Becoming A Hero


Characters on the silver screen, living their unlikely lives, seemed more real to him than ordinary folk, clinging to daily routine. No different to the rest of us, he would sit silently nodding his head in some complex out of town, willing the hero on to happier times, because that is where we want to be. Am I right? Perhaps you know?

He knew those people on the screen but later on the walk back home, passing by some drunken beings, rough beyond his wildest fears, who yelled abuse at life and him, was not the place he wished to be. He longed to leave his mundane world, and climb the Pyrenees with friends; or escape some inferno dodging flames, holding a gentle heroine in his arms who rewarded his bravery with undying love: he would accept it modestly. He worked as a Librarian, and on the book shelves were his friends, walking streets where heroes walk and speaking with potent clarity.

His age was an embarrassment, and progress in real life was small. His address drew no envious glance, but in the pages of books he read, or unfolding on the silver screen, as he sat wrapped in gentle dark, where tales which teased him with their dreams. Sitting in his single room, unencumbered by romance, and pecking at some ready meal, Thai was what he liked I’m told, his mind was free to roam at will, and leave those walls on which hung art bought by the yard.

One day at the library, checking out some books, while watching the impassive face of a stranger, he saw, a girl spill her drink, and drinks were not allowed he knew. As he walked over to tell her this, he saw tears washing away her privacy. His heart was moved, whose would not be: a heroine trapped by her distress. He found the love within us is often damped by lack of hope.

But now, woken by the sight of a life more wretched than his own, he discovered compassion for a figure, not sprung from fiction but real life who, it was clear, did not regard him with the normal censure. He took her to the office and gave her another drink Moving to help her he saw her raise her eyes to his, and something in that forlorn gaze, more lost it seemed any than he had met, made him calm and brave and willing to confront her ghosts.

He found in the unlikeliest circumstances, as some men do, that dignity lies in loving something larger than ourselves: a faith, a night sky or call to ancient chivalry. Heroes, he found, are not always in uniform and so this poor unrecognised knight found compassion, and in protecting her weakness discovered his own strength. She was beautiful, but not his love unless she wished it so: chivalry must have no personal agenda he believed. Her name was Laura, and she had lost her home.

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The Un-Materialist


I remember those heady days when we first entered college, dropped our bags and said goodbye to our parents. Those conversations filled with awkward love and soon-forgotten advice. I remember meeting my new roommates, and sharing stories and then drinks and nodding a silent “Yes” to our unchaperoned adventure and saying to ourselves and then each other, “Life begins.”

In that first year it was all about “Experience,” and not so much the strategy. We were free of the nest and ready to drink the goblet dry. In all this Harry was the seer, the sage, the conductor of the reckless, who led us out to sample life, taste love and aspects of each other. Like a rocket, careless of its future he lit our sky, “Determined to live,” he said, “And damn the morrow.”

One girl or three loved him, and gave herself in vain because, for Harry, each day was a new possibility, and every bar a chapter in his book. He recognised everything but consequence and walked through each scene like a visitor: a man passing through your life but never in it. It was all about the talking through till dawn; draining the cup dry and being “Real” with each, and wondering what that was. We were young then, and treated our bodies as immortal: drinking with abandon and smoking weed to mark our independence.

How we envied his wild reckless ways, his music and his telling comments. “If you avoid risk you avoid life” he told our young souls, and how we loved him for it. That girl I had my eye on passed right by me, and who could blame her, for when I saw her next she was parked in his room, dressed in his pyjamas and making the coffee. For this brief time she was a revolutionary, who would never forget the way he spoke to her imagination.

By our third year, passions had cooled, and people talked more about “making dreams concrete,” and careers and strategies but never Harry. He vowed always to avoid “Death by common sense” and partied on but now there was a sense of defiance and even isolation. I found him once sitting in some bar on the edge of town and he told me, “Being lost is the doorway to discovery” but now I just smiled and said “That’s you Harry.” His acolytes loved his bravery, and the way he walked his own path, but more frequently now, he walked alone, seeking new disciples while his old followers nodded in sympathy and returned quietly to their studies.

