Gone: Part One

She rolled over.  His space was empty. He was always there.  ‘Where is he?’ He wasn’t in the kitchen either.

‘Early to work?’ ‘Hardly – he hates it’

She hadn’t even heard him budge. Later with the police quizzing her she strained to recall traces of heat in the bed beside her when she woke. But the warm space where he had always been – the  kind of  warm  you could just sink into – was, she thought, cold. But she couldn’t be sure.

‘How long had he been gone?’

‘Gone?’ She had no idea. He was always there.

‘What did they mean by gone? Gone where?’ They were always together. There was no accounting for him being anywhere without him. She couldn’t tell how long he had been gone. The very concept was unfathomable.  She simply couldn’t reconcile their life together  with what gone meant . Their life – always together.

She stared at the Detective. She was speaking to her again.

‘Do you understand Mrs Mahon? This is serious.’

‘Mrs Mahon, Mrs Mahon’

‘I understand’

‘Mrs Mahon, we need your help’

‘I’m not Mrs Mahon – we are not married – we never married. You know we just  decided one night in the concert hall that we would never marry. I’m not Mrs Mahon.’

‘Mrs Mahon do you remember anything else about that night?’

‘Of course – I remember everything.  Sparkling chandeliers, violins. The night we decided not to marry. I remember everything. It was more important than deciding to marry.’

‘Not that night Mrs Mahon – Tuesday night, just past. Do you remember anything about Tuesday night?’

‘What kind of a detective are you? I’m not Mrs Mahon!’

‘Sorry. I’m sorry Mrs… Finola.  May I call you Finola?’

‘Yes, yes.’

‘Tuesday Finola. Can you remember anything about it?’

‘Yes, Tuesday. It was every night. We went to bed. We left the radio on. We always leave the radio on until we go asleep.’

‘Was it on when you woke up Finola?’

‘Of course not. We don’t leave it on all night. We are pensioners. Jim works part time still but we are pensioners. Do you know how much electricity costs? Or could you even find out …. Detective’

‘So the radio – the radio was off when you woke up. Who turned it off?

‘Not me. I never turn it off.  It must have been Jim. Probably after the concert broadcast from Vienna finished. Yes, Jim turned it off. It couldn’t have been anyone else. There is no one else. There is just Jim.’

‘Where is he?’

‘Jim?’

‘Yes, Jim’

‘He’s dead Mrs Mahon. He’s dead. He is at the mortuary. I’m sorry Mrs Mahon but we need your help to find out what happened. If we could just piece Tuesday night together we might be able to figure it out.’

‘I told you, I’m not Mrs Mahon. For god’s sake. I’m not Mrs Mahon.’

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Himalaya

 

Icy waters pour into the country as a  reverse tide pulls silt, animals, stones, plants, power and shards of beauty from all over the world.  Below flapping birds, the river stretches ahead providing a perfect landing strip. Skimming their landing surface, the striking striped heads of  Baa Headed geese can be seen through the light of morning.  Their  goslings are nearby and ready to fly. All of the world has arrived.

The city is a vast playground where the fluorescence of rhododendrons and atomic primulas mingle with the bass sounds of markets.  The music of the people modulates the air with the deep  beats of the Caribbean. Young men move through the crowds parading their cultivated spikes of joyful colour confusing the Baa headed geese.

How can you compete with a Mohawk celebrating the life of circus red and electric blue? The geese, it seems, are not the only show in town. Soon they realise they share their platform with the intoxicating sounds, colours and textures the river pulls into the core of  the city  from around the globe. All  the world is here to see in all of its intoxicating beauty.

Young women stripe and curl their hair, listen to the screams and melodic tones of punk and rap vibrating in time with the urban scape they navigate. Their boxed leather jackets rub shoulders with Drag Queens picking their precise steps to the disco superstore.

Fragrant trails of elegance hang in the air moments after those statuesque queens have moved on, turned a corned and disappeared. Somewhere a clock is ticking, licks of fire whisper to life  and a user slips into the numb haze of the opium addict. Free of their pain they miss the distracting glistening of the mini globes turning and spinning in every area of this vibrant world.

