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.

Posted in Affair, character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Love, Peter Wells, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Last First Kiss


When I met her she felt her beauty was a recollection: her power to attract, she feared, long since gone and she was defenceless against the scrutiny of those less charitable than herself. She was a drunk in a bar at some place I had never visited but had stopped at in search of shelter. I don’t know how old she was but I’m guessing she thought her sixties seemed like youth and she was now alone with her incongruous health: drunk and smoking like a wild thing: she could still stand and dance and become the abandoned hippie she might have been fifty years before.

I joined her at the bar, and later in her bed, because she dreamed she could still connect in a way her age had no sense of. “Youth has judgement on its side but little else” she said to me as we got undressed and then she started giggling: her accent and the way she spoke hinted at a forgotten education and her movements of her youth. After a pause she reached up to kiss me as if physical was the only language left with meaning. She had travelled life, mostly alone, sometimes beautifully, often lost and seldom comforted and I determined that in my arms, if nothing else, she would find a kind of peace. Out here in the social wilderness there is little left of etiquette, credible gestures or sermons for the meek. All we have is kindness and the hope that beauty and tolerance might still be related.

She was the wisest, loneliest, poorest and most beautiful person I have ever met, who sought a night of abandoned celebration. In her heart and soul she would never be old. Every sentence she spoke was marked by a quality of pathos drenched in whisky and every weakness by a movement of her hand. She talked as if we were both still young and careless of the consequence, and yet we both knew life will challenge your dreams and leave most of them exhausted.

Somehow, despite the madness, disappointments, and that hard knowledge carved out of experience; something in the way I held her brought her home and, before she fell to slumber, I saw light fill her cautious eyes. I love heroes and heroines, and she will always be a bit like that to me: the lady who died in my arms just after she found herself. The wise sometimes find value in the worthless and she saw something precious in my life. Love was a drink late to her table but I was honoured to bring that chalice to her lips. I too can drink, I can’t say otherwise, but the way she looked at me restored fragments of my dignity.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Love, old age, Peter Wells, Relationships, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

Wishing Everyone Who Passes By This Blog A Happy Christmas


 I am reminded by my life and contacts in social media that some of us enjoy a Christmas surrounded by those who love them and can celebrate that blessing with traditional feasting, and for others it is a time of significant bleakness when their emotional or physical isolation from those they hold dear is magnified by separation and sometimes indifference.

Readers of this blog come under both categories and I know, often on the grounds of survival and understandable pride, that people can pretend to be in happier circumstances than they really are so as to protect themselves from undue scrutiny.

Whatever our circumstances, and needless to say I hope they are ones informed by love and a sense of security, we all have the gift of kindness in our hearts and may we reach out to ourselves and those around us and touch each other with a sense of being valued this Christmas and in the New Year.

 

Posted in character, Christmas, Compassion, faith, Fiction, kindness, Peter Wells | Tagged , , , , | 57 Comments

A Walk Through Memory


” Love me but do not own me: Celebrate but don’t possess me;” I see her smiling as she said it; the last words I heard spoken by her face to face. Off on an adventure, never to return, crushed by a lorry in some freak accident, and silenced for eternity: a girl who made being fearless possible in my life: who faced down any challenge but intimacy.

I dared to love her but not to use the word. To thank the stars this girl, who lived for wilderness and open ended questions, had used me as her anchor and her reference point: “Conclusions” she told me, “Are only for the elderly,”   and yet she would always return to me: we all have contradictions and perhaps I was hers. She would live in any moment, in any life, as long as she was free to leave it: now she had, and I was left to live in a world no longer magicalised by her interest.

“If you want to understand something, never try to own it:” that was her mantra. She, who loved the wilderness above all things, loved me because I left her free to wander through it, but without her noise and cheery exuberance, the stillness that I dwelt in, the place she called her sanctuary, has now become an emptiness experienced offering no release.

“Oh Charlie” she had told me, “I stood among the elephants, and they just let me, and we watched the sun rising together, species joined with species. Can you imagine such a moment?” and I could, because the image was printed in her eyes, bright with life and joy, but fearful of possession: that was my gift: to love her, but just for who she was and in the moment only. I, a man of no apparent distinction, was made extraordinary by her presence, and won her trust by not seeking to control her.