Years later when I, by then a teacher, took my flock to London to visit a museum, I passed a figure outside the station playing a harmonica and staring at me intently: I knew it was Harry. “Did you hear the music” he asked me, “Or are you deaf now and wrapped in safety?” “All of that and more” I said, and saw love light up his eyes. I gave him some money saying “Party for me Harry” and he smiled as if I understood him. He had become unique unto himself and a stranger to company. It was the last time I saw him.

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An Eternal Sense Of Life


“What was your life like?” I said to the man one ahead of me in the queue of judgement. “I was like a man possessed,” he said as we waited. “How do you mean” said Mr Safe, namely me, now mourned with clean piety by a wife, relatives and various friends, as we waited; me and this newly met soul, to discover the shape and texture of our individually constructed eternities. Your Heaven or Hell, it transpired, are tailor made to provide either exquisite pleasure or suffering to the individual: judgement is a bespoke service from which there is no escape.

“I could not stop the words.” he continued. “I had morsels of praise but my diet was mainly indifference, sometimes mixed with embarrassment. I would talk to anyone, long after they wished I was gone, and eat at cafe’s pretending I was welcome and part of the community. Really, I was trying to express an idea: to get a concept on the page,”

“What concept” I rashly asked, because even the newly dead, with eternity before them have finite patience, and mine was tested.

“The concept of natural and emotional wilderness” he replied. “That manners are what we wear to make ourselves bearable to each other and ourselves. That iconoclastic indifference erodes the heart of each culture, and the pretence that this isn’t so is the foundation of every building, built to glory the individual.”

I found myself smiling as he said this and said, “And you found you had some difficulty making money from this vision.” He snarled at me, as if he had somewhere left to stalk off to, but now there was nowhere else to go. Right or wrong, wise or foolish, we shuffled forward to learn our fate, and nothing we thought or did now would alter that.

It was a curiosity of the arrangement that we were allowed to chatter idly with others in the queue and even hear what the angels said about their lives, before receiving our own sentence and reward. Those in front would drift slowly towards their designated experience and they too, would learn what would become of you.

At last our bitter author stood before the angels, to hear their observations and they said, “You have been brave and fearless, and not ducked the cost of your observations and for eternity you will be bathed in the recognition and companionship you craved for your entire life. Proceed in peace and Love.”

I was slightly taken aback and still trying to make sense of what I had heard when the voices of angels began speaking in my head. “You have lived a mealy mouth life without engaging in any serious wrong-doing; hiding behind a fearful superiority, clinging to accepted opinions and ignoring anything which might disturb your peaceful existence. You lived among those you might have rescued but were not sufficiently moved to help. You will now experience their life in eternity. You will experience what you chose to ignore.

As I fought to make sense of what I’d heard, and felt the first touches of that isolation which was to mark my designated experience I looked up and saw my colleague in the queue stare back at me. His fading figure seemed lit by golden light. He had heard the sentence, and I could see compassion flooding from his eyes. He, who had lived with isolation all his life, could not save me from a fate he knew too well.

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Birth Of A Dating Agency


Rick Slider, whose boast to his mother was that he was always behaved honourably if there was no alternative, and that the only thing which made an act ‘appalling in the face of nature’ was its discovery by others, was travelling on the London underground when he ended up sitting next to some fat badly dressed guy of indeterminate middle age who appeared to be reading the dating column of a national newspaper.

Being the gentleman he was, Rick peered over his shoulder at the article where this poor man was seeking some relief from a life marked by “Bedsitter Blues” and a diet of baked beans eaten while watching TV shows about the ‘Festival of Silence ’ and other obscure documentaries.

“Stunningly sexy woman who loves exotic holidays, over-achievement and men who leave an irresponsible carbon footprint seeks “ripped” younger man for a life of hedonism and carefree excess. An appetite for unnecessary shopping would be an advantage” Slider looked up from the paper to the face of the man seated beside him; puffy, bean-fatted and lost, and wondered why he would waste his time reading such advertisements.

Suddenly the idea of a “Losers Dating Club” came to mind. Candidates must be in excess of forty-five and preferably with at least one marriage behind them not ending in anything noble like widowhood. Loss of hair and a chronic weight problem would be preferable and a reasonable degree of anxiety and job insecurity would be considered a distinct advantage.

The idea was callous, shallow and disturbingly prejudiced and thus had all the hallmarks of an enterprise bound for success in the new “Stuff you I’m having fun” urban world. Those unfocussed drifting folk, without clear agenda or ambition, who failed to get the attention of the gym-hardened, holiday-equipped modern ‘carbon-burner’ sent in their profiles.