Icy shards that made the perilous journey from the Himalayas float on the surface of the river. Glinting like mirror balls they attract the giant Himalayan bees who  have followed the  path of the  breakaway ice as it cut across the plateau of Tibet into the ocean and towards the city.  Busy and bee like, the constant buzzers  build  three-foot-wide homes on the remains of what was once a glacier.

When their combs finally begin to slip over the edges of their ice floats the giant bees retreat to the crevices of the metropolis’ rising buildings. Window washers smoke the bees and pull nets of thick gauze around themselves. They pull 15-foot sponge extensions across the giant screens of London offices that let  workers  look out at the ever growing world.

Only the bravest screen cleaners  have been known to poke the combs with their long poles in the hope that some Himalayan honey would be theirs. Largely unattainable the uninvited poking usually sends combs spinning downwards instigating chaos on the ground hundreds of feet below. The bees survive; they have, after all, survived the Himalayas.

For now, their honey is in ruins but soon the bees will join the huge Himalayan Cranes standing 20 feet high in the Thames. They will begin to build their homes again.  Just as a wonderful Crane swallows an electric eel whole, a stalking Queen passes the river and marvels at the wide flapping of the birds wings and the halo of bees around its head. Perhaps I will add Crane wings to my next show she thought and moved around the corner. Someone in this world of worlds is bound to like  it.

Time Capsule: Part Three

Death was constant in Ryan’s world.  Never far from his thoughts, it had become his closest companion. Death surrounded him, swaddled him and propelled happiness of any kind away from his heart. The Ryan wing constituted his last heave of ambition in life.

He examined the thick dust that furnished his living quarters. Sparsely decorated there were only a few  dark paintings of Romans at the foot of a crucifix  hanging on two of the four walls.Those paintings had followed him from cell to cell throughout his adult life. Imagined Romans frozen as their gaze turned towards  the hanging head of a dying man.   He felt just as sure of what they were looking at as their look  suggested: death.  He turned away. 

“Dam paintings! How many walls in how many countries have they slanted across?” His room echoed his words and threw them back. As always he was the only one present to receive them.  A life of blank walls  marked by  religious reproductions and plastic saints  stretched before and beyond him.  He drained his glass and luxuriated in the dry burning sensation it left behind. His version of dying  had rendered him bitter with a sharp tongue oiled by the shadow of a whiskey hangover.

Down stairs the front door closed. The far away thud of oak meeting its frame meant the school administrator was leaving, eight minutes before time.   Ryan watched  without moving. Through the corner of the window he saw her cut down the avenue towards another figure standing at start of the  elms.   Raising her arm in a wave she exposed a scrawny limb.  For a moment her  figure was a moving reflection of the dead trees reaching  into the fog.

“That rag and bone of a secretary! Who is there to meet her now?” Just as the couple  took the  turn of the avenue they moved out of view. Ryan envied her effort  but viewed her actions with  cynical misogyny.  He felt she had lived too much. Her choice of  evening tipple over dinner  and thick coffee over breakfast had taken their toll.  The accounts rarely balanced and the flesh had fallen from her frame leaving  worn twin sets hanging on angled clavicles.

He thought of the job that lay before him.  The day’s digging had  pulled lozenges of clay from the from sodden foundations. Weeks of rain had washed away the straight lines of  the new school’s  grounding. It  had only taken the JCB a few angular movements to expose the skeletons from their unmarked and unmentioned graves. Ryan knew those skeletons did not belong there.  Clean bones, white, straight and solid they seemed  longer than any human limb could ever be.

He had sent the digger away with a story of an unbaptized children’s burial ground.  It would take more than one drink to dispel the ache he now felt. Concealing the bones of lost children would deaden any life that had survived death’s tight swaddling.  One more whiskey and he knew he would face his own grave. It would be worth it for the school though.  It would be worth it in the end.