island by the ocean, spending my nights by the half crazy waves that would darkly crash into bright canvases of foam. My room was in a whitewashed building out of the way from everything but close enough to witness any events that might ignite my curiosity away from the horizon and lead me into the soup of ethnicities.

The room was high enough for the smell of the island to drift in through my shutters, whether opened or closed, this smell was like no other and it was a mix of spices and sea spray. Totally pure and one whose equal cannot be met, on days of total sunshine it seemed the smell was magnified and baked into the very ground, into your clothes, and into your skin.

I decorated my room with the idols that one could find in the markets and wore nothing but the colourful kikoi, a lightly woven and brightly patterned piece of cloth that the men would wear in place of pants. I found a store where I could purchase cheap quarts of wine that, like the island, were heavily spiced, and I fell into a life of tranquil, heavenly, sloth.

 

REMNANTS OF LAMOUX

•April 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The old lady dies.

I sit by her bed knowing that at any moment she will slowly inhale a last shallow breath and the very act of filling her lungs will kill her.

Something so natural and something which she has done so many times before will be too much for her and her body will have decayed to such a point that it will refuse to take any more.

I have shot her veins full of medication for the last two weeks to ease her passing. I will pierce the crook of her arm and then I will pierce my own.

We then sit there in the amber liquid of the autumn sunlight that falls into the old lady’s bedroom, searching our subconsciouses for a clue to a mystery that neither of us are yet aware of.

Our heads swell up in the hazy quietness nodding and lolling and if any eye contact is made it causes our thoughts to become frayed and silhouetted.

They become hurt.

I feed the old lady in the morning and in the evening; mainly it is baby food or porridge. She eats very little too busy searching her past for something to praise.

Something to cling hold of.

I sit buy her bed in my armchair. Green and cream stripes running parallel up and down its seat and back.

I sit there sober and medicated watching the old lady intensely or looking out her high bedroom window.

I look at the Elm tree’s leaves as they turn yellow and fall within a day.

I wonder what secrets the old lady is pulling out, ones that she had hidden, she has told me so much in the past, but she hasn’t told me everything.

I wonder if she is rubbing the dust off her darkest ones and going over every detail like a seamstress looks for any loose threads.

I look at her; her eyes are closed yet her eyelids are almost translucent. She was beautiful once. After that she was respected. Now she is alone but for the boy that is her last link to the living world.

I wonder when it will happen. I wonder when those lungs will draw in the oxygen of the room and then remain still. What will her last thoughts be?

She opens her eyes and looks at me. She looks at the table by the bed, old, a dark varnish covering its wood. On top lies the syringe and she makes a small nod. I sigh and do what I have to do; her eyes lose focus and close once more.

I sit there and inject what is left in the syringe into my arm, I sit back and the world turns into the jungle of Babylon.

 

Babylon. Where the coagulated blood of her enemies became the fertilizer for its weeds and vines that curtained the doorways and windows of the inhabitants. The cinemas and the churches were busiest on Sundays and soldiers stood with sharpened blades and rifles on every street corners. I would walk past the buskers with their guitars and baskets full of snakes as they sang their folk songs and I smelt their scented necks and sweaty cleavage of lovers disappeared. The whores maintained the main street, picking up the litter of the day in the evening and selling the lottery tickets with each customer of the flesh. Babylon, where the school children would hide beneath the waterfalls of floral tendrils to kiss and then walk beneath the biggest bridge to a store that sold the cheapest sweets. I became the biggest weed in Babylon. I became Babylon’s spy. Everybody learnt that to do business with me was to go out of business. I watched as the orchids, honeysuckle, grapevines, and ivy all started to wilt as I became more powerful, as I was fed on bourbon, blood and beer. I was the Inhaler of Babylon. The people would say that History is for the Exhale and future for the Inhale. I clogged that city like the beautiful lily can clog the river, pond, and lake. I was the seed that floated on the wind and sprouted where ever I landed. I was the seed that landed on the water and floated many miles and ruined the landscape. I turned Babylon into Eden and there was no higher judgment, there was no temptation, merely life. But Babylon is full of tricks and the blood that fertilizes makes each stalk stronger and I soon found out that in this city the real- estate could be bought but never sold. My liberation of that city would have meant nothing, my death to the people, my disintegration, would have meant my blood entering the cities lifeline, entering the soil that feeds their plants. They would have been liberated of me. Those slugs and snails that climb the silk shawls of          women and the flies and mosquitoes that suck the blood from the ankles of the Babylon men would be free to take control of the plants and fates of those hanging gardens.

So I started thinning and pruning and clipping every day. I stamped on the shorn shrubs and I drew the hanging gardens aside to let the sun fall on the shoulder blades of the café dwelling whores and the buskers and the preachers of Babylon and before long a desert lay where the city of wonders once stood.

And I walked south.

 

 

I opened my eyes and saw the old lady. She was looking at me with a strange expression on her face, as though I was someone from her past. She looked as though she wanted to sit up but I knew that if she did she would have more trouble breathing. My vision was still blurred from my sleep so I rubbed my eyes. I sat there and looked at her and then out the window, the sun was shining in onto the bed, I didn’t know if she liked this or not so I slowly stood and walked to the sill. I looked out below I could see that it was the streets day for the rubbish to be collected as people where walking around the tin cans and in some cases going through them for treasures or scraps of food. I let one of the curtain’s ties loose and the room darkened a little. The old lady relaxed. I walked to a bowl of water and splashed my face and then immersed a cloth into the cool liquid, I let it float there for a moment like an overturned boat and then pulled it out, I let it hang above the bowl and watched the water pour out and then I squeezed it in my fist. I wiped the old ladies face with it and I knew that she hated it. I think she was slowly becoming accustomed to the smell of death that was permeating from her skin and I knew that she would have seen it as the natural process.

I sat back down and I looked at her. I sat and I sadly remembered her bringing me to his house as a youth. She, although I was nothing to her, schooled me and set me on a course that I loved and hated her for.

Nothing of God was ever said between us for she knew that God had rendered my family apart but I now wonder what she was thinking of God. Or was it simply none of my concern what battles she was fighting in the depths of her heart, what visions she was seeing in her mind, and what peace she was or was not making with the perceived creator of her soul. It wouldn’t matter for much longer; for soon she will have run out of time and I will be alone in this city that has adopted me, trying to adjust to being the only one who hears the birds sing in the elm tree outside these windows.

 

I look at the old woman. I remember the first time she told me to infect her arm full of the medication that kept her numb and mute. That kept her alive but prepared me for her corpse. I did it as if it was a religious ceremony, as if I was bleeding a lamb, and then I did it to myself. I wanted to experience what ever it was that the old woman was feeling.

I pricked my arm and became the soldier and virgin all at once, the alpha and the omega. The rapist and the poet. I looked around me and it was nighttime, the sky having been tarred and all the stars tiny feathers.

I was back in Africa.

I kissed the ground, the only place in which I was happy, I kissed the ground and sat back up, I could hear the crickets and the marmots and the creatures of the night. In the distance there was a fire a Maasai song taking place around it, a great baobab stood behind them grand with its obesity, its branches raised to the sky like a preacher’s hands waving up to the heavens. I stood and started my walk towards it, I noticed on my way there was a hut so I stopped and said the word of entry ‘Hodi’ I heard ‘Karibu’-the word for welcome and stepped inside there was darkness but for a candle. An old man was within muttering and he lifted his hand up which held my old tin water decanter. It was full, I opened it and a hot liquid stew bubbled out. I held it to my lips and took a sip, It was a recipe I had tasted before, my mother’s, one she made often when I was a boy. I took another mouthful and held it in my mouth. I paused, and looked at the man who was lying on the floor of his hut smiling. His grin was so white against the darkness of his skin, I felt something in my mouth move and I spat the contents on the floor. There was a tail, the tail of a rat slithering about on the ground. I dropped the decanter and the old man started laughing. The tail started slithering toward me and I watched as it turned into an asp. I screamed and ran from the hut, I ran for the fire, for the Maasai who were always my friends I was shouting at them to help and they stood and faced me, there spears ready, they grabbed me and dragged me into an opening on the side of the baobab, it closed and I was pushed up the centre of the ancient trees hollow, then forced out a smaller hole to the side. The tree then caught hold of my shoes and I had become a branch- stiff and weathered, along side all the other branches on a tree in the only land I had ever loved.

It was then that I awoke. I had rolled off my chair and was lying on the floor. I slowly stood and I looked at the old lady. She was weakly struggling in her sleep, then she was still able speak albeit softly and in-between heavy breathes. She was whispering about Turkey and a bus. She would say a name that I had only heard her say but once when we first met. Over and Over. It would be the last word I would hear her say- Alexander.

And then she stopped talking.

 

BRAND NEW STORY COMING SOON!!!

•January 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

KEEP TUNED!

THE LAMOUX CHRONICLES.

•October 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 

ANNETTE

 

I can’t remember when it was that my mother left me, it must have been when I was a girl as she was not here when two sailors made a woman of me.

 

I have never been so hungry as that night, nor so beautiful.

 

I remember that afterwards the two men took me to a part of the town that I had never been before, it was autumn but still warm and they bought me the biggest plate of spaghetti that I had ever seen. It was the warmest, softest, most satisfying meal I had ever eaten. After that Spaghetti I couldn’t think of a better price that those sailors could have paid for the spark in my eye.

 

A lady who said that she was my mother appeared before my terrace one evening, yet how can one tell one lady from a mother you have forgotten? So I smiled and played along and I took her to a part of the town where she said she had never been before. It was Spring and the streets had yet to be shaded by the elm leaves. I bought her the biggest plate of the very same spaghetti and she said it was the most delicious thing anyone had eaten since Adam had bitten into the apple. I asked her who Adam was. She finished the spaghetti and seemed gladdened as her smile was less weary, this gladdened me, I then told her that I would meet her there again the next day. I never went back.

 

My name is Annette. Although in all my years I have caught very little. Often I will walk down the streets in my best dress to the cemetery where the sun’s light will get caught in the pink threads and I practice my dancing. I am a fine dancer, or so I am told, and I believe it is from all the days practicing in the sunlight, in the old cemetery. Dancing on the dead.

 

TRABEQUE

My dark skin is said to be from my parents laying too close to the fire when they coupled. My brothers are all fair so I, with my negro like eyes, my chocolate skin, and raven hair, I am the oddity of we De’Roubes. I am also the bravest.

 

Whilst only Nine years old I was wrongly accused of burning down a church in the village of Houger near the German border.

This Church was the most beautiful church in the country, built by the hands of angels. It was said that it stands on the spot that Joan of the Arc fell and that it was built in one night.

 

I was born in this village and despised by all, yet I was loved by the statues and carvings in this church and would go to them daily. Not to pray to them but to sing to them. Yes I would sing made up hymns of Lions and Soldiers, of Crying Babies and Aging Women. I would then dust each one of them with a handkerchief and leave them until the morrow.

 

Then one night it was said that I was not to go into the church due to me being touched by the finger of the devil whilst my mother was sleeping by the hearth. I did not protest as I knew it was quite useless but walked far into the hills until I could look down onto the village of Houger. And it was then that I saw the church was in flames.

 

I could not believe my young eyes, and all manner of thoughts were going through my mind. The strongest of them being that I would be accused of this tragedy, and my life would be a ruin. So I left that village of Houger and walked far south. Down to the capital of Lamoux.

It is here in Lamoux where I have been ever since, playing the guitar in the cafes and singing the same hymns that I sung to the statues in the church of my home land.