That face remains with me fifty years later, as all around me life seeks to find my measure, but they will not find me here. I am living in her sunshine, and in those eyes which still smile at me from a treasured photo. Now eighty-seven years old, and long past the time when people take an interest, I sometimes catch the excitement when she returned, and smile to myself, and to the puzzlement of strangers: become a man who nods to himself, and, without warning, when lost in reverie, talks out loud to a girl he loves, as she walks through his memory.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Love, Peter Wells, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

With A View To Hope


I have spent my life journey largely looking out of the window at passing events, fascinated by the spectacle of existence rather than having any thoughts on a destination or purpose. “Clever but not present” a teacher said about me to my father on one occasion and I can agree, at least, on the “Not present” bit as that has been increasingly apparent to me in my life.

Some people I started the voyage towards maturity with, friends at one time or another, can now boast about a prosperous business, or career’s in some professional field marked by significant appreciation, large detached houses in well-ordered streets or a home somewhere deep in countryside while I have dabbled in a number of professions, but remained in none: somehow keeping myself just beyond “Beggar’s Lot” where the seriously disengaged and unlamented live in unsought circumstances. I now work on the forecourt of a petrol station where the great and good, the disregarded and the social barbarian join briefly in their search for fuel.

The people I work with are among the nicest I have met, and defend a life of simple values as best they can, while working long hours on the minimum wage to sustain their families: that quietness, the modesty and a certain caringness for others, are often absent in some customers, engrossed perhaps with more urgent concerns in their drive-through life.

My landlord Richard, grumpy, invasive but kept at bay by that vague air of erudition which has made my life more civilised than I deserve, looks at me with bewilderment but is tolerant because I always pay my rent on time and make no noise, which is not so true of some of his other tenants, all of whom are younger than I.

In the midst of this, I sit in my room researching, as I so often do, the lives of the pre-Raphaelites and John Ruskin who was one of their champions. It is a curious interest, perhaps, and one which does not involve a rich social life but through an internet forum, inhabited by those who enjoy all things to do with Victorian history, I have come across Anne, who shares my love of obscure topics and joined me, via the internet, in an investigation into the origins of the impressionist movement.

Gradually our interest in each other progressed beyond the intellectual but she lives in Newcastle and I in London and neither of us has the money or the freedom to visit the other. Yesterday we Skyped for the first time and it was wonderful to look on the face of someone I thought to be of value who felt the same about me.

Can I find a way to live nearer to her, and would it be too forward to suggest such a thing? Here I am, somewhere between hope and frustration, but sensing the birth of courage and a determination which has always been foreign to me. I cannot write of what I do not know and should not form plans based on a fantasy but regardless I can still dare to hope and hope may be the pathway to my dream.

Posted in creative writing, faith, Fiction, Humanity, Life, Peter Wells, Romance | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

A Secret Grief


In these last days and hours before my final breath may I, Gordon Richard Carlson, lay my guilt and thoughts before you as a matter of conscience, if not regret, so that I might meet my maker free of worldly deceit, if nothing else.

I was, and largely remained, a man of detail, head of the Office Of Statistical Analysis in the county where I live. My wife also worked because I was, by her own admission, incapable of supporting a household of any standing by myself.

She was punctilious in all matters of social standing and appearance, insuring maintenance of the marital home in everything but intimacy: no carpet was uncleaned or dish unwashed, no book undusted, though not read, and everything maintained to standards of unfeeling excellence I always thought. Does that sound too bitter or too harsh?

To me she was correct in everything which did not involve mess or unleashed joy and I lived by those dictates while quietly shrinking inside myself, unaware of my own circumstance till events conspired to provide me with an alternative.

As the demands on my department grew, staffed only by me, I was offered an assistant who would help me with my work. Clarice Brown, ordinary to the casual glance, that was her view, was beautiful to my shy and awkward gaze. She grew to love me, as I did her: being together gave purpose to our days. Our feelings grew silently over time as duties conspired to entwine our lives and then our hearts.

She was a younger person than me by eighteen years and the product of a strict and controlling family, still living with her mother and father, and I was a man just past his fortieth birthday, sited somewhere beyond hope, but gentle I like to think, and caring of the unregarded in a way which gradually gained her attention and then her love. We formed a conspiracy of private and diffident urgencies unnoticed by the world.

One Friday, and recklessly, I pinned her up against the filing cabinet and told her I loved her. She knew all about the barren pieties which were my home but, faced with this commitment and sincerity, I felt her pious resolve melt and then we kissed. We kissed more each day, two souls who found purpose in each other’s lives. Our hearts bonded in secret desperation until, over the coming months, as intimacies grew beyond anything I had previously known we became lovers in every physical sense.

I loved her then and now. We discovered what life and urgency might bring to those who think that “Ordinary” is not a world they seek. Finally I decided, regardless of the cost, that I would leave my wife and marry her, and walk the path of knowledge without guilt.