Soon, our warm-hearted entrepreneur was toasting another commercial success on a Caribbean island with some soft lovely who had discovered true love in the shape of his credit card, while he indulged in obtaining a thorough biological inventory of her assets without regard to her welfare. The gods wished them well, and there were signs that the two of them could have found happiness together, if they either of them had known what that was.

Leaving them to their sun-burn and shallowness we will visit Limpet on Sea where Nathanial Soggett was swapping stories of his unfocused life with Sandra Fuller. Not forced to pretend they were more competent than they really were, or indicate a fulfilment they had never experienced, both parties relaxed and experienced one of those rare periods of enjoyment with a member of the opposite sex, unrelated to catering or the process of reproduction.

Date followed date and soon she was burning his dinner while he played his guitar without regard to talent or musicality. He crunched his way through her onion soup, (left too long on the cooker while she was looking for a photo she wanted to share ) and out of nowhere proposals were offered and accepted.

Yes, they really did live happily ever after in a pleasingly undistinguished dwelling far removed from the world of fashion or contemporary architecture. It just goes to show that even the most callous of people can bring happiness to others by accident, if not design

 

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Life, morals, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A New Attempt At “Living it?”


 

We are all in it for the journey aren’t we? I mean we don’t have any choice. You sort of wake up on the train of life, and then some guy comes up to you and out of nowhere says, “Ticket please” which on this journey means  “What’s Your Purpose” and you are meant to have an answer. Something crisp and concise, but really I don’t have an answer so I just nod and pretend to be civilised. At home I play music, and drink vodka from the bottle and shout out things like “Screw you” at the wall, which maintains its indifference to my tortured angst. At home I’m free to be lost because no one is watching.

Don’t you love that word “Angst?” it gives the mundane a sense of drama don’t you think, so that’s my new identity. Out at evening college learning to paint, and mouthing phrases like “Social torture” puts you in the middle of the circle: a bit like work, but in a different context if you get me.

That college is where I met Angela, who was shy enough to make me feel protective, if you can feel protective but still want something from someone. I mean I wanted to kiss her, because that’s natural isn’t it, and she is pretty enough, but not so much as to make her scary. Nice eyes of course, because you have to say that don’t you? I’ve never heard anyone say a girl was really pretty but her eyes were like flat tyres, unless she was planning to jump of a cliff, in which case it wouldn’t matter. Mind you Angela really does have nice eyes so I can say that without lying. I tell the truth about facts, but most of them are boring aren’t they, but the heart of it, the breathing purpose of life: I have no sense of that.

Someday perhaps, some mystic giant will walk out of the corner shop late at night, as I am passing by for no real reason, and say “Phillip Walker. You are born to rescue blind cats,” but till then I’ll keep my purposes short and near at hand. Kissing Angela’s a start don’t you think? Perhaps I’ll ask her for a drink after class on Wednesday. She doesn’t look as if she knows what is going on either.

 

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A Romance In Passing


I came across her as she was walking down some road in the dark, with the rain pouring off her face and back, and I demanded she just get in the car and out of the weather till she muttered “Pervert” and climbed in anyway. I’d never met someone like her; who looked at common sense, and then tossed it out the window like it was a sandwich wrapper.

I never got to the heart of who she was, but she ‘got’ me in her lucid moments, more than anyone else I’ve ever met, or that was my impression. Between her affairs with ‘Weed,’ and drunken nights of partying with other men she might come to me and tell me ” You are the only one who understands me” and I took that to be praise, or the sign I had strength, or was someone special or just plain stupid. Nothing, I now understand, disarms a man of certain years more than tenderness. We get so little don’t we? Once we leave our youth, and only then if we’ve been lucky, and I was as hung out as any man can be but didn’t know it.