 

ESTELLA

 

It has been said of me that I am a witch, the daughter of gypsies, That great authors have based their heroines on me. Should I guess at what else? Should I partake in the vanity of finding out? Should I find out what is the truth? I am not a witch this much is true, I do not fly, though I have not yet tried. My parents did travel an awful amount, leaving me here in the company of my grandmother, which turned for the best as they both died in an automobile accident so I surmise they were Gypsies in the general sense, or maybe just gadabouts.

 

As For the great novelists. I have known many novelists, all have yet to be proven great.

 

I am a Lady growing old. The word Great i would have once used on many things and many people. I now save it for very few things, barely no one and make a point of using it in reference to no event.

 

The city of Lamoux once had many events that I would have called ‘great’ such as the building of and opening of grand buildings with neoclassical designs. It always helped with a bit of absinth. and the people were great, even the novelists, the best being a girl who used to tell us to ‘beware’ we never knew what she was telling us to beware of, it turns out she meant time. I now know what she means.

 

Ah, looking back, everything in youth is great. even love. Even when it disappears and drowns.

 

Now the only great thing in this city is a cafe where you can buy a plate of the most grand spaghetti for quite cheap and watch a young darkly handsome man play his guitar and sing songs which have the most extraordinary holy strength.

 

He is clearly in love.

 

 

THE MOTH

 

For thirty years I have been the soul occupant of this room. Leaving only to buy my vegetables and my soap. Every Thursday. I Leave just as the lamps are lit out on the streets and follow them to where the grocer’s is. He is usually just closing at this time so will often give me discounted vegetables. It is at this time, during the summer, that the moths appear also, hence I am known as The Moth man.

 

Once I have bought my Vegetables I then go back to my room but first I have to climb up to the first floor where I knock on the door of the lady who makes my soaps. Such colours and scents. I know not how she makes it, I believe it is the dying breath of magic that she must have inherited from her mother. It is said that all the queens of Europe have sent messengers up those steps demanding boxes of her soaps but her policy is one bar per customer. So I climb the steps, knock on the door and await the answer. It is always the same. Soft footsteps, growing louder as they reach the long slender and ornate handle and then the face of an old woman who looks out with a look of enquiry. She recognises me straight away calling me by my nickname of the moth and asking of my health. I always take of my hat too her and give her the same answer, that I can still put beautiful names to beautiful faces so I must be doing better than some. She always laughs, gives me a bar of soap wrapped in the finest of paper whilst hiding her other hand in a pocket. I give her my payment and she smiles. I then say Farewell Lorna and she laughs some more.

 

I retreat back to my hole in the wall, my room. There I place my groceries on my wooden table and hold the soap in my hand. I can smell its magic through the paper. It gives me the same feeling that I got when my Papa gave me permission to see the carnival when I was a boy, When I was known by real name, not as The moth.

I walk to the cupboard that has been built into the wall and I place the treasure in there with all of her hundreds of sisters.

 

That cupboard is my heaven and Lorna is my angel.

 

 

HONDURAS

 

I am alone at night. On a ship with christian men with no virtues. We lay with one another at night for quick moments of release and then it is back to our lonely beds. When we dock there are no talk of these moments, we go straight for the women who we make think are the first to make our hearts melt. Then it is back to sea and back to one another and our loneliness.

I lay in my bunk at night and think of many things in my isolation. The edge of the stars, the end of an echo, the birth of a son, my birth.

Sometimes when we are following warm weather I open my port window and a slight breeze will come in and blow my hair from my fringe like my mother used to brush it away when I was a boy.

I will never have a son. I have no need for a wife, I find no love in the bosoms of women. There is no hope for me. I fall in love with those who are never willing to return it. I am the North pole in love with the South. Forever running after it but never reaching it. Sending my compass in turmoil and my only therapy is to hold the fellows on this ship when ever I can.

Then when we port, I find a girl who is willing to drink herself to sleep, and I lay beside her, drunken and tearful and that is that.

Except at Lamoux. My home town. When we reach Lamoux I am the first off this vessel of broken hearts and I run all the way to the part of the town where the streets are still unguarded by the sentries of electric lamps and I find a cafe where the most beautiful angel sings his songs in the corner. His songs are great hymns of Lions and soldiers and Sons that suffer great trials. I buy wine for all and eat great plates of Spaghetti whose equal have never tasted. Not even in the ports of Sicily or Naples.

 

There are never any of my fellow sailors there as they run to another cafe, one in which there is a dancer of great repute, dressed in pink and of amazing beauty. I have never seen her, for my mind and heart lead me straight to the dark man and his guitar. The one which they call Trabeque.

 

LORNA

 

All my life I have been making soap. That which cleanses the dirt from the hands of the people. I find now that the soap has become so embedded into my hands that they no longer get dirty. The dirt of the city seems to roll straight from them. I have the hands of a Sixteen year old. I am Sixty One.

There have been many requests for my soap. From Royalty passing through the city on business of state to Paupers dying on the street below my room. I have always only sold one bar at one time to any person, and my price has never altered for that person. I decide on what the price shall be on their first visit. For the Queen of Spain I asked for a title. And I received it. Every time she returned I asked for same thing until I was given the title of an honorary Princess of Spain. I have never seen her since, as no doubt she did not want to give up the title that she was in custody of. There has only been one time that I have given a bar of my soap away. This was to a woman, a mother and a pauper. She had travelled far, for her son, she said, had disappeared. She said that the village in which she lived was in ruin since her son had left. I asked her why he had left. She looked down with great shame and said that the village people had stopped him from visiting the church, and from that moment great tragedies had occurred. She seemed to believe and put across to me that all the villages indeed believed that God was punishing them for such a callous act.

I agreed that it was indeed a callous act, and asked her how she intended to find her son. The woman did not know and looked away sadly as she told me that she had followed him to Lamoux and then his trail had grown cold with the winter.

I gave this woman who was close to death on my doorstep a bath and some soup. I then sent her on her way with a much larger aura of hope circling what would have been a once very pretty head.

The next day the pauper was back on my doorstep I asked her what it was that she wanted.

She told me that as she had a husband and three other sons to attend to she was returning to her village. She then said something which I have never forgotten. She said that Her son, the lost one, would often sing songs in the church, of great myths and subjects, like lions and Soldiers and Babies in gold Towers. She told me that if i was to ever hear a song like this song by a handsome boy with dark features, to tell him that his mother came looking for him and that I, Lorna, was kind to her. I gave this woman a bar of soap, telling her to only use it on the boys birthday and that I would keep my eyes sharply searching for this young troubadour.

She then left, trailing the scent of roses as she walked.

I have since heard this man sing. He is no longer a lost boy but a grown man, I go to the cafe in which he sings and listen to his graceful words. I knew it was him from his dark features and the songs of Lions, soldiers and Babies in Golden towers. I have never told him of his mother’s visit. instead I think of my own child. my Daughter.

 

ANNETTE

 

I dance in Cafe Babel. It is empty during the day. This is when the sun is shining and the people are busy trying not to catch their own deaths. Or it is just too cold. But then at night at nine. The tambourine starts shaking and the curtain is drawn and the men are drunk and I kick my legs high. Dressed in my home made dresses, smelling of scent, with roses in my hair. They call me the dancing rose.

 

I dance for one hour. trying not to notice the pain in the heels of my bare feet. Then I have one hour off. and then I go on again for another hour.

 

MALUGAIN

 

I am known as Malugain, named after my Mother’s father. He was a general who fought in no wars and did nothing but service whores and steal from his friends. My mother named me this to remind me of what I should not be. But when your blood is stained with vice you are called to it like the holy are called to church by the sunday bells.

I can not see well. My left eye I lost after a man lost his senses and stubbed a cigar into it. I fear that I deserved this as I had cheated him out of his horses and a vast amount of money. I got my own back when I seduced his daughter. And then his son.

I have a talent for seeing the stupidity of men and very rarely am I one to not use it for my own advantage. I have stolen money from dying men, I have seduced royalty and vice versa. There are no boundaries to my immoral senses. Except my eye. Now as I grow older I find it is harder to see and I fear I am growing blind. My biggest fear is that I will be left to beg on the streets, the stupidity of men left for others to take advantage of. These thoughts send me crazy and I have spent many hours when I should be sleeping with a stupid whore underneath each arm fretting and planning how to stave off my own down fall. I understand the inevitable. It is that there is no one to take care of me that makes me so wretched. And I, I for the first time, feel the limitless hell of loneliness.

I have found my way back to Lamoux. Looking for two things. firstly a man who is rich with both stupidity and wealth. secondly someone I can give this wealth to in return for the caring of my broken body before my inevitable decent into the abyss.

 

JEAN

 

I am of a wealthy family. Yet I have lived a life of sacrifice and seen little wealth. My mother gave me to the church as the seventh son is traditionally given. A rare treasure that families seem only worthy to place into the hands of God. It seems it was a blessing as I was not given much in the way of intelligence, or so says the padre and I would have not gotten far in the world beyond the church walls.

I never leave the church walls. From the bell tower I can see the whole city. From the bell tower I can see the old cemetery that adjoins the church grounds. From the bell tower I can see my love dancing in her small pink dress. practicing her twists and turns. Letting the sunshine flow over her skin.

I stand there against the ancient stone. High above her. my hand caressing myself beneath my robe. Pretending I am dancing with her amongst the cemetery’s dead, making love in the sunshine. Smart enough to talk to her and be the one she loves.

When I have finished I leave her. When I have finished I leave the sunshine and I crawl back down to my solitary room. I read the bible and I curse being the seventh son.

 

HONDURAS

 

I was not alone tonight. Tonight I had a fellow sailor with me. We coupled in his bunk after he had written a time on a cigarette that he gave me earlier in the day. Twas before dawn and there was no romance. Just grunts and sweat and then it was over. As I was redressing I noticed he had many books on his shelf. Ones that I had never heard of. I asked him if I may borrow one. He replied that I was able to come down and take what I would at liberty. but first I was to read something for him first. He went to his bed and beneath the hard mattress was a pile of papers. He gave them to me and told me that he had written every word. He then Kissed me. Smiled and told me to get going. I walked with a cigarette to my hole and lay there with this fellows pages on my chest.

I picked up the first one and read it. It was about a Captain of a ill destined boat, a poet and an adventurer named Alexander.

 

PADRE DANIEL

 

I wonder at the stupidity of the criminal mind. I own this church. as much as anyone can own anything in this city. I own the wealth that my flock leaves on the sundays. I own their guilt and all their sin. They pay me to keep them. I give a small sum to the Vatican. Enough to keep them happy. But I keep my own well. I own this Church. I own the bell. I own the cellar. I own the idiot Jean who rings the bell. And every now and then there is always a diverted soul who walks in for the first time since their youth and after a brief attempt at discussions of weather they talk of the great sins they have committed. The murders. The rapes. The robberies. And I tell them that the acceptance of God into their hearts is the first step into the kingdom of Heaven. They then tell me what they really want. They tell me they can not escape the tide of time and they are dying. Syphilis. Tuberculosis. Pneumonia. They need someone to look after them, they can not go to the hospitals as they are too full. I tell them that God’s house is open to all and they are shown to the cellar. They are stripped. They are bathed. Any wealth is taken. They are forgiven.

They are killed. they are buried in the old cemetery adjoining the church ground.

Another day comes. Another day goes.

 

 

 

GARFLOUGH

 

I have always dreamed of flying. I run along the street with my arms outstretched pretending I am a great swan flying back home for the summer.

When I sleep I dream of tropical islands and clear waters in which I swim, always being pulled down by the currents and just as I think I will drown I wake in my bed. Here in Lamoux. Ghasping for oxygen.

I know very little. My mother she washes the glasses at the Cafe Babel. I go there and sit quietly helping her or going on errands with Francois the barman. I hear the stories of all the customers. The foreigners and their tales of ships and adventure. The Pilgrims. The Soldiers. The Locals. All of them slowly getting drunk and telling more fantastic stories as the night progresses. I know who the kind ones are and I know who to stay well away from. A man came in not long ago, one eye a blurry scar. The other eye a milky blue. He gave me a small silk cravat. I showed it to my mother. she quickly grabbed it from me and returned it to the man. He nodded and smiled at her and slowly drank his cup. He assured me no harm was meant. My mother told me this man was no good. I asked her why and she quickly walked away.

 

MADAME D’BOUGH

 

I am visited by so many every day. With so many questions. Questions of Love, Fortune, Death. I have made great wealth by holding up the mirror of the future to the people of Lamoux. None ever ask how they can help out the people around them. It is solely self centered questions of wealth and how to make it. Of love and how to acquire it. Of revenge and how to exact it. Or else it is the poor souls whom wear the dark cloak of guilt whom ask how to cut themselves free from the ball and chain that they themselves placed around their leg.

I invite them through into my little room, lit by candles and I sit them by the fire. I sit them down and tell them not to say a word for a full five minutes. Just to look into the coals. They then must tell me the shapes they see. The forms that appear. Then they tell me their question. How do I keep my husband from finding out I love another? How do I grow more wealthier than a king? how do i sleep now I have killed? I then tell them what the shapes and forms in the hot coals mean. And give them the best advise I can.

My lover was once a customer who asked the last two questions. only they were not in that order.

He came, one day in a great state, this young man. Scared. Sweat covered. Frightened. He did as I said. and told me what he had done.

He had killed a man. The guilt was killing him. I asked him why. He said the man was dying anyway, he had come to him for help. He had merely washed him of his sins. Skimmed his clothes for money. And Killed him.

I told this man what the shapes meant and he left. Feeling better. But as I expected. he came back the following the next week. A changed man. It was as if he had forgotten about the murder that he had committed. Then he asked me how he could grow rich. He looked at the fire and told me all he could see where circles. I then told him not to stop anything that he wasn’t already doing. He then smiled, and threw himself on top of me. Me an old woman. Ugly. Unwashed. He coupled with me with such fury I was at first frightened. Then I matched his prowess with my own and afterwards he laughed and left. He returns once a week, every Sunday night and he climbs on top of me with the energy of youth itself. He is my lover. My Daniel.

 

 

FLEUR

 

In the middle of Lamoux sits the zoo. I go there to see the Lions. They remind me of what this country is. Something grand and unique trapped between the iron bars of France and Germany. The people agree. Yet we will never rise up. we are too busy hating one another, too busy falling in love with one another. Too busy lusting after one another.

The zoo is free to visit, so the poor are often their with their children, dressed in their stained blouses and shorts. wearing their cardboard shoes, or if they are lucky wooden clogs. They walk amongst the rich, the rich who carry baskets full of expensive food and wine in which they eat in the park beside the Zoo which is as old as the inner city. The trees that stand there have seen more days of Lamoux’s happiness and sorrow than anyone can remember. The park like the city is divided by a river. brown by day, black by night. A great river called the Inkon which is filled with boats during the summer and autumn leaves during the winter.

When a body has been found within the Inkon’s water the poor will line its banks hoping for a glimpse or an interview with a slow moving journalist for a few coins.

A body was found not two days ago. This time it was different. This time it was not only the poor that lined the banks, it was a far greater crowd, the rich on their way to the zoo were there also. Picnic hampers beneath their arms. I was there on my way to my sister’s house to buy soap. I have no mind at gawping at death’s work but what I heard was enough to spark the interest of any inhabitant of Lamoux.

 

TRABEQUE

 

The songs that I sing are of love and of adventure. They are taken from my dreams. From the ruins of every civilisations Literature. from the ancient Greeks to the poets of Lamoux. They are the mosaics of millenniums of life. I build them from the notes on my guitar. I weave words around them. Sung with words flowing with the texture of syrup. I sing of boats that leak. Boats that fill with water as the inhabitants fill with dread. I sing of gods who peer from blue eyes behind the masks of men. I sing of sunshine that dries the water from between shoulder blades of the drowned. I sing of Babies that are born in great towers of Golden brick. I sing the same hymns I sang to the statues in the church of my village as a boy.

It is a fool who moves forward through his life looking back at the point from which he came. Yet I shall not forget how I came to end up here. Singing for the spaghetti eating customers of a Cafe. Being paid very little. I am fed and given wine. I have not tasted the equal to the Spaghetti here in this cafe and it is this dish and I that brings people to this little visited part of the city.

I live in a room not far from the cafe. On the way to the Old cemetery and often in the mornings of the summer I will play upon the balcony looking as the grass grows over the hallowed dead. Sometimes I see a young woman there who dances. dressed in pink in the shadow of the churches bell tower and I strum louder so she has a rhythm to follow. She moves her feet with so much grace that I can not help but sing words of her beauty. She is the woman that saves all who are drowning in the leaking boat. She is the Sunshine that dries the water between the shoulder blades of all the inhabitants of Lamoux.

 

GLORIETTE

 

When walking down the Rue d’Bloome towards the Cafe in which I work I can see the true essences of excess, loss, love, lust and all in between. This road, on a Saturday night is the home of Venus and Pan. Mischief covers the population like a storm covers the sky, raining down ideas of vice and the stars sit in the eyes of the young along as the loins of the sky. You see the Negro women dressed in their furs and sequins, you see the Fairy men dressed in their tight suits with curled hair and cheeks covered in blush. The Dancers are seen in the alleys behind their respective clubs and cafes, gossiping, complaining, covering bruises with makeup, smoking cigarettes, you see the criminals running from a crime or else searching for a little lamb to slaughter. This is where I work. In the cafe Babel. Washing the glasses that endlessly appear. The glasses with their lipstick stains, their drained emptiness holding nought but stain and cigarette ends. I have worked here for over sixteen years. I have worked here as a young girl. I have worked as whilst pregnant with my son. I work here while my son grows. It was at the Cafe Babel that I met my son’s Father. I was seduced by him. He, who promised me everything and played on my poor girl’s stupidity. He had me and then I saw him no longer. Not long after the cafe Babel was being bothered by the police due to them believing we were harboring a criminal. A murderer. The Description was that of my lover. I should have known better. Yet I feel no shame, for I now have my son, My happy little Garflough. I was hoping never to see this man again. Yet Garflough ran into my washing station with a silk cravat. Given to him by a customer. This customer I did not recognise at first. He had one badly scarred eye, the other almost covered in cataracts. Then I realised that these monstrous features were simply the manifestations of a monstrous nature. Of a murdering man that had me and left me.

 

JEAN

 

My love she dances. My love I watch as she kicks and prances. My love I imagine flies far into the sky and twists and turns. The hot sunlight lighting her whole body. Shining through her thin pink dress. She flies here to the Bell tower and we spend our lives in each others embrace.

I believed I would never speak to my love but now I know I must. For there have been others watching her. My beautiful love dancing the grass flat in the old cemetery. There is a dark man who watches her from a balcony. He plays his guitar and casts spells with his notes which makes her dance all the more fantastic. She must not listen to him or his magic. She must not fall in love with this man. There is another. He watches her from the churches grounds. Through a hole in the decaying wall. I saw him after the last church service. I knew he must be stopped. I ran down from my tower. Knowing I must protect my love from this man. Padre Daniel was just exiting as I ran out. The man was still there. The Padre told me to stop and walk quietly with him. I did so. we walked to this stranger. Padre Daniel asked him if he needed any assistance. This stranger looked up and I knew then my Love was safe. One eye was scarred with the eyelids melted into one another. The other a milky blue with the cloud of the blind. The man was startled but composed himself well. He said yes, that he was looking for the way out. Padre Daniel took him by his wretched hand that was covered in scars and swollen with the morning chill. Yet it was still decorated handsomely with gold rings. The Padre asked him if he was at the service. This man replied that he had been and it was the first time he had been to the church since his youth. The Padre welcomed him back to the flock and asked him where he was staying. This man, like so many, was homeless.

The Padre then asked if I would go back to my chores as he was going to have a private interview with this man. I quickly ran back to the bell tower and I watched my love dance. I watched as the Padre led the blind man into the church. I watched as the dark man played his guitar. I watched as I planned to save my love from his devilish embrace.

 

BERNARD

 

I spend my days in my bath. Drinking wine. Floating in the murky tepid water. I lie there pencilling my poetry onto the blank pages of the cheapest of note books. I lie there sometimes asleep. sometimes staring into the eyes of a naked man who I have drawn onto the wall. Sometimes facing my sex as it happily floats up in a defiance of gravity. Like an eel leaving its weedy cave to hunt for food. I leave when the sun’s rays have faded from between my windows blinds and naked but for a towel around my shoulders I walk to my wardrobe. Treading on the shells of pistachio nuts and unpolished floor boards as I go. I choose a suit. I dress. I spray cologne. I light a cigarette and I leave my room. I usually meet the old man who lives next to me. The Moth we call him. He has such a stench to him. Something which is odd for he is often seen buying the famous soap from the Soap lady. A puzzle which I care not for. I step out onto the street and make my way to the Rue d’Bloome. I get there acknowledging the other regulars on the streets. The other boys who lean in the dark for Men to come and shine some light on their lives in the manner of a few coins and some drinks. I walk into the Cafe Babel. There are the usual drunks crashing about. The usual dancer lifting her feet high above the crowds head. I walk up to the bar and order a gin. I am convinced that I have the biggest smile in the cafe. Most of the boys on the street are smiling. A Navy ship was due in. Bringing many bored and freshly paid boys. I sit waiting for the first of them to arrive. As I place my order for another gin. A boy runs in from the street. The Ship was caught in a storm. The ship has sunk.

I stand around on the street for one or two hours. There is no point. I go home. I pour a bath. I pull a cork from a bottle. I write words into the cheapest of note books. I sigh and I close my eyes.

 

CAN

 

I am a son of Turkey. I left the empire of my forefathers to make my fortune trading here in the west. Across the Mediterranean to Italy I went. Down to Northern Africa. Up to Spain and Finally through France and to the strange city of Lamoux. Here I bought a ship with the money I had earned as a merchant in Northern Africa. I use it to transport items of cargo from this strange country, so small it is merely a current in the loaf of Europe. Across to another small country. The British isles. I transport a whole manner of things, mostly boxes of clothing and material made in the factories of Europe. I take them to the British and return with other oddities. Tonight I return with something a little different. Yesterday’s night, all was steady and the evening calm. My men and I were sitting smoking on deck. I noticed on the horizon a glow was being generated by a faint light on the horizon. A fire. We steered for it and noticed it was another ship. Burning. As we got closer we could smell the smoke and start seeing the dark forms of bodies in the water. The night was a veil of death. We moved forward still. Yelling our throats coarse for any survivors. Ringing the bell. There was a reply. A man floating in the water. Arms thrown over a trunk. We pulled him from the water and still he held to the life saving trunk. We asked him what happened. He moaned and he fainted. My name it is Can. It is my kismet to be here so far away from my home. It is my kismet to save this man. I believe he will put me on the path that I am meant to be upon.

 

MALUGAIN

 

It is a great day when you realise you can still suprise yourself with rotten lies and evil deeds. It is a better day when something good comes from something bad. I can see once more. Not as good as I would like, but I now no longer need to worry about who will look after me for a while yet. God is looking after me. I am the new Padre of Lamoux. The old one now in irons for trying to kill a killer. He lead me into this lovely church. Telling me that he would take me down to the cellars for a private interview. I could smell his intentions from the start. I may have been blind but I am Malugain. Vice is in my blood and I can sense when a man has killed. I can sense if he would do it again. I can sense when he will do it again. The Padre’s first mistake was enquiring about my rings. I told him they were my fathers. He then decided that was enough. He lead me down the steps. The smell of death growing stronger with each step. Then I knew what he was up to. He did suprise me when he said he would bathe me. I accepted. He then told me to undress. I did so and hopped in my bath. The whole time he was talking of Christ. And then he came at me with some sort of blunt stick. Straight into my eye. The blow hit me right in the eye splitting my eyelid and the light was blinding. I screamed. not with the pain but with blinding light. He came at me again hitting me in the stomach as I had climbed out of the bath. then as I was lying on the floor I found that the blinding light was dimming and I could see. My eyelids were no longer melted together. I stood up and I beat the black and rotting gut from his sides. I locked him in down there. I then went to his room and threw on a robe. I called for Jean. I told him to quickly get the police. While I was waiting I stole as much as I could fit into the big pocket of the robe. I cleaned up my eye. I thought up a plan. The police arrived. I told them I was a padre from the South of France and that the church suspected the Padre of crimes against the poor. I told them I was sent to see if these allegations could be clarified. Yes they could be. What made it easier was that the Padre was lying on the floor rocking back and forth. Crying for forgiveness. The Police took him away. Jean looked at me. The confused fool is the easiest to trick. I told him that I knew his secret. I told him I knew what he was planning. With that he ran up the narrow stairs and he now does as I say like a timid pup beaten into easy submission. I am now the new Padre of Lamoux. I stand before my happy congregation Reading from the bible and looking intimidating. No one has asked any questions of Padre Daniel. They all seem happy to be rid of the fool. And at the end of the day I simply take all of the collection money. My life, once more, is that of a king.

 

TIMPAUX

 

I love this city. It is the forgotten city of kings. from the girls who work in the cigar factory to the boys who work on the street. I am an old man now. I sit by the river near the gates to the park. listening to the monkeys chatter in the zoo. I sit there and I think. Lamoux is a city older than Paris yet younger than Rome. Like I am older than most of its population but younger than one. From this point on the river, by the northern gates, you can see the tip of the Roman lighthouse. This is our Eiffel tower, our leaning tower of Pisa, if any tourist comes to Lamoux they are sure to be seen walking the smoothed pavers that circle the base of that tower of ancient light. The lighthouse is the centre for the brass bands who play the golden waltzes and the merchants who sell silks imported from turkey, snuff imported from Spain, and oranges grown on the slopes of the hills in our native land.

I sit here and I watch the water flow past me. The river’s banks lined with lovers in the spring and summer and fishing lines all year round. I have grown old in this city. I have seen many things change. I have seen many quarters turn bad and many quarters turn good. I live near the cigar factory and the clouds of tobacco smoke during the workers lunch hours has stained the outer walls yellow. They are good people though. They are hard working and faithful to one another. I rent my room in a big house owned by an old lady. Estella. She, unlike me has left this country. She, unlike me has known love. Some nights we will share some brandy. Smoke a cigar and she will tell me stories of her adventures. Of her love. She is the soul of Lamoux. When she dies so will the light from the lighthouse. So will the city of Lamoux.

 

HONDURAS

 

I was asleep when I heard the yelling. I awoke to a nightmare upon the sea. The bell was ringing signaling all men to group on deck. It was the deep tolling melody behind the desperate shouts of sailors. I remember going to my trunk to grab my valuables. I would not leave them for future generations to find washed up on the shores of the following centuries. I heard an explosion. The whole ship rocked back and forth and then there was another. I laughed. I remembered the stories of pirates and cannon balls from my youth. The ship was obviously on fire. With smoke pouring in from beneath the door. On the third explosion the whole ship was torn apart. including my room. There, were my port hole used to be, where the sea wind used to float in and blow my fringe from my forehead, was a hole where the metal panels had been torn off. I was looking out of a hole big enough for me to stand tall in. The stars appeared between a whisp of smoke. The ship lurched to the side. I was thrown out. The contents of my room following me as I fell.

 

LORNA

My soap it is famous. It is the pride of the city. There is not one person who has not heard of it. People will travel from all around just for the honour of saying they bath with it. The recipe for it was given to me by a lover in my youth. He was from persia. He said he descended from a daughter of Darius and a general in Alexander’s army. I told him my Mother was of the same family as Napoleon and my father, Marie Antoinette. Neither of us believed the other. We did have some fun though. As those in their youth often do. We would leave the city on Saturday’s and picnic out near the Farms. Where the River Inkon is not yet polluted by the city’s shame. I will not tell you everything we did. There on the banks of the famous Inkon. I will however tell you that this Persian knew how to make soap so fine that it almost melted into your skin. That it made you feel happy and carefree. It made you feel clean of all wrongs that you have commited. He said there was Babylonian magic in that soap. To this day I believe him. The Persian boy left me with our love. I will not tell you how or why. He left me alone and cold and feeling used. The one thing I had to remember him by was his soap. So I made it. I made it for days and days. pouring my sorrow into the mix and using the fragrance of the roses that he would bring to me. Afterwards I did not want this soap. So I gave it away. Some to my friends, some to my family. I gave some to a young man called Augustus. My sister fell in love with it and she comes once a week to visit me and will buy a bar. She tells me the news and fills me in on the gossip of our city Lamoux. She came this week and told me something of great interest. There was a body found in the Inkon. The Shameful Inkon. Something which will happen occasionally here. Yet this time it was different. This time it was a woman, a famous woman in Lamoux. It was a clairvoyant. One who, it was said, ran the government with her prophecies alone. She was the most powerful woman in the city. Now she was dead. This famous Madam D’Bough.

 

ANNETTE

 

I am the famous dancer of Lamoux. I lose control and gain control. I pulsate with the city’s rhythm. I feel the energy of the street flood through my veins. It lifts me high. It lights me like the Roman Lighthouse. The cafe groans under the weight of a hundred men. A hundred men squeezed together. Laughing, fighting, talking, smoking, leering. I watch them all as I kick and I twirl. I light up their faces with every turn. With every twist. It is a great show of splendor. Proof that Love can be manifested. Proof that love can be manifested in physical form with out having to share my bed.

Afterwards. when the stars have shifted, when my dancing is over and it is the hour after night but before dawn. When the Sinners are deep in sin and the sleeper’s deep in sleep. I creep off to the Cafe Taffe. There I can have my Spaghetti, the biggest most loveliest plate of Spaghetti and I watch the boy with his guitar. By this time there are very few songs left in his heart. His thick calloused fingers pick at the strings. I walk in. I sit down and I order my pasta. He usually sings of great men and women. Or catastrophe. I know this man well. For he strums his guitar while I dance in the old cemetery. I recognised the sweet rhythms from the first time I heard them. I will dance for him here one night. Here at the Cafe Taffe. I will dance and I will be the light that shines on the music. The figure that mourns over the words that he sings with his soft, northern voice.

 

CAN

 

The sailor is still asleep. He has a story that will answer many questions. Inside his trunk he has a book of loose pages. A great story of a man that is well known. Alexander Sandking. I keep shaking my head. This Alexander lived long ago. It tells of how he was a wealthy child, a native to Lamoux. He gave it all away for the life of adventure. His hero’s were Rimbaud. Byron. Shelly. The Poets who lived lives not caught behind the cafe window but wandering far beyond the walls of europe. He travelled to my country, this Iskander. But he left. Love found him. The strongest thing in the world is love. It brought him back to Lamoux and there they stayed. Until, one day, he realised that he had not yet finished leaving footprints on the road for others to follow. He left his love. This love, this girl, she descended from gypsies. It is said that she was so mad that after two years of waiting for Iskander to return she put a curse on him. He would suffer the same fate as his heroes. Meanwhile, Iskander had built a ship and was sailing it all around the shores of our Mediterranean coast. It is said that a great storm came up and destroyed the ship, the wind called the very spirits from the men on board. It left nothing but the legend of Iskander Sandking and his ship, the Estella.

I do not know how this man has ended with this book of pages telling the full account of Alexander and the adventures he had on the Mediterranean. I can only assume he knew someone who was a sailor on the Estella. Yet there were no survivors. Yes, this sailor has a story that will answer many questions. Many questions.

 

PADRE DANIEL

 

Prison is merely another form of church. The seats are hard. the rooms are draughty. There is the gossip. There is the self-pitying. The Preaching. The Lecturing. The difference here, is that I am a boy again. My luck has dissipated like a morning frost. I thought I had that Malugain. I only needed to bludgeon him once more and it would have been just another lost soul off the street. Now he has taken my place. Now he is lord of the lambs of Lamoux. I am to be tried in a fortnight. Jean sends word when he can. He says that Malugain does not send anything to the vatican. This will anger them and he will pay for this. For the next two weeks I will sit here. I will pray. I pray that a lady hears of where I am. I pray that a lady sees where I am in her fire. I pray that she finds me. That she uses her influence over the powerful men in this city to have me freed. I pray for Madam D’bough to find me.

 

TIMPAUX

 

Love has eluded me like so many others in Lamoux. It is the one thing that I have never possessed. I am what the boys on the street call a Robe. Someone who will employ them for the night, for company, not for the vanquishing of lust. Someone who tells them they can keep their Robe on. I feed them, bathe them, and sit them by the fire, giving them a book to read to me from. This is the sad conclusion of my life.

There is a boy who I like to get when I can. He is a poet and he reads me his words while we drink wine and eat the pistachio nuts that Lamoux imports from the middle east. His fingers play with the shells as his deep voice releases the stanzas, the boy writes of Lamoux- a city that I gather he loves as much as I do. He writes of his life and the things that he has and hasn’t experienced. The choices that he has made. He will sometimes sit there and tell me stories of his youth, of how he became the young man that he is. His cheeks slowly getting warmer and rosier from the claret and the warmth of the fire. Then I always let him sleep in my bed while I, down stairs, type his poems onto lavender coloured paper. His handwriting is consistent without mistakes, which shows he is educated. I wonder at how he became what he is, I wonder at how I became what I am. I wonder who has the sadder life. In the morning I never see him, he always leaves at dawn, taking the bundle of lavender paper, his payment, and a bag of pistachio nuts with him.

 

GARFLOUGH

 

There is one day of the year when everybody in Lamoux will go to church. The day of Saint Gideon, our city’s patron saint. It is a holiday here and people will crowd into all the churches to pray for our city’s prosperity. Our prosperity. It is the only day I know of that my Mother and I will visit the church. We go along with all the other locals and sit through the service, praying for Lamoux, or in my case, praying for wings. We arrived today, Mother wearing her best silk scarf, me in a woolen jacket and cap. We sat at the back squeezed in and watched as the padre stood up. There was a silence and then a murmur. It was not Padre Daniel but the very same man who tried to give me a gift in the cafe, not so long ago.

Everyone looked around at one another. I recognised a lot of faces from the cafe, rogues, drunks, gamblers, dancers, the girls from the street, most of them criminals but all at one stage have been good to my mother and I. My mother she stood up, took me by the hand and we left out the side door. A few others from the Rue d’bloome where leaving also. One of the women called out my mother’s name. She told me to wait in the old cemetery.  I walked through the old gate. and sat on an old grave in the sun. Then I noticed a girl was dancing not far off, it was Annette from the cafe. I called out and said hello. She came over and asked me what I was doing there. I told her about what happened in the church. I told her it was the one eyed man. I told her now he had two eyes. I told her how most of the regulars were acting strange. She replied that rogues never forget their own kind. My mother then came and saw Annette. My mother told her that St Gideon had forsaken Lamoux. It started to rain as Annette told my mother that Lamoux takes care of its children. And I realised I never got to pray for my wings.

 

THE MOTH

 

I remember when I first bought a bar of soap off my Lorna. I was just a young man. I would see her from my window with a Persian that she was in love with, always with the most beautiful smile and brightest of dresses. I was paralised with despair. I could not wash, I could not go out. But then I no longer saw them. I only saw Lorna walking the streets, or I would see her on the stairs wearing a heavy jacket. Her hair wet and flat with the melted snow. I knew she had had her heart broken. Yet i couldn’t help but be cheered. I finally got the courage up to talk to her so I walked down the steps to her door and I knocked. She opened it and smiled. The most beautiful smell hit me and for the first time in my life I saw the colour of love. I smelt the essence of it. It filled my whole body with an applause, I could hear nothing but a great cheer and whistles and a brass band. Lorna looked at me and asked me if I was there to buy soap as well. She told me that she didn’t expect the word of her soap to travel so fast. I had no idea what to say, I wanted to ask her if she would have champagne with me on the river. I just looked at her as she wrapped up a bar of soap and I asked her how much I was to pay her. She looked at me and told me she had not yet settled on a price so I was to merely just tell her my name. I told her it was Augustus. Lorna laughed and asked me if I had Roman blood, I told her I was indeed a descendent of the Christian Roman. She smiled and told me that she was of Cleopatra’s line. I don’t think either of us believed each other. From that day I have bought a bar of soap every week. My only payment is to tell her my name. Maybe it is too late but one day I will walk down those steps and ask her to have champagne with me on the banks of the river Inkon. And I will tell her my real name.

 

 

TRABEQUE

 

I was sitting playing my guitar. The sun was as warm as a wine stained smile and I was watching the dancer bowing down, rising up, and kicking her legs up high. It was as if she was scaring the usual cool winds and clouds of a Lamoux afternoon. The Bell-tower of the old church was slowly casting a shadow over my balcony as the sun sunk slowly into the west. I looked up at the old church. It had none of the charm or warmth of the small church in my home village. My Village. I wondered if anything had changed. They would have built a new church. I sighed and I wondered if any of them thought about me. I strummed my guitar a little louder. I looked down at the cemetery. The girl’s mouth seemed to be opened in a smile. She danced barefoot across the fallen head stones. Through the shadows of the old oaks where she would flatten the long grass with every step. I looked back up to the church. There was someone looking down at the girl. A man. He seemed to be watching her with great intent. I stopped strumming. The girl Stopped dancing and looked up at me at my balcony. I leant against the iron railings. A cobweb caught against my pants as the girl looked up. I pointed up at the church’s bell tower. She turned and looked. The man quickly stood up and ran behind the bell. He then went back down the trapdoor like a rabbit down its hole. The girl quickly got her cardigan and left. This will probably be the last I see of her dancing in the old cemetery.

 

HONDURAS

 

We are close to the harbor of Lamoux. I have sat here smoking cigarettes with the Turkish captain of this cargo vessel. The bundle of pages that was given to me by my fellow sailor has caused him concern. He asked me how it came to be in the chest. I told him it was a gift. This Turkish man, Cam, seems to know of the sailor whom the story concerns. He keeps mumbling about it and asking questions. I merely tell him the truth. I haven’t any idea about it. I just want to get back to Lamoux. I can not sleep for nightmares. I need to get back to Lamoux. I need to make my way down the hard worn stones to Cafe Taffe. I need to watch the dark man play his songs of men like me. Songs of ship wrecked fools in love with the unattainable. All while I eat a plate of the most well earned spaghetti. This is all I can think about. I have told Cam that he can keep the Manuscript as it clearly means more to him than I. He has refused. He believes it has come into my possession for a reason. So I shall keep it in memory of the man who gave it to me. We get to see the light of The Roman Lighthouse tonight. Tonight, when I will get to walk the streets of my dear Lamoux.

 

FLEUR

 

The story of Madam d’Bough is a strange one. The woman they found in the river is not the real Madam d’Bough. The real Madam d’Bough is long dead. But she took an apprentice who learnt all her tricks. Most importantly she learnt how to manipulate the feeble minds of men. She lived in her mistresses house after the old lady’s death and took on her persona and clients. It is not known how she ended up a corpse in the Inkon. That river holds many souls and rarely lets up its secrets. People say she had been inadvertently ruling the city of Lamoux through the advise she would give to the men in power who came to see her. There was also a rumour that she was the lover of the Padre. That she was the reason he became so powerful. It has only just been told that Padre Daniel is in the city’s cells and is to be tried for the murder of the broken souls of Lamoux. He will no doubt be waiting for Madam d’Bough to use her influence and free him. He wouldn’t have heard of her fate. This would be the ideal time for a woman to take advantage. The ideal time for Madam d’Bough to fight the rumours of her death. To stand up. To reclaim her lover. To expose that criminal Malugain. To set the Lion of Lamoux back onto its throne. This time the sister of the soap lady will no longer be in the shadows. Soap will mean nothing to me when I hold Lamoux in my palms.

 

Old Lamoux. Sweet and heavenly. A book full of sweet poetry. A book full of beautiful art for all to see. It is a gift to walk into this city. It is a gift to open this book and to read such words. Old Lamoux. And when any of the population falls in love

The city’s spirit grows and shudders. And the blankness of death is held off for another season.

Like the green green lawns that slope into the days and years. That fade into golden dust for Summer. Like the church services for Saint Gideon and the needs of men and the nicknames of whores.

And nothing has changed. Not in Lamoux. Everybody knows nothing really changes. Not for Kings or Dukes or bankers or beggars or for the Angels themselves. This is why the Artists love the city. Permenance is the artisans best friend.

 

Nothing changes for the population. They were born children of Lamoux and this is how they die. This is how they fall in love. Who they fall in love with. Every year enough people fall in Love to balance the crime, to balance the blackness of Lamoux’s soul. Their love is the white caps upon the forceful waves that roll into the harbour. That break against the wharf’s peers. And the poets of Lamoux lie in their beds or on their floors. Backs atop their patterned rugs. Having thoughts of pretty hands over ears

atop blades of grass. And love making in the afternoons. with fogged over panes.

 

Without feeling the danger of comparison Lamoux is classed as one of the most antiquated and beautiful cities of Europe.

Their future has always been free, like the loose fitting skirts of their women. Like the liberal whistles of their men.

The summers of their dark ages (the lonely days) were recorded in lost documents of great volumes by the educated wordsmiths of the high classes. These were stolen by the lower class poet authorities and rewritten as sonnets. Sonnets of love and death and the ghosts of Gods. A blurred mix of words, sex, love, poetry

These poets would dream of horses. Tho they knew the horses didn’t dream of them.

 

 

The Poets and artists travel every day. From Cafe to Cafe. From Quarter to Quarter. They travel thinking of Africa everyday.

that new babylon. They walk in the cardboard shoes of the poor. They carry their books. Their charcoal pencils. They carry their thoughts of war and sleepless nights. The say that together they have the power to turn Lamoux into their own country. A country that makes that new wine for the youth. A country where wedding rings signify the opposite. They want the hearts of the children of Lamoux to beat louder. To make the pulsations bigger. For the whole world to hear the thud of their new country. Letting everyone know (and embedding the memory) of the origin of reason and symbolism.

Here in oceanic sunbeams the punches of Lamoux’s pulse give all its inhabitants longer and stronger life. This in turn gives their minds my time to wonder. More time to plan. More time to give rise to heightened sensations. From the couples walking in the first park by the zoo to the Ladies who work in the cigar factory.

They grind leaf and twig ‘tween their long fingers. Given to them by their mother’s families. They smell the smooth scent of puberty. The stench of holy age. Their ears are primed and focus on the herd of keys upon the piano being played in an apartment across the back fence. The piano’s keys dully polished by the lady-like fingers of an elderly gentleman.

 

Winter brings the tallest of waves to the shores of Lamoux. Some even crashing around the base of the Roman lighthouse. A great tower in which to set a flame alight inside. To guide the ghosts of Lamoux to the centre of the markets. Where the brass band plays and the pigeons nest. Most lonely men will walk here after drinking away their nights. To stave off their hunger with fire and sex.  And unroll the muslin on which to lie. Some don’t feel as if they will escape. Some don’t feel as if they will be saved.

Most believe that Lamoux looks after its children. Most believe that Saint Gideon will look after Lamoux.

 

And the folly of all will be recorded as will the brave deeds. In the kingdom of pavers. In the library of Lamoux. Founded with the bounty given to the city for handing over the scabbard and sword of Alexander the great. Found beneath the lighthouse and given back to the Macedonians. And Lamoux built the Library. To house the papers that document its criminals. To house the documents that outline all the good deeds. To withhold all the poetry written by the poets. To alphabetise the love letters written by the lovers. To file the ransom notes. It is a grand building. With its rear exit backing onto an orchard. which is full of blossom and lovers in the spring. Fruit and children in the Autumn. Fallen kites in the summer and snow and blood trails in the winter.

 

 

In Lamoux all can be placated. It is the playing of the symphony in the park by the zoo in the summer. All the aged sit at their windows looking out. Smoking what could be their last cigarette. All the youth are out lying on the grass. Everyone’s lips and smiles stained with wine. Everyone’s breath staining the summer breeze with the scent of liquor. The Symphony still plays. Those who find their feet are not weighed or tied with the cities languor find a partner to dance. As the sun sets of Lamoux.

The aural opiate of the symphony seems to control the length of time the golden circle stays in the sky. Finally they let it fall. The lamps are lit and the people sigh collectively. Not even christmas makes everyone feel as good as these summer days when the symphony plays in the park by the zoo.

The Rue d’Bloom is the centre for lust and broken hearts. It is where the poor go to work when they can no longer afford sardines and cigarettes. They go there to dance. They go there to fix broken hearts with laughter. They go there to put themselves through college to see which alphabets are becoming extinct.

The Rue d’Bloom is a road where the jazz singers are seen. Their negro hands holding leashes connected to big friendly hounds. The dancers are seen walking up and down. Dressed in their high-heels and the dresses with sequins in which both lamp light and moon light are reflected in. Smiling and holding hands with one another for safety. The negro’s language isn’t theirs but they speak it. The Rue d’Bloom is the road on which the men walk with their tight pants, and polished shoes, their carefully combed hair and eyes lined with the blackest of eye-liner. They are taken and paid by customers who use them to make them feel like kings. These customers never see the sardonic smiles on the corners of their mouths. Their handshake is called the milkshake. They are a solid group of men brought together by heartache, hurt and the love or Lamoux. Intermingled with the regular street crawlers are the tourists and the sailers and the criminals and the men and women who make Lamoux’s soul a little darker each night. And down there on the street, on the Rue d’Bloom through every crack in the pavement, between the buildings and up from the blocked gutters, the rosemary flourishes.

 

Many have found the road to Lamoux. That steady road. She who owns the poets, and the stupid, and the farmers.

Many have found the road to Lamoux and kissed its fine dust

They have kissed the path of soldiers. They have kissed the path of the young, and the returning way of the smiling, all knowing old.

Lined by elms and oaks. Budding, yellowing, or bare. Many have found the road to Lamoux hemmed by fences. Stone, wooden, barbed.

They have seen its ditches were the living have slept and the banks were their ghosts have awoken. The road that joined with rivers and crossed their shadowed depths.

Many have found the road to Lamoux. Many have carved their names into an elm. They have crossed the fences and walked over the fields. They have swam the rivers. And they know. They know. It will not be long before other people follow. Some will find Lamoux and never walk the road again. Some will return after many years and notice the road has changed. That someone found a path that led an easier way. And more people followed. Forsaking the road that was the first. It will be overgrown and forgotten. This road that took them to Lamoux. Like the memory of all the souls who walked it into the city of the Roman Lighthouse. Of all their loves, all their stories, all their times, good and bad within the city of Lamoux.

 

BERNARD

 

Tonight I will go out. Make my self look good. Pick a sprig of Rosemary and put it in my button hole. I will fill my jacket pockets full of pistachios and leave a trail from my door to the Rue d’Bloome. I leave the building as the lamps are lit and I can see The Moth walking down towards the local grocer. I know I will find a customer tonight, I have to. Even if it is a Robe. There is usually one who shows me favour and asks me to read him my prose. I make sure my back pocket always has one of my cheap note books inside it in case of his custom. I follow the Lamps to the Road of lust and cigar ends. I pick a sprig of Rosemary and put it in my button hole. I see a few of my fellow brothers in perfumed arms and wink at them. I walk into the Cafe Babel. It is already full of the men and women who come to turn gossip to truth and truth to laughter. I find Gloriette the barmaid. She fixes me a gin and her son Garflough walks by holding empty glasses in his hand. He stops and asks me if I want to buy a cigar. I decline. I tell him he should come back later when I have a friend. I walk out into the cool night air and watch the people. I look out for the sort who will keep me alive. I take a pistachio out of a pocket and shell it. I throw it into my mouth as a Sailor walks in. He must be straight off his boat as he still carries a bag. I know he is one for the boys as he goes straight to the bar without even glancing at the dancers. Particularly Annette, the most beautiful and graceful dancer on the Rue. I walk up to him and notice he looks tired and angry. I ask him what the matter is. He tells me he went to the Cafe Taffe to watch the guitarist there. However, they say he has not been seen for days. I tell him not to mind and that I and the Cafe Babel will take the weight of the world from upon his shoulders.

 

ESTELLA

 

This city. This Lamoux. I left it once and I found love. I returned with him and he left me. That was many years ago. I could never leave again. I am far too old. I am a part of this stupid city like it is a part of me.  A most pathetic and sad situation. I remember when I was a young girl. There was magic in the flowers of the city. Poetry would beat from the heart and soul of Lamoux and everyone believed in the future. Now it appears that the people here only believe in the magic of Madam d’Bough. That she comes and goes from the dead and only she can make a future that the people can believe in. This city has gone mad. Where are the lovers? The true lovers? The ones who will lie in bed all day philosophising, analysing one another’s dreams, making up revolutions. That is it. Where are the Daughters of the revolution who will sons of Art and couple to make lessons for the future generations to learn and take example from? Timpaux, who lodges in the bottom story of this house, believes I am the soul of Lamoux. The oldest inhabitant. Maybe. He believes that when I die the city will die too. I am not dying so far, yet I see the city’s spirit slowly fade. The flowers now bloom only because it is spring. They would once bloom because there was reason to. I can see the park from my big house. Timpaux goes there to think about much and achieve nothing. I can see a lot of the kites and in the distance one or two hot air balloons. Maybe I am not too old to leave Lamoux. Maybe tonight I will pray. I will pray to Saint Gideon for some wings and perhaps I will fly above the kites and beyond the balloons and back to the land in which I found my love.

 

PADRE DANIEL

 

I have had word from my love. I am to be freed from these prison walls within the week. Free to walk back into that church and beat the eyes from the head of that bastard Malugain. I have received this information from a letter she had sent. She outlined that I was to go straight to her abode upon my release. No doubt she will then tell me how best to go about getting back into the great church of Lamoux. How to go about killing the man who should already be dead. How to become king of this forsaken city. And Jean. I know he will have been faithful to me and informed the vatican of what has happened. Jean. I will repay his faithfulness with a night with that dancer he is always spying on. I will repay my love for this. With all the gold she can carry. she will be my secret little queen. And the first thing I am going to do is touch her beneath her old frayed dress and show her just exactly thankful I am. Madam d’Bough is never going to forget the day that she freed her Padre Daniel from the cells of Lamoux.

 

TRABEQUE

 

I have not strummed the strings upon my guitar for days. I have not ran my fingers over the frets. nor have I leant over the dip in her waste and played the songs that so many in Lamoux have come to love. Instead I have been trying to find the dancer from the graves. I know she dances on the Rue d’Bloome. I have merely to walk into the correct cafe at the right time and I will have found her. The most beautiful girl in Lamoux. The girl who dances with the most grace. The girl who i must meet and have dance to my music. I will create chords for her. I will write songs of demolition and recovery. Of ugliness and natural beauty. I will forget my past and become hers. Our love will blow apart the shadows from the heart of Lamoux and a new morning will dawn over this city which is becoming blacker and blacker with the sin and soot of greed and lust.

 

HONDURAS

 

I found myself in the Cafe Babel last night. Talking to one of the Rosemary boys. We got drunk and smoked cigars which he would buy from a small boy who kept passing with his box. I told him I had never been there as I was one for the Cafe Taffe. One for the handsome guitarist there. Last night he wasn’t there. This is what took me to the Cafe Babel. This is what took me to the arms of this Rosemary boy. We drank enough gin to open up and I told him the fate of my ship and my fellow sailors. I told him of the Turkish cargo vessel. He told me he would cheer me. He did all the while chewing on pistachio nuts. I had come from the cargo vessel straight to the Rue d’Bloome. I hadn’t even thought of finding lodgings for the night. Such was my need for the handsome guitarist. Thus I still had my bag. This rosemary decided he would let me lodge with him for the night. We walked the length of the road. Past the usual array of prisoners held by the night and their own needs and desires. We walked past the Rosemary bushes that grow from every crack and crevice. We walked past the old lamps. Our faces growing light and pale beneath each one and then the darkness would cascade atop them once more. We climbed into his apartment as he declared his love for all things written. It appeared he was a poet. I asked him to show me some. He went to a shelf which was full of lavender binders and pulled one off. he gave it to me and he started to undress me. I read the words as he kissed my body. I fell asleep.

I awoke. The Rosemary Boy was walking around his flat naked. Eating his pistachios and reading something. It was the manuscript the sailor gave me on ship. He had obviously been through my bag. No doubts my pocket also. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

 

THE MOTH

 

My love she shouts. She wails. She pleads. She hosts a lady. Her sister I believe. Her soap with be scented with nought but her tears tonight. I can hear them. The crying of my angel. The laughter of her sister. A door is slammed and her sister leaves. I will go down to make sure all is well. I enter the stairwell. The smell of soap it hits me as it always does when walking down the stairs. I knock on her door. It is opened. I tell her that I do not mean to intrude. She smiles and asks if I have come to buy soap. I say no. I have come to ask if she is well. I come to ask if she will walk with me down by the Inkon. She smiles. She tells me I never leave the house until the lamps are lit. I tell her that her smile is the brightest lamp. She tells me she needs a walk. She follows me out to the landing and we walk down the stairs. The smell of her soap lingers out afterwards. I can smell it on her. A walking perfume. We walk out into the sunshine. I shield my eyes. It has been many years since I have been out in the day. She takes me by the arm and we make for the river. Our pace is slow. Our mouths are closed. We merely look around. both of us deep in the same thought. This city has changed so much since our youths. We reach the river bank. She looks into its murky water. She slowly tells me her sister has become the new Madam d’Bough. She turns to me. She asks me my real name. I tell her. Augustus. She looks back into the murky water smiling. I do the same. I tell her that the river Inkon needs a good clean. Lamoux needs a good clean. She looks at me and back into the water.

 

ANNETTE

 

I can no longer dance upon the graves of the children of Lamoux. I can no longer wear my bare feet on the lawns of the old cemetery. Flattening the grass. Jumping from one Elm’s shadow to another. The shadow of the church haunts me. The eyes of the church haunt me. I am used to being watched. I know the guitarist would watch me as he strummed. I am watched every night here at the cafe. But the eyes in the church I know are not well. There is a boy there. The seventh son. He is the reason I have stopped visiting the church on St Gideon’s day. He is nothing but dangerous. A gangrenous wound upon the belly of Lamoux. He is the cup that has caught all the overflow from his master’s sin. Learning nought but unsteady vice. I can no longer go to the cemetery. I can no longer watch as the sun gets caught in the threads of my dress. I can no longer listen to the beautiful songs that I know a boy has written especially for me. This city is changing. It was once smiling with wine. Now it is unsteady. Now it means trouble.

 

GARFLOUGH

 

My mother and I went to the park by the zoo this morning. Early. We have to walk through there to our apartment after the night shift at the cafe. We watched as the men were setting up their helium balloons. They filled them and slowly drifted up far over Lamoux. I was filled with curiosity as to what they would see. Would they see all the people looking up waving as I was. would they wave back? or would they be too distracted by the horizon and what it was going to bring. My mother sighed. She sighs a lot. I sighed. I was thinking what it would be like to be able to fly. To be able to look down on all the people who walk. To look down on all the stupid people in Lamoux. Who, like me, look up in jealous wonder. My mother looked at me. She asked if I would like to leave Lamoux? I looked back. I told her I would love nothing more. She asked if I would like to go to school and never sell another cigar again. I just smiled and nodded. I hear these questions sometimes. When my mother thinks I am depressed. She feels they cheer me up. Thinking about leaving Lamoux and going to a school. It couldn’t be further from the truth. They only make me more depressed. I know It will never happen. I grab her by the hand. We walk back to the apartment. And fall exhausted into our beds.

 

JEAN

 

I worry. There has been nought in that old cemetery but the dead for days. nought but the shadows of clouds and a wind that has found its through all the streets of Lamoux and has ended its path there at the cemetery. My love. She has gone. That dark man has scared her off. The dark man has done something to her. I have to help her. I know what I have to do. I have to go into Lamoux. I have to leave the church grounds. I have to walk upon the paths of sin and find her, my love. I will make her mine. I will bring her back here and we will live together. I will kill Malugain and I will be the new padre. I will make her live in the cellar and make my bread. She will dance for me. Only for me. I have to go into Lamoux. I will walk every street until I find her. I will walk into every single cafe of sin until I find her. I will save that girl. That angel. I will be her redemption. And she will repay me with her body. with her love. with her dances. We will be the new saints of Lamoux.

 

GLORIETTE

 

I feel heavy with the weight of my son. I can not be responsible for his future. He is a child yet he is so quickly losing the tenderness of youth and becoming a man. He is not experiencing what children should. School, Friends his own age, playing in the street. He works in the cafe selling the cigars. His playmates are criminals, drunks and whores. He rarely smiles. I watch him. He is always looking wistfully to the skies. Night and day. Looking at the birds, the clouds, the stars, the balloons and the kites that all fly over our city. Lamoux always looks after its children. It always has. I have few choices. We could carry on as we are. Yet I know he will become one of the regulars of Cafe Babel. He will go from selling cigars to some other underhanded dealings. I need to send him to school. My boy needs to be educated. He needs to leave Lamoux for a while. See the world. I need to find money for this. I have little choice but to go to the church. To ask the father of my dear son. I will make that bastard pay for something. I will get something good from the evil that has risen from that man. I have to. Or else I fear the love of vice might carry down from father to son.

 

TIMPAUX

 

My heart it is beating in my chest with a roar louder than the ocean beneath a storm. I grabbed my poet tonight. I caught him on the Rue amongst the Rosemary and brought him home. I fed him some pistachios, bathed him and sat him by the fire. We drank wine and talked of different things. Mostly gossip the we had both heard. I asked him to read to me. I thought he would read his usual poems. Tonight it was something different. Tonight as I sat there with hallowed amazement reddening my face and fastening my heart. He read to me an account of a man. A sailor. One whom I have never met yet know very well. One whom once lived in this very house. It was the account of Alexander. The man who was once the lover of the landlady, Estella. She had told me much of their days together. She had told me the bare basics of his end. This was all she herself knew. The bare basics. Yet here was a boy from the Rue d’Bloome. A Rosemary boy. Reading an account in fine detail. Outlining the end of Alexander on board his ship the ‘Estella’. I asked him where he got this manuscript from. He informed me he spent the night with a sailor and was given it as a gift. I asked him if he knew where the sailor got it. He did not. He did say he was seeing the sailor again. They were keeping a very important appointment within the following days. While this boy was sleeping I typed the whole thing out on the lavender paper and hid the original. In the morning the copy and the boy were gone. I re-read the manuscript as I sat by the fire. Pistachio shells at my feet. I would show this to my land lady. I would see the spark within her eyes and within Lamoux re-ignite.

 

LORNA

 

This city has lost its senses. My sister is now claiming to be the new Badam d’Bough. Something which she seems to be succeeding with also. I told her what I thought. I told her she was doing a thing that will slowly kill her soul. I told her she will eventually become nothing but a body in the Inkon. Just like the others before her. The Inkon calls all the criminals to its depths. Sometimes it calls the lovers. Sometimes it calls those whith nothing in their hearts but despair. Always it calls the criminals. It washes Lamoux clean. And here I am yelling at her. Crying at her. She merely laughs and tries telling me I am jealous. That I fear that she will be more popular than my soap. Where is this madness born? And here. Here is The Moth. Augustus. Telling me to go for walks with him. I agree and we walk to the Inkon’s bank. I sell him soap every week yet he has an extraordinary off-putting smell. We walk out into the daylight and I know it is the first time he has been out into the day for longer than either of us can care to remember. We walk down and we get talking and I, then, realise he loves me. This strange man whom everyone calls The Moth. Who tells me his name is Augustus on a weekly basis for a bar of soap is in love with me. I stand there on the banks of the river. There with this man who is telling me how much the city needs a good clean. And all I can do is smile. Lamoux has lots its senses. I fear this is just the beginning. And all I can do is smile.

 

FLEUR

 

It seems I have succeeded in taking over my forerunners position. The people of Lamoux have more or less accepted that the previous Madam d’Bough had taught me all she knew and wished that I took over her position. These people don’t care as long as they have a superstition to believe in and someone to guide them through their days. Someone to help them with the tough decisions. Someone to confide in. I have become that person. I have already convinced the head of police to free my love. He walks from his cells today. Straight here. I have made more money in this one week than I would have in a whole year in my old life. At this rate i will be richer than my sister by the end of the month. My sister. The only one who tried to stop me. I will use my power to put a stop to her soap. I will force her to become a beggar. Broken and down-trodden. I will make her come to me and beg for my forgiveness. She does not know what is in store for her. and no amount of soap will save her.

 

MALUGAIN

 

The strangest of occurrences just occurred. I was in the church. Searching. From top to bottom. From bell tower to cellar for Jean. But he has gone. The imbecile has finally run into the streets. Gone to, no doubt, cause some sort of havoc in some poor souls life. Good riddance. I was suspicious that he was sending word to Padre Daniel about my comings and goings. I will simply find another to replace him. One who I can shape to be my own right hand man. A smart man. Not some fool like Jean. No sooner had i thought these thoughts when there was a figure at the end of the pews. I looked harder. It was the bar maid from the cafe on the Rue d’Bloome. The one who had my son. I looked at her. She looked at me. She said my name. I couldn’t remember hers. I simply asked where my son was. She, with the venom of a thousand snakes on her tongue, told me she could no longer care for him. She wanted money to send him to school. to give the boy an education. I laughed. This was not going to happen. But then I thought. The child could fill in Jeans role. I told the woman. In place of school, why not give him a life in the church? a place by Saint Gideon at all times? I told her I needed a new hand there at the church as the seventh son had disappeared. It could lead the boy to bigger and better things. She laughed. She said that role had to be filled by a seventh son. This was not mentioning that he would always be by my side. She cared too much for the boy to allow my poison to seep into his innocence. I told her I was in the church now. I had found God. been Redeemed. She looked at me. She knew me. She said she knew that there would be a cellar full of gold and treasures that I would have stolen. And she wanted some to send our boy to school. I considered killing her. then and there. Im sure she was thinking the same about me. Then the boy ran up. He was sitting on one of the pews and I hadn’t noticed him. he ran up to his mother and said that he believed in his father’s faith. he said he wanted to do this. His mother looked down. She knew it was perfect for the boy. If only it wasn’t me here. I told his mother that I would just tell everyone he is my seventh son. For all I know he probably is. His mother looked straight into my eyes. she told me that if I hurt his body or harmed his mind and most importantly if any love for vice should pass down from father to son. She would cut out my heart and shove it down my throat. I told her that was fine. I told her I would look after him like he was my own son. With this she hugged the boy. Gave me the evil eye and left the house of God.

 

JEAN

 

I have left the gates of the church. Into Lamoux’s night I take my liberated feet. I first stopped at the old cemetery to run my hands over the stones and grass that my love would jump and lie on. I found a pink thread which I wrapped tight around my index finger. It grew red, thick and shuddered with the trapped blood. I played with the thread while I walked. Leaving the cemetery gates I found myself on the streets cobblestones that lead past the dark mans apartment. There was no guitar being strummed this night so I know he is not there. I think about what I will do to him. In the bible the Eunuchs are the musicians. I think the musicians in Lamoux should be also. I linger by his front door and think about setting his building alight. But I think first I will find my love. I walk down the streets. Through the lamp light. Beneath the giant Elm trees. I pass some sailors. I know I must be close to where the dancers and whores are. There is Rosemary growing from every crack and gap in the path. I turn a corner and face the last march of Gomorrah. The sight that meets me is something that even the devil would look twice at. There are Negresses naked from the waist up smiling and slinking along the street. There are men in makeup and bare feet. Some kissing. Some holding hands. There are children selling cigars. I think of my love. Slender. Tall. Gracefully turning. I draw courage from these images and move forward. I brush past the men in makeup. They make some remarks and giggle. I look around. There is loud music coming from all the cafes. It will take most of the night to find her. I look down and there on the ground is a flyer. it says Cafe Babel and it has a picture of my love on it. Dressed in a dress that looks like its made from diamonds. I stuff it into my pocket and look for the Cafe Babel. As I do so I see a man look at me and then race into a building. It is the Dark man. It is Cafe Babel. I run after him. I enter the cafe. the noise is deafening. People are everywhere. I look around. Up on the stage I see her. The most beautiful thing in the world. my angel. She is twirling and kicking. The people are all clapping and cheering. They are all watching her. my love. The music stops. She bows. I make my way to the stage. I will go backstage and take her from there. It is slow getting through the people. I watch her. The dark man approaches her. She smiles. he says something. they both look around and then she sees me. she grabs him by the arm and they run. I will follow. She doesn’t know how much she means to me.

 

PADRE DANIEL

 

I awoke behind bars and I stepped out into the evening sun a free man. Walking into the fresh air reignited all my senses. I could here the waves of the ocean in the distance. Smell the flowers and rotting leaves of the park. I could stand straight and feel my heart grow with the energy taken from thoughts of my love. I was making my way to her house on the river. Down past the Lighthouse to the rivers bank, past the library, through the orchard and up her steps. I knocked. A woman answered. She saw me and smiled. She said my name and said that she had been expecting me. I asked if Madam d’Bough was at home. She laughed and showed me to a room where the fire was glowing and wine was being mulled. I sat down. As did she. She told me that she was Madam d’Bough. That the last madam drowned in the river and asked her to take her role as the clairvoyant for Lamoux and my lover. I asked her how she drowned. She told me that no one knew. That some said it was murder, others said it was an accident, others suicide. Either way, she said, she was dead but only in body. In spirit she was very much real and sitting opposite me. She then told me how she went about having me released form prison. And how she and I would rid Lamoux of Malugain. As soon as she shared all of this any doubt I had fell away and I knew that this new Madam was just as good if not better than the last. I asked her when would be the ultimate time to do all this. She told me that we would have to couple first. I had no problem with this. I jumped at her and in the light of the fire we swore our love to one another.

 

CAM

 

The Sailor came back. We were loading our ship full of goods. He asked us where we were going next. Back to the Mediterranean I told him. He asked if he and a friend could work for passage back to Turkey with us. I told him certainly. On the condition that he brings and gives me a copy of that manuscript. He seemed to think it wouldn’t be a problem. Although he told me it was in his bag at his friend’s rooms along with all his other possessions. I asked him why he wanted to leave Lamoux. He told me that he could no longer find the most beautiful thing that Lamoux once possessed. I told him that to experience beauty just once is a great thing. He just shook his head sadly and asked what day was departure. I told him. I told him not to be late as we wouldn’t wait. I told him not to forget the manuscript. This boy is too sad. It is Lamoux. It makes happy men and sad men of us all. There is no in between. And there is no telling what you will wake up. God help all those who choose to stay in the land of Lamoux.

 

ESTELLA

 

The best feeling in the world is when you steal something without malice and just for a laugh. I was shown something. A manuscript. About an old love of mine called Alexander. It was of his final days. Timpaux my lodger showed me. It was apparently given to him by one of the Rosemary boys. I read it. I recognized the words. I gazed at the story. It was mine. I had written it many years ago. When the world was fantastic and the flowers would bloom when I would smile. I read it and I threw it on the fire. I knew what I had to do. I went to the park with an old bag of mine full of grand old dresses that I used to wear. I went to the park it was very early in the morning and the men with the Hot Air Balloons were setting up getting ready for their dawn flights. I had my pistol. I merely walked up to one that was closest to leaving and told him to get out. I let rip on the gas. Let rip on a scream and I felt my sense of adventure grasp me for the first time in many years. I did not know where I would go. I did not know where the storm clouds would take me or if I would fly to close to the sun. But Saint Gideon had granted me wings and I was going to use them. I would leave this city. I would leave Lamoux. And reclaim my youth.

 

HONDURAS

 

I have taken a friend beneath my arm. Bernard. He is a poet and from the Rue d’Bloome. We are to become sailors aboard the Turkish captain’s ship. Both of us leaving the shores of Lamoux for the Mediterranean. There is no telling what may happen to us but for the first time I am facing the future with my head high and unashamedly. Cam, the captain, merely wanted a copy of the manuscript outlining the story of Iskander which we managed to give to him and we set off on our new adventure into the future shortly. The future, not wasted, not hopeless, not alone. I am not sorry to leave Lamoux, the streets here are now owned by a new breed of lovers. The pavements are walked by a new breed of poets. I may return. When I am an old man. When I want to walk through the memories of my youth and pay homage to the city that inspired so many dreams and broke many more. Bernard the poet is itching to leave. He is forever chewing his pistachios and maybe one day he too will follow the trail of shells back toward Lamoux, back to the city of the Roman Lighthouse to hide a manuscript of poems in its Library or to listen to the summer symphonies once more. Yet now there is no point in thinking of such things. We are leaving. Riding the waves for foreign shores to linger in breezes in which we have never lingered before. We will make the new legends and have strangers write great manuscripts of us. Love makes great adventurers of us all.

 

GARFLOUGH

 

Thank the Saint! My mother who had turned me over to my father in his church could never have foreseen the destiny that she has handed me. I was told by my Mother that a career in the church was more than any boy could ask. A career in the church was better than selling cigars in the Café Babel. I looked at her as she begged me never to begrudge her. I said farewell. I walked away from her my heart aching and my father Malugain standing there. It was he and I. As soon as my Mother left he grabbed me and demanded to know if I had any money. I told him not. He then grabbed me by the arm and marched me out the back of the church telling me I was not to go down the cellars and I was only allowed a foxhole of a room that stunk of illness and up on the bell tower. He then left me on the bell tower. Locking me up there. I looked over the edge down onto the streets of Lamoux and into the old cemetery. I was hoping Annette would be there dancing. She wasn’t it was a very quiet day in Lamoux. I prayed to the Saint for wings. I fell toward the stone floor and wept myself to sleep. I awoke to an amazing sight. The Church was clearly on fire with huge flames licking the sides and smoke coming up through the trapdoor the leads to the giant bell. I was trapped and could not contain my coughs with tears reeling down my face. The whole night was lit by the massive flames. I thought I heard screams down below the trapdoor and someone running up. It was my father. I locked the trapdoor from my side. He started swearing at me and ripping at the wood. I swore back at him. I then started looking around the edge of the wall. I would have to try and climb down. There was no way down. The smoke was making me sleepy and light headed. I felt something on my shoulder. At first I thought a wing had sprung. I turned around it was a rope. A hot air balloon was appearing through the smoke. I grabbed the rope and snaked my way up to the basket just as my father broke through the trapdoor. I looked at my savior. It was an old woman with a beautiful dress on and pearls around her neck. I asked her if she was Saint Gideon. She said no. She was Saint Estella. She asked me if I have ever wanted wings because I was about to learn to fly. Then she frowned and asked if I would like to be taken down. I looked at her and smiled and I shook my head. Finally my prayers have been answered. We floated over the church and over Lamoux and we heard the most astonishing noise as the bell fell from its tower and through the church to the ground marking the end of the church of Lamoux.

 

FLEUR

 

My love he is lost. We snuck into the great church. We found that bastard Malugain counting his gold pieces by the devil’s candlelight. A great fight ensued. My love he gripped Malugain’s head so tight that his eyeball actually popped from its socket. Yet Malugain was too strong. Too big. His will to live was too much. He just would not die. I crept up and stabbed that bastard right in the gut. He turned pulled out the blade and drove it into my love. He rolled on the floor and looked into space. So serenely. Malugain looked down at him. He smiled and told him that it was just another poor soul off the streets. I ran at him screaming but he merely drove his fist into my face and I fell on the floor. I came to. He was back at the table counting his gold as if nothing had happened. I stood up and found a big candlestick I quietly swung it over my head but rethought my actions. I quietly walked backwards out of the room and made my way up the stairs. I locked the door that lead out into the main chapel there was no way to go but up to the bell tower. I then doused the whole of the church in oil and threw a candle on it. I ran out of that church of hell laughing. The light that shone through the lead-light windows was a miracle unto itself and then I fled. Out the gate into the old cemetery, into the streets of Lamoux and before going to my home I went to the Café Taffe. I ate the biggest most delicious plate of spaghetti. I sat in silence for my love and had a glass of wine for him. I then made my way through the night to my home and sat by the fire. I finally fell asleep only waking when the sound of the bell finally fell and hit the ground with the most satisfying sound I have ever heard.

 

TRABEQUE

 

I finally found my dancer. Annette. Under strange circumstances. It appears I have become her guardian and the man from the church, the seventh son has decided he too must have her at any cost. We stayed the night at my house and he slept out in the old cemetery. This morning at dawn he started yelling. Begging her to come out and dance with him. That God was sending them a message I went out to my balcony and saw an amazing sight. The old church was in flames and a hot air balloon was hovering over the bell tower as a boy climbed to safety. The Seventh Son looked up at me and told me he was going to kill me. He was standing beneath an old elm looking at me with a strange intense look. I thought there was someone else moving through the cemetery but it appeared it was just him. I yelled down to him that Annette did not know him and did not want to talk to him. I could feel the heat from the church and hoped to the horizon of heaven that there was no one else inside. He told me they were meant for each other. That it was God’s will and that if I got in the way of God’s work he would make sure my throat was cut. I quickly got Annette and decided to take her to a friend of mine. The man was not in control of himself, standing in the heat of a burning church. Fires in Lamoux have been known to spread also. I would take her to The soap lady, Lorna, She has always been friendly to me and has often helped me in times of need. I thought maybe Annette could stay there while this seventh son reclaimed his senses. We escaped out the back but he must have heard us as he was soon following us. We ran though the streets and up the alleys. I was glad that we both knew the ins and outs of the physical map of Lamoux. We seemed to have lost him or at least gained some time. We ran down the Rue d’Bloome. Past the usual crowd who were all out on the street now pointing and staring up at the sky. Up at the glow where the flames of the church fire were licking and lighting the sky. We ran into the Café Babel. He must have lost us in the crowd. Gloriette was standing in the bar watching the sky. Crying. I told her what I had seen. She seemed to recover at once and smiled. And poured us both a drink. Telling us her son Garflough was always and will always be a survivor. We finished our drinks and grabbed a bottle of gin. We took it back stage and made a makeshift from an old curtain and costumes. We drank the gin and fell asleep. We awoke late morning to smashing glass, it was him again. Breaking the window panes in the door. We ran out the back but he saw us and he was soon following us once again. We ran down the street the Rosemary hitting our ankles as we ran. We ran through towards the Soap Lady’s house down by the River Inkon. I knocked on the door of the Soap Lady but there was no answer. Nor was there anytime. I turned around and he was coming at us. Knife drawn. Annette grabbed my hand and we ran down the road towards the Inkon’s bank. We got to the river and Annette turned. This man was walking towards us. She walked up to him and asked him his name it was Jean. She asked him if he would like her to dance. He didn’t seem shocked by this question at all, he merely said yes. Annette started to dance, started to twirl and kick her legs as she does so well. I moved around and crept behind him as he watched his mouth open. His excitement showing. I ran up and grabbed him he yelled and I pushed him straight into the fast flowing waters of the Inkon. He grabbled with the wind around him. Trying to get a hold of something but the waters took him further out and eventually down. Annette looked at me and smiled. And she kissed me. Then we looked up as the most beautiful scent over came the whole of the city. It was as if all the flowers had bloomed in that one instant. We couldn’t understand it. Yet with our kiss and with this smell that was getting stronger and stronger all of a sudden I felt as happy as I ever had and with another small kiss we walked arm in arm back towards the Rue d’Bloome where we would go for a large plate of Spaghetti to share and maybe I would sing a song for her to dance to.

 

 

LORNA

 

I watched from my window. An amazing event unfolded. It was like watching the very instant that summer appeared in a wave of heat and greenery. The Moth, Augustus. He had been up since the early morning. Ever since the Bell from the church awoke the whole of Lamoux when it fell during the fire that has destroyed the church of Lamoux and apparently both of our Padres. Walking up and down the stairs, the Moth had been loading boxes of delicious smelling packages, wrapped in brown paper onto a cart that stood like a patient friend on the side of the street. I knew what was in the packages. I recognized the smell as soon as I heard him shuffling down the stairs. I knew where they were made. When they were made. Some I had not smelt in many, many years. I watched as he filled this cart full of my soap. He must have been collecting each bar. Since the first day he walked into my apartment when we were both in the palms of youth and bought that first bar. I watched with great interest. For myself, I have stopped making my soaps. I feel it is time to stop such things. The people of Lamoux are changing. And I want my rest. It seemed the Moth had finished loading his cart. It looked as though the wheels would break under so much soap. I wondered how much was there. I wondered what it was worth. All this time he would merely tell me his name for a bar. Yet he would never use it. He sat down and grabbed the horse’s reigns. He lit a cigarette and looked straight at me in the window. I ran down to him and his cart. On the street it was a beautiful day. Quiet. Bright. I looked up at him and asked him what he was doing. He told me he was going for a picnic by the river and would love me to join. He grabbed me by the hand and we drove his cart to the point in the Inkon River where it drops over a levy. The whole way we were silent lost in the delicious scent that we trailed behind us. We stopped at the levy. A narrow part of the river that is popular with fisherman and lovers as the falling of the water over the artificial wall causes a small waterfall. Augustus told me to sit by the cart as he unloaded it. He carried all of my soap and built a wall of it on the banks of the Inkon. He was heaving and groaning so I stood up and helped him. By the time we were finished it stood high and wide. He then looked at me and smiled. He ripped all the brown paper from the packages. In doing so the most extraordinary smell unleashed itself across the open air. We both breathed in. He looked at me and leant against the wall of soap. He heaved against it. The wall wavered yet it stood its ground. He looked up at it squinting against the sun. He ran at it. It rocked gently. He heaved again. I walked up and pushed at it. We watched as it leant forward. Time seemed to stand so silent and so still. The world froze. And it was then the wall of soap fell into the bubbling and frothing waters of the levy of the Inkon. He looked at me and smiled telling me that if that soap doesn’t wash Lamoux clean, nothing will. I laughed and went back to the cart to unpack the picnic as the most beautiful, grandest, fantastic mountain of froth and bubbles started to spread out across the river’s breadth. We sat on the bank in the sunshine watching it, breathing in the scent. Drinking champagne and laughing. He looked at me and he then said that his name was Caesar.

This is how I shall always remember Lamoux. Sitting by the river in the sunshine with love on the mind and the scent of flowers being blown on the breeze. Lamoux may change but the lovers never will. The lovers will keep the Lighthouse lit to guide in all the lost and weary. To brighten the nights on the Rue d’Bloome, To show the artists where to drink, the poets where to laugh and the lover’s where to love. Lamoux will always be Lamoux so long as there are the lovers. For good, for bad, forever.

 

 

 

 

 

ode to lamoux

•October 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The ghosts of the dead cannot touch the ground

Not when they enter the gates of Lamoux

They smile and rise with feelings of glee

For the dead have no home like this ancient city

The living they walk, they stomp, dance and stumble

They sing, they talk, they murmur and mumble

Through evening and night when the curtains are drawn

Anything is possible ‘til day is reborn

The Rosemary grows in the cracks of the streets

The essence of summer’s sin atop dusty old sheets

The city lies on a harbour of waves

Watched by a lighthouse, a beacon that saves

The books of Hearth-ache, love and murder foul-

All were written on the streets of Lamoux

 

•September 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

•September 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 
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