2 Sep

bed photo: bed bed.jpg15.

“Where are you, blast you?” demanded Blinky. “And what’s that damned noise?”
That damned noise was the clatter of the odd wooden cradle that the self-named Gabriel Smith had constructed on which he intended to perch the stolen eyeglass.
“We’re here, Mr Curmudgeon,” called Angelina, “over here.”
“Aha!” growled Blinky, and he slowly spun round until he was approximately facing the right direction. “That’s better! It’s a damned good thing I followed in my car,” he added, conversationally. “I heard what was going on before I interrupted, and I wasn’t impressed. I wasn’t impressed at all! Why, the man has no right to be wearing a uniform! Not with that attitude, that’s what I’m saying!”
Royston bent down and picked up the eyeglass. It was undamaged and glinted in the almost-dark of the broken church.
“This was never yours,” he murmured to Gabriel, and then paused as he noticed a tear squeezing itself out of one of the man’s left eye and slowly running down his cheek, to be joined by its twin from the other eye.
“Is something wrong?” he asked.
“Less pleasantries!” snapped Blinky, who, in his world of endless darkness had no real idea what was going on. “Have you got the blasted loupe yet? If not, why not?”
Royston’s lips curled and he shook his head. “Of course I’ve got it,” he said, “and it’s not the wretched instrument that I’m bothered about! The man’s crying, and that’s plain not right!”
Angelina took the two or three steps necessary to put one arm round the weeping man’s shoulder, and whispered, rather inanely, she thought, “what exactly is the matter?”
“It’s auntie,” sobbed Gabriel Smith, weakly, “I loved her. I always loved her. She would make me lie with her, in her feather bed, and cuddle her, and she would whisper little stories to me, tell me of the brave things I might have done in another age, if I, maybe, was a soldier in a far-flung battlefield, with blood flowing from the foe all around me like carmine rivers, and women weeping for the ones they were losing as blade sliced into living flash, and limbs flew everywhere… and then, with her loving words in my ears I would sink into a deep and peaceful sleep, the battle over, the wars all ended, and she would stroke my hair like lovers do… and everything in the whole world was perfect!”
“When you were a child?” almost exploded Blinky, “if it had been an uncle doing that he would have been in deep shit!”
“No, not when I was a child, but when I had become a man,” sobbed Gabriel. “She said she loved me, and I knew that she did. And she promised me that, one day, we would consummate that love … and I lived and breathed for that day to come. But, in life, she remained the innocent she had always been, a maiden aunt, still maiden as the years rolled by…”
“This is getting disgusting,” muttered Royston.
“Disgusting!” the man flared up, “who are you to call the innocence and wonder of the love auntie Gladys and I shared disgusting! It was… let me explain, it was as if the brightest of flowers you might dream bloomed brilliantly on the sun, in its shining valleys and across wondrous pastures, had come into our lives and their fragrance was hanging all around…. and if any man can find that … that purity … disgusting, then I challenge him to a duel with steel blades in the graveyard outside these walls!”
“She was your auntie,” murmured Royston, “and there’s a word for that kind of thing, a man with his auntie, flesh of the same flesh sharing a bed and falling … I find the notion quite despicable … falling in love like you described it, sharing their bodies …”
“And that eyeglass would have reunited us,” wept Gabriel Smith, “it would have awoken my dearest Auntie from her slumber beneath the floor of this holy place, and she would have come to me, her dead lips reaching for my living ones and sucking fresh life from me… and I would have given it gladly, my life for her death until neither of us was either alive or dead, but both in the in-between paradise that many dream of but few attain … ready for the final judgement as lovers always are … then we would be able to finally attain the dizziest heights of human love and adoration. I have a bed for us…”
“I don’t want to know any more…” whispered Angelina, “the man’s deranged!”
“Be careful what you say!” snapped Gabriel at her, and she could tell, from the crazed light in his eyes and the way the sweat poured from him, merging with the tears that still trickled from his eyes, that there could be no way any words would reach him.
“Come with me!” he insisted, “come with me, or I will kill you! I still have my little gun, and I am quite prepared to shoot all of you if need be. But first, come to the side room, built in the olden days for the choirboys to robe and disrobe and the naughty choirmaster to lurk and peep, and see my bed!”
They had to follow him. They might have chosen not to, to fight it out there and then, two sighted souls and a blind man versus a lunatic, but a mixture of fear and curiosity bade them follow him.
He led them through a crazed and broken archway into a room that had been decorated to his own taste, with white surplices and coloured robes hanging like wall coverings from the ceiling. And in its centre was a bed. A plain and simple bed made up with sheets and quilting, a bed that would have looked positively normal in any other setting. But this wasn’t any other setting: this was a vestibule in a shattered church and the very presence of the bed was incongruous, to say the least.
“This is where we will be reunited,” hissed the mad man. “This is where Auntie Gladys will come and lie with me, will put her precious arms about me and her wonderful lips on mine… and all I need for that to happen is that eyeglass you slipped into your pocket, and the light from the mid-day sun!” Those last few words were directed straight at Royston, and he almost felt the power of them as a trace of spittle accompanied them.
“Necrophilia,” whispered Royston to himself.
“Insanity,” sighed Angelina, “I’ve heard everything now!”
“Love!” shouted Gabriel Smith, “pure, honest love! And it will be mine! Give me back the glass, or I will shoot you. Straight through the heart, I swear!”
“Do nothing of the sort!” bellowed Blinky Curmudgeon. Somehow he had followed from his place at the entrance to the old church into the anteroom itself, without stumbling in his eternal darkness and somehow managing it without them hearing him.
And when Royston looked round it was to see that the blind man was holding a pistol of his own, and he was pointing it with unerring inaccuracy, straight at the beautiful Angelina Parr.
© Peter Rogerson 02.09.14



  1. pambrittain September 3, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Oh no! You leave me in suspense (again). Frankly, I’d love to see her rise from the dead. Wonder what she died of.

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