Her stock phrase, “Whatever gets you through” was often in use about me, or any topic we might discuss. She was exuberant when high: up for anything, and in those blissful hours and days, when we were first together, I became the happiest man alive. She made me feel understood: celebrated even, like no one had before. Oh how I loved her in those early days and weeks, but we both know the story don’t we. I mean I already knew the story, but attention makes you forget what you know. Someone pretty, like her, smiling at me, and saying you’ve got nice eyes, was like something out of a film and I just drowned in a smile I took to be tender and loving and personal. She had the understanding which comes from being lost, and meeting her dismantled my certainties

Later, as the vapour cleared my brain, I realised the moment was not personal. It was more about regret, and the lives she would never lead: the unborn children, the house with mown lawn and paid-for furniture she feared would not be hers. She longed to be ‘normal’ as much as I longed to be reckless and we met somewhere in the middle; crashed is, perhaps, the better word, as our needs and dreams ground against each other in this unformed universe.

I loved the look and feel of her, and the way her hair tickled me as she lay on the pillow by my side, and how the fear and aggression flowed out of her face as she slept. In slumber she became that sweet being I would protect and love above all things: vulnerable was a word she hated, but at night she could be that, at least to me.

I remember saying to her one morning, “It may be necessary for me you to marry me” and she just laughed at me as if I was clutching at a dream, which, of course, I was. Is there some note we play, which only a few people can hear, and as the sound of it rises and is lost among the clouds they reach out to seek its origin. Am I dreaming too much? Was I that note for her or merely a roadside café where she stopped to catch her breath.

One day she was gone, no explanation given, and that window to another world closed with her exit. Where she went, or why, I cannot tell you, but she has spoiled me for life. I no longer want death by common sense, or low-carb food, or tending to the normalcies of routine. I want to drink from darkness and adventure, and the religion of a moment, but now, with only timidity and lack of imagination as my guides, I am both cowardly and lost.

Our lives are unwritten epics, every one of them, and patterns and circumstance repeat themselves in that cycle of unlearned lessons we call history while our ancestors look down on us from above and shake their heads. We dance between fear and courage, and flirt with fragments of self-knowledge but she taught me this: that love may be worth more than ‘common sense.’ Through her, adventure waved to me from the shadows and was gone

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Love By The Hour


 

The single truth which fed and clothed her every day since dropping out of university was to do with men. Inspired by the welcome and then depressing attentions of her classics professor, she realised she could earn enough in a decade to live as she wanted for the rest of her life rather than wade through a career of dressing respectfully to become an echo of the polite and respectful vessel her mother had become.

He told her many men over fifty are quietly ignored and then taken for granted. They pull the cart of responsibility up and down the field of life while, over the years, the looks they receive at home grow more detached. At night, and before sleep offers them brief sanctuary, they might day-dream about another world and explore those fantasies which must not be disclosed. Secret identities eat at your composure and fan the wish to escape for a day or even just one hour, and to provide that was her calling.

For one hour and £ 250.00 she would be your co-conspirator, your recognition-oasis and soul-mate. Her composure would never be challenged or conventions shocked by any dream or revelation. You would see in her practised eyes that whatever you were was who she wished to meet. You would be the man to kiss and hold and welcome her heart home.

She was the practised mirror, reflecting your inner thoughts until you believed they were her own. ” Truth and fantasy are close friends” she once said and such was your hunger you dared to believe this was here and real. In this barren and god-forsaken landscape called a life, where beauty looks the other way and innocence is a figment of history, she laughed like a conspirator until you were, for that one single hour, the boy who would have dazzled in the lecture hall, or on the sports field or anywhere at all if people had only understood your worth.

With her I thought, I had found that fresh spring which would flow into the stagnant pond I had become, allowing me to flourish once again in beautiful secrecy. However outlandish my requests, she always smiled and touched my arm and said, “Oh Derek, I feared no one would ask me that. You’ve bring me happy” and we shared hours of this warped paradise until, so taken was she by the image I created, that it was I who had to remind her that my session was at an end.

“Come again soon my darling” she would say, and being with her now was everything I wished. Somehow we would find a way to be together always and forever until that is, my wife asked why I kept making these cash withdrawals every fortnight. There was a squalid argument after which I left at her request, suitcase in hand and of no fixed address. For the first and only time I knocked on my ladies door without a prior appointment.

She stood there without makeup or pretence and asked me what I was doing. “My wife has thrown me out” I told her and she looked remarkably unmoved. “Am I caring? “She said. “But I love you” I replied, my heart filling with panic, but again she was unimpressed. “I am busy. No one is interested Derek.” and with that she shut the door. She taught me something I will not forget: the truth is seldom comforting.

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