I bought a ring, premature I recognise, to pledge my love, and prepared to place my life in her palm and tell my wife that all we had was gone but Clarice did not come to work that day, or any day again: an accident had robbed me of her life and longed for destiny.

By some bewildering chance, our love and intimacy had grown without it being public knowledge so when I was told that Clarice Brown had been involved in an accident and killed I merely nodded and said, “How sad” because privacy of emotion is the last sanctuary of the disenfranchised.

I attended her funeral, together with my wife, and passed on our commiserations to her family; giving my own feelings the weight they deserved, which is no weight at all.

Now thirty-six years later I slide away from life, breathless and without strength. My wife, punctilious to the last and ignorant of my feelings, visits me in hospital every day, noting the cost of my daily treatment. We have, and had, no pets, because pets can make a mess, and no children because that requires intimacy, unsettling at best, but we have a house, paid for now, and paintings of value I believe, which she will possess when I am gone.

But if there is a hope in life’s eternities, Clarice will greet me at the gates, kiss me with that warmth she always did, and walk with me across Infinity. If there is hope.

Posted in Affair, creative writing, Fiction, Love, Middle East, morals, Peter Wells, Romance | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

An Out Of Body Experience


Recently, during a period in hospital, things were dicey. I had a seizure, lost all consciousness and had an out of body experience. As I fell, yes fell, out of my body, lying in perfect stillness on the bed above me: yes above me, I felt an odd and uncomfortable heat and, turning round, saw a gentleman lacking every charm known in the sentient universe grinning at me in a salivating manner. His eyes seemed to be saying ”Your secrets are safe with me even if your future isn’t,” and I felt myself drawn nearer and nearer to a furnace where the screams of eternal agony could be heard.

I fought to stay away from the flames and the unpleasant gentleman, eyes apart, said nothing and made no movement apart from opening the furnace door a little wider to facilitate my ease of entrance. Just when I thought all was lost I woke screaming so loudly, the doctors told me, that they thought I had had some adverse reaction to the medical treatment.

He grinned at me in a neutral way, although his body language suggested he was thinking “Welcome back to us, I’m speaking to you in my professional capacity only: we make no comment on your character or possible worth.” Strangely, the nurse standing behind him had a less engaging look and I have a dim memory of attempting some indiscretion with her before I was engulfed by seizures. I’ve always had a love for the opposite sex, normally unrequited but, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” has earned me a few nights of pleasure over the years.

I’ve done nothing awful in my estimation and lived by the teaching, “God helps those who help themselves” which wisdom I have always been happy to pass onto beggars, old ladies who sought my help to cross the road and those irritating buskers who stand too near your table playing a musical instrument while you are drinking your morning coffee.

I’ve done my bit for humanity in the full glare of publicity but real charity begins in secret and at home I’m sure you’ll agree. In short I’ve lived a normal decent modern life, free of murder or unnecessary vandalism and thought a seat sited somewhere near the top table in Paradise was mine for the taking.

Finally, and unusually at a loss, I ring one of my ex-wives with whom I am on something like speaking terms, and tell her what happened and how I feel, and she replies, “You are a waste of air Trevor: nothing more or less” and puts the phone down. No wonder I divorced her then, or she divorced me to be honest, but I ask you. “What’s that about?”

At a loss I settle down in the pub, sitting alone as is often the case and take a cautious sip from my drink. A gentleman sits down beside me, looking faintly familiar, and says, “No doubt you are thinking about you’re out of body experience” and I look at him, alarmed of course, and say “And who are you?” “Dr Death” he tells me, “Sent out on patrol by those above to view the last moments of souls near the end of their earthly existence which is why I’m sitting here with you.

“Do I have time to redeemed myself?” I ask him, suddenly filled with an uncomfortable awareness. “No” he replies, “I was meant to be with you about eighteen months ago but got delayed by other and more interesting lives, otherwise you might have. Nothing in life or death is perfect I’m afraid, least of all eternity. There are just far too many of you now, and cloud space is limited so burning you is a much more efficient option unless you have been especially good, which you have not, and then there are the elephants and whales of course”

“Elephants and whales” I said, and he replied, “Oh yes, I keep forgetting you humans think you are the most important species in the universe” and chuckled lightly before departing from the table as I depart my life: still begging for one last chance but stuck with the consequences of my previous conduct.

 

 

Posted in character, creative writing, faith, Fiction, humour, Life, Peter Wells, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments